Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soaring Eagle intrigue

I don't know about you, but with the days getting shorter and nights longer, I always feel like spending time with a good mystery or thriller.  This year's Soaring Eagle nomination list has two novels that would appeal to a reader who is looking for some suspense and intrigue -- to go with the dark nights of autumn and early winter.

Football Hero by Tim Green.  Ty Lewis has grown accustomed to a hard life after his parents' death:  he lives with an aunt and uncle who resent his presence, give him only hand-me-down clothes to wear, and even force him to use an outhouse rather than the inside bathroom. Ty's older brother, Thane, can't help him: he is busy starting his professional football career.  Briefly, Ty thinks things are looking up when a friend of his uncle's, a man named Lucy, starts being friendly and asking questions about the other players on Thane's football team.  Ty innocently supplies the information he is asked -- not knowing that Lucy is really his uncle's bookie.  Suddenly, Ty and his brother are enmeshed in a Mafia gambling scheme that could cost Thane's professional career -- and possibly their lives.  Written by a former professional football player, this short novel is a great pick for a sports fan who appreciates a suspenseful story.

Blood on my Hands by Todd Strasser.  Callie has always had a hard time fitting in:  her father has a history of violence, and her brother is away in prison for his own crimes.  Callie's dysfunctional family often handicaps her when it comes to making friends.  She thinks that is all about to change when she is invited to the party of the year.  However, a fight with a friend threatens to destroy her night.  When the friend, Katherine, leaves the party, Callie decides to go looking for her.  She finds Katherine's dead and bloody body -- and a knife laying in the grass.  Just as Callie bends down to pick up the weapon, getting Katherine's blood on her own body, another party-goer steps out from behind a tree and snaps a picture of Callie with his cell phone. Suddenly, Callie is under suspicion for murder; what will she have to do to find the real killer? (This is the second novel in the Wish You Were Dead series by Strasser.)

That makes eleven Soaring Eagle nominees reviewed so far; hope you are enjoying reading them, and plan to vote for your favorite in March!  We will get to the last four in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Real Life Soaring Eagles

Real life seems to have interrupted my great intentions to post every Wednesday until I had covered all fifteen 2011-2012 Soaring Eagle nominees . . . so, let's talk about three of those nominees that present slices of real life!

Glass by Ellen Hopkins. In the first book of this series, Crank, we met Kristina Snow.  Kristina has a promising future ahead of her - until she spends a summer with her estranged father and meets a monster. This isn't a monster like the vampires, werewolves and demons that populate so many Young Adult books. Rather, this as a real-life monster -- the drug crank, or methamphetamine. Hopkins' first book chronicles Kristina's descent into the world of drug addiction, and the downward spiral that her life takes after she meets the monster. Glass, the sequel, continues Kristina's story.  She now has a baby whom she loves very much -- but will she have the strength to fight the monster to be there for her child?  (This is the second in the Kristina Snow trilogy; the third, Fallout, is also available.)

Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.  For the last three years, ever since her parents' divorce, Ronnie has managed to avoid speaking to, or having any contact with, her father. Unfortunately, Ronnie has been making some bad choices, including shoplifting. As a result, her mother decides that it would be in Ronnie's best interest to spend the summer with her dad in his remote North Carolina beach community -- away from the friends and temptations of Ronnie's New York City life.  Can she manage to find peace with a dad she hasn't spoken to in three years? And can she do it before it's too late?

Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen. Evangeline Logan knows exactly what she wants: a kiss. not just a quick peck on the lips, but a heart-stopping, life-altering, earth-shattering KISS. And she is on a quest to live her fantasy, going on kissing missions in her search for perfection, and in her attempt to not deal with the problems at home.  Along the way, she endures bad kisses and her growing bad reputation. Eventually, Evangeline has to do some thinking about what it is she really wants - and start making some grown-up decisions for herself.