Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips

Phillips, Rebecca. The Girl You Thought I Was. HarperTeen, 2018. 978-0-062-57094-9. 368 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret-at least not one that she's deeply ashamed of. To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she's shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time she tells herself it will be the last, and each time it never is.

But when she's caught and sentenced to thirty hours of community service, the image Morgan has carefully constructed starts to crumble. She's determined to complete her punishment without her friends discovering the truth about her sticky fingers, but that's easier said than done...Especially once she meets Eli, the charming, handsome nephew of the owner of the charity shop where Morgan is volunteering. Soon, Morgan is faced with an impossible decision: continue to conceal the truth or admit that she's lied to everyone in her life, including the boy she's falling for.

My Review: 


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

Though her parents recently divorced and her older sister is now off at college, to everyone else Morgan Kemper appears to live an ideal life. She and her dad have adjusted well to their new apartment and are getting by together. 

Things aren't always as they seem; however, and when Morgan is picked up for shoplifting at the mall, her carefully constructed life begins to crack. Able to hide her crime from all of her friends, Morgan is spared the embarrassment of a trial by volunteering and taking an online shoplifting class. 

While volunteering, she meets Eli, the boss Rita's nephew. Rita knows why she's really there, but Morgan can't bring herself to tell Eli. As she falls for Eli and volunteers throughout the summer, Morgan struggles with her urge to shoplift. She still has not processed her mother's infidelity and used shoplifting to feel some control in her life. In order to move forward and heal, Morgan needs to accept herself and her life for what it is.  

THOUGHTS: Pressures placed on teens and the aftermath of divorce as well as sibling, parent/child, and teen romantic relationships are all addressed in an authentic way. 
At times predictable, readers still will root for Morgan to get her life together. This is an excellent addition where realistic, character driven books (with a little romance) are popular. 

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Blake, Ashley Herring. Girl Made of Stars. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-1-328-77823-9. 304 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

"I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that."

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

My Review: 


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

Though they each have their own lives, twins Mara and Owen have always been close. Never having any reason to doubt each other, their happy family is shattered when Hannah, Owen's girlfriend and one of Mara's best friends, accuses Owen of rape. Being close with both, Mara is torn. While she wants nothing more than to believe her twin, Mara has a nagging feeling that Hannah would never lie about something like this. While their parents support and defend "golden boy" Owen (clearly Hannah must be exaggerating), Mara grapples with her unique position. 

Meanwhile, Mara has been dealing with her own breakup with Charlie - her best friend turned girlfriend - and feels lost without her two voices of reason. She can't even find solace in the feminist magazine she founded at school, since she's "too close" to the issue of consent they're now discussing. Mara has buried demons of her own that she must face in order to move forward. 

THOUGHTS: Girl Made of Stars packs a powerful punch and will grab readers from the onset, forcing them to think about a variety of issues including consent. Charlie's status as genderqueer, not yet out to her parents, is also discussed in regards to her relationship with Mara. Readers of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith will appreciate how Ashley Herring Blake emphasizes the lasting impact of sexual assault. This is an essential addition for high school/young adult collections where realistic, intense, character driven books are popular. 

One Small Thing by Erin Watt

Watt, Erin. One Small Thing. Harlequin Teen, 2018. 978-1-335-01727-7. 384 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

My Review: 


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

Beth feels trapped in a cage - her house - ever since her older sister died tragically. Fed up with not being seen or heard by either of her parents, Beth is looking for a little taste of control in her life. Sneaking out to a party in the next town and hooking up with a guy she meets is just what Beth needs. Afterwards, though, she begins to realize how monumental her decision was, and part of her feels regret. Luckily, she'll never see him again. 

Now out of juvie and determined to live life under the radar, Chase attempts to assimilate with his former life. A welcome home party and a pretty girl who throws herself at him is just what he needs. 

It isn't until Beth and Chase realize who the other is that they truly realize the impact of their connection. Forbidden from being together yet drawn to the other, Beth and Chase struggle with their feelings as well as with grief, guilt, and loss. 

THOUGHTS: Initially drawn in by the cover and the title, One Small Thing left me feeling torn. As a parent, I can understand wanting to protect your child, but Beth's parents take protection to a suffocating level. Teens will devour this story of first love, desperate to know the outcome for Beth and Chase. Underage drinking and mature relationships make this more suitable to high school readers. 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Woodfolk, Ashley. The Beauty That Remains. Delacorte Press, 2018. 978-1-524-71587-8. 352 p. $10.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she's determined not to get too close to anyone. 

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it. 

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love? 

Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different and a love story that everyone will root for.

My Review: 


I listened to an audiobook copy of this book via Overdrive and my local public library. 

Amanda Hardy is running from her past. She's moving to live with a father whom she hasn't spoken to for years, since before her parents divorced. Reestablishing a relationship is awkward to say the least, but Amanda and her dad make it work. 

At school, she begins to make some new friends but seems to be holding back. When she catches Grant's eye, Amanda feels the flutters of first love. Strictly warned by her father, Amanda is terrified her secret will get out. Though Grant and her new friends share their own closely kept secrets, Amanda can't bring herself to fully trust them with her own. Amanda's secret is rooted in who she is, more accurately who she was known as. No one in her new life knows she was previously called Andrew, and Amanda holds on to the first happiness she's felt in a long time. 

THOUGHTS: The muted colors and unhappy expression of the cover model call to readers wanting to know her story. Though the torments as Amanda transitions from Andrew are only briefly glimpsed, they are felt in her flinches and nervous demeanor. Readers looking for an expressive LGBTQIA+ book will root for Amanda as she learns her way in a new community. Side note, the Author's Note (read by the author on the audiobook) was powerful. This important book is suitable for high school YA collections. 

Charbonneau, Joelle. Dividing Eden (Dividing Eden, #1). Delacorte Press, 2018. 978-1-524-71587-8. 352 p. $10.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

My Review: 


I listened to the audiobook version of this book via Overdrive and my public library.

Living the life of royalty but never planning to rule, twins Carys and Andreus have grown up in Eden under the shadow of their crown prince older brother. Carys struggles under her family's critical eye while fighting to protect Andreus and his family secret. Andreus works among commoners and has a reputation for spending his spare time with the ladies. 

When the king and crown prince are killed by assassins and a rule of succession is discovered, Carys and Andreus must compete for the crown in order to save themselves. Pitted against each other in a series of trials designed to prove their worth, Carys and Andreus only can trust their own instincts because they can no longer trust each other. 

THOUGHTS: Having loved Charbonneau's The Testing, I couldn't wait to try this 
dual-narrator new fantasy series. I was not disappointed! Readers will be torn between rooting for and against Carys and Andreus as their worlds implode under unanticipated circumstances. Expect to end on a cliffhanger, and anxiously await book two! Off page mature relationships make this book best suited for high school readers. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Forman, Gayle. I Have Lost My Way. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-0-425-29077-4. 304 p. $10.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helping the others out of theirs.

My Review: 

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

Meet Freya, a teen singing sensation who has attracted fans and is about to finish her debut album - until she loses her voice. Meet Nathaniel who is hiding something and seems directionless since arriving in New York. Meet Harun who struggles internally to live the life of his dreams instead that of his family's. Each character is on the brink of self-discovery, but it is only when brought together that they will find the strength to face their greatest fears. 

THOUGHTS: I requested an ARC of I Have Lost My Way because I've enjoyed other books by Gayle Forman, the description intrigued me, and I love multi-narrator books.