Review: Forever for a Year (B.T. Gottfred)


Forever for a YearWhen Carolina and Trevor meet on their first day of school, something draws them to each other.  They gradually share first kisses, first touches, first sexual experiences.  When they’re together, nothing else matters. But one of them will make a choice, and the other a mistake, that will break what they thought was unbreakable. Both will wish that they could fall in love again for the first time . . . but first love, by definition, can’t happen twice.

Told in Carolina and Trevor's alternating voices, this is an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever.
I can't even give this book a rating because I cannot decide if this is a realistic portrayal of immature high school freshmen (tragic for our future if so) or the biggest waste of anyone's time.  These characters were annoying! I fought with the desire to stop reading many times. Since I am flip flopping on my opinion of this book, I'm going to just say what was good about it and what was less than desirable. You can decide from there.  The good: I'll get back to you on this.Okay, there is one glimmer of something positive I could find for Forever For a Year. Let it serve as a lesson on unprotected sex and unplanned for pregnancy in children that think they are ready to be adults. Trevor and Carolina had a quick realization of how being careless can change your entire future. That's a pretty good lesson to learn.    The bad:The characters. Are children really this obnoxious? I swear I don't remember being so bad when I was this age. Carolina is the worst. Trevor isn't much better, but he has a slight edge through most of the book. Trevor is supposed to be a year older than Carolina (15ish) but he's an immature trying to pretend to be mature 15. Caroline thinks she's older than 14 and most people treat her like she is. But do not forget that these are kids, and Carolina is just a baby. You can't pretend away age. Forever For a Year might have been better if the characters were a bit older. They found themselves with an awful lot of freedom and lack of parental supervision for such a young age. In fact, the majority of their time together felt more like the interactions between 16/17 year olds and not kids that could barely drive. That right there made this very unbelievable for me. Then, you add in their inner voices and I wanted to just slap them both. Carolina was the most annoying character I think I have ever encountered. I just cannot express my extreme dislike for her enough. She was needy, whiny and had to rehash everything in her head a million times before we could move on. It takes a certain level of patience as a reader to get through that. If that isn't bad enough, these characters fell deeply in love in the matter of sentences. Not pages, sentences. The rest of the book from that point on (and it was early in the book) was all about how they were soul mates and how much they loved one another. I rolled my eyes many times. Many, many times.  The friendships in this book are pretty silly as well. Peggy drifts away from prudish Carolina pretty quickly, which makes me think they weren't that great of friends to begin with. But, unfortunately, that is fairly believable because people do change. Carolina also spends a lot of time commenting on the actions of others, but does not recognize she's doing the same things. The disguise of "love" totally justifies everything she does. Honestly, Carolina really comes across as a bit pathetic and very needy. She doesn't even try to understand what's going on with Peggy. Instead, she jumps to other girls. One of which loans her a dress for a party and suddenly the she-devil is the most interesting girl in school that she wants to get to know and be friends with? Lame. I guess there are more things in the bad category than the good. This book had potential, but it was so poorly executed. I think I deserve an award for actually finishing it (and thank goodness it only took a few hours to read). I'd be pretty mad if I wasted days on this books instead of a few hours, even though those hours could have been better spent reading something else.   


Review: A Breath of Frost (Alyxandra Harvey)

A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy, #1)In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld.

Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies.

Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?








Do not give up on this one!

When I started this book, I made it about 2 pages. Then I stopped and it sat on my Kindle for well over a month. In fact, it sat untouched for so long, it disappeared off Netgalley. I almost didn't go back to it, but I decided to give it a try with fresh eyes. I am so glad I did!

A Breath of Frost ended up being very good! I'm not really sure what I thought it would be about, but I was pleasantly surprised by the message of sticking by family that I found. The unlikely heroines had some major road blocks to overcome, but they did it together. Each character had a unique role, but when they were in the scenes together the story became so much richer. 

I have to mention the setting too. One of my favorite time periods for a book! That was a huge plus. Also a plus, was the way the multiple POVs were handled. Usually, I'm not a big fan of this technique because the voices all end up sounding the same. But, it was done really well in A Breath of Frost.   

I highly recommend this one for fans of paranormal books. Alyxandra Harvey has done a fabulous job of creating a unique setting with surprising characters during a time period that seems to be overflowing with potential enchantment.  


Review: The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)

The Fault in Our StarsDespite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.













