Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

41SS8CrR6yL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So I read a lot of young adult books. Enough that there are times when I think that I’ve read every possible scenario involving teenage love-drama-angst-not fitting in-bullying-teasing-etc. And yes, the storylines can become stale and/or familiar from time to time. But books like this one are the reason I keep at it, the reason I keep reading almost anything I can get my hands on. Not all of them, however, reach the level of this one.

A teenager with OCD. That alone was enough to grab my attention. But that by itself is not enough to carry a story. This one has so much more.

On the outside, Samantha has it all. She’s part of the in-crowd, popular girls who have been friends since they were little. She has a good family, does well enough in school, and is a star swimmer. There’s more to Samantha than meets the eye, however. In addition to all these things, she has OCD. Her mind is consumed by obsessive thoughts-the number 3, questions she must find the answer to, people she can’t stop thinking about.

With the help of her family and excellent therapy, she does a good job of hiding it. Appearances can be deceiving, though. On the inside, she panics at the thought of losing the approval of her friends. Friends who, if she’s completely honest with herself, really aren’t that nice to begin with. But they provide her with a safety net, and that’s what she needs.

Then one day she meets Caroline, who is the complete opposite of what she’s used to. And more importantly, Caroline leads her to Poet’s Corner, a hidden little nook of people just like her. With Caroline’s encouragement, Samantha begins to branch out, to share parts of herself she’s never exposed to others.

And then there’s AJ. Because what would a young adult story be without a love interest? AJ is exactly what Samantha needs. He’s calming and comforting, and through his love she finds the courage to be herself. But the OCD is always there, lurking, threatening everything Samantha’s found. She can’t bring herself to tell AJ about her struggles because in his eyes she feels normal.

This book broke my heart. I cried inside thinking of everything that Samantha went through each and every day. And yes, I know that it’s fiction. But it’s truth for many young people. It’s full of sadness, and it’s full of hope. There’s friendship lost as well as friendship found. The inner struggle that Samantha faces is very real as are her feelings of loneliness. And at the end of the book is a story that you won’t soon forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Every Last Word

Review: Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates

23281515Well, well, well….I asked a friend about this author as I was reading this book. Of course I’ve heard of Joyce Carol Oates, but this is the first I’ve read. I asked him if her writing was always so weird. After finishing the last page, I am completely flummoxed. I am also wondering if her writing is always so…well….weird.

It’s just from the very start this had a feeling of a sort of Stephen King short story feel to it. Then lo and behold, SK is mentioned over and over in the book. Again, it was weird. It reminded me of something Richard Bachman would write. So it got even weirder. As this book was *written* in the voice of a famous author that was using a pseudonym that no one was aware of. The weirdness just got weirder for me.

It’s like once the little seed had been planted the entire book was glaring at me with the whole SK/RB/pseudonym thing….Was this intentional? Yes, i think it was….Intentional I mean, well…..okay…..you have to read the book to understand what I mean….but I reckon the best way I can explain it is that I don’t think another JCO would read this way…That’s why I really enjoyed this book. It’s amazing that an author could change a writing style so much just to suit a book. I mean, seriously, how often have you read a book and knew that it read just like a XY&Z book? Authors have a certain style to their writing, but throughout this entire book, I kept thinking, she’s writing like this on purpose! Just to weird me out. So now I have to wonder about all of JCO’s other books.

Of course…if it wasn’t intentional, I am soooo going to be disappointed! But never mind….I shall just pretend it was! Hahahaha

I really enjoyed the ending….this is a short, quick read….go on and give it a try….I’m glad I’ve read it…even though….still……weird…..

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates

Review: Take Another Look by Rosalind Noonan

511PcSLyRdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This latest thriller from Rosalind Noonan had me hooked from the very first page. From the opening scenes until the conclusion, I simply could not tear myself away.

It starts off as sort of a “What would you do?” When Jane finds herself pregnant with twins and in an unhealthy relationship, she makes the heart-wrenching decision to give one of the babies up for adoption. After struggling with just which twin to keep, she makes peace with herself and her choice. She moves away and starts a new life with baby Harper.

Several years later, her past comes back to haunt her when she unwittingly comes face to face with her long-lost daughter, Isabel. Everything she’s struggled to build for both herself and Harper is threatened when she must ‘fess up to Harper.

As if that wasn’t a hard enough task, Isabel’s arrival coincides with some strange happenings. Accidents, missing items, illnesses, truths disguised as lies…Jane doesn’t know who or what to believe. Are these just more of Harper’s typical teenage dramatic outbursts? Or is something more disturbing at play?

This is one of those stories where you might think you know what’s going on. I thought the same thing. And I was right. Partially. It’s a book that leads you on and keeps you guessing. And even when you’ve got it figured out, it’s still one heck of a story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Take Another Look

Review: Solitude of a Birdcage by Brielle Skye

birdcageOkay…I won’t lie. There are parts of this book that really made my stomach turn….okay….the whole background of the novel did this. It bothered me. A great deal. The whole cheating thing just bothered me. The fact that it was an ongoing thing. I found myself getting very angry. Disgusted with the characters. Disbelief. You name it I felt it.

Having said that, I finally had to sit bak and take a breather. Once I did that, I had to remind myself that, again, I wasn’t there. Yes, so many things were wrong here, but I’m still not sure that any of it was done in malice. Yes, they made many mistakes. Who doesn’t? Yes, they should have done a million things differently…but isn’t hindsight always 20/20…

One thing is for sure….Brielle Skye made me *feel* during this book. I felt a wide range of emotions. After finishing the last page, I STILL feel a wide range of emotions. I did enjoy the book.

At the end of the day, the only thing I can fault Skye with is her portrayal of Van. She was often shown as a selfish and uncaring person. I almost felt that Skye did this to somehow allow the reader to ease some of the guilt that we might feel for wanting Max and Isaac to persevere. I see so many authors do this. Make one of the victims out to be a bad person…as if they somehow deserved to be wrong…

Let me be perfectly clear here….If you are dishonest with someone it ALWAYS…I repeat ALWAYS…says more about you than it does the person you were dishonest to…no matter how bad a person they may be. You can’t control other people and make them into a more generous, loving, caring person….but you can control your actions to that person…how you act ALWAYS says something about yourself….not the other way around….

I understand why Skye felt the need to do this…to give us a reason to perhaps dislike Van…but I stand firm in my own personal belief that it wasn’t necessary…or even fair to the reader….

Skye gave us a story full of tons of emotions….mixed emotions….she gave us tons of stuff to feel….tons to ponder…..tons to rage against….tons to fall in love with…..I just wish she would have given us credit to deal with it as well…instead of an easy out….

********Finally…this is where you STOP reading this review if you haven’t read the book….that’s right….STOP….click off now…..

However…if you have read it…..there will be a second book….I personally loved the ending of this book….even if I did feel a jerk reaction….and swore just a tiny bit…..

But here’s what I’m getting at….I’m guessing in the second book that the plot thickens and we find out the shooter’s name….and I am saying right now….I think that person is DG…I thought that from the first meeting of him….I’m not sure why…..but there it is…..I also think Van is lying about that bit at the end….************

Okay…that’s it…I hated this book in so many ways….but I mean that in a good way….I really loved it once it was said and done….I was forced outside of my comfort box…and again reminded that we can’t judge others if we aren’t in their shoes…no matter how black and white it appears…no matter how wrong we feel it is……This was a book I didn’t want to end…and I needed it to hurry up and end so I could see what happened….I guess Skye gave me both of those wishes…haha

Until next time…

Urania xx

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Solitude of a Birdcage by Brielle Skye

Review: The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

9781405268288When I was a kid, I loved simple horror stories. Just enough to raise the goosebumps on your arm, maybe a bit more to keep you awake at night. And I still love those kinds of stories today. The problem is, especially for me as a teacher, most scary stories don’t fall within the acceptable range for younger readers. This one by Jane Hardstaff is an exception to that rule.

