Category Archives: fiction
I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.
When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.
Meanwhile, Jazz’s dad Billy is watching…and waiting.
Have you ever read a book where it feels like the book attacked you, mauled you, and left you sitting stunned at the end wondering what the hell just happened? Game by Barry Lyga is that book. It chewed me up and spat me out. Its predecessor, I Hunt Killers, was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I was so excited when the sequel came out in mid-April. I was a bit daunted when I got my copy of Game and saw the book was huge at over 500 pages. I thought for sure Game couldn’t merit such length and that I would get bored or annoyed with it eventually. That was not to be. I couldn’t put it down.
I’m trying to make my reviews more interesting, so bear with me while I try a few things. (Lists!)
Things I Liked
Jazz Dent – Jazz makes the whole series. He’s crazy and disturbing and probably the most interesting teen character I’ve ever read. His powers of observation rival Sherlock Holmes, both in behavioral analysis and crime scene investigation. Jazz is the bomb, as they say. (Or time bomb, as the case may be.)
Connie and Howie – Game has awesome secondary characters and it was awesome to see Jazz’s girlfriend and best friend bust a move and really drive the plot along with their own actions rather than just being swept up along in Jazz’s wake.
Creepy to the max! – I’ve read a few murder mysteries in my time but Game has managed to make my skin crawl in a way that hasn’t happened in a while. I think this is mostly due to Jazz’s unique insight into serial killers and his often deadpan way of delivering those details as if it’s nothing special. It shows that Jazz himself is cracked in a very special way. We’re getting to see into the motives and minds of the killers in a way I haven’t read before. There is also a new sexual aspect to Game that wasn’t focused on in I Hunt Killers. As a female, this focus is both frightening and fascinating.
Never slowed down! – When I saw Game was over 500 pages long, I was sure it would lag and bog down. But the novel maintained a swift pace that hurries a reader along to the next big event and those 500 pages just flew by. I couldn’t turn pages fast enough!
Things I Didn’t Like
Repetitive – After a certain point, Jazz can get repetitive. Look, I get that Jazz’s big thing is trying to keep himself from turning into his Dad, king of the killers. Jazz struggles with two parts of himself, the part that was created by Billy Dent and the part that society tells him he is supposed to act and think like. He’s worried that having sex with Connie will trigger him into violence and he’s constantly analyzing his every action against the sliding scale of crazy. But after a while, you just kind of want to slap him.
Jazz is a genius/Everyone else is dumb as a rock – I said before that Jazz’s powers of observation are impressive. Unfortunately, Jazz’s powers are shown by making everyone else, the NYPD and the FBI, look like idiots. This is a common flaw with teen characters in adult situations. But the men and women of the NYPD and the FBI are trained professionals and having Jazz constantly one up them is ridiculous. Jazz may have an unique insight into serial killers growing up under Billy Dent’s tutelage but he has not been trained and it’s really quite annoying when he does that continually, like the whole of the police force are idiots and couldn’t catch fish in a bucket.
Believability – The NYPD and the FBI seek a teenage kid for help with a murder investigation. Yep. Uh huh. I believe that. Not. While I could believe Jazz getting mixed up with G. William and everything in small town Lobo’s Nob because it honestly fell into his lap, I can’t accept that people from New York would seek Jazz out for help in the same situation, no matter who his father was.
Stupid Girl Syndrome – Connie, what the hell do you think you are doing? Are you nuts? You seem like a smart cookie, so I can’t understand why you are suddenly acting like the dumb blond in the classic horror movie. What the hell?
Game by Barry Lyga is my first 5 star rating of this year. It has problems but the amount of awesome in this book makes up for any flaws. My biggest beef is the ending, in which we are left completely hanging with no resolution at all and all the characters in dire situations. I think I may die of frustration before the next book becomes available. I rarely enjoy a sequel as much as I liked Game. There is no second book slump for this series. I Hunt Killers was great but Game bumped it up to a whole new level of intense. I have to advise readers to read cautiously if you have triggers for violence or gore. It’s a little gross in some places. Game is also more sexualized than I Hunt Killers was and that might put some readers off. Mature readers only, people.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Published February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paper Book
Length: 307 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Spy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Mystery
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger’s legions of fans have come to adore.
