How do you become a man when you don’t have a man in your life?  What does it mean if your father left you and your mom?  Or worse, was never in your life to begin with?  In Dead Ends, the second book by Arizona author Erin Jade Lange,  the question of fathers and the legacies they leave to their children unites unlikely friends on a journey of discovery, healing, and transformation. In his high school, there are the “haves” and the “have-nots”, and Dane Washington is a “have not”.  What Dane does have, however, is a fierce temper and the power to back itRead More →

A book written about WWII from a perspective rarely seen, that of a little boy who loaned his dog to the army because he wanted to make his daddy proud. That is exactly what Hobart “Hobie” Hanson did in Duke by Kirby Larson. Hobie’s dad is in Europe flying fighter jets for the American army in WWII. Hobie and his family, his mother and little sister June, have been doing everything they can from home to be good home front soldiers. They have planted a victory garden, Hobie makes model airplanes that are used to train soldiers, and each member of the family is workingRead More →

Being the outsider looking in is painful.  From run-of-the-mill social awkwardness, to being the new kid in school, to being from a culture/background that is misunderstood and feared, the outsider is the lonely one among us.  Funny thing is, at any given point in time, everyone is the outsider yearning for acceptance, friendship, and understanding. Seventh grader Lewis Blake has had it with being an outsider.  But his quest to fit in to his mostly white middle school is an uphill battle:  being an Indian, he will have to do more than just cut off his braid and cut back on his sarcasm to breakRead More →

Whoa – I was knocked back by David Massey‘s debut, Torn. Based on simply the slightly cheesy tease on the cover (“An American Soldier. A British Medic. Afghanistan. Can their love survive a War?”), I wasn’t sure what to expect from the book, but within the first few pages I was so captivated, horrified, and walloped by this powerful story that I stayed glued in my chair until I finished the book.  At a swiftly-paced 274 pages, the time flew and before I knew it I was breathlessly coming up for air and looking at war in a whole new way. And then the very nextRead More →

The story of Sasquatch in the Paint, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, is one that the majority of us can relate to. We were all once that awkward kid in junior high trying to find a place to fit in, whether it was a position in the status quo or not, we all just wanted to have friends to sit with at lunch. In the seventh grade Theo had thought that he would forever be one of the nerds on campus, he and his best friend Brian had recently joined the Brain Train and could not be happier. The Brain Train was aRead More →

A teenage girl with an unknown power, her guy best friend with whom she’s so comfortable she doesn’t even consider romance, and a mysterious guy, brooding, beautiful, and seemingly dangerous who is suddenly everywhere she turns.  Twilight?  No, actually, these three teens are the main characters in The Fallen Series author Lauren Kate‘s new trilogy, Teardrop. Seventeen year old Eureka Boudreaux is a strong-willed, beautiful, and depressed.  Just months ago she lost her best friend, her mom Diana, to a rogue wave that inexplicably swept their car, and only their car, from a bridge connecting the Florida Keys to the mainland.  Now Eureka, wracked withRead More →

A tale of star crossed lovers of a different sort unfolds in Page Morgan’s The Beautiful and The Cursed. The story takes place in 1890’s Paris, France, a time where royals ruled the world. Lady Charlotte moves her daughters, Lady Ingrid and Lady Gabriella, from an English mansion to a French abbey she plans to remodel into an art gallery. Her son, Lord Fairfax, was sent to France two months earlier to scout out the location. The move could not have come at a better time for Lady Ingrid. Her reputation in London had taken a nosedive when she accidentally set her friend’s home onRead More →

Set in the summer and fall of 1972, in the small town of Stony Gap, Virginia, Kathryn Erskine‘s latest, Seeing Red, is full to the brim with the little details of everyday life, woven together so expertly as to create a richly detailed portrait of a young man, his family, his town, and his world, that is an emotional powerhouse for readers, young and old alike.  12 year old Red Porter’s daddy, his hero, has recently died of a heart attack and Red’s entire world is reeling.  Left with doubt, debt, and nothing to keep them in Stony Gap, Red’s mama is preparing to sellRead More →

I love a good, spine-tingling mystery.  Smart detectives, heart-pumping tension, dark and spooky locales, they’re all it takes for me to get lost for hours.  And I especially love it when the plot is so well constructed  it weaves in and out on itself, and is chock full of false clues, hidden gems, and tiny, realistic details that sparkle and pop like a faulty flashlight on a pitch-black night.  So imagine my thrill as I was drawn into The Screaming Staircase, the first book in New York Times best-selling author of the Bartimaeus series Jonathan Stroud‘s, new series Lockwood & Co. For the past fifty years,Read More →