Give Me a K-I-L-L by RL Stine

Yay, it’s Wednesday! Since the week is already halfway over, I figured I’d bring you a fun one. I’m also still pretty giggly from last night, so I wanted to share my giddiness with everyone else, and this is the perfect book to do that.

29939078

Title: Give Me a K-I-L-L {288 pgs}

Genre: YA Thriller

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Summary:

At Shadyside High, cheerleading can be a scream!

For the first time since the original series, R.L. Stine brings back his most beloved characters—the cheerleaders of Shadyside High.

The cheerleading squad at Shadyside has always been strong, but now there are rumors that lack of funds may mean the end of cheerleading at Shadyside. That would be a shame for Heather Wyatt, who has just transferred from her old school, where she was a star, and is eager to join the squad. There’s only one other girl who stands in her way—rich, spoiled Devra Dalby, who is also trying out for the one open slot. The competition to join the squad is anything but friendly—and it ends in murder. Will Heather make the squad—if there’s even a squad anymore—or will she end up dead?

Look. It’s no secret that I love R.L. Stine {see here and here}, and I jump at the chance to review his new books. Are these newly relaunched Fear Street books amazing? Life-changing? Make me want to jump on a rooftop and praise Odin for giving us R.L. Stine? I mean…no. But they are campy and jumpy and make me laugh and remember how much fun it is to read these books. I’ve said this before, so I’ll skip it, but for reals, never doubt my love for R.L. Stine, no matter what I say in here.

I honestly thought about not requesting this book. I have so many NetGalley books in my Kindle that I almost cried. But then I saw Give Me a K-I-L-L was about cheerleaders. Shadyside High cheerleaders. If you don’t know why that’s a major selling point, let me direct you to a trio of books called Fear Street Series: Cheerleaders.

Oh yes.

I have never been a cheerleader in my life. I’m not coordinated enough {and I played soccer; go figure}. But all of my best friends in high school were cheerleaders and I liked to imagine them in these books. Not because they were particularly murderous or anything, but because I’ve always had an overactive imagination and my friends didn’t help any with their peppiness.

The Shadyside cheerleaders were sweet and peppy, until they weren’t. For reals, that should be the tag line. I remember reading The First Evil and thinking that it was tamer than his other books, until we reached the shower scene. And no, get your head out of the gutter, not that type of shower scene! No, this one involved a poor cheerleader who only wanted to take a shower, but then all the shower heads came on at once, pouring scalding hot water onto her until she basically burns to death.

Like. How could you not love these books?

So I was pretty stoked to read this one. Let me tell you: I was not disappointed.

Shadyside is apparently stuck in a time loop, because all the teenagers act and talk exactly the same as their older counterparts. I don’t even know how many of them said that something was “the pits,” but let me tell you: my grandparents would complain about their use of slang. But these teenagers have cell phones and FaceTime! They’re cool and hip!

They’re all also completely messed up, but isn’t that a timeless quality of teenagers?

First things first, the main character’s name is not Heather. Her name is Gretchen, but at one point, the boy she quickly falls in love with, Sid, says that she looks like a Heather, so there you go. Gretchen is…troubled. Her parents divorced and now she’s living on Fear Street with her, like, totally lame mom who asks super invasive questions like, how are you doing? and who were you talking to? What a snoop. Gretchen just wants to talk to her best friend from home, Polly, and be a normal teenager who tries out for the cheerleading squad and makes enemies because she’s so good.

Really, she’s good. I know this because Gretchen never stops reminding us how good she is. She’s a cheerleading god, and we should never forget that.

We first meet Gretchen talking to her super best friend forever, Polly, about how nervous she is about trying out for the Shadyside cheerleading squad. Polly reassures her, however, that Gretchen shouldn’t worry, because she’s so freaking good. Like, once you get to the end, you’ll realize how funny all of Gretchen’s conversations with Polly are, or, if you’re like me, you’ll find them funny from the first conversation because you’ve already figured out what’s going on.

Like I said: I’ve read all of R.L. Stine’s books.

Anyway, Gretchen meets Sid on her first day of school, when she’s going to talk to the cheerleading coach. Sid is cute {I think?} and funny, and he happens to be dating the head cheerleader, but he doesn’t let that stop him from hooking up with every girl in the world, and none of those girls seem to mind that he’s dating the head cheerleader and hooking up with every girl in the world. Seriously, Gretchen invites him over to her house, they make out all the time, and he meets her mom. Then she seems super surprised when people find out. Like, you’re not exactly hiding it, Gretch, are you? But that doesn’t matter, because she loves Sid {I think?} and she’s not going to let a little thing like a girlfriend {who, by the way, is super nice and friendly} get in the way.

