Monday, December 28, 2015


by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Mercedes had a First Time that was truly horrible. Now she's determined to make the Firsts of other girls at her high school as perfect as they can be. And she does this by "tutoring" the girls' boyfriends.

Her only requirement is that her time with the boyfriend is that boyfriend's First Time. 

Mercedes teaches virgin guys how to be their best.

She starts out with just a few boys and a ton of good intent. Her "sessions" include how everything from the events of the date on that night, to how to speak to their girlfriends, to how to make sure that those girlfriends have the best time possible in all ways.

In the beginning, it works as planned. The guys keep her a secret and the girls speak of their Firsts with joy.

But things get out of control and strange as more and more guys show up to ask Mercedes from help and not all of them really seem to be honest about what they want.

Things are unraveling quickly and Mercy doesn't know how to make it all just stop.

Final thoughts: This is a realistic fiction story about a girl who suffered some seriously messed up stuff in her life (at 13) and she is now trying to control her world the only way she knows how. Sex is Mercy's control and she's desperate to keep control of things. She loves chemistry because it always makes sense; humans are too difficult to predict and Mercy is really bad at human interactions. She believes that her sessions with virgin boys is honestly something good for them and their girlfriends. Her reasoning may be confusing to some, but makes sense esp. to those who have also suffered similar events in their past. This book isn't graphic about sex, but it is pretty open about it, so it's for more mature readers.

Rating: 3/5

ARC Received from NetGalley

The End of FUN

The End of FUN
by Sean McGinty

In the future, nearly everyone is having FUN. 

Aaron is one of the first to have FUN installed as a beta tester and his days are filled with FUN. Every day, Homie pops up right in front of his eyes to help him have FUN with everything around him. He plays virtual games, rates friends and parties, and spends quite a bit of money online.

Of course, it's the spending that really gets him in trouble. Soon, Aaron is in FAIL and he's not having much FUN at all. On top of that, his grandfather dies and leaves all his property to Aaron, which doesn't make Aaron's dad or sister very happy. There are also rumors of buried treasure hidden on his grandfather's property, which could be exactly what Aaron needs to pay his bills, get out of FAIL, and permanently end FUN.

If only real life wasn't so very difficult.

Final thoughts: Too many messages. Too many existential thoughts. Too esoteric. There's the constant theme of cyber reality vs. actual reality. There's a hint of environmentalism with the deaths of millions of birds being blamed on technology. And there's the never subtle message about how much better and more lasting face-to-face interactions are to virtual ones. It's far too pushy with the messages and not very well written overall. I've given up on a number of books in the past, more than I ever have before, so when I started this, I was determined to finish. Unfortunately, this one took weeks to read and days to process. I couldn't help but constantly put this book down and then delay picking it back up again. Even when I finished, I had to wait a few days (and even read another book) before I could write about it. Dullsville.

Rating: 1/5 

ARC Received from NetGalley

Monday, November 30, 2015

Project ELE

Project ELE
by Rebecca Gober and Courtney Nuckels

Sometime in our future, Global Warming will force the nations to install patches to the ozone to protect the population from the heat and UV rays.

Sometime in our future, the C.U.R.E. for all diseases will be created, which will end everything from cancer to the common cold.

Sometime in our future, a super virus will develop that will begin killing off people by the millions, leading to the possible destruction of the human race.

Sometime in our future, the ozone patches will be removed, the uninfected will be moved to mountain sanctuaries, and everyone else will be left to fend for themselves.

Sometime in our future, the vaccinations created to try and save humanity will end up changing it forever.

Final thoughts: Ugh! Another great idea that suffers from poor execution. Why do people refuse to get good copy editors!?!?!  Looser vs. loser is an obvious issue. The lack of proper punctuation was horrendous. You always put a comma before a name or appellation when talking to someone. ALL CAPS IS YELLING! If the whites of her eyes are developing little circles of color, how does a contact help to cover that up? Let's just completely forget/ignore the family members left out to die. Let's fall in love with the first cute guy to be seen and let's make that a near insta-love. Yeah. Let's not.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Switching Hour

Switching Hour
by Robyn Peterman

Zelda just suffered nine months of confinement with another witchy offender and she's eager to be free. She hasn't used a spell in so long, she almost feels rusty. Orange is soooo not her color. She needs, needs, NEEDS some designer duds.

But it turns out that her release includes conditions. She's got to take over for her now dead, formerly unknown aunt in a tiny little town in West Virginia. And she's not allowed to use her magic for selfish reasons or she may lose her powers forever (so sayeth Baba Yaga and therefore it must be).

So now Zelda must drive a nasty lime green Kia out to the middle of nowhere with her damaged familiar for company (she swears that running over him three times was an accident!).

When she arrives, she's greeted by a murder mystery, a house with no cool technology, a line of shifters who swear she's the new "shifter whisperer" and their personal healer.  Oh... and a super hot were shifter who seems to think she's his Mate (note the capital M).

With only a few weeks to solve her aunt's murder before Baby Yaga possibly makes her mortal, Zelda is running out of time and is too easily distracted to get the job done without some help and some Prada to replace the orange jumpsuit.

Final thoughts: Another roller coaster from Peterman. Don't think too hard and just hang on for the ride. This one is cotton candy all the way through and there is plenty that is skipped right over in her seemingly ADHD writing, but it's still worth the price of admission.

Rating: 4/5

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words
by Katie Alender

When Willa's mom marries a big-time Hollywood producer from Los Angeles, they pack up their belongings and leave Connecticut to move into his amazing mansion.

His amazingly haunted mansion.

As Willa tries to get settled in her new home and her new school, she's followed by strange events and pulled into memories that aren't hers. Visions of girls during their last moments of life, before being murdered by the Hollywood Killer, begin to take over her life.

Someone is trying to tell her something, but Willa isn't sure what and she's not sure who to trust with the secret of her visions.

Now the Hollywood Killer has set his sights on Willa and she's running out of time to figure out the clues before it's too late.

Final thoughts: Decent read. It flows and keeps up the tension pretty well, but is a little formulaic. Much like Bad Girls Don't Die, the danger is obvious to the reader even as the protagonist stays ignorant. Alender once again hides things until the last minute in an attempt to keep the reader from figuring it all out too fast, but it's cliché and a little insulting. Young adults will eat this up, but those who have read more will probably find this a little dull.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bad Girls Don't Die

Bad Girls Don't Die
by Katie Alender

Alexis has always known that she and her family have been the odd ones out. Her mother can never seem to get the promotion she's been seeking for years. Her sister is obsessed with dolls to the point of violence if someone touches them. And Alexis herself has never fit in, especially after calling out the people who seem to always rule the school.

But Alexis didn't really know how out of place her family was until strange things began to happen to her at her already strange house.

Now Alexis has to find out what's behind the brakes being cut on her mom's car, the sudden slamming doors, the chills in the air, and the dreams that show her people and events from long ago.

Can Lexi save the people she loves before it's too late?

Final thoughts: A somewhat formulaic thriller with a typical ghostly revenge tale. Alender tries hard to not make it too predictable by dribbling out bits and pieces of vital information, but the end is not surprising. However, it's still a decent read and written well for the teen audience that it's aimed at.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 15, 2015


by Denise Grover Swank

For the last six months, Julia has been hiding from her past.  She has been hiding from what she can't remember doing, but knows that she must have done it. She has been hiding from killing her best friend in a car accident. All she knows is that she woke up after the accident, wearing a strange bracelet that she doesn't remember ever getting, and suddenly having the ability to draw when she never could before.

So for the last six months, Julia has done everything she can to hide from what happened. Monica might be dead, but Julia feels like a ghost. She stays under the radar and tries to avoid the stares of her fellow classmates.

