Book Review: Big Water (ARC)

Book Review: Big Water | rachelbrittain.comBook: Big Water

Author: Andrea Curtis

Genre: YA / historical fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Traveling the Great Lakes was a dangerous proposition through the early part of the twentieth century—especially on the Georgia Bay in Canada. Many ships and lives were lost on the uncharted and unpredictable waters. In 1882, the SS Asia, a converted river steamship, set out from the Georgia Bay in Lake Huron, overloaded and top heavy, heading straight into a storm. Equipped only with life vests and flimsy lifeboats unfit for the dangerous waters, the passengers and crew were entirely unprepared when the ship sank. One hundred and twenty three lives were lost, the sole survivors two teenagers. This fictional account of a real historical tragedy explores the circumstances that led those two teenagers onto the Asia and how they managed to survive freezing water, treacherous conditions, and several days among dying men on a lifeboat, adrift in the middle of the Georgia Bay.

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Book Review: The Boat People (ARC)

Book Review: The Boat People | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Boat People

Author: Sharon Bala

Genre: realistic fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: When a boat of Tamil refugees arrives in Canada they think they’ve finally found a place of peace and safety–but fear, intolerance, and bureaucratic political systems get in the way. The five hundred odd refugees fleeing torture, death or forcible conscription in Sri Lanka find themselves imprisoned and stuck as they sit through hearing after hearing to determine if they can even qualify for refugee status.

Mahindan, a single father whose wife died back in Sri Lanka, mourns his separation from his seven-year old son who is put in the women’s prison. Priya, a second generation immigrant and law student, finds herself getting invested in the cases of the refugees even though she always wanted to go into corporate law (and is pretty sure she was only selected for this assignment because of her own Tamil heritage). Grace is an adjudicator overseeing the cases of the refugees and struggling against the fear that she might let a terrorist into the country–despite the fact that her mother keeps comparing their plight to that of Grace’s grandparents, Japanese immigrants who lost everything to the government in World War II. Their stories intertwine in heart wrenching ways as we slowly begin to see that nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

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Book Review: The Beauty That Remains (ARC)

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Beauty That Remains

Author: Ashley Woodfolk

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: Autumn, Shay, and Logan are connected through music—and grief. Autumn, who lost her best friend just weeks ago, is struggling to find herself without Tavia here to guide her. Shay’s twin sister Sasha died after years of fighting Leukemia, but the debilitating panic attacks she’s trying to hide from her family and friends are threatening to undo her. Logan is drinking and lashing out, unable to cope or heal after the suicide of his ex-boyfriend Bram. He hasn’t been able to write a song since. They all used to be connected through Unraveling Lovely, the epic band put together by Logan, managed by Shay, and always cheered on by Autumn. With so many griefs and secrets separating them now, will music be enough to bring them back to themselves and maybe even back together?

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Book Review: Tess of the Road (ARC)

Book: Tess of the Road

Author: Rachel Hartman

Genre: fantasy / YA

Rating: 3/5

What it’s about: Tess Dombegh has always known she was bad—if her mother’s constant reminders of her sinful nature hadn’t been proof enough, her unwed pregnancy certainly was—but she’s spent the past few years trying to make up for it by looking after her twin sister and helping her find a husband. At the wedding, faced with the prospect of becoming a caretaker for her sister’s future children and being forever tied to her family, she makes a series of mistakes that have her mother threatening to send her to the nuns. Tess makes a different choice. She runs, disguising herself as a man as she begins her journey down the road. She soon crosses paths with her childhood friend Pathka, a quigutl—a dragon-like creature—who reminds her of their early obsession with the guigutl stories of the World Serpents, great creatures larger than dragons with incredible, mythic abilities. Together, they begin their search for the World Serpents, but Tess still has a lot of walking—and figuring out—to do before she’ll be ready to face the dangers and challenges of the road.

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Book Review: Flight Season (ARC)

Book: Flight Season

Author: Marie Marquardt

Genre: YA / realistic fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Vivi, a college student still mourning the loss of her father, is only one internship away from failing out of school. TJ works at the hospital by day, trying to finish up his nursing school requirements, and for his family’s Brazilian churrascaria the rest of the time. They meet at the hospital, and TJ almost takes an almost immediate disliking to Vivi, the rich Yale pre-med student who faints at the sight of blood.

Along the way, Vivi meets Ángel, the Guatemalan teenager dying from heart failure and seemingly determined to make everybody else’s lives a living hell in the process. But Vivi and Ángel share a connection in their grief, and when she’s reassigned as his translator, Ángel finds an unexpected friend in her. They , along with TJ, form an unlikely bond as Ángel tries to show the other two that they don’t actually hate each other—quite the opposite. But heart failure isn’t the only problem Ángel faces, and as much as TJ and Vivi would like to save him, they learn that sometimes all you can do it be there for the people that need you—even when doing so seems almost impossible.

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Book Review: A Guide for Murdered Children (ARC)

Book: A Guide for Murdered Children

Author: Sarah Sparrow

Genre: fiction / speculative /thriller

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: What if the children murdered before their time came back to hunt down their killers? That’s the insane situation Detective Willow Wylde finds himself in when he returns home after rehab and a failed stint as an NYPD detective. And a gift Willow’s been suppressing for years– a certain knack for sensing the supernatural– may mean he is destined to help those lost and wandering souls, two of which may be the very children whose murder haunted and confounded him so many years ago.

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Book Review: Nyxia (ARC)

Book: Nyxia

Author: Scott Reintgen

Genre: sci-fi / ya

Rating: 2/5

What it’s about: Emmett is one of ten teenagers chosen to compete for the honor (and unimaginable riches) of traveling to the newly discovered Earth-like planet, Eden, courtesy of Babel Communications. The catch? Well, there are a lot of them. Like the fact that their year-long trip will really be a competition to determine which of the ten participants will qualify for the task. And the fact that the planet is inhabited by dangerous aliens called “Adamites.” And the fact that people keep getting hurt in the competition. And the fact that Babel Communications  is definitely not telling them everything. With any luck, Emmett and the others will survive long enough to find out what it is they’re hiding, and whether those secrets are worth fighting–and maybe dying–for.

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6 Websites Book Lovers Should Know About

6 Websites Booklovers Should Know About

1.Goodreads

The original bookish social networking site. You can organize your books into shelves, keep track of what you’ve read and what you want to read, post and read reviews, and even enter giveaways for free giveaways and ARCs of books.

2. Netgalley

This website is great for book bloggers, reviewers, and other “professional readers” who can sign up to get free ARCs of upcoming books.

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