The rescue of an at-risk adolescent with light and dark sides takes center stage, but the unfolding mystery adds a dramatic...

HIT AND RUN

From the Mike & Riel Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Bad seed wars with good in an orphaned teenager who finds out that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident.

Originally published a decade ago in Canada, this series opener set in Toronto hooks Michael—a troubled teen surrounded by poor companions and role models— up with his history teacher, quiet ex-cop John Riel. Four years after the loss of his loving, hardworking mother, Mike’s life seems to be going down the tubes thanks to failing grades, a breakup with his girlfriend and sudden unemployment following an arrest for a minor theft. The electrifying discovery that his new teacher had been in charge of his mom’s never-solved case, though, leads to new questions and clues that implicate both the uncle who is his sole remaining family member and a pair of shady associates. It also leads to an initially hostile but growing mutual attachment that culminates, following a second sudden death and nearly a third, in Mike gaining a steady new foster father. Look for more role modeling and crime solving in two sequels that publish simultaneously: Truth and Lies and Dead and Gone.

The rescue of an at-risk adolescent with light and dark sides takes center stage, but the unfolding mystery adds a dramatic subplot. (Mystery. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2611-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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As a highly specific thesaurus it excels; as a story, not so much. Alan Cumyn covers much the same ground with considerably...

THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING UP

The story of a boy and his boners.

"Weinerschnitzel." "Wang." "Sky-high pork pipe." "Baloney pony." Those are just some of the names 13-year-old Bobby calls his errant penis (within the first three pages), which becomes erect at the most inconvenient times. After accidently shocking his math teacher into early retirement when she gets a gander at his tent pole, Bobby is sentenced to several hours of school therapy with a counselor who needs couch time herself. In addition, he must deal with his clueless parents, randy grandfather, angry sister and moronic best friend, Finkelstein. His life is further complicated by the fact that he has a crush on the new math teacher’s daughter and doesn’t know how to ask her to the Big Dance. Will Bobby’s wayward pecker continue to obstruct his path to true love? To say this lacks the subtlety and character development of Judy Blume’s classic male-puberty title, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (1971), is putting it lightly. Stereotypical characterizations combined with a plot that reads like a rejected Family Guy script assure that the novel will find an enthusiastic audience with middle-school boys who share Sitomer’s dubious sense of humor, if with no one else. However, the excessive penis and fart jokes may tire even them.

As a highly specific thesaurus it excels; as a story, not so much. Alan Cumyn covers much the same ground with considerably more nuance, though for slightly older readers, in Tilt (2011). (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25498-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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This series opener won't win any prizes, but it will appeal to those who want puzzles and action mixed with their fashion...

THE CONSPIRACY OF US

From the Conspiracy of Us series , Vol. 1

A friendless teen discovers she's the key to a millenia-old epic prophecy—making her an invaluable pawn of the world's great powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery West has a Plan: don't make friends, so as to remain unhurt when she inevitably has to change schools. Her single mother is a military contractor (something to do with a mandate), and Avery never lives anywhere long. At least Avery's learned to hide her violet eyes behind colored contacts, so she's only friendless instead of mocked. Avery's plan doesn't take into account the two gorgeous young men who appear fascinated with her: suave Jack and scruffy Stellan. The boys insist they're taking her to meet long-lost family and whirl Avery across the Atlantic to Paris (an unplanned trip about which she's remarkably sanguine). There, she learns of a conspiracy almost as old as Western civilization. Political leaders, actors, sports heroes and businessmen have come from just 12 families for nearly 2,000 years. Avery's place in all this has to with a prophecy called, surprise surprise, the mandate. Avery's thrust into a cinematic, puzzle-solving action-adventure that takes her from Paris to Istanbul. Though she's overwhelmed by "boy drama," she knows her quest is "way more important." Thrill as Avery's outfitted in Prada and Louboutin! Gasp as she jumps from a fire escape into a gunfight! Swoon as sexy Europeans fight for her hand!

This series opener won't win any prizes, but it will appeal to those who want puzzles and action mixed with their fashion and romance . (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16650-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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