Category Archives: Young Adult Fiction

The Commonwealth Games

Australian Women's Artistic Gymnastics Team Gold Medal 2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne Australia Gymnasts

The Australian women winning gymnastics team gold in 2006. X

The Commonwealth Games – basically the Summer Olympics for the fifty-three states of the British Commonwealth (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, etc. and – obviously – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) begin today on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The highlights for me are always the gymnastics and the diving.

Beginners (The Gymnasts #1) by Elizabeth Levy 1980s 1988

Back in the day I absolutely loved Elizabeth Levy’s book series The Gymnasts, however those books are out of print now, and only available second-hand.

Here are some other children’s and young adult reading ideas with a gymnastics theme.

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Irish Dance Books

World Irish Dancing Championship 2018

Source

The 2018 World Irish Dancing Championships – held in Glasgow this year – are drawing to an end this week.

Irish dance became popular around the world in the mid-1990s, with Riverdance, and thousands of people compete at Worlds every year (and they are just the dancers who qualified and could afford to go!).

You can look at some pictures HERE. It’s a very shiny discipline these days, and this year there’s a fashion for towering wigs, but if you watch them dance (that is a video from a competition in America), you can appreciate the hard work that goes into it.

There are very few fiction books about Irish dance, compared to – say – ballet. However, you can find some HERE.

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Offsetting Penalties is a sweet high school romance dealing with an aspiring footballer and an aspiring ballerina, with a “wrong side of the tracks” theme.

Our heroine does something that isn’t particularly nice – blackmail! – in order to get our clueless hero to dance with her in a ballet performance. Anyone who’s ever done ballet knows how hard it is to find enough guys for shows. They usually have to be recruited from other areas.

While I found some of the dance scenes a bit odd (there was a lot of random stretching before the poor guy even learnt the first thing about ballet!), it’s nice to see books where teenagers train hard to achieve a near-impossible dream.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

Gold Rush by Jennifer Comeaux

If you want to read a book with a figure skating theme where the author actually KNOWS all about the sport, then give Gold Rush a go. This book is about a skater in her late teens going for gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Jennifer Comeaux knows pretty much everything about the sport, making it all seem so authentic.

Even though the characters are university-aged, this is a tame little contemporary romance with a very sweet hero, and reads a little more like young adult fiction.

The author has other ice skating books available, and I will definitely be checking them out.

Sample Chapter Review: Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

I recently read the first chapter of Seraphina as a sample from the publisher. It is a complex introductory chapter with lots of world-building and sophisticated language. I’d recommend it for people at the older end of the targeted age range.

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet needs no introduction. Younger readers with be suitably introduced to one the greatest love stories ever to be written. Romeo and Juliet is the tragic love story of the “star-crossed lovers,” Romeo and Juliet. Set in the city of Verona, Italy, the play revolves around the feud between two affluent families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Despite the enmity, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall passionately in love and wed in secret. However, the enmity between both disapproving families overpowers and leads everything to go terribly wrong.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

I was interested to see how someone could possibly tackle Romeo and Juliet to make it into something palatable for readers even younger than Juliet herself.

This highly condensed version of Shakespeare’s dramatic play focuses mostly on the title characters and devotes more time to the developing relationship than the death-fest that comes afterwards. There are some illustrations throughout.

In order to simplify things, some characters are changed a little. Paris is no longer some titled guy looking for a well-bred baby-maker, but is now a man who comes to the Capulet ball already knowing Juliet and in love with her. The nurse becomes some random servant in the background of the story.

I think the violent aspects of the story were explained as briefly and best as they could be for the target readers.

Still, it’s an extraordinary choice of story for a middle grade book!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Secret Sisters Club by Monique Bucheger

The Secret Sisters Club (A Ginnie West Adventure) by Monique Bucheger

Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie and Tillie, want to be sisters. Tillie’s divorced mom plus Ginnie’s widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie form a secret club. They come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’. Before long, Tillie seems happier about gaining a dad than a sister. Ginnie suspects that Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her real mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about. When Dad discovers she has the journals, he takes them away. Ginnie needs to figure out what the big mystery is before her relationship with her father and her best friend are ruined forever.

The Secret Sisters Club (A Ginnie West Adventure) by Monique Bucheger

This was a lovely little book for preteens. It is exactly the kind of thing I would have loved to read at that age.

 

With a plot that encompasses all the things girls stereotypically like, from best friends to horses to a crazy scheme to make parents fall in love, I was reminded of the movies of the 80s and 90s, with the universally popular themes for younger readers.

 

The author’s writing style was light-hearted and fun, and though I’m far from the target audience for such a story, it made for an entertaining quick read.

 

 

Review copy from NetGalley.

FREE: Invisible by Jeanne Bannon

Invisible by Jeanne Bannon is FREE.

Invisible by Jeanne Bannon

Lola’s not pretty. Lola’s not popular. Lola wishes she could disappear … and then one day she does just that…

For seventeen-year-old Lola Savullo, life is a struggle. Born to funky parents who are more in than she could ever be, Lola’s dream of becoming a writer makes her an outsider even in her own home. Bullied and despised, Lola still has the support of her best pal Charlie and Grandma Rose.

Not only is she freakishly tall, Lola’s a big girl and when forced to wear a bathing suit at her summer job as a camp counsellor, Lola’s only escape from deep embarrassment seems to be to literally vanish. Soon after, she discovers the roots of her new “ability”.

Slowly, with Charlie’s help, Lola learns to control the new super power. The possibilities are endless. Yet power can be abused, too…

Then, when tragedy strikes, Lola must summon her inner strength, both at home and at school. She has to stand up for herself, despite the temptations and possibilities of her newfound super power.

A coming-of-age story that will warm the heart.

FREE: The Princess Sisters by Stacy Lynn Carroll

The Princess Sisters (Princess Sisters #1) by Stacy Lynn Carroll is FREE.

The Princess Sisters (Princess Sisters #1) by Stacy Lynn Carroll

The only thing she stands to lose are her shoes.
Cinderella is an ordinary teenage girl, with an extraordinary name.  But because of that name, she and her cousins, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, and Snow White suffer years of torment from their peers.  Then as the girls enter high school and the enticing world of dating, a life-altering decision must be made.  Is it finally time to stop fighting, and surrender to the fairy tale clichés that have been holding them back?  By embracing their names, the girls discover an inner-strength they never knew existed. And by putting everything they have on the line, maybe, just maybe they will discover there really is such a thing as ‘happily ever after’.

FREE: The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker

The Ghost Files (The Ghost Files #1) by Apryl Baker is FREE.

The Ghost Files (The Ghost Files #1) by Apryl Baker

Cherry blossom lipstick: check
Smokey eyes: check
Skinny jeans: check
Dead kid in the mirror: check

For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labelled a freak too.

Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see’s the ghost of her foster sister… Sally.

Everyone thinks Sally’s just another runaway, but Mattie knows the truth—she’s dead. Murdered. Mattie feels like she has to help Sally, but she can’t do it alone. Against her better judgment, she teams up with a young policeman, Officer Dan, and together they set out to discover the real truth behind Sally’s disappearance.

Only to find out she’s dealing with a much bigger problem, a serial killer, and she may be the next victim…

Will Mattie be able to find out the truth before the killer finds her?