Monday, January 30, 2017

After the Fall by Kate Hart

From the Publisher: 

A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.


My Review: 





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

Raychel has a lot going on in her life - she has a promiscuous reputation around school, she and her mom struggle financially, and she is sort of part of her best friend Matt's family. Unbeknownst to Raychel, though how I'm unsure since it's obvious to everyone else, Matt is in love with her. The alternating chapters set a nice pace and allow you to experience the emotions and events from both teen perspectives.  

The mess of Raychel's life is built up throughout Part I so much that I wondered where the story was going. The backstory, however, is necessary to emphasize the sheer loss experienced during Part II. I wasn't sure what the title meant and was anxious to uncover the mystery, as I imagined several possibilities. Wham! The end of Part I leaves no questions! 

Readers will appreciate the honest portrayal of small, college town teens and the desire to fit in - with friends and family. Feeling left behind with friends off in college, animosity between parent and child, sexual assault, sibling rivalry, poverty, and grief are all topics covered. 

Ultimately, Raychel learns that secrets don't help your situation, and facing one's fears (even if it is a daily struggle) is the way to move forward. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

It Started with Goodbye - Christina June

From the Publisher: 

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.
   


My Review: 




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

So many things about this book spoke to me when I previewed it on NetGalley. Stereotypically, the cover grabbed my attention and had me wanting to know more. Because of the synopsis I requested the book as an early reader, and I was not at all disappointed!

Tatum is such a likeable character who - through circumstances she couldn't predict - ends up in quite a bit of trouble (involving the police). With her father leaving on business for the summer, he defers to her "stepmonster" to oversee Tatum's discipline. Basically, this leaves her working through hard labor, outdoor (in the hot summer sun) community service and no life to speak of. The novel is an interesting play on the Cinderella story; however, because of Tatum's step-Abeula, she comes to understand, if not appreciate, the strict discipline her stepmother Belén dishes out.

The novel had a wonderful flow and a nice variety of characters that would interest many different readers. Overall, It Started with Goodbye had a neat and tidy end, but with the summer Tatum had, she deserves it!           

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do by Ashley Spires

From the Publisher: 

“Lou and her friends are BRAVE adventurers. They run FASTER than airplanes. They build MIGHTY fortresses. They rescue WILD animals.” But one day, when they're looking for a ship to play pirates in, Lou's friend has an idea: “Up there! The tree can be our ship!” “Ummm ...” says Lou. This is something new. Lou has never climbed a tree before, and she's sure she can't do it. So she tries to convince her friends to play a not-up-a-tree game. When that doesn't work, she comes up with reasons for not joining them --- her arm is sore, her cat needs a walk, you shouldn't climb so soon after eating. Finally, she tells herself she doesn't want to climb the tree. But is that true, or is this brave adventurer just too afraid to try?

My Review: 




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

Having loved Spires's The Most Wonderful Thing, I knew I had to read this work! Much like Wonderful, Spires cleverly tackles childhood feelings, this time of fear and frustration in The Thing Lou Couldn't Do. With her trusty sidekick by her side, Lou tries everything to avoid tree climbing. As her friends reach new heights in their pirate ship tree and even her sidekick leaves her side to rest on a branch, Lou makes excuses for why she can't climb as she brainstorms ways she can get into the tree without climbing. Though Lou doesn't make it to the top yet, she is no longer scared of trying "Maybe even tomorrow." Whimsical illustrations set on a mostly white background make this another appealing book for children. Perhaps what I like most about The Thing Lou Couldn't Do is that it shows children using their imaginations and never giving up, even if things don't work out quite how or when you planned. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Someone Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman

From the Publisher: 
Anna's always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm's summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm's list along with her sister's best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm's dream summer would eventually lead to Anna's own self-discovery?

My Review: 





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

The cover interested me right from first glimpse, and the synopsis made me desperate to know more. Anna is the little sister who has always idolized Irish twin, big sister Storm. It isn't until Storm is gone - dead after a tragic, graduation night car crash - that Anna sets off to figure out who she is without Storm. 


I knew this one would pull at my heartstrings, but there were still unexpected twists and turns as Anna comes to terms with her grief. Bateman packs a lot into one summer including grief stricken families torn apart by the death of a child, friends leaving for college, and teenage friendship and love. You won't find a lighthearted summer read in this book, but you will find a compelling adventure of self-discovery! 

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Series: Frostblood Saga, #1

From the Publisher: 

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

My Review: 




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

After receiving copies of this book from the publisher as part of an early reader's program for students, I was hearing students rave about this first in a series and had to give it a try myself. With action, adventure, revenge, and a little bit of romance all set in a fantasy world of frost and fire, Frostblood does not disappoint! I devoured this book and can't wait until September when Fireblood comes out! The twists and turns of the story are unexpected, and one cannot easily predict how the story will end. There certainly is something for everyone in the genre-blending YA book! 

City of Saints & Thieves - Natalie C. Anderson

From the Publisher: 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling YA murder mystery set in Kenya.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn't exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill's personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.


My Review: 



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

City of Saints & Thieves takes readers on a fast-paced adventure as Tina seeks revenge on the man she believes killed her mother. Set in the Congo and Kenya this mystery/adventure will draw readers in as they puzzle the before unknown details surrounding Tina's mother's death and their escape from the Congo years before. 


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

From the Publisher: 

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

My Review: 




An eye-opening must read for anyone, A Long Walk to Water gives a vivid impression of what life in Sudan and refugee camps can be like. The dual narratives kept the pace moving.