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Search tags: teen-issues
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review 2018-04-20 00:51
Debut author surprises with a clever YA thriller, one that I hope doesn’t fly under the radar
Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson

Well, this was a surprise. The whole book was a surprise just like the secrets and lies held within, all the way until the end. 

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway some time ago and didn’t have the chance to get to it until just now, and I feel like it’s one of those books that’s going to fly under the radar and it shouldn’t.
Debut author Jennifer Donaldson has written a very cleverly crafted young adult mystery/thriller that for a good portion of it, reads like a contemporary novel, and is told through with the voices of two main characters, Gabe and Elyse, who seem to live very separate lives. There are also two other main characters central to the story, Catherine and Sasha. Gabe is a young Hispanic skater boy who tries to break up with a very possessive, but popular, high school girl called Sasha, and she is making it be known that she is not happy about this. He has a six year old sister Vivi, with special needs, who he cares very much for, and is close with his family. Elyse, on the other hand, lives a very different sort of life. She has basically fended for herself for years, even paying the household bills with jobs while she has been in high school; her mother is addicted to opiates and spends most of the time out of it lying on the couch. She has come to rely on nobody but herself, and doesn’t expect anything good of the world. Which is why, when she gets chosen for the lead in Romeo and Juliet, she can’t believe she has got the part over her best friend Brynn, but soon is swept off her feet by the school drama teacher, Mr. Hunter.
I generally try not to guess endings of stories, and I’m not one to skip ahead, so, at least for me, this novel cleverly gives you one wallop over the head when you realize what the big twist is at the end. I can not say one thing more, lest I give anything away, but this is one clever book and had me engaged entirely. There are some big topics involved here too - scary exes with major infatuation problems, and teacher-student relationships, not to mention addiction issues - but the two running storylines are excellently written and don’t rap you over the head with the morality stick (you get to think about those afterwards). I hope this gets picked up by a good lot of people who enjoy thrillers with a side of romance (there’s a lot of ‘sweet’ to go with the ‘salty’), and it’s super smart.
I’d be on the lookout for what Jennifer Donaldson writes next because I believe there are a lot more phenomenal books in her yet.
*Thank you Goodreads and Razorbill for the early copy of this book!
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review 2018-04-04 01:50
A perfectly written mystery by queer author Caleb Roehrig; brings gay characters to the the main stage, and shows off natural talent for creating suspense and compelling story
White Rabbit - Caleb Roehrig

I tried to get an early copy of ‘White Rabbit’ months ago, and if I’d been able to I would have been able to tell everyone to go and preorder this book! I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty mystery from Caleb Roehrig, and read the whole thing this last weekend, devouring his sophomore novel about Rufus Holt, and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night, and a cast of colorful teenage characters.

Seventeen year old, gay Rufus is the main character and he's just now coming to terms with the breakup of his relationship with Sebastian, when they end up having to spend the night as super sleuths; Rufus receives a call from his sister April asking for help, which starts the ball rolling. They drive out to a cottage in the middle of nowhere where she’s been at a now-abandoned party, to find her covered in blood and next to her dead boyfriend Fox Whitney. Rufus doesn't believe April could have committed any crime (nor does his stepmom Isabel, who pays him to find out who did), and he and Sebastian spend the night uncovering clues, and discovering their peers’ unsavory behavior (isn't it always that way?).

We find out about the relationship between Rufus and Sebastian, and their shared past, through memories, and the romantic storyline between the two of them is very subtle and so well-written; Roehrig’s language and written dialogue is so natural, this arc fits within the mystery so perfectly. And when it comes to the actual mystery itself, it’s without holes. Follow along with the details and clues because you want to understand the boys’ thinking, and then when it all blows open at the end, hopefully other readers will be as surprised as I was.

I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what comes next for Caleb, because this was so cleverly written, and is such compulsive reading, and I can see him writing both for teens and adults. There’s also wit and smarts about him that I feel can shine through even further (check out his Twitter feed), and I bet there’s an even more complex or even funny read coming next.

PS. And next time, I REALLY would love that early copy so I can review it and can tell everyone to go order their book!

 

 

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review 2018-03-20 17:25
Stephen King’s first book, a true classic: read the book where it all started!
Carrie (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) - Stephen King

I have FINALLY read ‘Carrie’, Stephen King’s first book. Yes, it was his FIRST book!
Reading a book when you already know the story so well (from the movie) is such a different experience than reading the book and then watching the movie, but it’s even more different when it’s one like this. I’ve seen ‘Carrie’ so many times because it’s one of my favorite horror films (not talking about any stupid remake, despite the fact I happen to have the book copy that is the remake movie tie-in. Remakes of good films are blasphemy). The original movie is perfection with Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek and when reading the book, is was VERY hard for me not to get their images out of my mind. It was brilliant casting, for a brilliant story.
When reading this pretty short book (it comes in at basically 300 pages, which is so short, when you compare it to the behemoths of IT and The Stand), you are transported to 1979 immediately by the language, the descriptions of the clothing, and even the comparative style of King’s writing. It’s kind of a treat and a bit of a time warp you are pulled into. It took a bit of getting used to, along with the way King uses different narrative styles; the reader is given reports of the main ‘incident’, as well as character accounts, and intersperses them into the main story. If you didn’t know the ending from seeing the movie, you would have a good idea about a lot of it from these accounts as you go through.
As for the dynamic between Carrie and her hellacious (sorry, have to say it) mother, the interactions are horrific and they make your blood boil and King has given all he can to make the dread and tension so vivid. By writing in Carrie’s ‘thoughts’ we get little peeks into what’s going on in her mind as her powers are getting stronger; you start rooting for the girl who is being bullied, dominated, threatened all her life. You just know that there is no other way for this story to end.
What is most interesting to me now is the contrast with what what acceptable in terms of what kids could get away with (in terms of bullying and hazing) at school, compared to now. That’s a whole other story.
Anyway, I’m glad I finally got to read it as part of a Litsy buddy read. I love the movie so much, and it’s amazing to think that this is where Stephen King’s book career started. With a short novel that had one of most memorable horror movies made out of it.
*Don’t ever bother with the remake though.

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review 2018-03-17 05:16
‘Time Bomb’ is like ‘The Breakfast Club’ with an awful school bombing; suggests teens might just be ticking ‘time bombs’
Time Bomb - Joelle Charbonneau

This was an extremely fast read for me; I flew through ‘Time Bomb’ in a matter of hours, and it almost felt like I was following a similar clock to the one that was ticking away in the book. Six exceedingly different students, not unlike seen with the setup in the movie ‘The Breakfast Club’, find themselves trapped together because of the horrific circumstance of someone having set off bombs at their school (although, conveniently, school isn't quite in session yet, so there aren’t mass casualties).
The wrecked and damaged school that has them stuck inside, suspicious of each other, is a reminder of all the problems that schools represent for schoolchildren today: the gun debate because of the mass shootings inside schools, bullying, kids and their constant need to live up to certain standards, whether it’s their own or others’, unchecked mental illness, prejudice of others based on appearances...and by bringing ALL of this up in the teens’ conversations and through their own perspectives, Charbonneau makes the novel about more than just the bombs going off at this high school. The different stereotypes that the kids all fit into, serve to remind us that, right up until the end, when we find out ‘whodunnit’ all these kids are essentially ticking ‘time bombs’ waiting to go off. If not then, they could at some point. I think it’s easy to focus on the event of the bombs in this book, and kind of ignore that it’s all emblematic of the tumultuouness of teenagehood.
While ‘Time Bomb’ held my attention all the way through, I think this all could have been delved into in a more concrete way, because there were a lot of open doors to explore the hard issues that these teens were going through. Overall though, it’s a definite page-turner as far as the story and action go, with a surprise twist at the end.

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review 2013-10-23 16:22
ARC Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Roomies - Sara Zarr,Tara Altebrando

This book gave an interesting perspective into the thoughts and apprehensions of two teenage girls about to embark on college life, and how to find common ground even when your lives are almost complete opposites.

 

Assigned to be roommates at Berkley, Lauren and Elizabeth begin corresponding in email over the summer as they get ready to leave for college, find love, confront their fears and learn to see beyond their own noses. 

 

In the hands of a teenager who could commiserate with them, this book would find a perfect home. In the hands of a middle-aged mom who's over the whining of teenagers about how hard their lives are - well, let's be nice and say it was wasted on me.

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