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From the WreckageFrom Goodreads: “In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed.” “Minutes – that’s all it takes to change your entire life. How do you deal with that?” For high school senior Jules Blacklin surviving the storm is only the beginning. Faced with the new reality of her life, she must find a way to rise From The Wreckage and answer the question – how do you get back to normal, when everything that was normal is gone?

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In the wake of the recent tornadoes touching down across the Midwest, perhaps the most prominent being those in Arkansas and Oklahoma, Miller creates a touching, poignant story that truly captures the fear, panic, loss, and ultimate renewal that comes from the destruction of Mother Nature’s ferocity. Told through the memories of survivor Jules Blacklin as she relates her story for a video memorial, readers are brought into her personal world and experience events through her eyes as an unexpected tornado rips through the Friday night hang out attended by many of the counties teens.

Imagine turning around and seeing a tornado coming for you. Miller captures the fear and horror surrounding these events as her main characters experience their lives being ripped apart, both literally and figuratively. Recounting her experiences, and with a new outlook on life, Jules takes readers through her healing process, her revelations of love and loss drawing the reader even deeper into the story. The tenses in the story are a bit jarring every now and then, jumping between past and present, first and third person as the story develops, but I feel like this fits the upheaval of the storyline itself, and as Jules is recounting past events in a present memorial to the dead, it works.

“From the Wreckage” is both a literal and figurative phrase that perfectly fits as the title of this novel. From the wreckage comes loss. From the wreckage comes survivors. From the wreckage comes unity. And from the wreckage comes rebirth, love, fear, and strength, and it’s a beautiful story that I highly recommend. Four stars.

4 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Circa NowFrom Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Circa Monroe has a knack for restoring old photographs. It’s a skill she learned from her dad, who loves old pictures and putting fun digital twists on them. His altered “Shopt” photos look so real that they could fool nearly anybody, and Circa treasures the fun stories he makes up to explain each creation.

One day, her father receives a strange phone call requesting an urgent delivery, and he heads out into a storm. The unimaginable happens: a tornado, then a terrible accident. Just as Circa and her mom begin to pick up the pieces, a mysterious boy shows up on their doorstep, a boy called Miles who remembers nothing about his past. The only thing he has with him is the photograph that Circa’s dad intended to deliver on the day he died.

As Circa tries to help Miles recover his identity, she begins to notice something strange about the photos she and her father retouched-the digital flourishes added to the old photos seem to exist in real life. The mysteries of the Shopt photos and Miles’s past are intertwined, and in order to solve both, Circa will have to figure out what’s real and what’s an illusion.

With stunning prose, captivating photographs, and a hint of magic, Circa Now is a gripping story full of hope and heart.

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This is an intriguing story that I think both middle grade and young adults will enjoy. It’s real enough in itself, but has an air of paranormalcy that young readers will especially enjoy. Very well written, it is a story of love, loss, and healing through memories and pictures, and I especially enjoyed the Shopt aspect of the novel, as the photos and stories the author created adding another tangible, humorous layer to this story of heartache.

Circa Monroe is struggling to put the pieces back together after her father, her hero, is killed in a tragic accident. Attempting a life of normalcy is hard enough without the constant reminder of her father staring back at her from his office, and not blaming others is an uphill battle for Circa. But as Miles comes on the scene, this novel takes on aspects of magical realism, and as Circa and Miles attempt to figure out what is real and what is a figment of their imagination, readers finds themselves intricately woven into the story, rooting for Circa and Miles as one Shopt photo after another begins to point to a different outcome. One where life and death aren’t set in stone.

While I tend to like novels with a little older heroines as the lease, Circa’s innocence makes her the perfect lead for this novel, and if you’re looking for something completely different, Circa Now is definitely the book for you.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases today.

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