Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Rules

The Rules
by Stacey Kade

Ariane Tucker knows she's not normal. Her first six years of life were spent in a lab, learning how to use her powers. She's always known that she is a mix of human and alien.

When she was six, things changed and she was rescued by Mark Tucker, a man who took her in and raised her. He hid her by giving her the name of his recently dead daughter and becoming her father to all who met her. Some special contacts, a bandage for her lab tattoo, and her hair always in a bun, Ariane must spend every day hiding the physical traits that would give her away. She also has to create a routine to appear fully human.

But most importantly, Ariane must follow five basic rules in order to stay under the radar.
1. Never trust anyone.
2. Remember they are always searching.
3. Don’t get involved.
4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Ten years after being freed, Ariane is close to her goal of leaving forever. As long as she can keep her head down for a little bit longer, she'll be completely free.

What Ariane never expected was love. She definitely never expected Zane to care for her, too.

If she can just get her powers back under control, she may be able to survive; but getting her powers back means breaking every rule and putting her back into the spotlight where she may be found again.

Final thoughts: Interesting idea with some good moments though I'm not really rushing to get the sequel. I liked Zane and Ariane was interesting, but their naivete was annoying. Ok, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feudlings

Feudlings
by Wendy Knight

All her life, Ari has known that she is destined to end the war between rival sorcery clans. Since she was just a child, she has gone out on missions with the rest of the Edrens to take out members of the Carules clan. She is the best of her kind. She is the Prodigy.

Ari's main target, however, is the Prodigy of the Carules clan. It is destined that she will find and kill that Prodigy in order to end the war.

Shane has always known that he is the Prodigy for his clan. But while his rival is out fighting and killing, he's been kept a secret, sent to boarding schools to maintain his anonymity until he's ready to take on the Prodigy of the Edren clan.

Neither knows who the other one is. So when Shane meets Ari for the first time, he doesn't realize that they are supposed to hate each other. When Ari meets Shane, she doesn't realize that her constant fighting and killing could end with his death.

When they fall in love, nothing is clear anymore.

Final thoughts: Roller coaster ride and lots of fun. It goes a little quickly at times and the fight scenes can be hard to follow, but it's an exciting story. I really liked the characters and the development of relationship between the two.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, June 1, 2015

Confessions of a Queen B*

Confessions of a Queen B*
by Crista McHugh

When they see her, they look down and away, hoping she won't notice them.

She is the Queen B of the school. 

Actually, she's the second Queen B, the first being her former best friend and current nemesis. 

Alexis Wyndham isn't the most popular girl in school; she's actually a pariah and she's the one everyone avoids for fear of being posted on her weekly blog. 

No one is safe from this Queen B. The jocks can't avoid her wrath. The cheerleaders fear her poisoned pen. The administration gets nervous about what she'll reveal. And while she'll defend the weak and victims of bullying, she's also quick to point out their mistakes, too.

Alexis knows that she's avoided like the plague, which makes her new friendship with the king of the jocks, quarterback Brett Pederson all the more confusing.

But figuring out her relationship with Brett will have to wait since someone is posting video of the cheerleaders in the locker room and Alexis has to figure out who it is before her sister becomes the next star of YouTube.

Final thoughts: Great cotton candy book! I really liked Alexis, though her constant need to be separate and apart from everyone was a little confusing. It feels like there's a little backstory missing on that issue. Brett was pretty awesome and probably too good to be true. The plot was pretty slim as it centered more on Alexis and Brett and less on what is discussed on the book jacket. My only real issue is the ending since it's not really a cliffhanger, but it definitely doesn't end. It's more like hitting pause during a movie and waiting for a chance to finish it later. Guess I'll have to wait for the sequel.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Truth About Us

The Truth About Us
by Janet Gurtler

Jess is really good at pretending. She pretends to be popular. She pretends to be cool. She pretends that she really likes to get drunk and party. And she pretends that she's just like everyone else.

One afternoon, her drunken party ways end up getting her in a ton of trouble and her father finally lays down the law; she must spend her entire summer working at a soup kitchen in order to learn the value of all the amazing things she has.

