Maria Padian’s new novel Out of Nowhere captures the truth of the adage that the only thing constant in life is change.  Padian’s protagonist, high school senior and soccer team captain Tom Bouchard, experiences the futility of one’s efforts at controlling outcomes.  He discovers how even a simple action or choice can have far-reaching repercussions and realizes that luck can “curl up next to you one minute, then bite you the next” (275). Enniston,Maine, provides the backdrop for this novel that explores these issues, as well as the contemporary topic of cultural collisions.  Tom’s quiet hometown becomes the home to an influx of Somalian refugeesRead More →

Four teens who inexplicably survive the “end of the world”, brought together seemly by random chance who each have an undiscovered power and a deeply hidden pain, who together can set the teetering, ravaged city of Los Angeles (and perhaps the whole world) back on its axis . . . Icons by Margaret Stohl?  Not even close, actually.  Instead, this tale of destruction, survival, and the power of love comes from Francesca Lia Block and is as different in tone, imagery, and execution as day from night.   In Love in the Time of Global Warming (August 2013), Block again crafts a story wherein herRead More →

For readers who appreciate the diverse and non-linear approach offered by multi-genre books like Nothing But the Truth by Avi and Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper, Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga by Teddy Steinkellner shouldn’t disappoint.  Told through Facebook entries, letters, school announcements, memos, AIMs, lists, blog posts, and typical prose, the story puts readers in the hallways and the social circles of middle school drama.  In the midst of the commotion caused by gossip, the cruelty used to get respect, and the floundering that occurs on the journey to maturity, readers live or relive the days when crustacial hair andRead More →

In Anna Jarzab’s book Tandem, Book One in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, readers will find some of the spirit of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine–which features multiple scientific and literary allusions–and some of the wonderings of Alisa Valdes’ The Temptation–which invites questions about parallel universes and presents a paranormal romance.  Given those qualities, a convoluted plot, and characters like Sasha Lawson, Princess Juliana, and secret agent Thomas Mayhew who invite connection and whose stories involve intrigue, this science-fiction romance provides tremendous reader appeal. Tired of her arranged and orchestrated life in the United Commonwealth of Columbia—of being a pawn in someone else’s game—Juliana decides she wants a normalRead More →

In Foul Trouble, veteran sports journalist and best-selling novelist, John Feinstein, takes an unflinching look at the cut-throat process of collegiate recruiting top student talent.  Feinstein pulls back the curtain to reveal a shadow world that is rarely seen by the general sports fan and it’s not a very pretty:  a subculture packed with unscrupulous people who latch onto these young athletes hoping to make millions on the kids’ talents; high stakes ultimatums and heavy amounts of pressure to go with the “highest bidder” even if its against NCAA rules and one’s own better judgment; and a dizzy array of media attention, drugs, swag, andRead More →

Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella is good at impossible things but not good at inventing, and inventing is something the community of White Rock values to move the community forward, provide comforts, and raise their quality of life.  Hope wishes she could measure up and make her parents and community proud—maybe even earn a place on the Difference of One stone. White Rock is a small community, both guarded and threatened by the Bomb’s Breath, an invisible oxygen-rich air mass capable of suffocating the unsuspecting.  It is this side effect of World War III that intrigues Hope and her fellow Sky Jumpers, Aaren and Brock.  “When theRead More →

When people drive by an accident, or a house fire, or some other horror that routinely befalls our fellow human beings, we’re compelled to look. To stare. To seek out signs of lost normalcy, the life that was, the people as they were “before.”  It’s an uncontrollable urge to peer in, despite the fact that we’re aware of the suffering and pain wrapped up in the debris.  Andrew Smith‘s The Marbury Lens is one of those horrors that you can’t look away from, no matter how much you want to, no matter how gruesome the detail, no matter the pain twisting in your gut asRead More →

She doesn’t know her name. She doesn’t know where she is. All she knows is that her fingernails have been removed, she has been physically attacked, and she’s a prisoner to two men. Before she can open her eyes, she hears the men discussing how they are going to “finish her off because she knows too much”. This action packed novel follows a girl who is unaware of her entire life. She has lost all her memories and is on the run from a group of men who want to kill her. Even going to the cops has gotten her in trouble. She has beenRead More →

A sequel to Tuesdays in the Castle, Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George again features the escapades of Princess Cecelia, who lives at Castle Glower in the country of Sleyne.  In this installment, the Castle leads Celie to a Tower that houses a flame-orange egg, which the princess suspects might be that of a dragon or a Roc.  Under Celie’s care, the egg hatches to produce a snapping, snuffling, and snarling anomaly, a creature she is told doesn’t exist, so she must keep secret the hatchling’s existence.  Wild and fragile, frightening and loveable, the creature attaches itself to Celie who names the beast Rufus,Read More →