It took me a little bit of time to wander my way through Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. I heard great things about her Parasol Protectorate series and this was my first steampunk novel, so I was excited to read it. My excitement waned after a while and I finished Etiquette & Espionage in fits and spurts. It pained me that I didn’t love this book more. It had all the makings of an awesome novel with an original world (I haven’t read the Parasol Protectorate yet. So this was my first experience in this world.), a healthy dose of paranormal (Vampires! Werewolves! Oh my!), and some really interesting characters. But while it had all the pieces of a great book, is lacked any actual plot to focus on.
There are two things that keep Etiquette & Espionage from being a complete flop; great characters and the humor. All the girls at the finishing school are quirky and interesting. Sophronia, the main character, is spunky but could have had a bit more depth to her. Frankly, I was more interested in the characters she interacted with, like the other girls, teachers, and the sooties, than I was in Sophronia herself. There are great one-liners and fantastic humor. But all the cheeky jokes and turn of phrase wit in the world won’t hide the thin plot and slow moving action in Etiquette & Espionage. The setting gets the most attention, giving us a rich world with the finishing school, but leaving other aspects of the book languishing.
I feel as if I’ve read someone’s first draft and that I’m missing half of the book; the half where something actually happens. At the end there is some action involving the mysterious prototype and what could be some suitable villains but then the book ends before anything really exciting can evolve from it. We’re left with some funny characters and a fantastic world in which nothing much happens. I’m pleased with my first real foray into steampunk. That aspect of Etiquette & Espionage was fantastic but just didn’t have the support of a good plot to make the book really great.
I am intrigued enough that I’ll check out Parasol Protectorate. I loved Carriger’s world building and want to see more. Etiquette & Espionage read more like a middle grade book than a young adult book. The age of the characters and innocent and almost not there nature of the romance lends itself better to younger readers. (Not that that stops any 30 year old women from reading it.) But humor and quirky characters cannot disguise the slow and boring pace or the underdeveloped plot in this book. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger was great for a steampunk novel but ultimately fell a little flat.
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
I picked up The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal while browsing through the library. It had been on my to be read list for a little while but hadn’t generated a lot of excitement that I could see on the other blogs. I read the blurb and thought the story would be a pretty straight forward ‘finding your place in the world’ novel. There was a nice twist that made the novel a bit more exciting than I expected but otherwise the characters and situation in this book were pretty bland. The main character, Sinda, is too accepting of her fate and simply allows the people she thought were her parents to basically kick her out of her life and send her off to a relative she didn’t even know existed. While I can understand Sinda being in shock at that moment, she’s a bit too much like a doormat to inspire much reaction from the reader.
When Sinda arrives in her aunt’s small village, her situation is more amusing than pitying and the reveal of her magic is predictable. It’s only as she returns to the city that things start looking up, novel-wise. At first, I thought the rest of the plot would be Sinda’s ‘journey to self-acceptance’ that ends with her being best friends with the new princess and generally becoming the most awesome royal advisor ever to the new Nalia. But there is a twist, things start to happen, and Sinda grows a backbone and a personality. The romance is not overwhelming but not very interesting. Best friends since they were little, Sinda and Kiernan of course fall in love with each other. It’s clichéd. Thankfully, it’s not focused on until the point of nausea.
The False Princess is your pretty standard fantasy/ fairy tale novel. It’s got ties to Cinderella and The Prince and Pauper. Everything and everyone is a little bland. I greatly wanted to learn more about Sinda’s birthmother and also more about the queen, who apparently felt something for Sinda even if we’re shown that with only third party information. O’Neal missed a great chance for some angst that would have spiced things up. As it is, Sinda’s numb reaction to everything is a little boring after a while. The False Princess does get a little more interesting near the end, where there is actually action happening, but it’s a little too late to save the book. I liked The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, the second twist was good, but the majority of the novel was just okay.
A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!
Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!
