Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

Trevor had it all; looks, charm and a clear path for his future...until a late night mistake changed all of that and left him in coma for months.  Now he needs to figure how to cope with the changes his coma and subsequent recovery bring....which involves needing to pass a government test to complete high school.

Everly has it all; picture perfect family (model looks and her dad's a preacher), house (it has an actual white picket fence!) and she's off to an Ivy League school.  She is also going to mentor Trevor because that is what ideal preacher daughters do. What the rest of the world doesn't know is that her family is hiding a secret that is tearing them apart.

This book alternates between the perspective of Trevor and Everly.  Each character makes you feel for them and want to know more about them.  I enjoyed watching them face their trials and insecurities in a real manner.  There are ups and downs and it is through these experiences that Trevor and Everly get to truly know each other.

But will they have the strength and courage to overcome the adversity they face?

I recommend this book to people looking for a quality read that helps us better understand the secrets we all try to hide from those around us.  I wish more time was spent having us learn about the effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries but that doesn't take away from my reading this book.

It is going to be part of my classroom library and I suggest this book to anyone who enjoys quality young adult novels.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir *5 STARS!*

What would you do in a world where resistance was met with death? 

Sabaa Tahir’s captivating debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes, takes on this question.  Life is not easy in the Martial Empire.  Resistance is met with swift retribution and the Martial’s rule with an iron grip.  This is the world Laia finds herself in.  After the Empire captures her brother she is willing to go to extreme lengths to try to save him.  But is it too late?

Elias is a super soldier.  His bloodline is second to none and he is at the top of his class at Blackcliff Military Academy.   The only issue is he HATES his job and wants to desert.  The day before he deserts he is given news that turns his world upside down.  Will he be able to escape or he will he find himself more involved in the Empire than he could even imagine?

Wow!  The pages of this book fill you with excitement, tension and an undeniable urge to keep reading.   I feel hook, line and sinker into the world Tahir created.   She has crafted strong primary and secondary characters and a new world that you want to learn more about (from a distance!).  I especially liked the relationships the characters built and what we learned about them in the process.  My words are not doing this justice but you will want to BUY BUY BUY this book!

I have already bought a copy for my classroom library and the first person to check it out was my boss.  This is a book that readers of all ages can get into.  This is one of the best books I have read this year and recommend it to anyone looking to experience the thrill that comes with reading a captivating and exciting book!

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (Book #1: The Girl at Midnight series)

Echo is your normal teenage New York City pickpocket…if normal means stealing magical items, jumping though portals and living with someone who is thousands of years old.   The Girl at Midnight, Melissa Grey’s strong debut novel, enters us into a world that hides just beyond our world.  A world at war.  The Avicen, who Echo is aligned with, are fighting the Drakharin for control of their world.  Echo has been taught that the Drakharin are evil and ruthless.  Especially the Dragon Prince.

Caius looks like a teenager but has been part of this ancient war for over 250 years.  He wants this war to end.  Caius is intent on finding the Firebird; legend has it that this powerful being is capable of ending this war once and for all and that whoever controls the Firebird controls the fate of the war.  Two things to know about Caius: He is Drakharin.  He is also the Dragon Prince.

When the paths of Caius and Echo meet they find themselves both searching for the Firebird.  Both have secrets about themselves and their journey will teach them much about each other.  They might even like each other.  If the world doesn’t end.

The Girl at Midnight is a fast-paced book that kept me on edge.  I enjoyed the Echo’s sharp wit and the interplay she had with the other characters in the book.  Science fictiony YA lit can be harder for me to get into but I enjoyed the world Grey created.   A small complaint I have is that the ending of the book seemed rushed; A LOT happened in the last 50 pages. I am glad this book is a part of a series because I want to know where this story will lead.

I have bought a copy of this book and can’t wait to add to my classroom library.  This type of novel will appeal to many of my students and there is already a waiting list to check it out!  I recommend The Girl at Midnight to those looking for an exciting read with strong characters and whose journey you will get to enjoy through multiple books.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sydney has been used to being invisible her whole life.  Her brother, Peyton, is the one with the gravitational pull in her family.  Everyone is drawn towards him and Sydney is ok with being in the passenger seat.  Things seem perfect in their family until Peyton changes and begins getting and more and more trouble with the law.  Saint Anything starts after Peyton is sentenced for an action that haunts Sydney and shatters her family as she knows it.  She changes schools to try to start fresh and through time, new friends and garlic knots she works through her grief and learns more about who she is.

This is, hands down, the best Sarah Dessen book I have read.  I found myself reading this book over and over (and over!).  All of the characters in this book feel real and like people you could run into in your own lives.  Each character was strong and broken in their own way and each page made me glad to be part of their world.  The story drew me in as well.  The idea that we may feel invisible to those around us but are not invisible to everyone is one I was drawn to.  As a twin whose brother has always been seen as exemplary I could relate to Sydney’s struggle with this.  Her experience of it sometimes being easier to open to stranger is one that I, and I bet many of us, have experienced.   The whole book feels real and Dessen has done a great job (again) of having the characters, and their situations, feel real.  

I found this review difficult because I wanted to get it right.  This book did to me what all great books do; it drew me and allowed me to view those around me more complexly.  I have pre-ordered two copies of this for my classroom library and I CANNOT WAIT to have students share their thoughts on this story with me!  There are multiple students who have been pestering me for weeks to see if this book has come in.  I strongly recommend this book to those looking to become immersed in a great story that will make you connect with the characters and apply what you learn from them to your life.  FANTASTIC READ!

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: The Secrets We Keep


The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver tells the story of Ella and Maddy Lawton.  Two Identical Twins with Two Different Personalities.  Maddy is outspoken, direct and one of the most popular girls in school; Maddy is reserved, quiet and spends A LOT of time lost in her drawings.  When both of them are involved in a late night car crash Ella wakes up to find to learn three things.  One, her sister is dead, two, she is VERY guilty about surviving, and three, everyone thinks she is Maddy.  This guilt leads Ella to honor her sister’s memory by becoming her and not having her story end with a car crash.  She’s prepared for the struggle of keeping this appearance up but is she ready for what she we will learn about her sister once she becomes her?

I was drawn to The Secrets We Keep based on its look at the complicated bond between twins and the people around them.  As a twin myself, I related to Ella having a different personality than her sister and other people expecting them to be the same.  I also related to the bond twins have for one another…even when they drive you mad.  I have wondered what it would be like to be my brother at times and imagined us switching roles.  This book explored what it would be like to ‘be’ your twin a different manner than I expected and that affected my first reading of the book.  Reading it a second time made me appreciate the characters Leaver built and the issues people in the book dealt with.  It is short read but one that has different scenes impact you during each reading.

I am buying a copy of The Secrets We Keep for my classroom library.  This is a story that students in my classes will eat up.  I have a list of students in mind that will read this book and I look forward to having conversations with them about the themes and concepts located within its pages.  I recommend this book to people looking for a fresh take on the bonds people have with one another and how we learn about ourselves from them.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.