To anyone considering this book, please do yourself a favor and completely ignore the blurb. Go into The Dead I Know with no preconceptions, and justTo anyone considering this book, please do yourself a favor and completely ignore the blurb. Go into The Dead I Know with no preconceptions, and just let it sweep you up and away. I can't believe how easy this read was. For the first time in my reading life, a book that dealt with monumentally heavy topics felt like it flew by. That might not make any sense now, but trust me when I say you'll see what I mean if you choose to add this to your reading list.
Aaron's past started as this vast and empty space. I was presented with a boy I knew nothing about. A troubled boy who others looked at with mistrust or disdain. Slowly, little pieces of him began to come to the surface. Gardner expertly led me into the gritty truth that surrounded Aaron's past, into the darkness that he tried so hard to keep suppressed, and finally I was able to see why our main character was so broken inside. I honestly believe that this was the perfect way to tell this story. Aaron felt real. He intrigued me. This book just wouldn't let me go.
I'm not sure what else to say here. This review is short, but my words have dried up. I've waited this long to write a review, simply because I couldn't figure out how to express how this made me feel. It was unlike anything I've read so far, and for that it garnered five stars without a second thought. ...more
If you've been following my reviews for any length of time, you know of my penchant for Middle Grade books. Quirky characters, important lessons, vastIf you've been following my reviews for any length of time, you know of my penchant for Middle Grade books. Quirky characters, important lessons, vast new worlds, all it makes me smile. I honestly believe that MG books build readers. Which is why I always look at these stories from two points of view. Would I have liked this as an MG reader, and do I think it carries over to how I read now?
When considering this book, I think your best bet would be to think of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I'll be the first to admit that I hate comparing books, but in this case it is honestly impossible not to. Two siblings, absent parents, disturbing caretakers, and a fourth wall breaking narrator all make a debut in this story. It's tough not to see the similarities. My problem was that, while both stories have a depressing atmosphere overall, Witherwood Reform School didn't have the same mildly hopeful feel to it. It was missing that bit of quirk I needed.
The writing was okay, if a bit dry at times. I'm not sure if I would have appreciated this more as a reader in the age group it is aimed at or not. I've always been a fan of writing that allows me to immerse myself in the story. While I liked Tobias and Charlotte, they never felt like true companions. That might sound odd, but I wanted to feel like I was with them, not just reading about them. Add in an ending with no discernible climax, and a to-be-continued hanging out there in the wind, and I was a disappointed reader. On the bright side, it's very easy to follow the plot and that makes this a quick read.
Would I recommend this to MG readers? I think so. I'm sure they would take a lot of what I had issues with much better than I did. There's not a lot of explanation into how things get to the level that they end up at, but there's a fair amount of adventure and intrigue towards the middle. I don't see many adult readers enjoying this, but younger readers might just eat this up. For that I'll give it three stars without a second thought....more
For many years, Alice Hoffman's books have been sitting on my reading list. When I first wanted to immerse myself in Magical Realism, it was her booksFor many years, Alice Hoffman's books have been sitting on my reading list. When I first wanted to immerse myself in Magical Realism, it was her books that most of my trusted fellow bookworms pointed to. Sadly, I still haven't gotten to any of them. Which is why, when I saw that Nightbird was not only a new story by Alice Hoffman, but an MG book as well, I was instantly sold.
There are a lot little pieces to completely fall in love with in this story, not the least of which are the characters. Each one is completely original, and has a sense of whimsy about them that just adds to the magic of this story. Twig was absolutely wonderful as a main character. Sweet and honest. Brave and true. Her story of sweets and secrets swept me up, and carried me along. I only wished that there had been a bit more depth to all the amazing people who populated this story. While the writing is gorgeous, the characters felt lacking to me. I loved of a small town full of quirky people, and I would have liked to learn more.
In fact, despite my fervent ardor for the story at the heart of this book, I felt like much of it wasn't fully explored. I'm very much in favor of MG stories that don't underestimate their audiences. Young readers deserve complex plots, exciting twists, and honest depictions of emotions just as much as any other age group. Which is why I had to knock my star rating down a bit for Nightbird. As I mentioned above, the writing is lovely and matches the magical nature of this book perfectly. If only the characters had been stronger, and the climactic points a bit sharper, this would have been a perfect read for me.
