Tag Archives: walker childrens

ARC Review – The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Title: The Names They Gave Us

Author: Emery Lord

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I absolutely adored this book. I find Emery Lord’s works have this way of capturing my attention and making me fall in love with the teens that she writes. They are flawed, imperfect, but lovable people. The Names They Gave Us may be her most powerful novel to date, and easily her most difficult in terms of subject matter as well.

Lucy is a great heroine. She’s devoted to her religious beliefs, has the perfect boyfriend, and loves her family deeply to the point of resentment at times. Her mother’s cancer reappears and she struggles to grasp that this could be the end for her mother, and ends up at a camp for teens dealing with tougher issues. There she makes wonderful, thoughtful friendships and grows into a stronger person. Lord does a fantastic job of showing Lucy’s growth in the story, and I think it shows when she learns about Anna, a trans girl at the camp. Their friendship was easily one of my favourites, and I enjoyed the way in which Anna educates Lucy about trans rights and issues transpeople face.

I also think how Lord deals with Lucy and her faith is very intriguing. It reminded me of my all time favourite novels, Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, although they are coming at the topic in very different ways. Lucy trying to reconcile her feelings about the people she meets and what the Bible has taught her is played up very well in this story, and I think this is just another area where Lord shows magnificent growth for Lucy as a character.

The Names They Gave Us is a beautiful, smart, sensitive read that offers amazing and thoughtful character development. Lord continues to show readers that she can work with tough issues, make them accessible, and still write a heartbreaking and touching story. WhileWhen We Collided still remains my favourite of hers, this one is a close second.

ARC Review – The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

18594377Title: The Chapel Wars

Author: Lindsey Leavitt

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money–fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.

Huge thank you to Walker Children’s and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I admit, I wasn’t expecting much from a book titled The Chapel Wars. It sounded goofy and awkward, and I found myself questioning how a seventeen year old girl ended up inheriting a chapel, but, I found myself won over by the very first page.

The only other book by Lindsey Leavitt I have read is Going Vintage, and while I enjoyed the book, there were certainly aspects of it that rubbed me the wrong way. I was a bit hesitant to read, but much like Mallory in Going Vintage, Holly’s voice hooks you from the very start and she eases you well into her little “horror story.”

Let’s face it, how many seventeen year olds end up inheriting a family business? It’s definitely something you have to suspend your disbelief for at first, but Leavitt develops Holly’s love for the run down chapel as something intense, and Holly is willing to go through hell and back to save it from her grandfather’s rival. The book also establishes that Holly has always wanted to go into business and it’s definiely a perk to how the story progresses.

What I adored about The Chapel War is just how humourous and honest everything felt. Holly is not without flaws, she’s a little bit of an ice queen, but she’s deeply family oriented, which I always appreciate in YA, even if her family is a mess. I love the hope that carries on her sleeve and the passion she has for success — she knows she can fail, but she does her best o keep herself a float and just work for a positive.

I also fond the supporting cast excellent as well, particularly Sam and Grant who made me chuckle as much as Holly did. A lot of the secondary characters have issues of their own, and yet Leavitt manages to resolve the majority of the problems in unexpected ways, and the ending of the novel is not what one would predict right away. Hope is such a huge part of this story, and I found myself connecting constantly with the characters in ways I didn’t expect to.

And then there is Dax. Yes Dax is a swoon worthy boy, but he’s a lovable and sincere soul.He’s not out for himself, or to push his grandfather’s rivalry with Holly’s forward — he just loves what he does and he isn’t afraid of people judging him for it. Well, everyone except Holly. It’s interesting how the two play off of each other, but you can see even when they fight that they have a deep respect for the others skills. I really enjoyed that they also got to know each other and the romance wasn’t just thrown into the story. It was very sweet overall.

The Chapel Wars made me grin, emote, and remind me that just because something may sound cheesy, it doesn’t mean it is cheesy. The ending of this book is absolutely perfect considering the event of the novel, and it definitely will leave readers satisfied. I’m really happy I gave this book a shot because it gave me so much unexpected joy upon its completion, that I was still thinking about it days later.

ARC Review – Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

16081202Title:  Open Road Summer

Author: Emery Lord

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Huge thank you to Walker Children’s and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book is cute, fluffy, full of feels and really really sweet. But Reagan was annoying and I didn’t like her and that really killed most of this book for me. I LOVED Dee. I really wish this book would have been WAY more about her. Any part with her was just the best. Matt was super nice too, but he didn’t swoon me as much as it seems he did everyone else.

But man. Reagan. She’s ~the bed girl~. And she WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. And that is something that I hate. I dislike super self-aware people both IRL and in books. It just seems like you’re trying too hard to be something you aren’t. And this was my problem with Reagan. She’s labeled herself SO WELL and then goes around saying how she aims to be unpredictable and someone that can’t be categorized. But she’s ‘the bad girl with a criminal record that loves to drink, wears too few clothes, too high-heels, and too-dark make-up’. Sorry, but THIS IS A LABLE REAGAN. All of her self-aware ‘I am a bad girl with a lot of cleavage’ or ‘I need a cigarette’ or ‘my clothes are so tiny’ moments drove me crazy. I just wanted to say WE GET IT.

I also really didn’t like how she caused so much drama and was so self-centered. Dee puts up with a lot of Reagan’s stuff because Reagan is so broken and needs someone, but then Reagan gets super jealous and dramatic and Dee puts her in her place which made me so happy. I mean, I loved Dee and Reagan’s relationship (there were moments when I teared up with BFF feels), but man, Reagan needed a smack-down.

I also hated how Reagan was judging other girls who were JUST LIKE HERSELF. She was calling girls trampy and trashy and cheap and bitches but then turning around saying how it was unfair that she was labeled those things as well. Despite labeling herself AND those other girls.

So what did I like? I loved Dee and her music. The songs were SO GOOD. I could totally hear them in my head. I loved Matt and how he worked through his problems. I could relate to Corinne and her relationship with Matt. I could understand her motives and even though some of them were shitty, they were real. The whole tour around the USA was so fun to read about too.

Anyway, most everyone else loves this, so if you can get past Reagan then you might really love this too.