Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover

Review: The Girl in the Blue Coat


I received an advance reading copy of the Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse from the publisher.

I’ll start off by saying that World War II historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. With that said I really enjoyed Girl in the Blue Coat.  It is well researched and thought provoking.

There is so much going on in this novel.  Amsterdam has been taken over by the Nazis.  Hanneke (the main character) is working for a funeral home, while also working in black market trades.  She is grieving the death of her boyfriend, while struggling to provide for her family.  Then one day Hanneke is asked to find a missing girl who is Jewish.  Hanneke has always felt her black market work was her way of rebelling against the Nazis, but she isn’t sure she wants to take on something that will be even more dangerous.  Soon she is thrust into the world of the underground resistance, discovering just how ugly Hitler’s war machine is, all while trying to find a young girl before it is too late.

This book has a lot going for it.  It’s part mystery. It deals with grief, and finding the courage to do the right thing.  Many people risked their lives during WWII to help in resistance work.  It was often difficult to know who could be trusted, and even more difficult to make the tough decisions about what chances the resistance could and couldn’t take when it came down to it.  Hanneke doesn’t want to get involved with the resistance, all she wants to do is find Mirjam.  The resistance wants Hanneke’s help in finding hard to find goods to help feed people in hiding.  They will help Hanneke but not at the cost of putting anyone else involved in the resistance in harms way. And Hanneke isn’t sure how much she wants to get involved in the resistance because she is the only one her parents have to take care of them. The more Hanneke learns about what the Nazis are really doing the more she understands  what is truly at stake.

I was up late reading this book every night wanting to know if Hanneke would succeed and at what price.

This book goes on sale April 2016, and if you love World War II historical fiction as much as I do then it needs to be on your must read list.  It is a beautifully written story about love, grief, war, and redemption.




Review: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach

Picture from goodreads

Picture from goodreads

My copy is an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

What it’s about: Gabe (aka Chunk) has a rule he learned from an old woman who used to clean his house, “Better laugh than cry.” For most of high school he has pretty much lived by that rule. Someone is making fun of him for being fat? Then do a dance and make everyone laugh. But when the soda machine money (to which Gabe has given a lot of money) stops going to the band, and starts going to the cheerleaders’ dance squad, well, Gabe is done laughing. It is an all-out war between the band Geekers and anyone who gets in their way, and Gabe is the unlikely leader.
What I thought: I loved this book. I was laughing out loud throughout – which for me is always a sign of a good book. I love how much Gabe grows and changes as the story goes on. Gabe’s friends call him Chunk (yes that is a Goonies reference for all you who know great movies ) and other kids (like the Jocks) choose other words to describe Gabe’s size which are much harsher. So Gabe gets called names a lot, and with his anger over the soda pop money comes the realization he doesn’t like being called fat. Gabe is no longer laughing because the only time it’s better to laugh than cry is when you can’t do anything about it. Gabe can do something about it, and he does. He starts working out with his Grandfather (you’ll love his grandfather) and eating healthier; he isn’t going to let food and soda control him, or use it as a way to deal with how he feels. Gabe starts to take control of his life health wise. He also starts to realize he also calls people names, and maybe the jocks, cheer bitches, and Goth, may not like those names any more than he likes being called fat. As for the war over the vending machine funds, well Gabe learns what it means to be a leader. He also learns a lot about his fellow classmates and friends.
I love Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders because I was laughing throughout, but also because I saw Gabe grow. As you read the book, you see as Gabe realizes, yes he is picked on but he is also the one who picks on others too. He just never realized he was name calling too. Gabe realizes a lot and you can’t help but cheer him on.
I highly recommend this book.


Review: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Arc from publisher

What It’s About: Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a charming teenage boy. To look at him he seems like every other teenage boy, but Jasper Dent is the son of Billy Dent, one of the world’s worst serial killers. Billy has been in jail for 4 years now, and Jasper has lived with his grandmother and the worry that someday he may become his father. Billy taught Jazz a lot about what makes a good serial killer, and now Jazz fears he may turn into his father. When the body of a woman is found in a field Jazz just knows it is the work of a serial killer. Now he has to convince the police to believe him before more bodies start piling up.
What I thought: I was really in the mood for a thriller and I Hunt Killers satisfied my craving. Jazz’s fears about becoming his father are completely understandable because of how he grew up. Lyga does a good job with the twists and turns in the plot so you are never really sure who the killer is until Jazz starts to piece it together. The ending leaves you itching for book two, which is out now. For me I Hunt Killers is a mashup of Dexter and The Following, which means I suggest you pick up a copy and start reading today.

Review: Edgewood by Karen McQuestion

Edgewood by Karen McQuestion

I’m going to start off this review by letting you know I received my copy of Edgewood through a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.


What’s it about:  The night Russ Becker witnesses a strange astronomical event, his world changes forever. Before long Russ discovers he’s developed incredible superpowers, and he’s not the only one. Three other young people—beautiful Mallory, arrogant Jameson, and mysterious Nadia—have had the same experience and all of them now have powers of their own.  At first the four relish their newfound gifts, but things become serious when they learn they are being hunted by an organization that wants them for its own nefarious purposes. When Russ’s family is threatened, he’s forced into action. What transpires will change all of them in ways they never imagined. (Summary from


What I Liked:  I love the idea of teens with superpowers. (I want superpowers!).   I like how they developed the powers due to an astronomical event, and I love how all their superpowers are connected to energy in some way.  This fact lends some stability to how the event affected all of them, and why it can differ but still be similar.  I also love Russ Becker’s voice.  While there were times where I didn’t necessary feel some of his lines fit a teenage boy, he did feel authentic overall.  I will mention there were times when I got really frustrated with Russ and the choices he was making.  He did not seem to understand the dangers involved in telling others about his powers in the beginning, and even after being warned he made some poor decisions.

For me Edgewood was a page turner, and I look forward to reading the sequel.  There are questions left open for the sequel, which I look forward to finding out the answers to.  Also a romance seems to be budding, so those of you who love a little romance thrown in, have no fear.  Although the romance isn’t really in the first book, I think (hope) the second will capture it more.