As it stands, Alice Hoffman has still proven she is a strong MG writer. My glimpse into her first book for younger readers has further strengthened by want to read her adult books as well. I'd recommend this story to young readers who love magical realism. Readers who look at the world, and see not only what is, but what could be as well. ...more
I'll tell you the truth. I picked up The Truth About Us because it was written by Janet Gurtler. I've read two of her other books, and each time I wasI'll tell you the truth. I picked up The Truth About Us because it was written by Janet Gurtler. I've read two of her other books, and each time I was pleasantly surprised. I'm finding it harder and harder to fully immerse myself in contemporary YA lately. I'm constantly left wanting more character depth and less cliched romance. I crossed my fingers, and settled in to see if Janet Gurtler could pull me out of my slump.
Now, I won't deny that Jess was a character I started out disliking. It was obvious I was supposed to though. She was the perfect picture of a vapid rich girl. Of a person who lets her popularity dictate her actions, without any thought whatsoever to those around her. However, just like I was hoping, Jess soon grew on me. As the layers of her character slowly peeled back, I was able to see the causes behind her behavior. Able to see the amazing girl lurking underneath. By the time I reached the ending, I was misty eyed and smiling.
Other things I enjoyed? The fact that Flynn was such a vibrant, and strong character. He wasn't just a broken boy for Jess to fix. I also loved Jess' connection with the people that she met throughout this story. It was the little things. Her love of plants, the introspection that she showed as her character slowly realized that her life wasn't what she wanted. Jess showed that money definitely doesn't buy happiness.
So why the four star rating? The presence of a mild case of instalove, and then a very over the top breakup, made me cranky.. My other issue was that some of my questions were never resolved. Jess' friend Nance plays a big part in this story, but nothing is ever wrapped up with her. Still, my heart was too full of happiness from before, and my eyes were too misty, to let that bother me too much. This was still one wonderful book....more
Another fabulous entry in this series! It's official, The Luck Uglies has become a new favorite series and I have Paul Durham to thank. Do you love acAnother fabulous entry in this series! It's official, The Luck Uglies has become a new favorite series and I have Paul Durham to thank. Do you love action and adventure? Are you a fan of courageous heroines and all manner of mischief? If you are, trust me when I say that this series is for you. This is the type of story that stills my MG loving heart. I love exploring new places, and Durham hasn't disappointed me yet.
If you've read my review of the last book, you already know that I'm a huge fan of Rye O'Chanter. She's scruffy, mischievous, and full of that fire that I just can't get enough of. Rye is a quick on her feet, and smart as a whip. I think my favorite part about Rye though is how much she loves her family and friends. She's loyal to the end, and willing to do whatever it takes to protect what's important to her. Throw in a whole cast of well built, intriguing characters? You have my utter devotion.
Where the last installment of this series had me wishing for a bit quicker pace, this one moves at a perfect clip. Action sequences are interspersed with introductions of new characters. Best of all, this time Durham whisks the readers away from Village Drowning and into a whole new part of Rye's world. I was giddy as I traveled along with our motley crew of characters. Witty banter, devilish schemes, I ate it all up and was eager for more.
Yes friends, I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a new favorite series. Whenever a second book manages to keep me engrossed, I find myself with big expectations for what comes next. I truly can't wait for more of the O'Chanters! They're absolutely brilliant....more
Whew. Let me tell you, this is one fast-paced story. I originally opened Grift with the intention of reading a bit before bed. Bad choice. It didn't tWhew. Let me tell you, this is one fast-paced story. I originally opened Grift with the intention of reading a bit before bed. Bad choice. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was completely wrapped up in Piper's life. I was utterly mesmerized by the idea of a group of teenagers living on the money from successful cons. Who wouldn't be? To live in a penthouse suite of one of the most tempting cities in the world? Well, that's pretty amazing. To live there because you're a successful con artist at the age of 17? Even more amazing.
It helped things along that I really liked Piper's character. She was so full of life, and the fierce love that she had for her sister made my heart happy. While I didn't always agree with Piper's life choices, her want to give her sister a better life made it more palatable for me. Honestly, I can't say anything but good things about all the characters in Grift. They each have their own vivid, likable personalities. Couple that with their unique con artist abilities, and you have the recipe for a story that's hard to put down.
I think my favorite part overall though was the fact that there wasn't too much romance bugging up the works in this story. True to its glittering setting, this is the story that never sleeps. Action abounds, twists are around every corner, and Mosberg creates the perfect amount of tension to keep you reading on. I had nothing but love for the little bit of romance that did make a debut. I'm just happy it didn't keep Piper from being her own, completely amazing person.
Grift gets a solid four stars from this reader. It held all the things I needed to be completely entertained from beginning to end. I'm honestly hoping there's more coming....more
Truth be told, Alistair Grim's Odditorium caught me with just its title. Can you blame me? I'm all about quirky tales and, even more than that, uniqueTruth be told, Alistair Grim's Odditorium caught me with just its title. Can you blame me? I'm all about quirky tales and, even more than that, unique MG stories. I don't suppose I should have been surprised at how odd this story ended up at times. While the plot isn't overly complex, there are definitely a lot of moving pieces to Grubb's story. Now that I know this is a series, I'm not as worried anymore. Be warned though, you'll likely be left with burning questions at the end.
Let's talk about our main character, Grubb. I sure do love a plucky, young character, and Grubb fits that description to the letter. I caught myself comparing him to other young orphan lads, which I'm sure you can guess at but I won't mention precisely, and therefore I had a soft spot in my heart for him. I never get tired of rags to riches stories. Of courageous characters who end up in mischief through no fault of their own. Grubb was my kind of protagonist.
Unfortunately, I can't say I was given as much time to love the other characters in this story. My biggest gripe about Alistair Grim's Odditorium was the lack of character development. This book is very heavy on the action, which I'm sure was intentional since it's aimed at MG readers. However for readers like myself, and yes I was like this even when I was the intended audience for this book, the lack of character depth is tragic. I was so intrigued by Alistair Grim and his cast of fellow characters. I would have loved to get lost in their backgrounds. I can only hope that the next book in the series gives me that opportunity.
While the writing is solid, the plot is a little predictable. Odd things do happen. They most definitely do. However I was still quickly able to figure out where things were headed, and guess the ending before I arrived there. It is testament to the overall strength of this book that I read it through to the end though! Despite any qualms I may have had, it still managed to capture me enough that I'm looking forward to more. Do you have a young reader who loves adventure? Perhaps they'll want to give this book a shot....more
As I expected, this book was a ton of fun to read! While the age group this book is aimed at will probably love it the most, there's a lot here to lovAs I expected, this book was a ton of fun to read! While the age group this book is aimed at will probably love it the most, there's a lot here to love for us older readers as well. Imagine a reform school for the villainous. A magical place filled with Pegasus riding classes and mermaid teachers. If you're a fan of fairy tale retellings, this story will definitely make you smile.
Flunked is packed to the brim will all sorts of lovable, and maybe even slightly evil, misfits. Gilly is our main character, and she fits in perfectly. Not quite a villain, but not exactly the picture of a model citizen either. I liked Gilly a lot. Kind, resourceful, and loyal to her family no matter what. Unfortunately, her love of her family is exactly what lands her in Fairy Tale Reform School. It raises the question, is evil really evil if there is reason for the crime? Once she stepped foot into FTRS, and I met the rest of the characters, I was hooked.
The one downside to this story is that there isn't much time for character development. It's likely that won't matter to the middle grade readers that this story is aimed at, but I craved more insight into the amazing characters populating this story. There were so many nods to the stories that I grew up loving. I giggled more than once at the antics Gilly and her friends were up to.
Still, this story is fast paced and well written, so it's hard not to fall in love. I read it through from beginning to end in about an hour, and I can't wait for more. I know this is the first in a series, and I'm honestly excited about it. I look forward to much more from Jen Calonita and her magical reform school....more
So, where to begin with this crazy whirlwind of a book? If you're looking at the cover, and hoping that the story inside matches the complete random fSo, where to begin with this crazy whirlwind of a book? If you're looking at the cover, and hoping that the story inside matches the complete random feeling of the outside, please know that you can breathe easy. This book is so weird. Finn Fancy Necromancy is a family drama, but also it's not. A dramedy? A comera? Ha. Point being, this book takes a long look at a very weird, rather lovable family, without one iota of seriousness thrown in. Are you looking for something utterly random, and yet engrossing at the same time? Congratulations. You've found your book.
In an unprecedented turn of events, I'm going to talk about the writing first. Normally I love to dish all about characters from the get go. This time around, the writing deserves some love. I promise you that "random" is the best word to describe this book. However, it's completely addictive because of how well written it is. Some sort of sorcery is afoot when a debut author swaps from the topics of necromancy and Fae, to describing a character that sounds suspiciously like Mr T., right on to 90's pop culture and a guerrilla sasquatch team, and the reader doesn't even bat an eye. Sure, this book is absolute madness most times. But it's funny, and it's easy to read.
Now, we can get to the characters! Who, despite their rather... erm... unique personalities, grow on you after a while. The fact that Finn is experiencing the current world after essentially being stuck as a 15 year old boy for 25 years, is priceless. His lack of knowledge about technology and jargon just add to the overall insanity of this story line. He's likable, as is the rest of his family after a while. While you might not always love where things are going, I'm betting to guess you won't be able to resist the quirkiness of these characters.
Finn Fancy Necromancy gets three "What in the everloving HELL?" fueled stars from this reader. With its solid writing, hilarious events, and lovable characters, it was a pretty fun ride. I'm just hoping there is more around the bend and, I can't stress this enough, it doesn't take me so long to settle in to....more
So let's call Lumikki Andersson what she rightfully is, shall we? She's a bad-ass. Seriously. When I read the synopsis for this book I was definitelySo let's call Lumikki Andersson what she rightfully is, shall we? She's a bad-ass. Seriously. When I read the synopsis for this book I was definitely hoping for an action packed story. For something raw and intriguing. While I didn't exactly get everything that I was waiting for, I did fall unexpectedly in love with Lumikki's character. This isn't a girl who lets others take advantage of her. Oh, no. She's quick-thinking, cunning and all around interesting. If there's one thing I can take away from this book, it's that I'd follow Lumikki into danger any day.
Her fellow characters, on the other hand, I think I could have done without. I actually did a dual-read of this book. Half the time I was listening to it on audio, and the other half of the time I was reading the ebook. Sometimes an audio is a saving grace for me when I'm not exactly in love with a story. The narrator has the opportunity to make or break things for me. In this case, both felt about the same. Lumikki's so called "friends" were exactly what you'd expected the rich to be. Bratty, self-involved, and really tough to like. I never felt a true connection between them and Lumikki, and so I couldn't really invest myself in her willingness to put everything on the line for them.
Which brings me to the story itself. As Red As Blood fell in middle ground territory for me. While there were definitely parts I enjoyed, it never took me over the top. When things were moving quickly, I'd find myself start to ease into the story. The entire time that Lumikki was in the heart of the action, I was absolutely ready for more. Then things would pan to the other characters, or a flash back would sneak its way in, and I was once again just waiting for more action. The fast paced portions felt the most vivid, the most well fleshed out, and I craved more.
It's a definite possibility that the next book in this series will have more of the forward movement I wanted. Truth be told, I liked Lumikki enough that I'd be willing to give the sequel a chance. Although this wasn't my favorite read of the year, there's quite a bit in As Red As Blood that holds promise. I'd say giving it a shot if it's on your TBR....more
Let it be known that I have a weakness for books like Seed. Any time a book is placed in front of me that revolves around a cult, and the life of itsLet it be known that I have a weakness for books like Seed. Any time a book is placed in front of me that revolves around a cult, and the life of its inhabitants, I have to read to it. Absolutely must. There's something about these stories that both terrifies and intrigues me. That one person can have that much power, that one single human being can manipulate others into worshiping them, it's something I am fascinated by. So it's no surprise that the moment this book was offered to me I snatched it up. I knew Seed would be something I'd want to experience.
In my past experiences with books like this, the one thing that stands out is how well an author deals with all the tough aspects of the society in question. We all know that things go on in cult societies that aren't exactly easy to stomach. That, quite often, there are children at the center of these stories who are put in very uncomfortable situations. In that vein, I have to applaud Lisa Heathfield for expertly navigating this territory. While all of the items I was expecting were definitely present, they were handled with care. I was still able to see into Pearl's world, still privy to her questions and issues, but I never felt that it was over the top. I think that's important for a young adult book.
Speaking of Pearl, it was the characters that really made this book shine for me. Although I couldn't agree with Pearl's outlook on her situation, I understood. Lisa Heathfield brought to life a girl whose whole life was Seed. A girl who knew only the boundaries of what to her was a safe and happy home. A naive girl maybe, but one who had no reason to be otherwise. I felt for Pearl, and for the rest of the characters. Each one of them was real to me. It made this a much tougher read, to be sure, but one that also felt much more fulfilling. I've never wanted to have the power to yell at characters more than I did while reading this book.
Long story short? This was a very well written and, surprisingly (considering the content), easy story to sink into. Had I not needed to sleep in order to function at work the next day, I would have read this through in one sitting, no problem. I can't say that Seed is a happy story. Don't go into it expecting that. I can say that it's an important one though, and that I am glad that I experienced it....more
This book broke me. I started The Life Intended fully planning to finish it in one sitting. That didn't happen. Not because the book wasn't well writtThis book broke me. I started The Life Intended fully planning to finish it in one sitting. That didn't happen. Not because the book wasn't well written. It absolutely is. Not even because I couldn't love the characters or the story. Both of those items were instantly checked off my list after I'd finished the first chapter. No, this book took a long time for me to read because I couldn't stop crying. Every time I picked it up, and started to read, I'd start sobbing. I'm not talking teary-eyed, or even a few tears, I'm talking full out sobbing. Whew, kudos to Kristin Harmel.
For me, any book that deals with the death of a loved one is tricky terrain. It has to be done with a certain finesse, and feel realistic at the same time. With Kate, Harmel brought to life a character that I could understand and easily follow. A woman who had found the most perfectly imperfect man. Who truly believed that she'd grow old with that man, and that they had all the time in the world together. Except, they didn't. Watching Kate try to deal with her loss, watching her realize all the times that she took for granted, it hit hard right at the center of my being. This book didn't just pull at my heartstrings. It all out gutted me.
There are some beautiful messages in The Life Intended. Thoughts on living life, pursuing passions, and opening up your heart to the possibilities around you. Unlike most of the other "sliding doors" books that I've read, this one felt plausible. It felt like a story that I could get behind. Maybe it's just my sappy nature. Maybe it's because I know I've found my own perfectly imperfect man, and I'm realizing just how terrifying it would be to loose him, but I loved this.
All I know is, I'm going to do my best not to let the little moments escape. Thanks for that Kristin Harmel :). I don't even mind that I needed a box of tissues to finish this book. It was worth it....more
Okay, now this was just pure fun! If more of this same unabashed, light-hearted and sarcastic humor is what I can expect from Molly Harper, sign me upOkay, now this was just pure fun! If more of this same unabashed, light-hearted and sarcastic humor is what I can expect from Molly Harper, sign me up. Not only did I plow through this audio book, I did it snickering the entire way through. Every little joke fit in perfectly. Nothing felt forced. Oh, this is the stuff that Urban Fantasy is made of.
Massive love goes to Jane Jameson for being the exact kind of heroine that I adore. She's lovable, kind of nerdy, has a massive passion for libraries, and a real problem with falling straight into trouble. I couldn't get over how easy she was to follow. I loved the fact that Jane wasn't perfect. Whenever characters automatically take to whatever paranormal fate befalls them, I always shake my head in disbelief. Who just becomes a vampire, nods, and thinks "Okay, this is easy!" to themselves? I saw myself in Jane. A confused, stubborn, and all around adorably awkward character. Perfection in my eyes.
Oh, and the jokes! The story alone quickly sucked me in. The idea of paranormal creatures being an acknowledged part of society was really cool, and I liked how easy it was to sink into. That being said, the little jokes here and there stole the show. If you put a character named Dick Cheney in your book, and then make the appropriate jokes to match? Well, you have my heart. Hook, line and sinker.
While I wouldn't say this was my perfect read, it was definitely up there! I absolutely recommend the audio book version if you have the time. The narrator was fabulous, expertly bringing every aspect of the tongue-in-cheek humor to life. I am not at all ashamed to say I snorted out loud a few times. This book was pure fun! I can't wait for more....more
Okay, can we say adorable? After a long day at work, I really just wanted something quick and fun to read on the way home. This fit the bill perfectlyOkay, can we say adorable? After a long day at work, I really just wanted something quick and fun to read on the way home. This fit the bill perfectly. Short, sweet, the ideal read for a sunny day.
Points go to Stefanie London for quickly creating a female character who I actually liked. Although I found it a little difficult to wrap my head around all of Gracie's rules for choosing the men she dated, I could see where they all stemmed from. I never once doubted that her controlling mother, and wealthy family name, would keep her on what they considered to be "the straight and narrow". However, with a guy like Des hanging around? Who wouldn't be tempted? Can we say yum?
Yum. Des was one tasty male lead. This is a novella so he didn't get all the love he should have as far as character development, but I felt like I knew enough about him to adore him just the same. The chemistry built between these two was wonderful. Their tension and sparks went hand in hand to make this a great read.
Are you looking for a new novella to satisfy your romance craving? I'd say give this one a shot. ...more