Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

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Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High—the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle—and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.

When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.

Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she’s in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school’s winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.

Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.

So – I read this book MONTHS ago, and I’m thrilled that it is finally celebrating its Pub Day this week!

As an educator, I love reading books that take place in schools, especially private schools. This was an easy to read story, very believable and realistic, that would have you laughing at times and cringing at others as the characters go about their very self-centered lives. You can see the trajectory of where things are headed! I really liked the ending, as I’m a true fan of the theme of redemption.

Recommended to those who like this genre. It reminded me a bit of Big Little Lies, but not quite so “gaspy” if you know what I mean. No big reveals, etc.

Thank you for my ARC to review!

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson

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Here’s another book that I’ve just been waiting and waiting for Pub Day for so that I can tell you about it! I got it on Net Galley months ago and read it in a day.

Now to be honest, I’m not sure I’d compare it to Celeste Ng’s novel (which I loved) and I guess it can be like PREP as it’s about wealthy kids in high school. I also wouldn’t say, as someone does, that it reads like Jane Austen. I, however, found it fascinating because you can watch the trajectory that this teacher is on in terms of her behavior and her actions and even her motivations and you just want to stop her because things are headed for a cataclysm.

If you’ve forgotten what high school was like (really? can anyone, ever?) or if you want to revisit it, especially through the eyes of a young and impressionable (though well-meaning but naive) teacher, pick up this book!

Here’s the look/see from NG:

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Recognition

January 2017 Indie Next selection
January 2017 LibraryReads selection

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!

Teen Reading: GOLDFISH by Nat Luurtsema

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I have come across the perfect summer read for the middle schooler in your life (high schooler, too)!

I started GOLDFISH two days ago, not knowing what to expect.The description on Net Galley was fun but a tad vague:

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Quick YA Review: Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

Yet another Net Galley freebie was this super YA find: “Geek Girl”, coming to a store near you (and online) in December. Jen, a “bad girl”, targets a “geek” boy and decides to turn him bad and take him down to her level. What Jen finds is much more about herself, Trevor, her friends, and her foster family than she ever imagined she would.

I took this book to review with a worry that it would be highly predictable, but it actually wasn’t. I loved the characters of Jen and Trevor, and I particularly liked how Trevor’s family was all rather “geeky”, too (and remarkably like mine!). Jen grows as a character and learns to really see what people are – beneath their appearances. Yes – Trevor does find out that he was the object of a bet, and that is not a good thing, but all in all, this was a fun read and a great book for older YA readers!

YA Review: Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant (coming in January)

Through my new favorite thing, Net Galley, I received an ARC of “Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK” for my Kindle.  “PK” in this case stands for “preacher’s kid” and this novel was the first experience I’ve had of reading Christian literature for teens. It releases on January 1, 2012.

In “Addison Blakely”, Addison is your typical high school student, except for the fact that she is the (widowed) preacher’s daughter, living in a small town. For her whole life, everything she’s done has been under the microscope, so she’s lived up to the expectations of her father and his congregation: always doing the right thing, the good thing, the thing that is expected of her. Then Addison meets Wes Keegan, town bad boy, who has come to live with his father. She is drawn to him, as he is to her, but he is supposed to be off-limits to her (her father won’t even let her date, let alone hang out with “bad boys”). Addison has to deal with her feelings for Wes, a new BFF, her father’s burgeoning romantic life with her English teacher, and the realization of what is truly important to her, all set against the backdrop of a school talent show in school that Addison suddenly finds herself running.

I just loved this novel! I wanted to know how Addison would end up and what choices she would make (and why) so I kept reading. Addison was an engaging character whom I couldn’t help liking. I did find her friend Marta a bit too good to be true, especially for a seventeen-year-old, and I did find parts of the book, especially in the second half, almost preachy (some of the discussions on faith that Marta and Addison have in the latter half of the book ended up sounding like sermons to me). I did enjoy the writing, though, and would recommend this book to older YA readers who enjoy the Christian genre. Addison has a lot of choices to face in her life and in her relationships, as do teens today, and this book showed how she could use her faith to help guide her in those decisions.

Thanks, Net Gally and Barbour Books for my free download!