Wednesday, May 28, 2014


by Anna Davies

Briana has just finished her first semester as a transfer student to a private school in Maine and it hasn't gone well.  Her mother has fond memories of being a social butterfly at MacHale, but Briana just can't seem to catch a break.

When she decides to stay around for winter term and audition for Hamlet, she hopes to really shine and maybe even become the popular girl she's always dreamed of being.  If she can be Ophelia, she can join the theatre kids and really get a social life that she can be proud of (and maybe shut her mother up).

However, when the director dies suddenly, the school decides to open the auditions to both MacHale students and the "townies" of Forsyth.  Suddenly, Briana has more competition than she can manage and she's left without a part.

To make her feel better, the director makes her the social media director and tells her to tweet the entire rehearsal process.  While not enthusiastic about it, Briana gives it a try only to find that someone is beating her to the news.  In fact, that person is tweeting events before they even happen... including murder.

Final thoughts:  Ugh.  So annoying.  Red herrings were dropped everywhere.  There's a recently discovered body of a girl who went missing twenty years before so there's the threat of a ghost story.  Red herring.  Bree's mother claims to have been a famous student at the school, but the only picture Bree finds has her mom in the back row while the soon-to-be-murdered student is performing, so is mom a murderer trying to force her daughter into the spotlight?  Nope.  Red herring.  There's a constant whodunit vibe, but nothing comes of it.  Everyone seems so uncaring about the deaths of people in the beginning.  Ms. Davies, please note that no one casts an understudy for a minor part, which Ophelia really is in the grand scheme of things, and then doesn't cast understudies for the 4-5 other parts that are really more important.  Ophelia needs an understudy/matinee actress, but Hamlet, the main guy, the one in EVERY SINGLE SCENE, doesn't need some sort of back-up?  Ummm... Nope.  There's also the annoying book jacket information, which is wrong.  No one hacks her account... ever.  The death referred to on the jacket is actually the third, not the first.  The tweet quoted isn't in the book.  Grr...  The ending is poorly done, sudden, and not very good.  It's really predictable even though it keeps trying to surprise the reader.  Not worth the time.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, May 24, 2014


by Alex London

Knox is constantly getting into trouble.  He's been in trouble regularly since he was five.  But he's never been punished.

Syd has never been a troublemaker.  He's always tried to stay on the right side of things.  But he's always been punished.

Syd is Knox's proxy and Knox is Syd's patron.  When Knox does something wrong, Syd gets punished for it.  In turn, Knox's family pays for Syd's education and basic medical care.

Knox sees Syd get punished, but he doesn't stop it because he knows that's the system.  That's the way things are.

Syd has never seen Knox, but he knows that's the system.  He's just waiting for his debt to clear and his time to be served.

When Knox goes too far and Syd must suddenly take on a debt that's far too large, Syd makes the decision to leave the system.  He won't take this punishment for his patron.

He'll just take his patron.

Final thoughts:  This has a very interesting premise.  I enjoyed the ideas and the basic plot.  However, the point of view drove me nuts.  It didn't really fit any mode like third person limited or omniscient.  From paragraph to paragraph, the reader is shown one person's view and feelings and then the next person's with no warning or consideration.  I kept having to readjust throughout the entire book, which just frustrated me to no end.  So while the plot and ideas were original and interesting, the writing was just annoying.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sixth Grave on the Edge

Sixth Grave on the Edge
by Darynda Jones

It's just a normal week in the life of PI and Grim Reaper, Charley Davidson.

There's an old, naked, VERY well-endowed ghost riding in the front seat of her jeep.

There's a demon buying souls to eat and a desperate human who wants his back.

There's a looming threat on her life and the life of a friend.

And there's the steaming hot neighbor who is waiting for an answer to his simple yes/no question.

