Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Lockhart, E. Genuine Fraud. Delacorte Press, 2017. 978-0-385-74477-5. 264 p. $18.99. Gr. 10 and up.


From the Publisher: 

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

My Review: 




Imogen leads the charmed life, but it doesn't always feel so charming. She's decided to leave it behind and live off her trust fund, traveling wherever she pleases for a while. Jule works hard and fights to fit in - to be what people want her to be. Connecting with Imogen and being invited to go along on her travels seems like the break she deserves. Jule isn't what she seems, though, and together she and Imogen have a toxic friendship. Jule is willing to go great lengths to protect her friendship with Imogen, even if it means not playing nicely. With her suitcase tightly in her grip, and several wigs and passports at the ready, Jule is on the run, but from whom or what readers won't know until the end. 

THOUGHTS: Beginning at chapter 18 and told in reverse order then ending with chapter 19, Genuine Fraud is an intricately woven tale. Readers will rely on this unreliable narrator to figure out the details. Profoundly confusing and fast-paced at the start, readers will page through this story, determined to learn its beginning. Fans of Lockhart's We Were Liars might also like this story. Violence and mature content make this novel suitable to older readers.       

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Nijkamp, Marieke. Before I Let Go. Sourcebooks Fire, 2018. 978-1-492-64228-2. 368 p. $17.15. Gr. 10 and up.


From the Publisher: 

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

My Review: 




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

Returning to Lost Creek, Alaska for her best friend's funeral after moving away several months ago, Corey is devastated. She never found the words to tell Kyra that there was a great big world outside of Lost, and now she'll never have the opportunity. Guilt-ridden over never responding to Kyra's letters, Corey doesn't know what to expect in Lost. 

Lost isn't what she remembers, and neither are the people that live there. The town that she once loved and that loved her seems like it's hiding something. Determined to uncover the truth about Kyra's death, Corey sets out on her own. Desperate to find answers before her return to Winnipeg and terrified for her safety, Corey races against the clock before her flight departs. Told in present tense, letters sent and unsent, and flashback narratives written in play format, Corey's and Kyra's stories unfold as Lost fights to keep its secrets. 

THOUGHTS: The remote Alaskan wilderness amps up the creepy factor in this mystery. Through the emphasis on Kyra's storytelling, readers will be compelled to learn what actually happened to her, but they may not feel fully invested in the novel, as the characters lack depth. Though identity and mental health issues are addressed, they are not at the center of the story. Before I Let Go is a good read for mystery fans and those interested in exploring the ways mental illness affects one's life and experiences. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

Reynolds, Jason. For Every One. Antheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017. 978-1-481-48624-8. 112 p. $14.99. Gr. 6 and up.


From the Publisher: 

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.
 

My Review: 




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

Much in the manner of Jimmy V's 1993 ESPY speech and Randy Pausch's 2007 Last Lecture (minus the terminal diagnosis), Reynolds tells every one never to give up on his or her dreams, no matter how big or small. Written before his dreams were realized, Reynolds' story is that much more motivating. He is the living example of never giving up on one's dreams, though he didn't achieve them when he thought he would. 

This inspiring poem is the perfect graduation or just because gift - for every one. 

THOUGHTS: Teachers using Reynolds' books in their classrooms can pair this poem to give students some background on his life, or it would make a beautiful addition to teaching poetry. Kids will connect with his words. No matter what part of life readers are in, they will find hope and encouragement. The title could not be more fitting, as this book truly is for every one. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier

Scheier, Leah. Rules of Rain. Sourcebooks Fire, 2017. 978-1-492-65426-1. 384 p. $10.99. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 

A dramatic new novel about the bond between a teen and her twin brother.

Rain has taken care of Ethan all of her life. Before she even knew what autism meant, she's been her twin brother's connection to the hostile world around him. She's always prepared—when her father abandons them, when her mother gets sick, when Ethan is tortured by bullies from school—Rain is the reliable, stable one holding them all together. She's both cautious carer and mad chef, preparing customized meals for her family and posting crazy recipes on her cooking blog.

Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and she's sure that nothing will ever change—until one night when her world is turned upside down by a mistake she can't take back. As her new romance with her long-time crush and her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, she discovers that the fragile brother whom she's always protected has grown into a young man who no longer needs her. And now, for the first time, she finds that she needs him

My Review: 




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

The connection between twins can be unique. Add into the mix one twin has autism, and the dynamics are even more complicated. Rain's entire life has revolved around her brother and helping him navigate the world. She has been Ethan's voice and rock for so long that she knows no different. 

