Kim is back with her video summary of reads for September! Special shout outs to by Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Jennifer Nielson, and Marie Lu!
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Published: September 15, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.
Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”
Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.
Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.
Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary – and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.
This book is another result of my scary book phase. The cover drew me in and I just had to read it. I read it the first time three years ago, and since then, I had forgotten all the details. Plus, I’m a huge Dawn Kurtagich fan after reading The Trees Crept In. For some reason I didn’t make that connection until just recently. I decided to pick it up again so I could write a review . . . totally forgot about the formatting and I LOVE it!!!! I love the journal formatting combined with the “video clips” and audio interviews. It made the whole story more real. The tension created by all the mystery and psychological anomalies kept me guessing the whole way thru! Getting into Carly/Kaitlin’s head was terrifying and fascinating all at the same time.
The Mala and Grundi elements made me want to do some research to learn more about them. And there was very little teenage drama. Any “drama” was low key and realistic enough to keep it from getting annoying and ruining the story. And the ending was vague enough to leave you thinking and considering everything that I read, but satisfying enough to keep me from throwing the book across the room. I’d absolutely recommend this book to older teens and anyone looking for a psychological read.[Top]
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 25, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.
With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.
But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?
Jennifer Nielsen has joined the ranks of “authors Kim will read no matter what”. She hasn’t written a thing I don’t like. She writes with such emotion and I very rarely look at page numbers while reading her books. With all that established, I have to admit that this is her weakest work so far. That does not mean it is bad, it simply means that A Night Divided is not my favorite of her books. I enjoyed this book very much, the only issue is that sometimes, while the characters were dealing with their boring existence in Communist East Berlin, that monotony came out for me, the reader, as well. That is the only reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5.
I love how Donnelly showed the practical side of life under Communism; the little things that we Americans take for granted like the freedom to listen to music, or say the things we are thinking, no matter what we’re thinking. The scenes where Gerta goes to the market and the shelves being empty of most things except cabbage was especially potent.
I would suggest this book to most millennials, no matter their age. The suspense that Donnelly created, especially near the end, made me forget any boredom I was feeling near the beginning. This is another book that I would tell high school and middle school teachers to keep on their shelves. And the cover is amazing. And everyone should read it. And now I want to visit Germany. And I’m going to start writing all my reviews in this short sentence, list format. Ok, just kidding! 😊 I really liked this book and I think everyone else should read it as well!