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Mirrored – Alex Flinn

Mirrored
By: Alex Flinn
Available September 2015

Description:
A modern, multi-generational tale of Kendra, the witch from “Snow White,” who trains Violet, an ugly, lonely, and heartbroken girl in the 1980s who transforms herself into “the fairest one of all” but still cannot win Greg’s heart, and Celine, Greg’s daughter with Violet’s high school rival, Jennifer.

This Blonde’s Review:
When we read the stories we know who is the villain and who they’ve decided they need to destroy for whatever their reason. In this book we get to see the villain, in this case Violet, as an ugly girl who just wants to be loved. We get to see how she fixates on Greg, a boy who is nice to her, and loves him even when he falls for the girl who bullies her. We see how she tries to change herself for him and eventually seems to give up and fade away. Until she suddenly appears on the scene after the death of Violet’s rival for Greg’s attentions. As Greg’s daughter grows up and looks more like her mother Violet’s jealously rears its ugly head as she takes out her issues with the mother on the daughter.

The most beautiful woman in any story is either the villain, who prizes beauty, or the girl who doesn’t see looks as important at all. In this one Violet is the girl who used to be ugly and now prizes beauty. Celine, Greg’s daughter, is naturally beautiful and wishes people who stop judging her based on that beauty. Despite Celine being the classic pretty girl who doesn’t care about her looks, I still liked her since she was also a good person. She wanted to be friends with good people and didn’t let looks or height get in her way.

I really loved the friends that Celine had. Since she cared so little for appearance she didn’t surround herself with the pretty fake people, instead having a small group of genuine friends. She makes amazing friends who risk their lives for her. I may have loved some of the supporting characters in this book more than the main characters. Goose may have been my favorite of everyone. Insanely loyal, willing to risk everything for the people he cares about, and unwilling to let his short stature as a little person get in the way of the things he wants most from life.

I’ve enjoyed other fairy tales retold by Alex Flinn so was not surprised to find that I enjoyed this one as well. Seeing Kendra and how much of a mystery she is makes me want to run out and read Bewitching: The Kendra Chronicles so I can find out more about her background.

If you enjoy modern fairy tales then you won’t want to miss this or other books by Alex Flinn.

 

What’s Broken Between Us – Alexis Bass

What’s Broken Between Us
By: Alexis Bass
Available December 2015

Description:
Alexis Bass’s heartbreakingly beautiful second novel is a tale of love, loss, and learning to forgive.

“Look to the left, look to the right. We’re all going to die. But someone has to do it first. So who’s it going to be?”

Tragedy struck Amanda Tart’s town a year and a half ago when a sophomore girl was killed in a car accident on graduation night. Amanda’s brother, Jonathan, was behind the wheel and too drunk to drive. He’s spent the past year in prison and has cut off all ties. But now Jonathan is coming home. Just as Amanda’s trying to figure out what that means for her family and herself, she’s paired up for a school project with Henry Crane—a former crush, and brother of Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend, who survived the crash with horrible injuries.

Everyone is still incredibly damaged by the events of that night. Can Amanda and Henry finally begin to heal what’s broken and find some peace?

This Blonde’s Review:
Amanda knows that life doesn’t always work the way you think it will. She never thought her brother would responsible for the biggest tragedy to strike their small town in recent memory. Her brother, Jonathan, was too drunk to drive and totaled his car with his girlfriend and another friend in the car. His girlfriend is seriously injured and their friend is killed, and Jonathan is soon to e released from prison. Amanda is walking a tightrope every day attempting to show the right amount of emotion, too much or too little can all create the wrong image or cause more damage.

Henry’s sister was Jonathan’s girlfriend, she is still recovering from her injuries and is determined to get in touch with Jonathan. Henry and Amanda have kept their distance since the accident, despite the romance that was blossoming between them at the time of the accident. In some ways that makes the accident even harder for them to live with, since it causes doubts about what might have been.

Seeing how casual Jonathan was about everything and the way her mother refused to accept what had happened made Amanda’s desire to apologize with her very existence much easier to understand. Henry’s desire to protect his sister and keep her from Jonathan was also understandable. The more the book went on the more we were able to see more about what was going on with Jonathan, the way he seemed bent on destruction until we finally learned some of what happened that night.

Amanda has to make choices about what she really wants for her life. Does she want to live her life for her brother’s mistakes or attempt to move forward with her own life? And is she willing to risk going against what everyone else will think of her to be with the guy she loves, even if everyone else is against it.

I enjoyed this book, we rarely think about what happens to the ones left behind by the person who made the fatal mistake. We usually focus on the family of the victim. Seeing things from Amanda’s side was a refreshingly heartbreaking view. We couldn’t help but hope for a way to let everyone move on to better lives.

If you want to see how the families move on after a tragedy, from the viewpoint of the family of the wrongdoer, then you’ll want to read this one.

 

Zero Day – Jan Gangsei

Zero Day
By: Jan Gangsei
Available January 2016

Description:
Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?

Description:
Addie suddenly reappears after 8 years. This is an amazing occurrence for any family but even more striking when the missing child’s father has become president during her disappearance. It also raises red flags about how she suddenly appeared instead of being rescued. In this book we get to see the way being a captive can warp your mind and the way it can change families.

Addie was always smart and loyal, but when her loyalties are warped we see how she struggles with her memories and what she’s been taught to believe. I liked her and couldn’t believe what she was doing. But as we saw pieces of her life after being kidnapped it became easier to understand.

Darrow was amazing of course. He was the best friend who was committed to finding his friend and to helping her transition back into her life. When things don’t add up he wants nothing more than to find a way to help Addie find her way back to the right path. He doesn’t turn his back on her but can’t trust her either.

We didn’t get to know her family very well, but that makes sense based on the things she believed. I would have loved to have learned more about her family, especially her father. There was a scene when everything became clear to her that made me wish we knew more since he showed with his actions that he loved her no matter what she believed.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I didn’t like all of the questions we were left with at the end. There was specific message at the end that had me wanting to know more. Even with that the book was great. If you want to read a book that explores how a child can be slowly brainwashed to believe her family is the enemy and her enemy is her family and how she deals with it when placed back in the thick of it then you’ll want to read this one.

 

Future Perfect – Jen Larsen

Future Perfect coverFuture Perfect
By: Jen Larsen
Available October 2015

Description:
Every year on her birthday, Ashley Perkins gets a card from her grandmother—a card that always contains a promise: lose enough weight, and I will buy your happiness.

Ashley doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the way she looks, but no amount of arguing can persuade her grandmother that “fat” isn’t a dirty word—that Ashley is happy with her life, and her body, as it is.
But Ashley wasn’t counting on having her dreams served up on a silver platter at her latest birthday party. She falters when Grandmother offers the one thing she’s always wanted: tuition to attend Harvard University—in exchange for undergoing weight loss surgery.

As Ashley grapples with the choice that little white card has given her, she feels pressured by her friends, her family, even administrators at school. But what’s a girl to do when the reflection in her mirror seems to bother everyone but her?

Through her indecisions and doubts, Ashley’s story is a liberating one—a tale of one girl, who knows that weight is just a number, and that no one is completely perfect.

This Blonde’s Review:
After so many books with main characters who aren’t comfortable with their looks we finally meet Ashley. She’s happy with who she is, even if she’s fat, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Her life is going well in many ways. The biggest problem she has is her grandmother. Every year for Ashley’s birthday her grandmother’s gift to her is a bribe to lose weight. When her grandmother offers to pay tuition to Harvard, something she doesn’t think she can afford to do on her own, in exchange for weight loss surgery she’s at a loss. Every year she has refused without hesitation, but this year is harder. Harvard is her dream, is she willing to miss out on it?

I really enjoyed Ashley and her friends. I love that she wasn’t going to let other’s opinions of her hold her back, even if she wasn’t quite as comfortable and confident as she appeared. But she is smart, kind, and happy with herself even if she’s big. I loved her friends in the book, even the boyfriend that I couldn’t see her being with.

Ashley has to confront the things that really matter to her and what price she’s willing to pay. Will she risk Harvard to avoid weight loss surgery? Or will she compromise on how she sees herself to get the future she wants. I love that what it really comes down to isn’t whether you’re big or small but what is right for you. Ashley was happy with who she was but we were able to see where parts of it were bravado and where she doubted herself. Even knowing she was certain of who she was and that she wasn’t a character that hated her appearance it made her easier to relate to when you saw she has doubts about herself too.

If you enjoy reading about a character whose self image has always been more important than how the rest of the world sees her then you’ll want to read Ashley’s story and see how she handles her biggest temptation to compromise.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Book Review

 

All We Have Is Now – Lisa Shroeder

All We Have Is Now
By: Lisa Shroeder
Available 28 July 2015

Description:
What do you do with your last day on earth?

Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people’s wishes — and gives them his wallet full of money.

Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day — maybe even their own.

Description:
If you knew the day you’d die would it change the way you lived your life? What about if you knew the whole country and possibly whole world was ending at the same time? In this book we get to see Emerson and her friend Vince navigate a new life where everyone has the same end date.

Emerson and Vince aren’t just dealing with the oncoming asteroid, they’ve been homeless runaways struggling to survive. They can’t help but start to think maybe it is for the best since they’re so tired of fighting to get by. When they meet Carl and hear about the way he’s spending his last days granting the wishes of others they are inspired to do the same.

The people they meet are handling everything in different ways. Some are brave and willing to fall in love even at the end while others believe their best option is to hide. There are feelings of anger and helplessness, but Emerson and Vince even stumble across some who believe it is all a hoax.

As the end comes closer we get to know more about Emerson’s past and why she is on the streets. We also get to see the paths of some of the other people who have impacted their lives, including Carl’s. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and discovering their fears and regrets as their time came to an end. We always think we have more time so it was great to see which things people focused on as their big regrets. It also showed how sometimes the things you want the most are the things you’re most afraid to risk not getting.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book. I admittedly found myself wondering throughout the book how it could possibly end. I have to admit I wasn’t entirely happy with the end of this one. But I’m sure that there are many who would have disagreed with me and been happy with that ending.

If you want to see what can happen when an asteroid is on the way and the way different people react to it then you may enjoy this one.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Book Review

 

What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler

What We Saw
By: Aaron Hartzler
Available September 2015

Description:
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

This Blonde’s Review:
Kate doesn’t remember a lot from the party at Doone’s place. She knows that she had too much to drink, that there may have been a moment with her childhood best friend Ben, and that she went home early. As rumors start going around Kate starts to have a few more flashes of the night, including drinking with Stacey, a girl she used to be friends with when they were younger.

Since Stacey has a reputation around school people assume the worst about her when pictures start to circulate. When 4 popular boys are arrested at school for something that happened at the party no one can believe that they would have done anything wrong. The community sees Stacey’s accusations as a betrayal of the community, the school, and the sports team.

Watching the ways the girls deal with the information was so interesting to me. Some of the girls become fiercely loyal to the boys and refuse to hear any murmurs against them. Others believe that ‘boys will be boys’ is an unacceptable excuse to brush off things that shouldn’t be okay. As each new piece of information comes to light and more questions come up I liked seeing the way Kate works through everything. She questions things in way I feel that many people should. She asks what makes it okay for Stacey to be treated that way but not her. That night they were the same, except for the reputation that one had versus the other.

As terrible as this topic was, I liked the way things came together slowly. How sometimes the answer can be right in front of you and there could be so many signs you can’t see. The decisions that Kate had to make regarding what she believes and what she does about the things she discovers was important. It was important to see and important for her to do.

I couldn’t help but hate the way some things turned out, but I know there wasn’t a way to make things into a great happy ending when something so terrible is a key event in the book. I really do think that it turned out the only way it should have and was a book worth reading.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Book Review

 

Play On – Michelle Smith

Play On
By: Michelle Smith
Lewis Creek – Book 1
Available Now

Description:
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek–he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything–maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

This Blonde’s Review:
I don’t read many book where the main character is a guy, usually we get to see everything from the girl’s point of view. In this one we got to know Austin as he falls for Marisa. He has some baggage from the death of his father and only wants to get out of town.

Austin starts to get to know Marisa and she seems to be perfect for him. She isn’t ready to jump in to a relationship so they build their friendship first. Watching their relationship grow was so great. I enjoyed getting to know them both. Something I really loved is that everything with Austin and Marisa wasn’t as perfect as it seems at first glance. They each had baggage and things to learn from each other.

Marisa’s past was a surprise to me, I was expecting to find out that she had a serious disease like cancer. I’m so happy that it wasn’t that way since so I’ve read multiple books like that. This one tackles a very serious issue, depression. I felt there were several pieces of the book that portrayed depression in ways that I don’t usually see in the books I read. It was refreshing and I appreciated the way the author tried to show that a person can be happy about the things in their life and still suffer from depression, that they can still find themselves slipping.

I really enjoyed this one. I loved Austin and Marisa but I also loved the other characters we got to know. I’m looking forward to reading more about the other characters in the next books.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Book Review

 
 
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