Tag: Contemporary

Book Review: Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Five Total Strangers
Author: Natalie D. Richards

Published: October 6, 2020

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 14-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 1 star

Book Description:

A hitched ride home in a snow storm turns sinister when one of the passengers is plotting for the ride to end in disaster.

When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.

Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.

Jessica’s Review:

Five Total Strangers shows the stupidity and drama of young adults and why car companies don’t tend to rent cars to people under age 25!  Mira is a high schooler flying alone trying to get home for Christmas.  Her plane lands as a huge blizzard is set to hit the area.  With her anxiousness to get home, Mira decides to catch a ride with her flight seatmate Harper and friends.  But things are actually far from what they appear…As everyone in the car are actually strangers to each other and someone is up to no good!

The whole novel is in the car with few stops and the drama that continues.  The group faces wreck after wreck as the weather worsens and their phones start dying and things start disappearing.

This is a novel that shows that having common sense works; Don’t go out in weather that is going downhill fast with complete strangers as you could be risking your life in multiple ways.  Unfortunately, most people (including all of our characters) do not have common sense these days, but then we would not have this novel if Mira did!

The novel just did not work for me as we arrived to the climax and found out the responsible party. It came too much out of left field and there were also some outstanding questions left at the end.  These characters were not sympathetic at all, so I did not care what happened to them.  I have been lucky in the past that most of the YA/NA (Young Adult/ New Adult) books I have read have not had the overbearing drama that this novel did, otherwise I would not be able to read YA/NA!

Unfortunately, this is not a novel I can recommend.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Full Disclosure
Camryn Garrett

Published: October 29, 2019

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 1-5, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

Jessica’s Review:

Simone does not have an easy life:  Born with HIV and having to change schools, living with both of her dads who won’t let her even see her gynecologist on her own, now she meets a boy she is interested in.  But what about her HIV status and possible sex? She thinks things are going fine and then at her new school she gets an anonymous note in her locker…

If you want to read a novel with diversity then Full Disclosure will be the novel to read as it is extremely diverse. Full Disclosure talks very candidly about many subjects that most YA novels steer clear from: Sex and sexual health, vibrators, masturbation, and much more.  It also raises awareness about HIV and how it can be transmitted that the reader may or may not be familiar with. It also shows how one faces life living with HIV and when/how they should choose to disclose their status to others.  

Due to the nature of the novel, I would suggest parents read this novel first before passing it on to your teen.  This would be to see if your teenager is ready to read a novel like this, but also for the parent to prepare themselves as they may find themselves having to answer questions that may be raised. I would say this would be for the older teenagers from ages 16 and up. 

All of these characters are realistic and candid with their situations, and Simone and Miles are just cute together along with being honest and open with each other. In some ways they seem more mature than their age, which is understandable for Simone as she has been living with HIV her entire life 

Full Disclosure is recommended!

Purchase Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Blog Tour: Book Review: My Secret Sister by Lauren Westwood

Today I am helping to end the blog tour for My Secret Sister by Lauren Westwood.  I enjoyed this one.  There is also an international giveaway going on for e-copies of the novel!

Book Description:

Two DNA tests, one big lie…

“As I speed off in the ambulance holding my daughter’s hand, I wonder how I could have been so stupid. I should have made the bargain, paid the price – anything to avoid being right here, right now.

A voice whispers in my head that I can’t silence. This is all your fault. You killed her. It’s her voice, the one I hear in my nightmares. The woman who stole my memories, the woman who stole my life. And, this time, I know she’s right.”

How far would you go to save your child?

Claire is living every mother’s worst nightmare. Her daughter, Jess, has been diagnosed with a rare illness and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. With no match on the registry, Claire turns to a charismatic geneticist for help and embarks on a Genetic Journey to seek a familial match for her daughter.

On the other side of the country, Marianne suffers her eighth miscarriage. Her perfect life is rotting underneath, but she is determined to do whatever it takes to have a baby.

When DNA test results reveal that Claire and Marianne are half-sisters, Claire must face the dark lies of the past and make impossible choices about the future. Is her secret sister the answer to her prayers, or will she cost her everything?

My Secret Sister is a tense and emotional family drama with a moral dilemma at its heart. Fans of Liane Moriarty, Jodi Picoult, and John Marrs’ The One will be gripped.

My Secret Sister
Author: Lauren Westwood

Published:  August 31, 2021
313 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 24- November 11, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Jessica’s Review:

My Secret Sister shows how at home DNA testing can be like opening Pandora’s Box: Are you sure you actually want to take the test as you never know what family secrets you may bee revealing.  This is the kind of book that book clubs are made for: Covering many topics ranging from IVF, parental issues, medical issues, deceit, and at home DNA testing, this one will have many discussions!

The author started writing this novel before Covid-19 and chose to keep it out of the story.  I am glad she chose this as it would have muddied the waters of an already complicated situation.  As Covid-19 will most likely always be with us, it doesn’t have to be present in novels that deal with medical situations.

We have three narrators throughout the novel with Claire, Marianne, and Becky and see each of their sides with a variety of emotions. I was pulled in the most with Becky’s chapters.  I am not a parent, but have a sister with a physical disability, so I identified with Becky.  I can see mothers identifying with Claire and women who have experienced fertility issues identifying with Marianne.  Needless to say I think every reader will identify with one of our narrators.

I was intrigued and also unsure with what was going to happen and we get some twists and turns as well. Are we going to have a happy ending or not?  My Secret Sister really starts moving around the last third of the novel, but the final twists just did not work for me, as they really came out of left field.

Otherwise, I did enjoy this novel and look forward to what else Westwood has written!

My Secret Sister is recommended.

Buy My Secret Sister: http://mybook.to/MySecretSister

About the Author:

My books explore the darkness and the light of the human spirit, and take you on an emotional journey. My Sister’s Secret is a tense and emotional drama about a mother’s race against time to save her daughter’s life. My Mother’s Silence is a gripping and romantic drama about homecoming and family secrets set in the wild Scottish highlands. It was shortlisted for the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award 2020. The Daughter She Lost is a dark journey of self-discovery and overcoming the secrets of the past. My holiday romance Moonlight on the Thames is a love story to classical music and the healing power of love. It was a bestseller in urban fiction and top 100 Kindle book. My first three novels: Finding Home, Finding Secrets and Finding Dreams all feature mysterious old houses and intelligent, feisty contemporary heroines who set out to unravel the mysteries of the past. I also write award winning children’s books as Laurel Remington. I am originally from California, and now live in Surrey, UK with my partner and three daughters.

Contact Lauren:
Twitter: @lwestwoodwriter


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