Book Review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin by J. Matthew Saunders

Book Review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin by J. Matthew SaundersYasamin by J. Matthew Saunders
Series: Daughters of Shadow and Blood #1
Published by Saint George's Press on May 3, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 335
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realizes she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths on the day before her wedding. An unearthly menace lurks in the palace corridors, and the one person able to protect Yasamin is a soldier named Iskander, who seems to appear whenever she needs him. Charming and confident, he is nothing like her new husband, but trusting either of them could be a deadly mistake.

Berlin, Germany, 1999: Adam Mire, an American professor of history, discovers a worn, marked-up copy of Dracula. The clues within its pages send him on a journey across the stark landscape of Eastern Europe, searching for a medallion that once belonged to Dracula himself. But a killer hounds Adam’s footsteps, and each new clue he uncovers brings him closer to a beguiling, raven-haired woman named Yasamin Ashrafi, who might be the first of Dracula’s legendary Brides.

Adam has an agenda of his own, however, a quest more personal than anyone knows. One misstep, and his haunted past could lead to death from a blade in his back … or from Yasamin’s fatal embrace.

Book Review:

YASAMIN is the first book in a new series, Daughters of Shadow and Blood, about the three women in Dracula’s castle. Are they the brides of Dracula, as many have guessed? Is Yasamin one of them?

I was intrigued by the book’s summary, because: 1) I’m a vampire fan, 2) I enjoy books about Dracula’s brides, and 3) I liked the mix of the past and modern day.

Unfortunately, the book just wasn’t for me. I spent a fair amount of the book confused, as there’s a lot of jumping around in time. Not just between 1999 and 1599, but between weeks and months in 1999. There’s approximately 300 pages and 77 chapters. The chapters are short and choppy; rather than jumping in time and into different characters, I would have liked some more time with Adam and Yasamin.

I don’t read a lot of thrillers, so I’m not sure if this book can be classified as one, but that’s the impression I got. But I never got any sense of urgency or felt that Adam’s life was truly in danger, even when he was captured by this group or that.

The idea behind the book is interesting, but the way it’s written didn’t work for me. I’m also a character driven reader, so I like characters I can really care about or get invested in their stories. The characters in this book felt like chess pieces to me, moved here and there to keep the plot going.

Let’s talk about it:

Dracula’s brides — yay or nay? Would you be interested in reading about them?

Socialize with the author:

J. Matthew Saunders:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore

Book Review: Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. SalvatoreVengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore
Series: Companions Codex, Forgotten Realms, Legend of Drizzt
Published by Wizards of the Coast on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
R.A. Salvatore’s New York Times best-selling tale of the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden continues immediately on the heels of Rise of the King, with an expanding war and greater danger to the finally-reunited Companions of the Hall.

Bloody war rages across the Forgotten Realms world in the third book of the Companions Codex, the latest series in R.A. Salvatore’s New York Times best-selling saga of dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden.

In the evolving world of the Forgotten Realms setting, the Sundering has given way to months of cloud-cloaked darkness, and war rages under that oppressive sky. The orcs have broken a hard-fought treaty that's held, however tentatively, for a hundred years, and the time to settle old scores has devolved into an all-out brawl for control of the ancient realms of the North.

Book Review:

If you pick up VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF, you know what you’re about to read. This is the third book in the Companions Codex and the 27th book in the Legend of Drizzt. Definitely a series for long-time fans. It’s classic R.A. Salvatore, with Drizzt and company fighting lots of battles against the orcs who have declared war on dwarves and humans.

I’m not 100% positive, but I don’t think VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF is the last book in the Companions Codex. When I started, I thought the codex would be a trilogy, but with the amount of unresolved storylines at the end, I’m thinking this will be a quartet. As a result, VENGEANCE OF THE IRON DWARF ends up feeling like its predecessor, RISE OF THE KING: almost all filler with little substance. Honestly, 3 stars is a bit generous for this book, but I had a good idea of what I was getting into.

When I read book one of the Companions Codex, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, I had high hopes for this new series. I’m a reader who adores the drow, and finally here they were, getting some time in the spotlight. Doing drow things, being sneaky and manipulative and political. Unfortunately, over the course of the books, the drow are starting to act like idiots while Drizzt and the Companions are becoming god-like. After the Sundering, I expected more of a change, not for Drizzt and the others to do the same things they’ve always done.

As I said, with these books, you know what you’re going to get. A book with lots of battles, Drizzt slashing with scimitars, Catti-brie throwing fireballs, Bruenor inspiring the dwarves, the orcs being nasty, etc. But then, that’s probably exactly what you want if you’ve stuck with Salvatore and Drizzt this long.

Socialize with the author:

R.A. Salvatore:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

Book Review: Atlanta Burns by Chuck WendigAtlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig
Series: Atlanta Burns #1 & #2
Published by Skyscape on January 27, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 381
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
You don’t mess with Atlanta Burns.

Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it—until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead—by an apparent suicide—Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault.

You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.

Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.

Will Atlanta triumph? Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?

Book Review:

“Not unless you feel like getting into a gunfight with a teenage girl. Hard to avoid the police attention that would cause, I figure. Maybe next time? I’ll bring my shotgun. It’s got a taste for the blood of monstrous men (p. 101-102).”

Atlanta Burns is a girl after my own heart. When her mother’s boyfriend abused her, she shot his nuts off. When she returns home after a stint in the looney bin for that, she somehow becomes the hero of the bullied. Probably because she’s the only one willing to do anything about it, the only one who will take the fight to the bullies. Atlanta’s kinda like that voice inside your head, the one that asks what could happen if you fought back, if you went for violence.

But in typical Atlanta fashion, everything she does lands her in deeper shit. Use bear mace on a group of bullies? Say hello to a dead cat thrown through a window. And that’s the least of it. But I really admired how Atlanta just kept going, kept trying, because she didn’t want the bullies to win.

ATLANTA BURNS is a YA book, but it doesn’t read like one. The author doesn’t rely on the usual YA cliches (love at first sight, love triangles, etc) to get his story across. I am super happy about that, because I’m always on the lookout for something new, something that isn’t full of cliches and tropes and thinking about kissing. There’s some very serious stuff in the book, from sexual abuse to gay bullying to dog fighting. The dog fighting was a bit difficult for me to read, because the author goes into some detail, but watching Atlanta get her revenge … it was worth it.

ATLANTA BURNS is sort of two stories in one. Part one, where Atlanta deals with racists and homophobes, was originally published as a novella. Parts two through five, where Atlanta deals again with those bullies and also a dog fighting ring, was a self-published novel. When I read the book, I didn’t realize that the stories were originally separate but connected. I only found out because after I finished, I wanted to see what Chuck Wendig had to say about his book. Even better, I found out there’s another book in the works, which is great, because I definitely want to read more about Atlanta and her friends.

Lastly, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. It’s almost like reading an action movie, one set in atmospheric Pennsyltucky, while peering into the head of angry, scared, and tough as shotgun shells Atlanta.

Socialize with the author:

Chuck Wendig:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Book Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura BickleDark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on March 24, 2105
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 316
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town's dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

dark alchemy blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for DARK ALCHEMY by Laura Bickle. I’ve been looking forward to this book since last November, so I was excited to get on the tour for it. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

I’m a big Laura Bickle fan, and when I saw she had a new book coming out, I couldn’t wait to read it. DARK ALCHEMY is a fun to read but creepy adventure in a modern day Wild West setting, complete with what I consider the author’s trademarks: a strong woman in the lead and a memorable animal companion.

In DARK ALCHEMY, geologist Petra takes refuge in tiny Temperance, trying to heal from a tragedy in her past. She’s also trying to find her father, who disappeared years ago. But on her first night, a coyote digs up a mysterious golden compass. Then Petra discovers a calcified body in Yellowstone, and things get even weirder.

DARK ALCHEMY is one of those books that’s hard to explain. I never knew what was going to happen next, or how the book would end, and that’s something I enjoy. In particular, I liked how the author went at exploring alchemy in a dark way — yup, this book is well-named. I’m also guessing that the author drew on the Hanged Man tarot card for inspiration, which I found refreshing — something new and spooky rather than a tired supernatural creature.

I liked how Petra was such a strong character. Most of Temperance is ruled by a corrupt landowner, but Petra doesn’t let that stop her from seeking justice where it’s needed. She’s helped by Sig the coyote, who is a cross between a spirit guide and a guard coyote. I adored Sig; Laura Bickle always writes great animal characters. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at the thought of a coyote in a flea collar? And who wouldn’t love that same coyote when he attacks the bad guys?

DARK ALCHEMY is a standalone (I think), but it does have a bit of an open ending. I’d like a sequel, because I enjoyed my time in Temperance, and I’d like to see more of Petra’s story.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:
laura bickleLaura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams).

Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda SalisburyThe Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Published by Scholastic on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told...

Book Review:

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER is a book I was super excited to read. That cover? Yum. That summary? Double yum.

However, the book falls into the category of “amazing idea with subpar execution.” I wavered between 2 and 3 stars for THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER, and ultimately went with 3 because the author did interest me enough in Twylla’s story and world for me to read the next book in the series when it’s available.

Twylla was once the apprentice of her mother, the Sin Eater of Lormere. She was destined to spend her days eating the sins of the dead at their funerals, a destiny she didn’t want. But all that changed one day when the queen came for her, to announce that Twylla was actually Daunen Embodied, the reborn daughter of the Gods. As Daunen, Twylla’s very skin is poisonous. She kills anyone she touches, save the royal family.

All of that? Good stuff, especially when the book started with Twylla reminiscing on having to kill her only friend at the castle.

But then the queen banishes Twylla to her room, for her “protection,” when one of her guards falls ill. The real reason for this comes out later, but for a lot of the book, I was locked in the same room with Twylla, and as a consequence, was as bored as she was. I wanted more character development for Twylla, who didn’t read as 17 to me. She felt a lot younger as a character, like in the 13-14 range. Thanks to Twylla’s time in her room, the book also gets off to a slow start, and I had to push myself to keep going.

I think my biggest issue with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER is just that I wanted more of everything. I wanted more character development for everyone, including Twylla, her betrothed the prince, her guard, and the queen. The queen was a fun one for me, because she’s cruel and a bit crazy. I wanted more worldbuilding, other than a history lesson on the countries surrounding Lormere. I wanted to see how the common people felt about Twylla’s role as Danuen. I wanted to see what Twylla felt about all the events at the end of the book, rather than jumping forward to an epilogue.

Socialize with the author:

Melinda Salisbury:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings

Book Review: The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay CummingsThe Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Balance Keepers #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Book Review:

THE FIRES OF CALDERON is the first book in the Balance Keepers series. Middle grade fantasy, the publisher has compared the series to Percy Jackson, but it’s not a comparison I’d agree with. Albert and his friends are nowhere near as interesting or developed as Percy and crew.

It took me a couple of tries to start THE FIRES OF CALDERON, since the first chapter did not grab my attention. I wish I had followed my gut and put the book down, because while I did push through and finish, it wasn’t super original, memorable, or even enjoyable. I didn’t really care for the author’s writing style. Something about it felt oddly formal to me — not the kind of writing that pulls me into a book.

Admittedly, I’m way above the intended age group, but THE FIRES OF CALDERON didn’t have what I like to read in middle grade books. There’s not a lot of great worldbuilding, quirky characters, or immersive storytelling. I can’t count how many times I thought Albert and friends were really Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The plot itself? I can’t remember much of it, other than scoffing at Albert’s suddenly discovered power.

