Review and Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

“So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”

I am always so excited when I get to read a new Colleen Hoover book. I’m so anxious to see what she’s going to do to my heart. From the very first sentence I knew I was going to like Merit. From the second one, I knew this family was going to be different. So I orderd pizza for the kids and I settled in to spend the evening reading. Best night of my year.

Without Merit is a story about a girl who keeps all the many secrets of her family. She hates it but she does it. But everyone has their breaking point, and when Merit reaches hers, the Voss family won’t know what hit them.

After the emotional book, It Ends With Us, Colleen switched gears and went back to her Slammed roots and gave us this fabulous story. This is a book that I recommend you read along with your teens. It deals with some tough and very poignant issues that many of them, and us, face today. I personally, will be having my kids read this. In fact, this will be their first CoHo book and I’m rather excited over this fact. While they may not have to deal with many of the issues being faced in this book, they may find that Merit is just like them.

This story is a mass bundle of quirkiness and emotion. I was drawn in by the over the top idiosyncrasies of each member under the Dollar Voss roof. I wish I knew this family. They’re as unique as their names. I don’t wanna say anymore, because you need to just dive in and immerse yourself in this world.

Without Merit isn’t a romance story really. It’s a life story. At first I thought Merit wasn’t the “usual” character, but then I got to thinking, “What is the usual character?” She stressed over and struggled with daily life. She feels her family is a bunch of crazies. She wishes for peace in her world but doesn’t know a healthy way of finding it. I don’t know about you, but she sounds pretty “usual” to me.

“It used to feel like I was on top of the world. Then one day, I noticed that it felt like I was no longer on top. I was just floating around inside of it. And then eventually, it felt like the world was on top of me.”

Colleen, thank you for writing a story that hit me right where I needed to be hit. Thank you for giving me lots to think about in my children’s and my own life. You bury me.

~Melpomene
Enter to win a signed hardcover of Without Merit HERE

Buy Without Merit http://amzn.to/2yB3kqU

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Review: Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel

Adults can usually see the big picture, but all Caleb sees are the obstacles of Cystic Fibrosis and the shadow of his older brother. Kit’s big picture life is dysfunctional and challenging, and in order to survive it she creates a smaller, magical world … and invites Caleb in. 

Every Beth Vrabel book I review includes the caveat that I’m not really a YA/middle grades fiction fan. Well call me a convert. I just can’t say it anymore, because I truly love Vrabel’s tales of kids living with a disability, finding their place, figuring out who their true friends are, and growing into independence and self-advocacy. 

Vrabel uses humor to explain Caleb’s CF troubles, in a way that any middle-grader will find entertaining (i.e. there’s mention of poop). She also creates a family that loves Caleb so much it’s stifling — a feeling most tweenagers know well. Reading Caleb and Kit, I was totally schooled on how much effort it takes to get through a day when you have a medical condition – or, in Kit’s situation, a dysfunctional home life. And Vrabel writes it all very casually and brightly… no gloominess allowed when describing the facts of someone’s daily existence. 

When Caleb and Kit find each other, they create a special kind of friendship that isn’t based on dependence, but on believing in each other so they might believe in themselves and grow to be independent. As Vrabel explains scientifically, just look at the trees and you’ll see! 

You’ll have to read the book to find out where their friendship ends up, but know this: Over the course of the chapters, my heart grew tender for Caleb and Kit, and yours will too. 

-calliope

Buy CALEB AND KIT

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


“Never doubt. Never fear. Never overthink.”

I will admit, I wanted to read this book based only on the cover alone. It’s gorgeous! Plus I read Renee’s, Wrath and the Dawn duology, and loved those, so I assumed I would like this as well. Flame in the Mist had a very Mulan feel to it, but with a twist. It felt real. I thought I was living the story, instead of merely reading it. Pure magic.

She was not a half. She was wholly her own.

Mariko’s life isn’t headed in the direction she wishes it would go. After falling into the hands of the Black Clan, she must conceal her identity and slowly find the answers to why her life was threatened. But as she grows closer to the Black Clan, she realizes that some things aren’t what she originally perceived. There’s more to these men than she’s been told.

“To me, you are magic.”

As she learns to fight with these men, she grows closer to one in particular. And when he learns her secret, her entire world gets turned upside.

“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”

All trace of amusement vanished from his expression. “I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.”

I do enjoy escaping to a foreign land, and Renee’s books let me do just that. They’re filled with the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and romance all set in the beautiful locations. My heart was racing, and stopping, at quite a few spots. I am rather anxious to read the next one!!

~Melpomene
Buy Flame in the Mist here: http://amzn.to/2oYGCYv

Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

A very adventurous and exciting story, filled with enough action to make even the most stubborn of readers get engaged. I know the teens are gonna love this.

Because this is the second book in the Riders duology, I don’t want to say anything spoilery. But what I can tell you is that this has to be one of favorite true YA series. My kids and I read the first book, Riders, right when it came out. Then I just did a relisten last week, with them listening every now and then, and all the excitement came back to me. In fact, my non reader son actually found ways to be in the same room as me so he could listen to the book, but not making it obvious that he was listening. The audible was very addicting. I found myself actually doing chores just so I could listen to it more. That, my friends, is a sign of a good book.

And my anti romance daughter was equally intrigued with this story as well. I’m always on the lookout for exciting YA books that aren’t completely centered around romance, and this one fit the bill as well. It enough to keep us both happy, and that’s a rarity.

