Review: The Lost (Sarah Beth Durst)

The Deets:
Audience: Adult
Pages: 350
Publisher: May 27th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
ISBN: 9780778317111
Genre: mystery-ish
Source: ARC from author


The Lost
It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassable dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing--and what she's running from--before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found...

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey...and her quest to find her fate.





What am I going to do about Sarah Beth Durst? She keeps writing amazing books, and I keep forgetting to clean my house so I can read them.The Lost is her first adult novel, and I loved every page of it.

I won't lie, it did take me a few chapters to get into. I think I had this block already set up in my mind before I started reading it. I knew it was an adult novel; therefore, I was fighting it. I tend to stick with YA and the occasional middle grades book. I do not do "big people books". Obviously I got over my funk-- this Sarah Beth Durst, after all-- and I finished loved it. Once I got going, I could not put The Lost down.

Two things I have come to expect from Ms. Durst's writing: 1) It's going to be a highly original story, and 2) It's going to be so detailed that I will feel like I've been swept away along with the character. The Lost did not disappoint.

The details of the town of Lost were so fantastic I felt like I was there with Lauren. I could see the mounds of broken, lost things in the middle of the town. I could feel the resentment and anger of the townspeople toward Lauren. I could definitely sense the mystery behind Peter, and I swear I could choke on the dust from the Void. Simply put, it was remarkable. You know it's a good book when you get so caught up in the world you are reading that it begins to feel like your own, or at least a place you could find.

The story itself is something quite unique and wonderful, too. The Lost is like nothing I've read before. Lauren is a tragically believable character. I think readers will be able to connect with her, because on some level we have all given up dreams for life's responsibilities. The most fascinating character for me, though, was Peter. He is an enigma. He speaks in riddles and quotes famous works of literature. He almost seems nonhuman (and I'm still wondering what he is exactly), but he also shows the most humanity of all the characters. He is a very complicated fellow, and I want more!

By the time I got close to the end I had decided that I wanted to know what's coming. The groundwork for this great mystery has been set. There will be questions, and maybe a few not-so-big surprises, but you're going to enjoy the journey.


Review: The Silver Rings (Samuel Valentino)

The Deets: 
Audience: MG, intermediate
Pages: 223
Publisher: July 1st 2014 by Brattle Publishing Group
ISBN: 9780985429546
Genre: fairytale
Source: eARC from Netgalley



The Silver Rings 
Meet twin sisters, Celia and Alice, whose bid for freedom from their evil stepmother leads them on a hilarious journey through a world of fantasy and imagination. Join the sisters as they encounter a sarcastic fairy godmother, giants, charming princes, an overly dramatic fox, and more! Readers will recognize familiar themes from their favorite tales and read new ones taken from cultures around the world. Author and illustrator Samuel Valentino has cleverly woven together a delightful fairy tale that teaches us resilience and creative thinking pay off in the end.


When I saw this cover on NetGalley, I had to read it. It looked so cute. As an added bonus, I love fairytale retellings. The Silver Rings looked like it would fit into the fractured fairytale genre, and it did!

I also saw a copy of this book in my local Barnes and Noble last week. It was sitting on a shelf in the young readers section, which I believe is for ages 7-12. I am not sure I would agree with the 10+ age range, but I can see it appealing to younger readers. I would be more likely to call this an intermediate (grades 3-5) read than a middle grades read (grades 6-8).

The story in The Silver Rings is straight forward. It unfolds like a true fairy tale. Readers will enjoy spotting old favorites that have found themselves twisted up in this plot. Also, like true fairy tales, there isn't a lot of character development. The sisters are very close--connected because they are twins, and because they have magical rings. The sisters are not, however, profoundly deep. None of the characters are for that matter. I don't think they really bothered me because I knew this was a fractured fairy tale and I wasn't expecting a super detailed story in only 223 pages. But, that simple fact is what makes me consider this book for younger readers (intermediate level). I do not think older readers will be happy with the quick plot and sometimes random/rushed actions by the sisters.

Overall, I thought this was cute. It would be perfect for a little girl looking for her first "big" chapter book. The pictures help illustrate what is going on in the plot, and the chapters aren't too long for a younger reader. I enjoyed it. 


