Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bookishly Ever After

Bookishly Ever After
by Isabel Bandeira

It's a common problem among many readers; boys in real life are never as good as the boys in books. Worse than that is that a person can never be as clever with those real life boys as the fictional heroines are with their book boyfriends.

Phoebe is a serious book and yarn addict. She reads. She knits. And then she reads some more. She's practically memorized some of her favorite fantasy fiction books, which contain strong female leads who know what they want and how to get it. Those girls never say the wrong things. They always have quick and witty replies. And they always get their men.

But Phoebe can't seem to do anything like her heroines. She's awkward, confused, and often misses social cues. Even when her best friend points out crushes and the longing looks of a certain guy, Phoebe can't seem to see it. She definitely can't respond in the clever way she wishes that she could.

So she comes up with a plan. She's going to study her books, not just read them, and look for clues to be the best, wittiest, cleverest, most amazing girl that her dream guy could want, even if that means completely changing herself in the process.

Final thoughts: This is definitely a book for the shy introverts who love to read. Phoebe's problems are relatable and real, especially for many bibliophiles out there. My only real problem is that it often feels like Bandeira wants to be a fantasy author more than a realistic fiction author. She has all these amazing "scenes" from Phoebe's favorite books and series, almost like she herself came up with the scenes and wanted to write them, but couldn't come up with an entire book to put them in for a cohesive story, so she wrote this book to put them all together instead of writing the fantasy book she really wanted. I actually would probably want to read some of these Phoebe faves, but I'm not sure I want to read about Phoebe herself anymore.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Madly

Madly
by Amy Alward

It's been decades since Samantha Kemi's family was basically kicked to the curb by the royal family after the last Wilde Hunt. While the Kemis are firm believers in the strength and potency of natural ingredients, the world has shifted to synthetics. Soon, the Kemi store will be the last of its kind, since all other natural potion makers have either already closed or will be closing soon.

But things may finally return the Kemis to favor after the only daughter and heir to the throne accidentally uses a powerful love potion on herself, causing magical chaos that results in the first Wilde Hunt to be called since the Kemis' downfall all those years before.

Now Sam must go on the race of a lifetime, literally around the world, to find the ingredients required to make the counter-potion and bring glory back to the Kemi name. Of course, no race would be complete without competition, and that includes the guy she really likes, but shouldn't, and the heir's aunt, who wants nothing more than the crown for herself.

Danger is an understatement.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy while you read it; fills you with questions when you're done. The biggest question for me is, if the aunt is the one who sent Evelyn the potion information in the first place, with the intent being to "cure" her and take over the kingdom, why wouldn't she have had the counter-potion already created and ready to go before the Hunt started, thereby winning by default? I know that means that there wouldn't have been a book, but there has GOT to be a better reason than "We had to fill 300+ pages somehow!" [ Additionally, the fact that this was set in current-day London, India, and Africa (though all renamed), used magic and potions, and yet they all had televisions and tablets, was very disorienting. Decent. Cute. Sometimes funny. Could have been better. (on a side note: the copy editor may need to look for another job... TONS of typos)

Rating: 2/5

Study Hall of Justice

 
Study Hall of Justice
by Derek Fridolfs


After Bruce finally convinces his guardian, Alfred, to let him go to school, he gets into Ducard Academy. There, he takes all the traditional classes like English, science, and history, though he has some very unusual teachers.

He also has some very unusual classmates.

Some of them will be friends.

Most of them will be enemies.

Final thoughts: Cute addition to the DC Universe, though a little dense in characters. This one is a really great addition for young kids who are familiar with the villains. It's not as violent as the full comics, but it's still filled with inside jokes and characters not seen often by the average fan.

Rating: 3/5

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

 
 The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
by Katie Alender
 
When Delia's aunt died, leaving her home to Delia and Delia alone, there was no way that the young girl could know how much her life would change.

The home she inherits is not just a home; she's inherited The Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females. Her aunt had been its custodian for her entire life and had never left until the day she died. Now Delia will find out the truth about this home, and she must do it soon because the house takes its job very seriously.

