“What happened that night” by Deanna Cameron

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published September 17, 2019. Wattpad Books.

What happened that nightEighteen-year-old Griffin was a rising baseball star, extremely popular, and loved by everyone. Though they were neighbors, and he was one year older, Clara had crushed on him for years. She was surprised when he showed up at her school musical, and especially thrilled when he asked her out on a date.

Seven months later Griffin is dead, and Clara’s older sister is in jail for murder. No one knows why Emily would kill a nice boy like Griffin, but Clara knows. She knows Griffin wasn’t nice, with a side to him no one ever saw. She’s never going to tell anyone what happened that night, though they’ll haunt her for the rest of her life.

As Clara remembers life before Griffin’s death, readers gain insight into Griffin, Emily, the events leading up to his murder, and how it reverberated onto Clara, her friends and family, as well as Griffin’s family and friends. As I read I was on the edge of my seat, eagerly turning pages to see what would happen. When the events of all the nights in question were revealed, I was shocked.

The brutality of sexual assault, and hope for survivors to continue on after it are the book’s themes. Clara struggles with what happened that night, while friends and family offer various reactions. Through telling her story the author reminds readers that their story of abuse needs to be told. Survivors of sexual assault need to know they can speak up about their pain. If the reader is a friend or family member of a survivor, they’ll learn they’re needed to listen and offer support. Resources, such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) are offered as places of help for survivors of sexual assault.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

 

“Trapeze” by Leigh Ansell

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. ARC. To be published September 10, 2019. Wattpad Books.

TrapezeCorey was 2 years old when she went to live with her aunt. For fifteen years she trained as a trapeze artist, traveling around the country with her circus family. When the circus reached a small town in California, someone set fire to their tent during a performance and, just like that, her circus family was forced apart.

With nowhere to turn Corey was forced to live with her mom, who she hadn’t seen in 15 years. Now that she wasn’t constantly moving around the country, she had to attend high school for the first time in her life. Knowing that the townspeople hated circus people, she vowed to keep her life as a trapeze artist a secret. The only one who knew her secret was Luke, a very handsome junior she’d briefly met at a diner the night of the fire.

As their romance began to take shape she began to notice things about him that didn’t seem right, almost as if he was hiding things. Her relationship with her mother was frosty, while she was hiding her past life in the circus, so who was she to judge? Though they both worked hard to keep their secrets, eventually, secrets have a way of being found out. When their secrets are finally revealed, it will change everything forever.

I commiserated with Corey and the decisions she had to make throughout the book, but I had a few problems with it. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, and thought the character of Landon was very stereotypical. Also, the whole premise of why everyone hated the circus was never addressed. Who caused the vandalism? However I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Until proven innocent” by Laura Stewart Schmidt

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. ARC. Published October 18, 2018. Black Rose Writing.

Until proven innocentAlison loves her grandfather, but hates that Grandma put him in a nursing home.  When she visits him there, he mentioned something about a tragedy involving Grandma and a neighbor named Henry Spriggs who disappeared 50 years ago. Alison is intrigued. She loves mysteries, and is sure she can figure out what happened to Mr. Spriggs and clear her grandmother’s name.

The tragedy with the Spriggs family happened around the same time as the great flood of 1965, so Alison turns to old newspapers and residents at the nursing home for clues. With the help of her little brothers, Alison sneaks into the old Spriggs house. It’s soon to be demolished, and she’s looking for clues to help her investigation, so when she finds old letters from Henry to his sister mentioning someone named Cory who was stalking him, she is sure the mystery is almost solved. With time running out Alison starts to piece together information that appears to lead to Henry. What she doesn’t know is that someone else has been doing their own investigations, and they have no intention of having her find Henry.

I enjoyed the mystery and suspense of the story, even though it was pretty far fetched that a fifteen-year-old could solve a 50-year-old mystery, but I definitely did not enjoy the ending. It was like the ending of “It’s a wonderful life,” when Mr. Potter did not get what was coming to him.

I will recommend it for ages 13 and older, but will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.

“What the wind knows” by Amy Harmon

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2019. Lake Union Publishing.

What the wind knowsWhat would you do if you went out on a lake in 2001 to deposit your grandfather’s ashes and, instead, wound up in 1921 Ireland? That’s exactly what happened to author Anne Gallagher when she came to Ireland to spread her beloved grandfather’s ashes on Lough Gill, where he’d grown up in the small village of Dromahair.

Rescued from the water by the very handsome Doctor Thomas Smith, Anne is nursed back to health at his home. There she’s shocked to meet her six-year-old grandfather Eoin, who believes she’s his mother. His mother, the real Anne Gallagher, disappeared during the 1916 uprising. Since she looks exactly like her, with the same name, everyone assumes she’s their Anne Gallagher. Anne knows she can’t tell them she’s from the future, or explain how she got there.