While she doesn't exactly jump for joy at the idea, Jess knows she's earned the punishment and begins to work hard to make it up to her family, while also proving that she won't pretend anymore.

But things get complicated when she meets Flynn.

He's kind. He's respectful. He works hard. He doesn't take charity. And he's very poor. He's not a bad boy, but Jess's dad doesn't believe that and forbids her from seeing him.

Can the spoiled rich girl and the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks really be meant for each other?

Final thoughts: Cotton candy and not very realistic. The whole thing is meant to be read and forgotten.

Rating: 2/5

The Empath

The Empath
by Erica Crouch

Odessa's mother is a grifter who pretends to be a spiritualist in order to get all the fame and money that she can. Odessa is the real talent who feeds her mother the true information that is given to the customers.

Odessa can read palms, read cards, and see the dead, while her mother only acts like she can.

Despite Odessa's misgivings, her mother decides to conduct a seance on Samhain, It has the potential to be her biggest score yet.

It turns out to be her biggest mistake.

Now Odessa must step forward and take over the business with only her cards, her wits, and her grandmother's magical locket to protect her.

Because Odessa's mother let out a dangerous spirit and that spirit wants Odessa for himself.

Final thoughts: Quick read with very little detail. It's difficult to understand why Odessa stays after the attack, but it doesn't detract too much from the story. Everything happens so quickly that it's hard to pin down what's missing. Essentially, the story isn't really about Odessa as much as it is about the locket and that locket has more stories after this one. OK, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eighth Grave After Dark

Eighth Grave After Dark
by Darynda Jones

For the last eight months, Charley and Reyes have been holed up in an old convent, using the sacred ground to protect them from the hellhounds that surround them. 

For the last eight months, Charley has been growing a bun in her oven, preparing for the birth of the one child who will be able to defeat the devil.

Now things are coming due.

Charley is about to pop. Reyes has been unable to sleep as he tries to protect his family. Charley's stepmother is trying to make amends. Charley's uncle is marrying her best friend. And the dead are gathering right outside, waiting for something.

That something is coming... and it's not just Charley's baby.

Final thoughts: Whoa! This whole book felt a little claustrophobic, but that's because the location is basically one place throughout. The tension is ramped up and the payoff is scary. But the worst part is the end. That was just mean, Ms. Jones! This is a great addition to the series and has powerful events happening within it. Of course, it makes me want to re-read the entire set to truly understand the impact of everything, though I may wait to do that until just before the release of the ninth book in January 2016. (Mr. Wong rocks!!!)

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One of the Guys

One of the Guys
by Lisa Aldin

Toni "McRib" Valentine has never been a girly girl. She's always preferred playing basketball to painting her nails and wearing shorts instead of skirts. For most of her life, she's had her three best friends, Loch, Ollie, and Cowboy, and she's out-belched them all even though they're all guys.

When a prank goes wrong, Toni ends up being sent to an all-girls school. She feels out of place from day one. With her newly required skirt uniform policy and her sudden friendship to an actual girl, Toni's worried she's going to lose touch with her best friends. 

Things change when Toni realizes that she has something the other girls at her school don't have: friends who are boys. She knows how boys work and what they think. So when girls come to her for advice and a little help, Toni sets up "Rent-a-Gent" for platonic dates. Need someone to make an ex jealous? Call Rent-a-Gent. Need to get your parents off your back about who you're dating? Call Rent-a-Gent.

But when Toni discovers that her feelings for one of the boys may be changing, she has to consider whether or not the money she is making is worth the loss of possibly the most perfect boy for her.

Final thoughts: This is basically your typical Hollywood romance for teenagers. It's not well-written and there are a few grammatical and spelling errors, but it's still a story that is easy to read. It's another cotton-candy book designed to entertain without straining the brain.

Rating: 3/5 (might have been 4 if not for the errors)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lying Out Loud

Lying Out Loud
by Kody Keplinger

Sonny is one of the best liars ever born. She's so good at lying that she can even lie to herself. But the one person she's tried to never lie to is her best friend, Amy. 

