In 27 Days

In 27 DaysAuthor: Alison Gervais

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A hard hitting, emotional roller coaster that will leave readers pulling at their heart-strings and wiping a tear from their eyes by the last page.

When Archer Morales commits suicide, his classmate Hadley Jamison is surprised by how much it affects her. She knew him from freshman English class, but that’s about it.  He was the kind of guy that pretty much kept to himself.  Hadley decides to attend Archer’s funeral for some closure.  As she is leaving the funeral, she runs into a man who calls himself Death.  Death offers Hadley a deal; he will send her back in time twenty-seven days to try and stop Archer from killing himself.  It doesn’t take much to convince Hadley that this is something she must do.  She agrees but finds that it is not going to be an easy task.  Archer has kept himself isolated for several reasons, none of which he is especially eager to share with anyone.  As Hadley works to gain his confidence, strange accidents start to occur that keep Hadley and Archer farther from each other and make Hadley wonder if she is really ready to risk everything, including her own life, to accomplish her mission.

All I can say is WOW!. When I started In 27 Days, I had no idea where it would lead me.  It was one of the most raw, real, and amazing books I have read in a very long time.  The way these characters and their storyline laid out was unbelievable.  This is the kind of writing I would expect from someone with decades of experience.  Alison Gervais is an author that has the potential to take off and never look back at where her writing can take her and her readers.  The way the story of Hadley and Archer came together was absolutely beautiful.  I never once felt as if anything was forced or rushed between the characters or with their actions.  Out of all the books I have read this year, this is going quickly to the top of my list.  With the rampant amount of bullying going on in our society, this is a story that needs to be read by many.  I highly recommend this to all readers, especially anyone that might be struggling with feeling alone or how to help someone in that position.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Larger-Than-Life-Lara

laraAuthor: Dandi Daley Mackall

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This book that should be read by all young kids! It that tackles a difficult topic in a beautiful way.

Laney Grafton is a ten-year-old writing a story about what happens when her class gets a new girl who isn’t like everyone else. When Lara shows up in class, it is obvious from looking at her that she will be the target of bullying.  She is larger than anyone these fourth graders have ever seen.  Instead of letting the bullying beat her down, Lara surprises everyone and smiles through it all.  Several of the kids go above and beyond with how harsh and cruel they are.  Throughout it all, Laney stays quiet since she is being left alone for once.  With crafty titles about storytelling and an overall extraordinary tale about a girl that is able to transform an entire class, Larger-Than-Life-Lara shows us the best and worst in every single one of us.

Bullying is such a horrible aspect of growing up that unfortunately almost everyone has to deal with at some point. Larger-Than-Life Lara tackles this subject in a unique way.  By telling the story from Laney’s point of view, we see how everyone is affected in many different ways.  This is a book that I think should be in all schools and read and discussed together.  Kids of all ages could get so much out of this book.  The way that Lara reacted to the treatment of the other kids shows how she is Larger than Life in more ways than just here size. We could all learn from all of the characters in this book, either in how to act or how not to treat someone.  At times, the writing style seems a little odd but since the narrator is a ten year old it worked out really well.  The book is short, less than 200 pages, making it an easy read.  I finished it in one day.  I hate to see the need for books like this, but it is needed now more than ever.  So many kids are bullied in one way or another and being over weight is probably one of the hardest to deal with.  Mackall did an excellent job setting up this story in a way that will make an impact with readers while also not being too lengthy and losing younger readers.  Overall this was an excellent read that I will be high recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Storm

stormAuthor: Bonnie S. Calhoun

Series: Stone Braid Chronicles #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With Glade gone and everyone out to get her, Selah is going to have her biggest challenge yet. All she has to do is stay alive long enough to complete her mission. 

Selah has worked tirelessly to reunite her family, but in the blink of an eye it is all about to be gone. Out of the mountain they are surrounded in a world full of volcanic ash hiding the dangers beneath.  With each day that passes, she finds herself growing weaker.  Her abilities are diminishing as are the number of people trying to get her growing.  Being a novarium is a heavy burden, not only in her abilities but also in the knowledge that many have given their lives to save her.  Together they all work to continue the search in finding the Third Protocol to complete their mission.  Their only clues consist of ancient artifacts and relying on Keepers to give her the clues to continue.  With each step, Selah and her team wonder if they have made a mistake in who they placed their trust and if they can actually accomplish what they set out to do before it is too late.

As the Stone Braide Chronicles comes to an end, I feel satisfied yet still wanting more. There could easily be another novel to continue this story but with it ending here it can still be thought of as complete.  I thought this entire series was well written and entertaining.   For several moments of the story I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the outcome would be for Selah and her crew.  When reading, I love to be on the edge of my seat and feel as if I am right there with the characters.  That happened throughout much of this novel.  Bonnie Calhoun has taken us, not necessarily to a new world, but to a new time in the world we know.  The landscape is familiar with cities and landmarks that most will be familiar with but not what has happened in that land over time.  Being able to provide those landmarks help me set myself in the place the story was working its way through.  The timing is another story.  I know it’s in the future but am still unsure how far into the future we are, even after this third in the series.

While I did have those positives, I have to be honest that there are a few negative aspects for me. The question of what the Sorrows are still bugs me.  I don’t feel that that along with some of the technology they used and what Landers and Novarium are were fleshed out as much as I would have preferred.  With that being said, I feel another story coming on, either a sequel or a novella from a few of the other characters point of view would be welcomed.

There is still some violence here but nothing gets too bloody that it would need to be kept away from squeamish readers. Overall I enjoyed this series very much and am sad to see it come to an end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Initiation

lock-and-keyAuthor: Ridley Pearson

Series: Lock and Key #1

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sherlock Holmes as you’ve never seen him before! A great introduction to the detective for a younger generation.

Sherlock Holmes is a well-known detective, but not as much is known about his youth. Here is a tale of how he begin his rivalry with his most famous enemy, James Moriarty, which is told from the viewpoint of James’s little sister, Moria.  James grows up to be a ruthless villain, but what happened to lead him down that path?  James is put into a boarding school where he winds up the roommate of a British know-it-all named Sherlock Holmes.  Moria attends the school as well and becomes closer to Sherlock, Lock as she calls him, than her brother.  Shortly after school starts, a treasured Bible that is supposedly the family bible of the Moriarty family goes missing causing James and Moria to be caught up in a school wide scandal.  The school imposes mandatory study hall and lockdown until the bible is found.  James has never known of his family to have such a bible here, but all of a sudden clues start turning up leading him on a search for what he thinks must be the bible.  Sherlock helps his roommate and finds that things are not at all what they first appear, leading them to the discovery of a secret society within the walls of the school. With danger around every corner and mysterious dealings afoot, nothing will be the same.

Ridley Pearson has developed a knack for developing stories for that are like none out there. He reimagined the Disney villains and heroes for young adults to read and enjoy, and now has taken on a new direction for us to see Sherlock Holmes that is entertaining, fun, and so enjoyable.  I have heard of Sherlock Holmes but the characters of James and Moira were new to me.  I loved the way Pearson told the story through Moira’s perspective.  It was different and gave a neat view of the story.  At first glance you are think the story took place long ago, that’s what comes to mind for me when I think of Sherlock Holmes.  Interestingly enough, it takes place in the present.  The kids are attending Baskerville academy, a school that doesn’t allow cell phones, making all clues and information a little more difficult for kids and all involved in to attain. At first you might think that Sherlock and even James are the brightest of the bunch, but don’t count Moria out too quickly.  She learns quickly from those around her and with Sherlock to teach her proper sleuthing techniques, she is sure to not be left out of all that is happening around her.  Pearson has become one of my favorite YA authors.  You can count on his stories to be entertaining with much to learn along the way.  With this being the start of a new series, I can’t wait to see what is to come.

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