Category Archives: YA

Review – Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

Summary:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

 

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Review:

 

 

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time, yet I didn’t love it.

I’d been meaning to read this book for a long time, but just never got round to it, then the show came on netflix.

The show broke me. As a parent, I am petrified of my kids (one of whom is 12 and in secondary school) not being open and honest with me about both the good and bad things in their lives. How can I help them if I don’t know what’s happening? In the show, Hannah’s parents (and Clay’s to a certain extent) are completely oblivious to what is going on with their kids beyond the small snippets they are fed, so Hannah’s suicide is a huge shock for all of them.

Watching Clay listen to the taps and slowly begin to lose his mind in guilt and uncertainty is heart breaking, almost as much as what Hannah suffered – in a weird way. This is a kid who never really did anything to anyone, got along with most people, and seemed to be a pretty likeable guy; yet here he is on a list of people Hannah blames.

In the book, Clay only takes a night to list to the tapes and the reader isn’t privvy to what is happening with parents or the others mentioned on the tapes. If I had read the book before the show, I don’t think that would have bothered me, but having seen how well the show rounded out these other characters mentioned in the book, reading felt a little 2 dimensional to me.

While Asher has dealt with such a touchy subject in a wonderfully sensitive way, he could have easily explored the repercussions more – the way the show did.

There are so many questions left to be answered it may leave the reader frustrated, but isn’t that the case when someone makes the choice of suicide? Aren’t those left behind plagued with questions, even if they know ‘why’?

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Filed under contemporary, Promo, Review, Suspense, YA

Review – The Talisman Chronicles – T. M. Franklin

Summary:

A mysterious house. An old journal. A dusty chest holding more than secrets.

Each talisman found in the chest grants the chosen a gift, a unique ability.But with that power comes a burden–the duty of The Order.

Something is coming.

Something evil.

And it’s up to The Order to stop it.

The Talisman Chronicles – All Six Episodes Available for the First Time in a Single Volume

 

Image result for the talisman chronicles tm franklin

 

Review:

Six short stories, all centred around a house and a mysterious chest. This is T. M. Franklin at her YA Paranormal/romance best!

Window:

I originally read this when it was first released, and this is my review from back then (I will edit at the end)

The touch of paranormal to what is a seemingly normal house makes for an interesting story. Chloe has always been linked to the house and the picture window in the living room. It shows her things. Thinks of the past, the present, and what could be.

Chloe, apart from her gift, is your average teenage girl who isn’t part of the ‘in crowd’ at school, preferring to spend her time with her best friend Miranda. Ethan, the boy who lives across the road whom she has a crush on, used to be their friend, but became big man on campus and decided to hang with the popular crowd. Chloe and Miranda are fine about this, until the house shows Ethan in danger.

What follows is a very sweet story about friendship and caring for others and hilarious Twitter conversations. Without spoiling the story, I will say it took me about an hour to read it and I loved every minute. The characters are likeable and relateable, even with the gift Chloe has, and the reader cares about them just as much as the house does.

I want a house like that, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy

*EDIT*

The way Franklin has extended and adapted this story to make it the beginning of a series is fantastic as she hasn’t lost the soul of the original story. It smoothly leads into the next without any hitches!

Timepiece:

Following on from the first book, Wren is new into town. After Chloe and Miranda become friends with her, and she’s having weird dreams about Chloe’s house, she begins to embrace her destiny – afterall, that is what it is.

By the end of this book, it’s still not completely clear why these things are happening to the teens in their town, but Franklin’s effortless writing style makes you want to keep reading until the very end so you have all the answers.

Gauntlet:

I think Beck, the main in this episode of The Talisman Chronicles, is my favourite character. He’s focussed on doing well at school and with his swimming, but there’s something about him, a serious side that is so endearing. What we don’t know, until this episode, is about his sister, and the crap he and his dad are going through with her and Beck’s mother.

While all that is going on, Beck is brought into the fold with the others and the prophecy. His destiny is explained to him, and it takes him a while to get used to it and his relationship with Wren. He’s a strong character with flaws that make him all the more relateable.

Mantle:

I have to admit. This episode was my last favourite (which I still enjoyed), but I can’t work out why. It still had the action and a lot more resistance from Maia to everything happening. She was the first to not just blindly accept what was happening to them all. I liked that about her as it made it feel that little more realistic, but there was something a little… off about her episode.

