Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.


Release Date: September 2018
Age Group:Contemporary, True Crime, Podcast, YA (but I think more New Adult content)
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
Sadie was raw, gritty and relevant.

I listened to Sadie as an audiobook and I couldn’t be happier in that decision. Summers has an exceptional writing style that delivered a story partly as a podcast that bounced between past and present events- the reporter present day and Sadie’s POV.

It was an absolute treat to listen to all the different characters come to life! I felt like I was a part of a true crime story and was actively searching for Sadie.

The plot was so darn good. The imagery was both incredible and tormenting. With every word that Sadie stuttered or thought, I felt it. This story makes you feel so many different emotions: love, loss, hate, disgust, shock, empathy, anger and resolve. I was emotionally drained by the end, that is a clear sign of great writing.

Sadie, herself, hit me pretty hard. From her stutter to her internal monologue, I just loved her. I cheered with each triumph of justice she felt and mourned with each tragic revelation. Her story and character were executed in such a way that you were left punched in the gut and gasping for air as you cheered “keep going!”.

As I finished the last page, my first thought was this could be someone’s real story. That hurt. And I think that is was supposed too.

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I would not recommend this to a teen due to the language and nature of the violent crimes. I felt Sadie read more as New Adult lit versus YA.

I would recommend this read as an audiobook and for fans of Making a Murder and True Crime stories. It's not pretty and a solid reminder that there are ugly people who appear innocent-- the true monsters in the dark.
 

Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Summary:  
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant re-imagining of this beloved classic.

 
Release Date: January 2019
Age Group: YA, Contemporary, Retelling
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I am always a sucker for a retelling of P&P. And about 50% of the time I’m disappointed with the conclusion, they always seem to fall flat. Why can’t they wrap up in blazing glory?!

Here’s what I loved:

  •           I really enjoyed Papi and Mama's strong relationship and presence. I especially loved Papi's voice--
"read to travel," Papi always says.
       The best advice. Ever. I swear I could shout that from the roof tops life a crazy woman
       and it still wouldn't be enough.

  •      The clash of culture within a culture (“the block”): Madringa herself and all that she represented, the meshing between Haitian and Dominican decent, and of course gentrification. 

  •         I enjoyed the poetry, haiku and metaphors that Zuri uses to express herself. They were clever and beautiful.

  •         The story is written in an easy manner that I think teens will enjoy.

  •         The characters fit into the basic blueprint of P&P but with a nice cultural twist. It was like stepping into another way of life. I loved learning all the common terms of the Benitez culture-- the corner bodega, the goddess Ochun, and what is bougee.

  •         For me this retelling kept reminding me of the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. I think they would actually pair well together for a high school setting or cultural study.

  •          The discussion of “privilege” was done really well. Benitez versus Darcy. Black versus Black. London roots versus Dominican-Haitian descents. This block versus that block.
You do know there are black people who have money out there in the world, Z, right?  ~Janae


Here’s what I didn’t enjoy:

  •          If you are going to bring Darcy to my door you better bring a strong broody hunk. Darius was a hunk but pretty weak. I don’t think I was ever convinced that he was madly in love with Zuri. And Zuri sure wasn’t in love, she flat out said she didn’t know what it was yet. Meh.

  •          I just didn’t like Zuri. I liked her poetry and seeing how her world was expanding with life experience but she herself was too judgmental and rude. 

  •          The story is truly a telling. No build up. Very anticlimactic and P&P needs the build up! I need the moment when Elizabeth and Darcy realize they are both madly in love with each other.

  •      Overall, I liked it. I’d recommend it to teens, teachers and P&P fans. It’s an easy read. I don’t think a teen audience will pick it apart like I did.

I actually read half the book and started over with the audiobook. I wanted to make sure I heard all the terms and language correctly and not in my butchered Southern drawl. I am so glad I listened and got the full effect of what it means when something is bougee. 

 

Keeper of the Bees (Black Bird of the Gallows #2) by Meg Kassel

Summary: A tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.


Release Date: September 2018
Age Group: YA, Paranormal, Entangled Teen
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:

The cover got me. 

                I judged it. 

                      I went in blind. 
                       
                                    🐝'lieve me, it was a fantastic wild card.

Right off, I felt the sweeping romance of a Fear Street Saga by RL Stine... did you just have the feels?! Me too. 

I mean, come on, a small town, a beautiful crazy girl (certifiably nuts), a boy with a changing face and body full of bees AND a freaking straw man straight from your nightmares... It SERIOUSLY takes talent to make all that work.

I have read a lot of paranormal YA and it can feel repetitive but Keeper of the Bees was such a treat-- wonderfully odd, creepy and unique! The writing was engaging, the plot was fast-paced and the characters were so unbelievably interesting. It is sure to be a favorite for fans of paranormal YA.  

It MUST be on your TBR list!



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Now, here is the real kicker-- I had no idea that this was the second in a series. I have a very strict rule that I never read out of order! I didn't discover this little tragedy until I got on Goodreads to snag a picture of the cover! I was like what the WHAT!?! 🤔

Lucky for me KoB can be read as a standalone. THANK GOODNESS. But I will be reading the first, Black Bird of the Gallows, because I got a little taste of that story and wanted to know more. I'm coming for you Reece. 🐦🐝🐦🐝🐦