The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

32737635.jpg The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

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

Summary from Goodreads:

In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.

My thoughts:

I had a hard time rating this one, trying to decide between a 3 and a 4, so I will say it’s technically a 3.5. I enjoyed the gossipy aspect of the book and reading about the characters, but it all seemed out of order and a little jumbled up to me. The author did keep me in anticipation of what happened to a previous character while learning about a new one, so she did a good job of keeping me reading.  I feel like adults would enjoy reading about these rich, entitled kids more than teenagers would for some reason. As a high school teacher, I could relate to some of the things with the young, first year teacher: wanting to know about her students, trying to get through to them, etc.; but, she also takes it too far, which is part of the plot. It is an interesting exploration of the student/teacher dynamic and today’s teenagers in general…makes me not want to think about what they are doing outside of school time!

My rating: 3.5/5

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Holding Up the Universe (Part 2)

28671039 Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**My opinions are based on an ARC of this book received from the publisher/author. It releases tomorrow, 10/4/16!

Read my initial thoughts about the book here.

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

My thoughts:

Well, if you don’t know by now that I’m a huge fan of this author, Jennifer Niven, where have you been?! Here’s a reminder of the excitement on my face when meeting her:

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So, the new book is FINALLY coming out…yay! I can’t wait for lots and lots of people to get to read it. I still feel strongly like I did when I originally posted that this book is not offensive to fat people and I don’t know why some would think it is, unless they are just extremely unhappy with themselves and look for any way to be negative. I accept who I am, so why would reading about someone with some of the same struggles make me angry? If anything, it makes it more enjoyable to read. I have been talking this book up to my students, especially those that I know enjoyed All the Bright Places and I have let a few read the ARC. They have enjoyed this one as well and it made them feel really special to get to read a book that wasn’t out yet. 🙂 I feel like this will be another important book that everyone should read because I think we should all read books about people that are similar, as well as very different, from us. How else do we develop compassion and empathy?

Just a side note, I have recently been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome and my fingers hurt so bad, but I am fighting through that pain to type this because I wanted it out there. I feel like Jennifer Niven deserves recognition for her writing and for being such a kind, awesome person! Thank you for another great read, Jennifer. I can’t wait to get it in my library and into the hands of many readers.

My rating: 5/5

Baby Doll

27415371 Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

**This review is based on an ARC I picked up at BEA in Chicago from the Hachette booth, release date is shown as 7/12/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next…
…to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter…and to her captor.

My thoughts:

I just picked this book up as I walked by it at BEA because it just had a cover on it that said “Escape is just the beginning”, so I was intrigued. I am trying my best to read all the ARCs I picked up, and this was a short one, so it was easy to sit down and read it quickly. It was interesting enough that I read it in 2 sittings, but it did have its flaws. I’ll get to this in a second.

At the beginning of the book, Lily escapes from her captor of 8 years, makes sense with what the cover said, so that was fine.  However, I think her escape seemed a little too easy…but that’s just me wanting some suspense I guess. She makes it back to her family and the story goes from there, focusing on the aftermath for Lily, her daughter Sky, her twin Abby, and her mother mostly. There are some other characters that you hear from, as the story is told in the different viewpoints each chapter.

I do feel that some of the things that happened in this book were fairly far-fetched for how I would imagine things would really be like…but, also, how would I know what it would be like, right?  The middle part of the book could have been a little more interesting, but I’m not sure how, so I’m not going to critique it much. Things started to get pretty intense toward the end and I thought that it ended nicely. I like that the captor was someone that people would have never thought, which made things interesting. All that being said, this book was obviously good enough to keep me reading half of it at a time, so I would recommend it to those who like suspense, kidnapping stories, etc.

