“Baby Doll” Hollie Overton

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. To be published July 12, 2016. Redhook Books (Hachette).

BabyDollLily and her twin sister Abby have always been attuned to each other’s feelings and thoughts, sharing unspoken pacts to always be there for each other. When 16-year-old Lily was kidnapped and held as a sex slave for 8 years, their lives were turned upside down. During those 3,110 days of captivity, Lily gave birth, bore numerous beatings, and learned to be a perfect Baby Doll. Despite his attempts to make her forget, she drew strength from memories of her family, and used that strength to escape the night her captor got careless.

Told through the voices of Lily, Abby, her mother, and her kidnapper, “Baby Doll” takes readers on a roller coaster of emotions as we learn what Lily endured during her 8 years of captivity, and the ramifications it had on her family. Lily’s freedom affects each one differently, but the revenge planned for her disobedience by Rick, her captor, brought goose bumps of horror. This psychological thriller kept me on the edge of my seat, and will do the same for you.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“1949: A novel of the Irish Free State” Morgan Llywelyn

Rated 5 stars ***** 2003. Irish Century Novels #3. Tom Doherty Associates. 485 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, the Ireland Act from 1949, Source Notes and a Bibliography.)

1949With Ned off fighting for the Republic and Henry living in America, it is up to Ursula Halloran to take up the story of Ireland and her struggles for freedom in this newest edition to the Irish Century series.

After two years at a Swiss finishing school, Ursula arrives back at the home of Louise Hamilton determined to get a job at a radio station and become more heavily involved in Ireland’s quest to become a Republic. Determined not to marry and to remain independent, contrary to what the Catholic Church has instilled into the consciousness of her countrywomen, she forges a strong path for herself.

Ursula’s strong willed tendencies make her extremely attractive to two men. With each determined to win her love Ursula refuses to give in to her feelings, even when she becomes pregnant. Without telling the father of her child, she travels to Switzerland to work for the League of Nations and to give birth as a single mother outside of the condemnation of the Church. Unfortunately Adolf Hitler and the rise of Fascism have led to a thirst for power and land among various leaders. With almost all of Europe falling to his army, she and little Barry are no longer safe.

Ireland’s role during the war, along with its own internal battles for freedom, form a background to Ursula’s story, the rise of Hitler and the horrors of World War II. Readers will learn of important historical events while continuing to follow the highs and lows of the Halloran clan who we have grown to love.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“Promised” Caragh M. O’Brien

Promised“The Birthmarked Trilogy,” Book #3. Roaring Book Press. 2012. 293 pp.

Gaia and the people of Sylum have left their poisonous land and are headed for a new life in The Enclave. Gaia hopes the Protectorate will welcome their new DNA, offer them water and sanctuary and accept Leon as his son. Little does she know The Enclave has changed, with the Protectorate deciding that creating a baby factory is the best way to give childless families a healthy baby.

With Gaia’s arrival, the Protectorate is very interested in one thing. If Gaia gives him what he wishes, her life will never be the same. If she doesn’t, her people will die. Her love for Leon is tested anew, as she and the people of Sylum face their greatest challenges while the Protectorate works to destroy their rights, their lives, and Leon.

In this last edition of O’Brien’s series, 14 and older readers are faced with more thought provoking issues about reproduction and the value of human life.

“Prized” Caragh M. O’Brien

“The Birthmarked Trilogy,” Book #2. Roaring Book Press. 2011. 356 pp.

PrizedWhen we last saw sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, she was fleeing the cruelty of The Enclave with her baby sister Maya. Alone in the wilderness, both are near death when they are rescued and brought to the strange town of Sylum. Ruled by women, despite having a majority of men, their laws include no kissing, no physical contact for unmarried men and women, no voting for men, and for women to have as many children as possible to help populate the dying town.

Births include more boys than girls, so baby Maya is immediately taken away to be raised properly while Gaia is expected to assimilate into the rules of the town. The iron rod of discipline wielded by Matrarc Olivia, their leader, begins to bear an uncanny resemblance to The Enclave.

In time, Gaia begins to have feelings for two brothers but soon finds her past catching up to her when Leon comes back into her life. Caught in a triangle of emotions between the three men who care for her, Gaia will have to make choices which may have far reaching consequences on the future of everyone in Sylum.

“Prized” has some interesting concepts about freedom, voting and the concept of liberty that may get its 14-17 year old readers thinking after its last pages have been turned.

“Birth Marked” Caragh M. O’Brien

“The Birthmarked Trilogy,” Book #1. Roaring Book Press. 2010. 362 pp.

BirthMarkedI read this book back in 2010 when it was first released. Those of you who follow my blog know how much I dislike series books because I usually wind up forgetting what each book is about before the next one is released. “Birth Marked” was no exception, since I’d forgotten what it was about and couldn’t read the next two books until I refreshed my memory on the first one. However, since I hadn’t read YA in so long, and my new school had all three copies, I decided to reread book 1 and treat myself to some good ole YA .

Sixteen-year-old Gaia is an assistant to her midwife mother. She assists with births and makes sure their quota of Advancing three babies per month to The Enclave is met. The poor citizens on her side of The Wall are supposed to be glad their perfect children have been Advanced to serve The Enclave, to be raised with the rich citizens on the other side of The Wall. No one with a defect is ever Advanced, as Gaia’s scarred face excluded her from a life of privilege. She has always unquestioningly followed Enclave rules, but everything changes when her parents are arrested and accused of being traitors to the Enclave.

Gaia’s only thoughts are for her parents’ safety but, while trying to figure out how to save them, she finds out strange and unsettling things about The Enclave and those in leadership. A veiled secret and open threat towards her from The Enclave only serves to make Gaia fear more for their safety. Aided by simple townspeople, and an unexpected source from The Enclave itself, Gaia must choose between the life she’s always known and the unknown future which awaits if she rebels.

Fourteen and older fans of dystopian YA will enjoy O’Brien’s first foray into YA literature.



“Brianna on the Brink” Nicole McInnes

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published January 7, 2013. Holiday House. 170 pp.

BriannaOnTheBrinkSixteen-year-old Brianna never expected her life would change the night she met Derek. She was popular, a cheerleader, well known, and had a great group of friends. Even though her mother never cared about her and had kicked her out of the house so she could marry her boyfriend and she was now forced to live in a tiny corner of her sister’s apartment with her sister’s boyfriend, life was still good.

The night she met Derek everything changed. Brianna never expected Derek would do what he did, but there was no going back. Brianna is now a pariah at school, shunned by everyone, off the cheerleading squad and has nowhere to turn. Her bad luck continues when her sister takes her boyfriend’s side in an argument and kicks her out of the house. With nowhere to go, Brianna is forced to live on the street. Help eventually comes from an unexpected source, as Brianna finds out friends can be found in the most unlikely of places.

“Brianna on the Brink” is a quick and emotional read, perfect for reluctant readers aged 14 and older.

“A girl named Mister” Nikki Grimes

Zondervan Books, 2010. 223 pp.

A Girl named MisterIn poetic verse, Nikki Grimes tells the story of Mister, a young girl who gets pregnant shortly before her 14th birthday. Despite her promise to keep pure until marriage, she falls for Trey. Their one time together leaves her pregnant and afraid, especially when Trey refuses to acknowledge it as his own. Terrified to tell her mother, Mister tries to hide her growing belly and finds comfort in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Using Biblical accounts and poetic license Grimes tells Mary’s story. Fearful of retribution from her family and neighbors since she and Joseph are not married, she hides her pregnancy believing no one would understand she’d been visited by an angel and told she would become miraculously pregnant with the Son of God.

These two stories of young, unwed, teenage mothers in vastly different circumstances and worlds are interwoven to create “A girl named Mister.” Mister wonders how her unborn child will change her life, while Mary does the same. Faith, hope and love combine to give both young women strength to deal with their situations. “A girl named Mister” is a good read for those 12 and older.