Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flash Reviews

I've finished up my Gateway Committee reading and am now moving on to the list for next year (which already has about 40 books on it!) So here are a few more of my flash reviews on some of the Gateway titles I read (and again, this is just my opinion and not the opinion of the committee). Writing these short reviews help me formulate my thoughts so I can figure out what to rate each title. You can see my first Flash Review List here.

Rating: 3/5

Hmm...not sure what to say about this one. I liked it and I didn't. It was very much a middle of the road book for me. The story was interesting enough-the main character's friend begins to loose control after an accident with his brother and the bullying at school begins to push him to the edge. The story is told from the "witness" point of view-how he sees things happen and unfold. It just didn't really stand out to me, but I thought it was a book worth reading.

Rating: 2.5/5

Well, this one makes me feel like I don't get mysteries at all, because this one won the Edgar Award for best YA mystery and I didn't like-go figure. I just felt the characters weren't all that interesting and the mystery was a little childish for being a YA suspense novel. There was never any suspense (and believe me, I'm an easily scared chicken!) But there was just something about this book that really made me bored with it. I also felt the mystery read like something you'd find in a made for TV movie for teens-it all felt too coincendental and unrealistic and over the top. I'm sure it'd be good for readers looking for an easy read. I just expected more suspense and twisting mystery that really took me by surprise.

Rating: 4/5

This was a short read and it read very quickly. DeShawn lives in the projects and the novel starts out with him at age 12. He wants to get out and do something with his life, but living in a place where gangs rule, he grows up and soon finds he has no choice. I thought the story was very well done and while it was sad and infuriating and DeShawn often left me annoyed at his choices, I understood why he made them. I also felt the author really did his research and wrote a story that felt real. I just wish there would have been more explanation at the end about those who got out of the projects-I wanted to know how. What did they do? What choices did they make? I do think it's a book that needs to be read.

Rating: 4.5/5

This book took me a bit to get into, but once I did I really enjoyed it. Suicide books can be hard to get right-you don't want them too angsty and angry or too mushy and preachy and I think the author had a nice balance here. Caitlin grows throughout and while she might start out being a little annoying, she grows and heals throughout the book and as she does I thought she grew on me as a reader and I liked her more. I wish there had been more to Ingrid's journal-I really liked reading her entries and I thought there weren't quite enough to really let us get to know her. Overall this is a beautifully written book about healing and I really hope it makes it on the list.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Full Disclosure: All books reviewed from personal copies I own


  1. Suicide books can be very difficult. My favorite so far is Thirteen Reasons Why. I normally wouldn't read them because they're, well, sad, but your review for Hold Still makes me curious.

  2. I love these flash reviews...sometimes shorter is better!

  3. I am curious about Hold Still now. And I liked Peter Abrahams' Echo Falls mystery series, but Reality Check doesn't sound like my thing.

  4. I've been wanting to read Hold Still for a long time now, your review makes me want to go out and buy it right now. Great Reviews!

  5. I have read 2 of these! Reality Check and Hold Still. I liked Reality Check as much as any mystery I have read, and I have read a lot! Really liked the male main character, and it was a great, suspenseful story. Hold Still is tough, but so worth it. I thought it was a beautiful, well-written book. Caitlyn's journey through the grief process toward a place of peace and closure is really relatable and powerful.


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