But that all changes when Evan Whittaker, popular jock and already-taken boyfriend, looks her way. When Evan suddenly takes notice of Julia, everything changes. He changes. And when he does, he only has eyes for Julia.

But Evan change has a very strange explanation, and Julia's about to figure it out.

Final thoughts: Ok. First, the prologue kind of messed me up during reading because I kept thinking about how strange and out of place it was while I was reading Julia's story. When the prologue and present day merged, it was intriguing, but got bogged down. Julia is completely unsympathetic as a character. Her mother and counselor make strange decisions for no good reasons. Evan's shift is explained and yet his obsession seems odd. Then entire second half of the book is unbelievable. SPOILERS: Ok, so there are multiple dimensions and a crossover point. I get that. What I don't get is the complete physical impossibility of there being so many of the same people in both dimensions, especially if there was a nuclear war in one that wiped out a HUGE percentage of the population. There is NO WAY that all of those children in the 60's survived the fallout, grew up to have marry the same people and have the same children at the same time and then those children grow up and marry to have the same children at the same time, creating DNA identicals in both dimensions for so many people. You can't say that all four teens would exist in both timelines at the same age with the same DNA from the same parents who are also the same age. Not possible. I can't even try to suspend disbelief on this one. Nope. END SPOILERS. Since no one is sympathetic and the plot gets predictable once the twist is revealed, I just don't recommend this one.

In addition... the cover makes absolutely no sense for this book.

Rating: 2/5

The Ghost Files

The Ghost Files
by Apryl Baker

For Mattie Hathaway, every day is a day that she has to work to ignore the ghosts around her. She gained this curse after her mother tried to kill her when she was five and she's be traveling the foster home circuit ever since.

Normally, she just ignores them and they eventually go away.

But this time, she can't.

She can't ignore the ghost standing before her at the party with the gunshot in her head and the gag over her mouth.

She can't ignore her because she's Sally, the other foster girl living at her current home.

Now she's got to find a way to stop the killer before another child is murdered.

And now the murderer knows she's coming.

Final thoughts: This should be my kind of story. I'm a huge fan of stories that feature female characters who can see the dead (see my reading history if you don't believe me). However, Mattie is extremely dull as a character and her flashbacks are more like someone retelling a memory instead of actually seeing it take place. Her relationship with the rookie cop is awkward and makes me think the author is setting up for this to be her brother or something, especially considering the often repeated thoughts and comments about loving each other, but maybe not loving each other romantically and the fact that he was adopted. The end is a little graphic, yet doesn't really stir any emotions. And I'm starting to think this is a Charley Davidson YA knock-off with her seeing ghosts who thinks she's "bright" along with Reaper references. I kind of want to read the next one, only to see if my hunches are correct, not out of any desire to continue the story.

Rating: 2/5


by Joelle Charbonneau

Do you NEED something? Something that you can't get anywhere else? Something that no one else can give you?

Do you have a NEED? Or do you just want something?

Do you NEED an iPad? Or do you just want it?

Do you NEED a home gym? Or do you just want it?

What would you do to get what you want? What would you go through to get what you NEED?

Final thoughts: This was a little messy and confusing. There were too many POVs from too many characters, so there just was no depth to them. Many of the choices made no sense, though that actually kind of makes sense since many high schoolers make very poor choices online. The first half was pretty decent and built up the tension. The second half kind of fell apart. SPOILERS: The idea that the government would conduct experiments that would include multiple murders with no real reason makes no sense. I actually understand the one guy since the government might want an emotionless killer, but what's with killing off everyone else? Why give nuts to the allergic girl? Why change the meds in the cabinet? It makes no sense. END SPOILERS. I can see teens picking this up because of the premise and the cover, but I'm not sure they'll like the last quarter of the book.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Is Where It Ends

This Is Where It Ends
by Marieke Nijkamp

In less than one hour, the world can change.

