Tag Archive | Teen

REVIEW: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June + Recipe Link

Wow, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had a chance to post a review. Sorry about that! I am woefully behind. I’m actually feeling like I might need to take a brief reading break, both to give my brain a break and to give myself time to post my backlog of reviews. (Maybe it’ll help me focus on my Super Secret Group Project Short Story too…)

Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I have a problem with going to bed at a decent time. My FitBit tells me to start getting ready for bed every night at 11pm. And there I am at 2 am saying, “Just one more chapter!”

This past week I’ve been working really hard to fight my bad habits though. I managed to go to sleep at a semi-normal hour like a real grown up. (Except for the night I had to be at work until 12:30 am.) Fingers crossed I can keep this up and establish a good routine!

Also new this week? I tried a new recipe, using an ingredient I hate (Balsamic Vinegar) and ended up loving it! WHO KNEW!

You can check out the recipe for Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts and Veggies on DamnDelicious.net (1o year old LOVED the chicken, and liked the asparagus and potatoes. She wouldn’t eat more than a bite of the rest. 5 year old LOVED the potatoes, tolerated the chicken, and wouldn’t touch the rest. Husband said I put in too many tomatoes – which were one of my favorite parts of the recipe!)

We’ll definitely make this again. I added the red bell pepper for extra color (it was on sale). This was my first time cooking asparagus and I think it turned out pretty well. The Husband was shocked at how big (fat) the asparagus was…. but I’ve only ever eaten it once before so I didn’t even realize it was huge until looking back at the original recipe’s photos! Oh well, it was tasty!

Without further ado, enjoy today’s book review!


It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Read: March 2 – March 7, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins

Release Date: May 9, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 304

Reading Challenge(s): Retellings 2017, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

It Started With Goodbye is a charming, modern adaptation of Cinderella. When sixteen-year-old Tatum finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, she ends up arrested and sentenced to a summer of community service and a hefty fine. Shortly thereafter her father leaves on a business trip, leaving poor Tatum alone with her overbearing and impossible-to-please stepmother and her perfect step-sister, Tilly.

Worst. Summer. Ever.

Or is it?

Despite being forced into manual labor and iced out by her bff, Tatum finds new friends and learns a lot about her family, friendships, and herself over the summer. With the encouragement of her “fairy godmother” (aka her stepmother’s mom), she starts a secret online design business. And begins flirting online with a client, her very own prince charming.

I loved the dialogue in this book. I would love to hang out with Tatum. I loved all of the characters actually, I thought they were very well rounded. The “evil stepmother” wasn’t really evil, she always meant well and just didn’t see eye to eye with Tatum. Neither of them communicated with each other very well. I loved the “fairy godmother”, she was a real gem, offering just the right advice when Tatum needed it. I even loved Tilly, the step-sister—the perfect daughter—who Tatum comes to realize maybe isn’t all that bad after all.

I’m not sure this is a book that will stay with me forever, but I truly enjoyed this story and the characters and would absolutely recommend it for fans of young adult fiction, and especially modern fairy tale retellings.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

I stared blankly at him, still trying to process what he was saying. My head was spinning, and it sounded like he was speaking Greek while his cheeks were stuffed full of mashed potatoes.

“Yes, I know exactly what I’ve done. And that would be a big fat nothing wrong. The only thing I’m guilty of is trying to protect my friend from her sketchy boyfriend, and failing. No, I didn’t know he was going to steal that stuff. No, I didn’t help him. My plan was to go to Mason’s, buy some pencils, maybe help Ashlyn pick out some nail polish, and come home. Contrary to popular belief, a field trip to our city’s finest was not on my agenda today. So can everyone please calm down?”

None of them had on eyeliner or showed bare knees, two things every parent knew were gateways into delinquency.

“My leprechaun actually got deported. He brought illegal “items” into the country when he arrived, and DHS sent him right back. Such a shame.”

Abby’s sympathetic face was on, and she looked itchy to give me a hug, but also wary, like she was afraid that if she touched me, I might cry or break or punch her. Maybe all three.

Sometimes I was rage. Sometimes I wallowed. Most of the time, though, I felt defeated.

I sucked in a breath. Flirting in person was so much better than over the internet.

 

REVIEW: More Than Friends by Monica Murphy

More Than Friends by Monica Murphy

Series: Friends #2

Read: February 20 – March 2, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Genre: YA Romance

Pages: 320

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA, Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

He’s not perfect, but he’s all I want…

I’m your average girl at your average high school, trying to figure out my place in life. After catching my now ex-boyfriend messing around with my now ex-best friend, I’ve made some big changes. No more band, no more backstabbing friends and no more boring old life. Now I have new friends, a new job and new interests.

