“The Reappearing Act: Coming out as Gay on a College Basketball Team let by Born-Again Christians” Kate Fagan

Rated 4 stars **** To be published May 6, 2014. ebook. ARC. Skyhorse Publishing.

TheReappearingActKate Fagan, former women’s basketball player for the University of Colorado, tells her story in “The Reappearing Act.” As she grew up she didn’t think she was gay, assuming feelings she’d had for girls over the years were just excited thoughts for possible friendships.

With her life revolving around basketball, Kate thought college life was great. During her sophomore year everything changed when her teammates invited her to join them at a Bible study. These Bible studies became weekly meetings where homosexuality and other topics were discussed. Kate had just begun to realize she might be gay, and these times served to further confuse and frighten her.

Kate was afraid of the feelings she kept having for other women. These feelings, combined with the fear of telling her parents, losing her best friend and of her teammates’ reactions caused Kate to retreat further into herself. As a result, during her college years, she led a double life constantly feeling guilty and confused as she tried to reconcile the Bible with her own feelings and beliefs. This pattern of telling lies and half-truths carried over into her adult working life, until she could finally admit to the world that she was gay.

Fagan’s honest account of her insecurities and internal battles will ring true with readers struggling with their own similar reality. “The Reappearing Act” will serve as a testimony that there is light at the end of their dark tunnels of uncertainty and fear.

Recommended for readers 18 years old and older.

 

“The Prodigal” Michael C. Hurley

Rated 3 stars *** 2013. ebook. ARC. Ragbagger Press.

TheProdigalAidan Sharpe was a lawyer feared by his peers. There was no case he couldn’t handle, and his many wealthy clients were a boon to his firm and his own fortune. Life was good, until a wrong decision brought everything crashing down. With nowhere to lay his head, and not a penny to his name, Aidan was sent to live with kindly Father Marcus O’Reilly on Ocracoke Island.

Father Marcus had been exiled to Ocracoke many years ago by the bishop for his contrary views on Catholicism, but there he flourished. With a lending hand ready to help the destitute, it seemed only natural he befriend Aidan when he arrived in Ocracoke.

Molly McGregor owned one of two towing ships on Ocracoke. Seemingly content, her hidden desires for stability and love rise to the surface when Aidan arrives on the island. Suddenly her way of life seems lonely, but her fear of relationships keeps her from acting upon her own feelings.

Ibrahim Joseph was exiled from his homeland in the Bahamas. As a man without a country, and no friend to call his own, his days fell into a rhythm of sameness. Aidan’s unexpected friendship brought out a side he’d kept hidden for years, as the two learned to trust each other.

Each of these character’s lives become entangled when they enter a sailing race with a ship that mysteriously appeared after being lost for over 100 years. The ship brings back to life a 2000-year-old mystery that is enough of a reality to create trouble for the four friends. Their newfound friendship will be tested in ways none of them had ever thought possible as the ship seeks its revenge.

“The Prodigal” has a very interesting way of presenting truth versus fiction, which will leave its adult readers wondering if perhaps some of it could possibly be true. It meanders about from past to present as its many characters reminisce, which may cause confusion for some readers if they allow their minds to wander.

Thus I will leave it up to you to Decide if You Want to Read it or Not.

 

“Dark Days” Kate Ormand

Rated 3 stars *** To be published June 3, 2014. ebook. ARC. Sky Pony Press.

DarkDaysWhat do you do when you have only 15 days left to live? This is the fate that awaits sixteen-year-old Sia as she and everyone in her sector prepare to die. Hundreds of citizens have not been selected by the leaders and airlifted away to safety in the New World so, with the sector surrounded by metal walls, which block their escape; they must all face their fate at the hands of a cyborg army. These will be sent to kill them in 15 days and, since no other sector has survived a cyborg attack, death is inevitable. Sia has prepared herself to die, and is upset her mom won’t accept their fate while her dad seems to be avoiding conversation about it.

When Sia meets eighteen-year-old Mace, her opinion changes as she realizes she could try to fight for her life. Along with a small band of rebels, Sia and Mace plot to overthrow the New World and gain freedom for their sector. Along the way, they will encounter fierce resistance, while learning of the power of love, sacrifice and friendship.

Ormand’s foray into YA dystopian lit is a novel which will inspire conversation about the reasons of selection to the New World versus those who were left behind, slated for death. The semi-open ending left room for a follow-up book, leading me to believe “Dark Days” will become another one of those series books I detest reading.

I will leave it up to those of you who are 14 years old and older to decide if you want to Read it or Not.

 

“Counting to D” Kate Scott

Rated 3 stars *** Published February 11, 2014. ebook. ARC. Elliott Books. (Includes “Resources for Dyslexics.”)

CountingToDSamantha can’t read. Up to this point in her life her two best friends had helped her get through school. Her dyslexia has stayed a hidden secret for years, as her mathematical genius skills and audiographic memory has placed her in all AP courses. She is happy with her life until her mother moves her cross country from San Diego to Oregon.

