All posts by Robin

Audrey Bunny Giveaway!!

A spot, a fear, a lesson about unconditional love.

Audrey Bunny
Story by Angie Smith
Illustrations by Breezy Brookshire

B&H Kids
October 2013

Audrey Bunny had always wanted to be chosen as a child’s special friend.  Sadly, Audrey Bunny wasn’t perfect.  A small mark near her heart causes her to not be perfect for those who looked at her before.

And then Caroline appears.  Audrey Bunny thinks Caroline will also pass her by.  To her great surprise, Caroline chooses her as her special birthday gift.  Audrey Bunny and Caroline become the best of friends, but Audrey Bunny has a secret.  She tries to hide that smudge, because she knows that Caroline will not want her with this imperfection.

In the end, Caroline knew all along and loved Audrey Bunny anyway.

Angie Smith’s story is a wonderful example of the love God has for each of us.  We can try to hide our imperfections, but He already knew they existed and loves us in spite of, or maybe because of, them.  It’s set alongside beautiful illustrations that make this a FANTASTIC children’s book.

From an adult perspective, the story is cute.  The only issue I ran into was that some parts of the story don’t carry between pages, leaving me to flip back because I thought I missed something.  From a child’s point of view, my six year old son didn’t really notice.  He loved the pictures and understood the connection between the message of Audrey Bunny and how God views his children.

In the end, the value of a children’s book is not how an adult sees it, but how a child takes the message.   Smith’s book, coupled with Brookshire’s illustrations, ensured my child accepted and enjoyed the book overall.  And that’s the most important part.


Congrats to Laura M for winning her own copy of Audrey Bunny!!


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Stay With Me by Elissa Patrick

patrickDisillusioned with the world of music and movies, Hailey has decided to give it all up and try to achieve a “normal” life.    She leaves the glamour and glitz of her high profile life to enter college in Burlington, Vermont.   Hailey initially had no plans but to settle into college life and find herself; she finds Caleb instead.

Stay With Me
by Elyssa Patrick
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
August 2013

Hailey doesn’t plan to get involved with Caleb, she really doesn’t.  However, it seems that all her best intentions go out the window every time he’s near her.   And even though she tries to avoid him, he seems to appear EVERYWHERE.

As Hailey and Caleb grow closer, she worries more and more about him learning a major secret that she plans to keep hidden forever.  As much as they come to care for one another, she is sure that if he learned of her dark secret he’d walk away.

Sadly, that plot tension sounds much more interesting than it turned out to be.   I kept waiting for a large climactic moment with the building tension of Hailey’s secret, issues with her mother, and the seemingly perfect family to which Caleb belongs.   It never really materialized.

The start of a new series by Elyssa Patrick came off as contrived and stale to me.  It’s fine that the story wasn’t overly original.  Let’s face it, with so many books on the market, it’s tough to create something entirely new.  The issue is that the characters and the story never really developed for me.   Caleb learns her secret, and he doesn’t seem all that concerned.   Patrick continually alludes to Hailey’s relationship with her mother, and the two never enter a scene together.   I kept waiting for the tension to break with a huge reveal, and that never happened.

It also doesn’t help that this was billed as a Young Adult novel when I received the email to review it.  That was on my mind until I started the review, and I was continually shocked at the scenes written.   They are sexually explicit, and I kept wondering how this would have been able to make it to a YA rating and what parent of a pre- or early teen child would let his or her daughter read it.  The book is actually part of a fairly new genre known as New Adult.   The main characters are normally aged 18-25 (although Hailey is 17 when the novel starts) and the content is directed towards readers aged 18 to 30.

In the end, this one is not on the list to be read again.  Additionally, I am not confident that I’d be very interested in reading other books that will come in this series.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell

Scout Donovan’s world has just been turned upside down.  Her calm Kentucky life is no more, and she’s been thrust into the world of Shifters and Seers without warning.  And it started with a boy.

