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Far From You: A Book Review

Title: Far From You

Author: Tess Sharpe

Publisher: Hyperion

Copyright: 2014

photo credit: Amazon

Sophie lost the trust of those closest to her when she became addicted to oxy. The accident that permanently injured her leg drove her to extreme measures–numbing the pain with the pills that helped her forget it. All of the lies piled up until Sophie isolated herself from all friends and family.

After a stint in rehab, Sophie decides to come clean about her addiction and resolves to live a sober life even though the pain hasn’t gone away. She is beginning to pick up the pieces of the life she traded for drugs, when she and her best friend, Mina, are attacked in the woods. Only Sophie leaves that woods alive.

A masked man kills Mina and plants drugs on the unconscious Sophie. He knows Sophie’s past well enough to know exactly how to frame her. When she awakes in a pool of Mina’s blood, Sophie becomes the main suspect in Mina’s murder. Who would trust that she was sober when she has a history of lying about her addiction?

Once Sophie returns from rehab a second time, she sets out to find the man who shot Mina. On her quest to avenge her best friend, Sophie uncovers that she wasn’t the only person who kept deadly secrets.

Far From You is a YA Thriller that contains drug abuse, sex, and LGBTQ+ scenes. The plot is so delicately woven by the author that the identity of Mina’s killer was an enormous surprise. I love when an author creates a believable YA Thriller that the reader can be sucked into and that is exactly what Tess Sharpe did here. I gave this story 4/5 stars on Goodreads. Follow my Goodreads page to see other recommendations and what I am reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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The Midnight Library: A Book Review

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Viking

Copyright: 2020

photo credit: Goodreads

This book sat on my shelf for far too long and my anticipation was strong. Luckily, Matt Haig did not disappoint!

Nora Seed has decided that she no longer wants to live. In the last twenty-four hours she lost her job and her beloved cat and so it seemed to her a good a time as any to swallow a bunch of capsules and check out. The afterlife wasn’t the peace Nora had hoped for, but instead was a large library full of green books and a familiar librarian from her past.

She soon learns that within the pages of each book lies a life that could have been hers. Each variation of Nora’s life was built by the decisions she could have made or the regrets that she held. In this parallel universe, Nora has the chance to see what her life may be like if things had been different. She experiences lives where she is famous, successful, poor, and broken. Each time she feels unsatisfied she transplants to a new version of Nora’s life.

With a beautiful message of contentment and making our own happiness in life this book was worth all of the acclaim in my opinion.

I gave this book 5/5 stars

Follow my Goodreads account for more reviews.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: A Book Review

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Publisher: Simon and Shuster Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: 2012

Photo Credit: Goodreads

“High school was just a prologue to the real novel. Everybody got to write you — but when you graduated, you got to write yourself.”

This book was so compelling, so tender, and so beautiful. Following the love of two individuals as it unfolded was an amazing journey. Aristotle and Dante found love in an unusual place–the El Paso public swimming pool. Both boys had been outsiders during their high school experience, but chance brought their stories together in the pool and their chemistry helped a friendship move into so much more.

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and I cannot believe that it took me this long to get my hands on it. This coming-out story is one of self discovery and acceptance. It’s about the confusion that teens face when they realize that they may not be heterosexual. It’s about searching for support from loved ones. It’s about uncovering secrets to find your place in the world.

The tale of Aristotle and Dante will break your heart and then put it back together. 

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Follow my Goodreads account for more reviews in the future.

The Ameri Brit Mom
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Hot British Boyfriend: A Book Review

Title: Hot British Boyfriend

Author: Kristy Boyce

Publisher: HarperTeen

Copyright Date: 2021

photo credit: Amazon

After the most embarrassing event of her life becomes a viral video and the death of her reputation, Ellie Nichols puts an ocean between herself and her school in DC by enrolling in a prestigious study abroad program in ENGLAND. Throwing herself into her studies at Emberton Manor helps Ellie to forget about the humiliating party where she threw herself at her crush only to find out that he was into her friend. Instead of parties and dating, the students of Emberton are focused on scholarships and early admissions to Ivy League colleges. It’s the perfect place for Ellie to spend half of her senior year–far from the American boy who broke her heart and the classmates who shattered her self esteem.

