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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

REVIEW: The Leaving, by Tara Altebrando

Eleven years ago, six kindergartners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.
Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max--the only one who hasn't come back. Which leaves Max's sister, Avery, wanting answers. She wants to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story. But as details of the disappearance begin to unfold, no one is prepared for the truth.

Could be one of those "ripped from the headlines" kind of stories. Where did 6 five-year-olds disappear to, literally from under the noses of parents and school officials--ON A SCHOOL BUS even. (Frankly, if this ever really did happen and I learned of it, I'd quit working and never let my child near a school bus. Ever.) 
I enjoyed the whole book, really had to tear myself away from it and deal with reality. The characters are really interesting and I feel like Altebrando did a great job with an interesting development challenge. I mean, seriously, how do you develop characters who have zero memories of the last 11 years, and only marginally more of their 5 years before that? In my mind, that's more than creating a character, that's creating a character who doesn't even know himself.
The story itself is wonderful. The switch in perspectives (2 of the returned and 1 family member of another of the kids) is really interesting. The clues they have and the questions that come up for each of them. I would've like to see more of the other returned teenagers, because I don't feel like some of the ultimate resolution was as "neat" as it appeared to be.
The only real "ehs" I have about this book is the timeline and resolution. Unless I missed some queues, time from "return" to "all questions answered" was 2 weeks-ish. Yeah, not realistic. I know there's a difficulty in dragging things out in YA, and the chance of losing readers because of it, but...too fast. This isn't CSI.
As for the resolution, timeline aside, it was too quick. There were some interesting twists (one I'd never seen coming, one that is hinted at a couple of times if you're observant), but it felt like a punch list was created for the ending and it had to be run through. That being said, not ALL questions are answered, but that just adds to the really good premise and character line--the kids STILL don't know what really happened in those 11 years, and have scant half-memories.
Would I add it to my library? Yes. And I'd use it for book club because I think it could stem some great discussion and encourage my writers.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Bloomsbury USA Children's through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

REVIEW: The Hidden Twin, by Adi Rule

For eighteen years a girl with no name, a Redwing, has been hidden away in a small attic room within a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of the great volcano, Mol, while her sister, Jey-identical except for her eyes-has lived her life in public as an only child. Their father had hoped the hidden girl would one day grow up to be a normal human girl and not the wicked creature mythology has promised, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.
But when she switches places with her sister, striking up a flirtation with the son of the Empress while working in the royal gardens and gets attacks by two suspicious priests on her journey home, she is forced to call forth fire to protect herself, unleashing her previously dormant powers and letting her secret out. She soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year old grudge as well as a group of underground rebels, both seeking her for their own gain. But when her sister goes missing and the Redwing uncovers a great plot to awaken Mol and bring fiery destruction upon them all, she is forced to embrace her powers.

Certainly makes for an interesting story. Different kind of fantasy world, with its own lore and mythology, that apparently has some truth to it. I like the internal struggle the Redwing has going on, "am I good, or am I bad?" I loved that the the "hidden" twin is the one that is real and the sister with the life is so one dimensional (and not just because the story is told by the Redwing). It's rather telling about the society in general.

But, the world. Part of me felt like this was a story that took place in a world I should already be familiar with from a previous novel. Only, from what I can tell, this may be a one and done for this story line/world. It seemed to be taken for granted that the reader knew whys and whats for things that happened and existed in the world. And was this a world-world, or a part of a bigger picture world. I just don't know. Being a reader that is drawn to the world as much as the characters and stories themselves, this one lost me. 

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from St. Martin's Press/St. Martin's Griffin through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, February 19, 2016

REVIEW: Firstlife, by Gena Showalter

Firstlife (An Everlife Novel)



Tenley "Ten" Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she'll live—after she dies. 

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death. 

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she's drawn to isn't where the boy she's falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

Oh my, what a story of good and evil, love, soul-searching, and coming of age. It's a unique premise, very detailed, very complex. To think that you get another chance at life, but it's based on an eternity changing choice you'll make in the first one. To essentially be free to make that choice, but both sides (and sometimes your parents) are doing everything they can--and then some--to tip the scales. I have to admit, I loved the story.


The entire book (read it on Kindle, but it's like 400+ pages in print) is about Ten not being able to choose a side, or a boy. I sped through some sections because, I get it, she can't choose. Sure the story elements kept me involved, but it just kept circling back to her not being able to choose.

That aside. The action draws you in. The fight scenes are a bit gory, and the love triangle is predictable. But there are some serious twists in the family story that surprise.

I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series. There are some holes to this story, leaving me as a reader wanting some answers and clarification.

**This book will be available for purchase February 23, 2016.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Harlequin TEEN through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

REVIEW: The President's Shadow, by Brad Meltzer

Book 3 of The Culper Ring Series

A severed arm, found buried in the White House Rose Garden.

A lethal message with terrible consequences for the Presidency.

And a hidden secret in one family's past that will have repercussions for the entire nation.

I'm not sure I can be objective in this review. You see, I seriously seriously  "heart" Brad Meltzer and everything he writes or does with History Channel.

This book is actually the 3rd in the Culper Ring Series. There's a lot of history (George Washington formed the Culper Ring) mixed in to this modern day mystery. The book stands alone, despite being very tied to the series. You don't "hurt" for not having all the details of the back stories, but you'll likely find yourself hunting down books 1 and 2 to get them. 

Meltzer paints pictures. You can't help but vividly imagine locations and scenes. Character development (which I tend to find tricky for most authors) is really well done. Not only are they described in such a way that you can easily visualize and build in your own mind precisely that person--mannerisms, psychological profiles, even speech patterns. I tend to "hear" voices in my head as I read, and there is a distinct voice for each major player in this story line.

In a YA collection, this book might fill a very specific niche (mystery loving future-archivist/librarian sorts) or it might fit a wide-range (mystery lovers, stories with ties to history, people who just enjoy a good story and get invested in characters). It's worth the read, and so are the first 2 books in the series.

**This title will be available June 16, 2015.

Book 1 of The Culper Ring Series
Book 2 of The Culper Ring Series

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Grand Central Publishing through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

REVIEW: Another Day, by David Levithan


 Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.


After reading Every Day, I just didn't think there needed to be more to the story. I liked A, I liked his story, I liked that we were left "up in the air," just as A is every day. I don't think we need closure, because in a life like A's, I'm not sure there's any to be had.

That being said, I enjoyed Rhiannon's point of view regarding their "relationship." I liked the juxtaposition of A's life and how it rubbed against and generally caused turmoil in Rhiannon's. When all you knew was A's POV, it wasn't possible to understand, really, how his constant "make overs" affected someone else.

Again, there was some melodramatic stuff (typical of any teenager) and a bit too much waxing philosophic, but the story holds itself together well. It was important in this story to show Rhiannon's life away from A, and the affect his unplanned entrance into it had on her even when he wasn't around.

There are some life lessons in there and some general "human" lessons, but I won't go into those. This book can flesh out the story for those needing that (though not continue it, per say), or introduce a reader to this world (and send them running for a copy of Every Day.)

Another Day is a companion to David Levithan's novel Every Day. It's a companion book, not a sequel. This book isn't continuing the story, it's telling Rhiannon's side of it, and if you'll recall, A met Rhiannon one day and stayed in touch with someone for the very first time.


What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book for my own enjoyment. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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