While a lot of questions left open by the previous episodes are answered in this book, more are created by the end of it which is frustrating in such a good way!

Shield:

Dylan has been a character readers have met a couple of times due to his knowing Chloe and Miranda at school, and then his dad becoming involved with the Order. When Dylan is given his gift, his dad wants nothing more to do with them, and orders Dylan not to either, but the draw is far too strong, for them both.

Dylan defies his dad and puts himself in danger, but eventually his dad realises he needs to do this, they ALL do.

Prison:

Once again, Chloe is the main in this episode, but by the time this one comes around, we can see how much stress she’s under and how tired she is by everything. All she wants to do is protect Ethan and others not in The Order while The Order prepare for the big fight.

Sadly, it seems that not everyone will survive the battle and this is weighing on Chloe and her friends worry about her.

Are The Order strong enough to band together and do battle?

 

All in all, this series is fabulous, and I couldn’t put it down. Not one episode slowed the flow of the entire story, and there were a couple of moments that shocked me as I hadn’t seen them coming. I’ve miss T. M. Franklin’s writing, and as ever, I need more!

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Filed under Action, contemporary, Favourites, NA, Novella, Paranormal, Promo, Review, Romance, Series, Short Story, Supernatural, YA

Review – Angelfall – Susan Ee

Summary:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

 

Image result for angelfall cover

 

Review:

 

While this book is a solid 3* from me, I have to admit that the first third of the book were a bit slow moving. Penryn’s inner monologue was a little grating, but once she and raffe are on their own, it picked up.

Not having read many books/series about angels, but having gone through a spate of apocalyptic books; I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Angelfall. Set two months or so after angels took over (I’m assuming Earth, but this book only really deals with America), life as we know it has pretty much gone to shit. Apparently, celestial beings are pretty shitty – but that wasn’t too much of a surprise. Penryn, her disabled sister, and her mum are trying to escape their tiny apartment and get to safety.

We didn’t really get much insight into Paige until after angels have plucked her and flown off with her. This give Penryn her drive to survive after being separated from her family, and thrust into the compay of Raffe, and angel that has had his wings hacked off by other angels.

The mystery surround him was the main thing that kept me reading when I was getting a bit fed up of Penryn’s admiration of him and her apparent fabulousness. She’s a martial arts expert (ish) and apparently pretty beautiful, but we aren’t given much evidence of this.

Once Raffe and Penryn go on the move, things got a little more interesting, particularly within the camp and their subsequent escape.

A few things irritated me with the story, but not enough to make me put it down for too long, and I do want to read the rest in the series. It’s a great idea, but not brilliantly executed, but I was able to overlook that and escape for a few hours.

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Filed under Angels, contemporary, Review, Romance, Series, YA

Release Tour & Giveaway – The Enchanter – Kristy Centeno

 

ENCHANTER

The Giver of Life Trilogy, book 1
by Kristy Centeno
Genre: YA/NA Paranormal Fantasy
They have a past. But will they have a future?

Leah Parker is resilient and hardworking. She’d always prided herself in maintaining a level head, even under pressure. Everything changes when she begins to see strange apparitions and hear ghostly voices on the morning of her birthday.
In a blink of the eyes, Leah’s life takes a drastic turn that spirals her into the unknown. Something is out to get her, but she’s unsure if she’s losing her mind, or the faces and demands of the dead are real. Unable to find the answers she needs, she has no choice but to rely on ex-best friend, Brandon Morris, for help.
But as she will soon discover, Brandon has his own secrets. Some of which defy logic and only add to the mystery surrounding Leah. And mix feelings between the two complicate matters by getting in the way of what they really want, and what they must do.
Can Brandon lighten the load on her by figuring out what or who wants her dead? Or will their past history get in the way of the storm brewing just beyond Leah’s grasp?

