Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ComingOfAge Everything That Came Before Grace by Bill See

Today’s team review is from Alison. She blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Everything That Came Before Grace by Bill See

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Benjamin is a single father, bringing up his daughter Sophia alone. He is struggling with his mental health, coming to terms with the impact his mother’s issues had on his childhood, and also getting over the fact that his past ‘true love’ has ended up marrying his best friend.

So he’s struggling  in the face of loss, betrayal, stress, all those ups and downs of normal life, and then some.

The narrative spans the years of Sophia’s childhood, with flashbacks to Benjamin’s time in college, his friendship with love of his life Anna and their best friend  Keith and his relationship with Sophia’s mother. He’s one of those characters that you don’t know whether to hug or shake! But he is honest, about his faults as well as the faults in those around him.

One of the most poignant things about the narrative was the way in which he has to accept that Sophia is growing up, and, as a result, growing apart from him. This is written with honesty and empathy.

The author has a background in the music business and he includes references to lots of bands, albums and songs throughout. I have quite an eclectic taste in music and I did enjoy this aspect – to an extent. There were times when it got in the way of the story and did feel as though it was there for the author’s benefit not the reader’s – not for the purpose of the story.

There were times too when things were a bit slow, a bit drawn out, and I did occasionally find myself skipping ahead. All in all though this is a very good read, heartfelt, honest, and engaging.

Four stars

Book description

A single-father comes of age as he discovers whether it’s love or fatherhood that could save him. Haunted by his mother’s death and a series of serendipitous events from his past, Benjamin Bradford desperately tries to keep his mental illness under control while raising his daughter Sophia. Set against the iconic streets of Los Angeles, there’s music always playing, heavy therapy sessions and private emails to discern, shattered friendships and betrayal, and the specter of a true love that got away. An insightful and unique male perspective on the inner struggles of parenting seldom on display. Think: “Silver Linings Playbook” meets “High Fidelity” with a dash of “Eighth Grade.” Can Benjamin find redemption? Can he escape his demons and find love again? Come along for the ride and find out. 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #ComingOfAge Everything, Somewhere by David Kummer

Everything, SomewhereEverything, Somewhere by David Duane Kummer

3.5 stars

Everything, Somewhere is a small town coming-of-age story set in a fictional Ohio town.

The three main teenagers are Hudson, Mason and Willow and chapters alternate between them. In addition there are also chapters from several adults: Mason’s dad, a Hollywood star, a journalist and some robbers. The story has a strong mental health awareness theme, as well as addressing the pressures which many teenagers face when growing up.

I enjoyed the small town setting and I thought that the author portrayed this well; I could easily imagine the scenes. I liked the stories behind the three teenagers too, and would have been happy if chapters had just been from their points of view. I felt that giving so many chapters to other characters watered down the narrative and I was constantly picking up the threads of each story as we changed chapters each time.

I felt this was a bit ambitious for a first book. With a bit more work on the character development of the teenagers, and cutting back of other players, the narrative could have been tighter to make this the interesting story that it deserved to be.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Desc 1

The power of memories.

Little Rush is a sleepy town on the Ohio River. Bruce Michaels is a renowned Hollywood actor. The two should never cross paths, yet one summer everything changes. The actor, haunted by demons, chasing a ghost. The town, unaware. Until the two collide.

Hudson, Willow, and Mason are high school seniors with very different upbringings, but all on the verge of adulthood. As the sun sets on their final summer, questions abound. Will they ever leave the town? Is there a future here? As their plans waver, time is running out.

The struggle of mental illness.

As he loses his friends and sinks deeper into depression, Hudson forms an unlikely bond with the actor, Bruce Michaels. But the old man is a ticking time bomb. As Hudson relies on him more, the danger to them both grows.

When dark secrets are revealed, Hudson must confront the truth about his idol and himself. Bruce Michaels isn’t who he seems. Hudson is nearly lost. And in the end, they may be more similar than different.

The search for meaning.

Different paths, converging in a web of alcohol, fights, and romance. Worlds collide one summer in Anywhere, USA. The question is who will make it through.

EVERYTHING, SOMEWHERE is an ambitious, sprawling look at the stories, people, and places forming the nuanced landscape of rural America.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of #ComingOfAge Mystery THE MILK WAGON by Michael Hewes

The Milk WagonThe Milk Wagon by Michael Hewes

4 stars

The Milk Wagon is a coming-of-age mystery set in Gulfport Mississippi during 1986.

High school friends Matt, Mark and Hop befriend new boy Nate Mayes, who recently arrived in this small town. I liked how much of the story was written around Matt’s 1980 Suburban car which they nicknamed the Milk Wagon; it became as much of a character in the book as the boys themselves. Alongside the story of the boys’ friendship is an FBI investigation in the area about a money laundering case being run by doctors and pharmacists.

Short easy to read chapters dot back and forth between the two parts and it isn’t too long before the narratives become linked and the tension of the story increases, reaching a grand finale with a good twist.

As soon as the author introduced us to the school friends the story drew me in, as their mannerisms, actions and dialogue all felt real; teenage talk about cars, girls and sport flew naturally from the pages. I was less convinced with the money laundering events; the characters involved were harder to comprehend and were less convincing than the teenagers. However, this may be because when the second storyline was introduced, at chapter four, I was already hooked by the teenagers and was mildly grumpy about the pause in their story and the introduction to lots more characters.

The money laundering tale did grow on me and by the end I was invested in tying up the mystery and solving the case. But my favourites will always be Matt, Mark, Hop and Natt; their final school reunion looked set to be a particular high point which I would have been happy to attend.

Overall, a story about high school friendships and how good friends will always try to be there for each other.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

THE MILK WAGON is a coming of age thriller about friendship, redemption, and how the ties made during high school can last a lifetime.

For Matt Frazier, Jason “Hop” Hopkins, and Mark Ragone, 1986 was the year that changed everything, and it was the year that everything changed.

It was the year Matt fell in love.
It was the year Mark started a band.
It was the year Hop actually, kind of, but not really got a girlfriend.
And it was the year Nate Mayes disappeared.

Matt, Hop and Mark have been friends since elementary school. They played ball together, they hung out together, and they somehow managed to work their way through the awkward years of junior high together. Now, they are finally starting to come into their own as they prepare to start eleventh grade, but on the first day of school, a new kid named Nate Mayes arrives, and with him, a secret. Once the boys learn the horrifying truth, they take it upon themselves to try and make it right, and in so doing, set in motion a chain of events that have unexpected and life-altering consequences for everyone.

The Milk Wagon was there through it all.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of THE GROSTON RULES by Mark Binder, a coming-of-age American high school drama.

The Groston RulesThe Groston Rules by Mark Binder

3.5 stars

The Groston Rules is a coming-of-age American high school drama.

This is the final school year for Isaac and his diverse group of friends; it should be an easy coast to the end. However, a catalogue of disasters befalls the friends and their school; it looks like the only memories they’ll have of their final year will be bad ones. So they work together to create The Groston Rules and design their own commemorations.

Isaac and his friends are a lively bunch, the dialogue flows well, filled with teenage slang and plenty of swearing. I thought that the author did a great job making the male characters come alive; however, the female ones, particularly Helen, lacked enough feminine mannerisms to make them plausible.

Each chapter has a colour photo heading accompanied by a quote from one of the characters from the book, while the episodes are peppered with footnote markers; their explanations are located at the end of each chapter. I found the footnotes irritating when reading this in kindle format. In my opinion this style would suit a paperback version better. 

Overall, this is a humourous adolescent tale suitable for older young adult readers. Although I was invited to read this for review purposes, I know that I’m not the target audience. The story was okay, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

All they wanted was to get high and graduate…
Isaac, Adam, Helen, Charlie, Sean, Jésus and Rover had planned on coasting through their final semester at Ashby Bryson High. They called themselves Team Bomb Shelter, and their plan was simple, get stoned, play video games, get into college, and get the hell out of Groston.
Instead, they get caught up in chaos.
Adam assaults two football stars. Fat Charlie’s father nearly dies of a heart attack. Jesus can’t make his art while chauffeuring his siblings. Rover’s never had a date. Helen’s house is destroyed in a flood. Sean is coming out of the closet. And Isaac can’t get into college to save his life.
The last straw is when Ashby Bryson High School is suddenly shut down, and they’re bussed to Fectville Regional, which sucks. Big time.
But every time Team Bomb Shelter gets knocked down, they get up again, come together, and solve their problems. They throw the rules out the window and make up their own.

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