After the Flood

After the Flood

Kassandra Montag

 3.5 / 5 🌟

 

I like to write my reviews as soon as I finish a book. Yet, I set this one aside for a few days. Honestly, I just didn’t know how I felt. Discussing it within our buddy read group helped a lot; I saw how others enjoyed certain aspects of the story or how specific characters affected them. Ultimately though, I had to decide how this book affected me.

The story takes place one hundred years in the future after the earth has been flooded. Only a few mountain top island harbors remain. We follow Myra, with her seven-year-old daughter Pearl, on a quest to find her daughter Row who was taken by her father when the floodwaters were approaching. Sailing in a boat her grandfather had built, Myra has made finding Row her sole purpose, even if it puts Pearl’s life in danger. 

And this new submerged world is full of dangers. There are Raiders who are trying to set up new civilizations, but only on their brutal terms. Food is scarce, storms at sea are common, and Myra doesn’t know who she can trust.

My initial thoughts were that the story was a bit slow, and I really didn’t connect with the characters. Being that I am a character-driven reader that was hard for me. Myra seemed self-centered and deceptive. But then I thought, being a mother of two, if one of my kids were out there wouldn’t I do everything possible to find them? 

My heart went out to Pearl – isn’t this usually the case, the children get caught in the undertow of the adult’s decisions. I would have liked the ending to be a little less predictable, perhaps. Sure, there are certain things here to explore and unpack, but is this the great adventure I was hoping it to be, not quite.

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One of Us is Lying

One of Us is Lying

Karen M. McManus

4 / 5 ⭐

This story took me back to my high school days. The cliques, the labels, college applications, break-ups, detention – yeah, good times. Now add in a murder and you’ve got a fun, fast-paced read.

Monday, September 24th, five students are sent to detention at Bayview High: Bronwyn (the brain), Nate (the delinquent), Cooper (the jock), Addy (the princess), and Simon (the outcast). All protest that they have been wrongly accused and don’t deserve detention. They won’t have to sit and watch the clock though. In what appears to be a freak accident, Simon winds up dead in detention!

As police begin to investigate Simon’s death, they discover this was no accident. The remaining four now become prime suspects. To make matters worse, Simon’s tell-all gossip app reveals he was about to release big secrets on each of the four, making it look like they had the motive to silence Simon.

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This book was an entertaining murder mystery. It had me guessing for a while, although some of the scenes played out a little predictably. I did like that they included the parents in these kid’s lives, granted most of the parents were not the best role models. Although the murder investigation is the base of the story, I felt that an underlying theme was that we all wear masks. We don’t always reveal our true selves to the world for whatever reason, be it parental expectations, peer pressure, fear of rejection, or even self-doubt. In this story certain stereotypes were broken down or at least it showed you don’t have to fit the mold. 

I read this for the #bookishladiesgotbacklist buddy read and the sequel One of Us is Next is now available!

 

Every Other Weekend

Every Other Weekend

Abigail Johnson

4.5 / 5 ⭐
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As I’ve mentioned before, last year I really rekindled my love for YA. Years ago many teen romances were just that: boy meets girl, boy wants girl, someone cheats, blah, blah, blah. You get the picture. But today the YA genre delves into some pretty deep and serious topics. This book is no exception.

 

Adam and Jolene are fifteen-year-olds that meet when they are forced to stay at their respective dads’ apartments every other weekend. They soon form a friendship over the fact that they are casualties of marriages torn apart. 

Adam’s family has been suffering since the death of his older brother. It’s like his family doesn’t know how to grieve together, so they pulled apart instead. Jolene has been used as a pawn by her divorced parents for so long that she’s not sure she matters to anyone, or ever has.

There were a few things I loved about this book. The banter between Adam and Jolene was very well done. Although, this book has very serious topics, Jolene’s snark and wit cracked me up quite often. And though the book deals with grief, divorce, neglect, and sexual assault, it also deals with friendship and forgiveness. 

Don’t laugh – but it’s books like this that touch on topics that stir up certain emotions in me, which makes me wish I had the physical copy. Silly as it sounds, it would give me something to hold on to.

Thank you to @netgalley and @inkyardpress for this arc for review.

Make sure to get your copy January 7, 2020.

Dear Edward

Dear Edward

Ann Napolitano

 5 / 5 ⭐

 


 

I could not put this book down! 

This is the story of Edward Adler, the lone survivor of a plane crash. Although the main storyline is centered around this horrible tragedy, Napolitano takes a broad sweep and touches on so much more. She skillfully uses dual timelines of before the crash and after, and focuses not so much on the horror of the crash, but on the humanity that was lost. 

After the crash of Flight 2977, twelve-year-old Eddie Adler is found to be the only survivor of the 191 onboard, including his parents and brother. Edward is taken in by his Aunt Lacey and Uncle John, his only blood relatives. They call him Edward, not Eddie, which is fine with Edward because he’s not sure that the same boy exists. Edward is struggling with grief and with the loss of everything he once knew and loved. Soon he finds he “feels like he’s being followed by more ghosts than he can personally account for.” It seems everyone wants something from him because he’s the one that survived. 

