Redemption Lake by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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I voluntarily read and reviewed Redemption Lake by Susan Clayton-Goldner. Matt ends up in an extremely bad situation when he wakes up after sleeping some beer off at his friend’s house and finds his best friend’s mother, Crystal, dead in her bathtub with a slit throat. Matt worries about the consequences of every one of his actions and how those actions affect the people around him. The mystery surrounding Crystal’s death causes turmoil within the community. The suspect becomes difficult to narrow down and the uncertainty left me guessing until the end. Secrets are exposed and relationships are stretched thin in this well written mystery. “…wisdom grows out of disillusionment. We evolve from what hurts us, what happens in our own hearts as a result of that pain.” Profound and life-changing statement. 5 stars!

Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne

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I voluntarily read and reviewed Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne. Finn is attending a camp for overachievers. The campers are divided into two teams and Finn becomes the reluctant leader of her team. Willa is the leader of another team. Several teams are created and given directions and rules to pretend each team and its territory (each team has been given a spot of land with different attributes) are a real part of civilization. The teams compete and combine together if they choose to, and see who creates and sustains their society. The story is about relationships and self-awareness as well as the skills of these select groups of students. It is also a survival adventure and part LGBT, tastefully written. The book is interesting because of the differences of leadership styles and skills and the array of personalities that make up each team. Realistic fiction and a well written young adult story; 4 stars! FYI: There’s a sequel planned for release in Fall of 2017, All the Ways to Here by Emily O’Beirne.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, “Some people hate him because they think he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants.” This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor’s guilt. Violet’s sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author’s notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

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I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge. A Face Like Glass is a strange story of a lost girl in a world where people are taught expressions or “faces” by Facesmiths. This girl, Neverfell, was given a mask to cover her face because it’s different. She’s brought to society and lives with a family while she learns how to act and react when around others. This is an odd story full of symbolism of human nature and society. The epilogue helps the story make a bit more sense, but the oddities and ramblings still overpower the story. The writing is well done but the story is not for me, too stretched and too vague; 3 stars.

Bang by Barry Lyga

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I checked out Bang by Barry Lyga on our school’s Overdrive ebooks site. The opening literally blew me away! The narrator states that his sister is gone. She’s gone because he killed her! He was four years old at the time and now he’s telling the story ten years later. The narrator, Sebastian is just living, but not enjoying anything. He’s consumed by guilt and doesn’t believe he has any right to be happy. Sebastian has been biding his time until the tenth anniversary of his sister’s death because that’s when he plans on taking his own life. This story is difficult reading at times, but other times it’s friendly and healing. I’m not going to spoil the book for you because it will take the curiosity away and this story is worth reading! Bang is contemporary, realistic fiction for a young adult audience and my rating is 4.5 stars.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon! Madeline suffers from immunodeficiency and has many life restrictions because of this. She stays home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Her mother is a doctor and goes to work while Nurse Carla takes care of Madeline. New neighbors move in next door and Madeline can’t hide her curiosity. The teenagers that moved in next door, Olly and Kara, bring a bundt cake to be friendly, but Madeline’s mom has to turn it away. Olly ends up dropping the cake afterwards. He notices Madeline watching him and sets the cake on his windowsill and dresses it up to give it personality. Olly has a wonderful sense of humor and he makes Madeline’s life more interesting. Her life blossoms after seeing Olly and she can’t feel contentment like she used to. The illustrations are fun and bring extra life to Madeline and Olly. Everything, Everything is one of those books that cannot be put down and I fell in love with all of it: the story, the energetic characters, the dysfunctionality of family, the humor and the romance. A wonderful young adult book worthy of 5 stars!

One Cut by Eve Porinchak

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One Cut by Eve Porinchak is a nonfiction story on riveted.com. This true telling of a young man’s death brings all sides into the light and shows how complicated seeking justice can become. The media attention and heresy escalated the case that didn’t have much solid evidence. Regardless of the lack of evidence and even the fact that the young man driving never left the vehicle, they were all still charged with homicide. The book felt one sided and I believe it was written that way to help show the injustice of the entire case. I read it and still haven’t come to any conclusions about where the guilt should be placed and I can’t imagine the jury’s frustration with this case; 3.5 stars.

Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes features four friends on an adventure together. Delia, Annabelle and Zo are friends with the main character, Bailey. Bailey has a crush on Kane Lawson, which is portrayed honestly and in an awkwardly cute way. We’ve all had similar crush experiences;). The four friends are shopping at the mall and purchase fun accessories to match their personalities. Bailey chooses temporary tattoos because she can’t decide on anything else. The tattoo set contains four temporary tattoos, one for each friend. Each girl’s item and tattoo gives them unique powers, which they realize eventually. These powers come in handy when they have to save their classmates from an evil mythological character. Tattoo is a fun fantasy with the great bond of loyal friends; 4 stars!

The Border by Steve Schafer

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I was asked by the author, through Goodreads, if I would like to read and review his book, The Border by Steve Schafer. I found the synopsis interesting and decided I wanted to check into it and I am very happy that I did! The Border begins with a great introduction containing action and intense suspense and tragedy. This is an excellent book, earning a 5 star rating from me, and I couldn’t put it down. I needed time to process all of the story’s events before writing a review because the story felt intensely realistic and the dynamic characters are complex and original and touched my heart and mind. The story also shows humor in the face of death, with greed making terrible events even worse. I’m definitely purchasing this book for the library when it’s available on September 5, 2017! The author created a fictional tale and characters based on the struggles that real people have gone through and he did this beautifully! I know students whose family members have crossed the Mexican/American border and some that have done this themselves. The story opens with an innocent quinceanera with neighbors, family members and friends attending. The fun lasts for moments before tragedy strikes in the form of gang members and guns. We have all heard about the violence and drug wars and poverty in Mexico. The Border opened my eyes to these problems with clarity and empathy. Four teenagers survive the shooting and run for their lives because a gunman spotted them. The story deals with their loss of the lives they have grown up in and the difficult trek they embark on to find safety. Their journey is in no way easy and they learn to rely on each other. Heartbreaking, educational and interesting realistic fiction story worthy of 5 stars! Highly recommended!

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Blue Rider Press for the opportunity to read and review The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher! The author opens up about her role as Princess Leia and other aspects of her life during her time on the Star Wars set, her acting career and her relationships. Candid, humorous and personal journal entries and chapters of Carrie’s life are discussed and secrets are revealed. It saddens me that Carrie Fisher died soon after writing this memoir and I’m thankful for the glimpse of her life that she gave the world. 4 stars!