My rating: 4/5

 

Asking For It

Asking For It Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.
Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

My thoughts:

Okay, I have been waiting for this book to come out in the U.S. for ages and ages. I follow Louise on social media and was dying for it because I am obsessed with her first title Only Ever Yours. I knew what this book was about from her posts and all the awards/reviews it has received. I finally got my hands on it and ordered for my high school library, and I was not disappointed! This is an extremely tough topic that I know will ignite conversation and, possibly even some controversy, among my students; but, it is a valuable, necessary story. I will be putting this into the hands of as many students as I can. Emma’s story is heartbreaking, horrifying, and totally relatable for any female. It was like you were in her head and feeling all the awful things she was feeling. My school is really pushing a campaign to make students aware of what they post on social media and how it affects others, so this book came at a perfect time. We really need to think about the way our world looks at the rape culture and people always thinking that the girls were asking for it in cases like this. Females should have a right to be proud of themselves and look beautiful without having to worry about being attacked. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I would not be opposed one bit to reading a sequel to this book so I can find out what happened!

My rating: 5/5

Most Wanted

Most Wanted Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 4/12/16.

Summary from Goodreads:
Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing, powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth.

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite authors, so I was super excited when I got approved to read this one. I buy all of Lisa’s books for my high school library because the faculty and staff have all become hooked too. I enjoyed this one just as much as the others I have read by her, and will be buying it as well. The story seems a little far-fetched, but makes more sense the more you get into it and doesn’t seem as unrealistic. I have to say I did not know who the serial killer was until it was revealed, which is always the sign of a good writer to me…there was no predictability on my side. Lisa Scottoline does a very good job of building characters and making them grow throughout the story. If you like family dramas and mysteries, this will be a good one for you!

My rating: 5/5

This Is Where It Ends

This Is Where It Ends  This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 1/5/16.

Trigger warning: This is a book about a school shooting/hostage situation.

This is a story told from multiple viewpoints over a short amount of time about a school shooting. After a morning assembly, everyone (almost everyone) is locked in the auditorium of the school and the shooting begins. As students begin to figure out what is happening and who the shooter is, the intensity really gets started. From outside of the auditorium, a few students who were other places have to try to get help and figure out what is going on until police arrive. This is a school, seemingly, in the middle of nowhere, so that help does not come as quickly as they would like.

This was one of those books that I read in about two sittings because I could just not put it down. I had to know what was going to happen and who was going to survive. As morbid and upsetting as books about school shootings are, I just get engrossed in them.  Is that weird? It is also terrifying because the whole time I imagining it as the school I work at. (Horribly terrifying!) This is the kind of intense book that really gets you thinking and is more scary than any book about serial killers, ghosts, etc.  I also saw all the flaws in how the police reacted based on how we have been trained as school staff to respond and to expect in this kind of situation. Though it is told from many viewpoints, I never found it confusing or hard to follow.

Anyway, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes this kind of story. I will most likely order it for my school library, though it scares me a bit to do so…even though I hate to admit that.

My rating: 5/5

What Pretty Girls Are Made Of by Lindsay Jill Roth

25577179 What Pretty Girls Are Made Of by Lindsay Jill Roth

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 8/3/15.

This book description grabbed my attention immediately because it is supposed to be like The Devil Wears Prada in a makeup company. Seems like just my style!

Alison has tried and tried to be a success in the acting world, but decides it’s finally time to give it a rest and tries to find a new job. She knows a little about Sally Steele Cosmetics, a well-known brand on QVC, and walks right into the studio and makes herself known. Sally Steele decides she likes Alison’s charm and bravery and hires her to be her assistant. Though it takes a bit, Alison starts to see the ugly side of Sally, the side the other girls have warned about and she becomes miserable. In the meantime, she is working the dating scene and finally finds Bret and is falling in love….until he makes a business deal that she just can’t handle. Though she is having a rough time at the makeup company, she starts to learn to assert herself and be more open about how she feels as she tries to advance in the company. This is all taking place while she is also looking for other jobs, preferably some kind of hosting gig. Will Alison learn to deal with Sally or finally have her fill of the woman’s horrible attitude and manners?

I liked this book because Alison grew so much as a character, it made it seem so realistic. She was a very well-developed character and easy to relate to. I can’t imagine dealing with a boss like Sally and still keeping my cool or my sanity. It was nice that there was no insta-love in this book either, I hate when a relationship is “too easy” because it is just not real. I will recommend this book to friends.

My rating: 4/5