Sam is terrified her new classmates will find out she is not a genius, but a sham. However, as a sophomore taking senior level courses, she gains points with the local brainiacs giving her an “in” to their “we are better and smarter than everyone else” club aka the Brain Trust. There she meets Nate, who takes her under his wing.

Within a short time, Sam has fit into her new group and gained several new friends but her dyslexia is threatening to make itself known. Desperate to hide who she really is Sam denies part of herself in favor of popularity. It takes strong friendships and a completely different mindset for her to finally come to terms with dyslexia and what it means to her life.

I found “Counting to D” to be very informative, as it explained myths and truths about dyslexia in a clear manner. It also gave a positive spin to mathematics, with clearly broken down algebraic equations, which might give hope to those struggling with math.

Despite these positive points, I thought Sam’s personal story was contrived. Her doubts, troubles and fears about dyslexia felt very realistic but her high school popularity seemed to be unrealistic. In just a few short months she manages to date a senior, become good friends with the school’s basketball star, crack into the elite senior Brain Trust, make lots of new friends, and have other “wow!” moments. Perhaps this could all have been accomplished in 4 years of high school but, in my opinion, seemed a bit much for just a few short months of life in a brand new high school. Thus I’ll leave it up to you, when you read it, to decide if her social life felt contrived or not.

NOTE: I’m pretty sure “Counting to D” will be in the running for a 2014 Schneider Family Book Award, given out at the annual ALA Youth Media Awards, because of its great emphasis and explanations about dyslexia. I wish Kate Scott and her publishers the very best of luck.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Learning not to Drown” Anna Shinoda

Rated 4 stars **** To be published April 1, 2014. ebook. ARC. Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

LearningNotToDrownSeventeen-year-old Clare has a terrible secret. Her family skeleton is so bad; he haunts her every waking moment because he knows everything about Luke, her drug addicted older brother who has been in and out of prison his whole life. Unfortunately, so does everyone in her small town.

As the years go by, her brother Peter seems to always be angry at her, while she and her parents continue to believe Luke can do no wrong. It takes years for Clare to realize her family has problems.

Despite what she wants to believe, Luke has some very serious issues. If she wants to help her family, Clare will have to make decisions that will not be popular but will help her not to drown in the uncertainty of her life.

“Learning not to Drown” is a very powerful read. It will go a long way towards helping readers understand how one person’s behavior affects another for many years.

Recommended for readers 18 years old and older.

“Don’t Even Think About It” Sarah Mlynowski

Rated 2 stars ** 2014. Delacorte Press. ebook. ARC. To be published March 11, 2014.

Don'tEvenThinkAboutItA group of high school students get the flu shot at school. Within a short time, they all become telepathic – able to read every one’s thoughts. Some are quite excited at the prospect, while others are nervous. The group of them (readers never know who’s talking) decides to tell us their story.

As time goes on, they realize being able to read people’s minds is not as exciting as they thought it would be because being bombarded with everyone’s thoughts, getting splitting headaches and purple eyes is just half the problem. The other half is finding out things like your best friend thinks you’re fat, your crush likes someone else, your parents have sex while you’re sleeping (ewww!) and your dad is having an affair.

This fluffy, chick lit book has some laughs and will probably be enjoyed by the 14 and older set, especially those who have ever wished they could read minds. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if You Want to Read It or Not.

 

“The Scar Boys” Len Vlahos

Rated 4 stars **** 2014. Egmont. ebook. ARC. Published January 21.

TheScarBoysHarbinger Robert Francis Jones was 8 years old when bullies tied him to a tree. The tree was struck by lightning and the resulting fire caused Harry to be severely burned. The many operations that followed caused massive transformations in his appearance; rendering him unrecognizable and assuring he’d be the target of bullies for many more years.

Now a high school graduate, Harry attempts to summarize his life story for a college acceptance essay. Each chapter begins with the name of the musicians, writers and title of a favorite rock song, and recounts an event of importance. With the title “Waiting on a Friend” (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and performed by the Rolling Stones) Harry tells readers of meeting his first friend. Johnny was more than a friend. He accepted Harry, introduced him to others, and was the yin to Harry’s yang.

The two of them got some friends together and formed a band called “The Scar Boys,” and Harry recounts their exploits in detail. Throughout their years together, Harry always deferred to Johnny’s leadership position in their friendship. Gradually he began to learn things that both terrified and pleased him, while also learning his friendship with Johnny wasn’t everything he thought it would be.

“The Scar Boys” is the story of a young, traumatized boy coming of age set against the backdrop of his love for music and his guitar. Vlahos does a fine job endearing Harry to his readers, despite overusing the phrase “strike that” to the point where I wanted to take a red marker and strike it out of the book.

Recommended for 18 years and older.