Monthly Archives: January 2014

Review: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herback

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders coverGabe thinks it all started with the pop machine. That’s where he gets the four Mountain Dews he drinks a day. That’s where the money for band marching camp was supposed to come from. That’s where the prices were suddenly raised. And that’s where it was announced that instead of funding the band, the money from the pop machine will now go to pay for a new dance team for the cheerleaders.

Gabe has taken a lot. He’s taken his mom leaving for some Japanese businessman. He’s taken name-calling from the popular kids and some teachers about his weight. He’s taken the fact that even his friends call him “Chunk.” Band is the only thing he has to look forward to. But the band teacher has given up, and the school is more interested in sports than in music. And Gabe isn’t going to take it any more.

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders is the story of Gabe’s fight against injustice, but also his fight to reclaim himself. For years he has played along while the popular kids bullied him, but no more.

“I’m fully capable of taking my own dignity. But no one else is going to take it.”

This book will appeal to band nerds, freaks, geeks, and any kids who feel like they just don’t fit in in the traditional school setting. It is funny, touching, and a very enjoyable read.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up – some language, some kissing and references to kissing.

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders will be released in May 2014. A big thank  you to Sourcebooks–when I tried to request an ARC there was an error in their web form that wouldn’t allow me to submit the request. When I emailed them about it, they not only made sure I got the ARC, but they also sent me 3 of Geoff Herbach’s backlist books, which I’m working my way through now.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Impostor coverTessa can be anyone. Her Variation allows her to absorb DNA and perfectly mimic another person’s appearance.

Madison is a serial killer’s latest victim. She was still alive when she was found, but she will never wake from her coma.

When Tessa becomes Madison, trying to draw the serial killer out for the authorities before he can strike again, the number of possible suspects is almost overwhelming. From Madison’s ex, who claims to desperately want her back, to Madison’s own brother, Tessa has no idea who she can trust. And Madison was keeping secrets, even from her best friend…secrets that might have led to her death.

Although the stress and danger of living a lie take their toll, the loving family Madison will never see again is incredibly tempting to Tessa. Just being a normal girl with a normal family and friends is something she never thought she would experience. While Tessa struggles to find the killer and deals with her ability going haywire, she also fights the urge to stay Madison, forever.

Impostor will appeal to fans of the X-Men with it’s obvious similarities, as well as to murder mystery fans.

Recommended for grades 8 and up – no on-camera sex, but kissing and sexual references, plus quite a bit of violence

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

 

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Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood coverTella’s brother is sick. Dying. The doctor’s don’t know what’s wrong with him. Her parents have moved them to the middle-of-nowhere Montana. It doesn’t seem like things could get worse. When a mysterious blue box appears on her bed, Tella thinks it’s from her parents; a gift to make up for taking her away from everything she’s ever known.

It’s not.

Tella has been invited to join the Brimstone Bleed, an epic race whose price is the Cure,  something that could actually save her brother’s life. With the help of her Pandora companion and friends she makes along the way, she must navigate lush jungle and barren desert. And it’s not just nature that could kill her–there are people out to get her as well.

Fire & Flood will face ineveitable comparisons to The Hunger Games, but it is very much its own story. In many ways this story is more similar to the Harry Potter series, with fantastical things happening right under the surface of the  “normal” world. That said, this story will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and other dystopian stories, as well as to readers who enjoy wilderness survival and adventure stories.

Recommended for grades 8 and up — Some language, violence, and there are implications that Tella feels sexually threatened by another character.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

 

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Review: Contributor (Contributor Trilogy, Book 1) by Nicole Ciacchella

Contributor coverDara has trained since the age of 3 for the day when she can become a Contributor, and give back to Magnum, the Job Creator which owns the dome that shelters her and her parents from the wasteland outside. Now an apprentice, she has been chosen for an elite program and the chance to become the assistant to the Head of Engineering. Her boyfriend is in line for a prestigious position in Logistics. Life is good.

But somehow, her education has not prepared her for the level of cutthroat competition between herself and the other candidates. Dara must become just as ruthless as they are if she is going to survive this process. When her mother is injured, Dara begins to question the system in ways she never has before. And when she and her mentor are involved in an accident that leaves them stranded outside the dome, the things she learns leave her with more questions than answers.

Contributor is a well-crafted dystopian story, more subtle than most. Nothing is outlawed; but many things are disapproved of. This story will appeal to fans of dystopias who are ready for something a little more nuanced than the outright tyranny of stories like The Hunger Games.

Recommended for grades 6 and up – some language, kissing.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch Finder coverLuke has lived with fear since the day his parents were brutally killed by a witch. Hiding under the furniture, he could do nothing to save them. Now he is eighteen and can begin the search for his parents’ killer. Now he can move past the fear.

Luke can see witches; he sees their magic floating around them, where to others they look like ordinary people. But to get the tools and the skills he needs to kill a witch, he must join the Malleus Malificarum, a secret society dedicated to killing witches. To be a member, he must pass the trial of the hammer. He must kill a witch.

Rosa has no idea she has been marked for death. Her mother and brother are insisting that she marry to save their family’s properties. Sixteen-year-old Rosa has no interest in being married, it must be better than life with her increasingly abusive brother. But Sebastian Knyvet is a frightening unknown, and the more she learns about him, the more she fears what marriage to him will mean.

Witch Finder will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series, historical fiction readers, and readers who love romance.