Destiny Binds
by Tammy Blackwell
Createspace Independent
March 2011

Scout is entering her Senior year when Alex Cole saunters into her AP Calculus class at Lake County High School.  Having run across Alex and his older brother the day before, Scout isn’t in any mood to deal with the cute new guy.

When Alex tries to get closer to Scout, she does her best to push him away.  And that works…temporarily.

A few months later, Alex and Scout are teamed together on a writing assignment, much to the chagrin of  her bother Jase and lifelong friend Charlie.   The more time they spend together, the more she likes him, and the less her brother and Charlie seem to resemble to easy-going guys they used to be.   Scout asks questions,for which she never receives answers.

And then, on a school trip, Scout gets an answer that she wasn’t expecting.   The class gets stuck in Nashville during a trip to watch The Taming of the Shrew.   It’s that night that changes everything, because Alex changes…into a wolf.

As their relationship deepens, Scout begins to learn more and more about shifter dynamics and surprises are around every corner.

As the story continues, Tammy Blackwell takes you deeper and deeper into the world of The Timberwolves.  You learn about their culture and their hierarchies in a story that builds their world without the drudgery that exists in the debut novels for some writers.

Blackwell’s writing is amazing.  It is apparent that she has experience with the age group about whom she is writing.  Scout is witty and snarky, exactly what you’d expect from a girl her age.  She is in turn experienced and naive, never sounding like she’s just a vehicle for an adult voice.

Blackwell is also adept at building the environment in her story as well.  Even if you aren’t a Kentucky native (as I am), she easily transports you to the state.  You feel as though you are an active particpant in her story, not just an observer.

Strong characters and a strong story leave the reader wanting more; luckily, this is the start of a series that has been written and for which there will be further installments.   This novel lands solidly on the repeat read list.


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

Unlike most of my review books, Destiny Binds was purchased by me and was not provided as a review copy.  It’s that good. 

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Emma Smallwood has spent her life helping at her father’s school.  Now, with enrollment dwindling and her father mourning the passing of her mother, Emma finds herself reaching out to the father of former pupils in order to gain new students to the school.  A return letter brings an intriguing offer.  Does Emma have the courage to step outside of what she’s known to bring new adventures to her life?

The Tutor’s Daughter 
by Julie Klassen
Bethany House
January 2013

In an effort to bring additional students to her father’s boarding school,  Emma writes to the father of former pupils, a baronet, who has remarried and now has two young sons.  The response she receives is a surprising one.  As his wife is loathe to allow her sons to leave home, Sir Giles Weston offers double the rate for them to come to Ebbington Manor to teach them.

She initially questions the rash decision when she remembers her relationship with the older Weston sons-Phillip and Henry.  Phillip she remembers with fondness.  He was always kind to her when he was a student.  On the other hand, Henry, the elder of the two, made it a point to torment her, as young boys are wont to do.

Emma and her father are met with surprise upon their arrival at the Weston’s home, Sir Giles having forgotten to tell his family that they were coming.  This would be only the first of many surprising events that happen while they stay with the Weston’s.  Strange happenings at night, a piano forte that seemingly plays itself, and many secrets exist in the Weston household.  And in the midst of this, love blossoming from an unlikely place.

Having read another of Klassen’s novels before, I looked forward to reading this one.   I, like Klassen, am a fan of Regency Period writing.  As such, I enjoy the intent in Klassen’s writing.  She really does make an effort to create novels in the fashion of the period, working to stay true to that time.

As for this novel in particular, I did enjoy the read the first time through.  That is related entirely to the story.  I loved the premise and what she was trying to write, as well as the suspense she worked to create and keep throughout the story.   Klassen created a story that kept moving forward for me through most parts.  While there were small lulls in the action and story moving forward, they weren’t cumbersome and didn’t impact the overall experience of reading for me.

