Review of By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 240

Date Started: March 28, 2017
Date Finished: March 28, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
After a lifetime of being bullied, Daelyn is broken beyond repair. She has tried to kill herself before, and is determined to get it right this time. Though her parents think they can protect her, she finds a Web site for “completers” that seems made just for her. She blogs on its forums, purging her harrowing history. At her private Catholic school, the only person who interacts with her is a boy named Santana. No matter how poorly she treats him, he just won’t leave her alone. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life . . . isn’t it?

In this harrowing, compelling novel, Julie Anne Peters shines a light on what might make a teenager want to kill herself, as well as how she might start to bring herself back from the edge. A discussion guide and resource list prepared by “bullycide” expert C. J. Bott are included in the back matter.

Review:
I spent the novel wishing Daelyn would open up, would tell her parents about what had bothered her, why she felt how she did. I wish that her account had been found, that her postings had been read, that maybe she shared them and would become an advocate for others who have suffered like she did.

Once Santana is in the picture Daelyn is forced to realize that while she might feel like there’s nothing for her, and that getting rid of herself is the only way, there are people who would be willing to do anything to make sure they could continue to live. Through seeing others bullied for being different like she was, Daelyn slowly begins to open up, to let people know that she does care… even though she really doesn’t want to.

The ambiguity of the ending is rather startling, though I hope most will think the same way I did, hoping it ended positively.

This book will remain on my bookshelf to potentially be loaned out to teenagers. It’s a perfect book to explain that people do care, even if you don’t realize it, and that there are many, many forms of bullying/abuse. This book would be an amazing book to have discussions about, and it includes potential discussion questions in the back.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
For the last 20+ years, I’ve been writing books for young readers. My YA novel, Luna, the story of a transgender teen beginning her transition from male to female, was a National Book Award finalist and an American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. (Thank you award committee members.) My other books about gender queer youth include Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu (retitled, Pretend You Love Me), Between Mom and Jo, grl2grl: short fictions, Rage: A Love Story, She Loves You, She Loves You Not…, It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It), and my newest book scheduled for 2014, The Double Life of Swanee Durbin. Also check out my book about bullycide, By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead.

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN America, the Authors Guild, and the Colorado Authors’ League. I live with my partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado. (We’re celebrating our 38th anniversary this year.

More information about me and my books can be found on my Web site: http://www.JulieAnnePeters.com

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Review of My Very UnFairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski

My Very UnFairy Tale Life
By Anna Staniszewski

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 208

Date Started: March 28, 2017
Date Finished: March 28, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They’re lies. All lies.

I’ve spent my life as an official adventurer. I travel across enchanted kingdoms saving magical creatures and fighting horrible beasts that most of you think are only myths and legends. I’ve never had a social life. My friends have all forgotten me. And let’s not even talk about trying to do my homework. So – I’m done!! I’m tired and I want to go back to being a normal girl. But then along comes “Prince Charming” asking for help, and, well, what’s a tired girl like me supposed to do?

Review:
What if you had something you were great at, but the novelty had worn off and you weren’t sure you wanted to keep doing it? Enter Jenny’s UnFairy Tale life. There are so many great messages that this novel gets across. Learning that what you thought you wanted and would make you happy isn’t going to if you have to give up things you enjoy is a great lesson all people can learn from. Relating to others and trying to make meaningful connections is also something that can be difficult when caught up in your own life. Facing your fears can be difficult, but there’s a solution to everything, if you look hard enough. Of course, Jenny’s “kindergarten phrases” as she calls them are usually great life advice that all of us could use a refresher in.

I absolutely love the tie in between Earth with Jenny’s aunt’s love of animals, and Jenny’s love of mini golf, and how that transitions to Speak and trying to defeat the dastardly villain.

Although listed in the teen category, I think this book would fit the perfect niche of 5th grade on, as there is a great story line and a lot of reminders about how to be a good friend, and a good person, for all.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston, Mass. and teaches at Simmons College. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, eating chocolate, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. You can visit her at http://www.annastan.com.

Review of The Stowaway Debutante by Rebecca Diem

The Stowaway Debutante
Tales of the Captain Duke Book 1
By Rebecca Diem

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk (Science Fiction/Fantasy)
Number of Pages: 103

Date Started: March 28, 2017
Date Finished: March 28, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Airships, pirates, and hidden identities…

When Clara dreamed of running away to seek her own adventures, she never imagined that a chance encounter with the legendary Captain Duke might set her life on an entirely different course.

Armed with her wit and charm, Clara can usually talk her way out of any troubles. But first, she has to get back to solid ground…


Clara stole a quiet breath of relief when the loud man’s boots retreated toward the stairwell. She could hear the other two moving about the cargo hold, and hoped that her own thudding heartbeat would not betray her position.

She quickly thought through her options: Could she bribe them? Should she fight? Could she run? She made herself as small as possible and waited, every instinct on high alert. The lighter pair of footsteps was getting closer.

A shuffle. A step. He must be less than four feet from her, only the crate she huddled against blocking her from his view. When his voice called out, the blood froze in Clara’s veins.

“Hey, look over here!”

Review:
Lately I’ve been quite into steampunk and gaslamp fantasy. This did hit that niche, but, there was very little plot involved in this novella. There wasn’t a moment when one was truly worried for the characters. Though entertaining, Clara is very much a Mary Sue, naturally taking to every new task assigned to her. The relationships are quite unrealistic, with everyone taking to Clara, despite her reluctance to explain why she’s run away.

The Tales of Captain Duke could likely be condensed to “The Tale of Captain Duke”, with subsections of the three different stories in the trilogy. Given how short the novella is, and how bare the plot appears, it would have been much nicer, and more cost efficient to the reader, to have all three in one, especially for the print book price.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rebecca Diem is the author of the steampunk adventure series Tales of the Captain Duke.

She grew up in a far-off land known as Chatsworth, ON. It was surrounded by hills and forests and streams and strange metal beasts that tore through the landscape leaving iron in their wake.

Then one day she started to write it all down…

Review of How I Found the Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 231

Date Started: March 26, 2017
Date Finished: March 27, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
On a bike tour of Ireland last summer, Morgan Rawlinson fell for Colin, the hunky guide, and entered a portal that turned her into the goddess Morganne. Now she’s back to her painfully normal life and her relationship with Colin has fizzled to the occasional e-mail, until he writes saying he’s coming to Connecticut, just in time for the prom.

But when he arrives, he’s exhausted. It seems that when Morgan crossed the portal as Morganne, a spell was cast on Colin. In his dreams he’s being forced to dance ’til dawn with the faeries, who want to boogie with him for eternity. Somehow she has to break the spell on her date, help plan the prom, and find the perfect dress. Oh, what a night.

Review:
This book was a good, fast read. It was interesting and quirky, something that’d be great to bring to a beach.

That being said, the plot didn’t have much substance, and the characters didn’t grow much throughout the story. Within the novel there are countless fights and obvious issues between Morgan’s parents, yet this is never fully resolved. Morgan’s sister, Tammy, seems far younger than her age, but that might be because she’s only seen as the baby of the family. While there is obvious conflict involved for Morgan, her family seemed superfluous.

Still four stars, as it was a fairly good read, but not something I’d expect to pick up again.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
If you’d like to learn about Maryrose Wood, you can do so on her website www.MaryroseWood.com 

Review of The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Wizard Heir
By Cinda Williams Chima

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 480

Date Started: March 19, 2017
Date Finished: March 26, 2017
Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it’s not his attitude that’s the problem. It’s the trail of magical accidents-lately, disasters-that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained–and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph’s enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students’ powers to serve his own dangerous agenda.

In this companion novel to the exciting fantasy The Warrior Heir, everyone’s got a secret to keep: Jason Haley, a fellow student who’s been warned to keep away from Seph; the enchanter Linda Downey, who knew his parents; the rogue wizard Leander Hastings, and the warriors Jack Swift and Ellen Stephenson. This wizard war is one that Seph may not have the strength to survive.

Review:
I picked this book up from a used bookstore not realizing it was the second in a trilogy. That being said, after reading this book and the eluded bits about the first, I don’t feel as if I missed anything or don’t understand what’s happened from having started with the second. If you are going to read this series, I would likely recommend you start with the first book, The Warrior Heir.

This was a book I didn’t want to end. Instantly enthralled, it was very easy to empathize with Seph.  There was a depth to this novel that isn’t always seen in YA pieces, the motivations of what people are doing to achieve their goals not obvious at first, but understandable when revealed. On top of the great characterization and development, this book is also well written in a way that makes you want to know what happens next, and care very deeply for the connections the main protagonist makes.

So many lessons can be learned from this book. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. Trust your instincts.

