Monday, December 30, 2013

The Mageri Series

Dannika Dark

The Mageri Series
by Dannika Dark

Zoë Merrick had always been a little bit of an outsider. She was the only child of a mother who basically ignored her.  She has a smart mouth that has gotten her into more than a little trouble. And she has a strange ability to shock people with her fingers without even trying.  Being born on a plane in a lightning storm can do that to a person.

One night, she's attacked and killed, only to wake up in a body bag and escape to the middle of nowhere.  That's when she meets Adam.

Hours later, she's safe, but no longer looks anything like she did, and now she's got new feelings and new abilities she never had before.

When she meets Justus de Gradi, he reveals that she is now Mage.  She has a light within her that can be used as a weapon, but is also like a drug to other Mages.  She must learn how to manage her powers and defend herself from those who would harm her.

She has a long, difficult road ahead of her. She gets a new name, Silver, to go with her new life. When she meets Logan Cross, she finds the man sent to kidnap her who finds that he can't live without her.

Her immortal life will never be the same.

Final thoughts: This is an addicting series with a number of interesting twists and turns.  The first four books are solid, but the fifth feels messy.  There seems to be a scramble at the end to tie up loose ends and explain events.  There is also a scene that's set up to connect the Mageri books to a novella set in the same world, but that scene just doesn't fit in the overall story and is never referred to again.  The one thing that bugged me throughout the books was the name of the city they're in: Cognito.  She literally named the city Cognito.  That just annoyed me, especially when there were sentences that made it become "in Cognito". 

Rating: 4/5 for the first four books.  2/5 for the last one.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cinderella Screwed Me Over

Cinderella Screwed Me Over
by Cindi Madsen

Darby Quinn has had her heart broken far too many times.  Bad relationships seem to be the norm for her, so she decides that she's had enough.  No more fairytale romances for her.  In fact, she's even written out a case study of each relationship, the corresponding Disney prince, and where and how each all went wrong, so that she can recognize the signs if she ever starts to fall in love again.

But she didn't count on meeting Jake Knight.

When Jake first enters her life, Darby thinks he's just like the other former princes in her life, but he's determined to prove her wrong.

Can this woman, who has declared love to be an unrealistic dream, find that it really exists?

Final thoughts: Cute fluff though sometimes frustrating.  Darby's bad history with men is really not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Many women have had much worse, so I'm not sure why these "princes" are so bad that it would cause her to swear off relationships altogether. I also can't really understand why Jake sticks around through Darby's yo-yo feelings.  However, the overall story is nice and Darby's friends and relatives redeem Darby herself.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, December 23, 2013

Princesses Don't Get Fat

Princesses Don't Get Fat
by Aya Ling

When Valeria, Princess of Amaranta turns sixteen, she's finally eligible for marriage.  When the day for her three suitors comes to challenge for her hand, they all work their hardest... to throw the contest.  None of them wants her after seeing her.

Princess Valeria is a big eater, in both senses of the word.

There's nothing Valeria likes more than a few cakes, cream puffs, and chocolates.

So, in order to help her daughter lose a little weight, and maybe gain a husband, Valeria's mother sends her to the Academy in Riviera to train her to become a fighter... or a least help her get rid of a few pounds.

And the plan seems to be working, until Valeria finds her way to the kitchens.

How does an overweight princess fulfill her marital duty when all she really wants to do is eat?

Final thoughts: Cotton candy book all the way.  You don't take this one seriously at all.  It's fluffy and sweet, though not intellectually "filling" at all.  It's just cute, though it has flaws.  The point of view keeps changing and the character development is rather shallow, but it's still a quick, fun read.  The bonus "Princes Don't Bake" isn't great, but continues the story decently.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 20, 2013

When Love Comes to Town

When Love Comes to Town
by Tom Lennon

It's the 90's in Dublin, Ireland, and Neil Byrne is finally becoming who he was always meant to be.  He's finishing his exams and preparing for his future.

He's also preparing to live as a gay man instead of hiding as a gay teen.

For the first time in his life, Neil starts to go out and meet other gay men to try and figure out this society that's eluded him all this time, but in which he feels he belongs.

Surrounded by family and school friends who constantly disparage gays and tell off-color jokes, Neil's more than a little afraid of what will happen if the truth gets out.

But what will happen to his heart and soul if he never is true to himself?

