Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Break-Up Artist

The Break-Up Artist
by Philip Siegel

Ever since her older sister was left at the altar and her best friend left her for a guy, Becca has been on a mission to help girls avoid the "trap" of love.  A little writing on a bathroom wall for advertising and her career as The Break-Up Artist began.
For a hundred dollars, she'll break up almost any couple, usually with just a simple text or a simple plot to create misunderstanding.  Sometimes it's just too easy for her.

When Becca's hired to break up the premiere couple at her high school, which just happens to include her former BFF, it's a challenge she can't resist, especially since the person hiring her is paying much more money.

At the same time, Becca's falling in love, too, and her choice for a first boyfriend definitely breaks the rules.

Final thoughts:  Cute, cotton candy book, but not amazing.  It starts off pretty well, but there are so many characters and so many different couples referred to that it gets a little confusing.  Becca's first "love" is a fairly annoying part of the story and pretty unbelievable given her history.  Overall, it's a decent read and will be fun for many.

Access to this ARC provided by NetGalley.  Book scheduled to be released April 29, 2014.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift
by Angela Roquet

With three hundred years of reaping under her belt, Lana Harvey definitely feels like she deserves a vacation.  Unfortunately, Reapers, under the orders of the original Grim Reaper, don't get time off.  They were created to collect the souls of the dead and move them to their destinations, not to take vacations and slack off.

But while Lana may do her job, she does it barely well with barely any effort and barely anything to show for it.  Why should she cozy up to the bigwigs, get more schooling, and try for promotions when she's never going to truly be free?

Life's pretty good without having to strain, stress, or study.

Of course, Lana's plans go out the proverbial window when she's given an unwanted and unasked for promotion to find a special soul.  And when demons decide to also go after that soul, Lana has a LOT more problems than she ever thought she'd have.

Final thoughts:  Cutesy.  No big deal.  Kind of bland.  It felt like the author was determined to show off how much she knew about all the different religions, their gods, and their beliefs about heaven and hell.  Maybe this started as a final project for a religions course? While the philosophy behind post-life existence and the creation of the deities was interesting, it's not the story and the story got bogged down by the philosophy.  Glad I got it free for my Kindle on Amazon because it means I don't have to worry that I paid for it.  And I definitely don't need the next two books.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy
by Ruth Sepetys

Josie Moraine was named after a famous whore by her whore of a mother; but Josie is no whore.  And while she does work as a housemaid at a brothel, she doesn't want to be one of the girls who works in the upstairs rooms.

Josie's got plans.

If she can save up enough, she can get out of New Orleans and up to a private college where she'll finally get away from her mother's reputation.

But things are never easy in the Big Easy and Josie's got more trouble than she can handle.

Final thoughts: Historical fiction set in 1950's New Orleans, but that was sometimes hard to remember.  The tone and language often felt much older, as if it was set a hundred years before.  Josie is an interesting character who has read much, but is still a little naïve. I loved Willie, the madam of the brothel Josie cleans.  Cokie and Jesse are pretty great, too.  Some of the story felt a little forced, as if designed to create conflict, but not really desired as part of the overall by the author.  A good story with some well-written "real" moments.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Goodbye, Rebel Blue

Goodbye, Rebel Blue
by Shelley Coriell

Rebel Blue is aptly named.  She's never been one to follow rules.  As a child, she and her mother traveled the world, went barefoot, and went wherever they wanted to go.  Her life was rebellious from birth.

When her mother died in a tragic car accident, Rebel was forced to move into her uncle's home, where she was regularly told that she must conform to the rules.  She needed to participate in activities.  She needed to meet people.  She needed to wear shoes.

And while wearing shoes and playing soccer may not seem like a big deal, to Rebel they were confusing and frightening.

So Rebel shut everyone out.  She became the person she thought everyone expected her to be.  She says what she wants to say when she wants to say it.  She goes where she wants to go.  And she takes off her shoes whenever she can.  She only has one friend, and even that girl only came into her life after they shared so many detentions together.

But when Rebel Blue meets Kennedy Green in detention, she begins a journey to find out who she really is and she's not anyone she ever thought she'd be.

Final thoughts:  Nice little read.  It's a little formulaic at points and I kept feeling like Kennedy's "speech" in the first chapter was just a collection of lines that the author would use later on in the story.  It was forced and somewhat unrealistic.  Rebel's evolution is genuinely written, though, and comes with a few surprises.  There is one major moment of conflict that happens so fast, it's almost missed and then it's never really mentioned again; that disappointed me.  I really think there should have been something done with that scene to continue that point.  Overall, it's a decent bit of realistic fiction.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


by Paul Rudnick

Becky Randle has always been fairly average.  She's gone to school.  She's taken care of her mother.  She's been a good best friend.  But she's nothing really special.

