By Gordon Korman

New York: Balzer and Bray, 2009.

260 pages.  Grades 6-8.


I can’t believe mom has moved us this summer—the summer before my junior year.  What’s worse I, Marcus, was ready to start as quarterback but now I have to try out for a new team!  In order to get ready I have started going down to Three Alarm Park to practice throwing—but it’s pretty hard throwing by myself.  On my third day at the park this middle age man catches one of my passes and strikes up a football conversation with me.  He was so knowledgeable and then he tackles me for the first time and whoa!  I take a closer look at him—he is in great shape and very athletic—I am not sure how he tackled me that hard—he said did you feel the ‘Pop’?  I felt a pop and a whole lot more!  This guy’s name is Charlie, Charlie Popovich as I later find out—he was the “king of pop” in his NFL years.  I can’t figure out why he is helping me—but he shows up every day and I am learning a ton.  That’s the good news—the bad news is that I have little or no chance at the quarterback position and will be lucky to make the team since they won their championship last year. I have also angered the starting quarterback by seeing his ex-girlfriend and that quarterback, Troy, his dad is Charlie.  I am confused but Charlie keeps helping me and I don’t know anyone else in this God forsaken place so I keep showing up and so does Charlie.  I know something is not quite right with Charlie but what?  He seems nice enough and everyone in town loves him but he is a strange bird!  Follow my junior year in high school but be prepared for some real twists and turns!


Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics

Rush for the Gold:  Mystery at the Olympics

By John Feinstein

New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

Pages 314.  Grades 5-8.

What great timing!  Susan Carol and Stevie have another great mystery to solve and it takes place at the 2012 Olympics in London!  So, as I am watching the swimming time trials I am reading about the swimming time trials.  Most of the same characters too–like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, U. S. male swimmers. Then there are the fictional characters like Olympic Swimmer, Susan Carol Anderson.  That’s right, Susan Carol at 15 is one of the youngest swimmers trying out for the Olympic Team.  In the previous books by Feinstein you might recall, Susan Carol and Stevie are teens, which are journalists for prominent newspapers—both very accomplished at a young age. When they are on location scouting out great stories they seem to always find trouble—in fact that might be what brought them together as boyfriend and girlfriend!  Their trouble always seems to turn into a great story for their respective newspapers.

The mystery in this book centers around Susan Carol and the media—media agents to be exact.  Companies want to be the sponsor of Gold Medal Athletes and the athletes agents want to get a deal made even before their swimmer gets in the water at the Olympics.  Stevie is now covering Susan Carol, who has a real shot at two gold medals, and her competition.  Stevie knows something is not right when the finals are set to begin—like perhaps the agents already knew who is going to win?  Read this timely mystery and get ready for the real Olympics to start next week!  Go U.S.A.!

A Girl Named Digit

A Girl Named Digit

By Annabel Monaghan

New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 2012.

187 pages.  Grades 6-8.

I do not know what is worse—my real name Farrah or my nickname Digit!  My mom named me after her favorite Charlie’s Angel and my nickname Digit, was given to me at school because I love numbers—I mean really love any kind of math!  But being really smart does not get me many friends. So this year, at the new school I am lying low—I told the principals I would work hard and score high for them on standardized tests but in return they needed to keep my secret of how smart I was—by not calling on me in class and by not putting scores on returned papers.  So far so good—I have joined up with three unlikely girls as friends—we really have nothing in common but I do get to feel what is really like to have friends.  I wonder if I will ever get to be or show my true self—I wonder if I will ever get a boyfriend too!

My whole life changes while I am sitting with my three girlfriends watching this ridiculous “shallow” show when I notice numbers flash at the bottom of the screen.  Okay, so now I am intrigued—it happens two more times and then that is when I excuse myself so that I can see what those numbers mean.  It has to be a code for something.  I have figured out that the sequence is a reverse Fibonacci.  As I start to figure out what the code means, a terrorist attack happens on U.S. soil and I figure out that code and attack are linked together!  I have my brilliant dad take me to the FBI to report what I know but they line me up with all the other fruitcakes that are paranoid about terrorists.  Then in walks FBI Agent John Bennett, he can’t be too much older than me—and what a hottie! I think I’m in love! John takes my story down (not believing me for a minute) and then I am dismissed to go home.  By the time my story gets checked out—I find myself “sort of kidnapped” by the FBI to keep me safe, my parents playing the part of distraught parents on TV and FBI agent John Bennett and myself on the run trying to solve the bigger plot—how to capture the ring leader of the terrorist plot. So we go undercover and when that gets blown, we are on our own while terrorists are hunting us down.  We will see how the smart young agent, John Bennett really is and of course don’t underestimate what I can contribute in trying to solve this mystery and keep ourselves alive!