Final thoughts:  Interesting take on the problems of one teen coming to grips with his own being, as well as the fears and prejudices of those around him.  Just twenty years after it was written, it's hard to imagine what it must have been like for a teen in heavily Catholic Ireland before social media and cell phones, let alone what it must have been like for a gay teen.  Sadly, Neil is never really a sympathetic character and the constant interior monologues, especially toward the end, become difficult to follow.  It felt more like the author didn't want to take the time to describe certain scenes, so he just had Neil stream-of-consciousness monologue those moments. OK for today's teens, but probably much more impactful when it was originally written in 1993.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


by Tom Leveen

It's just after 11 on a Tuesday morning and the biggest decision Brian has to make is whether or not to go to his fourth period class.

Nine hours later, everything is different.

In just nine short hours, Brian's life has completely changed.  His school has completely changed.  The world has completely changed.

In just nine hours, nothing is the same... especially not Brian.

Final thoughts: Ignore the publisher's tagline.  That will just disappoint you.  This is not The Breakfast Club or The Walking Dead.  This is insanity on the high school campus in ways never seen before and with a sly little wink at Twilight.  There are a few moments of extra information awkwardly jammed in to help the author explain things like the layout of the school or the progression of the disease, and Kenzie's medical history doesn't quite fit, but these are nitpicks in a pretty decent story. Don't try and take this one seriously; just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Please note that the chapter start illustrations are very much a part of the story and fun to watch progress.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge

The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford

It's 1982 and Laura is living her dream.  She's staying in Leningrad, learning all about Russia, while living there for a semester abroad.

She's also learning that much of what has been said about the Communist nation is true.

The KGB does listen in and watch people.  The black market is thriving with illicit and illegal American items.  There are purists and others who will turn you in to the KGB in a heartbeat, if only to avoid getting arrested themselves.

However, there's also beautiful poetry, amazing music, and romance.

When Laura meets a handsome man outside of her dorm, she finds the love she's always dreamed of.

But is her love true, or does he have an ulterior motive?

Final thoughts:  Very bland and kind of boring.  Too much time was spent by Standiford talking about Russia, including the language, the culture, and the food.  It felt as if she was showing off all of her research instead of focusing on the characters and the story.  Laura was annoying and Alyosha just didn't spark anything.  I kept putting this book down and only picked it up again reluctantly.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington

Jade's a small town girl in a big, new town, which means new cliques at school, new gossip, new teachers, a new home, and her first ever brand-spanking-new ghost.

It turns out that the only reason Jade's dad and stepmother could afford their amazing new home is because someone had died in it just months before.

And that someone didn't leave with the body.

Now Jade must not only deal with all the usual problems a new senior in a new school must cope with, but she now must also figure out who murdered the girl who lived there before.

If she doesn't catch the murderer soon, her little brother could suffer at the ghost's hands.

Final thoughts: Harrington has an interesting take her on Du Maurier's Rebecca, though it might have been nice if she hadn't brought up the original work within this one.  Once I knew what was up, I got distracted by trying to figure out which character was which in comparison, though that shouldn't be a problem for people who've never read the classic.  Jade's a bit bland as a character and I never really feel for her situation.  Her brother's cute, but only randomly there and more inserted as a plot device than an actual character.  I never really felt much for Donovan and Kane because they just didn't have much of a presence.  It's a simple story that really could have been fleshed out more, but still does a decent job maintaining interest.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, November 18, 2013


by J.A. Souders

Sometime in the future, after wars have decimated the land, Mother leads her people to an underwater paradise called Elysium.

Here, the world is perfect.  The air is perfect.  The city is perfect.  And Evelyn's life is just about perfect.

She wakes, gardens, plays the violin, and learns how to govern.  She is the Daughter of the People.  She is the perfect genetic specimen, designed to take over for Mother when the time comes.

She knows her place and she knows that the Surface is dangerous and filled with evil Surface Dwellers who will destroy her world if given a chance.

Then everything changes.

Evelyn's perfect world begins to unravel after she meets a Surface Dweller, who doesn't seem that bad, and she finds out secrets about herself and Mother that make her question everything she's ever known.

