Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Let's Pretend This Never Happened
(A Mostly True Memoir)
by Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess)

Childhood is a time of discovery. It's when you become who you will always be. So what does your future hold if your dad is a man fascinated by dead animals?

Jenny Lawson was raised in an extremely tiny town within the largest state in the Continental United States. She's a Texan through and through, and she has the childhood trauma to back up her own brand of crazy.

From squirrel puppets (made from real squirrel), to crazy turkeys, to baby raccoons, Lawson's life was never a normal childhood in the traditional sense. In addition, she was also cursed with possibly the most physical and mental issues that could be dropped on one person without that person going insane. Or it's possible that she really is insane... 

In this memoir, Lawson shares events from her childhood, her marriage, her motherhood, and her growth into a pretty darn good person. 

Final thoughts: I am a HUGE fan of The Bloggess. I can relate to a number of her issues and I definitely love her sense of humor. I strongly recommend reading a few entries on her blog before buying this book, though. Her humor is not for everyone, though I'm not sure how well I would get along with people who couldn't laugh at many of the things she writes. This book is especially great for those who suffer from depression as Lawson shows that even the deepest moments of depression and anxiety can eventually become fodder for jokes.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, April 3, 2015

Every Last Word

Every Last Word
by Tamara Ireland Stone

As summer ends, Sam knows she must return to school and become Samantha again. She must rejoin the clique she's been in since kindergarten and pretend to be the perfect girl she feels that she's expected to be.

But even her best friends who've known her most of her life don't really know her.

They don't know about her obsessive need to have all things end on three. They don't know that she must check everything about everyone she knows. They don't know that she sometimes has thoughts of harming all those around her.

Sam has OCD. With the help of a very understanding family, pretty good meds, and an amazing therapist, Sam's been very good at hiding her disorder from everyone she knows, but it takes more effort each day and it has really drained her.

She can't keep hiding who she is, but she also fears going against the girls who can often be cruel to others and will definitely be cruel if she tries to leave them.

Then one day, Sam meets Caroline and she's led to a group of misfits who accept her for who she is and help her find her voice.

Final thoughts: Great book about the struggles with OCD, as well as what it may be like for the girls in the mean girl groups who may not really be that mean. Sam is a fascinating character and her growth throughout the book feels authentic. The twist near the end felt a little strange and forced, but Sam was real throughout.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lois Lane : A Real Work of Art

Lois Lane : A Real Work of Art
by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane starts at a new school and is forced to take an art class.

But this future intrepid reporter notices something strange about the teacher and she's determined to make sure he doesn't get away with anything.

Final thoughts: Billed as a teaser short story, it's more like a chapter from the middle. We're dropped into the middle and there isn't much development. That being said, it does make me want to read the full novel when it comes out. And my hubby, a comic fan, says it's pretty spot on for Lois Lane.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dark Debt

Dark Debt
by Chloe Neill

After a year as a vampire, Merit finally feels like she knows who she is and what she's meant to be. She is Sentinel of the Cadogan House, lover of the Master of Cadogan, and one of the most famous vampires in Chicago.

When a human is nearly murdered by vampires in front of at least a hundred witnesses, Merit and Ethan are forced into the politics and financial desperation of another vampire House. At the same time, a vampire from Ethan's past comes back into his world and threatens to take everything Ethan has built up over time.

The timing is more than a little suspicious and there's a definite urgency to stop the vampire and the organized crime group that's holding the House financially hostage.

Final thoughts: Okay. I really like Merit and Ethan, but this story is beginning to drag. It's now been eleven books spanning about a year of Merit's life as a vampire and I'm getting tired of the soap opera quality. There's still the prophecy about a child and we're nowhere near that, apparently. Can we please get to the end already? Neill needs to remember Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time series. Having one book that only covers three days is just pushing things too far for too long. Let's get this thing moving.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Southern Fried Wiccan

Southern Fried Wiccan
by S.P. Sipal

Priscilla is a military brat who has been bounced around from one base to another all around the world. When her father takes a one year tour at a base where family is prohibited, Cilla and her mother move to her mother's home town. As they are finding their footing, and Cilla's mother is finding her place in the business world, Cilla and her younger brother often must stay with her grandmother, who is Southern Baptist through and through.