Recommended for grades 8 and up – violence, physical and verbal abuse, references to prostitution

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Divided We Fall coverDanny Wright joined the Idaho National Guard to follow in his late father’s footsteps by serving his country, and to get access to the training and education he would need to keep his father’s auto repair shop running. Balancing Guard training and finishing high school is tricky, but he’s finished with his training for the summer and ready for a senior year full of football, friends, and time with his girlfriend, JoBell.

But everything changes the night Danny’s unit is called up to help suppress riots in Boise. When a rock thrown by a rioter causes his gun to misfire, chaos ensues. Twelve are dead when the dust clears, and Danny is living in a nightmare he can’t wake up from.

The Boise shootings rapidly become the center of a national controversy. When both the governor and the President are giving Danny conflicting orders, what will he choose?

Trent Reedy takes what could easily have been a book full of cliches and makes it into a gripping page-turner. The characters are realistic, not one-dimensional representations of liberals or conservatives. Anyone who has noticed the political situation in the past few years will readily recognize that the premise of this book is a definite possibility. Divided We Fall is not a far-future dystopian story; it is a chilling look at a near future we could be facing if our political system continues in its current direction.

This book will appeal to fans of stories about the military, as well as fans of dystopian literature.

Highly recommended for grades 9 and up–swearing, underage drinking, violence, and off-camera sex.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends coverMacallan and Levi have been friends ever since his first day at her school, when they discovered that they both loved the same obscure British television show. She stays at his house after school, their families have Sunday dinner together, and they know each other better than anyone else. Although people constantly assume they’re together, they would rather be best friends—family, really.

But somehow, their friendship seems to keep messing up their relationships with other people. From cheating at parties to a disastrous double date, it seems like no one wants to date a person whose best friend is the opposite gender.

Finally, in high school, Levi realizes that he and Macallan are meant to be together after all. But Macallan isn’t so sure that a relationship is worth risking their friendship. Are they better off friends?

This book will be a big hit with fans of Sarah Dessen and teens who enjoy realistic fiction focused on relationships. Although the comparison to “When Harry Met Sally” is going to be made, for obvious reasons, Better off Friends is not a simple revamp of the story for teens. Levi and Macallan are strong, believable, realistic teens who are trying to figure out themselves, what they want in a relationship, and their place in the world.

Recommended for grades 6 and up – no language, a few kisses

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry and Pete Clark

Katie and George’s first  meeting is not the stuff dreams are made of. Instead of their eyes meeting across a crowded room, their hands meet on a copy of their favorite game–a copy that neither of them is willing to give up, having waited in line at the midnight release to buy it.

From this inauspicious beginning grows an unlikely romance. Despite the awkward efforts of Jeff, a first-person shooter devotee and wannabe blogger with a crush on Katie, and the near-constant presence of Lanyon, George’s best friend, George and Katie get to know each other, in-game and in real life. And the more they know, the more they like.

Backward Compatible is laugh-out-loud hilarious to anyone who is a member of “geek” or “nerd” culture. The references fly fast and furious, but are used with an authenticity that keeps them from being cliched name-dropping. I have read books that claim to be “nerdy” or “geeky” romances in the past, but their sole concessions to the culture were to have characters that, in addition to being unnaturally attractive, were very smart. This book does not fall into that trap. The characters are living, breathing people, instantly familiar to anyone who has ever identified as a geek or a nerd. I felt like I had been transported back to my college and young adult days while reading Backward Compatible, and at certain points I was laughing so loud I thought I would wake up my sleeping baby.

Highly recommended for older teenagers – frequent swearing and sexual insults. No on-camera sex, but frequent references to it.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum

Big Fat Disaster coverColby has never been like her mother, a former Miss Texas, or her  sisters, Rachel and Drew. She takes after her dad, the former college football player turned investment banker and political candidate. But when Colby discovers a picture of her father kissing another woman on the same day that the FBI investigates her father for stealing from his campaign and his clients, her world comes crashing down.

Now Colby, Drew, and their mother are stuck living in a tiny trailer in a tiny town in East Texas. With the stresses of adjusting to a new life, Colby’s eating gets even more out of control. And when a perfect storm of school bullies and family cruelty strikes, Colby decides that maybe this life isn’t worth it, after all.

Big Fat Disaster is a powerful book. It was very difficult for me to read at times because of my own history with disordered eating habits, and as a mother, Colby’s relationship with her mom broke my heart. This book is emotionally gripping and almost impossible to put down. .

Big Fat Disaster will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and Maureen Johnson. It would be great as a book club selection; there’s so much in this book to discuss and build on.

Highly recommended for grades 9 and up – swearing, bullying, verbal abuse, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

 

 

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Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Cover image for HeartbeatHow do you let go of someone who isn’t quite gone?

Emma’s mom wasn’t there when they found her on the kitchen floor. Her brain was dead. But her heart still beats, and, thanks to Emma’s stepfather, it will keep beating for as long as it takes to keep the baby inside her alive. Emma knows that her mother wouldn’t have wanted to be kept alive like this, but her stepfather refuses to listen.

Before, all Emma knew about Caleb was that he was trouble, stealing cars, maybe doing drugs. Now, she knows the real Caleb, someone who understands the kind of loss she’s dealing with. Someone who understands how hard it is to let go of someone you love.

Old Emma would never have seen past Caleb’s reputation to the pain he carries with him, but Emma isn’t that person anymore. She is someone new, someone who has to find a way out of  the maze of pain and and anger she’s trapped in. And somehow, she has to find a way to grieve for her mom…even when she can still hear each beat of her heart.

Heartbeat is scheduled to be released on January 28, 2014.

Highly recommended for grades 8 and up – some sexual references

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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