Final thoughts: I read through this at lightning speed.  While not the best thing ever written, it's still a compelling dystopic tale that keeps the reader glued.  Genetic perfection has been discussed before in other novels, but this world, where those considered to be genetically inferior are shot by coded turrets, is definitely scary.  Big Brother doesn't need to watch your every move when there are guns to take out anyone who challenges the rules or isn't the genetic ideal.  The brainwashing element was introduced very well and made for a more compelling story.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Allegra is 17 and a new student at a performing arts high school that she's wanted to attend for years.  With parents who are both musicians, she was brought up to follow in their footsteps, even though all she really wants to do is dance.

She lives for dancing and dancing lives in her.

Unfortunately, though Allegra has mastered most elements of musical theory, her new school requires that her class schedule be "balanced" so she has to take a theory course instead of just pure dance classes.  As a compromise, her teacher offers her the chance to transpose a simple melody into a full orchestration for credit, rather than repeat work she's already done.

In finding her musical voice, Allegra also finds her personality, which had previously been hidden in social anxiety and panic attacks.

She also finds love.

Final thoughts:  While this started off very well, it veered into very uncomfortable territory.  While never stated outright, Allegra seems to have mild Asperger Syndrome.  She has a very difficult time with crowds and with relating to peers. She also has intense obsessions with her projects like her musical composition and her dancing.  She doesn't know how to be like all the kids around her and she fixates on her slightly older teacher to an extreme.  The ending feels oddly placed and unreal, especially in this day and age.  About halfway through, I almost put it down, fearing that I knew where the story was heading.  And while it didn't go exactly where I thought it would, it got too close for comfort.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust
by Leanne Lieberman

All her life, Lauren Yanofsky has had to deal with her cultural history.  Her dad is a Holocaust historian and often shares his knowledge with her.  Her family is Jewish and sends her to Jewish camp every summer where stories about past atrocities are taught.

Lauren just can't seem to get away from the Holocaust.

She privately declares to herself that she's no longer Jewish, though she's not sure how to truly de-convert.  She leans on her friends for support and tries to live as non-Jewish a life as possible outside her home.

However, things are never that easy.  

Her best friend suddenly decides to join the smokers outside every day.  Her other friends join a prayer group and get parts in the school musical.  And her crush plays Nazi war games with his friends, wearing swastika armbands and shooting each other with water pistols.

She can't get away from the Holocaust no matter how hard she tries and she's trying very hard.

Final thoughts: This one is deep and sometimes difficult to read.  It's focused on a time in high school when teens are really just struggling to figure out who they are and where they fit in.  At times, Lauren feels more like a thirteen year-old girl instead of a junior in high school.  Her awkwardness around Jesse seems out of place for someone her age.  Her brother is written as if he's autistic, though it's never specifically stated; his side story sometimes seems out of place at times.  I'm just having a hard time figuring out how I feel about this one.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Accidental Demon Slayer

The Accidental Demon Slayer
by Angie Fox

Lizzie always had everything laid out.  She planned every moment of every day.  Nothing was out of her control.

So when her swearing, Harley-riding, hard-living grandmother shows up one day to tell her that her entire life has been a lie, it's not surprising that Lizzie has a difficult time accepting her fate.

The demon in her bathroom helps to change her mind.

The imps who attack her and her grandmother on the road reinforce her new knowledge.

And the hunky griffin who saves her life definitely opens her eyes.

She's "the Chosen One" who is destined to destroy demons and bar them from leaving Hell.

If only people would tell her how she's supposed to do all that.

Final thoughts: Messy.  Very messy.  I wanted to like this, but I kept losing track of what was going on.  And then I found myself just plowing along instead of going back to figure out what was happening, mostly because I didn't really care.  It takes only four days or so for her to completely change and become a bada$$, but it never really seems real.  It's truly unbelievable.  She's unable to make a real decision and stick to it. She's wishy-washy to the point of being a wet noodle.  None of the characters are well-written and the big bad demon is really not very big or bad at the end.

Rating: 2/5

Sunday, October 13, 2013

You Are Mine

You Are Mine
by Janeal Falor

Serena is a woman in a man's world.  Men own and run everything.  Women are property who must either give birth to warlocks or become "tarnished".  The tarnished are magically spelled to be bald, tattooed, and barren forever.  It is the job of the tarnished to serve the magical community.

