Thursday, April 17, 2014

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

We Are the GoldensWe Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for this wonderful, sorrowful look at how quickly two sisters lives will be challenged when one has a secret. Nell is beginning her freshman year in high school and she can’t wait. Her much loved older sister is now a junior, and Nell follows in her footsteps making the soccer team and reveling in her older sister’s glow. Nell tells We Are the Goldens in her voice like she is confiding to her sister, or writing her a long, long letter to be read later; then Layla will really understand all that Nell has been thinking and feeling about her older sister’s distance and silences. Thankfully, Nell is a strong, likable girl with a best friend in Felix de la Cruz with whom she shares “most” of her life ups and downs. It is early on in the school year when Layla doesn’t go to parties (like she used to) and has Nell take part in her lies providing the tension, misgivings, and sadness throughout Nell’s days and nights. When it is revealed that her beautiful older sister is involved with the young, handsome art teacher, Mr. B, Nell really begins to struggle with her loyalty to her sister and this relationship that means the world to Layla. Even though their parents are divorced, Nell and Layla spend time with both parents and their parents are supportive and involved with their daughters. It is when Layla wiggles out of a time honored trip with their mom and grandmother due to “homework” that Nell really has a problem with her sister’s decisions, feelings for Mr. B, and swearing Nell to secrecy about their relationship. I ached for Nell and the loss of her sister’s support and friendship. As the book unfolds and Nell wrestles with loyalty to Layla or exposing her sister, the tension becomes many layered. Nell wants to be Nellaya (one with Layla) with her sister again; what will she do to make their bond whole again? For a riveting, true read, We Are the Goldens provides a commentary on what it means to be loyal to family, sisters, and secrets. I love Dana Reinhart’s books and this is another one of my favorites.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

ScowlerScowler by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, there is something so twisted but absorbing in Daniel Kraus' books. I still think about Rotters and last night I couldn't get back to sleep thinking about Ry, his mom, and little sister, Sarah as Marvin Burke (dad and father) terrorizes his family after escaping from prison. But that is just one small part of this horror story extraordinaire. A meteorite has landed in their yard and Ry needs to call upon his three childhood toys to help him save his family from the sick, twisted, maniac that is his father. I couldn't stop checking the cover as I read the book and the title, Scowler, is Ry's bloodthirsty toy (his doctor says Scowler is really his father)and he is an unbelievable adversary for Ry while the other 2 toys, Mr. Furrington and Jesus Christ are much more normal, caring, and likable. I read this as part of The Hub Challenge and boy am I glad I did, I just didn't like the crazy, scary thoughts keeping me awake:)

View all my reviews

No Place by Todd Strasser

No PlaceNo Place by Todd Strasser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Todd Strasser's book are awesome and No Place will resonate with teens who have unending horrendous daily problems due to parents losing their jobs and then their homes. I really liked Dan who begins the book as a popular jock dating the most popular girl, playing baseball and thinking about college plans. Pretty quickly Dan's life spirals out of control when his parents who have been unemployed for 5 years inform him they have lost their home and are moving into Dignityville. Dignityville is a tent city that houses many who are struggling with homelessness and unemployment. There are residents in the town who see this tent city as a blight on their neighborhood and want it gone permanently. Dan is a solid teen who wants to get a scholarship to college and now finds himself embarrassed and increasingly angry. His life with his parents has always been loving but deep inside, Dan begins to wonder why they have not found jobs and are they really trying hard to find employment? It is a difficult journey for Dan but he has supporters and people like Aubrey, Meg, and Noah who help him keep his perspective and build a future that he can hopefully attain. Another ripped from the headlines books that will really speak to teens and parents.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Torn AwayTorn Away by Jennifer Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and LittleBrown Books for Young Readers! What a riveting and engrossing book about family, finding yourself, and daring to believe after a tornado rips your life apart. Jennifer Brown’s description of the tornado as it affects Jersey Cameron’s life is so riveting. Jersey is a teen who unequivocally loves her mom, tolerates her stepfather, and finds her little sister very annoying. But all that changes when a tornado takes away her home, her mother, and little sister. As Jersey tries to understand why her mother is gone and her little sister, Marin, will never bug her to dance the East Coast Swing together ever again, her stepfather sends her to live with her father, Clay’s family, where she is unwelcome, taunted, and lives on the back porch. What crushes her even more is that Jersey is beginning to learn things about her mother; things she never told her, and things she kept from her. When she can no longer tolerate Clay’s family, she runs. Imagine her surprise when she learns her mother’s parents exist and bring Jersey to live with them. How will Jersey make this transition? Jennifer Brown does a great job building the tension, anger, and abandonment that Jersey constantly feels and while you root for Jersey building a lasting relationship with Grandpa Barry and Grandma Patty; it is the way Jersey hangs tough and does not give up on her hopes that will bring tears to your eyes and a warm place in your heart for her wonderful, simple, loving grandparents.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals (The Naturals, #1)The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, if you love the Barry Lyga books about serial killers, Libba Bray's The Diviners, and Ripper by Stefan Petrucha, Acceleration by Graham McNamee, you will totally love this book!!! The title is great too; the teens who are Naturals can read emotions, profile people (killers), etc. Cassie is a natural at profiling people, her mother was a psychic and trained Cassie until she was murdered five years ago. After living with relatives and not really feeling the love; she is approached by the FBI to become part of their Naturals team that helps solve cold cases. But when bodies start turning up that mimic her mother's murder, Cassie and the Naturals jump in to try and stop the next murder, will it be Cassie? I could not put this book down. It has the perfect amount of suspense, and crazy to keep you turning the pages, it took me one day to read this book! I am looking for a sequel!

View all my reviews

The Journey of Hannah Woods by Helene Forst

The Journey of Hannah WoodsThe Journey of Hannah Woods by Helene Forst
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so happy to receive this book from the author; what a compelling, satisfying read. Hannah Woods is the kind of protagonist the reader will enjoy getting to know. When we meet first meet her, she is inwardly freaking out at her father’s funeral. As a fourteen year old, Hannah lets the reader know she is suffering from panic attacks, hears voices cruelly putting her down, and relies heavily on drugs. After the funeral, this Hannah will leave the only home she has ever known and go to live with grandparents she didn’t realize she had. It is in this “new” home with down-to- earth grandparents, and a very strong, knowledgeable network of doctors where Hannah begins her epic journey. We learn from Hannah that she did not have a loving father or mother (they were very neglectful), was constantly under the care of nannies, home-schooled by tutors, and had only one person she could count on as a child, the head housekeeper, Winnie. Nothing was normal in her life; Hannah grew up alone, afraid, and always anxious. What I really loved about Hannah as I read this book was her positive attitude. She may have been terrified, but she did not give up hope. On the cusp of adolescence, she must attend high school, participate in class, and meet friends while she withdraws from heavy duty drugs and lives a normal life. It is this Hannah who learns how to surf, play volleyball, ice skate, become active in a Save the Earth Club, and begin to heal, express herself (through poetry) and learn how to savor life and love. I enjoyed the authentic characters Forst provides in Hannah’s loving, working grandparents, high school friends Emma and Eli, and remarkable Drs. Weinstein and Hope. This book was a journey for the reader and Hannah, and one I am very happy I made. As Hannah explores her new life in Crystal Cove, the reader is learning what it is like to have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, fears, and anxieties. The reader roots for Hannah as she fights valiantly to control her life without drugs and learns to welcome the real Hannah Woods, “perfectly balanced” and “courageously dreaming.”

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense (Reincarnationist, #6)The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense by M.J. Rose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for this advance e-book which traverses between the worlds of Catherine de Medici and her perfumer of the 1500s and present day. Jac has just lost her brother, Robbie, to a quick, devastating death. She is not sure if her brother has been murdered or died due to some other cause. Before Robbie died, he was living with stepsiblings, Serge and Melinoe, working together with them on how to take one’s last breath and reincarnate them. Jac is approached by the stepsiblings to continue Robbie’s work. Jac worked with her brother in his perfume business for the last two years even though she also has her own career and TV show in mythology. She has an uncanny nose for smells and an ability where she can “become” people in the past; she lurches out of the present and flashes into the famous perfumer’s (RenĂ© le Florentin) life of intrigue in the 1500s. As Jac and Griffin, the love of her life, try to authenticate Robbie’s formula (based on RenĂ© le Florentin’s diaries and notes) time and circumstances begin to close in on Jac, ; is her life in danger? Spanning two time periods, the lush and harsh world of Catherine de Medici’s reign and the present where everything is in chaos, Jac wants to bring her brother back, but will she succeed in making the elixir? For a sumptuous read of gothic proportions, The Collector of Dying Breaths, offers passion, beauty, love, hate, murder and much, much more.

View all my reviews