Insecure girl meets mean girl—and learns to be herself—in this appealing tale.

THE FEARLESS FOURSOME

In this YA novel, a student discovers that honesty is indeed the best policy.

It’s the beginning of summer, and Sara Hawthorne, a high school freshman, joins a club called the Fearless Foursome in hopes of becoming popular. She and her fellow club members—trouble-making, boy crazy Laurel Atwater; studious Adalynn Stevenson; and Sara’s best friend, Ella Taylor—have their first official meeting and sleepover at Ella’s house. After receiving a mysterious note, the girls sneak out of the house around midnight to meet a group of popular jocks—aka the Warriors. Unfortunately, one of the guys falls and breaks his leg. The boy gets help, but a policeman escorts the girls back to Ella’s house—and two angry parents. The next day, Ella’s mother informs Sara that she must tell her parents what happened. Unable to bring herself to confess, Sara is in agony. To make matters worse, Ella and Adalynn are hanging around with big mouth Laurel all the time. One bright spot in Sara’s life is one of the Warriors, Matt, who seems to like her a lot. And while volunteering at the zoo, she meets a new friend, Kristen, who’s too busy being herself to care about being popular. Nelan’s fast-paced novel is packed with perfectly cute characters and young teen angst—when Matt goes on a family vacation for two whole weeks, conniving Laurel follows him. For the most part, the dialogue flows smoothly and realistically portrays teen anxieties. For example, while talking to Sara, Kristen exclaims: “I’ll probably go all through high school without a boyfriend, so I might as well enjoy it when it happens to my only friend!” Though Laurel is supposed to be the bad girl, Sara is not very thoughtful herself—she lies to Kristen and ditches her party to attend Ella’s bash. Later, Sara regrets her choice. A sweet side story is the special relationship the teen has with her grandmother.

Insecure girl meets mean girl—and learns to be herself—in this appealing tale.

Pub Date: May 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973657-69-9

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

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An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and...

White Tiger Legend

Set presumably in 12th-century China, an action-packed YA read about a young Shaolin monk named Zi who embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery after his temple and everything he ever knew are destroyed.

With the Gathering of the Ways quickly approaching, the entire population of the famed Shaolin Temple is frenetically preparing for the annual gathering of elite warriors from distant kingdoms who come together to test their abilities against the temple’s best kung fu practitioners. But when a cunning, morally bankrupt fighter known as the Red Dragon defeats the temple’s champion (who happens to be Zi’s older brother, Hu Yuan) and razes the temple in search of its mystical secrets, young Zi is forced to begin the Great Journey—essentially a treacherous quest of enlightenment that may ultimately reveal the greatest secret of the temple. On the quest, Zi meets and befriends a diversity of characters (like Bok Choi the grasshopper and a mysterious lady of the river named Auntie) who not only help the young Buddhist monk survive, but offer him wise advice as well. While the character of Zi is undeniably endearing, as is his insect sidekick, the story isn’t without minor flaws. The text is littered with grammatical errors (“Well stand down soldier. Watch how a ladies mantis goes about getting the goods son”), some of the fight scenes drag and become monotonous, and at points, the metaphysical nature of kung fu arguably goes too deep for the average reader (the sequence where the author connects chakras with the digestion of various foods, for example).

An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and spiritual philosophical undertones.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9929738-0-3

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Kory Juul Enterprises Corp

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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An insightful tale of persecution and survival.

UNSEEN

In Scott’s debut YA novel, a young girl tries to heal her father and avoid being harmed by supernatural forces persecuting members of her culture.

Alaia’s father is deathly ill, and she’s doing everything she can to save him with a doctor’s medicine and her own herbal remedies. If he dies, not only will she lose her dad, whom she loves, but it will also leave their family vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft if there’s no man in the house. She’s already under suspicion for her use of herbal remedies, and her position is made more precarious by her love for Mateo, the inquisitor’s nephew, and her former friendship with a woman who was executed for possessing a mark associated with witchcraft. When Alaia is visited by a spirit, who later saves her from being hit by a carriage, the mark that condemned her friend appears on her, too—bringing new magical abilities with it. Despite her efforts to hide the mark, she’s found out; the inquisitor tries to have her executed, and when Mateo seemingly damns her too, she escapes. She’s aided by the spirit of Txomin, a boy she once knew and who reveals information to her about her long-lost brother. Over the course of this supernatural adventure story, Scott weaves in clear parallels between Alaia’s story and those of real-life women who were accused of being witches in Europe and America. She’s particularly deft at showing the ways in which people in power can threaten and exploit vulnerable societies by appealing to their bigotry. By filtering the story through the lens of an oppressed culture, Scott highlights that the novel is about the persecution of a vulnerable group rather than a struggle between similarly powerful forces. The author also makes strong use of figurative language to convey her central characters’ feelings, which becomes just as important to the book’s goal of inviting empathy as its plot points are; at one point, for instance, Alaia’s fear is described in the phrase: “A throbbing pain split across my chest, unfurling like tentacles.”

An insightful tale of persecution and survival.

Pub Date: July 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-285682-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2021

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