Category Archives: Books

Speed of Life REVIEW

Speed of Life by J. M. Kelly

Available in Print.

Amber and Crystal are twin sisters and high school seniors in Oregon.  Even though they’re teenagers, they have adult responsibilities.  When one of the twins got pregnant during her junior year, Amber and Crystal agreed to raise the baby, Natalie, together.  Amber and Crystal don’t have easy lives, but they’ve learned to take care of themselves.  They’re broke and busy.  Amber washes dishes at her aunt’s tavern, the Glass Slipper, while Crystal works on cars and sells lottery tickets at Jimmy’s Gas and Auto Repair.  Amber and Crystal’s gambling mom and beer-swilling stepdad, Gil, aren’t much help, but their friend Han is always willing and able to lend a helping hand.

Despite their difficulties, Amber and Crystal are committed to supporting each other and reaching their goals in life.  They have made plans together for life after high school graduation.  Amber is going to take over the Glass Slipper and Crystal is going to work full-time at Jimmy’s.  The twins are going to move out of their mom’s home and get their own apartment. Above all, they want Natalie to have a better life than they have had.

Life gets in the way of their mutual plans when Crystal gets inspired to study auto restoration at a college far away in Kansas.  Crystal — scared of blowing up the sisters’ plans — keeps her college dream a secret from Amber, even while taking practical steps to turn that dream into reality.

Will Crystal abandon her dream of going to college or will Crystal pursue her dream, thus betraying the twins’ plans?  Can the sisters get the better future that they want for Natalie and themselves?

Recommended for readers who like:  realistic fiction, stories about families, and thinking about their future.

Southport Branch

Three Day Summer REVIEW

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

Available in Print.

For three days in 1969, the Woodstock music festival made the small town of Bethel, New York, the center of the rock world. Thousands of people gathered in the name of peace to hear some of the biggest names in music. Two of those people are Michael and Cora, and this is how they met and spent those three days.

Michael drove from Massachusetts with his friend Evan, his girlfriend Amanda, and Amanda’s two friends. He’s not sure what to do with his life. Go to college? Join the military? He’s also not sure about his girlfriend Amanda. Sometimes it seems like she doesn’t even like him, so why is she with him at all?

Cora lives in Bethel on a farm. Her dad has nothing but disdain for the people coming to the festival. He is a veteran with great pride in his oldest son’s current service in Vietnam. He’s not as happy with Cora and her war protesting twin brother. Cora wants to be a nurse…no, she really wants to be a doctor, a lofty goal for a woman from a small town in those times. She works as a candy striper in the medical tent at the festival.

Michael takes some acid with bad results, so his friends take him to the medical tent where he is attended to by Cora. Michael doesn’t remember much about their first encounter, but soon realizes Cora is nothing like Amanda. Separated from his friends, Michael asks Cora to hang with him.

The festival allows to Michael and Cora to escape their worries for a bit: Cora’s strict father and her brother in Vietnam; Michael’s future and his issues with Amanda. Michael gets lost in the music and takes Cora with him. They run into famous people and share in the generosity of their fellow festival goers. Neither, of course, knows the mythical quality that Woodstock will one day represent to generations. But we do, so we can go along with them to feel just a little bit of what it could have been like for those three days of peace, love and music.

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here REVIEW

scarlettAvailable in Print & eBook.

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

This book is not something I would have picked up for myself but that being said, I did enjoy it. It’s a more contemporary modern story about an average teenager in high school. Not my normal genre at all. It was part of my book subscription series from Uppercase but I’m always pleasantly surprised with Uppercase’s selection.

That being said, I really enjoyed this author’s writing style. She was witty and sarcastic in all the best ways. Her style kept me engaged in the story even when I wasn’t that interested. This is Breslaw’s debut novel but I think, given time, she’ll come into her own as a writer.

My biggest qualms were with the plotline and characters. Which yes, I know that’s well, the whole book, but like I said, the author’s writing style was great. However, the plot seemed rushed and major characters were left one dimensional or seriously underdeveloped. This book could have used another 100 pages to really beef things out a bit. The plot points were easy to guess and I could see what was coming from a mile away.

I would still recommend this book is you want a light and fun read. I polished this one off on a Sunday afternoon while battling my mongoose cough from a case of bronchitis. This delightful little read helped me forget about my aches and pains for a little while. I will probably keep tabs on this author to see what she does next. Like I said, storyline aside, the writing was awesome and I think Breslaw shows some real potential as a writer.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Month of Pride Part 2

June is LGBT Pride Month and to celebrate we are highlighting some of our books that feature LGBT characters.
syndetics-lcRead Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler

Available in Print.

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

A thought-provoking coming out story from a highly skilled author. (Goodreads)

syndetics-lcYou Know Me Well  by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Available in Print.

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time. (Goodreads)

syndetics-lcWithout Annette by Jane B. Mason

Available in Print.

Josie Little and her girlfriend Annette Anderson have traveled halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut, and get away from Annette‘s abusive mother, but as soon as they get there things begin to unravel–the undercurrents in the school are poisonous, Annette seems more interested in drinking with the in-crowd, and a boy declares that he is in love with her.