A Patch from Scratch – Megan Forward – Penguin/ Viking – Published 28 March 2017
Jesse and Lewis want to grow their own fruit and vegies, just like people do on a farm. They’re going to dig and build, plant and grow, and when they’re finished they’re going to have a feast!
A Patch From Scratch is the story of Jesse who, with his mum and his dad and his big brother Lewis, creates a veggie patch.
There is something so deliciously earthy about this book, from the avocado-green end pages to the beige backgrounds on each page. This book is packed with heaps of content. The story flows nicely as the family first dream about their new veggie garden, then create a plan, begin building the chicken coop and raised garden bed, and start their planting. Everything from composting to companion planting, seed raising to pest control is covered within the story. There is enough information for this to become a wonderful guide for children who want to create their own veggie patch. Jesse even creates his own plant diary. The back of the book also contains information about the history of home veggie patches, where to find more information, the cycle of the veggie patch creation and maintenance and even some recipes to try.
The Red Door Inn – Liz Johnson – Prince Edward Island Dreams #1 – Revell – Published 1 March 2016
Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.
Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?
It took me two tries to read this book. I’m not sure what happened the first time as on my second go I was sucked into the story and more than happy to stay there. Great scenery is perhaps an understatement, as The Red Door Inn is set on Price Edward Island (yes, home of L.M. Montgomery and our favourite red-haired orphan). And there is a romance to match the charm of the rolling seas and windy coastline. But what is most alluring about this story is the characters.
Marie is on the run from a past she doesn’t even like to think about. She’s not sure where she is going, she just knows she can’t look back. But with less than a handful of change to her name she knows she might need to take up the offer a kind stranger on the Prince Edward Island ferry proffers – come and stay at his B&B and help him finish its design in time for its opening in a few weeks’ time. But she doesn’t count on the kind man’s nephew – tall, burly and kind of unfriendly Seth – also staying and working at the Inn, nor how interacting with the two men along with the other residents of the small coastline town would challenge her to step outside the shadow of her past and maybe even learn to trust again.
Exit, Pursued By A Bear – E.K Johnston – Dutton Books for Young Readers – Published 15 March 2016
Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.
But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:
Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.
Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
A beautiful, poignant and powerful story about a girl’s journey through the aftermath of sexual assault, and the way in which a community gathers around her with support and love. I have called other heroines strong, but none of them compare to Hermione. She is one amazing young lady. I love how she thinks, how she is logical and brave. She knows she needs the support of everyone around her and she isn’t afraid to lean upon them.
Exit, Pursued By A Bear starts by setting the scene after Hermione’s attack and then moves back to the time at Cheerleading Camp before it. It is both scary and dramatic watching the lead up, knowing something of what is about to unfold, trying to watch for clues and ultimately hurting for this vibrant young girl. Continue reading
Pony Detectives – Soraya Nicholas – Starlight Stables #1 – Penguin Australia – Published 28 March 2016
Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch . . . Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?
When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?
Love horses and dream of owning your own pony or escaping to riding camp for the summer? Well, Poppy answers yes to all three, and this summer her wishes are about to come true.
Poppy is going to stay with her aunt and uncle at their riding camp for the holidays and they have a very special surprise in store for her – her very own pony. But she will have to share this privilege with two other girls. When horses are stolen from neighbouring properties, Poppy and her two new friends decide it is up to them to keep their own ponies safe and maybe even rescue the missing horses.
I’ll Be Yours – Jenny B. Jones – Sweet Pea Productions – Published 22 March 2016
She’s the coach’s brilliant daughter, clueless about love. He’s the dethroned football star, ready to teach Romance 101. When dark secrets and sparks collide, there’s no playbook for what happens next.
The day Andrew Levin arrives at Washington High, Harper O’Malley knows he’ll make the perfect starter boyfriend. The school’s newest band geek is totally in Harper’s league, yet completely out of this late-bloomer’s reach. Between fitting in with a new family, scoring the first chair in band, and rescuing dogs for the local animal shelter, Harper’s never had the opportunity to hone her dating skills. But even though Harper’s love life is far from perfect, she’s got the perfect plan.
Harper knows she’s insane to agree to tutor Ridley Estes, a notorious heartbreaker and the star of her high school’s football team—but in exchange, he’s offered to school her in the game of love. Just when she sees promise with her crush, a football scandal rocks her family, her town, and Ridley’s entire future. Harper suddenly has everything to lose—her family, friends, and even her heart. When the dust of the scandal settles, nothing will be the same. Including the girl who asked the most popular jock to teach her about love.
I initially passed over this book as I had previously read a book by Jenny B Jones and not loved it. Big mistake. After seeing many positive reviews and reading the synopsis (which sounded awesome) I knew I had to give I’ll Be Yours a try. And I am so glad I did, because I’ll Be Yours was truly enjoyable, touching, funny and has totally changed my mind about this author. Thanks to a kind soul who lent me a copy.
Harper is an O’Malley. Has been ever since she came to live with them when she was nine. But sometimes it’s hard to feel like an O’Malley when you look nothing like the rest of your family, nightmares keep you awake every night and you have no idea how to have a normal conversation with a guy you’re crushing on. When Harper’s world implodes, she turns to a boy she would normally have nothing to do with, Ridley Estes. Their lives have both been impacted and they strike a deal – she helps him get back his dream of a football scholarship and he helps coach her in how to get the guy of her dreams. Continue reading
Walk the Edge – Katie McGarry – Thunder Road #2 – Harlequin Teen – Published 29 March 2016
Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.
And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.