In less than one hour, your life can end.

In less than one hour, all you know can be gone forever.

When one senior decides that he has nothing left to live for, he decides that no one else has a reason to live, either.

With a few locked doors after an assembly, he has the ability to let everyone know how alone he feels by making them feel alone, too.

There are four students who know the shooter and these are their stories.

Final thoughts: It's hard to tell what I feel about this one. The story is gripping and the characters are interesting, but some of the choices made by the author to advance the plot just seem very strange. Shots are fired. The people out on the track have no cell phones, so they run in different directions off campus to try and find a phone and call the police. When a pair are intercepted by the police on the road, the officer brings them BACK to the school?!?!  What!?  No. Not gonna happen. Most of the things that happened with that particular character were odd and unbelievable. However, those things that were happening in the school itself were much more realistic. While the shooters motives are a little hard to understand, since we don't get his perspective, the victims make sense. I can see teens loving this book, especially if paired with Hate List, by Jennifer Brown. But this does have triggers in it and is NOT a good fit for abuse victims or those suffering from PTSD.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Losers Take All

Losers Take All
by David Klass

The sudden death of a legendary high school principal means a new man is brought in with new ideas to make that school great.

Unfortunately, that new man is the head coach of the championship football team and his idea of a great school is one where every team wins all the time.  He can't stand the idea of any student not being on a team and contributing to the success of the school. So he decides to make a new rule that ALL seniors MUST be on a sports team.

For Jack Logan, the third son of the greatest football star in the history of Fremont High, that means he's destined for the football team, whether he wants it or not.

Jack chooses not.

Jack has no interest in being tackled repeatedly, losing teeth and brain cells.  Instead, he and a group of friends create a C-team for soccer that they nickname The Losers. Their goal is to lose all five games of their season and make a point about forcing people into sports.

What Jack didn't count on was how social media would propel their losing team into a winning spotlight, with support from around the country from the victims of bullies and haters of sports everywhere.

Now Jack and his friends must find a way to lose games without losing everything they've fought for.

Final thoughts: Definitely a book for people who actually like sports, which seems strange considering the message. Klass writes like a sports writer for a newspaper, with descriptive passages about the action and the games. Unfortunately, as a non-sports person, I often got lost within the descriptions and terminology, but that didn't really take from the overall feeling of the book itself. Jack is likeable and the principal/coach is a classic villain. Jack's parents and friends are definite people and not just background. The only other downside to the book is the lack of a decent falling action/resolution moment. The book just kind of ends and doesn't really resolve everything. This is a good book for reluctant readers who like sports and/or have felt bullied because of sports.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks the NetGalley for the ARC.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Just One Friend

Just One Friend
by June Shaw, Brooke and Caroline Naquin

In This Place, you are allowed one friend and one friend only. Girls are forced to perform physical feats for the entertainment of the older women in order to determine if they will be good matches for sons. Fail at your demonstration and you will probably never be seen again.

Alabama Long is the best at what she does. She also has a dog who follows her everywhere, which helps when the women are watching her. Each evening, she goes home to her one friend: her grandmother.

When the Ruler calls Alabama in, it can't be good.

She's accused of having a second friend and she's forced to run with her grandmother to the land beyond the warning signs. A land that has far too many dangers, but none as dangerous as what she's leaving behind.

Can Alabama have everything she wants? Will she survive getting it?

Final thoughts:  What the heck!?!?! This is so poorly written! When I noticed that there were three authors, it actually made a little sense. It reads like a few people got on an online chat and took turns writing line after line. The whole thing is poorly paced, confusing, and lacks any kind of description. The Teller Boy has gray eyes. That's it. That's all we know. Seriously. Would it kill to have more than one adjective for people and things? Half the time, I had no idea what was going on because I'm one of those movie-maker readers and I couldn't make the movie because I had no descriptions to use to paint the images in my brain. The timeline was pretty horrid, too. They run for days, but it only takes hours to get back when they need to? Were they just running in tiny circles? What's going on with the desert and then the killing valley? WHY IS IT LIKE THIS?!?!!  Is this an alternate reality or a crazy dystopia? No fun. No sense. And definitely no recommendation.