That being said, Emma Smallwood is not one of my favorite female characters.  I very much like the initiative she takes at the start of the novel, in writing to the Westons.  However, after that point, she seems to be one who allows the events around them to happen to her, as opposed to actively working to be part of the action.  I had higher hopes for her development as a character.

Additionally, regarding format, I really didn’t care for what seemed to be random quotes from other novels.  I kept going back to see how those quotes related to the material around them.  They seemed to be put into the novel to add credibility to Klassen’s work.  Frankly, she doesn’t need it.  Her work can stand on its own, and the extra quotes were cumbersome and offputting.

Overall though, I did enjoy the novel and would read it again.  Klassen is dedicated to her craft and creating the world around her characters, which is something I can appreciate as a reader.   The novel is a quick read and does have some points that are surprising and unexpected.  It’s definitely one that’s work a look.

 


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Against The Tide by Elizabeth Camden

After her life is turned upside down as a child, Lydia Pallas battled back and used her incredible intelligence to create a new life for herself.  Having gained a position as a translator for the Navy, she focuses on creating stability in her life.  All of that will be changed with the acceptance of an offer from Alexander Banebridge.

Against The Tide
by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House
September 2012

During his childhood, Alexander Banebridge, or Bane as he chooses to be called, was delivered into a life of control and imprisonment by the Professor.   The Professor had spent years creating a very elaborate criminal system, dealing specifically in the trade of opium.  After escaping the control of the Professor through freedom in Christ, Bane has made it his life’s work to destroy the opium trade.

In order to find the information he needs, Bane enlists Lydia’s help to translate documents.   This is the only way that Bane will be able to gain the upper hand in his quest and stop the Professor for good.  What follows is a journey through intrigue and political roadblocks, with a little love thrown in for good measure.

When I started the novel, I am not really sure what I was expecting.  As the city of Boston is one of my great loves, I picked this book up based on the setting for the novel.  Since Camden focuses mainly on story and not scenery, it’s important to note that there are not a great deal of long descriptive passages in the novel.  There is also very little in the way of history of the characters.  You get glimpses into their pasts, but it is just enough to keep you from wondering why they have ended up as they have.  Camden explains their tales in a very straightforward way and focuses on the present tense.

That’s the only small quibble I have with the novel.  I am a reader driven by the history and the motivation of characters.  I like for this to remain a bit hidden, to be revealed through actions and climatic points in the novel.   If you are a reader who likes the information to be given up front and without preamble, then this novel will work well for you.

That being said, I also allow work to stand on its own merit outside of my personal likes as a reader.  Camden’s story has enough tension to keep you reading, and the story is fast-paced.  There was no point in my reading where I had a desire to skip pages because of dragging story line.  Her focus is primarily on driving forward, which is a great aspect to her writing.

Another high point for Camden is that she has created a strong female character in Lydia Pallas.  There are few things that will turn me away from a book faster than a female character who withers in the face of adversity.  Lydia faces adversity at every turn and refuses to back down from any challenge that Camden creates for her.  From childhood through the end of the novel, Lydia has to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in order to come out on top at the end.

And in the end:  she does.


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Four girls.  One Summer. One pair of pants.   That’s where it started.

This is where it ends.

Sisterhood Everlasting
by Ann Brashares
Random House
June 2011

In 2001, Ann Brashares introduced us to Lena, Bridget, Carmen, and Tibby.   They were four friends brought together by coincidence.  Their mothers were all pregnant together in an exercise class.  They were the Septembers, all born within two weeks of one another in the month of September.

Over the course of a decade, we have watched as these four friends have learned, loved, lost, and grown up.   They have figured out who they are, both together and apart.

Sisterhood Everlasting brings us forward ten years from when we first met these four friends, and they are closing in on their thirtieth birthdays.  Carmen is an actress, living in New York and engaged to be married.  Lena is teaching and painting in Rhode Island.  Bridget and Eric are in California, where Bridget does…well, I’m not really sure what it is that Bee does now.  And Tibby has wandered off to the other side of the world to work a project with Brian in Australia.

