Running plays, making big hits, workouts, routines, football team captain… now with agonizing brain distress.
Football saved Isaiah when the alternative was reform school. But it can’t bring back his dead sister or his easy relationship with Grace or his swagger on the field, knowing that any tackle could bring another concussion that puts him lights-out for good.
But if Isaiah stops playing football, what’s left for him?
If he doesn’t, will he have any future to work for?
His divorced parents are sure he’ll go to college in their small Minnesota town…but other college scouts have seen his hard-hitting defensive play and want to talk.
Odd-jobs guy Joey says journaling will help the high school senior process his past problems and present dilemmas…can it make the headaches and screeching sounds in his head go away?
Grandma Gin tells him to stay away from Grace who’s finally getting her act together…but how can he?
Happy book birthday to Cracking the Bell , as Isaiah tries to hide his symptoms from Coach even while he knows that the decision to keep playing is all on him.
One hit can knock out a player forever – youth football, yes or no? **kmm
Book info: Cracking the Bell / Geoff Herbach. Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
A family treasure,
a family tragedy –
which will drive his family’s future?
Not easy for Martin, moving from his town school, learning how to farm, being the man of the house at 14.
If he can just figure out the clues in his great-aunt’s diary and find the “dowry” brought by his grandmother from Sweden, then he can save his father’s last family connection and the farm from foreclosure.
Book info: The Search for the Homestead Treasure / Ann Treacy. University of Minnesota Press, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A year – that’s how long Martin will help Pa on the long-abandoned family farm in 1903 before he goes back to town, unless they locate its rumored treasure first.
An eternity – every heartbeat since their brother Dan died, when Ma lost her spark and Aunt Ida came to make sure Martin and little Lilly were cared for.
The summer months – how long the 14-year-old can sleep in the hayloft and read great-aunt Cora’s diary, hoping to find clues about what her mother brought to the frontier from Sweden before the war and hid in the doll house.
A fleeting moment – when Martin truly believes he can prepare the land for crops without Pa’s help, when he and Gypsy boy Samson can laugh about baseball, when he imagines finding the treasure to save the farm.
Samson becomes a good friend, the Barker boys are bullies, and Mr. Meehan wants to foreclose on the farm to snuff out Pa’s dream in the Minnesota prairie land where Martin searches for his family’s treasure.
Try out for school play – okay.
Make new friends – okay.
Hope your brother isn’t a murderer – yikes!
Francie decides to stay in the Minnesota northwoods for senior year, despite the adventure at Enchantment Lake (my recommendation here) over the summer, but is the New York private eye (on TV) ready for the reappearance of her brother Theo, disappearance of newly found dinosaur bones, and winter on the lake (really thin ice)?
Second in the series, a twisty-turny mystery.
Book info: The Clue in the Trees: An Enchantment Lake Mystery / Margie Preus. University of Minnesota Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
traveling light and often,
avoiding entanglements, until…
Scam artist teen always on the move meets an artistic young man with two personalities and a near-psychic knowledge of what she’s running from – how can Clara resist trying to tap into what Elias “sees”?
But Clara never planned on falling for Elias or struggling to understand his dissociative identity disorder or making a road trip toward answers that could imperil them both.
Completely different worlds from the dystopia that Friesen brought us previously in Aquifer (my notes here), the Salem that calm Elias wanders through in his mind, the minutely ordered existence that angry Elias tries to catalog, and the everyday world that Clara longs to leave behind.
Is there ever just one personality inside you?
My book talk: Dual-personality Elias somehow knows more about her past than Clara wishes to recall, but their journey to verify the answers stretches both young people’s affection and endurance – and Elias’ hold on reality.
A treasure under enchantment,
unspoiled northwoods beauty,
a killer determined to own it all?
Francie is not a NYPD detective, but she played one on television, and that’s more mystery-solving experience than the local sheriff seems to have!
As deaths keep piling up (each by a different cause), even her eccentric great-aunts’ unique food combos (curry with a side of pickled beets, anyone?) can’t distract the teen from worrying that they will be the next victims.
