Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

SuspicionSeventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.

For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.

Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.









Don't be fooled by others telling you this book is not worth reading, because it is! I was instantly curious when I saw it was a modernized retelling of one of the best books ever: Rebecca. But it's not just a straight up retelling, the author still manages to make Suspicion an unique story of its own.

First of all, there are definite similarities between the two books that will make fans of Daphne Du Maurier's book happy. Creepy English estate that seems to be hiding a secret, insecure main character, plotting hired help, and ghost sightings are all present and accounted for. But this version of Rebecca also has fun references to pop culture and a supernatural twist.

Many reviews don't seem to appreciate the characters, but I have to tell you, they really fit with the classic. In the original, the narrator is never confident. She's always questioning the love and intentions of her new husband, while feeling like a second rate citizen compared to the memory of his late first wife. What kind of retelling would change that? It only makes sense that Imogen is constantly feeling Lucia's presence surrounding her. And if your maid and head housekeeper keep telling you how awesome your cousin was, wouldn't you feel like a cheap replacement? Maybe she was a bit naive with her love of Sebastian (especially since she claims to have loved him all her life and she's only a teenager), but it still fits with the feel of the story.

My only complaint is that the supernatural element was not developed more. Imogen is pretty special, but we never get a real look into why and what she can do. That part of the plot really fell short. There were glimpses here and there of what made her unique, but they never went anywhere. Well, except to make the ending pretty dramatic, but that felt a bit odd and rushed.

All in all, though, I thought it was a great page turner. Suspicion kept all the key elements of the classic, Rebecca, while making the story fresh. I loved the modern twists and references, which kept it from feeling stiff and dated.


Review: Sway (Kat Spears)

SwayIn Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.





























This book. I don't even know what to think about it, really.

I cannot believe this is a first book by the author. There is no way. Her ability to create a voice in a character is unbelievable.

Jesse (Sway) is interesting. He is 100% rough around the edges and a bit hard to digest at times. When I started this book, I thought "Oh, Cyrano de Bergerac retelling. Awesome." I love that story. It's sweet, funny, and complicated in a nice rom-com kind of way, so obviously Sway was going to follow suit. Um, no. Not at all, actually.

Sway is gritty. Within the first few paragraphs I knew I was in for something different. If I'm being a bit honest, I am worried that my decision to highlight this book for my YA book club with students might have been a risky venture. I'm really hoping there is no backlash from this one due to all the drug references and language. Like I said, it's gritty (and very realistic).

Several times I thought about putting this one down because the language was intense and the pages seemed to drip with drug references. (Which makes sense since Jesse is a drug dealer, among other things.) But every time I convinced myself I was done, something would happen. Then I found myself laughing hysterically and texting snap shops of pages to my friend to read. She gets me and we shared many laughs over Jesse's sardonic humor.

This book is not politically correct in any way, shape, or form. Insults against all types of people are thrown about all over the place. And I loved it for that very reason. The sarcastic and highly critical characters won me over. Especially the older man in the nursing home with a very strong dislike of Oprah. I was in tears from laughing so hard.

Kat Spears does an amazing job of getting inside of the head of a boy with major trust issues and problems, and she makes him one of my all-time favorite characters. I am 100% team Jesse. But before you rush out to read this one, you should know it comes with a disclaimer. There is a TON of foul language and drug/sex references all over the place. I would not recommend this one to younger readers, no matter how mature they think they are. Sway is definitely suitable for older readers only. If your younger readers want a sweet Cyrano story, they need to check out Flawless by Laura Chapman.  


Review: The Eigth Day (Dianne Salerni)

The Eighth Day (Eighth Day, #1)When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.

And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.














Fun to read right from the start! The Eighth Day is a middle school Sunshine State Reader for the 2015-2016 school year. I usually pick a few books from the list to read during the year so I can help out with our middle school book club. Luckily, I can say that I have not been disappointed with what I've read this year so far!

The Eighth Day is so full of action that it's hard to put down once you start reading. Jax has issues to work through, but it's nothing compared to his legal guardian's life. Talk about complicated. Add a mysterious girl living next door and you've got yourself quite a mystery.

Oh, but the real mystery begins when Jax discovers there is an eighth day in the week that only a select group of people know about. Why? Because that day is part of King Arthur's legend.

This book did such a great job incorporating elements of one of my favorite tales into a fresh spin on middle grades fiction. It is geared towards younger readers, so don't look for deep themes that leave you questioning life at the end of the book. You won't have a life changing experience. But you will have a great time reading The Eighth Day. I highly recommend it to all middle school kids and fans of Arthurian legend. 


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