At first, I did not know what to think of this book. My original opinion based on the first 50 pages or so was "eh". In fact, when I described what I had read so far to a co-worker (whose teenage daughter raved about this book) she said, "Sounds cheesy." And to be completely honest, she was right. But I kept reading anyway, and ignored the temptation to give up on the book and watch the movie instead.

Now that I've finished the book, I can say with all sorts of authority that I do not have that The Fault In Our Stars is one of those books that gets better after you read it. Don't give up on the book.

With that being said, do I think this book is worth the hype it gets? Nope. Not at all. I still think it's overrated. Horribly overrated, actually. As far as books in this genre go, I still say that Wendy Wunder's The Probability of Miracles (read the review here) trumps The Fault in Our Stars. If this were a cage match, Wunder's book would be taking home the gold belt in the categories of readability, witty banter between characters, and swoon worthiness.

So what made me drop TFIOS down a few notches? Frankly, the wordiness. I like that Gus and Hazel bonded over a book. For a reader, that's a win. Unfortunately, there were many book quotes and long excerpts in the TFIOS that could have been cut without ever affecting the plot. I found myself skimming through those parts because they just felt too heavy and borderline pretentious. I'm even going to go out on a limb and say the younger teenage readers that are fangirling over this book didn't even fully understand the role of those sections or their intended meanings. Not because teenage readers aren't smart enough to figure it out (they are), but because they subconsciously realized how wordy and unnecessary those lines were, and never spent the time to try to chew through the fat to find the purpose.

I had a few more issues with this book that are pretty hard for me to overcome as well. The time span of this book is not terribly long. So when I find the two characters professing their love for another in that matter of days, I've got problems. Even if these are kids that fall into love as often as I change shoes, it still made me roll my eyes. Especially since Hazel gives off the impression of being more mature and wiser than her young age should allow for. Maybe this was just me, but it seriously bothered me.

Now, what did keep this book from the pits of Tartarus was Gus and the blind mutual friend. Everyone talks about Hazel, but I'm not sure if these guys get enough credit. Maybe they do. Hazel was witty at times, but I feel like she plays a supporting role to Gus's show-stopping performance. You better have tissues for the final 50 pages of this book. Gus will steal your heart. Their mutual friend is equally important in my opinion. A great deal of attention is spent on Hazel and Gus, but there was a lot of good lessons and powerful moments for the friend. He deserves more credit.

Overall, I'm a bit torn by this book. I think it's more powerful after you read it-- one of those books that lingers for a bit so you can soak it all in. But, I don't think it's the best in the genre. If you find yourself disagreeing with me, check out Wendy Wunder's The Probability of Miracles. You might change your opinion. 


Review: Shadowlands (Kate Brian)

Endless (Shadowlands, #3)An unthinkable betrayal threatens everyone Rory loves in the third installment of our dark, thrilling Shadowlands series from New York Times best-selling author Kate Brian.

Rory Miller didn't just fall in love with Tristan Parrish. She fell in love with the idea of forever. He was the one who told her the truth about her existence in Juniper Landing: that her mortal life is over, and she will now spend eternity on the island, helping others in limbo move on.

But like Juniper Landing, a bright island with dark secrets, Tristan is too good to be true. The mysterious, heartbreakingly beautiful boy Rory thought she knew is responsible for unthinkable evil-sending good souls to the Shadowlands in order to get himself a second chance at life on Earth. He has already claimed Rory's friend Aaron and her own father, but when SPOILER Tristan sends her sister, Darcy, to the Shadowlands, too, Rory decides to take matters into her own hands. She will do anything to save her family, even if it means going to hell and back. 



It should not be a surprise that I really enjoy this series. I thought Shadowlands was amazing-- the twist ending left me with my jaw on the ground. That meant, of course, I had to read Hereafter. As I mentioned in my review of Hereafter (go ahead and click those links and read for yourself), the plot gets more predictable as the series goes on.

If Hereafter is the slump in the series, Endless makes up for it with all of its surprises. Overall, I think this was a decent conclusion to the series. I'm not too happy with the love triangle that emerged (or how it ended), but put that aside and the plot is pretty solid.

In typical Kate Brian fashion, there are more twists than you can count, and I feel pretty safe to say you won't figure them all out. The final twist didn't hit me until a few pages away from the big reveal, so that's always a good sign. I'm still mulling over that one a bit, however; trying to decide if I think it's cheesy or not. For now, though, I'm okay with it.