#1
“Are you scared of me? Is that it?” As if to make a point, he covered the distance between us in three short steps, and backed me off into the landing to the stairwell behind me, stopping only when our bodies were a few inches from coming into physical contact. The invigorating scent of his cologne invaded my nostrils, causing my mind to go into total and complete turmoil.
I shut down, unsure how to react. I hadn’t anticipated being cornered in a vulnerable spot where we were shielded from view. Normally, I was a sucker for guys who smelled as good as he did, but this was Brandon Morris. I couldn’t decide whether to lean closer and inhale slowly, or scream and push him away.
“Are you?”
I wanted to deny his accusation, but he could see the truth in my eyes. It was pointless to pretend as if he hadn’t just sent my heart into a race. By then he could see how badly I shook. I could not disguise it fast enough for him not to notice.
“Should I be?” I asked softly, fear forcing my voice to quake.
#2
Fighting the nausea threatening to consume me, I made a mad dash for alleyway’s entrance. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I shrieked and sprinted faster, almost colliding into the thin man who appeared out of nowhere in front of me. I managed to stop in time to crash into him, but as soon as I caught sight of his profile I regretted not plowing right through him.
He looked like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Tall, long, and lanky, with shoulder-length white hair, unnaturally pale skin, and eyes that gave the impression of missing irises, he was no less horrifying than the black figure I’d seen at the stairwell or the ghostly woman in my bedroom. He was clad from top to bottom in dark clothing, which gave him all the more menacing feel. As he stood, staring at me in a way that communicated I was about to become food, I could have sworn my stomach dropped to my feet. This was no ordinary attacker. He didn’t have rape or mugging in mind, but something much more sinister.
#3
Movement several yards behind him caught my attention and I glanced around his left shoulder to the woods, noting the quick blur of a figure darting from behind one tree to another. Something was off about the way this person rushed by. It sparked a sense of familiarity that horrified me.
“Brandon, I don’t think we’re alone anymore,” I murmured as another flash of white scurried ever closer. It was too dark for me to determine who it was, but I was certain of one thing: we were being watched.
“What…?” The meaning of my words didn’t immediately dawn on him.
“Someone’s out there.”
Brandon spun around abruptly. He scanned the area briefly as he backed into me while sucking in air. His suddenly rigid posture warned me whoever was out there was not friendly.
Without a single word of explanation, Brandon turned to me and took my hand in his, pulling me down the path we’d used to get to the gazebo. He towed me along in a haste, leaving me no room to protest, or figure out what the hell was going on. A weird, high-pitched hissing sound emanated from somewhere behind us. It startled me and I was tempted to glance over my shoulder, but Brandon’s next words stopped me.
“Don’t look, Leah!” His tone was as serious as I’d ever heard it, which freaked me out even more. What was he so scared of?

Kristy Centeno is the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series.

She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. When she’s not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.
Website ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ Amazon ✯ Facebook ✯ Blog ✯ Pinterest ✯ Google+

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Filed under Blog Tour, contemporary, excerpts, giveaway, NA, New Release, Paranormal, Promo, Romance, Series, YA

Release Tour – The Exchange Series: The Complete Collection – M. B. Feeney

 

 

The Exchange Series: The Complete Collection

by M.B. Feeney

Genre: YA/NA Romance
Born and bred in the UK, Holly is getting the chance of a lifetime—six weeks abroad. The Kings, a host family in the US, have invited her to stay with them and get a chance to experience life as an American. When she discovers that the King family includes two teenage boys, will she be glad she came or ready to hightail it back across the pond?
Aiden King’s heart has been broken, and he’s taking his anger out on his brother, Tyler.
Can he, with the help of his High School Guidance Counsellor, work through his problems.
Tyler King has moved away from his family in order to help himself move on from the mistakes he made in High School.
A summer romance could lead to so much more, it could lead to him finally surrendering to his repentance for his past actions.
Ellie King has a plan. Do well in her Senior Year at High School before going to study in London, England. That’s all she wants in her immediate future.
Writing to John Davids not only cements her desire to study in the UK, but gives her more if a reason to leave her family in the US.
Reluctance Excerpt


December 2011

So, Ms. “It’s MIZZ not MISS” Jones gave me this journal. Apparently writing my feelings down will help me deal with my ‘anger issues’ and the ‘depression’ I’ve been suffering since Jessie ended things between us.
I admit, I am angry, and have been for two months, but I’m not depressed. Yeah, I was hurt and shit, but now I’m just angry. All the time; an emotion I’m not used to feeling so much. Up until now, I’ve never done the ‘angry’ stuff; never even knew I had a temper as such.
She’s ‘advised’ me to start at the beginning as much as I can with these dumb entries. I don’t want to do it, but as we have to read them together at our weekly meetings, I have no choice. At least one entry a day. . . This whole thing sucks ass.
There’s no point starting at the very beginning, though; back then everything was good; real good. No, I think my seventeenth birthday is where I need to start this thing. . .
Aiden
Repentance Excerpt
When his mom first told him a British chick was coming to stay with them, Tyler had been like a shark tasting fresh blood. He was going to charm her into his bed, then let her head back home, he hadn’t forseen her coming back thanks to his brother knocking her up. What choice did any of them have but to have her in the house, this time permanently?
“Hey, where d’you go just then?” Anna’s question brought his attention back to the present. Once again he could feel the warm sand on his bare feet and her small form in his arms. He smiled down at her.
“Sorry, I was thinking about home.” He bent to capture her lips with his own. The kiss making his heart rate pick up as every other kiss they’d shared had done. When he boarded the plane back in Arizona, he’d never expected much to happen on his vacation. He’d planned on lounging on the beach during the day, and drinking in bars in the evenings, but as he was checking into his hotel, he’d spotted Anna struggling with her bags and from the moment he’d helped her into the elevator, his plans had changed.
Plans that had never included falling in love with someone in a two week period.
M. B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, two kids and a dog. She often procrastinates by listening to music of all genres and trying to get ‘just one more paragraph’ written on whichever WIP is open; she is also a serious doodler and chocoholic. Writing has been her one true love ever since she could spell, and publishing is the final culmination of her hard work and ambition.
Her publishing career began with two novellas, and she currently has multiple projects under way, in the hopes that her portfolio of what have been described as “everyday love stories for everyday people” will continue to grow. Always having something on the go can often lead to block which eventually gets dissolved by good music and an even better book.
Her main reason for writing is to not only give her readers enjoyment, but also to create a story and characters that stay with readers long after the book is finished, and possibly make someone stop and think “what if . . . ”
Facebook ✯ Tumblr ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ AmazonBlog ✯ Wattpad

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Filed under Blog Tour, British, contemporary, excerpts, NA, New Release, Promo, Release Day, Romance, Series, YA

Release Tour – Rana: Teenage Queen – Liza O’Connor

 

 

RANA: TEENAGE QUEEN

by Liza O’Connor

Genre: YA Fantasy
Rana was only sixteen when she became queen. Her first challenge was quelling an internal coup while a massive army stormed the gates of her castle. Her enemies thought her a child, but she had powers they never suspected. She also had great dreams for her people, and she would do whatever was necessary to make them happen, even marrying a prince she did not want.
Claiming the right to be queen and becoming ruler of Stronghold turned out to be two very different things. Upon locating the bodies of the king and queen, the first point became established as fact.
However, the ministers wished to declare her a child, incapable of ruling Stronghold.
“I may be small in stature, as my mother, but I am a woman and if you call me a child again, I will have you thrown in prison.”
Minister Jerome sneered and shook his head. “Listen to her! Only a child would make such a threat. We have laws. One cannot be thrown in jail for speaking the truth.”
“General, arrest this man for treason.”
General Collins did not budge from her side, but with the slightest nod, two of the general’s soldiers moved quickly to secure the errant minister.
The minister attempted to break from their hold. His attempts would have been laughable if the situation was not so dire. “You cannot arrest me for treason just because I speak the truth! And who are these men? They are not of our army. Where is General Hack?”
She waited until the man was gone before addressing the others. “General Hack assassinated my father.”
“Do you have proof?” Another minister challenged.
“You have my word on the matter. I was there. I saw it all. He ordered his men to fire into the tower, claiming it had been overrun with the enemy. Only he knew that was not true since he had just left the tower. He knew the only two people within were myself and his king.” She eyed the ministers, waiting for further traitors to identify themselves by arguing with her.
Unfortunately, the remaining ministers, whether for her or against, had the sense to keep their mouths shut.
Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.



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Filed under Blog Tour, excerpts, Fantasy, New Release, Promo, Release Day, YA

Pre-Order Tour & Cover Reveal – The Exchange Series: The Complete Collection – M. B. Feeney

 

 

 

The Exchange Series: The Complete Collection

by M.B. Feeney

Genre: YA/NA Romance

Previously sold individually in ebook format. Now available in one singe edition in both ebook and paperback.
Born and bred in the UK, Holly is getting the chance of a lifetime—six weeks abroad. The Kings, a host family in the US, have invited her to stay with them and get a chance to experience life as an American. When she discovers that the King family includes two teenage boys, will she be glad she came or ready to hightail it back across the pond?
Aiden King’s heart has been broken, and he’s taking his anger out on his brother, Tyler.
Can he, with the help of his High School Guidance Counsellor, work through his problems.
Tyler King has moved away from his family in order to help himself move on from the mistakes he made in High School.
A summer romance could lead to so much more, it could lead to him finally surrendering to his repentance for his past actions.
Ellie King has a plan. Do well in her Senior Year at High School before going to study in London, England. That’s all she wants in her immediate future.
Writing to John Davids not only cements her desire to study in the UK, but gives her more if a reason to leave her family in the US.
FROM DEAR DIARY
April 2012

Dear Diary,
God, you’d think that after all this time, I’d have a much cooler greeting than that!
I just wanted to say that I hate airports. Nothing to do, other than sit around, waiting… waiting… oh, and more waiting. What am I waiting around in the airport for? So nice of you to ask. I’m finally off to America (I’m doing a silent happy dance in my seat!) for six weeks. I never thought that my college would have arranged something like this to give a bunch of seventeen and eighteen year olds “life experience”. I mean, it’s not even a ‘proper’ exchange programme. No-one’s off to the U.K. to stay in my house in return. I just get to go and stay with a family I have never met before. Oh crap, now I’m getting nervous.
Oh well, it’s too late, flight’s being called.
Holly x
Amazon ✯  D2DGoodreads
M. B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, two kids and a dog. She often procrastinates by listening to music of all genres and trying to get ‘just one more paragraph’ written on whichever WIP is open; she is also a serious doodler and chocoholic. Writing has been her one true love ever since she could spell, and publishing is the final culmination of her hard work and ambition.
Her publishing career began with two novellas, and she currently has multiple projects under way, in the hopes that her portfolio of what have been described as “everyday love stories for everyday people” will continue to grow. Always having something on the go can often lead to block which eventually gets dissolved by good music and an even better book.
Her main reason for writing is to not only give her readers enjoyment, but also to create a story and characters that stay with readers long after the book is finished, and possibly make someone stop and think “what if . . . ”

Facebook ✯ Tumblr ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ AmazonBlog ✯ Wattpad

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Filed under Blog Tour, British, contemporary, excerpts, NA, Promo, Romance, Series, Upcoming Release, YA

Review – Silence – Natasha Preston

Synopsis:

For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world.

Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer?

When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?

Review:

Reading the synopsis of this book, I ad a feeling what the main theme of the story was going to be, and I wasn’t wrong. It had the potential to be an amazing book because of that theme, but sadly, for me at least, it fell a little short of the mark.

While Preston dealt with the subject of selective mutism in a fantastic and sensitive way, but the character of Oakley herself never felt fully formed. I understand she was only fifteen, but she seemed younger than that to me. Cole was a bit better, but not much. He was supposed to be seventeen, and the way he spoke reflected that, but now and then he seemed younger also. It wasn’t anything in particular either of them did, it was some of the language Preston used. It was often younger than it needed to be.

I loved the friendship between Oakley and Cole, and his acceptance of her as she is. This aspect was by far my favourite part of the story – couple with their relationships with their siblings. Oakley’s mum was constantly trying to repair her broken daughter, and that often took over her love for her.

The bullying in the school was well done also, but the character of Julian confused me. He bullied her, yet what? He felt like a bit of an ‘add on’ – a character given to the readers for someone to hate, but without much substance.

The pacing of the book was very slow – until the final 3-4 chapters. Then it went by too fast. The balance wasn’t quite there, and more than once I was tempted to put it down, but I wanted to know if I was right about my suspicions.

However, the ending… that came out of left field completely. I understood the reasoning behind it, but I would have preferred it be told from Oakley’s point of view rather than Cole’s to give it more depth and to help the readers understand the thought process behind it.

I will read the rest in the series, simply because I want to see these characters improve and grow, but I’m not in a rush to grab them just yet.

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Release Tour – The Game Begins – Victoria Danann

 

 

THE GAME BEGINS

R. Caine High School
by Victoria Danann
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy Myths
When it came to the attention of the old ones that their creations, the Earth gods, had been playing games at the expense of humankind for millennia, they put a stop to it. But the rebellious gods were far too addicted to their games to give them up. After several summit meetings, they voted to use their own children as players and locate the playing field in the most treacherous environment in the known universe. High school.
To make it even more interesting, they would strip their children of their memories and withhold the rules of the game. The players believed they were ordinary kids until they were transferred to R. Caine High School. When odd things begin to happen, the players gradually realize they have special gifts or attributes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t die.

My name is Ever Moore.
I know. It makes me wince every time I say it. When I’m eighteen, I plan to have it legally changed to something that doesn’t make people laugh. But right now I’m stuck.
My dad thinks puns are the highest form of humor. He calls it ‘word play’. That’s right. I’m the spawn of nerds. My dad creates video games. My mother is an ethics professor at UCLA who thinks the battle between good and evil begins at home.
If you want to know just how weird it can get at the Thanksgiving table, I can go one better. My grandfather was a big deal rock star in the seventies. You wouldn’t know the name of the band. So there’s no point in name dropping. After a visit, he exits with a two-finger peace salute like all the other well-adjusted hippie grandparents, but he doesn’t say, “Peace.”
He says, “Rock steady.”
Ugh!

My family is big on manners. They’re too strict to let me say what I think, especially about Buzz’s love life. My grandfather doesn’t want to be called Grandpa or Grandad or Gramps or anything close to normal. Oh no. He wants to be called ‘Buzz’. I have no idea why. That is not his name.
Anyway, the best protest I can mount is rolling my eyes. I keep trying to get his attention and roll my eyes back further into my head when he does the ‘rock steady’ thing, but he will not be deterred.
Anyway I was leading a completely typical and deliciously angsty teenage life in Austin, Texas when my parents were suddenly offered jobs in the LA area at the same time. It was weird, but weird is part of my normal. Always has been.
Since my grandad, the rocker, still lives in LA with the latest girlfriend who’s barely legal – she’s two years older than I am and her name is Charmin, yes, like the toilet paper. If that was my name, I’d have the decency to go by something like Charm, which would really be making lemonade from lemmons. But not Charmin. I don’t think she’s bright enough to understand what people are thinking whenever they say her name. Anyway, with the jobs and the fact that ‘Buzz’ lives there, moving seemed like a good idea.
To them.

~~~

Now here we are in beautiful Oxnard. Yeah. I know. It sounds like somebody was in the middle of a sneeze when a cough barked out. I try looking it up to see what an oxnard is. Of course that was a circular exercise; ‘see city in California’. So I try ‘nard’. Closest thing is spikenard which is an herb. At that point I lose interest.
I’m stuck with Oxnard and, at least for the time being, Oxnard is stuck with me. So here’s a rundown of the good, the bad, and the boring.
The good news is that we managed to get a boat dock house. It’s on the water, but not on the beach. No extra space. There are three bedrooms. Guess who gets the ‘master’? That left two little rooms for my brother and me to fight over. I pulled rank – I’m four years older – and got the one facing the front. That means the water view.
Among other noteworthy travel facts, Oxnard is in a valley between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Padres, which is a cluster of mountain ranges. I’m told that you could be surfing at the beach while looking at snow-covered mountains. Put that in the kind of cool column.
Now for the bad. The house is tiny compared to where we lived in Austin. It’s going to be an adjustment.
As far as boring, I know no one here. As in NO ONE!
The only thing that could be worse than that is the fact that on Monday I’m going to have to walk into a new high school. Did I mention that I know NO ONE? Not even my brother will be in my school, which, okay, I admit I’m thankful for that because, if things could be worse, that would be it.
I’ve seen it. The school, I mean.
When nobody was there, I walked around the grounds with my dog, Elke. She’s a Norwegian Elkhound, really smart, really pretty, and really sure she doesn’t have to do what I say.
The school is kind of a gothic monstrosity that couldn’t be more out of place in SoCal. It looks like a Wizard of Oz tornado picked it up in Crumbling, Maine and dropped it in Oxnard.
I imagine the ground shaking when it hit. Boom.
How do I feel about starting a new school in two days?
As a sophomore?
Let me put it this way. Last summer my parents decided we were going to take a family trip to England. They said the educational value was astronomical. It would be like a field trip on steroids. Their words. Not mine.
So we went. But we didn’t go like normal families and stay in hotels. Of course not.
We stayed in family hostels. What’s that, you ask? Imagine going to camp with other families and sleeping in big bunk rooms with people of all ages, both sexes, some of whom make noises in their sleep that you wouldn’t think were possible for humans.
Don’t even ask about the shared bath.
Anyway, we went on one of those Bloody Tower tours in London where they trot you past all the torture tools and devices. Our guide tried to give cryptic descriptions about how they were used, because of his perception that my brother is of a tender and sensitive young age. The guide kept glancing at my brother nervously like he was afraid the information would scar the boy’s precious psyche, imprinting evil on the tabula rosa. On the contrary my brother probably invented some of those devices himself in past lifetimes.
The point I’m getting to is this. Given the choice, I’d gladly choose the rack over having to walk into a new high school as a sophomore where I know NOBODY! But this is the real world and I don’t have a choice.
I’m feeling sorry enough for myself to consider curling up into a ball when my brother barges into my room without knocking. “What the…? We moved here three weeks ago, Never. You’ve had time to unpack. You’re supposed to be the neat one. Miss Smart Perfect Suck up.” He punctuates that with a perfectly disgusting sucking noise.
Following his line of sight to the bed, the chair, the desk, I’m forced to agree that clothes draped everywhere looks like a breakdown straight ahead. Naturally I counter by going on the offensive.
“Nobody invited you in. Try knocking! I could have been getting dressed.”
“So what? You’ve got nothing that interests me.”
“Idiot. It’s called privacy. I deserve to have some in my OWN ROOM!”
“What’s this about?” He waves his arm to indicate the trunk show.
“I’m deciding what to wear the first day.”
He laughs that unbelievably aggravating laugh that never fails to make me want to pitch him out a second story window. By the way, there is one close by. It draws my gaze and gives life to my fantasy of hearing him scream on the way down.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” he asks, wearing his smarmiest smuggest sneer face. “Well, sit at the feet of the master, little girl, and I’ll tell you how to conquer first day fever and win.” He sounds like an infomercial for a self-help guru. Maybe he’ll do okay in SoCal. “When you walk in, look for the biggest toughest-looking girl around. Then you walk straight up to her and punch her in the mouth.”
No. He’s not going to do okay in SoCal.
“Levi. This is California. They have zero tolerance for that kind of thing.” He shrugs, completely unconcerned. I put my hand to my head. “Wait. Wait. I’m getting a premonition. Yes. Yes. I can see it now. Mom and Dad are going to get a call from your vice principal within ten minutes of dropping you off at school. He’s going to tell them that they’re raising a barbarian who’s prison bound.”
“Just telling you. It sets the tone for the entire year. Your life can be bumpy or smooth. Take it from me. Your barbarian is my bad ass.” He holds a finger up. “Oh. Did I mention the part about run like hell after you punch Alice Assault in the mouth?”
I blink at him, wondering for the multi-thousandth time which one of us was adopted. It was probably me. “Say your name slowly.”
He rolls his eyes, but gets the message and leaves.
My brother’s name is Levi. We’re not Hebrew. My parents just liked the jeans which, I guess, must have been cool at one time. If he says his name slowly, it sounds like, “Leave. I.”
If you’re thinking that’s mean, don’t even go there. He gets back at me by calling me Never and cawing like Edgar Allen Poe’s raven, especially if I have friends around.
Naturally he leaves the bedroom door standing open just to irritate me. I slam it, hear my mother’s faint shout saying don’t slam the door, lock it, and turn back to the impossible task of figuring out what people at this alien outpost consider first day of school clothes. If only I could…
That’s when I realize I might get a preview into life at R. Caine High School. I open the laptop and pull up images.
Why didn’t I think of this before?
Track and field. Lots of running and jumping enthusiasm then.

Football. Concussion anyone?

Basketball. No comment.

A CPR dummy. How many times has that thing been kissed?

Softball. Hmmm. Maybe.

Graduation. Gold robes. Ew.

And finally, a photo of kids swarming a large paved area, not wearing athletic gear or some kind of club tee shirt. Whether they were coming or going I can’t tell. The main thing is I can see the clothes and they aren’t all that different from what I’m used to. In fact, the picture could have been taken at my old school. Sigh.

So alright. I can do this. All I have to do is pick out something that makes me feel reasonably attractive. It’s the first day of school. Not the end of the world.
Right?
Right?
Lots of people have been through this and survived.
Yes.
I know I’m taking that on faith, but since I haven’t heard urban myths about kids going to new schools and never being heard from again, I’m going with that assumption. Or trying to.
~~~
Who am I kidding?
Doomsday looms.
I mean you wouldn’t think a person could actually fear lunch. Not the food, of course. Although some might say fearing the food made in the cafeteria is a test of Darwin’s theory. I don’t think Darwin’s theory applies to humans anymore. Modern medicine is pretty good at interfering with the impending doom and saving the day no matter how badly we botch genetics.
It probably seems like I’m obsessing over the word ‘doom’, but it’s just that kind of weekend. The kind that will live in infamy forever.
What was I saying? Oh, yeah. I was talking about the rites of lunch. The quest for that magical place where you can be part of a herd of the like-minded; meaning people who understand you well enough that you can talk to each other, eat together, gossip about whatever, and kid yourself into thinking they don’t gossip about you when you’re not there.
I look at the clock. Again.
The first day of my sophomore year should be a celebration of not being a freshman anymore. But that’s for kids who get to stay put. Not for people like myself who’ve been forcibly relocated, that means moved against my will, to the other side of the country.
By this same time tomorrow I’ll know if my quest was successful.
Will I be able to locate the magical lunch herd on the first day?
Have I been a good person?
Do I deserve that fate?
Why yes. Yes, I do.
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New York Times bestselling author of eighteen romances including paranormal, scifi, fantasy, contemporary, and teen. Victoria’s Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR the past FOUR YEARS IN A ROW. This past year two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place Paranormal Romance of the Year category. – Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.
Her paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on “imaginary” creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and, occasionally, enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, werewolves, hybrids, psychics, or past life therapists. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners… usually.
The rich characterizations come from being a lifelong student of behavior, casually, and a serious student of behavior academically. She also studied comparative religion, myths, and Dark Ages history.
Victoria lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.
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Review – Fangirl – Angel Lawson

Synopsis:

Ruby Miller has her summer all planned out. Sitting by the pool. Babysitting for some extra cash. Packing for college. All of that changes when a fan video Ruby and her best friend, Iris, create goes viral gaining their little fansite a ton of hits and the attention of the big wigs in Hollywood.

Ruby and Iris fall into the world of actors, movie sets, teen stars and elusive artists. Not only is their friendship put to the test when Ruby’s cast in the lead role of the newest zombie flick, she must straddle the line between fiction and reality, love and lust, and being true to herself.

 

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Review:

Red Stars 5

 

Reading the Death Fields books first made me realise that they were a kind of continuation from this book, so naturally, I had to read it (I get possessive over linked books and a series)

Fangirl deals with Ruby and Iris – two utter fangirls (I see what Lawson did there) over the Zocopalypse comics (The original title of the first Death Fields book) and the character of Alex (and Wyatt obviously). They run a blog about it, be it news about the comics, it’s creator Gabe Foster, and anything else to do with the franchise. They decide to make a fan video of a section of the story, and that is the beginning of things blowing up.

Anyyone who has been a fangirl/boy will understand Ruby and Iris as characters. They are defiant in their adoration for Zocopalypse, the characters, and the creator – but their blog has rivals. Mostly, in the form of Ruby’s ex-boyfriend, Reid. He gets jealous of the attention their video gets them – Ruby in particular, As someone who has been involved in a fandom blog back in the day, I totally ‘got’ this aspect of the story. This and the tweets about the fandom brought smiles and memories to my face. Sometimes, I would love to go back, others I would never deal with all that again.

While the story itself is a bit ‘out there’ in what happens, it was a great escapism story that would make any reader wonder what they would do in those situations.  That to me makes a great book and story.

The writing is top notch and Lawson makes us believe we are a part of the fandom, even if only while we’re reading the book.

 

 

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