Final thoughts: Another formulaic entry with few actual scares, but there is a nice twist from the start. There were some interesting characters, but the overall effect was less thriller and more "huh" (said with a tilted head and shrugging shoulders). This also suffered from consistency issues, which I've noticed with Alender's work in the past. She sets up rules and then breaks them for the sake of the plot. It gets frustrating when characters can suddenly do things, just once, that they couldn't do before, or are stopped from doing what they've been able to do in the past. Ok. Not great, but isn't completely terrible, either.


BTW - did anyone else think that Janie's online advisor was Theo's long-lost twin?

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Glass Sword

 
Glass Sword
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare, Cal, and the rest of the Scarlet Guard are on the run from the Silvers who are after them.

There isn't time to think.

There's barely time to breathe.

There's almost to time to run.

Maven is after them, after Mare, and he will do anything to destroy all that Mare loves.

Final thoughts: I LOVED Red Queen. I have given it high praise to everyone who asks. But this is really, really, really not even close to it in quality. It's repetitive and banal. Mare is completely unrelatable throughout. There are the annoying things like the first chapter or two in which Mare repeatedly thinks about Julian and Sara probably being dead. Over and over it comes up, to the point where it's like a blaring sign saying, "It's a setup! He's NOT dead!!!" And that kind of thing happens so often, it becomes dull to read. I had to fight to finish this one. The changing of city/location names was a little distracting, as well. The country is Norta (North America), they are leaving Naercy (New York City), they visit Delphie (Philadelphia), and they talk about Wash (Washington, D.C.).
What I hate most though is Mare's self-awareness. She is overly aware of everything and keeps talking about how no one can be trusted, how important she is the cause, and how she must remain safe, sacrificing others for herself. It's a high level of ego that is not pretty to watch/read. What made characters like Katniss and Tris pretty dang amazing is that they never thought of themselves as indispensable; they were protagonists who just wanted to keep those that they loved safe and get rid of those who would put them in harm's way. Mare is not like that at all. She's vain and self-serving, leaving even her own brother behind because she can't risk exposure and she's too important to lose.
There were a few decent moments, but it was just not as good.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, February 22, 2016

Grave Visions

Grave Visions
by Kalayna Price

Things just don't get any easier for Alex Craft.

Ever since she found out she was part Fae, she's been struggling to catch up her knowledge so that she can survive in Faerie as well as she's done in the mortal world (or better, since she's still not great at all that human stuff either).

But she's running out of time.

Ever since the last of her protection spells and glamours were broken, Alex has become more and more reliant on Faerie to survive. She's Fading and she needs to choose a court soon, or she will die.

While trying to figure out exactly what to do with her own life, she's called in to figure out exactly who is murdering Fae, while also trying to figure out what is killing humans and leaving no evidence behind.

Both cases are dangerous. Combined, they are deadly.

Final thoughts: It's been a while since Price has written a Craft novel. This was decent, but Alex herself has changed. She seemed different from her portrayals in the first three books, and her inability to take charge and really do what needs to be done was a little annoying. We also didn't get enough of Death this time around, and a little too much of Falin. Decent read, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Fire Touched

Fire Touched
by Patricia Briggs

Ever since the Fae locked themselves away from everyone after a huge injustice against them, it's been getting more and more tense. Especially since, when the Fae left, they didn't exactly take everyone with them, leaving a few behind to cause trouble.

In the middle of it all, the werewolves, who have been working to maintain peace with both humans and Fae, though maybe not fighting one against the other. 

As the mate of the most visible werewolf pack, Mercy has watched her husband placate the human media, keep in line with the Marrok of the werewolves, and keep an eye on the Fae. His job is made harder by his and Mercy's choices for their own pack.

But things go from tense to breaking when a troll attacks a bridge in Mercy's territory and she calls out to everyone that that territory will be defended against everyone who tries to take it or harm those in it.

Now they have a human with rare powers, a vampire and his Fae friend, and more calling every day, who ask for shelter.

Tense is definitely an understatement.

Final thoughts: Not the best Mercy Thompson book, but definitely good. Maybe I was so excited to read it that I rushed it, or maybe it was rushed, because the end just kind of arrived and I wasn't ready for it. I like seeing the growth and change of all the Fae, and Mercy truly is becoming a part of the pack. I get why Adam is protective of her, but he's also grown enough to know not to get in her way. Overall, it's a solid next step in the series.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer
by Rick Riordan

For two years, Magnus Chase has lived the life of a homeless kid because that's what he is. Two years before, Magnus's mother was killed by wolves in their apartment in Boston. She sacrificed herself to save her son and he's lived on the streets ever since with the help of Blitz and Hearth, two other homeless men who keep Magnus safe and teach him the tricks he needs to survive.

When Magnus's uncle suddenly starts searching for him, two years after he became homeless, Magnus learns that he's more than just some random homeless kid; he's the son of a Norse god and his destiny is greater than he could ever have believed.

Of course, destiny can be a real pain in the... Anyway... Destiny causes Magnus quite a bit of pain; the first pain being the pain of dying.

Yes. Magnus has to die to face his destiny. But dying is only the first step.

Final thoughts: I liked this one, but it honestly lacked the flow of some of Riordan's other books. Someone mentioned in another review of this book that it's like an information dump, and that sounds about right. With Percy Jackson, most people started reading that series already knowing the basics about Greek mythology, so the story could just flow without much help regarding the history. However, Magnus Chase is the son of a much less well known Norse god and the stories of Norse mythology are not nearly so prolific. Much of this book is filled with hints of stories or outright retellings of those myths. More than once, I found myself putting the book down to go look up a myth or mythological character, so that didn't help much with the flow of the story, either. Additionally, as has been pointed out by other reviewers, Magnus's voice is very similar to Percy's. Their histories are pretty similar, as well, so it can get frustrating that they sound the same. Not all teens are snarky with witty comebacks, even if those comebacks are only in their heads and indicated to the readers. Can we have a different kind of teen, please? Let's have a voice change.  All that being said, the story is solid and the building of the worlds is kind of cool. Special kudos to Riordan for his portrayal of Loki. You, Mr. Riordan, actually had me believing him and feeling sorry for him.

Rating: 3/5


Monday, January 25, 2016

Scent of Magic

Scent of Magic
by Lori L. Clark
 
Three sisters who are constantly moving each time someone decides that their handmade fragrances are signs of witchcraft move to a town and immediately begin making fragrances that people say are infused with witchcraft.

Final thoughts: I can't like this book. It's like an extended storyboard or outline for a book, but not really a book itself. It also can't seem to make up its mind. In the beginning, there seems to be the implication that the girls aren't really witches, but rather people with extrasensory perceptions. However, later it's revealed that they have a huge spell book handed down from generation to generation and kept in a safe. Make up your mind, please. Business is down one moment and then booming the next. Time flies sometimes and then crawls at others. And would someone please DESCRIBE something?!?! I have no idea what anyone looks like beyond hair color. I just can't really seem to care about these outlines of characters because there is nothing beyond that outline. Everything, including the plot, is superficial. Avoid this one until the author actually deigns to write it completely.

Rating: 1/5
 
ARC Courtesy of NetGalley

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dirt on the Ninth Grave

Dirt on the Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones

Lost and confused in Sleepy Hollow, NY, Jane Doe has no idea where she comes from or who she is. All she knows is that it has been a month and no one has come to find her even though she wears a HUGE diamond on her left finger.

Seriously! A guy wanted her badly enough to put a very possibly million dollar ring on it and he then just ignores the fact that she's gone?!?! Who does that?

Though she doesn't know who she is or where she comes from, she does know quite a bit of pop culture, which is weird considering the amnesia and all. She also names her furniture and body parts, and she seems to get into dangerous situations without even trying.

And while she doesn't know who her past friends may be, she does have quite a few who have shown up in her life, including the VERY hot (both literally and figuratively) new short-order cook at the restaurant where she's working.

She also sees ghosts. A LOT of ghosts. They are kind of everywhere.

