Book Review: Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up – Ella Martin

Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up? by Ella Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Published Date: June 30, 2014
Publisher: Astraea Press Publishing, LLC
Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B00LF5W9I0

There is just something that draws me to these ‘brother’s best friend’ novels, I love the kind of taboo, ‘I’m not supposed to like you,’ scenario, and usually it’s mixed with having known said best friend for many years. They are always pretty sweet. The cover of Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up? is also eye catching – so it’s no wonder I decided it was a good use of an Audible credit.

What I Loved: Honestly, I really loved the relationship between Bianca, and her brother. They were the perfect mix of that annoying relationship most siblings have, and family who love and support one another. Even though there were hints of it, there wasn’t really a lot of “I’m big brother, stay away from sister” kind of thing going on, until it became apparently necessary. Bianca’s friends were pretty awesome too, they were a great group of friends who knew each other inside and out, the kind of friends I dreamed of having when I was in High School myself.

Bianca was actually a solid character, with the normal flaws you would find with a typical 15 year old High Schooler. She had her own mind, and knew what things in her life were important. As she was dating Dante, she would often say things like, “you expect me to choose you over my friends of xx years?” Though she was trapped in the idea of having her first boyfriend, someone whom girls fell over themselves to date – she did have some reasoning skills. I do think that this book did a good job of showing how just a few words or actions can open you up to manipulation, and worse, how easily girls can be manipulated. Especially when it comes to things like self esteem, just a few words can cause many girls to doubt themselves. I think this is real, and the book does serve as a good warning against that.

Not So Much: I really didn’t care for the narrator of this story. Bianca and her friends were typical high schoolers, and used slang that is popular now, however while I was listening to the book, they (Bianca especially) came off as extremely whiney. As I think back on the book, I’m really not sure that this was the author’s intention…and as a mother, I CAN.NOT.STAND the whining voice! It took me an extra long time to listen to this book, and I nearly gave up on it because of the narration. That would have been unfortunate, because I did love how this story wrapped up.

The Verdict: I do not recommend the Audiobook of Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up, however I do recommend reading it. This is very age appropriate, and can actually help empower girls who might find themselves stuck in a manipulative relationship see things from a different perspective. Maybe. The book is clean.

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Book Review: Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B015QMBYD8

I received Everland in the May Steampunk Owlcrate. I decided I wanted the box because of the advertised Infernal Devices inclusion in the box. I was extremely excited to discover the book was a steampunk version of Peter Pan, as (if you read my reviews you already know) I’ve been reading a lot of Peter Pan retells lately.

What I Loved: This wasn’t so much a retelling of Peter Pan as it was a reimaging. All of our favorite characters, and their personalities were present and accounted for. I really enjoyed that about this book – it was it’s own story throughout the entire book, but it was also very much Peter Pan!

In some of the retellings I’ve read lately, Peter is cast as the bad guy while Hook is really our hero – in this book the characters are put back into their rightful places, and Pete was perfect and made me fall in love with the kid Peter Pan was, but also with the teenager and guardian he was in this rendition. He was playful and sarcastic yet he bore the weight of burden but not without its scars.

It was awesome that this was steampunked. I’ve read a few steampunk books, but I think I like this one the best so far. And Pete’s tattoo…I really would love to see that for real. However the best steampunk element was most certainly Belle’s wings!

Not So Much: Truthfully, Hook was completely unstable in this book, but I was sort of confounded by this character. At times I felt like he wasn’t really such a bad person, other times he was the worst. I kind of felt like the two sides didn’t come together very well, but perhaps that is as it should be when someone isn’t quite right in the head.

I also would have loved to have had an Epilogue of this book. It was pretty well wrapped up, but not completely…..aaaaand as I was typing this I looked it up, and it appears that this is a series. Now I’m really wondering where this is going to go…..

The Verdict:
This is my favorite Peter Pan Retelling so far. I loved it. I loved the setting, and the characters. I do want more and am very intrigued to know how this is going to be as a series. Hopefully it does not disappoint.