A departure from the author’s acclaimed historical fiction Heart of a Samurai (my recommendation here) and Shadow on the Mountain, this first book in the Northwoods Mystery series is equally well-written, with interesting characters and setting.
Death by hot-dish? What casserole would you choose for your last meal?
Book info: Enchantment Lake (Northwoods Mystery, book 1) / Margi Preus. University of Minnesota Press, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When her great-aunts say that they’re in danger, Francie leaves summer drama camp in New York City to find mysterious deaths and rumors of treasure in the remote Minnesota lake town where it’s assumed that the 17 year old orphan can solve all mysteries because she played a kid detective on TV.
On the far shore of deep Enchantment Lake, eccentric Astrid and Jeannette tell Francie that city folks want a road through the peat bog so more mansions like the Fredericksons’ can be built. Property owners along the right-of-way have been dying oddly, and local real estate man Buck Thorne is pressuring their heirs to sell.
At the latest victim’s funeral, a poisoned casserole kills Buck, and the suspect list grows since everyone in town owns a serving dish made by the local potter.
What was Buck going to tell Francie about her long-lost mother?
Why does Buck’s stepson need so much money suddenly?
Can young law intern Nels help make any sense of these recent deaths?
Uh-oh, Francie’s grandfather demands that she return to drama camp or he’ll stop paying her expenses! But how can she when her aunt is arrested for Buck’s murder, a little boy who gets grimy every night goes missing, and someone tries to sink her kayak – with her in it! First in the Northwoods Mystery series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Quietly, June moves to yet another town, yet another school.
Quietly, Wes escapes his smothering relationship with his girlfriend.
We’ve all heard about the Big Bang theory of the universe’s creation, but maybe you haven’t heard about “the big crunch” as one way that the universe might end, with everything condensing down to one tiny point of matter.
Pete Hautman reminds us that falling in love, whether gradual or sudden, is a lot like that big crunch – a moment when you realize that the only point in the entire universe is the person you love.
June, Wes, and their friends are very real people; their enthusiasms and worries are real, too. Is the love that Wes and Junie share real enough to survive her family moving away?
Find this clever, funny love story today at your local library or independent bookstore today.
Yes, I keep pointing you to your neighborhood businesses and institutions because they are worth supporting now so that they can keep supporting you and your community in the future.
And if the description of how June makes real hot chocolate for Wes after they walk together in the snow doesn’t make you immediately long for a cup, I’ll drink it for you.
My Book Talk: Another new high school – June hates how her dad’s job moves them so often. Does she want to fit in or stand out this time? Semi-cool dude Wes notices her in the halls, someone new to wonder about while he tries to figure out exactly why he broke up with his girlfriend. His pal Jerry seeks her out immediately as part of his campaign for class president, even though the election is months away.
So the three sort-of friends wander in and out of each other’s days as Jerry pushes his campaign forward, Wes needs someone to talk to since he doesn’t talk to Izzy anymore, and Junie is forced to get involved here in Minnesota when her mom erases all her Chicago friends’ numbers from her phone – “There is no reverse gear in this time machine,” says her dad.
As the days grow cooler, June finds herself somehow dating Jerry steadily. Wes keeps mentally replaying his conversations with her, trying to figure out what made her choose the persistent campaigner over him. His little sister teases him about leaving his brain out in his garage workshop, and his buddies Alan and Alan take advantage of his distractedness to make steady in-roads on his savings during 24-hour poker marathons.
When Wes and Junie run into each other with a thump during a snowstorm, it’s rather eye-opening… and heart-stopping. Time to let Jerry down easy as they become a couple and learn to negotiate the differences in their lives – only child June who’s moved so many times, big brother Wes who’s never gone anywhere.
And then Junie’s dad announces another move on New Year’s Day. How far is it to Omaha? Too far to keep up any sort of relationship, according to her parents. Are they right? Will the Wes-shaped hole in June’s heart ever heal? Will she finally decide for herself whether it’s time to move on or stay connected? Can Wes get past his family ties into Junie’s larger world?
Hautman shows readers four seasons in the lives of June, Wes, and their friends – a year that changes everything and doesn’t change the important things, when a little push turns into The Big Crunch of decisions that cannot be undone. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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