Even with amnesia, Jane knows that she's not supposed to see the dead; but there they are!

Now if only she could get her memory back and maybe jump the bones of the hottie in the kitchen while she's at it.

Final thoughts: Charley may not know who she is, but she is still the same spunky, strong-willed character she ever was. She also finds herself in quite a bit of trouble with a creepy police officer who seems to think she's dating him and an antiques dealer who seems to be danger. There are still plenty of clever remarks and witty comebacks, as well as a complex story, but it was a little annoying to have one of the bad guys from previous books return (kind of). We learn something about Charley that kind of feels like Jones is setting up for future deus ex machina type saves, but it doesn't hurt this particular book. Good read and good continuation of the series.

Rating: 4/5

ARC from NetGalley

Monday, December 28, 2015

Firsts

Firsts
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Mercedes had a First Time that was truly horrible. Now she's determined to make the Firsts of other girls at her high school as perfect as they can be. And she does this by "tutoring" the girls' boyfriends.

Her only requirement is that her time with the boyfriend is that boyfriend's First Time. 

Mercedes teaches virgin guys how to be their best.

She starts out with just a few boys and a ton of good intent. Her "sessions" include how everything from the events of the date on that night, to how to speak to their girlfriends, to how to make sure that those girlfriends have the best time possible in all ways.

In the beginning, it works as planned. The guys keep her a secret and the girls speak of their Firsts with joy.

But things get out of control and strange as more and more guys show up to ask Mercedes from help and not all of them really seem to be honest about what they want.

Things are unraveling quickly and Mercy doesn't know how to make it all just stop.

Final thoughts: This is a realistic fiction story about a girl who suffered some seriously messed up stuff in her life (at 13) and she is now trying to control her world the only way she knows how. Sex is Mercy's control and she's desperate to keep control of things. She loves chemistry because it always makes sense; humans are too difficult to predict and Mercy is really bad at human interactions. She believes that her sessions with virgin boys is honestly something good for them and their girlfriends. Her reasoning may be confusing to some, but makes sense esp. to those who have also suffered similar events in their past. This book isn't graphic about sex, but it is pretty open about it, so it's for more mature readers.

Rating: 3/5

ARC Received from NetGalley

The End of FUN

The End of FUN
by Sean McGinty

In the future, nearly everyone is having FUN. 

Aaron is one of the first to have FUN installed as a beta tester and his days are filled with FUN. Every day, Homie pops up right in front of his eyes to help him have FUN with everything around him. He plays virtual games, rates friends and parties, and spends quite a bit of money online.

Of course, it's the spending that really gets him in trouble. Soon, Aaron is in FAIL and he's not having much FUN at all. On top of that, his grandfather dies and leaves all his property to Aaron, which doesn't make Aaron's dad or sister very happy. There are also rumors of buried treasure hidden on his grandfather's property, which could be exactly what Aaron needs to pay his bills, get out of FAIL, and permanently end FUN.

If only real life wasn't so very difficult.

Final thoughts: Too many messages. Too many existential thoughts. Too esoteric. There's the constant theme of cyber reality vs. actual reality. There's a hint of environmentalism with the deaths of millions of birds being blamed on technology. And there's the never subtle message about how much better and more lasting face-to-face interactions are to virtual ones. It's far too pushy with the messages and not very well written overall. I've given up on a number of books in the past, more than I ever have before, so when I started this, I was determined to finish. Unfortunately, this one took weeks to read and days to process. I couldn't help but constantly put this book down and then delay picking it back up again. Even when I finished, I had to wait a few days (and even read another book) before I could write about it. Dullsville.

Rating: 1/5 

ARC Received from NetGalley

Monday, November 30, 2015

Project ELE

Project ELE
by Rebecca Gober and Courtney Nuckels

Sometime in our future, Global Warming will force the nations to install patches to the ozone to protect the population from the heat and UV rays.

Sometime in our future, the C.U.R.E. for all diseases will be created, which will end everything from cancer to the common cold.

