Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Long May She Reign

Long May She Reign
by Rhiannon Thomas

Freya isn't really in to court life. She'd rather perform experiments in her lab and develop new scientific formulas than dance at the palace. She's got plans to leave home and make her way to places where she can learn and practice, far away from the court. 

She's 23rd in line, anyway; it's not like she'll ever really be needed by the royal family.

But when tragedy strikes the entire court during the king's anniversary on the throne, Freya is suddenly queen and she is definitely not ready.

Can Freya become the queen that her kingdom needs or will she be the next to face a tragic fate?

Final thoughts: Messy. I'm just not sure what to do with this one. It's a new world with new ideas? Or is it a dystopia? Is her father a great guy or a great manipulator? Who can she really trust? Will she ever be able to trust anyone? Will she be a scientist or a queen? Can she be both? None of these questions are really answered anywhere. The whole thing just feels a little off and the ending was just kind of there. It's not necessarily a bad book, it's just kind of bleh. Read it or not. It fills a couple of hours.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Until Midnight

Until Midnight
by Erin R. Bedford

Clara has always been out of place. As the overseer's daughter, she worked alongside the farmers but they would never trust to her or talk much with her. As the stepdaughter to a wealthy seamstress in the Inner Circle, she's always been too dirty, too unkempt, and too close to common people around.

But now Clara has the chance to change everything. She's been selected for the Election, an annual event to choose people to work for and with The Fold to run the land of Alban. 

Maybe Clara is the breath of fresh air they need to make Alban the place it should always have been.

Final thoughts: This is billed as Hunger Games meets Cinderella. There's also some Selection in here, too. But it's just all too obvious and annoying. None of the characters are built well; they are all shallow and empty. There is no real connection for any of them and people come and go as necessary for the story instead of organically through the story. It's all over the place and things just keep being brought in and then tossed out whenever it's convenient. This is just bad overall. The ending is both obvious and annoying. The revelations made me just so angry and dropped in from nowhere. It is written more like stream-of-consciousness or like a kid telling a story out loud. Nope. Not going to read the next one.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, April 16, 2018

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You
by Vicki Grant

Hildy and Paul (a.k.a. Betty and Bob) sign up for a study being done by a college student. She's in it to grow as a person and try something new; he's in it for the forty bucks.

The study takes two completely random people and puts them in a room to answer psychologist Arthur Aron's 36 questions and see if those two people would fall in love. It should take only an hour or two, right?

But when Hildy and Paul sit together they discover that they are complete opposites in almost everything in life and it's really difficult to answer some of these to a stranger. 

Throughout their time together, working on the questions, feelings are discussed, realities replace daydreams, and the truth is stripped bare for all to see. 

Will there be anything left of them to fall in love?

Final thoughts: These are the actual questions from the real 36 questions study and subsequent follow-up coverage in the news and online. Vicki Grant uses these 36 questions pretty effectively to grow her characters and create a bond between them. It's basically a cotton-candy read, but it's still got some funny moments and a moment or two of real emotional punch. It's a good way to pass some time, as well as figure out if you're daring enough to try the questions on your own.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 5, 2018

How to Hang a Witch

How to Hang a Witch
by Adriana Mather

Samantha Mather is forced to move to Salem, Mass. after her father is suddenly in a coma and the bills start stacking up. She and her stepmother move into the home of Samantha's grandmother who also died recently. It's par for the course for Samantha, though. Everyone she knows seems to get hurt somehow. It's like she's cursed.

Upon moving into her dad's childhood home, Samantha immediately begins to discover strange things like a hidden stash of letters in her armoire's secret hiding spot and an entire stairway and room located behind a fireplace. That room is filled with her grandmother's journals, tons of books, and a few other secrets that still can't explain why people have started dying all over Salem. 

Samantha must also contend with the house ghost and his secrets as well as the mean girls of her new high school who, like her, are descendants of people involved in the Salem Witch Trials. But they won't accept her into their group because they are the descendants of accused witches and Samantha is the descendant of one of the men who started the whole thing.

