“Here is a girl trying to change her story” (276) Mysti Murphy knows that the people in her family – “a person who paints and cooks and never leaves the house … a person with a job who gently tries to get everyone to leave the house together … a bratty little uninformed person who practices raising an eyebrow as a hobby … [and] a girl person who would just like everyone to leave her alone by the window…” (7) – would make for an interesting story.  Her strange story begins within a story, since she came into this world believing she was a characterRead More →

In the hands of a master storyteller. That’s where I like to find myself. Where I can let go completely, feast on the imagery, devour the delicious characters, and fall head over heels into an exquisitely constructed world.   Chock full of insights, life lessons, patient wisdom, and human truths, the work of a true craftsman (or woman) serves them to you like your favorite dessert, allowing you to savor, wanting more, and leaving you ultimately satiated and satisfied beyond belief.  What a sublime treat, then, to have spent time in the deft hands of master Deborah Wiles, in the second of her documentary novelsRead More →

It’s starting again: the loud buzzing in his ears, the crows following him everywhere, the cold sweats and paranoia, and the voice in his head.  Miles had a schizophrenic breakdown  two years ago on the beach near his San Francisco home and he’s blamed himself every day since for the destruction it caused his family.  He’s supposed to be managing his disease with a cocktail of meds and weekly talk therapy, but he knows it isn’t working, and  he’s gotta do something to fix his broken brain and his damaged family: “Sick. Schizo. And it really only feels like a matter of time before theyRead More →

Gamers often play video games for the thrill of the game, for the confidence-building rewards as they move from level to level, or for the opportunity to act in a heroic role.  Others play for the power, competition, action, and sometimes violence experienced vicariously through the game. Although it is not played online but in real life, BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant describes a conflict that resembles a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG).  Grant’s science fiction thriller is the last in the BZRK trilogy, and the stakes in this final battle are high; the fate of BZRK players is death or madness.  Sixteen-year-old Sadie McLure, akaRead More →

In his last published work,On a Clear Day, Walter Dean Myers imagines a world not too different from the one we live in today: globalization has enabled 8 giant, multi-national corporations to take over every aspect of our lives, entrenching people into rigid socio-economic classes with little hope of upward mobility; millions living on the edge of poverty turn towards racial and class violence as a means of survival; the food supply is heavily regulated and people are starving to death on a daily basis; terrorism is on the rise in all parts of the world; and the global education system has been dismantled in favor ofRead More →

John Feinstein puts you in the heart of the game.  Doesn’t matter if it’s the baseball field, the basketball court, or the football field, when you open up the pages of one of his books, you are in the center of the action with the thrill, the agony, and the controlled chaos of sport whirling around you.  Years of sports experience, finely honed descriptive skills, and a gift for storytelling combine to make Feinstein’s young adult novels captivating, action-oriented, and worth reading whenever you can get your hands on one. In The Walk On, out this Fall from Knopf, we meet freshman Alex Myers. His folksRead More →

“i became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity” — EDGAR ALLAN POE I love origin stories.  How did the times in which a person lived, the circumstance of their life, their internal demons, weaknesses, and strengths, all collide into make him (or her) into whatever it was he/she became?  The darker, the more enigmatic, the better; and so I was delighted by Jessica Verday’s foray into the youth of a man whose torment we know all too well. It’s a dark and stormy night in Philadelphia in 1826, when Annabel Lee disembarks from a steamer ship that has brought her from Siam to live withRead More →

Cristina Moracho‘s debut, Althea & Oliver, reads like a bandage is being ripped off your skin.  The wound beneath needs to be exposed to the air, but you’re afraid to see it, and it hurts.  So you pick around the edges, but the bandaid is sticky and clings to your skin, pulling the hair on your arm.  It hurts to try, but you’re desperate to get it off, almost to the point of maddening impatience.  Then, the point of no return is reached and with one painful, sharp tug, you rip off the bandaid and, despite the shock of sharp pain, you can exhale andRead More →

Michael Grant excels at taking a reader to the edge (or sometimes beyond) of what frightens you, I mean deeply frightens you, displaying the slippery slope down into the dark recesses, the murky depths that blur the lines between right, wrong, and no-win situations, and of course the madness that’s ready to consume you when looking into the face of your nightmares is too much. With his techno-thriller series BZRK winding down, Grant turns his attention inward to explore the choices and their consequences that we make in our daily lives. Choices that impact others and could be (should be?) judged as good or evil.Read More →