Nope!  Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Final thoughts:  Messy.  I LOVE Charley and her stories, but this one just seemed like an effort to remind readers of all the important characters, while setting up for the big final conflict.  Her dad and evil step-monster pop in for one plot set-up that doesn't get resolved here, but looks like it may in the next book.  The detective plot really is not much to work with.  There are a ton of B-, C-, and even D-plot things going on, but not much for the plot overall.  And I soooo predicted the final scene books ago.  Hopefully the next will be better since I really want to finish this series out with a bang and not a whimper.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale

The Stepsister's Tale
by Tracy Barrett

Ever since her father gambled away the family fortune and then ran off to die drunk and alone, Jane and her sister, Maude, have trying everything they can just to survive.  Their house is literally crumbling around them and their mother's mind is crumbling with it.  She insists that they continue to behave like ladies even though they are alone with no servants, no money, and no future.

When Mamma returns from a long journey with a new husband and a new stepdaughter, Jane has only slight hopes that things may get better.  When the new man in her mother's life dies suddenly, and it's discovered that he was deeply in debt, the sisters must not only find a way to survive the winter, they must also survive their spoiled new sibling.

With the help of a mysterious family in the woods, Jane may just get her family through the winter.

With the attention of the Prince of the Realm, Jane may just get rid of her spoiled problem.

Final thoughts:  Nah. Not worth it.  Barrett doesn't seem to have a grasp on the older teen mind, so what's written feels childish and petty.  Is Jane 17 or 12?  It's impossible to tell, especially when her younger sister reads like she's 6.  Who slaps someone just because a comb gets stuck in hair?  And how are we supposed to feel sympathy for that slapper?  The romance is nice enough and there are some interesting changes to the traditional Cinderella story, but no one comes out sympathetic or even likeable.  Even the cover looks like a Gossip Girl book.  It's bland overall.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, May 12, 2014


by Chris Van Etten

Everyone knows that Wikipedia is awesome!  If you need to get some information for a report, start with Wikipedia.  And if your teacher isn't very tech savvy, you can even lift information straight from the site and into your paper.

When Cole catches his rival (and ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend), Josh, cheating, he decides to play a little prank and make sure that his ex can see what a cheater Josh is.  By simply adding a few paragraphs to an entry on American serial killers, Cole sets a little trap that has Josh doing an oral report on Cereal Killers like Frank N. Berry, the Rise-and-Dine Killer.

After that stunt, Cole decides to go even further and write a few Wikipedia articles on his ex, her boyfriend, and a few more.  In his articles, he depicts them all at their worst and even includes a death for each one.

But everything changes when the first person dies... just like he wrote it.  When the next attack happens, Cole realizes that there are no coincidences.  Now he needs to figure out how to stop the killer before it's too late.

Final thoughts:  This had sooo much potential.  I was really into it.  And then it ended.  Really.  It just ended.  Huge climactic scene and then it just ends.  There's no real resolution.  No denouement.  Nothing.  Maybe there's a problem with my book?  Maybe it's missing the last chapter?  I hope so because otherwise the end is a massive disappointment.  This is an ARC, so there's still potential for that to get fixed, as well as the errors in grammar and a few name mistakes.  I enjoyed the story overall, but that ending... ugh.

On a side note, that book description online is WRONG.  There are things referenced that never happened.  Maybe they got edited out after the description was written.  Bad book jacket descriptions always bug me, so this is a personal pet peeve, but also important for the publisher to fix.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 3/5 (would have been 4 if not for that ending)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Streetlights Like Fireworks

Streetlights Like Fireworks
by David Pandolfe

For most of his life, Jack has worked to hide his weirdness.  As the son of a prestigious lawyer from the firm of Atkinson, Atkinson and Atkinson, it wouldn't do for him to be outed as a kid with paranormal visions.

But for all his trying to hide it, his family has made it clear that he just doesn't fit in.  And it feels like his parents are always trying to push him away.  They even force him to go to summer camp, despite the fact that he's more than a little too old for it.

On a trip to the local guitar shop, Jack holds a Fender Telecaster guitar for a just a few moments, just enough time to touch the strings, when a vision of a rock singer fills his mind and tells him to bring the guitar back to her.

With his family fearing him and his friends in the dark about what he can do, Jack feels like he has no other choice than to approach the town outcast, Lauren, who has her own freaky history.  Once together, they start on a journey that will change everything.