I read this book slowly, putting it off or only reading in small spurts to try to make it last longer, knowing that a find like this doesn’t come that often. I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it to others. I also think this book would likely be amazing for reluctant readers, due to how gripping the plot is.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers. Her Heir Chronicles young adult contemporary fantasy series includes The Warrior Heir (2006), The Wizard Heir (2007), The Dragon Heir (2008), The Enchanter Heir (2013) and The Sorcerer Heir (2014) all from Hyperion.

Chima’s YA high fantasy Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King (2009), followed by The Exiled Queen (September, 2010) The Gray Wolf Throne (2011) and The Crimson Crown (2012.)

Chima’s latest series, The Shattered Realms, (HarperTeen) is set in the Seven Realms world, and features a new generation of characters. It includes Flamecaster and Shadowcaster (April 2017) with two more coming.

Chima’s books have received starred reviews in Kirkus and VOYA, among others. They have been named Booksense and Indie Next picks, an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, to the Kirkus Best YA list, and the VOYA Editors’ Choice, Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and Perfect Tens lists.
Chima lives in Ohio with her family, and is always working on her next novel.

Review of Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen

Confessions of a Serial Kisser
By Wendelin Van Draanen

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 304

Date Started: March 4, 2017
Date Finished: March 5, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)confessions-of-a-serial-kisser
Evangeline Logan wants a kiss. Not just any kiss—a “crimson kiss,” like the one in a romance novel she’s become obsessed with. But the path to perfection is paved with many bad kisses—the smash mouth, the ear licker, the “misser,” the tentative tight lipper.

The phrase “I don’t kiss and tell” means nothing to the boys in her school. And worse: someone starts writing her name and number on bathroom walls. And worst of all: the boy she’s just kissed turns out to be her best friend’s new crush.

Kissing turns out to be way more complicated than the romance novels would have you believe. . . .

Review:
I couldn’t put this novel down. From the first page, you’re drawn right into Evangeline’s life. Whether or not you’re interested in getting a heart racing, spark inducing, firework detonating kiss, this book is perfect. Evangeline is a bit lost, she wants to find something to make her feel like she’s truly living, and when she does, she puts all of herself into it. In order to do that, Evangeline makes herself edgy, changing her style, trying to stand out– something that most girls will experience at some point through high school. While Evangeline is busy searching for the crimson kiss she wants, she doesn’t stop to consider what that might do to others, just as most teenagers would do.

I absolutely love how important music is to Evangeline and how much it shapes her, though there were a lot of times when I wondered if the album name and several song titles were listed as more of a word addition than a necessary part of the story.

In the end, I absolutely loved this book and definitely recommend it to anyone who isn’t sure what they want, and knows that there must be something better out there for them. I’d also recommend this to anyone going through a dark time, needing something else to focus on. It’s flirty, it’s fun, and I give it five stars.

wendelinAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes mystery series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ and became a Warner Brothers feature film in 2010.

Her other stand-alone titles include The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, and The Running Dream which was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal of the disability experience.

Van Draanen has also created two four-book series for younger readers. The Shredderman books feature a boy who deals with a bully and received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit,” and The Gecko & Sticky books, which are fun read-alouds, perfect for reluctant readers.

A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Van Draanen is married to Mark Huntley Parsons, also an author, and they have two sons.

Review of My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison

My Fairly Dangerous Godmother
By Janette Rallison

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 396

Date Started: March 1, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)my-fairly-dangerous-godmother
Some people bomb auditions. Sadie Ramirez throws up during her tryouts on TV show America’s Top Talent. Her performance is so bad, it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance’s Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar: a gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel wearing fairy godmother in training. She misinterprets Sadie’s wishes and sends her back in time to be a part of The Little Mermaid story and then makes her one of the twelve dancing princesses. Wishes are permanent, and if Sadie wants to get back to her home, she’ll have to strike a magical bargain–one that involves stealing a goblet from a powerful fairy queen. With a little help from a handsome and talented thief, she might be able to pull it off.

Review:
I had this novel sitting around for a while before I finally decided to read it. It was phenomenal! The music take was pretty neat to start, but I thought it would falter when instead of going into a unique fairy tale story, traditional fairy tales were invoked, but the realistic response that Sadie has to everything going on , and her honest revelations about stars, fame, and Jason Prescott, make this book an amazing novel that will resonate with readers forever. Although the opening is rather hard to get into at first, once you’re past Chrysanthemum Everstar’s report, the book becomes pure gold. While many hopefully won’t experience any of the truly turbulent events the heroes face, many can empathize with the struggles of the characters, their desires and motivations. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales,  and anyone who loves music/wants to become a musician.

janette-rallisonAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)