Sometime in our future, a super virus will develop that will begin killing off people by the millions, leading to the possible destruction of the human race.

Sometime in our future, the ozone patches will be removed, the uninfected will be moved to mountain sanctuaries, and everyone else will be left to fend for themselves.

Sometime in our future, the vaccinations created to try and save humanity will end up changing it forever.


Final thoughts: Ugh! Another great idea that suffers from poor execution. Why do people refuse to get good copy editors!?!?!  Looser vs. loser is an obvious issue. The lack of proper punctuation was horrendous. You always put a comma before a name or appellation when talking to someone. ALL CAPS IS YELLING! If the whites of her eyes are developing little circles of color, how does a contact help to cover that up? Let's just completely forget/ignore the family members left out to die. Let's fall in love with the first cute guy to be seen and let's make that a near insta-love. Yeah. Let's not.

Rating: 1/5


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Switching Hour

Switching Hour
by Robyn Peterman

Zelda just suffered nine months of confinement with another witchy offender and she's eager to be free. She hasn't used a spell in so long, she almost feels rusty. Orange is soooo not her color. She needs, needs, NEEDS some designer duds.

But it turns out that her release includes conditions. She's got to take over for her now dead, formerly unknown aunt in a tiny little town in West Virginia. And she's not allowed to use her magic for selfish reasons or she may lose her powers forever (so sayeth Baba Yaga and therefore it must be).

So now Zelda must drive a nasty lime green Kia out to the middle of nowhere with her damaged familiar for company (she swears that running over him three times was an accident!).

When she arrives, she's greeted by a murder mystery, a house with no cool technology, a line of shifters who swear she's the new "shifter whisperer" and their personal healer.  Oh... and a super hot were shifter who seems to think she's his Mate (note the capital M).

With only a few weeks to solve her aunt's murder before Baby Yaga possibly makes her mortal, Zelda is running out of time and is too easily distracted to get the job done without some help and some Prada to replace the orange jumpsuit.

Final thoughts: Another roller coaster from Peterman. Don't think too hard and just hang on for the ride. This one is cotton candy all the way through and there is plenty that is skipped right over in her seemingly ADHD writing, but it's still worth the price of admission.

Rating: 4/5

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words
by Katie Alender

When Willa's mom marries a big-time Hollywood producer from Los Angeles, they pack up their belongings and leave Connecticut to move into his amazing mansion.

His amazingly haunted mansion.

As Willa tries to get settled in her new home and her new school, she's followed by strange events and pulled into memories that aren't hers. Visions of girls during their last moments of life, before being murdered by the Hollywood Killer, begin to take over her life.

Someone is trying to tell her something, but Willa isn't sure what and she's not sure who to trust with the secret of her visions.

Now the Hollywood Killer has set his sights on Willa and she's running out of time to figure out the clues before it's too late.

Final thoughts: Decent read. It flows and keeps up the tension pretty well, but is a little formulaic. Much like Bad Girls Don't Die, the danger is obvious to the reader even as the protagonist stays ignorant. Alender once again hides things until the last minute in an attempt to keep the reader from figuring it all out too fast, but it's cliché and a little insulting. Young adults will eat this up, but those who have read more will probably find this a little dull.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bad Girls Don't Die

Bad Girls Don't Die
by Katie Alender

Alexis has always known that she and her family have been the odd ones out. Her mother can never seem to get the promotion she's been seeking for years. Her sister is obsessed with dolls to the point of violence if someone touches them. And Alexis herself has never fit in, especially after calling out the people who seem to always rule the school.

But Alexis didn't really know how out of place her family was until strange things began to happen to her at her already strange house.

Now Alexis has to find out what's behind the brakes being cut on her mom's car, the sudden slamming doors, the chills in the air, and the dreams that show her people and events from long ago.

Can Lexi save the people she loves before it's too late?

