Book Review: Every Other Weekend

Every Other Weekend – Abigail Johnson – Inkyard Press – Published 7 January 2020

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Synopsis

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

My thoughts

It is no secret that Abigail Johnson is one of my all-time favourite authors. And she did not disappoint with her newest release, Every Other Weekend. So many teens are impacted by their parents’ divorces, so I know this will be a relatable novel for many young people. Johnson captures all the devastation, hope, guilt and grief involved in family breakdown. All too real emotions, push and pull romance, heartbreaking family circumstances and authentic voices, this book will be another YA contemporary favourite.

Adam and Jolene. Two teens forced to spend every other weekend at a rundown apartment block due to their parents’ separations. But their family situations couldn’t be more different. Adam knows it won’t be long until his family is back together, if only Adam’s father would realise he should be there for his mother as they all grieve the death of Adam’s eldest brother. Jolene knows her parents are never getting back together and quite frankly she’s okay with that. She hates the melodrama her mother puts on every time she leaves for a weekend stay at her father’s empty apartment – empty except for her father’s way-too-young girlfriend. Adam and Jolene forge a strong friendship over the weekends they share. But will that friendship last if their family circumstances change?

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Book Review: A Little Ray of Sunshine

A Little Ray of Sunshine – Kimberly Rae Jordan – The Callaghans & McFaddens #7 – Three Strand Press – Published 28 July 2018

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Synopsis

Ryan McFadden warns his BlackThorpe Security team that he senses something wrong with the plan that has been put in place for one of their missions. By the time they realize he’s right, the worst has happened. Trapped in darkness, he has lost track of his teammates as well as the days. Alone, Ryan is left to wonder when—or if—he will ever see his family again. Then he wakes one day to hear a woman’s voice singing a familiar hymn, but is she a friend or foe?

Hannah Walsh had joined a medical mission, CanadAids, to work with refugees in the Middle East. She’d become a nurse in order to help. To have a way to connect with people. Though she’d been aware of the danger, she’d felt it was worth it to serve and to be needed. Wanted. But then came the day when she and two other members of the mission were kidnapped. A year later, Hannah struggles to keep her faith while feeling abandoned by everyone else.

In the darkness, Ryan and Hannah begin a tentative friendship—neither one hundred percent certain that the other can be trusted. But as the days pass and they find things in common, their friendship grows. But as long as they are trapped in a dark room, unable to even see each other, their future seems bleak.

And even if they are rescued, can what began in the darkness, flourish in the light?

My thoughts

A Little Ray of Sunshine is another fantastic offering from Kimberly Rae Jordan. I love returning to the Callaghan and McFadden family, and Kimberly’s books are now automatic preorders for me.

A Little Ray of Sunshine is Ryan McFadden’s story. Readers who have been following the series, will know that Ryan was captured in the last book in the series, and this book picks up where that leaves off – with Ryan still being held by his kidnappers. After months of abuse and wondering if he will ever return home, Ryan is surprised to find he is moved into a cell with fellow captive, Hannah Wells. As weeks of darkness and fear bear down on them both, they find comfort in each other’s presence. When a chance to return home finally seems a possibility, Ryan and Hannah may have the opportunity to discover if their connection will expand pass their imprisonment.

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Book Review: The Leading Edge of Now

The Leading of Edge of Now – Marci Lyn Curtis – Kids Can Press – Published 4 September 2018

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Synopsis

Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he’d spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn’t mean returning to New Harbor.

Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she’s lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.

People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn’t sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find — and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?

My thoughts

The Leading Edge of Now is a novel that is powerful and touching and yet is easy-going and charming. It is a story of friendship and bravery, of finding a place to call home, of challenging everything you thought you knew to be true, and it is a story of one incredibly strong and admirable young lady.

Grace’s life has been thrown into chaos – but she’s been living that reality for two years. Since her father died, Grace has been living in foster care, waiting for her uncle to finally claim her and bring her home to the town of New Harbor. But returning to the house that has so many fond memories of summers spent with her dad also brings back memories of the night that changed everything for Grace. Forced to confront the people and memories of that night, Grace starts to uncover the details of what happened -but the truth is something she never expected.

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Book Review: The Calculus of Change

The Calculus of Change – Jessie Hilb – Clarion Books – Published 27 February 2018

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Synopsis

Aden isn’t looking for love in her senior year. She’s much more focused on things like getting a solo gig at Ike’s and keeping her brother from illegal herbal recreation. But when Tate walks into Calculus class wearing a yarmulke and a grin, Aden’s heart is gone in an instant.

The two are swept up in a tantalizingly warm friendship, complete with long drives with epic soundtracks and deep talks about life, love, and spirituality. With Tate, Aden feels closer to her mom—and her mom’s faith—than she has since her mother died years ago. Everyone else—even Aden’s brother and her best friend—can see their connection, but does Tate?

Navigating uncertain romance and the crises of those she loves, Aden must decide how she chooses to see herself and how to honor her mom’s memory.

My thoughts

I expected Calculus of Change to be light-hearted contemporary, where math meets romance and trivial high school problems create light drama and much fun. Instead, Calculus of Change is a deep novel and touches on numerous heavy issues, from sexual assault to body image, relationship problems and self perception. It is thought provoking and written in an original style.

When Aden falls she falls. Head over heels, totally discombobulated falls in love. That’s what happened when Tate walked into their calculus classroom wearing a yarmulke and a smile that seemed only for her. But Tate has a girlfriend, and as Aden and Tate become friends and spend increasing amounts of time together, Aden finds it harder to hide her true feelings. But her unrequited love isn’t the only thing not going to plan, like her father’s endless grief and anger, her brother’s impending destruction, and her best friend’s own dangerous relationships. As Aden struggles to reconcile her feelings with her perceived self worth, she must decide how she will view herself, her family, her friendships, and her memory of her mother.

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Book Review: Run Away With Me

Run Away With Me – Mila Gray – Simon Pulse – Published 28 November 2017

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Synopsis

Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but just as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them. Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.

Seven years on and Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping her family run their outdoor adventure company. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembered and on the cusp of a bright sporting future—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate summer romance that neither of them wants to end.

But if they’re to have any kind of future, they’re first going to need to confront the past, a past that most people want to stay buried.

My thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Alderson’s Hunting Lila series, but this is the first time I have read any of her Mila Gray books. She brings to this story the same level of detail and complicated human relationships. There is no shortage of tension, both romantic and dramatic, as the characters fight for each other and themselves.

Emerson’s whole life shattered when she was a teenager. In one day she lost her sense of trust and safety, the support of her community, and her best friend, Jake. Now, seven years later, she is still living in her small island hometown, running her parent’s adventure store and trying to outpace her memories. Until Jake, now a hulking ice hockey star, walks back into her life. He wants to be friends, wants to erase the past, but Em knows having Jake in her life again just might shatter her world all over again.

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Book Review: Good and Gone

Good and Gone – Megan Frazer Blakemore – HarperTeen – Published 14 November 2017

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Synopsis

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to. 

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together.

My thoughts

Wow. What a tangle of emotions. In the best way. There is an unguarded truth to this story, an earnest rawness that is at times hilarious and heartbreaking. It touches on so many important points – unhealthy abusive relationships, mental health and depression, and when it is time to let go and when it is important to hang on with all your might.

When Lexi’s brother Charlie suggests a road trip to locate missing pop star, Adrian Wildes, Lexi is shocked. Charlie hasn’t moved from the couch since he broke up with his girlfriend and dropped out of college. So despite Lexi’s scepticism, despite the hurt she has been feeling, she agrees. Along for the ride (and actually providing the means of transport for this road trip) is their neighbour, Zack. As Lexi, Charlie, and Zack hunt for the elusive pop star, they begin to work through the emotions, hurt, and actions of the past year.

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Book Review: The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed – Simon Pulse – Published 10 October 2017

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Synopsis

Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

My thoughts

The Nowhere Girls is an important book. A voice for girls, a book for change. It doesn’t pull it’s punches. This book is brutal, and sometimes horribly honest and upfront. At first I was slightly unsure about this book, it’s message, and where it was going, but by the end I was uplifted and reduced to tears. The Nowhere Girls is a book that provokes discussion that is vital for changing mindsets and empowering young women.