When her mother dies and leaves her with nothing but a condemned trailer and a phone number, Becky takes the chance and calls.  And that call takes her further than she ever could have imagined.

Now she gets to move to New York, live in luxury, and be the muse of Tom Kelly himself!  The great Tom Kelly!  The master of design!  The couturier of all couturiers!  There is nothing better.

And when Tom Kelly offers you three dresses that are guaranteed to make you the most beautiful woman in the world, you take them and all that comes with them.  This includes Hollywood, the best parties, and even royalty.

But Tom reveals to Becky, a.k.a. Rebecca, that she has exactly one year to find true love and get married or it all disappears.

What's a trailer park girl to do?

Final thoughts:  The premise in interesting.  It's a lot Cinderella with a little My Fair Lady mixed in (with an obvious reference in case the reader didn't get it).  Instead of midnight to find her Prince Charming, she has a year, but it's really hard to care.  All of the characters are without any depth at all.  Most are shallow beyond reason.  Prince Gregory is almost literally Prince William and every other royal in the book has a real life counterpart.  Even Diana is mentioned repeatedly (as Princess Alicia).  It is so very frustrating!  It felt like some teen girl's fantasy about Prince William.  "Oh, la! If only P.W. knew me, he'd totally fall in love with me and want to marry me right away.  But I'd never even get to meet him if I weren't one of the pretty people.  ::sigh::  Maybe there's some magic that can make me super, freakin' beautiful so that I can meet him, he'll fall in love with me, and then when the magic fades, he'll still see how awesome I am."  If Rudnick were female, I'd be 100% certain this was the motive for the book.  As it is, it feels like a story he was telling a female relative.  Additionally, the magic is never really explained, though Becky seems to accept it as if were nothing new.  There's a ridiculous scene where Becky fights an actual terrorist and wins.  There's all the insults to everyone out there from the English population being ugly (yes, the entire population), to how pretty people are super shallow.  And all the explaining... So much explaining!!!  CONSTANT EXPLAINING!!!!  Page after page about things the reader doesn't need to know.  There were also tons of made-up product names, like a person couldn't just use toothpaste; he had to use this special brand of toothpaste.  There's no consistency and Becky constantly runs away from her problems, making her a horrible role model in so very many ways.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, March 17, 2014


by Shannon Mayer

Ten years after her sister was kidnapped and was never heard from again, Rylee is still searching for her... or at least her body.  

Ten years after that girl disappeared, Liam O'Shea is still trying to find a way to prove that Rylee killed her.

Ten years after it happened, another girl is kidnapped from the same park, on the same day, at the same time, and even from the same swing.

For ten years, Rylee has made it her job to find the missing children as penance for losing her sister; now, with this new case, she has more reason than ever to succeed.

Of course, it's difficult to succeed when there's an FBI agent who won't leave you alone, a werewolf with a pack that's hunting him down, a BFF witch who has just broken all ties, and any number of other supernatural beings just getting in her way.

Final thoughts:  Oh, Amazon!  Why do I trust you with my recommendations?  Why do I keep going back again and again, thinking this time it will be different?  This book is a mess of ideas and a mish-mash of a plot.  There's no consistency in the story.  There's no consistency with the main characters. There's really just no consistency at all.  Sometimes it felt like this was the third or fourth book in the series, because things would happen or characters would say something and I was just supposed to get it, like an in-joke.  Other times it felt like some sort of strange supernatural encyclopedia as certain aspects were over-defined. Maybe Mayer was just using this book to set up plot points for future books, since so many questions were unanswered in this one.  I am not a fan.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

"1st Wave: lights out. 2nd Wave: surf's up. 3rd Wave: pestilence. 4th Wave: Silencer. What's next, Evan? What's the 5th Wave?" (pg. 351)

When the alien mothership showed up above Earth, no one knew exactly what to think.  It just hovered there.  It did nothing.

And then the power went out.

With that EMP, hundreds of thousands of people died in plane crashes and effects of electrical failures like elevators dropping and cars losing control.

When the mothership dropped a large pike into the earthquake fault, those along the coasts who didn't die from the earthquake were killed by the resulting tsunamis.

The survivors of that tragedy were then attacked by a plague carried by birds.

By this point, 97% of the population was gone.  Those who were left tried to band together only to be attacked by the aliens themselves.  Now, the few who remain have no one to trust.

Because the aliens don't just look like us... they ARE us.  And there is no way to truly know who is who.