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Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


Title:
Echo
Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Genre: Middle School Age, Fairytale, Historical, Humanity

Form: Audiobook
Narrator: Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler

Blurb (From Goodreads):
Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this virtuosic, genre-defying tour de force from storytelling maestro Pam Muoz Ryan. Lost and alone in the forbidden Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. How their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

Richly imagined and structurally innovative, ECHO pushes the boundaries of form and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories.

My Review:
Echo is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Never would I have read the blurb and thought, “hey, this book is for me!” However, I have a friend who is a youth/young adult librarian, and she read a variety of things, some of them specifically to have a better knowledge of her product. She listened to this book via audio, and thought it was great, and pressured me into listening to the audiobook specifically because the audiobook comes with musical interludes that correlates with what is happening in the book.

What I Loved: This book isn’t simply fiction. It isn’t non-fiction. This book isn’t even straight up literary fiction. Describing Echo to others has been a little bit something like this: “It’s a fairytale, historical fiction, and a lesson in humanity wrapped into one book.” Echo starts off with a short fairytale, or myth, which surrounds music. Music, specifically harmonica music played on specific harmonicas becomes the point zero of this tale, but once the first part is completed it quickly branches off into three different stories taking place in a somewhat jagged yet still the same timeline. Each story is unique, yet the lessons seem to be about the same.

I love the woven tales, the music, the relationship between the stories, and the differences. I LOVE the message of this book most of all.

Not So Much: I can’t tell if it was mean, or genius how the stories are broken down. All I have to say is that if you are using some kind of electronic device, you might have a strong temptation to throw it. Don’t do it. Just trust me.

The Verdict:        

I cannot speak more highly of this book. I know my review was vague, and it is purposeful, because the journey itself is what makes this special. If I were to lay out details too specific, it might ruin the effect for you. I suggest getting the audiobook if you are able to. This book is written for Middle Age/Jr. High Age, and it’s very age appropriate. In fact, I recommend it for your children, and you adults as well!

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson

Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: YA – Coming of Age, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B015WNZ1KIBlurb (from Goodreads): Andie had it all planned out. 

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. 

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check. 

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks). 

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. 

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. 

And where’s the fun in that?

My Review:

I’m on a roll, deciding to read books because of other bloggers’ reviews. I an Audible Credit I needed to spend and had recently run across another blogger’s review of The Unexpected Everything. Her raving review peeked my interest, plus this cover just screams summer fun!

What I Loved: Our flawed main character, Andie, to start off with. I loved her because she was so real about dealing – or NOT dealing – with her life by keeping everything at surface level. I would say that the exceptions might be her 3 best friends, Palmer, Bri, and Toby, but even then there were topics she just didn’t discuss. Her growth is the key element here, without it I would have hated this book, because at first I really just didn’t care for Andie at all. In fact, in the first few chapters I was kind of annoyed at her standoffish-ness, and strange obsession with kissing. It probably wasn’t until about half way through that I really started to like her.

I also love the progression of Andie and Clark’s relationship. It was not this all-encompassing passion to start off with, it was something that started with blushes and awkwardness and then formed into something wonderful. I read a lot of YA books, especially in the YA coming of age/romance type, and I really feel that this book is among the few that has a realistic view on relationship growth as opposed to the lust at first sight, in love the next week we get a lot of the times. There was gushing about how hot Clark was, but that wasn’t the entire basis of why Andie liked him – her feelings for him grew as she got to know him.

Speaking of relationships, I love the entire cast of characters in this book. The foursome (and their boys) were such a dynamic bunch, you can’t help but want to be included in their group. Then there is the relationship between Andie and her father; there is so much to love here simply because both sides make mistakes and learn from them. You start off the book thinking that you’re going to hate Andie’s dad, but you can’t help but love and respect him in the end.

Not So Much:
Because this book is about growth, becoming a better person, and discovering who you really are; it’s hard to come up with something that I didn’t like about it. It is very well written, and I feel like all of the emotions that I felt were exactly the reaction that Morgan Matson was going for.