But there’s a certain someone who’s interested in me, and I don’t get it. Jordan Tuttle could have anyone he wants. He’s the most popular boy in school. Rich, gorgeous, smart and the star quarterback, he’s perfect. Yet he acts like he wants no one else but…me.

So despite my fears and doubt, I let him get close. Probably too close. I discover that he’s not so perfect after all, but it doesn’t matter. I’m falling for him, even though he runs so hot and cold. I know someday he’s going to break my heart.

And I’m going to let him.


REVIEW

I received a copy of More Than Friends from Goodreads First Reads. I took one look at that cover and wanted it. It’s so pretty!

Alas, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I’d hoped. I read through it fairly quickly, it was a page turner, but I guess I just prefer books with less teen drama and different plot devices.

As far as the characters go, I liked them. Both Amanda and Tuttle. They both had depth and character flaws. They felt real. Tuttle in particular. He comes across as the perfect golden boy, but once you get inside his head you realize he has a lot of baggage. A LOT of baggage!

It’s been a while since I was in high school, and perhaps I just wasn’t / didn’t hang out with the kinds of kids in this book, but I was surprised that a book with such a tame cover would contain so much sexual content! As a parent, I would not be happy to catch my own young adult reading this book, which seems to glorify sex in high school and make it seem as though everyone is doing it. And yeah, maybe I’m letting my prudish side show, but those are my feelings. I prefer my teen fiction to remain clean. If anything happens it’s behind closed doors/fade to black, as well as being between two characters who actually know where they stand with one another, because throughout this entire book Amanda didn’t know if she was actually with Tuttle or not.

As a whole, this is a well written book filled with teen drama drama drama, but there is far too much sexual content IMO for a YA book. I’d have much rather seen them at least in college.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

It’s like I’m always waiting for the bomb to drop. For the joke to be on me. No one in a million years would ever match me with Jordan Tuttle. Not even me.

 

Ugh. I’m actually pissed people aren’t noticing me when I don’t want them to notice me. I make no sense.

 

“Wait a minute. You apologized to her?” Livvy shakes her head. “Why.”

“Because what I said to her was wrong. It bothered me all night. I had to tell her I was sorry.”

“You’re too nice.” She’s still shaking her head.

Maybe you’re not nice enough, I almost tell her, but I don’t. That’s opening a whole new bag of trouble.

 

Whispering “sorry” under my breath—because yes, I do talk to my car sometimes, thank you very much—I turn the key and the engine starts right up.

 

I have no photos of Jordan and me together. None. And in this social media driven world we live in, if there’s no photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

 

“Passion only lasts so long, especially with those two. They are a prime example that you cannot sustain a relationship based merely on passion.”

REVIEW: Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag

Today I’m blogging as part of the book tour for Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag. This is an amazing book you guys. It may be YA, but adults can enjoy it as well.

In other news, I’m writing a new story. A novella actually. It’s YA contemporary romance taking place in a small town in Montana. I’m super excited for this project. It’s projected release will be next summer.

We also had quite the adventure this past weekend. The kids and hubby discovered a litter of stray kittens in our backyard! We have a friend who works at the Humane Society so we borrowed a trap and caught 4 of the 5 kittens and brought them in. I’ve been watching for the mama cat and the last baby, but so far they’ve been MIA. I hope someone else catches them or they come back. I hate knowing they’re out there when it’s getting colder and colder out. I feel a little guilty separating the babies from their mom and sibling, but they were all girl kittens; can you imagine the number of stray cats running around the neighborhood had we not caught them and brought them in? I know they’ll be happy and well cared for in their new homes once they’re socialized and adopted.

Without further ado, the review….


Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag

Read: Fall 2015

Format: Unedited Ebook ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

Advance Praise

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” – Kirkus Reviews 

Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.”
– Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

 


REVIEW

Girl on the Brink is a must read for all teenagers. It’s both light and dark, happy and sad. Despite red flags going up right away for me with Kieran, it’s easy to see how Chloe let the attention Kieran gives her take over her life. It’s easy to see how his attentiveness turns to obsession. Turns to emotional, and eventually physical, abuse.

This book is hard to read. It’s hard to see a nice girl like Chloe, who is already going through so much at home with her dad having moved away and her mom sunk in a deep depression. It’s no wonder she clings to the one good thing in her life, the boy who says he loves her.

