The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

18135437 The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley. It releases on 2/24.

This is the story of identical twins Lexi (Alexa) and Ava….and their made-up third twin, Alicia.  The twins invented Alicia as children to blame when something went wrong and have carried her into their teen years.  They use Alicia to date boys that neither of them would ever take very seriously for real relationships. But, someone begins to kill the boys that “Alicia” is dating shortly after the last time they had contact with her.  This story is told from Lexi’s point of view and is mostly her trying to figure out what is going. Should she possibly even suspect her twin, Ava? Is someone else who looks similar to them out to get them for some reason? When she does find out what is going on, it is shocking to her and the rest of her family/friends.  I will leave it at that, I’m not good at keeping secrets!  Though I found this story a bit predictable, and for some reason it minded me of The Lying Game (show more than books, maybe it’s just the twin thing and all the secrets), it was still an interesting read.  I can guarantee that some of my high school students will grab this one right up, and it would be a good pick for reluctant readers. I will be purchasing for my library and recommending.

My rating: 3/5

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Housewitch by Katie Schickel

22238194 Housewitch by Katie Schickel

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases today 2/17/15.

So, I hate comparing books to other books/movies (if I haven’t made that clear yet), but the best way to describe this for me is a mixture of Stepford Wives meets Bewitched meets Harry Potter.  This is the story of Allison Darling, a normal small-town mom and wife, who discovers that she has magical powers by accident. She was raised in foster homes and thinks her mother abandoned her as a child, but learns that there may be more to the story than she remembers.  She gets a call that her birth mother is dying and goes to visit her.  From her deathbed, Wilhemina tells Allison that she is a witch and that an enchantment will disappear when she dies, an enchantment that is protecting Allison from an evil witch. Allison sets out to find her mother’s sister and the truth, and learns a lot in the process.  She is also accepted into a “coven” of other housewives/moms in town that are called Glamour Girls.  They use products, not unlike Avon, to essentially control their whole town and are given orders by the queen Glamour girl, Astrid.  Is Astrid who she says she is? Will Allison be able to find out who the bad witch is and keep her from ruining them all? Through a mixture of flashbacks and present day chapters, we learn about the history of Allison’s family and the ins and outs of Astrid’s coven. I will not say much more for fear of giving away too much, but this was a good, fun read!  I will be recommending it to my adult friends, but I can’t imagine that many of my teen students will find it too exciting.  The writing moved at a good pace and kept the story interesting, I will keep this author on my radar.

My rating: 4/5

Golden State by Stephanie Kegan

16130601 Golden State by Stephanie Kegan

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases on 2/17/15.

I already had a lot of books to review for February, but the summary and comparisons for this book really caught my eye.  It says it is good for fans of Jodi PIcoult and it is a ripped-from-the-headlines type story, which I usually enjoy.  This book is about a woman named Natalie and her family; both her husband and children and her mother, brother, and sister.  Growing up, everyone knew her brother, Bobby, was a little bit different, but he was brilliant…we’re talking went to Princeton at age 16 kind of brilliant. However, for the past several years, he has become withdrawn and lives in a remote “cabin” (if you can even call it that), and does not communicate with his family or much of anyone else.  He has ranted many times about his deceased father, a politician, and how technology is destroying our world. During this time, bombings have been occurring on the campuses of universities in California.  The Cal-bomber has released a manifesto about his feelings on technology, which Natalie realizes sound, shockingly, like something her brother has written to their mother.  She begins to worry that he may be involved in the bombings and feels she has no choice but to do something about it.  While he is being investigated, we see the devastating effects that the situation has on Natalie’s own family, along with her mother and sister.  Much of the story is centered around how tough it is for Natalie to feel the guilt of accusing her own brother of such heinous crimes, but it does not feel too overdone or repetitive.  We see how media attention can rip a family apart, which is something we hear about all the time. As the investigation and trial are taking place, Natalie is able to uncover some things about her childhood and family growing up that she did not know.  She is also faced with the tough decision of whether to help her brother during trial or sit back and do nothing.  This is an emotional and interesting story that did remind me of something Jodi Picoult would write (though I hate making these kinds of comparisons), so it was something I enjoyed. It makes you think about what you would do in Natalie’s situation. I have purchased this title for my library, mainly for staff members, but I can see some of my students enjoying it if I can get them to give it a chance.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

81WQcVD8k9L The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases on 2/10/15.

