Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: What Light

What Light What Light by Jay Asher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sierra has always lived in Oregon and spent from Thanksgiving to Christmas in California selling Christmas trees from her family’s tree farm. Her father discourages her dating “the help” by making any boy showing interest in her clean and/or stock the outhouses. This has worked the last few seasons, but when Caleb stops in to buy a tree early in the season, Sierra quickly falls for him and starts to reconsider her no romance in California rule. Are the rumors about Caleb true? Will Sierra and her family be able to overlook the suspicions surrounding him?

What Light is a stand-alone fiction tale that is easily started and quickly finished. Although this book would be considered a romance, the love story is only in the early stages of dating and is easily appropriate for readers of all ages. Asher has created a variety of characters readers can relate to; these friends of Sierra nudge and support her as it is needed. What Light is a great escape read that should be added to all romance reader’s TBR pile.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: RoseBlood

RoseBlood RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rune Germain’s family is insisting that she leave her home and attend a special school for the arts, RoseBlood. The school is housed in an old opera building and its history says it had something to do with The Phantom of the Opera. Rune has a wonderful voice, but she also has extreme stage freight. When a violinist named Thorn secretly trains her in her dreams, she discovers a greater voice and hidden truths about herself. Will this budding romance be her completion or her destruction? How much of RoseBlood’s history is fact?

RoseBlood is a modern day retelling of Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and readers can enjoy this story even if they have never read the book or seen the musical. The story quickly develops and readers are pulled into this unusual performance academy. There are a few places where the events drag on, but overall it is an enjoyable read. Howard has created a cast of characters that may have readers looking for the original tale.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: Heartless

Heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catherine has just discovered that the King of Hearts is planning to ask her to be his queen, but she has her heart set on opening a bakery and creating the most wondrous delicacies. Her mother will stop at nothing to put her only child on the throne, yet when the royal marriage proposal is about to happen, Catherine orchestrates a distraction and unwittingly begins a courtship with Jest, the new court fool. Can Catherine fulfill her dream of delighting Wonderland with pastries? Will she be able to give her heart to the man she chooses?

Heartless is a new tale that takes place in Wonderland, yet readers who love the original story will discover new truths and hidden depth of many well-known characters. Meyer built on a world that already has a great foundation and has weaved a new adventure for readers of all ages. Although Heartless is currently listed as a stand-alone novel, it is easy to see an opportunity for additional books in this newly revised world. Heartless does for Wonderland what Wicked did for Oz. Readers will have a deeper understanding of the Queen of Hearts and why she is so heartless.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: Spindle

Spindle Spindle by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Many years have passed since the Storyteller Queen survived the demon inside her husband and saved the country she loved. Unfortunately, the prison she created with her stories is falling apart and a demon is manipulating the world around her. After a princess is born in one of the nearby kingdoms, the demon places a curse on the child that will either take the princess’s soul or completely cripple the people in her nation. A group of exiled spinners are pulled into an adventure where the best outcome is the princess’s freedom, but it could also cost them their lives.

Spindle is the second book in A Thousand Nights series. Since the distance of time between the first and second novel is so vast, this could be considered a companion story that does not need the first book completed. Readers will definitely see the correlation between Little Rose and Sleeping Beauty. This masterful retelling of the beloved tale will remind readers of childhood stories, but bring in a more complex adventure for the young adult reader. Spindle is a great book that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: Flashfall

Flashfall Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orion has been mining Cirium just like her family before her. This element is needed to protect humanity from radiation and if she collects enough Cirium, she can earn her way out of the tunnels and into the protected city. But after a new group of people come to Outpost Five, Orion is placed in a difficult situation with no foreseeable good outcome. Can Orion overcome obstacles that are constantly changing?

Flashfall is the first book in a new series by the same name. Moyer doesn’t spend too much time at the beginning world building, yet this story has many complex components that enhance it. The adventure is constantly changing and readers will be turning the pages quickly to see what is beyond the next twist. Flashfall is a great adventure that will leave readers looking for the next book in the series.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Review: Victoria

Victoria Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It hasn’t even been a month since her eighteenth birthday, but Alexandrina Victoria is now the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Her mother has done everything in her power to shelter and control Drina, but now that she is Queen, she will not bow to anyone. One thing she insists on is her royal name. She will be Queen Victoria. Young Victoria must overcome the obstacles of a limited education while also sidestepping everyone who wants to help pick her husband. Will she be like Queen Elizabeth I and never marry or will she find love?

Victoria is an historical fiction book with the potential for additional volumes. Goodwin has taken information found in Victoria’s own diaries and has weaved her writing style into a plausible story. Goodwin is also the author of the PBS/Masterpiece TV series that will begin airing in January 2017. If the show is anything like the book, I will be hooked from the start. Although this is a short period in Queen Victoria’s reign, it is full of drama and will have readers turning pages throughout.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: The Amateurs

The Amateurs The Amateurs by Sara Shepard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Seneca has been addicted to the website Case Not Closed ever since she learned about the disappearance of Helena Kelly five years earlier. When Seneca sees a post on Case Not Closed asking for help, she travels to Connecticut to work with Maddy, her best friend she met on this website. It doesn’t take long for everything to begin to fall apart, though. Maddy isn’t who she expected, Aerin, Helena’s sister, didn’t ask for help and Seneca’s secret may also come into the light. These amateur sleuths join up with Brett from the website and try to uncover more about Helena’s disappearance. Is the killer still around? Are these young people shaking a rattler’s nest?

The Amateurs is the first book in a new series by the same name. The clues slowly come into the forefront and readers will continuously try and stay ahead of the investigation with the characters. Shepard has included a few twists and turns so that the search does not have a straight forward ending. As a young adult novel, this book is easy to fall into and pleasing to continue. The end result is surprising, yet not shocking once readers think about some of the clues left behind. A fun read that I will be looking forward for the next installment.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: Unnatural Deeds

Unnatural Deeds Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Victoria has been the new girl in school for a while and most of the students just ignore her. When the newest student arrives and quickly starts to bond with her, she begins to wonder if having a friend at school is a possibility. Unfortunately, she is forced to lie to everyone around her in order to learn more about Z. Now, a person is dead and Victoria wants to tell Andrew what happened.

Unnatural Deeds is a stand-alone mystery told through news articles, police interviews and Victoria’s story. The multiple points of views keep the story fresh and the pages turning. Balog has created a situation that is confusing at the beginning and slowly unravels itself. It isn’t a long book, so readers do not need to commit too much time to discover the truth. A good read that should be considered for everyone’s to read list.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review: A Darkly Beating Heart

A Darkly Beating HeartA Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reiko is a Japanese American living in Japan for the summer. Her parents think this is the best way for her to heal after her attempted suicide. She is just trying to get through each day individually and goes with coworkers to a historic village that is preserving the nineteenth-century ambiance. During this visit, Reiko finds herself living the life of a young woman in the past and must face the demon Miyu is hiding as well as her own.

A Darkly Beating Heart is a time-travel tale that will entice readers with a simpler time and some controversial sentiments. Smith has created a plausible scenario for readers to experience modern day Japan and a small village from the recent past. The cultural practices and local superstitions add enough variance that readers may want to explore more on their own. A quick read that can easily be finished in one sitting.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: The Row

The RowThe Row by J.R. Johansson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Riley has an unusual relationship with her father. Her dad was convicted of murder twelve years earlier and she has been visiting him once a week. He is now four weeks away from his execution date and it looks like he has exhausted all of his appeals. He tells Riley that he really did commit the murders, but then tries to take it back and say he just wanted to make her not trust him. Riley is determined to figure out the truth and when another murder happens, everyone is wondering if her father is really innocent or was it a copycat.

The Row is a psychological thriller that will constantly have readers reevaluating the next plot twist. Johansson creatively inserted hints within each development, yet readers will be relentlessly surprised with the actual outcomes. As I approached the end I thought it was all complete and then another event ended the story. This is a great stand-alone story that will give readers an escape from reality.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review: The Rains

The Rains (Untitled, #1)The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Creek’s Cause is used to severe weather phenomena, but when Asteroid 9918 Darwinia breaks up while entering the atmosphere, the rains that accompany it are anything but natural. Everyone eighteen years old and older are affected by particles in the air and seem to become the dreaded “Z” word. Chance and Patrick are able to fight off several infected adults and hide with other survivors in the local high school. This unknown parasite turns people as soon as they turn eighteen, and Patrick’s birthday is right around the corner. Will these children be able to understand the transformation before it affects Patrick? Will this infection be the end of human kind?

The Rains is the first book in a new post-apocalyptic series. Readers who reveled in the survivors of the Quarantine series will quickly see the similarities and differences with this new adventure. Hurwitz has created an end of world scenario that is frighteningly plausible, yet completely unbelievable. The issues these children and one adult are forced to deal with will have readers asking themselves how they would react. This first book has a satisfactory ending, yet the rest of the series is securely mapped out for several more volumes. A great read that will keep readers entertained throughout.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Moon Chosen

Moon ChosenMoon Chosen by P.C. Cast
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mari is an Earth Walker who has inherited healing powers from her mother, but she is forced to hide her true self in order to stay within her Clan. After a special animal chooses her as a companion, her destiny changes forever and she learns the truth about her father. Soon after this revelation her Clan is attacked and she draws on her powers to heal people and discovers that her dual nature makes her truly unique. How will Mari learn to use her powers without someone who also has these two natures? Who can she trust and how far is she willing to go for a people who would have trouble accepting her for who she really is?

Moon Chosen is the first book in the Tales of a New World series. Cast spent large portions of the book developing fascinating characters and world building, yet they were weaved expertly and actually added to the depth of the storyline. There were many side stories that are yet to be explored, so readers will definitely want to look for the next book in the series when it is released. Tales of a New World is a great new series based in a dystopian world with just a hint of supernatural powers thrown in.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review: The Delphi Effect

The Delphi Effect The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna Morgan has never been understood. She was abandoned as a child with a note letting the authorities know she was possessed. As a child she couldn’t understand what was happening, but as she matured she realized that sometimes she is linked with the spirit of people who have unfinished business. One of her random touches links her with the spirit of a girl who was murdered and this girl wants help contacting her grandfather and catching the killer. The trail of evidence leads to a conspiracy that spans several decades and may even go to the top level of the government. Anna must test her ability to separate herself from these hitchers as she delves deeper and deeper into this cover-up.

The Delphi Effect is the first book in a new trilogy with the same name. Readers will struggle alongside the characters as they piece out the secrets they keep even from themselves. The story moves along nicely and although there are a few predictable plot twists, the ending was satisfying without an unnecessary cliff hanger. Walker’s newest series is not full of time travel like The Chronos Files, but once readers commit to the newest storyline, they will look forward to the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Something in Between

Something in Between Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jasmine’s parents have always put high expectations on education. They have continuously told her that anything less than an A should just be considered an F. This philosophy has finally paid off. She has been selected for a national scholarship that will pay for all four years of college. Unfortunately, her parents have waited to tell her the truth. Their visas have expired and their family is now considered illegal. She is no longer eligible for scholarships and she might not be able to attend college at all. Jasmine rebels and turns to a boy showing interest in her, but struggles with the reality that his father is the Congressman blocking her path to citizenship.

Something in Between is a realistic fiction story that will grab readers by the heartstrings and not let go. The trials and heartbreak that the protagonist must overcome may be unique to a small subset of our population, but it is none the less relevant to readers of all ages. I truly enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They inspired me, provoked deeper thought and gave me a better understanding of what Jasmine was going through. A great read that I can’t stop telling people about.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Shutter

Shutter Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Day Baker is just getting a snack at a convenience store when she talks with a boy nearby. Little does she know that he has recently escaped from police custody. Although he isn’t armed and probably won’t hurt a random stranger, the authorities are looking for him and are continuing to check out his alibis. Day wants to look into the mystery she has been pulled into and as she continues to uncover hidden information, it seems as if she will never get to the real truth. Did Julian kill his father? If he really is innocent, then who was the perpetrator?

Shutter is a quickie thriller that can be easily finished in a weekend. Stolarz has created a realistic story that readers will have no problem understanding and a main character they can empathizing with. I almost felt like the finale of the adventure came too quickly and that it would have been more enjoyable with just a couple more chapters. This is a good read between a series or after a longer book.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Small Great Things

Small Great Things Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruth is doing what she has always wanted to do … helping bring newborn babies into the world. She has been doing this daunting task for over 20 years and still loves it. That is until she starts a newborn checkup and is told a few minutes later that she has been taken off the case. The parents have requested that no African American medical personnel touch their child. Unfortunately, the next day the child goes into cardiac distress and Ruth must decide if she should do CPR (and touch the baby) or follow her orders to stay away. The baby is now dead and Ruth is charged with murder. Faced with legal proceedings and a public outcry, Ruth must deal with the race issue head on.

Small Great Things is a timely story that presents events from three points of view. Ruth tells readers the story from the stand point of an African American woman that knows the difficulties experienced every day. Turk is a white supremacist who wants nothing more than to have the white race back in its dominating position. Kennedy is a white defense lawyer that truly believes that race is no longer an issue and should not have a part in this case. These three characters bring depth and insight into the pages and readers will reach the end feeling that they have understood everyone’s viewpoint, even if they don’t agree with it. This story is a monumental achievement and those who take the time to make it to the end will not be disappointed.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Last Seen Leaving

Last Seen Leaving Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, has gone missing. Her friends at her new school have stories that don’t make sense and the police are asking questions that Flynn doesn’t feel comfortable answering. Everyone is looking to Flynn to explain her absence, but he doesn’t know anything. Can Flynn uncover the truth about what happened to January? Will he need to expose his own secret in order to prove his innocence?

Last Seen Leaving is a stand-alone mystery that will hook readers at the start and keep them turning pages throughout. Flynn is easy to sympathize with and as the mystery begins to unravel, readers will try and stay a step or two ahead of him. Roehrig has written an ending that is not easily guessed and I was quite happy with how everything finished. A good escape read for those who are tired of young adult series fiction.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: The Immortal Throne

The Immortal Throne The Immortal Throne by Bree Despain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Daphne Raines is stuck in the underworld and Haden is trapped in the mortal realm. They have both made sacrifices for each other, but neither want to stay permanently separated from the other. Daphne doesn’t want to be betrothed to Haden’s half-brother and is attempting to discover a way out. Haden has only days until a poison will destroy his mind and body. Daphne’s kiss can save him, but since they are in different realms, the obstacles are extreme. Will they be able to reconnect before the poison’s effects are permanent?

The Immortal Throne is the third book in the Into the Dark trilogy. It has been nearly 18 months since I finished The Eternity Key and I will admit that I had trouble remembering things about the characters. Yet Despain continually mentioned events and people from the first two books, and as I pushed through I began to remember the important pieces. This was an enjoyable read, but definitely not a book a reader would want to pick up without starting at the beginning.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: Every Hidden Thing

Every Hidden Thing Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Samuel Bolt is great with bones. He should be since his father is an archaeologist and has included him on many digs and lectures. Their next task is to go into the Badlands and try and find the skeleton of the largest dinosaur found to date. If they find the “rex,” Samuel’s father will be put in the history books. Unfortunately, Samuel and his father aren’t alone. There is another team lead by Rachel Cartland’s father and they have a bigger team and a larger budget. These two begin as passing acquaintances, but quickly learn that a friendship can reap many benefits. Will either team be able to uncover the location of this massive beast? Will this new friendship survive their controlling fathers?

