Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Suffering

The Suffering Book Cover The Suffering
The Girl from the Well, Book 2
Rin Chupeco
Sourcebooks Fire
September 8, 2015

Breathtaking and haunting, Rin Chupeco's second novel is a chilling companion to her debut, The Girl from the Well.

The darkness will find you.

Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she's groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan's suicide forest, Okiku's justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price...



“The Suffering” is the perfect book for any young adult (or adult, for the matter) fan of horror, suspense, or Japanese folklore.  While it is a companion to “The Girl from the Well”, please know that it can be read as a standalone.  All that you need to know is covered throughout the book in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow.

I absolutely love the character development of Tark and the water ghost, Okiku.   I don’t know how the author, Rin Chupeco, does it, but somehow a ghost of a girl who died a couple hundred years ago is made relatable.  Their relationship even manages to feel natural in spite of obvious challenges.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that the other supernatural characters introduced are no less intriguing.

The plot unfolds perfectly.  There is a good balance between what feels like nonstop action in a story that is not rushed.  All of the clues to the ending are dropped within the chapters leading up to the final revelation, and yet the ending still manages to be a surprise.  Think “The Sixth Sense”.  I was torn between banging my head at missing the twist and sheer admiration for the author managing to pull it off.

I cannot recommend this enough for reluctant readers around 8th grade and up who like action and don’t mind a little gore.  It reads easily and sucks the reader in immediately.  There is also very little in the way of romance (a couple of kisses), so for those who immediately shirk away from books that contain it this is perfect.  Lots of action completes the reluctant reader test.

Also, I am delighted to say there is diversity in the main character of Tark, who is a Japanese-American.  Almost all of the secondary characters are Japanese, as well.  We need more diverse books!  It’s always a pleasure to find a new one to add to that shelf.

In short, “The Suffering” is a satisfying horror novel that is creepy, causes jumps, and is also just plain fun.  Highly recommended!

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Extremely Mild Sexual Situations, Language, Mentions of Abuse, Brief Mentions of Rape, Violence, Disturbing Imagery





Coming of Age at the End of Days

Coming of Age at the End of Days Book Cover Coming of Age at the End of Days
Alice LaPlante
Atlantic Monthly Press

Alice LaPlante's acclaimed psychological thrillers are distinguished by their stunning synthesis of family drama and engrossing suspense. Her new novel is an affecting foray deeper into the creases of family life—and the light-and-dark battle of faith—as LaPlante delves into the barbed psyche of a teenager whose misguided convictions bear irrevocable consequences. Never one to conform, Anna always had trouble fitting in. Earnest and willful, as a young girl she quickly learned how to hide her quirks from her parents and friends. But when, at sixteen, a sudden melancholia takes hold of her life, she loses her sense of self and purpose. Then the Goldschmidts move in next door. They're active members of a religious cult, and Anna is awestruck by both their son, Lars, and their fervent violent prophecies for the Tribulation at the End of Days. Within months, Anna's life—her family, her home, her very identity—will undergo profound changes. But when her newfound beliefs threaten to push her over the edge, she must find her way back to center with the help of unlikely friends. An intimate story of destruction and renewal, New York Times bestselling author LaPlante delivers a haunting exploration of family legacies, devotion, and tangled relationships.



“Coming of Age at the End of Days” is a book about depression, other unspecified illnesses, loss, cults, religion as a whole, and what it means to be growing up in the midst of all of these things.  It’s an interesting concept, but the execution left something to be desired.

The character development was actually very extensive.  However, the main character, Anne, was an extremely unsympathetic character.  Depression is involved, along with some other unspecified medical issues that may or may not also be physical.  None of that is ever clarified, but there are definitely clues that something else is going on.  The problem is that these things are presented, along with her home life, as reasons for why she acts the way she does.  While it is true in some of the instances, even if she were completely healthy with a perfect life she would still be the sort of person who is the walking equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.  It’s difficult to become lost in a story when you don’t care much about the main character.

The premise of mental illness and how cults exploit it to gain followers was promising, but the first two-thirds of the book dragged so much that the interesting parts were lost in a sea of banality.  I would have liked to see more details of the cult itself.  The last third of the book moved well and was enjoyable, but it required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to go with it.  The ultimate conclusion felt as though it were an afterthought.

I gave “Coming of Age at the End of Days” three stars because technically the characters and plot are sound.  It’s the end product that needed some trimming.  Alice LaPlante is a very talented author, but this is definitely not her best work.  I’d give it a pass unless you’re a diehard fan.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Graphic Imagery, Violence, Self-Harm, Brief Mention of Underage Drinking

The Kiss

The Kiss Book Cover The Kiss
Lucy Courtenay
Hatchette Children's
July 2, 2015

'Aphrodite kissed a mortal once by the light of this moon, many thousands of years ago. It drove him crazy. The next person that he kissed - boum. The craziness travelled like this from person to person. It travelled through time. Everywhere - boum! Tu comprends?'

'Where did it end up?' I whisper. His lips are on my cheek now.

'It ended with me. And now I am going to pass it to you. You will like that, mermaid?'
Imagine the perfect kiss. A legendary kiss that makes people crazy with love. Imagine a summer's night, on a moonlit beach in the South of France, as French boy Laurent kisses 16-year-old Delilah after the best chat-up line she's ever heard.


Delilah is pretty sure the Kiss is fiction, despite her head-spinning holiday fling. But with all the sudden crushes, break-ups and melt-downs happening back at home, the Kiss starts looking a little too real for comfort. If only Delilah could keep track of where it's gone ...

Who knew one kiss could cause this much trouble?

