THE FIX by Natasha Sinel

The Fix

The Fix by Natasha Sinel

September 1, 2015 from Sky Pony Press

Purchase a copy here


At the same time devastating and hopeful, THE FIX tells the story of sometimes bad-girl Macy Lyons and her journey of self-discovery and awakening, friendship and honesty.

Macy meets the mysterious Sebastian at a party, and the next day he disappears. When Macy finds out Sebastian has been checked into the Behavioral Health center at the local hospital, she decides to visit – and neither teen’s life will ever be the same. An undeniable connection forms between them, one that neither teen can ignore despite the whirlwind of change happening to each of them. They help each other face their fears, their faults, and the deep truths that no one ever wants to share, and in the end, they find a fix – together.

With authentic writing and a solid plot, THE FIX is a strong debut novel from a great new voice in YA. The characters are complex and likable, and their stories will keep you turning the pages and wanting to know more. Keep a box of tissues handy, as this is definitely a tearjerker – in the worst and best kinds of ways.

The verdict: A strong contemporary debut about truth, love, and finding your own fixes when life gets rough.

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A Superb Thriller: HOLDING SMOKE by Elle Cosimano

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Elle Cosimano once again blows it out of the water with her latest paranormal mystery, HOLDING SMOKE. John “Smoke” Conlan was accused of two murders – one of which he didn’t commit. Still a criminal doing time at a juvenile detention center known as the “Y”, Smoke is trying to recover from being murdered by his father.

That’s right, John Smoke Conlan was murdered. Six minutes later, he came back to life. Ever since then, Smoke has been able to travel outside his body, and he uses this new ability to gather information on his prison-mates to trade for favors. This leads Smoke to meet “Pink”, a tough girl working night shift at a bar, the only person who can see his ghostly form. When new evidence comes to light that might help clear Smoke’s name, he enlists Pink’s help, and they become entwined in a web of secrets and danger.

A masterfully crafted thriller that will keep you guessing until literally the very last page, Smoke’s story is thrilling, raw, and gritty. The paranormal twist gives HOLDING SMOKE a unique edge all its own, and Cosimano’s superb writing will keep readers turning the pages long into the night. The author really knows her topic, due to her own background and a ton of research and reading. The work she put into the story really shows in the details, the accuracy, and the depth of the characters. This is a fantastic book that readers will simply not be able to put down! 


GIVEAWAY TIME! You can enter to win a pre-ordered hardcover of HOLDING SMOKE and a swag bag from Elle Cosimano.

Visit the Rafflecopter HERE to enter! 


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Elle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. As a teen, she spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. Her debut novel, NEARLY GONE, was an Edgar Award finalist, winner of the International Thriller Writers’ Best Young Adult Novel Award, and winner of the inaugural Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Elle lives with her husband and two sons in Mexico, somewhere between the jungle and the sea.


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THE CAGE by Megan Shepherd

THE CAGE is the first in a compelling new science fiction series from popular YA author, Megan Shepherd. ALIENATED (Melissa Landers) meets NIL (Lynne Matson) in this sci-fi romance survival adventure.

The Cage (The Cage, #1)

Cora wakes up in the desert, completely lost and with no personal belongings, and totally alone. She wanders the dunes, trying to find help or a landmark. What she finds are snow-covered hills, a manicured farm, and a miniature town with other teens already there. Cora and the other teens are members of a cohort kidnapped from Earth in order to populate a zoo-like habitat. They were kidnapped by an alien race, known as the Kindred. While Cora tries to find any way out of the habitat, her cage, the others learn to settle in and enjoy their captivity. Meanwhile, romance blooms between members of the cohort, and Cora finds herself undeniably drawn to their alien captor.

What I loved: Shepherd really blows it out of the water with the world-building. While we start out discovering the “cage”, the habitat that Cora and her cohort are confined within, due to Cora’s curiosity and tenacity we quickly discover more about the alien planet they are on. Discovering these secrets, things about the very world that they exist on, is breathtaking. I can’t say anymore, because I don’t want to spoil anything for potential readers, but I’ll leave it at this: You won’t guess where they are, or why. Trust me.

What I wanted more of: I wanted just a little more tension. I felt like there wasn’t a point at which the characters’ lives were really in danger. With the Caretaker watching their every move and the habitat specifically designed to keep them alive, I felt like the cohort really could have used some actual danger. However, I expect the danger and heart-pounding action will be very intense in the second book!

The verdict: With exquisitely crafted world-building, a tantalizing romance, and thrilling character dynamics, THE CAGE is a page-turning intro to a series that YA readers will fall in love with.

Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

5 to 1

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Expected publication May 12, 2015


SUMMARY: In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.


REVIEW: In a groundbreaking debut told in alternating points of view, one in poetry and one in prose, Holly Bodger explores a future in which gender selection in India has led to there being 5 boys for every girl.

The prose is captivating in its authenticity, portraying Kiran’s point of view very well. The poetry is appropriately jarring and nuanced, showing many aspects of Sudasa’s culture and lifestyle. Sudasa is about to come of age, meaning that she, along with many other girls just like her, will watch 8 boys compete for her hand in marriage. Kiran is one of those boys, but he has a plan to escape the tests, escape his inevitable military assignment, and escape the oppression of his country.

Sudasa struggles against her grandmother’s strong and repressive influence, while Kiran battles pressures from the other boys in his testing group. Over days of testing and judging, Sudasa comes to realize that Kiran may have another agenda besides winning her in marriage.

Meanwhile, Kiran comes to see that Sudasa is not just a power-hungry woman looking for a male companion to obey her every wish. What these 2 discover puts them on the cusp of changing their worlds forever.

In a not-so-distant future we see the possibilities of giving too much power to one gender or the other, and the negative impact that inequality can have on our young people and an entire country.


Review originally published in School Library Journal, February 2015. 

2015 Reading Challenge Update – Part 3

I’ve read 106 books so far this year! I am halfway to meeting my goal of 200 books. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve read, and in what format:

Picture books: 25

Manga: 16

Graphic Novels: 5

Novels: 50

Novellas/Short Stories: 2

Non-fiction: 5

Other: 1 (poetry collection)

E-books: 15

Audiobooks: 5 

ARCs: 15

Library books: 72

Books I purchased: 2

If you want to stay up to date with what I’m reading, add me on Goodreads! You can also see my 2015 Reading Challenge Books here

Favorites:

              Seraphina by Rachel Hartman      When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling  If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant by Ellen Fischer  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby  The Queen's Shadow by Cybèle Young  Mosquitoland by David  Arnold

Release Day Review: INVINCIBLE by Amy Reed

Invincible

Invincible by Amy Reed

Published by Katherine Tegan Books – April 28, 2015


In Amy Reed’s latest heart-wrenching contemporary novel, we meet Evie, who dreams of the cheerleading moves she used to do, dates the school’s hottest jock, and is loved by her family. Now Evie is Cancer Girl, and her best friends Stella and Caleb are also fighting cancer. The contrast between Evie and Stella is spectacular, and reader’s will love being in on their powerful friendship. But then Stella gets sicker, and Evie, miraculously and mere weeks from potential death, gets better.

While her family and friends are overjoyed that Evie mysteriously recovers from cancer, she is still coping with loss and the dramatic changes that she has undergone during her time in the hospital. Evie isn’t the same girl she was a year ago. That girl doesn’t exist anymore, except in other people’s memories. And the people around her are taking it just as hard as she is.

That’s when Evie discovers that recovery can be the hardest part of an illness.

“Every since I got sick, all I’ve done is think about how everyone else is feeling.”

Having to face her family’s expectations and those of her classmates and teachers quickly becomes too much for Evie. How can they expect her to just become exactly who she was before the cancer? With everyone expecting the impossible, Evie finds it harder and harder to keep up with everyday life.

She meets a new friend, Marcus, and they start dating, which becomes the highlight of Evie’s days. Evie’s highs become very high, while her lows are depressingly low.

“I’m not the girl they remember. I’m not anyone they know.”

What I loved: This is not THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. There is no bright side to things, despite Evie’s fantastic recovery. Evie finds it impossible to cope with her new life – the life that she never expected to have. The expectations of everyone around her – that life should just go right back to “normal” and Evie should go back to being the good little cheerleader she always was – are enough to send her off the deep edge and into some serious trouble. This is not a feel-good chick lit contemporary romance. This is a serious, intense, painful story about the power of addiction and the changes that severe illness can have on an entire family.

What I wanted more of: Evie’s parents seemed surprisingly neglectful. I understand that they are representative of some parents, especially those who aren’t used to their good girl going bad, but they really dropped the ball. Things escalate quickly with Evie once she starts getting into trouble, and I just expected her parents to enforce some consequences and punishments sooner.

“Is this what nice is? Letting people think things that aren’t true just to avoid hurting their feelings? Being nice is dishonest.”

For fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson, INVINCIBLE is a powerful story about a girl who makes the wrong choices and suffers for her mistakes.

Release Day Review: NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Published April 28, 2015 by Balzer & Bray


Kristin Lattimer, in her senior year in high school, is the star of her track team, soon-to-be Homecoming Queen, and loved by her friends and football-playing boyfriend. When Homecoming night doesn’t go quite as planned, Kristin makes an appointment with an ob-gyn, and discovers something about herself that she never could have expected: Kristin is intersex.

While she has developed as a girl, Kristin has male chromosomes, a wealth of testosterone in her body, and embarrassing “boy parts.” Shocked and disgusted by the diagnosis, Kristin works up the courage to tell her best friends about it – only to have the entire school, including her boyfriend, find out the very next day.

Kristin must cope with bullying and harassment at school, her own confusion about being intersex, handle a possible surgery and new medication, and try to find a support system for herself, in debut author I.W. Gregorio’s powerhouse of a contemporary novel, NONE OF THE ABOVE.

I was really impressed by the wealth of medical information that was portrayed in a casual and easy-to-understand way. Gregorio shows off her skill as a physician throughout the novel, and it’s apparent that she is very good at explaining things in a way that everyone can understand. I came away from the novel knowing so much more about the intersex experience, both from a psychological and anatomical standpoint, and I trust that knowledge gained because of Gregorio’s medical and research background.

I also loved the blossoming romance between Kristin and Darren. As soon as they start spending more time together it becomes apparent that they have feelings for each other. They develop a nice friendship, and while sparks fly, they don’t ignite in the way that you’d expect. The relationship did progress in a predictable way, but it felt very natural and wholesome. Darren is a well-rounded character that readers will come to love, and he adds a lot of unexpected depth to the story.

Initially I was hoping for some additional resources at the end of the novel, and there they were! Suggested resources, additional reading, websites and support groups – it’s all there. The author shows the reader where she went to do research, and where the reader can go to find out more.

NONE OF THE ABOVE is a fantastic contemporary debut novel by a strong writer and expert in the medical field. Gregorio is a force to be reckoned with – her seemingly effortless prose will capture readers’ attention and keep them enthralled all the way to the last page.