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Review: Some Boys (Patty Blount)

The Deets: 
Audience: YA
Pages: 352
Publisher: August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
(first published January 1st 2014)
ISBN: 9781402298561
Genre: contemporary
Source: eARC from Netgalley



Some BoysSome boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But...Ian doesn't. He's funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?





This. Book.

I had a feeling I was going to like this book when I read the summary. I am a huge fan of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, and something about Some Boys just spoke to me. I knew I would like it. What I did not count on, however, is how much I loved it.


If I was still teaching face-to-face with students, Some Boys would be in my curriculum. I own 35 copies of Speak, and I would darn sure make sure I had multiple copies of this book for the kids. In fact, I would teach these books together... make a whole unit out of it. Speak and Some Boys have so much in common; it would make for some powerful conversations about labels and misconceptions.

What I loved most about Some Boys is really hard to put in words. I thought it would just be Grace's story about a date rape. Instead, though, it ended up being Grace's story, Ian's story, Zac's story, and the story of many other people. The way these characters were all connected and bound to each other in a very sticky web was profound. There was a lot of great insight from each character's perspective.

Grace has issues. I won't even lie. She was crying out for attention, and everyone knew it. The attention she got, however, was not what she was looking for. So that's complicated. Goth/Biker chick/general badass on compass is going up against a walking Adonis. Even the teachers side with Zac as to what happened that night. It's pretty awful for Grace, but she never backs down.

Zac is a douche bag. He's a womanizer with a serious anger management problem. Of course, it's well hidden on the field so no one really notices it. He's perfect in the eyes of so many. Until...

Ian. Stuck in the middle and conflicted, Ian. He has a lot of thinking and searching to do. He likes Grace but is fiercely loyal to his teammate and best friend, Zac. So when Grace never backs down from her version of the story, he has to figure out if there could possibly be a grain of truth in what she says, or if everything was a huge misunderstanding.

So the conflict is pretty thick and consistent. Grace does some crazy stuff that makes me question her sanity, but it makes a point. It also makes you think. Her speech about labels is brilliant. It really made me think, and I wish I could open that up to discussion with kids because it's such a real problem they face.

Characterization in this book if top notch. Zac, Grace, and Ian were so real. Even the minor minions had a role and were highly believable. I could see this whole situation playing out in any high school.

When you read Some Boys, don't expect it to be just a lesson against rape. There is so much more hiding in these pages. Grace and Ian have some serious family issues to sort through along the way too. There is also a great conversation between Ian and his older sister about why some girls act the way they do around boys. Pretty profound and spot on.

I highly recommend this one.


Review: Variant (Robinson Wells)

The Deets:

Audience: YA
Pages: 376
Publisher: September 26th 2011 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062026088
Genre: mystery, thriller
Source: library copy


Variant (Variant, #1)Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.




















Oh man, you guys. This book! In one word: intense. In two words: intense and surprising.

I usually figure out the plot of books way before the end, but that was not the case with Variant. It literally kept me guessing to the last word.

If you like suspenseful books, I hope Variant find its way to your reading list. Saying it's suspenseful is a major understatement. I stayed up until 2 am to finish this book because I had to know what was coming. After a particularly gruesome scene, I found myself reading to know what the outcome would be. I told myself "just one more chapter" to see. But what I found made me stop and ask myself "what just happened?" So of course I had to keep reading. And that's just what I did until I finished the book.

I loved discovering what was going on at Maxfield Academy right along with Benson. He had his suspicions and I had mine. We both found surprises-- lots of them.

Benson is a great narrator. He has major flaws, which makes him very likable. I imagine if I was in his situation, I might feel a lot of the same emotions. His voice came through loud and clear without sounding forced or fake. The other characters were also great in their supporting roles. Robinson Wells did a phenomenal job of layering everyone with such mystery that it was hard to assign a label. I was constantly guessing, right along with Benson.

I can promise you, when you think you have this book figured out, get ready. There will be some insane twist that will throw you off and make you question what you just read. Fantastic. Because I enjoyed this book, I went ahead and reserved book 2 from the library because I have to know what is coming next!


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