Academics were never Ellie’s passion though. She would rather be crafting her fairy gardens, watching British sitcoms with her mom, or wearing unicorn tees, but those are parts of herself that she knows can never be shared with anyone else.

One weekend, Ellie and some of her new friends from the program venture off the campus to visit an English market. While there, Ellie meets an older local boy and the two click immediately. His charm and sophistication make Ellie forget all about the boys back home and she finds herself forgetting about her academic studies and instead worried about becoming the perfect girl for her hot British boyfriend, Will.

Together, Ellie and Will take in the sights of England and they begin to fall in love. The problem is that Ellie hasn’t been honest with Will about many facets of herself. Guarded by her experience in America, Ellie decides to reinvent herself with Will. She enlists the help of one of her newest friends, Dev, to teach her about things like cricket to help win over Will.

Throughout her semester in England, Ellie dates Will, makes new friends, travels to Italy, improves her GPA, escapes the viral video, and secretly helps a groundskeeper implement some of her fairy gardening skills. She learns about herself in ways she never would have back home and the time away begins to heal the wounds inflicted by the classmates who hurt her most. Everything seems to be going well, until Ellie is caught up in Will so much that she forgets who she truly is.

This teen romance book is a special one to me. Not only is it about a young British romance, but it is also written by a woman that I have met and follow on social media. Kristy Boyce is a member of the same SCBWI as I am in Columbus, Ohio. I remember going to a meeting where she shared that she was going to get published. I remember hearing her “elevator pitch” and the story of how this book began as a contest entry. This book to me symbolized the fact that anything is possible for those who pursue their dreams. I followed Kristy’s journey and her social media has chronicled the process of her debut novel. Hot British Boyfriend was also well-written and engaging. Being married to an Englishman there are parts that I could really envision and that were even true to early parts of my relationship with my husband (sans all the lies and deceit.) This is a quick, light read and one that I enjoyed while on trains and planes traveling in England this summer. I highly recommend Hot British Boyfriend to any lovers of YA or YA Romance. It was so nice to take a rest from all the literature assigned through my masters program to enjoy a light-hearted, fun, nostalgic read like this one.

Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

We Were the Lucky Ones: A Book Review

Title: We Were the Lucky Ones

Author: Georgia Hunter

Publisher: Penguin Books

Copyright Date: 2017

*Setting for book challenge: Eastern Europe (Poland)

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World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland.

The Kurcs were a wealthy, Jewish family rooted in Radom, Poland, when the news breaks about the war. One-by-one the war takes members of their family and all the Kurcs can do is hope for the best–that one day the war will end and they will be reunited as a family.

Ganek and his wife end up in Siberia in a concentration camp.

Mila’s husband is taken without a “good-bye” and she is left to raise their baby on her own in the ghetto.

Addy tries to make it home from France, but is prevented from entering his homeland.

Jakob must protect the woman he loves from meeting the same fate as her family.

Halina uses her wit and strong personality to survive under the new regime.

Based on true events in the author’s family history this novel is one of resilience and impossibility. So often, we read stories about the casualties of war, but We Were the Lucky Ones gives away in its title that this family may have been broken for a time, but hope is restored in many ways.

As I read about events that this family endured I was shocked. I am a history teacher and I consider myself fairly educated on the war era, but I really had no idea what it was like to actually be under the persecution of the Nazis. I felt anger as I learned about the way the Kurcs were disregarded and forced in to ghettos. I was anxious as I read about Jews being coerced to dig their own graves knowing that when their shovel emptied the last of the mound their final breath was soon to follow. And don’t even get me started on the cruel acts against children.

But as heartbreaking as these events were I do believe it is necessary to educate ourselves on these things.

Hitler didn’t start with death camps.

It was a long process that began by planting seeds of hate and isolating groups of people.

Thank God that the Kurc family was one of the lucky families. That every member was spared from the fate that over 6 million others endured is a miracle.

I listened to a podcast while reading this book where the author admits that she took some creative license when it came to the thoughts, feelings, and words of her ancestors. But it is evident that an immense amount of research went into this story. It teeters on the verge of non-fiction, but she states in the podcast she didn’t feel comfortable calling it anything other than a novel because of the way she had to fill the gaps with what cannot be found in the act of research.

This was an emotional read, but so worth it. We all need to be reminded of the past and oftentimes that makes us uncomfortable.

Over the course of 2019 my goal is to Read the World. Check it out!

Reading Challenge 2019 (2)

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Books · Uncategorized

The Great Alone: A Book Review

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Copyright Date: 2018

*Setting for book challenge: Isolated Location (Kaneq, Alaska)

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The Vietnam War stole Leni Allbright’s father.

He returned in 1974 a former POW and a new man with a violent streak. His love for her mother ran deep, but flipped a switch in him. And that switch hurt her mother. Every episode ended with an apology and every time Cora took him back. Meanwhile, teaching her teenage daughter that to wake up to broken glass, overturned furniture, empty whiskey bottles and a mother speckled black and blue is normal.

News that they inherited a cabin in Alaska brings Leni hopes that the move will help him. They pack their Volkswagen bus and settle on a homestead in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Leni’s small family from Seattle learns to live off the land and adjust to life without electricity where their nearest neighbor is miles away.

They quickly become part of their new community in Kaneq. Leni befriends Matthew, the only other teenager in town, and he teaches her how to prepare for her first winter in Alaska. He strengthens Leni’s spirit and shows her that love doesn’t have to mean being a punching bag and letting men walk all over you.

“Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now.”

During their first winter in Kaneq, the citizens face a horrific tragedy that soon brings division. When they need to lean into one another for support the town scatters themselves and builds walls of hatred.

“They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.”

This was a beautifully written novel about a young girl learning to survive harsh circumstances and weather. Life dealt Leni an unfortunate hand, but throughout the course of her story she learns how to live unbroken.

I haven’t read a book I loved this much in a long time. There were at least five twists in this plot that I NEVER SAW COMING. I love a good, unpredictable read. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next. I cheered for Leni, screamed at her mother, and all but spit at her abusive father.

This year, my goal is read books set all over the world. This is my first book of 2019. As I complete books this year I plan to share some details I learn about different corners of the world.

reading challenge 2019 (1)

I felt like I was in the last frontier as I read this novel. Glacier filled white mountains, cloudless cornflower blue skies, fjords, and northern lights all drew me into the landscape of this beautiful state. Orcas, seals, otters, bears, moose, bald eagles, ptarmigans, and cormorants were all wildlife that appeared in the secluded woods of Kaneq.

“The natural world spoke loudest here.”

I experienced both of the Alaskan seasons. The days where the sun barely set were unusual to me. I found myself wondering how one could fall asleep at midnight with the light of day still bright. Other days, the sun surfaced for only a couple of hours. How depressing that must be to endure! I learned that in many parts of Alaska one must travel over the ice by small planes and that during the winter months casualty numbers were high due to stupid mistakes and poor planning.

I’m off on another travel. Stay tuned to see my latest reading destination.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Books · Uncategorized

Long Way Down: A Book Review

Title: Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds

Publisher: Antheneum

Copyright Date: 2017

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Will’s brother, Shawn, is dead. The rules of his neighborhood say he must avenge his brother. He grabs a gun and enters the elevator with a plan to murder Shawn’s killer.

The sixty seconds that Will rides the elevator help him to see that revenge isn’t his only option. In that time Will is confronted by other victims of gun violence and they help him to see clearly and distract him from his anger.

By the time he reaches the first floor, Will must decide if he is going to add to the count of dead bodies in his neighborhood or if he is going to challenge the rules of the streets.

This book is written in verse and is a quick read. My husband and I took turns reading aloud from this book and finished it in about two hours. Although the story is short it makes lasting impressions on its reader. It is clear to see why this book landed on the honor list for the Coretta Scott King award. I really love Jason Reynolds and the way his works are challenging gang culture and violence in the United States.

Last year year I read All American Boys which he co-authored with Brendan Kiely. That novel took the perspective of two boys who witnessed an act of police brutality. Kiely authored a white boy’s voice as a witness to the crime while Reynolds penned the voice of the African American boy victimized by an officer. I’ve book-talked All American Boys and several students have read it this year. It’s a classroom favorite amongst my ninth graders.

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I highly recommend both books.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

2019 Read the World Challenge

Every year I forget how quickly time passes.

I feel like I was just writing my goals for 2018 and here I am days away from 2019. Part of my annual goal setting means creating a plan for reading. Losing myself in the pages of fictional stories has become a daily part of my self-care routine. As a routine-oriented person I love to have a plan or a map of where I want to be at the end of every year.

This year I want to read the world.

Over the next twelve months I plan to visit every region and corner of the planet by reading books set in those locations.

Inspired by my mother-in-law who is currently on a trip of a lifetime around the world I’ve set out to craft a few travel plans myself.

I scoured travel websites and maps. I read lists of book reviews. Then with a bit of travel-envy I let myself be inspired by the travels of Karen Sisley. She is one brave woman who has sold all of her belongings and is currently traveling all over the eastern hemisphere doing humanitarian work and site-seeing.

I may not ever climb to the peak of a mountain, wash elephants in Cambodia, or sun bathe in the Caribbean, but I can always enjoy those adventures from the pages of well written novels.

I’d love for you to join me on a reading journey that takes us around the world. You can choose to read the following books in order or at random.

Reading Challenge 2019

You can do this journey reading library books (and do it all for free) or you can buy them cheap at discount book shops, yard sales, or download ebooks. However you prefer to get the books make a plan now!

If you plan to travel with me please let me know!

I want to discuss where we’ve been and what we’ve seen as we embark on this adventure.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

The Bridge of Clay: A Book Review

Title: Bridge of Clay

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: Knopf

Copyright Date: 2018

Bridge of Clay

As the semester came to a close my freshmen students presented a book they read throughout the year thus far. I read alongside my students several days a week and so I kicked off the presentations with one of my own. This book review is actually going to be told through Google Slides that I created for my class…

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I did admit to my students that I had high expectations for this book. The Book Thief, Zusak’s most popular book, is in my Top 5 favorite books of all time. I’ve waited a long time for Zusak to author another novel. To me, Bridge of Clay, just didn’t quite stack up. It was good. I do recommend it. But be warned…if you loved The Book Thief it is very different.

Check out my review of I Am Messenger from 2015.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

Books I Read in 2018

I’ve had so many reading adventures to share with you from 2018. I traveled back to Hogwarts, solved the murder of a teen in detention, witnessed the prejudices against minorities, fought countless types of mental illness, united a broken family, visited postwar Europe to save a child, and restored my faith in the human race.

Here is the list of books I read in 2018:

Devotional/Faith Books:

 

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

The Way of Abundance by Ann Voskamp

Anxious For Nothing by Max Lucado

 

Other Books:

 

 

 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Every Day by David Leviathan

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crawley

When We Collided by Emery Lord

-One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany

I didn’t quite meet my goal of 26 books this year, but considering I had a baby in February I am pleased with the fact that I kept reading a priority.

I am excited to start a new Reading Challenge in 2019. Next week I plan to share with you my plan and I would love for you to join me.

The Ameri Brit Mom