The Jock and the Fat Chick by Nicole Winters

The Jock and the Fat ChickHarper Teen, 2015.

It’s senior year for Kevin Conners and his main goal is getting a full ride hockey scholarship to Michigan State.  He’s slimming down and muscling up with extra trips to the gym and a diet of protein bars and shakes, but when Kevin fails an assignment for PE class because of his poor diet, coach sends him off to make extra credit in Domestic Tech class by learning to cook.

Kevin’s got to do some fancy footwork to be sure his friends don’t learn about his assignment, and he’s practically pirouetting to ensure that they don’t find out about his connection to Claire, the kitchen goddess who has been assigned to help him. Claire’s everything that’s attractive to Kevin she’s curvy and beautiful and smart and a fantastic cook to boot, nothing like the skinny cheerleaders that his best friend Victor is into. Unfortunately, Kevin is sure Victor won’t understand, so he’s got to work extra hard to keep these two parts of his life apart.

The Jock and the Fat Chick takes some normal teen problems and sets them on their ear. Driven by ambition and peer pressure, Kevin is a male athlete making poor eating choices driven by the way his body looks. Claire, on the other hand, is a strong character, a leader to whom others go for advice who is comfortable in her own skin.

I loved everything about this book except the title, but the title is fitting in its way, because this is a story about stereotypes and expectation. It’s about seeing high school stereotypes for what they are and being strong enough to choose a different path. It’s about choosing the life and the love that is right for you, not the one that’s expected by others.

Nicole Winters has written a fun romance that will have you rooting not simply for the success of the relationship, but for the success of the two realistic teens her story presents. One warning: don’t start to read The Jock and the Fat Chick without some snacks laid in because the food descriptions will have you ordering take out for delivery in no time.

I received a copy of The Jock and the Fat Chick from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino

Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Roaring Brook Press, 2016.

In Michael Dante DiMartino’s Rebel Genius a renaissance world, bird familiars, and art that becomes magic combine to make a captivating story in which a group of creative kids must combine sacred geometry and work together and save their world.

Art and creativity are outlawed in twelve-year-old Giacomo’s world. His parents have died because of their vocation as artists and Giacomo ekes out a living by stealing food and sleeping in the city sewers, but one evening he discovers his own familiar, or genius, and a group of new friends with geniuses of their own. It is then that his adventures and his fight to save the world begin.

This exciting middle grade adventure will appeal to creative types, math nerds, renaissance fans, and animal lovers alike.

I received an advance reader copy of Rebel Genius courtesy of Roaring Book Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson

Dundurn, 2016

Colleen Nelson’s Finding Hope is a book about addiction, abuse, family, despair, and hope. It’s a dark and real story that follows two siblings: Hope and Eric who live in a tiny town in Canada. They’re both stuck, he because of his addiction and his reputation as an addict and she because of her small-town role as an addict’s sister. When Hope receives the opportunity to attend an exclusive boarding school in the city, she takes it so that she can focus on her future, but the future and family ties are never that simple.

This is a dark story, but it felt raw and real. Hope and Eric seemed very realistic in their struggles, he with drug addiction and she with adolescence and family loyalty. I was drawn in by the story though I was continually cringing at the choices they made.

I don’t often choose to read a dark and realistic story (Paranormal or mystery stories don’t pack the same emotional punch for me.), but the appealing characters, their realistic struggles, and the hope they did, in fact, find at the end made this a satisfying read.

I received an advance reader copy of Finding Hope courtesy of NetGalley and Dundurn Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

30439157Spectacle, 2016.

Anna Morgan’s got voices in her head, but they’re not a sign of mental illness, they’re ghosts who take up residence. Anna doesn’t seem to have a choice about picking up these hitchhikers, and they’re darned persistent, expecting her to give last messages to their loved ones or finish business they didn’t complete.

Anna doesn’t love her special skill, but she’s used to it, and she’s learned how to achieve what she needs to to help her hitchhikers pass on. She thought she had, anyway, until a hitchhiker with a particularly gruesome death gets Anna wrapped up with other kids with super powers and a secret government operation.

Not simply a fast-paced, high stakes thriller, The Delphi Effect has strong, but sympathetic characters, a mystery larger than the first book, a huge helping of personal loyalty, and a sprinkle of romance — all the things that make for a satisfying read. These books are not for the violence adverse, but they’re a great read for anyone who likes an engaging read. I’m looking forward to books two and three in the series!

I read an electronic advance reader copy of The Delphi Effect courtesy of NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review.