Ever Hidden Thing is a stand-alone historical fiction tale with just a touch of romance. I found the science of archaeology fascinating, yet it wasn’t overdone and complicated. Even readers who have no interest in science will be able to enjoy this adventure. Oppel has taken real people and weaved a fantastic story that may have happened. I highly recommend this book to just about anyone who wants to escape today’s world into another time.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: The Ghost in the Machine

The Ghost in the Machine The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Morag Chen has met the Architects and everyone is wondering who these beautiful creatures really are. Could they be ancient gods or aliens wanting to take over Earth? Why have they taken over Daniel’s mind? Ghost in the Machine is the second book in the Babel Trilogy. Morag is the narrator this time and she continues the story that Daniel told readers in The Fire Seekers. Morag is continually uncovering hidden truths and constantly needs to reevaluate what she knew about human history. The pages almost turn themselves as the story rolls towards the ending.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Stealing Snow

Stealing Snow Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Snow has been at the Whittaker Institute since she attempted to walk through a mirror after reading a Wonderland book. The Institute is a high security hospital that controls their patients with a variety of medicinal cocktails. Snow has never thought herself crazy and when a new orderly suggests there is more to her past, she uses her friend Bale to escape. Once she reaches the woods, she discovers that nothing is as it seems and the line between truth and fiction can be hard to see. How many secrets will Snow need to uncover before she is finished? Is there anyone she can trust?

Stealing Snow is the first book in a series by the same title. The premise is promising and I was hoping for an excellent read, but the actual experience was lacking and disappointing. The constant twists and turns were not entertaining and I found myself rolling my eyes constantly. I will probably give the second book a try, but if it ends up being disappointing, I will have to stop there.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Review: The Reader

The Reader The Reader by Traci Chee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sefia has been on the run with her aunt Nin since her father was killed many years ago. She knows there are people after her (and what she hides in her satchel), but when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia ends up by herself and she must use everything her aunt taught her to discover where she has been taken. She quickly learns that the object she has been hiding is a book. It is extraordinary since the society as a whole is completely illiterate. Sefia must decipher the secrets in the book and accept the help of a mysterious stranger in order to save her aunt and uncover the truth about the day her father was killed.

The Reader is the first book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series. The story moves along nicely and the world building is thorough without being distracting. The many adventures of Sefia and her companions give the reader little nuggets about Sefia and the society around her, yet I kept finding my mind wondering and needing to revisit sections to get back on track. An enjoyable book for those who like to read about alternate worlds that hint at being more.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Review: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sungju believes he has a normal life in North Korea. The government has taken care of his needs and his family is comfortable. They are comfortable until his father displeases the government. Now his family is sent out of the city and into a small village where the government does not give support and everyone must fend for themselves. First his father leaves in search for food, then his mother. Left alone, Sungju creates a gang and they travel the countryside stealing what they can and fighting for survival.

Every Falling Star is a memoir geared toward teens and other young readers. Although the events that Sungju survived are not unique to him, they are not the norm for those who have grown up in the United States. In a culture that believes satisfaction should be instant and everyone is entitled to their every desire, this eye opening memoir may be just the nudge for young readers to realize just how good they have it. Unfortunately, many teens won’t pick this up unless they are encouraged by teachers, librarians and other adults.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Review: Runners and Riders

Runners and Riders Runners and Riders by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Juliet may not have been rich in her seaside town, but she was happy. After her father unexpectedly receives an inheritance, they move away to New Addison City where she is expected to adjust and become a socialite. Thank goodness Juliet knows one person in New Addison City … or should she be. Her new friend introduces her to a gang called the Runners and she is doing everything she can to fit in. Juliet believes what she does is harmless, but as her tasks become more sinister, she begins to question how dark the motives of the Runners really run.

Runners and Riders is book 2.5 in the Treasure Chronicles series. The number is deceptive in that it is not a novella like many in between stories. This is a full length novel that could be enjoyed on its own merit since it is mainly the world building that has been pulled from the Treasure Chronicles first two books. The two gangs (the Runners and the Riders) give the reader some extra intrigue and side stories as a distraction along the way. Mierek has created another enjoyable adventure story that has a splash of romance without getting hot and heavy.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: Ghostly Echoes

Ghostly Echoes Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jenny has been practicing possessing Abigail in order to make it possible to leave the house. During their early sessions, Abigail discovers that while she is possessed, she is privy to some of Jenny’s memories. Jenny wants nothing more than to solve her own murder and she convinces the unusual Jackaby to open the cold case. Where to start? With the disappearance of Jenny’s fiancé, who hasn’t been seen since the night Jenny was killed. Is there a connection between a new murder and Jenny’s? How deep can a conspiracy get?

Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series. Abigail and Jackaby have developed an odd working relationship that becomes more obscure as additional cases are solved. Although everything takes place in nineteenth century New England, readers will have no problem following the cast of characters on their adventures. Readers who jump straight into this story will be able to enjoy it on its own merit, but those who have read the first two books will have a greater appreciation of developing bonds. A fun read that does not show any signs of an ending series.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Leave Me

Leave Me Leave Me by Gayle Forman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maribeth is a busy wife and mother of twins. She is extended in multiple directions and isn’t even aware that she is having a heart attack until she is post-surgery. Now all she needs is me-time to focus on recuperation, but her husband and twins don’t seem to understand that she is nowhere near 100%. Maribeth does the unexpected. She withdraws $25,000 from her savings account, packs a bag and leaves. She is now able to focus on herself, make new friends and learns that there are some secrets she was even hiding from herself.

Leave Me is a stand-alone novel that left me with mixed emotions. The first portion of the book did not pull me in. I continued on because I had agreed to review it, but I kept thinking this lady needed to get a backbone. Once she left her family, though, the story was much improved and I was glad that I continued on. This is an adult character with adult problems, but it is appropriate enough for teens who enjoyed Forman’s other books.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex is the most powerful bruja that has been born in recent generations, yet she hates to use magic and would love to give it up. It is time for her Deathday celebration where she will come into her power, but she tries to perform a spell to remove her power and sends all her family into another realm. Alex is now stuck with a brujo boy named Nova. She knows she can’t trust him, but he is the only link to magic she has to work with. Nova and Alex go to Los Lagos, an in-between realm, where their goal is get her family back to the living realm.

Labyrinth Lost is the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas series. The overall story is not extremely complex and readers will enjoy the magical storyline based on South American legends. Córdova’s characters are varied, but not too deep. In the end, I found the tale passably good, but not a drop everything to finish novel. This would make a good in-between book after finishing a longer or tougher novel.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Elite

Elite Elite by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joy seems to have adjusted well to her new duties within the Elite; she has even made a few friends. Her uncle has recently given her a covert assignment looking for monsters inside the storm sews that run under Apex Central. She was given this assignment because she has the largest pack of hounds and can fight off more monsters that an average hunter. Unfortunately Joy finds a new type of monster that needs to be fought and a dead Psimon without any apparent injuries. This has made Joy of interest to PsiCorp, and now she has one more thing to look out for. Can Joy uncover the mysteries under the city and keep its residents safe? Will the answers have additional consequences for Apex City?

Elite is the second book in the Hunter series. Joy’s adventures continue quickly and readers should have no issue jumping into this continuation. Inside these pages, readers will find adventure, combat, social intrigue and a little bit of romance. Endorphins are kept high as the pages move along and readers will easily loose themselves in the storyline. Lackey has so many secrets woven inside this world that they obviously could not all be uncovered in this second volume, but that makes it even better since readers will be aching for the third book. Not many second books keep me as excited for a series as this book. A great read, but please read the first book before jumping into this one.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review: Naked '76

Naked '76 Naked '76 by Kevin Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lili Garcia was content playing the piano, but when an opportunity to play bass for a newly forming band appeared, she jumped at the chance to learn the new instrument. This new punk band takes off and with the addition of a new guitarist they begin to make it big. Unfortunately, Billy the Kid has secrets he only partly shares with Lili and while trying to understand William, she also is looking within to decide what she really wants.

Naked ’76 is a stand-alone historical fiction novel that will entice the reader with a realistic storyline while throwing the history of English Punk Rock into the mix. The band members’ rocky associations leave them always on the verge of imploding, yet Brooks’ tale keeps readers going along the way. The book was enjoyable and worth the read, but I finished the book feeling like something was left out. Even though I feel something is missing, I still think it is a good read for those who like realistic fiction and/or historical fiction.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: The Giant

The Giant The Giant by Lex Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Readers learned a lot about The Loners in the first Quarantine book, yet Gonzalo was seen in the periphery and readers were not able to grasp the depth inside this large young man. Before that fateful scene when The Loners stood up against The Varsity, Gonzalo lived with a gang of thieves inside the ductwork of McKinley High School. During his short time with this band of misfits, he falls in love with a girl named Sasha, but he is destined for a great size and soon becomes too large to fit inside their secret passages. Gonzalo is now outside of McKinley High, but he is unwilling to leave the infected zone. He will do everything in his power to find and reunite with his girlfriend Sasha. Is Sasha even alive still? What turmoil will Gonzalo have to wade through to find out his answers?

The Giant is the fourth book in the Quarantine series. It is composed of two intertwined stories that were a little confusing at the start, but once readers understand that the first story is Gonzalo during the first book and the second story is outside the high school, the alternating storylines become easier to adjust to. Unfortunately, readers who finished The Burnouts with unanswered questions about the overall fate of the infected will still have to fill in the gaps with their own guesses. Thomas has opened up the possibility of additional companion books in this world where chaos seems to rule.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Gone Wild

Gone Wild Gone Wild by Jodi Lundgren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Seth has just found out that he won’t be able to discover the identity of his birth mother until he is nineteen years old. Those three years seem like an unachievable obstacle when presented alongside his adoptive mother’s mean spirited boyfriend. Brooke has been rebelling against everything her mother is trying to control and her rebellion has led her to the realization that it has been six weeks since her last period. Both teens decide to hike into the wilderness on Vancouver Island and due to complications neither person planned for, they find themselves needing to work together in order to make it out alive.

Gone Wild is a rapid read jammed packed with wilderness survival and teen turmoil. Both characters will be tasked with setting aside what they feel is their problem in order to assist the other with a more pressing issue. Although the book itself does not have much substance (I read it in two hours), for teens that are reluctant to pick up a lengthy book, this just might be what the librarian will recommend. Gone Wild was a pleasant escape with a slight tear jerking moment at the end.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: Three Sisters, Three Queens

Three Sisters, Three Queens Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Margaret may be the oldest Tudor princess, but when Katherine of Aragon is brought to court to marry Prince Arthur, Margaret realizes that she has a new rival as well as a new sister. With her younger sister Mary, these three sisters will become three queens: Katherine the Queen of England, Margaret the Queen of Scotland and Mary the Queen of France. Through a series of treaties, promises and betrayals, the sisters must continue to rely on their family connections in order to secure their own authority and the possibility to rule.

Three Sisters, Three Queens is the newest addition to The Tudor Court series. Although Henry and his torrid escapades are woven into this storyline, he is in the periphery with the primary story being the little known adventures of Queen Margaret of Scotland. The passages flow quickly and I wanted to know more. I will admit that about three quarters of the way through I went online to read a little more about Margaret, but overall readers can enjoy this book for the historical fiction it is. A great read whether you are reading it in the order of publication or the order according to history.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review: Soldier

Soldier Soldier by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ember Hill is standing behind her decision to be a rogue dragon and now she and Riley are on the run and trying to uncover the deepest and darkest secrets about Talon. She misses her twin brother, Dante, but since he chose to stay with Talon there seems to be no other choice. Garret, the human soldier that started Ember questioning her beliefs, is secretly watching the Order of St. George and has now discovered secrets that will rattle the views of dragons and dragonslayers around the world. Will either order survive the turmoil that has been set in motion? Will Ember need to choose between Garret and Riley for her heart’s desire?

Soldier is the third book in the Talon series. Events pick up shortly after the conclusion of Rogue and readers will not be able to get the full experience unless they have read the first two books. Kagawa has a few mental clues interspersed within the storyline to help returning readers and they were enough for me to jar free the feelings I kept from a year ago. The action is intense and the emotional rollercoaster is plausible as Ember struggles between her human emotions and her dragon instincts. A great continuation and I will be looking forward to the fourth book when it is released.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lia and Rafe have survived the recent battles, but the war is not yet over. They both have a kingdom in desperate need of a strong ruler and neither is willing to give up the needs of their own kingdom in order to be with the other person. Will either kingdom endure to sustain another generation? Will Lia and Rafe be able to truly express their love for each other?

The Beauty of Darkness is the third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles. Readers who have not taken the time to read the first two books may be a little confused with some of the conversations, but overall this story can still be enjoyed by itself. Pearson’s interwoven stories are easily followed even as the narrator changes between Lia and Rafe. Readers will experience action, intrigue and a dash of romance in this fast paced book. A good ending that will leave most readers satisfied.

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nikki Baylor had a party at her house and did not stop her friend from posting pictures of a classmate in a compromising situation. To make matters worse, the friend used Nikki’s Facebook account to post the photos and now Nikki has been expelled because of this cyber bullying incident. Nikki has lost her friends and the trust of her parents; she must now go to a new school and decide who she will become. After meeting Pax, a wheelchair bound boy who will not let his disability stop him from playing rugby, she discovers that other people know what it is like to have one bad decision make a mess of their life. Will Nikki get a second chance with a new set of friends? Can she heal the broken relationship with her parents?

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is a stand-alone realistic story that is timely and plausible. Cozzo has developed a cast of characters that are relatable and representative of teens everywhere. The storyline progresses naturally and there are no unnatural revelations that will leave the reader thinking “really?” The novel itself is short and even a reluctant reader will be able to enjoy and finish this tale. Although the main character is female, Pax’s supporting character will have male readers also finding satisfaction with this book.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review: The Gilded Cage

The Gilded Cage The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Katherine Randolph had a simple life on her Virginia farm until a grandfather she never knew passed away and she discovered that her brother and she were his heirs. Katherine travels to Walthingham Hall as Lady Katherine and must learn as quickly as she can what she must do now that she is part of the English upper-class. When her brother drowns and she is forced into the role of sole heiress, she refuses to accept the notion that it was an accident. Was her brother’s death a willful act of murder? Is her life also in jeopardy?

The Gilded Cage is an historical fiction story that sounds better than it actually is. There were many parts of the story where I found my mind wandering and I was forced to back up and re-read in order to move on with the tale. The book is short and can be completed quickly, so readers who want to give it a try won’t have to decide mid book if they want to finish. Even though my mind did not want to stay focused on the events, the ending was good and I was happy I took the time to finish. This would be a good supplemental read between some larger books.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: The Memory Book

The Memory Book The Memory Book by Lara Avery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sammie has always been bright and hard working. She is in the running for valedictorian, has been accepted into her first choice for college and plans to leave her small town and make something of herself. When she is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that is taking away her memories and quickly shortening her lifespan, she is determined to beat the disease. Out of her determination comes the Memory Book. Sammie makes notes to her future self with the goal of nudging memories and helping to keep her focused. Will these memories be enough?

The Memory Book is a stand-alone realistic fiction novel that will snatch reader’s attention from the beginning. The events are given as journal entries with additional nuggets included as extra posts from family and friends. Readers may find themselves torn with the knowledge of first crush and first love alongside Sammie. Avery has created an emotional rollercoaster that will leave the reader with a variety of feelings along the way. A must read that will appeal to male and female readers alike.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Girl in the Shadows

Girl in the Shadows Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Moira has wanted nothing less than to become a stage magician like her father. Unfortunately, her father wants her to go to college and not think twice about magic shows. When an invitation to audition for the Cirque American mysteriously falls in her path, she takes the opportunity to try out all her secret magician tricks and become a great female magician. Moira is good, but when her stage magic begins to feel like real magic, she is thrust into a world that only few have experienced. Will Moira be able to take control of this newly found power? Does she have what it takes to become a great magician?

Girl in the Shadows is the second book in the Girl on a Wire series. Although this is a direct sequel to the first story, some may consider it a companion book since the main characters from the first book are only supporting characters in this tale. Because of this difference, readers who have not read the first book will be able to thoroughly enjoy this second book and most will be enticed to go back and read the first one, if they haven’t already. Bond has taken the little known world of the traveling circus and fashioned a story that is quickly devoured. A great escape read and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Review: Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Roach takes the topics that many modern soldiers must deal with and presents them in a way that even a civilian can understand. She spends time with scientists who are investigating panic, sleep deprivation, loud noises and even diarrhea. These scientists have made it their mission to discover the limits of their specialty and also devise ways to assist military personnel in many extreme situations. It doesn’t matter if the focus is underwear or stink bombs, Roach is willing to explore any topic and has presented a book that will keep readers thinking about a subject even after the book has moved on to another. Grunt is a great non-fiction distraction that can be read one chapter at a time or in one sitting.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: And I Darken

And I Darken And I Darken by Kiersten White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lada Dragwlya is strong and vicious, but she is not a boy. She hopes that if she continues to be fierce and feared, her father will show her the attention she would have received as a son. Unfortunately, Lada and her brother Radu are sent as hostages to the Ottoman courts and they must learn to survive in a land not their own with the hope to return to Transylvania someday. Lada hates the Ottomans and is looking for an opportunity to get retribution and return to her own land, but when Mehmed, the sultan’s heir, becomes a friend, she is forced to question where her true heart’s love will lead her.

And I Darken is the first book in The Conquerors Saga. This dark historical fiction tale is full of intrigue and deception. Although White does not spend a great deal of time explaining this turbulent time period in history, readers will be able to understand the sweeping story and vast history that surrounds these characters. There is a lot of fighting and great deal of back room romance, yet the overall story is still appropriate for the youngest YA readers. This first stage in the saga is wrapped up to a point without a cliff hanger, yet White leaves the reader with a hint of what may come in the next adventure.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Review: Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finley has tried really hard to drown out the voices of the people only she can see by riding her motorcycle and getting another tattoo. After it seems that nothing can make the voices go away, she moves to The Hollows, New York to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother is a famous psychic, and Finley hopes that she will be able to teach her to at least quiet the voices. After a while her grandmother encourages her to help a mother try and locate her missing daughter. Finley hears and feels something, but she is so new in her training she is unsure how to use her gift to find Abbey. Will Finley unravel all the voices and signals to discover the truth about Abbey’s disappearance?

Ink and Bone is a stand-alone thriller that will quickly pull readers in and keep them turning pages constantly. Unger created a few storylines that are loosely connected and slowly pulls the threads tighter together until it is one continuous story. Readers will uncover the many secrets hidden inside The Hollows alongside Finley and most readers will need to wait until the big reveal to know who the real villain is. A great read that will be an enjoyable escape.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Gifted

Gifted Gifted by H.A. Swain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been years since geniuses and prodigies have been born. Because of the Acquired Savant Abilities (ASA) procedure, the people who can afford it become great without all of the hard work of previous generations. Zimri is a natural when it comes to music, but she is only a “plebe” that works in a warehouse that supplies items through an on-line market. Even though she works a lot of hours and must help take care of her ailing grandmother, she cannot stop herself from making music. Then Zimri meets Orpheus and everything she thought she knew about music is turned upside down.

Gifted is a science fiction thriller that will have the reader thinking about many different topics. Swain unpacks social function with a copyright twist and weaves in a love story for added flair. The action moves along steadily and readers will find the pages almost turning on their own. Although the story itself is very complete, Swain has developed a world that will easily leave openings for a continuation of the story or companion books.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: The King Slayer

The King Slayer The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Grey is being hidden by the witches and wizards she used to hunt and is now being hunted herself by Lord Blackwell, the new king of Anglia. As she tries to come to terms with the loss of her stigma, a magical form of healing, she must relearn how to fight in order to protect herself and those around her. Will Elizabeth do what it takes to remove Lord Blackwell from power and return the rightful king to his throne? Is there anything she won’t do to save the people she loves?

The King Slayer is the second book in The Witch Hunter series. Boecker spends a substantial amount of pages at the beginning of the book nudging the reader’s memory about events from the first story. The tidbits of information were enough to get me going, yet were not too many to be annoying. Readers who start with the second book won’t have a problem jumping into the storyline. This fantasy novel is full of action and intrigue which will make readers of Graceling and Throne of Glass excited for a new adventure.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: The Leaving

The Leaving The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a troubling day when six kindergarteners got on a bus and disappeared. It has been eleven years and now five of the children have returned. They are sixteen years old and seem to be fine, except they cannot remember anything from the past eleven years. As the five try to come to terms with their missing memories and clues they seem to have left for themselves, they also want to know about the missing sixth boy and why Max didn’t return with them. Is Max dead or alive? Why were they taken and will they get their memories back?

The Leaving is a jam packed thriller that lets the reader slowly discover the truth along with the characters. Readers will begin to question the roll memories have in forming a person’s personality and if memories can be removed or shaped by another’s hand. As a stand-alone novel the climax gives the reader a satisfying ending without feeling forced or artificial. A good escape read that will keep readers turning the pages all the way through.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: The Long Game

The Long Game The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tess is known for fixing problems, and when a friend asks her to run her campaign for class president she accepts the challenge. Unfortunately, this private school in Washington D.C. is filled with the children of the political elite and no secret is completely safe, even if it is just a high school election. Is Tess willing to go nose to nose with some adults in her life? Is a recent terrorist attack connected to mysterious meetings she has stumbled upon?

