Harper, A.J. SMOKE & DEMONS: A TALE OF URBAN HORROR. UrbanHorror.com. 2011. ISBN: 978-1-461184454 | 360 pages | Paperback | $15.99 USD
Review: This is a creatively conceived story. I worry that it might be a bit too long for urban YA readers. I also worry that there might be too many characters and themes throughout the book to keep track of the main story. Alas, because this book is independently published, sans the luxury of a professional editor, there are many typographical errors throughout. However, if you can forgive these flaws in order to introduce your readers to something different and new, this title may be worth the pick. Recommended for A/YA, ages 16 and up, in public libraries everywhere.
Author Website: http://urbanhorror.com/index.html
Spenzer, S. Newman. BABY DADDY. CreatSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Lexington, KY, 2012. ISBN: 978-1475027716 | 145 pages | Paperback | $9.99 USD
Author's synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Deshawn has been named in a paternity suit after a thoughtless sexual encounter at a party. He is desperate to conceal his plight from his mother, a single parent with a meager income. Determined to protect his mother from this nightmare, Deshawn is torn between fleeing or facing the legal process alone. He tries to navigate his way through a hostile system, and quickly finds himself labeled a "deadbeat dead". The legal system proves itself to be hostile and alienating to the young and bewildered Deshawn. All the harassment from insufferable lawyers and caseworkers finally gets Deshawn to his breaking point and a physical altercation leads him to an unexpected discovery that permanently alters his life.
My review: Deshawn's story was very well crafted. Teens everywhere would learn a lot from reading this novel. Spenzer's emotive writing gives the story a very realistic tone that makes for a fast read. Deshawn's losses are steep, and his wins are hard fought, but very worth it. This story is reminiscent of Angela Johnson's The First Part Last (2005), but with hardships and realities that are more gritty and raw for this character, who exists in an inner city environment. Highly recommended for teen readers everywhere. [This book is available on Amazon.com.]