Tag Archives: sports

Influenced Innocence: A Fictional Novella for Gambling Addictions in Young Adults by Jacob Martin (Book Review)

Sports gambling has flourished in the shadows of American society for decades. For some, it becomes a life altering addiction. Influenced Innocence is a fictional story that emphasizes how casual betting can turn into an uncontrollable urge.

The novella focuses on a group of middle school students forming a recess football league. The league is designed for students to have fun, healthy competition. With the introduction of “Nether Bucks”, a currency students can earn from getting good grades, the league inevitably becomes corrupt as students use the currency to bet on games.

Eventually Justin, the protagonist, recognizes the negative impact the gambling has on his group of friends. After witnessing suspicious incidents, he also begins to believe that those in charge of the league may be fixing the games in their favor.

Throughout the story, there are multiple topics discussed such as real scandals that happened in the professional sports world, sports psychology for athletes, the rapid development of a gambling addiction, how the addiction affects relationships between friends and family, and how a child’s upbringing influences their behaviors.

The story also emphasizes how the American sports industry and its relation with gambling companies and media outlets collectively prey on the individuals seeking to make money through sports gambling.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


As I read the young adult chapter book, I was left speechless several times. It was disturbing how quickly a casual pickup game at recess could turn so dark. Relationships became strained, some ending altogether. Players intentionally injured opposing teams. And why? Greed. 

As a new year started at Netherfield Middle School, Principal Oli addressed the students about a learning incentive. For every B on a test, a student would receive Nether Bucks. The higher the grade, the more bucks a student would earn. Students could cash in the fake bucks for items in the gift shop located in the school’s library. Jewelry. BMX bikes. Game consoles. There were numerous prizes up for grabs, and kids who would lie, cheat, and hurt others to fatten their wallets to purchase an item. 

No matter which of the four teams was facing off, the writer made you feel like you were watching the game on the sidelines and listening to hurtful taunts from the crowd. Not surprisingly, the hate-filled words took place on social media, too. What made this book a page-turner was the real-life elements. Adult sports spectators do lose control of their emotions and scream at players and coaches, and sometimes let their fists do their talking. Kids see this volatile behavior as normal and begin mimicking it, just like in this story. 

I was stunned by how many kids developed a gambling problem and how they craved violence and asked for it. The fate of one particular student stocked me. I was surprised by the depths students would go to win a football game. I couldn’t fathom how the faculty, especially the principal, failed to see what occurred at recess. With all the STARTLING scenes comes a lesson learned. Maybe reading how gambling can ruin a life and how unsportsmanlike behavior can lead to devastating results will teach readers NOT to take sports so seriously and to think twice about gambling. 

I recommend sharing this book with your elementary students, followed by a nice chat about the dangers of gambling, bullying, and unsportsmanlike conduct! 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

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A Little Something About Me by Karlene Y Murray (Book Review)

Dreamers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ability levels. Children have different abilities and face different challenges. Some may have obstacles that limit them a little or a lot, but ALL can be empowered.

The children featured in A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT ME offer empowering stories of hope and inclusion that emphasize the importance of having choices, taking risks, being supported and listened to, thinking and speaking positively, and treasuring happy moments.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Karlene Murray brings together a diverse cast in her children’s book, A Little Something About Me. First, we’re introduced to Julia, a young girl with Down Syndrome. Julia may learn slower than others, but that’s okay. What really matters is how she treats others, and it’s with kindness.

Jae-won explains that he’s adopted; his biological parents gave him up for a better life. The decision to give up your child is never an easy choice, but it’s a reality many parents face. Jae-won felt what others would face in similar scenarios: nervousness and fear of the unknown. However, they reassured young readers walking a similar path that, with time, those negative emotions will be replaced with joy and love. Plus, a family isn’t defined by shared DNA. It’s about the people you can count on and who make you happy. 

Children will read about Lisa, who longs for the day they are cancer-free. They want to stress that while they have Leukemia, it does not define them. Their positive attitude is inspiring! While many children might’ve heard of cancer, dwarfism or achondroplasia might be a foreign terminology. The illustration did a decent job showing the genetic condition; however, a child might walk away assuming people with dwarfism only have enlarged heads.

As the book continues, we meet Kimmy, who’s more comfortable with fictional people. Then there’s Marcos, who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I was happy to see Taylor representing the hearing-impaired community and Jiyaan, a paraplegic boy who doesn’t let his physical limitations keep him from doing what he loves. His ball-playing and chair-maneuvering skills were impressive! I’m sure he’ll reach his goal: medaling in the Paralympic Games. 

Children reading this book might see themselves (physically or mentally) among the thirteen characters. Maybe for the first time! 

I recommend sharing this informative and diverse book with your family and school. Also, utilize the links featured on the “Additional Information” page and expand your knowledge regarding every topic shared in the mini-stories. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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Meet the Author

Karlene Murray is the author of Best of Both Parents. She is an avid lover of reading, travel and cooking. It has been a dream for a very long time to write and publish a children’s book and that dream has finally come true.

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Hoo’s Driving the Bus by Nikki Estridge (Book Review)

The day of the biggest baseball game of the season is here, but Gigi the giraffe and her teammates might not make it – their team’s bus has no driver! Can Gigi come up with a plan to save the day?

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


What a fun cover! Each animal had its own personality/expression, which I found delightful. The inside contents were just as spectacular. We loved Gigi Giraffe. Their morning routine resembles many city children who have an early game to attend and make a mad dash to catch the bus. However, I’m sure when your child reaches the bus, their driver is there. Thank goodness for that!

