Fiction · Young Adult

Roam

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Title: Roam

Author: C.H. Armstrong

Page Count: 320

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 5, 2019 by Central Avenue Publishing

Format: eBook

Review: This book would be an excellent assigned reading book for teens and pre-teens.  I work in a community where many families are living out of cars or a single room, so the concept of homelessness and being stuck in a cycle of poverty is all too familiar to many of the people who frequent my library.

This book was very formulaic; however, this can be viewed as a positive attribute considering its targeted audience.  The simplicity of the book puts it at an appropriate reading level for kids in Jr. High and High School and makes it more broadly relatable.  It demonstrates that poverty does not always wear the face you expect, and it is not always evident when people are facing extreme hardships.  I also appreciate that this book teaches empathy.  For readers that can closely relate to Abby’s struggles, this book will show them that they are not alone and there are resources available to help them get through difficult times.  I will absolutely be recommending this book to teachers and students who come into my library.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Young Adult

Girl in Pieces

Image result for girl in pieces

Title: Girl in Pieces

Author: Kathleen Glasgow

Performer: Julia Whelan

Length: 10 hr, 43 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2016 by Penguin House Audio Publishing Group

Format: eAudiobook

Review:  BIG trigger warning for this book: there is a lot of graphic self-harm.  Sometimes it can be difficult to stomach, but it is important to note that the self-harm does not feel in any way gratuitous.  Without such vivid description, it would be difficult to understand the characters’ mental state and the extent of the damage they inflict upon themselves as a result.  This is a powerful story of addiction and finding coping mechanisms to overcome extreme trauma.

I will say that as difficult as this story was to get through due to the heavy content, I found myself wanting to finish because I was truly hoping for a positive outcome for the main character, Charlie.  I wouldn’t say the ending is uplifting, but I found that when I put it down, I did feel some sense of closure.

It’s hard to say I “love” this book…more like I found it to be very compelling.  It addresses a sensitive topic that is infrequently talked about, but important to understand.

The performer of this book did a good job.  Her voice fit the character, and that’s really all I ask for.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Rebel of the Sands

Image result for Rebel of the Sands

Title: Rebel of the Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Performer: Soneela Nankani

Length: 9 hr, 35 min, 55 sec

Series: Rebel of the Sands, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2016 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I have been on a fantasy kick lately, and I am very excited about this series.  More often than not I will read the first book in a fantasy series, and then move on.  Not the case with this series.  I was downloading the second book before I even finished this one in anticipation of continuing the story.

Sometimes it takes awhile for a story to really rope in the reader.  This book had me hooked from beginning to end.  Although I am not quite behind the rebellion itself 100% yet, I am 100% behind the heroine of the story, Amani.  This book had just the right amount of action and romance to keep me invested, and it has really set the stage for the books that follow.  I can only imagine that the story will getter better as it continues to build.

The performer they picked for this book was very well chosen.  Her melodic voice is an absolute pleasure to listen to, and I was very happy to discover that she is a woman of Indian/Ghanaian descent.  I looked up a photo of her online, and she is very much what I would have pictured the main character to look like, sans the unnaturally blue eyes.

On a completely different note, I LOVE the cover art featured above.  I was a bit dismayed when I saw that the cover art had been revamped for more recent editions, and I was shocked when I realized that the new cover art for the first book is a bit of a spoiler!  One of the most critical reveals in the story is actually evident on the new cover.  This surprises me, as I would think that such things would be vetted by the publisher BEFORE release.  I’m just glad that I got to the reveal before I started browsing for the second book and saw the new cover art.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Fiction · Young Adult

Damselfly

Image result for damselfly by chandra prasad

Title: Damselfly

Author: Chandra Prasad

Page Count: 240

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 27, 2018 by Scholastic Press

Format: Hardcover

Review:  This book was marketed as a modern day retelling of Lord of the Flies, which I found very intriguing.  After reading the book, I would say that is an apt description.  If you can get past the fact that a bunch of teenagers survived a horrific plane crash relatively unscathed, then it is an interesting story.

For readers who have read Lord of the Flies or similar survival stories, the outcome of the story is fairly predictable, but I think this would be a great discussion book for classrooms that want a fresher take on the classic story.  I liked the analogy of the damselfly, and the cliffhanger at the end was certainly satisfying in its own way.   I hope this is a standalone, not because I didn’t like the story, but because I think it packs more punch not knowing the fate of the remaining survivors.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Young Adult

The Young World

Image result for the young elite by chris weitz

Title: The Young World

Author: Chris Weitz

Page Count: 384

Series: The Young World, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: July 29, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review:  As far as post-apocalyptic teen dramas go, this one was not the best, or even close to it.  I had a very difficult time buying into the overall premise of a disease that kills everyone, except teens.  Although it is plausible to think that a world governed by teens would quickly become a mecca for cruelty and vice, it feels like a lot of the terrible things that happen are added merely for shock value.  The author really threw just about every controversial topic he could think of into one story: violence, rape, racism, homophobia, cannibalism, animal abuse, child soldiers, gangs, you name it…it’s probably in there.  It’s hard to believe that there is anything left to address in two more books.

To the author’s credit, it is hard to be original with an overdone storyline, but I nevertheless found myself wanting more from the main characters and more from the story.

I won’t be continuing forward with this series.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Non-fiction

Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being

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Title: Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being

Author: Jessi Bloom

Page Count: 236

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 27, 2018 by Timber Press

Format: eBook

Review:  I found this book to be very inspiring. I have been staring out at my weed-infested dirt mound of a backyard for over a year now at a complete loss as to how I should even begin landscaping it. This book has given me food for thought going forward.