Final thoughts:  Decent read.  It's a coming of age story for the kid who doesn't quite fit in.  The paranormal doesn't really stand out, but some of the coincidences are strange.  The final resolution was a little predictable, but the ending was kind of a let-down, though it does set the stage for a sequel.  I'm not as enraptured as other reviewers appear to be, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fighting for Infinity

Fighting for Infinity
by Karen Amanda Hooper

For months, Maryah has been trying to figure out what made her previous incarnation, Mary, decide that all of her memories of all of her previous lives must be erased.  What was so horrible that erasing her history and torturing the love of her existence was her only option?

She's about to find out.

Unfortunately, the only way to solve the mystery is to be the prisoner of the one person she hates the most.  Dedrick's been obsessed with Mary and all of her incarnations for centuries.  He also thinks he has almost everything he needs to become a literal god among men.  

He just needs one more thing.

And only Mary knew where it was.

Can Maryah figure it all out before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  FINALLY!  A satisfying end to a trilogy.  The final book has everything it needs and almost nothing that it doesn't.  While there are moments that felt out of place, the overall story was well-paced and exciting.  My only real issue comes with the last chapter, but it's too spoilerish to put here.

Rating: 4/5

ARC provided by NetGalley 

Update:  I just had a moment of true giddiness!  A hidden gem I just found during my re-read of the book (having started from the first one and gone straight through) about 39% in:
   Nathan stared up at the sky.  "My old friend Wil used to say, 'It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.'"
   I grabbed Nathan's knee.  "I'm having déjà vu. Maybe I'm remembering Wil from a previous life. No, wait, maybe not. I think that's a Shakespeare quote."
   "Right. He was famous for his writing in that life."
   My eyes bugged.  "You knew William Shakespeare?"
   He smugly winked. "Still do."
   I gaped at him and tugged his shirt. "Who is he now?"
   "I'm not at liberty to say, but he's been in a few movies and on television. One of his series even had a star in the name. Funny how our origins stay connected with us no matter how different each lifetime is.  He's still sharing stories with the world, just in a different way than when he was Shakespeare.  You'd be surprised how many gifted souls there are roaming this world."
   William Shakespeare reincarnated. My father would have been beside himself. "Does he have a soul mate?"
   "He and Anne have been together through thick and thin."
   "That's so cool.  In a way Shakespeare is still alive."
   Nathan leaned back on his elbows. "Yes, older and wiser."

So... Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stand By Me is the reincarnation of William Shakespeare?  COOL!

Friday, May 2, 2014


by Veronica Roth

With the truth about their city finally revealed, Tobias and Tris now make the difficult decision to go past the fence that surrounds Chicago and find out what the world is really like.

And it's nothing they could have ever prepared themselves for.

Not only is Chicago not the only city, it's not even the only city that's being used as an experiment.  It turns out that genetic testing created a new breed of haves and have-nots: Genetically Pure (GP) and Genetically Damaged (GD).

Chicago was the first truly successful experiment to try and manipulate the GDs to eventually become GPs.  What are known in the city as Divergent are really the genetics of the GDs finally mutating back to GP.  Tris is the most pure of the GPs and is considered by many outside the fence to be the best hope for the future.

However, Tris doesn't really like the future that is planned, where GDs are subjugated and considered to be inferior to GPs.  

She knows she's got to change the future at any cost.

Final thoughts:  Wow.  That was not how I saw the series going.  This is a complete 180 from what I thought was going to happen and I'm not sure how I feel about it, esp. the not so subtle race metaphors.  Also, there's been a tendency recently in YA Lit to present the love interest's point of view (I blame Stephenie Meyer and the unfinished "Midnight Sun" for that), and this book continues that trend with Tobias having at least half of the book told from his point of view.  I'm not sure I like it.  I missed Tris.  Though there is a good reason for the need by the end of the book, I wish that change in format wasn't there.  I'm good with the book but disappointed with the series overall.

Rating: 3/5


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