Monday, January 25, 2016

Beastly Bones by William Ritter

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Algonquin
Pages: 295
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 13+
Series: Jackaby

Abigail Rook has now come to terms with the strange and paranormal--which is good since that's what Jackaby specializes in. Their newest case seems fairly open and shut until their client mysteriously ends up dead. The case sends them off to visit their old friend Charlie, but Abigail is much more interested in the discovery of some dinosaur bones than in the deaths that brought them there. However, the bones aren't simply dinosaur bones. And people continue dying.

Following the first Jackaby novel, Beastly Bones doesn't disappoint. Jackaby is still Holmesian, with the twist of "sight" and a knowledge in all things supernatural. With the house/office haunted by a ghost and shared with a man turned duck, Abigail is surprisingly calm and logical when it comes to their cases. There are new characters to meet and old ones to become reacquainted with.

Using true history mixed with fantasy to create a believable narrative, I'm sure that the Jackaby books will attract a wide range of readers—young and old.

While this, like the first, ends with the story complete, it does introduce a new storyline at the end.

There is no language or sexual situations.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

More info*
Publication date: 2016
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Pages: 370
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 18+

The first time Eleanor falls out of time, she's fourteen and at school. It's eight years after her twin's tragic death and eight years of making sure her mother doesn't drink herself to death. The place she goes is happy and bright, but the next time it happens, it's terrifying. As are the next and the next. Where does she go? What is she supposed to do? Can it heal her broken family or just tear them further apart?

I was intrigued by the idea of this book, but when I started reading it, the only thought I had was "This is so weird." The writing is beautiful and well done, but the story was really strange. There were several viewpoints that it was told in, though fortunately they were well labeled.

The good thing about such a strange book is that it was full of surprises. I try to guess how I think books will go and I kept being proven wrong again and again. This isn't a book that is a quick read and it will take some serious thought. By the time I was about halfway through, I felt invested enough that I was curious about the ending and how everything would work itself out and who everyone was.

There is some strong language.

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 276
My rating: 2 stars

Early New Year's Day when Sam was 7, her little sister Turtle was kidnapped right in front of her. Ten years later, back in the house where it happened, Sam and her family are still trying to come to terms with what happened--especially since Turtle was never found.

I have to admit that I was really surprised when I looked at the publisher when I started writing this review. I have never read a book published by Bloomsbury that I didn't like. I have never read a book by Bloomsbury that had noticeable typos. But for me, this book was both. Though I suppose you can't expect home runs all the time.

There were a couple of times when the narrator--Sam--would say something to the effect "Just think about it" about something she has just mentioned and I would be sitting there completely in the dark, trying to figure it out. Eventually she would clue me in, a hundred pages later. While the approach was interesting, jumping between times and including snippets of a "book", sometimes things seemed disjointed, random, and hard to follow. The ending seemed a little abrupt, with choices that I suppose I could see someone in that situation make, but that seemed to go against Sam's core beliefs.

In short, what seemed like a good mystery slowly became a pile of misdirection and poorly laid clues.

There was a lot of hard language, drinking, drug use, and sexual references.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis

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Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Ember
Pages: 276
My rating: 3 stars

Vinnie Gold's horoscopes on his 15 birthday predicted a pretty bad year, and boy did the year deliver. His parents divorced, his girl moved away, and his face broke out in the worst kind of zits. Moving to Long Island, Vinnie meets someone who could change it all--if he could ever get up the nerve to talk to her. And then one day, he finds a piece of paper with her phone number on it . . .

When I started this book, it was kind of "meh." Then I continued it and I was trying to decide what the themes were, what the point was. It wasn't until the last 20 pages or so, I started thinking of some.

I think mostly this is book about discovering what kind of person you are. Who was Vinnie? And could he take all the facets of what he thought he should be and become the person he was?

The book is a little like a 1970s teen version of You've Got Mail, but with phone calls. The ending is even similar. The lack of conflict between Vinnie and his love interest, and Vinnie and his stepfather, was kind of a relief. A lot of stories use a giant conflict between characters in the middle to move it forward, but this didn't need it, because the conflict was really between Vinnie and himself.

There was two instances of the f-bomb at the beginning of the book.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 373
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 14+

At the start of her junior year, Paige has decided that she no longer wants to the The Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned. She's had it with the pitying looks and the grief. So she makes a plan—she's going to take part in the high school experience, including dating Ryan Chase, the boy she's had a crush on forever and who just happened to break up with his girlfriend. Not everything goes as planned and Paige's grief just won't disappear.

I am just as much in awe at this book as I was with Lord's debut novel. They come across seeming so much like every other teen romance novel, but the depth and the issues that are explored make them more. The characters are all multidimensional, something that a lot of novels—of all sorts—seem to forget about; the best friends are bland and the minor "background" characters all seem the same. But in Me and You, the reader is presented with believable, complicated characters and relationships.  The one character who seemed the least developed was Paige's sister, who rarely seems to be around.

Throughout the year that we go through with Paige, we see her relationship with her sister, parents, grandmother, friends, schoolmates, and herself. We see her as she deals with death, sickness, betrayal, and forgiveness. And then we get to be with her as she discovers (as we all do) that life doesn't follow the plans we had, but that usually means that it's better than we could have imagined.

I wanted more of a Christmas scene, but that's probably just because I was reading it around Christmas and I just wanted everything to be about the holiday.

No sexual situations and only one swear.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.