Book Reviews

A Short History of the Girl Next Door ~ a short book review

Author Jared Reck has a lot to live up to after his outstanding debt young adult novel. While I cannot wait…honestly, CANNOT, wait to read his future books, I need to share with you how amazing his current YA is/was. Terminology, whatever.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door takes your heart places. It made me laugh, and it even caused me to tear up (I don’t care that you know, whatever). This story is real, fresh, and meaningful.

I don’t want to give anything away, but once you start reading you will find yourself reaching for it at any break you can sneak. You will read it as soon as you wake up and before your eyes become too heavy.

The writing is sharp and sarcastic. The story is powerful, the characters honest.

Please, read this story even if you are not a teenager (lame sentence, I don’t care).

5/5 stars.

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Book Reviews

Close Enough to Touch – book review

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley is a fresh love story. One you probably never would have thought could be. That, is why I loved this story so much. 

The story switches each chapter between Jubilee and Eric. Although the storyline of Aja could easily be a third main character. Oakley captures the voices so seamlessly between that you feel as though you are a part of their lives. Sitting in the living room, having coffee in the kitchen.

This is not your average love story though. Why? Because one kiss, let alone touch, could kill Jubilee…

5 out of 5 stars

Book Reviews

The Way to Bea and Kat Yeh – book review

The Way to Bea is not as good as The Truth About Twinkie Pie, but nothing ever will be! Not even if it’s the same author. It’s not to say I didn’t love her latest book, The Way to Bea, I did (and I’ll get to that in a second), but how does anyone top their favorite book, ever?

Okay, have you ever wanted to hug a book? That is what happens when you read a Kat Yeh book, any of her books (The Friend Ship, The Truth About Twinkie Pie). I swear, you will stop halfway through and hug the book.

 kat yeh

In The Way to Bea (middle grade book), at least one sentence in each chapter caused me do a double read. It was that good. I had to read it twice, with a nice long pause thinking about it afterwards.

The Way to Bea, in one word would be…heartbeat. I think what makes this story special is all the little stories around the central focus. The teacher, the parents. Everything is knit together as though Yeh was working on a scarf, not a book.

The Way to Bea taught me about Labyrinths and haikus. Like all Kat Yeh stories, it warms your heart, it causes you to feel for the main character. It causes you to think about yourself. You will instantly love all the characters in The Way to Bea, even her parents. (They are the type of parents many of us wished for, even if they didn’t always pay attention).

Five out of five stars for The Way to Bea, releasing September 19th. You can pre-order it, so you should, you must, go, hurry.

Book Reviews

Maxi’s Secrets (or what you can learn from a dog) – book review

Image result for maxi's secretMaxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

This middle grade book is about the relationship between Timminy, his dog Maxi and his neighbor Abby. While it was an enjoyable story, I felt it lacked the arc needed to make the story really sizzle. For me, the side character, of Rory felt unimportant, when it really could have been a much larger part of the story. As the friendship with Timminy and Abby was lackluster. Also, I am not sure that the secrets belong to Maxi, but to Timminy, which I found a little confusing.

The reader is told in the second sentence that Maxi dies, which kept me reading to find out why, but sadly had that not been in the opening I might not have made it very far into the book. Maxi’s Secrets was well written with excellent descriptions of Timminy and Maxi, yet I didn’t feel connected with the characters emotionally as I should.

Middle graders can relate to the story of Timminy, but Abby as well. I just wish that Rory had played a bigger role as there seemed to be an underlining story in which middle graders would like to know more about.

3 out of 5 stars.

Book Reviews

Lily and Dunkin – book review & personal story

Me, age 13, throwing a fit before leaving for middle school. You can see my father taking the photo in the mirror, he found my middle grade stress humorous.
Me, age 13, throwing a fit before leaving for middle school. You can see my father taking the photo in the mirror, he found my middle grade stress humorous.

I’ve read all four of Donna Gephart’s books and loved them all. Which meant when her latest book landed on the book shelf I had to read it. Lily and Dunkin is a middle grade book centered around being transgender and bipolar disorder.

For me, middle grade was horrible (and I was dealing with neither of the above mentioned)! Flat out worst time of my life. My friends from elementary school were starting to smoke and we went in different directions leaving me alone in a big scary building. I was in search of a female role model (my mom had passed at this point and I didn’t have a relationship with my step-mom) and located one. Her name was Sarah, and she was great at everything and pretty too. She played every sport the school offered! And she was nice enough to befriend me before she went off to high school. Yet, because of me looking up to her I got called a lesbian more times than I could count. I would sit outside Mrs. Adam’s classroom door and cry at least once a week. I had boyfriends non-stop and so if I said “I’m not a lesbian I have a boyfriend” then they would call me bi-sexual. I started spending a lot of time napping in the nurses office with a “stomach ache.”

I loved the private thoughts of Lily and Dunkin that covered the first several chapters. Even as adults we have these conversations with ourselves about other people, when we don’t know what others are thinking, we assume. Gephart showcases this brilliantly. (I will say I saw cheering for Bob more than anything).

When I first heard the summary of this book I was a bit surprised. While I know children at this reading age group have these experiences, I was thinking more like “the publishing company didn’t say no?”

Gephart has courage, her agent, editors and publisher have courage. As an author I have thought about topics to write about that would spark both sides. I didn’t know if I would have the courage to put something out there and “see”, maybe now, I might.

 

Book Reviews

See Me ~ Book Review

bpppMaybe Nicholas Sparks has run out of excellent story ideas…I questioned this as I read his last SEVERAL novels. Yes I do compare all his works to The Notebook (don’t we all?). Which was written with pure perfection. See Me felt like a different spin on The Longest Ride. It also felt like an attempt to match Safe Haven, which has been the last good read if his since The Notebook.
See Me threw in the first ever cultural diversity that I can recall of Sparks. Yet it shown as forced and as a last thought. The story read as what writers refer to as telling over showing, a no no. See Me also didn’t make me cry, something Sparks books are known to do. Maybe I’m getting less emotional in my adult years (not).

See Me follows a lackluster relationship of Colin and Maria. Colin’s lower level MMA fighting appears as a page filler to match his past. Maria’s character as a lawyer (of sorts) does not match in tone, and the story loses its authenticity for me here. While the climax of the story provides some excitement, it comes so late into the story that there is not much care to be had.

Maybe Sparks stories don’t fit well with me because I’m not 25 anymore. Maybe I’ll switch to just seeing the stories unfold on the big screen from now on, since they all are made into movies. If nothing else it teaches me what to avoid in my stories.
2 out of 5 stars

Book Reviews

The Girl on the Train ~ Book Review (no spoilers)

book trrI must first admit that I do not like to read books at take place overseas (these places seem out of touch for me, unreal even sci-fi, so I usually avoid them). Nor do I enjoy most books written by former journalist. Yet, The Girl on the Train opened by gripped me with its stellar writing. Paula Hawkins ability to paint a picture of a true and flawed character made getting into the story easy.

That ability fell flat for me by mid-story. I struggled with the two main characters, Megan and Rachel,​because they sounded the same, even when Anna was later added. I don’t mind the constant switching each chapter to a different character, but there needs to be differences in their mannerisms, how they speak, how they react that doesn’t require the reader to constantly have to remember which one is which.

After reading seventy-five percent of the book I found I didn’t care what the outcome was, I was just ready for the story to conclude. For a book that started off so well, and provided vivid images, it fell into a black hole of sub-par writing and storytelling . Additionally, after finishing the book, I found that many reviews that were not impressed with the ending and some even confused. I wished that the story had kept its momentum until the very last sentence.

3 out of 5 stars