All Involved by Ryan Gattis

AllInvolvedAll Involved by Ryan Gattis RyanGattis

In the aftermath of the verdict that acquitted four Los Angeles Police Officers of beating Rodney King, an unarmed African American man, all hell broke loose in Los Angeles (CLICK HERE FOR A TIMELINE OF THE HISTORICAL EVENTS). Not only were there protests and outpourings of rage over the verdict, but parts of Los Angeles began to burn. This novel is the story of people who took advantage of the madness and those who became the victims of the many unseen, and ultimately unsolvable, crimes. Meth heads with molotov cocktails, gangster with revenge plots, and black ops with orders to maim all roamed the city without repercussion. Even the firefighters who came to rescue people and homes found themselves targeted and attacked.

This book is violent and not at all about the politics of police brutality that sparked the five days of social unrest that brought Los Angeles to its knees. It is a one sided journey into the dangerous underbelly of a system gone wrong. In a city where justice has been absent for too, too long and gangs of all colors and races, including the police, run amuck at will.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

In the city of Ketterdam in the country of Kerch, society is strictly divided between classes, with rich merchants at the top and various criminal groups and gangs at the bottom. Upper classes, business and trades people, tourists and those coming to Ketterdam for its busy trade and markets all want to visit its gambling houses and other shady businesses in a designated part of the city. The law allows the various enterprises to operate as long as they do not disturb the status quo and those in power. Among the criminal gangs is the Dregs, run by an enigmatic young man named Kaz Brekker. Kaz has gathered young people with unique talents, including a sharp shooter with a gambling problem, a runaway from a merchant family who’s good with explosives, a young woman gifted at spying and with her knives, among others. When a new drug appears that amplifies magical powers of a group known as Grisha, Kaz and his crew are hired to kidnap the scientist who developed it. The challenge is that the scientist is being held captive in an impenetrable fortress in a well-guarded city. Kaz plans the job so each member of his gang’s special skills play an essential part in the plot. Suspense builds as they face unexpected obstacles. The book ends on a cliffhanger; I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I have loved reading fantasy for as long as I can remember and never cease to be amazed at the worlds, characters and plots authors invent. Leigh Bardugo has used her imagination to give readers a gift of believable people who possess magical abilities in a plausible world.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson


Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

furtistic violence

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

What a roller coaster of a ride this book is!!!  If you love science fiction-action movies, this is the perfect choice for you.  Zoey Ashe is a normal teenager living in a worn down trailer with her mom, who hardly talks to her.  She barely even knows her her biological dad is, some rich guy she’s seen twice in her life who her mom says is a major douche bag mafioso type.  When he dies and leaves everything to Zoey, her world crashes in.  Suddenly, all the crazies in the world are after her for the $5 million dollar bounty on her head.  Of course she is kidnapped by her father’s henchmen immediately, but then becomes a media star because the whole thing (which took play in the subway) was streamed live on the internet using Blink, a GoPro type device almost everyone wears.  She’s immediately taken to a lawless city called Tabula Ra$a, which is like Las Vegas on steroids.  Here chaos ensues, with Zoey trying to trust the “Fancy Suits,” who are her father’s closest advisors and don’t really seem to be on the up and up themselves.  They’re fighting against a genetically altered crazy man, think Robocop, for control of the city and the future of mankind.

This was a super fun book which I could hardly set down while reading.  I want to give readers a warning that there is some extremely graphic violence which was difficult for me, but I have trouble stomaching “The Walking Dead” zombie show on TV.

I would recommend this to readers who like high action books and movies, and those who like fast-paced adventure stories.  If you love the Matrix movies, Ernest Cline the Maze Runner books, this is your perfect next book.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

ImpossibleKnifeThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Most of the time we think of the parent taking care of the child, but sometimes life turns the relationships upside down and the kids are the ones keeping it all together. Hayley and her father were always on the move, until her father finally decides to return to his hometown and try to settle down. But keeping still is a struggle for a war veteran who is constantly traumatized by PTSD and can’t hold down a job for any length of time. Hayley does her best to both fit in and remain anonymous, since she knows nothing can last for long and too much attention will get her and her dad in trouble. But that’s not easy to do in a small town with a long memory.

Hayley is constantly worried about her dad’s safety to the point that her life is consumed by the task of keeping him alive. She is often isolated and even those who try to help her find it hard to get in. If you love someone with PTSD this book may help you see them, and yourself, in a new way. And maybe offer some ideas of how to make a change.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner


The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

If you have always lived in Berkeley, or a city of any size, then it is hard to fathom what it means to be from a small town. Always the same kids in your classes. Everybody doing the same thing on Saturday night. And you inherit the legacy of the life your siblings, parents and grandparents led before you ever got here. If you are lucky this is a good thing. But Travis or Dill it’s a heavy burden to carry. Dill has a dad behind bars and a fanatical mom at home who wants him to keep his life as small as possible. Travis’s dad drinks himself into a fury at his son whose world revolves around a fantasy book. Both boys are big disappointments to those around them. Lydia, their one other friend, is the saving grace of the group. With a supportive family and the desire to live bigger than the small fish high school they are trapped in together, she helps them grow dreams that expand beyond their town.

But nothing can protect everyone from the potential tragedies of life. They strike at random times and random places, and, for better or for worse, make us into who we are. These three friends will never be the same when high school ends, and they have their senior year to do the unthinkable. This is a brave story about what it means to be different and what it takes to make a difference.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Gabi A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero

GabiGabi A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi is a good girl who is questioning the hypocrisy of just what exactly it means to be “good.” In Gabi’s mother’s and Tia’s world her brother can do no wrong (even when he is obviously doing wrong), girls who get pregnant are sluts and always to blame, and being fat makes you destined to be single forever. Except that Gabi knows that none of this is true. She sees right through all the double standards and BS thrown her way. Gabi is smart and articulate, she is a writer and a poet, and she isn’t going to let her dreams die, like going to UC Berkeley, just because her family judges her harshly for her choices.

Written in the form of journal entries, this book is entertaining and heartfelt. It reads like a true-to-life high school experience. Gabi is from Southern California and shares a Latina perspective on growing up and coming of age. There is poetry and letters mixed in, all told in an authentic voice of a girl who is confident and insecure all at the same time.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani


Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

This unusual historical fiction story takes place in Iran (Persia, then) in the 1500’s.  When the Shah dies without leaving a specific heir, chaos breaks out and his favored daughter, Princess Pari, tries to wrest control of the country.  She had been taught to rule at her father’s side, but knew she would always have to do it behind the scenes, through a male “puppet” shah.  This book is the story of her trying to gain control in a royal court full of intrigue, manipulations and even murders.  Her only true ally is Javaher, a eunuch who is wise to the ways of the court, but also has his own secret agenda

I found the book to be completely exciting, and loved seeing a woman trying to take control when her whole world was against powerful women.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you will especially appreciate that this title is not set in the usual European or early American time periods.  I would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and readers who enjoy stories about the Middle East.

Review by Ms. Provence