Review: Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

20873172Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 9+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, School, Contemporary, Gender Fluidity, Courage

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Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance. Continue reading

Review: The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel

30297411The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, Fiction, Mystery

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BLURB:

#1 internationally bestselling author Sara Blaedel, Denmark’s “Queen of Crime,” returns with her new thriller featuring Danish police investigator Louise Rick. Continue reading

Review: The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kay Yeh

20839543The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Family, Contemporary, Friendship, Food

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There’s something about asking for Impossible Things. For one little second, they feel Possible.

Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi. Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the North Shore of Long Island. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.

That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle-grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship. Continue reading

Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

24396876The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Friendship, Death

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BLURB:

This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door. Continue reading

Review: The Kindness Club by Courtney Sheinmel

25940526The Kindness Club by Courtney Sheinmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 7+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Friendship, Family

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BLURB:

Chloe Silver has always been good at looking on the bright side. Even though her parents got divorced and she’s moved to a new town, she knows that she will make great friends at her new school. So when she is assigned a science project with offbeat Lucy Tanaka and nerdy Theo Barnes, they have fun creating an experiment that tests out the laws of science through different acts of kindness . . . officially forming The Kindness Club.

But when she is also asked join the cool girls’ exclusive It Girls club, Chloe feels completely torn between the It Girls and The Kindness Club. Faced with the possibility of upsetting all her new friends, Chloe’s capacity for kindness is put to the test. Sometimes mistakes yield the best discoveries, and there is one hypothesis that can always be proven correct: Kindness is the coolest. Continue reading

Review: American Girls by Alison Umminger

30192921American Girls by Alison Umminger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Crime, Family

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BLURB:

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in YA fiction. Continue reading

Review: Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

20344662Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, War

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Ever since he was little, Jake Green has longed to be a soldier and a hero like his grandpa, who died serving his country. Right now, though, he just wants to outsmart—and outrun—the rival cross country team, the Palmetto Bugs. But then the tragedy of September 11 happens. It’s quickly discovered that one of the hijackers lived nearby, making Jake’s Florida town an FBI hot spot. Two days later, the tragedy becomes even more personal when Jake’s best friend, Sam Madina, is pummeled for being an Arab Muslim by their bully classmate, Bobby.

According to Jake’s personal code of conduct, anyone who beats up your best friend is due for a butt kicking, and so Jake goes after Bobby. But soon after, Sam’s father is detained by the FBI and Jake’s mom doubts the innocence of Sam’s family, forcing Jake to choose between his best friend and his parents. When Jake finds out that Sam’s been keeping secrets, too, he doesn’t know who his allies are anymore. But the final blow comes when his grandpa’s real past is revealed to Jake. Suddenly, everything he ever knew to be true feels like one big lie. In the end, he must decide: either walk away from Sam and the revenge that Bobby has planned, or become the hero he’s always aspired to be.

A gripping and intensely touching debut middle grade novel by Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Just a Drop of Water brings the events of September 11, which shook the world, into the lens of a young boy who is desperately trying to understand the ramifications of this life-altering event. Continue reading