Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas, 384 Pages

First and foremost- I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

I LOVED this book. I’ve been on a YA binge lately, and Kara’s books do not disappoint. The Cheerleaders is intriguing from the beginning, and doesn’t leave you waiting for the hair-raising, thrilling moments. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, and was entirely not what I expected. This is definitely another YA novel I’ll be recommending to anyone and everyone. 

After multiple horrible tragedies that took place 5 years ago, the cheerleading squad no longer exists. Still searching for clues, and not entirely believing the story of what took place that night, Monica Rayburn finds her dead sister’s phone in her stepfather’s desk. Jen’s phone contains starting information, including the phone number of the person Jen spoke to right before she killed herself. Unable to turn to her family, who basically refuses to speak about any of the deaths, especially Jen’s... Monica is forced to dig deep into the past on her own, and what she discovers is equally horrifying and life-changing.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, 342 pages

"Before We Were Yours" has been on my to-be-read list for quite a while and I am so happy that I finally got to it.  This is a fictionalized account of a family of seven children who were victims of the Tennessee Children's Home Society.  The society was real and was supposed to be a wonderful system of orphanages for children, when in fact, it was a horrible place that stole children and sold them for profit.

This is one of those books that I occasionally had to put down because I just needed a break from the heartbreak.  It was also one of those books I struggled to put down because it was such a well-written and compelling story and I wanted to know what happened next.

This one definitely puts the reader through the ringer but it is so worth it.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman, 432 pages

Swedish author Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors.  He tends to write sweet tales about eccentric characters who find love and validation through friends.  That is not this book.

Beartown is a dying town deep in a forest and they have one point of pride - the hockey club and its various teams.  Something bad happens to someone and the aftermath threatens to destroy the club and the town.

Yowza, this was brutal and powerful.  Racism, rape, bullying and peer pressure are all explored.  I loved this in a whole different way from my normal awe of Fredrik Backman.   There is now a follow-up to this book, "Us Against You."  Ohh, can't wait!

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 219 pages

2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of the classic book Frankenstein and it is on the PBS "Great American Reads" list.  I figured it was a great time to read this classic book for the first time.

Many people, including some of the librarians I work with, love Frankenstein and their encouragement helped me finish it.  I mostly wanted to thump Victor Frankenstein on the noggin throughout the book and tell him any problems that arose in his life were indeed his fault because he panicked and couldn't love what he created.

Didn't enjoy it, but glad I read it.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Noir : a novel by Christopher Moore 339 pages

Thank you, Chris, for finally writing another book!  I know I shouldn't get frustrated, but when you go too long without publishing, I get edgy.  I need my fix! 

One thing I love about Moore's works are that they (especially the last 5 or so) are so wildly different subjects, but still deliciously his writing.  He writes paragraphs you want to chew for a while.  This was a foray into post WWII San Francisco, with night clubs, sassy dames, racial issues, and - oh, yeah - a government cover-up of the existence of aliens.  If you love 30s and 40s-style noir and really appreciate a well-turned phrase, don't pass this one up! 

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake 310 pages

I am so happy that there are several books coming out for middle graders that offer realistic looks at what it is like to be LGBTQ.  This is one of the best books yet that I've read.  It was sensitive, and didn't ever have a heavy hand.  It literally just followed a young girl as she tried to sort out why and how she was different.  More than anything it allows young people to understand two things: 1) it's okay to be different and 2) it's okay to not have all the answers.  This story was filled with warmth and characters that you really won't be able to help but love and want the best for them.  I highly recommend it to everyone 8 years+  without reservation. 

#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David and Lauren Hogg, 165 Pages

I saw this in a magazine of upcoming releases and knew that it would be a difficult one to read, but decided to attempt it. #NeverAgain is written by David and Lauren Hogg, siblings who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The writing isn't fantastic, but I think that is to be expected when it was written by two teenagers who are dealing with unimaginable amounts of grief. The book hits on the tragedy that unfolded MSD, and also talks about the #NeverAgain movement that began after. I found it interesting to read it from their point of view, because it showed that not everything you see in the media is true.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens, 415 Pages

This book was intense. There is a lot of domestic violence, which is extremely difficult to read about. Besides the difficult topics, I found this to be a really good read. I changed my mind quite a few times on what I thought was going to happen, and still was shocked by the ending!

Over a decade ago, Lindsey is forced to flee in the middle of the night from her husband, Andrew. As the night goes on, Andrew is sent to jail, giving Lindsey the chance to start over with her young daughter, Sophie. But, upon Andrew's release from jail, Lindsey's life is once again in jeopardy, as she is sure that her ex-husband has tracked her down. Multiple things begin happening, including her home being broken into, and her new boyfriend being assaulted. Lindsey is almost positive that Andrew is behind all of this, while he claims that he has changed.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas, 329 pages

I'm currently waiting for a new release to come out written by Kara Thomas, so I thought I would check out this one and see if I like her writing. I used to really love YA books, and am slowly getting back to reading them. This book was compared to the TV show Pretty Little Liars, which was a huge guilty pleasure for me when it was on, so I knew I would love it.