Meet Moss, a young girl who lives alone with her dad. Dear old Dad just happens to be the executioner of the Tower of London. And Moss is responsible for collecting the heads after each beheading, catching them as they drop and putting them in a basket. It’s the only life she’s every known, and her dad is the only parent she’s ever had since her mom died during childbirth.

But there’s more to that story than Moss has ever been told, and it’s the reason they can’t leave the Tower of London. When Moss finds a way out, she’s inexplicably drawn to the river. The river is slow and steady some days, fast and unpredictable on others. And there’s something lurking just under the surface, something that’s taking young children. Moss discovers that she’s tied to the river in a way she never dreamed possible, going all the way back to her mom’s death.

This book was a pleasant surprise. Not that I was expecting bad things, but you just never know. It’s historical, most definitely, but it has a healthy dose of paranormal/thriller thrown in. And I have to say, this is the first book I’ve read that’s set in Tudor times. This is a story that I’ll definitely be recommending to some young readers who I know. And the sequel, River Daughter, is high at the top of my TBR list.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Executioner’s Daughter

Review: The Forever Bridge by T. Greenwood

22544408All writers tell a story. Some simply narrate events, and some add a little bit more. And then there’s the all too rare author who takes those words and infuses them with a mystical, musical rhythm that’s as beautiful as the actual story. T. Greenwood is one of those authors.

Sylvie was once a happily married mother of two. But after one tragic night, a horrific accident, she’s suddenly no longer married. And she’s now the mother of one lost little girl who she no longer knows how to connect with. But Sylvie is not the only one who is suffering. Young Ruby misses her brother. She misses her dad as he was before the accident. And she misses her mom. When Sylvie and Ruby are forced to spend time together, the question becomes can they find their way back to each other?

I read my first T. Greenwood story a few years ago, and I was immediately struck by how eloquently the author tells her stories. She doesn’t just write the words. Instead she makes you feel them. It’s not hard to feel their pain, their struggles, their hopes as you read. This is contemporary fiction at its finest, a story that will tug on your heart strings and keep you reading with your heart and soul from beginning to end.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Forever Bridge

Review: Carrots by Colleen Helme

@@1I absolutely loved this book. Every word of it. I’ve found another series to make me laugh out loud. The characters were so much fun.

Basically you have a stay at home mom that takes a hard knock to the head and can suddenly read everyone’s thoughts. She finds herself involved in all sorts of mischief….including police investigations, murder attempts, mob bosses, and all sorts of other shady characters….including a young work associate that is trying to entice her her husband away. All the while she is trying to NOT read everyone’s thoughts….especially those of her husband’s and children’s’!

No, this isn’t a great masterpiece that will have you thinking about it for weeks after. It’s not complex and won’t keep you up pondering life late into the night…..But it will provide you some great entertainment and will let you happily escape *real life* for a few hours. It’s a quick, entertaining read…and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. From my understanding, they just continue to get better and better, and as I mentioned before…I absolutely loved every minute of this one…..

Come on….give it a try….it’s a brand new year and what better way to start then with a funny new series?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Carrots by Colleen Helme

Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

*1This is a collection of short stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates. The authors of the stories are all prisoners in the United States prison system.

If you’re a fan of short stories, this is well worth your time. If you’re not a huge fan of that genre but are interested in the correctional systems, again this is well worth your time.

Some of these stories are *really* good! They are so good that it is easy to forget that they were all written by inmates. Having said that, what the hell does that even mean? Like it is unheard of that an inmate can actually write….psssffffttttt…..

It really made me stop and think about society’s narrow-minded view…..about my own narrow mindedness….I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting when I started this book. What I expected the stories to be like….however, it wasn’t what I was expecting….

I can only be reminded of a line from Charlie Chaplin’s great dictator speech “You are not cattle. You are men.”

Yep…pretty much sums it up for me. Regardless of how they got there…or why they are there….Prisoners are not just numbers. They are not just some faceless shadow on a wall that we dare not look at….

These stories demand that we take a look at them….they demand that we look eye to eye….sure, you might not like what you see….if might not change your feelings one way or the other….but damnit…you will at least see them…..

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

Review: Go With Me, by Elyssa Patrick

01 go I remember meeting Daphne in Stay With Me, and I had a feeling there more she was hiding from us. I was super excited when I found out this was coming. I sooo wanted to her her story.

Synopsis
I, Daphne Fox, have a few things to confess:

1. I hate Nick Brady. Loathe. Abhor. Can’t stand him 95% of the time.
2. That other 5%? I’m not talking about that at all.
3. People think I’m lucky for surviving the car crash. I disagree.
4. Nick is the only guy who makes my nightmares go away.
5. I won’t love him, though. Love is not worth the pain.

I, Nick Brady, have a few confessions of my own:

1. I don’t hate Daphne Fox. At all.
2. I find her scar sexy. Just like the rest of her.
3. I may be her older brother’s best friend, but that’s not going to stop me.
4. I love her.
5. And I’m going to do everything I can to have her.

Daphne broke my heart. I seriously felt bad for her. She is the survivor of a horrific crash and she is struggling with that. Why is she hear? Why did she live? Would someone love me covered is nasty scars? Am I allowed to be happy and in love? I wanted to reach in and hug her hard.

Nick was that guy that you think you hate, but you really don’t. You fight with him, but it’s really just foreplay, only you don’t notice till you’re in too deep. He has loved Daphne since before her accident, but he was too busy pissing her off to tell her. And when she almost died, he decided he has to do something about this feeling.

Their banter was so fun to watch. You could see the sparks flying from off the pages. I could see how all the guys are very protective of her, but Nick takes it further.

The only part I wasn’t super crazy about was how it was mentioned that he slept around a lot, but she never brings it up to him. They acted as though it was no big deal. I guess I’m not used to that. Most books at least have the couple talk about it. But it’s not a big deal.

I’m glad we still were able to see Caleb and Hailey make appearances in this book. They still played a large roll in the story. I like that.

But I am seriously excited for the next book!! I love Jamie and his jokes. But I know there is way more to him.

~Melpomene

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Buy Stay With Me

Review: Seeing Stars, by J. Sterling

01 saving I don’t know why I waited so long to read this, but I’m so glad I finally did. Ever since I read J.Sterling’s The Perfect Game, I’ve been hooked. And when she came out with this shorter, non angst filled story, I wanted to give it a whirl. But I heard different people complain, so I was a bit nervous. But after reading it, I just don’t understand how someone can’t like this story.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Walker Rhodes is a hot singing sensation who never settles down, spends too much money gambling and gets in trouble on the daily- at least if you believe all the tabloids.

Madison Myers is a hard working talent agent assistant thrust into the spotlight one day after Walker pulls her on stage during one of his concerts. She tries to stay away from him, but he keeps chasing her. She is strong in her resolve and he is relentless in his pursuit. The question is… WHY?!?!

Tabloid Headline Reads: Walker Rhodes pulls woman on stage during LA concert and serenades her with stars in his eyes and we watched as the sparks flew! But just who is this mystery woman who has stolen Walker’s heart? And will she be the one to finally tie down our favorite womanizing gambler?

Our readers poll:
80% say no way!
The other 20% wish they were her!

Read more inside…

Just the description sounded perfect. It was the right amount of sweet and not all the drama. When I got to 75%, I thought there was going to be some major drama and angst, but I was totally wrong and WAY off. This story needed none of that. It made me realize that you can have stories that make you feel happy and not require you to have your heart ripped out first.

Sometimes you need a break from all the drama in your life. This was that perfect little break. Now I can’t wait until the next story!

~Melpomene

Buy Seeing Stars