Monday, October 15, 2018

Blog Tour Review: Borrowed by Lucia DiStefano

DiStefano, Lucia. Borrowed. Elephant Rock Books, 2018. 978-1-732-41410-5. 264 p. $14.00. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Love, mystery, and danger collide in this new literary thriller with the dark heart of a Gillian Flynn novel and the lyrical prose of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.

A triumph of authenticity, grace, and nail-biting suspense, Lucia DiStefano’s ingenious debut is an unflinching, genre-bending page-turner.

As seventeen-year-old Linnea celebrates the first anniversary of her heart transplant, she can’t escape the feeling that the wires have been crossed. After a series of unsettling dreams, inked messages mysteriously appear on her body, and she starts to wonder if this new heart belongs to her at all.

In another Austin neighborhood, Maxine braces for a heartbreaking anniversary: her sister Harper’s death. Between raising her brothers and parenting her grief-stricken mother, Max is unable to ignore her guilty crush on Harper’s old flame or shake her lingering suspicion that her sister’s drowning wasn’t really an accident. With Harper as the sole connection, Linnea and Maxine are soon brought together in fantastic and terrifying ways as the shocking truth behind Harper’s death comes to light.

My Review: 


I received an eARC of this book from Elephant Rock Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Meet Linnea, almost 18 and not quite at the momentous one year post transplant mark. A budding pastry chef in Austin, Texas, Linnea fears she's on borrowed time. An increasing number of dreams and unusual cravings for things she's never liked make her question if this heart is really hers to keep. 

Across town Maxine is living in a fog of grief. Devastated by the sudden death of her sister Harper, yet unable to focus on her own grief, Maxine is the only thread keeping her family afloat. While her mother is drowning in grief, Max tries to focus on caring for her younger brothers Will and Race. Max has her own feelings to deal with too; even with help from her best friend Shelby and Harper's boyfriend Ezra, Max is barely getting by. 

Harper's death gave Linnea a chance to live, but as the line between dream and reality blurs, Linnea is drawn towards what would have been Harper's life. Is becoming Harper even possible? One desperate to save herself, and one struggling to understand what happened to her sister, Linnea's and Maxine's worlds will collide, taking readers on an unforgettable journey into the unknown. 

THOUGHTS: Honored to be selected for the blog tour, I was excited to read Borrowed because my students are always asking for mysteries. What begins as a seemingly innocent story about grief and life abruptly transitions into so much more. DiStefano's multiple, well-developed narrators vie for attention in this fast-paced, genre-blending thriller. Buckle up because this book will take readers on a wild and unpredictable ride. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Book Depository | Publisher

Check out more Blog Tour details below!  

Full Blog Tour Schedule: 
August 1: Cover reveal at YA Interrobang
September 4: Review at Alice Reeds
September 10: Author interview at Alice Reeds
September 24: Cover reveal at BubblersRead
October 8: Review at Liz Loves Books
October 9-15: Giveaway at Miss Print
October 15: Review at BubblersRead
October 17: Guest post at Liz Loves Books
October 25: Author interview at YA Outside the Lines
October 29: Review at Fab Book Reviews
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 7: Guest post at Fab Book Reviews
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
Week of November 12: Giveaway at Fab Book Reviews
Week of November 12: Author interview at Cynsations
And more to come, including an excerpt at YA Interrobang and a podcast special at The Writing Barn!

Follow Elephant Rock on Facebook and Twitter for blog tour news and updates!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Coles, Jay. Tyler Johnson Was Here. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-0-316-44077-6. 304 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

My Review: 

Twin brothers Marvin and Tyler have overcome adversity together. With their father in prison, they have managed to keep each other out of trouble under the watchful eye of their mother. When Tyler starts to fall in with the wrong crowd gaining an invitation to a questionable party, Marvin tags along to keep his eye on Tyler. Broken up by the cops, the party goers quickly disperse, and Tyler and Marvin are separated from each other. Always having his brother's back Marvin covers for Tyler. But when he still hasn't returned home the next day, Marvin must come clean to their mother and face the possibility that Tyler might not be coming home. Just as the trail seems to go cold, a video is leaked, and the truth about Tyler's disappearance comes to light. Overcome with guilt and anger, Marvin must decide what his life looks like without his other half. 

THOUGHTS: Focusing on those impacted by police violence, Coles' book will be a high demand read for 
fans of All American Boys, Dear Martin, and The Hate U Give. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Menon, Sandhya. When Dimple Met Rishi. Simon Pulse, 2017. 978-1-481-47868-7. 380 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Review: 


Dimple Shah has spunk, and she is not the dutiful Indian daughter her parents would like her to be. When Dimple fairly easily convinces her parents to allow her to attend a summer learning program for web developers, she thinks they finally understand and accept her desire to pursue her passion. Rishi believes in the traditions that brought his parents together, and the hopeless romantic in him wants the same for himself. Fully aware of the arrangements his parents have made, Rishi plans to attend the summer program and make Dimple fall madly in love with him. Getting Dimple on board with his plan is another story entirely. 

THOUGHTS: Back and forth banter in alternating chapters help readers see both sides of this hopeless love story. Readers will be rooting both for Dimple's success and independence and Rishi's happily ever after. Hand this one to any student looking for a lighthearted love story. 

500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario

del Rosario, Juleah. 500 Words or Less. Simon Pulse, 2018. 978-1-534-41044-2. 384 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Nic Chen refuses to spend her senior year branded as the girl who cheated on her charismatic and lovable boyfriend. To redefine her reputation among her Ivy League–obsessed classmates, Nic begins writing their college admissions essays.

But the more essays Nic writes for other people, the less sure she becomes of herself, the kind of person she is, and whether her moral compass even points north anymore.

My Review: 


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

Losing a lot that defined her for the past two years, Nic has been outcast from her Ivy League hopeful peers for breaking her perfect boyfriend's heart. Not what she had in mind for senior year, Nic uses her writing skills to start a business of writing college application essays for her peers. She doesn't need the money, and her peers have plenty for a good essay, so why not? The essays Nic writes are raw, revealing, and ultimately successful in their goal of college admission. 

I found the premise of this book intriguing, and students writing college application essays may glimpse some helpful tips about what makes a good essay. Purchase 500 words or Less where novels in verse are popular. 

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Lu, Marie. Wildcard. GP Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-0-399-54799-7. 341 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

My Review: 


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

Exposed, celebrated, then outcast in book one, Emika continues her journey to uncover the truth behind the NeuroLink and Hideo's and Zero's true intent for its use. Unable to trust anyone but her gut, Emika's life is more on the line this time. With a bounty on her own head, Emika barely escapes without the help of others, but who are the Blackcoats, and do they share mutual interests? Having no clear path, Emika trusts herself and her team of Phoenix Riders to uncover the truth. 
THOUGHTS: Readers who were invested in Emika and Hideo's relationship or the secret that tore them apart will be thrilled to jump right back into this story and learn what the outcome will be. Typical of Lu's writing, readers are taken on an adventure with plenty of twists and turns, and the end will not be what they expect. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Keplinger, Kody. That's Not What Happened. Scholastic Press, 2018. 978-1-338-18652-9. 329 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

It's been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah's story--that she died proclaiming her faith. 

But it's not true. 

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn't say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah's parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I'm not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did--and didn't--happen that day. 

Except Sarah's martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don't take kindly to what I'm trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what's right. I don't know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .
My Review: 


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

What happens in the aftermath of tragedy, after the cameras leave, and the whole world knows what really happened? What happens if the truth wasn't told? 

Living with grief and regrets and trying to move on, the Virgil County High School massacre survivors - the ones who were there - are still only able to talk to each other about that day. It's the last year any survivors will be in high school, and Lee feels like it's finally time to tell Sarah's story. Except Lee's version of Sarah's story isn't the one that was sensationalized in the media and is being turned into a book by Sarah's parents. Lee can be persuasive, and she needs to do this - needs to set the record straight - but not all of the survivors want to share their stories of that day, and a lot of people don't want Lee tarnishing their memory or Sarah's memory with her lies. 
THOUGHTS: Timely and relevant, Keplinger's book takes a unique approach to the topic of gun violence in school shootings. Instead of focusing on the shooting itself, though details are included, Keplinger fasts forward, evaluating the aftermath from a survivor's standpoint and leaves readers thinking about the impact of news sensationalizing. After all, every story is a matter of perspective. Readers will devour this book, desperate to discover the whole truth, as told by someone who actually witnessed it.