Tag Archives: contemporary

What’s A Soulmate?

What's a Soulmate? Book Cover What's a Soulmate?
Lindsey Ouimet
Evernight Teen
November 13, 2016

Libby Carmichael has just met her Soulmate. It's just too bad he's behind bars. When you only see the world in black and white until you meet yours, it's pretty easy to figure out when you've found your Soulmate. What Libby can't figure out is why fate, destiny, or the powers that be have decided that Andrew McCormack is her one, true match. Libby is smart, organized, and always has a plan for what's coming next. So when she sees Andrew for the first time and her world is instantly filled with color, she's thrown for a loop. Namely because he's in a dingy grey jumpsuit. And handcuffs. And being booked into a juvenile detention facility. Surely a boy who's been convicted of a headline-making, violent crime isn't who she's meant to be with. There's no way she belongs with someone like that...right?

 

Review:

“What’s A Soulmate?” is a contemporary romance with one of the most unique premises I have ever read in the genre.

The world of the book remains in black and white until a person finds their soulmate, at which point everything turns to color.  As you can imagine, that is quite disorienting and the author does a great job of showing the types of sensory challenges something like that could present.  It’s also how I’ve found love to feel.  Everything looks different when you’re with “the one.”

Unfortunately for the main character, Libby, she meets Andrew at possibly the worst time in the worst place imaginable.  Her meeting her soulmate in juvenile detention presents for a plot full of challenges.  The dialogue is snappy and there is a lot of humor mixed in with the seriousness of the situation.

I recommend “What’s a Soulmate” for anyone looking for a unique young adult romance that is steamy without being too over-the-top.  I enjoyed it a lot and would love to get something from Andrew’s point-of-view sometime.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse

The Bone Sparrow

The Bone Sparrow Book Cover The Bone Sparrow
Zana Fraillon
Disney-Hyperion
November 1, 2016
Hardcover
240

"Indispensable."-Booklist (starred review)
GUARDIAN CHILDREN'S FICTION PRIZE 2016 FINALIST

Subhi is a refugee. He was born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, and the center is the only world he knows. But every night, the faraway whales sing to him, the birds tell him their stories, and the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts. As Subhi grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of the fences that contain him. Until one night, it seems to do just that.

Subhi sees a scruffy girl on the other side of the wire mesh, a girl named Jimmie, who appears with a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, Jimmie asks Subhi to unravel her family's love songs and tragedies that are penned there.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort-and maybe even freedom-as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before and made choices that could change everything.

 

Review:

There are not enough stars to give “The Bone Sparrow.”  Even a thousand would be insufficient.

Subhi, the main character, is a child born inside an Australian detention camp to a Burmese refugee.  The way the story progresses is a work of art, with the reader taking the journey with Subhi as he grows to realize the only world he has ever known is not at all normal or fair.  It’s a painful path to take with him.  There are occasional chapters written in third person about the life of Jimmie, a girl from the outside.  She provides both her own story and a way to see the contrast of what people think goes on and what actually happens inside of the camps.

The book is written for middle graders and does an excellent job of presenting very difficult subjects at an appropriate reading level without sugar-coating any of the horror.  I believe any age group ten and up should read “The Bone Sparrow,” but the fact that children can learn from the lessons contained within it gives me hope for the future of humanity.

Highly recommended.

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

 

Content Warning:

Violence, Abuse

One Was Lost

One Was Lost Book Cover One Was Lost
Natalie Richards
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
October 1, 2016
352

Sera must find the truth—before a killer finds her. Murder, justice, revenge... So not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior trip. She figured a hike through the woods would be safe, uneventful. Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. These are the words scrawled on their wrists when they wake up in the middle of nowhere. Their supplies are destroyed. Half the group is gone. And they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them. Suddenly it's clear; they're being hunted. And with the only nice word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion.

 

Review:

“One Was Lost” is a good book for those looking for a fast, creepy read.

The story begins immediately, without much explanation as to the backstory of the characters or the situation they’re in.  All of that is explained over the course of the book.  I would describe the plot as one of the current PG-13 horror movies out there.  It isn’t something complex, but it delivers on the chills and jumps.  The cover pretty much sums up the mood.

I recommend “One Was Lost” for those looking for a fun and fast read that may leave them afraid to turn off the lights.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Sexual Situations

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer Book Cover And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Fredrik Backman
Atria Books
November 1, 2016
Hardcover
96

A little book with a big heart!

“I read this beautifully imagined and moving novella in one sitting, utterly wowed, wanting to share it with everyone I know.” —Lisa Genova, bestselling author of Still Alice

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

 

Review:

“And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer” is a beautifully written novella about Alzheimer’s.  It’s a one-sitting story that is unforgettable. I won’t lie; I ugly cried pretty much through the entire thing.

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

The Secret Life of Souls

The Secret Life of Souls Book Cover The Secret Life of Souls
Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee,
Fiction
November 7, 2016
384

A gripping family drama that brilliantly explores the relationship between a young girl and her dog―and the mysteries that lie within.

At the heart of this psychological suspense novel is the haunting depiction of a family’s fall and the extraordinary gifted dog, Caity, who knows the truth. As the drama unfolds Caity evolves from protector to savior, from scapegoat to prop, and eventually, from avenger to survivor. She is an unselfish soul in a selfish world―and she is written with depth and grace by authors Ketchum and Mckee, who display a profound understanding of a dog’s complex emotions. With her telling instincts and her capacity for joy and transformative love, Caity joins the pantheon of great dogs in contemporary literature.
Eleven year old actress Delia Cross is beautiful, talented, charismatic. A true a star in the making. Her days are a blur of hard work on ­set, auditions and tutors. Her family―driven, pill­-popping stage mother Pat, wastrel dad Bart, and introverted twin brother Robbie―depends on her for their upscale lifestyle. Delia in turn depends on Caity, her beloved ginger Queensland Heeler―and loyal friend―for the calming private space they share. Delia is on the verge of a professional break through. But just as the contracts are about to be signed, there is a freak accident that puts Delia in the danger zone with only Caity to protect her.

