Monthly Archives: October 2016

Lucy and Linh

Lucy and Linh Book Cover Lucy and Linh
Alice Pung
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 6, 2016


Lucy is a bit of a pushover, but she’s ambitious and smart, and she has just received the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship to a prestigious school, and a ticket out of her broken-down suburb. Though she’s worried she will stick out like badly cut bangs among the razor-straight students, she is soon welcomed into the Cabinet, the supremely popular trio who wield influence over classmates and teachers alike.

Linh is blunt, strong-willed, and fearless—everything Lucy once loved about herself. She is also Lucy’s last solid link to her life before private school, but she is growing tired of being eclipsed by the glamour of the Cabinet.

As Lucy floats further away from the world she once knew, her connection to Linh—and to her old life—threatens to snap. Sharp and honest, Alice Pung’s novel examines what it means to grow into the person you want to be without leaving yourself behind.

Originally published in Australia by Black Inc. in 2014 under title: Laurinda.



I think that my intense dislike of “Lucy and Linh” may be a case of it being “it’s not you, it’s me.”  For that reason I bumped up the stars from two to three.

I really did want to like the book.  The story of a poor immigrant trying to assimilate in a private school full of spoiled rich girls seemed interesting.  Not to mention, a diverse book!  It seemed so full of promise.  In reality, I found myself with an almost immediate dislike of Lucy that only increased as I kept reading.  It didn’t help that the plot seemed to move at a crawl.

I’m going to stop there because I believe some readers may really enjoy “Lucy and Linh,” and I don’t want to discourage anyone who reads the description and wants to give it a try from picking it up.  In short:  Your Mileage May Vary.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Very Minor Sexual Talk, Bullying, Racial Slurs

The Lost and the Found

The Lost and the Found Book Cover The Lost and the Found
Cat Clarke
Crown Books For Young Readers
September 13, 2016

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister, Faith. Since then, Faith’s childhood has revolved around her sister’s disappearance—from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention, to dealing with so-called friends who only ever want to talk about her missing sister.

Now, thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the front yard of the Logans’ old house, disoriented and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Can her sister finally be back? Faith always dreamed of her sister coming home; she just never believed it would happen. But soon a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated from her family and paranoid about her sister’s motives. Before long, Faith begins to wonder if it’s the abduction that’s changed her sister, or if it’s something else. . . .

Originally published in the United Kingdom by Quercus in 2015.



“The Lost and the Found” is a contemporary thriller about a kidnapped girl coming home that managed to hold my attention and keep me flipping the pages until it was finished.

The story of Faith and her sister Laurel, who was kidnapped at age 6, revolves around Faith’s feelings after her sister returns home.  I found it interesting to think about how a sibling would feel given the situation.  Faith was both likable and frustrating in the ways that any teenager can be, and it felt like her reactions would be common in the situation.  The book had a steady pace that built up to a conclusion that was both predictable and not predictable.  I only had one problem, and that was with a resolution to a subplot that seemed completely out-of-character and rushed, as though it were an afterthought.

“The Lost and the Found” will be of interest to older young adults and adults who enjoy a quick reading contemporary thriller that has some substance and bite.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Somewhat Graphic Sexual Situations, Violence, Sexual Abuse

The Cabin

The Cabin
Natasha Preston
Sourcebooks Fire
September 6, 2016

A New York Times Bestseller!

There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new young adult thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar, a New York Times Bestseller, and Awake

They think they're invincible.
They think they can do and say whatever they want.
They think there are no consequences.
They've left me no choice.
It's time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can't wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead-murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn't telling the truth. And Mackenzie's first mistake? Assuming the killing is over...



“The Cabin” was a solid four-star thriller up until the very end.  That doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable in a B horror movie sort of way.

The characters are the stereotypical mix that you come to expect from horror movies and fun, fast reading thrillers.  There were some plot surprises and enough creepy things to give you some chills.  Just.  The ending.  I can’t quite forgive that one.

Overall, “The Cabin” is a fun read for the Halloween season or any other time you’re feeling like a fun and breezy thriller.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

My Own Dear Brother

My Own Dear Brother
Holly Müller
Bloomsbury USA
October 11, 2016

It is 1944, and war has taken the men in Nazi-controlled Austria to the front line. For thirteen-year-old Ursula Hildesheim, life in the village of Felddorf remains almost as it was: bullied by her schoolmates, enlisted in endless chores by her mother and sister, thieving, and running wild with her adored older brother, Anton.

But then Russian prisoners escape from the local concentration camp, her mother starts an affair with a married man, her only friend goes missing, and her brother's allegiance to the Hitler Youth emerges in shocking ways--and Ursula finds herself alone, disturbed by dark memories, and surrounded by threat.