It's up to Samantha to end the curse that has plagued her family since 1692, save her dad, free the ghost, and stop the cycle of vengeance. No pressure.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy read. I love reading about the Salem Witch Trials and I think the history of it is fascinating. The fact that the author really is a descendant of Cotton Mather is pretty cool. The story itself is a little messy at times and the antagonist was pretty obvious very early on, but I still enjoyed the read. What I think is more powerful is the overall message that bad things only happen when good people stand by and let them happen. That's a true today as it was in 1692 and might even be more true now than when the book was published in 2016.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli

Simon is a theatre geek and pretty good guy with some great friends. He's also a guy with a secret. 

Unfortunately, when he accidentally leaves his email logged on at school, his secret gets out and into the hands of someone who decides to use it as blackmail material. Now he not only has to protect his own secret, but the secret of his email friend (who is becoming much more than just a friend).

Simon must balance his outward life with his inward hopes and dreams. He must decide if coming out is better than hiding within. And he must figure out how if keeping his secret is worth damaging his friendships. 

Final thoughts: I bought this to read after seeing the previews for Love, Simon and I'm happy with picking it up. Simon is an honest character with simple dreams and scary realities. His life it outwardly pretty perfect and inwardly a mess. I love the blossoming of his online relationship with Blue and his trying to puzzle out who Blue was in his school. His family is great and realistically built and his struggles are too real for some. This is not a traumatized boy with a difficult family life; he's a regular teen with regular issues and regular friends and family. I really enjoyed Simon. My only real struggle comes from one of his best friends and an incomplete plot line there, but it doesn't detract from the main story.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Program

The Program
by Suzanne Young

In the not-too-distant future, suicide breaks out among teens around the world. Teens are literally killing themselves left and right. 

In a panic to save the next generation, the government creates The Program. Each day, students fill out a survey to determine their mental state. Each day, handlers walk the schools and streets, looking for tell-tale signs of depression. Each day, parents and friends report people to The Program. And each day, those people are forcefully taken to be "cured" before they too submit to suicidal thoughts.

Sloane has every good reason to be sad but she's not allowed to show any of it. One tear and she'll be the next to go to The Program. People enter The Program as one person, but leave as someone completely blank. All of their memories are taken. All of their personalities are wiped. They are blank slates, no longer depressed but no longer themselves, either.

After Sloane's brother kills himself and her best friend is taken to The Program, Sloane knows that they are watching her. They are looking for a sign, a moment of weakness, anything that will justify taking her away. Sloane's only comfort and the only person she can trust is her boyfriend, James.

But when James succumbs to the thoughts, Sloane is truly alone and The Program is watching.

Final thoughts: Good dystopian novel with some interesting ideas. I've been seeing this on bookstore shelves for a while and kept thinking that I must have already purchased it and had it in my TBR pile because it's definitely up my alley. When I finally read it, I was not disappointed. It's realistic and dark with some chilling content and predictions of the future. Can suicide become contagious? Some of this also reminded me of Uglies mixed with a little Hunger Games and some 1984 for good measure. It was a good read but I'm not sure how much I want to read the sequels; this may be too dark a path for me.

Rating: 4/5


Monday, March 26, 2018

My Life Uploaded


My Life Uploaded
by Rae Earl

Seventh grader Millie Porter is just trying to survive as any preteen can in this day and age. She doesn't want to be at the bottom of the popularity food chain. She doesn't want to have to deal with her mother's boyfriend's cleaning obsession. She doesn't want to miss out on the chance to date the hot Canadian immigrant. And she doesn't want to get on the queen bee's social hit list.

What the most sensible seventh grader wants is to be seen and heard (but not laughed at) so she starts Hashtag Help with her BFF, her crazy family, a guy who geeks out over elevators, and a female cat named Dave. 

Now that she's got a vlog, can she balance her sensible real life world and her online experiences while avoiding the harsh realities of having her life up for everyone to see?

Final thoughts: I think I would have liked this more if the comments that Millie read and reacted to were visible in this ARC. Unfortunately, they weren't. So I'd be reading about one of her posts and then she'd talk about a troll's comments, but I never got to see it so I never could figure out her reactions. I'm also not a big middle-grade reader so Millie's voice didn't always fit right in my head as I read her. However, there were sparks of greatness and some truly honest moments throughout, so I think I am a fan. I would definitely watch a few of her vlogs if nothing else.

