“Not if I see you first” Eric Lindstrom

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Published December 1, 2015. Poppy.

NotIfISeeYouFirstParker’s dad taught her to run and to be independent. She embraced her blindness with funky looking blindfolds, a quick-as-a-whip attitude, a fierce protectiveness of her friends, and a list of rules for how to be treated.

When her forever enemy, Scott Kilpatrick, comes back into her life Parker is livid. She has never forgiven him for what he did to her, and plans to ignore him forever. However as events in her life begin to boil over, Parker will have to find a way to let go of the past and, in so doing, find her true self.

I LOVED this book, and was SO disappointed when it ended. I really, REALLY wanted it to continue. It was THAT good!! Lindstrom has created a believable cast of characters who will live on in our memories, long past the final chapter.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Black-eyed Susans” Julia Heaerlin

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Ballantine Books (Penguin). Published August 11, 2015.

BlackEyedSusansSixteen-year-old Tessa was lucky to be alive, as a serial killer had left her in a grave with several other bodies and bones for over 32 hours. Because of the flowers scattered around the area the dead girls were nicknamed “Susans,” with Tessa the only survivor.

Now grown with a teenaged daughter of her own, Tessa is unable to forget the terror and horror she felt in that lonely grave. The Susans haunt her, seeking justice, while she tries to force herself to remember what happened the night she was abducted. The killer was arrested back in 1995, but someone has been planting black-eyed susans everywhere she has lived over the years, leading her to believe the serial killer is still alive and that she helped place an innocent man in jail. Will he succeed in what he had failed to do when she was just 16 years old?

Through flashbacks and the present time, Heaerlin lays down a clever plot of betrayal, terror, and fear as readers pry back the layers of time to find out what really happened to Tessa and the Susans. The truth, when it was finally revealed, made me gasp in surprise and shock. “Black-eyed Susans” is a gut-wrenching story of suspense and horror, highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Luckiest girl alive” Jessica Knoll

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. EBook. Simon & Schuster. Published May 12, 2015.

LuckiestGirlAliveAni FaNelli is a successful writer at the very prestigious The Women’s Magazine in New York City. She is engaged to be married to Luke Harrison, a very rich man from a prestigious family, and has perfected the right way to dress, walk, and talk. Ani has the money and the lifestyle she’s always wanted, but she is not happy.

To explain Ani’s present situation you have to understand her past, so readers are taken back in time to when she was fourteen years old and a new transfer student at the very elite Bradley school. TifAni (as she was known then) came from the wrong side of the tracks and was determined to make her mark at Bradley. Her desire to get “in” with the popular crowd led to a series of unfortunate events which would haunt her for the rest of her life. In her own way Ani has tried to deal with what happened when she was 14 years old but she will soon find out that facing up to her past is the only way that she can have a future.

Through flashbacks and the present day Jessica Knoll peels back the layers of Ani’s life, revealing her vulnerability and endearing her to readers. As life at the Bradley school is mixed with Ani’s NYC life, I was glued to the pages to find out what had happened to Ani and to cheer for her to make the right decisions.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Liar’s Bench” Kim Michele Richardson

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Kensington Publishing. Published April 28, 2015.

Liar'sBenchIt is 1972 in the small Kentucky town of Peckinpaw where, over 100 years ago, a slave was hung for crimes against her owners. Years later, a bench was built from the wood of her gallows and placed in the center of town, gradually earning the name of “Liar’s Bench.” On this bench, Peckinpaw’s citizens shared their stories and lies with each other.

With this background information, Richardson begins her story of seventeen-year-old Muddy Summer, who found out her mother committed suicide by hanging on her birthday. Muddy refuses to believe her mother would take her own life and, along with her boyfriend Bobby, sets out to find out the truth of her death.

Their journey to discover what really happened to Muddy’s mother takes them through the sordid evil found in men’s souls, which clung to the citizens of Peckinpaw. Evils, which included prejudice against Bobby and his kin for the crime of being Black in a White man’s town, murder, Klansmen, betrayal and more follow them through Peckinpaw. Soon they will discover that what happened in the past bears strange similarities to its present, and that these truths will draw them even closer together as Peckinpaw’s citizens try to separate them.

Muddy and Bobby’s Romeo and Juliet type love story is mixed with racial prejudice in the Deep South of 1972, a murder mystery, an historical mystery of an unjustly accused murdered slave, Title IX, and thug like characters committing crimes in town. I felt there was a lot going on in this book, and it could have benefitted from fewer story lines, but I will still recommend it for readers aged 16 and older because some of those story lines need to be remembered so history doesn’t repeat itself.

“All the Rage” Courtney Summers

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.

“Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary McManus

Rated 4 stars **** 2014. Createspace. 236 pp.

ComingHomeMary McManus incorporates memories, as well as present-time events, to tell the story of her life after contracting polio at the age of five. Despite recovering from this disease she faced years of physical, mental and emotional abuse from her parents and grandmother.

Over the years the stresses brought on by these abuses accumulated in her body causing severe physical problems, and resulting in a diagnosis of post-polio syndrome when Mary was just a few years away from retirement. Physicians and therapists at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, as well as other health caregivers, worked together to give Mary the spiritual, physical and emotional strength she needed to heal her body from its trauma.

Determined to do something meaningful with her newfound feeling of mental and physical strength, Mary decided to run the 2009 Boston Marathon to raise money for Spaulding Rehab. Triumphantly crossing the finish line of the marathon was just one of Mary’s many accomplishments described in “Coming Home,” as she valiantly worked to regain the person she had lost at the age of five and rewrite her past.

Mary is a fellow member of my running club, the L Street Running Club in South Boston. After reading her self-published life story, I have to salute the courage and strength she displayed in working through extreme trials which a young girl should have never had to endure, and which led to the beautiful and generous person she has become today. Mary, you are a survivor and I salute you!

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know I try not to read self-published books because of the amount of grammatical errors usually contained within them. However, since Mary was generous enough to donate part of the proceeds of her book to a reputable charity, and is a fellow club member, I felt I should read her book and learn about her story. I was able to put aside my editing hat and read Mary’s story for its rawness and truthfulness. I gave it a 4 star rating for its content, and trust you will agree when you read it.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“A Trick of the Light” Lois Metzger

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins). 196 pp. Includes “Author’s Note” and a list of books on eating disorders.

ATrickOfTheLightMike and his friend Tamio enjoyed watching Ray Harryhausen movies, discussing his stop-motion method of filming and the many creatures he brought to life using this technique. When his mother began to spend her days sleeping and his dad left home after he found a young girlfriend, Mike’s life started to go downhill. Keeping his problems at home a secret from Tamio, Mike began to listen to the voice in his head telling him to reinvent himself.

After he adds being rejected by a pretty girl at school to his list of problems, Mike is sure becoming fit and having a strong mind will be the answers to everything that ails him. The voice in his head urges him to become friends with Amber, a girl going through her own problems, and she gives him tips on how to shop for food and how to eat less.

Mike loves his new body and how running and exercising make him feel. He shuts himself off from everyone except Amber, and revels in his new powers of self-control. Unfortunately Mike’s new body begins to betray him, and he will have to learn to silence the voice in his head before it’s too late.

“A Trick of the Light” enlightens readers that males also suffer from eating disorders, and offers insight to this hidden population.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

NEW UPDATE!: Lois Metzger was kind enough to let me know that the paperback edition of this wonderful book will be published on September 23. It will include a new section called “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Eating Disorders.” She also noted the book was listed on ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults (compiled by YALSA) and was also on the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year list. Congratulations, and thanks Lois!