Category Archives: GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers

Review: The Policeman’s Daughter by Trudy Nan Boyce

Title: The Policeman’s Daughter by Trudy Nan Boyce
Detective Sarah Alt Series Book Three
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


From author Trudy Nan Boyce, whose police procedural debut was hailed as “authentic” (NYTBR) and “exceptional” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), returns with a stunning prequel to the Detective Salt series, the story behind the case that earned Salt her promotion to homicide.

At the beginning of her career, Sarah “Salt” Alt was a beat cop in Atlanta’s poorest, most violent housing project, The Homes. It is here that she meets the cast of misfits and criminals that will have a profound impact on her later cases: Man Man, the leader of the local gang on his way to better places; street dealer Lil D and his family; and Sister Connelly, old and observant, the matriarch of the neighborhood. A lone patrolwoman, Salt’s closest lifeline is her friend and colleague Pepper, on his own beat nearby. And when a murder in The Homes brings detectives to the scene, Salt draws closer to Detective Wills, initiating a romance complicated by their positions on the force.

When Salt is shot and sustains a head injury during a routine traffic stop, the resulting visions begin leading her toward answers in the case that makes her career. This is the tale of a woman who solves crimes through a combination of keen observation, grunt work, and pure gut instinct; this is the making of Detective Salt.


The Policeman’s Daughter by Trudy Nan Boyce is a gritty police procedural about a woman cop who patrols of one Atlanta’s poorest projects, the Homes.  This third installment in the Detective Sarah Alt series is a prequel that takes place before her promotion to detective and can be read as a standalone.

Sarah “Salt” Alt has been patrolling the Homes for ten years and she not only knows, but cares, about its residents. She and her friend and fellow officer, “Pepper” Greer, are well known and well liked by the people they encounter while on patrol. After getting shot during a routine traffic stop, Salt has recently returned to work when one of women on her beat, Shannell McCloud is murdered.  Homicide detectives Will and Gardner are assigned to Shannell’s murder but the case quickly goes cold. Salt wants justice for Shannell so she begins digging around in hopes of uncovering the killer.

Salt is the daughter of a cop who killed himself on her tenth birthday. She has never quite gotten over his death and since they were close, becoming a cop was a natural decision.  Despite patrolling the Homes for ten years, Salt has not become inured to the tragedies, poverty or criminals she encounters during her shifts. She truly cares for the Homes’ residents and for the most part, she has a good relationship with the various people she meets.

Salt is no stranger to Shannell, her boyfriend and her son’s father Big D and their son Lil D. She carries a bit of guilt over not being able help Lil D when he was a teenager so she has a soft spot for him. She watches out for him and she is well aware othat Lil D works for local gang leader Man Man who deals drugs.  Salt also keeps running across Curtis Stone, who works for Man Man too. However, unlike Lil D and Man Man, Stone is a predator who has no use for Salt.  Although she is wary of Stone, Salt is not intimidated by his thuggish tactics and she refuses to stop looking for the person who murdered Shannell.

Although a little slow paced in the beginning, The Policeman’s Daughter is a engrossing police procedural.  Salt is a compassionate police officer who becomes a little too personally involved with the residents of the Homes yet this is what makes her such an outstanding police officer. Pepper is a wonderful friend who  tries to be the voice of reason when she gets overly involved searching for Shannell’s killer. Trudy Nan Boyce does an outstanding job bringing the Homes and the people who live there vibrantly to life.  The investigation into Shannell’s murder is intriguing and the perpetrator’s identity is cleverly concealed until the novel’s poignant conclusion. A brilliant prequel to the Detective Sarah Alt series that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Detective Sarah Alt Series, GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers, Mystery, Rated B, Review, The Policemans Daughter, Trudy Nan Boyce

Review: Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche

Title: Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


When their too-adult lives lead them down self-destructive paths, these broken teens find a way to heal in this YA novel perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins

With her impossible-to-please grandmother on her back about college and her disapproving step-dad watching her every move, Tessa would do anything to escape the pressure-cooker she calls home. So she finds a shot of much-needed power and confidence by hooking up with boys, even though it means cheating on her boyfriend. But when she’s finally caught red-handed, she’ll do anything she can to cover up what she’s done.

Jack is a prankster who bucks the system every chance he gets—each transgression getting riskier and riskier. He loves the thrill, and each adventure allows a little release because his smug smile and suave demeanor in the face of authority doesn’t make life at home with his mom any less tough. He tries to take care of her, but the truth is he’s powerless in the face of her fragile mental health. So he copes in his own way, by defacing public property and pulling elaborate pranks, though he knows in the end this’ll only screw up his life even more.

As they both try not to let their self-destructive patterns get the best of them, Tessa and Jack gravitate toward one another, discovering the best parts of themselves in the process. An honest portrayal of the urges that drive us and finding the strength to overcome them, Ripple is a stunning debut from a powerful new voice.


Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche is a gritty young adult novel about two teenagers who turn to self-destructive behavior in an attempt to cope with their troubled home lives.

Tessa Leighton is crushed by the weight of her grandmother’s expectations to take over the family business.  Now beginning her senior year of high school, her future seems inescapable as she feels increased pressure to turn in her college application to the university selected by her grandmother.  This just adds to the other stress she feels living with an alcoholic stepfather whose verbal abuse has shredded her self-worth which is already precarious due to her biological father’s complete lack of involvement in her life.  Despite having a popular boyfriend, Tessa uses sex with strangers to feel better about herself.  While she is careful to select partners away from her small town in an effort to keep her liaisons secret, Tessa knows she is one casual encounter away from discovery.

New student Jack Dalton’s coping mechanism is a series of endless pranks that are harmless but are still considered petty crimes. After a family tragedy, his parents divorced and he began taking care of his brilliant but mentally ill mother.  Trying to keep her worsening condition hidden from everyone, Jack not only takes care of her but he also works a couple of jobs to keep money coming in on a regular basis.  When the stress gets to be too much for him, he blows off steam by plotting and carrying out another one of his shenanigans.  Charming and insightful, Jack immediately recognizes a kindred spirit when he meets Tessa and they form an unlikely and sometimes rocky friendship.

Dealing with real life issues such as mental illness, alcoholism and financial struggles,  Ripple is a heartbreakingly poignant young adult novel. Heather Smith Meloche deftly handles difficult subject matter with sensitivity in a forthright manner.  Jack and Tessa are realistically developed protagonists who make terrible choices but this is fairly common with most teenagers. The storyline is often heartrending but Tessa and Jack’s character growth is absolutely phenomenal and incredibly gratifying.  I highly recommend this emotionally compelling young adult novel to adult and older teen readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers, Heather Smith Meloche, Rated B+, Review, Ripple, Young Adult

Review: Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Title: Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.

When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.

Now everyone is a suspect—family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own.

In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith’s Pasadena is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California’s City of Roses.


Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith is a poignant young adult mystery.

Jude is out of town when she finds out her best friend, Maggie Kim, is dead.  Immediately flying back to Pasadena, she does not believe Maggie committed suicide; instead she is convinced her friend was murdered.  Enlisting the aid of Joey, Jude immediately alienates a few of their mutual friends with her cutting remarks but she remains undeterred in her search for the truth.  Battling a slew of demons of her own, Jude’s investigation uncovers some surprising revelations about her friend but most importantly, she discovers a few startling truths about herself.

Jude is devastated by Maggie’s death and although her friend made a few suicidal threats in the past, she is convinced that Maggie would never actually take her own life.  Instead of focusing on her loss, she instead concentrates on piecing together the last few days of Maggie’s life.  Beginning with their circle of eclectic friends, Jude’s caustic comments set everyone on edge but she really does not care overly much about their hurt feelings or the damage wrought in the aftermath.  She is a little bothered by the realization that while Maggie is her best friend, she might not have been Maggie’s best friend.

Through flashbacks, Jude reminisces about their friendship and Maggie springs vividly to life.  Vivacious, popular and a bit enigmatic, Maggie is larger than life and she embraces life wholeheartedly.  She is an astute observer whose friends found it very easy to confide in her but in retrospect, she gave up very little information about herself.  Her family is wealthy but money does not necessarily exempt them from experiencing problems or heartache. Jude uncovers unexpected information about both Maggie and her family but she still harbors doubts Maggie committed suicide.  It is not until after Maggie’s funeral that Jude learns what happened to Maggie, but as she discovers, learning the truth does not lessen the pain of her friend’s death.

Pasadena is a gritty, raw and realistic young adult novel that deals with some pretty tough subject matter.  Sherri L. Smith handles these difficult topics in a forthright and sensitive manner and these issues add a considerable amount of depth to the plot and the characters. Jude is initially a little too abrasive but as more details about her life emerge, she becomes much more sympathetic and easier to like.  While the mystery surrounding Maggie’s death is completely satisfying, the novel concludes on a rather bittersweet note for Jude.

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Filed under Contemporary, GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers, Mystery, Pasadena, Rated B+, Review, Sherri L Smith, Young Adult

Review: The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner

distance from meTitle: The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 350 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


Wild meets Endless Love in this multilayered story of love, survival, and self-discovery

McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.

Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives.


The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner is an exhilarating journey of self-discovery for lead protagonist McKenna Berney. A six month hike on the Appalachian Trial for the recent high school grad leads to romance but it is what she learns about herself that makes the novel such a wonderful read.

