It’s the year 2003. Teenagers are messaging each other online, listening to punk music on MP3 players, and writing blogs on LiveJournal to fit in. One such teen is walking the halls of Wales High School with bright shirts, leather jackets, and blue hair: Jacques Peters. He’s determined to become best friends with one of the coolest guys in school, Davis Mavis. But he soon discovers that smoking, skipping class, and putting up a front aren’t as cool as they seem, particularly when mental health is involved. His friends gossip behind his back, push him out of their clique, and turn a blind eye to the cuts on his wrists. He’s dragged into a life that leads to a long stay in a psychiatric ward he hates, full of therapy, pills, and a strict routine.
That troubled teen is me.
When I was discharged, I was in a daze. Numbed by medication and left with few friends, I spent my days listening to music and giving my teachers lip. Eventually, on a cold winter night home alone, I posted a single word on my blog: “goodbye.” I took a cocktail of pills and hoped to slip into an endless sleep.
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Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?
I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.
What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?
I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.
What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?
I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, contemporary fiction, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, new adult, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Nira was miserable, pretty much all the time. As an immigrant in her school (or as she called herself, “one of the only brown people”) she was automatically an outsider, and spent her days there commiserating with her one friend about it. Her life at home was equally as unfulfilling, spent under the strict watch of her parents who lived to ensure that she accomplished the dreams they had for her future. Her two biggest comforts are her grandmother and her trumpet, both equally soothing for her soul. Eventually, though, Nira begins to learn that no one’s life is quite what it seems.
In the Key of Nira Ghani, by Natasha Deen is a coming of age story that finds Nira navigating life not only as a teen, but as an immigrant in a foreign country. On the surface, the story is familiar territory- monetarily poor teen bemoans how sad and unfair her life is until she realizes that everyone else’s happiness is mostly a facade and discovers all the things in life money can’t buy. However, on a deeper note Deen has crafted a story that is in equal turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, all while being impossible to put down. She shares the intricacies of Nira’s family life in a way that highlights its cultural differences while also showing that we all face similar challenges and rivalries when it comes to those relationships. While writing about teen conflict can be challenging, Deen approaches all of Nira’s problems without making any of them seem trite or trivial. She absolutely nails the turmoil of being a teenage girl, even before the added pressure of living in a completely new place.
In the Key of Nira Ghani manages to touch on all the major themes of teenage life- the desire for more independence, rebellion against parents, the need for acceptance, the evolution of childhood friendships (whether for better or for worse), and first love. Nira begins the story in a place of utter loneliness, but as she encounters all of these things she learns to grow and eventually becomes more defined by juggling each new obstacle. By the end of the book, Nira has discovered an independence and strength that she never imagined, not to mention empathy and understanding for those around her.
While Nira’s emotional turmoil was hard to read at times, it was accurate for her age and experience, and the added layer of cultural differences made the story that much more interesting. I spent the entire book emotionally invested and was definitely happy to be along for the ride!
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B07G74YP63
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Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?
It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.
We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.
In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?
Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary fiction, drama, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, friends, ghost story, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, relationship, romance, story, teen fiction, womens fiction, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
It is no use taking a step without first deciding where you would like that step to lead you. The final years of high school are very important as one is required to firm their plans for the future. Often, this is a make or break time in life.
The first thing Dr. Kim Nugent advises is to get a mentor. Someone who will walk with you on this journey. Not one who will simply tell you what to do and how to do it. This is a personal journey that you cannot afford to give up autonomy on. You cannot afford to be altruistic in your decision making either. Paving your Path provides a 30-week guide during which the mentor and mentee are taken step by step through the process of an appropriate and meaningful relationship.
It is quite lovely of the author to use her personal story as the backdrop for this book. It humanizes it as well as provides a secondary mentor for the reader. Her story is candid and filled with victories and losses in equal measure. This demonstrates that determination and drive to succeed really do matter for a person’s journey. Dr. Nugent’s journey was not conventional or traditional but she turned out well. That is one of the greatest qualities of this book, it is incredibly encouraging.
Two other things stand out of this book for me: First, the tone of writing gives off a sort of cool vibe. The author just makes you want to pay attention and abide. She inspires and coaches the reader with just the conversational tone of writing alone. The second thing that stands out is the chronological plotting of material. The structure is intentional and contributes to how well the material is consumed. Dr. Kim Nugent’s passion and sheer determination to inspire lead her to producing material of great value both personally and academically.
This book is suitable for high school students that are approaching a turning point in their lives. This book is also quite applicable to anyone who might be facing a fork in their life. It could be a between going back to school or more responsibility at work. The maxims in this book are universally applicable.
Are you passionate enough for the path you are choosing? Are you personally ready to take that path? How is the mentor-mentee relationship working out? These are important questions that will be answered within the book. Paving your Path should be a staple for graduating high school students.
Tags: author, book, bookblogger, dr nugent speaks, ebook, education, goodreads, high school, inspirational, kim nugent, kindle, kobo, literature, mentor, motivational, nook, novel, Paving Your Path: A Guide for High School Students, read, reader, reading, self help, story, writer, writing
Choker by Bob Moseley is the “coming of age” tale of basketball-obsessed Mark Chamberlain who, in the course on one year went from being the black sheep of his high-school’s basketball team to team captain.
A Clifton High student, Mark Chamberlain misses an all-important throw in the final seconds of a game, which costs his team a championship victory and gets him the nickname “the choker”. However, with help from coach Antonelli and his new girlfriend Su Metha, Mark is slowly getting over the setback and dedicates himself to training hard for the next season. His love for basketball helps him deal with heartache and pain and, after becoming team co-captain, he gets better and better at the game and ends up leading his teammates to victory.
This Young Adult book deals with a lot of issues that are important for teenagers nowadays: race issues, balancing school work and sports, bullying along with social media bullying, and dealing with loss, but also touches on the positive aspects of life, like the book hero’s first love, overcoming obstacles, bettering yourself through hard work. It definitely holds a lot of lessons for the reader, and teenagers and young adults will relate to the characters. The writing is alert and quite visual, and keeps the reader connected to the characters and interested in their evolution. Some of the pages are quite moving, such as the chapters that describe the death and the funeral of Mark’s father. I liked Mark’s character development, but I felt that the other characters were black and white, they were either good or bad. I would of appreciated more nuance.
The abundance of details related to basketball was a little overwhelming at times, for instance the descriptions of some of Mark’s games, a lot of information about game strategies and techniques, or about famous players. Any avid fan of basketball will appreciate the interesting facts and minute by minute break down of the games. This is an engaging and thought provoking coming of age basketball story that is sure to appeal to teens and sports fans.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07GX8B4T2
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The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen is a memoir of your life growing up in a family that traveled often and the challenges you faced and lessons you learned. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote this book for my mother- to help her heal after my dad’s death. We had spent almost 20 years dealing with his decline. Thus, it became all we could remember and all my children knew of their grandfather. I thought that if I could write the complete story, it would help all of us remember the good with the bad. Once I got into it, it helped me understand myself more fully, and set me up to live my current life which is wonderful.
This is a ‘daughters tale of family and football’. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in this book?
I want readers to feel the love and complexity of this family. We had/have big love for each other, and had a big love for football. I want readers to know that you can overcome the hang ups from your childhood. I want readers to see that race in the South was more complex than is typically discussed. I want people to know that sports can be a bridge. I want families that are dealing with the cognitive decline of a loved one to know that they can forgive themselves their impatience and frustration with the situation; we are all just doing the best we can with the situation as we understand it in the moment.
The book shows the dedication your father had towards his career and family. What is something that stands out to you to this day about your father?
My father was relentless- that was the key to his success. He was full of optimism and faith in things bigger than himself.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
First, that my father would not have made a different choice, but he did not make an informed one. I want parents to think carefully about letting their young children engage in any kind of contact sport. I want football in general, and the NFL in particular, to think more deliberately about additional reforms to football that will make it safer. I want the general public to understand the burden CTE places on a family. And I want families that have experienced CTE to draw some comfort from reading our story.
The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen tells the story of a football life from a daughter’s perspective. Chronicling a rise through the competitive ranks—from high school to college to professional coaching, and ultimately a Super Bowl championship—it also reveals the struggle to deal with the decline and death of the patriarch, Lamar Leachman, from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of that life.
With forewords by NFL legends Phil Simms and Harry Carson, this is a true story of one family’s love for a game and for each other, one man’s strength of character, one woman’s love that sustained him.
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The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen, written by Lori Leachman is the story of American Football coach Lamar Leachman from the perspective of his daughter. It follows a coach’s journey from professional player to high school coach to National Football League coach. We see the impact this has on his wife and two daughters. It is a uniquely feminine glimpse into what was ultimately a man’s world – where winning was everything!
Leachman writes of how her father’s chosen profession had an impact on herself and the life of her family. One impact was the geographical impact, always moving to where the job opportunities lay. The family had to move numerous times and she documents the effect this had on the children, in particular. They had to constantly make new friends, and learn the social mores in each new community. The children’s closest friends were often the children of the other football coaches. She describes how they were tough kids, they were coaches’ kids.
Leachman provides an interesting view of Black Civil Rights and how views differed among places. Her view of mixed race friendships were simple; if she liked someone she would be their friend. That of course, contrasted with the views many adults at that time had. She describes briefly living in Cartersville and being confronted by “Blacks Only” signs at the theater and the confusion she felt when she realized African Americans weren’t allowed to swim in the pool. This must have been a bewildering time for a young girl who was immersed in the professional world of football – where African Americans were respected for their skill.
Although her father’s career may have had some negative impacts for her, as she gets older she realizes that her lifestyle had some benefits. Leachman recounts the day she realized her family had some money to spare – something a lot of families did not have.
Tragically the person impacted most by his career choice was the coach himself. Leachman describes how her father’s mental capacity began to decline, and how he was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy attributed to injuries he received during his career.
This memoir is cleverly written, as it progresses through we see Leachman begin to understand her father’s talent as a coach, she recognizes his skill and determination and love for his wife and daughters. The only criticism of the book would be that on one occasion Leachman jumps back and forth between decades which interrupts the flow of the story.
This memoir is an interesting insight to the life of a professional coach, his dedication to the sport, and the impact and experiences for both him and his family.
Pages: 230 | ASIN: B07BRSTNNZ
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