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This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell

Thursday, May 23, 2019

One week. That's all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future--decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he's run away, but Jessie doesn't believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river--the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie's town who don't like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Goodreads Summary

Changes can be both positive or negative, but when you know change is coming in the future it is always scary. Jessie and Chris are in love; Jessie is from a poor white family and Chris is a well-rounded black boy. When Chris doesn't return after a jog Jessie accuses some boys from her predominantly white town of killing him. In the meantime, she writes to him to keep him up to date on what is currently going on; she prays for his return. Unfortunately, not everything is simplistic and what it seems; as the novel wears on, Jessie is confronted with difficult realities and must modulate her reaction to them accordingly. 

Jessie's character fit the theme and the overarching tone of the novel. She came off as a bit of a pathetic defender; it was obvious that she truly loved Chris as much as possible for one in high school. Although we never feel like we truly "meet" Chris, Chris appears as the stereotypical good boy. He's smart, charismatic, handsome, and kind. I never fully connected to the characters, but I didn't mind too much since it felt like the author was trying to get a message across versus making the characters overly easy to relate to. The ending fit what I had suspected and I liked how the author handled several difficult issues (i.e. mental illness). This would be a great read on a long plane ride or  rainy day that would allow for some introspection.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Forest Queen (Mechanica 0.5) by Betsy Cornwell

Friday, May 10, 2019

When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen.

Goodreads Summary

This was a nice retelling of Robin Hood featuring Sylvie as "Robin." I liked the twist on the popular tale and the insertion of a strong female character. Sylvie rebels against her brother's cruel decisions and forceful nature. The book consisted of roughly four main characters who all had unique personalities and quirky natures. I personally only preferred Sylvie and Bird. I wished I could have connected better with John and Little Jane. Sometimes, I even confused the characters' names/roles in the story since there seemed to be such an influx of them towards the middle of the story. 

I liked the plot; I did think it could have been infused with a little more action and drama. Sylvie was a bit of a waffler instead of being purposeful. I liked how Sylvie's character was dynamic and developed over the course of the novel. She became more compassionate and self-aware instead of the "wealthy daughter" she previously was. Her brother was made into a true villain; I was a little surprised by how far the author went to make the reader hate his character. There were some tougher subjects touched upon in this book and I kind of wanted more material and more of an explanation to some of them. Overall, I enjoyed this book and consider it a light rainy day read.

 3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2018 LIVE TO READ

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
He’s the infamous killer no man has ever been able to find.

Now it’s a girl’s turn.

Groomed to be the perfect highborn Victorian young lady, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a decidedly different plan for herself. After the loss of her beloved mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death and its workings. Trading in her embroidery needle for an autopsy scalpel, Audrey secretly apprentices in forensics. She soon gets drawn into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper, but to her horror, the search for clues brings her far closer to her sheltered world than she ever thought possible.

Goodreads Summary

I loved this book. I love all things Jack the Ripper (not the killing part, but the lore and the mystery) and I loved how the author handled the mystery and combined it with a powerful and intelligent heroine. Audrey lives a bit of a double life. Although she is supposed to fit the Victorian ideal of a lady, she is in love with science, not highborn men. She prefers science and cold, hard facts over flirty smiles and pretty dresses. She chooses to learn about forensics right around the time that Jack the Ripper begins his deadly slaughter. Audrey is determined to follow the line of clues right to the killer's front door.

I enjoyed Audrey's character, overall. I liked how she rebelled against her family and society's standards for her. I liked that her uncle supported Audrey's interest in forensics when her own father wouldn't. The adventures her uncle and her went on made me want to go on adventures with my own family more (extended family). The author incorporated secrets and deception to the perfect degree. It wasn't as ridiculous as Pretty Little Liars; a story about the complicated and elusive Jack the Ripper needs a few secrets. Thomas acted as Audrey's foil; he was sardonic and had an unusual mind. Although he was handsome, his intellect and brain drew Audrey to him, not his looks. I liked how Thomas fit into the story; the developing romance did not take over the main plot, but it was a nice interlude once in a while. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