Three girls spark revolution at their high school when they create The Nowhere Girls – a group that protests their school’s misogynist culture in defence of one of their previous classmates who was brutally raped.

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Book Review: Vigilante

Vigilante

Vigilante – Kady Cross – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 March 2017

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Synopsis

It’s senior year, and Hadley and her best friend, Magda, should be starting the year together. Instead, Magda is dead and Hadley is alone. Raped at a party the year before and humiliated, Magda was driven to take her own life and Hadley is forced to see her friend’s attackers in the classroom every day. Devastated, enraged and needing an outlet for her grief, Hadley decides to get a little justice of her own. 

Donning a pink ski mask and fueled by anger, Hadley goes after each of the guys one by one, planning to strip them of their dignity and social status the way they did to Magda. As the legend of the pink-masked Vigilante begins to take on a life of its own, Hadley’s revenge takes a turn for the dangerous. Could her need for vengeance lead her down a path she can’t turn back from?

My thoughts

I have always loved Kady Cross’ series The Steampunk Chronicles, so I was very excited to read Vigilante – a change in genre but a book that sounded incredibly intense and with an interesting way to approach the subjects of sexual assault and a community’s response to rape.

Hadley’s best friend Magda was raped by four classmates. A few months later, Magda is dead, having taken her own life. Hadley is left with a drowning sense of grief and guilt. She has to see the four boys in her classroom everyday as the four of them were never charged. When a sudden opportunity arises, Hadley decides to create some of her own justice and plans to go after each of the boys who hurt her friend. But when a video of her going after the first guy in a pink ski mask goes viral, the Pink Vigilante is born and Hadley’s journey for revenge gets much bigger than she ever imagined.

Let me just say, some of the people of Hadley’s town and school totally deserved everything Hadley dished out to them, and more. Corrupt systems biased by influence and money are no doubt, sadly, very realistic in many cases. But I liked how so many people started to rally behind the Pink Vigilante. But that begs the question, did some people do that because they wanted to stop violence towards women or because it involved violence? This book will spark many important discussions, things that need to be talked about and not shuffled to the dark, hidden corners of our world.

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Book Review: The Red Door Inn

Red Door Inn

The Red Door Inn – Liz Johnson – Prince Edward Island Dreams #1 – Revell – Published 1 March 2016

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Synopsis

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

My thoughts

It took me two tries to read this book. I’m not sure what happened the first time as on my second go I was sucked into the story and more than happy to stay there. Great scenery is perhaps an understatement, as The Red Door Inn is set on Price Edward Island (yes, home of L.M. Montgomery and our favourite red-haired orphan). And there is a romance to match the charm of the rolling seas and windy coastline. But what is most alluring about this story is the characters.

Marie is on the run from a past she doesn’t even like to think about. She’s not sure where she is going, she just knows she can’t look back. But with less than a handful of change to her name she knows she might need to take up the offer a kind stranger on the Prince Edward Island ferry proffers – come and stay at his B&B and help him finish its design in time for its opening in a few weeks’ time. But she doesn’t count on the kind man’s nephew – tall, burly and kind of unfriendly Seth – also staying and working at the Inn, nor how interacting with the two men along with the other residents of the small coastline town would challenge her to step outside the shadow of her past and maybe even learn to trust again.

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Book Review: Exit, Pursued By A Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued By A Bear – E.K Johnston – Dutton Books for Young Readers – Published 15 March 2016

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Synopsis

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

My thoughts

A beautiful, poignant and powerful story about a girl’s journey through the aftermath of sexual assault, and the way in which a community gathers around her with support and love. I have called other heroines strong, but none of them compare to Hermione. She is one amazing young lady. I love how she thinks, how she is logical and brave. She knows she needs the support of everyone around her and she isn’t afraid to lean upon them.

Exit, Pursued By A Bear starts by setting the scene after Hermione’s attack and then moves back to the time at Cheerleading Camp before it. It is both scary and dramatic watching the lead up, knowing something of what is about to unfold, trying to watch for clues and ultimately hurting for this vibrant young girl.       Continue reading