Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Review –

Touching tale of girl with OCD finding love through poetry.

Everyone has something they want to hide, even from their closest friends, and I empathized with her desire to keep her secret from her glittery, popular clique. She also just wants to feel “normal,” something that I think everyone  struggles with in high school. 

I loved her new-found friends in Poet’s Corner. Every one was so unique and yet they all shared these secret poetry sessions that made them into a family. Poet’s Corner is an escape, but it’s also where you find your true self, and I wish we had had something similar in my school. Hell, even now I would want to join a secret poetry club!

I think it’s so important that stories like Sam’s are given a bigger place in mainstream media. Every Last Word is a story about living with a mental illness. Sam has a therapist, she takes medication, and her parents are trained on how to handle situations when Sam feels overwhelmed or out of control. She has a set treatment plan that works (and that she and her therapist worked on together and continue to develop as Sam grows), and a therapist who is portrayed in a positive light and I think that all of that is so important. Sam struggles throughout the book with the idea of “normal.” She wants to feel that way and doesn’t see herself as such. But by the end, she realizes that there are all kinds of “normal.”

The most unique aspect of Every Last Word is how Stone weaves poetry into the storyline. The poetry opens the windows to the characters’ hearts and gives a depth to characters that you just can’t get with simple characterization. I felt every emotion with this book!

There is a pivotal point in the book (no spoilers) that changes the trajectory of Sam’s life. It gave me goose bumps and I cried ugly tears.

Though this is a young adult book, I highly recommend it to everyone!

 

 

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Book Description:

Published: October 16, 2018

Format: Audio/Audiobook Sync

Stars: 5

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number—and private photos—with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally there’s Jenna, a good girl turned rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice. All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip and will have readers tearing through the pages to reach the final reveal.

Review –

Sexting, lies, and consequences.

Jenna, Drew, and Mouse(Matthew) are thrown together for their senior law final project. Instead of being the easy “A”  Drew expected, the class ignites controversy about dangerous social media issues. Jenna hasn’t spoken to her ex-boyfriend Troy since the day he publicly tweeted topless pictures of her. She has since cut her hair short, dyed it jet black, cut up her girly wardrobe and set his truck on fire, exchanging ballet shoes for a court-mandated anger management class. Drew is an unapologetic player on and off the basketball court but finds himself drawn to Jenna’s newfound strength. Uber-intelligent Mouse is bound for MIT and painfully in love with Jenna. He stands to lose everything if anyone finds out that the basketball team hired him to build a database to house photos of naked girls. What all three students have in common are grievances against their law teacher, Mrs. Bailey. When shocking photos of Mrs. Bailey are posted on the internet, the threesome begin to suspect each other while confronting their own moral transgressions. The author creates realistic, multidimensional characters while exploring the legal and ethical ramifications of privacy as it plays out in a hormonally charged high school environment. Drew and Jenna are white, and Mouse and Troy are black.

I thought I knew where this book was going and BOOM, a twist I didn’t see coming. Fantastic and well deserved ending.

A provocative story about the consequences of poor decisions in our digital world.

I highly recommend it to all young adults who have ever thought about posting something they shouldn’t on social media!

 

 

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

The Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #1) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Triggers: Yes

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.
And I’m the girl who got in their way.

Review –

OMG….I dont even know where to start with this one!! There are NO words! I’m totally #abraygirlforlife !

What do you get when you pair a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with three bad boys who run the town? The answer is: a world that you crave to live in. Boys you salivate over. A girl who is tough as nails, takes no BS from anyone. You get the most amazing story with EVERYTHING. Raven, Maddoc (new book boyfriend), Royce and Captain are just amazing characters, that the author effortlessly makes you fall in love with. All four strong, fierce, loyal and independant. They have a way of getting under you skin and living there.

I had the audio version and listened to it almost in one sitting. I just had to know WTF was going on. The author kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, just waiting for that moment that my jaw would hit the damn floor and pause my listening device and just TRY to slow my heartbeat!  And when it did, boy did I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m so invested in this world, in these characters, in this story.

The level of angst in this book (which is OFF THE CHARTS) had my head spinning and my mind going all over the place. Readers will be in a continual state of “what the actual F***”, then jumping to “oh he** no”, all while their hearts will be racing and their mind will be swimming with questions.

There is so much that goes on in this book that I can not do it justice, so invest in a copy (written or audio) and hang on for the ride of your life. it has drama plus revelations you don’t see coming. There are hot steamy sex scenes and one that will have you blushing from head to toe!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I loved it?

 

The Toll (Arc of the Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: November 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

Review –

“The sins of the founding scythes now reap terrible rewards in this trilogy conclusion.

The Thunderhead—a benevolent, nigh-omniscient, nanite-controlling artificial intelligence—still runs the world but speaks only to Greyson Tolliver. Now deified as the Toll, prophet of the Tonists, Greyson attempts to advise a populace abruptly cut off from the Thunderhead’s gentle guidance. For the scythes—allegedly compassionate and objective executioners whose irreversible gleanings control the post-mortal population—the Thunderhead’s been silent for centuries, but recent scythedom unrest now tests the Thunderhead’s noninterference. Untouchable and unhinged, Scythe Goddard, self-appointed Overblade, encourages unrestricted and prejudiced gleanings. Formerly formidable opponents Scythe Anastasia (Citra Terranova) and scythe-killer Scythe Lucifer (Rowan Damisch) are now fugitives, saved from the sea but pursued by Goddard’s allies. Even in a post-national, post-racial world, Capt. Jerico’s meteorologically influenced gender fluidity surprises some, but as Goddard’s bigotry indicates, discrimination plagues even the post-mortals. Shusterman (Dry, 2018, etc.) wryly unravels organized religion and delivers a scathing takedown of political demagogues. Yet the whirlwind of narrators, sly humor, and action scenes never obscures the series’ central question: If most death is impermanent, and age can be reset, what’s the meaning of life?

