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review 2017-02-15 19:04
Book Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
One Paris Summer (Blink) - Denise Grover Swank

*I received a free copy of this book at BEA.*

 

When I went to BEA with my husband this past year, my main goal was to find great young adult books that his high school students could fall in love with. So when I saw this cute, fluffy romance book set in Paris, I went for it.

 

This is a cute book about two teenagers who go to Paris to reconnect with their dad, who left them just about a year before and who is now marrying another woman in Paris — Sophie and her brother, Eric, are sent to Paris to celebrate the wedding and meet their new stepmom and stepsister. Their stepsister is awful to them, and gets Sophie into all sorts of trouble by playing games and manipulating things. So, it becomes really complicated when Sophie ends up falling for Camille’s friend, Mathieu. Hijinks ensue.

 

One Paris Summer is pretty much what I was expecting. It’s a fast read and it’s fun. Sophie at first got on my nerves, but it made sense within the context of the story and her character evened out within the first few chapters, thank goodness, so I actually ended up enjoying her character and looking forward to reading about her adventures in Paris. My favorite parts were her interactions with her brother and her crush, Mathieu. It was nice to see Sophie realizing that people didn’t hate her and cared about her. My main problems with a lot of this book had to do with logic and drama. Characters’ reactions to things didn’t seem to fit with their personalities and seemed only to serve the purpose of creating conflict that felt melodramatic and fake.

 

However, aside from that, the romance and Paris aspect were really fun. This is a book you don’t want to think too much about — what I like to think of a beach read. Just breeze through it and enjoy the fun, cute parts. Because of that, this took me very little time to finish once I started focusing on it, and overall, I enjoyed it. I think younger teens would enjoy this a lot, but there isn’t a lot of crossover appeal for older readers simply because what I said earlier about the conflicts feeling overly dramatic.

 

Side note: I loved that we got some French words thrown in here, so readers might be able to learn a couple of phrases. Nice touch!

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=3380
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review 2017-02-15 08:09
Review: Blink by K. L. Slater
Blink - K. Slater

Published by: Bookouture (16 February 2017)

 

ISBN-13: 978-1786811295

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace. 

But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.

Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter. 

 

Review:

We're given a lot of information about the main characters in this book, so we get to learn a fair bit about Toni and little Evie, and their life together before Evie's disappearance. I really like it when authors give more background on characters as it makes me feel I know them a bit more, like friends, maybe; or neighbours. Perhaps this is why I felt so invested in Toni - I was rooting for her from the beginning. I got exasperated alongside her and anxious about her, as well as silently (I read quite a lot of this book in a public place!) willing her do/not do certain things! All the characters here are believable and very well written.

 

As with the author's previous book, Safe With Me, the narrative switches between the present time and a point in the past. In this book, however, I think it comes across almost seamlessly; much improved since the author's debut novel. The point in the past is the time of Evie's disappearance, upon which the tension builds and builds like a pressure cooker.

 

I was so shocked by the killer twist, which I definitely didn't see coming! To say any more would give the game away, but...wow! I found this book compelling in places would recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers.

Thanks to K. L. Slater, Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for my honest review. 

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review 2017-02-10 16:43
The Lost Girl of Astor Street
The Lost Girl of Astor Street (Blink) - Stephanie Morrill

Piper Sail and Lydia DeVine have been best friends since toddlerhood when they moved to the upper class neighborhood of Astor Street in 1920's Chicago.  The two ladies are polar opposites, Lydia is sweet, kind and demure and Piper is inquisitive, tenacious and quick to act.  Now that they are young ladies, Piper and Lydia are supposed to be looking to the future and a potential husband.  However, that all changes when Lydia goes missing. Piper jumps into action to try and find her friend; Piper knows secrets about Lydia that even her parents won't divulge and her persistent nature makes her a natural detective.  WIth the help of the the detective assigned to Lydia's case, Marion Cassano, Piper is determined to find out what happened to her friend.  As Piper delves into Lydia's disappearance, she also must go into the underbelly of 1920's Chicago, bordellos, speakeasies, mafia connections and plenty of secrets will be unearthed during Piper's search. 