Abuse is a difficult topic to tackle, especially when aimed at teens. Hoag did a wonderful job creating realistic characters, setting up the romance, and putting in all the little warnings that things weren’t as good as they seemed. I truly believe this book belongs in every high school. Too many girls go through what Chloe endured and they need to know that they are not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I think my favorite thing about this book is that it’s not preachy. It doesn’t read like an after school special. It’s just a good teen contemporary romance… that takes a dark turn into abuse.

 

Disclaimer: I work for the publisher of this book and I am the cover designer, however I stand by my review and ratings 100%. I would not promote a book I didn’t believe in.



Get the Girl on the Brink here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Print

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 “A blush creeps hotly over my face. He’s right. I’m not used to compliments. I try and head this one off. “I cut it every summer. It gets really hot. It’s like wearing a cape on my head.”

“Oh no, I love long hair. I’ll spank you if you cut it.”

~

I know something’s up, I just know it. I speed like a bullet down the trail, stumbling over roots, branches and stones. When I get to the sandy cove, the boat’s gone. I wade into the river and look upstream. Something flashes. The boat is rounding a distant bend.

“Kieran!” I scream. He disappears.

~

He throws up his hands. “Okay, if you really want me to, I’ll go.”

I cross to the door and twist the knob. In a flash, he grabs my shoulders and forces me back against the door. He pushes his lips against mine. I squirm, but he’s too strong. He pulls back, but leaves my arms pinned.

“If you want me to leave, I’ll leave, but it’ll be forever. You’ll never find anyone else like me. You’ll never have what we have again. This is it for us, Chloe, this is it. You don’t want to give this up. You don’t want to walk away from this. I know you don’t. You don’t really want to destroy everything we’ve built together, do you, sweetpea?”

He hits the truth. Deep down, I don’t want to destroy it. I love Kieran, the good Kieran, not the crazy Kieran.


About the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook


Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 2: Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

I did not intend for so much time to pass between my first Behind the Cover feature and the second, yet here we are.

I’ve been busy as a bee with my (not so new) part time job, plus my work for Melange Books. Last night I added more to my plate, starting a new in depth revision on my teen paranormal novel, Blood & Magic.

But enough of all that, today I’m here to talk about the process that went into designing the cover for Unhinged by Shelley Pickens.

This cover was created using 2 pieces of stock art; the girl, and the tornado.

Unhinged is another cover I had the opportunity to read prior to publication, due to my job as acquisitions editor for Fire & Ice YA Books.

This is the second in a paranormal/horror series about a girl named Aimee with the power to absorb ones memories with only a touch. In this particular book in the series, Aimee’s loved ones are being trapped in their own minds, poisoned by horrific memories that have been placed there by the story’s villain. Aimee must save her friends by going into their minds herself and removing the memories.

The girl on the cover is, obviously, Aimee. Her powers are being tested to their limits, she’s and she’s not really in control, which shows in the girls pose. She’s becoming Unhinged.

The tornado in the background is both metaphorical and literal. Metaphorically, Aimee’s life has turned completely upside down. It is in total upheaval. The tornado represents the chaos that is taking over her life. On the literal end, when Aimee travels into her loved ones minds, she encounters a literal tornado that she must face in order to save them.

I chose to give the cover that sepia toned look because storms are often devoid of color, and visually it is easier for the eye to focus on the basically two-toned elements.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 7.28.58 PMAs for the text, the font was an easy choice because it had already been chosen for the first book in the series. I opted to use a white font with a slight drop shadow / glow because the sepia color pallet was so dark I wanted the text to pop.

I love this cover, and it’s honestly one of my favorites I’ve designed to date.

This cover also earned me the bragging rights of ‘Award Finalist’ for the 2016 EPIC Ariana awards.

 

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


UNHINGED by Shelley R. Pickens

Being normal isn’t always a good thing, especially if it ends up killing you.

Aimee, the sixteen year old girl who can see your every memory with just one touch, is fresh out of the torture room after risking everything to capture a killer. Despite her instinct to avoid contact with others, she tries her best to find a new normal at school—perhaps even a boyfriend. But for those who are cursed, happiness and normality aren’t easy to obtain. A bizarre illness spreads like wildfire through the school and causes those around Aimee to lose their sanity before falling into a coma. Slowly, all the people she loves succumb to this strange disease.