I’m really trying to keep up with my series reading. I had trouble getting into The False Prince, the predecessor to this book. I was kind of neutral on the character until the end when we realized how amazing Sage/Joran really was. I was excited for The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson because clever, almost genius characters give me tingles and I really wanted to see what Sage/Joran would do in this book. I was not disappointed.
There is some debate on whether The Runaway King is better categorized as Middle Grade rather than Young Adult. I say it can be either way. This book has a lot of action, indicative of Middle Grade books, and lacks the nauseating romance that has infected the Young Adult genre. (I’m about one more teenage suck-face fest from rabid insanity. We’re talking clock tower and rifle level of nuts. I’m quickly becoming the blogger that hates Young Adult romance with the fire of a thousand suns.) At the same time, The Runaway King is a little violent for younger readers. I’d probably let a preteen, about 12 years of age or older, read this book but not anyone younger. (Unless they were well-read and mature for their age.)
The Runaway King got a rare rating of 5 stars from me. I felt more comfortable with the book now that I knew what to expect with Sage/Jaron. I could see how he manipulated the situation when he could and could appreciate the parts that were just dumb luck. I feel like not all the secrets were revealed in this book and we will have to wait until the next installment to find out all of Sage/Jaron’s plans. For instance, I’m certain that it was Sage/Jaron that sent the message to Roden to return early and that Sage/Jaron sending the army off to move rocks in the north is really secret training but we’re not expressly told in the novel. I think Sage/Jaron is collecting a chessboard of pieces to fight the war coming in the next book.
What romance there is, is not heavy handed or thrown in our face. Imogen herself is an independent, interesting character. A couple of the secondary characters are a bit cliché, like Fink, and the pirates are a little less deadly and more honorable than one would think from their description. I can’t remember if Gregor was in the first book and his sudden appearance as villain and mastermind evil doer is a bit sudden and confusing. By the end of The Runaway King, Sage/Jaron has gained the love of his people and now his kingdom is tumbling headlong into war. Frankly, I can’t wait for book number three of The Ascendance Trilogy, which we don’t know the publication date or even the name of yet! The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson is a runaway hit.
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Published September 25th 2012 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Paper Book
Length: 404 pages
Genre: Zombies, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Horror
Reading Level: Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real…
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies…
I don’t read a lot of zombie books. (They have a habit of giving me nightmares. Nightmares where I have a Japanese katana sword, speak French, and kick ass but then have to throw myself out of the dream when the zombie munching gets too graphic.) But my obsession with everything and anything to do with Alice in Wonderland won out over my hesitation and so when I was browsing the shelves at my library I picked up Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I’m weak. I do believe this is the first zombie book I’ve read in almost a decade. (And no nightmares! Although there was one crazy Wonderland dream…)
Alice in Zombieland was not what I expected. For some reason, the blurb made me think this was going to be an apocalyptic zombie novel and that our Alice character would be in an ‘end of the world’ situation. (Thus, creating some sort of new ‘Wonderland’ for our Alice character to live in.) Maybe I fell for a stereotype but the book couldn’t have been farther from what I envisioned. It’s set in contemporary times (In fact, at one point Alice mentioned reading The Iron Fey series and I had to blink in surprise at the destruction of the fourth wall.) and knowledge of the zombies is afforded to only a few select people. The zombies themselves are untraditional and Showalter had to create a whole new mythology for the creatures in order to explain why only certain people could see and fight them. I’m not sure I like the new mythology Showalter created. It works for the book but at the same time it’s a bit absurd. It sort of squashes zombies and ghosts together and gets a bit messy in the process. Also, to my disappointment, the Alice in Wonderland connection is thin at best. There are some scattered references that really don’t bring anything to the novel and that’s it.
Of course, my biggest beef with Alice in Zombieland is the romance. (Romance is pretty much the bane of my existence in Young Adult books.) Alice is a good girl, Cole is a bad boy, they are both ridiculously hot, and have an ‘Instant Connection of Destiny’. So a good portion of the book is them playing relationship yoyo and sucking face. There is even an ‘Ex-Girlfriend of Doom.’ Oh, and Alice is an extra special snowflake among special snowflakes. The only thing that saves Alice in Zombieland for me is that everyone can kick zombie butt and most of the characters are rather interesting, when they’re not trying to get into each other pants. So, the romance is clichéd, the zombie mythology interesting but a little convoluted, and there are a lot of awesome fight scenes. For me, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter was a typical teen drama that was okay but not great. Other reviews bring me to believe you either loved this book or hated it. I fall somewhere in the middle.