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The chapters that walk you through the flight, before the crash, are tense but so relatable. Here is where you meet several of the victims. You get to know them as real people, many with hopes, dreams, and regrets, others with secrets or just plain nasty attitudes. As a person who does not like to fly, the author did a great job portraying the sights and sounds within the cabin during the flight; I even started to get a little anxious a few times. The point, so aptly expressed, is that these were people with loved ones and lives, and they all thought they had more time.

This book does a marvelous job of showing the effects of trauma and grief. How Edward handles this grave tragedy is subtle, but I advise you to read carefully because there are some deep and heavy moments. Edward is also growing up through his process of recovery, literally. He was only twelve when the crash happened and by the end of the book, he has matured in many ways, not just age. Edward has a big heart. I can’t imagine going through what he did, and yet Edward has taught me about giving back.

 

This book will be available from @thedialpress on 1/6/20.

The God Game

THE GOD GAME

 Danny Tobey

4 / 5 ⭐

 


This book is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and psychological thriller all masterfully weaved together. Oh, and some high school drama and angst are thrown in too. Yeah, there is a lot going on. 

Charlie and four of his friends have formed a computer nerd group called the Vindicators. Each one is gifted in gaming and coding in their own way, and all have faced trials at school and at home. Some are even hiding secrets. Peter, one of the Vindicators, seemingly stumbles upon the latest and greatest game on the dark web. It is truly enticing for these high-tech gamers who have been bullied and hurt by life. You’re invited to play with G.O.D., win and all your dreams will come true the game promises. But there is one catch, the game warns, lose and you die. Surely it can’t mean in real life, right?

The five friends accept the game’s invitation and suddenly they are a part of the game. Their phones and interfacing glasses now connect them with a virtual world and this AI that believes itself to be god. They soon learn that they can earn rewards and demerits, depending on how obedient they are to G.O.D. At first, it seems exhilarating, but then the game starts to manipulate them and their lives. Its way of “thinking” is twisted and evil. It sees everything and will not hesitate to reveal their secrets, or worse. Remember, if you lose, you die.

This book was very well written, but dark. I was glad that Danny Tobey wrote in his acknowledgments that “all theological conflations and departures mine” because I did struggle with many of the Biblical references that were just not true. Aside from that, this is a very alarming thriller since it’s not that far fetched. AI is an intriguing subject, but when you look at the dark side of it, it’s quite unsettling.

Thank you to @stmartinspress for providing me a copy of this book to read and review.

Make sure to get your copy on January 7, 2020.

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Sentimental Journey: A Christmas at Ruby’s Place

Sentimental Journey: A Christmas at Ruby’s Place

 Holly Schindler

3.5 / 5 ⭐

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Who doesn’t like a ghost story at Christmas time? Sentimental Journey: A Christmas at Ruby’s Place is a story where the past magically reaches out to meet the present. It reminds us that, “Perhaps the cruelest part of grief is the realization of how much was left unsaid. How much it would mean to us to see that person just once more.”

Ruby’s Place is an old bar that has recently been reopened in the small town of Sullivan, Missouri. But there are rumors and whispers that strange things happen at Ruby’s Place after hours. Where people may be able to reunite with a departed loved one for just one night, Christmas Eve.

Ruby’s Place has a sordid history, going back to the time of speakeasies and prohibition. Now some past spirits want to connect with the present looking for long lost loves from one fateful Christmas Eve. But not all the spirits have good intentions; some are set on revenge.

This is a cute, cozy Christmas story. You must be able to embrace the magical and supernatural elements of the story to fully enjoy it.

Thank you to @hollyschindler for the opportunity to read and review this book.

American Dirt

American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins

4.5 / 5 ⭐

 

THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2020 is what it reads across the back of this book. Honestly, I’m a little intimidated to review this one. So many five-star ratings too, which I can understand. The writing is beautiful and the topic is extremely relevant.

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Lydia Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco with her husband and son Luca. Lydia owns a bookstore, while her husband is a journalist. Lydia loves her store and her books, but Acapulco, the once beautiful tourist spot, has become overrun with drug cartels. A man walks into her store one day and starts talking books with Lydia. Soon a friendship blossoms between the two. Little does Lydia know this man, Javier, is the jefe or leader of the new drug cartel. The very man her husband is about to release an exclusive profile piece on.

After the article hits the papers, violence ensues, and Lydia and her son find themselves running for their lives. They try to disappear among the many migrants trying to make their way to el norte.

Jeanine Cummins is one of those authors that utilizes all your senses. You will experience the smells and tastes of Mexico. You will feel the scorching heat of the desert sun. The stories of these people seeking a better life, away from the cartels, and the violence is heartbreaking. Although this could be a political powder keg, the focus of the story is, for the most, humanity: suffering, life, and death, but also perseverance.

What I personally struggled with is the singular narrative. I couldn’t connect as deeply with the characters through a narrator, as say if I heard Lydia speaking to me, or Luca, or even some of the characters they met along the way. For me, I would have liked to be inside someone’s head. 

This book will be on sale January 21, 2020. I highly recommend that people read this and discuss it with open hearts.