Sometimes I have trouble keeping my book budget under control. Social media in the writing community doesn’t help matters; I see so many books that interest me, and before I know it, my nightstand and my Nook overflow.
I recently found a bookish alternative that keeps me reading for free and helps other writers: Swoon Reads! Writers can submit manuscripts, readers get to read and comment for free, and Swoon chooses the top performers to publish! It really is a win-win. My first Swoon Read was Dangerous Play by Alison Miller.
The brief summary:
Best friends and soccer all-stars Jesse, Ashton, and JD are on opposite sides of a prank text that leaves Jesse girlfriend-less and spirals into a vicious social war. When a common rival pits them against each other, threatening to destroy their friendship and futures, they must take him down—together.
I love YA from a boy’s point of view, so I was really excited to see the sides of all three main characters. The close friendships, complicated family situations, and careful reveals of misunderstandings keep the tension high as the story unfolds. I highly recommend reading and rating Dangerous Play, and I’m looking forward to finding more new voices at Swoon Reads!
The summary (adapted from Goodreads):
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. 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 journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
The Thing About Jellyfish is exceptionally well-written. Informative without being preachy and realistic but also timeless, Jellyfish covers quite a bit of ground in what it means to journey from childhood to adolescence. That aching realism, and the interesting facts, were my favorite parts of the novel. It’s the kind of book with a cross-over appeal that adults will love. The question I kept asking, though, was how will the target audience feel? Even with the first person narration, I felt a distance from Suzy, as if the reader is seeing an adult tell the story instead of a twelve-year-old. Even with that distance, I still appreciate the layered nuance of Benjamin’s writing.
4 out of 5 stars.
Music for today: Take It All Back by Judah & the Lion
I am thrilled to be back with a new book review. I just finished Jennifer Park’s The Shadows We Know by Heart, and I can’t wait to write about it.
Get your copy through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound.
The summary (adapted from Goodreads):
Leah Roberts’s has a secret she’s told no one: Sasquatch are real, and she’s been watching a trio of them in the woods behind her house for years. Leah discovers that among the Sasquatch lives a teenager. This alluring, enigmatic boy has no memory of his past and can barely speak, but Leah can’t shake his magnetic pull. Gradually, Leah’s life entwines with his, providing her the escape from reality she never knew she needed. When Leah’s two worlds suddenly collide in a deadly showdown, she uncovers a shocking truth as big and extraordinary as the legends themselves, one that could change her life forever.
I’ve read many, many books in the past year. But it took this one to get me back online to write a review. I immediately related to Leah and her struggles, even in this fantastical world of Bigfoot. The family dynamic was incredibly well-drawn, examining what it means to be the child of a pastor in the South, and how faith can be tested in devastating circumstances. The contemporary elements of the novel work so well that I never found myself questioning the fantasy elements. Park also manages to create a believable, dynamic love triangle. She kept me guessing as to how this situation could possibly be resolved in a satisfying way, keeping me turning the pages until late at night, and she managed to pull it all off perfectly in the end.
Rating: Five out of five stars!
Music for today: On Hold by The XX