Book Review · Books

What Unbreakable Looks Like

Do you know what it’s like to be trafficked by your own mom’s boyfriend’s friend? Poppy can tell you. She thought she was Mitch’s favorite of all the girls. Her world is thrown for a loop when the cops bust into the hotel where they are staying at and she’s sent to the hospital to get checked out. Poppy finds out her aunt, Krys, wants to take her in. Does Poppy want to escape the Hell hole that her life has become? How can her own aunt choose a broken, used up teen like Poppy? Will anyone truly love her?

When she gets the chance to escape the hospital with one of the other girl’s pulled from the hotel Poppy stays back and decides from then on she’s going to relearn how to be Alexa. She’s leaving Poppy behind and wants to reclaim who she was born to be. Lex.

Will Lex go and live with Krys? Does she cave in and decide to return to Mitch? What will she choose? This novel drops you smack dab into Poppy’s world. It’s a story about how evil sex trafficking is and how one teen decides if she wants to face her demons.

This story is not for the faint of heart. This topic is very adult, heartbreaking, gut wrenching and leaves you stunned. Can you handle Poppy’s story? Her story is addictive and I can guarantee you’ll stay up to find out what happens. Poppy is a character you can’t resist rooting for. Not only rooting for Poppy, but for Lex. Will Poppy allow Lex to shine?

I received my complimentary digital copy of What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin from MacMillian, care of NetGalley. The views are of my own will and are mine. This novel better win lots of awards because this story is vital for everyone (age appropriate of course) to read. I can’t stop thinking about Poppy, Lex and a whole cast of characters you’ll wish you could call up to chat. This novel has the power to change and to help end sex trafficking.

Book Review · Books

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Two teens broken by loss and both struggle with anxiety in different forms. Dew uses a tape recorder to record different conversations and Naima counts the hexagons on her quilt to calm herself. One desperately wants to befriend the other, but trust is a commodity dolled out sparingly.

This novel deals with the loss of a parent and how it’s not easy to keep going, to allow other adults to take over the role of your parent. Dew is thrown into foster care where he acquires a sister, Faith. Naima lives with her grandparents after her stepmom leaves her there for the summer to visit like she does annually. Dew and Naima are neighbors. Can Naima be open to Dew’s friendship or will her anger at her dad for dying close her off to the help that is just a fence away?

The casts of characters in this novel are fun. I like how the author gave a fun nickname to Dew’s coffee shop boss as Sasquatch and his coworker Violet is a bubbly girl whose into new age. I also, think the name for the coffee shop is clever: Baked and Caffeinated.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own will. When I started this book I felt it was ok, but the deeper I got into the story of Dew and Naima the more I grew to love these two characters.

Book Review · Books

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

Ryan is minding his own business when he notices a woman down by the water twirling in a yellow skirt. She looks happy. One minute she is there and the next she disappears. Ryan looks over the railing to see if he can see her, but he sees no one. The water is down a bit of a hill and to get to it he’ll need to crawl. Ryan has cerebral palsy. He doesn’t think of anything else, but to find the unknown woman.

After saving the unknown woman Ryan realizes he knows this person. This person is Jack. Why was he wearing a skirt? Jack is a quiet classmate of Ryan’s, but he’s not friends with Jack. Both boys don’t want what happened to be blown out of proportion. Wouldn’t anyone else do the same if someone was drowning?

Enter Cody, Jack’s best friend from swim team. He’s a classic jock whose got an ego the size of the sun, trying to shine brighter than anyone around. Cody is determined to find out more about Jack and what really happened, but Ryan’s not sure on the fine details either of the why. When Ryan invites Jack to accompany both him and Cody to Comic Con in a gesture of friendship is it a recipe for disaster, or will it bring the boys together?