Rating: 1/5

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Alpha Unleashed

Alpha Unleashed
by Aileen Erin

Just a few months after becoming a werewolf, Tessa is still figuring out how all her witch/were powers work, but she doesn't have time to keep studying. Luciana, the dark witch of coven Tessa had been chosen to lead, has gone completely demonic and is raising demons everywhere.

There is no more time to waste.

And there is nowhere to hide.

Luciana has even managed to reveal the existence of weres and witches to the human world, so Tessa now has to deal with that, as well.

The world has turned upside-down and Tessa's most recent vision of the future shows only destruction and the death of all she loves.

Now Tessa must find a way to change her visions before Luciana raises the final demons necessary to destroy the world.

Final thoughts: I read through all of the other books (2-4) in an effort to get to this one since it's a NetGalley ARC and hasn't yet been released. Overall, the series was decent. I didn't love everything about all of them and I was not a big fan of the fourth book, which followed Claudia instead of Tessa. However, I still liked most of what I read. I wish we'd had more character development over the series because the action was sometimes overwhelming. The final book seemed to drop in a TON of stuff in an effort to finish out this series quickly and not go to a sixth. Decent read throughout though quite a few typos in the galley that I hope they can clear up in the final publishing.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Becoming Alpha

Becoming Alpha
by Aileen Erin

Tessa has always been the "freak" of the family. She inherited her grandmother's strange ability to read the history of anything and anyone she touches. Touch a shirt and she knows it came from a sweat shop; she can even feel the heat and smell the sweat from when it was made. Touch a person and she knows their most intimate secrets.

She wants none of this. She wears gloves and keeps her distance to avoid getting any information she doesn't want.

When her family moves from Los Angeles to a small town in Texas, Tessa hopes that she can at least pretend to be normal again.  Maybe she could even make a friend.

What she doesn't count on is the gorgeous guy who, with one kiss gone terribly wrong, has changed her freakishness forever.

Now she has a whole new world of problems and they are just getting worse.

Final thoughts: A bit messy, but it drew me in. It felt disorganized at points with things being added in last minute to explain things that were going to happen in the next chapter. There was also the issue of no one talking to Tessa to really explain what was going on. It made her seem a bit whiny at times as she begged for explanations, but it also made sense for her to be that way.  Decent read and I'm going to try the next one to see if the series is worth it.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, September 6, 2015

An Inheritance of Ashes

An Inheritance of Ashes
by Leah Bobet

The war is finally over and it appears that most of the soldiers have come home.  Except for Hal's brother-in-law and the father of her future niece. Hal and her sister, Marthe, wait each day for him to come down the road, and each day they are disappointed. 

Not only do they miss him terribly, but they miss the manpower he brings to their failing farm. It is all that the two girls have after their abusive father finally died, and they are struggling to hold on to it.

When a stranger with strange tales of the war appears at the farm, looking for a place to hole up for the winter, Hal accepts him and all of the secrets he holds.

But he brings more than secrets with him. He brings back the Twisted Things that were thought to be destroyed with the Wicked God at the end of the war. 

And he brings back something else... 

Final thoughts:
This was a confused mess. It started as a new world built that seemed pretty decent, but it feels like Bobet realized about halfway through that she was using terms that were more earth bound, so she kind of tacked on a dystopian element. Suddenly it wasn't a new world, but rather our world a hundred or so years in the future with the occasional curse word, gun, or even failing bridge to mention. That element was so poorly thrown in that it really hurt the whole book. I liked some of the ideas, but the overall effect was not done well.

Rating: 2/5

Received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

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


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


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


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