Tag Archives: contemporary

Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night Book Cover Emma in the Night
Wendy Walker
Fiction
August 8, 2017
320

"Both twisted and twisty, this smart psychological thriller sets a new standard for unreliable narrators." –Booklist, Starred Review One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

 

Review:

“Emma in the Night” is a taut psychological thriller that kept me reading from start to finish without putting it down.  Not only did I keep second-guessing my theories,  I kept feeling ill-at-ease in my own home.  It’s difficult to say much more than the book synopsis because to spoil it even a little would take away from the fun.  If you like thriller mysteries, you will probably enjoy this.

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

 

How to Make a Wish

How to Make a Wish Book Cover How to Make a Wish
Ashley Herring Blake
Hmh Books for Young Readers
May 2, 2017
336

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace's room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace's world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again. How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter's relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

 

Review:

“How to Make a Wish” is the rare sort of young adult romance that tackles the difficulties of growing up in a dysfunctional family and first love without being melodramatic.  The situations feel awful and real, but not hopeless.  It also has a beautifully executed romance between two girls that places it in the top-tier of books featuring lgbt main characters.  Recommended!

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

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Park Bench

Park Bench Book Cover Park Bench
Christophe Chabouté
Comics & Graphic Novels
Gallery 13
September 19, 2017
336

With his masterful illustration style, bestselling French creator-storyteller Chabouté (Alone, Moby-Dick) explores community through a common, often ignored object: the park bench. From its creation, to its witness to the fresh ardor of lovers, the drudgery of businessmen, the various hopes of the many who enter its orbit, the park bench weathers all seasons. Strangers meet at it for the first time. Paramours carve their initials into it. Old friends sit and chat upon it for hours. Others ignore the bench, or (attempt to) sleep on it at night, or simply anchor themselves on it and absorb the ebb and flow of the area and its people. Christophe Chabouté’s mastery of the visual medium turns this simple object into a thought-provoking and gorgeously wrought meditation on time, desire, and the life of communities all across the planet. This could be a bench in my hometown or yours—the people in this little drama are very much those we already recognize.

 

Review:

With the only words in “Park Bench” being book titles and scribbles on the bench, it is the purest form of a graphic novel.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this book is.  No words could do it justice.  I laughed and I cried and I felt despair for the human race and hope for the human race and etc.  I can’t recommend this enough.  It is truly something you will never forget.  If only there were 100 star ratings.

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

Zero Repeat Forever (Nahx Invasions, Book 1)

Zero Repeat Forever Book Cover Zero Repeat Forever
Nahx Invasions, Book 1
G. S. Prendergast
Young Adult Fiction
Simon and Schuster
August 29, 2017
496

Sixteen year-old Raven, injured and still grieving over her boyfriend's death by the invading Nahx, crosses paths with Eighth, a Nyx warrior who has deserted his unit and abandoned his directives, and as the world falls apart around them, the two learn to trust each other in order to survive.

 

Review:

I really wanted to like “Zero Repeat Forever.”  It has so much that I love: aliens, survivalism, nightmare-inducing scenarios.  Unfortunately, it fell very flat.  The chapters featuring Raven seemed to drag on in an effort to make the “forever” in the title seem literal.  I also did not find her character likable at all.  The only redeeming parts of the book were Eighth and diversity.  I can’t recommend it to even the biggest of alien invasion fans.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Drug and Alcohol Use

Omega (Infinity Division, Book 2)

Omega Book Cover Omega
Infinity Division, Book 2
Jus Accardo
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Teen
August 1, 2017
Paperback
320

One mistake can change everything. Ashlyn Calvert finds that out the hard way when a bad decision leads to the death of her best friend, Noah Anderson.

Only Noah isn’t really gone. Thanks to his parents’ company, the Infinity Division, there is a version of him skipping from one dimension to another, set on revenge for the death of his sister, Kori. When a chance encounter brings him face-to-face with Ash, he’s determined to resist the magnetic pull he’s felt for her time and time again. Because falling for Ash puts his mission in danger.

But there’s more going on in Ash’s alternate universe than either of them knows: a mysterious project called Omega. A conspiracy spanning multiple Earths and revolving around none other than Ash. Its creators would do anything to keep Omega secret…

Anything.

 

Review:

“Omega” is a fun follow-up to “Infinity.”  It expands nicely upon the science fiction aspect and adds more depth to the original characters.  It also introduced new characters and points-of-view that were entertaining and expanded the universe a great deal.  If you enjoyed “Infinity”,  then you are most likely going to love “Omega.”

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

No Good Deed

No Good Deed Book Cover No Good Deed
Kara Connolly
Young Adult Fiction
Delacorte Press
2017
352

"Ellie is USA's best shot at Olympic gold in archery, but one wrong turn in Nottingham on her day off from the trials and she's somehow been transported back to the Middle Ages. Amidst an evil sheriff who wants to lock her up, a knight who might not be who he says he is, and an assassination plot, she must not only find her way back to the present, but fight to survive and not change history"--

 

Review:

“No Good Deed” is a fairy-tale/legend retelling that served as a good palate cleanser for me in the middle of quite a few heavier reads.  The plot is fast-paced and the characters are just the right amount of snarky and developed for a light read.  The content is mild, and the writing easy enough to read, that even the youngest of the ya group should find it enjoyable.  Recommended!

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Very Mild Sexual Content, Violence

Little Monsters

Little Monsters Book Cover Little Monsters
Kara Thomas
Young Adult Fiction
Delacorte Press
2017
336

When Kacey moves in with her estranged father and his new family, her new friend goes missing and Kacey finds herself at the center of the investigation.

