What You Left Behind: A Novel

What You Left Behind: A Novel. Samantha Hayes. 2014. 32o pages. Crown Publishing.  [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Blogging for Books.] I like to think of myself as someone who can forecast a book’s plot twists. I’m usually pretty good at sifting through the little details meant to foreshadow, instead using them to sniff out the real culprit in a story.  Thus, reading What You Left Behind was a challenging read for me.  The author wove an interesting story with intricate details that constantly threw me off. The story starts with a motorcycle accident that kills a young homeless man in sleepy Radcote. With the discovery of a suicide note, it appears that Dean has become the first in a new rash of teen suicides to rock the town’s residents. The reader is then introduced to Lorraine, a police detective supposedly on vacation to visit her sister Jo and nephew Freddie.  Instead, she is compelled to explore the suspicious circumstances behind Dean’s death as another teen is found dead of an apparent suicide just days later. 

Hot and Bothered

Hot and Bothered. Kate Meader. 2014. 401 pages. Forever. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Hot and Bothered was such an enjoyable read. I found myself completely absorbed in the story, and feeling incredibly invested in what happened to all of the characters — that’s a feat! Jules and Tad are hopelessly in love with each other, but refuse to admit it. Instead, they’re best friends whose lives are so intertwined that they’re almost family. While Jules struggles to regain her independence while adjusting to motherhood, Tad focuses on opening a wine bar. Both feel the need to defy what they think their families view as failures, but sometimes undermine themselves with poor self-confidence.

My Dog, My Cat

My Dog, My Cat. Ashlee Fletcher. 2011. 42 pages. Tanglewood. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] My Dog, My Cat is a child’s reflection of the differences between his/her two pets. The differences include physical attributes, playtime habits and food preferences. Toward the end of the book, the child also reflects on the dog and cat’s similarities. This is a nice way to introduce the concepts of comparing and contrasting to a child while letting them do so with familiar animals.

A Tale of Two Mommies

A Tale of Two Mommies. Vanita Oelschlager, Mike Blanc, ill. 2013. 40 pages. Vanita Books. [ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] A Tale of Two Mommies is a look at a little boy who answers his friends questions about his “non-traditional” family structure. It’s a cute look at same-sex headed households from the view of children. The questions and responses are innocent and I found them useful when talking to my own child.

We Are the Goldens

We Are the Goldens. Dana Reinhardt. 2014. Wendy Lamb Books. 208 Pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Unsettled. That’s the immediate feeling I had when I finished We Are the Goldens. This is a book that subtly sucks the reader into the emotional turmoil the narrator experiences but doesn’t give the neatly packaged happy ending that one is wont to have. Here, that’s not a bad thing – the entire book is an exploration of how perceptions distort reality and how things that are seemingly right in front of us are not always so glaringly obvious. This book is honest, in all the ugly ways that life is. We Are the Goldens takes readers on a journey with high school freshman Nell as she slowly comes to terms with the shift in the relationship she holds with her older sister Layla. The two have always been inseparable, and Nell eagerly looks forward to starting high school with junior Layla. What Nell expects to be a continuation of their previous relationship actually ends up being a reality check about the two sisters’ distinct identities and experiences.