Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: Sexual abuse

Book Review: Delayed Justice

Delayed Justice – Cara C. Putman – Hidden Justice #3 – Thomas Nelson – Published 16 October 2018

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Synopsis

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

My thoughts

Delayed Justice is the thrilling third book in the legal suspense series, Hidden Justice. Like the first two books in the series, Delayed Justice offers a riveting mix of legal drama, romance, strong friendship, faith, personal discovery and suspense. Delayed Justice is particularly stirring and tender as the characters face horrific cases – personal, past and present.

Jamie Nichols works tirelessly as a criminal defence attorney to give a voice to those who don’t have one, fighting against the powerlessness she faced in her own childhood. Now in her adulthood she has decided to press charges against her abuser, but she knows it might bring about fierce retaliation. When she is asked to assist a young girl facing the same horrors she herself faced, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Even if it means working closely with retired veteran, Chandler Bolton and his Golden Retriever therapy dog.

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Book Review: More Than We Can Tell

More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 6/8 March 2018

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Synopsis

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

My thoughts

When life tests you, when it throws everything at you, who can you turn to, who can you trust? Once again, Brigid Kemmerer has created a heartbreaking, emotional and moving novel. As a companion to Letters To The Lost, More Than We Can Tell evokes the same emotional response as the characters face a crisis point in their lives, fall in love, and learn to lean on the support of those around them.

Rev Fletcher has found safety and love with his adoptive parents. But when his biological father reaches out to him, it threatens to shake and destroy everything. In the midst of this turmoil, Rev meets Emma. They attend the same high school but have never really crossed paths until now. Emma, too, knows what it feels like to have her world turned upside down. Her parents are constantly fighting, her father barely acknowledges her existence, and her mother is constantly on her case, and then there is the online stalker sending her horrible messages. When things escalate for both Rev and Emma, they will need to learn to lean on each other as well as drawing on the support of the people around them.

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Book Review: The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed – Simon Pulse – Published 10 October 2017

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Synopsis

Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

My thoughts

The Nowhere Girls is an important book. A voice for girls, a book for change. It doesn’t pull it’s punches. This book is brutal, and sometimes horribly honest and upfront. At first I was slightly unsure about this book, it’s message, and where it was going, but by the end I was uplifted and reduced to tears. The Nowhere Girls is a book that provokes discussion that is vital for changing mindsets and empowering young women.

Three girls spark revolution at their high school when they create The Nowhere Girls – a group that protests their school’s misogynist culture in defence of one of their previous classmates who was brutally raped.

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Book Review: Sweetbriar Cottage

Sweetbriar Cottage – Denise Hunter – Thomas Nelson – Published 13 June 2017

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Synopsis

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

My thoughts

Sweetbriar Cottage is a delightful contemporary romance, one that tugs on your heart and encourages you to take a chance and rediscover the healing power of love.

When Noah Mitchell discovers that his divorce with Josephine was never finalised, to say he is shocked might be an understatement. After the marriage ended, he gave up his job and retreated into the mountain, away from town and reminders of what happened and what he lost. Now, though, he and Josephine must reconnect if they want the divorce to be filed. Josephine is just as shaken as Noah when she learns of the news and sets out to smooth the process as much as she can, after all she feels the end of the marriage was her fault. But a sudden and dangerous storm leaves her stranded at his ranch and when they are forced to confront the wild weather, they also discover that confronting their past just might lead to healing for them both.

Sweetbriar Cottage is a standalone novel. It is written from both Noah and Josephine’s perspective during present day, but includes a number of chapter flashbacks to both the beginning of Noah and Josephine’s courtship and Josephine’s past. And that’s when this novel really digs its heels in and gets serious about the topics of faith, mistakes, and forgiveness.

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Book Review: 738 Days

738 Days

738 Days – Stacey Kade – Forge Books – Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

My thoughts

The first half of 738 Days could have been a young adult contemporary/thriller, with plenty of heartbreak and family complications, but the second half was definitely new adult romance. I loved the story, love the characters (really, really loved both Chase and Amanda), and loved the mix of movie-star madness with the total heartbreaking reality of Amanda’s story of survival.

Amanda was kidnapped when she was sixteen and spent 738 horrible days as a prisoner and victim of abuse. Now, two years after her rescue, she is sick of being the shaking, terrified victim hiding in her closet. So when an unexpected visit from actor Chase Henry sends her running (literally) for her wardrobe, she takes up Chase’s offer to work together, to help him with his publicity and to hopefully spark her bravery so she can start living her life again and prevent her family from falling completely apart. Amanda doesn’t expect to fall for Chase, nor to finally feel something good, but can’t help her new-found feelings as she gets to know Chase as more than just an out-of-luck actor.

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Book List: Sexual Assault in Young Adult Fiction

Sexual Assault in Young Adult Fiction

Sexual assault is a heart-wrenching topic, but it is an important topic to raise with teens, bringing awareness and understanding. Here is an updated list (June 2019) of recent and important young adult novels that feature characters who are survivors of sexual assault.