In this new world of conflict, Ursula discovers a bravery she has never known before and is forced to recognize that danger comes not only from the enemy at the door but from the enemy within.

My Own Dear Brother is a remarkable coming-of-age story and an unflinching study of both cruelty and courage. Rich in folklore, it introduces a daring young heroine and a powerful new literary voice.



I’m not even sure how to express my feelings toward “My Own Dear Brother.”  It is easily one of the best and most educational young adult books about World War II and the Holocaust that I have ever read – and I have read A LOT.

Perhaps what makes it so unforgettable is the focus on what is so often overlooked in fictional literature about the time period.  It focuses on the lives of those in countries controlled by Nazi Germany, in this case Austria, as well as what was done to those suffering various forms of disabilities. Every day life is explored, including the Nazi Youth, fears of local residents of “The Party,” and the divisions found even amongst close-knit families.

Ursula and her family and friends, as well as many of the townspeople, are so thoroughly developed that it felt as though I knew them.  Their struggles, pain, and laughter felt real.  The plot is steady, but takes the time to meander and really show how things were.  Nothing was black and white or simplified.  Beware though, this is not for the faint of heart.  As can be reasonably expected, there are racial slurs, brutality, and a total disrespect for human life.  There is also an animal death that is extremely crucial to the plot.

I cannot recommend “My Own Dear Brother” enough to those who enjoy reading about history and learning new points of view.  It’s best for high schoolers and adults and would be a valuable asset in classrooms.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Racial Slurs, Domestic Violence, Disturbing Themes, Animal Abuse

Girl in Pieces

Girl in Pieces Book Cover Girl in Pieces
Kathleen Glasgow
Delacorte Press
August 30, 2016

As she struggles to recover and survive, seventeen-year-old homeless Charlotte "Charlie" Davis cuts herself to dull the pain of abandonment and abuse.



I’m not even going to try to properly review “Girl in Pieces” aside from saying that it is a difficult read about such topics as mental illness, cutting, horrific abuse, and homelessness.  It’s all presented in a type of journal format and leaves the reader feeling unsettled – as it should.  This novel would make a good jumping point for conversations between parents and teenagers.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Cutting, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse

The Last One

The Last One Book Cover The Last One
Alexandra Oliva
Ballantine Books
July 12, 2016

"She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far. It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens--but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them--a young woman the show's producers call Zoo--stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game"--Provided by publisher.



3.5 Stars

One of these days we will be granted half stars, but until then I will have to decide whether to round-up or down.  “The Last One” was too good to give three stars but had a few problems that keep it from being a solid four.

The premise is a game show meant to scare the contestants and audience, complete with fake scares and stranding people alone in a horrific world.  As could be predicted, something real goes horribly wrong.  “Zoo” is left alone to try to survive.  I loved all of that, but there were disorienting jumps between her and the production team that did not always align with the same timeline.  It also had a tendency to drag at points.

That being said, “The Last One” is still a fun and creepy read that will satisfy those who enjoy those sorts of things.

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

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Book Cover All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Bryn Greenwood
Thomas Dunne Books
August 9, 2016

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy, a strong-willed girl of ethereal beauty, knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, Wavy finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold. Surrounded by addicts and a culture of debauchery, their relationship doesn't set off any alarms until Wavy's parents are murdered and a well-meaning aunt steps in. Facing a charge of statutory rape, Kellen may not be completely innocent, but he's the one stable companion Wavy and Donal have. Instead of playing it safe, Wavy has to learn to fight for Kellen, for her brother, and for herself.



“All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” was not a book that I actually enjoyed, but I had to give it four stars for the beauty of the writing and the solid plot.

This book is gritty and difficult.  Nothing in it is sugar-coated.  The character development is well-done and does not waver in continuity as the characters age.  There is an extremely uncomfortable age difference in it that deserves a warning.  It was a tough read all the way around.

If you’re looking for a light read, “All of the Ugly and Wonderful Things” is not for you.  If you’re looking for a book with teeth and can handle the subject matter, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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

The Ones

The Ones Book Cover The Ones
Daniel Sweren-Becker
September 6, 2016

"Genetically engineered teenagers called 'The Ones' go to extremes fighting for their rights as society turns against them"--



“The Ones” is a book that I am in the minority in regard to my views, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary when it comes to this review.

The premise was good, but the execution was lacking.  I think much of that is owed to the cardboard characters.  They were YA dystopian stereotypes, which is not always a bad thing as long as there are unique motives and strong character development.  There was none of that present.  Even the backstory provided read like it was forced.  Some secondary characters sparked my interest, but they were never developed.

I wish I could recommend “The Ones”, but I just can’t.  Maybe the next in the series will live up to the potential.

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


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence