Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland

under-the-dusty-moonDundurn, 2016.

It’s hard to be sixteen when your mother’s a rock star and pretty much everybody knows her for her famous band, the one that broke up when Vick was a toddler. Vick and her mom, Mick (rhyming names, of course!) are close, but sometimes Vick just wants to have her own life. She wants to be certain that some people like her for herself, not because of her mom. When Mick goes off to Japan on tour, Vick finally has a chance to explore who she is on her own terms.

I loved this book! Suzanne Sutherland captured beautifully what it is to be sixteen. I was completely with Vick as she struggled with her over-the-top but loving mother, her first boyfriend, and her relationship with her best friend. Her writing manages to evoke full emotion, setting and mood without pages and pages of description. The story moved quickly and included a cast of characters and relationships that were very appealing, warts and all. They were realistic and yet definitely upbeat.

This book will appeal to the music obsessed, computer gamers, geeks, and anyone who’s just trying to build their own life. This one’s going on the gift list.

I received an electronic advance reader copy of Under the Dusty Moon courtesy of Dundurn and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Sourcebooks Fire, 2016

Opportunity, Alabama — One close-knit community, one high school, one group of seniors getting ready to begin their independent lives. But first they must make it through one final semester, a semester that begins, as always, wtih Principal Trenton’s dreaded all school beggining-of-the-semester speech–only this semester the speech doesn’t go as planned. This semester there’s someone in the auditorium with a gun, someone who’s got a grudge against Opportunity High School, its teachers, and its students, someone who wants to make all of Opportunity pay for his anger and his sorrows.

Taking place over the span of less than an hour, this fast-paced novel follows four Opportunity students through the nightmare of a school shooting incident. Heart in mouth we are with them as they consider their lives and loves and do — or don’t — emerge on the other side to a life forever changed by the crazed boy with a gun.

I began this book on a Friday evening and though I meant to accomplish all manner of household chores on Saturday afternoon, I found myself, instead, drawn back to the book to finish reading because I simply had to know what happened and how it all fell out.

Fast paced, beautifully written, and timely, this book shows Nijkamp’s sensitivity and her understanding of teens, their worries, strengths, and troubles. Her portrayal of the four main characters and, in fact, the shooter himself allows readers to contemplate not only the complex issues in such a terrifying situation: How might one stop it? What caused it? Who might you save if you could? Where do your real loyalties lie? It also leads readers to contemplate the many factors that might lead someone to such a heinous act.

As gripping as it is, This Is Where It Ends is a hard story to read. I’m sure it was hard to write as well. Read it anyway; you’ll be glad you did. You’ll root for Nijkamp’s admirable characters and sweat with their parents and loved ones outside the school.

I received this book as an electronic Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2013.

Once, at the start of her junior year of high school, Elise Dembrowski attempted suicide, The thing about committing suicide is you’ve got to have the right playlist, that is, you do if you’re Elise Dembrowski. Elise’s attempt doesn’t succeed–she didn’t mean for it to–but it does start her on a new path.

When Elise returns to school, she gives up once and for all on school social life and launches herself more firmly into her music and the midnight walks that calm her. When one night she comes across an all night dance party, Elise finally finds a life in which she can be a star rather than a misfit, but she’ll have to sneak around and deceive her parents to keep up her new lifestyle. Will Elise manage to make her new dreams come true?

I loved this book about a high school misfit who finds her passion and ends up to be the coolest kid around. I think the story will resonate with many teens who are trying to navigate the waters of high school social pressures and life as a young adult. This one would make a great addition to personal, classroom, and library collections.

Purchased, Kindle format

A Bone to Pick by Gina McMurchy-Barber

Dundurn, 2015

Peggy Henderson is expecting to have a quiet summer at her home in British Columbia when instead she scores the opportunity to join her friend Dr. Edwina McKay at an excavation site in Newfoundland. Peggy’s been on digs with Dr. McKay before, but this time she’s having a tough time getting away from her job as cook’s assistant in order to actually be a part of the dig. When Peggy does get away, she manages to discover an important Viking site, but due to several factors she’s immediately banned from the site. Will she ever get credit for her discovery?

This is the fourth adventure in the Peggy Henderson Adventure series. I haven’t read the previous books, and it can be difficult starting a series in the middle. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed A Bone to Pick and had no trouble relating to or understanding the characters. It read well as a stand-alone book.

A Bone to Pick would be great for kids with an interest in history, anthropology, or forensics. As a history buff and fan of Kathy Reichs’ Temperence Brennan mysteries, I greatly enjoyed those aspects of the books. Peggy is a flawed, enthusiastic, and fun character. She’s very knowledgeable and driven to learn all she can about archaeology, but strives to be taken seriously by the college students on the dig.

Now that I’ve read this one, I’ll be looking for the previous Peggy Henderson stories so that I can catch up on her escapades.

I read A Bone to Pick as an electronic advance reader copy courtesy of Dundurn and NetGalley.