In time Anne becomes accustomed to her new life, spending time with her beloved grandfather as a child, and falling in love with Thomas. Life with him is appealing, despite his dangerous involvement with Ireland’s struggle for independence. Ireland is ablaze with injustice against the British, demanding its freedom, with iconic leaders such as Michael Collins leading the fray. With civil war in Ireland blooming, Anne finds herself in the midst of tragedies that will lead to more than one heart being broken – especially her own.

I loved this book so much; I immediately read it again as soon as I finished! I loved learning about Ireland’s history, while the romance between Anne and Thomas was incredibly intense. It reminded me of the 1980 Christopher Reeve movie “Somewhere in time,” and I was desperate for the ending not to be the same. You’ll have to read “What the wind knows” yourself to see if you love it, but I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.

Highly recommended for Adults.

 

“The thinnest air” by Minka Kent

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2018. Thomas & Mercer.

The thinnest airMeredith had everything going for her. She was beautiful, and had an extremely rich husband who adored her. Everyone had warned her against marrying him, but she knew they were in love. The local wives shunned her, and Andrew’s ex-wife and children hated her on sight. Soon a stalker began leaving creepy messages on her car and in her mailbox. Meredith is terrified, but Andrew is sure everything is fine. However, one day, Meredith disappeared without a trace.

Greer was devastated to learn what had happened to her little sister. Not knowing Meredith had been full of secrets and living a life full of lies, Greer suspects everyone of foul play. As the days go by without any leads it seems likely that Meredith is gone forever. Greer refuses to give up but when she stumbles upon an important clue, she puts her own life in danger. With the clock racing down, and someone following Greer’s every move, it’s only a matter of time before both sisters will be gone forever.

Told through the alternating viewpoints of Meredith and Greer, the nail biting, suspense filled plot twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat. I suspected one person then another, but never expected what finally did happen. “The thinnest air” is a roller coaster ride of emotions that you’ll love.

Highly recommended for Adults.

“March: Book three” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Top Shelf Productions. March #3. 246 p.

March book 3Death, White mob mentalities, racism, police brutality, and violence fill the pages of “March: Book three” as John Lewis and thousands of  volunteers nonviolently protested for the right to register to vote in the White strongholds of Mississippi and Alabama. Hundreds were arrested, beaten and intimidated. Some were even murdered by policemen, and other White supremacists.

Day after day, month after month, year after year nonviolent protests continued as their basic American right to vote was continually denied in these states. Lewis’ accounts of that time, along with detailed black and white illustrations, will bring even the most stoic of readers to tears. The evils perpetrated on the marchers by Jim Clark, Sheriff of Selma, as well as the struggles they faced that led to the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are closely laid out in this amazing book.

During the present and past narratives Lewis employs, he’s with Obama at his 2009 inauguration. He presents the President with a commemorative card to sign, and Obama wrote “Because of you, John.” That phrase struck a deep cord in me. Barack’s rise was because of John, and others like him, who endured years of beatings and imprisonments to get out the Black vote. They showed that going out to vote is important. I have to add that if you’re reading this, and are old enough to vote and haven’t, please vote. Our country needs your vote.

The second moment that moved me to tears took place that 2009 evening when Lewis received a call from Ted Kennedy. Ted’s words of reminiscence, along with the names of those who were part of the battle but had been murdered for the cause, also made me emotional.

As a reminder to the reader, everything John Lewis writes about his time fighting for Civil Rights is educational. Maya Angelou once said (and I paraphrase): “We need to remember where we’ve been to know where we’re going.” The March series tells our history, no matter the color of your skin. It’s AMERICA’S history, and we’re all part of it.

RUN and get all 3 copies of this amazing series. I will repeat what I said in my review of “March: Book two” because it’s very important: All books in the March series are important to be read, not just by young adults, but also by all adults. 

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

PS – Below is the picture I took of John Lewis as he got ready to speak to the thousands and thousands of us marching in the 2017 Women’s March of Atlanta. I was proud to shake his hand before we set off on that rainy, chilly day in January. 

John Lewis

 

“March: Book two” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Rated 5 stars ***** 2015. Top Shelf Productions. March #2. 187 p.

March book 2In “March: Book two,” Congressman John Lewis continues the story of his fight for civil rights. When Book one ended, Lewis and groups of fellow students had defeated segregation at Nashville’s lunch counters. Now, in between glimpses of the present time where he’s attending Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration, Lewis continues to describe ways he and others worked to stop segregation in the 1960’s.

One among many who worked to end segregation, Lewis talks about the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.). Together with members of C.O.R.E. he rode buses through the south as Freedom Riders, and his powerful descriptions of their treatment by White mobs and the police are carefully detailed. Readers are also told about the thousands of children who marched in Birmingham, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and many other struggles in which he and others partook. The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963 paves the way for “March: Book three.”

Readers who may not be aware of important events in the struggle for civil rights for all Blacks will be educated in Lewis’ latest March installment. The black and white illustrations convey, sometimes without words, the horror of those dark days during the Jim Crow era. All books in the March series are important to be read, not just by young adults, but also by all adults.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.