I received my digital copy of Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw from NetGalley. The opinions are my own and of my own accord. This young adult novel tackles the challenging subjects of depression, identity, friendship and what it means to be true to who you are. I loved this novel. I thought Ryan’s character is fleshed out well. I don’t have to depend on a wheelchair to get around, but this novel shows the realistic struggle to be noticed for who you are minus any handicap assistance you come with. Cody was a well represented high school jock, though how he changes throughout the story is interesting to watch. Jack is the classic sensitive kid who is scared to trust to be himself in front of others. This book will be a great edition to any YA fan’s bookcase, as well as any high school library. Let’s get the conversation going. Never let anyone suffer in silence.

Book Review · Books

No Place Like Here

I have to confess. I wasn’t hooked right off the bat in chapter one. Ashlyn is a teen paying for the crime of her past by being sent off to boarding school. She’s excited to be back home for the summer where she can hang out with her best friend Tatum, except her dad has other plans for her. Ashlyn is set to help out her cousin, Hannah, at a retreat camp. Why can’t she just stay home like a normal high schooler? Her dad has crimes of his own to pay, so he won’t be home and her mom is so messed up from her father’s misdeeds that she won’t be home either.

Ashlyn goes off to help Hannah at the camp and meets two cute fellow staffers, Baxter and Marcus. Both appear to be great guys and one seems to give her a tad more attention than the other. Will Ashlyn have a summer romance, or will her father’s controlling words freeze her up from enjoying her summer despite having to work?

This novel grew on me. Ashlyn’s character is relatable to me in so many ways. I love to write, journal and read. I think it’s great Ashlyn carries around a notebook of her favorite quotes that she writes down. I, also, shy away from speaking up except for when I’m really mad about something. I also, have daddy issues. My own dad isn’t as strict as Ashlyn’s dad, but I know what it’s like to have high expectations to live up to and not feel like what you do is enough. Also, when it comes to parental affection it’s not doled out often. I know what it’s like to have anxiety when hearing from said parent, of being nervous of being in trouble, even when there’s no reason to be. It’s sad, but true.

I received my complimentary digital copy of No Place Like Here by Christina June from Blink, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are of my own accord and mine only. This book is a sweet read. It is a story that opens up the complication that is family and how we do our best to navigate our family relationships. It shows a great example of how we are all imperfect, but how through our brokenness we can heal baby step by baby step. I highly recommend this upcoming summer release.

Book Review · Books

The Book Of No Worries

When I was in junior high we had the classic book by Dr. James Dobson, Preparing For Adolescence. I recall it being an awkward book to read. When you are in junior high reading about bodily changes is cringe worthy. When I saw the book, The Book Of No Worries, I wondered how a similar book would be now that it’s 2019 and not 1990? This book covers a similar range of topics, including modern ones like social media, sexting, the morning after pill, LGBTQA and more.

It boggles my mind that a junior higher nowadays would have to be told about the morning after pill and sexting. When I was in junior high a cell phone was a foreign concept, contraception at that age unthinkable and sexting was not even a blip on our radar. I don’t know that these topics are appropriate for the age group intended. Yes, kids get provided more adult information earlier on, but that doesn’t mean they are mature enough to handle it. As for the topic of sexuality I do wish more had been explained around that age. When you are in the bubble of social heterosexuality, the idea of their being alternatives is a foreign concept. This book was informative and very thorough. I don’t think if I had a preteen that I’d give them this book necessarily.

I received my complimentary digital copy of The Book Of No Worries by Lizzie Cox via NetGalley. The views expressed are my own. I think it’s interesting to see the modern topics discussed in this book. If you want to see how much the world has changed this book will will open your eyes.

Book Review · Books

Small Town Hearts

Babe thought she had her whole summer ahead of her after high school with her two best friends Chad and Penny. When Penny dumps Chad, making Babe do the break up dirty work, she realizes she’s possibly loosing both of her best friends. Babe is still recouping from the fall out of her past relationship with Elodie. It was her first relationship with a woman and she is over keeping being Bi a secret. When Levi walks into Busy’s she can’t deny the attraction she feels towards him. As Levi and Babe become friends her world is thrown for a loop when Elodie reappears for the summer and seems to be cozying up to Levi. Will Babe be able to reconcile her feelings?

