Tag Archives: g.p putnam’s sons books for young readers

ARC Review – People Like Us by Dana Mele

Title: People Like Us

Author: Dana Mele

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened. 

Huge thank you to Miss Print’s ARC adoption for this review copy.

Molly’s Review:

I always love a good boarding school mystery and I’m a huge fan of ugly pretty people doing ugly things stories. So this sounded right up my alley. And I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this!

First I want to talk about the representation in this book. This book has a bisexual (note: I think she’s bi. I could be wrong. There weren’t any real labels used in the book other than I think once it was said that the BFF, Brie, is gay. I am open to correction if I am using the wrong term) MC and there is ZERO mention of this in the book summary/ marketing. So this might fly under the radar which would be a shame. The way that the MC & her sexuality was written was so well done (at least I thought so, I could be wrong, I’m reading from the perspective of a heterosexual woman). There isn’t any huge “this is how I came out, I’m bi, I’ve been with both males & females etc.” explanation. Instead it’s just… there. It’s who the MC is. She’s clearly in love with her BFF (who we do find out is queer when the BFF’s girlfriend is mentioned) & the way the two interact with each other just shows it. At first I wasn’t sure if the MC was queer, just really REALLY close with her BFF or if there was going to be some unfortunate queer-baiting. That was NOT the case thankfully. We instead find out that the MC is bi through mentions of her relationships and seeing her interactions with both people she’s in love with (an ex-boyfriend and her current BFF) and a potential new love interest (another girl at school). There are a few mentions of how she discovered her sexuality, but it was never the focus. And I liked that. I liked that she was just who she was and that the author didn’t feel the need to explain. I would love to see more of this in YA & books in general.

The actual murder-mystery of this was really good too. I had my suspicions and there was a twist that I didn’t see coming (it wasn’t AS impactful as some of my favorite twists, but it was still not something that I saw coming, which I liked). The writing in this was really good at times and then other times I thought it could have used a little editing. And there are parts in the book (like the Thanksgiving break) that I thought were unnecessary… until I got to the end of the book. I really liked the characters that were fleshed out, but I felt that maybe some of the side characters could have had a bit more depth. I also thought it was odd that towards the middle the revenge scavenger hunt was just kind of… forgotten. There was a ton of build-up and then nothing until we started to get answers later on…

Overall I think this was a really good book and I think fans of Kara Thomas or Abigail Haas would really enjoy this book!

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ARC Review – Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

22501055Title: Under a Painted Sky

Author: Stacey Lee

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

Sam’s Review:

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Westerns really don’t get the love they probably should. In Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky we meet Samantha and Annamae, two young woman, who share one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. These two tough girls embody what it means to have perseverance, and to fight for yourself.

The writing in this book is absolutely stunning, and you really do feel like you’re transported into the old west. The images that Lee paints are wonderfully descriptive and have their own personality, which I quite enjoyed. There’s something about travelling a tough and lonesome road, and yet Samantha and Annamae make you feel so welcome despite the problems they are essentially escaping from.

If there is anything I could highly praise about this book, it’s the friendship between the girls. You get this strong sense of companionship and trust between the two girls — that they would do anything for each other, that they genuinely care what the other thinks. You don’t see a lot of friendships like this in YA, and in a lot of cases, the friendships in YA do tend to feel tacked on or very superficial. That truly isn’t the care here because Lee gives you damn good reasons to love these girls and enjoy their adventure.

The romance was the only thing that I liked, but didn’t love. West and Sam were cute, but he was a bit too hokey for me. That being said, I thought Lee did a good job here as well, because it wasn’t an instant connection, the two actually had some chemistry, which I appreciate so much.

This is a western, and it’s an unloved genre that needs a resurgence. This book reminded me how much I love the genre and how much I appreciate diverse women being friends with each other. We need more of that in YA, and we need it to be as genuine as it is portrayed here.