“White Ivy” Susie Yang

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Simon & Schuster. To be published September 8, 2020.

White IvyIvy was two years old when her parents moved from China to the United States and left her in the care of Meifeng, her grandmother. It took three years for them to save enough money to send for her so, when she arrived, they felt like strangers. Two years later Meifeng joined the family, but Ivy felt caught. In their world she was expected to become a doctor, and to be obedient but she was definitely not obedient and didn’t want to be a doctor. She wanted an exciting life of her own so filled her days reading about beautiful sad heroines.

In 6th grade her father became a technician at a prep school so her tuition was free. By that time she had become a petty thief with her grandmother, and stole the things she needed to fit in at school. Though she worked hard to emulate the lifestyles of the beautiful, rich girls who were now her classmates, and had fallen hard for Gideon Speyer the local heartthrob, she was always on the outskirts of school life.

Through college and beyond Ivy flits from relationship to relationship, refusing any involvements, but is thrilled when she runs into Gideon’s older sister. She makes sure she and Gideon rekindle their acquaintance, and becomes so ruthless and single minded in her pursuit of him that she loses track of the definition of true love.

The author made you really think hard about the characters, and threw in a few twists and turns I didn’t expect. I will highly recommend this book for Adults.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Dead to you” Lisa McMann

Rated 2 stars ** Simon Pulse. 2012. 243 p.

Dead to youEthan was seven when he was kidnapped, and is reunited with his family nine years later. At first things are strange between him, his parents, younger brother Blake, and little sister Gracie. He’s upset he can’t remember old family photos, relatives or neighbors, but is sure his memories will resurface. Ethan also has to deal with Blake’s jealousy and increasing anger at his presence. After a few months things start to settle, but a ringing doorbell forever changes life for Ethan.

I absolutely DESPISED the ending, and thought it was a complete copout on the author’s part. Why couldn’t she have given a real ending instead of those final three words? I feel like she sold Ethan out, as well as her readers. I was definitely not a happy camper, and took off one star because of the very bad ending.

Though I was EXTREMELY upset with the way the book ended, I will leave it up to you readers, ages 14 and older, to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

“Edwards eyes” by Patricia MacLachlan

Rated 3 stars *** Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 2007. 116 p.

Edward's eyesAt the tender age of three, Jake’s baby brother Edward was placed in his arms. He was mesmerized by Edward’s eyes, which represented the overwhelming love he felt for his new brother. As Edward grew older he loved playing baseball with his neighborhood friends, while Jake enjoyed watching him play. One afternoon a sudden and unexpected surprise forever changes Jake’s life, causing him to see Edward’s eyes in a completely new way.

Though tackling difficult subjects, MacLachlan’s simple style of writing helps readers understand the love and pain felt by this young family. I’m not sure why she inserted all sorts of song lyrics into the book. Perhaps it was to show how music was one of the many ways the family had fun and grew more united. That’s my guess. Would one of my readers care to give a response here on the blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Recommended for ages 9-12.

 

“Only love can break your heart” by Ed Tarkington

Rated 3 stars *** Algonquin Books. 2016. 307 p.

Only love can break your heartSet in a small Virginia town in 1977 Richard, called Rocky by his beloved sixteen-year-old big brother Paul, was almost eight years old. Paul was everything Rocky wished he could be – though he was always in trouble, and not a favorite of his mom. He was a girl charmer, and owned a great collection of records he often invited Rocky to hear in his room. Paul was always there until, one day, he wasn’t. He disappeared with Leigh, his long-time girlfriend.

Rocky missed his brother, but was distracted by his neighbor’s daughter Patricia who he met when he was almost 15 years old. Though she was almost 10 years older, for several months she schooled him in the art of sex in the hayloft of her family’s stable. Rocky was content to spend time with her, and was bereft when she broke up with him after Leigh returned and figured out their relationship.

Many years later Paul returned. Leigh’s time away had badly scarred her, leaving her mentally unstable, for which Paul blamed himself. Though Rocky and the Old Man were thrilled to have him back, Richard’s mom felt he was still the bane of her existence. When their next-door neighbor and wife were found murdered, Paul and Leigh quickly became the main suspects. Were the police overlooking the real killers in their eagerness to solve the crime, or was it true that Rocky’s idol and his girlfriend were murderers?

Rocky, as narrator, told his story as an adult sharing his memories. Though there was lots of rambling as he described his feelings and thoughts during the various events that transpired over the years, what I got out of it was that small town life in the late 70’s meant no one suspected what Patricia was doing to him, that an older father loved both his sons equally, that Rocky’s mom needed to get over herself for disliking her stepson so much, and that Rocky and Paul loved each other very much. That’s what I got out of it, and I’m sticking to it.

