Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Vault of DreamersFrom Goodreads: From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.
 
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What’s worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

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The idea of a reality show that follows students around a boarding school is completely unique and piqued my interest from the get go. The fact that the students have to take sleeping pills and sleep for 12 hours also adds an ominous tone to the novel, and as it all unfolded, it became clear that the Forge School is much more than it appears to be.

Rosie Sinclair is an interesting young woman, and I loved getting to know her, as well as watching her relationship with Linus bloom. Unfortunately for Rosie, happily-ever-after doesn’t seem to be written in the stars, and as she continually refuses her sleeping pills and roams the silent halls at night, readers learn some rather disturbing things about her new school—things that would have the best of us running for the hills. That is… if any of it is real.

Presented with a mystery that keeps readers frantically turning the pages, this novel has many ups and downs, causing readers to question everything the know and have learned within the pages of the text. What is real? What is fiction? How sound of mind and body is Rosie, really? As the novel progresses, readers are given key insights into the mind of the characters, and it’s a heart-pounding ride. But reader beware, this is definitely not a happily-ever-after scenario, and yet, while I was crushed by the end, it is indeed a perfect conclusion for this story, setting it further apart from any other boarding school novel I’ve ever read. Four stars.

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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Dark MetropolisFrom Goodreads: Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don’t always seem to stay that way.

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If you enjoy magical-realism and/or the paranormal set within the realms of everyday life, then I highly suggest you pick up this novel. It reminded me just a touch of the movie Sin City based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, with the spells and abilities replacing superpowers and villains, though I wouldn’t say Dark Metropolis is nearly as gruesome or action packed. Secrets abound, magic flies, and as the novel unfolds, Dolamore does a great job foreshadowing what’s to come, nudging readers in the right direction as they attempt to figure out just what is at work in the depths of the city.

I enojyed the characterization and the surprise at the end, and am interested to see what happens next in this surreal world full of danger and magic.  Told from the perspective of multiple characters, a writing style that I just adore, I think many will enjoy this series. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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ComplicitFrom Goodreads: Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie. Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell. Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.

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The synopsis of Complicit drew me in from the get go, and I knew I had to read this novel. With a premise like this one, you just know it’s got to be good, and it was. Very good, especially with its ending that completely knocked me on my butt. I mean, WOW.

According to her confession and the evidence her brother Jamie found in the woods, Cate Henry set alight a horse barn with the horses still inside in hopes of drawing out their riders and doing as much damage to both them and the horses as possible. Sent to juvie for two years, the novel begins as Jamie learns that his sister, Cate, has been set free, sending him spiraling down as she taunts him with statements about their deceased mother and the fact that Cate’s now coming for Jamie.

Determined to find the truth at any cost, Jamie begins to stir up the past, including that surrounding his mother’s murder when he was a young child; an event that not only left him emotionally scarred, but also suffering from blackouts and seemingly sporadic loss of his hands mobility. Unable to remember the events of his past, or even his mother’s features, though certain that they hold the key to Cate’s odd, cultish behavior, Jamie sets off on a journey of self-discovery, and what he finds is beyond alarming. Told through both past and present revelations, readers begin to put together the puzzling pieces of Jamie and Cate’s existence, understanding that not everything is as it seems, and that the cost of protecting the fragile mind of the young can indeed turn deadly.

I highly enjoyed this novel, especially with this ending that left me mystified and chilled to my core. While I was able to pinpoint the truth behind Cate’s actions fairly early on, the events that readers are left with at the very end were still shocking and, in a way, more appalling than that of the horse barn burning in the first place. Jamie’s attempts to placate his sister while maintaining the semblance of his life, including his very first crush, sends readers on an intense psychological ride as Cate gets ever closed to Jamie, and as everything comes to a head, it’s beyond mind blowing. If you’re looking for something completely different, I suggest picking up Complicit—be prepared for a chilling conclusion. Four stars.

4 stars

I received an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Vivian Devine is DeadFrom Goodreads: When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine’s fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he’s a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won’t stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn’t she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer? Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can’t be trusted-what could he be hiding? Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she’s running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there’s no option to yell “cut” like there is on set…. Lauren Sabel’s Vivian Divine Is Dead is a creepy, witty, fast-paced adventure about family, fame, and having the courage to save yourself.

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I have to say that I enjoyed this story overall, but some of the events were a little far-fetched for me. Vivian Divine is an extremely well known celebrity, so when she’s forced to go on the run, she has to hide in plain sight, which is much easier said than done. Still reeling from her mother’s murder, her boyfriend’s betrayal, and a scary run in with a man in a black suit, her mind isn’t in the best of places, and her only option, so she believes, is to run. But, running off into the deep of Mexico alone to meet someone she has never met doesn’t seem like the best course of action…

Between a rock and a hard place, Vivian embarks on a journey filled with peril. I almost feel as though the events themselves would be more fluid on the big screen than on paper as the action seems to just jump for sequence to sequence, but it is engaging nevertheless. While some of the events and outcomes are indeed obvious, others were much more discreet, and the revelation of Vivian’s pursuers was rather shocking. Though I have a few questions about certain cover ups that take place within the novel, overall it was a fun read. I wish that Vivian had a better relationship with others and was able to confide in them more, especially since grown-ups really can help, but I also understand the feeling of being all alone and feeling like there is no one to turn to. Three stars.

3 stars

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

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Prisoner of Night and FogFrom Goodreads: In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

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This historical fiction novel is completely different from other’s I’ve read, mainly in that is focused on Hitler’s rise to power… but not as the Hitler we know, but rather as “Uncle Dolf.” We see his rise to power through the eyes of his “adoptive” niece, Gretchen, a young woman who hangs on the very words of Uncle Dolf, idolizing him; he can do no wrong—that is, until he does.

Gretchen has grown up without a father. Her deceased father is well respected in Hitler’s circle as the man who sacrificed himself to save Hitler, but as the story unfolds, Gretched learns that not everything she’s been told is indeed true, and the bullet hole in the back her father’s tunic, as well as some sleuthing and a friendship from an unlikely source, lead Gretchen to finally begin questioning everything she’s been led to believe.

With a sociopathic brother who’s hatred for the Jews minimally outshines his hatred for Gretchen, the world collapses on Gretchen when her brother viciously beats her and Uncle Dolf stands by and does nothing. No reprimand, instead telling Gretchen that it was her fault to evoke the anger of her older brother. Beginning to see the light behind Hitler’s ways, and befriending a Jew, the worst offence she could do during this perilous time in German history, Gretchen must decide what is truth, what is right, and ultimately, what she believes.

This was a very interesting story, though I will admit that the mystery of it all didn’t really do much for me as a reader. My extreme dislike of Hilter and his entire regime made me automatically trust those stating he was a liar, and I held no doubt in my mind that Gretchen’s father was murdered by his own people, with Hitler at the forefront. That being said, Hitler is shown in two different lights here—the doting guardian, and the awful racist coward that he truly is. Though Gretchen loving looked up to Uncle Dolf—as any child would who doesn’t know any better, I was thankful to see her begin to pull away from him, even the slightest, knowing it could result in her ostracizing and possible death.

She is a likable and strong character, but it takes her time to really come into herself and to figure everything out. I would have liked a little more fleshing out of her character, and that of Daniel, the young Jewish reporter she begins to fall for. I also would have liked a little more action—the story did seem to drag just a little bit, becoming convoluted with side plots and stifling the main ones, such as the mysterious circumstances of Gretchen’s father’s death. But overall, it is well written and worth the read. Three stars.

3 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Balzer and Bray have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel prior to its release today.

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The Forgotten OnesFrom Goodreads: Allison O’Malley’s plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she’s been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison’s mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn’t trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother’s sanity.

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If you love stories that involve mythology, then The Forgotten Ones is definitely for you. Howard brings to life the mythology of Ireland in this enticing story, with The Tuatha De Danaana taking forefront, a sect I knew nothing about going in, but learned so much about throughout the story.

The Tuatha De Danaana means “People of the goddess Danu” in English, and Howard’s story mixes these gods and goddesses in with the fae, creating an intricate story of otherworlds while focusing on Allison’s fight to save her mother.

Pregnant and suffering with schizophrenia upon her return from Ireland, Allison’s mother has never really been there for her save a few years when she was very little. Seeing the burden both she has her mother have placed on Allison’s grandparents, Allison has vowed to so everything in her power to take over the care of her mother, and that means forgoing her own wants and needs in the process. Selfless and driven by a sheer sense of protection, Allison will stop at nothing to protect her mother, and all those she loves, making for an intense novel as the Danaana and Fae make themselves know, and Allison is sucked into the world—a world that could easily kill her.

I really enjoyed the characterization of this novel. Allison is no wimp, and though hard pressed to believe the stories her long-lost father spins, seeing is believing, and she soon accepts the truth for what it is. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, first warding off the man I believe to have broken my mother’s soul, and then joining him on an adventure through perilous worlds, against tricky fae and gods and goddesses in hopes of saving my loved ones. Part of my thinks I would be up for the challenge, but the better half of my thinks I would run away and hide…

Howard is a great writer, and the story itself was interesting and action packed, and I really enjoyed it overall. With some awesome twits and turns, this novel is sure to keep readers glued to the pages. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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Love Letters to the DeadFrom Goodreads: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

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Love Letters to the Dead spans Laurel’s 9th grade year as she tries to sort through her life—her older sister May has only recently died and the circumstances behind her death remain shrouded in mystery as the novel unfolds, spurring readers on as Laurel relays many different facts about her life.  This is an extremely well written epistolary novel that captured my attention immediately.  I really adore novels told through letters, diary entries, and the like, and Dellaira does a superb job getting Laurel’s voice across using this writing style.

When the novel first picks up, Laurel is writing a letter to Kurt Cobain, and as she begins to relate to him through their shared experiences, she starts to tell the story of her sister, and soon finds herself working her way through multiple letters and truths about the past, present, and future.  With the death of May, Laurel’s family fell apart; her mother now lives in California, and Laurel splits her time between the homes of her father and aunt, yet none know the truth as Laurel does.  And as the story unfolds, readers learn that there are many heavy underlying truths that Laurel must eventually face in order to move from the past and begin living in the present.  I will admit that it took me a little while to warm up to Laurel, but as she pours out her heart, I found it impossible to not connect with her and her experiences, both trials and triumphs.

One aspect of this novel that I truly love is that, as Laurel writes letters to the dead, she connects the dead’s lives, music, accomplishments, and decisions with those that she is currently experiencing.  It flows together seamlessly, and helps bring validity and emotion to the novel as Laurel tells her story, asks her questions, and struggles with the answers.  The letters show how Laurel is on a downward spiral, and as it all comes to a head, we learn what Laurel really knows of the night her sister died, and why Laurel has slowly allowed herself to become someone else as the school year progresses.  It’s an intriguing, heartfelt read that I highly recommend.  Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 1, 2014.

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Far From YouFrom Goodreads: Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

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Recovering addict Sophie witnessed the murder of her best friend, Mina, but no one believes her when she says it wasn’t a drug deal gone bad. Forced into rehab for a second time, dealing with her grief on her own, she vows to find the truth, and find the truth she does…

I felt like the narrative style of this novel really allowed me to get to know both Sophie and Mina on a much deeper level, one I wouldn’t have reached had this been delivered in a straightforward, start to finish style.  Instead, Sharpe takes the reader back and forth between the past and present, sometimes jumping back years, and other times mere months, all while showing the reader the ins and outs of the Sophie’s experiences.  We watch Sophie recover from a car accident that leaves her in constant pain, see her friendships and love life evolve, and experience her drug addiction alongside her, and know that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was no drug deal gone wrong, but rather a plot to murder Mina, stemming from events three years in the past. And I just fell in love with this narrative style.  I felt like I was a part of the story, not just an outsider looking in, but a real person on the inside, and that made it a wonderful read that I just couldn’t put down.

Now, I wasn’t ready for the love relationship between Sophie and Mina, but it is actually a perfect fit that shows how much the two cared for, loved, and struggled with their attraction to one another.  I also wasn’t ready for the truth of Mina’s murder; neither was Sophie, or anyone for that matter, and I really loved that I was kept guessing from the very beginning. This is a beautiful story that slowly evolves as we uncover the truth about what happened that fateful night.  Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Disney-Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 8, 2014.

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The LureFrom Goodreads: From the bestselling author of the Daughters of the Moon series comes a gritty, sexy novel about a teen who is forced to become a “lure”-a beautiful girl who is used to lure victims of gang violence.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery lives in the gritty outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. When Blaise is invited to join Core 9, one of the most infamous crews, she jumps at the chance. Though her best guy friends, Rico and Satch, warn her about the danger, she agrees to be beaten for a minute straight as part of the gang’s initiation ritual.

Now Blaise is finally part of a crew. A family.

But things get only more dangerous when she becomes a member of Core 9 and tensions with a rival gang heat up. Trek, the head of Core 9, asks Blaise to be his “lure,” the sexy bait he’ll use to track down enemy gang members and exact revenge. Rico and Satch tell her it’s a death sentence, but Blaise can’t resist the money and unparalleled power. As Trek puts Blaise in increasingly dangerous situations, she begins to see that there’s more to lose than she ever realized-including Satch, the one person who has the power to get under her skin. With death lurking around every corner, should Blaise continue to follow the only path she’s ever known, or cut and run?

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I have been extremely fortunate in life having grown up in a safe neighborhood with two loving parents that supported me in everything.  I never had to worry for my safety when walking out the door, didn’t need to look over my shoulder at school, never had to know alternate routes to get home, worry about gunshots at all hours of the day, or whether there would be enough money coming in for my parents to pay the bills.  I knew where my next meal was coming from, what colleges I wanted to go to, how I would pay for my education after high school, and that I could obtain my goals in life without much standing in my way.

Blaise Montgomery doesn’t live in a safe neighborhood.  Her mother is a drug addict, her father is dead, and her grandmother works late hours and brings home little money.  Leaving her house is a risky choice, day in and day out.  In order to stay alive, Blaise has to know multiple ways around her community in case the ever present dangers of gang violence close off a route, or two.  She has to know what hallways she can walk down and what stairwells to avoid in school if she wants to get home in one piece, with her virginity still intact.  She worries about her grandmother who works too hard and doesn’t have enough money to feed Blaise, let alone herself.  Blaise would love to go to college, but can barely scrape by in school because survival is on her mind 24/7.  The present is all that matters, and she knows, just like everyone else in her neighborhood, that life ends all too soon.  She’s seen people try to better themselves, try to get out, but most of them end up in body bags.  So what’s the point?

While I have never experienced any of what Blaise experiences, the cold hard truth is that many, many children grow up in this exact environment, and as a high school teacher working on the cusp of the city, I’ve taught many of students in a similar situation.  I didn’t used to know these places really existed, not until I became a teacher.  If you don’t experience it, or you don’t know someone who has, it’s very easy to live in a bubble that just understand that there are many struggling to survive. And it’s a heartbreaking experience to realize that yes, this is real.  Just because I haven’t lived it doesn’t mean it’s not.  And while it’s easy to look down on people in these situations, saying they need to get an education, that they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, that’s not a reality.  What’s more important?  Education or food? Education or life? Education or belonging?

