Sheets by Brenna Thummler

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Genre: Paranormal/ Fantasy Graphic Novel

Shelf Location: Middle Grade

Rating: ★★★★

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

 


Final Thoughts

This graphic novel told from the perspective of the main character, Marjorie, a young girl who is carrying the weight on her shoulders. Marjorie is running her family business while her father still grieves for the loss of his wife. Marjorie continues to try to navigate the woes of a small business, school, her younger brother, and her father. Simultaneously, a ghost named Wendell is trying to navigate his life as a ghost. Wendell’s life unexpectantly collides with Marjorie’s as he stumbles into the land of the living. In particular, he stumbles into Glatt’s Laundry and creates chaos when trying to do the right thing. Marjorie is trying to keep her family’s laundry business afloat as a real estate mogul, Mr. Saubertuck, tries to sabotage her business. When she thinks things can’t get any worse, she meets Wendell, a ghost, who’s making her life more challenging than it needs to be. As the two try to navigate their current predicaments, they must both work together to save the Glatt’s Laundry and get Wendell home. Will Wendell ever truly come to terms with the way he died? Will Marjorie let her mother’s death hold her back? Marjorie and Wendell must both face their pasts before they can truly move forward. Will the two work together to deal with their pasts, or will they let it consume them?

This graphic novel is easy to read and age-appropriate. I would recommend this graphic novel to students in upper elementary and middle grades. The author does a great job highlighting the challenges of overcoming a loss from different perspectives. The book showcases how adults and children deal with grief differently. It also showcases the challenges of overcoming your fears that have derived from a loss. The younger audiences may enjoy the character, Wendell, as he takes a lighter approach to deal with his loss. I mostly give this book four stars because I felt the story was a bit lackluster and could have been developed more to highlight more characteristics associated with grief. The author had a great opportunity to tell this story in a way that is both relatable and imaginative but I felt it fell a little short. Overall, this book was both heartbreaking and humorous.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely


You can purchase copies of this book from: Amazon | IndieBound

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.

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.

Black Enough Edited by Ibi Zoboi

IMG_0341Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction- Short Stories Collection
Pages: Print 416
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Edited by: Ibi Zoboi
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a printed copy that I purchased from Brazos Bookstore in Houston. I also listened to an eAudiobook using Scribd.  This review does not reflect the views of the publisher, bookstore, or app. 


Harper Collins Synopsis

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.


Final Thoughts

I initially decided to pick up this book after seeing a copy of it displayed on social media. I did my research on the author and the intended goal of the book. According to the School Library Journal, this book is geared for grades 9 and up. I thought this would give me more insight into what it is like to be black in America from a variety of perspectives of POC authors. I am a black female who grew up along the poverty line in a low-income city. Colorism is predominant in the black community based on skin tone, and I am considered fair skin compared to my family. I was interested to read this anthology of stories and found a few that reminded me of my teenage self.  There were a few that just did not work for me but served its’ purpose of relating to the target audience. The stories that did not work for me felt rushed without a clear objective.

This book contains short stories written by famous POC authors, and it does its’ job of shedding some light on the challenges faced by black teens in America. It showcases the challenges put on teens by their parents to succeed, the difficulties of fitting in, the problems of essentially being black enough, and the family dynamics. I faced some of these similar challenges as a teen, and this book is much needed. It provides stories that are relatable to black and African American teens. It also provides insight on the amount of diversity in the black community and the different upbringings. Each author provided insight on a variety of topics such as LGBTQIA, racial divide, educated black young men and women, grief, family, relationships, and friendship. This book provides an intriguing approach to breaking apart the stigmas that I was taught as a child and made me feel a bit empowered after reading it. I have not read a lot of books written by POC authors, but it inspired me to read more.

Below I provided a list of my top 5 selections from this book that you must read. Here are the ones I enjoyed:

Warning: Color May Fade by  Leah Henderson– It shows that black Americans in a different perspective and showcases the power of expression through art. It also showcases the challenges of the pressure of parents and finding who you are.

The Trouble with Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton – It showcases the challenges of dealing with loss and moving forward. A compelling short story about how one family overcomes a huge loss and how one sister comes to terms with it.

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi- The daughter of a man who is starting a black movement faces the challenge of realizing that she doesn’t hate white people like her father and his followers. She wants to fit in and find her path while coming to terms with who she is. This particular short story ended on an embraceful note.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jaye Coles–  This is an LGBTQUIA story about two young males, one white and one black, living on two different farms. Their families despise each other, and both are feeling pressure from their parents. The good things are that they have each other.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert- A black family moves away from their hometown and are invited back for a birthday celebration for their grandmother. Tensions are high due to Joni’s families wealth and place of residence. Joni just wants to be accepted by her family and not be ridiculed for her choice of schooling or upbringing. This is a great short story to share insight on the challenges of colorism and judgment in black families.

I highly recommend you picking up this book and giving it to a black, African American, or diverse teen. It is intended for grades 9 and up but can be given to middle schoolers. You should definitely add this one to your list of must-have reads!


To purchase your copy of this novel, visit the website at http://ibizoboi.net for access to purchasing links


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.

Bus 59 and a Half by Mel Ingrid

fMK4uviYToO8k+ioThLdEgGenre: Young Adult Psychological Thriller
Pages: Print 153
Release Date: June 7,  2018
Author: Mel Ingrid
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I purchased a copy of this book on my own from Amazon.com. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or the author. 


Synopsis:

In a tranquil town where no one pays attention, June of 2016 means three things to three people–the start of summer vacation, the conclusion of a divorce, and a plethora of cardboard boxes. But when a sculpture exhibit near the local high school opens, June 2016 isn’t just about three things. There’s a flyer inside the exhibit–a job opening hiding underneath an innocent façade, waiting to lure victims into an anomalous trap.

A few traffic jams and a pine thicket away from the suburbs is the worn down warehouse of two sculptors. They’re slaving over a collection with a deadline that puts their lifelines at risk, but that’s the least either of them is worried about. Art is a form of life that exceeds the limitations of reality, and it can be dangerous.

So what is one to do when the muses want their encore?


Author Bio:

Mel Ingrid is the teen author of a YA psychological thriller entitled BUS 59 AND A HALF and a short story, WHEN WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO, featured in the 2017 All In! Snack Fiction Anthology. She’s also a hardcore Sherlockian and a lover of movie posters, among several other things.

She was born in Long Island, New York, raised by loving Taiwanese parents and delicious food. When she was in the first grade, she and her family moved halfway across the world to Singapore, where she resided before her early adolescent years.

In her spare time, she enjoys playing her violin, playing online Scrabble, and doodling weird drawings. She also wants to mother a dog someday.

Her real name is Melissa Lee, and she uses Mel Ingrid as her pen name solely because she does not want to be confused with the CNN reporter.

She now writes and procrastinates in New Jersey.

*Taken from Goodreads author profile. Click this link to go to page.*


Final Thoughts:

Bus 59 and Half was a book that I stumbled on through another indie author on instagram. I was interested in reading more independent author novels and I found a few. This young adult psychological thriller takes you on a journey through the intertwining of a variety of characters. We watch each character play it’s own part in the story and mingle with other characters. The plot was definitely a twist no one will see coming but it was an interesting surprise. This novel is short but thrilling, so be prepared to finish it in one sitting.

The author did a great job starting the story off by introducing one of the characters Alexi. The author provided back story on Alexi and actually introduced members of her family. From there the story takes you on a journey that connects Alexi to another character and so on. Alexi is only the beginning of the start of the flowchart of character connections. We learn that she is offered a job as a model for a sculptor. We then are taken on a journey through the perspective of each person that will come in contact with the sculptor and the sculptor himself. We learn more about him and his past which becomes important as the story moves forward. However, I started to get lost closer to the end of the story. I could understand the structure behind the main plot but I was starting to get confused as people disappeared then reappeared in the story later. I was confused as to where they went and how they got there. I enjoyed the different dialogue perspectives portrayed and the chapter style of leading up to the main event in the story. It help understand how each supporting character intertwined with the main male character. I especially enjoyed the psychological aspect of the story but wanted to know more about the big ending and why the main character did what he did in the ending scene. The book was a bit short and I personally wanted more of an explanation of some of the events. However, the author did a great job of keeping me on my toes and guessing what the next action in the story was. I enjoyed the dialogue between the different characters but also hoped for a bit more romance and action. This book had a lot of potential and moments that made me gasp because of the absurdity. (I mean this in a grip your chair kind of moment.) The author nailed the suspense aspect of the book which made it more appealing to actually finish it. Mel did a great job on this book and I am excited to see more novels written by her in the future. See the link above to check out her book and learn more about her.


