Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

Books To Watch For In 2015: The Forgotten Girls

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Sara Blaedel and the fact that her new book is out (relatively) soon is the best news.

The Forgotten Girls has quite possibly the best premise ever:

“In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick–the new commander of the Missing Persons Department–is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed–and hidden–in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.”

It sounds so good and so, so sad.

Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain

Finished Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain by D.M. Cunningham.  I received a copy from the publisher.  (Note: I work for Spencer Hill but have had nothing to do with this book.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla’s work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles. After Niles blows up his school’s science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to man up, make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem. The only problem is that Niles’ father thinks it’s a role-playing camp. Well, it’s not. Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. A place for real kids to realize the real villain inside them. Niles sharpens his focus on escaping the camp while everyone inside wants him to sharpen his focus on discovering his own dark powers. There’s a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it. Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem–the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.”

This book would be the perfect present for most middlegrade readers.  It’s absolutely laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s a lot of heart in there, too.

And if you’re into science, there’s some great information here, too.  In case you still haven’t heard of Tesla, you need to read this book now.

I think most adults would love this book but I am most excited to get it for my godson.  He’s going to have an absolute blast.

Highly recommended.

 

The Burning Room

Finished The Burning Room by Michael Connelly.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Detective Harry Bosch tackles a cold case unlike any he’s ever worked, in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent.

Now Bosch and his new partner, rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case. Starting with the bullet that’s been lodged for years in the victim’s spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveals that this shooting may have been anything but random.

In this gripping new thriller, Michael Connelly shows once again why Harry Bosch is “one of the greats of crime fiction” (New York Daily News).“

I don’t read many mysteries anymore, but Michael Connelly is always a must-buy for me.  I have enjoyed all his books, but the Harry Bosch ones are my favorite.  (I feel a little guilty, actually, because whenever I read a Mickey Haller installment, I always love them but I also always think, “I’d rather it were Harry Bosch instead…”)

I also know that these books are drawing to a close (Harry is approaching retirement) and I know that will be a sad, sad day for me.

But we don’t have to think about that yet.

So anyway, Harry has a new partner: Lucia Sota, who’s new and is a bit of a media superstar.  (Her last partner died in a shootout and she was able to hold the gunmen at bay until reinforcements arrived.)  I wasn’t completely sold on her at first, but I ended up really liking her, and I hope that she will show up in more books.  I’m not ready to lose Harry, but more books with Lucy in them would be really good.

This is a cold case and Harry quickly gets sucked into it.  He even uses his current catchphrase (“Everybody counts or nobody counts”), which is basically every value I have distilled into one sentence.  The best part is that a politician overhears and appropriates it and Harry is just completely horrified (because he actually means it and it’s so obvious that the politician is trying to score votes.

If you’re a fan of police procedurals, you owe it to yourself to read Harry Bosch.

Highly recommended.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Finished Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.”

It’s probably not a spoiler to say that integration doesn’t work well for the African-American students who begin attending the formerly all white high school.  I think pretty much everyone who’s ever heard of integration would say that those people who were the first to integrate the schools were incredibly brave souls.  I understood that going in.

What I didn’t understand was just how awful that experience was.  I thought it was mostly just yelling—which would be horrific enough—but this book broke my heart.  (And apparently some schools were even worse…although, to be fair, some were better.  Not many, but some.)

This book would be enough of a trailblazer if it focused on integration and a burgeoning friendship between an African-American student and the white daughter of a very, VERY pro-segregationist man who was, not surprisingly, more than a little prejudiced.  But there was a lot more to it than to that.

This book is the kind of book that really opened my eyes and, like I said, broke my heart.  Sarah was this incredibly brave person and so was Linda, but in a different way.  It takes a lot of courage to be who you are and to go against how you were raised in order to do what’s right.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  Please read it; please get other people to read it.

Highly, highly recommended.

Kiss Of Broken Glass

Finished Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.“

In the author’s note, it explains that this is based on a true story.  Apparently this happened to her daughter, as well.

Apparently in Florida, the law is that if you are found cutting, you will be placed under a mandatory psychiatric hold for 72 hours.  This may seem like a good law on the surface, but it’s not necessarily true.  (Obviously, cutting is a big clue that something is wrong, but putting someone in a psychiatric clinic is maybe not the best way to handle it—for example, instead of learning ways to deal with stress better, you could also be learning ways to hide the cuts better.)

The thing I loved best about the story is the ambiguity of the ending.  72 hours isn’t a very long time (although I bet it seems like forever when you’re in that situation) and it’s not very likely that Kenna’s entire outlook will have changed and that she will be miraculously cured.  The book acknowledges that, although it definitely helps that Kenna is more aware of herself and why she cuts.  There is hope for her, but it’s by no means a sure thing.

Recommended.

Tape

Finished Tape by Steven Camden.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story. “

This book was not what I expected.  I was expecting it to be a Lake House-type love story and it’s not that.  (Which is good because technically, Ryan is 20 years older than Ameliah is, and that’s kind of creepy when Ameliah is just a teenager.)  There also isn’t even all that much interaction between them.  Instead, it’s broken down into Ryan’s story and Ameliah’s story, not THEIR story together.

I’m explaining this because this is a really good book and I think you may enjoy it more if you go in without the misconceptions I had, based on the synopsis and also on the conclusions I drew. :)

Generally with two narrators, I tend to prefer one of the storylines.  That wasn’t the case in this.  I was a fan of both and equally invested in both.

It didn’t hurt that both of them are dealing with grief (Ryan’s mom has died and both of Ameliah’s parents have) and I tend to appreciate those stories.  In this case, it was also interesting to be in Ryan’s time (20 years ago) just in terms of thinking of just how far we’ve come in terms of technology.

Recommended.

Drawing Down the Moon

Finished Drawing Down the Moon by Steven Lee Climer.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A group of misfits learn how to conjure an ancient dark evil that gives them the power to be judge, jury, and executioner.

Ronan and her friends unlock the secrets of delivering vengeance on their tormentors with an ancient artifact found in Ronan’s mom’s mail. However, it goes beyond petty high school teasing and the trio begins doling out horrific punishments.

When it goes too far and Ronan wants out, Leyda, the charming new student, gets in her way. Ronan must break Leyda’s hold on her friends before they become the monsters hunting each other.“

I was expecting this to be an incredibly scary story, but it wasn’t.  Instead, it was more unsettling than anything else.

Ronan and her friends start this with really good intentions. They’re going to punish the worst people (their first victim, for example, is a man who deliberately killed his ex-girlfriend’s kittens in a really horrific way) by making them experience the horrible things they’ve done.

But, as you can imagine, once you realize you have that kind of power, it doesn’t take long before “We’re only going to punish the worst people, the ones that deserve to be punished” to turn to “And we will also punish the jerk who was rude to me in third period and that lady who cut me off in traffic.”

That was the scariest part of this book: just how quickly the power to do this can corrupt people and how easily the line between people that deserve to be punished and people who don’t can get very, very blurred.

This is incredibly fun and I think there would be a lot of fun things to discuss in a book club-type setting.

Rain Reign

Finished Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In her most powerful novel yet, Newbery Honor author Ann M. Martin tells the story of girl with mental/emotional challenges and the dog she loves.

Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.“

This is the first Ann M. Martin book I’ve read in probably 25 years or so.  I was a huge fan of the Babysitters Club when I was in elementary school and I know I read another book of hers, although I don’t remember it very well.

So when I saw that she was going to be at BEA earlier this year, I was very excited.  (Fun fact: getting this book was the first thing I did on the first day at BEA.)

And totally worth it, because this is an amazing book.  I know that the autism diagnoses are shooting way through the roof these days, but I’ve never really spent time with anyone on that spectrum.  (Not on purpose—it just hasn’t happened.)

It’s very easy to view people only as their diagnosis, but there is so much more to Rose than “autistic.”  It’s actually the least interesting thing about her.  (How can you not love someone who’s so fascinated by words?  Between that and the dog, Rose and I would be really good friends…if she were real and we were the same age.)

I think this is going to be this year’s Wonder.  It’s the kind of book that will help people realize that we’re far more similar than we are different.

This is an amazing book that should be required reading for everyone in elementary and middle school.

Highly recommended.

Mary: The Summoning

Finished Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?”

This book is the perfect choice if you want to read something that’s genuinely creepy.  It reminded me a lot of the old-school Fear Street and Mary Downing Hahn novels I loved when I was little.  It’s incredibly fun and just creepy enough to send a few shivers down your spine but not enough to keep you awake until 3 a.m., jumping at every noise.

This book reminded me a little of my own friendships when I was younger (although I would probably have been the one to suggest doing it, as opposed to Kitty and Anna who had to be talked into it).

I don’t think it’s scary enough that it would give children nightmares, but I guarantee it should keep everyone from ever wanting to channel Bloody Mary.  (Bonus: she has a great and sad backstory.)

Best part: there will be at least one other book!  Worst part: I am desperate to read it and I don’t know when it will come out.  Hopefully soon; probably not until next year.

Recommended.

Nights With Him

Finished Nights With Him by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jack Sullivan is a Sex Toy Mogul.

An extremely eligible bachelor in New York, he’s the full package, right down to his full package. Hell, this man could be the model for one of the toys his company, Joy Delivered, peddles. Instead, he’s the powerful and successful CEO and he’s got commitment issues a mile-long after the tragic way his relationship with his fiancée ended.

He’s looking for a way to erase the pain and that arrives in the form of Michelle Milo. From her pencil skirts to her high heels, she’s his perfect fantasy, especially since she has no idea who he is the night they meet at a hotel bar. He doesn’t have a clue either that she’s the brilliant psychologist his sister has arranged for him to see to help him get over his past. She’s simply the stunning woman he takes to bed that night and delivers many Os of joy too.

His touch helps her forget that other man.

When he shows up at her office door the next day, there’s no way in hell she’s going to treat him after they’ve slept together. Jack isn’t willing to let go of the first woman he’s felt anything for in years so he proposes a deal – share her nights with him for thirty days. At the end of one month of exquisite pleasure, they walk away, having helped each other move on from their haunted pasts.

But soon, all those nights threaten to turn into days as the lines between lust and matters of the heart start to blur. Can two people so terribly afraid of love truly fall head over heels?”

If you were thinking that Lauren Blakely’s books have gotten too dark, you’ll be happy to know that this is a return to her early, more carefree days.

There’s still plenty of emotion—you may remember that Michelle was in love with Clay and he didn’t return that feeling at all—but by and large, this is a love story.  And,  possibly best of all, it’s a love story for people who aren’t really that into love.

I’m also pretty sure that this is definitely her sexiest book yet (not surprising, really, given that Jack is a sex toy mogul) so you may want to keep that in mind if you’re reading this anywhere in public.

Highly recommended.