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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tradition by Brendan Kiely

Tradition by Brendan Kiely is a powerful and important novel about privilege, expectations, power, but most importantly about doing what is right.  This book should help to open the eyes of the reader to the dangerous nature of tradition in an every changing world. 

This novel is told through the dual narration of James and Jules, two senior students at the prestigious Fullbrook Academy.  James is a new student, one who doesn't quite fit, but because of his hockey ability has been given a scholarship for the year.  Jules is a legacy, attending the same school her mother graduated from years ago.  She has decided that she is going to take control of her future during her senior year.  But this ruffles the feathers of many other students since she doesn't just fall in line with what is expected of her. 

Both being outcasts at Fullbrook, James and Jules become friends as their senior year progresses.  Along with friends Aileen and Javi, their friendship is put to the test after Jules is sexually assaulted by an ex-boyfriend.  But Ethan has power at the school and is untouchable.  Jules and Aileen are tired of being quiet though, and with the help of James and Javi, they plan on putting an end to the dangerous traditions that continue at Fullbrook.

From Amazon:

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Brendan Kiely, a stunning new novel that explores the insidious nature of tradition at a prestigious boarding school.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds was a highly enjoyable read.  This story is so much about family and what it should mean to us.  It is about being there to take care of those you love and doing what it takes to make sure they are taken care of.  And that may not always be easy, but it is necessary.  At times it could be easy to give up on people, but in this book, Reynolds shows us that sticking by their side, even when it is difficult, is maybe the bravest thing you can do.  If you have read anything by Jason Reynolds before, you will enjoy this one as well.  

From Amazon:

In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut that Publishers Weekly calls “a funny and rewarding read” captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should've been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett was a wild ride, and one I am glad I jumped on.  This is a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out how it will all play out.  And just when you think you have it, it will turn you on your head again.

St. Aiden the Great School is a boarding school for the ultra privileged,  and it is control by a group of six students know as the Medievals.  A group who not only establishes the rules, but feel as if they don't always apply to them.  If you are an outsider, say a scholarship student, come from new money, or have a darker skin tone, you are the target of their incessant bullying.  That is until these students are invited to a weekend at Longcross of huntin', shootin', and fishin'.  But as the weekend unfolds, we have to start wondering who the targets really are, the animals or something else.  There are so many twists and turns as the weekend goes on that, as a reader, you will often find yourself second guessing what is really going on.  This was such a fun read!

From Amazon:

"Gossip Girl meets The Hunger Games." --Bustle

"Like Mean Girls, but British and deadly. . . . This book is great, from start to finish." --Hypable 

Get ready for one deadly weekend in this twisting thriller for fans of Pretty Little Liars and One of Us is Lying that explores just how far the elite at an English boarding school will go.

Greer MacDonald has just started as a scholarship student at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as STAGS. STAGS is a place where new things--and new people--are to be avoided. And in her first days there, Greer is ignored at best and mocked at worst by the school's most admired circle of friends, the Medievals.

So, naturally, Greer is taken by surprise when the Medievals send her an invitation to a sought-after weekend retreat at the private family estate of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt. It's billed as a weekend of "huntin' shootin' fishin'."

As the weekend begins to take shape, it becomes apparent that beyond the luxurious trappings, predators are lurking, and they're out for blood.


"Reinvigorates the boarding-school thriller." --The Guardian