Sweet Sixteen by Brenda Rothert

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It is my pleasure to be a tour stop for the blog tour of Sweet Sixteen by Brenda Rothert.

Sweet Sixteen by Brenda Rothert is a young adult contemporary romance novel with very mature themes and language. I would not recommend it for readers under the age of 18. I would place it in the New Adult Romance genre, even though the main characters are high school seniors.

Gin (unfortunately named Ginger for her fiery red locks) prefers to lessen the constant taunting from classmates, so she dyes her hair black and keeps to herself. For this, she gets called a lesbian and has only two real friends that she can count on to help her get through her senior year. Her only goal is to graduate and get as far away from Roper, Missouri as humanly possible, hopefully to New York to study art. In her free time, she swims, designs sets for the drama club, and volunteers to teach swimming lessons to kids. Though she has always harbored a crush for star football quarterback and town golden boy, Chase Matthews, Gin doesn’t act on it,  knowing she doesn’t even have a chance because he is way out of her league. And even if he would pay any attention to her, it would not be the kind of attention she needed to help her graduate and leave Roper as soon as possible. Gin knows all about Chase and the horrifying, disgusting “elite Sweet Sixteen” parties held by the football team after each game. In Roper, football is and always has been everything to the town, and Gin doesn’t want any part of it. When Gin sees an underclassman about to get beat up by bad girl, Ronnie, she steps in to defend her and gets beat up in her place. It’s just her luck that the girl she defended is one of Chase’s little sisters, bringing Chase closer to Gin than he’s ever been before. How can someone who looks at her so kindly and speaks to her as an equal be the same monster who lures young girls to parties to be victimized by the football team?

Chase Matthews could have any girl he wants. He has a choice of several full-ride scholarships to play football after graduation. But he is anything but happy, walking on eggshells at home around his abusive father. When he is thrown into close quarters with Gin Fielding after she bravely stands up for his little sister, Chase realizes that she isn’t the girl he thought she was. Thinking he is doing her a favor, he convinces the team to give her the next rose, allowing her to join the Sweet Sixteen. Little does he know, this is the worst decision he would possibly make, one that will ultimately lead to misery for both of them. How can Chase stop his bad behavior and prove to Gin that is he is sorry before its too late?

Sweet Sixteen is a quick read full of real characters and sweet moments. I would recommend it for fans of YA and NA contemporary romance. Again, it is very mature in nature and is recommended for readers age 18 and over.

 

BLURB:
They say roses are the most beautiful…

Gin Fielding is counting the days until she escapes the small-town life of Roper, Missouri for college at NYU. She prefers to blend in, though she’s far from invisible. But when she protects a younger student from a bully, the spotlight turns on her in ways she never imagined.

I say that every rose has its thorn…

The Friday night lights shine bright on Chase Matthews. Roper’s golden boy, Chase can do no wrong, enjoying the small-town celebrity being the star quarterback brings. When Gin defends his little sister against a bully, he decides to lend her his star power and change her senior year in ways she never imagined.

But maybe the thorns are part of their beauty.

When Gin declines Chase’s invitation to be part of the elite Sweet Sixteen, the repercussions turn both their lives upside down. But amidst the chaos, Gin and Chase find solace in one another. Together, they confront the ugly truth– that sometimes glory has a dark side.

***Warning–Sweet Sixteen is an upper YA book with mature themes and is intended for readers 18+.

 

About Brenda
Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

These days Brenda writes New Adult Romance in the Contemporary and Dystopian genres. She loves to hear from readers by email at bjrothert@sbcglobal.net. Her website is http://brendarothert.com/.

Thank you to InkSlinger PR for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

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Wilde Lake will be published May 3, 2016 by Harper Collins.

Wilde Lake is an atmospheric, family-centered, legal suspense novel which will keep readers interested with a quick paced plot, as layers of buried secrets are uncovered one at a time. Each family member:  Lu, AJ, and their father, is hiding secrets of their own, and they all come to light, some very tragically, in the final chapters.

The story line might sound familiar to an old classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. This was by design, according to the author. She wanted to portray the idea that a crime, namely rape, committed in 1980 is looked at differently at the time, both legally and socially, than it would be in 2015.

Setting plays a large role in the story, beginning with the way the Brant family ended up in Wilde Lake, back when it was a newly developed area, offering such promise for success. Lu’s mother was talked into moving there against her wishes. Interestingly, the Brant family has become very important to the area, and are well-known for having two state attorneys in the family, Lu’s father, and Lu herself.

The dynamic between Lu and her older brother, AJ, adds a richness to the story. From as far back as Lu can remember, she has been in AJ’s shadow, trying to measure herself to him, while others are drawn to him and his talents like a magnet. Their relationship is strained, and ultimately broken when Lu finds out the truth about the night when teenage AJ saved his best friend Davey’s life and was deemed a hero. Is he really the hero that everyone believes he is? Is Lu forgetting something important about those events; or was she not privy to what really happened during her childhood?

The story switches back and forth between present day Lu at age 45, all the way back to when she was only 6 years old. Lu’s mother passed away when she was 1 week old, so she was mainly raised by Teensy, a nanny hired by their family.  Her father was a prominent lawyer and political figure who spent more time in the courtroom than he did at home. As snippets of Lu’s childhood and her upbringing are revealed, readers may better understand Lu’s demeanor and outlook on life. In the present, Lu, the first ever female state’s attorney in the state of Maryland, is prosecuting a case against a young man who murdered a woman who comes home to her apartment to find him, a stranger, there. Their town doesn’t see many murder trials, so Lu wants to do her best to seek the truth and prove herself worthy as the newly appointed state’s attorney. The more involved she becomes in the investigation, the closer she gets to uncovering some long buried family secrets.

I enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it to any fans of suspense and/or legal suspense.

 

 

 

 

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

What We Saw is a fictional account of a teenage rape loosely inspired by the 2012 Steubenville, OH case where two high school football players were accused and then convicted of raping a teenage girl at a party. The details of the crime are horrific, and reading the news coverage incites anger and outrage in most, due to the way the media and the school administration portrayed the victim as being at fault because of the way she acted, dressed, and the fact that she was drunk and couldn’t say no. Not being able to say no isn’t the same as saying yes. These kids were star football players, and surely they would never commit a crime! And especially not during football season, which would affect their team’s performance. Goodness, no! They were just “boys being boys.” And the worst part was that a video of some of the crime was circulated on social media as if it were a joke. As we know, anything captured on a phone or sent to even one person will never be buried forever. It can always be recovered and lasts forever. Unfortunately, teenagers only think about the present, and they don’t think about how much something like that can harm others and fall back on them so heavily.

Okay, back to the book. Aaron Hartzler did a wonderful job of portraying the story from the perspective of Kate, a girl who was also very drunk at the same party as the victim, but she was driven home earlier in the evening prior to the time of the crime. Kate, a HS junior and soccer player, struggles with guilt because she used to be friends with the victim, fear because it could have been her, and apprehension because she wants to help Stacey (the victim), but everyone else seems to be blaming her and calling her horrible names when she isn’t even at school to defend herself or give the true story. People in the community refer to the crime as a “rumor” and they way they talk about Stacey is downright ugly. In the book, it is four basketball players who commit the crime, so it’s a huge deal for the school to have four star basketball players arrested during the season and right before a major series of games. Oh, and they may lose their college scholarships over this scandal. To complicate matters, Kate begins to date Ben, also a star basketball player and best friends with two of the accused players. She has been close to Ben as friends since they were five, but now they are dating and she finds herself falling in love. However, the fear and helplessness about the case and Stacey overshadow many of the happy feelings with Ben. Against her fathers wishes that she steer clear of the case, she decides that someone has to help Stacey. Even the football coach and principal are trying to cover up evidence, which fuels her mission to find out the truth despite the cost.

To top it all off, there is a bit of a surprise ending. I loved every part of this powerful, beautiful book. The author captured the wide range of emotions so well that I laughed and cried along with Kate. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kate and her brother Will, who is two years younger. If only there were more HS students like Kate and Will in the world. This book should be read by everyone: high school kids, teachers, parents, and even those adults without kids. It is so important for a story like this to be understood in different perspectives. And it is important for people to see just how much social media can devastate lives and cause chaos.

There are some beautiful passages from this book, and one below that I want to share:

At the end when Kate is playing soccer, “I see a hawk soar high above us and feel a rush of gratitude for the knowledge that just this once we have escaped the gaze of a camera lens or a status update. Some moments should only be recorded in our hearts.” Wow. Isn’t that the truth. I look forward to a day when people start recording more moments in their hearts rather than Twitter and Facebook.

Props to you, Aaron Hartzler. This is the kind of literature that we all need. Thank you for writing it.