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Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Published: June 7th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Read: June 2016 
How I Got It: Ebook (approximately 272 pages) from NetGalley 

The Cresswell family lives by God’s word and the word of their father. They do not live like the rest of society, partly because they believe this life is only temporary. Real life begins in Heaven where the six children, three boys and three girls, will marry one another and live eternally. Their father decides that the time has come for the family to go to Heaven, but Castley Cresswell realizes she may not believe as strongly as her family does. She has started attending public school and hanging out with other teens, and she’s not ready for her Earthly life to be over. Can she convince her brothers and sisters that their father may not be right? And can she do it in time?

The Cresswell Plot was a bit of a paradox. The novel was slow moving and predictable at times, but also, the ending seemed to come too quickly. It was interesting to experience this cult-like family, and see which members of the family would realize first that there may be a different way to live life. Readers who like books about outsiders and overcoming difficulties may like this book. Also, readers who liked Sarah Jude’s The May Queen Murders, about a small village of people living outside the norm, may also be drawn to this novel. 

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with  an advanced electronic copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

SECURITY by Gina Wohlsdorf

25810610 Expected Publication  June 7th 2016 by Algonquin Books
Read: June 2016
How I Got It: Ebook (approximately 288 pages) from NetGalley 

The Manderley is the safest hotel. It has the highest security: former Navy SEAL security personnel, countless hidden cameras, and even a secret elevator. However, the tight security can still be breached; The Killer roaming the hotel is proof. Readers get to experience the suspense through the many angles of the security cameras as the unknown (for the majority of the novel) narrator peers through the different lenses. The only people occupying the hotel are staff members as the hotel has not yet opened to the public, but the small cast of characters allows for the reader to become attached to every one of them... and make the deaths even more terrifying.

The format is original, and the jumping around of scenes keeps the reader on edge. The writing is superb; the narration goes from seemingly cold at the beginning to a first person narrative that causes the reader to feel the anxiety of the characters. Horror fans of authors such as Stephen King and Harlan Coben will devour Gina Wohlsdorf’s first novel. 

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with  an advanced electronic copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Published: April 19th 2016 by Razorbill
Read: May 2016 
How I Got It: Hardcover (288 pages) from Uppercase Box* 

Scarlett's favorite TV show gets cancelled, her crush starts dating a popular girl, and things are not looking good. She decides to keep writing fan-fiction for the show despite its cancellation, but she bases her characters off of people that she knows. When others read her stories and deem them judgmental and mean, Scarlett is forced to reevaluate herself and her writing. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is laced with some deep issues, but the focus on Scarlett as a writer keeps the story light and engaging.

The novel is interspersed with Scarlett's fan-fiction as well as chats with Scarlett's online writing group. Breslaw truly brings the reader into Scarlett's world, and it is a hilarious, snarky, sarcastic journey. Scarlett is a highly relatable character, and Breslaw introduces a cast of characters with lots of personality to compliment her and teach her the lessons she needs to learn. Scarlett’s 73 year old neighbor Ruth is especially interesting as she is a feminist, pot-smoker who doesn’t sugarcoat things for Scarlett. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a quick read that will make readers laugh out loud. Every teen and adult can learn something from Scarlett and have a good time while doing it. 

*Uppercase Box is  a Young Adult Monthly Subscription Box (https://www.uppercasebox.com/)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WITH ALL THE PIECES by Kasie Ballard

Published March 9th 2016 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Read: May 2016
How I Got It: Paperback (402 pages) from Amazon

*Disclaimer: I know the author of this book. We were close childhood friends, and we have crossed paths several times as adults. Unfortunately, location and life got in the way of our friendship, but I follow her family's trials and triumphs on her personal Facebook page. 

In her debut novel, Kasie Ballard portrays her trying journey into motherhood. After a stillbirth and a miscarriage, Kasie finds herself pregnant with her son, Alex. It is discovered that something is wrong with Alex, and Kasie has to make many difficult decisions, often against doctors’ suggestions, to advocate for herself and her son. Alex is born breathing, but Kasie knows that is only the first hurdle. Alex is a special needs child with mental and physical delays, and Kasie details what it means to wait for answers (if there are any) and how to deal with ignorant people and dismissive doctors.  She even brings up some difficult emotions that may be taboo yet relatable such as jealousy over her friends’ easy deliveries with living babies and guilt about having another child when already a special needs mom.

Through her family, faith, and ferocity, Kasie is the mother of two thriving boys (and one heavenly guardian angel). The story is moving; it makes readers laugh, cry, and cringe. However, the writing was a bit distracting. There were multiple grammar mistakes such as use of the wrong pronouns and sentences with missing words. Also, much of the story takes place at a hospital “all the way in Richmond” but only once, late in the story, is the actual distance mentioned; readers unfamiliar with the area would not understand this detail.  Ultimately, this story is emotional and well-timed, but the multiple writing errors distract from an otherwise powerful story.