Scorch by Gina Damico
Published September 25th 2012 by Graphia
Format: Paper Book
Length: 332 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Grim Reaper, Modern Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult – I do think this one is unsuitable for younger kids
Goodreads | Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home.
To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop Zara once and for all —but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree?
I’m horrible about reading series. I read the first book, I may even love it, but by the time the second book comes out I’ve forgotten about it. Lucky for me, Scorch by Gina Damico was already waiting for me when I finished the first book, Croak. I was late to the party but that meant I could go straight to the next book. Now, all I have to do is remember to get the third book, Rouge, when it comes out this autumn. Here’s hoping I can remember to pick it up by then! (Warning! Spoilers for the first book in the series, Croak.)
In this book, we return to the town of Croak with Lex and some new Juniors. The Grimsphere is still being terrorized by Zara. The group realizes that Zara must have some insider help because she keeps getting into Croak without triggering the security alarms, has gotten a new scythe from somewhere and is crashing with purpose again, Damning those she feels deserve it. (Or is she? What a clever twist!) The Senior Grims are slowly turning against Lex and the other Juniors, led by Norwood and Heloise, and Uncle Mort is trying everything in his power to protect his niece and her friends and sort of failing. It’s just a good old time in grim reaper land!
I have a deep seated loathing for the cliché where the main conflict is people’s inability to share information. If there was more communication between adults and teenagers in this book there wouldn’t be half as many problems as there were. But Uncle Mort is a secretive asshole and Lex is stuck in the mentality of us against them and nobody is sharing their information. This pretty much means that everyone is fumbling around in the dark and things would be so much easier if they just talked with each other. But god forbid Mort treat his niece like an intelligent person or Lex act like anything but a competitive snot. It’s one thing when nobody knows a piece of information but it’s entirely another when butthead characters refuse to share information. Then they just end up looking like petty morons.
(grumble, grumble, stomp all over) Despite hitting a pet peeve of mine, Scorch was a good book. It avoided the second book slump by being fast-paced and exciting. I felt like you didn’t have time to get bored because Lex and her friends were always racing headlong into danger and the unknown. Lex has no sense of self-preservation and she’s slightly reckless. There were a few slight hiccups. I felt the man in white that we see just once in Croak should have gotten more page time just to keep him in the forefront of our minds. He turns out to be an important character but it feels like he was just kind of dropped on us. He’s lead-in could have been more gradual. There are a lot of small puzzles to keep track of and that makes for a suspenseful but occasionally aggravating novel. Altogether, Scorch by Gina Damico is a great second book and I be looking forward to book number three this autumn.
The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams
Published October 5th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paper Book
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Witches, Young Adult, Questing
Reading Level: It says Young Adult, but I think it would be fine for Middle Grade
Goodreads | Amazon
Deep in the walls of a witches’ cottage lays an ancient magical kitchen. Dangling over that kitchen’s cauldron, pinched between the fingers of two witches, is a toad. And the Toad has no idea how she got there, and no memory of even her name. All she knows is she doesn’t think she was always a Toad, or that she’s ever been here before. Determined to recover her memories she sets out on a journey to the oracle, and along the way picks up a rag-tag team of friends: an iron-handed imp, a carnivorous fairy, and a few friendly locals.
But the Kitchen won’t make it easy. It is pitch black, infinite, and impossible to navigate, a living maze. Hiding in dark corners are beastly, starving things. Worse yet are the Witches themselves, who have sent a procession of horrific, deadly monsters on her trail. With some courage and wisdom, the Toad just might find herself yet-and with that knowledge, the power to defeat the mighty Witches.
