Book Review: Bullies like Me by Lindy Zart

img_9796-1Bullies like Me
By: Lindy Zart
Publication Date: 2016

Genre: Young Adult

I received an ARC from Lindy Zart in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis:

If you can make it out of Enid High School alive, you can make it through anything.

Alexis is the new girl at school, and she’s ruthlessly bullied. Hopeless, and drowning in her present reality, she takes pills—lots of pills. She’s sent to a mental health facility, where she meets a boy. Only the boy can’t save her, and no one can save her from herself.

Nick has secrets. He wants to open up to Alexis, but there’s the dead boy who haunts him. In his dreams. While he’s awake. He wants to be brave, but he can’t tell her about his past, and he can’t leave the facility.

Melanie rules over the school, until a nobody named Lexie tries to disrupt her reign. She won’t allow that. She also can’t stop it. She plummets into notoriety, but she’s determined to take them all with her. The girl, the boy, and their secrets.

*~*
My Thoughts

This is absolutely my favorite Lindy Zart book thus far. Her words are real, empowering, and fear-inducing at the same time. Lindy tells the truth, whether we want to hear or it not, voicing what needs to be said in a world battered and broken. This book is not just another for the shelf. It’s a confession, a confirmation, and a lesson. This book will stay with me for quite some time. As soon as I finished this book, I had to take a moment to breathe. From the very first page to the end of the author’s note and closing my Kindle app, my heart was jumping at a rapid rate; I’m certain my neighbors could hear the intense drum beating in my chest. Lindy slayed me with this book. I got it. I felt it. I believed it.

I don’t typically highlight in the books I read, but there were so many that struck me. Lindy’s word choices are deliberate, each one a note to a very somber song that loops in your head long after the radio shuts off.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this, but quickly found myself buried in the pages, engrossed in each character’s story and point of view. I felt Alexis’ inner demons trying to claw their way out, Nick’s darkness twisting and pulling, and Melanie’s persistence and blindness. 

I’ve dealt with bullying. Not to anywhere near the extent of this book, but I remember taking on the role of the “bully to the bullies” in junior high. I didn’t actually bully anyone, I simply stood up for those who were being bullied. I distinctly remember two times this happened. I remember one of my friends walking down the hall between classes, a massive stack of books in her arms. This girl was someone often found at the butt of someone’s joke. I was across the hall from her, going to my next class, when I saw another kid, infamously known for being a jerk, walking up to her with intent written across his smug face. His hand went up into the air, and I remember hurrying across the hall to stand in front of him, a blockade, staring up at his six-foot-plus frame. “Don’t even think about it.” Standing over a foot shorter than this bully, I felt to height difference, not rank difference, no fear. And he backed away. I don’t know what happened after that. I just remember the books staying in her arms. The other time I remember is when I was walking through the school after hours, waiting to go to some activity, or perhaps just leaving one. Two of my male friends were about to fight each other, or maybe it was a friend of mine and someone else. Whatever the case, we were in a stairwell, just us, no one around for what felt like miles, and suddenly they were going at each other. Shoving this way, pushing that, fists flying, words and spit spewing. Without thinking, I jumped in the middle of it and split them up. Just me.

I don’t know why these moments stand out so much, especially after so many years. One thing I know is bullying is a problem. I’ve been bullied, harassed, abused, all at varying levels and at different points in my life. I’ve dealt with wondering about the meaning of my own life, the worth of existing. I’m still here. Not everyone is. Not everyone comes out stronger. We need to all take action, to stop bullying. Be there for each other. Love is so much more incredible than hate.

The Final Countdown

Characterization – 5/5 Stars
Dialogue– 5/5 Stars
Plot – 5/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 5/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 5/5 Stars
Ending – 5/5 Stars

Total: 5 Stars

Links
Universal Buy Link
Amazon

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Blog Tour Review – Captivate Me/Fight For Me by S.J. Pierce

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Captivate Me AND
Fight For Me (Books 1 and 2 of The Captivated Series)
By: S.J. Pierce
Publication Date: 2014/

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Welcome to my stop on the Captivate Me/Fight For Me blog tour. I received a review copy from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. Please note, there is a giveaway down below, along with links to the books. Enjoy!

Captivate Me Synopsis:

“My mom had always told me – when you meet “the one,” you’ll know; they’ll captivate your heart the moment you lay eyes on them. I had always wondered, though, if my mom’s words of wisdom were finite – if they applied to everyone. Maybe those who had found their one great love were the lucky few, and maybe the rest of us would have to settle for less than earth-shattering.”

Seventeen-year-old Kat Walsh is a Gifted – a human with paranormal abilities. With her mom a former Angel and her dad a dream prophet, it’s always been in her genetic make-up to be extraordinary. Unfortunately for her, the world can’t handle the strange or unusual. So when she slips up and uses her powers at her high school in Ireland, the entire student body treats her like a freak – even the ones she thought were her closest friends.

Broken, but hopeful for a fresh start, she allows her parents to enroll her in a boarding school buried deep within the forests of a small Colorado town. At Midland Pines, School for the Gifted, she feels as though she can finally be herself; she makes new friends and even has the attention of the most popular guy in school – Levi. Everything feels normal again… or does it?

Not long after her arrival, weird dreams of an alluring boy whom she’s never met surface during the night, and the eerie, shadowy trees encircling their school seem to call to her. As these disturbing, yet enticing developments intensify, other bizarre occurrences happen – students and staff turn up missing, and mystery visitors leave gifts while she sleeps. With all of these other things vying for her attention, a desperate Levi has to fight even harder to keep her interest. But with the dreams of the attractive boy slowly captivating her heart, Kat has to make a choice – will she settle for ‘great’ Levi, or will she search for her elusive dream visitor, possibly stumbling across ‘amazing?’

From the author of the Alyx Rayer Chronicles, comes a refreshingly different Young Adult series with plenty of love, suspense, and a new take on the Paranormal.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

*~*
My Thoughts

For those of you who have been around for a while, or those who poked around at older reviews, you may have seen that I reviewed the amazing first book in this series in 2014. You can find the link to my review of Captivate Me HERE.

*~*

Fight For Me Synopsis:

A fresh start – something Kat and Gabriel thought they would find when they left their pasts behind at Midland Pines High and moved to a compound for hybrids. Or at least safety from a witch seeking revenge. But now… that’s all changed. Now, thanks to a flirty hybrid hell-bent on winning Gabriel’s attention, the terrifying visions of another prophetic Gifted, and the strange and worrisome behavior of one of their closest friends, Kat finds herself fighting for things that had once come so easily, including her relationship with her soulmate. And now she’s afraid.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

*~*

Fight For Me is a great next installment of The Captivated Series. Continuing forward in the characters’ journeys, the reader is brought into the compound right along beside them. This book moves along at a slower pace, but that did not detract from the otherwise creative story Pierce provides. Kat is growing up, and she is doing so alone. The idea of having to live somewhere without my parents, knowing what she does, would drive me crazy. I enjoyed watching the events in this story unfold up to an ending that had me quickly flipping to the next page. I look forward to seeing what happens next in this series, knowing that S.J. Pierce probably has some fun, climactic cards left to be dealt!

Fight For Me The Final Countdown

Characterization – 3.5/5 Stars
Dialogue– 3.5/5 Stars
Plot – 3.5/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 3.5/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 3.5/5 Stars
Ending – 4/5 Stars

Total: 3.58 Stars

Links
Captivate Me (Book 1)

Fight For Me (Book 2)

About the author:Pierce

Susan James Pierce has a degree in Marketing Management, works for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, Georgia, and devotes her precious, spare time to writing Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-fi novels.

 

Author links:

GIVEAWAY
e-book copy of Captivate Me and Fight For Me
CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Review/Tour: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

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Stars

There Once Were Stars
By:
 Melanie McFarlane
Published by: Month9Books

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

*~*

I really enjoyed There Once Were Stars! I’ve been on a dystopian kick lately, and this one did not disappoint. McFarlane takes her readers on this journey into a world that we can only imagine today. We take for granted all of the luxuries we currently have, like an apple or shoes that match our outfits, and don’t really think too far into the future. Well, many people dont; I’m one of those people who tend to dwell on that. There Once Were Stars  brought me into this crazy world, very much like The Hunger Games, where everything was being run by a higher party. Secrets, betrayal, growing up — TOWS has it all! 

*~*

The Final Countdown

Characterization – 4/5 Stars
Dialogue– 4/5 Stars
Plot – 4/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 5/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 4/5 Stars
Ending – 4/5 Stars

Total: 4.16 Stars

Links
Amazon Buy Link
B&N Buy Link
Kobo Buy Link
iBooks Buy Link
Goodreads Book Page

About the author:

Melanie

Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.

Author links:

GIVEAWAY
e-book copy of There Once Were Stars
CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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You Will Know Me
By:
 Megan Abbott

Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

*~*

I received a pre-release ARC from BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge 2016 in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited when I saw this in my #SRC2016 July box because I was a gymnast for a decent part of my childhood and have religiously followed the US gymnastics team in the Olympics for as long as I can remember. You Will Know Me follows from the third-person perspective of Katie, mother of Devon and wife of Eric. The thing I love most about this novel is that it hasn’t been done, as far as I’ve read anyway.

The characters in this story are very well-developed, with growth from beginning to end. I found myself intrigued by the arcs of even the minor characters intertwined throughout. I also enjoyed Katie’s internally dialogue, especially as a mom. I’ve only been a parent for a little under a year, but I can already understand her actions and reactions to the events in this story. The other moms are very jealous of Devon’s talents. Abbott does a good job with the description of reactions, gymnastics movements, and other sensory details throughout the story.

Overall, the story was well-constructed and kept my interested. Released in perfect timing for the Rio Summer Olympics, I was that much more drawn into the story. Definitely worth a look, especially for past gymnasts like myself.

*~*

The Final Countdown

Characterization – 3/5 Stars
Dialogue– 3/5 Stars
Plot – 4/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 3.5/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 4/5 Stars
Ending – 3.5/5 Stars

Total: 3.5 Stars

Links
Amazon – Kindle Buy Link
Amazon – Hardcover Buy Link
Amazon – Paperback Buy Link

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Book Review: Smash Into You by Shelly Crane

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Smash Into You
By:
 Shelly Crane

Publication Date: November 9, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis from Amazon:

Jude has spent the whole twenty one years of his life running. From what, he wasn’t quite sure. His mother tried to keep him safe; a low profile, a constant move on the horizon, a week’s pay always stashed away. She tried to instill in him that he was special somehow, though would never elaborate. He never felt different. He was so completely normal and vanilla that he wondered if it had all been in her head. But then she was murdered and all he saw was a running silhouette of a man as his mother said three final words to him. Three words that changed his whole being.

Never stop running…

Now he’s semi-settled into a big town. The college is huge and easy to blend into. It’s been three months since he had to move because ‘Biloxi’, as he calls the man who killed his mother, found him once more.

Then Marley, an eighteen year old girl who is as infuriating as she is blissfully ignorant of her gorgeousness, smashes into his car with hers. Then smashes into his life as he realizes that whatever it is he has that Biloxi wants, she has it, too. And now, they’re after them both.

*~*

I’ve read some of the Significance series by Shelly Crane and have enjoyed those pieces, but I will be honest here and say I was not a big fan of Smash Into You. I really wanted to love it, I wanted to love Marley and Jude, but I just couldn’t. 

Let me start by saying this is not a bad book! There were some great ideas and there’s a lot of potential within this world Crane created, but there was a lot left to be desired. The characters were interesting, though with more development, I feel they could have shined and given the story more depth. Marley seemed a little all over the place – at times she needed attention, at others she was self-sufficient. She was pushy, but not. I wanted to know more about her background; with only the surface of her story told, I was feeling like much was missing. 

Visually, I had trouble envisioning what was going on. With a little more sensory detail, this could be fixed.

I loved the idea of this story, especially when more was revealed of what was actually going on. This could have been it’s own book, though. I wish there were more detail and the pacing of that part was a bit better.

Overall, the story was alright. I will definitely read more Shelly Crane, as I love her Significance series. She’s a very talented writer, this just wasn’t my favorite of her books.

*~*

The Final Countdown

Characterization – 2.5/5 Stars
Dialogue– 3/5 Stars
Plot – 3.5/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 2.5/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 3/5 Stars
Ending – 3/5 Stars

Total: 3 Stars

Links
Smash Into You Kindle Edition Amazon Buy Link

 

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Book Review: Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan

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Book of Shadows (Sweep #1)
By:
 Cate Tiernan

Publication Date: January 29, 2001 (My edition)
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Something is happening to me that I don’t understand.

I see things, feel things in a new way. I can do things normal people can’t do. Powerful things. Magical things. It scares me.

I never chose to learn witchcraft. But I’m starting to wonder if witchcraft is choosing me.

*~*

The Sweep series is one of my all-time favorite book series. Of course, it doesn’t beat Harry Potter by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s also a big act to follow. I will let you know now, I own every book in this series, and I’ve read it through many times over. The bindings are worn down, the covers are a little crinkly, and the pages are well-read. Safe to say, it’s one of my favorites. I actually read it shortly after it was released; my mother found the first book at some sale (Scholastic, maybe?) and it was love at first read.

Book of Shadows is about Morgan Rowlands, a regular teenage girl. Her life is going as normal until Cal Blaire moves to town and goes to her school. Everything turns upside down and she discovers things about herself she never dreamed possible. She has Cal to guide her and her friends in their journey into the world of witchcraft.

Tiernan does a great job creating characters that are likable and mysterious. I loved getting to know each of the characters in Book of Shadows and learning about their lives. There is a beauty in the world of Wicca for these characters, with magic and nature in its depths. Where there is beauty and light, however, there is also darkness. Darkness intertwines in this world Morgan is discovering.

*~*

The Final Countdown

Characterization – 4/5 Stars
Dialogue– 4/5 Stars
Plot – 4/5 Stars
Visual Imagery – 4/5 Stars
Structure/Pacing/Editing – 4/5 Stars
Ending – 4/5 Stars

Total: 4 Stars

Links
Book of Shadows (Sweep 1) Kindle Edition Amazon Buy Link
Book of Shadows (Sweep 1) Paperback Amazon Buy Link
Book of Shadows, Coven, & Blood Witch 
(Sweep 1-3) Paperback Amazon Buy Link  <—AWESOME DEAL!!
Goodreads Book Page

 

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Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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The Most Magnificent Thing
By:
 Ashley Spires
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Genre: Children’s Literature

Summary:
A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

*~*

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I always test out new children’s books on my almost 9 month old son. If a book keeps his attention, he seems intrigued, and I can even get a smile out of him then it’s usually well on its way to being a winner. So, this book passed the BabyJ test.

This is a great book about perseverance and confidence. The little girl in this book relies on herself and her “assistant” best friend to get the job done. Through her trials and failed attempts, anger and frustration, she has to find a way to make the magnificent thing. The writing is cute and straightforward, with simple, yet adorable illustrations.

*~*

The Final Countdown – 4 Stars

Link
AmazonKindle
AmazonHardcover
Goodreads – Link

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