I originally requested this title because a)it has a really fun cover, and b)the synopsis on Netgalley drew me in because it sounded very entertaining.  After I was approved and when I knew it was coming close to time to actually read the title, I watched a few videos from Issa Rae’s YouTube channel and knew I had to make sure to get to this one in my To-Be-Read pile.  I was not disappointed.  If you have followed me to this point, it is pretty obvious that I am not a huge fan of nonfiction titles, but I can handle memoirs most of the time.  This was written as somewhat of a guide, mixed with Issa’s own experiences and life stories.  The sections that were considered an Awkward Black Girl guide had me cracking up, as they described different kinds of black people, different kinds of coworkers, and so on; all were pretty spot-on.  The sections that were written about Issa’s life were also rather entertaining.  Issa moved around a lot as a child and has many hilarious stories to tell from her experiences with friendship and family….though, I have to admit, it was a bit confusing at times because the stories did jump back and forth over time quite a bit, so I was a little lost. There were several times during the reading of this title that I caught myself laughing out loud, and that is always an indication of a good book to me! If you have not heard of Issa Rae, look her up on YouTube and then grab this book for some laughs.  I will be purchasing for my library and recommending to students, especially for their required nonfiction book reports.  Might as well make it fun!

My rating: 4/5

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

download The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it was released on 2/3/15.

Okay, so I am a definite fan of Kristin Hannah and NOT a definite fan of historical fiction…although I have liked some in my day. However, I will start by saying this was not a book I expected when requesting it for advanced reading.  Here is my summarized adaptation:

The Nightingale is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, from France and is set during the time of the Nazi occupation during World War II. Vianne is just trying to stay alive (and keep her family alive) in her small town when it is taken over by German troops, including some who move into her own house, which she refuses to leave. During the years of the year, she is forced to starve, loses her job, tries to help care for the children of Jewish people in her community, and endures more than any one person should ever have to handle.  Isabelle, on the other hand, is a rebel that is fighting for her country in the best way she knows how…by helping British, American, and Canadian airmen get back to their countries so they can help continue to fight the war against the Germans.  She leads the airmen to freedom by climbing through the Pyrenees Mountains and is known as The Nightingale (hence the title of the book). For much of the war, she is being hunted by the Germans because they know someone is helping free the airmen, but would never expect a young lady to be the culprit. Any association with the allied forces in France is punishable by death, so her only goal is not to get caught. Throughout the story, we also see glimpses of their father and the struggle they have had as a family.

Now, let me give you my reaction, here goes:

I felt that the first half of the book could have been much more exciting and/or condensed, as I found myself wanting to give up a few times. However, I got on Goodreads and read the reactions of others who had finished the book and decided I needed to keep going.  I am a fan of Kristin Hannah’s writing, but again, this wasn’t one of her typical books (in my opinion). Once I got past the halfway point, the story got more intense and, unfortunately, more emotional.  Even though I know all of these horrible things happened during WWII, it is tough reading about them, especially from the viewpoint of the families that were just trying to survive. There were a few audible gasps that might have slipped out of me. I planned on being done with this much sooner to write a review before it’s release date, but it took me awhile to get through.  I did end up enjoying the story, but felt pretty depressed from the whole thing.  I will purchase for my high school library, because we have a lot of students interested in this historical period and it is an important story; but, I am also excited to read something light-hearted next (I hope!)

My rating: 3/5

What I read in January 2015

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These are the books that I read (and finished) in January.  I am working on 2 more right now that I will finish in the next day or so.

1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

2. When by Victoria Laurie

3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

4. Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian & Jenny Han

5. Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

6. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

7. Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell

8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I usually only write reviews of the ARC books that I read, so I will give a little feedback here for the others.  If you have read my posts, you probably already know that All the Bright Places is my absolute favorite of this month, looking good as a possibility for favorite of the year (yes, I’m saying that in January!). I can’t wait for the hype to catch on among my students! I also really enjoyed Dirty Rush as a kind of “trashy” read, though it wasn’t really trashy, just fun! I will not be buying for my library though as it is pretty much solely about drinking and doing drugs. 🙂 I just read this morning that I’ll Give You the Sun won a Printz award, and it is definitely well-deserved, hoping to get my students into this one as well. The others were all pretty satisfying reads and I will recommend them since there wasn’t one that I really disliked. I can see When being one that a lot of my girls would enjoy.

Currently reading: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (releases tomorrow 2/3) and Take My Breath Away by Wendy Wilson (won’t be releasing for quite some time, I am serving as a beta reader for this local author).