The Verdict:        

This is the perfect YA summer read! It’s not too heavy, nor is it too light of a read. It has just enough meat to dig into, good characters that you want to know in real life. This book is clean, there is talk of sex, but none actually in the book – though there IS lots of kissing.

Book Review: The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/0545424984

Blurb (from Goodreads):  For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

My Review:  
The very much anticipated series finale has been bought, received, and read. And I must say, Stiefvater does NOT disappoint.

What I Loved: So the last book of a series that you’ve shouted from the rooftops from the beginning that you love is not the easiest kinds of books to review. Why? Because I am predetermined to love it. Well..maybe not..but this isn’t Divergent. Anything that has, can, or will happen in this book is pretty much out on the table in the ways of endings, so getting mad at this series would be a moot point. So, I’ll lay it out here right here and now; I loved this series. I loved this book. It’s a 5-Hearts…and probably would have been since The Raven Boys was released way back when.

So what do I say beyond that? Well, there are a few things I’d like to say regarding Maggie Stiefvater’s books, and hopefully if there are any remaining that haven’t jumped on the Stiefvater train – they will be convinced to do so…

I have always loved Maggie’s writing. I have LOVED every single book – and they were not all happy ending love stories either. I can quite honestly say (and here I go all hipster) I read Maggie Stiefvater prior to her becoming overly popular with The Wolves of Mercy Falls. In fact, when I picked up Shiver I didn’t realize at first it was by the same author that wrote Lament and Ballad, back when I was on a Fae kick. But her writing has always captivated me. She writes lyrically and draws clear pictures, not unlike her actual art. But it’s more than that. See, we book lovers love to latch on to characters, and in the groups I ‘hang’ with, we tend to want to two main characters to fall in love, and we expect a story that is entertaining but mostly based around them no matter what the circumstances they are trying to overcome are. What Maggie has done more than once is this; she has given us the couple we want – but since that ‘story’ has been written a million times over, she makes them background noise. Oh, she gives us what we want; we get the falling part of the falling in love, we get shy kisses and passionate kisses, and all the feelings that the characters have no idea what to do with…we get it all, but all the while she’s building this other thing that takes center stage. I believe The Raven Cycle  was the master class of this tactic.

The Raven King was such an awesome conclusion in that when it ended it was just….right. All the individual story lines started to come together and more than once I found myself thinking ‘of course that is how it happens..” or “ well, that makes perfect sense now,” while yet at the same time not expecting these things at all.

I will finish with this, and I’m going to leave it alone (as there is not a “not so much” this time), Maggie wrote a post the day before the book released, and in the end she basically said that she wanted her readers to ‘want.’ I can honestly say she has achieved her goal. I want so much more, while at the same time feel like this conclusion was perfect.

The Verdict:        

The Raven King was darker than the other three novels, but it was necessary to the story line. I highly recommend this series. It is clean, some mild cussing.

Book Review: Dead Girl – Tessa Marie

Title: Dead Girl
Author: Tessa Marie
Genre: YA – Coming of Age, Bullying, Romance

Buy Link:

Blurb:  If her mother wasn’t watching, Kylie Presby would punch Queen Bee, Natalie Silvers, in the face -again. But as Kylie wipes her tears away with the layers of toilet paper encasing her car, she knows she can’t retaliate like she did last time. Her dead mother wouldn’t approve. Kylie no longer cares about popularity. Invisible would work just fine.

Then the new kid, Braydon, mysterious, good looking and too clever for his own good, shows up and sacrifices his social status, becoming Kylie’s shield from the front line assault. After enough chocolate ice cream and movies it’s as if they’re best friends. Crazy, since Kylie knows so little about him.

As Natalie continues her relentless attacks on Kylie another person deals with his own line of bullies. Jack Stine was popular until his deepest secret was revealed and his friends abandoned him. Kylie and Jack bond over their tormentors and form an unbreakable friendship.

Three lost souls each with a story that binds them together, but will it be enough when the bullying goes too far and secrets are revealed?

My Review:
I’m on a roll here.  It is completely unintentional that I keep picking up these books that have to do with school bullying, self-esteem issues and the like.  Maybe I should start paying more attention to blurbs, but when we’re talking about already loved and trusted authors – I rarely find the need to do so.