The Leading Edge of Now – Marci Lyn Curtis – Kids Can Press – Published 4 September 2018

Grace’s life has been thrown into chaos – but she’s been living that reality for two years. Since her father died, Grace has been living in foster care, waiting for her uncle to finally claim her and bring her home to the town of New Harbor. But returning to the house that has so many fond memories of summers spent with her dad also brings back memories of the night that changed everything for Grace. Forced to confront the people and memories of that night, Grace starts to uncover the details of what happened -but the truth is something she never expected.


Vigilante Vigilante – Kady Cross – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 March 2017

Hadley’s best friend Magda was raped by four classmates. A few months later, Magda is dead, having taken her own life. Hadley is left with a drowning sense of grief and guilt. She has to see the four boys in her classroom everyday as the four of them were never charged. When a sudden opportunity arises, Hadley decides to create some of her own justice and plans to go after each of the boys who hurt her friend.


Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 20 September 2016

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.


The Way I Used To Be The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith – M.K. McElderry Books – Published 22 March 2016

Eden was always good at being good. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.


Exit, Pursued by a BearExit, Pursued by a Bear – E.K. Johnston – Dutton Books – Published 15 March 2016

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team.  But during a cheerleading camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

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Book Review: The Way I Used To Be

The Way I Used To Be

The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith – Margaret K. McElderry Books – Published 22 March 2016

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Synopsis

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

My thoughts

The Way I Used To Be is beautiful and horrible book. Beautiful because of the way it is written, the characters and the messages of resilience and strength, horrible because it is completely agonising to see Eden go through what she does. And the way these two aspects are combined, balanced perfectly is what makes this such a great book.

Told in four sections, the four years of high school, we experience the initial impact of Eden’s sexual assault and the way it slowly changes her life. In this way we see how long-lasting the effect of the attack is, and how it affects all aspects of her life, including her trust in her family, her friendship with Mana, the way she dresses, and how she interacts with others.

Eden’s major changes in her life are prompted by others, especially when rumours are spread about her promiscuity. While the opposite is true, it seems easier for Eden to fall into this role, wrap it around her as it offers some form of protection even as it pushes everyone away.   Continue reading

Book Review: Firsts

Firsts

Firsts – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 5 January 2016

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process.

My thoughts

What a book. It’s like a car crash, crossed with an erupting volcano, crossed with a (insert disaster of your choice here). I knew it would be messy and upsetting, but I couldn’t look away. And yet, Firsts manages to pull it off. I was really hoping for a beautiful ending that would make the agony of the rest of the book worth it. And I’m very happy to say I think I got that ending.

I knew, going into this book, that it would be controversial and dramatic, but I wanted to see how the author would tackle such a sensitive area and what sort of messages were being sent. And by the end, the messages surrounding the themes of sexual harassment and abuse, judgement and bullying, and even understanding and valuing yourself were clearly and cleverly conveyed. Never preachy, this book might in fact be the opposite, drawing readers into a situation where they make judgements before being exposed to the whole story, which then changes everything they initially thought. It’s a very clever way to get readers thinking.

As the story progresses, the reader slowly learns more about Mercedes, her past and why she is at where she’s at, including a Botox-using, boyfriend-jumping, phase-driven, absentee mother, a father who deserted Mercedes when she was eight, and her past with the boy who was her own first, Luke. And you think you know what she’s going through, but you don’t. This helped explain, a little, about Mercedes’ choices. I couldn’t say I liked Mercedes, but I could certainly sympathise and ultimately marvel at her resilience. And as a character she was perfect for highlighting the point about not judging those you don’t know or truly understand. At first Mercedes seemed so out of control of her life and continually made the same mistakes. Agonising. But I have to say I was impressed with how, in the end, she stood up, took responsibility for her mistakes and tried to make right what she could. The end of the book, say last third, was really compelling – some parts shocking, others completely heartbreaking – and just the perfect way to end this book.

Controversial, edgy and doesn’t pull its punches, if you are looking for a book that will fascinate and provoke, then Firsts is the book for you.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Sex and dating. Relationships. Family. Mothers and daughters. Friendship. Bullying and abuse. Sexual harassment and abuse. SPOILER … Continue reading

Book Review: Faking Normal

Faking Normal

Faking Normal – Courtney C. Stevens – HarperTeen – Published 25 February 2014

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Synopsis

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

My thoughts

After reading The Lies About Truth I knew I had to read Faking Normal. Courtney C. Steven’s debut is just as earth-shatteringly powerful as her second book. I’m not sure I can adequately convey how devastating Faking Normal was. How incredibly well written it is. How it mixes fear and pain and love and hope. The suspense, the agony of not knowing who the perpetrator was, and of wanting so much for Bodee and Alexi.  Continue reading

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