Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Social life”

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three ThingsJulie Buxbaum’s YA debut, Tell Me Three Things, may be one of the most popular young adult contemporary reads this year.  We all know what it’s like to have our world turned upside down; that’s exactly what happens to Jessie, our heroine, whose mother dies. Jessie’s father elopes with a woman he met online, leaving her with a step-monster (oh, I meant stepmother). And now Jessie has to attend a super-intimidating Los Angeles prep school, Wood Valley High School, on the other side of the country. Jessie’s new step-monster has a teenage son to top it off, who is not interested in helping her adjust to her new life in the least.

When Jessie is just about ready to give up and head back to Chicago, she gets help from an anonymous source who calls themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN). SN emails her and offers to be her lifeline at Wood Valley High School.  Is someone out to get Jessie, or can she truly rely on what seems to be her only ally in life?  Will Jessie ever be able to call Los Angeles home?

This is such a funny, relatable book, and a quick read.  Plenty of characters and a great storyline will keep you hooked to the end.  Tell Me Three Things is a definite addition to your shelf this spring.

– Becky

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The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

The Third TwinBefore readers meet the identical twins, Alexa, aka Lexi, and Ava, the book opens with what could be one of a girl’s worst nightmares.  We then learn the back story of Alicia, the third sister that the girls made up when they were little.

Now, seniors in high school, they only use Alicia to amp up their courage and sex appeal when dealing with attracting men.  Things quickly turn deadly and strange things begin happening that can’t be explained.

Before you know it, DNA evidence and surveillance photos don’t bode well for Ava and Lexi.  If neither one of them have committed the murders of boys they we’re linked to, then who is responsible and why are they framing the twins or are they?

Fast paced and engaging, this is a great read for fans of who-done-its.  The Third Twin keeps you guessing, right up until just about the end.  When you think you might know, you have no idea….

– Amanda

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My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon

my veniceBeing a huge fan of Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries set in Venice, I jumped at the chance to be able to review this book of essays.  As I expected, it did not disappoint.  This collection of fifty essays gives insight into her thoughts and emotions on a range of subjects, all delivered with superb writing style. The essays range in length from 2 pages to 11, with most of them on the shorter side.  They are divided into six sections: Venice, Music, Man and Animals, Men, America and Books.

In the longest section, Venice, her pieces cover a wide range of topics that in the aggregate give a glimpse into the joys and frustrations of living there.  She begins with exploring why the lack of cars is a blessing, but not from the lack of noise and exhaust.  She vents her frustration on trying to rehabilitate an apartment, on noisy neighbors, dog excrement and tourists. But make no mistake, her love of her adopted city shines through.

The Music pieces make me wish that I knew more about opera so I could appreciate her love of it.  The Man and Animals essays range from her fondness for moles, her attempts to rid her mountain house of dormice, her hatred of hunters to her first time eating a sheep’s eyeball.

The section on Men contains strong statements on the problems she sees in male behaviors of violence, especially towards women. The story of her time teaching in Saudi Arabia is one of the longer essays, and it is clear she had a terrible experience. However, she is careful to point out that her bad experience was not due to Arabs or Islam but the structure of society in that particular place and time.

 America and its culture also come in for some criticism for our obesity epidemic and the increasing “fear” syndrome that she sees affecting her homeland. However, other essays in this section tell warm tales of family and growing up.

As a lover of her novels, the final series of essays on Books contains an illuminating longer essay on writing crime novels, which will definitely inform my future reading. This section also tells of a luncheon with Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) where they discuss various ways of dispatching victims.

Great wit.

Great insights.

Great writing.

Bravissimo Donna!

– Cathi

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Under One Roof by Barry Martin

9781250003041 underIt’s not too often that you hear of a man who wears a hardhat for a living writing a memoir. In this heartwarming tale, first time author Barry Martin shares a wonderful story of how he befriended an elderly lady during his company’s high-budget construction project. Thiers was no ordinary friendship, but one that blossomed out of unusual circumstances.

Barry was the supervisor for the project of building a huge shopping mall in the quaint city of Ballard, Washington. Edith Macefield was the stubborn senior citizen who refused to move out of her cozy little house even though it sat directly in the center of the construction plans. You would think most people would jump at the chance when offered a million dollars to evacuate. But not Edith. Perfectly content to stay right where she is it isn’t too long before she changes from being Barry’s cranky nemesis to newfound best friend.

This wonderful story not only chronicles the inevitable relationship between the two, but also serves as a brilliant humanity lesson. As Barry becomes chief caretaker for Edith we find out how this experience helps him deal with his own father who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The amiable narrative is fashioned in a folksy and comfortable pace; it’s like you are sitting down having coffee and a chat with the author himself.

If you are looking for something a little bit different for your next book club discussion I highly recommend this touching and endearing tale of unlikely companionship.


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Open Mic edited by Mitali Perkins

9780763658663 openI’m shamefully going to admit this book started for me as an obligation.  Once I began reading it, I can honestly say I didn’t want to put it down.

As we all know, prejudice exists all around us and has for centuries.  This book takes readers into scenarios the ten writers/artists have been through or have created.  Most of them have situational humor, but there are others that will leave you a bit depressed.

Readers will enjoy a mixture of entries which include, a comic layout (Why I Won’t Be Watching the Last Airbender Movie), poetic forms (Under Berlin and Lexicon); however most are in prose.

My hands-down favorite was Becoming Henry Lee.  In Becoming Henry Lee, Henry went from living in southern California, where he was surrounded by other Asian students, to Connecticut, where he was the only Asian kid.  He describes the stereotype the other kids had about him and how he coped and adjusted.  You will more than likely laugh out loud with this one.

Open Mic reminded me of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book in the fact that if you didn’t want to read the entire thing, you can start and stop at a new section and not feel like you missed something.  However, for me, every story made me want to keep reading.  I laughed out loud, smiled throughout, shook my head, and sighed plenty.


Learn more and order here.

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