Review: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

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Sometimes it’s hard, as we watch the evening news, to imagine the people behind the headlines.  We live in an era of such media overload that we often forget to stop and think.  So when a story comes along that personifies such a hotbed topic of debate such as illegal immigrants, it’s a must-read for me.

Jasmine was just a young girl when her family came to America.  She’s worked hard all her life to be the very best at everything she does.  Cheerleading, academics, she’s put her heart and soul into it all.  And when she receives a national scholar award, that’s just icing on the cake.  All her hard work is paying off.  Until she finds out that her family is in the U.S. illegally.  All these years she thought they had work visas, but it turns out they expired long ago.  Now, not only is she in danger of not being able to go to college, there’s a very real chance that her family could be deported.  Sure she feels like an American, but other people see it differently.

What’s the right answer on this controversial topic?  It’s different for each person, and my answer may not be yours. But regardless, it’s hard to not feel for Jasmine and her family.  This is an important book coming at a very important time!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Something in Between

 

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Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

01 aa This is another book that I can’t wait til my daughter can read it. This story is filled with a very real problem, cyber bullying. It’s a real issue and it happens more than we know. I swear to you, I never read the blurb, so I had nothing to go on. So when I realized what was happening, I was just sick. In my head, I kept trying to figure out a way to help her. I realize this story is fiction, but to many, it isn’t.

SYNOPSIS
One moment of recklessness will change their worlds

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

Razor!!! Oh, how I really like him. I had no idea this boy, we met in Nowhere But Here, had so much going on in his head. He’s been floundering for a few years. Struggling to come to terms with something that happened in his past. But it all changes when he meets Breanna. Something clicks. And now he knows what he wants, and he knows how he’s going to get it, even if it costs him his family.

I must admit, my stomach was twisting all over the place, with Breanna. My heart broke for her. She has been struggling with who she is as a person, a daughter, a sister and a friend. No one understands her. She is wired differently than most. Sad to say, but people don’t seem to accept differences, especially teens. The tipping point, for her, is now dealing with a bully. She wants help but she doesn’t know who to ask or how to ask.

It’s so hard being a teenager in this world. On a personal note, I’ve had to deal with this as a teenager and I will say, it SUCKED. You’re afraid to tell anyone, at the risk of making it worse. But cyber-bullying is a whole new thing. It’s 10 times worse.

This is another fabulous installment of Thunder Road series that dealt with real life problems. This book had me on the edge of my seat quite a few times. My heart was hammering in my chest and my nerves were wrecked. Razor and Breanna both had serious issues that required help from others, but neither wanted to go and ask. They thought they could do it alone but you need family to help sometimes. And this book is all about family.

~Melpomene

Buy Walk the Edge (Thunder Road)

Meet Razor and all the gang in Nowhere but Here (Thunder Road)

Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

01 nowhere “The only way to break free is to understand the past so you don’t continue to follow in their footsteps.”

Oh my gosh!! Katie McGarry has done it again! I love MC series and Katie’s books. So when you combine them, this is a match in my book nerd heaven.

SYNPOSIS
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

This is a story about being proud of where you come from. It’s about love and forgiveness and being true to yourself. Emily has been told ties all her life, but she never knew it, until she came back and was thrust into her biological father’s world. Now she is slowly unraveling the lies and falling more in love this life and these people who she’s been told to fear.

Oz made a mistake and has been put a babysitting duty, of the leader’s daughter. He knows she’s bad news and wants her to go home as soon as possible. But the longer he stays near her, she brings out feelings that he has no right to feel. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t deny that this MC princess is going to be his downfall, if he doesn’t get a hold of himself.

In true Katie McGarry form, this book is perfect for mid teens. There is no over the top sexiness. There was a fair amount of tension, but nothing explicit. Oz and Emily try and fight their attraction, but sometimes the heart doesn’t work with what we want.

“I thought your job was to prevent me from learning the truth…”

“No. My job is to love you.”

This book was full of excitement and had an emotional story line that will tug at your heartstrings a bit. I found myself even tearing up a bit at the end. You fall in love with these characters and don’t want any harm to befall them. But sometimes life isn’t perfect. So if you find people who love you, except their love and hold on tight.

~Melpomene

BuyNowhere but Here (Thunder Road)

Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

01 rogue Another perfect young adult book, filled with action and adventure, and plenty of sweet romance and fantasy to keep me happy.

SYNOPSIS
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

I love Cobalt. I do. Ember was driving me a little nuts, but she is 16 yrs old, so I need to cut her emotional behavior some slack. She is still torn between the soldier and the dragon. My inner teenager was very happy with this. I love that we saw a bit of his back story. It makes me wish for very bad things for Talon.

Ember has chosen to be a Rogue, but Talon won’t let her go so easily. They pull out all the stops and will stop at nothing to get her back, dead or alive.

Cobalt has lived as a rogue for some time now, but his safe houses are being targeted. So he must find out who’s behind all of this. I’m a bit fearful, that once this is discovered, I will not be with the outcome. But I hope I’m wrong. Again, I say, I LOVED Cobalt. He knows who and what he wants, and he will do everything he can to get it and defend it. I’m pulling for him.

Garret made his decision and now he must pay for it. St. George won’t let him just walk away. So no matter what, he’s on his own. I kinda fell for him, too. But he’s human, which means he’s bad for the dragons. Tough break for him.

I did enjoy the many points of view we had. It was nice to be in everyone’s head. But sometimes the heartache made me sad. But these people chose their paths and now they must defend their actions, no matter if it takes their life.

~Melpomene

Buy Rogue (The Talon Saga Book 2)

Get caught up with Talon (The Talon Saga Book 1) first.

Review: Talon, by Julie Kagawa

01talon Okay, let me think for a moment. I liked it. I really did. I didn’t love it though. I liked her Iron Fey series more. But let’s talk about this one.

Synopsis
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

The story is really about Ember. She is supposed to have the summer off to do have fun before she is thrust full force into what Talon wants her to do. But that’s not exactly what happens.

Long story short, she meets two guys. Her human side is drawn to one, while her dragon side, to the other. That doesn’t seem so bad except that the rouge dragon shows her that what she always told, may not be truth, while the human may be the one thing that can truly destroy her.

How will she choose?

Most of this story I was torn. I didn’t know which guy I want her to go to. But I knew, either one would drastically change her life. Ember has to grow up very fast and make decisions that she isn’t ready to make, but she has no choice.

Garret is on a mission to kill all dragons. That is his only mission. That is who he is. He is sent to this town to find a sleeper dragon. He meets Ember and is immediately drawn to her, but part of him wonders if she is the sleeper. He knows he shouldn’t get close, but sometimes you can’t help it. Then he makes a decision that changes his life forever, but there’s no going back now.

I like the potential love triangle. I’m not sure who is best for Ember though. I’ll have to wait and see in the next book.

While this is mostly a YA book, it does have a scene that pushes it to the NA status. While it’s not bad whatsoever, there’s just a topic that my tween doesn’t need to read or learn about. So I say, this is for a 15/16 yr old. IMO. Well, at least MY kids will be waiting til then. I guess this would a coming of age type of book. You decide when your kids read it.

Talon doesn’t leave us in a cliffhanger, really, but it leaves many unanswered questions and a few lives in the balance. So when Rogue comes out, I will be staying up late reading it.

~Melpomene

Buy Talon (The Talon Saga)

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies-Cover-5-2014-198x300Being a child of the seventies, much of what I know about the Civil Rights Era comes from books that I’ve read. And there’s always an inherent risk that what I’m reading isn’t true to fact or is too preachy. This debut novel by Robin Talley avoids both of those pitfalls.

The year is 1959. The place, Virginia. After a lengthy court battle, public schools in the state have been ordered to integrate. Sarah Dunbar is among a select group of students chosen to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. From day one, Sarah and her friends are surrounded by hatred. In addition to being placed in remedial classes and banned from participating in extra curricular activities, they’re faced with a daily deluge of name calling, taunting, things being thrown at them, and outright violence. Still they persevere, conducting themselves with respect and dignity for the most part. When Sarah is forced into a school project with the daughter of a prominent townsperson, things begin to change in ways both good and bad.

This story is told from both perspectives, Sarah’s and Linda’s. We are given a glimpse into Sarah’s feelings about her role as a trailblazer, of course. But what’s more eye-opening to me is hearing Linda’s story. Yes, she’s full of intolerance. But her thoughts made me wonder how that came to be. Was she simply a product of her environment? She’s very unwavering in her belief that segregation is the right thing to do. Then she would have moments that made me think her heart was telling her something different.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the turmoil that both Sarah and Linda went through as they struggled with their feelings for each other. They find themselves attracted to each other which during that era was almost as taboo as interracial relationships. For me it wasn’t the main part of the story, and I don’t want it to detract from the author’s insight into the fear and intolerance of that time period. But how can we discuss one without the other? Aren’t we facing much of that same fear and intolerance today? It’s just an additional obstacle young Sarah had to overcome as do many young people in modern times.

This is a tough book to read. There were times I found myself doubting that people could be so cruel. It’s important, however, to remember these shameful parts of our history so that they are not repeated. Avoiding it doesn’t make it go away. And beyond that, my hope is that some day we will look back on society’s current views on homosexuality with the same disbelief we have towards the racial intolerance of our past. Difficult to comprehend but impossible to put down, this is one book you won’t soon forget!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen)

Review: Take Me On, by Katie McGarry

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“I can’t convince you to tap out on me?” “No tapping out.”

Would you think I’m silly if I told you I didn’t know what this book was about? I saw the cover and assumed it was about fighters, but I never read a single teaser or blurb. I’m so glad I didn’t. I get all the feels, when I go in blind.

Haley has been beaten down. This poor girl has been through so much, my heart hurt. She used to live a in nice home with her parents and siblings. But after her dad lost his job they had to move in with an uncle, who’s words, towards her, cause more damage than fists would. She used to be a champion kickboxer, until a disastrous night made he decide to never step foot in a gym and swear off fighting. She’s just trying to get by and graduate. She’s trying not to cause any trouble. She takes all the hits, since no one will tap in for her.

West is privileged. He has everything he could ever needs. While his sister is in the hospital, after an accident that almost took her life, he constantly makes one wrong decision after another and soon loses everything he thought he couldn’t live without. He is thrust into a lifestyle of want and then realizes that he was one of the lucky ones.

While we watching West fall apart, we see Haley barely hold herself together.

“Sometimes I wonder if the agony inside myself would disappear if someone would shed the tears for me.”

I just couldn’t believe the things this poor girl had to endure. No one was fighting for her. No one tapped in to fight for her. That is until West came into her life. He steps up and accepts a challenge, on her behalf. But he is in no way prepared for it. So Haley is forced to help him train and let someone help her for a change.

While they agree to help each other out, they want to keep in strictly in the ring. But you know how well that always works. Soon they realize that their bond is more than just about fighting.

I was so angry with some of the characters in this story. I wanted to hit a few people myself. The way Haley was treated made me sick. These people were supposed to be there for her and protect her, but they weren’t doing anything. But I was super excited to see Abby come into the story. I know there’s a secret about her. I’m crossing my fingers for her and Haley’s cousin, Jax’s, story.

~Melpomene

Buy Take Me On (Pushing the Limits)