A zany and satisfying story for fans of YA tales that pack as much humor as they do heart.

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Bad Napkin


A grand misunderstanding disrupts the lives of high school sweethearts in this YA novel.

Sophy Sharpley has to concoct a case study for her social studies class. But her best friend, Julie, has bigger problems, like the list of pros and cons about her boyfriend, Freddie, who she contemplates breaking up with. Sophy’s relieved that her relationship with Russ is thriving, believing they “will get married (someday) and live happily…and sensibly (one child, one cat).” She figures out a swell case study: she’ll examine teen dating habits, starting with Julie’s messy list. But when the list falls into Russ’ hands, he becomes convinced that Sophy wrote it about him, expressing her displeasure (“Not a good kisser!!!”). He embarks on a campaign to change her mind. He writes his own list about Sophy (“Bossy”), which his sister Angelica steals. At school, Russ tries to parse the list that he thinks Sophy wrote, showing it to Darren and Mark. They add to the confusion by telling him that the last item, McRib, is not a sandwich but a fetish. Julie provides her list to Freddie, the bully Bonce steals Russ’ list from Angelica, and Mark plasters fake lists around the school. When the list about Sophy is unfurled as a banner in the auditorium, chaos ensues as she dumps Russ, and the token of apology Freddie purchased (a cactus) becomes a symbol of revenge. The former lovers fall into a dating free-for-all until the truth comes out. Then the parties must decide whether to embrace their pros and cons to find happiness. Sophy’s class project appears throughout as case studies of certain couples, although the comedy of errors that befalls the heroine is far more intriguing. Sharman (Ignorance Risk Hope, 2016, etc.) offers many characters to keep track of, but the plot gallops along with a perfect mix of inside jokes and hilarious high jinks (Freddie reinvents himself as The Gladiator, with cactuses his signature weapon). In this delightful, quirky book, Sophy’s parents are present enough to illustrate that these teens’ lives don’t exist in a vacuum. The multiple narrators sometimes cause confusion (it’s unclear who Tekfin is), even as they amusingly profit from said lists. But the heartwarming and original final chapter focuses on the novel’s heroes, Sophy and Russ.

A zany and satisfying story for fans of YA tales that pack as much humor as they do heart.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5328-0184-6

Page Count: 168

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

The Lie They Told


When a teenage girl in 1925 Chicago kills her violent stepfather, her mother takes the blame in this YA novel.

Carola Pawlak, 15, living in Chicago’s Polish Town, is shy, studious, and badly dressed, although other girls sometimes say her looks are “promising.” She dreams of becoming a writer and has few friends other than Stan Carlson, a handsome Roma boy. She and her sweet mother, Maria, walk on eggshells around Carola’s angry, explosive stepfather, Henry Jaworski. That is, until a fight one day in which Carola, trying to protect her mother, strikes back. He attempts to destroy a prized silver amulet that Stan gave her—but it has a hidden knife, and Carola plunges it into Henry’s chest. Maria confesses to the crime, forcing a promise from Carola to go along, and is arrested. Unexpected help then arrives: Louise Lazaar, “the Chicago Tribune’s leading ‘sob sister.’ ” Sensing a story, Lazaar brings Carola to see T.J. O’Malley, Chicago’s best criminal lawyer, who takes her mother’s case. Carola gets a makeover—bobbed hair, cosmetics, new clothes—and Lazaar dubs her and Maria the “Mother-Daughter Angels,” writing stories such as, “‘She Did It for Me,’ Says Angel Daughter.” But Maria’s still in danger from other prisoners, and Carola learns that Stan’s in trouble for giving her the mysterious amulet. Arbeiter (A Mouton Coat: The Hunt for a Mother’s Story, 2013, etc.) offers a sympathetic YA heroine who’s also conventional in that she doesn’t feel beautiful but is, and she wants to be a writer. Her romance with Stan is sweet and provides a little heat, and Carola has a chance to play the rescuer instead of the rescuee, which is unusual in the YA genre. The 1920s setting is also vivid; Arbeiter gives a well-rounded sense of the era’s highlights, such as flappers and actor Rudolph Valentino, and challenges, such as crime and injustice.

A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938812-59-0

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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