As always there are never enough words to describe the supreme brilliance of Katie McGarry’s writing, and Walk The Edge lives up to every one of my expectations. I could wax poetic about the loveable, complicated characters. Or maybe swoon about the romance that is so captivating and potent it had my heart trying to leave home. Or would you rather hear about the way you are dragged into the story, a participant in every low and high the characters experience, so much so that I read the majority of this book even when I had a pounding headache and through squinted eyes, all so I didn’t have to put it down. And if that’s not enough to convince you to read this book, and if you’re not swayed by mysteries and thrills that wind you in knots, then all I can say is this is a story of choosing your family, learning to find that place you belong, standing up for what’s right, being brave and falling in love. There are kisses so electric my hair stood on end, heartbreak and second chances. Continue reading
New Book Releases for April 2016
Here is a small collection of young adult and Christian fiction new releases for April 2016. Click on the book covers for full reviews.
Young Adult Fiction
Don’t Get Caught – Kurt Dinan – Sourcebooks – Published 1 April 2016
This book had me at Ocean’s 11. It’s a great mix of humour and outrageous escapades, with a cast of realistic, if slightly crazy, teenage characters.
When Max is invited to the water tower by the school’s infamous Chaos Club he is happy to throw off his Just-Max, nobody role and do something a bit daring. But when he and the four other students told to meet there are set up and embarrassingly caught and then punished in front of the whole school, Max is determined to seek his revenge. And just like any good heist leader, Max needs a crew – and the four teens also caught in the first embarrassing prank setup prove to be excellent and willing conspirators.
Young adult fiction: Contemporary.
Romancing the Nerd – Leah Rae Miller – Entangled:Teen – Published 5 April 2016
Dan was a nerd once a upon a time, but that was before a growth spurt and his dad landed him on the basketball team and propelled him to popularity glory (or torture, as he sees it). It meant leaving his nerdy friends behind, including Zelda, who has never forgiven him for it. An unfortunate incident (involving a basketball, a tuba and a whole lot of blood) puts Dan in Zelda’s crosshairs. Zelda is determined to enact her revenge. But Zelda never imagined that there was still a cute, fumbling, geeky guy under all that popularity. And it might just be harder for Zelda to hate him than she thought.
Young adult fiction: Contemporary.
The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski – The Winner’s Trilogy #3 – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 24 March 2016
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
The Winner’s Kiss is an epic conclusion to the fantastic Winner’s Trilogy. Heart-wrenching and awesome, every moment is tense with a mix of despair and possibility. Could Kestrel and Arin ever save their people, find safety, and possibly get their happy ending?
Arin has allied with the Dacran queen. Kestrel has been discovered as a traitor to her people and has been transported to a work camp. War is looming.
Marie Rutkoski has proven her ability to write engaging stories, but The Winner’s Kiss cements this, with imagery so vibrant that reading this book was akin to sinking through the pages straight into the detailed world she has created. In The Winner’s Kiss the perspective frequently switches from Arin to Kestrel, sometimes with each only sharing a small paragraph or two before returning to the other’s view point. It makes for dramatic, edge-of-your-seat reading. Continue reading
New Book Releases for March 2016
March is shaping up to be an epic month for new book releases. Here are some I have already read and reviewed and a few others that have caught my eye. Click on the book covers for full reviews.
Young Adult Fiction
You Were Here – Cori McCarthy – SourcebooksFire – Published 1 March 2016
Brilliantly told, this story is beautiful and authentic, surprising and totally enjoyable. You Were Here is told in alternating chapters from each of the five main characters.
Jaycee’s brother died five years ago when he snapped his neck doing a backflip off the top of a playground swing in front of Jaycee and a dozen other kids. Jaycee’s life changed that day and five years hasn’t lessened the Jake-sized hole she has in her life. Full review.
Young adult fiction: Contemporary.
In Real Life – Jessica Love – St.Martin’s Press – Published 1 March 2016
Nick and Hannah have been best friends online for years, but when Hannah decides it’s finally time to meet she sets off to surprise Nick at his band’s performance in Las Vegas. But Nick has a few surprises of his own for Hannah, none of which Hannah is all that happy about. They have one night to sort things out and rescue their friendship. Full Review.
Young adult fiction: Contemporary.
The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner – Penguin Random House UK Children’s – Published 8 March 2016
Dill’s father is in jail for an unspeakable crime. Shunned by the neighbours in their small religious Tennessee town, Dill and his mother try to make ends meet. Dill’s only respite from poverty and prejudice are his two friends: Lydia and Travis. Travis is an oddball, finding sanctuary from his violent father in his obsession with an epic fantasy saga. Lydia is fast-talking and fiercely creative, pinning her hopes on her achingly cool fashion blog. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life in New York.
Dill wants to get through his final year of high school in one piece. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of his family, a serpent poisoning his blood, filling him with despair. Dill must confront this legacy of madness and desperation before it tears him apart.
The Serpent King is an emotional and touching novel. Three friends together experience loss, the trials of social segregation, and hope and trepidation for the future. Set in rural Tennessee, Lydia, Dill and Travis fight for their futures against the backdrop of Southern charm and prejudice.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. The summary suggested a book about friendship, and it certainly is the focus of this book, but it is also about love, coming of age, and fighting the demons that seek to steal your light. It was surprising and totally engrossing.
Lydia, Dill and Travis are a strong trio of friends and yet they are totally disparate. The book cycles through each of their perspectives in short chapters, sometimes picking up right where one leaves off, providing a wonderful insight into each of the main characters’ heads and hearts. Continue reading