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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Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gottie believes she is spontaneously traveling through time. She has traveled to last summer when her grandfather died … to the wonderful afternoon she fell in love with Jason … and also to the day her best friend moved away. Gottie is trying to figure out if she is really traveling through time or if she is losing her mind. Can she mathematically unravel what is going on around her?

The Square Root of Summer is a quirky story that brings together romance, science fiction and theoretical mathematics. Readers will quickly try and stay one step ahead of Gottie as she attempts to use information from fiction and non-fiction sources to discover what is happening to her. Hapgood is able to create a gaggle of characters that are slowly revealed to be broader and deeper than the reader originally perceived. This is a good read for those who don’t normally like science fiction, but would like to try their minds on something else.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: The Girl I Used to Be

The Girl I Used to Be The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been fourteen years since Olivia’s mother was killed by her father, or so she thought. After a human jawbone was found and identified as being her father’s, she can’t stop the curiosity fliting around in her mind about the real killer. Olivia leaves her apartment and moves into the house she inherited from her grandmother in order to be near the people who were close to her parents. Can she keep her identity secret from the true murderer? What will she learn about her family and their friends along the way?

The Girl I Used to Be is a mystery and thriller all rolled into one fast paced story. The majority of the book will have readers turning pages and making their own assumptions about the other characters, but the actual revelation of the killer’s identity came too quickly and wrapped up too neatly. Henry should have made the book just a little bit longer to give the ending more depth. A good read that will please those who have read some of her other novels.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: Whisper to Me

Whisper to Me Whisper to Me by Nick Lake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cassie has a secret that she has been keeping from the boy she is falling for. Cassie has survived a couple of traumatic experiences and she now hears the voice of a woman telling her what to do. Is this voice a murder victim? Will the voice go away if she finds the murder? Through a letter to the guy she had to push away, she recounts the events of the past summer and the turmoil surrounding her life.

Whisper to Me is a coming of age story that will lead readers into a murder mystery along the way. The account to given in the form of a very long letter, so the casual tone makes for a page turning read. Cassie does not like to use swear words and she uses **** and other symbols to replace words and topics in the story. Although the format of the story rambles and wanders at times, once the reader understands that the narrator is mentally unstable, it just becomes a quirk of the tale and it adds to the uniqueness. Readers of Lake’s other stories will find a pleasing escape from all the series fiction that is constantly being published in the young adult novel world.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Review: Summer of Sloane

Summer of Sloane Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sloane is thinking about the summer she will be spending with her mother in Hawaii when she is confronted with the fact that her best friend slept with her boyfriend (TWICE!) and is now pregnant. She reacts in anger with the result that she broke her hand and her now ex-boyfriend’s nose. Sloane leaves the drama behind with the hope that Hawaii will be the escape that she is looking for. Hawaii provides Sloane friends, bonfires at the beach, a waterproof cast and a great looking guy, Finn. Will she ever forgive her friend and ex-boyfriend? Will Hawaii and everything it provides be the salve to soothe her aching heart?

Summer of Sloane is a stand-alone novel full of teen drama and romance. Readers quickly feel Sloan’s heartbreak and begin to hope that she can find love and trust in her life again. Summer in Hawaii may be beyond most reader’s experiences, yet Schneider creates a story that is easy to lose oneself in even though it is past our own understanding. The pages turn quickly and the summer ends before the book is complete. Readers won’t be disappointed in the decisions made by this feisty leading lady.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Wild Swans

Wild Swans Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ivy has lived her life surround by the legacy of extraordinary women. The women in her family have done very special things, but have also died young. Ivy believes that this curse is the reason her mother left her with Granddad and never came back. He has spent the years helping her find her gift, but this summer will be different. Ivy is planning to spend it with her best friend doing senior year stuff, not taking classes or exploring her hidden gifts. That is the plan until her mother returns with two daughters and Ivy must face the mystery of her mother and the unexpected sibling issues that arrive with her.

Wild Swans is a stand-alone realistic fiction story that will please many tastes. Readers will explore sibling rivalry, parental detachment and a first real romance all in one easily devoured tale. Spotswood has created a protagonist that most girls can relate to and it will be easy to forget that this is not happening to someone we actually know. This is a short and quick escape read that will satisfy even when readers don’t want it to end.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review: The Art of Not Breathing

The Art of Not Breathing The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is approaching Elsie’s sixteenth birthday and also the five year anniversary of the death of her twin brother. She only remembers flashes about what happened that fateful day, but nightmares she has been experiencing are becoming more vivid and are jarring her memories along the way. As Elsie begins to understand the truths about Eddie’s death, she is also drawn to Tay, a boy who has recently returned to her small town. Can Elsie discover the answers to her missing memories? Will her family be able to cope with the truth?

The Art of Not Breathing is a coming of age story that many can relate to, but includes story elements that most readers will never have to deal with. The chapters vary from very short to moderate in length. The variety will cause the reader to believe they are moving through the pages quickly, no matter what their reading speed really is. It is unlikely that readers will discover the truth before Elsie and this almost surprise ending will satisfy a reader’s taste for mystery too.

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Review: Anything You Want

Anything You Want Anything You Want by Geoff Herbach
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Taco is trying to adjust to his mother dying of cancer and his father moving north to find work, but he has always been told ͞Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better.͟ He continues to believe this fact, even when he discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant and he must decide between becoming a responsible parent and enjoying the end of his high school time. As Taco tries to uncover what being a good dad means and pass his calculus class, he is being pressured by Maggie’s parents to step aside and let them make the decisions about the baby.

Anything You Want is a realistic fiction story that will leave readers wanting more about the story. It is a very quick read, yet that isn’t a good thing for this book. Herbach’s story would have been better with  more story development and less formulaic teen drama. Everything fell in place and all issues were resolved neatly, yet readers know that not everything can be that neat and clean. An OK read for fans of Herbach and an acceptable read if no other pressing titles are quickly available.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic

Bright Blaze of Magic Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lila is good at what she does. She can sneak into any location and take away items and secrets without being caught. Her newest task is to steal an arsenal of black blades without Victor Draconi realizing they are missing. Lila knows that Victor wants to eliminate the Sinclair line and reassert his family’s dominance over all of the magical mob families, what she doesn’t know is how far he is willing to take it. Can Lila and her friends overcome all the magic Victor has been stealing from monsters? In the end, which family will come out on top?

Bright Blaze of Magic is the third book in the Black Blade series. Readers will need to reach nearly the end to discover the results of this long lasting feud and this could be the end of the series. Yet Estep has created a world that is so diverse that it wouldn’t be hard to create more stories or a spin off series. The action is intense and the magic is thrown about without thought and both of these components make for a fantastic read. If more books are written, I will definitely be looking to add them to my TBR list.

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