The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Book Description:

Published: March 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

Review –

I both read and listened to this book and found the dual experience very interesting.

I loved this book for several reasons :

  1. The friends were all outcasts and didn’t really let it affect them, especially Lydia.
  2. The sarcastic humor, mainly from Lydia.
  3. The small town setting in the South .
  4. The affection the friends felt for one another, either shown or not.
  5. The thread of enduring friendship that runs throughout the book.
  6. The tear-jerking sadness of losing a friend.
  7. The courage of Dill to finally take steps to change his life.
  8. Lydia and Dill having a relationship and then going to college miles from each other and having the courage to do so.

Are you seeming the pervading theme of the storyline: Courage!   Even Travis, who dies too soon, and caused me to use numerous Kleenex, had the courage to get outside his comfort zone with Amelia.

Though this book is classified as Young Adult I think it needs to be read by everyone.

Five stars!

 

 

 

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Published: September 27, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review –

I truly find it hard to relate everything I feel about this book. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in EVERY way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.

 Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group.

Even while the crew work seamlessly together, they remain distinct and unique individuals, driven forward by their own goals and personal backstory. The amount of character development in this book is phenomenal. By halfway through the book, I was fully invested in every single story – even for characters we previously did not see much of like Wylan.

Besides the characters bonding more as a unit and also as romantics pairs there is an arresting storyline, filled with cunning tricks and plot twists. Leigh Bardugo absolutely shines during her fight scenes, with the action becoming almost cinematic. The constantly turning wheels of Kaz Brekker’s mind is also equally formidable. We all love a story about an underdog, and watching Kaz scheme his way numerous setbacks had me on the edge of my seat, but the payoff is always so immensely satisfying.

Not all couples end up together-there is a death of a major player- I won’t say who but it was worthy of several Kleenex and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

I wish the author had Kaz pronounce his real feelings for Inej, instead he just holds her hand, without gloves. This may not sound like much to those who have not read Six of Crows, but it’s a major deal for Kaz Brekker!

The catch phrase of this series is NO MOUNERS, NO FUNERALS and we learn more about it in this book. This is what the author has to say about the quote:

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”

Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

Fantastic book, fantastic series!!!

 

 

 

After the Games (The Field Party #3) by Abby Glines

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl who no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgins finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?

Review –

This is the third book in The Field Party series and my favorite so far.

Riley was run out-of-town, Lawton, Alabama, for accusing Rhett Lawton of rape but now she’s back to help her parents take care of her Grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. She’s not the scared young girl of two years ago. Being pregnant and giving birth has changed her and made her grow up fast. She’s not afraid of the people of Lawton or what they say about her.

Brady Higgins is the golden boy of Lawton, Alabama and the best football player on the team. Besides that, he is smart, polite, caring and has a perfect family. That is until the day he catches his father having sex with his secretary in his office.  Things change for the Higgins family after that. Without Riley in his life he wouldn’t have survived.

They have declared their love for one another but with Brady going  off to college Riley will be left behind. But she has a plan to put her daughter, Bryony,(what kind of name is that) in day care and go to college  and work in Nashville to achieve her dreams. Brady wants her to come to the university and live in family housing with him and when she refuses, saying that would be no life for Bryony or herself, he gets angry.

Finally, with a lot of angst and tears they agree to have a long distance relationship and see each other when they can and eventually marry one day.

This book was full of emotions and had me in tears several times. I LOVED IT.

Five stars!

 

 

Bad Girls with Pretty Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Book Description :

Published: October 31, 2017

Format: Hard Back

From the New York Times bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls comes a stylish thriller about the darkness that lurks inside all of us.

When I looked up, his smile was wide and real. “Ready?” he said.
I faked a smile back. I had gotten so good at faking things.
I thought: You brought this on yourself, Sasha. You will have to pretend forever now.
He squeezed my hand again. He couldn’t begin to imagine what this actually was. He had no idea what I’d done. What any of us had.

When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away.

But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…

Told in multiple points of view, Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is sexy and twisted with shocks at every turn.

Review –

This book is a dark psychological thriller about high schoolers Sasha, her best friend, Xavier, and his cheating ex-girlfriend, Ivy. While Sasha knows what a “good girl” would do when Ivy lures Xavier back into a relationship, she admits that, “Bad girls know there is no right and wrong. There is just what you’re willing to do. What you need to do. Here is what I did.” What she does is set into play a series of events that will unintentionally lead to a murder and its cover-up. Told from three points of view — those of Sasha, Xavier, and a third character whose identity is revealed only at the end of the book — this is a cautionary tale about a right motive gone terribly wrong. While sexual encounters are not graphically described, characters drink often and to excess, and there’s lots of profanity ( “f–k,” “p—y,” “goddam,” “c–t.”). Even though it’s classified as a young adult book, it’s best suited for mature readers and as a vehicle for a discussion with parents about the life-changing price that can be paid for rash behavior and terrible choices.

It’s a fast read and I was surprised by the who the actual killer was (although, looking back, I shouldn’t have been) and I thought the ending was PERFECT and I love the cover.

 

 

The Call (The Call #1)by Peadar O’Guilin

Book Description:

Published: August 30, 2016

Format: Free Digital Book/OverDrive

Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?

Review –

I have long been a fan of Karen Marie Moning and her Fever series, which deals with MacKayla (Mac) Lane and her battle against the world of the Fae, so when I ran across this book I knew I had to read it.

I’ve seen it described on YouTube as a horror novel and the video went on and on about how graphic and gruesome it was, but in reality it’s no worse than what young adults see on video games or read in some graphic novels. I found the violence and description of the Grey Land and the monstrous Faeries and their dress (made of human skin) added to the trepidation and edginess of the book.

Vanessa (Nessa) Doherty is a 14-year-old girl who attends Boyle Survival College, one of many in Ireland that serve only to teach its youth how to survive the Call of the Sídhe.

This intense, riveting tale is set in an Ireland that the Sídhe, Irish faeries, have cut off from the rest of the world, plotting to retake their former home through a grim war of attrition that involves kidnapping human teenagers. During the “Call,” teens disappear “for a little over three minutes, but in [the faeries’] world, the Grey Land, an entire day has passed, panic and pain in every second of it.” When the stolen teens reappear, they are usually dead and/or horribly mutated by magic. All Irish children attend special centers where they’re taught martial arts, the Sídhe language, and total ruthlessness. Nessa, already relegated to crutches due to polio (Ireland’s isolation means no imported vaccines—or anything else), seems unlikely to survive her Call, but has dedicated everything to doing so. The author follows several teens, including Nessa, over into the Grey Land, delivering blisteringly fast-paced and graphic descriptions of the tortures the children endure. This is a bleak, gripping story, one where only the most muted of happy endings is possible. 

There is a semi cliffhanger and the sequel, The Invasion, comes out in March of 2108. I can’t wait.

Five stars!!!!!

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Review –

Te story starts with a woman, Nel Abbott, who is found dead in a river in a spooky northern English town. It quickly emerges she is not the first person to meet a watery grave in Beckford. The mystery spirals out from this “did she fall or was she pushed” puzzle, and it is to Hawkins’s credit that she attempts to tell the story from multiple viewpoints, too many if you ask me.

The problem is that there are 11 of these characters. This is far too many and it seems the author battles to make these slightly troubled people distinct from one another. If reading the book you would have to keep looking for the name at the top of each page to see whose story you are in. If listening to the audio book version, which I did, it’s not as easy to keep all viewpoints separate and that’s my main complaint.

Paula Hawkins first book, The Girl on the Train, which sold over 15 million copies, had a certain kind of plausibility in its very focused suburban setting, but the whole “death stalks a strange northern-English town” idea feels incredibly hokey.

That being said, I loved it and with all its twists and turns, gave it five stars. It’s well worth reading or listening to just to see if you can manage all the points of view.

King’s Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: February 7, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Review –

It’s been almost a year since I read the second book in the Red Queen series so I was afraid I’d have trouble getting back into the story, but it was amazingly simple to pick up the storyline.

The story starts with Mare as Maven’s prisoner, but gets wonderfully complicated as it delves into their twisted relationship. It’s all just SO WELL DONE. Maven’s mother literally molded his mind throughout his life to the point where he’s no longer sure which parts are his own. She even turned his love for Mare into an obsession and erased the love he had for his brother, Cal. And there’s still a small part of Mare that cares about Maven (or is at least empathetic) even though she wants to kill him.

The story never excuses Maven’s actions, by the way.The author is very clear that this is not a relationship that will ever be good (or happen), but  I still LOVE how complicated everything is between them. Stories with black & white characters or shallow villains get old for me really fast because it’s unbelievable. Maven’s character totally worked.

Mare is  totally broken and starts to feel gratitude to Maven for the most basic acts of humanity. Watching her grapple with everything was actually one of my favorite parts. She somehow finds the strength to fight again and is a totally relatable character you WANT to support. All of her thoughts and actions make sense and she has so much growth over the course of the story.

To make a long story short, Mare is finally able to be rescued and a huge battle ensues between the Reds and the Silvers, with both sides having many casualties. “The Lightening Girl” is able to harness her gift and she a Cal, together work for the good. BUT, when push comes to shove and a kingship is offered to Cal, he takes it, knowing it goes against everything Mare believes in. So after barely getting back together, they break up. A bit after that, the book ends, and I CANNOT wait until next year for the fourth book in the series.  Write faster, Victoria Aveyard!!!!!

 

 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Book Description:

Published: November 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Review –

Just finished listening to this book and had to get my thoughts down before they become mingled with the next book I plan to listen to/read.