In Hoo’s Driving the Bus by Nikki Estridge, the bus driver had an emergency. Animals/ball players were frantic. If they don’t find a driver soon, they’ll be late for the game. This means they would forfeit the biggest game of the season. EEK! 

Gigi Giraffe asks for a volunteer. Each teammate declined to drive in a way fitting for their animalistic nature. For example, the cat was “purr-fectly petrified” to drive. The dog stated they were “barking up the wrong tree,” asking him to take the wheel. 

Gigi Giraffe was left with no choice but to drive the bus. Oh, my goodness, Gigi Giraffe’s driving was terrible, which means kids will most assuredly laugh during the driving parts. The animal faces will amuse your child; they did mine. We liked Howard Horse and the frightened pig the most. 

Gigi Giraffe’s parking skills were no better than their driving skills, which caused my youngster to laugh (again). Hoo’s Driving the Bus had my daughter smiling for almost the entire book. They asked if I could buy it. I think I shall! (Note: We were given a reviewer file)

The illustrations by Syama Mithun elevated the already humorous story. 

Whether your child is a listener or an active reader, I encourage you to share Hoo’s Driving the Bus by Nikki EstridgeI plan on recommending this book to all my parenting groups for children two years and up. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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About the Author

Nikki Estridge is an American actress, writer, director and producer. She played collegiate softball for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and graduated with high honors.

As an advocate for autism awareness and a person of multi-ethnic background, diversity, inclusion and equality are of the utmost importance to Nikki. She is very committed to her work with various charities and support networks.

Nikki is a sixteen-time IMDb-qualifying festival award winner most notably for her comedy short, ‘Don’t Make It Awkward,’ which she wrote, directed, produced, cast and starred in. Nikki is best known for her roles on Queen Sugar, Law and Order: SVU, and House of Cards. She is also the author of soon-to-be-published children’s book ‘Hoo’s Driving The Bus?’.

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Hey Charlie, You’re Next!  by Michael B. Judkins (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

Charlie finds himself in the midst of bullying on Basketball day at school and is unsure of how to speak up for himself. With a little bit of advice from his teacher and some hope, there is nothing that can tear him down.
Hey Charlie, You’re Next offers readers a compelling story about overcoming negativity and gaining self confidence. It is the first book in the Hey Charlie series by Michael Judkins. Stay tune for the next books!
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Meet the Author:
Michael B. Judkins, is a local creative residing in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. He holds an Associate in Science in Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Human Services, and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling with over 20 years in the field of Human Services.

Michael self-published his first poetry collection titled, “Introduction to Sentimental Me”. After the release of this collection, Michael was signed to Aois 21 Media publishing house which published his second poetry collection released title, “Interlude to Sentimental Me.” In addition, to the “I Stand- Podcast” and “Interlude to Sentimental Book Tour (Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C, Bethlehem Pa, and Allentown, PA) which also included a virtual book tour (blog sites).

During this time, Michael started his independent film career in 2016, as a script supervisor on a short film produced in the Lehigh Valley area of PA. This project opened the door for Michael in the local film industry in the Lehigh Valley. After this, Michael worked on several film projects throughout the next few years as production manager, production assistant, Key Grip, and Producer. Michael also has written, produced, and directed his first stage play titled, “Interlude to Sentimental Me Stage Play.”


Do you have another profession besides writing?

I’ve been a mental health therapist for the past 20 years. I worked in various settings ranging from outpatient, residential, community, Inpatient, and Correctional.


How long have you been writing?

My writing journey started in High School.  I’d write short stories and poems and would not share the writing. I wrote a poem on the back of a global studies test and my teacher read the poem and graded me an A.


Where do you write?

I like to write mostly on my desktop. I craft out ideas, storylines, and characters throughout my walking day, and when it’s time to write I have my outline.


What is your next project?

 I have a short film in post-production titled Lonely Girl. I’m working on the second series to Hey Charlie and editing a potential short film to produce.


What is your writing schedule?

I don’t have a writing schedule. I like to draft notes daily and build characters and storylines when something is moving me.  So, I guess every day lol.


connect with the author: 
website ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ youtube ~ goodreads ~ bookbub


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Nova’s Blade: A Young Adult Dystopian Cyberpunk by Will Scifi (Book Spotlight)

Content Rating: PG-13 + M: So there are no curse words or sex scenes in the book. There is violence such as people getting stabbed, limbs cut off, head cut off. There is a mention of an abortion in it, no depiction of it. No suicides’, but talks about it as well.

After a long war, corporations have replaced countries. Sports are fought to the death. The most popular game is Last Valkyrie, a live tournament where women kill each other for marriage into a powerful family.
For Nova, living in poverty with her mother and sister is a harsh reality that she cannot escape. But when she is kidnapped and forced to fight on the show, her world changes. If she refuses to fight, the bomb in her head goes off. Now winning means her freedom.
With death lurking at every moment, Nova has no idea if her next fight will be her last. But one thing she knows for certain: only one is making it out alive.
Perfect for fans of Hunger GamesThe Selection, and The Princess Trials. You won’t want to put down this exciting page-turner!
Meet the Author: 
Author Will Scifi

Will Scifi is a pen name for an author from California. He loves reading and writing mainly science fiction that touches on themes surrounding American culture. He draws inspiration from the over 500 movies he has watched in the last 5 years, books, tv shows, and real life. When he is not writing, he can be found in the gym or watching movies at home or in the theaters. He thanks all of his fans for their support and highly encourages anyone who has read his work to always leave a review.
connect with the author:  
website twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads

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