I want to take a moment to state that if I hadn’t been mindlessly browsing the shelves at my local library, I would have never found this book. So, the next time someone tells you that bookstores or libraries are outdated you can whack them in the head and remind them of the joys of aimlessly wandering around and finding a really great book that you would have had zero chance of coming across on the internet. The book I speak of is The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams. This book gave me warm book fuzzes; the type of pleasure I get from a great fantasy book that is without the irritating clichés I often have to ignore in Young Adult fantasy books these days.
I have to admit that The Witches’ Kitchen reads more like a Middle Grade book, even though it’s marked as Young Adult. It’s a little creepy but there is nothing in there I wouldn’t want a young child to read. Plus, The Witches’ Kitchen has that creativity and originality that I only see in Middle Grade books. It lacks any type of romance angle and has the type of characters that I adore. The Kitchen is a world onto itself with a set of rules and laws unlike ours. It is a world that constantly changes with dangers around every corner. I would liken the world-building and tone to Splintered by A.G. Howard but without the annoying main characters that made me dislike that book. The Kitchen is a dark place with dark creatures and it’s fascinating. The characters are great and the plot pace fast. The Witches’ Kitchen is under 300 pages long, so there are no slow parts.
Every once and a while, I will stumble across a book that is classic fantasy and I just get that buzz of pleasure a good fantasy gives me. It does have the quest fantasy cliché, where a group goes on a quest to find something or fix something. (The Lord of the Rings has the quest cliché.) The conflict is pretty predictable. (As in it is obvious why the Witches want Toad.) But the journey is amazing. My favorite part is the clock and the Widow spiders. The details and side stories just add to the magic of the book. There are a ton of great illustrations. I’m so pleased that I stumbled across The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams. It always pays to wander the bookshelves.
The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Published August 15th 2012 by Fire & Ice Books
Format: Kindle ebook: freebie
Length: 194 pages (or 224 pages?) / 330 KB
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Fairytale
Reading Level: All Ages
Goodreads | Amazon
Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust. But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect — read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice — stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?
Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.
Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.
Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.
And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.
I first saw The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson during its blog tour and when I saw it was available as an ebook freebie, I snapped it up. I adore fairytale rewrites. A fairytale mash up is pretty much guaranteed to make me happy. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back was fun and light and a nice, quick read. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It…ignited a fiery ball of rage in my chest that burned with the heat of a thousand suns. Let me explain my epic rage to you. (I’m about to be harsh. Sorry.)
Wilson used the biggest, baddest ugly stepsister/duckling cliché of them all. The world is being tricked, everybody! The ugly stepsister isn’t really ugly at all and with a little bit of effort, some hair styling, and a touch of makeup she can be utterly beautiful. The underdog is only some eyeliner and lip gloss away from being the pretty princess. Mattie’s style is punkish and funky, she’s got an attitude and a problem with stupid people, but none of that matters because she apparently has great boobs. In fact, we’re told that one of the first real meetings between Mattie and her object of obsession Jake is between lover boy, a skimpy robe, and her awesome boobs. It’s one of those ridiculous situations where if the nerd takes their glasses off they are suddenly pretty or handsome and as a certified ugly person, I am deeply insulted. Ella is just misunderstood and Mattie really isn’t ugly. The only problems these girls have are the ones manufactured in their heads. They are rich, beautiful, and hormonal and I want to gag.
[deep breath] Sorry if some of my indignation got on your clothing. I think I was the completely wrong person to read this book. Yes, it has a basis in the fairytale Cinderella. But it is also a teenage drama and teenage drama makes me want to scream. I have zero interest in teenagers’ petty problems. I would have dropped Jake like a hot potato after he asked me to do the school project on my own and then add his name to it. No excuses; I don’t care how much pressure your parents are putting on you. Instead, Mattie continues to chase after the ass. I think my eye started to twitch at this point.
Despite my displeasure with many things, I did finish the book. The Stepsister Strikes Back has some charming points and watching Mattie make a real connection with Ella and then stand up for herself against her mother was nice. It’s predictable but that’s just the nature of the creature when dealing with a fairytale rewrite. It would have been nice to see some sort of twist but the plot remains fairly straight forward. It would help if the book followed the blurb it has but it’s less about Mattie taking charge and coming into her own and more about everyone around Mattie teaming up to get her and Jake together. It’s a disappointing fake out, really. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson was just ok in my opinion. I’m mostly just glad I didn’t pay for it.
