Tag: cancer

Book Review: Finding Balance, by Kati Gardner

finding balance
Image belongs to North Star Editions/Flux.

Title:  Finding Balance
AuthorKati Gardner
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Jase Ellison doesn’t remember having Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was three years old. His cancer diagnosis only enters his mind twice a year. Once at his yearly checkup at the oncology clinic and when he attends Camp Chemo in the summer. No one in his “real” life knows about his past, especially his friends at Atlanta West Prep.

Mari Manos has never been able to hide her cancer survivorship. She wakes every morning, grabs her pink forearm clip crutches, and starts her day. Mari loves Camp Chemo—where she’s developed a healthy crush on fellow camper Jase. At Camp, she knows that she’ll never get “the look” or have to explain her amputation to anyone.

Jase wants to move on, to never reveal his past. But when Mari transfers to his school, he knows she could blow his cover. That’s the last thing he wants, but he also cannot ignore his attraction to her. For Mari, she only wants to be looked at like a girl, a person, and not only known for her disability. But how do you move on from cancer when the world won’t let you

 

This book deals with some really tough subjects. Bad things happen sometimes—and sometimes children are the one who have to deal with it. Jase and Mari survived childhood cancer, but years later they’re still dealing with the fallout. Mari is so unbelievably strong—and I love how she doesn’t just put up with Jase’s b.s. She calls him out on it and lets him know it’s not okay.

I felt really sorry for Jase. How can anyone think it’s okay to bully someone who had cancer? I can’t imagine being the victim there, on top of having cancer! Strength in the midst of pain runs through this novel, and it was so good!

Kati Gardner calls herself a recovering actor. She lives in North Carolina and had an amputation as the result of childhood cancer. Finding Balance is her newest novel, the second book in the Brave Enough series.

(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Walk Along the Beach, by Debbie Macomber

a walk along the beach
Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

TitleA Walk Along the Beach
AuthorDebbie Macomber
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

The Lakey sisters are perfect opposites. After their mother died and their father was lost in grief, Willa had no choice but to raise her sister, Harper, and their brother, Lucas. Then, as an adult, she put her own life on hold to nurse Harper through a terrifying illness. Now that Harper is better and the sisters are living as roommates, Willa has realized her dream of running her own bakery and coffee shop, bringing her special brand of caretaking to the whole Oceanside community.

Harper, on the other hand, is always on the go. Overcoming a terrible illness has given her a new lease on life, and she does not intend to waste it. When Harper announces her plan to summit Mount Rainier, Willa fears she may be pushing herself too far. Harper, for her part, urges Willa to stop worrying and do something outside of her comfort zone—like taking a chance on love with a handsome new customer.

Sean O’Malley is as charming as he is intriguing—a freelance photographer whose assignments take him to the ends of the earth. Soon Willa’s falling for him in a way that is both exciting and terrifying. But life has taught Willa to hedge her bets, and she wonders whether the potential heartache is worth the risk.

Life has more challenges in store for them all. But both sisters will discover that even in the darkest moments, family is everything.

I love everything Debbie Macomber writes, and this was no exception. This was such a good book—although at times I wanted to slap some sense into Sean. The sisters’ relationship is so wonderful, and I enjoyed reading it immensely. Be prepared to laugh and cry while reading this!

Debbie Macomber is a bestselling author. A Walk Along the Beach is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Things I’d Rather Do Than Die, by Christine Hurley Deriso

things I'd rather do than die
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   Things I’d Rather Do Than Die
Author:   Christine Hurley Deriso
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Jade Fulton is a senior in high school who only hangs out with her best friend. She spends time with her family:  her brother, half-sister, stepmom, and her dad. She watches high school drama from the outside and can’t wait to go away to college. Until her father is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and her world just doesn’t make sense anymore. Then she’s held hostage in the gym where she works, locked in a dressing room with Ethan Garrett.

Ethan is the star quarterback, popular, high-achieving, and a Christian. He has his life planned out:  a scholarship to prove he’s not like his abusive, alcoholic father, life with his cheerleader girlfriend, and growing in his faith. But when he’s locked in the dressing room with agnostic Jade, he soon starts to ask himself questions he thought he already knew the answers to.

Their shared ordeal creates a bond between Ethan and Jade that lingers back in their regular lives. But those questions—and answers—they shared while locked in the dressing room cause them both to realize that what they always had in life is no longer good enough.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints and people marking this book as DNF…because it’s Christian, and they think Christians are too judgmental and close-minded. Which seems a bit hypocritical, considering they automatically refused to read it. And Christians are the ones who are judgmental? Right. Sure, some Christians are judgmental. Just like some people who aren’t Christians are judgmental. Judging an entire group by the actions of a few is never the right choice.

I was impressed that Ethan is a teenage boy with a strong faith. You don’t see that much. Here’s the thing:  Ethan actually listens to Jade and starts asking himself and others questions as he learns from her remarks. He realizes he needs to make some changes to the way he thinks, especially about non-believers. I found his wishy-washiness with his girlfriend and the way he kept taking her back pretty annoying, but he’s a teenager. He’s still learning.

Jade has a sizable chip on her shoulder because of her family history, her experiences with racism, her feelings about religion, and her dad’s illness. She’s plenty judgmental, but she’s too close-minded to see it. She does some stupid things during the story, but she learns and attempts to grow from them.

Christine Hurley Deriso is a YA author. Things I’d Rather Do than Die is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Brave Enough, by Kati Gardner

brave enough
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   Brave Enough
Author:   Kati Gardner
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Cason Martin is the youngest dancer at the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She’s driven and determined, and she’s never really even considered if she wanted to dance. She never had a choice:  her mother is the demanding artistic director at the conservatory and will not accept Cason being anything less than the best.

On the day of Cason’s injury, that ceases to matter, as an injury she’s been hiding turns out to be cancer. Now she finds herself in a children’s cancer ward, fighting to live and to come to terms with her new normal. Davis Channing knows how that feels. He survived cancer, and then beat drug addiction, although he lives with the temptation to use again every day. Volunteering at the cancer ward is his way to give back.

Cason and Davis’s friendship is tenuous, but what they both need, until his ex-girlfriend appears in his life, eager to lure him down old roads again, while the unthinkable happens to Cason. Turning their backs on each other is easiest, but is it what they really need?

Let me first say that I’ve never read The Fault in Our Stars, so I can’t make any comparisons to that novel (and I have no intention of reading it, because almost never will I choose to read a book that I know will make me cry. #sorrynotsorry). I found Brave Enough to be one of the most touching and inspiring books I’ve read this year. I felt for Cason on a deep level, and truly experienced her grief and other emotions along with her. Davis’s struggle was so well-done and brought an addict’s struggle to gut-wrenching life. Highly recommend!

Katie Gardner is a childhood cancer survivor, amputee, and a recovering actor. Brave Enough is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by North Star Editions/Flux in exchange for an honest review.)