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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: High school, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 145
1. Review of Like No Other

lamarche like no other Review of Like No OtherLike No Other
by Una LaMarche
Middle School, High School    Razorbill/Penguin    347 pp.
7/14    978-1-59514-674-8    $17.99    g

How’s this for a meet cute? New York teens Devorah and Jaxon get stuck in a hospital elevator during a hurricane. Though their encounter is a fairly brief one, it’s also intense, and both come away with that love-at-first-sight feeling. Here’s where things get complicated. Devorah is a Hasidic Jew, and a frum one at that (“basically the Yiddish equivalent of ‘hopeless goody two-shoes’”). Jaxon is black. They live in present-day Crown Heights; and although, as Jaxon says, “the neighborhood has become so gentrified that I’m more likely to get hit by an artisanal gluten-free scone than a bullet, let’s be real,” tensions can still run high, especially within Devorah’s ultra-conservative family. Even though Devorah’s menacing brother-in-law, a member of the Shomrim (Orthodox neighborhood watch), is on to them, she still can’t resist accidentally-on-purpose bumping into Jax at his work and accepting the cell phone he sneaks (in a grand romantic gesture) into her yard. The story is told from the teens’ alternating perspectives. While Jax is a little too good to be true, Devorah, whether agonizing over her love life or sharing informative details about Hasidic daily life and religious philosophy, is believable and engaging. Her struggle between tradition and modernity, filial duty and personal fulfillment, is complicated and realistic; just because she doesn’t want an arranged marriage doesn’t mean she’s ready to turn her back on her family and her culture. This leads to a conclusion that, while bittersweet, is still hopeful.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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2. Yaqui’s text set

medina yaqui delgado1 Yaquis text set Since I wrote recently about using a text set built around the idea of respect and the title Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, a few people have asked what other texts we used alongside it. Our* essential question was “What makes someone worthy of respect?”

We were aiming for a set that spanned genres, and so the resulting set was both too big to use in our short time but also made of texts that weren’t only from the YA world. It included the some of the following:

  • Poems like “The Ballad of the Landlord” by Langston Hughes and “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike
  • A series of quotes about respect from famous people
  • The short story ‘Chuckie’ by Victor LaValle
  • A couple of articles about bystanding and upstanding when bad things happen to others
  • Lou Holtz’s famous first locker room speech at Notre Dame
  • A couple of pieces from the This I Believe collection having to do with self-respect (thisibelieve.org)
  • Several anecdotes from the book Discovering Wes Moore about choices, misunderstandings, and facing adversity

This group of texts are all related to the idea of respect and who gets it and who doesn’t, and the different readings allowed us to consider respect from a variety of vantage points as we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of Piddy and Yaqui in the anchor novel.  They also gave us lots of time to dabble in writing different genres.

Text sets are such a fun way to really think hard about important stuff, and I’m excited to keep adding to this set about respect.

*This curriculum for the BGA/BU Summer Institute was developed in collaboration with my awesome friends Marisa Olivo and Lucia Mandelbaum from BGA and Scott Seider from BU. 

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3. A Final Napkin Masterpiece

I am coming to terms with the fact that yesterday was my eldest’s last day of high school…sort of. I am not given to emotion, but this is a big deal. In a little over a week we will celebrate her graduation where she will walk across the stage with ribbons, cords, and medals she earned for her outstanding achievements of the past four years. I had a ribbon adorning my graduation gown, as well. Just look at my picture as I accepted what I thought was my diploma.

img008

Yes, R. Ted Boehm knew that wasn’t my ribbon also. I mooched it from someone who had already walked – note the smarmy grin quickly quelled when Mr. Boehm whispered “This is not really your diploma either, son.”  Oh the relief when I did pick a real one up a few days later. I’m guessing he got more than a few reprobates with that nugget over the years.

There is no doubt she will get a diploma, though. And in the fall she will go off to college. She is loud, messy, a bit sassy at times…and I will miss her greatly. I will miss being woken up by her singing at inappropriate hours of the night. I will miss her ignoring me as she saunters to her room and I will miss her friends being over to all hours watching movies underneath my room with the volume so high my bed shakes. (In writing this I wonder why teenagers hate sleep.) I jest. I could list her positive qualities, but my blog would run out of storage space. She is a true gem – a lovely, talented, and godly young lady.

And so, I drew her a last napkin art yesterday morning. I don’t have any idea when this tradition started or why, but whenever I pack lunches, I draw them a little picture on their napkin. My drawing ability would have to increase significantly to be called rudimentary. My sketches are barely above cave art. But if I ever pack a lunch and forget napkin art, they call me on it. Often my pictures are so terrible that I have to explain what I drew and why it is funny (to me).  Ironically, they also render the napkin basically useless as an instrument of cleanliness.

Most of the time they involve animal humor, but on this occasion I drew a creative take on graduation where my graceful daughter trips in front of the principal.

image

I doubt it will come true, but you never know with all of those cords & ribbons weighing her down. Those things are dangerous on many levels, thus my aversion to earning any.


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4. 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and Nonfiction

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? We’ve hand-picked our top ten in each age range, all published 2013–2014, that are ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion. For a handy take-along list of titles, follow this link to a printable PDF.