Oh! Then there’s Gretchen’s arch-nemesis of a week, Devra Dalby. Devra is the rich snob whose father owns a string of department stores {he’ll be broke in a week, trust me} and she gets whatever she wants. What she wants now is to be on the cheerleading squad, after being an alternate her junior year, but Gretchen shows up with her godlike cheerleader moves and ruins that dream. Devra even tries to bribe Gretchen with a $1000 gift certificate to her father’s stores, if only Gretchen will step aside and let Devra be a cheerleader. But, no worries, Mr. Dalby just throws some of that department store money at the school and Devra is on the team.

Poor Gretchen is left in the cold {…on the bench as the alternate} and she’s starting to receive threatening text messages from Devra {gasp!}. But she’s not the only one in trouble. Two girls are burned in the process…literally burned, I mean. One from fire batons {what kind of school is Shadyside High? You’d think that they would try their best to avoid dangerous things, especially with the student body they’ve had}, and the other gets acid on her skin, so much acid that it burns right through her neck and rips open an artery. It’s like R.L. Stine reread his Fear Street series and was like, riiiiiight, fire!

But the cheerleading team must persevere, and they continue on with their cheers and their retreat. Oh, yes, their retreat where they’ll be in the woods for four days. Four days with only themselves for company. Four days without cell service, because this place conveniently doesn’t have any cell service. Four days with Sid in another cabin {oh, did I not mention that Sid is the equipment manager for the cheerleading squad? Because it’s apparently super hard for the cheerleaders to use their legs to walk over and pick up their own pom-poms}. Will another cheerleader bite the dust? Or is there a superhero in their squad?

Really, this is just a setup for my favorite part of the whole novel: the dialogue.

Gretchen befriends her neighbor, Madison, and goes over there one day to talk about the crazy text messages she’s been getting. She blabbers on about it for an entire page and then when Madison, a violin prodigy, complains that she’s been practicing for two hours because she has to play this big piece in front of the school, she says, almost in the same breath, completely seriously, “Oh, I’m sorry. We were talking about you. Sorry to be so self-obsessed.” To which Gretchen, in her infinite kindness, replies, “It’s okay,” then proceeds to continue talking about the text messages.

I just. I don’t even know.

But that wasn’t the best part! Sid gave me my best out for whenever someone is yelling at me. Courtney, Devra’s BFF, gets into a shouting match with Gretchen over who’s torturing who {because it’s obviously Gretchen torturing Devra, duh}, and instead of telling the hysterical ladies to calm themselves, Sid shouts {yes, shouts}, “Can you both dial it down? I’ve got sensitive ears.”

Just writing that made me laugh so hard that I had to step away from the computer for a few minutes.

Oh, but the end. THE END. Things happen and Gretchen saves the day {with a massive red herring hanging off her shoulders}, and she’s trying to build a better relationship with her mother. In a rush of love, her mother asks, “Would you like eggs for lunch?”

What.

Eggs?

Like, I understand that she means making the eggs into something, like scrambled or over easy or maybe just a bunch of hard-boiled eggs. I don’t know. But it sounds so funny when you read it at first. Lunch could have been anything: salad, grilled cheese, a double double from In-N-Out complete with animal fries and a vanilla shake {yummmmm}. But…eggs? I would have laughed in my mom’s face if she asked if I wanted eggs for lunch. She probably would have already been laughing.

Should you rush out to the bookstore on Tuesday and pick up a copy of Give Me a K-I-L-L for all of your friends and families and strangers you might meet on the street? Well…probably not. But should you grab this at the library on a quiet weekend because you want something to give you shivers and make you laugh at the same time? Then heck yes, because R.L. Stine is the master at that. His books are like the best parts of Freddy Krueger condensed into less than 300 pages, and that’s the best compliment I can possibly give someone.

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

Good morning, lovely people! I spent almost all of my weekend reading in pajamas, so to say that Monday is a huge disappointment is a bit of an understatement. But this week does hold some exciting goodies for me, so I guess I’ll take it! For now, though, I thought that this book would bring a smile to everyone’s faces for such a cloudy Monday {if you’re in my neck of the woods, that is}.

