The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

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I am always, always, always up for a good Sherlock Holmes retelling, and Eulberg’s Shelby Holmes story is a perfect middle grade entry into the Sherlock world.

In it, Shelby Holmes is a 9 year old sixth grader with all the brains, sass, and social awkwardness you’d expect from a character based on Sherlock, and John Watson has just moved into the building. John, whose military parents have just gone through a divorce, is in need of new friends and sort of falls into Shelby’s crime solving world when a classmate of theirs discovers that her prize-winning dog has been stolen.

Shelby and John are both well-written characters who work together in their own quirky ways, and they have depth to them that goes far beyond the crime to be solved. With John’s family situation and Shelby’s trouble making friends, there’s plenty here for readers to identify with and cheer the characters through.

The mystery itself is both clever enough to be worthy of a 9 year-old Holmes and solvable enough for a middle grade audience. The Great Shelby Holmes would be perfect for readers as young as 4th grade and I can see its appeal going up through middle school. Also, for those adults (like me!) who love Sherlockian literature, it’s a really fun look into the classic characters as modern day kids. Elizabeth confirmed for me that there will be at least two more Shelby Holmes books, and I’m already looking forward to them!

 

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Confession: I’ve wanted to read Tell Me Three Things for quite a while (because of the heart shaped waffles on the cover, to be completely honest), but it’s one that I wasn’t able to get my hands on in ARC form, so I (stupidly) waited to buy it and now I’m late for the party. If you, like me, missed it when it first came out… you gotta get it now.

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In this, 16 year-old Jessie is trying to figure out life without her mom (she passed away two years ago) and with an entirely new city and step family (her dad moved her suddenly from Chicago to Los Angeles when he eloped with his new wife). On top of all that, Jessie’s now attending a prestigious private school that is beyond difficult to navigate as the new girl.

So, when she receives an anonymous email from a classmate calling himself Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) in which he offers to be a spirit guide to help her adjust to the school, she reluctantly accepts his help out of desperation. When their initial anonymous exchange develops into a friendship, the mysterious SN is still reluctant to meet, even though he clearly knows who Jessie is and they’re developing real feelings for each other. They start asking each other to “tell me three things,” and so these great lists of things are included in their messages back and forth. The identity of SN isn’t revealed until almost the end of the book, and while I did have a good idea of who I hoped it would be, I was guessing until the end just like Jessie was. I was so happy with who it was that I actually went back through the whole book and reread their messages. They just made me happy.

It may sound simple and potentially sad (dead mom, etc.), but Tell Me Three Things is honestly one of the most engaging, emotionally beautiful novels I’ve read this year. It’s NOT sad – Buxbaum’s author’s note made it clear that she wasn’t aiming to write a book about the death of a mom but instead wanted that to be a part of the character’s story – but the way Jessie learns from and deals with her grief is a very real and compelling. The hope she finds in new friendships and eventually in her relationship with her dad is ultimately what the reader feels at the end of the story.

Because I’m a teacher and I can’t turn that part of my brain off when I read YA, I do have to say that I think it’s appropriate for upper high school ages. There’s some language, but it doesn’t feel excessive or showy – it’s mostly coming from grief and truly hard situations. The profanity didn’t bother me in this book like it does in some others. There’s also a significant subplot involving one of the main character making the very grown up decision of whether or not she’s ready for sex. Again, that story line can bother be in some books if it’s not treated with care, but it’s done pretty carefully here, and that’s a topic I wish parents would talk more about with their kids anyway.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a book that has set in and stuck with me throughout several days like this one did. It feels to me like everything that a book written for teens SHOULD be – not cheesy, full of real life situations, hopeful, fun, relevant, and engaging.

Find Tell Me Three Things on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. Enjoy!

Love Me Never and Forget Me Always by Sara Wolf

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Love Me Never and Forget Me Always, books 1 and 2 in the Lovely Vicious series by Sara Wolf, are basically a mature teen soap opera. Honestly, it’d fit right in with the soaps on daytime TV, and the first two books (which I read in just a few days) had that same soapy addictive quality to them.

There was drama, romance, crazy twists and turns… it was thoroughly enjoyable and not entirely appropriate for most YA readers, but for ages 16 or 17 and up it’s kind of a wild ride that’ll liven up a dreary fall weekend.


Love Me Never (Lovely Vicious, #1) by Sara Wolf

Now 99 cents! Go get your copy today!

EntangleLove Me Neverd: http://entangledpublishing.com/love-me-never/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Me-Never-Lovely-Vicious-ebook/dp/B00YM6RDVC?tag=entangpublis-20

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-me-never-sara-wolf/1123477042?ean=9781633752306

Read the book that Kirkus Review called: “A complex, witty page-turner, ideal for YA fans of scandal and romance.”

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing―Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

Previously published as Lovely Vicious, this fully revised and updated edition is full of romance, intrigue, and laugh-out-loud moments.

The Lovely Vicious Series continues:

Forget Me Always
Remember Me Forever – Summer 2017


Forget Me AlwaysForget Me Always (Lovely Vicious, #2) by Sara Wolf:

Entangled: http://entangledpublishing.com/forget-me-always/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Forget-Me-Always-Lovely-Vicious-ebook/dp/B017HQ3F24?tag=entangpublis-20&link_code=ur2&creative=9325&camp=211189

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forget-me-always-sara-wolf/1123238636

All warfare is deception. Even in high school.

It’s been nineteen days since Isis Blake forgot about him. The boy she can’t quite remember. She’s stuck in the hospital with a turban-size bandage on her head, more Jell-o than a human being should ever face, and a tiny bit of localized amnesia. Her only goal? To get out of this place before she becomes a complete nutjob herself.

But as Isis’s memories start to return, she realizes there’s something important there at the edges of her mind. Something that may mean the difference between life and death. Something about Sophia, Jack’s girlfriend.

Jack Hunter―the “Ice Prince”―remembers everything. Remembers Isis’s purple hair and her smart-ass mouth. Remembers that for a little while, Isis made him feel human. She made him feel. She burned a hole in the ice…and it’s time to freeze back up. Boys like him don’t deserve girls like her. Because Jack is dangerous. And that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening.

Her past.

Previously published as Savage Delight, this fully revised and updated edition is full of hilarity, drama, and heartbreak.

The Lovely Vicious Series continues:

Remember Me Forever – Summer 2017


Sara Wolf

Sara Wolf lives in San Diego, California, where she burns instead of tans. When she isn’t pouring her allotted lifeforce into writing, she’s reading, accidentally burning houses down whilst baking, or making faces at her highly appreciative cat.

 

Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander

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First, the official blurb:

Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people…

Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.

As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

Life after Juliet isn’t sad overall, though it has some sadness in it. Ultimately there’s hope and encouragement pouring out of this. I loved Becca and Max and literally hugged this book to me after I finished it. Life After Juliet is a great book for teens dealing with any sort of loss or sadness that holds them back, and I found it to be both encouraging and challenging for me as an adult, too.

I haven’t read the companion novel, Love and Other Unknown Variables, but I’d like to. After loving this book so much, I’m all in for anything else Shannon Lee Alexander writes! Find Life After Juliet, here on Amazon or order it from your favorite book store. 

No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood by Calvin Trillin

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I’ve spent this week getting my students excited about our upcoming Scholastic Book Fair, and a book preview video for No Fair! No Fair! has made me (AND every single one of the students who have seen it) chuckle every single time I’ve watched it. The author describes defending his portion of the backseat against his sister’s “expansionist backseat policies” and makes up rhymes about the ridiculousness of having to wear pants to school. I really can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of it, and I can’t recommend it highly enough based on what I’ve seen so far.

You can see the video with the author here. I promise, Trillin’s deadpan reading will make you laugh and, hopefully, it’ll make you want to read the whole thing too. Enjoy!

 

The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

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The Sound of Us is one of those books that does a great job of encouraging readers to stick with their dreams and stay true to who they are. That’s enough to make me love it – I just don’t think that message can be given to teenagers (or adults, frankly) too much. 

Kiki Nichols is a fun, introverted fan of a popular geeky sic-fi show who also happens to be an aspiring opera singer. She heads off to an exclusive summer camp at a college known for its music program. She has two main goals for the summer: one, be cool and make friends, and two, be one of the top students at the end of camp, which would earn her a scholarship to study opera at the university. But, of course, stuff happens and Kiki’s derailed from her goals a few times… and one big distraction comes in the form of a hot drummer (and fellow sic-fi show fan) she’d like to spend more time with. 

Kiki is a great character, and I love her growth throughout the story. The supporting characters are all really well written and they definitely make the book richer, with the exception of Kiki’s parents and brother who seem sort of one dimensional and annoying (until one conversation at the very end, I guess). A little bit of language and some content would make me uncomfortable with having this in my middle school classroom, but it’s fine for high school. Overall, there are some great messages here for teenage girls (and guys) about being happy with who you are and going after your dreams instead of settling, and I enjoyed reading this one. 

Find The Sound of Us here on Amazon or order it through your favorite bookseller!

Blog Tour: Chasing Truth by Julie Cross, plus a GIVEAWAY!

chasing-truth-coverWhen I saw that Chasing Truth was being compared to Veronica Mars, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I mean, I really loved that show, and most things that reference VM end up being super disappointing. I was beyond pleasantly surprised, though, when I started reading Chasing Truth and LOVED the snark, the suspense, the character quality… everything I’d expect from a story calling on Veronica for backup was totally there. And, Eleanor (Ellie) Ames is a worthy heroine by her own right. The VM reference may have gotten my attention in the beginning, but Ellie held it captive all on her own (well, Miles helped, because OMG). Anyway, you certainly need to read this. Really. You also need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post to enter an awesome giveaway. :)

Here’s all the official info:

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Publication Date:  September 27, 2016

Publisher:  Entangled TEEN

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).

She’s also the author of the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing cred, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Take a second to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to WIN a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of another one of Julie’s novels, Whatever Life Throws At You.

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