The Long Game is the second book in The Fixer series. The mystery is new and the characters are refreshed, so if a reader jumps into the second book without the first they would be fine. With that said, Barnes does reference a few events from the first book that may cause a late arriving reader to want to backtrack. There are several twists and turns, but no shockers and no cliff hangers. An enjoyable read for those who enjoy Ally Carter or just like a strong female lead.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review: Places No One Knows

Places No One Knows Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Waverly loves to run. It stops her mind and forces her to concentrate on one thing. When she isn’t running, she must deal with her boring classes, her role in student government and her fellow classmates who are not always nice. Marshall is bright, yet lazy. He tries to dull his feelings with booze and drugs, and now there is a chance he won’t even graduate. Then during one of Waverly’s dreams, she finds herself in Marshall’s bedroom and she begins to question her waking actions too. Is she really visiting Marshall while she sleeps? Will Waverly take a chance during her waking hours on a boy who is so set on destroying himself?

Places No One Knows is a stand-alone novel with a hint of the supernatural. Readers experience the story through two points of view and slowly unravel events as each main character progresses on their own journey. As their stories twist together, each character learns more about themselves and others around them, yet no profound and startling truths are available for the reader. Yovanoff has created a story that is easily enjoyed, but quickly cast aside when finished.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Finding Flynn

Finding Flynn Finding Flynn by Alexandria Bishop
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ashtyn is ready for a great family vacation, but when she arrives at their destination her mother breaks the news that it will be just them. Not only will her father and sister be staying at home, her parents are getting a divorce and her mother wants her to stay in Oregon after the summer ends. What has quickly become the worst summer of her life begins to turn around when she meets Flynn at the local pub and they hit it off. Although neither of them are looking for a relationship, their instant connection pulls them together and they begin to spend more and more time together. But Flynn is keeping a secret from everyone, including Ashtyn.

Finding Flynn is the first book in the Marlowe series. This new adult romance novel has a great story and it kept me wanting to read, but the beginning and ending had some sexual scenes that were a distraction and a large turn off for me. Bishop could have made this book enjoyable without such graphic pieces in the story. Readers know that New Adult is edgier than Young Adult, but this edginess seemed forced and unnecessary. If readers want (or can get past) these two small sections, then the book itself is well worth the escape it is meant to be.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: The Vanishing Throne

The Vanishing Throne The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aileana awakens in the fae world and discovers that she has been held captive by Lonnrach and tortured for her memories. With the help of a surprising friend, she returns to the human world only to discover that three years have passed and that everywhere she held dear had been destroyed. Some humans did survive and they are now living a shell of a life with the threat of another war looming over their truce. Aileana might be able to save both worlds, but only if she can figure out how to come into her full powers. What will Aileana risk in order to save her people? Will it be enough to save both worlds?

The Vanishing Throne is the second book in The Falconer series. Events begin shortly after the conclusion of the first book, yet May has included memory nudges to remind readers about the earlier trials. Although the book reads quickly, the story is not short and readers will feel satisfaction with the path the characters have taken. This book has a lot to be desired: action, adventure, romance and fae lore are interwoven to make a great second book and continuation of a series.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Leaving Blythe River: A Novel

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ethan’s life is turned upside down when his mother sends him to live with his father near the Blythe River National Wilderness. Although he is seventeen years old, he is very small for his age and had recently undergone a mugging in New York City. Ethan is in the middle of nowhere and has only met a couple of neighbors when his father goes missing during a run in the wilderness. The rangers stop the search and rescue after just a couple of days, but Ethan cannot shake the feeling that his father is hurt and alive, waiting for rescue. Will Ethan and his new neighbors be able to do what the rangers could not?

Leaving Blythe River is a coming of age story with a wonderful adventure weaved within. Hyde has created a tale that slowly pulls the reader in until they understand that there is no escape except to finish. The ending gives the reader satisfaction without feeling forced and the pages seem to turn themselves as each character is unpacked and their strengths begin to complement the weaknesses of the others. A great read that should be added to everyone’s TBR list.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Every Exquisite Thing

Every Exquisite Thing Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nanette has always done what was expected of her. She got good grades, she was college bound with a chance for a soccer scholarship and she had lots of friends. Then a teacher gave her a very well read copy of The Bubblegum Reaper because he believed she was a kindred spirit and would appreciate the nuances. Even though the book had been out of print for years, the story hit her at her core and sparked a rebellion that no one could have foreseen. Will Nanette ever discover the true ending of the book? What truths about herself will she find out along the way?

Every Exquisite Thing is a coming of age story that everyone can relate to. Quick addresses bulling, social pressure, depression and peer acceptance, without causing the reader to feel as if a lesson is being presented. So many of the characters become obsessed about The Bubblegum Reaper that it will be likely that readers will investigate if it is a real novel. Although that novel is only real inside this story, other strong books are mentioned by the characters and I hope that readers look for them. This was a great read that is easy to devour and readers will be satisfied with this ending, even if Nanette was not satisfied with the ending of The Bubblegum Reaper.

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