There's just something about a woman with a gun. Kick-butt heroines that shoot first and ask questions later have always appealed to me. Whether they...moreThere's just something about a woman with a gun. Kick-butt heroines that shoot first and ask questions later have always appealed to me. Whether they attire themselves in red miniskirts and four-inch Ferragamo's, urban chic consisting of broken-in blue jeans and ratty t-shirts, or do their best work dressed in nothing at all, heroines that take control of their own lives and work to make a difference in the world around them are nothing short of my idols.
For Marisela Morales, working for Alberto Garcia at AAA-Able Bail Bonds has finally brought a sense of belonging to her life. A Cuban-American woman who found herself all too often on the wrong side of the law when younger, Alberto offered her a haven-a real job, something meaningful that would keep her busy and off the streets. Once she turned twenty-one, Marisela became a bond enforcer. For seven years now she's tracked down outlaws dumb enough to jump their bail and brought them back to justice.
This time, the bail-jumper is someone who hits a little too close to home. Francisco "Frankie" Vega is Marisela's past-a young punk who later turned his life around to spend years in prison as an undercover DEA informant. Now, though, Frankie is out, and after two years back in the real world, he's been busted for possession-and unwisely skipped his bail. So what if the chemistry is still there? Who cares that Frankie's first words to her in ten years are "I remember when you used to stroke me like that?" And really, what difference does it make if his striking good looks and snake-charmer charisma make her eyes roll back in her head and the hairs on her arms stand up? Marisela has hunted down Frankie to do a job, and that job is to return him back over to the authorities.
But love dies hard, even that brought about by circumstances of a hard life of two dispassionate youths. The chemistry between Frankie and Marisela is still there, and they're both finding it hard to turn off. Frankie has no idea that Marisela isn't Alberto's secretary, has no clue that she packs a really big-and really illegal-gun. Marisela doesn't realize that Frankie is dealing with bigger issues than just jumping bond. All in all, what they don't know about each other is more than what they remember.
Together, Marisela and Frankie must overcome their shared history, rebuild their trust and broken hearts, and stop a handful of bad guys along the way. Action-adventure mixed with passion is always a heady mix, and this book is no different.
Take a dash of Stephanie Plum, throw in the spunk of Eve Dallas, mix it up with some Cuban food and a gallon of margaritas, and you've got a true winner in DIRTY LITTLE LIES. This book was an excellent start to what will no doubt be a long-lived series-one that you won't want to miss an episode of. (less)
Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
Brent Hartinger has crafted a touching and suspenseful novel sure to capture and hold a...moreReviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
Brent Hartinger has crafted a touching and suspenseful novel sure to capture and hold any teen reader's attention. He knows his craft well, having created an edgy novel about the foster care system with a tasteful, deft touch, ensuring it a wide readership. He has proven that tough issues and hard situations teens face can be portrayed with minimal violence and profanity.
Like his earlier novel, GEOGRAPHY CLUB, Hartinger has crafted several sympathetic characters among a microcosm of society's misfits. This novel's group of excluded teens are orphans, kids whose perception of themselves is nearly as negative as their peers at school, who deride them as "groupies" (foster children in group homes). The reader is drawn into their conflicts, both within their own walls, their own psyches, and with society-at-large.
The narrator, Lucy, has been a foster child for over half of her life. Kindle Home is the last, "safe" stop for teens like her, for those who have been in trouble. Children who "wash out" of Kindle Home are then sent to Rabbit Island, a place for teens beyond redemption--in the eyes of the system, at least. As a veteran of group homes, she vows to make an effort to fit in at Kindle, which proves to be difficult. Newcomers are viewed as a challenge of the "pecking order" and it isn't long before Lucy is facing serious challenges from others in the home.
Her school environment presents another challenge when she is caught in a social caste disagreement with two of her peers. In spite of the odds against them, she makes a friend from one of her earlier antagonists, a person who proves to be a crucial ally when Kindle Home faces community persecution and budget cuts. As the new friends try to find out who has been setting fires in the neighborhood in order to frame the members of Kindle Home, Hartinger provides an unexpected twist when he unveils the perpetrator.
With a heart-warming ending, Hartinger proves that edgy young adult fiction can still leave a reader with hope. THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO is suitable even for middle school-aged students. Recommended. (less)
No one in Urkeneye, not even his father and stepmother, care at all for twelve-year-old Prince Ezrick....moreReviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com
No one in Urkeneye, not even his father and stepmother, care at all for twelve-year-old Prince Ezrick. His only friend is the cook's daughter, Maddie, with whom he sneaks around the castle and tries to avoid the wrath of Ezrick's stepmother, Vicursa, who they call "the witch" because of her cruel treatment of Ezrick, whose real mother died when he was a young boy. Vicursa finally goes too far when she promises that Maddie will be beaten for any mistake that Ezrick makes, and Ezrick, not wanting to put his friend in danger, runs away from the castle and joins with a band of gypsy-like Vagaries, but not before stumbling across information that a dangerous object, known as Morpheäs, is hidden in the castle.
Ezrick tries to ignore what he knows about the intrigue that plays out after he leaves home, instead trying to accommodate to the Vagarie lifestyle. He befriends a Vagarie boy, Leroy, and together the two of them engage in humorous escapades, but the whole time Ezrick must keep his identity a secret from everyone. Slowly, Ezrick begins to pick up more and more clues about the Morpheäs, and the curse that is supposedly linked to it. With the help of Leroy and the long-distance support of Maddie, Ezrick sets out to prevent the curse from being unleashed once again.
McMakin's characters read like real soon-to-be-teens. I admired Ezrick's integrity, Maddie's toughness, and Leroy's spunk. The geography of the story wavers between amusing and impressive, with settings that often feel like intentional caricatures of fantasy standards but have hearts of their own and add to the story's underhanded humor. The plot relies more upon the human abilities of the characters than any kind of magic, and indeed none of the characters are wizards, although fantastic creatures and curses do appear within the story. Overall, it was an enjoyable, fast-paced read, and I look forward to seeing what McMakin has in store for Ezrick next. (less)