A coming-of-age tale that’s perfect for sophisticated teenagers with an interest in sports.


An action-packed debut YA novel about a teenage girl who dreams of becoming a professional dirt-bike racer.

Sixteen-year-old Clover Kassedy has been forced to move with her family from her hometown in Canada to Denver, and she struggles to find a place for herself in her new community. The local kids taunt her about her dirt-bike racing hobby, her tomboyishness and her Canadian heritage. Meanwhile, her father pressures her too hard to win races, and her mother fails to show any interest in her hobby at all, instead favoring Clover’s younger sister. It’s no surprise when Clover falls in with a rough crowd, as she’s delighted to finally find people who accept her. Unfortunately, she lets her new “friends” get the best of her, following them to wild parties, experimenting with sex and alcohol, and shirking her academic responsibilities. It’s not long before she realizes that she must either get her life back in gear or permanently relinquish her dream of racing professionally. Over the course of the story, Clover confronts many complicated issues facing teenagers; for example, she watches one friend battle bulimia and another deal with being abandoned by his mother. She also struggles with questions relating to friendship, honesty, perseverance, romance and despair.  Hutton provides many heart-pounding, play-by-play descriptions of Clover’s races (“She slammed on both brakes and held her breath, keeping her elbows in, as if that would help her sneak through the tight space”). She also includes intriguing information about international bike racing and the difficulties young women face trying to break into the sport. Like the dirt bikes she describes, Hutton’s absorbing narrative moves at a fast clip. At times, the narration uses too many Australian idioms, which may make it difficult for readers to believe that Clover is growing up in America rather than Hutton’s native Australia; measurements are in meters rather than feet, and the Colorado teenagers are forever promising to “ring” each other. Despite such narrative hiccups, however, the book offers an insightful look into the life of a teenager with a talent.

A coming-of-age tale that’s perfect for sophisticated teenagers with an interest in sports.

Pub Date: May 24, 2014


Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2014

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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