A hilarious rom-com that will delight Geek Girls everywhere!



I’ll get this out of the way at the beginning: “The Kiss” is filled with many of the bad boy romance tropes and instalove.  However, it is still a fun and cute read.

When I first started it, I was absolutely positive that I would find a way to jump through the pages and strangle Delilah, the main character.  At the beginning she is judgy and full of herself; not at all concerned with others unless it is in regards to how it affects her.  Also, she is a mega control freak.  That being said, stick with it.  The problems provide an excellent opportunity for growth, and the author sees that opportunity through.  The other characters are endearing in their own way, and I particularly liked Jem.  He is given an interesting backstory that isn’t completely predictable.

I recommend “The Kiss” for those looking for a quick and light read. The plot can be predictable, but as I said above, it is fun.  It’s the sort of thing you can get lost in for a few hours.  In fact, it’s the perfect beach read or palette cleanser.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Drug and Alcohol Use

Everything, Everything

Everything Everything Book Cover Everything Everything
Nicola Yoon
Delacorte Press
September 1, 2015

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.



What I liked about “Everything, Everything” is perfectly summed up by the title: Everything.  It’s a wonderful and unique book that pulls at your heartstrings, makes you think about the nature of life, and also makes you laugh.

Madeline is a girl with SCID, commonly known as bubble baby disease, who has lived a life with little human contact and a world contained entirely within her home.  Olly is the boy-next-door who manages to break through her emotional barriers.  The romance is sweet and inspires a wide-range of “feels”.  Madeline and Olly are both exceptionally well-developed, which is an amazing achievement given the limited confines of her life and their interactions.

Not many of the technicalities of SCID are explored in the book, but given that it is all Madeline knows, and it drives the plot instead of being the plot, I believe it is handled perfectly.  I can’t go into too much depth without giving away important pieces of the plot, but please do not think “The Fault in Our Stars”.  This is not at all like that, in spite of the presence of a disease.  Stick with it, and you will see that the inevitable comparisons some will make do not prove to be true.  “Everything, Everything” is a wonderful book in its own right and should be read as such.

I can’t write the review without mentioning how much I love the non-traditional manner in which the story is told.  There are charts, graphs, journal entries, instant messages, doctor reports, drawings, and much more sprinkled throughout that all serve as an integral part of the story.  It’s a refreshing break from the ordinary.

Also, and this is very important, the main character is of mixed-race.  I wish there were more books out there featuring diverse characters, but “Everything, Everything” is an excellent addition to the collection and should serve as an example to other writers that it can and should be more common.  We need more diverse books!

To sum it all up, I highly recommend “Everything, Everything” to everyone 7th grade and above, including adults.  It reads quickly and is sure to be a hit for reluctant readers.  Five enthusiastic stars!

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Mild Language, Sexual Situations, Domestic Violence

Jesse’s Girl

Jesse's Girl Book Cover Jesse's Girl
Miranda Kenneally
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire

On Career Shadow Day, Maya gets paired with pop star Jesse Scott who rose to fame at a young age and has no real friends, and although the last thing Maya wants is to be reminded of how music broke her heart, she and Jesse might be just what the other needs, but can they open up enough to become real friends--or even something more?



I read a lot of young adult and new adult romances for review, but seldom are they as realistic as “Jesse’s Girl”.  Also, I rarely melt into a puddle from the sheer amount of cute contained in a book like I did with this one.

Yes, there are some of the typical rock star romance tropes found in the book, but those are not excessive.  The characters are very well-developed, with flaws and all.  There are no perfect Mary Sues or book boyfriends here.  Maya and Jesse are written as real people, and in spite of the celebrity status of Jesse, he is written as relatable without making it seem like his job does not affect things.

Also, and I cannot say this enough:  this is not an instalove story.  Friendship comes first, and the rest plays out over months, not days.  There are very real obstacles that stand in their way because of their differences in personalities and in lifestyles.  These obstacles are actually worked through and not presented as nonexistent or overcome by the sheer force of love.

“Jesse’s Girl” is a great read for anyone looking for a light romance that also has some substance.  It’s a breath of fresh air in a crowded genre.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Brief Mentions of Underage Drinking

Stone Rider

Stone Rider Book Cover Stone Rider
David Hofmeyr
Juvenile Fiction
Delacorte Press

In the vein of the cult classic Mad Max series, crossed with Cormac McCarthy's The Road and S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, this inventive debut novel blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.

Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.

The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.

And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.



“Stone Rider” is an excellent book that can fit into many genres at one time.  It’s like a western met a dystopian and then decided to create a West Side Storyesque production.  I’ve never read anything like it.

The characters are all interesting and surprising.  At the beginning they may appear to be stereotypical, but as the story goes on their depth is revealed.  However, that is not to say that they are extremely well-developed.  The book is written like the old westerns.  You learn what you need to, when you need to, and the rest of the book is devoted to the action.  This could be seen as a flaw, but I appreciate that the book is designed to be as sleek as the “bykes” used in the race around which the plot centers.

The flow of the book is amazing.  The beginning is a little slow, but only by comparison to the rest of it.  That is because Part I takes the time to set up pretty much all you will learn about the world.  Once you begin Part II it becomes something of a marathon read.  There is never time to take your breath.  Do not begin it if you have something else to do in the next few hours.  There is quite a bit of violence, but that is to be expected in a mostly lawless society.

In short, “Stone Rider” is a fun and exciting read.  In spite of the streamlined storytelling, there are many challenging words to help expand vocabulary for younger readers.  Since this a book well-suited for reluctant readers, that is a huge plus.  Highly recommended for any upper middle-grade reader through to adults.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence