Wednesday, 25 February 2015

TBC: Face-Off

Teebz's Book Club hasn't had an entry for a while, but I am happy to report that I have a number of books to read in the coming weeks which, in turn, means more Book Club entries. It's not often that I get a chance to review an out-of-print book, but today's entry was out of production for a period of time before being brought back for younger readers. Teebz's Book Club is proud to feature Face-Off, written by Stacy Drumtra-Juba and published electronically by Smashwords. The story revolves around two fraternal twin brothers, TJ and Brad McKendrick, who find that life sometimes throws a few curveballs, and they have to find a way to deal with these unexpected turns in their lives.

From the Smashwords site, "Stacy Juba has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag: she pursues whatever story ideas won't leave her alone. Stacy's titles include the adult mystery novels Sink or Swim and Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, the children's picture books The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Children's E-Book Bundle (Three Complete Picture Books), and the young adult novels Face-Off and Dark Before Dawn. She is also the editor of the essay anthology 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit."

We find the McKendrick boys in a bit of personal struggle as the twins don't really have a relationship with one another. They're both talented hockey players, but they go to different schools and don't show much brotherly love towards one another. Adding to this layer of interpersonal problems are problems between their parents as Thomas and Barbara McKendrick aren't seeing eye-to-eye either due to a number of factors. In short, we find this family in distress before we even get deep into the book.

While Brad and TJ have their own circle of friends, they're also role models to their younger siblings, Chris and Jory. Chris and Jory are becoming solid hockey players as well with the elder Chris looking to captain his team this year in the same way that Brad and TJ are potentially in line to captain their respective teams.

That is, until Mr. and Mrs. McKendrick deliver some devastating news to TJ. Because work has been slower for Mr. McKendrick's architectural business, they have to pull TJ out of Hayden Preparatory Academy private school and enroll him into Bayview High School. Brad's high school. TJ's dream of captaining his team to a state championship suddenly came to a screeching halt.

As you may have guessed, Brad isn't thrilled at this news either, and this causes the rift between the two twins to open further as they both aim to make the Bayview High hockey team. Brad tries to keep TJ from invading his circle of friends, and, to make matters worse, Brad finds out that TJ has befriended Sherry, a young lady that Brad has a crush on!

As you can see, Miss Drumtra-Juba has many layers of personal interactions happening in Face-Off at the same time. The hockey portion of the book plays a valuable role in helping TJ and Brad find their ways as brothers and teammates, but it's written with very little hockey jargon, making it easy for younger readers to to tackle the hockey portions without needing a lot of hockey knowledge. Secondly, Miss Drumtra-Juba has also removed some of the outdated references in Face-Off to make her story a better read for younger readers. No obscure retired hockey player references here!

There are a lot of relationships that need some work in Face-Off. Do Brad and TJ ever find a way to co-exist as brothers and teammates? Do they remain as role models for Chris and Jory despite their fractured relationship? Do Mr. and Mrs. McKendrick work things out? If they don't, how does it affect their four kids and their well-beings? Does Bayview High School have a successful hockey season in spite of Brad's and TJ's relationship with one another? All of these questions have an answer, but you'll have to read Face-Off to find out!

If you are lucky enough to find a physical copy of Face-Off, it's not a very long read at just 117 pages. This makes it a perfect length for adolescent readers and younger readers. There are a pile of moral lessons in Face-Off to help teach readers about the ups and downs of relationships with family and friends, and these are reinforced throughout the book by both the McKendrick family and by TJ's and Brad's coach.

As an older reader than the targeted audience, I would have liked to have read the unedited version with the references to older hockey players and music from the 1990s. However, that's nothing to complain about whatsoever, so I am happy to say that I enjoyed reading Face-Off, and Face-Off certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

I'm not sure if you'll find Face-Off at your local bookstore, but the link leads to the Smashwords site where it retails for a mere $2.99 USD for an e-copy. You can find the book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, via Kobo, through Audible, and on iTunes! I highly recommend you pick up the e-copy for your young reader!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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