What I Loved:  I will never get tired of authors writing about things that matter.  I’ve already said it, but books speak volumes, and change lives.  If only we could get the books that matter into the hands of as many people as possible.  I love sparkly vampires as much as the next person, but I also love books that compel me to be a better person, to love others more and to not give in to mainstream.  And that is what Tessa Marie does in Dead Girl.

I really liked the fact that Kylie is not a flawless person.  She makes mistakes, and there were times I wasn’t very found of her as a person.  Every character in this book had lessons to learn and character development, and at some point, they all said or did things that made me think, ‘what the heck, man?’  But I felt like this contributed to the story and made it more realistic.

If I am completely honest, I feel like this is the best book (that I’ve read) by Tessa Marie to date.  I was engrossed from the start and I had to know what happened to Kylie, Braydon, and Jack.  I was intrigued by their secrets.

Not So Much:  I really would have liked to have seen some additional consequences for the biggest culprits of bullying.  I know that there are some ‘natural consequences’ at play, but gosh – expulsion from school or something.  Or I might have been happier if the school started a campaign or something proactively against bullying.

The Verdict:          

Even if I did want more at the end, I do feel like this story was perfectly executed.  I loved it!  I look forward to whatever is next from Tessa!  This is another book perfect for younger and older teenagers.

Book Review: Get Lucky – A YA Anthology

Title: Get Lucky
Authors: Ali Dean, Kristen Kehoe, Cassie Mae, Tessa Marie, Kelly Oram, Ginger Scott
Genre: Young Adult – Romance

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B01D0XY1OO

Blurb (From Goodreads):
A YA anthology featuring some of today’s hottest Young Adult authors!

Doubles Love by Ali Dean – Mackenzie Bell loves two things: tennis and the Kendrick family. She doesn’t want to be anything like her mother, who hops from one husband to the next. It’s one of many reasons why she’s never dated. The other reason? She’s in love with her best friend’s older brother, Jesse Kendrick.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not by Kristen Kehoe – Kennedy Russo has had it rough. She’s become a pro at being invisible. But when she’s paired up for a 5 week assignment with golden boy, Gage, she starts to realize that anonymity may not always be the best option. Gage is on a mission to make her his friend, but will their tentative friendship bloom into something more?

Stroke of Luck by Cassie Mae – Jensen is well on his way to the PGA, if only he could focus. Getting stuck with his best friend as co-counselor at the golf camp will help—Penny’s always been one to push him. But when their alone time turns romantic, Jensen wonders if she’ll just be another distraction.

Someone I Used to Know by Tessa Marie – Charlotte was not looking forward to Spring Break. No technology and a boy she can’t stand. But when she realizes the boy is actually a hot guy now, and wants to hang out with her (!) she cant help but think this break may turn into something pretty awesome. But, is he harboring a secret that will challenge their budding relationship?

16 Kisses by Kelly Oram- All Cassie Caldwell wants for her sixteenth birthday is to finally be kissed. When Cassie’s older brother and his best friend—the lovable, sexy cowboy, Jared—discover her secret, Jared takes it upon himself to make sure her birthday wish comes true.

Four Letter Words by Ginger Scott – Dakota Wright has been making Jace Padgett look good for years…and she’s tired of it. What started as a favor has turned into a habit—one that she’s justified in her mind because Jace also happens to be six feet of gorgeous hunky quarterback, green eyes and a smile that can swing a girl to the moon. But the last favor she did for him may have finally tipped the scales, and Dakota’s ready to call it quits. One small hiccup—her heart can’t seem to let her. And when Jace starts to share pieces of the real him, Dakota begins to think her heart might just be smarter than her head after all.