Picture Books (Fiction and Nonfiction) | Early Readers and Younger Fiction
Intermediate Fiction and Nonfiction | Middle School Fiction and Nonfiction

High School Fiction and Nonfiction

Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up

alexander he said she said 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionHe Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander (Amistad/HarperTeen)
Claudia Clarke — sharp, opinionated, and Harvard-bound — is the only girl who isn’t impressed by quarterback Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls. Omar takes a bet that he can win Claudia over, and when his usual seduction tactics fail, he applies his social clout to Claudia’s cause du jour. 330 pages.

berry all the truth thats in me 170 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionAll the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry (Viking)
Eighteen-year-old narrator Judith is ostracized from her claustrophobic village after a trauma that left her mute. Readers gradually learn “all the truth” about the incident and the village itself as Judith speaks directly (though only in her head) to her love, Lucas. 274 pages.

farizan if you could be mine 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionIf You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Algonquin)
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years. But the girls live in Iran, where their love is illegal. When Nasrin accepts a marriage proposal, both girls must face the untenable future of their relationship; Sahar hatches a desperate plan for them to be together. 247 pages.

maggot moon 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMaggot Moon by Sally Gardner; illus. by Julian Crouch (Candlewick)
Printz Honor Book
In an alternate dystopian United Kingdom, the Motherland regime consigns undesirables to the derelict housing of Zone Seven. When his friend Hector disappears, Standish sets out to rescue him and uncovers a shocking government hoax. 281 pages.

lewis march book 1 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMarch: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
In this memoir told in graphic novel form, Congressman John Lewis — the last surviving member of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders — recounts his formative years, beginning with 1965′s infamous “Bloody Sunday.” From this violently chaotic event the narrative fast-forwards to the morning of Barack Obama’s January 2009 inauguration. 128 pages.

lockhart we were liars 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)
At fifteen, Cady survived an unspecified accident on the private island where her wealthy family and her love interest Gat spend their summers. Two summers later, Cady battles the resultant migraines and memory loss to piece together what really happened, building to a shocking reveal. 228 pages.

rowell fangirl 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Change-resistant college freshman Cath holes up in her dorm room writing fantasy fanfiction. As the year progresses, she is pushed outside her comfort zone by her snarky roommate, her love interest, and her loving but dysfunctional family. 438 pages.

sedgwick midwinterblood 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMidwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
Printz Medal Winner
Seven interconnected short stories progress backwards through the history of a remote Scandinavian island, from 2073 to a “Time Unknown.” Together the tales gradually reveal the ritual that brings bloody death and forbidden love to “Blessed Island.” 263 pages.

wein rose under fire 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionRose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
This WWII-set companion to Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor winner Code Name Verity follows eighteen-year-old American pilot Rose Justice. Captured while delivering supplies and personnel, Rose is sent to notorious German women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück, where she’s befriended by victims of Nazi medical experiments. 360 pages.

boxers saints 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang; illus. by the author; color by Lark Pien (First Second/Roaring Brook)
This “diptych” of graphic novels (with touches of magical realism and humor) is set during China’s Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, Little Bao learns to harness the power of ancient gods to fight the spread of Christianity, while in Saints, Four-Girl sits squarely on the other side of the rebellion. 328 and 172 pages.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

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5. Maggie Has a Whale of a Time at New England Beach Vault

Maggie Steele had an awesome day at the New England Beach Vault. With sunny blue skies and temps in the 70s, the weather was picture perfect for pole-vaulting at Narraganset Town Beach, Rhode Island, where a brisk ocean breeze boosted … Continue reading

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6. Flutura Gets a New Look – $.99 through 1/17

Flutura Cover 011414

Our young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, has a new look.  Book one is completed and book two will be available this spring so get started with Flutura to follow the story of three best friends.  Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

This first book will be on sale for $.99 through January 17th.

You can also sign up to hear about our future young adult releases by joining our mailing list.

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7. School Spirits - Review


Publication date: 13 May 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
ISBN 10/13: 1423148495 | 9781423148494
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy
Keywords: Paranormal, High School, Ghosts, Witches
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: ARC from Publisher


Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Kimberly's Review:

Izzy Brannick is strong and trained to fight monsters. And the one thing she is scared of? High School.

Izzy has been homes schooled her whole life. So when a case requires her to go to high school, Izzy bunkers down, watches a lot of high school television and hopes for the best. But nothing could prepare her for a best friend, a crush and a ghost. A really strong ghost.

Can Izzy's new friends accept who she is and help her defeat this ghost?

I'm a big fan of the Hex Hall series so I was really excited to read School Spirits. Izzy appears in the last book Spell Bound, and she takes front and center in School Spirits. Izzy is smart, strong and achingly awkward. I love how she's never been to a high school pep rally, basketball game. I love how she's learning everything there is to know about high school by watching television. The story introduces us to some "normal" teenagers like her new best friend Romy who is equal parts awesome fun and rainbow unicorn. And sweet Dex who makes Izzy a little bit dizzy.

In typical Hawkins fashion, there's a lot of fun one liners and witty dialogue. There's some romance, and ghosts and witches and danger. But best of all, there is Izzy who is really sweet and a bit sad.

The story moves quickly and while I would have liked more description, more twists, stronger motivations for the characters, I still breezed through it quickly in only two days. Enjoying the ride and wishing there was a sequel I could dive into right away.

It's a standalone after the Hex Hall series, but you should read the series first to fully enjoy School Spirits. I really hope this is the start of a spin off series.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
 


Visit the author online at www.rachel-hawkins.com and follow her on Twitter @LadyHawkins


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8. Larva is Live on Amazon

 

Larva Kindle Cover

We are pleased to announce the release of our second young adult book in our Alpha Girls series, Larva.  Book two of The Alpha Girls series follows Caitlin and her friends during their freshman year of high school.

Caitlin has been dating Josh most of the summer, but she finds herself torn between Josh and the new man on campus, Trick. Trick shared a passionate kiss with Caitlin over the summer on a Florida beach, but she never thought she’d see him again.

High school is full of choices. Some more difficult than others.

 


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9. Enter to Win a Paperback Copy of Flutura

 

We are giving away three paperback copies of  Flutura (The Alpha Girls Series, book one) from now until April 18th. Book one of The Alpha Girls series introduces you to Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin who have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

You can also find Larva (The Alpha Girls Series, book two) available now on Amazon kindle and paperback.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Flutura by Angela Muse

Flutura

by Angela Muse

Giveaway ends April 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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10. “Where do you buy these?”

barnesnoble cherryhillNJ 300x231 Where do you buy these?

Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ.

Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?”

The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But it wouldn’t be the last.

“Umm,” I said, “a bookstore.”

The answer seemed obvious, but later I thought about it further. Had I bought it in a physical bookstore? I probably purchased it online. This eighth grader couldn’t do that without a parent with a credit card. And where was the nearest bookstore? It was in the suburbs, and, again, this eighth grader probably couldn’t get there without someone willing and able to drive him.

Furthermore, the city’s public libraries left much to be desired. They actually closed down completely a few years later, making Camden the largest city in the United States at the time without a public library (thankfully, a couple branches eventually reopened as part of the county system).

camdenfreepubliclibrary 500x375 Where do you buy these?

The Camden Free Public Library

That simple, surprising question actually spoke volumes: Camden, the resting place of Walt Whitman, was a literary desert. It’s not that there weren’t people who still read and wrote, as there certainly were. I knew students who read well above their grade level, inhaling books like oxygen, and then offering profound comments that left me reeling. But the sad truth was that they were few and far between.

Many students in the inner-city do not grow up in literacy-rich environments. They may not have been read to regularly as children. Their houses might not have contained several shelves of books. They might not take regular trips to the library or a store that only sells books.

Eight years later, I now teach high school English at a charter school in West Philadelphia, but this question and its implications have remained in the forefront of my mind. Relative to the nearby neighborhood schools, our students perform pretty well, with a vast majority of each graduating class gaining acceptance to four-year colleges or universities.

Yet our average student still reads below grade level, our top students’ SAT scores are unimpressive, and a majority of our students couldn’t tell you the last time they read an entire book for fun.

I appreciate the complexity behind acquiring language and literacy. But it seems to me that on the whole these are the cumulative consequences of not being surrounded by books and learning to love them. It’s a simple truth overlooked amidst today’s mania for testing: if kids experience the joy of reading, they will read more and become better readers. A student bombarded with practice reading comprehension questions or scripted intervention curriculum for hours a day, year after year, learns only that they hate what they are being told is “reading.”

So, fellow educators, how do you get your students to love reading, to enjoy a book so much that they want to find a bookstore and go buy it? How did you ever get to that point?

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11. Win a Free Copy of the DOGGIRL Audio Book!

Guess what? From now until the end of the month, I’m going to be giving away one free copy of the DOGGIRL audio book every day! That’s ten free audio books. I know! I mean it!

To enter to win, just send me a note here on my contact page telling me one quick story about you and your love for animals. It can be a childhood memory, a quick story about a favorite pet of yours, or just an overall description of why animals make our lives so much better.  Keep it short (I do have other work to do), but tell me.

That’s it! I’ll pick one winner every day and send you the secret code to download the book from Audible.com.

Sound easy? Of course it is. So go for it!

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12. What Would You Do?

First, let me ask: When did we, as a people, stop caring about doing what's right and start only thinking of ourselves?

I know I am generalizing, but I am bombarded daily with acts of selfishness and buffoonery that show no compassion or consideration. I know there are good people in this world (I try to be one of them). Still, my sense of justice is assaulted constantly by those that simply don't care.

With that out of the way, let me get to the reason I asked you here. There is a certain high school student, let's call him P, to maintain his confidentiality. P stands for Pinocchio because this student does not lie, fib, or even swear. His moral compass makes mine look like a Cracker Jack toy.

P is in a predicament. In one of his classes, it seems that the majority of classmates are OK with cheating. Over the past several weeks, they have been sharing answers to quizzes and tests, going so far as to text them or write them on the side of a coffee cup. Worse yet is that they are getting these answers from a Teacher's Aid. In case you don't know, a Teacher's Aid is supposed to be a student of strong character entrusted with helping the teacher. In this case, the Aid is helping other students cheat.

P has a problem. He does not feel he can go to the teacher or administration about this. P is worried about repercussion from his fellow students. In this age group and moral climate, repercussion could easily become physical. P also does not feel he has the support of the administration. Previous experience proves as much in a case where he tried to resolve something anonymously and then the teacher (different than the one above) singled him out to the class because that teacher had some backlash from administration. I should also mention P was a victim of bullying at a younger age. Administration did nothing in that case either, so P has little faith in them and knowledge of the capabilities of his classmates.

What is P supposed to do? What would you do, as a parent or student? It is possible that the teacher won't find out and nothing will happen. If the teacher becomes aware and P does not step forward, what happens? Is P's silence self-preservation or complicity?

I invite comments, suggestions and debate on this topic. Please post comments on this blog, share on Facebook or email me.

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13. Review: The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez

 

Title:  The Space Between Us

Author:  Jessica Martinez

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.

     Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to . . . but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.


Contains spoilers!

Review:

Oh. My. GOD!  That is the only way I know how to express myself after reading The Space Between Us.  The book was not what I was expecting.  At all.  From the first page, I couldn’t put it down.  I kept hoping the puppies would go to sleep so I could read without all of their little distractions (like trying to chew on my rugs, dragging boots around the house, and wrestling over the millions of toys they have to play with!).  This is an emotional read, and the drama is built up entirely around Amelia’s feelings for her youngest sister Charly.  There were plenty of times when I didn’t like Amelia, but I always understood her.  She is enraged that Charly has completely derailed her carefully planned out life, and she can’t find it in herself to forgive her.  But even as she can’t forgive her, she wishes that life would go back to normal, that she and Charly could once again share that easy relationship that they once had.  Her resentment keeps getting in the way, though, and just keeps pushing them further apart.

Amelia has one goal in life – to go to Columbia.  Her entire school life so far has been dedicated to this goal.  She has exceled in her classes, studied her heart out, and always been the good girl.  Charly, on the other hand, is her exact opposite.  Fun loving, bubbly, outgoing, Charly thinks that life’s a game to be played all out.  Everyone loves her, and though she gets into a ton of trouble, her antics have been harmless.  Amelia is resigned that she will be bailing her out of one scrape after another, but with Charly’s unpredictable streak, at least life is never boring.  Until she starts hanging out with a bunch of losers, and she winds up pregnant.

Now, not being overly religious and not living in a small town, I didn’t sympathize with Amelia and her grandmother’s reaction to Charly’s condition.  Not even having a pastor father, who is a distracted and distant caregiver at best, could excuse their behavior and how they treated Charly like a tramp.  She’s pregnant, not a criminal!  She’s scared, suddenly alienated from her own family, and has no one to confide in.  The girls’ stern grandmother has decided that they will keep Charly’s pregnancy a secret from everyone, including their father.  They will both be shipped of to their aunt’s house in Canada, where Charly will take online courses for the rest of the year, and Amelia will be enrolled in the local high school.  Really?!  Sending them off to a relative they don’t know and  have only met once, at their mother’s funeral when they were babies, is the answer to Charly’s problem?  I hated their grandmother, I hated their clueless father, and I even hated Amelia for part of the book.  Everyone in her immediate family turned their back on her when Charly needed them the most, and I had a hard time forgiving them. 

Amelia is infuriated that she is being shipped off to the frozen north.  She wants nothing more than to finish out her senior year at her Florida high school, and then she’ll be free!  It’s off to Columbia for her!  Freedom from Charly and her shenanigans, freedom from gossip, freedom from always having to be the good girl.  Argh!  Amelia does not make a good impression on anyone once she gets to her aunt’s house, and she sees nothing wrong with her rotten behavior.  She takes her rage out on everyone.  I could understand how devastated she felt after her dreams shattered one by one, but come on!  You are supposed to be the mature one!  There were times that I was so frustrated with her that I did not like her.  But even then, I could still sympathize with her.  It is so hard to have your entire life shaken up like snow globe, so while I didn’t condone her actions, at least I understood them.

There is a lot of emotion packed into this book.  While it’s told from Amelia’s POV, Charly’s terror and unhappiness are painfully evident.  She’s a sixteen year old kid who, after one careless decision, ends up ostracized by her family.  The only caring adult in her life is the aunt she doesn’t even know.  Bree immediately tries to make both girls feel at home, but Amelia is so resentful and suspicious of her motives that she can only give her a hard time.  Ugh! I kept waiting for her to attain some measure of maturity, and it was a long time in coming.  Almost too late, really.  Amelia made me so angry!  I haven’t been this worked up reading a book in a long time!

When forgiveness does finally come, there is still an awkward strain between the sisters.  Amelia has fallen into a pattern of thinking that constantly blames her sister for everything, and dismisses her unfairly.  I think my only disappointment with the story is that I felt that some of the issues that had pushed them so far apart weren’t settled enough for my satisfaction.  That space that developed between Amelia and Charly, and even between Amelia and her father and grandmother, had grown so great that I am not convinced it could ever be bridged.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

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14. Review: Strobe Edge Vol 1 by Io Sakisaka

 

Title:  Strobe Edge Vol 1

Author: Io Sakisaka

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!


Review: 

When I first read the book blurb above, I thought it was pretty lame.  After reading Strobe Edge, though, I think it very accurately and very succinctly describes this high school romance.  Ninako is shy and reserved, and everyone thinks she and her childhood friend, Daiki will eventually get together.  Daiki makes no secret of his feelings, but he has never voiced them, leaving Ninako, who is kind of clueless, thinking that they are just friends.  After circumstances have her and school heartthrob Ren cross paths several times, Ninako discovers how kind and thoughtful he is, and she falls in love with him.

Strobe Edge captures all of the awkwardness and exhilaration of falling in love for the first time.  Ninako falls head over heels for Ren, and who can blame her? He’s gorgeous, and better yet, he is nice.  What a combo!  As her feelings for Ren grow, so does her guilt over them.  She has finally picked up on Daiki’s feelings, and she feels awful about her lack of feelings for him.  She blames herself for leading him on, and though she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, she knows that she has to level with him.  So along with the giddy rush she experiences whenever she sees Ren,  she realizes that her feelings are going to hurt one of her closest friends.

I don’t want to spoil any other plot points, so instead I’ll urge you to give Strobe Edge a try if you enjoy series like High School Debut and Kimi ni Todoke.  This introductory volume will leave you smiling as Ninako slowly begins to blossom, shedding her reservations and allowing herself to come out of her shell.  She knows that her heart will more than likely get broken, but for the time being, she is enjoying how she feels about Ren.  Because she is so sweet, and because she is taking this huge risk, you can’t help but cheer her on.  Will things work out between her and Ren, or is Ninako doomed to heartbreak?  I don’t know, but I can hardly wait to find out!

Grade:  wavering between a B+ and an A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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15. Review: Smashed by Lisa Luedeke

 

Title:  Smashed

Author:  Lisa Luedeke

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.

     Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

 


Review:

I am not going to lie.  Parts of Smashed left me angry and frustrated.  It’s a hard book to put down, because Katie’s life is such a train wreck.  While I found it engrossing, I am torn about it.  I wanted to like Katie more than I did, but there are many times throughout the narrative that she is unlikable, and hard to relate to. She is struggling with her father’s rejection of her family, and when Alec is nice to her, she ignores her reservations about him and starts falling for him.  With a distant, distracted mother who is never there for her, she craves what Alec is giving her; attention and kindness.  When he shows a darker side, she is frightened, but when he apologizes for his abusive behavior, she forgives him, and puts herself  at risk again.  Katie doesn’t trust adults, and frankly, who can blame her after taking a long, hard look at her parents, so she instead tries to deal with all of her problems by herself.  She doesn’t even confide in her closest friends that she is in over her head with Alec.   Instead, she decides to deal with him herself, but her way of dealing with him can only have one outcome, and it isn’t a pretty one. 

Alec and his friends are the kings of her school, and they have a reputation for being bullies and getting away with crap.  When their paths start crossing during the summer, Katie starts to think that she’s been wrong about him.  He’s attentive and kind, and he’s there to listen as she vents about her family.  Sure, a couple of things don’t add up, and he gets aggressive about a physical relationship, but Katie convinces herself that she’s sending him the wrong signals.  She just wants to be friends.  But the more she pushes him away, the harder he pushes back, until he has her scared and wary of him.  When a drunk driving accident almost kills them both, Katie has to live the consequences of a very bad decision.  In the months that follow, she puts her dream of playing field hockey in college, a scholarship, and even her life in danger. 

I was so upset with some of the choices that Katie made.  There is pressure on her and her teammates to not get caught partying during the season, or they will be kicked off the team.  Instead of drinking publically, Katie starts drinking at home.  Her mother is never there, so it’s not like anyone is going to know or care.  Her mother is more focused on her job and finding a boyfriend to be there for Katie and her younger brother.   Without positive role models, Katie is struggling to find her place and struggling to deal with the challenges she is facing.  I kept wondering if and when her mother would take a step back from her own life and take an interest in her children’s.  I also felt horribly sad that Katie felt so abandoned and alone.  She feels that she has no one, so she starts drinking to forget all of her problems.

I don’t feel that Alec’s personality was developed enough, and I was disappointed at Alec’s lack of depth. I never felt that I got to know him or understand him. He’s just a one-dimensional jerk whose only purpose in the story is to propel Katie down a path of self-destruction. 

If you enjoy contemporary fiction that deal with social issues, I think you will enjoy Smashed.  It is a compelling and hard to put down read, and even though I didn’t always like Katie, I always sympathized with her.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy obtained from my local library

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16. Giveaway! Win Also Known As by Robin Benway!

 

About the book:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As by Robin Benway? Just will out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US mailing addresses only.

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17. Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

 

 

Title: Also Known As

Author: Robin Benway

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.


Review:

When I saw Also Known As on Netgalley, I immediately requested a copy.  I love YA books featuring spies, espionage, and danger, and this title looked like it had all of that in spades.  Plus, as an added bonus, protagonist Maggie is a gifted safe-cracker.  Seriously, it just doesn’t get any more fun than that!  The first chapter kind of bogged me down, but once I hit my stride, I gobbled Also Known As in just an afternoon.  I didn’t want to put it down, and it had me so engaged in the story that I was able to overlook a few inconsistences that would have driven me crazy otherwise.  This is a fun read, with a confident though in over her head heroine, and an engaging cast of supporting characters.  I really hope Maggie will return for more adventures.

Maggie has been living the life of a spy forever.  Both of her parents are employed by the Collective, and they spend their days trying to make the world a safer place by putting the brakes on gun runners, human traffickers, and other nefarious plots designed to shake up the world order.  Maggie has been cracking locks since she was a toddler, and she fully expects to follow in her parents’ spy footsteps, cracking locks and stealing away with evil doers’ plans to destroy peace and stability.  When she’s given her first solo assignment in NYC, she couldn’t be more thrilled.  All she has to do is befriend Jesse Oliver.  Jesse’s father runs a powerful publishing empire, and he’s planning to run an expose outing Maggie, her family, and the Collective.  If she can’t steal the documents that threaten to ruin her family, they will be in big, big danger.

Now, I’m not even going to wonder why the Collective, a super secret spy organization, is putting an inexperienced spy in charge of saving everyone’s bacon.  Instead, I allowed myself to get sucked into Maggie’s upbeat and very entertaining narrative.  She has all of the confidence in the world, and she is going to make everyone proud of her.  She is going to live up to her legacy and steal those damaging documents!  All she has to do is pretend to be friends with Jesse, and she’s in like Flynn!

Only that’s not how things work out.  As Maggie embraces her assignment, she’s determined to do everything in her power to be successful.  But as she makes friends with a social outcast, and gets caught up in going to school and hanging out with kids her own age, she starts to see that it’s more difficult to pretend that she ever had thought.  And after she and Jesse connect on a personal level, she realizes, to her dismay, that she’s not pretending anymore.  She really likes him, and she really likes her new friend Roux, and she knows her parents are never going to understand her lapse in judgment.  They’ve trained her better than that, haven’t they?

I loved Maggie’s anxiety about hurting her new friends.  Now that she actually has some, she is loathe to lose them.  She is lying to everyone, though, and it’s making her miserable.  Being a teen spy is just not as easy as it sounds!  She can’t let her parents know that she kissed Jesse (and that she’d do it again in a second), or that her friendship with Roux isn’t just for cover.  She is dealing with so many issues that she never considered, it’s no wonder she can’t get a decent night’s sleep!

Also Known As lived up to all of my expectations, and even exceeded them.  The pacing is spot on, the plot never lagged, and Maggie is a fun, likable character, even if she did need to be knocked down a peg or two.  Recommended for fans of Ally Carter.  Check back later today for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As!

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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18. Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

 

 

Title: Hysteria

Author: Megan Miranda

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past. But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others. In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda’s masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.


Review:

Okay, this was a different read for me.  Mallory killed her boyfriend one rainy night during the summer, after he broke into her house.  She isn’t charged because it was ruled to be in self-defense, but Mallory isn’t sure.  She can’t remember what happened that scary, rainy night, and she’s not sure that she wants to.  Unable to sleep without the aid of sleeping pills, she suffers from the emotional trauma that she can’t put behind her.  She feels a dark, heavy presence when she’s alone, and she keeps hearing the ominous boom, boom, boom of Brian’s dying heartbeat.  When her parents send her away to Monroe, the boarding school her dad went to, she doesn’t think things can get any worse.  Boy, was she wrong.

Hysteria is a compelling, character driven story.  There is a steady building of suspense, and you aren’t sure whether Mallory is completely nuts or just suffering from PTSD.  Her escape mechanism when things get too intense for her is to run.  Run as fast and as far away from whatever it is that’s making her uncomfortable.  She runs a lot in this book.  From herself, from her memories, from her classmates.  But mostly she runs from the truth.  What happened that awful night, and why can’t she remember?

I was bewildered at Mallory’s parents’ apparent abandonment.  What the heck?  Their daughter is going through the worst time in her life, and they ship her off to boarding school.  Mallory can barely function because she is so consumed with what she did.  It colors everything in her life, as it should.  She killed someone, and she is being eaten mercilessly by remorse.  What could she have done differently?  Why did she do what she did?  The flashbacks to that night when everything went wrong  are intense and compelling, and kept me wondering how all of the pieces would fit together.  After first I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked Mallory because  she is so emotionally shattered that she comes off as uncaring and indifferent.  As the story unfolds, though, it becomes more and more evident that she is suffering but she has no one to turn to for help.  Her best friend back home isn’t responding to her emails or phone calls, and her parents are emotionally distant.  What Mallory needed was a good shrink, but all she seemed to get was a slick lawyer.  I didn’t get that.  If her parents could afford to ship her off to boarding school, they could have provided her with counseling as well.

Whether or not you enjoy Hysteria will depend on whether or not you like Mallory.  She is one messed up girl, and her coping methods are suspect at best.  Weird things are happening to her, and instead of trying to seek help, she tries to deal with all of her problems by herself.  The few times she reaches out to her parents are rebuffed.  When events become too much for her to handle, the authority figures in her life don’t believe her because of her past.  Mallory irritated at times, but I did come to like her, and I wanted her to find peace from her memories and her nightmares. The pacing is a little slow at times, but I found this a hard book to put down.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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19. Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton, Author of Blaze

Laurie Boyle Crompton is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about her new release BLAZE.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Blaze?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Blaze is a seventeen-year-old comic geek who is sort of stuck in her life driving her younger brother and his friends around in her turd-brown minivan (AKA: The Subatomic Sweatmobile of Doom). She loves drawing comics and is determined to snag her crush but when she does things don’t really go as planned.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] My step-dad has an amazing collection of vintage comics that I had the privilege of reading through as a teen. I became an instant comic geek girl and this was before a lot of the superhero movies came out so there was zero cool factor to my obsession. Besides loving comics in general, I loved the way reading them made me believe in a greater truth. When people weren’t exactly being kind to me it was nice to read about a world where the good guys always come out on top.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Blaze?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Talented Kickass Geek

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Blaze’s locker?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] A notebook that’s not covered in doodles.

A boy band poster.

A vanity mirror.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Vintage superhero comics were a huge influence in writing this book. It was really a fantastic experience to be reading through all these old issues and seeing the ways that Blaze was inspired by the various characters. It was like I was experiencing the comics through her eyes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Time, time, time! I would do it every second of every day if I could, but of course there are basic day-to-day things that need to be taken care of. Thankfully, some of the things I DON’T need in order to write include; clean laundry, home-cooked meals, scrubbed bathrooms and clean floors. When I’m on deadline none of that stuff happens.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] I recently read THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER because I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I know that if I see a movie the odds go down that I will go back and pick up the book (exceptions abound, including WHIP IT by Shauna Cross which was awesome). I’m so glad I did read PERKS first, although I suspect I would’ve picked up the book afterwards anyway.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] I love to be outdoors. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing – anything that gets me moving through nature. I’m a movie fanatic and also enjoy going for long rides in our Jeep with the top down. The perfect combination of these two is when we take the Jeep to the drive-in during the summer. *sigh* *thinks longingly of summer*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Twitter https://twitter.com/lbcrompton

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurie.b.crompton

Website http://lboylecrompton.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13345957-blaze

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Blaze from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…

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20. Review: Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

 

Title: Blaze

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…


Review:

I have mixed feelings about Blaze.  I loved the protagonist’s voice, but, man, could Blaze do some stupid things.  She frustrated me several times during the narrative, because she was smarter than she acted.  She is so desperate to escape her boring soccer mom life that she builds up a non-existent romance with her brother’s soccer coach.  The reality of their relationship is much more shallow; they have a hookup  in the back of Blaze’s van, and once that’s over, Mark’s interest in Blaze is extinguished.

Blaze is the rock of her family.  Her father has abandoned them to pursue an acting career in New York and her mother works long hours as a nurse, so Blaze is the primary caregiver  for her younger brother Josh.  She shuttles him and his friends back forth to soccer games, attempts to cook, and takes care of most of the household chores.  She has two close friends, and not much of a social life.  And a boyfriend?  Nope, her love life is sadly lacking.  

Then one fateful day, Mark, Josh’s soccer coach, asks for a ride home.  Blaze has been lusting after Mark from afar all season, and she can’t believe that he’s going to be sitting in her car!  Wait, no, her vehicle is the color of crap and it smells like stinky boys.  Ugh! Still, she’s not going to let this opportunity go to waste.  Awkwardly flirting with him, she is quickly smitten.  He’s hot, after all.  Mark even makes her laugh and good-naturedly goes along with the silly games she and her young charges play to pass the time during the long drives rides to the soccer games. 

After giving him a few more rides to games, Blaze has built up their relationship in her mind, and she starts to think that it’s a lot more than it really is.  This frustrated me, because she is not a stupid girl.  She is an intelligent young woman with hopes and dreams who can debate the nuances of the  Marvel Universe with the best of them, but because her family is so dysfunctional, she is looking for something to break the monotony of her rural life.  There has to be something more than being invisible and going to school, and with Mark’s help she’s going to find out what it is.

It’s obvious to the reader that Mark is all wrong for her and that Blaze is in for nothing but heartache.  He’s a class A jerk, and I wanted to shake some common sense into her every time Blaze obsessed about the lack of communication from him.  When they are together, it’s like they aren’t even speaking the same language.  When Mark does her wrong, and Blaze strikes back at him, her life is torn to shreds when he reposts a picture of her that her friend texted to him.  Let’s just say that the fallout makes being a boring soccer mom stand-in seem like the best job in the world.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, with a few reservations.  Blaze is a comic nerd, more specifically, a Marvel comic nerd, and there is a lot of comic chatter going on in her head.  An aspiring comic creator herself, she thinks, eats, and breathe comics.  Because I am a comic geek, too, and I’m familiar with the Marvel Universe (and even the Superman issue that she disses), I felt right at home here.  If you don’t like comics, have never heard of Comicon, and can’t imagine hanging out in a comic shop, you might be a little bored here.

The other thing that irritated me and made me want to fling the book at the nearest wall was the hookup scene with Blaze and Mark.  Blaze, as I have already stated, seems like a smart girl.  She should know that having unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy or a life-threatening disease.  She hardly knows Mark.  By this time in the story, I thought he had proven himself to be a stuck-up, self-centered dirtbag, but my opinion of him certainly does not matter.  Nary a protest is made about the lack of a condom, and in this day and age, that’s inexcusable.  I don’t care how old you are or how badly you want to keep your boyfriend happy.  Ugh!!

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

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21. Interview with Cole Gibsen, Author of Senshi

Cole Gibsen is visiting the virtual offices today.  I loved Katana, so I’m delighted that she could drop by to answer a few questions about Senshi, the next book in the series.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Cole Gibsen] I’m a wannabe superhero who loves sewing, comic books, and Chinese food. My nail polish is always chipped.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Senshi?

[Cole Gibsen] Senshi is the sequel to my debut novel and ohmigosh, did I have fun writing it. Not only does Rileigh accept the role as a warrior, but Quentin gets a chance to prove his worth, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cole Gibsen] It was my love of martial arts and Bruce Lee movies that inspired me to write the first KATANA.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rileigh?

[Cole Gibsen] Fearless, snarky, and stubborn. So I guess that would be fenarkorn. You know, I think we’re on to something here. I’m calling the people at Webster to get this recognized as a word!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Rileigh had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cole Gibsen] When I wrote the first book I had Rebirth by Skillet playing on loop. There couldn’t be a more perfect song for Rileigh.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Quentin won’t leave the house without.

[Cole Gibsen] His sunglasses. I always imagined him to be very much like me in that respect. My eyes are super sensitive to light so I have to wear my sunglasses at all times or else I have to do the squinty eye thing while I drive which is really no fun.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kim’s pockets?

[Cole Gibsen] 1. A pocketknife—really, why bother with anything less than a sword?

2. Gum—Rileigh makes him clench his jaw enough, no need to add to the strain.

3. Fast food receipt—As focused as Kim is with training, I don’t think he’d eat anything that wouldn’t keep him in optimum condition. Rileigh on the other hand…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Cole Gibsen] Stan Lee. Comic books were my life growing up. And I’m not ashamed to admit I still read them.  My goal when writing KATANA was to see if I could take a comic book concept and put it into book form.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Cole Gibsen] 1. A mug of hot tea.

2. My kitty thinks I need her on my lap.

3. NO INTERNET

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Cole Gibsen] Does comic book count? I just read Amazing Spiderman #700 and the ending, I won’t go into it because it’s a major spoiler alert, made me cry. When you invest so much time into a character, they become almost like family. So when they die, it makes an impact.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Cole Gibsen] When I was seventeen I found myself homeless and living out of my car. Back in those days there were no cell phones so my only source of entertainment were the books I checked out from the library that I read in my car with a flashlight. I remember the first book I ever read that really transported me to another world so viscerally was Deerskin by Robin McKinley. I’d loved how this poor girl who suffered and was abused terribly by her father, was able to rise above her past and become so much more than she’d ever dreamed. To this day, that book still haunts and inspires me. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cole Gibsen] So many things! I like to sew and craft things out of felt. I also play the harmonica and sing in an eighties –themed rock band.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cole Gibsen] My website: www.colegibsen.com

My twitter: www.twitter.com/colegibsen

My facebook: www.facebook.com/colegibsen

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Senshi from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

Is Rileigh’s only hope for salvation to team up with her sworn enemy?

Rileigh Martin just wants to do normal teenage things, like go on romantic dates with Kim, her boyfriend and past life soul mate. Although that seems impossible when she’s the reincarnation of Senshi, a fifteenth century samurai warrior. After a ninja ambush leaves her unable to control her ki powers, Rileigh vows to get them under control before her friends lose more than their eyebrows. But when Kim leaves her for his past life betrothed and the other samurai stop talking to her, Rileigh realizes she doesn’t have any friends left to worry about.

As the ninja attacks increase, Rileigh learns that the reincarnated kunoichi, a powerful female ninja, wants to kill her in order to reclaim her destructive powers. Alone and with increasingly unstable powers, Rileigh’s only offer of help comes from Whitley, her sworn past life enemy. Rileigh knows she doesn’t stand a chance against the kunoichi by herself, but Whitley’s sudden allegiance might be hiding a much deadlier agenda.

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22. ‘Maggie’ Author Invites You to See Dreams Come True at Nation’s Largest Track Meet

WICHITA, Kan. – Every year for the past 101 years, dreams have come true at the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships. The meet’s 102nd running will be no exception, this Friday and Saturday, as more than 3,000 … Continue reading

2 Comments on ‘Maggie’ Author Invites You to See Dreams Come True at Nation’s Largest Track Meet, last added: 5/22/2013
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23. ‘Minutewoman Maggie’ Gallops Toward New England Beach Vault!

One if by land, two if by sea, Minutewoman Maggie is on a fast gallop from Grain Valley, Kansas, to New England Beach Vault 2013. Author Grant Overstake received an email on Sunday, inviting his storybook heroine, Maggie Steele, to … Continue reading

2 Comments on ‘Minutewoman Maggie’ Gallops Toward New England Beach Vault!, last added: 9/17/2013
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24. Maggie Soars to Sunny California for Valley Vaulters Halloween Vault

Storybook heroine Maggie Steele is winging her way West for the fourth annual Valley Vaulters Halloween Vault this weekend in beautiful Murrieta, California. The event, sponsored by the Valley Vaulters pole-vault club will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 … Continue reading

1 Comments on Maggie Soars to Sunny California for Valley Vaulters Halloween Vault, last added: 10/28/2013
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25. Moon Killers (Shadow Series #3) : episode 1

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Happy Halloween! To celebrate I’m releasing a portion of Moon Killers in installments to thank you. So on this All Hallow’s Eve, come sit by the fire with me. Here’s a hot cup of apple cider. Are you all set? Let’s read the first episode of book three of The Shadow Series together…

When something feels wrong, it usually is.

My boyfriend Drew places his hand on my cheek. We’re lying next to each other in the end zone at the high school’s dark, empty football stadium. Blades of grass tickle a warning all along my spine––Drew and I aren’t alone. I rustle in place, trying to shake the feeling that someone is out there in the dark, watching us. Instead, I lose myself in Drew’s gaze, caring and not caring that he’s picked tonight to tell me everything––finally. When he leans in close, I close my eyes, feel his lips on mine and melt in his arms. He kisses me as if he’s lived a thousand lifetimes and discovered only love matters. But he will die. And I will not. Not for a very long time.

Nothing about Drew says he’s just begun his Last Life. Nothing about Drew has changed at all since I took his place as the Shadow Slayer. Girls still swoon over him, especially under the Friday night lights––where he can be found pulling off winning plays week after week. Most girls would die to just talk to him. I can’t believe he’s my boyfriend.

There are two main ways girls like to stalk Drew. After a game, they flock in his wake when he and the other football players make a pit stop at the Snack Shack on their way to the locker room. The girls smile with their hot dogs or hot chocolate hot in their hands, and flip their hair ready for Drew––all dripping with Gatorade––to turn around and instantly fall in love with one of them. And when this fails, their backup plan is keeping a vigil in the football field parking lot with an eye on the locker room door. The boys, fresh from their showers, punch and joke their way to their cars. Said swooning girls walk around in circles, searching for rides they never missed. Most end up lingering by Drew’s baby blue Beemer with a can-you-help-me, I-missed-my-ride bat of their eyes, which can have the affect of bonding opportunistic girls to oblivious guys. Sometimes after a game, I stare at all the hair-flipping, eye-batting, stranded girls and wonder which one will become Drew’s girlfriend now that I’m the Shadow Slayer. Which of them will be the mortal girl he’ll date after me.

I know I don’t have a shot at being Drew’s girlfriend for very much longer anyway, even without the whole have-to-save-the-world-from-the-Shadows thing that will pretty much eat up all my free time for the next five hundred years. I mean it’s inevitable that he’ll wake up one day and be like, oh, ick what was I thinking. It’s not like he’s made me feel he’s doing me a favor by dating me or anything, in spite of our obvious violation of the Hot Factor Doctrine––Drew being a ten and me being a six. It’s way more complicated than the fact that doctrine dictates he should date up at least a few factors especially since there are plenty of female tens here at Oakdale Central High School. No, the reason I won’t be Drew’s girlfriend for long is that he’s mortal now. He’ll want, no make that need, a mortal girlfriend. He’ll need to live a real life. The life he’s dreamed about for centuries. The life he fought for. The life he slayed for. We can’t be together now that I’m the Shadow Slayer. One day soon, we’ll be separated forever. I shiver.

“Roxie, what’s going on?”

“What?”

“I’ve asked you over and over and you…I don’t know…it’s like you’re not even here.”

“I’m here. Now.” I manage a smile even though my heart’s breaking.

His smile fades and he pulls me in close to his chest.

“Will you wear my jersey to school tomorrow for luck?”

I nod. I like wearing his number. Eighteen is my new favorite number. “Sure, you know I will.”

“LT is double tough this year because their backup quarterback Anderson got a shot at starting and even though he’s just a sophomore he’s blowing every other quarterback away. If we’re going to win our division, we have to beat LT.”

It’s strange to hear Drew talking about division finals and beating LT as intensely as he once did about my destiny as Shadow Slayer and how I’d have to battle them. This mortal life is his now. So very different than mine. Being the best quarterback is what matters most to him now. I wish it could matter more to me. But my old life is sort of hollow. I’m in between worlds, not quite here.

The only thing that matters to me is moon killing. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to gain an advantage over the Shadows. It’s the only way I’ll have a shot at my own Last Life. It’s the only way I’ll be able to save the world.

But, tomorrow’s game against LT is epic. It’s kind of cool how everyone at school, make that everyone in town, wants to beat them. We hate LT. I still don’t know why, it just is. Last year when I was a freshman, I had no idea exactly why we hated LT––Lyons Township High School, the high school a few towns over. And apparently, just being a few towns over is the only reason we need to hate them. It’s weird and doesn’t make sense but our hatred really just boils down to geography.

When you’re in high school you sort of have to accept things like archrivals. Before I met Drew last year, before I found out that I’m the Shadow Slayer, I thought freshman was tattooed on my forehead. Back then it seemed everyone around me knew I didn’t know anything about anything especially stuff I was supposed to automatically know, like LT being the enemy. It took me a long time to figure stuff out freshman year. Most of the reason I wasn’t a total loser freshman year was because Drew was my boyfriend.

to be continued….

Book 1, 13 on Halloween (free)

Book 2, Shadow Slayer

Want to know more about the series? Click here for playlists, dreamcasts, and book trailers

Shadow Slayer, book 2


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