Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

For my ears: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas; Read by Phoebe Strole

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Description via Amazon/Audible:

Sharp, brilliantly plotted, and totally engrossing.” (Karen M. McManus, New York Times best-selling author of One of Us Is Lying)

“A crafty, dark, and disturbing story.” (Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times best-selling author of Girl In Pieces)

“A little bit Riverdale and a little bit Veronica Mars.” (Riley Sager, best-selling author of Final Girls, a Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year Nominee)

From the author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters comes an all-new edge-of-your-seat thriller set in upstate New York about an eerie sequence of seemingly unrelated events that leaves five cheerleaders dead.

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident – two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons.

Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost. That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . .

Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all. There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

More praise for Kara Thomas:

“Gripping from start to finish…with twists that left me shocked.” (Victoria Aveyard, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Red Queen)

“You’ll be up all night tearing through the pages.” (BUSTLE)

“This deliciously deceptive thriller…is a must-have.” (SLJ)

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I love these YA thriller novels- they are my guilty pleasure! This was a well-crafted story that kept me guessing (and listening!). The ultimate compliment for an audiobook is when I can drive the 75 minutes to work and then want to stay in the car to keep listening!

I’ve read other Kara Thomas novels and she’s a talented writer, with a penchant for capturing the harsh realities of teenage life. Her characters are believable. They may be likable (or not).

This story was told in present day and in flashback, which can be tricky while listening, but it was clear to me and never confusing. The voices were distinct.

I got mine with an audible credit via Amazon!

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The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

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I loved this story about a slightly quirky girl coming to terms with the ups and downs of life. It made a great YA read, with the message that life can throw you some curve balls, it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Here’s the description:

“If I got to be God for one day, I’d like to say I’d end world hunger and create world peace. But I wouldn’t. Because if God could fix the big stuff, he’d have done it already.”

Malin knows she can’t fix the big stuff in her life. Instead, she watches from the sidelines, as her dad yells, her brother lies, and her mum falls apart. At least after she meets Hanna, she has a friend to help her. Because being Malin is complicated – learning how to kiss, what to wear to prom, and what to do when you upset the prettiest, meanest girl in school.

It’s tough fitting in when you’re different. But what if it’s the world that’s weird, not you?

A beautiful, funny and honest coming-of-age story that never pretends life is perfect.

About the Author

Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway, though she currently lives in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow a freelance cartoonist. Some of her favourite things in life include chocolate, free Wi-Fi and her yellow typewriter.

Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. She has worked as a dishwasher in Australia, a volunteer journalist in Tanzania and has approximately 2.5 near-death experiences behind her. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the south-western coast of Norway.

Linni began writing The Unpredictability of Being Human while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing. Her dark, comical storytelling is fully displayed in this unusual, slice-of-life telling as experienced by a fourteen year old girl in Norway.

 

Highly recommend for teens and adults alike, I loved seeing the world through Malin’s eyes. While never directly stated, Malin appears to maybe on the spectrum (though I ask you, aren’t we all somewhere on multiple spectrums?). I think it’s great to read a story where the reader can experience life in what may be a slightly different way than they usually do.

Thank you for my review pdf, which I received from Incorgnito Press, the US publisher.

 

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One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

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I found this title online and was happy to receive it through Net Galley for my iPad.

It is billed as a children’s book, but I think the content more appropriate for YA or adults. (similar to the conversations about WOLF HOLLOW — is that really a children’s book? I say not).

In this novel, young Annie is the new girl at school and she snubs an unpopular but clingy and unkind girl, who then contracts influenza and haunts Annie. Lots to think and talk about with this one in regards to how we treat others, and/or in the historical context of WWI.

Here’s the overview:

Description

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Again — it’s not just for children! I enjoyed it and read it straight through in a sitting.
Thank you for my review copy!
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THE UNLIKELIES by Carrie Firestone

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Another great YA read was this novel about some unlikely friends who set out to be do-gooders.

Description

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I am recommending this one to my 8th grader. It will give us a good opportunity to discuss drug use (or I should say continue the discussion), as the portrayal in this book is, I think, very realistic.
Thank you, Net Galley, for my e-copy!
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Spotlight on BEASTIA by Zoe Cruz

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So I’m spotlighting a new YA fantasy title today that sounds really good — BEASTIA by Zoe Cruz. I haven’t read it myself (yet), but here’s the overview:

What if beauty became the beast?

IN A DARK NEW RETELLING OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,

A MEAN GIRL FALLS PREY TO A MADMAN

The meanest of the mean girls, Rebekah Austin rules her Chicago school with sharp outfits and an even sharper tongue. She has a way of eviscerating even the most beautiful and brilliant girls in her class to maintain her cold grip on the high school social hierarchy. But underneath the queen-bee façade is someone who feels ugly, repulsive… beastly.

An edgy thriller from a dynamic new voice on the YA scene, Beastia by Zoe Cruz [March 17, 2017, Createspace] joins best-selling novels like Cinder and Princess of Thorns in the buzzy canon of modern fairytale retellings that explore deeper themes of the original story.

More than an exploration of Beauty and the Beast, Cruz flips the script by challenging the mainstream media representation of conventionally beautiful women falling in love with not-so-attractive men (in this case, literally a beast) when the opposite is so rarely portrayed. Love and friendship aren’t exclusive to the conventionally attractive, which is a subjective standard to begin with. As Rebekah learns lessons about beauty, love and self worth, the reader finds their own assumptions and prejudices challenged.

“Going through life alone is impossible, especially when dealing with heavy things like depression and/or anxiety,” Cruz says. “I think everyone needs and deserves to have people in their lives that are present through difficult times and that allow them to see life in a different way, more positively regardless of external signifiers.”

About the Author:

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Zoe Cruz is a writer, reader and self-professed geek who loves all things sci-fi and fantasy. She wrote Beastia while living in Spain working with humanitarian organizations. You can find her watching Star Trek, eating pizza or playing Skyrim.

Connect with Zoe Cruz on twitter.com/zoe_rogue and at https://zoecruzblog.wordpress.com.

Beastia [Createspace] will be released March 17, 2017, and will be available via Amazon.

Thank you to my friends at Smith Publicity for making me part of the tour and for sending me an ecopy!

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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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Weeks ago I found this great YA book on Net Galley and I’ve been waiting for it to publish so that I can say how much I love it!

Well, the time has come: I loved this book!!

Here’s the overview:

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Advance Praise

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TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum

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I grabbed this YA title as it was on sale for kindle, and I was so thrilled with it that I bought it (in hardcover!) for my teen daughter.

Here’s the overview from GoodReads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I had never read anything by Julie Buxbaum and this is her first YA book, but I can hardly express what a treasure it is! I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, I loved the writing. I could not put it down and welcomed my insomnia so that I could continue reading during the night.

Poor Jessie is dealing with so much — her mother’s death, being new at school, moving from a “typical” Midwestern place to a wealthy part of LA, and being part of a new “step-family”. I think most teens can relate to at least one of these things.

I got it for my 13 year old, and had to ponder this as it is really geared to high school and up (some sexual content/discussion), but she is reading it now and loving it.

Highly Recommended!

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For my ears: ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

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So I’m totally late to the party on this one. I found it on sale on Audible and remembered that I had always meant to read it.

What a great book! I know it’s about teens, but I know that adults would love and appreciate it, too. I look forward to my daughter reading this book so we can discuss it together.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Audie Award Finalist, Teens, 2014

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.

So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be, she says, we’re 16.

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.

Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be.

Set over the course of one school year, in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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This is a sensitively written, multi-layered, insightful story that is not to be missed. I listened to mine as I commuted, and it was ably done in two voices:Rebecca Loman and Sunhil Malhotra.

If you missed this when it came out in 2013, don’t miss it any longer! Look for it at a bookstore or library near you – or online!

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YA Review: DREAM THINGS TRUE by Marie Marquardt

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I first heard about DREAM THINGS TRUE at BEA last spring. It was listed as one of the best upcoming YA books. I was able to get it through Net Galley and recently read it.

Here’s the description from Net Galley:

Evan and Alma have spent fifteen years living in the same town, connected in a dozen different ways but also living worlds apart — until the day he jumps into her dad’s truck and slams on the brakes.
The nephew of a senator, Evan seems to have it all – except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two, surrounded by a large (sometimes smothering) Mexican family. They both want out of this town. His one-way ticket is soccer; hers is academic success.

When they fall in love, they fall hard, trying to ignore their differences. Then Immigration and Customs Enforcement begins raids in their town, and Alma knows that she needs to share her secret. But how will she tell her country-club boyfriend that she and almost everyone she’s close to are undocumented immigrants?

What follows is a beautiful, nuanced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives. This page-turning debut asks tough questions, reminding us that love is more powerful than fear.

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So – I have to say I just loved this book. Even though it takes place in Georgia, I could relate to the story, having grown up in California. This novel does a great job sensitively portraying the challenges of undocumented immigrants, especially those who have spent the majority of their lives here in the US and have been positive contributors to their community. Alma and Evan’s story will draw teens in, and I appreciated that the ending was not a “quick fix”.

DREAM THINGS TRUE published in September, and is available at an indie near you (or at your library!).

 

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YA Review: AWAKE by Natasha Preston

A while back, I received AWAKE through Net Galley. I love a good YA thriller/mystery.

In Awake, Scarlett Garner starts to “awake” and have memories of an event that changed her life when she was four-years-old. Always told that she escaped a fire and was left with amnesia due to trauma, Scarlett’s memories return in hazy part, and don’t quite fit the story she’s been told. Meanwhile, the new guy in school (Noah)  is drawn to Scarlett (really drawn to her and we later find out why) and they start a relationship. But what really happened in Scarlett’s past? And how does Noah fit in? And why would her family not be telling her the truth?

Well, there’s a complicated back story going on here. I won’t go in to details as I don’t want to spoil it, but Scarlett has a lot going on and it gets weirder and scarier the more she remembers. While I read this whole story and wanted to know what happened, it did pace a bit slowly for me (especially the first half). This is probably because this is book one of a series (or a sequel is coming). The hardest part of reading it for me was that I never really felt I got into Noah’s head. I didn’t understand his actions. In fact, I found most of the characters terribly frustrating. But I kept reading because I really wanted to know what happened to Scarlett (thus my distress over the somewhat “hanging” ending)!

I’ll be curious what others think. This book releases Aug. 4. Thanks for my review e-copy!

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