One Perfect Lie

29939066 One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 4/11/17.

Summary from Goodreads:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.
But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.
Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.
Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.
Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.
At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

My thoughts:

Lisa Scottoline never disappoints me. I really enjoy her family mystery/thrillers each time I read them. This one was no different. I have been ill (see previous post) and this is the first book I picked up and read in over 2 months and I finished it pretty quickly. I’m glad I chose this one to get me back into the swing of things. Anyway, Chris Brennan is a likable character even though you have no clue what he’s up to for quite some time. Sometimes, he seems evil and I almost didn’t forgive him for something that I thought he did (vague, I know, but can’t give away spoilers), but still likable regardless. I enjoyed the whole cast of characters, especially Jordan’s mother, Heather. She was a woman you wanted to root for for some reason. I went into the book not knowing any details and person and Scottoline kept me guessing throughout. I had no clue that certain people would be involved. It was pretty fast-paced, but highly detailed as well. I highly recommend to friends and family. I do buy these for my high school library as well, because a lot of our teachers enjoy my recommendation of this author.

My rating: 5/5

29218968.jpg Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.

Summary from Goodreads:

Lily Bennett is less than thrilled to be the new kid as she starts her junior year in high school.
But soon after classes begin, she meets a classmate, Cole Drepeau, with whom she forms an immediate and intimate bond. As Cole and Lily grow closer, Lily learns about the murder that divided the town more than thirty years before. In 1985, graduating senior Amber Greeley snapped, killing her boyfriend Ben—Cole’s uncle—and taking her own life.
Lily feels inexplicably linked to Amber, and she can’t help but think that there’s more to the girl’s story. Determined to investigate the truth about Cole’s uncle’s death, Lily and Cole are pulled into a dark mystery—one that shakes the constraints of the world they’ve always believed in.

My thoughts:

I really, really enjoyed this book! I read another title by this author a few years ago and liked it as well, and I thought the synopsis of this one was interesting. I wish I had finished it before the release date, but here I am a little late. From the beginning, the story was entertaining as it flipped back and forth between current day (Lily) and past (Amber). Lily can’t figure out why everything in her new town seems so familiar and why she recognizes people that she couldn’t possible know. She learns about a girl named Amber, who was accused of killing her boyfriend and then herself several years ago. She then meets Cole, and figures out that he is related to Amber’s boyfriend and they set out together to figure out what actually happened all those years ago. I really liked how the stories went together so well…just as Lily was figuring out something to do with the murder, the story would switch back to Amber and what was happening during her time along the same lines. I was excited to go to bed each night and pick this one up, and even though I wasn’t all that surprised at the ending, I still hadn’t quite figured it out until I got there. I will definitely be recommending this one to my high school students. It’s an interesting take on a classic type of mystery. Though I don’t think I really believe in reincarnation, it was fun to read about.

My rating: 5/5

Rush

22011697.jpg Rush by Sara Bennett Wealer

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 11/15/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Three girls. One week. One chance to start over.
Maddie dreams of joining Sigma Theta Kappa, Baldwin University’s most powerful sorority, and rising above the people who walked all over her in high school—especially her boyfriend-stealing twin sister. Rush is Maddie’s chance to become the girl she always knew she could be—if she can survive Sigma’s brutal selection process.
Imogen came to Baldwin to escape her wealthy family and launch her dream career as a journalist. But her Sigma legacy might just keep her tied to the past, while her crush on her new editor could upset her plans for the future.
Cass remembers what Sigma was like before her fellow sisters put money and “Must Haves” over true friendship. By the time rush week ends, she’ll either save the sorority or quit Greek life—but first she’ll have to confront her feelings for her anti-Greek best friend Leo. Does he feel the same? Or will Cass’s commitment to Sigma keep them apart?
The week before college is a fresh start—a chance to be your true self and find sisters for life. But rush means making tough decisions and facing rejection along the way. Maddie, Imogen and Cass have until Bid Day to decide whether they’re really meant to “go Greek.” The key, each girl will find, is figuring out who her real friends are.

My thoughts:

I wanted a light read that didn’t make me think too much and this fit the bill. I enjoy reading about things like this and other people’s drama…as long as it’s not my own! I went through part of sorority rush when I started college and decided it wasn’t for me, so I was interested to read about what happens at other schools and the experience of other girls. I liked how the stories were told from different points of view and enjoyed all of the characters that told their stories. Maddie did annoy me a bit because she seemed a little too perfect, but was still relatable in her dream of just fitting in. Imogen was a fun character and Cass was just a normal, slightly insecure girl who just wanted to make things right. I think any girl could a find a character she could relate to in this book. Great, fun read!