It is Tibby who will bring them back together.

I first read the Sisterhood books in my early twenties.  Even though they were teens at the time, I really connected to the story of four girls who worked to maintain the wonderful friendships.  I liked that Ann Brashares wrote real stories about real girls.  Their lives were not perfect.  They made stupid mistakes, which is exactly what you are supposed to do when you are young.  As they weathered each storm together, I loved these characters more and more.  I really was excited to read the final chapter in their stories.

What I got was not at all what I expected.  The book has an unexpected twist almost at the start.  What unfolds from there is a wonderful story of finding yourself, finding forgiveness, and finding your friends again.   Ann Brashares brings the girls full circle and writes a delightful ending to this series.

After the twist, I was prepared to really not like this book.  However, I can be unhappy about a part of the book and still enjoy the book overall.  What I like about this book is that Brashares doesn’t take the four girls so far away from the ones we have grown to know that they are unrecognizable.  They are older, yes, but they are very much the same four girls we met in the first book.  They are just older and in some ways wiser.

This is a bittersweet ending for me.  It is the same with any series I have enjoyed.  I love learning what has happened to my favorite characters and hate knowing that I have reached the end of my journey with them.  Thankfully, the ending that Brashares has composed is very satisfying.   No loose ends.  No feeling like “that’s it?”  It is a great ending to a great series.

 


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry

It is 1957.  Marian and Ben, an inter-faith (Catholic and Jewish) couple are working to carve a new life out for themselves in Ireland.  After a disastrous meeting with Ben’s parents on the day that Marian gets some shocking news, Marian makes a decision that will eventually be her family’s undoing.

 

The Whipping Club
by Deborah Henry
T.S. Poetry Press
March 2012

Young, scared, and faced with impending motherhood, Marian succumbs to the pressure of her Catholic priest Uncle and enters a maternity home to await the arrival of her child.  She tells Ben she is taking an extended trip out of town, never disclosing to him that she is expecting their first child together. She has been told that the maternity home nuns will find a suitable adoptive American family and accepts this as what will happen.

Over a decade later, Marian and Ben have married and have a daughter together. Their life together is far from ideal, as Marian is distant and detached, and Ben is weak and near spineless. Their daughter is crying out for their attention, particularly from Marian.

One day, in the midst of their difficult family life, a nurse from the maternity home shows up with some disturbing news: their son, Adrian, never made it to a new home in America. Instead, he was sent to one of the worst orphanages in Ireland.

The story that follows is one of the plight of thousands of children in 1950’s and 60’s Ireland, as unwed mothers found themselves pressured into entering these homes to await the birth of their children. Eventually, those children would either be adopted out or send to live in orphanages.

Deborah Henry weaves the story of one of these families in The Whipping Club. At times creating sympathy, others anger, sometimes hopeful, and in turn hopeless, Henry keeps the reader riding a roller coaster of emotions. At the beginning of the story, I found that I could understand why a young Marian made the decision she did. She had no parents, was in an unexpected situation, and was being stifled by the social stigma created by the time period.

A decade later, I found that Marian was someone with whom I had difficulty sympathizing at times. Once she learned of Adrian’s fate, she did work to correct the decisions of the past. On the other side of that, there were times when Marian displayed an inability to own those decisions and wanted others to pay penance for them. In that same decade, Ben has become an enabler who is just as spineless as ever.

Mixed in are a collection of others players who seem to be fighting their own demons, their own sins, and their own societal restraints. Every time I thought they were getting to the point where their lives were reaching turning point, Henry throws them another curve ball and they are all back to square one.

In the end, I land on the fence on this one. I kept wanting them all to get their acts together, and it seemed like they never would. Most of the characters, all adults, wanted to blame someone else for the mistakes they had made. There comes a point when you have to own what you have done and take charge. For this novel, it doesn’t come until the novel is almost over. Since I read to escape “real” life, I prefer a little more hope in my fiction. But, that is a personal preference. Henry’s novel is very much true to life, and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker

Every good and perfect gift is from above… James 1:17

A Good and Perfect Gift
Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny
Amy Julia Becker
Bethany House
September 2011

Every woman traversing her first pregnancy has similar worries.  They range from the immediate:  What if we don’t get to the hospital on time? What if I can’t handle the pain?   To the long term:   What if I’m not good enough? Strong enough?  What if I do something wrong? What if I don’t teach him/her the right way?  To the ones specifically about the baby:  How am I going to take care of this little bitty person?   I’m going to break him/her.  And in the end:  Everything will be fine…as long as the baby is healthy.

The birth of Amy Julia Becker’s first child, Penny, brought those questions and more.  In the face of an unexpected diagnosis, Amy Julia must both care for a newborn with an unknown future while sorting through her own doubts, fears, and hurts.  She does what is to be expected: she wonders if she will be able to care for her daughter, questions what she might have done to “deserve” this, and struggles with maintaining what had always been a strong relationship with God.

What I like about Becker’s condensed memoir is how very honest and transparent she is.   Many others of faith I know who have been faced with adversity will simply talk about how they were able to get through it by relying on God.  For those of us who might temporarily be lost in our own haze of grief and anger, that response only serves to add guilt to the mix of emotions.  We wonder why we can’t mange to make it beyond our own feelings to see God waiting for us on the other side.

Becker details an experience just like that.  She talks about how during the early days of her daughter’s life, she struggled with coming to terms of the new “normal” for her family.   She expresses those moments of feeling stronger, only to have someone’s words bring her back to the realization that life would now be completely unlike she expected.   After she is able to wade through that grief and anger and able to move through some of those doubts, Becker is then able to make her way back to God…who has always been waiting.

This book really spoke to me because of personal experience.  After enduring something I never thought would happen, I too had to wade through my own feelings to get to God on the other side.  Becker’s story is one that I really could have used in those early days.  Days when I had really grown tired of people telling me to rely on God and that it would all “be okay.”

In the end, it was okay.  And in the end, I did find my way back.   But I had to get there on my own.  Reading Becker’s story made me feel a little less guilty for not being there right from the start.


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Progeny: The Children of The White Lions by R. T. Kaelin

In a matter of a few minutes, everything Nykalys and Kenders held dear is destroyed by an evil force.  In order to save themselves, they must run for their lives and leave all they knew behind, including their parents and their older brother Jak.   What follows is the journey Nikalys and Kenders set out on in order to learn the truth of what happened that day.

Progeny
The Children of The White Lions
R.T. Kaelin
Terrene Press
November 2010

After the destruction of their home, Nykalys and Kenders set out on an epic journey.  It is imperative they remain hidden, as Kenders has magical capabilities in a world where magic has been outlawed.  As search for an answer, they are met with living legends, the likes of which neither sibling has never seen.   Creatures that only existed in myth are brought to life, all pitted against one another in a classic battle of good versus evil.

After reading the back cover of Kaelin’s Progeny, I was very anxious to get started!  The main story line hits you right from the start, and from there, things get…interesting.

I am going to attempt to avoid the path of other reviews I have read about Progeny that simply rank the book the way they do because it’s “too long.”  I’m not comfortable with that blanket assessment of why this book sometimes didn’t work for me.   Granted, it is long, but that is simply too generic a reason to score it down in any ranking system.

After the initial destruction, the book takes a downturn for me.  It really took me over 100 pages of plugging through to be able to get to a point where the story picked up.  I do have to qualify that by letting you know I am very much a story driven reader.  It is the progressive motion of a tale that keeps me intrigued.  The better the cliffhanger, the more likely I am to breeze through a book.   I think the trick here is to understand that the destruction of Nykalys’ and Kenders’ home is NOT the central point of this story.   It really is just a  catalyst used to start the journey that will lead them to knowledge of their true selves.  I entered the book with the idea that the siblings were going to be searching for the one responsible and that this would be a mystery throughout the story.  In reality, they are really searching for the WHY of it all, not the WHO (since you learn who did it in the chapter after their home is destroyed).

If you are driven by back story, history, and details, details, details, then you will love Progeny from start to finish.   I actually would liken this to The Lord of the Rings in its focus to detail and creation of the world and history that the characters inhabit.  I struggled through LOTR as I did Progeny, and I read them the same way:  skimming through some of the longer stories and histories to get back to the action.  I feel that this book is written with a specific reader in mind.  I simply am not that reader.

I will tell you that once I was reading sections that were more action driven, I was riveted.   The characters themselves, as well as most of their exchanges, were very well developed.  Kaelin weaves a tale about a group of people who are thrown together by fate and destiny.   His characters are in turns warm, kind, humorous, sarcastic, and, in the case of those on the evil side, down right frightening. Nundle quickly became one of my favorites.  On the opposite side, I am still unsure about the reasoning behind naming the horses and repeating those names over and over.  They weren’t talking horses and didn’t really add anything to the story, so that became a minor irritation for me.

I applaud Kaelin’s efforts to build a new world in his first novel.  Still, in the end, I fall solidly in the middle.  I would love to see where Nikalys and Kenders (and Nundle!) go from here.  I am just not sure that I would move it to the top of my to-be-read pile to find out.

 


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

 A cancelled day of school leads to an impromptu road trip for Mia and her family.  It is the last thing she remembers before “waking up” to see her family spread across the pavement as the result of a car accident.  Mia then sees herself, mangled after the accident, and realizes she is now in limbo.

What follows is a series of flashes between the past and the present.  Mia, a talented 17-year-old cellist, reminisces about life with her family, her best friend, Kim, and her boyfriend, Adam.   Mia’s parents were very liberal, very loving, and very nontraditional.  They encouraged Mia and her brother Teddy to follow their dreams, not standing in the way of anything they wanted to try.   Kim and Adam helped Mia step out of her comfort zone and try things she might otherwise have avoided.

As she lies in a coma, a result of her injuries due to the accident, Mia must ultimately make the decision to remain with her friends in life or follow her family into death.   As the only surviving member of her family, it is not hard to see why this decision would be such a difficult one.

Gayle Forman creates a dilemma for Mia that anyone would find troubling.  What would you do if you “awoke” from a terrible tragedy to find yourself alone?  Knowing that you will face an uncertain future with no family, would you risk it?

Foreman creates such an astounding dilemma, it is not hard to see why this novel garnered such acclaim.  I have to honestly tell you, however, that I do not understand previous book critics’ desire to relate this novel to either The Lovely Bones or Twilight.  While the story obviously has a “supernatural” element, as Mia is having an out of body experience, that is really its only tie to The Lovely Bones.

And with no sparkly vampires and an obvious lack of shape-shifting Native Americans, the only reason that this would appeal to readers of Twilight is because both books are in the Young Adult genre.

Forman’s novel would be better related to those of Paige Harbison or Lauren Oliver, minus the “you must get this right to get out of purgatory” idea.   If you have to minus, then it is probably best to allow a novel to stand on its own and to give the writer her own applause.

All in all, this was a great novel.  Forman creates the tension and leaves Mia with such a troubling choice, you keep wondering which she will choose.  It is well thought out and well-written, with the right balance of past and present and shifts between each that do not leave you dizzy.

Be forewarned, there are several instances of harsh language, and some parents might not be thrilled with the informality of the relationship between Mia and her parents.  For me, the language is not a major issue and the relationship is clearly one of love, so it doesn’t matter that it isn’t the cookie cutter idea of how parents and children should interact.

I really enjoyed this book, and I had actually gone in search of it because I had received the sequel Where She Went.  I read this one first, loved it, and quickly moved on to the next (review  forthcoming).   It is a quick, thought-provoking read, one that I could certainly read again.

 


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.