PASSIONATE ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Tag: Photography

Book Review: What Matters Most

 

What Matters Most

– Courtney Walsh –

Nantucket Love Story #3

Tyndale House Publishers

Published 5 April 2022

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In What Matters Most, author Courtney Walsh returns readers to the shores of Nantucket for a story about grief, secrets, and forgiving yourself.

Emma has moved herself and her young son to Nantucket in the hopes it will give them both a fresh start. Five years after her husband’s death, she’s still reeling from grief and guilt. Jameson too carries much guilt over the death of Emma’s husband and in a bid to move on with his life, he arrives in Nantucket to tell Emma the truth about her husband’s death. When Jamie arrives on Emma’s doorstep, she thinks he’s there to answer her ad for someone to clean out and renovate the guesthouse on her property. Jamie agrees but fails to tell Emma the real reason he’s there. Maybe he can help her in other ways. As Jamie works on the house, he and Emma grow closer, sharing their love of art and even rekindling that creative spark. But they both have secrets that could destroy any future they might have.

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Book Review: No Filter and Other Lies

Girl with dark hair and skin holds a camera with photos of other teens around her

 

No Filter and Other Lies

– Crystal Maldonado –

Holiday House

Published 8 February 2022

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Social media is such a massive part of our young readers’ lives and yet its reach and impact is so often left out of YA fiction. No Filter and Other Lies addresses the addiction of social media, it’s dangers and its benefits head on. It also addresses the inherent racism and sizeism of social media and the challenges teens face in navigating this online world.

Kat is a photographer, friend, granddaughter and dog lover. She’s also pretty good at lying. For years, she’s been lying to everyone but her best friends about where she lives. Most people think she lives with her parents, as evidenced by the perfect family photos her mother shares on Facebook. But Kat actually lives with her grandparents. So, when the opportunity arises to share her work as a photographer on Instagram to a much wider audience, Kat takes it. It’s only a small lie and what’s that in the scheme of her life? Yes, she has to borrow her friend’s (perfectly gorgeous, white, thin) face after she expressly said she didn’t want to go back on social media. But, Kat will also use the account to share about the dogs at the shelter she works at, so there will be some good come from the whole thing. But when Kat starts to fall for a girl she chats with online, things get complicated. Especially when that girl thinks Kat is a 21-year-old college girl called Max.

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Book Review: When We Were Strangers

When We Were Strangers – Alex Richards – Bloomsbury YA – Published 27 July 2021

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father’s sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn’t: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away, desperate to spare her mom more heartache.

To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can’t stop thinking about her father’s mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there’s more to the story than she ever knew…

My thoughts

I am a massive fan of Accidental, so I was eager to pick up the author’s latest novel, When We Are Strangers. Again, Alex Richards delivers a novel that is full of emotional tension.

Evie Parker is distraught to learn of her father’s death. But when she finds his bags packed, ready to leave her and her mum for his pregnant mistress, Evie decides to unpack them and hide the truth from her mother. As she carries the weight of both the secret and her grief, Evie finds herself turned towards photography and entered into a photography course by her uncle. The course and her eclectic classmates give Evie the outlet she needs, but when she happens upon her father’s mistress and begins to capture images of her, Evie learns there is so much she didn’t know and so much she has still to learn.

When We Were Strangers is both gut-wrenching but also uplifting. For all the grief and emotional baggage Evie is carrying, there are moments of light, humour and human connection. I very much enjoyed Evie’s voice. She narrates the story and her teenage-ness just shines through so authentically and uniquely. She is sad, lonely and grieving and that comes through in her words and thoughts. At times she seems whiney or sulky, but that is so perfectly real. She has the right to be snarky and she uses that to the best effect.

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Book Review: Chasing Lucky

Chasing Lucky – Jenn Bennett – Simon Pulse – Published 10 November 2020

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Synopsis

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

My thoughts

Well, Jenn Bennett has done it again. Just when I thought I was in a book slump that would last forever, Jenn swept in with her tales growing up, dealing with complicated family circumstances, aching and swoony romance. Combined with addictive storytelling, I rejoiced in having found such a wonderful book once again. If you are a fan of Jenn Bennett’s other books (and by that I mean you’ve read one) you will be delighted by Chasing Lucky.

Josie knows how to pack light. She’s used to throwing together her things as her mother moves them from town to town, sometimes in the dead of night. Ever since the great blow up between her mother and grandmother when she was 12, Josie has been on the move. Now, thanks to her grandmother taking an overseas trip, Josie and her mother are finally returning to their hometown, Beauty. Confronted by her past, her ex-best friend and now rather gorgeous Lucky Karras, a chance to realise her dreams of moving to live with her professional photographer father and maybe even get to the bottom of her mother’s history in Beauty, Josie’s return is far from smooth but it might also be everything she’s looking for.

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Book Review: Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season – Lauren K. Denton – Thomas Nelson – Published 3 April 2018

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Synopsis

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

My thoughts

Storms can bring great destruction, but they can also bring a time for discovering what lasts, what holds together even through the harshest weather, and what comes out better for the rain. Hurricane Season is a book truly evocative of Southern summer and which captures the complications of family relationships, the desire to see dreams fulfilled, and the trials that test marriages and break hearts.

When Betsy receives a voice message from her sister, Jenna, asking if she can leave her two young girls with her while she attends a photography camp, Betsy knows it will test everything inside her. It will bring back the harsh memories of negative test results and the guest room that never became a nursery. It will strain further her relationship with her husband, something that was only now slowly returning to normal. But Betsy never says no to her sister and so two sweet, young girls descend on Betsy and Ty’s farm and home. For Jenna it is a time to finally follow her dreams of photography. For Betsy and Ty it is a time of facing the past’s hurt and faded dreams, while reconnecting as a couple. But as a hurricane looms, will this family survive everything the summer has in store for them?

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Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful

A Broken Kind of Beautiful – Katie Ganshert – WaterBrook – Published 15 April 2014

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Synopsis

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

My thoughts

I put this book on my to-read list some time ago but never had the occasion to pick it up. Now, after reading the magnificence that is Life After, I knew I needed to get my hands on all of Katie Ganshert’s books. For some reason, I thought A Broken Kind of Beautiful wouldn’t be as good as Life After. Maybe something to do with a review that said Life After was her best book yet. I would disagree. I don’t think A Broken Kind of Beautiful is better than Life After, just more of the same extremely powerful, amazingly wonderful writing. There is something that is awesome about Katie’s writing that makes these books an absolute pleasure to read.

Ivy has never known love. Not from the father who ignored her existence. Not from the mother who was trapped by alcohol and drugs. Certainly not from her uncle who only values Ivy for the money she can make him. And not from the fashion industry that used and idolised her beauty but which is all too quick to overlook her for the newer and younger models. Her last shot as saving her career sees her forced back to the Southern town of Greenbrier to participate in her stepmother’s bridal shop promotions. Returning to the town forces Ivy to relive all her past and present hurts, but it might also force her to see the people who care for her and who see beyond the broken and hurting spirit and beautiful face.

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