Kacey is forced to move in with her father and his new family, which includes a step-mother, step-brother, and a younger half-sister. Everything about her life is new- new house, new family, new school and new friends. Bailey and Jade are her best friends and everything seems perfect, until they start distancing themselves from her. When they attend the biggest party of the year without her, Kacey is stuck at home wondering what she did to cause the distance between them. Unforunately, before she can get any answers, Bailey goes missing. Everyone turns to Kacey for the answers to their questions, and she realizes she didn't know her best friends as well as she thought she did.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, 288 pages

Tremblay is another one of my favorite authors. I recommend him to anyone who loves a good horror novel. I've been anxiously waiting for this release and it didn't disappoint. This book was truly horrifying.

Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are spending time at their remote cabin. They are miles away from any sort of civilization or cell service, and enjoying the uninterrupted family time. Wen is 7 years old and enjoys exploring outside. While catching grasshoppers in their front yard, a stranger suddenly appears at the end of the driveway. He introduces himself as Leonard, and quickly gains Wen's trust and interest. Everything changes when Leonard looks at her and says, "None of what's going to happen is your fault." Wen notices 3 more strangers quickly approaching, and runs inside to warn her dad's, but not before Leonard tells her that he and the strangers need her family's help saving the world.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris, 336 pages

B. A. Paris has quickly became one of my favorite authors. She is a master of the thriller genre, and I read through her books so quickly. They're all SO good! This new release is no different. While I didn't love it as much as I loved her other books, this was still a great thriller. I was on edge through the entire book and the ending was so wild!

Finn and Layla are young, and crazy in love. Driving home from a vacation in France, they stop at a rest stop. Upon returning to the car, Finn realizes that Layla has seemingly vanished. Ten years later, he is doing his best to move on and start over. Finn is engaged to Layla's sister, Ellen and they live a relatively quiet life, until something from both of their pasts shows up on their doorstep and changes everything.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, 487 pages

"Lilac Girls" is a World War II novel inspired by real people and events.  It tells the story of three women: New Yorker Caroline Ferriday (real person); polish teenager Kasia Kusmerick who was sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp (inspired by a real person); and Dr. Herta Oberheuser (also a real person) who conducted medical experiments on the women of Ravensbruck. 

There are an endless number of stories still to be told about the atrocities, trials, and triumphs related to World War II.  This is a beautiful and sometimes heart wrenching novel that gets the word out about a few more of those stories.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, 384 Pages

This is a new release that I have been SO, SO anxiously waiting to read. I absolutely loved Sager's debut novel, Final Girls, and so I had very high expectations for this follow-up. Luckily, it lived up to said expectations! It was a little slow getting into it, but once I got to the ending, I couldn't put it down.

Fifteen years ago, 13-year-old Emma Davis is away at Camp Nightingale for the first time. She is shown the ropes by 3 older campers- Vivian, Allison and Natalie. Everything changes when Emma wakes up to the girls sneaking out of their cabin in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, this is the last anyone will ever see of the girls. Now, Emma is a successful artist, based in NYC, and gets all of her inspiration from that night at camp. When her exhibit is visited by the camp's former owner, Franny. During the visit, Franny offers Emma something she just can't resist- a chance to return to Camp Nightingale. Franny sees it as a chance to restore the camp's reputation, but Emma sees it as her chance to finally figure out what happened that night. Immediately upon returning, Emma realizes that something isn't right at Camp Nightingale. Between the sinister clues left behind by Vivian, the security camera that seems to only record her cabin, and the lies that quickly come to the surface from basically everyone around her, Emma realizes she's on her own in figuring out what happened fifteen years ago, and seemingly can trust no one.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, 224 Pages

This has been on my To-Read list for a long time. I loved Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore in the show Gilmore Girls, and feel so nostalgic when I watch it because I grew up watching it. Lauren talks a lot about the show and her feelings during it also during the revival, so this is a good read for anyone who loves the show. (Graham was also on Parenthood, I haven't seen that one! She does talk about her time on that show as well.) This was a feel-good read, and a nice break from my usual thriller novels.

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman 460 pages

If you loved Pullman's His Dark Materials series, as I did, you absolutely must read this new series!  It was like putting on your favorite, comfy pajamas jumping back into the rich alternate reality of Lyra's Oxford.  Of course, this is a prequel to the other series, so Lyra is just a baby.  The main character is Malcolm, an industrious boy who helps his parents at their inn, does odd jobs for the nuns nearby and jack-of-all-trades tasks up and down the river.  His trusty canoe, La Belle Sauvage, affords him the luxury of accomplishing this in quick fashion.  Strange folk and rumors are moving through his parents' inn and Malcolm gets absorbed in a dangerous mission to protect the mysterious baby that is being sheltered at the nuns' priory.  

This was an absorbing, beautifully written story and I can't wait for the next one in this series!