The Things She’s Seen

by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Winner of Australia’s prestigious Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Writing for Young Adults

Shortlisted for Australia’s Indie Book Awards

 

This book looks slim and comes in at just 208 pages but it a packed through story that grabs the reader instantly. The story is told is written and in verse formats. When you are in the main part of the book you get regular written format. When you are listening to Catching’s story you get it in verse format. The story is told by many view points Catching and Beth Teller are the main characters but really the whole cast of characters are equally important. This story unfolds immediately.  The reader follows Beth, Beth’s dad, Catching and Allie through the small Australian town trying to solve the reason behind the fire, the murder of key figures and maybe the disappearance that happened 20 years ago. Could they all be connected? This ARC copy is full of wonderful quotes that I highlighted and hope they stay in the final copy.  The story highlights magical realism, true crime, the treatment of the Aboriginal people and heartbreaking pain a parent goes through after losing a child. A heavy hard hitting YA book that is perfect for readers from middle grade through adult.

 

About the book: This brilliantly written thriller explores the lives–and deaths–of two girls, and what they will do to win justice. Sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year!

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.

Her dad is drowning in grief. He’s also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she’s got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he needs to reconnect with the living.

The case takes them to a remote Australian town, where there’s been a suspicious fire. All that remains are an unidentifiable body and an unreliable witness found wandering nearby. This witness speaks in riddles. Isobel Catching has a story to tell, and it’s a tale to haunt your dreams–but does it even connect to the case at hand?

As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf for sending me a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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We Were Beautiful

by Heather Hepler

 

We Were Beautiful was really good and a fast book to read. I finished this one in about 24 hours, reading off and on every time I had a few minutes. I even downloaded the ebook from Hoopla so I could read before bed. This book made me wish I was part of a big Italian family living in Brooklyn and working in the family bakery/diner. I loved all of Mia’s NYC friends, Fig was such a great character I really would read a whole book about her. Sarah, Sebastian and Cooper were really likable as well and overall the dynamics were spot on and really has the reader wishing they were their friends as well. I well developed story about forgiveness, family, tragedy and moving on, allowing people in and sometimes we have to forgive ourselves before we can let that wall down.

About the book: It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in a car crash that killed her older sister, Rachel, and left her own face terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it is quickly consuming her.

As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the café down the street. There she meets Fig—blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious—who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends—including Cooper, the artistic boy who’s always on Mia’s mind—she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

Over the summer, Mia starts to learn that redemption isn’t as impossible as she once thought, but her scars inside run deep and aren’t nearly so simple to heal … especially when Mia finally pieces together her memories of the awful night Rachel died.

Thank you Blink Publishing for sending me a copy of We Were Beautiful. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

 

Everless

by Sara Holland

Publication date: January 18, 2018

Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. 

Doesn’t that opening sentence grab you, it did me! It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA fantasy book that has really captured me and held me as a reader. Something about them just doesn’t click with me. All that changed when I got the chance to read a copy of Everless.  

In this world your time is measured in blood, literally. If you owe you can be bleed for a day, week, month or even a year. They turn your blood into iron coins, and Jules is in need of some money. Her father is very ill and doesn’t have much time. If he gives any blood it might be the last of him. So Jules does something she never thought she’d do ever. She returns to Everless a place where she grew up but ran from to get away from a ruthless boy who is now a man. She has a plan but might have been a little rushed when she thought it up and sometimes (most of the time) plans never go exactly the way you want or need them too. Jules starts to unravel the mystery of her and her father’s past and learns that things were not as she was told or remembered. There is 2 brother’s in the picture so of course their has to be the YA love triangle. 🙂 It’s OK and really was just a small bit part of the book to me. I liked that it didn’t consume the book. The world building was great and I could really envision the places and characters. There are so many plots twist, just when you think OK I think I’m getting it you get thrown another curve ball.  I liked that it kept me on my toes, made it a fast moving story. The plot seems very unique to me and I don’t think I’ve read anything like Everless before.

I couldn’t believe that this is a debut novel for Sarah Holland! This girl has some major writing talent and I can’t wait to see where she goes. I can’t wait to read book 2 of the series. According to GoodReads it has a title: EverMore and it comes out January of 2019! Eeks that is so far away. 😦  This is a YA fantasy book, but I think it would be alright for older middle grade readers. Jules is a good person and role model. She is strong and doesn’t back down from a challenge. The violence is there but very minimal – strong language and adult situations are very mild and infrequent. I would be fine with given my middle grade reader this book to read.

about the book: EVERLESS presents the kingdom of Sempera, where your life’s blood is not only your time on earth but also something that can be drained and magically converted into money. Here we meet 17-year-old Jules, who’s tired of living in poverty, always at the mercy of the tax collector, ever since she and her father were banished from the Gerling estate when she was still a kid. Now that her childhood friend Lord Roan Gerling is about to marry the queen’s heiress, the estate is taking on extra help and paying handsomely for it. Despite her father’s warnings never to go near the estate again, Jules determines to get work there. Lucky (and pretty) enough to be selected, she’s put to work in the kitchen. Being back on the estate brings back a lot of memories, and those memories start to raise more and more questions about who she is and where she came from. If she can get close to the queen and find what’s hidden in the Gerling family vault, she just might find the answers she’s looking for.

