Review: The Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick

Regret. I have so much regret that this book has been out for over a year now and I’ve just recently read it.

When Regan shows up in Half Moon Hollow, all she’s looking for is family. Still reeling from the recent suicide of her mom, she’s come to town in search of the dad she’s never met. Maybe he can be the one to give her the stability she’s never had. But Will is the last person anyone would think of in the same breath as the word stability. Grief over the death of his infant daughter combined with his bipolar disorder has made him the talk of the town. He’s known as the local crazy man, a role that he relishes. The appearance of Regan, however, makes him question his reputation. Can her love and support be enough to help him overcome his many obstacles?

From the very first page this book had me. It’s everything you’d want in a story. Family issues, romance, drama, a bit of mystery…it’s all there. The characters are likable when they’re supposed to be and vice versa. An outstanding debut novel!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Rules of Half

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Review: The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

The Family Gathering is book 3 in the Sullivan’s Crossing series, where I loved book 1, but had some reservations about book 2 (quirky wanderer gave me pause). I’m feeling the love again for this installment.

Dakota needs time to decompress after serving his country, so he visits his sister and brother in Sullivan’s Crossing. Besides building a relationship with his siblings and their families, Dakota starts to build a life in town (he sees it as temporary but come on now).

I very much enjoyed Carr’s customary secondary plot lines that reference past books but don’t depend on them. I also liked that she focused so much on family — because Dakota’s family totally had some issues to resolve! And of course the romance…. well, it’s obvious Sid would be a tough nut to crack. Question is, is Dakota the guy to do it…

As for my favorite part of most books: I won’t tell the hows and whys and wherefores, but after some work, Dakota and his family experience some pretty nice happily ever afters.

-calliope

Buy THE FAMILY GATHERING

Review: In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Books about teens with mental illness are hit or miss for me. Usually not very good and full of cliches, but every now and then a true keeper comes along. This latest tale from Gae Polisner is definitely one of the latter.

Klee’s had a lot to deal with in his young life. Not only did his dad kill himself, but Klee was the one to find him afterwards. His mom, hoping for a fresh start, uproots them from his beloved New York City. He doesn’t really fit in at his new school and basically resigns himself to just getting by until he graduates and can begin a new life.

But then he meets Sarah. And everything changes. She becomes his reason for being. She’s his polar opposite. And he can’t imagine his life without her. Sarah, however, isn’t as commital. Eventually it all becomes too much for Klee and he makes a desperate attempt to end the pain he’s feeling.

This author does an outstanding job of taking us inside Klee’s head, imagining what he must be thinking and feeling. So much trauma at such a young age…leading up to the incident and his recovery period afterwards.

A word of warning: Although this one is classified as young adult, I’d suggest it for the older end of the spectrum. The message is important but it’s pretty sexually descriptive. An insightful story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: In Sight of Stars

Review: This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell

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Teenage love is hard, no doubt.  Surely this is the person you’ll be with for the rest of your life, right?  And there’s no possible way you can live without them, is there?

For young Jessie, it all becomes a bit overwhelming.  Sure, she loves Chris with all her heart.  And she can’t imagine her life without him.  But when things start moving a bit too fast, getting a bit too permanent, she decides to slow it down a bit.  Just a break, she tells, him.  Just one week.  A chance to take a step back and breath for a minute.

And then Chris disappears. And she wants him back.  But it’s too late.  She makes all kinds of promises to herself and everyone else.  If only he’ll come home, things will be different.  She didn’t really want a break.  She’s sorry, she misses him, things will be better than ever.  If only it were that simple.

This story is all kinds of things at once.  It’s a love story, sure.  But it’s also a mystery. Exactly what did happen to Chris?  It’s also an excellent take on teenage issues.  A great read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This Is Not a Love Letter

Review: When I Am Through with You

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This one didn’t go anything like I was expecting.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it does make for a difficult task writing a review without giving too much away.

Teenagers, weekend hike in the mountains, somebody dies.  That’s the story in a nutshell.  There’s a bit more to it, of course.  Ben starts off the story by telling you that he killed someone.  Not just any someone, but his girlfriend while at the same time claiming to love her very much.  Just how and why he killed her remains a mystery for much of the story.  Along the way we’re introduced to a host of other characters with their own bits of intrigue.

While this was a good enough story, I feel like it could have been more.  I somehow felt cheated by the ending as I was expecting something a bit juicier.  Still, it’s suspenseful enough to keep you interested as you wonder just what’s going to happen with this ragtag group of teenagers out in the middle of nowhere.

Read it and let me know what you think!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  When I Am Through with You

Review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Orlepp

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What would you do if you desperately wanted a child but were unable to have one? What lengths would you go to and where would you draw the line?

Catriona and James badly want a baby, James a bit more so. After trying unsuccessfully, they agree to try IVF. And it works. They soon find themselves the parents of a healthy baby boy. Diana and Liam are in the same predicament. They explore many options before eventually settling on embryo donation. And they, too, are successful. Another healthy baby boy.

But Catriona doesn’t find herself easily settling into motherhood. She’s soon in a downward spiral, deep in the throes of postpartum depression. Diana, on the other hand, quickly adjusts to being a mom. All is going well until the day her baby is taken right out from under her.

This story was completely different from what I expected. For that, I give props to whoever wrote the description. There’s not much worse than a book blurb that gives too much away. No such worries with this one. And I’m not going to give anything else away, either, other than to say that there are several juicy little twists and turns on the path to the final conclusion of this story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Claiming Noah

Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne

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There’s  a game my fellow Muses & I like to play from time to time.  We call it “Guess the Muse” and it involves guessing which one of our brilliant reviewers has written a certain review.  Yes, we are that predictable at times.  And I’ve been known to gravitate towards books involving young people facing issues of all kinds.  So for this review,  I’m staying true to form.

Anna is in a very dark place.  She enjoys nothing, feels nothing, even tastes nothing.  Everything in her life is just there.  So she dreams of an escape route, even going so far as to make a list of possible ways to commit suicide.  And she makes a few attempts, although none of them come close to being successful.  Until the very last one.

Depression and suicide in teens are always difficult topics to read about. But they’re   important ones because they’re  very real. This book does a good job of telling the story of one such teen in a way that’s entirely believable. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was hearing Anna’s story told from three different perspectives: Anna herself, her mother, and her best friend. It’s a reminder that these are issues that don’t just affect one person but instead everyone around that person.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Detached