Once moved in, Cilla starts school at The Pond, a local charter school located in the remnants of a mini-mall. There, Cilla meets all the stereotypes she's grown to know in every school she's ever attended. The one difference is that one person knows Cilla's true beliefs and is more than willing to help her find her true calling.

In all her travels, no religion has ever spoken to Cilla like Wiccan, and no person has ever truly understood that more than Val. Val leads her to Mother Faith and the rest of her coven where Cilla finally feels like she's found her place. 

Unfortunately, her very religious grandmother is sure to not take it well when she finds out her granddaughter is a witch.

Final thoughts: While not anti-Christian, this is definitely PRO-Wiccan. There is page after page of people talking about this religion, almost preaching it, to the point of boredom. There really isn't a plot at all, more like a series of events in between all the teaching and preaching. I wanted to like Cilla and wanted to care, but it just became too much. In addition, Cilla kept saying and thinking "Like", as if she was a Valley Girl in the 80's. I work with teens every day; they don't say that anymore. Most of the teen dialogue was just poorly written. I may recommend this for teens trying to figure out their own beliefs, but only for the Wiccan aspect, not for the story itself. Note: while wands and spells are discussed, there is no magic portrayed in this book.

Rating: 2/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


by Betsy Schow

Dorothea is trapped in her Emerald Palace, never to be free to walk the realm, just because of a stupid curse put on her great-grandmother by a young witch who didn't even know to curse someone correctly. She literally can't even walk out of the doors of the palace, since they close automatically if she even gets near them.

When Prince Kato shows up and states that he has to marry Dorothea in order to save the realm, that's just too much for Dot to handle. She's really tired of people telling her what to do.

She wishes on a star and everything goes nuts.

Magical rules are breaking left and right. Dot's parents disappear, leaving only their crowns spinning on the floor. Beauty turns into a beast, complete with golden gown. And Kato turns into a baby chimera.

With only the help of a few words from the Green Witch, a kleptomaniac assistant, a pair of Han Christian Louboutin heels, and a very hungry, very quickly growing chimera prince, Dot must travel the realms to find out how to cure magic, while running from the very angry Grey Witch who is intent on killing her.

She had better come up with a plan soon or everything will be forever pixed.

Final thoughts: Cute idea, but it gets bogged down in its own cleverness. There are constant references to fairy tales, as well as a few non-fairy tales (Quasimodo, for instance). Most of the characters are references to L. Frank Baum's Oz creations. There are some inconsistencies like needing wisps to light the ball, as there is no electricity, but they do have magically powered vacuum cleaners (upgrades from brooms). There are also a few typos, as well as formatting issues when downloaded to the Kindle that included having the first letter of the first word of each chapter cut off the word and then placed somewhere in the middle of the second line. Most of that is easily fixed, though. Each chapter seems to be its own cliffhanger and there's an epilogue that sets up a sequel, but I'm not sure I want to read it since it really takes a lot of effort to deal with all the clever references and creature names that fill the pages. The plot definitely has good moments and I really grew to like Dot by the end, but I'm just not able to rave about this one. Decent read. Cotton candy.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, March 20, 2015


by Patty Blount

Best friends Meg and Bailey have known each other since kindergarten. They've always had each other's backs, kept each other's secrets, and been there for each other.

But boys always cause problems.

Meg won't deal with her attraction to Chase, no matter how much Bailey pushes her in that direction.

Bailey won't face the fact that her online crush, who she's never met in person, may not be who she think he is, despite Meg's warnings.

Now the two start battling online with cyberbully posts that each one will come to regret and it's not sure if either one will win.