Thank you HarperTeen and BookSpark for allowing me to read and review Everless. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

Lone Stars

by Mike Lupica

 

 

Clay is a quarterback’s dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there’s no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.  But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach—lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay’s season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time—during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.

I usually don’t read a lot of sports books that are geared towards boys. I know I should but just never seem to pick them up. I’m trying to change that and I did with Lone Star. I know this author is very popular with upper elementary and middle grade readers. The main thing I really liked about this book is that the author uses it to shed light on head injuries in football. This is a very serious topic and one that young football fans and players should know about. However in Lone Star  the reader get’s to see how this head injury affects a loved one. Clay’s beloved football coach is suffering for the many years of getting hit in the head and receiving concussions while playing football when he was younger. Coach Monty has lots of help and support with his team and this is a heartwarming read. I liked that it had positive role models and that the kids were so willing to help out their friend in need. They were really more than just a football team, they were family.

Thank you Random House and Philomel Books for sending me a copy of Lone Star. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. 

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

by David Barclay Moore

 

 

 

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death.

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward. 


His path isn’t clear–and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape–and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

I’m not sure how to review this one. The Stars Beneath Our Feet was such a hard read, not in a bad way. It was a very emotional book and the reader really feels for Lolly and all he is going through. I can’t even imagine how most 12 year old’s would process losing a sibling. The grief process and his interactions seemed real to me.  I really think that for some this book will really touch them and stay with them. It was a little harsh to read  at times and made me really uncomfortable. I think that is what the author was going for?  I will say there is some language in there that might upset some readers, I know it did for me.  However sometimes those are the ones that really get people talking and discussing issues that need to be on the table. Overall it was a good book on topics and subjects I haven’t read many books about and not sure if there are many like this in the middle grade reader genre. I know there are many in the YA genre so I’m glad there a book for middle grade. That being said I could see this crossing over and some YA readers liking this book as well. While the main character is 12 it didn’t read as a young middle grade.  I think that this will be a very buzzed about book and up for many awards. I’m glad I was able to read it.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of The Stars Beneath Our Feet. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

by Michelle Cuevas

A pet black hole can be your light in the darkest dark” {back cover}

This book was not like anything I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be a fun care free book about space and a pet black hole. However once I got into it I realized that it was actually a sad story about a little girl who was healing from her father’s unexpected and sudden death. They loved space and the launch of the Voyager in 1977. This is the second book I’ve read that has taken place in this time era this summer. I like that middle grade books are exploring this time. Stella has always wanted a dog so a pet black hole might not be so bad. However she very quickly learns they are bad they eat everything in sight and really love furry things. Stella takes the time to train Larry the black hole and it helps her get her mind of the painful memories of her dad. My middle grade reader and I decided that Stella had her own black hole and it was full of memories, pain and grief of losing her dad. She devises a sure-fire way to get over the pain and grief is to feed everything that was her dad’s to Larry the black hole. By doing so she erases those memories and she wants them back they are all she has left. Her and her little brother go on an amazing trip into the black hole. They go on this journey and are able to confront their fears, pain and heal in the process.

This book was such a great one even though it through me for a loop and was such a sad touching novel. Don’t let the cute little cover fool you though I would suggest this for 5th grade and up. Some younger elementary kids might be good with it however it does tackle some sad times. I just think the older reader would get more out of it and understand the physics and astronomy facts better. Overall this is a 5 star book and one I would suggest to readers looking for a book that will stay with them after they are done reading.

We decide this one needed a bit of a display for our bookshelves. So we created a cute Larry the pet black hole. Picture was taken outside since the lighting wasn’t good in room that has all our bookcases at the time. It was super easy to make just take a black bath poof and add google eyes or foam eyes and your done.

About the book: When eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least—but also turns out to be a convenient way to get rid of those items that Stella doesn’t want around. Soon the ugly sweaters her aunt has made for her all disappear within the black hole, as does the smelly class hamster she’s taking care of, and most important, all the reminders of her dead father that are just too painful to have around.

It’s not until Stella, her younger brother, Cosmo, the family puppy, and even the bathroom tub all get swallowed up by the black hole that Stella comes to realize she has been letting her own grief consume her. And that’s not the only thing she realizes as she attempts to get back home. This is an astonishingly original and funny adventure with a great big heart.

Thank you so much Penguin Random House for sending us a copy of The Care and Feeding A Pet Black Hole. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Thirteen Rising

by Romina Russell

Zodiac Series book 4

Thirteen Rising is the final installment in the wonderfully entertaining Zodiac series. I have loved this series and it is a series I will re-read now and again. The stories capture you and take you to a whole new world and the covers are so beautiful. This summer was a lot of fun doing the Zodiac Summer Read A Thon with my girls leading up to Thirteen Rising. If you haven’t read this series yet now is your chance. All four books are out as of today so grab them and binge read them this fall. They would also make a wonderful holiday gift for any middle grade or YA reading teen. Today I’m diving into the Zodiac world and can’t wait to see what is in store.

About the Book: Romina Russell’s epic sci-fi fantasy series reaches its breathtaking conclusion with this fourth and final novel.

The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?

Thank you Penguin Young Readers for sending us the Zodiac Series. We have loved and enjoyed the Summer 2017 Read A Thon so much. All thoughts and opinions are our own and are not influenced by the free books.