The book opens with a devastating accident and a survivor covered in blood limping home. The opening is a report from a 2014 event that ruptured the town. Researchers are discussing the events before the accident to try to understand what happened. The non-linear timeline moves back and forth between events before the accident and the research discussion. Maddy is the focus of everything that happened. She’s been forced by her father to hide her African American roots because he’s white and their community is extremely racist. One day she’s running in gym class when rain starts to fall. Her perfectly and intentionally straightened hair goes into its natural Afro state. Gossip starts, bullies taunt and her dad whips her for revealing her secret. The town has kept somewhat segregated and still holds a white prom separate from a black prom. After a “bullying Maddy” video goes viral, some students want to prove that the town isn’t racist by holding one prom, all inclusive. After a horrible joke and an even worse prank, Maddy’s true powers come out, practically decimating the town. Extremely similar to Stephen King’s Carrie but with added racism. 4 stars.
Ethnicity: Mostly white with black minority Violence: R for Father beating Maddy with a belt, baton beating skull, bloody mist, man shooting himself with gun, explosion, body parts missing and bodies scattered. language: R for 100+ swears, including 35 f-bombs. Mature content: PG-13, alllusion of sex with no details Liles/dislikes: Kenny fell in love with Maddy too conveniently and easily. Maddy’s so powerful but she stands by doing nothing, holding Kenny’s hand the entire time, while Officer Ross beats Kenny with his baton. Also, the comment made that lumps all American citizens into people that don’t understand or are dumb is rude but partially true: “Comprehension is key, and that hasn’t exactly been mastered by the citizens of this country”. Overgeneralization but that does show the high extent of racism in the book’s community. The build up of suspense was what I liked the most.
Two beautiful people open the story with their jaw-dropping presence. They turn out to be the god of war, Ares, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite describes how she feels no passion or love and this is because she’s bound to give love to others but never be able to feel it in return, for all of eternity. She tells the story of James and Hazel; when they first met one week before he was heading into the Great War. Their story continues through letters after he’s sent to war, at least during his training. Hazel becomes a relief volunteer and heads to France. Aubrey, a pianist from Harlem, is in France with his unit heading to the war. Colette has lost her loved ones during the German attack on Belgium. The story floats around the interactions and experiences of these four, Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. World War I history has been unclear to me but this book helped my understanding of this horrible war known as the Great War. I adore the four main characters and my heart soared and broke right alongside theirs. Based on historical facts and people, Lovely War tells a powerful tale, 5 stars!
Evvie is a teenager helping her younger siblings to lighten the load of her single mother. Their father is in prison. Jubilation runs in the family and Evvie’s magic is coming on strong. She causes odd behavior in others and can change the world around her, usually unintentionally. She’s falling for Clay, her longtime crush that’s very interested in her too. A creepy stranger keeps showing up, scaring Evvie and her mother tells her the past experiences with him. Virgil Hampton is not a good man and he hurt Evvie when she was little. Her mother lost her job over it because she was angry that he hurt Evvie and she was fired because her family is black and Virgil’s family is white and rich. This is a beautiful story of hardship and perseverance which brought me to tears many times while reading it. I cried for the touching and sweet moments, for the fear and loss and for the bravery, kindness, love and hope. Highly recommended and an emotional journey, 5 stars!
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge. Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV. She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first. She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing. Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him. Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before. Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else. Everything escalates after that and blow up. Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.
Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
I was able to read Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor thanks to a goodreads giveaway of a hardback book and thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an arc! Sparks of light continues the story from Into the Dim, the first book in this series. Hope is with Phoebe and their other companions in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone is adjusting to the drastic change in Hope’s mom and the baby she now has. Hope’s boyfriend Bran has gotten away from his mother, Celia, to tell the companions about his mother’s new plan. After Bran reveals Celia’s plan, the Viators make a plan of their own – to travel back to 1895 and visit Nikola Tesla and his discovery. The trip to 1895 causes extreme circumstances for Doug and Hope when they are involuntarily taken to an asylum and treated with the new drug, heroin. Intense and interesting and on the edge-of-your-seat suspense! Hope describes the asylum and its residents in detail. She also reiterates her previous knowledge of asylum history. Morbidly fascinating and scary. As the comrades work to visit Tesla, they encounter atrocities and tragedy in this time traveling adventure worth 5 stars! I am, once again, anxiously awaiting a sequel!
Thanks to NetGalley and Second Story Press for the opportunity to read and review To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz. The prologue tells of the Nazi soldier, Oskar Groening, being guilty of persecution by aiding and abetting at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The now ninety-four year old soldier has been brought to court for justice to be served. Before the prologue, a brief description of statistics states the small number of Auschwitz guards that actually faced justice, it’s astoundingly appalling. Jordana attends a Jewish Day school and she travels with schoolmates to tour concentration camps. Jordana’s impressive efforts created a temporary Holocaust exhibit showing other genocides around the world and comparing them to what took place during the Holocaust. I appreciate her idea of bringing to light other genocides as well, to teach and hopefully prevent more atrocities. Jordana continues to spread the knowledge of the Holocaust and advocates for human rights. The author, Kathy Kacer, learned about the Holocaust from her parents who were both survivors of the persecution. 5 stars for this example of strength and perseverance in the midst of awfulness.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books for the arc of Irena’s Children (Young Reader’s Edition) by Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies and the bravery it took to save innocent children during the Holocaust! 4 stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the arc of Irena’s Children by Tilar Mazzeo! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies! 4 stars.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee introduces Mercy Wong and her family living in Chinatown in 1906. Mercy wants to give her family a better life, so she studies and works her way into the St. Clare’s Boarding School for girls. Mercy has impressive maturity and wisdom for her age, probably due to the racism that surrounds her and her undying pursuit of future goals. The San Francisco earthquake strikes and some petty differences dissolve while others grow. Mercy Wong upholds her strong values and beliefs while still being open to others. She is perfect:) This wonderful historical fiction story contains some clean romance and a happily ever after feel.