My Review:
So, here’s a secret: I have never read an anthology. Can you believe it? My best friend is even in one (and I’ve read her story). My reasoning is simple; I like the whole story, not a snippit. I’m not a huge fan of novellas either, though I have actually read a few of them. Anyhow – some of my favorites were a part of this particular anthology, so I had to at least give it a fighting chance…

What I Loved: What I loved the most was the silly smile on my face at the end of each story. I’m a big sucker for HEA’s and sweet romance stories, therefore this book was right up my alley in all the right ways. “Lucky” was the common theme of the book – thus the title and the St. Patrick’s release day, so it was interesting to see how each of the 6 authors utilized the theme. Another semi-theme I noticed in the first 3 stories: each of the male characters in had a “goal” to make or at least was enamored with their leading ladies laughing. I just thought it was a funny happenstance.

So I was surprised by how satisfied I was with the short stories. Like I said, I want a whole book worth, not really a small taste. However, these shorts were perfect for the kind of week I was having when I started the book. It was nice to not feel like I had stopped in the middle of something – and I could actually put the book down for a day while my-crazy-life proceeded on. Twice, though, I was up until early AM hours finishing up a story. I LOVE when authors do that to me. I also hate it, because I pay for it the next day!

Not So Much: Alright you authors, please no jealousy for not getting specifically mentioned..had I divided this review up by story it would be a very long blog post that most people wouldn’t read due to length. BUT I have to say that Four Letter Words by Ginger Scott: I LOVED this more than you could know, I want the book. The WHOLE book. I think the main reason is because of Jace’s learning disability, and his home life – I wanted so much more than was given in back-story in moving forward, in overcoming. This needed an entire book, and I’m actually really sad it was just a short! Seriously.

The Verdict:        

First, I am wrong not to give anthologies more of a shot. Not only did I get 3 wonderful shorts from 3 of my favorite authors…but I also found 3 more that I MUST check out. Yes, I’m going to be stalking them and figuring out what they’ve already published and getting my hands on some new material…soonish. I’m not supposed to be buying anything new this year! Second, this anthology is perfect for YA lovers, Romance lovers, people who like sweet stories, happy endings, and goofy grins. Honestly, it would be a perfect vacation, or beach read. Get it! The whole book is clean, perfect for younger and older teens.

Book Review: You Can’t Catch Me – Becca Ann

Title: You Can’t Catch Me
Author: Cassie Mae writing as Becca Ann
Genre: YA – Romance, Coming of Age, Self Image, Bullying

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B01C0SEWDA

Blurb (From Goodreads):
My body suuuucks. After lounging around on my butt all summer (okay, so maybe that was my bad), this body decided to become something completely foreign. So now I’m trying to make the track team and I feel like I’m a baby learning to walk again.

A couple pounds wouldn’t have been so bad. Work those off, run like a mad woman, no problem, yeah? But no. I’ve also developed a couple of things that I definitely didn’t have before. And now my guy friends are all sitting in a pool of drool as they not-so-subtly stare at my chest.

Combine all that drama with the fact that the new track coach is getting major flack for being a little chunky, and all I’m trying to do is convince the team that I’m not running slower because of her coaching style.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m totally falling face-first in “like” with some guy I met in a cemetery? And no one understands it just because he’s also a little chunky. But he’s also adorable and wonderfully weird and I don’t care what they say, his look sure does it for me.

But… I don’t know… how can I be in “like” with someone, when I have no clue how to like myself anymore?


My Review:
Cassie Mae (Becca Ann) is on my exceptions list for 2016, so naturally I couldn’t wait for You Can’t Catch me to be released.  I even pre-bought the book, but then was also given a ARC copy for review!  Part of the excitement I felt for this book was Cassie’s own excitement for it’s release.  Obviously, she’s excited about all of her releases, but the purpose behind this book, I think, made it just a bit more exciting, or at least that was my perception.

What I Loved:  A theme that seems to be reoccurring in the books that I’m reading this year is that they seem to have a bit to do with self image and bullying.  It’s not purposeful, but it just seems to be happening, and honestly I love it, because it means authors are starting to write about these things a bit more. I am one of those people who can be ‘spoken to’ via books, they become so real to me and there are times when the message shatters me as much as my own life experiences do.  That is why I love this growing trend, and hope that it continues and we see more and more books dealing with the hard things in life and that empower our youth and even adults to take action, or make a change.

I always love Cassie’s writing.  She is a pro at writing characters that I want to know in real life.  I especially loved both Ginger and Oliver because of their awkwardness.  The rambling while nervous, and goofiness of these characters is so perfect.  Ginger is so positive, even though this book deals with her own self-image issues, even in all of that she is positive.  She sees good in people that others can’t see.  She is an inspiration to be a better person.  She’s also real; there is nothing more real than someone who has trouble accepting things about themselves – even if they can easily accept those same traits in someone else without a second thought.  Ginger did what I did as a teenager, and probably most teenagers still do; she looked at others and wondered if they are going through the same things, if they are having the same self conscious thoughts.  (To any teenager who happens by this review – yes.  They are.  Yes.  They do.  If there’s anything I’ve learned as an adult, it’s that no matter how alone you feel in your skin – it’s so very likely that someone close to you is struggling with the same things.  Maybe not in the same exact way since we are all different, but they are.  I promise!)
Oliver, I could picture Oliver immediately from his dark hair to his freckles and tall robust build.  He was a bit self-deprecating and a Momma’s boy – and I loved him.  He was sweet and, yes, awkward.  But I loved his role in this book, and that was to provide Ginger with a place where she felt like herself, and not judged by her body or her abilities, or the expectations she felt she had to live up to.  
Not So Much:  Ginger had some friends, specifically boy friends, who took notice of the physical changes in her and reacted like…boys.  In the end, I kind of would have liked to have seen them realize how their behavior might have hurt Ginger.  I think it was eluded to, but maybe it just wasn’t as fleshed out as much as I would have liked.
The Verdict:         
Yet another book I implore you to get into the hands of all the teenagers around you.  I feel like this message on self image, and learning to love yourself for who you are is beautifully done.  The story is not bogged down with too much sadness, but there are parts that make you really hurt for the characters in this book, not just Ginger.  Mostly though you’ll be smiling and giggling at the antics and rooting for Ginger to win this race.  You Can’t Catch Me is a clean book – and appropriate for younger teens as well as older.

Book Review: Sell Out – Tammy L. Gray

Title: Sell Out
Author: Tammy L. Gray
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Coming of Age

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B015UZVJPE

Blurb (From Goodreads):
Like many elite private schools, Madison High has a legacy steeped in traditions, none of which revolve around learning. Survival is simple: keep your head down, don’t say a word, and never question school royalty.

Cody James, a former victim of Madison’s vicious brand of hazing, wants nothing more than to graduate without breaking the unspoken rules that could land him back in social exile. Cody has breached the elusive inner circle, and he has no intention of losing his hard-earned security. But a beautiful new student shakes up his plan to coast by and causes him question his role as sidekick to the king of the school.

As the only daughter of rock legend Donnie Wyld, Skylar has been homeschooled her entire life. Now she wants normal, and she hopes that Madison High will offer her an escape from her father’s deteriorating health. She never intended on catching the eye of the school’s self-elected king or falling for his confusing best friend. But one look at Cody James, and she is drawn in by his guarded vulnerability.

When an average Friday night party turns into a nightmare, Cody is forced to make a decision—fight or follow. But standing up for the bullied and broken means facing a past he’s long buried and risking the future he’s worked so hard to achieve.

My Review:
So I’ve had Sell Out for a while, but unfortunately Tammy L Gray books are ones I sort of avoid…not because they are bad, not even a tiny, little bit. Because they are so heart wrenching, and compelling. They inspire me, and make me want to take action, or they convict and call me to repentance. These aren’t bad things. These are very, very good things. I feel they are also kind of her purpose. But it doesn’t mean that they are always easy books to read.

What I Loved: I want to take this book and put it into the hands of every single teenager and force them to read it. If not this one, then one like it. Sell Out tackles the growing issue present in schools – bullying. As a parent of three pre-teens who attend public school, it’s a topic I discuss semi-frequently and it’s one very, very close to my heart.