If you've been reading this series, I think you will be satisfied with the ending. If you are new to Kate Brian's series, you should definitely check it out! I am not a fan of mysteries, but this one has a twinge of mythology, plenty of plot twists, and just enough creepiness to keep me flipping the pages. It's worth the read.

Minute Review: Spelled (Betsy Schow)

SpelledFairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.




I've said it before and I will say it again: I love retellings. Spelled was a great addition to the genre. It has everything a good retelling should have: new characters, familiar characters, humor, and pizzazz.

It should go without saying that Spelled is a fun read! It's overflowing with word play humor, which I adore. It also has quirky humor and interesting characters. I enjoyed reading through the novel and finding essential Oz items, and then finding them revisited in very original ways. (LOVED the Hans Christian Louboutin shoe reference.)

While there were "familiars", Oz was still retold in a fresh way. So, don't go into the book thinking you know what will happen. I guarantee you will find many surprising elements you did not expect. That is one of the things that makes Spelled unique on its own, even if it wasn't a retelling.

Also, for fans of plot twists, get ready. There are plenty! Lessons are learned, hearts are broken, narrow escapes made-- all the elements needed for a perfectly delightful summer read!

Minute Review: Rose and the Silver Ghost (Holly Webb)

Rose and the Silver GhostWith help from a mysterious ghostly mirror, Rose seeks to discover who her real family is.

Time has flown since Rose left the orphanage behind, and she loves her new family at Mr. Fountain's magical house. But she still can't help wondering what happened to her real family. Were they full of magic too, like her? As Rose searches for clues to her past, she uncovers a silver mirror which once belonged to her mother. A mirror with a ghost... Will this enchanting mirror help Rose solve the mystery of her past?








This series is so much fun for younger readers. While it's probably best suited for intermediate readers, older readers can still find things to enjoy. 

As always, the characters are great. Rose continues to learn new things about herself. This particular installment in her story was very touching, and with it comes an interesting twist. We finally learn who Rose is. 

The other characters continue to support Rose through her discoveries and struggles. They really are a sweet bunch of friends. I think that is one of the things I like the most about the series! 

All in all, Rose and the Silver Ghost has everything you would expect it to have: ghosts, mystery, adventure, and humor. It is a nice conclusion to Rose's story.

Minute Review: The Duff (Kody Keplinger)


The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat FriendSeventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.





This book is NOTHING like the movie!

I feel ashamed to admit I actually read it from beginning to end, too. I hate to say it, but I feel like it was such a huge waste of my time.

Bianca has issues and is ok with being a tramp. End of book.

I think one of my biggest pet peeves about the contents of this book is that it shows readers that sex can be therapy/escapism, and it is a horrible idea. HORRIBLE. The author should have shed light on the wide[spread STD crisis if her characters were going to be sex addicts. Let's not only focus on the unrealistic aspects of how the main characters chose to spend their time. Biance and Wesley falling for each other over shared family problems is a bunch of crap. We all know if you go into sex for the physical pleasure, the emotional connection will never be there on both partners' accounts. And yet, the "relationship" did form. I'm sorry, but I did not buy it.

The message behind the characters really could have gone in a different direction and been powerful. The issues they both face is easy to relate to for some kids, I'm sure. I know I'm of mixed company, but I think the large amount of casual sex in this book took away from the other positives; therefore, it was not that great of a book for me. Basically, it's a YA 50 Shades of Grey (minus the freaky stuff).

I would not be putting this one in my classroom library or recommending it to kids. Hopefully the movie is more PG-13 than the book. 

Review: Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R. R. Martin


A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

















Let me start by saying that this book is the reason I am so far behind on my 2015 reading challenge. When it was suggested to me, I didn't think to check the number of pages. I sat down to read and was drawn into the complex set of characters and intricate plot immediately, and read for hours. Then I checked my progress (on the Kindle) and nearly hit the floor. Hours spent reading and I had barely made a dent in the book. That's when I checked the page count and cursed.  

I probably could have read through this book at a quicker pace, but there is something about a finely tuned plot that demands to be savored. Speed reading would have meant missing much of what makes this book (series) so great. (Although, I will admit I did find myself skipping a few pages about half way through because I just could not stand one character.) 

While I'm sure some people will complain, I have chosen to only touch the surface of this book in my review. Why? Because diving too deep would taint others' opinions if they choose to read it. I have never seen the HBO show, so I had no preformed images in my mind, but I knew instantly which characters I loved and which I loathed. They were so fantastically written, it's hard to put into words. I can see how this series got picked up for a TV show and became an instant hit.

The author is certainly not scared to kill off characters you love either! There were several points in the story that I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. Be ready for plot twists galore.

A Song of Ice and Fire is hands down one of the best high fantasy novels I have ever read. I plan to continue to read the series as I have time (to conquer books of 1,000+ pages each). Hopefully, before I die, I will know how this story ends.








Spelled by Betsy Schow + Giveaway

Spelled
Spelled By Betsy Schow
Sourcebooks Fire
June 2, 2015

Advance Praise for Spelled

“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” -School Library Journal

“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” --Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” --J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” —Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

Book Info:
Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.


Betsy Schow:
Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.

Excerpt from Spelled:


Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
Until he opened his mouth again.
“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.




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Cover Update: Gabe Johnon Takes Over by Geoff Herbach

Personally, I still like the old book and cover for this one. For whatever reason, it speaks to me. Fatboy vs The Cheerleaders has been renamed Gabe Johnson Takes Over, and with that renaming comes a new identity. What do you think of the new cover?


Praise for Gabe Johnson Takes Over
“Told in the first-person voice that Geoff Herbach does so well, Gabe Johnson’s account of his development of the ‘leadership bone’ is grand, touching, and hilarious.” —Star Tribune

[A] funny, honest, and an utterly likable narrator; his character growth and the decisions he makes are believable and his refusal to be a victim is refreshing. Give to anyone who has felt like an outsider or just wants a fun, fast-paced book with depth.” —School Library Journal

The funny, profane text embraces the idea that nobody is perfect…Gabe’s character growth will satisfy any appetite…a funny popcorn read.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Herbach’s funny/insightful new novel…there’s poignancy in this story…Gabe stands up for the dignity of all the kids who feel like outsiders.” —Pioneer Press, Pick of the Week

“Herbach deftly walks the tightrope between stereotypes and real people painted in broad strokes, and manages to work in a few surprises…[he]delivers another funny, poignant novel about an unlikely hero determined to save his high school’s marching band.” —Shelf Awareness

Book Info:

From “one of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while” (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky characters.

25263960Gabe Johnson is having a rough week. In spite of the popular kids and some teachers calling him names because of his weight, and even his own friends calling him “Chunk,” Gabe is normally the funny kid at school. But he’s on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction. So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been canceled due to lack of funding, he’s furious. What makes him even madder? The school’s vending machine money, which had previously been collected by the band, is now sponsoring the new cheer squad.

The war is ON. And Gabe is the high school underdogs’ champion. No one will be safe from the Geeker’s odd brand of wrath—not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends.

GABE JOHNSON TAKES OVER is the story of Gabe’s fight against injustice, but also his fight to reclaim himself. For years he has played along while the popular kids bully him, but no more. With the help of friends and unexpected allies, Gable learns about power, politics, and himself. A funny, touching, and insightful story, GABE JOHNSON TAKES OVER will appeal to any kids who feel like they just don’t fit in.


Author info:

Geoff Herbach’s books have been listed in the year’s best by YALSA, the American Booksellers Association, and many state library associations. They’ve won the Cybil and the Minnesota Book Award. Geoff grew up a very nerdy jock in southern Wisconsin and now teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.


Gabe Johnson Takes Over Excerpt:

That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop. It all started with that stupid—

Yeah, I hate that machine. For so many reasons.

First things first! That machine made me a junky! A pop junky! I’m not the only one in school either.

Back in May, me, Justin Cornell, and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. It was Camille’s idea because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year. (Her dad grew like two tomatoes and one giant zucchini. Mr. Gardener’s not the greatest farmer in the world.) Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.

Big, bad study, sir.

Mr. Luken, our health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and others (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.

Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.

This pop project was eye opening, sir.

After school that day, me, Camille, and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.

“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.

“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.

“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.

“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.

“Oh, Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.

Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.

Justin shook his head, sucked his latte, and was all like, “Whoa.”

Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea, and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”

I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories by the way.

Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for seconds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you but not make you fat on the calories.

What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?

I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.

“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”

“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.

 “There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.
“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.

Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell--ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).

I knew it too, knew pop was part of my issue. But see, I also thought it was part of my success. I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much, so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.

No. Stupid.

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If you missed my review the first time around, you can read it HERE. This book has a lot of voice and sarcastic wit to appeal to many readers.

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