We Were Beautiful by Heather Helper

07B8E370-7E57-43C8-865D-FED924181DADGenre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Shelf Location: Young Adult Fiction

Rating: ★★★★.5

I checked out a copy of this book from my local library. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or author.

 


Final Thoughts

This book is told from the perspective of Mia Hopkins, a fifteen-year-old teen girl trying to navigate her life after a tragic event. Mia’s life was healthy before a terrible accident left her family in disarray and her with both emotional and physical scars. Mia had a happy family and a sister that loved her until one night she can’t seem to remember. Mia and her sister were involved in an accident, but Mia can’t seem to remember what happened. She also can’t seem to look at herself in the mirror. Her family struggles to come to terms with the accident, and Mia must figure out a way to heal on her own. In an attempt to help her come to terms with the crash fully, her father sends her to live with her grandmother for the summer. Will this summer away help Mia heal or push her to her breaking point?

This book was absolutely heartbreaking, but it was very well written. The author does a great job diving into the challenges of overcoming loss and showcasing the complexity involved in the grieving process. However, I thought it was a bit cliche that Mia found a group of friends that all had scares of their own. It felt like everything fell into place for Mia. I personally wanted a bit more drama and turmoil, but that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth behind each character, including the supporting characters. I wanted to learn more about her mother and grandmother’s relationship, but that would be great for a second novel.

If you’re looking for a contemporary realistic fiction novel that is heavy with emotion, then this may be the novel for you.


You can purchase copies of this book from: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Zoondervan

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

62EE8900-9E96-4F61-96C6-67F2DA565280Genre: Young Adult Realistic Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 344
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Author:  Erika L. Sanchez
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I borrowed from my local library.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?


Final Thoughts

This book starts with Julia losing her sister in a terrible accident but ends with a well-developed plot twist. Julia is a junior in high school who has the brains and individuality to lead the world astray. She is the black sheep of her family and continues to feel this way even more after losing her sister. Julia’s sister was considered perfect. Always willing to stay home to cook with her mother, went to school, and remained in town to work a receptionist job. Julia is the complete opposite; she is rebellious, loves alternative music, loves to read, and enjoys time alone. She wants to go to college in another city and pursue an English degree. Her mother, dealing with the loss of her sister, continues to push Julia telling her why can’t she be more like her sister Olga. Her mother continues to berate her for wanting to go out to parties, hang out with her friends, or resemble a lifestyle of a rebellious teen.

To make matters worse, her father is mute and ignores her, she is behind in school, and she feels something is missing about her sister. As Julia copes with the loss of her sister, and the pressures of her mother, she works to uncover the secrets of her sister. While doing so, she discovers the secrets of her mother and father. She realizes that some secrets are better left as secrets; otherwise, they ruin the lives of those that are living. Can Julia learn to deal with the disappointment from her mother, the silence from her father, and the pressure to perform? Or will she crumble in the process?

The author does a fantastic job with the development of the main characters and the supporting characters. The story of Julia and her sister Olga shed light on the challenges of migrating to the United States. I loved the fact that I was able to read about her parent’s migration story. I felt that added to the story and the development of Julia’s character. The author’s realistic approach to telling this story emphasizes the emotions; I felt the same feelings the characters did. I highly recommend this book to any middle schooler or high schooler who has parents that migrated. I also think it is essential to encourage people of all races to read this book to inform them of the challenges immigrants face.

This book does contain content associated with suicidal (including suicidal thoughts), mental health, depression, and anxiety. Proceed with caution when reading this if you have experienced any of these or know someone who has.


To view purchasing options and other books written by this author,  click this link Here


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

1732D3C0-E7C8-418C-AD2F-2BC512C50558Genre:  Young Adult Realistic Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 250
Release Date: March 20, 2007
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.