This novel covers the topics of friendship, sexuality, contentment and love. The characterization is well done, the description of Maine is breathtaking and the story keeps you wanting more.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The views expressed are mine. If you love YA and romance then this novel will be the perfect spring read. This story was sweet and the descriptions of Maine made me want to book a flight.

Book Review · Books

The Quiet You Carry

Victoria’s life changes the day her mom dies. Her mom asks her to promise she’ll take care of her dad. Victoria says, “Yes,” not realizing what this will entail. How do you help a grieving parent when you, yourself, are trying to grieve as a teen? Victoria does her best to help out by cooking and cleaning. Her dad meets Tiffany who he takes a shining to. Next thing Victoria knows she’s gained a stepmom and a stepsister, Sarah.

Life seems to be turning into something normal once Tiffany and Sarah enter Victoria’s life until the night her dad acts weird towards her and throws her out. Literally. Victoria lands into foster care, not understanding why. She is placed into Connie’s home.

Life in her new foster home is like walking on eggshells. Connie is strict and not one to hand out sympathy. Victoria attempts to befriend her foster sister, but the other girl mainly keeps to herself. Being at Connie’s means that Victoria is thrown into attending a different school and living in a different town.

Will Victoria adjust to her foster home? Can she start over in a small town where it seems everyone knows everyone else’s business? Can Victoria keep her secrets hidden indefinitely?

I received a digital ARC copy of The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess from North Star Editions and Flux, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are strictly mine. This book is engrossing from page 1. I could not put this novel down. Victoria’s story is an important one that everyone needs to read. This book will have you crying, laughing, cringing and cheering. For a debut novel I’m beyond impressed. I will definitely be searching for other titles by Nikki Barthelmess because she is a talented author you won’t want to miss. Definitely keep an eye out this year for this upcoming YA novel.

Book Review · Books

The Death & Life Of Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker wakes up one day to find herself soaked on the side of the local river. She doesn’t recall how she got there. When Eleanor goes home she can’t get warm and she can’t fall asleep either. Not recalling the night before doesn’t help.

A year earlier her brother’s girlfriend is found dead in the same river. Eleanor’s brother has been the lead suspect, though she’s sure he’s innocent. When a mutual classmate goes missing and the witch hunt starts again Eleanor is not sure who to believe. Why can’t she seem to sleep and food alludes her? Did someone try to murder Eleanor? Follow Eleanor on her journey to uncover the truth.

This novel is fast paced with twists and turns. If you love puzzles then this one is for you. This story deals with the topics of death, friendship, family, small town life and what it means to truly live again.

I received my free digital ARC copy of The Death & Life Of Eleanor Parker by Kerry Wilkinson care of NetGalley from Bookouture in exchange for my honest feedback. If you love YA mysteries and stories set in the U.K. then I recommend this novel. I couldn’t put it down. For some reason I gravitate toward first person novels. It does remind me a lot of the novel 13 Minutes, which is one of my favorites from last year.

Book Review · Books

The Temptation Of Adam

We all have our addictions. Adam is addicted to porn. He gets put on school suspension for something he did in. During his suspension he is required to attend Knights Of Vice, an addiction recovery group that one of his high school teachers sponsors. Adam is not keen on going, but his dad offers to go with him to his first meeting. At this first meeting he encounters fellow member, Dez Coulter, who is a beautiful mix of troubled, beautiful, sarcastic and intense. Will this support group help Adam slay his porn addiction? Will the beautiful Dez pull Adam into the world of the living instead of the digital?

When I first started this novel I wasn’t that into the storyline, but once I got a bit deeper in I was hooked to find out what happens to Adam. Porn addiction is not hugely discussed in YA, but it’s a common addiction teens need help with, heck so do a lot of adults. The Temptation Of Adam deals with this important topic with grace, humor and raw honesty. No matter what your own addiction might be, we all just might struggle like Adam does.

I was sent a free copy of The Temptation Of Adam from SkyPony Press in exchange for my honest assessment. Thank you Emma for sending me a copy. This book is heartfelt, funny, sobering and enlightening. Thank you Mr. Connis for writing about a very taboo topic and bringing it out into the light.