Lovely Scars by Cassandra Jamison

Lovely Scars by Cassandra Jamison
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (246 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Snooping on your boyfriend’s phone is never a good idea. Collins can’t help herself after he unexpectedly commits suicide, but what she finds makes her grateful he’s dead. Collins Carpenter has always been the textbook good girl until her freshman year of college when an unplanned pregnancy with her best friend, Everett, complicates everything. In a desperate attempt to deny her feelings for her child’s father and her jealousy toward his new girlfriend, Collins jumps into a relationship with Brock Webber. Nobody suspects that his good looks and charm masks something quite sinister until after his death, when the things he had been involved in finally come to light. Disturbing and inexplicable events leave Collins wondering if Brock’s spirit is not at rest or if somebody from his past is after her. Somebody who may be closer than she thinks.

Not every man who tries to sweep you off of your feet is going to turn out to be Prince Charming.

Wow, this was scary! I really appreciated the peaceful beginning. It lulled me into a false sense of security before Collins realized that the handsome guy she’d just met wasn’t necessarily who he portrayed himself to be. There were times when I was nearly as shocked as she was by his behaviour even though I’d read the blurb and obviously knew that some unsettling experiences were headed her way. I only grew more apprehensive as the story moved forward and I became less and less sure that my theories about what was going on with Brock were actually correct. Not knowing these things only made him feel more chilling to me.

Collins made a lot of senseless decisions in this book. There were times when I had to stop reading and shake my head because I couldn’t understand why she did so many things that she knew were dangerous or ill-advised. While the plot itself was excellent, I had a tough time connecting to this character because of how little common sense she had.

The romance was beautiful. I desperately wanted the characters involved in it to admit their feelings for each other and find a way to be together. They were perfect for each other in just about every way. One of the biggest reasons why I read this tale as quickly as I did is that I couldn’t wait to find out when or if this might happen. I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen with them, and that made it impossible for me to stop reading.

Lovely Scars should be read by anyone who is in the mood for a truly frightening mystery.

Girl Without a Face by Medeia Sharif


Girl Without a Face by Medeia Sharif
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (135 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Destiny awakes with amnesia. She’d been driving on a wet road, about to leave flowers at a memorial marker of a deceased classmate, when she almost met that same fate.

Her mother, Mildred, is beyond restrictive, and she doesn’t want Destiny to have her cellphone back. A nurse sneaks it into her room, but it’s useless without the passcode. After her hospital stay, her mother becomes physically abusive.

Destiny and the boy she’s developing feelings for decide to drive around to spark her memory. She’s positive she crashed near a memorial marker. When they find the place in question, and when Destiny remembers her phone’s passcode, nothing is as it seems—and Mildred is crazier than she first thought.

 

Destiny’s life is full of things that don’t make any sense. If only she knew if this was a side effect of her amnesia or if there’s another explanation for it.

The flashbacks to Destiny’s life before the accident were well done. I especially enjoyed seeing how they changed as her body continued to heal from the accident and her mind was better at going back and exploring those pieces of her past despite the fact that her memory was so spotty. The evolution of it all made me want to keep reading.

There were a few big plot holes that were never explained, especially when it came to Destiny’s time in the hospital after her accident and how certain parts of that experience played out. I would have really liked to spend more time on that part of the plot so that I could understand it better. What the plot did reveal was fascinating, but it left me with many more questions than I had answers.

Destiny was such a brave girl. Some of the best scenes in this tale were the ones that showed how she reacted in a crisis. She almost always kept a level head and thought rationally about what her choices were in that situation even if she didn’t have a lot of them to begin with. This is something I love seeing in young adult books, so I was glad to find it here.

I figured out the mystery very early on because of how many clues the narrator discovered after she woke up in the hospital. It would have been nice to either have them spread out more evenly through the storyline or to have fewer of them in general. I was disappointed by how little effort I had to put into piecing everything together.

The romantic subplot was sweet. I liked both of the characters involved in it, and I liked them even more when they were spending time together. They brought out the best in each other in so many different ways. I couldn’t wait to find out if they’d end up together in the end.

Girl Without a Face should be read by anyone who is in the mood for something intense.