 

25488375

Title: The Last Thing You Said {320 pgs}

Genre: YA

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Summary:

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

To be honest, I requested this from NetGalley at first because of the cover. Look at that thing! It’s so pretty and hopeful that I knew that the story would be just as good. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

I have a bunch of summer stories piling up in my Kindle, and I think this was the perfect first one to read to get me ready for sweltering heat and long nights with no sleep because who can sleep on those hot sheets with no air conditioning?? Really, though, this story is the very definition of bittersweet, and the hot weather of summer does nothing to help these characters figure out what’s going on in their heads.

I guess I should start off with Lucy, because there was something in her life that I truly appreciated: Hannah, her new friend. Trixie died in August of the summer before, and then school started, and Lucy met Hannah, a girl from South Dakota with rodeo dreams and big Texas blonde hair. Hannah does not push, does not force Lucy to spill all of her secrets, and does not become angry when a secret is revealed and Hannah realizes that Lucy had never told her before. In short, Hannah is a good friend, the kind of friend that anyone would want, especially a girl who’s reeling from losing her best friend from kindergarten. More than Hannah, though, Lucy is amazing. She doesn’t forget Trixie, telling stories about her to Trixie’s little cousin who Lucy babysits. But Lucy does not shut herself away in her room. No, she works in her family’s restaurant at times and dates the boy next door. She visits Trixie’s grave and tries to tell her best friend that she’s okay, and tries to believe it. She tries so hard to move on with her life, but it’s hard doing that in such a small town, where she sees Ben at every corner.

Ben. BEN.

From Lucy’s flashbacks, I can see why she loves him. He was sweet and gentle and teasing, and he was her best friend’s big brother, which is always a point in the plus column for some reason. But that Ben does not seem to exist anymore, and that Lucy can remember a time when he was not angry and bitter makes this story that much more heartbreaking. Since the reader gets both Lucy and Ben’s POV, we know that that boy still lives inside of Ben, but he doesn’t know how to push aside the constant anger he feels to let the happy boy back out. And, boy, is it understandable. He lost his sister. His mother is a wreck. His father drinks and pushes Ben to the brink. The girl he’s in love with is holding hands with some stranger and believes that Ben hates her.

Somewhere along the line, you begin to really feel sorry for butthead Ben.

As a teenager, summer always held this weirdly magical quality for me, like even we were just driving around our tiny nothing town, the warm summer nights and the fact that we could stay out until one in the morning on a Tuesday made it so much better. Having this story set in the summer gave the events of this story a dream-like quality, shooting the reader back to those summers with the kind of responsibility that adults can only yearn for now. Yes, these kids have jobs, but it’s summer, and that means making mistake and getting through life one day at a time, because the next day is still another summer’s day. Lucy and Ben probably hate summer because of Trixie, but this setting also gives them the clarity to work through their problems and to wonder what might happen next.

I’m not forcing you to pre-order this book, but I’m just telling you that you’d really be missing out on a fantastic story written in quick bursts of chapters that don’t give you time to recuperate before Sara Biren throws another thing at you, and then you’re staying up until two in the morning to finish it because you have to know what happens and sleeping is for the weak.

Okay, maybe I’m twisting your arm a bit. But it’s a good twist. As always, you’ll thank me later.

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Welcome back! I’ve been sequestering myself away because I’m going to see Neil Gaiman next week, so I’ve been reading whatever of his I have on my shelf. But then I picked up The Cutaway and promptly forgot all about Mr. Gaiman {sorry, friend}.

30753708

Title: The Cutaway {320 pgs)

Genre: Mystery/thriller

Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Summary:

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Look, I think its pretty obvious that I’m a sucker for a good mystery. I want to say that it’s because I’m so good at figuring out the story before it ends, but let’s be honest here. I’m not. Each character that is introduced, I immediately think, oh, there’s the killer right there. I’m wrong about 99.9% of the time, but that’s what makes most of these mysteries fun because the ending is always a surprise for me.

The Cutaway is different, not because I didn’t accuse every character that was thrown in my way {I did}, but because none of the characters that I pointed my finger at ended up being the bad guy. The story also branched out into a direction that I hadn’t expected, and now I’m itching to reread the whole book so I can pinpoint where everything went wrong for these characters.

The other thing that I loved most about this book? The men seemed to be second-thought characters.

Virginia Knightly only wants to break the best stories first, and if that means putting herself in danger, so be it. When Virginia sees Evelyn Carney’s face on yet another missing poster, something draws her in. Virginia pursues the story, even with her network making rapid changes around her, and pushes whoever she can to find out what happened to Evelyn. This, unfortunately, means that she comes across her old boyfriend, Commander Michael Ledger, aka Mr. Complete Jerk Face. Honestly. This guy made me want to pull him from the page and punch him in the face. At one point, I prayed that he was the killer just so he could be thrown in jail and I would never have to think of him again.

But the list of good characters – Nelson, Isaiah, BEN {insert heart eyes}, even the new girl Heather – more than make up for Michael. Everyone wants to help Virginia, from her camera guy to Evelyn’s husband, but none of them are willing to put themselves out there like Virginia does. This is her story and she’s going to do whatever she can in order to bring Evelyn’s killer to justice.

At the end of the novel, I read the author bio and found that Christina Kovac actually works in the television news sector. It makes sense because the behind the scenes world of TV news was so richly detailed in this book and everyone seemed to be moving at a TV news pace. Then I wondered how many characters were based on people she knew. Especially Nick Mellay, the new boss at her network, a guy so pompous and idiotic that he must have been based on someone. Either that or Christina Kovac can just really, REALLY write annoying men super well.

If you want a fast-paced, well written mystery, pick up The Cutaway. It’s thrilling and terrifying, and it offers a great peek behind the curtain of the TV news. I’m already preparing to reread this one, and it’s probably going to trick me once more.

Spurned by Lyz Kelley

Slide1

Hooray, it’s Friday! This week has seemed to drag on forever {maybe because I kept thinking that each day was the day before}, but now it’s Friday and I have an awesome weekend book for you: Spurned by Lyz Kelley.

Spurned Cover

Title: Spurned {105 pgs}

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: March 6, 2017

Summary:

PAST CHOICES DO NOT DETERMINE THE FUTURE…

A broken heart. A yearning soul. A choice to make.

A SALON OWNER WHO’S FORGOTTEN HER DREAMS…

Kym Zhang feels stuck. Her parents abruptly moved, leaving her to balance running a nail salon and helping her best friend heal after a near-fatal car accident. The day-to-day grind is getting tedious until a mechanic sparks her interest.

A MECHANIC WHO’S STUCK IN THE PAST…

Zach Cohen’s been all over the world building cars for movie stunt scenes. When his mentor asks for help, the Hollywood film mechanic can’t refuse. Besides, he needs a quiet place to rest, and time to get over the woman who demolished his heart.

When the cute salon owner asks him to jump her—actually her car—he figures Kym to be the perfect solution to defuse the volatile situation with his ex. However, he underestimates Kym, and how much she can make him forget old hurts in favor of new love. A slow sizzle burns between Zach and Kym until Hollywood calls him back, forcing them to make choices between their obligations and what they truly want out of life.

 ************

SPURNED is a steamy romance novella (23K words, 85+ pages) featuring a wounded woman and a man who fulfills a dream. If you like heartfelt characters, deep topics with emotionally powerful cores, and happy endings, then you’ll crave Lyz Kelley’s tales of strength, love, and survival.

Last month, I reviewed Lyz Kelley’s first book in this series, Blinded. I said that it ended far too quickly, but guess what? This book came along and satisfied my craving for Elkridge.

In that first book, we meet Kym, because she’s Mara’s best friend, and Kym is awesome. She’s outspoken and fun, and does what she can to help Mara while pushing aside her own troubles. While her family moved to Vegas for better opportunities, Kym stayed behind to help her friend and to keep the nail salon barely alive. She has sworn off all bad men, knowing what kind of guy can lead her down a dark road. When she meet Zach, she’s hesitant and not entirely sure what to make of him. Zach, for his part, has come back to Elkridge to help a friend and then gets dragged into going to see the woman who broke his heart. He moves around so much that he believes that things won’t work out with any woman, but he knows that Kym is different, or, at least, he hopes she is. Kym and Zach help each other out in many different situations, and watching them slowly get over the past together is adorable to see.