Final thoughts: A somewhat formulaic thriller with a typical ghostly revenge tale. Alender tries hard to not make it too predictable by dribbling out bits and pieces of vital information, but the end is not surprising. However, it's still a decent read and written well for the teen audience that it's aimed at.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Here

Here
by Denise Grover Swank

For the last six months, Julia has been hiding from her past.  She has been hiding from what she can't remember doing, but knows that she must have done it. She has been hiding from killing her best friend in a car accident. All she knows is that she woke up after the accident, wearing a strange bracelet that she doesn't remember ever getting, and suddenly having the ability to draw when she never could before.

So for the last six months, Julia has done everything she can to hide from what happened. Monica might be dead, but Julia feels like a ghost. She stays under the radar and tries to avoid the stares of her fellow classmates.

But that all changes when Evan Whittaker, popular jock and already-taken boyfriend, looks her way. When Evan suddenly takes notice of Julia, everything changes. He changes. And when he does, he only has eyes for Julia.

But Evan change has a very strange explanation, and Julia's about to figure it out.

Final thoughts: Ok. First, the prologue kind of messed me up during reading because I kept thinking about how strange and out of place it was while I was reading Julia's story. When the prologue and present day merged, it was intriguing, but got bogged down. Julia is completely unsympathetic as a character. Her mother and counselor make strange decisions for no good reasons. Evan's shift is explained and yet his obsession seems odd. Then entire second half of the book is unbelievable. SPOILERS: Ok, so there are multiple dimensions and a crossover point. I get that. What I don't get is the complete physical impossibility of there being so many of the same people in both dimensions, especially if there was a nuclear war in one that wiped out a HUGE percentage of the population. There is NO WAY that all of those children in the 60's survived the fallout, grew up to have marry the same people and have the same children at the same time and then those children grow up and marry to have the same children at the same time, creating DNA identicals in both dimensions for so many people. You can't say that all four teens would exist in both timelines at the same age with the same DNA from the same parents who are also the same age. Not possible. I can't even try to suspend disbelief on this one. Nope. END SPOILERS. Since no one is sympathetic and the plot gets predictable once the twist is revealed, I just don't recommend this one.

In addition... the cover makes absolutely no sense for this book.

Rating: 2/5

The Ghost Files

The Ghost Files
by Apryl Baker

For Mattie Hathaway, every day is a day that she has to work to ignore the ghosts around her. She gained this curse after her mother tried to kill her when she was five and she's be traveling the foster home circuit ever since.

Normally, she just ignores them and they eventually go away.

But this time, she can't.

She can't ignore the ghost standing before her at the party with the gunshot in her head and the gag over her mouth.

She can't ignore her because she's Sally, the other foster girl living at her current home.

Now she's got to find a way to stop the killer before another child is murdered.

And now the murderer knows she's coming.

Final thoughts: This should be my kind of story. I'm a huge fan of stories that feature female characters who can see the dead (see my reading history if you don't believe me). However, Mattie is extremely dull as a character and her flashbacks are more like someone retelling a memory instead of actually seeing it take place. Her relationship with the rookie cop is awkward and makes me think the author is setting up for this to be her brother or something, especially considering the often repeated thoughts and comments about loving each other, but maybe not loving each other romantically and the fact that he was adopted. The end is a little graphic, yet doesn't really stir any emotions. And I'm starting to think this is a Charley Davidson YA knock-off with her seeing ghosts who thinks she's "bright" along with Reaper references. I kind of want to read the next one, only to see if my hunches are correct, not out of any desire to continue the story.

Rating: 2/5

Need

Need
by Joelle Charbonneau

Do you NEED something? Something that you can't get anywhere else? Something that no one else can give you?

Do you have a NEED? Or do you just want something?

Do you NEED an iPad? Or do you just want it?

Do you NEED a home gym? Or do you just want it?

What would you do to get what you want? What would you go through to get what you NEED?

Final thoughts: This was a little messy and confusing. There were too many POVs from too many characters, so there just was no depth to them. Many of the choices made no sense, though that actually kind of makes sense since many high schoolers make very poor choices online. The first half was pretty decent and built up the tension. The second half kind of fell apart. SPOILERS: The idea that the government would conduct experiments that would include multiple murders with no real reason makes no sense. I actually understand the one guy since the government might want an emotionless killer, but what's with killing off everyone else? Why give nuts to the allergic girl? Why change the meds in the cabinet? It makes no sense. END SPOILERS. I can see teens picking this up because of the premise and the cover, but I'm not sure they'll like the last quarter of the book.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Is Where It Ends

This Is Where It Ends
by Marieke Nijkamp

In less than one hour, the world can change.

