Wednesday, May 11, 2022

HazardHazard by Frances O'Roark Dowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Y'all, Hazard was such a powerful and emotional read. The book is about a kid named Hazard. Hazard has been kicked off his football team for aggression and mandated to attend therapy. He's resistant to this, but then he starts to explore his emotions through assignments from his therapists. Told through emails, text messages and reflective exercises, Hazard starts to share more and more about his family and himself. Hazard's father was injured by an IED while deployed overseas and has lost a leg, and it turns out this has had quite an impact on Hazard. The storytelling devices in this one were so masterful to show how this life-changing experience influenced Hazard's behavior and emotions. This was such an honest look into one kid trying to navigating his family's circumstances and better understand himself. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this recent release!

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Rivals (American Royals, #3)Rivals by Katharine McGee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my biggest regrets is that I read this as an advanced copy. I was so excited to read this that I devoured it as soon as I received my copy. The problem is I now have so much I want to discuss, but since I got the sneak peek before my friends and book club, I have to keep my thoughts to myself. So, here's the thing, I loved the first book in this series. It was such a unique premise, and it was so interesting to think about America as a monarchy and to learn about this alternate reality through the stories of the women in the book. The third book wasn't so much a love for me, and much of that has to do with why I fell in love with this series. The very title Rivals accentuates the stuff I don't like as much. I don't like the fighting and the gossip and the deceit that is a component part of some character's stories, and I didn't like that it took center stage here. The story picks up where the last left off as Beatrice is learning what it means to be queen, Sam is in her new relationship with Marshall, and the Nina/Daphne/Jefferson love triangle continues, but also has some new dimensions. What I ultimately wanted and didn't get was way more Beatrice. To me, her story is the most powerful and one I love the most. I wanted to see her centered so much more. Again, given the title that just wasn't what this was, but a girl could dream. I should also note this ends on a cliffhanger, so there's likely going to be a fourth read. Even though this one wasn't my jam, I'll be back for that one as I'm too invested to quit now. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this upcoming release!

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Would You RatherWould You Rather by Allison Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you just need a good romantic story in your life, and that was so much this. The premise was interesting in that it was two lifelong best friends (and I'm always in for a good friends turned lovers tale) with the added dimension of quasi insurance fraud? Wait, wait, let me explain. Mia gets an opportunity to return to school and pursue her dream career. The only problem is she needs health insurance. Her best friend and co-worker Noah offers to marry her so she can have insurance and work towards her dream. She agrees, and the sham begins. As you can imagine, just being married on paper isn't what happens, and feelings that have been there for some time start to bubble to the surface. Obviously, in a romance you have a hunch how thing might go, and even with that, this was a delight of a read. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this August 2022 release!

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Family of LiarsFamily of Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be honest that I only kind of remember what happens We Were Liars (mostly I remember the big twist), so while this is a prequel, I didn't really make the connects with WWL. That said, this was also a book that stood on its own. Even without that context, this one was a ride! The premise of this focuses on Caroline, Johnny's mom, telling the ghost of her son stories from her childhood that no one knows. The book's focus is flashbacks to the childhood/teenhood of Caroline and her sisters. As you can imagine, they navigate some tough stuff, and as the story goes, the thrills build and there are some big twists. This is one that kept me reading. I knew something was going to go down with the sisters, and I had to know what it was! Similar to the first book, this one makes you think you know the twist and then it's got an even bigger twist that gets you! Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this May 2022 and solid page-turning read!

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I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop WorkingI Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working by Shauna Niequist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again, this was a book of reflections that came into my life at the exact right time. Present Over Perfect is one of my all-time favorites, so I was very excited to be back with this author's work. For me, this is definitely a season where things are new and different. There's the experience of the last two years that we've all gone through, and then, for me, it's about becoming a mom. I just love the author reflects on faith and family and finding the opportunities to reflect and ways to grow. I also appreciate that she isn't afraid to write honestly about pain and when she doesn't get it quite right. I find these are the moments I resonate with her books the most. I have lots of passages from this one marked, and I'm glad I decided to buy this one as I anticipate this is one I'm going to want to reread every so often.

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Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life InterruptedBetween Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely beautiful, emotional read. I've had this one on my list for awhile, but I finally picked it up after seeing the author and her boyfriend Jon Batiste on CBS Sunday Morning. The way she spoke was so powerful, and I wanted to know more. This memoir focuses on the author being diagnosed with cancer in her early twenties. Just as her life is beginning, things take a drastic turns. She's had to make decisions she never thought she would about her body, her relationships and just life itself. Through it all, she writes and processes and provides a window into what this experience is really like for better or worse. While heavy, this is such a captivating and beautiful look into one's woman trek through a really hard chapter of her life.

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The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was just a delight of a read! The fact that it involved a rescue dog (as the mom of a rescue pup) meant that it was always going to have my heart. This was just a story that oozed so much heart and good feels. The story focuses on Lucy, a math genius, headed to public school for the first time after being homeschooled. Lucy's grandma wants her to survive one year of school and to even make some friends along the way. With a premise like that, you have to root for Lucy! The humans she does connect with are also just such a treat. This one had SUCH heart, and it just got me all up in my feels. There's some sad stuff, too, so know that going in, but the way it's told is just so beautiful and wonderful and clearly this is one I can't stop gushing about!

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Answers in the PagesAnswers in the Pages by David Levithan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Talk about a timely read! This is an exploration of a book banning from a number of perspectives. First, there is the story of Donovan who is experiencing the banning as a student. Then, there is the story being told in the book. Finally, there is the author's story. This story is especially strong in the parts about Donovan as he tries to understand why this book is being judged and grapples with his own feelings about why this is problematic. I think this is such an important topic for kids to see and explore through books talking to them, and this is so very much that. The multiple storylines were sometimes a bit hard for me to follow and connect with, however reading the author's note at the end, I appreciated why he chose to tell this story in this way! Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this May 2022 read!

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Never Coming HomeNever Coming Home by Kate Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Y'all, what a ride. The best way to explain this one is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, but about influencers. With that, this closed circle mystery also holds its own. This story focuses on ten teenage influencers who are invited to Unknown Island. Always looking for a way to grow their reach, they all accept even though few details are provided about the experience that awaits them. Very quickly, they find that this island is not paradise at all. That is abundantly clear when a secret they each have is also revealed, and these are some heavy secrets! And then, the murders start. This one moves quick, and the way it ends was so good as the thrills and questions keep coming until the very last sentence. I needed a really good pageturning thriller in my life, and this so hit that spot! Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this summer must read!

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The Rumor GameThe Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Any book about rumors in high school serves as a reminder of how glad I am to no longer be in high school. They also serve as a reminder of how glad I am that my high school experience did not include the social media dimension. This is the story of a rumor that grows and grows and grows. Georgie returns to school having undergone a significant physical transformation, and with that, a rumor about who she is involved with and how spirals. With these growing rumors, others are pulled in and feel a certain kind of way about the allegations. This is very much about the web of rumors and how they are weaponized for hurt, as well as how quickly they can get out of control. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this recent release.

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