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

A Cactus in the Valley by Olivia Bennett

img_2026Title: A Cactus in the Valley 
Author: Olivia J. Bennett 
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 387
Rating: ★★★★★

Author Q& A Below: Check out her inspiration for this novel!


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was given a copy of this book from the author Olivia Bennett, in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author.


This contemporary novel follows the journey of the two main characters, Terra and Wyatt. This book is written well and focuses on the lives of both the main characters. Each is struggling with their demons and are forced to face them head on or not survive. The book This novel begins from the perspective of Terra waking up from a terrible plane crash. She comes to her senses realizing that something terrible has happened. We then are shifted to the point of view of Wyatt and his view of waking from the plane crash. In the beginning, both experience grief, strength, awareness, and physical pain all before we get to the first 50 pages. The author spent time explaining each character’s past, using foreshadowing as a method to do so. The reader gains an understanding of the moments leading up to the day of the crash and the moments both characters face to survive. They are both stranded in a desolate area hoping to survive long enough to make it to their families. Terra and Wyatt must decide what they are living for, they must not lose hope, and they must rely heavily on each other. We watch as these two spring into action, noting their survival instincts, rooting for them to survive, mourning their losses, and crying for their pain. A Cactus in the Valley is an incredibly captivating novel, and I recommend this to anyone. The author did a fantastic job capturing the attention of the reader throughout the entire story.


Favorite Quotes

“Take chances, Terra. Make mistakes, because nothing is so terribly messed up that it can’t be fixed.” -Abigail, Terra’s Grandmother

” But eventually, I would get doused with cold water, putting out the flames of rejection and betrayal, downing out the perpetual grief, and overflowing the void left by my parting grandmother. But, I guess that’s a story for another day.” – Terra

In these quotes, I feel Terra’s pain for the loss of the only person in her life that cared for her. There are many quotes like this throughout the novel showcasing the challenges Terra faced in her life before the crash.

” Before long, I was sobbing at the kindness of the truth before me. And that night, I, Wyatt Hartman, came to know the truth.” -Wyatt after a night of partying


Final Thoughts

Overall, this is novel one of my favorite novels. I loved the writing style throughout the entire book and enjoyed the style diary chapters. I was captivated by the dates in each section and the point of view from both of the main characters. These two found each other in a time of grief and let their faith continue to inspire them to have hope. There is a hint of religious influence in this novel, but it is not overbearing. I could tell that the author has a bit of power on this part. The secret that Terra shared at the beginning of the novel was jarring, but it emphasized the hardships she faced and her inner battle. Wyatt is sometimes demanding and other moments loving. These two find solace in each other’s presence and there is a short period in the novel where a natural force separates them. During these moments, each character fights to face the past that continues to hold them captive.  The moments leading up to the crash explained in detail from the perspective of both characters, and we finally get the full details of the accident closer to the ending of the novel. I say that was strategically placed at the end because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. These two characters are developed so well that you have no choice but to get tangled up in this story.


Question and Answer with the AUTHOR:

1.What was your inspiration for the novel?

I don’t think I had a direct inspiration for A Cactus In the Valley, but I was inspired by other survival stories, both real and fictional. I saw that there was potential for a good story in the heightened emotions and desperation that came with the territory. But overall, I wanted to create an allegory of my own experience becoming a young adult, finding oneself, and overcoming the past.

2.Is there any other novels in the works?

There is! I’m actually in the process of editing the companion novella to A Cactus In the Valley. It centers around Harper, Lilly, and Nick as they grapple with the loss of Terra and Wyatt. It kind of tells the story of what goes on behind the scenes. I’m planning on publishing it this summer!
3. I saw a bit of a religious aspect in this novel, is this stemmed from you have a religious background? 

I am a Christian, but I also know that life isn’t all sunshine and roses, so why should I write that way? This novel does stem from my religious background of being nondenominational/charismatic Christian.

Because of my circumstances, I find myself around people (and Christians) who don’t conform to the squeaky-clean Christian stereotype. I ultimately saw a need for gritty, real fiction for broken teens. I hope to bridge the gap and create a new genre of fiction that’s too secular to be Christian but too Christian to be secular.
Special thanks to the author for agreeing to answer my questions and for sending me a copy of this book!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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This image was taken from the following site: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25546710-the-hundred-lies-of-lizzie-lovett?ac=1&from_search=true

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti is a Young Adult romance/ mystery novel. The book released at the beginning of this year. This book follows the journey of Hawthorn Creely as she searches for the missing Lizzie Lovett and in the process she finds herself. Hawthorn is an eccentric character who faces the typical woes of a high school student who stands out. She tends to create elaborate stories and theories regarding people. Hawthorn once thought a teacher was a terrorist and turned him when she saw a student getting out of his car. Instead of calling the police, she called the girls mother and turned out the student, and the teacher had an inappropriate relationship. Her best friend Emily seems to go along with her schemes the entire story until she starts fixating on Lizzie Lovett. Hawthorn wants to be Lizzie that she takes her job at the diner, begins searching for her with Lizzie’s ex-boyfriend Lorenzo, and even dates Lorenzo. The entire novel you wonder if Lizzie is even alive or if she was attacked in the woods and died. The search seems to stop; people move on until something happens. All the while, Hawthorn continues to remain fixated on the life of Lizzie Lovett. As you read, you watch Hawthorn’s life unravel, and she discovers who she is and where she fits in.

I thought this story was a bit weird. There were a few times I felt uncomfortable and wanted to stop reading. I get that way with books that involve high school bullying and missing people. The whole story was a mystery that was unraveling from the beginning. I liked that it had a bit of romance and I loved that Hawthorn was an outcast trying to find her way in. She worked so hard to ignore everyone when she just wanted to fit in and be invited to things. The author did a great job telling this story. I felt real emotions while reading this book. I felt sad for Hawthorn and her lack of popularity but also proud of her for being honest with everyone. Ironically, she was never truly honest with herself, and she was entirely selfish. Hawthorn put Lizzie Lovett on a pedestal the entire story, and in the end, it was her brother who made her realize that not everything is at it seems on the outside.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. There were a few areas that could be improved. I wanted to know what happened to Lorenzo after he discovered the news of what happened to Lizzie. I also wanted to know more about why Hawthorn’s arch nemesis existed. These are all personal preferences. This book was definitely out of my realm of books that I read. I try to steer clear of mystery’s, but I found this one to be fascinating.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

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This image was taken from the following site: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23617206-phantom-limbs?ac=1&from_search=true

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner is a Young Adult Fiction novel that focuses on how one tragedy can affect each person differently. Did he still love she held a connection to something he loses or did he love her for her? This is the question Otis must answer himself.

We follow the story, Otis, and Meg. Meg moved away when she was thirteen after the death of Otis’s little brother. Meg returned to town three and a half years later. She is not the same girl she was three years earlier, and Otis isn’t the same boy. During their separation, Meg never contacted Otis. Otis never gave up hope and knew that once Meg returned, then they could be together. Otis decided to take up swimming during Meg’s absence, and this is where Dara comes into play. Dara is a spunky, dramatic, charismatic amputee who is not only Otis’s best friend but his swim coach. Since her accident years earlier, Dara has never been the same and wants Otis to fulfill her dream of going to the Olympics. When Meg arrives, there is tension in the group between Meg and Dara. In the end, secrets are shared, the truth surfaces as to why Meg left, and decisions are made. Otis has to choose between his best friend or his first love. I left out a few details that can only be found in the book.

Overall, this book was a quality read. It is a romance novel that discusses grief and relationships. It is hard to lose someone and even harder to carry the burden of their loss on your shoulders. It is not okay to hold on to the living for fear of losing a connection with the dead. Otis has to decide when he is officially ready to move on from his little brother’s death. In the process, he gains a better understanding of the heartache his mom faces daily and the pain of losing more than a sibling. I think if my first love moved away and did not talk to me for three years, I would not have pined her. I am glad he met Dara. I am pleased that he could be there for Dara and Dara could be there for him. This story helps you realize the importance of friendship. I would recommend this book to a teen interested in romance and moving on.

I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5. I felt as though it should have been a bit longer and the ending could have been better. It was terrible how Otis’s little brother died, but I expected something different. I also like plot twist and did feel like there was a plot twist in this book. There were a few instances where there should have been a twist, but then there wasn’t.