Well, enough about Riders, now onto Seeker. Seeker takes place about 8 months after Riders end. The characters are trying to work past what happened and try to find a solution. Since they’re younger and less mature, they don’t always make the right decisions. They try and do things on their own, so save others from harm, but what they really need to do is work together. Once they realize this, then things start to fall into place. I’m not saying that nothing bad will happen, but it’s easier to deal with the bad, when you have your friends and family close by.

It’s very bittersweet to have this book end. I will miss these characters and I wish there were more books coming, but alas, there is not. But I am happy to see their trials complete and them still together and moving on as a family. 

This series will be added to my master list of YA books and I have a feeling it will be recommended often.

~Melpomene

Grab Riders here: http://amzn.to/2pkiUHD
Grab Seeker here: http://amzn.to/2pkwP0c

Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

When was the last time you finished a book and had to sit back and collect yourself before you started crying, because you were sucked into it from the very first page and felt like you were in the book, and when it was done you didn’t want it to end? Well, for me, it was this morning.

Hunted is the epitome of what the perfect YA fantasy book should be. Engaging from the very beginning, exciting and emotional throughout, and a very climactic ending that leaves you breathless and in tears.

One of the best parts about this book, besides it being a fabulous Beauty and the Beast retelling, is that it’s a standalone. I am in the midst of so many series that I just can’t take another one. But I heard a few early reviews and put it on hold at the library so fast. I needed to read this. I’m so glad that I can recommend this to everyone without them feeling like they need to invest the next few years of their lives to another series.

Yeva is you and me. She is looking for more. More what, she doesn’t know. Just more. And when her family is forced to leave their current situation and head for the woods of her childhood, she thinks this may help in her discovery. She’s longed for those woods. But as an adult she soon learns that the mysteries they hold, are much more than she ever dreamed or imagined. And finding the Beast is just one step in finding herself.

I can’t say any more except to hold on tight for this beautiful and heart twisting story.

~Melpomene

Buy Hunted here: http://amzn.to/2nrchSO

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

In preparation for Apollycon this month, I was trying to read as many signing authors as I could beforehand. I’ve had it on my shelf for way too long so it was way past due. As soon as I finished, I was immediately kicking myself for waiting as long as I did.

I will say, I did have an ulterior motive for having this on my shelf. I read it for my teens. As you know, I am always on the look out for things that they will read. They are quite picky, so I find myself reading YA books with them in mind, every single time. I’m happy to say that I think they’ll like it. Only one scene that’ll make my anti-romance daughter cringe but I’m okay with that.

SYNOPSIS
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Because this is listed as a #1 in a series, many people, including myself are leery about starting an unfinished series. But fear not, these books are interconnected standalones. Which basically is another reason I’m a dummy for waiting so long. I went in thinking I needed to wait til closer to book two since it was gonna be a cliffy. I was wrong. If you, or someone you know, enjoy action packed fantasy YA books, then grab a copy and pull up a chair.

Very exciting and adventurous. I thoroughly enjoyed all the banter. Some parts had me outright giggling. The friendship bond these characters had was so refreshing. They were a family. I wanted to be a part of it. This ragtag group of fugitives will have your emotions all over the place and loving every moment of it.

At some point during this haphazard journey, she’d fallen in love with a bespectacled kleptomaniac, a star-crossed seducer and his displaced princess, and, most of all, an infuriating blue blood who used to call her Rattail. She learned that home was a fluid thing, and whether on a planet, on a satellite, or on a rusted bucket of a ship, this crew was her home.

~Melpomene

Buy Starflight HERE

Review: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

01lon There’s something about a Katie McGarry book that makes me wanna buy 10 copies and pass them out to all the teens I know. She is the queen of the ‘coming of age’ genre. I hope my daughter will start to like romance so I can pass all of these along to her.

Ever since Violet’s dad died, she’s wanted to leave the MC world and move on in peace, but she’s stuck. Her mom won’t leave, so she’s has to stay and try and protect her brother, and her heart, from the world that stole her dad from them.

Chevy has loved Violet for as long as he can remember but this life isn’t what she wants. Heck, this life stole his dad from him also, so he’s not sure if this is the life him either. When he’s 18 he needs to make a formal decision, but he’s not sure what to do. But when he and Violet get threatened, he must make a choice, even if it changes everything. His life will never be the same, no matter what. He loves her so much, but if she needs to walk away, he has to let her, even if it kills him.

Violet has always been my best friend, but it’s more than that. She’s always been a piece of me, and without her the world was cold, a bitter freeze that cut to the bone.

I loved Violet. She was willing to give up the boy she loved, in order to not have him choose. But when the past catches up with her, she must make some very hard decision about this “family” of hers, in order to protect them. She stood up to the men who, in her eyes, got her dad killed, and that had to be terrifying for her. But she was done and I commend her. She didn’t take crap from any of them, even if it scared her to death.

I love seeing Chevy, Violet, Oz and Razor together. They grew up together and they may not be blood but they’re family. I love these characters. They’re not perfect, but, to each other, they are.

Violet and Chevy must look inside themselves to find the right path. The decision will not be easy, and will make them question everything they thought they knew about who their family is and why things happened the way they did. So many new revelations that I didn’t see coming. But in the end they both have to make tough calls in the name of love and hope they make the right ones.

~Melpomene

Release date Jan 31, 2017
Preorder Long Way Home HERE