“All the Rage” Courtney Summers

May 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. ARC. St. Martin’s Griffin. Published April 14, 2015.

AllTheRageNo one believes Romy. How dare she accuse popular, well-liked, handsome Kellan of rape? Kellan’s father is the Sheriff and his mom runs a popular business in town so, since everyone knows the Turners, no one will stand for Romy’s lies.

Now officially the most hated girl at school, Romy has lost her best friend Penny, who refuses to believe Romy is telling the truth. Hoping to create a new life for herself away from the constant bullying at school Romy takes a waitressing job at an out-of-town diner, where she meets Leon. With Leon she can forget about what happened, because she can pretend to be the old Romy who existed Before Kellan.

Soon Penny goes missing and, as Romy tries to figure out what happened to her, mysteries will be revealed which will shock everyone – especially the readers.

Through “All the Rage,” Summers reveals the terrible truth of date rape, and shows why women who are forced to keep silent should, instead, be screaming out in anger. A copy of “All the Rage,” along with Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” and Colleen Clayton’s “What happens next,” should be required reading in every high school.

Highly recommended for High Schoolers.

“If I Fall, If I Die” Michael Christie

May 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Published January 20, 2015. Hogarth.

IfIFallIfIDieInside has always been part of Will’s life. His mother Diane is afraid of everything, including Outside. When the fear is strongest she disappears into her own darkness, which he nicknamed the Black Lagoon. Extremely possessive and paranoid, she makes him take every precaution to avoid the same fate which befell her brother and father.

Schooling consists of listening to his mother read books, painting his masterpieces, listening to music and watching videos. Everything they need comes straight from deliverymen, courtesy of Diane’s credit card or checkbook. Life on the Inside has always been satisfying to Will, until the day he decides to investigate a strange Outside noise where he meets Marcus.

Soon Marcus is reported missing. Unable to bear the thought of his very first friend being lost, Will braves the Outside to attend school for the first time to find him. There he meets Jonah, who has been written off by the town because he’s Indian. Their friendship bonds around their mutual love for drawing and skateboarding, and the boys are soon inseparable. However as their search for Marcus intensifies, they realize there is something dark and dangerous happening in their town. Someone is not happy with his investigation and, if Will and Jonah continue to uncover secrets from the past, it may cost them their lives.

“If I Fall, If I Die,” is a rather unusual novel in that the main characters are both children and adults. Through flashbacks readers learn of Diane’s early life and her struggles against mental illness, while most of the book is centered around Will, Jonah and their friendship. It will give reader’s much to think about.

Recommended for High schoolers and Adults.

“The one that got away” Bethany Chase

May 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. ARC. Ballantine Books (Random House). Published March 31, 2015.

TheOneThatGotAwaySarina Mahler is an accomplished architect in Austin, Texas, dating the man of her dreams for four years, and rooming with her best friend Danny. Despite being in love with Noah and savoring her budding architectural career, she had one small portion of her memory reserved for Eamon Roy; her one true love from 7 years ago. Having been deeply hurt by him she had been unable to forget how he made her feel and now, knowing he was moving back to Austin and she would soon be seeing him again, all those old feelings came rushing back to overwhelm her.

Now working with Eamon as the architect of his new home, she is determined not to let him know the extent of her feelings and to keep Noah in the dark about their past relationship. Despite her best intentions the past has a way of inching into the present and, with everything familiar crumbling before her, Sarina will have to decide if she will hold on to the familiarity and love she feels with Noah or strike out into the untried waters of a relationship with Eamon.

“The one that got away” is brilliantly written, and had me eagerly turning pages. I, of course, have my own “one that got away,” which made me empathize even more with Sarina’s struggles as I wondered about my “one.” Adult readers will find themselves also enjoying Bethany Chase’s debut novel and wishing for more from this talented author. I look forward to reading Chase’s next book.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Dead Wake: The last voyage of the Lusitania” Erik Larson

April 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars. Ebook. ARC. Crown Publishers (Random House). Published March 10, 2015. (Includes “Sources and Acknowledgements,” “Notes,” and a “Bibliography.”)

Dead WakeOn May 7, 1915, three years after the sinking of the Titanic, the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine and sank within 18 minutes, killing almost 2000 people including 128 Americans. Like many Americans, I had heard of the Lusitania and thought the United States immediately entered World War I because of it. After reading “Dead Wake” I now know this was not true.

Using letters, telegrams and other first hand correspondence Erik Larson creates a timeline of the days leading up to the Lusitania’s last voyage. Passengers and key international characters come alive as readers experience the events of that fateful May afternoon, including the upheaval which followed the Lusitania’s demise. Secrets that might have saved the Lusitania and its passengers are unlocked and revealed through the pages of this amazing book.

“Dead Wake,” is such an historical gem that I read every single one of its footnotes with as much interest as I did the rest of the book. Lovers of history will find themselves glued to every page.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Normal: A Novel” Graeme Cameron

April 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. ARC. Published March 31, 2015. MIRA Books.

Normal“Normal” takes readers into the mind of a nameless serial killer who is not a “Silence of the Lambs” chop them up and eat them for lunch kind of a guy, but someone his victims may have seen regularly and dismissed as ordinary. As he describes how he stalked, killed and hacked up the body of an 18-year-old girl, readers will feel a shudder of revulsion for this heinous crime as they are ready to confine him to the deepest, darkest jail cell and throw away the key.

However, as a bit of humanity begins to peek out from his depraved life after he meets the woman of his dreams, readers begin to feel a bit guilty to find themselves feeling sympathetic towards him. How could they care, and laugh at some of his antics, knowing he is a cold-hearted murderer and is holding someone hostage in his soundproof basement? The answer lies in the author’s ability to create a character that, even with his many flaws, keeps readers invested and interested.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Shadow Scale” Rachel Hartman

April 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Published March 10, 2015. Random House.

With the city of Goredd preparing to battle its dragon enemies, Seraphina is called upon to travel to various lands to find the ityasaari, which have been dwelling in her mind garden. These ityasaari are rumored to have the means of saving Goredd, and Seraphina is the only one who can convince them to help the Queen.

However, Seraphina soon finds out that one of the ityasaari has a unique ability to infiltrate minds. Soon, almost everyone she knows is under powerful mind controls, and it will be up to Seraphina to release them before it’s too late for Goredd.

“Shadow Scale” is an ingenuously written, fantastical tale of love and betrayal as seen through the eyes of dragons and half dragons. Humans are secondary to the story, since Seraphina is half dragon and “Shadow Scale” is her story.

I am not a big fantasy fan and, in the past, have enjoyed some fantasy books I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy. However, I had a really hard time making it through this book. The abundance of philosophical thoughts from Seraphina and her dragon friends may have played a part, as well as the lack of real action. It really doesn’t matter because Seraphina’s true fans will enjoy reading about her latest adventure.

Recommended for ages 13-16.

“My best everything” Sarah Tomp

March 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Published March 3, 2015. Little, Brown & Company.

MyBestEverythingSeventeen-year-old Lulu tells her story through a letter to the boy she met and fell in love with during the summer she graduated from high school. Falling in love was not part of her plan, as she was supposed to leave Virginia in just a few months. She planned to say goodbye to her best friend Roni and to her backwoods town of Dale so she could start a new life at the University of San Diego. For her part Roni is certain her future lies in marrying her boyfriend Bucky and living in Dale forever. Neither of them can understand why Lulu is so anxious to leave, but Lulu is undeterred. She will leave Dale.

Unfortunately all of Lulu’s plans come to a screeching halt when her father loses her college money in a poor financial move. She is devastated, but is determined that she will get out of Dale no matter the cost. When a moonshine still is delivered to the junkyard where she works with Roni, Lulu is sure selling moonshine will be the answer to her problems. Bucky’s friend Mason has been in the moonshine business with his cousin Seth, and offers to help with their endeavor.

As Lulu, Roni, Bucky and Mason work together to secretly make and sell their illegal moonshine, Lulu again finds her life turned upside down. Her need to leave Dale has compromised everything she has ever believed in, as she finds herself turning into someone she doesn’t recognize. Confused over her feelings for Mason, and now questioning her desire to leave Dale, Lulu’s summer turns into a bubbling mess that will rival any moonshine in her secret still.

Determination, strength of will, and stubbornness are just a few of the adjectives that describe some of the characters in “My best everything.” Though I don’t agree with the way Lulu decided to try and solve her problems, I admire the way she owned up to her mistakes.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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