Author Website:


Chomp By Carl Hiaasen

New York:  Alfred Knopf, 2012

200 pages.  Grades 5-7

Who names their kid Wahoo?  Well that is my name!  Dad named me after a professional wrestler—it also is the name of a saltwater fish.  Summer is here and I am in for a hard one–since the iguana froze fell out of the tree and gave my dad a concussion with reoccurring migranes I have to take care of all of the animals!  My dad is an animal wrangler—he collects animals that are hurt nurses them back to health and we sometimes release them back to the wild but often they are ours for the duration.  The animals are often used in movies and television shows like the survival show of Derek Badger.  In this reality show Derek will do anything to survive—he is so awesome.  At  least that is what I thought until he came to film down in our everglades!  He has a stunt double and doesn’t really eat cockroaches.  But he is crazy!  Crazy stupid that is—he needed footage with an Alligator, so we got Alice ready to go.  Since she was not lively enough he decided to get on her back and wrestle with her in the water!  Can you say MISTAKE?  Even a tame, wild animal will not stand such foolishness—thus we get the name of my book Chomp!  Read this hilarious, yet serious book about the everglades, child abuse and finding out who we really are on the inside.  Carl Hiaasen does not disappoint!  6/8/12


Divergent by Veronica Roth

Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 2011.

Pages 487.  Grades 7 & 8. 

Divergent is super crazy book.  It is paired as a read alike to Hunger GamesDivergent hedges on being a more psychological thriller dystopian novel than the Hunger Games!  Divergent thinking is defined as:  thinking in an unusual and unstereotyped way, e.g. to generate several possible solutions to a problem.  The Word Divergent as: tending to be different or develop in different directions.  Thank you dictionary.com.  So what does that mean to siblings Caleb and Beatrice?  It is during their 16th year when they have to choose what they want to devote their life to—not in like a job or a career but what virtues do they hold to be true. Sixteen is the age where you have to choose your faction.  Your virtue can determine where you choose to live.  Currently, Caleb and Beatrice live in Abnegation—the selfless faction.  They put everyone above themselves—this faction runs the government, everything is gray, quiet and calm.  Candor faction—always are truthful and honest—which can really be brutal at times. Erudites are the intelligent faction, Amity faction holds peace above all else and Dauntless the courageous and bravest faction of all.  All determined by an aptitude test.

Beatrice, I walk into school today with a real sense of dread.  It is today that all 16 year olds take the “aptitude test”—it is unlike any test I have ever had.  I sit down in the cold steel chair where I get strapped in.  Then my head is hooked up with wires and then I am asked to drink the serum.  While I am “dreaming or sleeping” the nightmare begins.  First, I am faced with two baskets one with a knife and one with cheese.  I am told to choose.  I take neither!  I now turn and I have to face a vicious dog coming at me—what should I do. (I guess the cheese or knife would have been handy here!)  Ahh, I remember from chemistry class that dogs can smell fear, I slow my breathing, I tell myself I am not afraid, but the dog still comes toward me—oh yeah I remember hearing you should never look the dog straight in the eye—that is a sign of aggression.  So I need to think quick—I lie down, be submissive I tell myself, I can feel the dog’s breath on my neck and then…….I feel a wet sloppy lick.  The dog is very docile, it wants to play until a little girl in a white dress runs over……the dog turns on her and is once again vicious.  I jump on the dog and the whole scene disappears.  I am out of breath and then another scenario pops up.  When I awaken I am totally spent and totally nervous about the results.  Over the last 16 years I have not really been good at the whole selfless thing—it does come naturally to Caleb—I am sure he will choose Abnegation.  But just where do I fit in?  The tester comes back in and says my results are inconclusive—I push her.  I don’t want to be factionless and live on the streets—that’s a death sentence.  She then whispers to me that I am Divergent and I should tell no one.  She says she cannot explain and that I can choose any faction I want.  I go home to mull it over; I must not speak to anyone until I declare my faction at the ceremony the next day.  My brother does not speak to me—he looks drained and devoid of all color. Can I leave my family?  I know that Abnegation is not who I am?  Can I be brave enough to jump off and on moving trains, always taking a dare from someone, can I be Dauntless. I can always be honest?  That is not my strong suit.  Peaceful too much like Abnegation. Intelligent, I doubt it. Caleb blows me away when he chooses Erudites.  My dad looks angry.  I choose, then blurt out Dauntless, my dad is heartbroken but mom looks really weird as I walk away she has the hint of a smile on her face.  My faction is chosen and now I must train to be brave and courageous at all times what does that mean?  Who will be joining me?  Come along and watch my brutal initiate training, see if they can break me after all I tested Divergent or if I have what it takes to be Dauntless?

This novel is violent like Hunger Games was—killing and blood.  But the core of this book lies in the psyche—can you control your mind.  That is where you will find the answers to your true self, your virtues.

Conspiracy 365: January

Conspiracy 365: January
By Gabrielle Lord
Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller, 2010.
185 pages Grades 5-8

I am 15 years old, live with my mom and little sister–my dad died 6 months ago. Life is just starting to get back to normal, a “new normal”. Then my life goes totally crazy when I go from a normal kid to a fugitive. Let me go back to my dad–he was researching our family in Ireland and shared with me that he had important information to share as soon as he got home. But he came down with a ‘mysterious’ virus that killed him shortly after he got back. My dad left me some drawings, some names that I now need to piece together. Finally, a wild stranger approaches me and tells me that I must hide for the next year and so I, Callum Ormond, am on the run–running for my life!