Final thoughts: Messy book that has a good message hidden in its bland pages. We're told Meg and Bailey are best friends but they are extremely petty and mean to each other over the tiniest things. Bailey whines and whines and whines about how much she's done for Meg, even though we never see it. Meg is in serious need of therapy about what happened with her father when she was a child. Neither behaves like they are 17. Heck! Bailey is even catfished by her own ex-boyfriend as revenge for something that could have been easily remedied, and yet she thinks she still loves him and wants to try again?!?! Chase is so up and down, totally accepting and then completely angry, and then totally loving again, that it's hard to believe he can truly care so much for someone who is constantly running hot and cold with him, as well. The end is a mess and was just extremely frustrating.
However, there's still that good hidden message to think about. There are still very good lessons about cyberbullying, posting before you think about the consequences, and the dangers of online relationships that really shouldn't be counted out. Too bad the rest of the story was just so bad.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paper or Plastic

Paper or Plastic
by Vivi Barnes

It's not like Alexis needed the lipstick. Heck! She didn't even like the color! She only did it because she was bored and her friend convinced her to do it.

But while her friend gets off with a warning (lawyer fathers are great!), Lex is forced by her mother to take the manager's offer to work off her crime. So now Lexi must spend two of her summer months at SmartMart (a cross between Walmart and Target). This means dealing with extreme couponers, rude customers, angry coworkers, and Code B's. 

It also means that she's working under a new supervisor, Noah Grayson, and that make Lex very conflicted. She hates Noah for what he did to her friend two years before, but she loves Noah for the kind hearted person he is now.

Add to all of this her overbearing mother, her sister's pageant dreams, her grandmother's advancing alzheimer's, and the possible risks to her softball dreams, and Lex's summer will be anything but normal.

Final thoughts: This is a fun read while in the middle of it, but it begs questions once done. Many of the characters seem very one-dimensional with little depth. We only read about one bad of each type and then never see them again so the extreme coupon lady is there only once. The coworker who hates her is never explained. And her softball hopes are barely mentioned after the first couple of chapters. Additionally, there's an almost literal deus ex machina at the end that solves the main conflict, though there are other problems that are never discussed again, leading me to think there may be a sequel. 
Cotton candy. Don't think too hard.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, March 13, 2015

The List

The List
by Siobhan Vivian

Every year, right before Homecoming, The List is posted.

It's highly anticipated and its rulings are law.

Eight girls will be on The List.

Eight girls will have their lives completely changed.

Four of the girls will become the most popular girls in school.

Four of the girls will be shunned.

Four are given the title of Prettiest.

Four are given the label of Ugliest.

No matter which girl gets named, all eyes will watch.

All students will judge.

All decisions are final.

Final thoughts: Interesting story based off of something Vivian had once read and completely believable in this day and age. Burn books have been around for decades. Even Facebook started off as a rating system for college girls. So this book is definitely based in reality. Unfortunately, because there are so many characters to look in on, there are just too many ideas and views to try and follow. Add to that the very real drama of some of the stories, including the anorexic girl struggling with her own view of herself, and the home schooled girl trying just a little too hard to fit in, and it's just really difficult to figure out how to feel about the book as a whole. Additionally, the ending is disappointing, since it seems to leave most of the stories unfinished. After completing this, I felt like there should be a sequel out there somewhere, but there just doesn't seem to be one. I wanted to love this, but it didn't seem to love me back. However, the realism within the pages makes it worth a look.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Red Queen

The Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Many years ago, mutations happened that changed the blood of people. Those whose blood changed to silver became more powerful than anyone could ever have imagined. Suddenly, the Silvers could manipulate the world with abilities to force thoughts, move mountains, rain fire, and so much more.

Those whose blood stayed red were left behind and forced to take on the menial tasks that the Silvers refuse to do.

Now it's the Reds vs. the Silvers and the Silvers are winning.

After a chance encounter, Mare Barrow is hired to work at the palace. A palace filled with Silvers. And these Silvers are there for the selection of the next queen.

The Prince is eligible for marriage and he needs the strongest Silver to be his future queen.

During the competition for the Prince, something goes horribly wrong and Mare is put into a position she never could have dreamed of.

Her blood is Red.

Her power is Silver.

Now Mare must pretend to be something she's not and she must decide what is more important: her life or her people's freedom.

Final thoughts: The Hunger Games meets X-Men and it's fantastic! It's not perfect and there are a few off moments, but I like the overall effect. This book had some moments where I could predict plot points, but rather than be disappointed by the prediction coming true, I celebrated. My only real complaint is that Mare is gullible. Really, really gullible. Otherwise, it's a good story and there are some amazing high points. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


by Melissa Landers

When aliens from L'eihr showed up two years ago, Cara Sweeney had no idea that she'd be hosting one of them at her house for a year as part of a student exchange program.

While her brother goes to the L'eihr home planet, Aelyx comes to stay with Cara and her family. There are two other L'eihr students on Earth, as well, and all three have a mission from their home to be ambassadors for peace.

Of course, all three have a mission of their own, which is not in the plans for everyone else.

So, while Cara works to make Aelyx comfortable and help him adjust to life on Earth, Aelyx works to destroy the alliance that his Elders have worked so hard to create. He believes that the plan to eventually bring humans and L'eihrs together is one that is doomed to fail; he's just going to make sure it fails faster.

What Aelyx and Cara could never have imagined was finding true friendship in each other, even when all the other people around them begin to betray them. And love? That was never supposed to happen.

Final thoughts: Nice start to a trilogy with some solid relationship building between the characters. This is very good at show instead of tell and definitely has some real moments. There were a few points that seemed a little forced, but the overall message is clear and even a little relevant when it comes to discussing tolerance and extremism. I'm not sure that I'll go looking for the next book, but I don't think I'll ignore it if I see it.

Rating: 4/5


by Tonya Kuper

On the day Josie turns the same age that her brother was when he died, her boyfriend dumps her. She's also suffering from extreme nausea and headaches, so it's just been great day all around.

When a guy shows up on an amazing motorcycle, just feet from where she's sitting, Josie imagines him to have the perfect hair, perfect eyes, and a special tattoo. She's shocked when he takes off his helmet and looks exactly as she imagined.

Reid's pretty shocked, too, since that's not how he looked when he got up that morning.

It doesn't take long for Reid to find Josie and explain to her that she's an Anomaly: a person who can manipulate the reality around her. He also explains that she's in great danger because of who and what she is, and that he's got a very limited amount of time to train her before she's found by those who would either have her join them or die.

Now she has to master her abilities to change the world, while also trying to keep herself from losing her heart to Reid.

Final thoughts: Such a great premise and such a poor book for it. The rules keep changing. You can't Retract something that hasn't been Pushed into existence in the first place, but they keep Retracting things from nature (like sand, though the author says Josie Pushes a hole, rather than Retract the sand). Reid worries constantly that Josie will hate him when she discovers his true identity, but her reaction is the opposite. No, wait! She'll hate him when she finds out what he did before her brother was killed, but she eventually understands. No! Wait!!! She'll hate him when she finds out what he really did! Oh! And there's a tiny plot about handing off some amazing serum to the Vice President, and that ends up being just a setup for some strange plot manipulation that just comes off badly. There's also an error in the plot where Josie mentions something about going to something that Reid was at years before and this was mentioned before Reid revealed his true identity, so how would she know that??

Rating: 2/5 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


by A.J. Messenger

Declan's life has never been easy. Repeated panic attacks have made her life pretty hellish. Having a huge panic attack on her eighteenth birthday is definitely how she wanted to start the first day of her adulthood.

In walks Alexander Ronin. Tall, gorgeous, and strangely into her, he is everything she's never known that she's always wanted. She's drawn to him, as is every other girl in school. When she's near him, the panic attacks seem to magically go away. She feels calm and centered, and very much attracted to Alexander.

Over time, Alexander reveals that he's not your average guy. He's not even your average human. And he's definitely not the eighteen years of age that he pretends to be.

He's there to protect Declan because she's in real danger. And though he needs to stay close to her, he also needs to stay far away, because his attraction to her is as dangerous to her as the danger he was sent to protect her from.

Final thoughts: Decent read, though there are some story holes and a few issues with characterization. For the relationship, there's a lot of tell instead of show, but the overall story is interesting.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Something True

Something True
by Kieran Scott

It's time.

True only has one more couple to match up and she'll be free to return to Mount Olympus and become Eros again.

She'll also be able to have Orion back with her and his memory will be restored.

Of course, the last person to match is actually dating Orion right now, so she'll have to break them up first.

Additionally, Orion's last lover (and her brother) have been sent down to Earth and are now looking for both of them. 

They want Orion back and they want True dead.