In less than one hour, your life can end.

In less than one hour, all you know can be gone forever.

When one senior decides that he has nothing left to live for, he decides that no one else has a reason to live, either.

With a few locked doors after an assembly, he has the ability to let everyone know how alone he feels by making them feel alone, too.

There are four students who know the shooter and these are their stories.

Final thoughts: It's hard to tell what I feel about this one. The story is gripping and the characters are interesting, but some of the choices made by the author to advance the plot just seem very strange. Shots are fired. The people out on the track have no cell phones, so they run in different directions off campus to try and find a phone and call the police. When a pair are intercepted by the police on the road, the officer brings them BACK to the school?!?!  What!?  No. Not gonna happen. Most of the things that happened with that particular character were odd and unbelievable. However, those things that were happening in the school itself were much more realistic. While the shooters motives are a little hard to understand, since we don't get his perspective, the victims make sense. I can see teens loving this book, especially if paired with Hate List, by Jennifer Brown. But this does have triggers in it and is NOT a good fit for abuse victims or those suffering from PTSD.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Losers Take All

Losers Take All
by David Klass

The sudden death of a legendary high school principal means a new man is brought in with new ideas to make that school great.

Unfortunately, that new man is the head coach of the championship football team and his idea of a great school is one where every team wins all the time.  He can't stand the idea of any student not being on a team and contributing to the success of the school. So he decides to make a new rule that ALL seniors MUST be on a sports team.

For Jack Logan, the third son of the greatest football star in the history of Fremont High, that means he's destined for the football team, whether he wants it or not.

Jack chooses not.

Jack has no interest in being tackled repeatedly, losing teeth and brain cells.  Instead, he and a group of friends create a C-team for soccer that they nickname The Losers. Their goal is to lose all five games of their season and make a point about forcing people into sports.

What Jack didn't count on was how social media would propel their losing team into a winning spotlight, with support from around the country from the victims of bullies and haters of sports everywhere.

Now Jack and his friends must find a way to lose games without losing everything they've fought for.

Final thoughts: Definitely a book for people who actually like sports, which seems strange considering the message. Klass writes like a sports writer for a newspaper, with descriptive passages about the action and the games. Unfortunately, as a non-sports person, I often got lost within the descriptions and terminology, but that didn't really take from the overall feeling of the book itself. Jack is likeable and the principal/coach is a classic villain. Jack's parents and friends are definite people and not just background. The only other downside to the book is the lack of a decent falling action/resolution moment. The book just kind of ends and doesn't really resolve everything. This is a good book for reluctant readers who like sports and/or have felt bullied because of sports.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks the NetGalley for the ARC.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Just One Friend

Just One Friend
by June Shaw, Brooke and Caroline Naquin

In This Place, you are allowed one friend and one friend only. Girls are forced to perform physical feats for the entertainment of the older women in order to determine if they will be good matches for sons. Fail at your demonstration and you will probably never be seen again.

Alabama Long is the best at what she does. She also has a dog who follows her everywhere, which helps when the women are watching her. Each evening, she goes home to her one friend: her grandmother.

When the Ruler calls Alabama in, it can't be good.

She's accused of having a second friend and she's forced to run with her grandmother to the land beyond the warning signs. A land that has far too many dangers, but none as dangerous as what she's leaving behind.

Can Alabama have everything she wants? Will she survive getting it?