Alone and terrified, she must use her curse to find a way to save her family and friends. As she delves deeper and deeper into their memories, she realizes David, a delusional person from her childhood, is the bigger threat that could destroy her. Despite the danger that surrounds her, she struggles to solve the puzzle before it’s too late to help those she cares for the most. But as David moves closer to eliminating her, one puzzle still remains. Will she be able to save herself?


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WATCH THE TRAILER


READ AN EXCERPT

I wouldn’t say Mary is a delicate flower per say, but her stint in the hospital almost dying from smoke inhalation has definitely made her more fragile. Hell, it would soften most people. Most normal people at least. For a freak like me, facing death and coming out the other end damaged but alive, changed me. It has made me hard, unbending, and unwilling to let anything I love come to harm. Some would call that strength. Most would call it stubborn. I just call it my life.

“Mary, are you okay?” I ask in a soft voice, careful not to startle her.

Her eyes are vacant as they stare off into space. She begins to rock back and forth in her chair, both hands cradling her head. She begins to murmur to herself, but I can’t make out what she’s saying. The scene from the lunchroom today comes flooding back. I have never been more scared in my short life than I am right now. I have no idea what to do; helplessness consumes me. Then I remember what happened to Logan in Dejana’s basement and how my touch brought him out of his trance. I get up out of my seat and slowly approach her. I gently put my hand on her shoulder, hoping it comforts rather than startles her.

“Mary,” I repeat in a soft whisper. “Please, tell me what’s wrong. What can I do to help you?” I ask, desperate to find a way to get through to her. I’m not sure if she feels my hand on her or not. She doesn’t try to remove my hand, but doesn’t acknowledge it either. Panic boils up inside me. Okay, enough of the careful approach; time for more desperate measures.

“Dammit, Mary, stop it this instant!” I scream in the best scolding mom voice I can muster. I even stomp my foot on the floor for good measure. My voice must have gotten through to her because she stops rocking, removes her hands from her head, and begins to look around. Confusion marks every feature of her face. When her eyes land on me, her sweet smile returns as she pats my gloved hand still resting on her shoulder.

“Aimee, dear, why are you up from your seat? You know you can’t be excused until you’re finished with your food. Is everything alright? Do you need something else to drink, sweetie?” she asks, clearly unaware that five seconds ago she was murmuring to herself like a lunatic.

“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m not very hungry right now. Can I be excused please?” I ask, hoping she doesn’t notice how my voice shakes.

“Well, of course dear. I’m not feeling well myself, either. I think I may go ahead and go to bed. Do you mind cleaning up the kitchen for me?” she asks, her voice normal with no hint of confusion or idea that something was off.

I nod, still confused by what just happened. Maybe I just imagined it. There’s that avoidance therapy again, rearing its ugly head.

“Thank you, sweetie,” says Mary, giving my head its usual pat since she learned from the beginning I don’t like to be kissed, even if she’s never understood why.

I watch her walk away, my heart heavy with worry for her. I have no clue what’s going on today with people acting so strangely. I am no fortuneteller but I have a bad feeling that something terrible is coming. And I have no idea how to stop it.

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 1: Swimming Alone by Nina Mansfield

BehindTheCover

Welcome everyone!

Today I’m excited to start a new feature on the blog. As you may (or may not) know, I wear many hats in the publishing world. Sure I dabble in writing (someday I’ll finish my book. I promise!) My biggest contribution to the publishing world, however, is book cover design.

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

With many of the covers I design, as is true with most if not all cover designers, I have not had the opportunity to read the books first. That was not the case with SWIMMING ALONE. One of the many hats I wear with the Melange Books is that of acquisitions editor for the teen / new adult line of books, Fire & Ice.

While reading Nina Mansfield’s manuscript submission, I already had some ideas swirling around in my head as to what I imagined the cover to be. When it came to actually sitting down and coming up with a design concept for the cover, I was very fortunate that Nina was on board and receptive to my vision.

This cover was created using three pieces of stock art – the woman on the towel, the stormy beach, and the ripped newspaper.

Because SWIMMING ALONE is a mystery, I knew it had to be a little dark and foreboding, so I chose to go with a stormy sky over the turbulent waves. This also worked because the book takes place in a small beach town, while also setting the tone for a mystery. I kept the colors bright and vivid to appeal to the teen audience.

The main character, Cathy, is a teen girl with long dark hair, who longs to spend her days on the beach, but instead ends up working in a bookstore. I used the sunbathing model both to represent Cathy, as well as the Sea Side Stranglers victims, because they were found on the beach and share Cathy’s physical description.