So True must break up her boyfriend's relationship, get his soon-to-be-ex to fall in love with someone else, avoid a couple of ticked-off gods, and do it all before the sand runs out on the desktop timer.

Final thoughts: It's the final book in the trilogy and it's just as much cotton candy as the first two. The ending is a true deus ex machina and a little too easy, but it's still fun.

Rating: 3/5

The Fall

The Fall
by Bethany Griffin

All her life, Madeline Usher has lived within the manor that has been handed down through the family for generations. Every Usher who has lived there has been trapped there.

Once the House has you, it never lets you go.

And the House has Madeline.

Madeline is the House's favorite Usher. She's possibly the one that the House has loved more than any other. It has watched over her all her life and it has made sure she's never gotten far from it.

In the beginning, Madeline trusted the House and believed that it was watching out for her.

But now she knows better.

Now she knows how truly cursed she is and she must find a way to save herself and her brother before the House finds a way to trap them forever.

Final thoughts: This is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" told from Madeline's point of view. The entire story is told in short chapters that initially alternate the timeline of Madeline's childhood and teen years. The book and the short story mashed together right near the end, which made for some confusion since I've never read the short story. It felt like the finale was rushed because the author assumed that the readers would know how it ended. The story itself is fascinating, though a little ponderous. It drags in places and wanders a little, but it's overall a decent read and worth the effort.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Complete Nothing

Complete Nothing
by Kieran Scott

By some miracle, True Olympia (Eros) was actually successful at getting a couple to fall in love. Now she just needs to get two more couples to find true love before the sand in her hourglass runs out, then she can return to being Eros, return to Mount Olympus, and return to her own true love, Orion.

She knows that she can do this.

Then everything changes.

Orion shows up in front of her school. He's exactly the same in every way, except for the fact that he has absolutely no memory of the Greek gods or Eros herself. He doesn't remember her. He doesn't remember that he's in love with her. He doesn't even remember everything that she's given up to keep him alive.

So now True must not only figure out how to reunite a quarterback and his ex-girlfriend, she must figure out how to do that while watching the love of her life flirt with another girl.

On top of that, Apollo and Artemis have found out about Orion and are doing everything that they can to get to Earth, get Orion back, and get even with Eros for freeing him.

Life on Earth is definitely not as easy as True had once thought.

Final thoughts: A cotton candy sequel! Just as sweet and bad for you as the first one. Has plenty of cute moments and some tension. True's issues get a little petty and strange, but it all works out in the end. Nice book to free your brain from real thought.

Rating: 3/5

Only Everything

Only Everything
by Kieran Scott

Eros has always been a mischievous god. When she shot her arrows at the gorgeous Orion and the virgin goddess, Artemis, she had no idea what chaos would ensue. After Apollo tricked Artemis into killing Orion, Artemis hung his constellation in the sky to watch over everything.

Now, centuries later, Eros has accidentally freed Orion from his starry home and brought him back to life.

She's also fallen head over heels in love with him.

When she and Orion are discovered, Zeus decides that Eros must fight to prove that she truly loves Orion. In order to do that, she must go to Earth (New Jersey, to be precise) and form bonds of true love between three human couples WITHOUT her powers.

Exiled to Earth with her mother, Aphrodite, Eros must give herself an identity (True Olympia) and must find three couples to unite before the sand in her desktop hourglass runs out.

What's easy for a goddess is surprisingly difficult for a human who doesn't even know how to dress herself properly.

This will not be a walk in the park.

Final thoughts: Total cotton candy book. A few Greek myths are fiddled with, so pedants will probably get frustrated, but if you just sit back and enjoy the ride, you could really enjoy yourself.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
by John Green

Miles has never really fit in in Florida. He's gawky, skinny, and pale, so he's really the anti-Floridian. In the hopes of finding "The Great Perhaps" (and maybe a few friends), he asks to follow in his father's footstep and attend Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama.

Within moments of unpacking, Miles is introduced to Alaska, who is the epitome of The Great Perhaps. 

She is 100% authentic, 100% insane, and 100% what Miles never knew he always wanted.

So, as Miles is getting acclimated to boarding school and classes, Alaska and Miles's roommate, The Colonel, acclimate him to smoking, drinking, and pranks.

