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.


Against All Silence: an SOS Thriller by E.C. Myers

Against All Silence (SOS, #2)Adaptive Books, Culver City, CA, 2016

As eager as I am to read a second book in a series when I’ve loved the first book, I’m often a bit reluctant to start. Many times the second novel simply doesn’t hold up to the promise of the first, especially in a thriller format when the stakes are high. I needn’t have worried about Against All Silence, the sequel to The Silence of Six. In fact, I think I enjoyed this second book in the series even more.

Max Stein is back after recovering from his harrowing adventure that began with his best friend’s suicide and only ended after a breathtaking physical and cyber race to uncover government corruption. After a quiet semester abroad in Paris, he’s about to return to the US for Christmas when instead he’s drawn into the race to expose an international plot that could change the Internet, and the world as we know it, forever.

Against All Silence had the action, excitement, and travel of an adult cyber thriller, but with teenagers fully embroiled in the action. The content and situations will catch young readers’ attention and keep them reading and rooting for Max and his crew. Highly Recommended.

I received an advance reader copy of Against All Silence courtesy of Adaptive Books in exchange for an honest review.

Added 8/26: This just in! Here’s the trailer for Against All Silence:

The Siege by Mark Alpert

Sourcebooks Fire, 2016

The team from The Six are back again. They’re still learning and using their supercomputer brains to make innovative robot bodies for battle. But inside the glitz and glamour, they’re still teenagers who are struggling to find their place in a world that doesn’t even know they exist. When their nemesis Sigma reappears, this time with biological weapons, the team will be tested to their limits once again. Can they prevail?

I enjoyed The Siege as much as I enjoyed The Six, the first book in the series. Alpert continues to explore ordinary teen existential questions through this group of teens turned robots. Their innovative robot bodies were easy to picture from the clever descriptions. The pace throughout is fast and thrilling.

I received an electronic copy of The Siege from Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Sourcebooks Fire, 2016

Opportunity, Alabama — One close-knit community, one high school, one group of seniors getting ready to begin their independent lives. But first they must make it through one final semester, a semester that begins, as always, wtih Principal Trenton’s dreaded all school beggining-of-the-semester speech–only this semester the speech doesn’t go as planned. This semester there’s someone in the auditorium with a gun, someone who’s got a grudge against Opportunity High School, its teachers, and its students, someone who wants to make all of Opportunity pay for his anger and his sorrows.

Taking place over the span of less than an hour, this fast-paced novel follows four Opportunity students through the nightmare of a school shooting incident. Heart in mouth we are with them as they consider their lives and loves and do — or don’t — emerge on the other side to a life forever changed by the crazed boy with a gun.

I began this book on a Friday evening and though I meant to accomplish all manner of household chores on Saturday afternoon, I found myself, instead, drawn back to the book to finish reading because I simply had to know what happened and how it all fell out.

Fast paced, beautifully written, and timely, this book shows Nijkamp’s sensitivity and her understanding of teens, their worries, strengths, and troubles. Her portrayal of the four main characters and, in fact, the shooter himself allows readers to contemplate not only the complex issues in such a terrifying situation: How might one stop it? What caused it? Who might you save if you could? Where do your real loyalties lie? It also leads readers to contemplate the many factors that might lead someone to such a heinous act.

As gripping as it is, This Is Where It Ends is a hard story to read. I’m sure it was hard to write as well. Read it anyway; you’ll be glad you did. You’ll root for Nijkamp’s admirable characters and sweat with their parents and loved ones outside the school.

I received this book as an electronic Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.