Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Dangerous Girls

Title Dangerous Girls

Author Abigail Haas

Release Date July 16, 2013

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

Well, that was unexpected.

Would it be cool if that was the end of my review? No? Well, that was my exact reaction after finishing the book. After a few minutes that turned into, "Really? That just happened? You mean... that's the ending!?"

Dangerous Girls was so much more than I expected. It was great. So, so great. It was very readable and hard to put down. The entire time I was reading it, I wanted answers. I needed to know! I just love it when a book draws you in and forces you to read it. And that's exactly what was happening here. I need more books like this in my life. We all do.


5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blog Tour: Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth

Title Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth

Author Ross Eliot

Release Date January 6, 2014

Tour Host Sage's Blog Tours

This narrative begins in 1998 when, in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually the basement pantry of a grand house owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor.

Her past unfolds in stories, from the 1928 kidnapping in central Washington carried out by a mysterious wealthy French woman, to life in occupied Europe during World War II with the Czarist assassin of Rasputin a frequent houseguest. The professor’s later life experiences in America only create more intrigue, from teenage prostitution to her late-life sex reassignment, involvement with the Catholic Church and connections to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a notorious 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon.

Eliot cares for Dr. Ellsworth until her death in 2002 before an entire class of students, however, the shroud covering her story has only partially raised and murkier secrets than ever suspected emerge. Part memoir, part mystery, part history lesson– this true tale binds drama from classic Greek tragedy together with revelations worthy of the most bizarre fiction. From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it’s an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also for the city of Portland where they live.

I believe I've said it before... I'm fascinated by people. Absolutely fascinated! With this fascination comes a love for things like memoirs and biographies. So, given the opportunity to read this wonderful memoir, I just had to jump at the chance.

Babette is a wonderful memoir about the intertwining lives of the complex and mysterious woman that is Babette and her student turned caretaker, Ross. And while this story is about the two of them, I do believe Babette stole the show. I found Babette, both the person and the book, just delightful and wonderfully strange. The more I read, the harder it was to put the book down.

Though this isn't much of a review, I certainly recommend Babette to those that enjoy memoirs. I greatly enjoyed this book and believe it's worth the read.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

About Ross Eliot

Ross Eliot is a writer, roofer, auto mechanic, DJ and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.  He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011 and the current internet journal Occupy the 2nd Amendment.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review: Finding Laila

Title Finding Laila

Author T. K. Rapp

Release Date January 13, 2015

Joey, Cole, Haden and Braxton have been a constant in my life since
I was five, and I have loved being one of the guys.

I’ve been cheerleader.

I’ve been study partner.

I’ve been listener.

When we’re young, we don’t realize the profound impact certain people will have on our lives. I had no idea twelve years ago I’d meet four boys who would turn out to be my best friends, my soul mates - my barmy.

Now school is almost done, our last summer together is drawing closer, and I’m trying to hold on to what we have while I still can. After this we’ll have to say goodbye to each other, as our choices will take our lives in different directions. But I don't know if our friendship can survive once secrets and surprises begin revealing themselves to us at every turn.

When it’s all said and done, will our friendships remain unbreakable? Or will our once strong bond prove to be weaker than we anticipated?

Letting go is harder than I thought, but some changes are necessary.

And finding Laila...finding myself…may be the greatest journey of all.

This was a wonderful coming of age story. Though there is a little bit of romance, its emphasis is on friends.

Finding Laila was very reminiscent of the ending of high school. Things change, people grow up (and sometimes apart), and we're left making decisions about which path in life to go down. A lot of the time, these things are overwhelming. Luckily, Laila has her "barmy" to help her through these times.

The only thing I was disappointed with (or maybe confused is a better word) was the epilogue. I don't think it made any sense and it didn't really fit with the rest of the story. I don't really understand why it was included and I think I would have been happier with the book overall if it didn't have an epilogue at all.


4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Malia's Miracles

Title Malia's Miracles

Series Devya's Children, book 3

Author Julie C. Gilbert

Release Date November 2, 2014

How much is one life worth?

Danielle Matheson faces a difficult decision: helplessly watch Christy's mother die of cancer or ask Jillian and her genetically Gifted siblings to risk their freedom to save her.

Once committed to the cause, Jillian, Malia, and Michio turn their full attention to fighting the caner, but more danger awaits them. Defeating the disease and dodging government agents soon become the least of their worries when measured against the race against time to rescue one girl from certain death.

Like the previous two books, Malia's Miracles is told through journal entries and letters from various characters. Books told in epistolary form are some of my favorite books, but the format doesn't work for every situation. Sometimes, you just don't get enough of the action to make a compelling read. Surprisingly, I think this format works really well for this series (as I stated before in my first review).

Though I don't feel like there was as much going on in this book (compared to the second), it was still a very good story and I enjoyed reading it. I really like that each book seems to focus more on one of the children and exploring their gifts, but still includes the others (because like the books state, they are stronger together and their gifts compliment one another's).

I do hope to read more from Devya's Children in the future. For now, I recommend this series to those that enjoy young adult fantasy/sci-fi/adventure!


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: All the Bright Places

Title All the Bright Places

Author Jennifer Niven

Release Date January 6, 2015

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

I'd like to write a remarkable and lovely review. I'd like to say something poetic about All the Bright Places. I don't have those words. And even if I did, I'm not sure I could stop crying long enough to formulate them into coherent thoughts.

