Contemporary · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Internment

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Title: Internment

Author: Samira Ahmed

Page Count: 386

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 19, 2019 by Atom

Format: Hardcover

Review: This is one of those books that readers seem to either love or hate, but I actually fall somewhere in the middle.  It is a speculative novel that heavily draws on current events (more than a few jabs directed at the current administration) and links it with the Japanese-American Internment camps of the 1940s.  In this imagining, Muslim-Americans are targeted as enemies of state and relocated to internment camps on American soil.

I thought the concept for this book was interesting, and I could appreciate the historical tie-ins, but I think it fell short of being great.  My biggest issue with this book was the villain.  “The Director” is portrayed as a cruel man who easily loses his cool and throws violent tantrums.  He was incredibly one-dimensional, and was really a caricature of the “racist middle-age white man” that has become so vilified by our culture.  Of course, all the prison guards were also white men, because apparently there is no diversity in the National Guard.

The cover art for this book is gorgeous, and that really drew me to the book more than anything.  I think it appropriately captures the essence of the story and I imagine it has drawn in a lot of other readers as well.  I think that this book will really appeal to teens and it would be a great discussion book for teachers to assign when studying World War II and the Japanese-American internment camps because it offers a fresh setting that they may better relate to.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

How to Build a Heart

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Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: January 28, 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review: There are so many things about this book that I love.  It is a very thoughtfully written book and it feels very authentic.  I have very little in common with the main character, but I could totally relate to her.  There was a lot about her that reminded me of myself at her age.

I recently reviewed another book that had very similar themes to this one; a biracial girl navigating grief and struggling to define herself.  I personally felt that this book did a much better job of tackling these topics and I was honestly disappointed when it ended.  This is not to say I wasn’t happy with the ending, I just wanted to follow her life longer! I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

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Title: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

Author: Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Page Count: 272

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 1, 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire

Format: eBook

Review: I was eager to read this book because the two authors have done something that Kym and I have talked about at great length, and that is co-authoring a book from two different character perspectives.  It worked well for this story, and I thought it was appropriate that the two characters were written with very distinct voices.

This book isn’t very long, so it was a quick read.  In fact, the whole story takes place over the course of a single night.  The conflict is established quickly, and the “action” is pretty consistent throughout the story.  I was never bored and I would say this is a pretty timely novel considering our current political climate.

My biggest criticism is that I had hoped for a stronger character arc with both characters, so when the end came, my first thought was, that’s it?  After undergoing such a traumatic experience, I had expected there to be more discussion of the aftermath and what it meant for each of the characters.  I really think this story would have a greater impact on readers if this aspect was more thoroughly explored.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Non-fiction

The Financial Diet

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Title: The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money

Author: Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage

Page Count: 208

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 26, 2017 by Regan Arts

Format: Paperback

Review: Money has always been a mystery to me.  Though I understand the concept of budgeting and saving, I have always had a difficult time determining how best to save and invest my money in order to make it grow.  I decided to get my feet wet in the world of finance with this beginner’s guide and found it surprisingly enjoyable.  Fagan’s writing is relatable and humorous and Ver Hage provided adorable illustrations and an aesthetically pleasing layout.  Of course not all the information was pertinent to me, but I was able to glean a few gems to get me started on the path to financial wellness.  Overall, I really enjoyed the author’s frankness regarding finances, and it really made me wonder why we are not more transparent about it with our spouses and other loved ones.  It really changed how I think about money and made me reevaluate my financial goals.  I’ve already discussed some of these ideas with my husband, and put some of these ideas immediately into practice.  Other strategies will require further research, but I feel confident now that I am moving in the right direction.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Distance Between Us

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Title: The Distance Between Us

Author: Kasie West

Performer: Jorjeana Marie

Length: 6 hr, 42 min, 13 sec

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2014 by Tantor

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This is a classic tale of opposites attract.  Caymen is poor, and Xander is rich, so what could they possibly have in common??? Is it possible that Caymen is unfairly judging Xander because of his nice clothes and fancy cars?? Read the book and find out!  Sarcasm aside though (sarcasm is a theme in the novel by the way), this was a wholesome romance that follows a tried and true formula.  I really enjoy books like this when my life gets stressful because it does not take a lot of brainpower to follow the storyline and the outcome is predictable.  Sometimes you just want a feel good romance, and for me this did the trick.

I personally thought that the reader of this book sounded a bit too old for the character, but she did a good job and had a pleasant and consistent tone.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Young Adult

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Author: Candace Ganger

Page Count: 416

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 24, 2019 by Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Review: Loved the cover, loved the title, even loved a couple of the characters *cough Dew and Violet cough cough*, but did not love this book.  The writing felt very disjointed to me, I did not care for one of the main characters (Naima), and the ending just didn’t carry the weight that I thought it should given the subject matter.  There was a lot about this book that confused me, and I am not sure that I liked the way that mental illness is portrayed.  I got the impression that Naima is supposed to be this prickly and guarded, yet lovable individual, but for the most part, I thought she was cruel and hurtful and incredibly selfish.  I tried to like her, I really did, it just didn’t happen.  Maybe this book will really resonate with someone, but that someone wasn’t me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

The Belles

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Title: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Performer: Rosie Jones

Length: 13 hr, 2 min, 45 sec

Series: The Belles, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Blackstone Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book knocked my socks off.  I have been eyeing it for some time due to the beautiful cover art, but kept passing it over in favor of other fantasy novels.  That was my mistake, because this book blew me away with it’s originality and spectacular character development.  Camellia is not by any means a perfect heroine, and this makes her all the more relatable.  The antagonist of the story made my skin crawl, and was a total psychopath. This made for a very interesting story chock full of political intrigue, manipulation, and mystery.

What I find truly fascinating about this book, and what really sets it apart in my mind, is the author’s commentary on beauty through the story.  Beauty standards are fickle and ever changing in today’s world, and it is no different here.  All over the world people are obsessed with achieving impossible standards of beauty, and are never satisfied because beauty is perceived differently by everyone.  This is reflected in the world Clayton has created, where physical appearance can be changed in a matter of minutes, but at great personal and financial cost.  People are constantly changing their appearance to match changing beauty trends and endure a great deal of physical pain to make it happen.  The parallels this draws to real life make this a wholly believable story despite its fantastical elements.

I deducted a half star from my rating because there were a couple things that I did not feel were fully explained, but these minor plot hiccups may very well be ironed out in the second book in the series.  I have already requested it from the library and look forward to listening to it.

The performer for this story was perfection.  She easily ranks as one of my top favorite readers after listening to this performance.  I can’t wait to hear her in other works.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star