This book basically covers A DAY in the lives of two seventeen years olds, a boy, Daniel, a Korean-American and a girl, Natasha, who came to America  from Jamaica when she was eight.

Everything about day had to fall just right for them to meet. If a second of difference in an occurrence had happened they would have passed by each other without a single glance. But they did meet and for Daniel is was love at first sight. Natasha was a harder sell and Daniel spent the day making her fall in love with him.

Daniel was on his way to a college entrance interview for Yale with plans to become a doctor. He didn’t want to be a doctor or really go to Yale but it was what his parents wanted.

Natasha was trying to stop her family from being deported that night back to Jamaica .

There are many twists and turns but suffice it to say that Daniel is crushed when he learns that she is going to disappear from his life that night and the attorney who had promised to help her dropped the ball by missing an important meeting  with a judge by spending the afternoon in a hotel room with his paralegal. Circumstances have to be just right for things to go right or wrong.

Natasha and her family go back to Jamaica and  she and Daniel keep in touch for a while but then life takes over and they each get on with their lives.  

Do they get back together? I’m not going to tell you but just know that for the last twenty minutes of this audiobook I had tears falling down my face and had trouble breathing.

I give this book  4 1/2 stars because there were a few parts that bogged down with too much information.

This is the second book by author, Nicola Yoon, and now I’m going to go find her first one, Everything Everything and grab more Kleenex.

Ashes (Project Eden #4) by Brett Battles

Book Description:

Published: December 1, 2012

Format: Audio

The hammer has fallen. The deadly Sage Flu has been unleashed. The scramble for survival is in full force.

Martina Gable and her family escaped to a secluded mountain cabin in hopes of avoiding the death sweeping the desert valley below, but have they gone far enough?

Dominic Ray, manager of a tropical, private island resort, has a dream job. The weather, the food, the drinks, the people—life couldn’t be better. What he didn’t expect—what no one could have expected—was that his good life was about to disappear.

In a sea of the sick and dying, Sanjay and Kusum desperately search for a place beyond Mumbai where they and the group they are leading can be safe, and where they can prepare for what the future may bring.

Brandon Ash wants nothing more than to be with his father and sister, but there is something waiting for him on a deserted, snow-covered highway. Something that may mean the reunion will never happen.

 

As Daniel Ash, Brandon’s father, lies unconscious from the serious wounds he suffered while hunting for his son, his daughter Josie realizes it’s up to her to find her brother and bring him home. But the search will be a dangerous one, that will take her far from home.

And then there is Project Eden, watching the plague kill as they had planned, even as they prepare to activate the next phase.

What will you do to survive?

Review –

Ashes is the 4th book in this exciting  series and slightly slower paced than the others  but no less captivating and its nice to have a very slight slow down to find out more about the fantastic characters. 
The subplots have become stronger and more developed and I’m enjoying the introduction of  another group.

I missed Captian Ash as he is recovering from book 3, Pale Horse, and taken a back seat in this book. Brandon, his son, however has taken over in this book and is growing up as tough and intuitive as his Dad a clever move from the author.
What I love about this series is the fact that even one of the sick often doesn’t realize how dangerous they are by doing something so simple they risk thousands of lives.
This is definitely a gripping and engaging read through every chapter. Brett has created yet another brilliant cliffhanger and this one is genius; it will throw the resistance into mayhem trying to sort this one. I’m looking forward to finding a free copy  of the next book, Eden Rising.

 

 

 

 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

Justine is living in a shabby apartment with her two daughters and live in boyfriend,Patrick, who is VERY controlling so when an attorney calls saying that her great-aunt Lucy has left her a house and a stock portfolio of $150,000.00, she packs the basics, picks up the girls from school, and starts the long drive to Minnesota.

In her mind the summer-house on the lake looks the way it did when she was nine years old. It was the only Summer she was there and the only time she met Lucy. When they arrive, it is Winter in Minnesota and the house is drab, falling apart and in desperate need of a full restoration.  The inside is not much better with the rooms heated by radiators fueled by a propane tank only one-third full and a stove in the kitchen so old the oven can not be fixed. Meals have to be made on top of the stove or in the microwave.  Justine’s only comfort is that maybe Patrick won’t be able to find them since she told no one where she was going and she left her cell phone behind.

The only neighbors are brothers who were childhood friends of her grandmother, Lilith and great-aunt Lucy, who now run the Lodge for the Summer people. Abe is a bit slow so doesn’t venture out much so Matthew is the one  the Evans girls sees most and they all consider him “creepy”.

There is a box of composition books full of stories written by Lucy, all dealing with the little sister, Emily, who went missing in the summer of 1935. There is also another composition book with the truth behind Emily’s disappearance, but Justine doesn’t know about it until almost the end of the book.

I won’t tell you what happened to Emily or if Patrick shows up, or about the fire  so you’ll have to read the book to find out. There is so much more to this story than just a missing child!

It is a fantastic book and I couldn’t stop listening,

Five stars *****