Read this book. And when, like me, you're halfway through the book and not sure how you feel about it... keep reading. Keep reading because that moment that makes reading the book worth it is coming. And I'm sorry in advance if you spend the tail end of the book in tears.

All the Bright Places is amazing. And yes, I still believe that even though it's heart-wrenching and I've spent the last hour in tears.


5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cover Reveal/Excerpt: Black Iris

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Release Date: April 28, 2015

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.


Atria Books | 384 pages | ISBN: 9781476786421 | On sale: April 28, 2015 | List price: $15.00 | eBook ISBN: 9781476786438 | eBook list price: $5.99
More Information Here
Pre-Order Links

First Chapter Excerpt
April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot said, and that’s because it kills. It’s the month with the highest suicide rate. You’d think December, or even January—the holidays and all that forced cheer and agonized smiling pushing fragile people to the edge—but actually it’s spring, when the world wakes from frostbound sleep and something cruel and final stirs inside those of us who are broken. Like Eliot said: mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. In the deepest throes of depression, when sunlight is anguish and the sky throbs like one big raw migraine and you just want to sleep until you or everything else dies, you’re less likely to commit suicide than someone coming out of a depressive episode. Drug companies know this. That’s why antidepressants have to be marked with the warning MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

Because what brings you back to life also gives you the means to destroy yourself.

About the Author

Leah Raeder is a writer and unabashed nerd. Aside from reading her brains out, she enjoys graphic design, video games, fine whiskey, and the art of self-deprecation. She lives with her very own manic pixie dream boy in Chicago. Visit her at

Connect with Leah Raeder


Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Everett

Title Everett

Series Everett, book 1

Author Jenifer Ruff

Release Date August 23, 2014

At Everett, perfection has a dark side....

Brooke is a highly-motivated coed at prestigious Everett College. She is determined to graduate number one in her class, get accepted at a top medical school, and become a surgeon. She is brilliant, tenacious, beautiful.

Everything is going according to plan, although she's not sure what to do about Ethan, an attractive guy who would like to be more than just friends. Her classmates and professors are all captivated by her achievements and her outward appearance, with the exception of one student. Only Jessica, a wealthy socialite and Brooke's complete opposite, senses that Brooke might not be all that she appears. But Jessica has her own problems, fueled by too many prescription pills, energy drinks, and a huge case of snobbery. She's too busy looking down her nose when she should be watching her back.

As the semester progresses, Brooke's carefully laid plans are inadvertently threatened. Her sinister past is revealed, and nothing is off limits when it comes to achieving her goals.

Whoa, this book was certainly nothing like I expected! I can't say for certain what I was expecting, but I can say that it wasn't what I got. Rest assured, though, this is a good thing.

Everett is intriguing and hard to put down. Once I got started, I just had to have more. I really enjoyed Jenifer Ruff's writing style. Her attention to detail, interesting characters, and superb plot make this a great book. I, for one, am fascinated by Brooke and I can hardly wait to start reading the sequel, Rothaker.

This one is a definite recommendation to those that enjoy thrillers.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Book Review: Gracefully Grayson

Title Gracefully Grayson

Author Ami Polonsky

Release Date November 4, 2014

Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

I love Grayson and I loved this book.

Gracefully Grayson is a middle grade/young adult book that approaches a major issue. While the book provides an overall positive message for transgendered youth and those that support them, I was disappointed that not a single character in the story says to Grayson that it's okay. I feel like that simple acknowledgement was needed not only for Grayson, but the audience as well. The ending did provide the triumph that Grayson deserved, though, so I'm happy in that respect.

Overall, this is a great book and I love seeing it written for the younger audience.


4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: Our Wild and Precious Lives

Title Our Wild and Precious Lives

Author A. G. Russo

Release Date August 20, 2014

In 1960 Cold War Germany, Tom and Melly McCarron, teenage Army brats, contend with adolescence on a small American base near Bavaria, where their father, a decorated war veteran, begins a three-year tour of duty. As tensions in Berlin rise between the Allies and the Soviets, and threaten to bring about World War III, the base teenagers forge bonds of loyalty and love stronger than any of the adults understand.

Leaving New York on a night flight to Germany, the quiet, thoughtful Tom, and feisty, emotional Melly, are apprehensive about life in a foreign land. While they will attend the American high school in W├╝rzburg, brother and sister realize they are the only stability each has had in their young lives. They also leave behind the sole adult they came to trust, their Aunt Deeny, a librarian who introduced them long ago to a way to cope with life's ups and downs—reading and books.

Confronting the overwhelming challenges of making new friends, adjusting to a foreign environment, and enrolling in yet another school, they also must endure their abusive father and moody war bride mother. But they are not fully aware of how their father's wartime experiences and sacrifices have left him scarred. Relying on their inner strength and resilience, they navigate the boundaries of military dependents—American teenagers with the same needs, yearnings and heartbreak as any of their generation.

Our Wild and Precious Lives was an easy read. I quickly fell into the story and found it difficult to put down. I enjoyed the author's writing a lot. We're treated to a full and descriptive story without the author being long winded or boring. And though I didn't need most of the definitions (thanks to growing up near a military base and having numerous Army brats for friends), I did like that the author included them for certain military and German terms. Little touches like that help me enjoy a book more (sometimes it's nice to not need to stop reading to look up a term).

Overall, I'm very glad I was given the opportunity to read Our Wild and Precious Lives as it's something that I might not have picked up on my own. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a wonderful book and I certainly recommend it.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *