Tag Archives: realistic

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.

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.

Trusting You & Other Lies

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Cover Trusting You and Other Lies
Nicole Williams
Young Adult Fiction
Crown Books For Young Readers
June 20, 2017
304

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins. Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better? On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie? "What elevates this novel...is the witty and realistic dialogue and excellent character development." -SLJ

 

Review:

“Trusting You & Other Lies” is a nice summer romance that has some teeth.

It’s refreshing to see a sibling relationship that is loving and a family that is struggling in a realistic way.  The teenage emotions rang true and brought back quite a bit of nostalgia, along with a lot of “glad I’m past that phase of my life” thoughts.  Last but not least, there was no instalove.  That is always a bonus in YA romances.

I recommend “Trusting You & Other Lies” for anyone looking for an emotional read about young relationships, both with family and romantic interests.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War

Grendel's Guide to Love and War Book Cover Grendel's Guide to Love and War
A. E. Kaplan
Young Adult Fiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017
320

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy's sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process. Tom Grendel lives a quiet life--writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the "manic-pixie-dream" label. But when Willow's brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens' community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed--his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD--so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it's not that simple. One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister's Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother's death . . . and the question isn't so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he'll survive intact. "Deep and uproarious all at once . . . A clever spin on a weighty classic." --Kirkus, starred review

 

Review:

I’m not sure how to describe “Grendel’s Guide to Love and War.”  It isn’t as deep as it could be, considering Tom Grendel has a very difficult life, including a father suffering from severe PTSD.  Yet it does evoke quite a few emotions by just skimming the surface of the issues he’s dealing with.  It is also hilarious. Laugh out loud hilarious.  If you’re looking for a fast read with a bit of an emotional roller coaster, give it a try.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

All the Forever Things

All the Forever Things Book Cover All the Forever Things
Jolene Perry
Young Adult Fiction
Albert Whitman and Company
April 1, 2017
288

From growing up in the funeral home her family runs, Gabriella knows that death is a part of life and nothing is forever. Yet Bree, her best friend, has been a constant; it’s always been the two of them together against the world. But when Bree starts dating a guy—the worst guy— from that ultra-popular world, suddenly she doesn’t have time for Gabe anymore. Now the only one at school who wants to spend time with “Graveyard Gabe” is Hartman, the new guy, but Gabe, not wanting to lose her mind over a boyfriend the way Bree has, holds back. It takes a very strange prom night (with the family hearse instead of a limo) for Gabe to truly fall for Hartman. But when she leaves the after-prom party with him, she’s not there for Bree—or for the deadly accident that happens that night. Bree survives, but will she and Gabe ever be able to rebuild their friendship?

 

Review:

“All the Forever Things” is a unique book that deals with deep issues in a sensitive and entertaining way.

I think every young adult or adult who is/was an outcast will be able to relate to “Graveyard Gabe,” even if your family does not own a funeral home. The story is bittersweet and touches on friendship, embracing who we are, first loves, forgiveness, and death.  Somehow this is all put together in a way that hurts at times but is funny and entertaining at others.

I recommend “All the Forever Things” for upper middle graders through adults who are looking for a good young adult novel that is different from the norm.

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

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Disturbing Imagery

Always

Always Book Cover Always
Sarah Jio
Fiction
Ballantine Books
February 7, 2017
288

A gripping novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember, from the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violetes of March Enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fianc�, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crain can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a journalist and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As she and Ryan leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense--everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what--and whom--she wants. Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love. Advance praise for Always "A heartwarming story of personal growth and the power of nostalgia . . . Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emily Giffin should enjoy this warm and compassionate novel."--Booklist Praise for Sarah Jio Goodnight June "Sarah Jio's delightful and uplifting novel is guaranteed to melt even the toughest cynic and deserves a top rating of five stars (plus the moon)."--Historical Novels Review "A tribute to family and forgiveness."--Booklist Morning Glory "Jio explores the degree to which time and distance give comfort to those who have experienced loss [with] a depth of feeling in her writing."--Publishers Weekly "Jio has become one of the most-read women in America."--Woman's World Blackberry Winter "Compelling . . . an intoxicating blend of mystery, history, and romance."--Real Simple "Ingenious . . . imaginative."--The Seattle Times

 

Review:

“Always” is a sweet romance of love lost and found.  I enjoyed the story but found it lacked the depth of Sarah Jio’s previous books.  It’s still very much worth the read if you’re a fan.

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