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

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

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

Small Great Things

28587957 Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 10/11/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My thoughts:

First, I just HAD to read this and was so excited that Jodi Picoult was at BEA and I was able to get a copy signed by her. I did base my review on the e-ARC from Netgalley though, as I did not want to read the actual signed copy and damage it in any way. 🙂 Anyway, I am rarely disappointed by Jodi Picoult, and the synopsis to this drew me in…it is so timely! After reading only the first few chapters, I sat and thought about how brave Jodi was to write a book that was based on so much controversy. I really enjoyed reading her Author’s Note at the end to get insight into her thoughts and the process of writing this story. I certainly wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing so. I, like Jodi mentions, would never consider myself racist, but it seems sometimes that just being born as a white person makes you blind to what really goes on.

I really liked Ruth as a character and found myself trying to empathize with her, I can’t imagine being told I couldn’t do my job based simply on the color of my skin. Turk was loathsome, of course, and I truly hated him throughout the book, which was the whole point I know. I also found myself relating to Kennedy, wanting to help but then unsure how to exactly do so. I was impressed with her final discovery, as I would have never thought of it.

I gave this 4 stars simply because I felt it did drag on a little too long, some of it felt a bit repetitive I guess. I also felt like the ending was rushed and this might not make sense since I just said the book was too long, but I could have easily read another book based on the last few chapters of this one telling what happened years after the court case. I do highly recommend this book and will be purchasing it for my school library. I commend Jodi for writing about such a tough topic, which she does often, and doing so in such a great way!

My rating: 4/5

The Lovely Reckless

27414434.jpg The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 10/4/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.
Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My thoughts:

Who can resist a good girl meets bad boy story? The writing in this book reminded me a lot of books by KA Tucker and Katie McGarry, which are two authors that I love. I met Kami Garcia at BEA in Chicago last May and got a signed copy of this one as well. I really enjoyed the story and the characters, nothing felt too cheesy and the love story wasn’t too easy. Marco was a great “bad boy” and I can see why he would be someone girls would easily fall for, but he had a lot of good in him too. Frankie had a rough-go in life for a while and her back story was really interesting. I kind of figured out the connection in the story fairly early on, but was still a little surprised to find out I was correct. I also really enjoyed the very minor storyline of the homeless cat because I have a huge soft spot for stray animals. I have already ordered a copy for my school library and will be gladly putting it in the hands of some students next week I hope!

My rating: 5/5

Meeting the author:

IMG_2976

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:

IMG_2927

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

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