At seventeen, Serena is taken to be tested to see how strong her blood is and how much potential she has to produce powerful warlocks.  Once tested, she is sold to a cruel warlock master for marriage.  Serena knows her life will never be good for her.

But when fate hands her into the arms of a barbarian warlock from another land, Serena sees that there may be other options available to her.

Maybe she doesn't have to live in fear of being beaten and hexed to the end of her days.

Final thoughts:  Original world with some fascinating ideas.  Reading about the complete subjugation of women became difficult at times, but it was nice to read Serena's gradually changing views of her own life.  The romance aspect felt a little forced at time, but I really liked Zade as a character.  The end of the book felt a little rushed and didn't quite fit in with the rest of the story.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, October 11, 2013

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters

It's 1918 and the world has gone insane.

Mary Shelley Black's father has just been beaten and arrested for treason.  Mary Shelley escaped out the back just in time and ran to the train station, as her father had ordered, only to end up living with her aunt in San Diego.

And it's not just World War I, the War to End All Wars, that's got the country on edge; it's the Spanish Influenza.

Just about everyone thinks they know a way to ward off the terrible symptoms.  From salt in the nose, to burning sulfur, to keeping a potato in the pocket, everyone has tried everything, and nothing has stopped it.  

Everyone wears masks to try and prevent breathing in the disease.  

It's like walking through Death's playground.

When Mary Shelley arrived at her aunt's, she had hoped to meet up with a childhood friend (and recent romantic interest), only to find out that he has died in battle.

But his soul hasn't left yet.  And in a world where everyone is clinging to life so much that they believe certain people can take pictures capturing the images of the souls of loved ones, even the very practical and scientific Mary Shelley isn't able to remain a skeptic. 

Final thoughts:  I liked this one, but I fought it the whole way.  The real problem was that I kept trying to predict what was going to happen, only to find half of my predictions fly out the window throughout the book.  It was frustrating to think the book would zig when it actually zagged (more than once).  I also got a little tired reading about onions, since that seemed to be the only thing people ate (and that just started me thinking about the horrid smells and awful breath of the people back then).  In the end, when I just relaxed and stopped trying to predict everything about it, it became pretty good.

Rating: 4/5

 Even Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's wife) believed in spirit photography.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brianna on the Brink

Brianna on the Brink
by Nicole McInnes

Brianna was the girl on top, both literally and figuratively.  She's best friends with the girl at the top of the social ladder and she's the flyer on the cheer squad.

But when Brianna makes the mistake of going home and sleeping with her English teacher's husband (though she didn't know who he was at the time), she goes from the top of the crowd to school slut.

She now must face the consequences of one bad night.

Final thoughts: Yes, Brianna's had a crappy childhood and yes, her mother isn't much of one, but Brianna's choices seem a little unrealistic.  She never really thinks about things; she just reacts.  Her story probably hits notes that many teen girls might find familiar, but the story as a whole just doesn't work.  I'm also bugged by the fact that McInnes seems to think a student in regular English, who has skipped a couple of weeks of school, would suddenly be allowed to move into an AP English class in MARCH, when the test is given in May... and that she could actually PASS that test.  Um... no.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, October 4, 2013


by Kendare Blake

The gods of old are dying.  Hermes is wasting away to the point that he looks severely anorexic.  Hera is slowly turning to stone.  Poseidon is starting to look like the ocean floor.  Demeter is one giant, thin piece of desert spread out over miles.  And Athena is being slowly drowned and destroyed by owl feathers.

They don't know why they are suddenly and truly dying, but they do know the end is near.

They also know that the reincarnated heroes of the Trojan War are the only ones who can help them, even if they don't know how.

Now the hunt has focused on Cassandra, the reincarnated prophetess who had been cursed during the Trojan War with stunningly accurate visions that no one would ever believe.  Her death was hideous and cruel and the very gods who lead her to that awful death are the ones who most need her help.

Can she find her true self in time?  And will she help those responsible for her cruel death thousands of years ago?

Final thoughts: First, just because it bugged me throughout the entire novel, the plural of Cyclops is Cyclopes. With an E. Please fix that, Ms. Blake, because it's really annoying to try and figure out if you're referring to one or more than one.  And, yes, cyclops is the plural of modern one-eyed creatures, but when it comes to the Cyclopes of Greek Mythology, the word has an E.

Ok.  The shifting perspectives had a definite shift in voice, so that was good.  However, I kept having to readjust in each chapter between the two voices, and that got a little tedious.
So Cassandra and Odysseus just happened to have been given their historical names at birth, despite no one knowing who they were then, but Hector and Andromache did not? 
Finally, WHY DID YOU END IT THAT WAY!?!?!  Ms. Blake, you set up this whole set of relationships and family and then chop it all up in one chapter.  That's just mean.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, September 30, 2013

Maggot Moon

Maggot Moon
by Sally Gardner

Standish Treadwell
Can't read, can't write,
Standish Treadwell isn't bright.
Standish is "impure".  He isn't physically perfect.  He's got one blue eye and one brown one.  He can't read or write well despite being 15 years old with parents who both used to work at his school.
But Standish isn't dumb.
Standish knows the Motherland is evil.
Standish knows the Motherland is fake.
Standish knows that anyone who says the Motherland is evil and fake will disappear into the maggot fields and never be seen again.
Standish knows the Motherland is lying to everyone and he knows he's the only one who can prove it.
Final thoughts:  Weird vibe on this one.  It's an alternate reality historical fiction.  The Motherland is a Nazi-like country. The book is set in the 50's, with references to Cadillacs and Lucille Ball. The Motherland officials are trying to convince the world that they are going to send ships to the moon, set up weapons there, and then aim the weapons at any country that goes against them.  Everything in the book seems to fit, but it's all a little disconcerting, as well.  Hard to get a feel on this one.
Rating: 3/5

Thursday, September 26, 2013


by Sarah Skilton

Imogen has spent a large part of her life in martial arts.  She's the youngest person in her dojang to earn a first degree black belt and she's confident in her abilities.

Until that night.

Until the diner.

Until the moment when she couldn't save anyone.

Not even herself.

Now she needs to find a way to believe in herself again. 

She needs to find a way to forgive those who need it most, especially herself.

Final thoughts: A good story about a girl who thought she was strong, but suddenly felt weak.  Imogen struggles to relate to everyone around her, and the tale is compelling.  She makes every mistake a person can make in an attempt to figure out who she really is.  While the ending wraps up a little unrealistically, it's still a good read, esp. for teens who might be suffering PTSD.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
by Meg Medina

Piedad "Piddy" Sanchez was perfectly happy in her crappy apartment, living with her mother and aunt.  Things may have always been falling apart, but she knew her neighbors and she liked her school.

After the stairs crumble to pieces beneath her mother's feet, Piddy is forced to move a few blocks away to a better apartment, but now she must go to a horrible school.

Just weeks after starting at her new school, Piddy gets told that the school bully has set her sights on her and now Piddy's in danger.  It seems that Yaqui Delgado thinks Piddy's a stuck-up, wannabe white girl who shakes her assets at Yaqui's boyfriend.  It doesn't seem to matter that Piddy's never met Yaqui, never met Yaqui's boyfriend, and never tried to intentionally shake her assets at anyone.

So while Piddy's still trying to figure out her own identity, and that of her never-seen father, she must also dodge Yaqui and Yaqui's clique of very dangerous girls.

Can she find the strength to survive the school year when the meanest girl in school is after her?

Final thoughts: Interesting look into Latina school culture.  For years I've worked in schools with large Hispanic/Latino populations so this is actually familiar, though definitely more intimate viewing it from within the mind of the victim.  Having also been bullied in high school, this book brought back some very real emotions and memories that I really didn't need to remember.  Good book.  Good voice.  Maybe some translations for the occasional Spanish words that were in the story instead of just having the reader rely on context clues would have helped, but that's about it.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


by Nora Raleigh Baskin

When Maggie was just five years old, her nine year old sister drowned.  Ever since, Maggie has had an almost magical ability to get people to tell her their deepest secrets, whether they want to or not.  She has no control over this strange power, but everyone else has definitely noticed so Maggie has just one friend.

And though her sister drowned, Maggie is like a dolphin in the water.  She's fast.  She's good.  She's the swim team's only hope to get to the finals.

Then there's Matthew.  He's a senior and he's all Maggie thinks she wants.

Now Maggie has just a short period of time to get her life in order, even as it falls even further apart.

Final thoughts:  This one is thoughtful and deep, but also a little confusing.  While it starts off with one point of view, the author starts to switch it around and suddenly there are more narrators telling the story.  Maggie is not very relatable as a character.  She makes some very strange choices and it's hard to understand what she's thinking.  Maggie seems pretty emotionally distant from her own life, making it hard for the reader to feel anything at all for her.  The strange confessions that come from everyone just seem an excuse for her not having more than one close friend, though that ability is never explained and makes no sense in the story overall.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fashionably Dead

Fashionably Dead
by Robyn Peterman

Astrid just wanted to quit smoking.  That's it.  She just wanted to win a thousand dollar bet with her BFF that she could quit smoking.

Who knew that going to a hypnotist to cure her nicotine addiction would get her changed into a Vampyre?  

Who knew that she would then meet her guardian angel (who happens to look exactly like Oprah Winfrey) and a fairy boss (who happens to look exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger)?

Who knew that she would meet the love of her existence and that he would be a complete a$$ at times?

And who knew that she would be "The Chosen One" who could defeat nasty demons and save all vampyres?

Not Astrid herself; that's for certain.

Final thoughts: A few repetitive issues throughout (like the constant "What the fu...") and some attempts at humor that weren't so humorous, were a little frustrating.  Most of the book is told from Astrid's PoV, but there were a few slips as the author seemed to realize that there were occasions when alternate PoV's were necessary, so the reader almost inexplicably has to be without Astrid's voice for a bit and it feels out of place when that happens. That and the fact that there are a few too many similarities to Chloe Neill's Chicagoland series (including the hot vampyre lover/boss named Ethan).  I kept getting pulled out of the narrative thinking about Merit and Ethan and comparing them to Astrid and Ethan.  A little annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger and the second book is nowhere in sight.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 5, 2013


by K.R. Conway

Eila Walker has never had good luck.  In fact, she's never even seen what good luck looks like from a distance.  Her parents died when she was just two years old.  She's the odd one out at school.  Her mother's best friend (and her current guardian) is practically killing herself with three jobs just to keep a crappy apartment roof over their heads.  So when a multi-million dollar estate is gifted to her because she was supposed to have inherited it, Eila can't believe it's real.

But it's not only real, it's all hers.  She gets to move to Cape Cod to finally have a home that isn't falling apart on her.

She also suddenly has friends who seem to really like her and a guy who seems to be really into her.

However, Eila's bad luck is never far and her ancestry is much more complex than she could ever have known.  Will she follow her many-times-great grandmother to an early end?

Final thoughts:  I could not put this one down!  Even when I needed to put it down, I had to almost immediately pick it back up.  It took mere hours for me to read this entire book and I am truly ticked that Eila's next story won't be published until July 2014.  I don't want to wait for this story to continue!  My only issues come from a need for a better proofreader (this NetGalley copy has a ton of typos) and these names that are so creative and nearly impossible to figure out how to pronounce.  Oh! And how is a person from 1851 using the term "DNA" when it wasn't even discovered until nearly two decades later?  Other than these things, this is an addictive read.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy
by Anne Eliot

After one horrible night of car crashes and cut wrists, followed by weeks in therapy, Hunter Kennedy only wants to get back to work as one of the top teen pop stars in the world.

However, his fairly absent mother has finally decided that he needs a change and a little time to figure out who he is, so she sends him to a relative in Colorado to live in disguise as king of the dorks.

To help him on his quest to dorkdom, Hunter's aunt enlists the help of her neighbors and their teen children, Vere and Charlie.  Charlie's an uber-jock, whose job it is to ostracize Hunter in school.  Vere is the complete opposite: an overly shy, mega dork who can't seem to speak in coherent sentences around boys.  Her job is make Hunter as uncool as possible.

In return for helping Hunter with his disguise, Vere gets a boy to practice talking to and be friends with, while getting tips on how to talk to her crush.

Enter Dustin McHugh, Hunter's new dork identity, BGF (best guy friend) of Vere, and personal tutor and confidante about the boy universe.  

Unfortunately, in his quest to help Vere, he also falls head over heels in love, just as Vere's crush finally takes notice of her.

Final thoughts:  Where my usual complaint is that authors tell too much and don't show enough with just a synopsis of a conversation rather than the conversation itself, Eliot just goes on and on.  Professional actors would have a hard time memorizing the sheer number of monologues in this book.  They all talk WAY too much.  I fell asleep more than once reading this one.  The plot was decent and there were some good moments, but the conversations were just very poorly written and went on far too long.

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Blogger Hop

Book blogging is more than just reading. 
Who helped you set up or run your blog? Or did you do it all yourself? 

Sadly, for me, reading is all I have time to do for my blog.  Originally, I created this blog as a way to communicate with students in my school library.  Very shortly, it became a blog where I book talked.  Eventually, I added "final thoughts" and ratings.  However, I still don't have time to do cool things like author interviews or giveaways.  Maybe that's why my readership is so low after all this time.  :(

On the bright side, I read so many books that it's good to have a place I can go to to remind myself about the books I've read.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Taste Test

Taste Test
by Kelly Fiore

Raised by her widower father and having spent most of her life as his assistant at his locally famous barbeque joint, high school senior Nora Henderson knows her way around a kitchen.  But when she's accepted for a chance to compete on a nationally broadcast food competition show, the prize for which is just too tempting to ignore, Nora's going to have to pull out all the stops.

When she meets her fellow competitors, she knows winning won't be easy.  Between the stuck-up roommate, the heir apparent to his father's cooking legacy, and the producers trying to stir up controversy, Nora's got some serious work ahead of her.  She also has to pass college-level courses and learn new recipes in order to wow the judges at each taping.

Complicating all of that is the saboteur who is picking off fellow contestants one-by-one.  No one knows who's doing it, but Nora's definitely got to watch her back... if she can get her eyes off the back of the hottie who's her biggest competition.

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy book.  It's fluffy and sometimes fun, though there is an odd "aftertaste" in the sense of unanswered questions.  If she's only worked in barbeque, how does she know how to cook so many other foods with so little practice?  Why in the world would the competition be continued after a serious injury to a competitor with no real consequences or changes?  What kind of college classes are they taking? Seriously.  Why can't she make up her mind?  I hate him... I like him... I hate him... He's not that bad... I hate him... I lloooooovvveeeee him!!!!  I would have like more time spent on the judging instead of glossing over that part as the author has.  The recipes at the back are interesting.  I wish the Kindle formatting had been a little better since there seemed to be some charts about the competitors during the judging matching them with their dishes and comments, but they were impossible to read the way the book uploaded.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Geomancer's Compass

The Geomancer's Compass
by Melissa Hardy

In the year 2021, virtual reality has become the norm with people often injuring themselves while walking around in the physical world and looking at the virtual one.

But that isn't really the problem for Miranda and her family.  Their problem is more ancient.

Her family is cursed by an ancestor who'd been murdered and then buried somewhere very wrong.  Everyone in their family for the last couple generations has suffered and Miranda is believed to be the key to finding the remains of the ancestor and bringing his bones to a more peaceful resting place.

Unfortunately, she has to bring her ADHD cousin along with her for the quest.

Final thoughts: Not even going into how this is for a limited audience of Canadian-Chinese, or even the long, drawn-out, in-depth discussions of both technology and Chinese traditions, this is a poorly written book.  Miranda is flat and annoying. She whines over every little thing and is just basically unlikeable.  Without Brian, the whole book would have been a waste.  Too much of it was unbelievable (an ancestor with very little tech experience manages to become a ghostly avatar in a VR computer program years after his death???), the rest was just badly written, and the ending just arrived with no real closure.  Avoid.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Biting Bad

Biting Bad
by Chloe Neill

In the continuing sage of the Chicagoland Vampires series, Merit and Ethan are finally together.  As in together, together.  As in they are finally a steady, stable couple.

But before they can really settle down and enjoy their immortal lives together, there's another problem that heads their way.

Just as their House has separated from the vampire consortium, anti-vampire forces are building in Chicago.  Riots have begun with little evidence as to why they started or how they are organized.

Now Merit and Ethan have to investigate the riots, get the consortium out of their business, help redeem their wayward witch friend, and try to celebrate Valentine's Day.

No worries.

Final thoughts: I still love this series, but I'm not loving Merit so much in this one.  She's suddenly, and constantly, unable to hold her own.  Injury after injury. Lost battle after lost battle.  She keeps stepping into bad situations and needing to be rescued.  Her personality is still pretty strong, but she's not the bada$$ she has been in previous books.  The ending was also a little off and strange.  Not Neill's best work.

Rating: 3/5


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