The Ugly Girl Party by Ann Herrick


The Ugly Girl Party by Ann Herrick
Publisher: Chaucer Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (118 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars

Review by: Astilbe

Faith’s wish to get off to a good start at her new high school is shattered on the first day, as she quickly discovers that drop-dead gorgeous Hunter and friends decide she lives in the “wrong” house and wears the “wrong” clothes. They systematically harass her and seem determined to make her life miserable. She fantasizes about how she’ll get even some day when she is a famous singer/actress, but meanwhile just wants to make it through the day.She meets a couple of possible friends, but finds it hard to trust anyone.

When maybe-friend Julia tells her about the upcoming talent show, Faith is determined to win in order to impress her tormentors. Then nice-guy neighbor Riley invites her to the homecoming dance. She’s excited to go until she gets there and realizes that something is up–something terrible. And when she reacts, she finds herself in danger of being suspended from school. Faith questions her own goals, decisions, and values as she struggles to find her way.

It’s never easy being the new girl at school, but Faith has a few extra challenges that most of her classmates do not.

Faith was a well-developed and interesting character. I really liked the fact that her flaws were so important to how the story progressed. Instead of being something minor and forgettable, they were actually serious issues that changed the way she saw the world and pushed her to do and say things she might not have otherwise done and said. Seeing Faith’s positive and negative sides only made me like her more because of how completely I got to know her and how much I could empathize with some of the things she struggled with.

I had trouble keeping track of all of the characters in this story. Faith met so many different kids at her new school that I sometimes forgot the names of the people who were friendly and who were snotty to her. It would have been nice to focus on a smaller number of characters so that I could get to know them better.

Some of my favorites scenes involved the time that Faith spent with her talkative little sister, Erin. They had their share of disagreements like all siblings do, but they genuinely cared about each other at the end of the day. They also shared a lot more in common than either of them might have wanted to admit. Both of these things made it so much fun to see what would happen to these sisters next.

I’d recommend The Ugly Girl Party to anyone who would like to read a story about bullying and trying to fit in.

Perdition by Lindsey Ouimet


Perdition by Lindsey Ouimet
Publisher: Evernight Teen Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (214 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

After the death of her stepfather, Michaela Reilly’s family picks up and moves from the bustling city of Miami to a tiny speck of a town in the middle of nowhere Georgia. Starting over is always hard, but when you’re stuck with an emotionally wrecked mother who won’t even look at you and the responsibility of practically raising your younger brother and sister, it’s even more difficult. Life in a small, rural town is a lot different from what she’s used to. Beaches are replaced with lazy, shaded rivers. Six lane highways with dirt roads. And Levi, the cute preacher’s son, with intentions as pure as his smile, takes the place of a string of shallow, meaningless hookups back home. Some things remain the same no matter where you go, however. Like the way a cute boy can make things seem not so bad, or how when you fall in love—You. Just. Know. It’s too bad it’s not only the good things that are universal. Bad things can follow you, no matter how far away from them you run. Secrets always end up hurting people. A troubled past will come back to haunt you. Michaela has both.

It’s not easy being the new family in a small town, especially when your siblings are biracial and your mom is a single parent.

Bullying isn’t just about being teased or called names. It can negatively affect every part of a person’s life, and the consequences of it can be very serious. I liked seeing how much attention Ms. Ouimet paid to just how destructive something like this can be for someone who is being harassed day after day. She wasn’t afraid to dig deeply into her characters’ lives to show how seriously they were being harmed and what it feels like to be treated so terribly.

I feel that the romance in this story moved far too quickly. While I liked both of the characters who were involved in it, they jumped into a relationships so quickly that I didn’t have time to find out what it was they found attractive about each other. It would have been nice for them to explore some common interests or something first so that I’d understand why they suddenly wanted to spend so much time together.

Not everyone deals with grief and trauma the same way. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this tale was how much time it spent exploring how Michaela was coping with all of the painful things that had happened to her in the recent past. Some days were definitely better than others for this character, and I appreciated how honest the storyline was about that. These scenes shaped Michaela’s personality in all kinds of interesting and thought-provoking ways.

Perdition should be read by anyone who loves summer romances.

June Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ High Summons by Eli Celata


High Summons by Eli Celata
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (180 pages)
Age Recommendation:16+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!!

Nine Books I Think Every Teenager Should Read by Hugo Driscoll – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

9 Books I Think Every Teenager Should Read

The problems teenagers face was perhaps typified best by the writer Arnold H. Glasow, who ignorantly believed that ‘Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.’

Yes, teenagehood is a time where you are too old to be a kid yet too young to be an adult, which often turns it into a period many loathe, and that’s why entertainment is so important. It’s escapism at its best, yet books, which believe it or not, still count as entertainment, are increasingly playing second fiddle to movies and TV shows which is a great shame as there are some fantastic reads out there that chronicle the teenage experience in a way few other mediums manage.

With that in mind, here are nine books that not only inspired me to write Seven Days with You but that I also believe every teenager should read.

1. Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami

While the famous Japanese author is primarily known for his works encompassing magical realism, his most famous book of all, a love story about two university students in 1960s Japan turned the author into an overnight sensation in his homeland.

Nostalgically recited in the first person by the male protagonist, Toru Watanabe, the story is one of love and loss and has moments of heart-wrenching sadness that is ubiquitous in most teenage relationships at one point or other. At times it verges on becoming nothing more than an emo love story, but with themes of mental illness, solitude and a sense of the unknown at the heart of its plot, Norweigan Wood manages to pull off the rare feat of being an incredibly well-written page turner.

2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

If you want a story that explores a rebellion against a system of social norms and conventions, then this book is certainly for you and highly relevant for teens wishing to be something more than a latte-drinking office worker.

Centred around six classics students studying at a ‘fictional’ elite college in Vermont, they collectively adopt a different lifestyle to the social conventions rigorously adhered to in the Western world and instead, live by a particular set of arcane rites. But a murder soon follows, and as the story untangles, readers are left licking their lips as the answers unfold.

3. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

Many teenagers go through a period of self-imposed confinement, and the singer-songwriter and author, John Darnielle, explores the effects this has on his 17-year-old protagonist, Sean Phillips.

Left facially disfigured after shooting himself in the head, Sean becomes addicted to a video game, with the writer leaving the reasonings behind the suicide attempt ambiguous until the very end. Emotionally disturbing, but highly relevant in an era where male suicide is the biggest killer in young men, Darnielle’s debut novel is a tour-de-force tale of a teenage experience many are afraid to explore.

4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Done well and gay relationships in literature can make for fascinating reads, especially in areas of the world where same-sex relationships aren’t welcomed. Annie Proulx’s novella Brokeback Mountain, for instance, is an excellent example of how compelling such a story can be, and this story beautifully titled story is no different.

Poetically recited, the story of the relationship between two Mexican-American 15-year-old boys as they struggle to come to terms with their identities and their love for each other is profoundly poignant, particularly at a time where Mexican culture finds it hard to accept America’s more liberal approach to gay relationships.

5. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Not every teenager has a rollercoaster life of moving house every year and constantly trying to re-invent themselves in school, but most will probably relate to the constant state of flux the period brings, just like Wolff’s did.
Indeed, as well as divorce, moving from state to state and always arguing with his stepfather, teen readers or those looking back on their teenage years will likely relate to this sometimes-harrowing memoir.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

While the story is now more synonymous with the brilliant movie adaptation starring Emma Watson, the book is also worth a read, especially for those who can relate to the struggles that come with mental health.

Stephen Chobsky also writes with a flair and authenticity that is hard to obtain in many YA works, and his descriptions of a life constantly looked at from the sidelines is likely to be poignant with all ages, not just teens.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

John Green’s Edgar Award-winning novel has become somewhat of a cult classic among his millions of devoted teenage readers, and though The Fault In our Stars catapulted Green to literary superstardom, it’s his first novel that is often considered his finest work.

Told in the first person (as is the case with all Green’s works), the book chronicles 15-year-old Miles Halter’s first year at an Alabama boarding school and the love he feels for the uber-cool yet mysterious beauty, Alaska Young. Admittedly, the novel verges off course at times, but as it’s gorgeously written and packed with quotes that will stay with you forever, you’ll find it hard to dislike.

8. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel about a disillusioned teenage protagonist named Holden Caulfield shifts hundreds of thousands of copies each year and is considered by many as the greatest American novel of all time.
Of course, a 1952 book about teenage fragilities might not have the same impact that other modern books chronicling the teenage experience might have with readers, but it’s still a masterpiece and a book that was ahead of its time.

9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Consumed by over 65 million readers, the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s narrative is one which offers hope to people who believe in the beauty of their dreams. And with a beautifully written spiritual prose, you may just finish the book feeling your life can be whatever you want it to be.

A simple story, but also an empowering one for any teen who fears their life has no direction.

Sean Johnson’s life as a small-town farmhand has been nothing but predictable, but when he meets Sophia Hillingdon at the local animal sanctuary, she gets him out of an eighteen-year rut, away from the mundane existence on the farm, and a grieving, drunken father.

Sophia is the first person who understands him and makes him believe that he might get out of their small town, who tells him, he has the potential to be whoever he wants to be and do whatever he wants to do.

But as their relationship unfolds, it is the most devastating of news that will change both of them forever.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Her face was nearer than it had ever been. Her skin felt smooth and warm. All I could do was lean further into her, losing myself in the moment. And then there were her piercing blue eyes-even more extraordinary up close. Before I knew it, I’d brought my hands to her chest as our parting lips collided. We kissed for hours, inhabiting each other with such force as our bodies rolled across the cooled grass. She was the change I had been searching for. It was the first time I realized; I could be anywhere in the world, but nowhere without her.

About the Author:Hugo Driscoll is a 25-year- old British journalist and content writer for an online publication in London.

When he’s not working, you can usually find him writing in the basements of cafes or lamenting the unfair treatment of millennials in overcrowded London bars.

You can also find Hugo on Twitter, Facebook, and his personal blog, which he updates regularly.

Seven Days with You is his first novel.

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Buy the book at Amazon or Leap of Faith Publishing.

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May Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Or the Girl Dies by Rachel Rust


Or the Girl Dies by Rachel Rust
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full (168 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Stargazer

One school project. One kidnapping. One night they won’t forget. Natalie is an honors student with perfect grades. Victor is a drug dealer with a cryptic past. When a school assignment forces them to work together, things quickly spiral out of control. Victor fails to complete his part of their project, so Natalie hunts him down the night before it’s due. But Victor’s kingpin boss interrupts their study date and drags Natalie down into a seedy underworld where anything can be bought and sold—including her. Over the course of one night—while dodging bad guys and trying not to inhale—Natalie discovers shocking truths about Victor. And she’ll need to choose between preserving her perfect academic future and helping him escape his troubled past. Except one final revelation about Victor may be too much for Natalie to survive.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Remember Me Forever by Sara Wolf – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book book tour to celebrate the release of Remember me Forever, the third book in the Lovely Vicious series, by Sara Wolf. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an Ultimate College Survival Kit.

 

“What a rush! Brilliantly crafted, sharply written, and completely unpredictable–the perfect ending to an all-time favorite series! Sara Wolf is a fresh voice in YA, and her characters never fail to make me laugh and think. If you’re in the mood for an edgy, witty, one-of-a-kind romance, this is definitely for you!” —Rachel Harris, NYT bestselling author

 

Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.

The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved and sort-of-maybe-definitely hated has dropped off the face of the planet in the face of tragedy, leaving a Jack Hunter–shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.

But the smile lasts only until he shows up. The menace from her past—her darkest secret, Nameless—is attending OSU right alongside her. And he’s whispering that he has something Isis wants—something she needs to see to move forward. To move on.

Isis has always been able to pretend everything is okay. But not anymore.

Isis Blake might be good at putting herself back together.

But Jack Hunter is better.

 

 

 

About the Author: Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy the book at Google Play, BAM, Chapters, Indies, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, TBD, or  iBooks

 

 

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April Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron


Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron

Publisher: Self-Published
enre: Children’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

For Elphie, everything is an adventure.

But dad is cautious.

Is dad going to join Elphie on his quest or is the trip to the shop going to be dull and boring?

Join Elphie and dad to find out!

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Back in Time for a Date: Writing for Young Adults by Tony Lee Moral

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tony Lee Moral who is visiting with us to talk about his newest book Ghost Maven.

Back In Time for A Date: Writing for Young Adults
by Tony Lee Moral

Imagine you could go back in time and date someone from another century? That’s an experience sixteen-year-old Alice Parker finds herself in when she meets Henry Raphael, a 100-year-old ghost in the body of a seventeen-year-old sailor in my novel Ghost Maven. I’ve written three books on Alfred Hitchcock, the Maestro of Suspense, so I adapted his principles of mystery and suspense when writing for young adults.

Believe it or not, there was a time before the internet, before cell phones, before emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. There was a time of old-fashioned dating. Guys and girls use to write each other love letters – yes love letters! And this wasn’t like 100 years ago, but as late as 30 years ago.

Hitchcock was great at using locations to their best advantage and allowing them to advance the plot, such as the town of Santa Rosa becoming an important character when concealing a murderer in Shadow of A Doubt. Similarly in Ghost Maven, Monterey and Pacific Grove provide the perfect setting for this step back in time, as they are among the oldest towns in California and the whole of the West Coast. The past is evoked everywhere, from the white Victorian clapboard houses, to the tin canneries, the churches and the oldest store building in the state.

Both Alice and Henry have a shared appreciation of nature, and see tremendous beauty in the ocean, but also realize its power and danger. I was sure to choose locations to help form the setting for the development of their relationship. When they go to the Monterey Aquarium, they marvel at the moon jellies, and go searching among the Asilomar rock pools for sea creatures during low tide. Subliminally they also have other things in common, including favourite colours like purple and the same tastes in mid 19th Century literature. When Henry writes Alice a love letter it is on old-fashioned scented lilac paper. They embark on a romantic courtship, involving ballroom dances, first kisses, coffee dates, writing love letters, walks along the beach, and having picnics.

The Monterey Peninsula is also rich in supernatural folklore. As well as my own personal experiences of the bay’s beauty, I was lucky to have a built in backdrop of ghosts and strange sightings to draw upon. Point Pinos is also the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast, and is actually thought to be haunted. Like Vertigo’s bell tower, it seemed the perfect place for the novel’s climax and for pivotal scenes in the book.

A romantic novel should also maintain the mystery and suspense about a character, particularly the love interest, and mirror real life when you are getting to know someone for the first time. Think of the two couples falling in love in Vertigo and Marnie. The central mystery of the book for Alice and the reader is who is Henry and where does he come from? Anything that doesn’t advance the plot or reveal character should probably be cut. In early drafts I had scenes of Alice in the outdoor markets of Monterey, but these were indulgent and were the first to go. Strive for more immediate scenes and less narrative summary.

You don’t always have to wrap everything up in a neat bundle at the end of your story. Sometimes it’s better to leave things unresolved, which Alfred Hitchcock called the ‘Ice box syndrome’, referring to the moment when a couple discusses the plot or something troubling them, and they reach into the ‘ice box’ or refrigerator. At the end of Ghost Maven, the mystery is what happens to the central characters and are they still in danger?

Ghost Maven is the first in a Young Adult series by Tony Lee Moral published by Saturn’s Moons Press, an imprint of Cactus Moon Publications.

Alice’s mother passes away and with her father and little sister, Sophie, she moves to Pacific Grove in California. Alice is deathly afraid of the water despite living in a community surrounded by it. In order to push through her phobia, she joins the Kayaking club in high school.

During a routine kayaking drill, a fog rolls in and Alice becomes disoriented, losing all sense of direction. A large wave turns the kayak over, dumping Alice into the icy-cold pacific. She nearly drowns when a young man dives in after her. . .Henry Raphael.

After Henry’s rescue, Alice gains more than her life. Henry is a beautiful seventeen-year-old or more accurately, one-hundred-seventeen years. The relationship between them takes Alice on a journey for which no one could prepare her.

Long distance relationships are difficult – how can Alice bridge a divide between planes? Henry died over a century ago but lives on in the fourth plane of existence waiting for an opportunity to atone for past deeds that caused the death of his ship’s entire crew. Their vengeance still hanging over his head, Henry and Alice learn their love will be tested by more than the passage of time and living in different dimensions.

About the Author:
Tony Lee Moral is a mystery and suspense author who has written three books on Alfred Hitchcock.

Ghost Maven Website | Author Website | Facebook Fan Page

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.