Tag Archives: contemporary

My New Crush Gave to Me

My New Crush Gave to Me Book Cover My New Crush Gave to Me
Shani Petroff
Young Adult Fiction
Swoon Reads
October 31, 2017
288

Eager for a date to the holiday season "Lover's Ball," school newspaper editor Charlie rigs the school's Secret Santa exchange to woo the boy of her dreams.

 

Review:

“My New Crush Gave to Me” would have been much better as a short story.  As a book, it’s cute and a quick read, but there is a lot of filler in there.  Once it finally picked up around the middle I enjoyed it, though I could never spend much time in real life around the main character, Charlie!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Mild Sexual Situations

The Hanging Girl

The Hanging Girl Book Cover The Hanging Girl
Eileen Cook
Hmh Books for Young Readers
October 3, 2017
320

Another unputdownable, twisty, cat-and-mouse thriller by the author of With Malice about a girl who claims to have a psychic vision that could help find a missing teenager.

 

Review:

“The Hanging Girl” is a good read for someone in the mood for a quick and fun young adult mystery.  The plot is entertaining and would come in handy for someone needing a break during the holiday season by escaping for a while.  The only problem I had with it is the main character, Skye.  No matter how much her character’s deeper history was revealed I just could not bring myself to like her.  Recommended for a light read!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

 

The House at 758

The House At 758 Book Cover The House At 758
Kathryn Berla
Young Adult Fiction
Amberjack Publishing
October 17, 2017
250

Sixteen-year-old Krista is having a hard time. She's still grieving the recent death of her mother when her father's girlfriend, Marie, moves into their home, and Krista feels like there's no one she can talk to about her sadness. To make matters worse, her best friend, Lyla, is heading to Maine for the summer to spend time with her grandparents. Krista feels pressure from the people around her to resume a normal life; her father wants her to find an activity to occupy her summer, and her neighbor encourages her to return to therapy. However, Krista doesn't feel ready to be -normal- again; she'd rather hang out in a tent she'd pitched on her roof, or sit in her car obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758. Just when things start to feel too hard for her to bear, she runs into Jake, a fellow classmate and the cute sales associate at a store where she shoplifts. A young romance quickly forms, but Krista has a hard time opening up to Jake. She remains guarded and manages to push him away. One day, her father informs her that her grandfather, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who lives in Venezuela, is coming to town for a visit. Krista is at first irritated that she'd have to babysit her foreign grandfather whom she barely knows, but soon realizes that he may be just the person she needed in her life. Krista's grandfather begins telling her stories of his past, of tragedy, hope, and forgiveness, and with these new developments, Krista begins to open up and embrace life again. She ends up confronting her grief and gains a greater understanding of her family's past and what she has to look forward to in life.

 

Review:

“The House at 758” is a coming-of-age story centered around grief and the unhealthy ways people deal with it.  I found Krista and those around her intriguing and I genuinely worried about her mental health and safety.  It’s an odd story in the way it reads and that adds to the appeal.  The storytelling fits the plot perfectly and almost becomes a character unto itself.  Recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language

 

 

A Messy, Beautiful Life

A Messy, Beautiful Life Book Cover A Messy, Beautiful Life
Sara Jade Alan
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled: Teen
October 2, 2017
239

Life is funny sometimes. And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer. I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom. And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die. So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.

 

Review:

“A Messy, Beautiful Life” tossed my emotions around like a clothes dryer, wrung them, flipped them upside down, and tossed them out.  It’s a book about cancer, but not at all like any of the other books you probably had pop into your mind.  Everything about it feels so real.  I felt their joy and their pain, and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

But Then I Came Back

But Then I Came Back Book Cover But Then I Came Back
Estelle Laure
Hmh Books for Young Readers
April 4, 2017
320

From the author of This Raging Light comes the story of Eden Jones, a seventeen-year-old girl who feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that's bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed? Lyrical, unexpected, and romantic, Estelle Laure's new novel is about interwoven lives, long goodbyes, and the imperfect beauty of young love.

 

Review:

While I was back and forth on my feelings toward the magical realism contained in “But Then I Came Back,” I had to give it four stars for the beautiful portrayal of what it’s like to come back after a serious head injury.  The struggles physically and mentally were portrayed well, but it also covered the existential questions that often come up after a life-changing event.  That is something I have rarely seen in a novel.  There is also a nice romance on the side.  Recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Underage Drinking

A Short History of the Girl Next Door

A Short History of the Girl Next Door Book Cover A Short History of the Girl Next Door
Jared Reck
Young Adult Fiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers
2017
272

After years of pining for the girl next door, fifteen-year-old Matthew Wainwright must deal with Tabby dating a popular senior just when he needs her most.

 

Review:

I’m not sure how to rate “A Short History of the Girl Next Door.”  If I say too much, it will take away from the surprise.  I can say that it was a roller coaster of emotions that takes the reader from crying with laughter to ugly sobbing with heartbreak within the span of just a few pages.  If you’re ready for some strong feels and a story that will stay with you long after you are finished, then I recommend it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations

The Border

The Border Book Cover The Border
Steve Schafer
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
September 1, 2017
368

One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks—gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcosresponsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

 

Review:

Words cannot describe how important I think “The Border” is for everyone from middle grade up to read.  The story really put a face on the plights of those crossing the US border from the south.  The author did meticulous research and took great care to tell the story in an easy to understand manner.  This would be perfect for classroom and child/parent discussions.  It’s also a good choice for reluctant readers and those looking for diversity in their books.  Highly recommended.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Smoking

Black Bird of the Gallows

Black Bird of the Gallows Book Cover Black Bird of the Gallows
Meg Kassel
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Teen
September 5, 2017
300

Her love breaks his curse. But his love spells her death. A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Angie Dovage can tell the mysterious new boy next door is more than he appears, but she can't imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. But when a grotesque, otherworldly man tries to attack her and Reece comes to her rescue, everything changes. Any minute, chaos could rain down on her town, on her family, on everyone she cares about. But that's only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

 

Review:

“Black Bird of the Gallows” was not a bad book, but it wasn’t for me.  I liked the backstory and the magical realism, but there seemed to be something missing in the actual execution.  I didn’t like the main character, so that was definitely part of the problem.  I can neither recommend nor not recommend it, so I suggest that if it looks good to you to give it a shot.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Animal Death

Blood and Ink

Blood and Ink Book Cover Blood and Ink
Stephen Davies
Young Adult Fiction
Charlesbridge Teen
September 19, 2017
224

Kadija is the music-loving daughter of a guardian of the library in the ancient city of Timbuktu, Ali is a former shepherd boy, trained by Islamist militants--and both are caught up in the war in Mali and on opposite sides of the stuggle to save the sacred Sufi manuscripts that the militants want to destroy.

 

Review:

“Blood and Ink” is a book that I can’t say that I enjoyed, but I did find it important and educational.  It covers the true story of what happened in Timbuktu in 2012.  The story is told in alternating points-of-view, one being that of a local resisting the invasion, and the other being that of a young fighter for a branch of Al-Qaeda.  It’s well-written and really made me think about what is going through the minds of those suffering in these situations.  Even though it takes place in our recent past, it’s just as important today.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic, Book 1)

Windy City Magic, Book 1 The Best Kind of Magic Book Cover Windy City Magic, Book 1 The Best Kind of Magic
Windy City Magic, Book 1
Crystal Cestari
Juvenile Fiction
Disney-Hyperion
May 16, 2017
336

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate. Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match? The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

 

Review:

“The Best Kind of Magic” is a promising start to the new “Windy City Magic” series.  It has just the right blend of magical realism, suspense, the supernatural, and romance to make for a fun, light read.  It flows well and the sass of Amber kept me laughing.  It’s the perfect book for when you need a break from reality.  Good for grades 7 through adults.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

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