Socialize with the author:

Lindsay Cummings:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys DaytonSeeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

Book Review:

I knew by chapter 7 that SEEKER wasn’t the book for me, because the author did something that’s a big peeve of mine. Rather than showing a very important scene, the author jumped to the aftermath and tried to keep what happened in that scene a secret. Keeping secrets from the reader seemed to be a big theme in SEEKER, which left me very confused for the whole book. In fact, I don’t even know what a Seeker is.

After being disappointed early in the book, I put SEEKER down for about a week. I didn’t think about it once, which was a sign I should have put it on the DNF (did not finish) pile. But I did pick it back up and made myself finish for some unknown reason. Probably because I have a thing about finishing books, but this is one that wasn’t worth the trouble.

SEEKER tries to blend fantasy and science fiction together, but there’s a serious lack of worldbuilding. Remember, I finished the book and have no clue what a Seeker is or does. They’re part of something exceptional, but what that part is, the author didn’t tell me. That’s a big problem, especially since Quin and her fellow Seekers-in-training are lied to, and their purpose is corrupted.

SEEKER feels like a big jumble of scenes, the author telling the reader everything instead of showing. Almost every time something big happened — a fight, a betrayal, whatever — the author would jump forward in time rather than showing me how the characters processed that event. I didn’t feel connected to or care about any character, and since I had no idea what was happening with the story, 99% of the time I was thinking, “WTF?”

I don’t know. I pushed myself to finish this book, but I can’t remember very much of it, other than how confused and distanced I felt while reading SEEKER. If you’re thinking of reading SEEKER, try out the first few chapters and make a judgement for yourself after that.

Socialize with the author:

Arwen Elys Dayton:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Book Review: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha LaiListen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Published by HarperCollins on February 17, 2015
Genres: Diversity, Middle Grade
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
This remarkable novel from Thanhha Lại, New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning and Newbery Honor Book Inside Out & Back Again, follows a young girl as she learns the true meaning of family.

A California girl born and raised, Mai can't wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai's parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn't know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia and Linda Sue Park, Listen, Slowly is an irresistibly charming and emotionally poignant tale about a girl who discovers that home and culture, family and friends, can all mean different things.

Book Review:

The summer she turns twelve, Mia’s sent to the last place she wants to go. Instead of spending the summer on the beach with her best friend, she’s stuck in Vietnam with her grandmother. Bà’s on a quest to find news of her husband, Ông, who vanished during THE WAR more than thirty-five years ago. Mia wants nothing to do with hot and smelly Vietnam, a place where the only Internet she can find is dial up and she can’t speak the language. But Mia also wants her grandmother to have peace… as long as Bà hurries up.

I think Mia’s character is a great look at a first-generation kid. Her parents raised her to be American, but also with Vietnamese values. Yes, Mia’s selfish at times for her wish to go back home to her friends, but she also recognizes how important it is that Bà have closure. Over the course of LISTEN, SLOWLY, Mia respects her grandmother and her Vietnamese culture more and more. I really liked that theme of the book — I wish more kids and teens (and even adults!) these days respected their elders.

LISTEN, SLOWLY isn’t an action-packed book; it does unfold somewhat slowly. I do wonder if the recommended age, 8-12, would stick with it. But I don’t think it’s a book restricted to that age — teen and adult readers looking for diversity and a heartwarming story should pick this up. I liked Mia’s sometimes sarcastic observations about her culture, from the language to the food to how people are so polite all the time. I liked how she told her story, and hope it’s one lots of people read. Alongside Mia’s journey to learning about family, I teared up a bit for Bà and Ông.

Socialize with the author:

Thanhha Lai:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Book Review: Dead Heat by Patricia BriggsDead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega #4
Published by Ace on March 3, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

Book Review:

DEAD HEAT makes me want to howl at the moon.

It’s that good folks — good enough to send me into a frenzied weekend of rereading the entire Alpha & Omega series and then right back into DEAD HEAT again. Yup. I read this book twice in a week and loved it both times. I was like an obsessed werewolf on the hunt. I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough.

I’ve liked Anna and Charles since CRY WOLF in 2008. Alpha & Omega is one of my very favorite paranormal romance series because it has all the things! Anna and Charles are great characters; they defy genre stereotypes and have a relationship I love (and I’m really picky on romance). The paranormal aspects are there; I enjoy how the author writes werewolves and her fae are super creepy. The stories are always interesting, as are the side characters. Really. I could go on and on about this series.

I think DEAD HEAT might be the best installment yet. It’s the fourth book in the series, and while I think you should read all of them, I also think you could dive right into this book and not be lost. It’s been almost 3 years since I read the third book, FAIR GAME, and I was okay. Events are loosely connected, but as the series goes on, I feel like each book is more independent.

In DEAD HEAT, Anna and Charles go to Arizona to buy a horse for Anna’s birthday. They stay with the local alpha, Hosteen. Hosteen’s son, Joseph, is one of the very few people Charles cares about other than his family. But Joseph is dying, leaving Charles to wonder if it’s worth the pain of being close to someone who will die. It’s a difficult conundrum, considering Anna wants to have children. And then Hosteen’s great-grandchildren are attacked by a deadly fae, sending our main pair on a hunt with the FBI and Cantrip for a missing child.

It sounds like a lot, right? But it’s not. I adore Patricia Briggs’ writing. She’s got this way of sucking me into a book, making me care about every single character, and making me want to be there. When I was reading DEAD HEAT, I wanted to be a werewolf. I wanted to have Anna and Charles’ relationship (and I’m a single-for-life woman). I like how Anna and Charles support each other, but they also know how to let the other stand alone when necessary. Their relationship feels so real to me, and that’s not usually something I say. I felt Patricia Briggs’ love for everything she wrote about, from Arabian horses to Anna and Charles to Hosteen and Joseph.

I just couldn’t get enough of DEAD HEAT. So good. Arrooooo!

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Book Review: Paper Things by Jennifer Richard JacobsonPaper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Published by Candlewick Press on February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There’s just one problem—Gage doesn’t actually have a place to live.

When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing," staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.

Book Review:

I was drawn to PAPER THINGS because Ari and her brother Gage are homeless. I hadn’t yet seen this topic covered in a middle-grade book, and I was curious as to how the author would handle it. I admit, I don’t have any experience or real knowledge of homelessness, but I think the author did an incredible job of showing it in a way kid and adult readers can empathize with Ari.

Only eleven, Ari has already been through a lot. Her father died in Afghanistan; she never knew him. Her mother died a few years ago. Since then, she and her brother have stayed with her mother’s best friend, Janna. But Gage and Janna don’t get along, so when Gage decides to leave, Ari goes with him, because their mother wanted them to stay together.

But Gage didn’t tell Ari he didn’t really have an apartment for them. They spend the next several weeks staying with friends, in a shelter, even in a storage unit and a car. Ari’s smart, but being homeless starts to affect her studies, her friendships, and even her chances at getting into a middle school for gifted students. I liked that the author showed how things can snowball: Ari doesn’t have enough time at the library because she and Gage have to worry about where they’re spending the night. She leaves research books at one friend’s house, across town. Her teachers aren’t happy when she tries to do homework for one class in another. And so on. When Gage gets a reliable job, he still can’t get an apartment because of government red tape or needing a rental history. Etc.

I read PAPER THINGS in one sitting, and the book definitely got to me. I was rooting for Ari and Gage. I felt for Ari, who was torn between her brother and her love for him, and the security she had with Janna. I thought Ari was relatable, and while she was sometimes really mature for an eleven-year-old, she was smart and had also deal with a lot in life, so it wasn’t unrealistic. PAPER THINGS is written simply enough so that kids can understand it, but also with enough depth so that adults can enjoy it and get just as much out of it.

Socialize with the author:

Jennifer Richard Jacobson:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna