Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (5 out of 5) 

•January 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This was not an easy read..meaning it made me sad the whole time I was reading it. I was also sick in bed with the flu and feeling pretty sad for myself anyhow, so why not? So, if you think this is a happy book, go buy a different book. But don’t not buy this one, only because it isn’t out yet. It’s out March 7. Don’t let that disclaimer kill your expectations. It is a fantastically written, thought provoking book. It also has roots in everyday reality. How many times do you hear on the news about someone who is texting while driving, and terrible consequences follow? All the time. Despite it being a law in many states, I have been in cars with people driving who feel the need to have their phone with them and texting, while driving. Several others have had car wrecks because of texting. So, yes, an issue that exists in real life. Crafting a book around that and addressing it in the manner of young adult fiction? I give Jeff Zentner major props for that. I also give him major props for Carver, a wonderfully realistic teen protagonist who clearly feels the effects of his actions. More teens need to read this; maybe some will get the message behind the narrative. 

Carver sends a single text to his three best friends. Directly after that, he finds out all of them perished in a car crash. Carver is horrified and silently blames himself. Even worse is when his dead friend’s grandma wants to do a day of remembrance type deal with Carver joining in. (Yes, Goodbye Days. That’s where the title comes from). Can Carver go through with this? Will it assuage his guilt at all? Will it make him confess his sins to the families of his deceased pals? What sort of message is left behind for Carver to work through? Carver’s flashbacks show is how truly wonderful those friends were, and it is even harder for the reader to slough through that knowing what happens, but you need to stick with this book until the end. Carver is a wonderfully written young man who has made a terrible mistake and paid the ultimate price for it. This book is astonishing in how it grabs you and grips you, while making you grieve with this panic-stricken young man. I cannot say how much I loved this book. As sad as it will make you, it is a beautiful book about loneliness and grief and the repercussions of consequences from seemingly inconspicuous actions. No action goes without a reaction. And no one should go without giving this book a read. It is out on March 7, 2017 on Crown Books. 

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs (3 out of 5) 

•January 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It could have been so beautiful. It could have been so right. If you thought it sounds like the lyrics to an 80’s song by Tiffany, well, you are right. It also describes this book to a tee. I liked the starkness of the cover. The blurbs on the back sounded promising. I loved the premise. But the execution? Left a lot to be desired. I have read far worse YA, but this one, coming out in March from Penguin Teen, wasn’t even close to 3 stars. I wavered a lot and almost did 2.5 stars, but I really loved the character of Min. She really holds this disintegrating mess together. It gets 3 because of Min.

The premise leads off to a promising start. Every two years, Min is murdered by a mysterious assassin in black. The next day, she wakes up in a field in her Idaho hometown- unharmed and with no idea what the hell happened and why it keeps happening. At the same time as this, a kid named Noah keeps waking up amid dreams of blood and violence. His attempts to get answers result in more lies from those who supposedly love him. Both Noah and Min have bigger troubles to worry about, because “The Anvil”, the giant asteroid hurtling toward them, may decide everything before either can figure out what the hell is really going on. What is going on here? Do either of them get their answers? By the end, do you care? What do the members of her class have to do with all of this calamity? 

The first part of this book hooked me. Then the middle hit, and it fell to pieces. There are rambling streams of dialogue that no one ends up caring about, unnecessary graphic scenes of the deaths, and more awkward encounters than a virgin sacrifice of a goose whore. The ending to all of this will frustrate some, and to those of us who couldn’t wait for it to end, will peter out as unspectacularly as the second half of the book did. Just not my cup of tea. 

Splinter by Sasha Dawn (4 out of 5) 

•January 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is a good old fashioned romp for the young adult set. The book isn’t out yet; sometime in March, and brought to us by the folks at Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Books. This doesn’t fall into dystopian, nor psychological, nor any newfangled sub-genre. It’s a straight up mystery. And that is quite refreshing in a market full of hundreds if the other ones I named. The back of the advance makes it seem as if it is a psychspense (my made up word for psychological suspense), but nope. 

Sami’s mom disappeared ten years ago. Foul play? Abandonment? Some think she ditched out on Sami and her husband, because Sami receives postcards from her here and there. The authorities believe her dad had something to do with her disappearance. Now some new evidence points more to that theory when a woman her dad was involved with ALSO disappears. What the hell is going on here? Sami is torn in two. Her dad has always moved heaven and earth for her, and now this? Sami sets out to do the hardest thing she’s ever done, either she finds out her role model isn’t who she thought, or she tries to find the mother who should have been there for her. Sami is written as a great young lady with steely determination who is going to find out what the real story is, whether she likes it or not. And the twists and turns? No predictability here… no idea what is going on until the author masterfully wraps it up. A truly moving and suspense-filled hell of a book. 

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (5 out of 5) 

•January 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This exciting young adult title releases in February, 2017. Targeted mainly for ages 17 and up. Thankfully, 43 falls in that range! This is brought to us courtesy of Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. And you know I love a great debut. THIS is a great debut. I can see Hollywood buying the movie rights to this. I hope to Gotham City that they don’t screw it up if they do. 

I will do anything for my father. So will our heroine, Gwendolyn Bloom. Hers disappears and she takes off in hot pursuit. Things on her journey are not at all what she thinks. Surrounded by reprobates, she finds out truths and consequences as disturbing as those spewing them forth. Will Gwen have to turn into a mastermind with a criminal mindset to get her Dad back? She just might. Thankfully, she is an extremely bright and determined young lady normally, so getting her Dad back should be a breeze. Right? Right? Not when her Dad’s job is one normally filled with pitfalls which he has always tried to protect her from. There are moments reading this where I thought, “My dad would’ve kicked my ass”. And make no mistake- had I thrown myself into a sea full of smugglers and human traffickers, my ass would have been grass and he would have been the lawnmower.Therein lies the beauty of fiction. I really enjoyed Gwen, and I loved how Bergstrom didn’t mince words with how gritty the dark side of the world is. And the end…well, you’ll just have to read it and see. 