Final thoughts: Alien apocalypse??  Didn't think I'd like it, but it pulled me in and wouldn't let me go.  Told from the points of view of two primary characters and two minor ones, the story flows well and does a good job creating a freaky and freaked out mood.  Excellent story with a solid ending that feels like it could lead to a sequel, but doesn't have to have one.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Night Broken

Night Broken
by Patricia Briggs

For once in her adult life, things are finally working out for Mercy.  Her marriage is solid. There aren't any supernatural creatures out to kill her. She doesn't have any major injuries requiring hospitalization.  It's all happiness and even a little domesticity.

Until the ex shows up.

Adam's ex, to be exact.

It seems the ex has a stalker and the only place she feels truly safe is at Adam's house, surrounded by werewolves, most of whom want to protect her from every evil.  And some still think that Mercy is evil.

So now Mercy must play the supportive, non-jealous current wife as Adam's ex seeks to get back into his life, while running from a man who may not be so human after all.

Add in a fae who wants his father's walking stick back, a walking stick that Mercy gave away, and someone committing ritual murders around town, and things go absolutely crazy right on schedule.

Final thoughts:  Book 8?  Really?  We're already at book 8?  Wow.  That's kind of cool, especially since I can't seem to get tired of Mercy and her crew.  We had a few missing this time.  Gabriel was mentioned once, but never seen.  Ben is in for a heartbeat or two.  Zee is absent.  But we do get plenty of wolves we've never really seen before and a little more depth for ones we have.  I hated Christy with a passion, but loved how Mercy and Adam dealt with it all.  It's a fine line being the current wife and dealing with the ex who wants back in, but Mercy treads it well.  Gary was a cool addition to the universe; I hope we see him more.  I'm glad Briggs went back to the single POV.  The last book gotten a little wonky with Adam's view in there... of course, saying that, I wish we HAD Adam's POV for the final conflict and the aftermath.  Maybe Briggs will do what other authors have started doing and post a small short story on her site for Adam's side of things.  (PPLLLLEEAAASSSEEEE!!!!)  Solid addition to the series.  And... THE WALKING STICK IS BACK!  YEAH!  Who knew an inanimate object could be so awesome?!!?

Rating: 4/5

Friday, March 7, 2014

Openly Straight

Openly Straight
by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe has never really been ashamed of being gay.  He came out when he was in 8th grade and his parents have supported him every step of the way.

The problem is that now, wherever he goes in his home town, he's the "gay kid".  No matter what he does, people relate it to him being gay.  His mom has pushed him to become a public speaker even has she has become the president of the local PFLAG chapter.

He doesn't want to be Rafe, the gay kid; he just wants to be Rafe, the teenaged boy.

So when Rafe gets the opportunity to go to an all-boys boarding school across the country, he takes it and he reinvents himself.  He pretends to be straight and finally finds out what it's like to hang out with the jocks and just be himself.

But being Rafe, the straight kid, is much harder than he ever thought, especially when he finally finds the guy who may be "the one".

Final thoughts:  LGBTQ novel with an interesting question about how much our sexual identity and preferences really tell us about who we are.  There's quite a bit of self-reflection by Rafe as he struggles to figure out how much of his identity is made up of his being gay.  Rafe's parents are a little odd, but I love his best friend in his home town; I wish she'd been in there more.  The English teacher in me kept getting distracted by Rafe's teacher's comments after each journal entry.  Overall, a good read.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Living with Jackie Chan

Living with Jackie Chan
by Jo Knowles

It's his senior year of high school and Josh isn't spending it with his best friends.  Instead, he's moved four hours away to live with his karate teaching uncle.

He has to get away.  Far away.

He has to get away from the rumors, the stories, the looks, and, especially, her.

He has to get away from the girl he got pregnant because he can't stand thinking of that night, what he did, and what he shouldn't have done.

So now he's four hours away, living with his uncle, and sleeping under a poster of Jackie Chan.

He's also living a floor below a couple who have a baby that cries at 2 a.m. like clockwork.  And he's living in the same building as fellow high school senior, Stella.

Now he has a routine each day and a plan to just get through his last year of high school before moving far away from the life he thought he didn't want anymore.

Final thoughts:  I only found out after that this was the sequel to Jumping Off Swings, but that doesn't mean I was lost.  I wish now that I'd read the other book in order to understand Josh's friends a bit more, but the story still reads well.  The thing that actually bugged me most of Josh's uncle, Larry.  He just seemed like an ADHD teen hyped up on sugar... all... the... time.  He had a few moments of great restraint and insight, but he was mostly bouncing off the walls, showing off his karate skills, and acting like a little kid.  But I liked Josh's story and his friendship with Stella. Nice story.

Rating: 4/5


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