Another aspect of this series that I loved is that is started with Joe coming home to figure out who killed his brother, the sheriff. While we don’t find out who did it in the first book {obviously}, Lyz Kelley does offer us clues and glimpses into the lives of the other people populating Elkridge. This book is no different, because she drops hints as to the weird people that live around there, and how some more than others resort to violence to get their way.

Also, keep an eye on Jenna. I don’t know what to do with her yet.

 

Buy The Novella Today for Just 99¢!

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/BLINDED-Elkridge-Lyz-Kelley-ebook/dp/B01N4AP1US/ref=sr_1_1?tag=geo01-21&ie=UTF8&qid=1481054497&sr=8-1&keywords=Lyz+Kelley

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/BLINDED-Elkridge-Lyz-Kelley-ebook/dp/B01N4AP1US/ref=sr_1_1?tag=geo01-21&ie=UTF8&qid=1481054497&sr=8-1&keywords=Lyz+Kelley

 

Meet the Author

author-pic

Award-winning, contemporary romance author Lyz Kelley lives in a small community in Colorado with her husband and several four-legged family members. Lyz writes about brave women who have faced extraordinary challenges, and the honorable men who have an enormous capacity to love, even if they may not know it.

A healing love is at the heart of her book series. Creating wounded yet amazing characters—discovering what drives them, frightens them, heals them, makes them laugh—is what gives her joy. Lyz is pleased to share that joy through her masterfully written stories.

To keep tabs on her award-winning novels, connect with Lyz by signing up for her newsletter at LyzKelley.com. Also visit LyzKelleysHeroes.com to join Kelley’s Heroes, Lyz’s VIP club. Members receive an exclusive copy of A Soldier’s Wife, learn about thoughtful giveaways, and get a sneak peek at upcoming releases. Members may even get the opportunity to receive advanced reader copies. Check out LyzKelley.com for more information.
Website: www.LyzKelley.com

Newsletter Sign Up: www.LyzKelley.com

Kelley’s Heroes (VIP Club) Sign Up: www.LyzKelleysHeroes.com

https://www.facebook.com/LyzKelley

https://twitter.com/LyzKelley

https://www.pinterest.com/lyzkelley/

 

Why would readers enjoy this book?

My Elkridge series is a puzzle. The series is a set of small-town love stories that will launch throughout 2017. SPURNED is the second book in the series, and it is the story of Kym—a beloved secondary character in BLINDED.

Series Synopsis: Small Town Series

Who murdered Sheriff Sam? And, more importantly, why?

Someone in the sleepy little town of Elkridge, Colorado has a sinister secret.
Giveaway

SPURNED Giveaway Linkhttp://lyzkelley.com/elkridge-series.html

 

SPURNED: Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQ)

Why did you choose a Hollywood mechanic for Zach’s profession?

My best friend since college has worked in feature films, most recently she worked on Fast and Furious 6.  Hearing about the behind-the-scenes challenges, and seeing special footage of the car chase scene was fun.  During those weeks of shooting, my friend got to know many of the guys working on the cars. While a Hollywood mechanic sounds sexy, most of the guys worked around the clock to modify cars ahead of the filming schedule. They are well aware that things can and do go wrong. Cars get crashed or dented or the on-board camera angle needs to be changed. It’s a hard job, but never more rewarding when a chase scene sequence runs perfectly.

What’s up with Kym and her sister?

Kym has always been the more serious and responsible sibling, as demonstrated when she stays behind to help Mara recover from her near-fatal car accident. When Kym’s family essentially abandons her by moving away from Elkridge, she is determined to make her life work.  Since the age of 19, Kym’s essentially taken care of herself, with little to no support, and resents her older sister who has always depended on others to bail her out.

What happened between Kym and Brad Clairemont?

Brad has small-town syndrome. Like his sister, Rachelle, they are big fish in a small pond, and have an entitled attitude. According to the small town standard, their dad is wealthy and connected. The siblings have been raised to believe they are untouchable. Take an arrogant male, and pair him with a stubborn woman, and you get a combustible relationship.  Unfortunately, Brad is no gentleman; he uses his fists to communicate and get his way.

 

Other Books in The Series

book cover

Blinded – Buy Link: http://geni.us/LyzKelleyBLINDEDbnw

Seriously, go forth and buy these two books. They’re good weekend reads because you won’t be able to put them down! They’re sweet and mysterious, and the biggest fun I’m having is putting together the puzzle pieces that the author is sprinkling along the path. I am an Elkridge fan for life, and I can’t wait for her next book to come out {pssssst, which I might get to review…}.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Happy International Women’s Day! I hadn’t really planned on this book to fall on this day, but now that it has, I think it’s perfect. The Bone Witch definitely works for today.

30095464

Title: The Bone Witch (400 pgs)

Genre: Fantasy YA

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Summary:

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

Last year, I decided to reread the Game of Thrones books, just, you know, because. Okay, mostly because I love Daenerys. I mean, come on. Mother of Dragons, leader of an entire bloodthirsty army? How could you not love her?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Tea never wanted to be a  bone witch. In fact, the revelation of her bone witch status came as a surprise to everyone, including her. But she goes to Kion to learn how to become an asha, all while maneuvering the dangerous world of a large kingdom, including jealous asha, monstrous creatures, uncomfortable parties, and handsome princes that are nicer than they should be. But Tea does her best, with only a few disastrous moments, and protects her new friends with a fierceness that’s terrifying to behold.

But there’s another Tea, one only written about at the end of the chapters, an older, wiser Tea whose plans are nothing like the novice that we’ve been slowly falling in love with throughout the book. She reveals this plans slowly to a Bard, a man who only wanted to hear her story so that he could tell it to others, a man who got more than he bargained for.

I don’t know a better way of saying that I super enjoyed this book. But I SUPER enjoyed this book. Sometimes I feel burned out on fantasy YA, because there seems to be so much of it and I end up reading every book I can get my hands on within a month. So it’s been quite some time since I’ve read any fantasy, and this was the book that I needed to throw me back into the genre. Rich in detail and in magic, The Bone Witch was more than I could ever ask for in a fantasy book. I loved Tea and her brother Fox, and I loved the way they kept each other safe, even if they felt they were doing terrible jobs at it. Another super cool thing about this book was that so many different races were represented, even if they were from countries we’ve never heard of. Oh! And the maps! I’m sorry, but I’m such a nerd when it comes to maps in books, and this one was so detailed and realistic that I found myself coming back to it again and again, even when it wasn’t for the story.

Also, when I originally requested it, I didn’t know it was going to be a series, and now that I know, I’m horribly sad that I have to wait for the second book.

However, Tea’s story wasn’t everything great in this book. I do have to hand out two awards to Rin Chupeco. One is for most relatable dedication…

2017-03-08 08.23.45

 

…And the second to best acknowledgements I’ve seen in quite some time…

2017-03-08 08.23.12

Seriously, if you have not read Rin Chupeco before, get on it. Her other two books, The Girl From the Well and The Suffering scared the junk out of me, and I knew I was going to gobble up whatever else she put out. So, get out there, go to a bookstore, and pick up all three of her books. Why not? It’s International Women’s Day, so, you know, support women! Even when it’s not one day to support us, still support us. Okay? All right, sounds good.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Oh, goodness, this is going to be a week full of book reviews! I have two more lined up, and the one I said I would have up last week might be postponed. I’m still sorting through everything inside that book that shook me to the core, so I’ll get to it. Maybe. For now, though, I have The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Say that three times fast.

23447923

Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life (464 pgs)

Genre: YA

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Summary:

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

That summary doesn’t seem like much to go on, but it’s the general gist of the book. Salvador is starting his last year of high school and he starts questioning everything around him, because it all seems to be changing. His friends Sam and Fito have their own troubles in life, and Salvador can’t understand why everything has to change so quickly. The main question he has for himself is, when is he going to finally grow up?

First of all, Sam. God, she’s great. She’s smart and confident, bossy and proud of it. She knows what she wants and knows how she’s going to get there, and she doesn’t let anything stop her. She has her faults – like picking the wrong guys – but she learns from her mistakes. It’s what she wants Salvador to learn, that he can make the wrong choices and still stay on track. She pushes him because she knows that he can do better, know that he deserves better, and she can’t quite get him to see that. She watches him change, watches him use his fists rather than his words, and Sam knows that’s not him. Sam is a great friend, and she never lets Salvador forget that fact.

Then there’s Fito. Little Fito who I just want to bring home and stuff so full of food that he can’t move for weeks. Fito lives with his drug-addicted mother who doesn’t seem to want him around and eventually kicks him out of her house. Fito is smart and shy, working hard at two jobs to save money for college and working even harder at school. He’s had a difficult life and he does get down on himself, but he survives. He’s stronger than he gives himself credit for, and that’s part of what makes him beautiful.

