Sunday, April 9, 2017

All Things New by Lauren Miller

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'All Things New', A Young Adult Novel by Lauren Miller. 

Often there are those who wish that the pain on the inside can be seen on the outside. To be able to diminish the hold it has, others must see and acknowledge what you have gone through, and are going though. But while the thought sometimes lingers, is the reality as likely as it seems?

In All Things New by Lauren Miller she takes us into the life of seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray. Jessa was always a great student, but then life changed in unexpected ways. Her parents split up, her mom moved on, getting remarried and having another family. Her family decided that Jessa should stay with her mom, never consulting her about her own feelings. Suddenly life has darkened, her grades have dropped, and she begins having severe anxiety, barely able to leave her home. She finds it hard to be around others, as she no longer really understands who she is.

As her days drag on, she finally meets a young man who has no real expectations of her. He never delves into her problems and makes her feel almost whole. She begins to think life will be okay. Yet when finding that all he really was interested in was not something she was willing to give, she soon finds him with another girl while at party they had attended together. In her panic, she drives herself home, only to be hit at tremendous speed by another vehicle. Her injuries are so severe, her doctors are relieved that she survives the ordeal, but her anxiety comes to the fore. The excessive scarring on her face feels like it matches the pain within. Her father shows up to see her, and she is finally able to find a way to go and live with him, away from all that she has lost.

It is here in her new beginning that she finds another calling, one that teams her with others much like her, and her own pain and re-birth give her the advantage of seeing what they are feeling inside. As she focuses on freeing them, she finds a strength she has not known since she was a child. Can she hold on to this new her, or will it all come crumbling down at the first sign of pressure.

Miller gives us a novel that is hard to put down. You can feel the pain of her characters as they face the challenges of life and school as well as peer pressure and bullying. This is a work of fiction and yet you can feel the rawness of the characters, the pressure, often from themselves, and how destructive it can be. The insights are amazing and the story is wound with a bit of faith, one that makes you think about what truth is.

If you enjoy works that draw you in and make you think, this would be a great novel. Written for teen adults, this is a great read for those who just love an interesting story. Miller is making a name for herself in YA fiction.




This would be a fascinating book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of debate and questions to be answered.

Rating 5/5

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Mutual Admiration Society', A Young Adult novel by Lesley Kagen.

In The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen we are taken into the lives of two young sisters, Tessie, and Birdie. Tessie is convinced that she can solve crimes and keeps her younger sister involved as well. She doesn’t feel that Birdie can do as well without her own involvement as she is very sweet, and just a tad weird.

Tessie is sure, however, of her own abilities and it is fun having a younger sister believe in her and all her adventures. After all, Tessie is known for her crime solving abilities. When they hear a scream one night and mysterious happenings, she knows that she is the only one that can find a murderer. For she is sure that is what she has witnessed.

Another friend, Charlie, finds himself intrigued as well and determines to help in the investigation. What Tessie finds as she tries to solve the case, that no one else shows an interest in, is that often what we see and hear can have many varied reasons. She also finds with encouragement, that her sister Birdie is much more than she seems, that she has thoughts and ideas that might more than take over her own. But her sweetness and attention to Tessie’s plots, keep them going, and creating a strong admiration for each other’s abilities and input.

This is a sweet and funny story of the kids in the neighborhood that are just a bit different, those who look behind the everyday, and develop stories and intrigues that make life in their home and neighborhood interesting…At least for themselves.

Kagen takes us into the past and into the life of a family that struggles just as many others of the time do. But she also shows us the hijinks of children as they find ways to enjoy their time away from school, and other troubles. Her characters are very like those we each grew up with, I am sure you can relate as you find the fun and danger in this work.

If you are looking for a good work for your youngster, or are trying to get your child to read, this is a fun and fast paced work of fiction, that will keep you looking for more. Kagen does an excellent job of taking us into the recent past and showing us a life many will remember. She also gives us insight into the endearing traits of how children grow in the process of finding their niche in life.

Rating 4/5


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy.

In a tale from childhood, Twisted by Bonnie M Hennessy, takes you on an alternate journey to a dark and bleak tale of love and courage, filled with revenge and regret as well as a strength of spirit.

Looking at the story of Rumpelstiltskin's rage and sadness, you follow The life of Aoife and a different path of how the lives of two such differing characters really came to being.

Aoife, the beloved daughter, is the strength of her family as she takes on the family farm to keep their finances afloat, while at the same time trying to keep her father out of trouble. He is deep in drink and gambling, but Aoife's goodness and strength of heart endears her to all those that see her dilemma.

When a young man of money happens to see her, he decides that she should be his, for unbeknownst to the town he is the Duke of the realm and will have what he fancies. Yet she rebuffs him, and while she has no idea of his identity, she has no time for a man with such airs.  As the Duke determines to have her, he finds a way through the weakness of her father, with both his drink and gambling. Joining the game and urging the poor man gamble his daughter away on a sure hand, all is lost when the hand does not come through. Her father through his muddled thoughts brags of her ability to make gold out of straw, his attempt to brag about her farming, but the Duke understands it to mean something far different.

Aoife, who has always found solace in the woods hides her pain and anger, as nature responds, her spark of spirit draws her magic, that of her kindness and regrets, but it is another, a strange interloper that finds his own home in the forest that takes notice of her pain and anguish as well as her affinity for magic and her beauty. So begins the strange friendship that begins with fondness and love and turns to hate and anger, that takes a tortured soul into the very depths of despair.

As Aoife finds herself in trouble trying to live up the talents her father has bragged of, the stranger from the woods uses his own twisted magic to help. Aoife, soon finds herself in love with the Duke, and with child. The temper of her rescuer from the woods sparks her urgent need to find his name, and takes her into further danger as she tries to save the child of her love.

The twisted tale of love and darkness builds in a direction both like and unlike that of the fairy tale of youth. Hennessy does a great job of holding true to the outline of the work but adds more depth of character, making you feel both appalled and sad, yet as the same time, the tension keeps you intrigues as to how it will all come together.

If you enjoy magic romance and danger, you will love this take on a fairy tale of old. It is darker and more thought provoking, but yet carries that same feel of the fear you felt as a child. Hennessy brings the tale to stark life and into the twentieth century.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

 Bonnie M. Hennessy's Web Site:
http://www.bonniemhennessy.com/Bonnie M. Hennessy's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/twistedthebook/
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/bonniemhennessy
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16075736.Bonnie_M_HennessyBonnie M. Hennessy's YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC23yBSLSEcbE2Bw98_4k-WQTwisted Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32962973-twisted?from_search=true
Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

Twisted blog tour site:
http://twistedblogtour.blogspot.com




Bonnie M. Hennessy's Bio: Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.

Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story.


 
Twisted Book Summary:
Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media.
An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened.

The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back.

With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day.

Well almost… Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber.

This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out.

Not until Aoife came along.
Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Genre:
Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
Pages:
306
Release:
November 11, 2016
Publisher:
self-published
ISBN:
9781539753421

Amazon buy link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3MC1K4?&tag=tributebooks-20

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Fractured', A Novel of Suspense by Catherine McKenzie. 

In the novel Fractured by Catherine McKenzie, Julie Prentice and her family find themselves moving across country to escape a stalker who has terrorized her since her novel, The Murder Game, was published. Moving to Cincinnati she and her family hope that all the danger and drama is behind them.

Yet Julie can’t seem to shake loose from the past. Everything creates fear; looks that seem askance, reactions from people that seem out of place, and even the neighbors. She finds it difficult to fit in to a neighborhood that is tight knit and has expectations about how people’s behavior. The only one she feels comfortable with is their closest neighbor, Josh Dunbar. Yet even this connection creates a frisson that sets her life and chance at happiness into another unknown direction.

Can she come to terms with her past, and set a strong, safe path for her family? Will the connection she has formed with a new stranger be the very thing that unbinds her family for good? Are the actions of their neighbors really full of good intent or has her stalker found her again?

McKenzie gives us a story of possibilities, creating a crescendo of alarm as her character begins to believe her family is in danger. She takes you into jittery concern as well as that of feelings and personalities to bring you an edge of your seat thriller.

Her characters are very real and the back biting and jealousy are true to form. The feeling of being out of control makes you uncomfortable as you you try to piece together the clues to find what is happening.

If you enjoy mysteries and family situations, this is a good book for your library. The danger is secretive and roils below the surface, making you wonder if it is real at all or just in the mind of our protagonist.


This would be a great book for a reading group or book club, one to give them a great deal of dialogue.

Rating 4/5