I feel like Mrs. Gray really took this story and wove it to make it so real and believable, and still spoke a message to the readers. The message being – take action. Do not let it continue. I cannot get behind this stance enough. If we allow people to be bullies, if we allow people to be bullied, it will do nothing but grow out of control. But the issue aside, the story itself was beautiful. I so enjoyed watching Cody grow as an individual, I felt his struggles and understood his reactions. I loved Skylar, and, gosh, she was written to be such a wonderful, down to earth individual, especially for being a rock-star’s daughter.

Not So Much: I cried in my soup at lunch. I’m not kidding.

So yes, the book was heart wrenching. And sad in all the appropriate places. But it was necessary for the story.

The Verdict:        

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. Give it to your teenagers. I would only hope it would instill some hope, and empower people to talk. It might not work – but who knows…it just might.

Book Review: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugh
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal, Romance, Action

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/1627792120

Blurb (From Goodreads): Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.


My Review:

For the last couple of months I’ve been doing Instagram photo challenges (this month, search #marchbbpchallenge to find our posts!) and last month one of my friends who was doing the challenge was posting a lot about Six of Crows, and really talking up this book. I had looked at the summary more than once, but based on her recommendation I decided to get the audio book to listen to it at work. In the beginning they always list out the narrators, and when I heard that there were four of them I knew I was in for an involved book.

I was so not ready, and that the first time I tried to listen to this book I got lost in everything that was going on and all the characters. I think it may have also been a particularly busy week at work so my concentration was broken at best. Sometimes I can listen to a book in these times, sometimes not. This is why I do a lot of frequent re-reads,  it’s much easier to listen to a book I’ve already read during work. Anyhow, I stopped listening to this book in February. Last week I decided to start over and give it another go. (Side note: while it’s possible, Audible isn’t exactly thrilled when you listen part way and then start over again later. Until I finally got past my previous stopping point, any time I had to pause the book it would hiccup and I had to go re-find my place). My second time through was MUCH more successful, I mean clearly since I’m writing a review, right?

What I Loved: This book reminded me of the TV show Gotham in the first few chapters, with the discussions of who controls what part of the city, and things like that. Then as it took off, it reminded me of Oceans 11 with the gathering of a team of some-what misfits who may or may not have liked each other. So Gotham + Oceans 11 + paranormal = Six of Crows. There are so many different elements to the story, it was so involved that at first I wasn’t 100% sure that I liked it. However, the further I got into the book, the more I liked it and the more invested in the characters I was.

Once I got into the book, I really loved nearly everything about it. All of the unique personalities, the background of the characters and their relationships. I loved the teasing and banter between everyone. This book had twists and turns and surprises all the time, so it kept me on my toes. I really enjoy that. All of it made for an amusing three days of work! Or at least 2 days, once I got past the “eh, I’m not sure” ’s.

Not So Much: This book was so very involved, with overlapping back stories, and twists and turns that listening via audio while at work was pretty difficult. Add in the fact that there were 4 separate narrators, it just wasn’t an ideal reading situation for a book like this. It is for this reason I purchased an actual copy of the book. I did love the story, but I feel like there were so many details I missed because my attention wasn’t 100% – and it never is going to be when listening to an audio book – at least not for me.

This is my fault, but I think I might have gotten a lot more had I actually read the first series as well. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a continuation, but I do get the idea that the world may be close to the same.

The Verdict:  

        


So good. When I was describing Six of Crows to my husband, I told him that one of the things I really liked was I didn’t think this book was ‘geared toward a female audience’ but is much more broad than that. I believe that any guys out there who like to read would enjoy this book as much as any girl. That isn’t to say that they don’t enjoy the other series (Hunger Games, Divergent…etc) but I feel like there is just something about some of these fantasy/sci-fi/Dystopian type books that just has a shift toward more of a female audience….granted, that is probably accurately done since I think that is the biggest audience.

I recommend this to anyone who DOES like those previously mentioned books, but also to anyone who likes action – if you like the TV show/movie I mentioned as well I think that you’d enjoy Six of Crows. It is a YA novel – and does have some mild cussing.