Rating: 2.5 stars : Meh
The Secret Tunnel by James Lear
Published October 1st 2008 by Cleis Press
Format: Kindle ebook
Length: 325 pages / 1842 KB
Genre: Erotica, Gay Erotica, Gay, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Adults Only
Goodreads | Amazon
The Flying Scotsman, one of the world’s legendary train journeys, has many attractions for Edward “Mitch” Mitchell, from the obliging porter to the mean guard to a troop of rough-and-ready soldiers in easily lifted kilts in the third-class carriage. But Mitch may not have time for them all before they arrive in London. When the train gets stuck in a tunnel, a dead body is found in the first-class toilet! Ever-ready Mitch decides to intervene and solve the crime. With his new Belgian sidekick Benoit, he pursues the killer through a crazy kaleidoscope of movie stars, drug dealers, royal scandals, and queens of every description. Can he finger the villain before the villain fingers him? What is the connection between Buckingham Palace and a bunch of backstreet pornographers? And what is the mystery of the secret tunnel? Mitch intends to go all the way to figure it all out.
Merry Lee and the Cursed Grandfather Clock by Amanda L. Kidd
Published September 6th 2012
Format: Kindle ebook (Freebie)
Length: 280 pages / 3371 KB
Genre: Adventure, Magic, Fun & Scary
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Goodreads | Amazon
Every town has dark secrets, all of Fortunateville’s just so happen to live on U.N Street.
Merry Lee thought moving to Fortunateville was a dream come true but when the movers came screaming from the rickety house like little babies, she realized that something wasn’t right. And when she discovers the previous tenet still lingers in the shadows; watching, waiting, it becomes clear that U.N. Street is the most UN-Fortunate place she could have moved to.
The neighbors are strange, kids at school run at the sight of her, and if she can’t convince her mother to move soon the previous tenet has promised they will not make it out alive. Things go from bad to worse when an old grandfather clock is found in the basement and Merry uncovers that it just might be the root of the problem.
There is nothing worse than being the new kid, unless you are also the new target.
I downloaded Merry Lee and the Cursed Grandfather Clock by Amanda L. Kidd as a Kindle freebie. I was attracted to the book because of the great cover and was very pleased to find some awesome art inside too. There is no illustrator listed, so I have to assume Kidd is both the author and the artist for her book. In that case, she is doubly talented. There is no publisher listed, so I have to assume Kidd is also self-published. (I’m assuming a lot here. Sorry.) If that’s true, then a huge kudos to Kidd for her achievements. This was a fun read. Middle Grade books are always the most creative and original books I have the pleasure to read and Merry Lee and the Cursed Grandfather Clock did not disappoint.
I adored the ‘animal characters’, like Bandit and Bad Kitty-witty, and the setting is prefect. It’s very Pleasantville with a dash of mad scientist thrown in. The action is a bit bumpy and I think could have benefited from some grooming to smooth things out. It’s a Middle Grade book but sometimes does not read like one. There is some vocabulary that I think might be a little beyond the target audience. It can also get a bit wordy in places. Merry Lee irritated me occasionally because she’s incredibly naïve and goody goody while Ally and Blake are more realistic children. (Honestly, every time I read a kid character saying they have never lied to their parents I have to laugh. It’s ridiculous and just makes me roll my eyes.)
Merry Lee and the Cursed Grandfather Clock by Amanda L. Kidd is a great adventure book and an excellent read for a lazy afternoon. It’s not perfect. It has its rough patches and it takes a bit to get up to speed. But it is an entertaining book, funny and original, and worth a couple of dollars to get the Kindle ebook. If you have a younger kid that likes some scary fun or if you yourself enjoy adventurous books without the clichés of Young Adult, then Merry Lee and the Cursed Grandfather Clock by Amanda L. Kidd will be a good book for you.