Monday, October 17, 2016

The Way I Used to Be - Amber Smith

From the Publisher: 
A New York Times bestseller!

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.


My Review: 
There is not enough high praise that I can give to The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith. Immediately, I was drawn in by the heartbreaking narrative. Readers will devour Eden's words, not just to discover the impact of the trauma she experiences in the first pages, but because they are at a loss as much as she is. Yes, this book is about sexual violence, but it is about so much more. Eden loses her identity as a result of the trauma, and though it's not always the best path, she follows a new one. Simply said, readers of this novel will be profoundly impacted by Eden's story which will resonate with them long after the last page. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Sky Between You and Me - Catherine Alene

Read 09/29/2016

From the Publisher: 

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

Raesha will do whatever it takes to win Nationals. For her, competing isn't just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It's about honoring her mother's memory and holding on to a dream they once shared.

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

For an athlete. Every second counts. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in the saddle, make her horse lighter on her feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs over the new girl on the team, a girl who keeps flirting with Raesha's boyfriend and making plans with her best friend.

So Raesha focuses on minus five. But if she isn't careful, she will lose more than just the people she loves. She will lose herself to Lighter. Leaner. Faster.


My Review: 


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Alene does a great job of showing how one simple comment - you may want to consider a larger saddle - can change someone's life. Still dealing with the grief over her mother's death years ago, Raesha uses her mother's saddle, and when her best friend suggests she's outgrown it lighter, leaner, faster becomes Rae's mantra. Though hear lack of eating is clearly spiraling out of control, no one - her boyfriend, best friend, or father - broach the subject until it's almost too late. Rae's anorexic thoughts as she loses control are very powerful in this verse-style novel.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett - Chelsea Sedoti

Read 09/11/2016

From the Publisher: 

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk — but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.


My Review: 



** spoiler alert ** 


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I struggled with this one a bit. While the bigger picture items (depression, bullying, teen suicide, growing up/apart from friends, and feeling like you don't fit in anywhere) were very compelling, the whole werewolf thing was a distraction. I kept expecting Hawthorn to be diagnosed with something and didn't enjoy that aspect of the story. I don't know many high school seniors that make up convoluted fantasies to deal with stress. I stuck with it through the end, but I don't know that many teens will be as dedicated. Love the cover, though!


The Best Possible Answer - E. Katherine Kottaras

Read 08/20/2016

From the Publisher: 

A contemporary YA novel about growing up and learning that loving yourself is more important than trying to be perfect.

AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check

Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes toa screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.

Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.


My Review: 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Vivi has always strived for the perfect life, partially due to the immense pressure her father places on her to overachieve. She has goals, but one bad choice seemingly unravels her life. This book is about picking up the pieces and looking inside yourself to find happiness. I found this ya novel very realistic and devoured it quickly! I look forward to recommending it to my students!

The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker - Kat Spears

Read 08/16/2016

From the Publisher: 

Luke Grayson's life might as well be over when he's forced to go live in rural Tennessee with his Baptist pastor father. His reputation as a troublemaker has followed him there, and as an outsider, Luke is automatically under suspicion by everyone from the principal at his new school to the local police chief. His social life is no better. The new kid in town is an easy target for Grant Parker, the local golden boy with a violent streak who has the entire community of Ashland under his thumb.

But things go topsy-turvy when a freak accident removes Grant from the top of the social pyramid, replacing him with Luke. This fish out of water has suddenly gone from social outcast to hero in a matter of twenty-four hours. For the students who have lived in fear of Grant all their lives, this is a welcome change. But Luke’s new found fame comes with a price. Nobody knows the truth about what really happened to Grant Parker except for Luke, and the longer he keeps living the lie, the more like Grant Parker he becomes.
   

My Review: 


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fast-paced book about Luke's journey from social pariah to King. It takes a close look at how overwhelming it is to be the new kid who gets picked on in a small town school or the guy who's at the top of the social food chain. Though he does begin to redeem himself, Luke goes from likable to unlikable almost overnight. Great teen guy POV, some mature language/content.

Soundless - Richelle Mead

Read 07/28/2016

From the Publisher: 
In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…


My Review: 


The mountain world Mead creates is beautiful and terrifying. Mixing reality and fantasy blends myth and truth in this tale of dominance and discrimination against others. Along with Fei, readers will fear the worst and hope for more. 

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

Read 07/09/2016 

From the Publisher: 

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
   

My Review: 

There are not enough good things I can say about Everything, Everything! It is one of my favorite reads of 2016! If you haven't yet read it, what are you waiting for? 

The Inside of Out - Jenn Marie Thorne

Read 07/05/2016 

From the Publisher: 

Meg Cabot meets Glee in this breezy, hilarious, deceptively smart YA about privilege, pretense, and realizing that every story needs a hero. Sometimes it's just not you.

When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can't derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights.

Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy's leading the charge to end their school’s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It's all for the cause.

What Daisy doesn't expect is for "the cause” to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. #Holy #cats.

With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy’s good intentions, and Daisy's mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.
   

My Review: 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book did an excellent job of exploring how tough life as a teenager can be. Daisy has certainly had a hard time, that is until she meets Hannah - her everything, best friend. When Hannah's life changes, Daisy overcompensates to remain by her side. Instead it backfires, and Daisy pushes Hannah away. Her dedication to her friend and her cause is inspiring, however out of hand things get. 

Violent Ends - Shaun David Hutchinson

Read 06/26/2016 

From the Publisher: 

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn't a story about the shooting itself. This isn't about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim's viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he'd become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA's most recognizable names.
   

My Review: 



This book is a powerful look at tragedy. Getting glimpses into a school shooting and the people involved through many varying narrators gives the reader a unique perspective. Puzzling together the narrators' connections to Kirby definitely enhanced the fast pace of this novel. Keep a list of characters as you read this one - there are a lot, and they overlap in places! 

A Sense of the Infinite - Hilary T. Smith

Read 06/22/2016 

From the Publisher: 

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it harder to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe.
For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.   


My Review: 



A Sense of the Infinite is a beautiful story about changing and growing up, accepting where you came from, and realizing who you are.