If you love action packed mysteries you will love this book! I really hate huge cliff hangers and this book has one! Guess I am going to have to get book 2.

Second Kiss

Second Kiss:  A Novel

By Natalie Palmer

Mustang, OK:  Tate Publishing and Enterprises, 2010.

237 pages.  Grades: 6-8

Genre:  Realistic Fiction, Romance


I might just be the dumbest, stupidest 15 year old girl alive! I, Gemma Mitchell, really have a great life—I have a great mom and dad (don’t tell them I told you that), a brainiac little sister (who is a bit of pain most days), I go to a good school and I have a great best friend.  Jess Tyler—he has been my friend since 1st grade when my mom asked Jess to walk me home from school—and we have been doing it ever since.  Jess is a year older (one grade ahead of me), very good looking, funny, kind and popular.  He is everything I am not! But he is the one who knows my deepest secrets and fears—and I his.

But let’s get to the point about why I am such a loser!  I think I go around looking for ways to embarrass myself, I am socially awkward and I am naïve—that is I don’t know when I am being used and to top it off Jess went to the High School this year while I finished my last year in middle school (as a freshman). I knew it was going to be awful—I get my first kiss in a game (loser!!!), I fall in and out girlfriends and most of all I missed being walked home by Jess. We solved all the problems of the world on our walks home.  He is my knight and shining armor!  I do stupid things and he is there to bail me out—always! 

During this ninth grade year Jess’ world and my world come crashing down around us—but I am not sure if our relationship can withstand all the turmoil!  Especially I want more than just being Jess’ best friend—I think I am falling for him—how stupid would that be?  I am sure I would even lose my best friend if he knew that!  Follow my ninth grade year of daily trauma and drama in this first novel by Natalie Palmer. 

I thought this was a great love story! 🙂

Author Website:  http://nataliepalmerbooks.blogspot.com/p/biography.html


Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Did you ever know anyone who has a problem with impulse control?

Noah’s dad does!  His dad is in jail again!  His dad is not a hardened criminal but a hero of lost causes—this time his dad thinks the Coral Queen, a floating Casino, is sending its raw sewage into the water.  Instead of getting proof he just sunk the Casino.  That landed him in the hopper!  

Noah’s mom is really mad this time—and she starts using the D work—-Divorce! So it was up to Noah and his sister Abbey to figure out this adult mess!  Environmental mysteries are Carl Hiassen’s speciality he builds interesting characters and get to explore trendy environmental issues.  Like Hoot and the endangered owls this book is full of fun, adventure and mystery!

Don’t forget to FLUSH!  

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes                                                                  

By Maureen Johnson

Hi I am Ginny Blackstone, I’m 17 and you are never gonna believe what my parents let me do last summer!  My parents tend be pretty strict with me and I have lots of rules to follow—

Do you?

Well my mom’s sister Aunt Peg is the exact opposite!  She is what my mom calls a “free spirit”  she goes which ever way the wind blows.  Sometimes my mom wouldn’t know where Aunt Peg was for months.  Then we would get a postcard telling us about a new job in Europe with a new address—my mom would always sigh. 

Did I mention Aunt Peg died?

Aunt Peg wrote me letters—in fact 13 that all came in blue envelopes—here’s what the first one said—

Once I talked my parents into this I got the second letter:

So off I went to travel Europe, by myself to find out what really went on with Aunt Peg, discover who I am—this book is a action packed mystery with a little romance thrown in for good measure.  Follow me thru Europe as I open each of the remaining 11 letters.  See you around!!

Sequel:  Last Little Blue Envelope is now out!

Author Website:  http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html

Closed for the Season

Closed for The Season

By Mary Downing Hahn

Grades:  5-7
I am ready to go into 7th grade and my parents decide to move to some forsaken place so that dad can take a new job as the art teacher. Now I get to be the new kid but frankly it cant be any worse than my last school where I didn’t quite fit in. I am not an athlete unless you consider Chess a sport. I never quite wear the right styles or have in style hair cut so I am always out on the fringes. So maybe moving will help me, Logan Forbes fit in at this next school.

Our car pulls up next to a very run down house that has a big dog lying on the front porch. My dad can hardly believe his eyes–this doesn’t resemble a quaint Victorian cottage.

Once I step out of the car a shaggy boy steps out to meet me–I am not even sure where he came from. He says his name is Arthur Jenkins he lives next door with his Grandma. Mom and dad check out the house and I am stuck with motor mouth. He must be talking to himself talk. But when he introduces Bear, the dog the story begins to unfold. Bear use to belong to the old woman who was murdered in our new house. Great a murder and mom and dad don’t even bother to tell me.

Well I get called in to eat and now I get to confront my parents. Mom says that new boy must be exaggerating–the old woman fell down the stairs and the dog alerted the neighbors.

Although skeptical about hanging around with Arthur I am somehow drawn to him and his quest for the truth about poor old Mrs. Donaldson and the murder. Arthur takes the next couple of weeks to introduce me to all the prime suspects — I start to live a little dangerously–something I have never done before–scary and exciting.

Mary Downing Hahn Website