Now teenagers, Rain and Ethan are beginning to grow into themselves and somewhat apart from each other. She is interested in cooking and blogging about obscure recipes, while he is fascinated by the inner workings of the human body. Rain and Ethan experience many firsts and learn a lot about each other and themselves. While Ethan seems to be thriving in his independence, it is Rain who begins to unravel. 

THOUGHTS: This is more than a coming of age story, and there are a lot of issues involved. At the heart of the novel twins are learning as much from each other as the world around them. Their twin/sibling relationship, autism, family dynamics/relationships, parent/child roles, divorce, bullying, underage drinking, as well as teen relationships (friendship and romantic). While other issues are present, to say more would spoil the surprise. Teens with complicated home lives and/or challenging sibling dynamics will like this character driven novel. Some mature content makes this book more suited for high school readers.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I Never by Laura Hopper

Hopper, Laura. I Never. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-1-328-66378-8. 320 p. $10.99. Gr. 10 and up.


From the Publisher: 

Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex.

Inspired by Judy Blume’s classic ForeverI Never features a perfect, delicious, almost-to-good-to-be-true high school relationship . . . and it doesn’t shy away from the details. Destined to be passed from teen to teen, this is a young adult debut that will get readers talking.
 

My Review: 




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

When Janey's parents announce their divorce while on a fabulous vacation, her world is rocked. She used to know who she was, but now she's not so sure. Add in golden boy Luke Hallstrom, and Janey realizes she has a lot to learn. Self confidence becomes an issue Janey never realized she had as she experiences many firsts. Navigating uncharted territories (for her), Janey learns how to be who she wants with her family, her friends, and her boyfriend. 


THOUGHTS: As an adult who works in a high school, I was uncomfortable at times while reading this book. I'm not saying I'm totally naive about what goes on, but I don't necessarily want to read the details. Saying this book doesn't shy away from the details is an understatement. Though I've never read it, Judy Blume's Forever has stood the test of time as a challenged modern classic. I recommend you read I Never and gauge your audience before adding it to your school library. Descriptions of casual sex make this more suited for mature readers.  

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Balzer + Bray, 2017. 978-0-062-49853-3. 444 p. $17.99. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Review: 




Starr Carter leads two separate lives. Though she lives in a poor neighborhood, Starr attends a fancy suburban prep school. She is conscious of how she talks differently, and at times the struggle between her two worlds weighs on Starr. After reconnecting with her childhood best friend Khalil, Starr witnesses his death at the hands of a police officer. Unarmed, the news of Khalil's death goes viral, and Starr is thrust in the middle of a national headline she isn't sure she wants to be part of. In order for Starr to reconcile her feelings about Khalil's death, she needs to figure out which world she wants to live in and for what she stands. Fortunately, Starr has a strong family that will help her through this tragic situation. 

THOUGHTS: This book is necessary, and teens will feel at home with Thomas's honesty over Starr's struggle. While the language may make some adults uncomfortable (strong language and themes), this novel could have been ripped right from today's headlines. Teens need real stories that are relevant to their own lives to help them process their feelings and fears. Thomas's The Hate U Give should be required reading for anyone interested in social justice, social issues, or today's world. 

Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone

Stone, Tamara Ireland. Click'd. Disney-Hyperion, 2017. 978-1-484-78497-6. 304 p. $16.99. Gr. 4 - 8.


From the Publisher: 

Allie Navarro can't wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK'D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it's a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK'D.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone's making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone's secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK'D to the judges?

New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.

My Review: 




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


Alli's had an amazing summer at CodeGirls camp, and though she's excited to get back to her friends, she's also sad to be away from her new friends that get her coding excitement. While at camp, she built her own app CLICK'D to help people meet each other and make new friends. She knows her app will be successful in this year's youth coding contest, where she hopes to edge her competition and classmate Nathan. Allie's school friends are so excited to try CLICK'D they convince her to release it before the contest. 

At first CLICK'D is great, and it's working exactly as Allie hoped, then the app seems to glitch. Allie has to decide if it's worth the risk of keeping the app live while trying to fix the glitch or shut it down and risk losing her new found popularity.  

THOUGHTS: Click'd takes a look inside the mind of a girl who is trying to navigate friendship while figuring out what really matters to her. Readers will be subtly cautioned about content on their phones and what they post for all to see. This was a lighthearted and fun read that shows girls it's okay to like coding and be competitive. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Way It Hurts by Patty Blount

Blount, Patty. The Way It Hurts. Sourcebooks Fire, 2017. 978-1-492-63278-8. 352 p. $10.99. Gr. 10 and up. 

From the Publisher: 

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there's only one way to set things right...

Music is Elijah's life. His band plays loud and hard, and he'll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he'd rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town...until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother's. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program―and being the star in her high school musical isn't going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can't take his eyes off of Kristen's performance, and his swooning face is captured on camera and posted with an out-of-context comment. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don't stay online...they follow them into real life.
 

My Review: 




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

Dual narrators Eli and Kristen could not be more opposite. Eli is trying to jumpstart his rock career in a band while Kristen stars in her high school musical. Together they take center stage in the back and forth banter of social media misunderstanding. 

Off the stage both teens are dealing with issues in their own lives - Eli, is protective brother for his autistic sister while Kristen is navigating some issues with her family. When Kristen tries to diversify her musical resume by joining Eli's band, sparks fly but not always in a good way. 

THOUGHTS: I have enjoyed several of Blount's character-driven books. Readers looking for a little music, a few family issues, and some social media drama will enjoy this one. As Eli and Kristen navigate their new fame and friendship, they each have some growing up to do and some big decisions to make about the future.   

To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial by Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz

Kacer, Kathy, and Jordana Lebowitz. To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial. Second Story Press, 2017. 978-1-772-60040-7. 256 p. $13.95. Gr. 9 and up.


From the Publisher: 

The true story of nineteen-year-old Jordana Lebowitz's time at the trial of Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, a man charged with being complicit in the death of more than 300,000 Jews. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jordana attended the trial. She realized that by witnessing history she gained the knowledge and legitimacy to be able to stand in the footsteps of the survivors.

My Review: 




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


"'Everyone cries here. There is no shame in that. If you're not moved by this experience, you won't be influenced by it,' the guide said...." (6). Being the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jordana Lebowitz has been interested in history and her heritage for a long time. Her special connection to other survivors expands while on March of the Living, a high school trip with the Jewish Day School Jordana attended. 

After the trip Jordana maintains contact with Hedy Bohm who survived Auschwitz but lost both of her parents there. Years after their initial meeting, Jordana learns Hedy is part of a group of Canadian survivors that are traveling to Germany to testify against Oskar Groening. Moved to be a witness of history and represent her generation, Jordana contacts Thomas Walther, the man responsible for organizing the survivors to attend the trial. With determination and persistence, Jordana is afforded the opportunity to attend Groening's trial. This book is a compilation of Jordana's experiences, photographs, trial testimonies, and blog entries. 

THOUGHTS: Jordana's determination to witness history is inspiring. With aging Holocaust survivors, To Look a Nazi in the Eye encourages teens to know history and make a difference in their worlds. Readers looking for a contemporary connection to the Holocaust will get one in this book. With varied sources, there is much room for discussion. Because of the nature of the trial, this book is most suited for high school students studying or interested in learning more about the Holocaust.  

345.43 Criminal Law, Holocaust

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Buxbaum, Julie. Tell Me Three Things. Delacorte Press, 2016. 978-0-553-53564-8. 328 p. $17.99. Gr. 10 and up.


From the Publisher: 

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
 

My Review: 




Readers will feel for Jesse right from the beginning. Though Jesse's new surroundings are gorgeous, her situation is not ideal. 733 days ago Jesse's mother died, 45 days ago her dad eloped with someone he met online, 30 days ago they moved from Chicago to LA, and 7 days ago she started a new school. 

Then Jesse receives an anonymous email from Somebody Nobody. Unsure whether she's being pranked, Jesse cautiously responds and  begins an unconventional friendship - you have to know each other to be friend's, right? As Jesse navigates her sometimes hostile new surroundings, she begins to look forward to the messages she and Somebody Nobody exchange. He gets her, and his advice even seems to be working.

THOUGHTS: This sweet story will take readers on a journey as Jesse processes all of the changes in her life and her grief over the loss of her mom. Readers will root for Jesse's relationships - with her dad, her stepfamily, her friends (both old and new), and with Somebody Nobody. Casual descriptions of drinking, drugs,  and sex make this suitable for mature readers.