Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan

just call Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan

**This is a review of an ARC provided through Netgalley, it will release on 8/5.

I read the first book in this series (?), I’ll Be There, because it was on the Gateway Reader Award list last school year (that’s a Missouri state award).  To be honest, it was not high up on my list of the ones I wanted to read first, but I like to try and read all of them so I can recommend them to my students and get them involved in the state awards and voting.  I picked up I’ll Be There and was pleasantly surprised.  It was a quick read because it was an interesting story that I didn’t want to put down.  Just Call My Name is the continuation of Sam’s story, along with other main characters.  In this book (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the first), Sam’s father is plotting an escape from jail in order to seek revenge on his sons for “betraying” him.  Sam is trying to move on and lead a semi-normal teenage life–starting college classes, getting to know a new family, helping his brother adjust, having a girlfriend, etc.  Then, Destiny comes into the picture….Sam can tell she will cause him trouble from the first time he lays eyes on her.  She is an eccentric, yet beautiful, girl who has just come to town and is looking for some stability.  Same tries to avoid any alone-time with her to resist temptation, but Destiny works her way into his life and the life of his girlfriend.  Meanwhile, Clarence Borders (Sam’s dad) is on the run and using his criminal skills to find his children. Will he find them and what will come of it? Without giving away too much, let’s just say that Destiny ends up coming in really handy and shows her redeemable qualities as well.This is a story that will appeal to many of my reluctant readers because it is easy to stay invested in the story.  It is also a very gender-neutral storyline.

My Rating: 4/5

Who would I recommend this to? Any of my high school readers.  I will be purchasing it for my high school library.

Language: There is not much vulgarity in this story (if any?).

Sex: There is some mention of sex, but nothing graphic.

Drugs/Alcohol: There is a bit of drinking, but it is not shown in a positive light.

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Knockout Games by G. Neri

KnockoutGames Knockout Games by G. Neri

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.  The title is scheduled to release on 8/1.

I was interested in this book from the get-go after reading the summary because I remember hearing about this when it was happening regularly.  Having lived in the south part of St. Louis City and taught in the Old North area of St. Louis City, I was even more intrigued when I found out it was set in St. Louis.  I grew up and now live again in a town about an hour and a half straight down the Mississippi River so I’ve always been familiar with and visited STL regularly so it was easy to envision where all of these things are taking place.  Though this book is fiction, it is very closely based on real events involving the “Knockout Game”.  If you don’t much about the “game”, look it up on Google (I did this again after reading just to find out more); but, basically, a group of teens find random victims and run up to them with the goal of knocking them out with one hit.  This game eventually resulted in the death of at least one person and severe injuries for many other victims. It is insane to me to think that there are young people out there participating in this kind of thing.

Erica is a white high school student that moves to St. Louis at the beginning of the book after her parents separate.  She lives in and attends school in a predominantly black community and is sucked into a group of kids, yes kids, that are participating in knockout games… all because she has a good camera.  When her involvement becomes more than just filming, the story gets deeper.  Kalvin, the Knockout King, pulls Erica in and convinces her to do things she would have never thought. When the group goes after one of Erica’s teachers and her husband, she knows she has to get out.  Throughout the story, the group is trying to avoid getting caught and when it comes to arrests being made after a particularly gruesome event, Erica has to figure out if she going to do the right thing or not. This is a deeply troubling story about what some middle and high school students are dangerously involved in so it was tough to get through, but extremely important and will suck students right in to the story.  I would have recommended and bought many copies of this title while working at my job in St. Louis because I could get so many of them to read it.  Since I am still close to the area, and many of my students will probably remember hearing about this, not to mention that it is just an interesting story, I will still be buying a few copies and recommending this to my students as much as possible.  It is also a quick read due to the content and interest factor. I am so glad I was approved for this ARC!

My rating: 4.5/5

Who would I recommend this to?  Considering where I’m from and how many people I know in St. Louis, I will be recommending this to students and adults alike as a good read.  I will particularly recommend this to my students who like realistic, troublesome stories or who are reluctant readers especially.

Drugs/Alcohol:  There is little talk, if any, of drug or alcohol use.

Sex:  There are some sexual scenes, but nothing overly graphic or upsetting.

Language:  Being that this story centers around teens and middle school ages, there is of course some language, but it does not stand out from the story itself at all.

Violence:  This story, unfortunately, centers around violence, but it is an important read.

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

bridge The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

**This is an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases on 7/29.

I have only read one other book by Lisa Schroeder, Chasing Brooklyn, because it was a Gateway Award nominee here in Missouri my first year as a high school librarian.  I struggle with reading novels in verse, but have become more accustomed to it and really enjoyed that particular story.  I decided I wanted to read this advanced copy, even though I knew I was probably going to go ahead and order it, because I have many students who like her books and that fact that novels in verse are quick reads, which most of her books are.  This book seems to be a mixture of both formats, regular and in verse, but still a quick read.  I would like as many of them to recommend to my students as possible and to be able to say that I have read and enjoyed them.  That is true with this title as well.  I am not normally one that finds stories about football intriguing, but since that was not the whole premise of the story, I was able to manage! 🙂  This is the story of Lauren, the new girl in town her senior year, and Colby, the star football player in a small town.  Though this does have the troubled boy/troubled girl relationship aspect, it is not overdone and does make their relationship excessively difficult.  In fact, in my opinion, Colby and Lauren have a fairly easy relationship from the beginning….if you exclude their parents from the picture.  That’s where it gets complicated and what most of the story revolves around.  Through friendship first, Colby and Lauren are able to help each other through some tough times and tough decisions before becoming a couple.  This was a nice take on a teenage romance/drama and was nice to see a couple that started out as friends.  The two are dealing with different kinds of issues with their parents, but still issues that are common amongst all teenagers: abandonment, instability, pressure to be perfect, etc.  I think this is a story that can appeal to many of my readers and I will gladly recommend and share what I liked about it.

Who would I recommend this to? Any of my high school readers who need a quick, interesting read or that just enjoy novels in verse in general.  I think I can pull male students in with the football storyline.

My rating: 3.5/5

Language: Not really an issue, can’t recall anything out of the ordinary actually

Drugs/Alcohol:  There is some talk of drinking at parties, but it is not the focus of the book by any means.

Sex: Nothing that I would be fearful of a student reading, some kissing scenes are all that stand out, which is no big deal.