Rating: 3/5

ARC from NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Deadly Sweet

Deadly Sweet
by Lola Dodge

Anise was born a witch. Her mother is a witch, too. Together, Anise and her mother have tried to keep their financial heads above water while keeping their figurative heads down. There are few places a witch can safely practice and New York isn't one of them so they need to keep their secrets close.

When Anise accidentally defends herself with fire, it's time for her to leave. Unfortunately, her mother can't follow and Anise must face life as a bakery witch on her own. Or, sort of on her own. She moves to Taos, New Mexico, where she meets her great aunt and one of the most powerful witches alive. She also meets Wynn, her bodyguard whether she wants him around or not.

And it turns out she needs him more than she would like. The last apprentice disappeared mysteriously and Anise seems to be the target of a warlock who'd like nothing more than to steal her life and her powers. 

Can Anise survive someone so powerful and evil who thwarts even the might of the thirteen strongest witches around?

Final thoughts: It's kind of like a female Harry Potter. She's a little older and already has some basic magic knowledge but the characters around her are familiar. There are a few too many similarities with the first HP book and it doesn't help that some of it is just obvious. However, all that being said, I still enjoyed it and look forward to the next book.

Rating: 4/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Ink Monster LLC

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Olympian Challenger

Olympian Challenger
by Astrid Arditi

Hope Diaz has never quite fit in. It's not that she's all that awkward or different; it's just that she has more pressing issues to deal with. Her mother, the only parent she's ever known, is slowly losing her mind, just like her grandmother did years before. It won't be long before Hope's mom isn't able to recognize her own daughter and Hope doesn't want to miss one minute with her beloved mom.

When a strange invitation arrives for her, Hope doesn't know what to make of it. What's weirder is that every single senior high student in New York City seems to have gotten the invite, but no one else around Hope seems to be able to read past "You're cordially invited". Hope sees more but she's not sure if she's really seeing it or if the dementia that affects her mother is starting early in Hope's own mind.

Through a series of events, Hope finds herself transported to Mount Olympus and discovers that she's descended from the heroes and gods of Greek Mythology. These descendants have been brought to Mount Olympus to compete for a chance to be the new Hero and complete a task for the gods. 

Now Hope must compete in ten events, each inspired by a different god and hero, in order to win and get one wish. Her wish is obvious; how to win isn't. 

Final thoughts: My initial reaction was 4 stars. Then I had time to think things through. I'm dropping my rating to 3 because there are some plot holes here and there. Many of the characters are one-dimensional, which makes sense because of the sheer number of them, but some needed to be fleshed out a bit more. I don't understand Heath's character at all and the chemistry between Hope and Kieron just isn't really there. The Hunger Games aspect was a little distracting, as well. The end was just a little off-kilter and the motivation for the whole event just felt unimportant. So, here I am, wishing there was more and I'm probably going to read the second book, but it's not quite enough to make me enthusiastically endorse this one.

Rating: 3/5

ARC from NetGalley

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dear Rachel Maddow

Dear Rachel Maddow
by Adrienne Kisner

Who needs Dear Diary or Dear Abby when you have Rachel Maddow?

Brynn Harper's life is not a bowl of cherries. She's a lesbian living a closeted life with her ultra-conservative mother and abusive stepfather. She struggles with basic schoolwork because the letters and words dance before her eyes. Her older brother died two years before from an accidental overdose. And everyone, or almost everyone, believes she'll die the same way even though she's never taken a single drug.

Brynn's school life is no better as she's been relegated to the "Applied" section in the blue room of the basement, just trying to get through her days until she turns eighteen and can finally leave all the negative behind.

When Brynn is asked to write to a celebrity hero for a school assignment, she picks Rachel Maddow, mostly because Brynn's mother would go nuts if she found out. When Rachel responds, it starts a whirlwind of movement in Brynn's life starting with school politics and ending with the beautiful new girl who comes to peer-tutor in the blue room.

Life is never easy and fighting is always hard but Brynn may just have everything she needs to get through it all if she can just see it right in front of her eyes.