Growing up in a far too normal family, I like reading about families like my own. Not that I grew up with a gay father and as an only child, but everyone comments on how well-liked Salvador’s father is and how normal his family appears to be. Salvador’s aunts and uncles even remind me of my dad’s crazy big family, especially the tortillas and tamales. I understood that making food for each other is a loud way of saying I love you, and that eating all the food is an even louder response. I understood this family and got where they were coming from, and it made me kind of giddy to realize that I was reading about a family I could recognize.

I think the last year of high school is always a little daunting. You start to realize that you’re going to be in college {or out in the real world} in nine months, and you question everything. Am I mature enough? Am I going to survive? What am I going to do without this safety net underneath me? But it’s also a year to figure out who you want to be for the rest of your life, or at least for the next four years. You change so much in those nine little months, and sometimes you can’t even recognize yourself. That’s what your friends and family are for during those times. They bring you back to earth, and they won’t hesitate to let you know who you are.

Basically, this was beautifully written, and sweet and heartbreaking in one fell swoop. I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t move from my computer screen for nearly two hours while I finished the book {luckily I have a comfy computer chair}. I’ve had Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on my TBR list forever, and now it’s moving way up because of this book. Take it from me: maybe you should do the same with both of these books.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

You know that wonderful feeling when what you thought was a cold isn’t really cold? Oh, but it’s allergies and the Southern California winds pick up on the day of your realization and you can’t breathe and everything is misery? Yeah, that feeling. Wonderful. But I did pick a book that has misery woven through almost every line, so I think it’s appropriate to review The Roanoke Girls today.

30689335

Title: The Roanoke Girls (276 pgs)

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Summary:

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

This was one of those books that I grabbed on NetGalley because the cover made me think it was something different than it was. I mean, Roanoke? Come on, you know what I thought. But then the actual story ends up being so much better than what I even thought it could be about.

I mean, it is about disappearances, but we learn what happened to the Roanoke girls in this story.

It’s so difficult to talk about this story without giving anything away. Unlike most mysteries, the secret of the Roanoke girls is given away fairly early in the story, and the rest of the book is tainted by this secret. When Lane goes back to Kansas, the reader believes that she’s going to learn about Lane and Allegra, their friendship, and what happened to her. You know, you wait for the big secret to be revealed in the last pages and then you can go back and piece together the puzzle yourself during the second reading. But with the secret staring you in the face for the entire book, you suddenly start to doubt everything and everything. Could Allegra’s disappearance be pinned on Tommy, her ex-boyfriend turned cop who has a big secret of his own? Could it be Charlie, the strange loner farmhand that has been at Roanoke for years? Or maybe Sharon, the terrible cook, who has seemingly never liked any of the Roanoke girls? Or are we looking closer at home, like Gran or Granddad?

There was seriously a point where I was convinced that it was Lane’s old boyfriend, that he had kidnapped Allegra in hopes of Lane coming home to him. Yeah, I watch far too many soap operas.

I loved how this story was told from varying point of views, giving the reader the entire story from different perspectives. Each chapter goes from now to then, with a short chapter of each Roanoke girl wedged in there to help you understand why they all left. In its own way, it’s heartbreaking to read about these girls wanting a certain thing and the absolute jealousy that tears them apart. No Roanoke girl is exempt from this, not even Lane, the strongest of the girls.

Lane’s dynamic with every character in the book is electric. The love she wants, the love she gets, and the love she thinks she deserves contradicts each other constantly, and that’s because she grew up with an angry mother who – Lane thinks – didn’t know how to love her. When Lane comes to live with the Roanoke’s in Kansas, she receives the kind of love and attention from her family that she didn’t know possible. But she turns on Cooper, her summer boyfriend, and does what she can to hurt him, because she doesn’t understand the kind of love he’s trying to give her. I think Allegra is most like Lane’s mom, because one day she’s wrapped around Lane, and the next, she wants nothing to do with her cousin. This is a whole new world for Lane, so it’s no surprise that she connects with Allegra as quickly as she does.

This has been the hardest review to write, because I adored this book, but I’m trying SO HARD not to give away anything. I’m sorry for the vagueness, but really, pick up the book on Tuesday and read it. Then you’ll appreciate the difficult time I had today trying to pick my words so carefully. Once you finish the last page, find me somewhere and we can gush about it together!