Though I wasn’t a huge fan, I’ll leave it up to you Adults to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

 

“Dodgers” by Bill Beverly

Rated 4 stars **** Crown Publishers (Penguin). 2016. 290 p.

DodgersThe Boxes, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, is what fifteen-year-old East has always called home. He is the leader of a group of boys who keep a 24 hr. lookout for cops coming near the crack house they guard. His uncle Fin runs several of these houses, and has decided to send East, his younger brother Ty, and two others on a road trip to Wisconsin to kill a judge who is a witness in a court case.

On the road the brothers renew their distrust towards each other as, eventually, everyone finds ways to get on each other’s nerves. As they travel from state to state, stopping only for gas or quick meals, East is mesmerized and thoughtful over everything new he sees because, having never been out of L.A., each state is eye opening. Though he appears to have more of a moral conscience than the others, and does not like guns, one thing is clear. Fin ordered the hit so the hit must get done, despite any of his inward objections.

Sometimes rambling, but always eye opening, “Dodgers” spins a tale of strength, street knowledge, street talk, street crime, courage, and survival. East reminded me of Pony Boy in “The Outsiders,” as he analyzed everything and everyone. “Dodgers” will keep readers riveted to their seats. I finished it in one day. This is one of those books that could be considered Adult, but would work well with readers 18 and older

Recommended for ages 18 and older.

“This light between us: A novel of World War II” by Andrew Fukuda

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Tor Teen. To be published January 7, 2020.

This light between usAlex was ten years old in 1935 when his teacher forced him to become pen pals with a girl named Charlie who lived in Paris, thousands of miles away from his American home on Bainbridge Island. Despite his initial horror at being paired with a girl their friendship deepened as, letter after letter, year after year, they shared their innermost thoughts.

In 1941 Alex’s life forever changed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Though he was an American citizen, and his parents had emigrated from Japan, they were treated as enemies by neighbors who’d known them for years. A law was passed saying all Japanese, regardless of their citizenship, had to relocate to holding camps. Alex and his family were sent to Manzanar where they, along with 10,000 others, lived as prisoners surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers.

Meanwhile Charlie was experiencing her own prejudice due to being Jewish, and their letters helped keep them grounded. As the war dragged on Charlie was forced into hiding to avoid roundups, and her letters ceased. Alex enlists in the 442nd Battalion, created solely of Japanese-American soldiers, partly to get his father released from prison and partly to find out what happened to Charlie. While in Europe he experiences the horrors of war, but thoughts of finding Charlie kept him sane. He is determined to find her and live out the dreams from their letters.

I absolutely LOVED this amazingly well researched book, and couldn’t put it down. The author did an excellent job in his descriptions of what it was like for Japanese American citizens to be interned for no crime other than for their ancestry, and in describing the battles endured by the 442nd. He brilliantly fused together the prejudice experienced by both Parisian Jews and Japanese Americans and, I will have to say, I cried at the end.

I don’t want to give out spoilers as to why I cried, so will leave it up to you to read it and find out for yourself. Maybe you’ll shed a tear too. I predict this book will win lots of awards in the 2020 cycle. You read it here first!

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Jimmy” by William Malmborg

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. 2011. Darker Dreams Media.

JimmyThis extremely dark, twisted tale of a high school senior who kidnaps two teenage girls to satisfy his sexual bondage desires was very upsetting to me because it was too scarily realistic. All the clues that seemed to point to Jimmy doing something strange in his spare time went unnoticed, as no one suspected him because he was just so normal. This is what makes all the evil he got away with so upsetting to me.

I hope anyone reading this book won’t get any ideas of doing what Jimmy did, and I also hope if anyone suspects someone of similar actions that they’ll say something to someone in authority before it’s too late. I feel as troubled after reading this book as I felt when I finished watching the movie “The silence of the lambs.” I was very troubled after that movie and couldn’t sleep for a few hours. It’s now 12:42 a.m., and I have the feeling I’ll be up for a very long time tonight contemplating the evil in men’s souls after reading “Jimmy.” Thanks a lot Mr. Malmboorg!

I’m not a fan of horror books, especially ones I read at night, but the fact that this one was so realistic was what upset me the most. My heart cries out for the young ladies kidnapped by Jimmy, and for what they endured.

Recommended for mature teens ages 17 and older.