 

Review:

“The Secret Life of Souls” is categorized as horror, but I don’t think that is quite accurate.  Terrifying, yes, but not in the way the term horror would make you believe.

If you’re a dog lover, and enjoy reading books that can be tense and uncomfortable, this is the book for you.  The characters are engaging, the plot is steady, and the emotional resonance is strong.  My only complaint is that I wish the various points of view had a smoother transition.

Don’t hesitate to pick “The Secret Life of Souls” if you like animals or intense storytelling.  I highly recommend it.

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

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)

Turbo Twenty-Three Book Cover Turbo Twenty-Three
Stephanie Plum, Book 23
Janet Evanovich
Fiction
Bantam
November 15, 2016
320

Speed is the name of the game as Stephanie Plum returns in Turbo Twenty-Three--the thrilling, fast-paced new adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

 

Review:

“Turbo Twenty-Three” is another funny and endearing novel in the Stephanie Plum series.  I found myself laughing quite a bit and thrilled at some plot threads  that were explored.  My only issue with it is that it feels like the author knows things need a bit of a shake-up after all this time, and began to go down the road, only to chicken out rather abruptly at the end.  I hope she takes some chances on the next one.

The Bad Boy Bargain

The Bad Boy Bargain Book Cover The Bad Boy Bargain
Kendra Highly
Entangled Publishing
November 14, 2016
Paperback

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies' man, fearless outfielder... Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn't it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it's time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer--dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer--is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, " dating" Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith's plan threatens to expose Sawyer's biggest secret of all...and that's a risk he's not willing to take.

 

Review:

“The Bad Boy Bargain” is a cute and easy read.  It can be read in a sitting or two and won’t require a lot of effort on the part of the reader.  I wish there were half stars, because I could give it a 3 1/2, but not a four.  Good choice for those who enjoy light and fluffy romances.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Some Brief Violence, Bullying

Infinity

Infinity Book Cover Infinity
The Infinity Division, Book 1
Jus Accardo
Juvenile Fiction
Entangled: Teen
November 1, 2016
320

There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life: One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective. Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking. Three: Everything she knew was a lie. Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life: One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions. Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret. Three: Someone wants her dead.

 

Review:

I loved “Infinity.”  It is a quick read with an interesting premise that still manages to pack in some heartbreak.

All of the character interactions and backstories were amazing, with the premise of inter-dimensional travel making it possible to develop them on many extra levels.  The science was explained just enough to feel plausible without making my eyes glaze over.  I can’t even begin to explain how perfect and psychotic the villain of the story is.  I read it all in one sitting.

“Infinity” is a great read for anyone who enjoys some science fiction mixed with reality and a dose of romance.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Some Bloody Imagery

Dead Girls Society

Dead Girls Society Book Cover Dead Girls Society
Michelle Krys
Delacorte Press
November 8, 2016
Hardcover
304

You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college.And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she just might win some real money.
But the Society isn’t all that it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.

 

Review:

“Dead Girls Society” is a young adult thriller that delivers on its promise of suspense.

The main character, Hope, has cystic fibrosis and an extremely over-protective mother.  Those things lead her to be sucked into a deadly game of truth or dare.  All of the secondary characters are diverse, have their own reasons for playing the game, and are interesting and well-developed.  The plot is tense and moves quickly.  There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, as well as up way past their bedtime.

“Dead Girls Society” is a good read for young adults and adults who enjoy a good thriller.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence, Some Gore

The Mirror Sisters

The Mirror Sisters Book Cover The Mirror Sisters
V.C. Andrews
Pocket Books
October 25, 2016
Paperback
384

From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of The Flowers in the Attic and My Sweet Audrina series comes the first book in a new series featuring identical twin sisters made to act, look, and feel truly identical by their perfectionist mother.

Alike in every way...with one dark exception.

As identical twins, their mother insists that everything about them be identical: their clothes, their toys, their friends...the number of letters in their names, Haylee Blossom Fitzgerald and Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald. If one gets a hug, the other must, too. If one gets punished, the other must be, too.

Homeschooled at an early age, when the girls attend a real high school they find little ways to highlight the differences between them. But when Haylee runs headfirst into the dating scene, both sisters are thrust into a world their mother never prepared them for—causing one twin to pursue the ultimate independence. The one difference between the two girls may spell the difference between life...and a fate worse than death.

Written with the taboo-breaking, gothic atmosphere that V.C. Andrews is loved for, The Mirror Sisters is the latest in her long line of spellbinding novels about mysterious families and tormented love.

 

Review:

“The Mirror Sisters” is the beginning of a new series in the long line of V.C. Andrews novels.

Haylee and Kaylee are what you expect from V.C. Andrews characters: wealthy, beautiful, really really screwed up mother.  In other words, everything those of us who have read the novels since “Flowers in the Attic” have come to know and love.  The plot premise also follows in the creepy family vibe with a mother who takes the word “identical” way too literally when it comes to her girls.

Unfortunately, almost the entire book felt like it was building up to something way bigger than the climax.  It was a letdown.  That being said, I will still read the next in the series and hope that it lives up to its promise.

“The Mirror Sisters” is recommended for anyone who enjoys V.C. Andrews books.

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

 

Content Warning:

No content warning as I still view V.C. Andrews novels as adult books.  Still, it’s a V.C. Andrews book.  I’m sure you can figure out the content.