Long but strong, a furiously paced finale that reaches for the stars. (Science fiction. 14-adult)” Kirkus Reviews

I was very disappointed with the final install of the Arc of the Scythe series. It was unexpected and leaves room for future stories if the author wants to expand, which I hope he does not.

The Queen of Nothing(Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: July 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

Review –

If someone were to ask me to sum up my experience of reading The Queen of Nothing I would phrase it as an easy read. Now, if the same question was asked for any of the previous books then I would happily explain it in great detail. I enjoyed the conclusion to this story I have loved so much and wouldn’t have it end any other way. But there was still something missing that wasn’t missing in the past installments.

Holly Black is a brilliant story-teller but I think the downfall is the fact that it was so short. If we got even a hundred more pages, I really believe this could’ve been the best book in the series.

Overall, I enjoyed The Queen of Nothing. Like I said, it was an easy read and I was happy to be reunited with characters I have grown to love, despite their flaws. There is a fair share of action and political intrigue to please readers. Most will be happily satisfied with Jude and Cardan’s ending, too! I’ll always recommend this series to anyone who needs some epic fantasy storytelling in their life!

 

 

 

Crew (Crew #1) by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

 

To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal–a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you screw with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew–the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is–and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.

*This book contains mature young adult situations.

Review –

Crew is centered around four teen-agers and they aren’t a gang but they have each other’s back at all times. In this book we are introduced to Bren, a very complex person, with many layers. Bren is  cold, closed off, a bad ass, and volatile but there is a vulnerable, sad and scared side to her as well.

Throughout the story we get glimpses and pieces as to why Bren is the way she is and it really breaks your heart. Bren was a very interesting character to read about and some of the stuff she did in the book had me stunned. She was a legit badass at times and I loved it! Bren also did some growing in this book and that warmed my heart as well.

Cross is also apart of the crew and I’ve added him to my list of Book Boyfriends.  He was very protective of Bren. He was silent but lethal and always had Bren’s back and was there for her and could reach her in ways no body else could at times.

The other two members of the Crew are Jordan and Z. Each of them plays an important part in this story.

This book was  addictive from start to finish. I’ve read a few books by Tijan and this one is a lot darker and grittier  than her others and it was great. It’s a best friends to lover romance and those are some of my favorite reads. It was a delicious slow burn between the two characters and I loved seeing their relationship played out. 

I have not read Tijan’s series, Fallen Crest, but Heather and Channing are integral in this new series. I may have to go back and read the series later.

This isn’t your typical YA story. Yes, there’s a romance, but this series starter really is about love, family, and friendship, and how there are times that family isn’t limited to just the ones who share your DNA. This also has quite a few supporting characters, but majority of them have marked appearances. Warning:  Crew does end in a cliffhanger.

Loved this book.

Five stars !!!!

 

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

War Storm (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: May 15, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Review –

FINALLY!!!!   I finished this book after borrowing it from OverDrive THREE times. To be the final book in the series, I found it to be anticlimactic and the ending was a bit like Gone With The Wind, in that, Mare, insinuated that she wouldn’t think about Cal right now BUT might ONE day to back to Norta. Very disappointing!  Enough said.

 

 

Crazy House (Crazy House #1)by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Book Description:

Published: May 22, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her home and thrown without reazon into a hellish prison known as the Crazy House. To avoid execution, she’s told to shut her mouth and keep her head down.

Becca was never really good at either.

Her only hope for survival is for her sister, Cassie, to find her—that the “good twin” will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because the jailers at Crazy House soon discover they made a mistake that could get both sisters killed…

Review –

In the absence of their parents, Cassie and Becca  are doing their best to tend to the family farm. One morning, Cassie wakes up to discover Becca is missing, having taken her beloved truck and leaving her with a moped that goes a whooping twelve miles an hour.

 Meanwhile, Becca wakens in a horrific children’s prison, in which the detained are forced to fight to the death. As Cassie searches for her sister, Becca does her best to survive the torture her captors put her through. The novel is set in a future in which populations are organized geographically into isolated cells. The government controls all the information going in and out, but more lurks beneath the surface.  

Cassie tries to get the leaders of her cell (a farming community) to help find Becca, but to no avail.  They don’t believe she has been taken, instead has only run away and become a “bad citizen”.

Next Cassie finds herself being expelled from school and her vocation taken away and is totally blindsides because she has been a straight A student and has NEVER missed a day of school.

Then Cassie is taken and her world gets even more bizarre.

When Cassie and Becca are finally reunited, we have little reason to celebrate. They are forced to fight each other and end up bruised and sore. While alone in the “pen” Becca tells Cassie things she needs to know to survive in prison. As time passes and things become more dire they break out with two friends and head home. Once there, they discover that their home is up for sale and after they are unable to convince people of the cell about the prison, they are “taken” again and this time there is a surprise twist. 

The story is very predictable but I loved it any way and look for to reading the sequel when it becomes available on OverDrive.

It’s young adult but if you enjoy dystopian adventures it’s a very good and fast read for adults too.