He's finally found friends who are more like family and he thinks he's on the way to finding The Great Perhaps.

But then something happens that changes everything that Miles ever knew, ever thought he knew, and ever thought he might know in the future. Can anyone make sense of the world again?

Final thoughts: I admit that I'm late to the party on this one. I could never keep it on the shelf in my last high school library, even though I had at least five copies at one point. It was the rare book with a large waiting list and students desperate to read it again and again and again. It's very well written and powerful, but it's biggest draw is the way it addresses some very deep topics. There's friendship, family, peer pressure, sex, drinking, smoking, cliques, and death. This is NOT a fluff book and it's definitely not cotton candy. This is full of angst and mature themes. It's powerful and worth the read for older teens and adults alike.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Watchers

The Watchers
by Lynnie Purcell

I'm skipping the book talk on this one because it's just so very wrong in so many ways.

This book is basically Twilight but with the author addressing all the complaints that people had about Twilight.

So Clare's the daughter of a flighty human and a fallen angel. She's been stalked most of her life because she's not only different from humans, but also different from the other half-breeds out there. Like Bella in Twilight, her powers have come on strong long before they were supposed to, but the author wants to believe that she's not Bella because she's really graceful, instead of clumsy, and she has a snarky sense of humor.

Edward... umm.. sorry! Daniel is a half-breed who's killed quite a few bad guys in his long life (he's now 118 years old). He also goes to high school to keep up appearances and has been "adopted" by two other half-breeds who help him maintain his cover as well as the cover of two other half-breeds. One of those is a half-angel named Jackson who never feels major emotion. (As in Jackson Rathbone who plays Jasper, the empathic vamp who controlled emotions.)

Clare can read minds, while her destined love can not only read minds, but see the future. And he's perfect. He is also the anti-Edward because he doesn't stalk Bella... um, Clare... but instead waits for her to invite him to come into her bedroom whenever he wants, so it's not stalking anymore. He also doesn't force her to stay behind, but only because she'll do whatever she wants anyway. 

There are a ton of similar moments like her not waking up right away and Edw... Daniel... panicking. Enemies finding a way to get Bel... Clare... separated from the others in order to do whatever they wanted to do. Mike is there in this one, though he's a little more sinister and hard to dissuade, and he, too, has a girl who is jealous of Bel... Clare... because of Mike's attention. "Irrevocably" is used to describe their love. There are dog-like creatures that kill half-breeds until they get one that's on their side.

So much more. So much Twilight. So little of me wanting to read it again.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, January 24, 2015


by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

The world has fallen apart. It's all ice, snow, and cold.

Nat is one of the Marked. She is among those who the government has deemed dangerous. Because of this, her life in on the line. If she is discovered, she'll be locked away for the good of the people and forced to do jobs for the very government that despises her.

To get away, she hires Wes, a runner, to get her as far from the ice as possible, to the mythical land known as The Blue. She has a map, some money, and voice in her head guiding her.

But she's not the only one heading to The Blue and the way there is less than safe.

Final thoughts: Messy. So very messy. This could have been amazing! But it's just a letdown. The premise is on the scale of Game of Thrones, but it's all handled badly. It's more like a really poorly edited epic story, shortened and abridged to take out all the details. It's a shorthand version of something that had the potential for greatness. Moments that could have been meaningful end up being chopped up and nearly impossible to understand. Ideas are made up and jammed in to explain the unexplainable and then are never mentioned again. So, while the basic plot is decent, the overall follow-through is horrendous.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't Touch

Don't Touch
by Rachel M. Wilson

Caddie has always had games that she would play with herself that she believed would keep her world in order. If she kept extremely clean and washed constantly, the world would make sense.

For a while, the games controlled her. But she got counseling and things got better. Things seemed to work out even without her games.

Now, however, her parents have suddenly separated and Caddie's games begin again. 

If no one touches her then her dad may come back. And she means that literally. No skin to skin contact whatsoever. She avoids all touching at all costs. If she gets touched, that means she has to go back to washing again to scrub off everything that might stop her dad from coming home.

High school is difficult enough to get through with her games, but she's now been cast in the school's production of Hamlet and she's Ophelia. 

