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

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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:

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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

Gifted

25689031 Gifted by H.A. Swain

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 6/14/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

In Orpheus Chanson’s world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus’s father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.
Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a “plebe”–a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother’s illness can’t keep her from making music–even if it is illegal.
Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping–and terrifying.

My thoughts:

I did finish this book, though I almost quit a few times because I just wasn’t excited about it. BUT, I was interested enough to find out what happened, so I guess that makes it still decent. Basically, this futuristic (but not too futuristic to be unimaginable) society is divided into Plutes and Plebes, which are like the elites and the working class. Plebes, like Zimri, work in a warehouse (ahem, Amazon) gathering items purchased by Plutes to be immediately delivered by drones…we’re getting to that point, folks. Plutes, like Orpheus, undergo a surgery as teens that gives them a special skills, like music or writing, in order to become famous and entertain the society.

The book is told in alternating viewpoints between Orpheus and Zimri as they come together under some kind of unusual circumstances. Orpheus gets to see what the world is like for those less privileged than he while working with Zimri at Amazon (oops, I mean Corp X) and learning about her life. Zimri spends a majority of the book worried about her grandmother, who has developed dementia, and how she will care for her with no extra money or help. Orpheus can relate to her a little more than he would have ever imagined as they become closer. At the same time, Orpheus has been declared missing in the Plute world and no one seems to care. Should he bother to even return or stay in Zimri’s world?

I can see some of my students finding this book really interesting, especially all the techy stuff, but I’m not sure they will make the same connections as I did as an adult reading it. It could make for some interesting discussion. With that being said, I will purchase the book for my school library, but I can’t promise that I will remember to recommend it.

My rating: 3/5

 

Girl Against the Universe

22297294 Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Summary from Goodreads:

Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

My thoughts:

I kept seeing people talking about this book on Twitter and praising it, so I knew I had to read it as soon as I could fit it in with all my ARCs I need to read. I had already ordered it for my school library and it came in the last week of school, so I nabbed it to read over the summer. I picked this up Monday night and was finished with it by Wednesday night. I get the hype now and I am impressed as well. Maguire’s story is told so well and makes her mental health issues seem so relatable. I have read books before that make it pretty clear that one mental health issue doesn’t not usually show up alone and this book did a great job of explaining why those problems tend to build upon one another. Poor Maguire has PTSD, which leads to some OCD tendencies, and anxiety, and so on. Almost everyone that reads this book will be able to relate to the way she feels at some point in the book.

Maguire feels cursed and thinks that she is to blame for all the bad things that happen to people around her, so she has secluded herself for the most part. She has started to meet with a therapist, who helps her develop challenges to meet her ultimate goal of being able to travel for a memorial in Ireland for her father. In the process, she meets Jordy, who is dealing with problems of his own, and they are able to help each other along the way. I actually really adored Maguire and Jordy’s love story, which is not a usual thing for me. 🙂 I reminded me a bit of Finch and Violet in All the Bright Places, which is an all-time favorite of mine. I can really see some of my students loving this book and I can’t wait to recommend it when school starts again in August. Great read!

My rating: 5/5

 

The Leaving

26073074 The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 6/7/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.
Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

My thoughts:

I wasn’t sure about this one ahead of time and there were mixed reviews on Goodreads from those that had already read ARCs, but I decided to go ahead and give it a try. I almost quit reading about 10% of the way through, because the galley eBook was pretty confusing as far as formatting went. I thought it was an interesting concept though, and it wasn’t super long, so I went ahead and read the whole thing.

I am not super impressed, but also happy that I finished it to find out what happened. I wasn’t sure where this mystery was going and I’m not entirely sure that I’m happy with where it went, but I’m also still kind of processing I think. Perhaps, when I see the finished copy with correct formatting, it will make more sense. The story was told in an interesting way, from a few different viewpoints of those that had different experiences with “the leaving”–Scarlett, Lucas, and Avery mostly– so that kept the pace quick. I read the whole thing in about 2 days and I think a lot of my students would find it to be a fast read as well. I wish we had heard more from some of the other characters, like Kristen for example. I think she would have had some interesting experiences to share. I think this is a stand-alone title, so I’m not sure that will happen, but I would be open to reading it if I had time. I will buy this book for my high school library, and will probably recommend it to those that like mysteries…if I can remember it by the time school starts again. Book nerd problems! 🙂

My rating: 3.5/5