Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think...

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BETTING GAME

From the Orca Sports series

O’Connor tackles a tough one: a high school soccer star caught in a web of gambling.

Jack and his brother, Alex, attend a soccer academy, the kind of institution that grooms students for professional-level play. Their team is a contender for the national championship, but they have just lost their best player to the professional leagues, and a new ringer isn’t fitting in with the team. O’Connor will keep the game’s fans close with plenty of in-the-know soccer patter, but she will also draw other readers with the story of Jack’s slow absorption into a gambling ring. Luka, a flashy Ukrainian with money to burn (a casting choice that falls perilously close to prejudicial stereotyping), befriends Jack, greasing the relationship with some valuable gifts. Readers may find it hard to believe that Jack doesn’t realize every word he drops in Luka’s ear about his senior-division team—who is hurting, who is away for a game—is fodder for Luka’s gambling operation. But Jack does know all about the operation, especially how easy it is to go into debt when the interest is compounded. Jack, Alex, and an unexpected compatriot set up a sting, but not before Luka makes some grisly threats.

Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think crime is a sport and a joke. (Sports fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0930-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss...

TELL ME THREE THINGS

Jessie’s unassimilated grief over her mother’s death makes her dad’s abrupt marriage to Rachel, a wealthy widow he met online, and their subsequent move from Chicago to her mansion in Los Angeles feel like betrayal.

Rachel’s son wants nothing to do with Jessie. Her first week at his private school is agonizing. When she gets an email from “Somebody Nobody,” claiming to be a male student in the school and offering to act as her “virtual spirit guide,” Jessie’s suspicious, but she accepts—she needs help. SN’s a smart, funny, supportive guide, advising her whom to befriend and whom to avoid while remaining stubbornly anonymous. Meanwhile, Jessie makes friends, is picked as study partner by the coolest guy in AP English, and finds a job in a bookstore, working with the owner’s son, Liam. But questions abound. Why is Liam’s girlfriend bullying her? What should she do about SN now that she’s crushing on study-partner Ethan? Readers will have answers long before Jessie does. It’s overfamiliar territory: a protagonist unaware she’s gorgeous, oblivious to male admiration; a jealous, mean-girl antagonist; a secret admirer, easily identified. It’s the authentic depiction of grief—how Jessie and other characters respond to loss, get stuck, struggle to break through—devoid of cliché, that will keep readers engaged. Though one of Jessie’s friends has a Spanish surname, rich, beautiful, mostly white people are the order of the day.

Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53564-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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