Review: This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

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What if, instead of dead actually being forever, there was a possibility of bringing your loved ones back to life?  Instead of losing those closest to you forever, you had the power to undo their death?  That’s exactly the premise in this chillingly semi-futuristic story.

In one instant, Lake’s world is shattered.  A tragic car accident takes the lives of both her best friend and her boyfriend.  Miraculously she survives.  But she’s left with an unimaginable dilemma.  You see,  technology has given people the ability to be resurrected.  Not just randomly and at will, mind you.  Instead, every person receives one resurrection on their eighteenth birthday to be used on whoever they choose.  That’s one resurrection, though.  And Lake can’t imagine making that choice.

To make matters even more difficult, her resurrection choice has already been promised to her older brother who was tragically paralyzed years earlier.  She’s not even close to her brother anymore, so she surely can’t imagine wasting this precious gift on him. Especially when the love of her life and her best friend have died.

Things aren’t always what they seem, of course.  As Lake struggles to come to terms with the accident, while also recovering from her own injuries, she discoveries that nobody is who they seem to be.  And then, of course, there’s a new guy to complicate matters.

This story is a lot of things.  It’s science fiction, for now at least.  It’s a romance.  It’s a teen drama.  And it’s a mystery with one heck of a twist at the end that I sure didn’t see coming.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This is Not the End

 

Review: All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher

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Funny.  Sad.  Relatable.  Unbelievable.  This book covers all this and more.  And then it goes back and repeats.

Lenny has a lot going on in her life.  A LOT.  Her dad is dying from cancer, mom is a busy attorney who uses her job to escape that harsh reality, and sister Emma is away at college. That leaves Lenny to deal with the day to day stuff.  Still, she’s in denial about how sick her dad actually is.  She copes by keeping a list of all the different ways there are for the world to end.  Oh and her crush on one of her dad’s doctors.

I went back and forth on how much I enjoyed this book, alternating between liking it very much and just liking it.  It’s good, heartbreakingly so at times.  But there are some underlying issues I didn’t feel good about.  Lenny’s behavior at times borders on mentally unstable.  Understandable with all she’s dealing with but still.  And her obsession with the doctor is over the top. Nevertheless it’s a good read, a realistic picture of life and dealing with death.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  All the Ways the World Can End

Review: Choices by J.E. Laufer

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I’m always looking for great historical fiction and nonfiction to read.  And the World War II/Holocaust era is one of my favorites to read about.  So it was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled across this true story.

The time is different, but the situation is very similar. Just because the Holocaust was over doesn’t mean that Jewish families were suddenly safe.  When Russia invaded Hungary in 1956, many feared that it was starting all over again.  So families made the decision to flee the country, leaving behind everything they knew and loved.

This is the remarkable tale of the journey faced by the author’s parents.  It’s a great read for young adults, providing names and faces to historical facts making the story come alive.  And it’s quick and easy to read, guaranteed to keep the attention of younger readers.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Choices

Review: Pearl by Jo Knowles

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I love Jo Knowles.  Some of my favorite books ever were written by her.  See You at Harry’s is one I won’t forget, and if you haven’t read it you really should.  But this review is about one of her older ones, Pearl.

Pearl and Henry are best friends.  One of the things they have in common is the strangeness of their mothers, although they’re nothing alike.  Henry’s mother is hugely overweight and doesn’t leave the house.  Pearl’s mother is not very involved, to put it mildly.  Luckily Pearl has grandfather Gus, the stable force in her life. But then Gus dies.  And in addition to being without the only parent she’s really had, Pearl now has to deal with family secrets that she never would have dreamed of.

This won’t go down as one of my favorites from this author.  Parts of the story were farfetched.  But the brilliant writing style of  Knowles more than makes up for that.

~Thalia

Buy it Now:  Pearl

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


“Never doubt. Never fear. Never overthink.”

I will admit, I wanted to read this book based only on the cover alone. It’s gorgeous! Plus I read Renee’s, Wrath and the Dawn duology, and loved those, so I assumed I would like this as well. Flame in the Mist had a very Mulan feel to it, but with a twist. It felt real. I thought I was living the story, instead of merely reading it. Pure magic.

She was not a half. She was wholly her own.

Mariko’s life isn’t headed in the direction she wishes it would go. After falling into the hands of the Black Clan, she must conceal her identity and slowly find the answers to why her life was threatened. But as she grows closer to the Black Clan, she realizes that some things aren’t what she originally perceived. There’s more to these men than she’s been told.

“To me, you are magic.”

As she learns to fight with these men, she grows closer to one in particular. And when he learns her secret, her entire world gets turned upside.

“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”

All trace of amusement vanished from his expression. “I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.”

I do enjoy escaping to a foreign land, and Renee’s books let me do just that. They’re filled with the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and romance all set in the beautiful locations. My heart was racing, and stopping, at quite a few spots. I am rather anxious to read the next one!!

~Melpomene
Buy Flame in the Mist here: http://amzn.to/2oYGCYv

Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

A very adventurous and exciting story, filled with enough action to make even the most stubborn of readers get engaged. I know the teens are gonna love this.

Because this is the second book in the Riders duology, I don’t want to say anything spoilery. But what I can tell you is that this has to be one of favorite true YA series. My kids and I read the first book, Riders, right when it came out. Then I just did a relisten last week, with them listening every now and then, and all the excitement came back to me. In fact, my non reader son actually found ways to be in the same room as me so he could listen to the book, but not making it obvious that he was listening. The audible was very addicting. I found myself actually doing chores just so I could listen to it more. That, my friends, is a sign of a good book.

And my anti romance daughter was equally intrigued with this story as well. I’m always on the lookout for exciting YA books that aren’t completely centered around romance, and this one fit the bill as well. It enough to keep us both happy, and that’s a rarity.

Well, enough about Riders, now onto Seeker. Seeker takes place about 8 months after Riders end. The characters are trying to work past what happened and try to find a solution. Since they’re younger and less mature, they don’t always make the right decisions. They try and do things on their own, so save others from harm, but what they really need to do is work together. Once they realize this, then things start to fall into place. I’m not saying that nothing bad will happen, but it’s easier to deal with the bad, when you have your friends and family close by.

It’s very bittersweet to have this book end. I will miss these characters and I wish there were more books coming, but alas, there is not. But I am happy to see their trials complete and them still together and moving on as a family. 

This series will be added to my master list of YA books and I have a feeling it will be recommended often.

~Melpomene

Grab Riders here: http://amzn.to/2pkiUHD
Grab Seeker here: http://amzn.to/2pkwP0c

Review: Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan

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In case you didn’t know it,  I have a love affair with all things New Orleans.  And while technically this one isn’t set in the Big Easy, it’s close enough.

Bayou Perdu is a small little town in the backwoods of Louisiana.  Close enough to New Orleans to be convenient but far enough to be in its own little world, it’s a typical small town. Everyone knows everyone else, and they’ve been through a lot together.  Even hurricanes.  But this one’s different.  The one they call Katrina is so ominous that even Evangeline’s grandmother is scared and ready to evacuate.

With evacuation comes loss, especially when you return to nothing.  Houses, personal belongings, friends,  these are all things Evangeline is missing as she and her family impatiently wait it out far, far from Louisiana.  She feels as if she’s stuck between two worlds, living two lives.  The question soon becomes, which life will she and her family choose in the end?

A good story, an accurate retelling of events surrounding this devastating storm.  A great read for young adults!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Between Two Skies