Final thoughts:  What the heck!?!?! This is so poorly written! When I noticed that there were three authors, it actually made a little sense. It reads like a few people got on an online chat and took turns writing line after line. The whole thing is poorly paced, confusing, and lacks any kind of description. The Teller Boy has gray eyes. That's it. That's all we know. Seriously. Would it kill to have more than one adjective for people and things? Half the time, I had no idea what was going on because I'm one of those movie-maker readers and I couldn't make the movie because I had no descriptions to use to paint the images in my brain. The timeline was pretty horrid, too. They run for days, but it only takes hours to get back when they need to? Were they just running in tiny circles? What's going on with the desert and then the killing valley? WHY IS IT LIKE THIS?!?!!  Is this an alternate reality or a crazy dystopia? No fun. No sense. And definitely no recommendation.

Rating: 1/5

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Alpha Unleashed

Alpha Unleashed
by Aileen Erin

Just a few months after becoming a werewolf, Tessa is still figuring out how all her witch/were powers work, but she doesn't have time to keep studying. Luciana, the dark witch of coven Tessa had been chosen to lead, has gone completely demonic and is raising demons everywhere.

There is no more time to waste.

And there is nowhere to hide.

Luciana has even managed to reveal the existence of weres and witches to the human world, so Tessa now has to deal with that, as well.

The world has turned upside-down and Tessa's most recent vision of the future shows only destruction and the death of all she loves.

Now Tessa must find a way to change her visions before Luciana raises the final demons necessary to destroy the world.

Final thoughts: I read through all of the other books (2-4) in an effort to get to this one since it's a NetGalley ARC and hasn't yet been released. Overall, the series was decent. I didn't love everything about all of them and I was not a big fan of the fourth book, which followed Claudia instead of Tessa. However, I still liked most of what I read. I wish we'd had more character development over the series because the action was sometimes overwhelming. The final book seemed to drop in a TON of stuff in an effort to finish out this series quickly and not go to a sixth. Decent read throughout though quite a few typos in the galley that I hope they can clear up in the final publishing.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Becoming Alpha

Becoming Alpha
by Aileen Erin

Tessa has always been the "freak" of the family. She inherited her grandmother's strange ability to read the history of anything and anyone she touches. Touch a shirt and she knows it came from a sweat shop; she can even feel the heat and smell the sweat from when it was made. Touch a person and she knows their most intimate secrets.

She wants none of this. She wears gloves and keeps her distance to avoid getting any information she doesn't want.

When her family moves from Los Angeles to a small town in Texas, Tessa hopes that she can at least pretend to be normal again.  Maybe she could even make a friend.

What she doesn't count on is the gorgeous guy who, with one kiss gone terribly wrong, has changed her freakishness forever.

Now she has a whole new world of problems and they are just getting worse.

Final thoughts: A bit messy, but it drew me in. It felt disorganized at points with things being added in last minute to explain things that were going to happen in the next chapter. There was also the issue of no one talking to Tessa to really explain what was going on. It made her seem a bit whiny at times as she begged for explanations, but it also made sense for her to be that way.  Decent read and I'm going to try the next one to see if the series is worth it.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, September 6, 2015

An Inheritance of Ashes

An Inheritance of Ashes
by Leah Bobet

The war is finally over and it appears that most of the soldiers have come home.  Except for Hal's brother-in-law and the father of her future niece. Hal and her sister, Marthe, wait each day for him to come down the road, and each day they are disappointed. 

Not only do they miss him terribly, but they miss the manpower he brings to their failing farm. It is all that the two girls have after their abusive father finally died, and they are struggling to hold on to it.

When a stranger with strange tales of the war appears at the farm, looking for a place to hole up for the winter, Hal accepts him and all of the secrets he holds.

But he brings more than secrets with him. He brings back the Twisted Things that were thought to be destroyed with the Wicked God at the end of the war. 

And he brings back something else... 

Final thoughts:
This was a confused mess. It started as a new world built that seemed pretty decent, but it feels like Bobet realized about halfway through that she was using terms that were more earth bound, so she kind of tacked on a dystopian element. Suddenly it wasn't a new world, but rather our world a hundred or so years in the future with the occasional curse word, gun, or even failing bridge to mention. That element was so poorly thrown in that it really hurt the whole book. I liked some of the ideas, but the overall effect was not done well.

Rating: 2/5

Received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

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