 

Review:

“Little Monsters” is a young adult thriller that will satisfy both the ya audience and adult readers.  The mystery is well-written and keeps the reader guessing throughout.  Even when you think you know the bad guy, you keep second-guessing yourself.  A very enjoyable read that I recommend to any fan of the mystery and thriller genres.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

All the Dirty Parts

All the Dirty Parts Book Cover All the Dirty Parts
Daniel Handler
Fiction
Bloomsbury USA
August 23, 2017
144

From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), an eagerly anticipated, gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic lives and impulses of an all-too-typical young man. Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches in a sketchbook, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters, next to the allure of sex. "Let me put it this way," he says, "Draw a number line, with zero is, you never think about sex, and ten is, it's all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex." Cole fantasizes about whomever he's looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls--girls who seem to enjoy it at the time and seem to feel bad about it afterwards. Cole is getting a reputation around school--a not quite savory one--which leaves him adrift and hanging out with his best friend. Which is when something startling begins to happen between them--another kind of adventure, unexpected and hot, that might be what he's been after all this time. And then he meets Grisaille. A companion piece to Handler's Why We Broke Up, the bestselling Michael J. Printz Honor novel, All The Dirty Parts is an unblinking take on the varied and ribald world of teenage desire in a culture of unrelenting explicitness and shunted communication, where queer can be as fluid as consent, where sex feels like love, but no one knows what love feels like. Structured in short chapters recalling Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation or Mary Robison's Why Did I Ever, the novel gives us a tender, brutal, funny, and always intoxicating portrait of an age in which the whole world is tilted through the lens of sex. "There are love stories galore," Cole tells us, "and we all know them. This isn't that. The story I'm typing is all the dirty parts."

 

Review:

“All the Dirty Parts” is one of those books that you will either love or hate.  I’m in the LOVE camp.  Warning: Don’t buy this for a kid thinking “Lemony Snicket.” This is not a good present from Grandma, though I can promise you it would get read.

Most of us know what it’s like to wait for the dirty part in a movie, book, story your friend is telling, or even our own lives if we’re honest about it.  It seems like that’s the good part.  The genius of “All the Dirty Parts” is that is exactly what the name implies:  all of the dirty parts of Cole’s life.  The problem is, when you only look at that, your perception of him as a person is not very good.  He seems like a jerk, and probably is, but you can only he has some redeeming qualities about him since he has friends and good grades.  We just don’t know what they are.  He doesn’t even know what they are.  There are a lot of things he doesn’t know about himself, but I’ll leave it to you to learn them.

This book is listed as an adult novel, and that is definitely the correct classification.  That being said, there are a lot of lessons in literature that can be taught using it for the older young adult and new adult crowd.  It’s also certain to make some banned book lists and become a coveted book for teenagers to acquire.  I’m ok with that.  Maybe they’ll accidentally learn something.

Highly recommended!

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

 

Content Warning:

I don’t normally do content warnings on adult books, but be aware that this one is filthy.  The words aren’t minced and the sex is graphic.  Proceed at your own risk.

 

 

Mom and Mum Are Getting Married

Mom and Mum are Getting Married! Book Cover Mom and Mum are Getting Married!
Ken Setterington, Alice Priestley
Juvenile Fiction
January 1, 2004
24

Rosie is surprised to find her Mom dancing alone in the living room, but when Mom announces, “Your Mum and I are getting married!” they can’t wait to start planning the big day. Friends and family come together for a celebration of love.

 

Review:

It’s so wonderful to see a book about same-sex marriage that presents it to children as absolutely nothing other than a regular wedding… which it is.  There are no judgmental family members and it’s a regular party after the simple wedding.  Be aware that it is a bit wordy for a picture book so take that in consideration for your child’s attention span.

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

Enigma (Schrodinger’s Consortium, Book 2)

Enigma Book Cover Enigma
Schrodinger's Consortium, Book 2
Tonya Kuper
Juvenile Fiction
Entangled: Teen
July 4, 2017
304

What's worse than having half of your secret race wanting to kill you? Having both sides want to control you. Feeling something for Reid Wentworth is not part of the plan. Josie Harper doesn't have time to think about hot boys when she has to help unite the Resistance against the Consortium. To say her life has changed since discovering she's an Oculus would be the understatement of the century. The Consortium is out to enslave humanity—yeah, they aren't fooling around—and as an Oculus, she's one of the few people capable of altering reality and thwarting them. In the largest Resistance hub in North America, Josie learns she doesn't only have the strongest abilities to Push and Retract reality, she has gifts no other Oculus has. When they get word that the Consortium is flying in a world-renowned tech researcher to their headquarters who may have the knowledge to enslave humans, Josie and Reid assemble a team to intercept the researcher and to bust out Reid's best friend, Santos, who was taken hostage until they get Josie. But the Board won't let them leave. The lines have blurred. The only person Josie can trust is Reid.

 

Review:

After a long wait, it was nice to see what happened to Josie and Reid from “Anomaly.”

Unfortunately, I feel a little let down by the resolution.  We got to meet secondary characters that were important but not very developed, and the ending seemed very rushed.  To be honest, it was confusing to me.  In spite of this, I did enjoy it, but not as much as I hoped.  There seems to be an opening in the ending for possible further adventures, and I think that opening holds promise for more character development and an easier to follow plot.

If you read and liked “Anomaly,” be sure to pick up “Enigma!”

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence