Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review: 29 Dates

29 Dates 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jisu’s parents are not happy with her grades or her plans for college. They have been working with a matchmaker to find her the right boyfriend in order to set her up for a successful future. After Jisu gets a C on a test and skips one of her dates to be with her friends, her parents decide to send her to San Francisco to finish her senior year. They hope the change in scenery will be just what Jisu needs to strengthen her academics and find the perfect boy. Will Jisu get into an acceptable college and find a boy that she likes and her parents will accept? What will Jisu learn about herself along the way?

29 Dates is a stand-alone romance novel that was challenging and enjoyable. I will admit that I am not Korean or Korean American and it was interesting to read about the various cultural nuances within this community. De La Cruz did a wonderful job introducing these various Korean viewpoints while also not making the book feel like a cultural lesson. The romance that is included is very superficial and is more of a secondary story to the overall story of finding out who Jisu really is. I recommend 29 Dates to anyone who likes a good relationship story, especially those who liked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Review: What You Hide

What You Hide What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spencer has a really good place to complete his community service, the library he accidentally damaged while scaling it. Mallory is suddenly homeless and is trying to stay under the radar, but it is hard to stay unnoticed when her favorite safe place is the library and Spencer seems to always be there. When a person is found dead in the stacks and crazy messages are found throughout the library, the people in charge bring in the police and Mallory's safe place is no longer safe. Who is the other mystery person in the library? Will Mallory’s home life be straightened out?

What You Hide is a stand-alone mystery that will be quickly devoured by those who choose to read it. Richards tells the story through the alternating voices of Spencer and Mallory, so readers are privy to a larger story than if only one of them was the narrator. The events that happen throughout are completely believable which will enable most readers to sit back and just enjoy the adventure. I recommend What You Hide to everyone who wants an easy read with a satisfactory ending.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Elle Zoellner is not looking forward to celebrating her sixteenth birthday in foster care, but she never expected the father she never met to ask her to come live with him in Tokyo. Elle can’t believe she is traveling first class and that she will get to live the high life with the Tokyo elite. That is until she actually meets her father, who doesn’t want to spend time with her, and her grandmother who wishes she didn’t even exist. Elle makes friends with the Ex-Brats who love to spend their parent’s money, but are these fellow students really her friends? Can she follow all of the expected customs and be accepted into the family?

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is a stand-alone novel that is quick to read and also quick to move past. The overall storyline is plausible but not believable. Cohn has a variety of characters for readers to explore, but most follow the typical mean girl/quiet boy conventions. I did enjoy reading about this change in life circumstance story and will recommend it to my students, but readers should look at this as a fun escape read and not high literature with a lot of talking points.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Review: Dream Country

Dream Country Dream Country by Shannon Gibney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kollie is having trouble adjusting in America as a Liberian refugee. He doesn’t fit in with the African American’s in his school and doesn’t understand the expectations of his Liberian family. They have threatened to send him back to Monrovia, but Kollie doesn’t believe them. The story then changes to the previous century when Togar is in Liberia and on the run from the militia. They want him to work on the plantations started by the African American slaves that colonized Liberia in the nineteenth century. As Togar’s story comes to an end, the story takes another leap backward to Yasmine who wants to leave America and start a new life in a promising colony called Liberia. They have been told that they can make a new life for themselves on their original continent; they just need to be willing to work hard.

Dream Country is a stand-alone historical fiction story told in reverse order. Although the overall story was informative and entertaining, I was given the audiobook version to review and without the pages clearly telling the story was changing, it was confusing. The first story from Kollie’s point of view was also full of foul language that was distracting and unwanted. If I had checked this book out from my library, I would not have finished it because of the language in these first few chapters. I will say that after Kollie’s story was over, the language issue was also finished. The description mentions five generations of young people from the same family, but the connections between them is not very clear in the audiobook. I would have preferred the story to be told in chronological order (instead of reverse order). This is one time that a literary device was detrimental to the enjoyment of the story.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: The Color of Lies

The Color of Lies The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is Ella’s eighteenth birthday and she is getting a little time away from her home when she meets Alec. Ella can’t read his emotions like she can everyone else, and this intrigues her and scares her at the same time. Ella has synesthesia and sees colors that represent a person’s emotions. The fact that Alec is a mystery to her makes her feel like everyone else. Alec is a journalism student and quickly reveals that he wants to learn more about her parent’s death. He was there after the fire and has not been able to get the aftermath out of his mind. What truths will Ella discover about her past and her family? What will she need to do in order to uncover the facts about her parent’s deaths?

The Color of Lies is a stand-alone novel that defies one genre. Lyons has created a story with a mystery, a possible romance, and a hint of the paranormal. Readers will enjoy uncovering the secrets alongside the characters and will also relish the chance to try and discover the answers before they are revealed. The book itself is not very long, the events all transpire within a few days and would be a perfect read to finish in a sitting or two. The Color of Lies will be enjoyed by all mystery fans, of all ages and of all genders.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: Empress of All Seasons

Empress of All Seasons Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The prince has come of age and it is time to host the competition that will determine the next empress of Honoku. In order to marry the prince, a young woman must survive the four seasons in the enchanted rooms. Everyone is eligible to compete, except for those the emperor has determined to be unworthy. Mari was not a beautiful girl, so her mother had her spend all of her time training to compete for the title of empress. She is ready and should be able to beat all of the other contestants, but Mari is hiding a secret that would not only disqualify her from the competition, but it could cost her her life. Will Mari survive and become the Empress of All Seasons? What changes will she instigate along the way?

Empress of All Seasons is a stand-alone fantasy novel that is full of adventure and intrigue. Jean has crafted a world that is full of vibrant characters and interesting backstory. Since this story is developed and completed in one volume, readers will easily enjoy putting their reading effort into the character’s plight; no long dragged out epic story here. Empress of All Seasons will be enjoyed by all fantasy readers and might actually be one that will need to be read a second time.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Review: Umbertouched

Umbertouched Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zivah and Dineas have uncovered a way to take down the empire, unfortunately, they can’t prove it. It is now imperative that they return home before Ampara’s army ravages the land. Dineas had to do many things to prove his loyalty to the Ampara and now that his cover has been blown, will his own people be able to trust him? Zivah went against everything she believed in while in Sehmar City, will she be able to overcome these acts and trust herself?

Umbertouched is the second book in the Rosemarked series. I will admit that it took me a while to reconnect with the characters and the larger story. Blackburne did a wonderful job including tidbits of information to nudge the reader’s memory, yet I still could not fall into the story. In the end, I thought the adventure was worth the effort and will definitely be looking for the third book. These characters have a lot more life to live and many more obstacles to overcome.

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