My rating: 4/5

One Was Lost

28321033.jpg One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

**This review is based on an ARC from the publisher (received at BEA) and e-ARC from Netgalley, release date 10/4/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.
Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.
Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…

My thoughts:

I had read other books by this author and enjoyed them. I was able to meet her at BEA in Chicago this past May and had a talk with her about her books, recommending them to my students, and this title in particular. Natalie was super sweet and easy to talk to, letting me know that this is the kind of book that might keep you at night (in a good way!). 🙂  I was excited to read it and figured it would be a quick read, which it definitely was, thanks to the suspense level. It was pretty unpredictable and kept me on my toes. I kept going back and forth with who was responsible for the stalking/hunting and was surprised at the answer. This is a book I will definitely be able to sell to a lot of readers, reluctant or not, my teen students LOVE suspense so it will be an easy book talk. I will definitely be ordering it this week for my library. I also enjoy the creepy cover, makes it even more appealing.

My rating: 4/5

A Shadow Bright and Burning

23203252.jpg A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

**This review is based on an ARC I picked up at BEA in Chicago, release date is 9/20/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

My thoughts:

I am pretty impressed with this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into and I feel like there has been some overkill on fantasy lately or too many with the same kind of story, not sure what it is. Anyway, the description of this one was short and sweet and did its job to pull me in. I liked the magic story with a female point of view, which is a little less common I think.  I really liked most of the characters in this book, Henrietta was smart and funny and Magnus was a jerk, but also wonderful if that makes sense. He made me laugh often. I even grew accustomed to Blackwood, even though he was a bit of a bump on a log. Betrayal is pretty abundant in this story and I didn’t see the events at the end coming, but surprises are a good thing in this kind of book. I would recommend to my students and will be purchasing for my school library.

My rating: 4/5

Stealing Snow

28260524.jpg Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

**This review is based on ARC from BEA and also from Netgalley, release date 9/20/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

My thoughts:

I really went back and forth on even writing this review, because it hurts my heart to say negative things about Danielle Paige’s writing. She is one of the sweetest authors I have interacted with, so please remember that I feel that way through this review. In fact, here is a picture of us to make it better (haha):

Now, I was super excited to pick this up at BEA, not only to meet Danielle, but to get to read it because I loved the Dorothy Must Die series. I read some negative reviews before starting, but chose to ignore them and give it my all as I usually do. I was pretty interested for the first several chapters, but then I kept finding my mind wandering. Still, I stuck with it and read, but just could not make myself be interested in what was going on or invested in the characters. I think I would have liked a little more background on Snow and a little more struggle with her trying to learn how to use her newly found magic abilities. I can’t help but think of the scenes from the Twilight series where Bella is learning to use her powers after becoming a vampire as an example of more of what I would have wanted. I’m not sure why it just didn’t sit well with me. I also didn’t care for any of the love interests (and yes there was more than one, even more than two actually) and didn’t find myself rooting for any of them to be the one for Snow. Overall, I just couldn’t stay focused and I feel like I missed a lot of details because I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t think I’ll investigate this series further, but that won’t stop me from purchasing it for my library and letting some students try it out. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea, maybe I just liked Dorothy Must Die so much because I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Wizard of Oz…I’m just not sure. I wouldn’t discourage others from reading this one, I just wouldn’t pick it up again myself. Again, I love Danielle Paige, and I’m sorry that I didn’t love this particular book.

My rating: 2/5

Leave Me

28110865 Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Summary from Goodreads:

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.

My thoughts:

I was not super interested in this book based on the synopsis alone, but I wanted to read it since seeing it at BEA/BookCon in May. I started reading 2 days ago and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how quickly I was working my way through it. Though I could not relate to Maribeth on the level of being a mother and wife, I could relate to her just wanting to get away . You want to hate a character who just up and leaves her family, but I couldn’t bring myself to dislike her all that much. Maribeth is taking time she feels she needs and doing something for herself, which is commendable in some aspects, just maybe not the way she went about it. Anyway, I found her story while in Pittsburgh very interesting, as I can’t imagine being cut off from technology and everyone I know willingly. The other characters in the story were enjoyable as well.

Though I do feel the book wrapped up too neatly and nicely, I still enjoyed the process of getting to that point. I thought the story was wonderfully written, which I was unsure about, because I don’t remember exactly loving or hating If I Stay, which is a young adult book by the same author. I wouldn’t mind reading a sequel to this just to find out what happens with Maribeth’s family. I will purchase this for my library and recommend to my family, friends, and colleagues.

My rating: 4/5

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 9/6/16.