This book teaches the reader how to build a space with intention. I appreciated that it provided a helpful overview of various trees, plants, and shrubbery that could contribute to creating a sanctuary tailored specifically to your needs. Many examples of how others have done this successfully are sprinkled throughout the book.

Over the years I have developed an interest in natural medicine and homemade products for personal and home use. This book provides a comprehensive guide on harvesting and drying plants and herbs, as well as recipes for how to put them to practical use.

This is a great reference guide for people interested in creating a useful, enjoyable space in their own backyard. I certainly plan to apply the principles learned in this book towards creating my own personal sanctuary at home.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Fiction · Young Adult

Little White Lies

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Title: Little White Lies

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Page Count: 400

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 6, 2018 by Freeform

Format: eBook

Review: This book was a whole lot of fun.  For fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, this is going to be the next big read.

The characters in this story were a bit stereotypical (nothing terribly original), but I still enjoyed watching them navigate through a life of riches and scandal.  Although the story itself was bit formulaic (poor girl gets thrown into the deep end of high society as she is mentored by the wealthy family she never knew she had), I found it refreshing that there was no romantic subplot for the main character.  The story focused almost entirely on her personal quest to find out who her father is.

Although I very much enjoyed this book, there are a couple reasons I could not bring myself to rate it higher.

The structure of the book was not my favorite.  It starts out in the present then goes back in time to set the stage for what is happening now.  Although I generally like this type of structure, I only like it when it is done well.  The switches between the past and the present seem very unnecessary to me, and did nothing to further the suspense.  The story could have moved along equally well if the author had only done one time jump in the beginning and then caught the reader back up towards the end of the book.

The big reveal at the end of the book was entirely anticlimactic.  There are some authors that really know how to blow your mind with a big reveal, but this author has not quite mastered the art of it.  The mystery is resolved enough to make this book a standalone, but the author left enough loose ends that I suspect that she is going to try to make it into a series.  I, as the reader, feel perfectly content to leave the story where it ended in this book.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Historical · Non-fiction

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

Title: The Assassination of Robert. F. Kennedy

Author: Tim Tate and Brad Johnson

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2018, Thistle Publishing

Format: eReader

Review: This was a very fascinating read. Tim Tate and Brad Johnson clearly put so much time and research into it and while it sometimes gets a little bogged down with the details, it is always clear that they are so passionate about this topic. Their explanation of the events that took place on the night of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy is very plausible- I would say I completely believe it, but I want to read more about it before being absolutely sure. I try not to form my opinions on just one book/article and their arguments are clearly formed and back by facts and data, it’s just that in this day and age we need to be careful of what we believe straight off the bat. I will definitely read more about this in the future.

The one main downside to the book is that it really leads the reader into what they want them to think, rather than letting the facts fend for themselves. This was clear from the onset, with the blurb on the cover stating what they believed and planned on showing, so it wasn’t a big betrayal or anything like that, it just would have been nice to arrive at the end conclusion by myself instead of having my hand held.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 3.5

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Road to Somewhere

Image result for road to somewhere by kelley lynn

Title: Road to Somewhere

Author: Kelley Lynn & Jenny S. Morris

Page Count: Not Available

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 11, 2014 by Bloomsbury Spark

Format: eBook

Review: This book was the definition of O.K….certainly nothing to write home about.  I did not feel any real attachment to the characters or romances.  All in all, a truly forgettable read.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

A Reaper at the Gates

Image result for a reaper at the gates

Title: A Reaper at the Gates

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Page Count: 464

Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 3

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 12, 2018 by Razorbill

Format: Hardcover

Review: Sabaa Tahir continues to impress me.  When I read her debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes, I thought it might be a standalone.  I was very happy to later hear that it would be part of a quartet.  The first book was good, but I did not consider it five star good.  However, each book in the series has gotten progressively better, and at this point, she is in the five star rating range for me.

This is a very unique story, and I enjoyed both the setting and the diverse array of characters.  It has elements of mysticism, rebellion, and just the right amount of romance.  I really appreciate the fact that although love is an important part of the story, the story is not built entirely around romantic love.  The relationships between all the various characters drive the plot, but sometimes not in ways you would expect.

This is one of those books series that is very difficult to predict the outcome of.  The author does a very good job of making the reader empathetic towards the harbinger of doom, and in some ways, you futilely hope for a happy ending for him too.

I am VERY excited for the final book in this series, and I eagerly await to find out when it will be released.

Two final thoughts:

I wish I had been able to enjoy this book in audiobook format (the library system I work for had the hard copy available before the eAudiobook format) because the three readers chosen for this series are all UH-MAZE-ING.  I listened to the second book, A Torch Against the Night, in audiobook format and was completely mesmerized.  I almost wish I had held out a little longer to listen to this third book as an eAudiobook, but alas my impatience to get my hands on it won out.

There has been some controversy surrounding the change in cover art that occurred when the third book was published.  I have very little to say about this, aside from the fact that I admire that the author wanted to have her ethnically diverse characters featured on the front.  My only disappointment is that the character of Laia depicted on the cover does not match her physical description in the book.  The woman chosen to illustrate her is beautiful, but I was under the impression that Laia’s character is biracial.  She is described as having dark hair, golden eyes, and golden skin.  Some of her immediate family members, specifically her mother, are described as being blonde haired and blue eyed.  I was hoping to see a biracial character represented on the cover, but we can’t all have what we want.  Oh well!

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold