Review: Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

When was the last time you finished a book and immediately sat down and wrote out a list of people who MUST read this book? When I finished this, that’s exactly what I did. The first, my kids, then my homeschool co-op teens, then some moms of those teens, then a few scattered friends who I know would get a kick out of this. And then I pretty much went on IG and FB and shouted it from the rooftops there. THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING!!! Thought provoking and exciting and I can’t wait for everyone to read this.

When I first got Pacifica, I almost skipped the author’s note and went right to the story. I’m so glad I didn’t. The author’s note is where the magic begins. It’s where the background story comes from. It’s the first time your heart is squeezed. And it’s definitely not the last.

When you read dystopians, part of you thinks, “This could never happen. We won’t let it happen.” But when I was reading this book, I kept thinking, “Crap. This could totally happen. And that would be horrific.” Basically climate change and the affects it has on our planet. But that’s not the hardest part of this story. The people, and what’s happening right under their noses, that’s the hardest part. They thought the government knew what was best for them and they just went along with it. But when the story is uncovered, they realize it’s far from anything they’ve ever heard of.

I think the best part of this book was the friendships. I was cheering everyone on. Marin, who was a pirate’s daughter and Ross, the president’s son, set out to rescue Ross’ friend, Adam, the vice president’s son, and it is non stop action. Like stomach twisting action. I couldn’t stop reading, for fear of something happening and I miss it. 🙂 Silly, I know, but I was so invested in these characters, I wouldn’t stop until they found their way back to safety. Now there is a little bit of love brewing on the high seas, but can you blame them? People who’ve gone through traumatic experiences tend to react that way. But it’s teen friendly, so no worries.

I have never read a Kristen Simmons book, but if they’re anything like this one, she’s found a new fan and I’ve found a new autobuy author. This story is now added to my ever growing “You need to read these YA books!” list. And all those people who are on my list above, better act surprised when they all get copies for Christmas.


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Review: In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Books about teens with mental illness are hit or miss for me. Usually not very good and full of cliches, but every now and then a true keeper comes along. This latest tale from Gae Polisner is definitely one of the latter.

Klee’s had a lot to deal with in his young life. Not only did his dad kill himself, but Klee was the one to find him afterwards. His mom, hoping for a fresh start, uproots them from his beloved New York City. He doesn’t really fit in at his new school and basically resigns himself to just getting by until he graduates and can begin a new life.

But then he meets Sarah. And everything changes. She becomes his reason for being. She’s his polar opposite. And he can’t imagine his life without her. Sarah, however, isn’t as commital. Eventually it all becomes too much for Klee and he makes a desperate attempt to end the pain he’s feeling.

This author does an outstanding job of taking us inside Klee’s head, imagining what he must be thinking and feeling. So much trauma at such a young age…leading up to the incident and his recovery period afterwards.

A word of warning: Although this one is classified as young adult, I’d suggest it for the older end of the spectrum. The message is important but it’s pretty sexually descriptive. An insightful story!


Buy It Now: In Sight of Stars

Review: In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira

Within the first few pages of this book, I knew it was going to be a keeper. And then a bit deeper in, I knew that it was going to break my heart.

The story opens with Angie at age 17. She’s thinking of her dad. All she has to hold on to are a few old pictures. No memories because he died before she was born. Or at least that’s what she’s been told by her mom, Marilyn. So Angie is off to find out the truth, whatever that may be.

Marilyn, 18 years earlier…also age 17. She and HER mom are at a crossroads of sorts. Marilyn’s going to be the next big thing in Hollywood, according to her mom. So what if they have to struggle for a bit? And at the moment, that struggle includes moving in with not-so-dear Uncle Woody. The only thing that saves Marilyn is their new neighbor, James. Neither of them is looking for a serious relationship, but what they want doesn’t really matter.

These two perspectives are fleshed out over the remainder of the story until they finally converge at the very end in a dramatic conclusion that you maybe saw coming but not exactly. Both are lost souls searching for something. Both find what they’re looking for in very different yet similar ways.

Ava Dellaira writes one heck of a story. She makes you care about the characters, and her words stay in your soul long after you turn the last pages of the book. Another outstanding tale!


Buy It Now: In Search Of

Review: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

They were shadow and light. Death in two forms. Together, they killed ten, twenty, forty men before the sun rose.

This is a debut novel?! No freaking way. That blows my mind. For those who like the kick a$$ heroines, this is a book for you. The epicness of Rome and all it’s death and beauty will keep you turning those pages. I couldn’t put it down.

Attia’s entire world was detroyed and was taken into slavery and given to the Champion of Rome, a gladiator named Xanthus. Now that sounds brutal, and it is, but there is way more to their stories, that you’ll have to read yourself. These two slaves want more than the life they have now, but they need to be patient and find the right moment to take control of their destinies.

“Rome has taken everything from me-my family, my home, my freedom. I won’t let it have Xanthus.”

Of course, in the midst of battles that surround them, they realize that they can be of use to each other. They learn each other’s secrets, which then makes them form a bond that will help forge a rebellion right under the Roman’s noses, all the while bringing the legend of Spartacus to life. I was cheering in my seat, when that was brought to light.

Xanthus was the kind of man who asked rather than took, who begged the gods to forgive his sins with whispered breath. He was the man who’d fallen to his knees before her, who had help her close until the night was over, who would give anything to keep her whole.

Of course there’s romance, but that is so secondary. It fits the story perfectly without being forced. Slow burn, in fact. I wasn’t expecting it, if I’m being honest, so it was a pleasant surprise. These two just want to get by to they get their revenge on those who’ve taken their world away. But they realize they’re better together and start to plan.

But then the world turns upside down. And I’m not even exaggerating. Hence the reason I need book two immediately. But I gotta wait til next year!! AHH!!!

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Add Fire and Ash to your Goodreads shelf

Review: Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

Most kids want to grow up to be just like their parents. From a very young age, they emulate everything their parents do. Imagine, though, a childhood so sad and traumatic that it leaves you reaching for the exact opposite goal.

Talon has had a rough childhood, to put it mildly. A revolving door of men in her mother’s life has left her scarred in more ways than one. More often than not, Talon has found herself in the role of the parent as drugs and alcohol ruled every aspect of her mother’s life. Now she has a chance to make something of her life. Her love of writing has given her the opportunity to leave her horrid life behind and to actually become something.

But Talon, desperate for approval and love and acceptance and all those other things, finds herself making the same mistakes as her mother. Will she see the error of her ways before it’s too late? And is there any way she and her mom can find their way back to each other?

Lots going on in this story. Typical teen issues, sure. But also some things that no teen should ever experience. Sadly, we all know that Talon’s experiences are all too real. This was a compelling story, one that I really want to end in a happily ever after. But as in life, that’s rarely the case…


Buy It Now: Chalk Houses

Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Exciting and magical and characters you can’t help but root for.

What a wild ride!! I decided to listen to this instead of reading it and I wish I read it first, then listened to it. While loved the narrator and how she made the voices come alive, I wasn’t able to highlight all my quotes, like I usually do. So flipping back and forth, if I got tripped up in all the excitement, wasn’t possible. But I will say that this book was very exciting and kept my attention. I wanted to sit in my room and do nothing but listen. The story had me on the edge of my seat.

Time travel and magic…I never knew how much I would love it. It was so fascinated with all the characters. They all had their secrets and personal missions. I had no idea who to trust!

Esta and Harte were super fun to get to know. The banter between these two, was super fun. Esta reminded me of my daughter, with all her sassiness. I really want her to succeed in her mission. And I look forward to what happens to her in the next book.

I had my teen son read this book when I finished. He’s a very reluctant reader, so I was hoping he would enjoy it. Well, I gave it to him one evening and two days later he handed it back and sorta teased that he can’t handle the stress of endings like that. And then he immediately asked for the next one. That’s a sign of a good book right there.

I had no idea this book was a duology, so by the end, my nerves were shot. I was on the edge of my seat hoping and praying for an ending that didn’t have me crying. What a wild last chapter!! I had to shush my kids as they talked around me. Epic. I may even tensed up for a moment. I need the next book!!


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Add The Devil’s Thief to your GR shelf

Review: This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell


Teenage love is hard, no doubt.  Surely this is the person you’ll be with for the rest of your life, right?  And there’s no possible way you can live without them, is there?

For young Jessie, it all becomes a bit overwhelming.  Sure, she loves Chris with all her heart.  And she can’t imagine her life without him.  But when things start moving a bit too fast, getting a bit too permanent, she decides to slow it down a bit.  Just a break, she tells, him.  Just one week.  A chance to take a step back and breath for a minute.

And then Chris disappears. And she wants him back.  But it’s too late.  She makes all kinds of promises to herself and everyone else.  If only he’ll come home, things will be different.  She didn’t really want a break.  She’s sorry, she misses him, things will be better than ever.  If only it were that simple.

This story is all kinds of things at once.  It’s a love story, sure.  But it’s also a mystery. Exactly what did happen to Chris?  It’s also an excellent take on teenage issues.  A great read!


Buy It Now:  This Is Not a Love Letter