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (2 out of 5)

•January 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Holly got me an advance of this from someone or most likely, from her rep. I liked the cover and everywhere I looked, the book bloggers I am follow were RAVING. Again, there is a reason I don’t really listen to the critics. More times than not, I listen to my co-workers and my customers. Holly did not love this, nor did Jenny, her fill-in. I just saw earlier on Goodreads when I was shelving this as “read”, that five of my friends over there also did not care for it. I think we have sold one, two? Not a good sign there, either. So yeah, no great shakes here from me on this one. 

First thing’s first, definite props to the author for creating one hell of a setting in Manhattan in 2118, a futuristic metropolis with a thousand floor tower at its apex. I bought into that vision easily enough. I am not sure if the author intended to write her version of a CW TV show in book form, but the shiny, self-absorbed cast made it easy for me to withdraw from them almost instantly. A bunch of crybabies boohooing everything. That lost some appeal to me. I have no idea what strange relationship is going on with Avery and her stepbrother Atlas but discussing laying one on him. .that’s just wrong and gross. And then it happens! I don’t buy into that at all. So, points off for whatever weird sibling succubus Scrabble is going on there. Throw im whatever the fuck you call that ending, which is half-assed, and really, let me be honest here.. the only reason I kept going was to find out who was going to be frenching the gravel at the end of the glorious swan dive off the Thousandth Floor. By the way, the identity wasn’t a surprise because it’s pretty much given away. So, yeah, if you want to read something mind-blowing, this is not it. Kiss-blowing to your family members, yes, but that’s where the story ends. At least for me. 

The Girl in The Picture by Alexandra Monir (3 out of 5)

•January 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is a book I should have liked better than 3 stars. It ended up being a typical, clichéd teen read. I had hoped for an edge-of-the-seat teen mystery, but it felt more like a parsed copy of Teen Vogue meets Nancy Drew meets Gossip Girl. All in all, a bit of a disjointed story with this one. Monir’s writing and her characters are solid, but the events leading up to, as well as the outcome, were ones I saw coming halfway through, so that lost much of its appeal. For me, at least.

Ms. Popularity Contest Nicole Morgan is known as many things, but she’s never been known as the Girl in Chace’s picture. Not normally a bad thing, except that the Chace has been found dead in the woods. And did I mention that he had a girlfriend, who isn’t Nicole? With a setup like this, Nicole is going to take the fall, and yes, she’s soon the primary suspect. The reader gets the whole story, told alternately by Nicole and her former best friend and Chace’s actual girlfriend Lana. It’s a story that is easily told and sadly, easily figured out. Solid characters and writing, as I said, but you know who the hell did it pretty quick. And if that is the case, where’s the selling point, the lure, to the book? It just disappears into thin air. If you’re looking for spine-tibgling and surprises at every corner, sorry, reader, this is not the one. 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (5 out of 5)

•January 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I decided to do something different and do the picture sideways. To get the attention of the followers, obviously. It has NOTHING to do with the dumbass book blogger taking the picture with her camera upside down. Seriously.

This is coming out in March, 2017, so don’t go hunting it down just yet. I came by this advance through Holly getting it from Jenny, her Harper rep. I am surprised this didn’t have her sticker of approval. I thought from reading the synopsis that I would find it as appealing as an ovarian cyst, but surprise, I dug it! The book. Definitely not the cyst. 

Molly is a 17-year old girl who knows the firsthand pain of unrequited love. Or crushes. Or are they the same? She should know by now. She’s had 26 of them, after all! Her confident twin sister, whom I called “Sassy Cassie” throughout the book, keeps sassing and telling Molly to deal with it. Molly’s weight issues make her overly cautious. In the spirit of identifying with real life, we’ll call Molly “G” and Cassie “Shannon”. 😃 Cassie meets a girl who makes her into a googly eyed kissyface who now knows the meaning of a crush/true love (because aren’t they the same?). Her path to true love is tempered somewhat by her girlfriend’s funny and flirtatious friend Will. What happens? Well, you know, Molly thinks he is crush material. Not to be counted out, there’s also the matter of Molly’s coworker Reid, aka Nerd Deluxe in my mind through the book, who is the anthesis to anyone that Molly would ever give the time of day to. So let’s go through this again. Twin sisters, a new girlfriend and her best guy friend who’s hip to be square, and a card-carrying Tolkien fiend. What sort of mondo bizarre love cincoangle (5-sided love triangle, for those unfamiliar with my made-up vocab words) is this? A fun one! I really didn’t expect it to eclipse her first book, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens, but it has. It is a ridiculously funny, heartwarming, thought provoking, and FUN. Becky’s writing is the sort that makes me wish there was a solid young adult genre when I was a teen. We weren’t totally bereft in the Ice Age; we had Judy Blume bringing social issues to her books. But there weren’t the wide array of talented authors in the young adult genre that the teens nowadays have. So I guess I am making up for not having that genre and gifted authors like Becky Albertalli in my youth, by reading all of these titles now. The writing in her book is so lumiscent that the characters all take on their own kind of shine. And now I blame Becky for making me want to eat Oreos again (I put them away with the onset of the stupid gluten intolerance three years ago. After her book, well, the Oreo bloodlust has returned. Thanks, Becky). So go out and get this book when it’s released in March, 2017. A wonderful story that teens and adults should read!