Monday, June 19, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 300
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 15+

Alice doesn't believe in luck; at least, not good luck. So when she buys her friend Teddy a lottery ticket as a joke for his birthday, she doesn't expect anything to come of it. But the next day, Teddy becomes the youngest winner of the lottery ever. Alice is scared what this change will do to her best friend--who she has been in love with for years.

I usually love Smith's characters; however, I really didn't like Teddy. Even at the end. He had ignored and brushed off Alice so many times, got mad at her for sharing her opinion, and never seemed to try to see things from her side. Then he would get jealous and childish when she seemed interested in another person. Even at the end of book, I still just couldn't find myself liking him.

That said, I did like the book and the concept of it. Who hasn't thought what they would do if they won the lottery? How would life change or not change? How would it affect your friends and family? Though, really, the story was more about Alice growing and learning about family and friendship than Teddy winning the lottery. And the writing was spot on.

There is some mild language, but no sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 400
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 10+

Peregrine was raised thinking she was a Lakti--a member of the ruling class. Then a fairy comes to her and tells her that she is a Bamarre, the oppressed people who were conquered by the Lakti generations ago. Perry must make the decision to continue to live as a Lakti or to embrace being a Bamarre to save her people.

This is a prequel to Levine's The Two Princesses of Bamarre, telling the background of the freedom of the Bamarre that is referenced. To be honest, it's been a long time since I read Two Princesses, but this book stood on it's own. I just wanted to pick up on the Easter eggs and allusions.

Levine has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid, so I was excited when a new book came out. This has shades of multiple fairy tales and stories, without being tooI don't know if this is her best book, but it was exciting and a good read, especially if you are a fan.

There is no language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 388
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

Lucy in secure in her life as a Pastor's Kid, relying on her faith and her relationship with her family to guide her life. But when her mom is diagnosed with cancer, Lucy's faith fails her and she starts pushing back against the things she was taught. Instead of helping with her parents' church camp over the summer, Lucy becomes a counselor at the "hippie" camp. It's there that she learns about who she really is and what it means to love and be loved.

I just really love Lord's writing. It's so approachable and easy to read, but with a depth that usually comes from much more complicated writing. I like the view of Lucy's crisis of faith--I think it's something that a lot of people go through. She still held onto the things she was taught, and still wanted to be faithful, but was angry at God.

There comes a time in every teenager's life that they need to learn for themselves and stop relying on their parents to tell them how they should be. And there comes a time when a child learns more about their parents as people, with histories and faults. Lucy learning these things and growing as a person and a friend was natural.

Also, I cried several times.

There is some swearing (about four f-words) and mention of sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentmer

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 399
My rating: 3.5
Ages: 16+

Not only did Carver lose all three of his friends at once, but he has to live with the guilt of knowing he caused their deaths. Not on purpose, but caused all the same. With school starting, Carver isn't sure how to face everyone without his friends. Battling crippling guilt, Carver has to come to terms with what happened, even while being blamed by those around him.

I didn't mean for my last two reviews to be about grief and death, but sometimes these things just happen. However, this is a completely different look at grief and guilt than was in Letters to the Lost. This time, something that Carver did directly attributed to the accident that killed his friends, and it's something he has to live with. What I think is important though, is that in grieving, we all start thinking of things we could have done different and we all experience that guilt and need to come to terms with living while others are gone.

This book also deals with panic attacks, being blamed, and friendship. It's not a deeply depressing book, but it does deal with serious subjects.

There is some language and sexual talk.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 388
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 15+

Juliet spends her free time in the cemetery, writing letters to her mother. Declan is likely to be voted "most likely to end up in jail." He's serving community service when he finds a letter left on a grave. When he decides to respond to it, he starts a relationship with an unknown person who seems to understand him better than any other person. But when he learns that the person he's been writing is Juliet, he wonders if he can continue to share with her.

I loved this book--I could barely stand to put it down. While it does deal with heavy topics such as grief and guilt and judging by appearances, it didn't feel heavy even while addressing them in a good way.

It took a little while for me to realize that when the chapter started with a letter from one character, it meant the chapter would be in the other character's POV. I think I would have liked a more obvious clue than that.

The secondary characters were also interesting and well developed, to the point where I believed that they had a life outside of reacting to the main characters' drama.

No sex (thought mention of it and mention of nudity) and only mild language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 345
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 14+

Lydia is occupied with planning her eighteenth party, keeping her uncle from ruining the estate, and getting engaged to the man her father chose before his death. Things start to change with Robert Newton appears. Then they are both kidnapped, which connects them in a new and complicated way. But this just beginning of a mystery that could put both Lydia and Robert in danger.

This was such a fun book, especially for fans of Regency England. Lydia is a strong willed female, who is still feminine but aware of her responsibilities. Robert is a hard working third son with an admirable sense of right and wrong.

I also think that this is a great way to introduce young readers to the world of Jane Austen and the writing of Georgette Heyer. It introduces social mores, culture, and vocabulary in a easy way to for modern readers to understand and will hopefully lead them reading the classics.

No language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Marvel Press
Pages: 336
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 10+

Doreen Green has just moved to New Jersey and ready to make new friends, just like any other 14 year old. However, Doreen isn't your run-of-the-mill teenager--she has a giant squirrel tail. She usually hides it, but when some trouble starts going down in her neighborhood, she takes action. Now, she's Squirrel Girl! Saving babies and befriending squirrels!

Having never heard of Squirrel Girl before it was announced that the Hales were going to write the novel, I went into this with no expectations. I was very pleasantly surprised! It was fun, with great little jokes peppered throughout (some that maybe kids wouldn't get as they are plays on words). I especially liked Doreen's optimism and kindness, even as she's fighting the villain.

I would say that this is more of a "middle grade" book than young adult. Also, I feel that Doreen acts younger than her age. Granted, it's been a few years since I was 14, but I don't quite remember it the way it's portrayed in the book. Of course, I try to block out a lot of my teen years, so it's completely possible.

Anyway. Great book for any one who likes superheros. No language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.