Having grown up hearing her father’s stories about hiking the Pacific Northwest Trial, McKenna is determined to undergo a similar hike before beginning college. She and her close friend Courtney have been planning their trip for the past year, but at the last minute, Courtney backs out after reuniting with her boyfriend. Undeterred and determined to go through with the 2000 mile hike, McKenna keeps the change in plans from her parents and strikes out on her own.

McKenna is pretty mature for her age and she has extensively researched her upcoming hike and she has carefully planned her daily hikes and stops. However, her trip is off to a bit of rocky beginning after she overestimates her abilities and underestimates the initial segment of the rugged terrain. Quickly regrouping, she soon hits her stride and she basks in the solitude and splendor of the trail. McKenna also seizes the opportunity to unplug from modern technology and greatly limits her use of the cell phone she brought along for safety’s sake. Despite her ability to take care of herself, McKenna is a little naive and in spite of her forethought and preparations, she is unable to plan for every contingency which leads to some ill-thought out decisions along the way.

On the trail, McKenna crosses paths with Sam Tilghman, a runaway who is hiking the trail after running away from his abusive father. He successfully hikes to his brother’s house in Maine, but upon discovering his brother is following in their father’s footsteps, Sam decides to hit the trail again. He and McKenna hike independently for part of the trip but eventually a romance begins after they decide to become travel partners. Their different strengths help compensate for their individual weaknesses but trouble ensues when McKenna allows him to talk her into going off trail.

The Distance from Me to You is a marvelous adventure and Marina Gessner brings the Appalachian Trial vibrantly to life. The romance between McKenna and Sam is very sweet but it is the valuable lessons they each learn that makes the novel such a worthwhile read. McKenna learns the hard way to trust her instincts and she emerges from the journey with the strength and self-confidence to make some tough decisions about her future. All in all, a very compelling and fascinating contemporary young adult novel that readers of all ages will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers, Marina Gessner, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Distance from Me to You, Young Adult

Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

blood and saltTitle: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Blood and Salt Series Book One
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Supernatural, Horror, Romance
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.


Blood and Salt is an engrossing and rather creepy young adult romance with supernatural elements. This debut novel by Kim Liggett centers on Ashlyn “Ash” Larkin, a centuries old family curse and a mysterious spiritual commune in the middle of a cornfield in Quivira, Kansas.

The history of Quivira is rather convoluted, goes back centuries and features a love triangle between Katia Larkin, Alonso Mendoza and Spanish explorer Coronado. Katia’s quest for immortality results in betrayal and death and the Larkin women are called upon to carry out their fate in Quivira as Katia’s “vessel”. Nina Larkin escaped from Quivira before giving birth to twins Ash and Rhys seventeen years earlier. The family now lives in New York, but just before the summer solstice, Nina returns to Quivira to fulfill her destiny as a vessel for her ancestor Katia. Desperate to find their mother, Ash and Rhys travel to the eerie cornfield to save their mother from what they consider to be a religious cult. However, unbeknownst to Rhys, Ash’s lifelong visions of a hanging girl have increased in frequency and she soon realizes these images are memories of events that occurred centuries earlier. Upon arrival in Quiriva, these horrifying images take an ominous turn and Ash quickly becomes increasingly concerned for their safety.

Modern day Quivira clings to the traditions of the past and Ash figures heavily into their quest for immortality. She and Rhys are aided by Beth, a “seer” whose visions once foretold the future before a severe head injury quieted her gift. Ash is immediately enthralled by Dane, a charismatic young man whom she is forbidden to love due to his mixed bloodlines. The rest of the villagers seem mostly harmless but Ash quickly senses evil when she meets their current leader, Spencer Mendoza.

Ash is swiftly drawn into the rituals of Quivira and despite Rhys’s pleas to leave, she is determined to rescue their mother. With her visions becoming more and more frequent, she realizes the hanging girl seems to be trying to tell her something. With Dane at her side to protect her, Ash eagerly allows the hallucinations free rein and she soon realizes the horrifying truth. But is it too late to stop the diabolical plan that Katia has unleashed?

Blood and Salt is a suspense-laden horror story that is full of unexpected twists and turns. The novel is fast-faced and quite riveting and Kim Liggett easily captures the reader’s attention with the inventive storyline. Thundering to a dramatic and completely unexpected conclusion, this first installment in the Blood and Salt series will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next book in this ingenious series.

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Filed under Blood and Salt, Blood and Salt Series, Contemporary, GP Putmans Sons Books for Young Readers, Horror, Kim Liggett, Rated B, Review, Romance, Supernatural Elements, Young Adult