review

Review: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster

Summary: Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of trains, and that there’s rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Genre: young adult, contemporary
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Gatekeepers is loosely based off Lake Forest High School in Illinois, where students in an extremely wealthy town with an over-the-top, ritzy school were suddenly committing suicide by jumping in front of oncoming trains. This is a tragic, fascinating case, and I actually found myself spiraling deeper into news articles (Chicago Magazine has a wonderful write-up) and researching the origins of Gatekeepers, and what I’ve decided is this is an important story to talk about. I just don’t know that it should have been written by this author.

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Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Summary: As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Genre: contemporary, mystery, young adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

Boulley’s debut novel is a compelling deep dive into Native American culture that shows how serious and dangerous drug use is, as it makes shockwaves through a Native reservation. I found myself devouring this book despite how big it was, and I was itching to get back to it to dive deeper into Daunis’s world.

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ARC Review: Golden Boys Beware by Hannah Capin

Summary: Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target. They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly. Golden Boys Beware is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough.

Genre: young adult, contemporary, retellings
Rating: 5/5 stars

Golden Boys Beware is a modern, refreshing retelling on Macbeth that will make you want to cut all your hair off (think Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction) and kill a man. This book oozes sweet vengeance in such a badass way that, even though you know what Elle is doing is terrible, you still can’t help rooting for her to the very end. She’s a spitfire, a hellion, a goddamn sorceress, and watching her weave her way through these boys’ lives is utterly fascinating.

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Review: Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie

Summary: Twenty-six and broke, Skye didn’t think twice before selling her eggs and happily pocketing the cash. Now approaching forty, Skye moves through life entirely on her own terms, living out of a suitcase and avoiding all manner of serious relationships. Her personal life might be a mess, and no one would be surprised if she died alone in a hotel room, but at least she’s free to do as she pleases. But then a twelve-year-old girl shows up during one of Skye’s brief visits to her hometown and tells Skye that she’s “her egg.” Skye’s life is thrown into sharp relief and she decides that it might be time to actually try to have a meaningful relationship with another human being. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.

Told in a fresh, lively voice, this novel is a relentlessly clever, deeply moving portrait of a woman and the relationships she thought she could live without.

Genre: contemporary, romance, lgbt
Rating: 5/5 stars

Most reviews I’ve seen for this book on Goodreads are either four-or-five-star ratings or the reader DNF’d it incredibly early on. The writing style here is so specific and I can understand readers not enjoying the book for that alone (because honestly, otherwise this is a flawless book). As someone who doesn’t read light, fluffy books usually, I felt that this was exactly what I needed. I welcomed the change with open arms and absolutely loved this book.

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Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout

Summary: Growing up, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. Now, after four years of homeschooling, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood. It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded.

Yet soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary
Rating: 2.5/3 stars

The young-adult contemporary genre is so difficult for me, because it’s often extremely hit or miss. Sometimes I love reading stories of high schoolers with OCD or bipolar disorder who meet a boy who accepts them for who they are. Sometimes I read stories about teenage boys who are battling schizoaffective disorder that made my heart ache. I cried vicious tears during The Hate U Give.

So I really thought I would enjoy a young-adult contemporary about a girl who escapes an abusive foster home and rekindles a relationship with a boy from her past while overcoming that trauma from her childhood. Sadly, I felt like The Problem with Forever focused so heavily on the wrong aspects of this story until the very end, which made it hard to enjoy.

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