With this book, I really didn’t want the text to appear as though it was just slapped on. One reason being that the text could easily get lost amidst the lightning, the other reason being this would be a lost opportunity to tie more elements of the story into the design.

I went with the torn newspaper look because in the book Cathy reads about the Sea Side Strangler in the newspaper. I aligned the title and byline to appear as though it literally was ripped from a newspaper, even going so far as to research which font faces are typically used in news print, and finding one that was similar and worked visually for this cover.

With the subtitle, we didn’t want potential readers to assume this was an adult novel due to the bikini clad woman on the cover. I think she looks like a teenager, but others may not. We made it very obvious by stating that this is A YOUNG ADULT MYSTERY. There’s no surprise when you open the pages, you get exactly what you expect; a young adult mystery. Place text in this location also eliminates dead space on the cover; it adds balance.

And there you have it! Scroll down to learn more about SWIMMING ALONE and Nina Mansfield.

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns
I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


SWIMMING ALONE by Nina Mansfield

The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe.) Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes. When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question: has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?


GET THE BOOK

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READ AN EXCERPT

 

The Sea Side Strangler Strikes Again!

 

Leave it to my mentally unstable, common sense impaired parents to ship me off to the only town in America with an active serial killer on the loose. I could so easily have the life squeezed out of me by some deranged killer. Now that would be the ultimate revenge. I mean, talk about a guilt trip—not that I’d be alive to benefit from it. And quite frankly, I’d prefer to die peacefully, in my sleep, at the age of one hundred and eight, thank you very much.

But seriously, what kind of psychos send their only daughter, their bundle of joy, the light of their lives away to a town where dead bodies keep washing up on shore? My parents, that’s who—all so they could strangle each other without having to worry about me getting in the way. Not literally, just legally. You know—the “d” word: Divorce. The week before they shipped me off, Mommy dearest smashed one-half of the Tiffany china when she found a foreign thong in Daddy’s glove compartment. Now the lawyers are trying to figure out whose half she smashed. (I’d find the questionable thong far more intriguing if I wasn’t totally skeeved.) These are the atrocities they are trying to shield me from.

Serial killers weren’t exactly on their radar when they decided to ship me off.

This particular serial killer wasn’t on my radar either until I saw the headline splashed across the front page of the Beach Point Gazette.

Beach Point, Rhode Island. My current abode. On my own? No such luck. I’m fifteen, but my parents still think I’m five and need a babysitter. I’m staying with my Aunt Bobbie. You might know her as Roberta McCabe, mystery writer extraordinaire. Yeah—that Roberta McCabe. She decided to rent a bungalow this summer here in Beach Point—lock herself in to complete her current masterpiece. I know what you’re thinking—bungalow, beach, mystery writer. Cool, right? Except, there’s a catch.

No TV. No internet. Landline long since disconnected. My only beacon to the world beyond: Aunt Bobbie’s cell phone, which is A) hers, and B) usually off and in her purse and not loaned out to her niece. That would be me—teen girl. Stranded. Cell phoneless. (Long story. There was a toilet involved.) I’m jonesing for a text. I can literally feel my thumb muscles atrophying.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I’ve been forced to find a job. What is the point of spending my summer by the beach if I actually have to work?

The rationale behind this inhumane treatment: “So you stay out of Aunt Bobbie’s hair.” She made it sound like Aunt Bobbie would spontaneously combust if I interrupted her flow of creative juices. But a job? Thanks a lot, Mom. Turns out all the good jobs in Beach Point were already taken. I tried the Smoothie Shop. The Taco Shack. The skeevey guy at the Speedy Link Internet Café wouldn’t even stoop to look at me. He was too busy drooling over his computer monitor. Can we say porn much? (And yeah, who knew internet cafés still existed. I guess it stuck around for all those people who thought they could unplug for the summer, and then realized they couldn’t.)

That’s how I ended up at Ocean View Books one lovely June morning, staring at the aforementioned headline and a picture of a bright-eyed brunette who had apparently washed ashore just days before. The caption read: “Pauline Krystal, 19, Rhode Island State University freshman found dead last Thursday.”

Last Thursday I’d been arguing with my parents. “What do you mean you won’t get me a new cell phone?” I had figured divide and conquer would work. It didn’t. One too many lost or damaged cell phones apparently. The ’rents wanted me to learn some responsibility. And when I had a job (they reasoned independently of each other), I could afford to buy my own.

“But…but…” The whining hadn’t worked. Neither had the stomping to my room and the dramatic slamming of my door. Staring at the newspaper though, I felt lucky…lucky to be alive. Breathing. Not front-page news, gory details of my demise entrancing total strangers. And I was entranced. So entranced I didn’t hear her.

“Can I help you?” I finally heard her say. It must have been her third time or something. She seemed annoyed.

I looked up at a freckle-faced girl who was forcing her lips to curl into a smile and raising her eyebrows as if to say, what’s your problem? The freaky thing was she looked remarkably like the girl in the picture, sans cap and gown and cheesy senior photo smile. For a moment, I thought I was staring at a ghost.

“I know, the resemblance is uncanny.” She sighed, like she’d already heard it a million times. “Is there something I can help you with?”

She seemed peeved with my presence. I was going to have to get on her good side fast. “Um, yes, actually…” Total brain freeze. I stalled for time, setting the newspaper back on the rack. She began to straighten it.

“Sorry,” I muttered. She ignored me. I tried to Zen out. Deep breathing. Unfreeze my brain. But now the girl was just ignoring me, so like some un-socialized primate, I stared at the back of her head.

“Look, I know I look like her, but I’m not Pauline Krystal,” she spat when she finally turned around.

“No, it’s not that…I saw the sign in your window. I’m looking for a job,” I managed to blurt out, terrified I’d fail to make meaningful contact.

The girl let out a snort and then a smile—kind of devious—the way Mr. Grady, my history teacher, used to do right before he gave us a pop quiz. “You want a job here? Why?”

“Well, I like books.” Wow, that sounded lame.

“Good answer.” She batted the sarcasm in my direction with her too-long lashes.

“No, really, I do.” I was beginning to sound desperate. Who was I kidding? I was desperate.

“Yeah, that’s what they all say.”

“So, there’ve been a lot of applicants?”

“Uh…no.” Smirk. Squint. Bitch or cool, I couldn’t decide. “Here, fill this out.” She pulled out a clipboard with an application from behind the counter.

It looked just like the last three I’d filled out right before being told, “We’ll keep this on file in case anything opens up.” I was seriously beginning to develop a callus from all this unnecessary writing.

“You guys are actually hiring, aren’t you?” I asked. I wanted to be sure this time.

Sigh. Nod. “Yeah, we are.”

Made me wonder if they were replacing someone.

I borrowed a pen that was practically dead. I scribbled it back to life in the margins. I parked myself outside on a bench and began to fill in my life story:

Name:  Catherine (call me Cathy—let’s leave out the middle name) Banks. (Used to be Bankovsky, but it got shortened way back when on Ellis Island.)

Date of Birth:  Gemini. Old enough to have a job.

Address:  Upstate New York, but currently, somewhere off of Broad Street in Beach Point, Rhode Island.

Former Employer: None. (I’m 15!)

School/Degree:  Just finished the 9th grade.

Why would you like to work at Ocean View Books?  Mom and Dad told me to get a job this summer. Why they care what I do when they aren’t around, who knows. Oh, and the only other place I’ve spotted with a help wanted sign is a burger joint, and I’m a vegan (except for ice cream).

Favorite Author:  Well that’s easy—my aunt!

Availability:  Unfortunately, totally open.

I think you’re intelligent enough to figure out that isn’t what I really wrote, but you get the picture. All those impersonal blanks, and they were going to decide my fate for the summer. Seemed unfair. And then I thought of Pauline Krystal again, and I decided to cease and desist with the negativity. At least I could apply for a job, even if the rejection was starting to get to me.

When I’d dotted my last “i,” and crossed my last “t,” I handed the clipboard back to that girl, who stood with this condescending look frozen on her face—like she was the queen of books and I was just some peon who didn’t stand a chance in hell of getting hired.

“Hi, Catherine. I’m Lauren. Lauren Spade.” She extended her hand and…was that a smile I detected?

“You can call me Cathy.”

She gave me a once over before slipping into the back room, leaving me by my lonesome to check out the store. There wasn’t much to check out. It looked like a bookstore. Rows of books, displays in front, the notorious magazine and newspaper rack off to the side. It had this nautical color scheme going—blue and white with a splash of pale yellow. Exactly what you’d expect from a beachside bookstore. The place was small, not like those mammoth chains. Homey, clean, air-conditioned. If I had to work, I figured this place wasn’t the worst place in the world to slave away.

Lauren returned empty-handed. “Mr. Hopper will be right out.” At this point, she had turned on her customer service personality, which I chalked up to the impending appearance of her boss.

We stood there for a moment, waiting. I wondered if I should say something, and what I should do with my hands.

Lauren broke the awkward silence. “My birthday is in May, too.”

My first thought: she’s psychic. She was infiltrating my mind using the top-secret knowledge she’d acquired as a sleeper cell agent for some international terrorist organization. Either that or she wasn’t entirely human and possessed all sorts of powers I would never fully comprehend. She was actually waiting for me to read her mind but realized I was just another pathetic human—OK, I’ll admit it now. I have a slightly overactive imagination at times. It usually helps make life a little more interesting—but then I figured out the mundane reality, which, to anyone but me, would probably have been pretty obvious:  She’d read my job application.

“And I noticed Roberta McCabe is your favorite author.”

“Actually, she’s my aunt.”

“No way! I loved The Private Lives of Serial Killers.”

“You read it?” The true extent of my aunt’s fame never ceased to amaze me.

“Yeah. I mean, there’s something about serial killers—crime in general. You wonder why people do it, what motivates them to kill.” Her eyes blazed, like someone had lit a match inside them.

“I know what you mean.” The truth of the matter is, murder is one of the few things that keeps my attention these days. I’ve read every FBI profiler book out there—and of course, all of my aunt’s mayhem-inspired fiction. But Lauren actually seemed more into it than me, if that was possible, which was either cool or freaky. I couldn’t decide.

“Your aunt—is she working on a new book?”

“She always is.”

“What about?”

That, I didn’t know. I never knew. Aunt Bobbie never divulged the details of her handiwork until she’d printed out the last page, so to speak. “Couldn’t tell ya,” I said to Lauren, then added, “She keeps it secret,” so she wouldn’t think I was being a bitch. “I’m staying with her this summer, and I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea what she’s writing about. She thinks it’s bad luck to reveal even the tiniest detail, like it will spin her into serious writer’s block.”

“No way! Roberta McCabe is in Beach Point this summer?” For a second, I thought Lauren was going to hyperventilate. I imagined a brief, yet disturbing, vision of her face turning blue. But she contained herself and continued. “Well, she’s come to the right place if she’s writing about another serial killer.”

Before I had the chance to respond, Arnie Hopper slithered onto the scene.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 Tammy Marie RoseNina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Swimming Alone is her first young adult novel. Nina began her writing career as a playwright; she has written numerous plays, which have been produced throughout United States and in Canada, Australia, England and Ireland. Her short plays have been anthologized in Smith & Kraus’s The Best Ten-Minute Plays (of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014) and YouthPlays’ Middle Schoolin’ It.  Her one-act play Clean is published by Original Works Publishing.  A collection of her plays entitled Three More Marriage Plays, along with her plays No Epilogue, Crash Bound, Text Misdirected and Missed Exit are available from One Act Play Depot. Her short mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mysterical-E. In addition to writing, Nina enjoys reading, seeing theater, practicing yoga, traveling and spending time with her husband and daughter.  Nina is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Mystery Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Sisters in Crime.

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REVIEW: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Cycle #1

Read: May 14 – 25, 2016

Format: Hardcover

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Paranormal / Fantasy Teen

 

I heard a lot of good things about this series so I had really high hopes when I began reading. I read Stiefvater’s book Shiver in the past and enjoyed it, though I didn’t love it. That ended up being the case with Raven Boys.

Basic premise: Daughter of a psychic (Blue) is told all her life that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So she doesn’t date or kiss boys. Ever. Meanwhile, a group of boys over at the prestigious Aglionby Prep school (aka raven boys) are on the hunt for some magical “ley line” which is supposedly going to lead the leader of the boys (Gansey) to some dead guy who will give him something he really wants. I didn’t really understand all the ley line talk.

Alright, so that’s that. The book starts out in Blue’s POV and I really liked her. She had a unique POV being the daughter of a psychic and living in a house full of other psychics as well. Meanwhile, she’s not even remotely psychic. All was going great, I was loving the book! Then….

We switch to Gansey’s POV and we’re inundated with talk of these ley lines. I was so confused. I was bored. I didn’t care. I just wanted to go back to Blue’s POV!

Finally after about ten chapters Blue and Gansey finally meet and the story REALLY starts. I did end up liking all of the boys by the end, there was a mystery surrounding one of the boys that was really eye opening once revealed. Had I not been bored so much in the beginning I’d be tempted to go back and re-read it just to look closer for the clues.

Finally the book ended. And it was…. Okay. I didn’t hate the ending, but at the same time I wasn’t left with a burning desire to read the next book. Chances are I will read the next book, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get my hands on it any time soon.

In all, this book was meh. There were good and interesting characters, but it took too long to get to know some of them so I didn’t really care what was happening to them, and what was happening to them was interesting, but… again, I just didn’t care.

I’m curious to see what other people thought of this book. I do think Ms. Stiefvater is very talented and has a lot of great ideas, I just haven’t found a book from her yet that really resonates with me and leaves me wanting more.


Quote worthy:

When it finally happened, when she finally saw him, it didn’t feel like magic at all. It felt like looking into the grave and seeing it look back at her.

 

Blue had two rules: Stay away from boys, because they’re trouble, and stay away from raven boys, because they were bastards.


He said, “I’ve always liked the name Jane.”

Blue’s eyes widened. “Ja—what? Oh! No, no. You can’t just go around naming people other things because you don’t like their real name.”

“I like Blue just fine,” Gansey said. “…However, I also like Jane.

“I’m not answering to that.”

 

“Aquamarine is a wonderful color, and I won’t be made to feel bad for wearing it,” Gansey said.

 

“Blue. My name’s Blue Sargent.”

“Blair?”

“Blue.”

“Blaise?”

Blue signed. “Jane.”

“Oh, Jane! I thought you were saying Blue for some reason.”


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REVIEW: Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

So, last Thursday I got to meet my all time favorite author, Richelle Mead. It was amazing. I actually recorded all 20 minutes of her speaking and Q&A which I keep forgetting to upload to YouTube, but when I finally remember, I will share it with you all. Until then, check out this fabulous Instagram post I made that night.

 

 


 

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

Series: Thunder Road #2

Read: May 1 – 7, 2016

Format: ARC Print Book

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

 

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, even in YA books. (Though, I feel like I have been reading more lately…) And I really have no interest in motorcycle clubs, I tried watching Sons of Anarchy but it didn’t hold my interest. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to start reading Katie McGarry’s Walk The Edge with the intent of “just one chapter” and ended up reading the first six instead. And I would have kept going, had it not been so late at night. This book is a page turner.

Despite being a book about a guy in a motorcycle club, something I don’t really ‘get’, I loved this book. The characters, Thomas aka “Razor” and Breanna, are both so real. They’re flawed and relatable and I was rooting for them the entire time.

 

“There are lies in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss, or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.”

Razor is “the boy everyone sees but nobody knows.”

Born to ride with the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, Razor is one of the newest members, but the club is keeping secrets from him. They say once he’s proved he trusts the club, the club will then trust him in turn with its secrets. This doesn’t sit well for Razor. His mother drove off a bridge years earlier and everyone in town says she killed herself to get away from Razor’s father and his club. Razor wants the truth, and he’s afraid the Terror played a role in his mothers death.

 

“I’m overjoyed by their faith in me, but on the inside I’m a rose wilting fast forward on the vine.”

Breanna is “the girl who everybody knows, but nobody sees.”

She refers to herself as “5 of 9” because she is the 5th child in a family of 9 kids. Her older siblings do their thing, her younger siblings do theirs. Then there’s Breanna, alone in the middle. She’s the responsible one, often left to parent her younger siblings. She’s never fit in due to her uncanny ability to remember and regurgitate random facts. Once a puzzle is in her head, she can’t move on until she’s solved it. She’s a freak and has been treated as one by everyone her entire life, including her siblings. She just wants to be accepted.

Razor finds Breanna’s brain remarkable, but she’s too good to be with a guy like him.

Though he starts as just her bodyguard, Breanna quickly realizes there’s more to Razor than meets the eye, and she’s falling for the boy her parents would never allow her to be with.

When these two unlikely people come together, will they find what they need in one another?

 

“Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be this twenty-first century woman and obsessed with a man desiring me for my massive intellect. I am woman, hear me roar, and all that stuff, but once, it would have been pretty freaking awesome to be the girl in the pretty dress let alone with the gorgeous bad boy who wants to kiss me.”

 

 “She should be worried,” he breathes into my ear.

“Why?”

“Because you’re alone with me.”

 

If you’re in the mood for a realistic romance between total opposites who compliment each other perfectly, this is the book. If you’re looking for a romance that also has a bit of a mystery to uncover, again, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with characters who grow and change as the story progresses, look no further.

This is the second in a series, and I have not read the first. Everything was set up so the book can be read as a stand alone. I plan to get my hands on the first book eventually, as well as the third book when it releases sometime in 2017.

So far, this is one of my top picks for 2016. Go grab a copy!

 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads.

 

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