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Realistic

Book Review: Campaign Widows

Author: 
Agresti, Aimee
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Every four years, presidential candidates and their staffers travel the country searching for funding and votes. Campaign Widows follows five people who have been left behind by their partners as they work for electoral victory. But don't kid yourself - these "widows" have lives of their own. There is Cady, a newcomer to DC who is producing a show that is sagging in the ratings, Reagan, a speechwriter who is now doing freelance work as the recent mother to two twin girls, Birdie, a media mogul and DC taste-maker, Madison, whose husband Hank is in the running to be president, and Jay, whose partner Sky who got quickly upgraded from the "culture" section of the Queue (think Huffpost) to "politics" due to a staffing shortage. The book covers each of these dynamic characters as they live their own lives and effect the election in their own ways - with or without their partners' support.

This book is the perfect summer beach read, which is to say that its a light, fluffy read that would be great for any vacation (no beach necessary). The premise and setting were unique - I've not read a ton of women's fiction that is politically centered or even set in DC, and that really added to the title's value for me. All of the characters were well drawn and interesting in their own way. Often, when I read a book with multiple POVs, I find myself more invested in certain stories and then race through the chapters I don't much care for, but that was not the case here. Everyone was likable and engaging.

On the downside, I wanted more political satire than I got. While there definitely was some satire (Hank is a Trump stand-in, for example), and some dream scenarios (a three person dead heat race), I wanted more. Everyone's arcs were tied up a little too neatly for my taste, and it also made the book feel a bit less realistic.

Overall, I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys the genre and likes happy and easy reads. It reminded me of Crazy Rich Asians in tone and style, so if you liked that book, give this one a try! I hope it gets made into a TV show or movie, because it'd be excellent in either of those formats if the drama and comedy were both amped up a bit. If you are looking for a light summer read, look no farther. 4 stars - its a stand-out in its genre!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Graydon House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Campaign Widows became available for purchase on 22 May, and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s
Author: 
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Counting By 7s" by Holly Goldberg Sloan is a story about a girl and her struggles of going to school for the first time. The main character has to face many difficulties, and find herself along the way. I loved this book when I read it; usually I donate books once I finish them, but this book was a keeper. For my reading level, I found this book really good; not too easy and not too hard. I really loved the plot of this book, and liked seeing the view of the different characters. This book does talk about some heavy topics (including death), but is a very good book to learn about empathy and the impacts your actions have. If you love a happy ending and a satisfying novel, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
Author: 
Dionne, Erin
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet", a story about a middle school teen and her struggles of trying to fit in, demonstrates the fact that family is always first. This book talks about Hamlet, a girl going through 8th grade. First of all, I am in 8th grade and find the reading level a little bit easier than I am used to. It is a very well-written novel, but aimed toward a younger audience; on one of the websites that sell this book, it is suggested for 4-7 graders. But other than age, this book is pretty good. It talks about some issues that sometimes/rarely come up with public schooling (this book talks about an extreme of this), and how to deal with fears and anger. Along with being a fictional novel, this book is a mystery.
If you like narrative stories including some elements of mystery and staying strong, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G
Awards: 

'Book Review: Hello, Universe'

Hello, Universe
Author: 
Kelly, Erin Entrada
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Virgil is very shy but his family is incredibly loud. His mom calls
him Turtle and he really hates that. His fortune teller, 12 year old Kaori,
tells him to watch out for the color red and that starts a disastrous day of
being bullied and getting stuck in a deep well. Will his life end with his
disappearance? Every chapter of Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly will
delight readers 9-12 as they uncover a story with many pieces that fit
together beautifully at the end.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anonymous

Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Author: 
Sanchez, Erika L.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Julia was happy that her older sister Olga fulfilled the role of "perfect Mexican daughter." Prim and proper, Olga always did what she was told and followed the rules. During Julia's junior year in high school, Olga was run over by a semi-truck and killed. After Olga's death, Julia is surprised when she finds some scandalous items in Olga's off-limits room. As Julia tries to learn more about her dead sister, she finds herself learning more about her family, friends, and ultimately, herself.

YA contemporary fiction is not really my thing - I went on a reading spree of this genre recently as I was reviewing my Goodreads "read" list from 2018 and realized that I have read zero books in this genre. Because I need to read it for work, I decided to go with award winning books and/or authors from a different background than myself. This book, a National Book Award finalist about the daughter of Mexican immigrants living in the US, met that metric and appealed to me on the diversity front. I gave it a go, and was quite pleasantly surprised.

Julia is an extremely sympathetic character, and not just because she does fairly well in the face of a lot of adversity. Her voice is at times raw and honest and at other times snarky and hilarious, which really worked for me. Even though we don't have a lot in common, I was able to connect with Julia and I really cared about her and her story.

There's a lot of character development as Julia slowly learns more about her family members and their pasts, and there's just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning.

In addition to being a good coming of age story, this book covers some really important topics. Obviously, there's a lot about grief and how we grieve differently. Julia is suffering from depression, and the book is not shy about discussing her mental illness. The end of the book is followed by a section entitled "Mental Health Resources." Moreover, I learned a bit about some aspects of Mexican culture, and I got to take a peak into the lives of folks who had recently immigrated into the US from Mexico.

Considering this wasn't really my thing in the first place, I quite enjoyed it! Readers of contemporary YA will like this one - its got a touch of romance, a likable protagonist, and loads of substance. 3.5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Every Note Played

Every Note Played
Author: 
Genova, Lisa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

As with all of this authors' novels, this book was beautifully written. I honestly didn't like either of the main characters in the beginning, but as they came to accept the changes in their lives and atone for wrongs they committed to each other I felt more and more empathy for what they went through. This disease is absolutely awful and it is painful to read about its progression, but I'm glad Ms. Genova continues to shed light on illnesses such as this in a way that is accessible. Highly recommended (unless you are feeling blue, then you might want to try something a little lighter!).

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs.The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Due to the fact that the new movie, "Love Simon", came out recently, I thought it'd be fitting to review the book it's based on! Simon is a mildly popular theatre kid who loves music - and is gay. One day he sees an anonymous message from another boy just like him on his school's Tumblr. His name is Blue, and over a series of emails, they form a kinship as they get to know each other better - without ever revealing their true identities. At the same time, a boy named Martin finds out about Simon and Blue's relationship and threatens to out Simon if he doesn't help Martin get to his crush, Abby. As the months pass, Simon realizes he's fallen in love with Blue and is determined to find out who he really is. The author drops clues throughout the whole novel as to who Blue might be, each one pointing to a different suspect. As each possible candidate was introduced, I felt everything from joy to confusion to dread. All in all, Albertalli creates an engaging and believable narrative of the experience of a gay teen I would recommend everyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mckenna R.

Book Review: Lock and Key

Lock and Key
Author: 
Dessen, Sarah
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen tells the story of a high school girl named Ruby. The book starts after her alcoholic mother abandons her and Ruby moves in with her older sister who she hasn't seen for 10 years. Ruby has to go from living with an unstable mother and having to be the parent in family, to a rich, preppy life with people who actually want to be there for her. Ruby won't have it, she plans on staying till her 18th birthday then leaving. Her plans change when she meets Nate, a jock who has an interesting past but is now used to the rich life. Will Ruby and Nate let their walls divide them or break them down and become closer? I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 because it instantly grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept it. The author has a way of bringing her characters to life, like you could see it happening in real life. I would recommend this book to people who like realistic and romantic stories.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gabrielle F.

Book Review: The Higher Power of Lucky

Book Review: The Higher Power of Lucky
Author: 
Patron, Susan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This was a very good book. I listened to it on audio and the narrator was fantastic. The climax of the book takes place during a dust storm, which is a classic case of the natural elements reflecting the story line. A bit contrived, yes, but good for young readers. The conclusion was textbook, but also okay for younger readers. If you'd like to read a good story with no surprises, this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons
Author: 
Creech, Sharon
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Walk two moons is a great way to express the life of a teenager. I really liked the book because I can relate to some of the circumstances. When Sal is trying to solve mysteries about her life, and how her mom went missing, she also learns many things about herself. Sharon Creech did a very good job with portraying emotion throughout the whole book. The reader is able to feel empathy for all the character because of the detail in the book. Overall, I would very much recommend this book to over readers.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kate B.

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