Final thoughts: Solid realistic YA fiction. Brynn's stepdad is pretty evil and it's difficult to see why her mom stays with him but that's true for many dysfunctional families, so that all fits. It's so difficult to read stories like these especially when you know how true they are in this world. I love Brynn's voice. She's so real and raw and sometimes so very oblivious. The ending isn't a happily ever after, but it's real and true. I wish the dyslexia had been diagnosed and discussed rather than just implied, but it was still good to see that kind of realistic depiction of a learning disability.

Rating: 4/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cinders, Stars, and Glass Slippers

Cinders, Stars, and Glass Slippers
by Brittany Fichter

For over 10 years, Elaina Starke has lived about the flagship of the Ashland Navy on which her father is the Admiral. She has become an expert in all things ship related from tying knots to fighting battles. But when someone finds out her secret and reveals it to others, her father sends her into the land of the unknown.

She's sent back to her home to become the well-bred lady that she was born to be (even though she has no idea what she's doing). Because she's been raised by sailors, she can sometimes have a sailor's mouth and she says things when she probably shouldn't... especially to the prince. The two form a strange friendship and things seem to be adding up the way they should, until Elaina's secret is unearthed again and she is put in mortal danger.

Prince Nicholas is doing all he can to save Elaina, but when she's taken and forced to become a slave, he fears he may never see his one true love again.

Can they save each other from a fate that even the stars won't talk about?

Final thoughts: I love so much about this book! Elaina is a well-drawn, no-nonsense character who doesn't fall head over heels for the prince, as so many other Cinderellas do. She's her own person and wants to fight her own battles. Nicholas is a new kind of prince fighting his old-fashioned father's ideas of what running a kingdom must be like. The two are opposites until they suddenly aren't. My only real issue comes at about the halfway point when the author has to figure out how to get Elaina sold into slavery in order to continue the story. This short section took me completely out of the book and had me arguing with the rest of the story from that part on. She is accused of treason with a country never mentioned before or after. She is accused during a party, then tried, judged, sentenced, and sent away in exile all in a matter of hours. It's even mentioned that people have to go placate the party-goers once this whole farce happens. That's right. The whole thing happens DURING THE PARTY. And it's a farce from start to finish; completely unbelievable. I really enjoyed almost every other things about this book, but that section is STILL bugging me.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The School of Revenge

The School of Revenge
by Michael Richan

It's happened to almost everyone.

Nearly everyone in this world has been bullied at some point.

Nearly everyone in this world has dreamed of having a little revenge against that bully.

Not many get to see that revenge play out.

Aaron Rogers has a dream to see his tormentors pay.

And then the dream becomes a nightmare.

Final thoughts: Wow. This started out sooo good. It zoomed along and I read it in less than a day. However, it got so very weird about halfway through and then ended as if the rest of the book had disappeared. It literally just ended. There are too many questions and not enough answers. The whole thing becomes a confused mess once you stop to think about what you just read. Is there a sequel? Would I even want to read it if there was? Please note that this one is also extremely violent in a couple of places. Beware the shock value.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Burn Bright

Burn Bright
by Patricia Briggs

Bran has left Charles in charge of the pack just when the pack may need Bran the most. Now Charles and his mate, Anna, must use all the skills that they have to try and track the people who are going after the wildlings of Bran's pack. These are the wildest of the wolves who live more like hermits just so that they, and the people around them, can stay safe.

When a wildling couple dies as the result of a ruined kidnapping attempt, Charles and Anna must stop the same thing from happening to the rest of the wildlings. With Bran MIA, they must rely on his anti-social mate and some trusted pack members to get the word out to the wildlings and protect them from this new danger.

But danger may be closer than they ever believed possible.