Acting means trust. 

Acting means sharing. 

Acting means touching.

And touching means that her father will never come home.

Final thoughts: Great story about OCD and how it affects not only the person afflicted, but all those around her. Three-quarters of the book is really amazing and draws the reader in. Unfortunately, the last quarter is a little messy. The book feels realistic and the author has end notes that include her own struggles with OCD, so there's definitely a feeling of honesty in the pages. Great book for those who suffer from or know people who have OCD.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


by Elana K. Arnold

Sephora's life has never been easy, but she's always had her mother to love her and she's had art to keep her sane. As long as she has both, she can make it through anything, even the secret she's kept for the last few months.

Her mother's beauty is so amazing and enthralling that Sephora often compares her to a mermaid and focuses much of her art on recreating the emotions she and others feel when they look on her almost mythological beauty.

She's also fascinated by the grittier stories of fairy tales and mythology. The version that she loves best of Sleeping Beauty is harsh and filled with cruelty. It's truth feels more real to her than much of her own life. 

Now she must face the summer before her senior year and find her way past her secret because there is no way she will share it with anyone.

Final thoughts: This is a good companion to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, though aimed at a more mature audience. The fairy tales and myths are told using the original, non-Disneyfied, versions with all the rape and cruelty shared by the Grimm Brothers and Bulfinch. The story itself really has no plot and is more of a coming of age tale as the reader is slowly immersed in Sephora's world and given insights into her reasoning. I have two real issues with this book: 1) is the focus on her mother's beauty. It's repeated over and over that her mother makes all heads turn, that she'd been a supermodel before she had gotten pregnant, and that it was her pregnancy that ruined her career. However, there are many models out there who've had families and then have successfully returned to their careers, so why couldn't Sephora's mom? Especially if she's such a head-turner? The second issue I have is the author's writing style with almost never using capital letters. It's so frustrating that there aren't even capital I's. I get that this is a choice that has been made, but when things like acronyms come up and the first letter is lowercase, but the next two are upper, it's annoying. Sephora's story is powerful, but it does get a little lost.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Faerie Guardian

The Faerie Guardian 
by Rachel Morgan

Violet Fairdale is poised to graduate at the top of the Guardian class and may even be the best Guardian to come from the Fae Realm in years. Everything is going perfectly for her until her latest rescue not only sees her, despite her glamour, but also hitches a ride from the human world into her world.

Now that she's accidentally broken rule number one, she decides to go ahead and break a few more rules on purpose. She repeatedly goes to see her new human boyfriend and even brings him back to the Realm a few times.

Unfortunately, other faeries and fae have found out about Violet's friend and a few other secrets that lead to even more secrets and more intrigue.

It seems halflings and fae are being sought for their special gifts and Violet's high on the list of targets.

Time is running out, not only for Violet, but for everyone she knows.

Final thoughts: Meh. Not fabulous and not awful. I found myself putting the book down repeatedly and then delaying picking it up again. Overall, it was decent, but I really didn't care about any of the characters that much. I definitely can't believe that Violet was so amazing since the only reason the reader knows that she may be is because everyone in the story keeps saying that she is, with little to no evidence that it's true. There's more to the story, but I don't think I'll follow through with reading those books.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Rose Master

The Rose Master
by Valentina Cano

When Anne Tinning turned seventeen, birds fell from the sky. A murder of crows simply passed some line and dropped to the ground.

That should have tipped her off that something was very wrong.

When she is called to see the lady of the house, she is informed that she is to move to a new home and a new job in two days.

Something was definitely wrong.

At her new home, there are no visitors, no leaving once in, almost no staff, and the master of the house is rarely out of his rooms.

It's also the middle of winter and roses are in bloom all over, completely surrounding the manor.

The freezing cold that permeates every inch of the home guarantees that something is wrong.

Anne must make the decision to stay and try to stop the evil that is everywhere or leave before that evil destroys her.

Final thoughts: Nice little mystery, but nothing wow-worthy. It does have a few haunting moments, but it's all pretty generic. This will add to a collection and tide over young adults if they need something with a bit of spookiness that's not really scary.

Rating: 3/5


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