Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, releases today 3/31/15.
First, let me say I think this is a really cool cover!
I just recently finished another paranormal story, so I wasn’t super excited about starting this one, but I got into it quickly and it kept my attention throughout, pretty action-packed! It is the story of twins, Lark and Wren…though Wren is dead. She was born that way, but has been around for as long as Lark can remember. Though Lark doesn’t fully understand her power with ghosts, she is asked to help a group of peers that have had an encounter with a horrible ghost at an old mental hospital in their town that is known for being super creepy and haunted. She is on a mission to help them heal their ghostly wounds and eliminate the evil that is trying to take over. With the help of her ghostly sister and Medium friend, Kevin, she takes on the task. I won’t say much more since this is a quick review, but let’s just say….Lark is pretty bad-a**! I really did enjoy this story and know that it is one I will be recommending to students as soon as it arrives in my library (maybe today?).
My rating: 4/5
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases on 3/31/15.
I didn’t know quite what to expect with this book, but I remembered liking Water for Elephants pretty well, so I wanted to try it out when I saw it on Netgalley. It is historical fiction, which I am not usually all that excited about, but Sara Gruen is able to write in a modern voice that doesn’t make it difficult to read. Maddie and Ellis are a married, high-society type couple in the 1940s; attending lavish parties and getting into trouble. During one such party, Ellis manages to embarrass his father to the point of getting him (and Maddie) kicked out and cut off. Trying to redeem himself with his father, he sets off to Scotland to try to hunt down the Loch Ness Monster, a passion of his father’s. He brings Maddie and their best friend, Hank, along for the ride. The obsession (and alcohol) consumes Ellis and Hank as they leave Maddie behind at the inn/tavern most days, so she makes friends of her own in the process and discovers that she can be an independent woman. Ellis tries to use threats to keep her around, but she sees through his lies, as does everyone else eventually. While all of this is going on, there is also the matter of World War II, which is causing constant fear and dread among the characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and was able to finish it fairly quickly. Though it wasn’t high drama or intensity (in my opinion), I found it very well-written and it kept my attention throughout. I will be recommending this to family and friends and have already purchased for my library.
My rating: 4/5
Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 3/31/15.
A book about child pageants?! Yes, please! As someone who was obsessed with Toddlers & Tiaras, I couldn’t pass this one up when I read the summary on Netgalley. Though it is a fictional book, I can still imagine that this is exactly what it must be like in that world! Miranda’s daughter, Bailey, is outgrowing the pageant–both physically and mentally–and she is desperate for her soon-to-be born daughter to fill the void. After a massive blow-up at one of Bailey’s pageants, it becomes the last one she will be involved in for quite some time. There is a second story line going on in this book as well, Miranda’s cheating, pill-popping husband’s story. His involvement with a much younger woman (girl?) is bound to get him in serious trouble. When the new baby is born, Miranda is in for a shock…will this baby be able to fulfill her pageant mom dreams?
My favorite thing about this book was the humor, satire aspect of it. The names of the little girls in the pageants made me laugh out loud more than once and brought back fond memories of a show that I wish was still on air. Definitely pick this one up if you are a fan of senseless drama! I have already recommended to a few people!
My rating: 4/5
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 3/24/15.
Before I go into the review, I will clarify that I had never heard of this YouTube channel before being approved for an advanced copy of this book. Now that I have read it, I may become a subscriber! This is the story of Sunshine….she was adopted as a baby and named so because her adoptive mother said she knew immediately that she would be the light of her life. The book begins with the two moving to a new town for her mother’s dream job. This is a dreary, rainy, and “creepy” town to say the least. Immediately, Sunshine starts hearing voices and has interactions with what she believes is a little girl. No one will believe her, including her own mother, who can’t seem to remember an interaction that she, herself, also had with the ghost; but, then she meets Nolan in art class at school (if you can call it art!) and he believes her and wants in on the mystery. Sunshine finds out that she has been blessed with some special “powers”, but has to pass a test to rid her home of a demon before it destroys what little family she has. I normally am not a huge fan of creepy books (though I am a fan of creepy/scary movies), but I thought this one was pretty darn good. I stayed up late several nights reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen. The character development in this story was outstanding and the characters were easy to like. Though there was a touch of romance, it was not done in a way that took over the main plot of the book or that was sappy at all. I was rooting for the characters through the whole story. This had just enough touch of creepy without being too scary for most. I can definitely see my high school students enjoying this book, so it will be a library purchase! I don’t know how much of this book (if any) is based on her YouTube videos, but I intend to find out.
My rating: 4/5
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 3/17/15.
I will start this post by saying I am not usually much of a fan of Historical Fiction, but this book was able to hold my interest all the way through. Though it was a serious topic, there were many funny moments and I could picture the characters as people I would want to be friends with. Sammy and Andy are 2 girls disguised as boys trying to escape their own lives in Missouri by following the Oregon Trail. Sammy is trying to outrun a “crime” that she committed, which Andy is trying to outrun slavery. Shortly after beginning their journey, they meet 3 young men and join them for travels. They must survive, avoid the law, and navigate relationships…all while maintaining their status as male instead of the females they actually are. As you can imagine, this leads to some funny and awkward situations. The story gets very intense towards the end so it is a good read all the way through. The characters are also well-developed, extremely relatable, and diverse—there are white characters, Chinese characters, black characters, and Mexican characters. I will be purchasing for my high school library and recommending to students.
My rating: 4/5
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases 3/10/15.
Seed is the only home that Pearl has ever known, and the people that she associates with consist solely of her “family”, which all live in a house together. Seed is led by Papa S., a man who teaches them that Nature is the only thing to worship and Nature will take care of them all. This means no hospitals, no outside people, no tvs, etc. They grow their own food, make their own plain clothes, and take care of their own medical needs….until Papa S. allows an Outside family of 3 to move in with them–Linda, Ellis, and Sophie. Linda knows one of the men of the family (called a Kindred) and he promises her that joining them will make her family happy and fix all their problems. As Pearl and a few of the others get to know Ellis, he exposes them to truths from the Outside. They start to see the wrongs that are taking place in their little community and try to decide if leaving is an option they should consider. Papa S. catches on that there are “sinful thoughts” happening among his group and decides to take matters into his own hands.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Seed is essentially a cult. Pearl has been brainwashed to think that this is the best life she could possibly have and is baffled by the truths that she starts to learn. There is not a lot of action throughout much of the story, it all seems to pick up at the end; but, that doesn’t keep it from being an interesting story still. I was intrigued by the way these people thought and how they lived. There is a strong undertone of immoral sexual behavior amongst the elder men and young girls, but nothing is mentioned outright. Most of us seem to find this kind of story fascinating, just think about how many news stories and books are out about people who have escaped from cults and how popular those stories seem to be. I would recommend this book to a lot of my students as something different. Overall, a good read!
My rating: 4/5
Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 3/3/15.
Famous fairy tale characters at a Hogwarts-type school?? Be still my heart! This reminded me of a Once Upon a Time episode mixed with a Harry Potter book–2 of my all-time favorite things! Needless to say, I loved this little book and read it in less in a day. Flunked is about a girl named Gillian, who gets sent to Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS) for stealing from the royals to help her family survive. This is a school that is supposed to help the villains of Enchantasia become heroes, led by none other than the evil stepmother of Cinderella herself. We also see the formerly evil characters from Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Little Mermaid to name a few. Gillian finds that there is something weird going on at FTRS and gets involved with some other students who want to figure it all out. She ends up being considered a hero after a particularly horrifying Royal Day event and is offered the chance to go home early from her sentence, but decides to stay to defeat the evil that is happening….and I’ll stop there. This is a very fun, interesting read; and, even though, it is geared to mostly middle grades, I will still buy for my high school library because I know I have some students who will adore it. Read this one for something a little different!
My rating: 5/5