It was hard enough for Kelsey to deal with the death of her identical twin sister, Michelle, but that was only the beginning of her heartache. Michelle’s most recent boyfriend, Peter, had just deployed to Afghanistan before Michelle’s tragic accident and Kelsey didn’t know how to get in touch with him. She thought Peter deserved to know what had happened, but she didn’t even know his last name — and he was one of those guys who didn’t have a Facebook page, so she couldn’t just stalk him down via her sister’s page. When she finally ended up talking to him, via Skype, things got out of hand very quickly. Between the glitchy connection and the fact that she was Michelle’s identical twin, Peter mistakenly thought he was talking to Michelle. Before Kelsey could correct him, though, an attack on his base made him cut the call short. She kept meaning to set the record straight, but pretending to be Michelle made it feel almost like Michelle wasn’t actually gone — plus she worried what might happen to Peter if the news distracted him from his mission in Afghanistan.
When I initially read the description for this book, I had no sympathy for Kelsey’s predicament. I was horrified to think that she would even consider impersonating her dead twin. But, as I read the story, I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. It was very easy once I saw how it actually played out. I mean, she never intended to hurt anyone, but she just kept digging herself deeper. The compounding lies ate her up inside, but she was worried even more about how Peter would take the news. And then, of course, there is the fact that she started to fall in love with him. Talk about drama! Fans of Sarah Dessen and Sara Zarr should definitely give this book a try.
I really enjoyed the fact that book didn’t fit neatly into a single category. I could probably book talk this a few different ways, depending on the reader seeking a recommendation! Readers who enjoyed the fantastic, blood-thirsty mermaids in Lies Beneath will likely be enthralled by the different races of the Alphas and their various body types, weapons, and powers. Fans of The Hunger Games are sure to appreciate the various layers of societal resistance, government involvement, and fighting for survival. And, of course, readers who prefer their dystopias with a side of angsty/forbidden love, like in the Delirium series, will not be disappointed! Continue reading
Sometimes I read books because the covers look cool. Other times, it’s because they come highly recommended by friends, colleagues, and/or reviewers. Every now and again, though, I think fate reaches out to me. This book was most definitely fated. When I got an email from NetGalley that had a spotlight on this book, which included the phrase “Pure-Obsessive OCD” (aka “Pure-O OCD”) in the summary, I knew I had to request a galley. Since I have been struggling with controlling my own Pure-O OCD recently, I decided to read this book (1) to see how accurately it portrayed Pure-O OCD (based on my own experiences), and (2) as bibliotherapy. For those who don’t know, by the way, Pure-O OCD is a lesser-known form of OCD that “has fewer observable compulsions, compared to those commonly seen with the typical form of OCD (checking, counting, hand-washing, etc.)” It was very obvious that Tamara Ireland Stone did a lot of research and took her time interviewing the teen who inspired her interest in this topic. Sam’s intrusive thought spirals and panic attacks felt very real, and her therapist often sounded just like mine! Continue reading
I have always loved fairy tales, though I have often wondered how it was that all the “big bads” got away with so much. Why was it that no one ever stepped up and did anything about the people who abused their power? Sure, Cinderella got away from her terrible stepmother — but why wasn’t her stepmother held accountable for the things she had done? This story goes outside the box and brings a little bit of justice into the mix with the Fairy Tale Reform School. The teachers at FTRS — such as Cinderella’s stepmother, the sea witch from the Little Mermaid, and the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood — are actually working to atone for their bad deeds. Such a clever premise!
As far back as she can remember, Maddie Fynn has always seen the numbers. When she was really little, she didn’t even realize that other people couldn’t see them. Then, one day, she drew an eerie picture of her family. While it was fairly similar to most kids’ pictures of their families — with Maddie and her parents scrawled in little kid style — it also included numbers above their heads. No one knew what those numbers meant, since even Maddie couldn’t explain what she was seeing, so they chalked it up to a quirky thing where she randomly assigned numbers to people around her… Until the day her father died. Only then did Maddie’s mom realize that the numbers above her husband’s head [in the drawing] were actually the numbers that corresponded to his death date.
My son and I both love fantasy fiction, and we’re both suckers for ARCs from beloved authors… So, when I heard that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare were writing a middle-grade fantasy series together, I just knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this ARC. (The good news for anyone reading this review is that the book came out September 9th and you can read it without scheming to find an ARC!)
And do you know what was even better than opening a random, unexpected package to find a copy of this ARC? When it arrived in the mail on the very day that we were ready to start a new book. Awesomesauce! I knew these authors were awesome and that a collaboration between them was likely to be epic, but I also kinda expected that this book would be somewhat formulaic and predictable, like many of the other middle-grade fantasies I’ve read. Thankfully, I was wrong. Although there were some parallels to other books we’ve read, the story was fresh and there were a couple of plot twists that blew our minds!
Callum’s father has always taught him that magic is bad and that the Magisterium, a school that teaches adolescents how to hone their magical abilities, is evil. So, when Callum had to go in to test his magical acuity at the Magisterium, he did his best to fail. For some reason, nevertheless, Master Rufus chose Callum to be one of his apprentices. Even though neither he nor his father wanted him to attend, being selected meant that Callum had to go to the Magisterium… As soon as he started to learn how to use his magic and began to make friends, though, Callum started to wonder if maybe his dad was wrong after all…
After reading and enjoying Surf Mules and Ghetto Cowboy, I was looking forward to seeing how Neri would handle this topic. Once I downloaded the ARC and started reading it, though, I second-guessed my decision. Some of the depictions of violence literally made me sick to my stomach. When I got to the very first knockout, I had to put the book (well, Kindle) down and just read something else because I was so utterly disturbed. I was talking to a friend about it and saying that I didn’t know if I could handle reading this story, but he reminded me that this is an important story to have available to teens and that pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to finish this story would make me better able to recommend it to those who needed it. After all, this isn’t a fantasy or science fiction story with gratuitous violence; this is a contemporary, realistic story about an actual problem in urban neighborhoods. Real teens are “playing” the knockout game, and Neri’s story can help people — whether players or outsiders — better understand the factors that lead people to play and the faulty logic many players use to justify their participation. People who don’t actually read the story might fear that Neri glorifies the game, but anyone who reads the whole book will understand that, though he humanizes the players and explains the motivations they might have in playing this deadly game, he makes it clear that their cop-outs and excuses do NOT justify their destructive actions. So glad I made myself go back and finish this one. Hopefully, the timely publication of this book will succeed in educating and deterring would-be players.