If you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll note that physiological needs come first, and then that of safety.  People need to have their basic needs met—food, water, excretion, sleep— before they can move up the scale.  If these needs are met, then safety takes over. Those who don’t feel safe on a regular basis are, therefore, unable to move up the scale.  They’re unable to have true friendships, or focus on family, because the very real fear for their safety controls everything they do and think.  This explains exactly what Blaise is dealing with on a very real level.  She barely has any food—she’s hungry a lot of the time, and she’s scared for her safety.  Her need level has plateaued between Physiological and Safety.  But once she’s part of a gang, once she’s found her “family,” she’s able to move up to the Love and Belonging stage—a stage she’s been yearning to grasp for some time.  So it’s no surprise that she joins a gang in her neighborhood—a gang that literally beats her into it as their hazing ritual to see if she’s tough enough to stand within their ranks.  And it makes me sick, but I’ve found that this hazing experience is another truth in terms of gang life—one I first heard about when discussing life with my students over the past few years.

Within Core 9, Blaise fits in, and now she can begin to work towards self-esteem, confidence, achievement… except being in the gang doesn’t guarantee extreme safety, and as Blaise realizes fairly quickly, there is just as much to fear inside a gang than there is outside of it.  So, she finds herself hovering between the Safety and Love/Belonging stage in the Hierarchy of Needs.  Is it any wonder, then, that Blaise can’t focus on school?  That she can’t foresee herself ever getting out of her ghetto alive, let alone bettering herself and going to college?  While we may want to judge her, especially as the media likes to focus on the few amazing stories of those who “got out,” who “pulled themselves up by their boot straps,” this isn’t that story.  This is the story of the many who are left behind.  This is the story of those who can’t get out.

Of course, Blaise makes decisions that I hat—and so do her friends.  Of course, I wanted to knock “some sense” into them as I read, to scream at them to call the cops, to run away, to do something… but in all truth, why call the cops when you know they can’t help you?  Why run when it will only show your weakness and land you a bullet in your back?  Blaise has more sense than I ever would have in her shoes, and though the going is tough and she’s finds herself in a very precarious situation, she continues on as best as she can.  And that is pure courage.

Originally I didn’t want to pick up this novel.  I was afraid it would focus on servitude sex and the downtrodden woman.  But it doesn’t—Blaise isn’t raped and any mention of sex is more so glossed over.  Instead, what this novel does do is show the very real truth about gang violence and the people who grow up surrounded by it.  It shows the many dangers in life that a lot of us don’t even realize exist.  And it breaks my heart, but this is one intense, powerful read if you really understand the truths behind it.  Five amazing stars.

5 starsHarperCollins Publishers and Balzer + Bray have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this powerful novel, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review prior to its release on February 11, 2014.

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9780698137141_p0_v2_s260x420From Barnes and Noble: When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.

Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl—on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James—made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.

But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.

And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.

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If you haven’t yet read On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves, then you’re truly missing out.  It is the most stunning, captivating story; one of those that keeps you up all night because it’s impossible to put down.  And just earlier this month, Garvis-Graves released her companion novella, Uncharted, taking readers back to the island in the Maldives that started it all.

If you’ve read On the Island, then you’ve wondered right alongside Anna and T.J. about the skeleton in the cave and the cabin on the beach, and Uncharted, following the life of Owen Sparks, finally gives readers exactly what they’ve been waiting for, the truth behind the mystery.

In this short novella, we again meet up with Anna and T.J. and their children, and we learn just how many “what ifs” occurred that left Anna and T.J. stranded for so long. I was immediately wrapped up in Owen’s story, and while I really wanted more Anna and T.J., this was exactly what readers needed to understand all the events surrounding their time on the island. It’s impossible not to connect with Owen, Calia, and James, and though heartbreaking, it’s a beautiful story that brings hope to the reader, just as On The Island does.  Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novella from Amazon.com



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