Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost may be a distant relative of Robert Frost, but she has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a mystery in her lap—one that might be the key to uncovering the truth behind a town tragedy, she decides to take a chance.
My Thoughts: Parker is a goody-two-shoes.  She listens to what her mom says, she studies her butt off so she can get scholarships, she never ditches school, never parties and is just pretty much not living life.  
Parker is a TA for one of her favorite teachers.  She is helping him with his annual project, which, by the way, I think is an awesome project!  The teacher gives the senior students a composition notebook and one question that was posed by the poet Mary Oliver:  "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?".  The teacher doesn't read them but boxes them up and ten years later, sends them to the former students so they can see what they dreamed about as a senior.  Parker is going through the box and addressing all the journals to send back to the former students when she finds one from a girl who went missing (and was presumed dead) on graduation night, ten years ago.  Juliana was part of a golden couple and her and her boyfriend got in a car crash on graduation.  No one every found them and assumed that their bodies were lost in the lake.  

Parker finds Juliana's journal and on a whim she takes it and reads it.  What she finds in the journal that was never intended for anyone else's eyes surprises her and sets her off on a mission to discover the truth.

I loved Parker's best friend, Kat.  She was fun and quirky and a perfect fit for Parker.  I also really liked Trevor.  He was so funny and yet you could tell he really liked Parker.  I got annoyed with Parker and her mom.  Parker just did what her mom said with no arguments and it got annoying.  Her mom was clearly trying to take charge of Parker's life.  I just really wanted Parker to stand up to her mom and tell her off!  She does get better towards the end though so that redeemed her character for me.  

This book had mystery, romance and some great life lessons in it.  In fact, I quoted one of the quotes by Robert Frost that was in the book on my Facebook page today because it was just perfect for where I am in my life.  It was a very fast read and I highly suggest picking it up when it hits the shelves!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley

**I received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she
's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

My Thoughts:  This book deals with some very uncomfortable, brutal subjects.  That being said, it was a very compelling, emotional story.

Imagine being 13 and being with your best friend at Girl Scout Camp.  Everything is going great for you.  You have had your first kiss by the guy you like just a few days before, school is great, your friends are awesome.  Now imagine the next thing you know, you are walking home in clothes you don't remember, no recollection of how you got where you are and when you open the door to greet your parents, they are shocked and emotional to see you.  Not to mention that they keep telling you that you are now 16 and three years have passed. 

That is what happened to Angie.  She has no clue what happened to those three lost years.  Angie sees a shrink to help her and they diagnose her with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  From there, we are taken back in time to relive those three missing years through Angie's alters.

I don't know a lot about DID.  We did some research into in in college but yeah, that was awhile ago for me.  I found it absolutely amazing how the body protects one from the traumatic things happening to them. In this book, the reader gets to live alongside Angie as she figures out how to communicate with her alters and how to merge them into one person...herself.  

This book is absolutely heartbreaking!  There are no words to describe the horrors that this child is made to endure.  While the book isn't graphic in it's details of what happened to Angie, it is brutally honest and doesn't sugarcoat what happened to her in any way either.  It left me with nightmares at night of this happening to my own daughter.  It is every single parent's worst nightmare.  

There were a couple things that I didn't like about the book.  Mostly in the beginning though.  When Angie walks through her door, her parents are obviously surprised to see her and they call the detective who has been working on the case.  He comes over and speaks with her  at length with no tape recorder, no other detectives or officers, she doesn't go to the hospital right away to check for injuries (although she does goes...just not right away).  I have been a victim of a crime and while it was no where near to this extent (thank goodness!!), I have a little bit of understanding how things work.  I was never, ever interviewed alone with no cameras or tape recorders going.  It seems like a small thing and as you get more into the book, it really was a small thing but it was just one of those things that didn't seem realistic to me.  

Also, what happened to Angie as a younger child, before being kidnapped, was off a little.  I mean, what happened to her wasn't off but how it was dealt with was not right.  The shrink is a mandatory reporter and would have had to have reported this separate incident.  The police/detectives would have HAD to have done an investigation.  Whether you, as a 16 year old, want to press charges or not, in this case, there would have been absolutely no choice.  Again, I've been there, done that.  

Other than those two things, I found this story riveting and emotional.  It was most definitely NOT a feel good book but it was one that I am glad I read.  It was fascinating and held my interest from the very first paragraph.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

Synopsis(from Goodreads):  Companion to Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker.

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…
My Thoughts:  One word...LOVE! That is how I felt about this book.  It was just so....real.  This is the third book in the Hundred Oak series but you don't have to read the other two first. I didn't.  I have the first two but haven't read them yet (yeah, guess what is next on my Nook now?).  
Kate is the perfect daughter.  She is the perfect student, the perfect Christian.  At first, that bothered me a lot.  Don't get me wrong here...I am 110% Christian.  I believe in my God and I try to live my life by His word.  However, I am also human though and I sin and for awhile there, I was feeling like Kate was a little too perfect, with no sinning or mistakes.  Kate helped her friend Emily do something that was a sin.  Kate could not get over this at all.  In fact, it even ruined her relationship with Emily. 
Kate is a camp counselor at the camp she went to when she was younger.  She meets up with Matt again and it is an instant connection.  They were so sweet and fun together.  They made me miss that all consuming, first love feeling.  You know...that "can't get enough of you and want to eat, sleep and breathe you" love.  They had their struggles as Matt had been hurt in the past and again, Kate is still dealing with what she helped Emily do.  
Here was the thing that drove me absolutely nuts about Kate...she worried WAY too much about her every action being a sin.  I was ready to bang my head against the wall a few times but Kate was struggling.  I think her church brainwashed her and she was been taught that believing in God was the only way and she could only have friends who shared who exact beliefs.  She was so upset that Matt was in a fraternity because those kids drank and hooked up and those were sins.  She couldn't sleep in the same room as boys because that was a sin.  I've never read in the Bible where sleeping in a room with boys (and other girls) was a sin.  Those were the things that just annoyed me.  
As the weeks go on, Kate has to struggle her boss just being plain mean for no reason, feelings and wants that she has never experienced before and becoming friends with others who "sin". I loved watching her transition and I love the way the author dealt with some serious issues here (premarital sex, teen pregnancy, drinking, etc.).  During this time is when I felt that Kate finally became a "real" person.  
I loved Matt as well!  He was funny, caring, sweet and the perfect guy.  He didn't conform to any church and he was a human being that made mistakes but made it clear what his relationship with God was.  He respects Kate and I really appreciated that.   I liked Parker and how she just came out and told Kate how judgmental Kate had been.  It opened Kate's eyes and also helped develop a friendship between the two of them.  

Okay one other thing that bothered me how Matt's family is portrayed.  Now, maybe I'm just jealous because my sibling and I absolutely DO NOT get along but Matt has several brothers and sisters.  Kate goes over to meet his family and everyone is all lovey dovey.  Matt is super attentive to all his siblings and it was just unrealistic too me.  It seemed fake and like his family was almost putting on a show.  Again....could just be because of how my own family works but everything there was just a little to happy and and fake for me.  Maybe I'm just jealous :)

So, now I must go read the first two in this series because I am absolutely in love the Kenneally's characters.  This was an amazing book that dealt with many hard subjects but dealt with them in a way, that as a mom of a daughter, that I would approve of my daughter reading this (well, when she becomes a teen).