 
The Lost Girl of Astor Street is an exciting historical mystery with an awesome female lead.  From the very beginning I knew that I would like Piper, she never gives up, loves with a ferocious heart and encompasses the emerging modern and independent '20's female.  Her determination and grit to find out what happened to her best friend drives the story. As Piper gets deeper into Lydia's mystery, carefully layered secrets begin to reveal themselves.  Another part of the story that I loved was the exploration of 1920's Chicago, with having to investigate all types of people and places, Piper gets to the heart of the time period.  With a sweet romance that doesn't take away from the plot, The Lost Girl of Astor Street provides a riveting historical mystery. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2017-02-02 12:57
Unfolding (Blink) - Jonathan Friesen

This tornado traveled over five hundred miles with a fury rarely seen previously and the tornado gently stole a little girl before pulling back up into the sky. Stormi isn’t your normal teenage girl she has a talent to see future events. Gullery is a small town that doesn’t even have a police force only The circle- an unconventional justice system made up of men including Jonah’s dad. The men consider themselves responsible for the town and can pass judgement  on the people of the town. Everybody knows everybody and everything in Gullery. It’s a weird little town in Oklahoma which is proven as more and more of it’s secrets are revealed. Jonah is a deformed boy because of the severe case he has of scoliosis and he also has epilepsy. Jonah has a rough life as he is bullied by classmates and treated like he is lacking by his parents and other adults. His only relief is his close friendship with Stormi who he secretly is crushing on. But she can't acknowledge Jonah’s deeper feelings for her. Stormi had been dropped next store in his neighbor's yard by a tornado. That same tornado destroyed the supermax prison in town that gave a  lot of jobs to  the townspeople. The prison now only employs one person and that is Jonah and there is only one prisoner left in the prison and Jonah doesn’t even know her crime but knows it is linked to the  town’s darkest secret he basically feeds her. And also give tours through the tornado museum and prison if anyone wants them. Then Stormi and Jonah are eighteen and there is an attraction between them. The town had began as a  mining town but then there was too many accidents and sinkholes that forced the  mines to be closed. Then the prison was built. Jonah was  suppose to have surgery on his back to straighten it and Stormi warned him not to go but he and his dad went anyway to group therapy for kids like Jonah set up to have the surgery. Jonah has his first seizure there and then the seizures and his back get steadily worse. Strange things start to happen happen in town and then Stormi makes a warning  that is followed by one of her classmates dying and people start to turn on Stormi and want to kill her. Stormi asks Jonah for help and it may risk his health, job, relationship with his father,possibly even his life. Then the couple go on the run and start to discover secrets the town has been hiding for years. AS the town secrets come out Stormi learns things about her past. When Jonah's family atones for their sins Jonah’s seizures stop.

I had mixed feelings about this story.  I had a BIG problem that the story made it look that Jonah’s epilepsy was from the bad doings of his family. My husband died young and had epilepsy and my teenage son also has it and I don’t believe it was any  kind of punishment for anyone doing bad and evil things!!!!! That really made me angry. But beside that this is a different kind of story and I liked it. It was a  quick read. It also had mystery and adventures in it. It did drag at  times and i had some trouble following the story. A lot of things were also left unexplained. I would ask the author if he does write another book including a condition or disease not to make the cause evil spirits  or a   sort of punishment. People are affected but what their loved ones have and are very protective and can be  offended in  cases such as this.  

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review 2017-01-03 19:44
Dark Sons - Nikki Grimes

I’ll be honest and say I did not know what I was getting myself into when I picked up Dark Sons.  I knew I had read things by Nikki Grimes before (and am embarrassed to say I could not remember what those things were) and that it looked like kind of an interesting.  I was pleasantly surprised both by the format and content of the book.

One thing to know (and again something I should have but didn’t know before I read the book) is that it is a collection of poems that tell the story of two sons dealing with a changing relationship with their father.  The first is Ishmael and his relationship with his father Abraham (from Old Testament fame) and the second is a more modern distancing about a teenager named Sam.  Through the course of the book the similarities and differences of these two interpretations are brought to the forefront through alternating sections of poetic cycles.

 

As someone who grew up in a fairly religious household (and as a result when I stopped being particularly interested in faith for religious reasons and more for academic ones), I really enjoyed the Ishmael side of the book.  He has always been a fascinating character to me and the role he plays is one that I feel like is ripe for a lot of different interpretations.  I felt like this interpretation of what his emotions and feelings must have been were incredibly well done and were interesting when compared to the Christian response in terms of how Sam was able to deal with his father’s new family in the modern part of the book.  It set up an interesting parallel of having God take care of these people while still not making a great life for them or seeming to always have their best interest at heart.

 

I thought the portrayal of Sam was also incredibly well done.  It felt incredibly real and is one of the few reasons I would potentially recommend this book to a student.  The way that the character processes emotions and was able to separate his feelings for his father and his new wife from those for his step-brother was quite interesting and something I feel like most people have had to do even if not with this particular situation.

 

I do not think I would ever assign this book primarily because I think that religion is a bit too explicitly central.  That said, I have several students that I am already thinking of who could relate and benefit immensely from this.  I also think that there are students like me who might see the comparison of Ishmael as almost a “patron saint” of someone abandoned by their father to be compelling even without the religious overtones it produces.  Overall, it was a good, quick read and the format was something different that I found quite refreshing (although, this should not be super surprising coming from me since my favorite format for books are short story cycles).

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=2712
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