Final Thoughts

Twisted is another novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson that follows the life of Tyler. Tyler was your average high school geek who had no friends until he made a mistake that would not only ruin him but could’ve cost him his future. To please his overbearing father, Tyler agrees to attend a work event for his Dad’s company. While there, Tyler runs into a classmate who hates him and his sister, Tyler’s crush. Following his Dad’s company’s party, Tyler grows closer to his sister and his crush. Tyler will face many challenges in this novel which include accusations of assault, his father, and self-doubt. Laurie Halse Anderson dives into a different perspective by shedding light on dealing with emotional abuse and the stigma’s associated with growing up male. Tyler’s father is emotionally abusive and controlling. His father aims to control everything in the family which takes a toll on each member. Everyone in Tyler’s life sees him as a threat except for his friends, mother, and sister. Even after an incident occurs, that somehow leads to Tyler accused of a crime he did not commit. His life is a series of unfortunate events, pressures from his dad, and the challenges of high school. Tyler lets the weight of life almost push him to the brink of leaving. Tyler must learn to stand up for himself or lose himself in the process.

When does it go from being a good parent and wanting what’s best for your child, to being a controlling father? Is there a line and who’s going to tell you when you cross it as a parent?

The author takes a unique approach to tell the story of a controlling father and how one person can change the dynamic of a family. This book focuses on forgiveness, anger, self-doubt, and personal discovery. Halse Anderson takes the time to develop each supporting character and intertwine them as the story unfolds. I felt the plot twist lacked development and I wanted more light shed of his father’s emotionally abusive tendencies. I did feel the author truly captured the emotions of the family as they dealt with the father. Each moment in the story felt real and when the characters cried, so do I.Halse Anderson showcases the obstacles associated with growing up as a male.

This book is intended for mature ages, upper middle school, and high school. If anyone is a victim of emotional abuse, this book does contain items that may trigger memories. I would recommend this book for any developing male looking to gain a better understanding of the stressors associated with a “pushy” father. Halse Andersons dives into stigma’s associated with being male.


To purchase your copy of this novel you can visit this link to view purchasing links

http://madwomanintheforest.com


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

c+E3loN5QcykIQPFTL+u4wGenre: Contemporary Young Adult Romance Fiction
Pages: Print 312
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Author: Maurene Goo
Rating: ★★★.5


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I checked out a copy of this book from my library. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is a finished print copy.


Goodreads Synopsis 

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.


Final Thoughts

This contemporary young adult fiction follows the journey of Desi, an overachiever Korean American teenager raised by a single father. Desi is smart but seems to fall short when it comes to dating. Desi is starting her Senior year of high school off with a bang of embarrassments. She fails at an attempt to go on a date with a guy who is clearly interested in her and also fails as noticing when a guy is flirting with her. That is until she meets Lucas, a new boy in town who seems to be interested in Desi depict her lack of dating skills. Desi sets her mind on attaining Lucas, disregarding all social norms, and consulting her dad’s favorite K drama series as a source for dating advice. As the story unfolds, we watch as Desi learns that not everything can be controlled and how listening to those around you is something that always needs to be done.

The author took a common approach when developing this love story. I literally just grabbed this book randomly off the shelf at my library and decided to give it a read. I typically enjoy contemporary young adult romance novels but this one fell a little bit short for me. The huge scene toward the end of the book wasn’t actually that thrilling and left me wanting to making it more thrilling. I am not looking for a sparks to fly when something dramatic happens but I am looking for something more realistic. The emotions displayed by Desi when her secrets start to unravel felt real but the moment leading up to Lucas discovering them, was not. I personally wanted more depth in the story and more realism when it came to meeting the parents, going to a big event, and an accident. It is like there was a complete disregard for what would happen in the real world if someone did this. I mean I am no wizard in the dating scene but I somehow managed to snag my current boyfriend with me being myself. However, I do commend the author on showcasing the importance of being yourself and I did like the scene at the end. Unfortunately, I got to a point in the book where I was getting anxious and wanted it to end. I read as Desi went through a lot of unnecessary antics to gain the attention of a boy but in the end the truth came out. If the goal of this book was to be a mushy young adult romance novel then it did its job and more. If you are interested in getting your sweet tooth itched with contemporary young adult novel, then this is your book. Otherwise I suggest reading something a little more tame with more depth in the storyline. I recommend this book to early teens and adults interested in novel with a potential happy ending ( I will not spoil the ending). Sometimes the geeky, overachiever, underdog can have things malfunction but still learn from their mistakes.