That changes when Sonny is forced to stay at Amy's house for reasons that even Sonny won't admit to.

At the same time, a new student enters Hamilton High. Ryder is extremely handsome, but he's also an extreme jerk. Sonny can't see anything to like about him. When Ryder asks Amy on a date, Sonny decides it's time to send him a message.

Things get more complicated when she sends more and more messages and they start online chatting. All the time, as Sonny begins to like Ryder more and more, Ryder likes Amy more and more, all because he thinks he's chatting online with Amy.

Sonny knows she needs to own up to the truth, but she gets so far in that there may be no way to get out without hurting everyone she loves.

Final thoughts: From the author of (and set in the same universe as) The Duff, comes this retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. The writing is solid and the characters are well-built. I like Sonny, though I felt like shaking her from time to time. In this new world of online anonymity, Ryder's honesty in chat vs. his behavior in front of people is actually pretty realistic. Sonny's catfishing, whether intentional or not, was also pretty realistic. I liked Sonny and Amy and Sonny's situation is one that I've actually seen too often in teens. This is a good, solid read.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge

Nyx has known since she was a young girl that she was destined to end the curse that has kept her homeland separate from the rest of the world. Her father made a deal with a demon to have his two daughters, which resulted in the death of their mother. Part of the deal included Nyx marrying the demon that made the deal, so Nyx has been trained to defeat the demon soon after her wedding night and set her land free.

So Nyx heads off to meet her husband and defeat the curse even if it means her own death.

What she doesn't expect is to fall in love with the demon himself.

Now she has a dilemma and a limited amount of time to figure it all out.

Final thoughts: This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is confusing and poorly written. Nyx isn't likeable at all and her relationships with the people around her make no sense. She keeps changing her mind constantly about how she feels regarding family and those in the demon's castle. She loves. She hates. She loves. She's conflicted. She knows exactly what she needs to do. She's conflicted. In this book, we're told that she is falling in love, but there's nothing to show it.Why does she care about him? Why does he care about her? Why should I care about any of it?

Rating: 2/5


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Branded

Branded
by Keary Taylor

For most of her life, Jessica has been unable to sleep well. Whenever she falls asleep, she finds herself in the presence of angels, both exalted and condemned. It is her job to stand in the place of someone who has just died and face the judgment of the dead to decide if the soul goes up or down. Every time a decision is made, Jessica suffers from extreme pain and wakes screaming. The scars on her back are proof of her nightmares.

After years of never being believed, Jessica has found a place away from most people where she can fight to stay awake and scream in private when she can't avoid sleep any longer.

When two men appear in her life, Jessica suddenly finds that her dreams are changing and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Final thoughts: This could be so great if the author was better. The idea is fascinating and the beginning of the book sets it up very well. Unfortunately, the writing starts to slip over the course of the book and it just gets worse and worse. There are editing and consistency issues like Jessica's age changing from 24 to 20 in the space of a chapter. Time passes strangely without any clear indications. It starts off pacing over days and then we're suddenly weeks or months later in the timeline. Taylor repeatedly tells the reader things that just don't make sense. "I didn't even notice how the water was ice cold as it hit my skin..." If you didn't even notice it, how could you mention it? She often uses the same adjectives and adverbs repeatedly in the same paragraph. It bugged me no end when she used "amazingly" twice within two sentences. Is there no thesaurus nearby to help find alternate words? The characters started strong and became flat over the course of the book and the ending was rushed, as if Taylor couldn't wait to start on book two. Dull and lifeless at the end, I can't recommend this one to anyone.

Rating: 2/5


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dead Girl Walking

Dead Girl Walking
by Ruth Silver

Ophelia Dacre is a princess who is on the path to marrying for political gain, but she loves a common boy. When she sneaks out one night to meet up with the boy she loves, she ends up murdered behind a tavern.

But it's not all bad news. Ophelia is offered the chance to be a Grim Reaper. By signing a contract, she becomes the newest member of a group of the undead who go around and collect souls. Her job is to grab a soul before death in order to help prevent pain and suffering before he or she heads off to the afterlife.

She now has a job and near immortality. The only problem is that she has to watch people die to do it.

Final thoughts: NO! Avoid!!!!! This is a blatant and complete knock off of Dead Like Me. Tragic death. Sister struggling with it. Ophelia doesn't want to take the souls, especially since she seems to think that she's killing people even when it's clearly explained that she's not. She refuses to complete her first reap, resulting in her soul being buried with the body (like the time George in Dead Like Me left a man in his body during his autopsy). Ophelia's given the job of reaping a young girl and refuses to do so, which leads the girl's soul to rot in her body even while she was still alive. By waffling on a decision, Ophelia causes multiple deaths that the rest of the reapers have to cover. Ugh! I'm a huge fan of the series, so seeing this book steal idea after idea just ticked me off. Additionally, the characters are flat and one-dimensional. Ophelia has no redeeming qualities and there is just no reason to care about her. I finally stopped at 72% and I really wish I had stopped sooner.

Rating; 1/5

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Cellar

The Cellar
by Natasha Preston

When Summer goes out one night to a club just down the street, she doesn't realize the danger that she's in.

When Lewis watches Summer leave, he doesn't realize that it may be the last time he ever sees her.

When Clover kidnaps Summer, he has no idea how hard Lewis will fight to find her.

The only real question is whether or not Summer can pretend to be Clover's Lily long enough for Lewis to find her.

Final thoughts: Decent read, but a little slow. There were some unrealistic things and some just plain weird things, but the overall story was ok. I wish we'd seen more of Lewis, though I also think the timeline should have been much shorter. For the amount of time Summer was missing, the discussion of news coverage is very unrealistic, as is Lewis' constant searching throughout that time. The ending feels a bit abrupt, though it appears to also be a setup for a sequel.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hush

Hush : An Irish Princess' Tale
by Donna Jo Napoli

Melkorka has been raised to be a princess of Eire. She has always believed that her father is a good king. When she convinces her father to let her go to the Viking town for her birthday, she has no idea that she's starting a chain of events that will lead to her own capture.

Mel had always believed that slaves deserved to be slaves. 

Now she is one. Now she knows that her father was wrong.

She's trapped and her only weapon against her captors is her silence. By not talking, Mel gets a small amount of control. But will the control be enough to get her any sort of freedom?

Final thoughts: This book is written for a young audience, but its themes are not that young. The language is stilted and broken. The plot plods a bit and there is relatively no action. Mel is realistically written, but still kind of dull. Additionally, near the end, Mel is raped repeatedly, which isn't written with much detail, but still may not be appropriate for younger readers. Decent read, but not strong.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dragons Are People, Too

Dragons Are People, Too
by Sarah Nicolas

By day, Kitty Lung is your typical diplomat's daughter who just happens to go to school with the son of the President of the United States. By night, Kitty Lung is a dragon-shifter and spy for the Draconic Intelligence Command (DIC).

The number one rule over DIC is to NEVER reveal the existence of dragon shifters, so when a newly trained operative, under Kitty's command, panics and shifts into full dragon mode on camera, everything changes.

Now the world knows about dragons and the population is scared.

All known dragons are captured by the CIA and taken into custody for the good of the people. Only Kitty and her best friend, Sani, are still free.

When the President's son is kidnapped, Kitty is forced to put the rescue of her friends and family on hold in order to save the son of the leader of the free world.

Maybe, just maybe, if she can save the kid, maybe the President will let her parents go.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy all the way. There is some strange logic brought in to explain why dragons have never been caught on camera before (invisibility when in dragon form) and a lot of discussion about self-healing, but it all kind of makes sense, especially if you don't think too hard about it. Kitty is pretty cool, if a little underdeveloped. Sani is both awesome and a little annoying at the same time. The revelations at the end are decent and there's a definite second book coming, though I'm not sure if I was drawn in enough to remember to look for it when it comes out. Fun and fluffy with no real thinking needed.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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

Spelled

Spelled
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

TMI

TMI
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

Alienated

Alienated
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


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