Final thoughts: Let's just start out with the fact that I much prefer the Mercy books to these. I like her character more than I ever have liked Charles and Anna. And with that being said, this may be one of my least liked of all. The POVs are all over the place. We get Charles and Anna, but we get at least four other POVs and only for a quick scene or two, as if the author wanted to make sure the reader understood some things, but couldn't figure out any other way to do it. Mercy and Adam are the only POVs in that series and Adam showed up late in the game, but it's all consistent. This series is not and it was a mess. Additionally, we got a Mercy story mixed in early on (probably because Mercy's character would never tell it), and that made me mad, both because of the placement and because it made me really not like Bran for the first time. In fact, for a few moments, I was really angry at him and even hated him a bit. This was not a good side for him, and while it made him more three-dimensional, it was not pleasant or nice. I hate that his character has been tainted a bit now. This may be the book that turns be off Charles and Anna. Sad, because the basic story and ideas were good.

Rating: 2.5/5

ARC provided by NetGalley

Friday, November 10, 2017

Always Kiss Me Goodnight

Always Kiss Me Goodnight
by Megan Gaudino

Sophie is alone. Her parents have moved to be closer to her Olympic contender brother, leaving her at home alone most of the time. She's even more alone now that her boyfriend has cheated on her.

That's when the dreams start. That's when she starts seeing her own death.

What she never saw coming was Leo Knight.

He saves her, and by saving her, he may have damned himself.

Final thoughts: This is cotton candy and I was enjoying it to start, but then it turned into another Twilight copycat. Mysterious powers. People who never die. Semi-stalking behavior. Over-protectiveness. And the constant question of who or what our heroine may be. 

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fracture

Fracture
by Megan Miranda

After Delaney falls through the ice and spends eleven minutes under water, she should be dead. She spent a week in a coma and the doctors were sure that she would never wake up. Even if she did manage to wake, she'd be severely brain damaged.

So when Delaney not only wakes, but wakes up completely intact, everyone is confused. Her brain scans show that she should be dead, or at least comatose for her remaining time, so she is basically a medical miracle. 

No one understands. 

And no one can explain Delaney's new affinity for death. 

She can feel death coming. She knows who is going to die and can even tell if that death is coming soon. 

But is she feeling death? Or is she causing it?

Final thoughts: Yet another great idea that is very poorly done. This is just a series of scenes that aren't linked well together and the whole romance portion is just handled so poorly. I was disappointed because it sounded so good.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
by Darynda Jones

Reyes went IN to a hell dimension, but it's not quite certain that he was in the Reyes body that came out. Now Charley must figure out if her husband still exists in the god-shell that emerged while also trying to figure out who is killing people in horrific ways (and hoping it's not said god-shell hubby). Throughout all of this, she must clear a friend of murder, avoid the anger of a mob-boss, keep off of the FBI's radar, and still solve the occasional supernatural mystery.

Strangely enough, this is just a normal week for Charley.

Final thoughts: Ah, Ms. Jones. You cruel, cruel woman. You start us off just after the cliffhanger, wind us through a typical Charley mystery, and then end on ANOTHER cliffhanger. Whhhyyyyyyy????

Rating: 4/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion
by Rosalyn Eves

Access to magic equals access to power. 

Anna can't access magic so she can't access power. 

But even without access to magic, Anna seems to be able to mess up everyone else's magic. 

After ruining her older sister's coming out party and accidentally destroying all of the magic in the room, Anna leaves for Hungary to try and save her family's name and to get away from the danger her lack of magic presents for them.

But running away to Hungary does more to put Anna at the front of the magic rebellion than to hide her from it. She's being watched. She's being hunted. And she's being courted by people who want free access to all magic.

Her talent, or apparent lack of it, may be the one thing that opens up the binding that regulates magic and frees the people to be able to access it no matter what their family names may be.

Final thoughts: Messy. This one was just messy from start to finish. There were a couple of ideas that had promise, but the extended metaphor was forced and shoved down the throats of the readers. I feel no need to read the next two in the planned trilogy and I feel bad for those who read the back cover and think this will be any good.

Rating: 2/5

ARC provided by NetGalley

H2O

H2O
by Virginia Bergin
 
On a hot day in England, people all go outside to hang out with friends and try to cool down. When the rain comes, they are happy to see it.

Until it starts falling on them.

Previously the giver of life, this new rain is a killer... literally.

A bacterium that had been hidden in an asteroid that was destroyed before it could hit the earth has finally reached the atmosphere. It loves water. It thrives in water. And it's raining down on every human on earth.

As the bodies of the people she knew start falling along with the bodies of all of the strangers around her, Ruby manages to survive. She's running out of food and she can't trust the water to drink it, so she's also running out of options.

Now Ruby has to figure out where to go, how to get there, and who to trust on the way.

Final thoughts: This book had some great moments, but that's really what it was; it was a series of moments. Ruby is not very likeable and she never seems to learn. She keeps making the same mistakes over and over. She keeps making the same poor choices over and over. How she manages to live as long as she does is completely coincidental and senseless. Maybe the next book will be better, but I'm not sure if I'll rush out to read it.

Rating: 3/5

Shooter

Shooter
by Caroline Pignat
 
Locked in the boys' restroom, five students hide from a possible shooter at their high school.

Each student has a different story.

Each student has a different problem.

Each student has a connection.

One of them may know who is dangerous.

One of them may be able to stop the shooter.

One of them may be running out of time.

All of them need to work together to survive.

Final thoughts: Tight read that starts slowly and builds in tension and timing. This is not just about a school shooting; this is about people and how they are connected even when they think they aren't. This about high school and all of the nuances in the relationships between everyone within.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Songs About a Girl

Songs About a Girl
by Chris Russell

Charlie Bloom has never been popular. She's never even dreamed of being in the popular crowd because she knows how far away from that life she is. As long as she can live behind the lens of her camera, she's happy.

When she gets the email from a former schoolmate, a boy who is now world famous in the boy band Fire&Lights, she is suddenly thrust into the popular world. He wants her to take pictures of the band backstage to have them uploaded to their website.

Charlie knows that it's crazy a life that the boys live, but she's not ready for the crazy that is lead singer Gabriel West. She's also not ready for the moment when she realizes that the words of his songs are also the words from her mother's journals. And when she's thrust from anonymity into the spotlight, can she handle her new life?

Final thoughts: This was the book that I kept putting down. I finished it eventually, but I wasn't really impressed. The last chapter also took me from a single book to a semi-cliffhanger into a series that I didn't know I was reading. It's ok if you like this kind of book, but I just didn't really feel it.

Rating: 3/5

If I wake

If I Wake
by Nikki Moyes

Each year, on her birthday, Lucy goes into a coma. While her mother and her doctors search for a reason for her annual comas, Lucy goes on an adventure through time.

On her first trip, she's with a tribe of early humans, helping them to survive and even teaching them how to make a bow and arrow. When she dies protecting her friend, she wakes up in the hospital, covered with rashes where she was attacked before she died in her past.

Each time after, she meets the same boy with the same family around him. She realizes that her job in all of these lives is to keep that boy alive. She saves him each year with each trip in time.

In the present time, she is bullied constantly. Her life at home isn't great, but her life at school is horrible. She's running out of time for herself. Lucy simply doesn't believe that there is reason to go on, especially when her last birthday may mean one more chance to save the boy she cares for.

Final thoughts: Decent read. I wasn't fully drawn in to her world and the first time trip was a little shocking, especially because I still can't understand how it was so easy for her to just live in that world with little to know confusion on her part. That first trip, she just started living there as if she'd always been there. The final time trip was odd and the aftermath of that last trip felt forced and didn't quite work for me, but it was OK overall.

Rating: 3/5

The Adventures of Katie Button

The Adventures of Katie Button

by Lizzie Koch

 
Katie's been having the weirdest dreams. In her dreams, she is always with the same man, but always in a different period of time. Her man is a highwayman one dream and a royal the next. She's always head over heels in love, but something always goes tragically wrong. In her dreams, either she or her man nearly always die.

When Katie meets James, she's astonished because he's literally the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to recognize her. He also doesn't seem to have the same pull on her heart. His brother though... he's definitely someone she can spend some time with.

Will her dreams rule her heart?

Final thoughts: Eh. Just eh. OK to kill some time, but not really worth it. Some of the logic of past lives makes no sense and even the author can't really explain away the fact that two of those lives were only 5 years apart (Titanic and WWI). Her concert dream makes no sense and her reaction makes even less sense. So... eh.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When It's Real

When It's Real 
by Erin Watt
 
Oakley Ford may be one of the most famous singers in the world, but he's also one of the most infamous singers. He's got a major image problem and that is getting in the way of him working on his next album with one of the best producers in the biz.

Vaughn is the ultimate good girl who finished school early in order to get a job to help out her sister after their parents died. She's got a boyfriend and a very clean reputation.

She's perfect.

Oakley's PR team selects Vaughn to be his fake girlfriend for a year (and $20k a month) in order to help his image and her family.

Vaughn's current BF is willing to go along at the beginning, but it's tense.

Things start getting more and more confusing as Vaughn sees more in Oakley than a spoiled brat and Oakley starts seeing Vaughn as more than just a snotty prude.

Final thoughts: Eh. This is a combination YA/NA book, so it may not be appropriate for everyone. This new trend of girls dating/fake dating/not knowing their social media dating celebrities is already getting tired and cliche. This book did move along at a decent pace, but the end was strangely rushed and felt a little empty. There is also an obvious story line left for a possible sequel, but it's not a cliffhanger or anything. Vaughn's BF was a jerk from the first moment and there was absolutely no chemistry there, so it's very difficult to believe that they were together for 2 years. And that final conflict was ridiculous. But if you can suspend reality on those things, you may enjoy this. If nothing else, it's cotton candy for the mind.

Rating: 3/5
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In Some Other Life

In Some Other Life
by Jessica Brody

Kennedy "The Closer" Rhodes made a decision just over three years ago that put her on course to resurrect the school newspaper, become editor-in-chief, win prestigious awards, and set her course to Columbia University to major in Journalism.

That decision was essentially choosing a guy over the most coveted spot in Windsor Academy, a prep school that has an 89% acceptance rate to Ivy League schools. For the last three years, she's never regretted her decision. She's got a fantastic best friend, a great boyfriend, and an amazing high school journalism career.

Until she catches her best friend and her boyfriend making out.

Now she wonders about her decision. She wonders if things would be better if she'd chosen the school instead.

Then she falls... literally.

When she wakes, she's now Kennedy "The Crusher" Rhodes, who crushes at everything she does. She's top of her class at Windsor Academy. She never worked the school paper. She never dated that guy. She never lost her best friend.

Everything is similar, but different. Now Kennedy has the chance to redeem her choice from three years before and be the girl she's always wondered if she could be. But it looks like The Crusher has a lot more secrets and a lot to hide.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy "Sliding Doors" type of book. Flowed pretty well, but VERY predictable. That predictability doesn't make it an impossible read, but it can get frustrating when the lead can't see what is so obvious to the reader.

Rating: 3/5

ARC provided by NetGalley 


Friday, March 10, 2017

Wesley James Ruined My Life

Wesley James Ruined My Life
by Jennifer Honeybourn

It's summer and Quinn has nearly reached her goal to fund her band trip to England. She's always wanted to go there and, with her English grandmother now in a hospice so that she can get care as she suffers from Alzheimer's, Quinn feels the need to go more than ever.

But Quinn's simple summer of band practice and working at Tudor Tymes becomes complicated when the boy she blames for ruining her parents' marriage returns to town after five years away. Not only is Wesley James back, but she can't seem to get away from him. He's everywhere.

Things go from bad to worse when her gambling father borrows her money to pay back a bookie and ends up making another bad bet instead. Now Wesley James is in band, making tons of money in tips at Tudor Tymes (while Quinn does all the work), and he's going to England, while Quinn stays home.

Basically, the guy who ruined her life is taking her life and leaving her behind to suffer.

But Quinn won't let him get away with it...

Final thoughts: Yet another cotton candy rom-com book. It's cute enough, but the ending feels rushed, like the author reached her word minimum at some point and just jammed in the last chapter or two with little regard to detail. This is an early ARC, so things might change, but that ending just felt a little off from the rest. On a separate note, that cover is really wrong. The food truck shows up only in the second half and it's a Tudor Tymes truck, so it's decorated to be medieval and Quinn even complains about having to wear her velvet costume inside, which means the 60's trailer vibe and current clothes aren't right. It's nit-picky on my part, but it bugs me all the same.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

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