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

 

The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen

img_3793Title: The Way the Light Bends
Author: Cordelia Jensen 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 390
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected unfinished copy. 


Goodreads Synopsis: 

Virtual twins Linc and Holly were once extremely close. But while artistic, creative Linc is her parents’ daughter biologically, it’s smart, popular Holly, adopted from Ghana as a baby, who exemplifies the family’s high-achieving model of academic success.

Linc is desperate to pursue photography, to find a place of belonging, and for her family to accept her for who she is, despite her surgeon mother’s constant disapproval and her growing distance from Holly. So when she comes up with a plan to use her photography interests and skills to do better in school–via a project based on Seneca Village, a long-gone village in the space that now holds Central Park, where all inhabitants, regardless of race, lived together harmoniously–Linc is excited and determined to prove that her differences are assets, that she has what it takes to make her mother proud. But when a long-buried family secret comes to light, Linc must decide whether her mother’s love is worth obtaining.


Favorite Quotes:

“…two paths
one in light
one in shadow
diverging.”

“Light leaks around each finger.
Light that seeps in.
Light that demands to be seen.
Even if I try to block it.
How much am I capturing something with my art
as much as I am releasing it?”

Final Thoughts:

This young adult fiction novel is written in a poem format with three different sections. I enjoyed the flow of each poem, the explanation of each character, and the emotions in each stanza. The author provided poem titles that captured my attention the entire time. I was engulfed in the text from the first page. Linc is such a fantastic character, and I enjoyed the explanation of her name. The character development for Linc is one of my favorites in this book since it is written from her perspective. Linc merely wants to make her family proud and live up to the same expectations of her adoptive sister Holly. While Holly is a straight A athletic student, Linc is a creative teen on the verge of being expelled from school due to her grades. Both girls struggle to find their place in the world and struggle to find themselves. Holly and Linc’s relationship struggles throughout this novel as both grow and build connections on their own. You can feel the tension between Linc, Holly, and their mother through the words displayed in this book. Will Holly and Linc rebuild the relationship they once had? Can Linc count on Holly in her time of need? Will Linc ever be accepted by her parents?

Overall this book reads like a contemporary young adult realistic fiction. The family dynamics in this novel felt relatable, and I felt like I could connect with the turmoil between family members. The author did a great job portraying the challenges faced by parents of an adopted child. Holly struggles to figure out who she is and wants to connect more with her past. While their mother strives to treat both girls equally while simultaneously being harder on Linc, her birth daughter. I recommend this book to any teen looking for a read that focuses on family, love, sibling rivalry, trust, and forgiveness. Each member must learn to trust each other and communicate better. Secrets are what will tear this family about, but those same secrets are what will mend the broken ties.


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

img_3541Title: I Have Lost My Way 
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Pages: Print 368
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.


Favorite Quotes:

” I have lost my way.”

“Right here is where I need to be.”

“We all die. It’s the only sure thing in life and the one thing we all have in common with everything else on the planet.”


Final Thoughts:

This captivating book follows the journey of three young adults all uttering the same phrase that has connected each to one another, “I have lost my way.” Gayle Forman has done it again with her new contemporary novel that follows the lives of these young adults, each dealing with their form of loss. Freya must learn to accept the things she cannot change and mourn the loss of an absentee father. She must decide what’s more important, building relationships or her career. Harun is harboring a secret that could change his life and his relationship with his family. He must face facts, he must face his fears, and he must learn what it is necessary, family, love or both. Lastly, Nathaniel is too afraid to face the reality of his situation. He is facing the biggest challenge of the three, but he has to face reality head-on or let his imagination consume him. It is by fate that these three stumble into each other on that day in Central Park and it is by fate that their lives begin to unravel together. Each must face their challenges both individually and collectively. These three were strangers during the day, but by night they are family. Will Huran ever face his fears? Will Freya get over her absent father? Will Nathaniel face the truth?

Overall, this novel had me on the edge of my seat. Of all the characters, I had the hardest time with Nathaniel. His character put me to tears with the internal battle he struggles within this book. Gayle Forman did a great job developing his style and showcasing the challenges of dealing with a loss as epic as his. Huran was the most exciting character, and his trial was one that I had not thought of. I was absorbed in the story of his family, of his siblings, and of his challenge of finding a mate that fit into the boundaries of his cultural upbringing. He faces one of the most significant challenges that isn’t showcased much in literature that I have read, and I enjoyed his character much. Lastly, Freya was one I could relate to the most. The turmoil she faced with her sister and her finally finding a voice of her own is a fantastic story. I enjoyed this entire novel and felt the author did a tremendous job connecting the three characters and focusing on issues that needed to be addressed. I was tearing up at the ending parts of all the characters. This young adult fiction has a hint of LGBTQIA awareness between the pages and information on the importance of building relationships. I recommend this novel to teenagers and up. I personally would have liked more information on Nathaniel’s mother and an epilogue. This only because some pieces left me wanting more.

Happy Reading!


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

img_2966Title: The Beauty that Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk 
Genre: Young Adult LGBTQ Contemporary
Pages: Print 324
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★.5


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Random House.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.


Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes when I look in the mirror for too long, I start to look like someone else.” -Logan-

“Sometimes loving someone is scarier than leaving them.”

“Ever since, I’ve felt a little out of control. But there’s something about music that tethers me to the rest of the world.”- Shay-

“I just tell the rose how much I’m going to miss you. How much I already do. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. There’s never an I miss you not. And there aren’t enough petals on the flower. There aren’t enough petals in the world.” -Autumn

Final Thoughts:

This young adult contemporary novel captures the view of loss from the perspective of three different teens. Each must learn to deal with the grief associated with losing someone close to them. They must learn to overcome the guilt, learn to move on with their lives, and face each day head-on. Autumn, Logan, and Shay are three teens who are connected by the music they enjoy and by the grief they have experience. The book starts off with the perspective of each teen following each crippling loss that has consumed their lives.

This entire novel I was captivated by the emotional connection I felt with each character. The author did a great job showcasing the different stages of grief and the challenges faced with trying to move on. Autumn lost her best friend, the only girl that understood her, and now she is clinging to the only person that understands her grief. Logan lost a former lover; he finds solace in alcohol rather than something healthier like music. Shay has lost her twin sister, her partner in crime, her best friend, and now she must move on with a project they started together. Autumn, Logan, and Shay learn to cope with their losses in unique ways. This young adult novel both provides examples of the different stages of grief but also examines the connections of sorrow. Each of these teens is connected to each other by the loss they share and the hope of escaping through music. Logan used to write the most beautiful songs but can’t pick up a pen. Autumn will only listen to specific music but refuses to draw. Shay, can’t seem to get through one music show without wanting to escape. The emotions showcased in this novel feel real, and the connections between each character are meaningful. These teens face some tough decisions they can only overcome with the help and support of family and friends. A loss is unpredictable but having a good support system can help in the healing process. This message is evident throughout this entire novel.

Overall, I thought this was a relatable original novel that had me engulfed in the story-line from the beginning. The author writes each chapter from the perspective of these three teens. I was on the verge of tears after reading about Shay’s sister, Logan’s lost lover, and Autumns best friend. I would have loved to learn more about the death of Autumn’s best friend and the same for the other members lost. I would have liked to see more development of the supporting characters such as Shay’s friends as well as Logan’s friends. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in a compelling young adult novel about loss and connection.



Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

img_2886Title:The Poet X 
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: Print 357
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Epic Reads.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.


Favorite Quotes:

“Their gazes are words are heavy with all the things they want you to be.”

“It is ungrateful to feel like a burden. It is ungrateful to resent my own birth.”

“….she should be remembered as always working to become the warrior she wanted to be.”

“If I were nothing but dust would anyone chase the wind trying to piece me back together?”

Final Thoughts: 

The Poet X is a compelling young adult novel written about the challenges faced by a young Xiomara. In a world that never hears her, she must find her voice and speak up. Xiomara and her twin brother are seen as their parent’s gift from God. Her parent’s struggled to have children, and the twins were their miracle. The two have to live up to the high expectations of their mother and the lack of awareness from their father.

Growing up in a Catholic household, Xiomara is taught not only the ways of her Catholic mother. She is continuously scolded when she breaks any rules. She learns to explore her feelings for the opposite sex while trying not to get caught. She experiences her first love, shares her first kiss, and hides a secret about her brother. Mami continues to put immense pressure on Xiomara, expecting her uphold to a high set of standards or be punished. X continues to be exploited solely for her looks instead of for her intelligence or words. Her only place of solace in the poetry club at her school. Her English teacher encourages her to apply for the poetry slam in the upcoming months. Xiomara expresses her feelings through her poetry until one day she goes mute after a terrible thing between her and her mother. Can she ever forgive her mother? Will her mother ever accept her? How long can she keep Twin’s secret?

Overall, I thought this was a great novel, and I enjoyed the relationship between Xiomara and her English teacher. I like the concept that teachers have a significant influence on students. It is always great to read about teachers encouraging their students. I think the author did a great job with the writing of this book and I enjoyed the poetry format. I felt more connected with each character as the emotions were eloquently displayed. I recommend this book to young adults between the ages of thirteen and up. I had a teen ask about poetry books recently, and I suggested this book.



Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

ARC: Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks

CoverTitle: Payback on Poplar Lane 
Author: Twitter, Margaret Mincks Blog
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 315
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★.5


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers as a part of Viking Publishing #partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from the publisher, some quotes may have been changed prior to publishing. 


Margaret Mincks_copyright Kelli Ward 2009Author Bio:

Margaret Mincks grew up the second oldest of eight kids. When she wasn’t swimming, acting, making up slightly disturbing songs, or filming B-movie parodies with siblings and friends, she was writing and illustrating stories. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she moved to Chicago to perform improvisational comedy with the iO Theater. She later worked at Spider, a literary magazine for six- to nine-year-olds, as an editor. Margaret has also written for children’s nonfiction series like Ripley’s Believe It or Not. She now lives in Florida with her husband, young daughter, and her Staffordshire bull terrier named Reesie.


Book Description:

“ABC’s Shark Tank meets The Terrible Two when a pair of sixth grade entrepreneurs compete to become top mogul on their block.

Twelve-year-old Peter Gronkowski prides himself on being a professional businessman. Tired of the clichéd lemonade stands that line his block, he decides to start a better business with the help of an intern. But his intern of choice, the quiet and writerly Rachel Chambers, turns out to be more than he bargained for. Rachel is innovative, resourceful, driven–and when she’s had enough of Peter’s overbearing management style, she decides to start a competing empire next door. As their rivalry and sabotage tactics become more outrageous–Slander! Espionage! Lemonade threats!–Peter and Rachel ultimately learn the hard way that “nothing gold can stay” and that friendship is more important than money.

Alternating perspectives reveal what really motivates each character to win. And Peter’s memos and “business tips” as well as excerpts from Rachel’s melodramatic novel-in-progress generate fresh hilarity and tension at every page turn. Payback on Poplar Lane is a pitch-perfect comedy with heart, reminiscent of your favorite classic middle-grade series.”


Favorite Quotes:

“Business tip: you can be nice or you can be honest. Choose wisely.”

-One of Peter’s many business tips. I loved this tip. It is hard to emphasize in students on how to be honest without being rude.-

“Business tip: A strong person can admit weakness.”

– I encourage people to share this with others. Peter fails in this novel but he learns from his mistakes each time. He learns to adapt to each situation and grow.-


Final Thoughts:

Overall, I thought this book was adorable. I have heard about this book before its release. The idea of a young boy trying to support his family is a greats storyline. I enjoyed reading how Peter learned to build his own business and how he learned what is important in life, relationships. Peter provides these business tips throughout the novel to the readers. The author used this to connect with the reader, and I felt like Peter was giving me business tips this entire book. The character development and the back story created for Peter and Rachel provided an excellent basis for understanding their actions. I felt that Clover and Peter’s supplemental friends could have been developed more, but that did not take away from the overall message. I liked how Rachel struggle with finding her voice throughout the novel and also loved how the author developed Rachel to be an author in this book. Rachel’s form of escaping is by writing about a character that best describes her situation. Inserted in between a few chapters is excerpts from Rachel’s book about Cyrano. It was fascinating to see Rachel develop throughout the entire novel. I also felt the argument between Rachel and Clover was lackluster and could have been improved more. The author did a great job of showcasing the fact that people fail but you have to learn from your mistakes. Peter and Rachel both fail a lot in this novel, but each time they pick themselves up and try again. This is a great message to emphasize with any age group. The strategically placed business tips also added to the overall delivery of the clear message.  Also, kuddos to the author for making Rachel’s dad a librarian. That was a fantastic idea of enforcing the idea they could go to the library to get information.
I am a Youth Librarian and this book definitely made me want to share it with the young patrons that come into my library. The grade range for this novel is 6th and up, but you could give this book to an advanced 4th and 5th grade. I recommend adding this book to your collection. The message is clear, you should always discuss your issues, friendships are meaningful, and family is there to support you.



Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com

ARC Review: Lou Lou and Pea and The Bicentennial Bonanza

img_2084Title: Lou Lou and Pea and the Bicentennial Bonanza
Author: Jill Diamond ; Pictures by Lesley Vamos
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 251
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. 


This Middle-Grade contemporary novel provides a realistic view of two friends, Lou Lou and Pea. This book is the second book written by this author about these two friends who seem to have an eye for solving mysteries. Lou Lou and Pea are incredibly excited about their neighborhood hosting the two hundred year anniversary of the town. The Flyers have both their names showcased. Lou Lou is a horticulturist and will be showcasing her prized honeysuckles at the event. Pea is a designer and will be showcasing her hats from the hat shop where she is an apprentice. Unfortunately, Mayor Montoya’s dog becomes ill a few weeks before the ceremony, leaving the vice mayor in charge. Andy Argyle will stop at nothing to get to the Bicentennial Bonanza moved to Verde Valley from El Corazon. Andy and his daughter Amanda create a scheme together to get the event relocated. How far will these two go to get what they want? Will Lou Lou and Pea save the day with the help of a few friends?


Favorite Quotes:

” If conclusions were a pool, Lou Lou would be constantly wet.”

I laughed so hard after reading this because it is just too clever. This is an iconic moment in the story where the plot starts to unravel.

“‘Being kind is always in style,’ Pea replied with one of her fashion quotes. ‘Who said that?’ Lou Lou asked. ‘Peacock Pearl, of course.’ Pea winked one bright blue eye.”

This is an absolutely amazing lesson to teach young readers. Kindness is important regardless of the way others may treat you.


Final Thoughts:

I adored this novel and thought the author did a great job capturing the essence of Lou Lou and Pea. I also loved the author used a Spanish influence throughout the entire novel, providing text in a bilingual manner was very creative. I was able to learn a few words throughout the story. I enjoyed the instructions on how to make a hat and the Spanish-English dictionary at the end of the story. I loved the connection between friendship throughout this novel and the emphasis on kindness. The author spent time providing details of the characters that fueled my imagination throughout the entire book. I loved the portrayal of Lou Lou’s parents and their uniqueness. I thought it was a bit strange that her parents went with a nautical theme for their home, but it does happen. I would have liked a bit more explanation of Pea’s parents instead of the full focus on her grandmother. This novel is well written, and I recommend it to any in middle school who is interested in a little bit of mystery, friendship, and excitement.


Interested in me reviewing your book or have suggested reads? Email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com