1. Rice & Rocks by Sandra L. Richards ***** – I loved this book, it is all about embodying family, friendship and tradition. This is Giovanni’s story about learning to accept and embrace his family heritage and related tradition with some help from his magic pet parrot; Jasper. I loved the premise of this book and how multi-cultural this book was with characters from Jamaica and Japan as well as many other locations.
2. TJ’s last summer in Cape Cod by Garfield Whyte **** – I liked the opening to TJ’s last summer in Cape Cod rather than having a prologue or introductory chapter we are provided with a short summary of the novel which was different and fresh but I was confused as the blurb does almost the same thing as the summary. For someone that doesn’t read a lot of contemporary novels I was very surprised at the reaction I had to this novel. The writing style of this novel was more descriptive than emotional but it was still very interesting to read. We learn very early on that the relationship between TJ and his uncle Peter is a very strange on. Peter is molding TJ to be the teenager he never was and endeavors to be in his adult life. As TJ remembers the past summers he has spent with his uncle including the summer of 2012 where his uncle engineered a plan where his girlfriend (despite being married) would take his nephew’s virginity.
3. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan **** – Percy’s mom has been dating a very nice man named Paul Blophis (not blowfish) who teaches at the Goode School. He’s finagled Percy’s enrollment into the school, despite some apprehension from Percy and his mother. They haven’t told Paul about Percy being a demigod and therefore attracting monsters. While Percy might not know how he feels about Paul, he understands that Paul is a good guy and makes his mother happy. Percy doesn’t want to mess this relationship up, so he’s understandably wary when he must attend orientation.
4. Quidditch through the ages by J K Rowling ***** – Anyone reading this book should be a fan of Harry Potter. It may be unnecessary to say that for most readers, as Quidditch is an imaginary sport from that particular fantasy series, but there are likely to be at least a few people who would pick up this book and find it of interest even without knowing the series, and such readers would need to know ahead of time that this book is part of the secondary literature of J.K. Rowling concerning her Harry Potter universe, and really does not stand alone on its own apart from having an interest in that fandom. That said, if you are a fan of the series you will likely like this book, and at around 100 pages, and full of humorous inside jokes, you will likely enjoy this book. As far as fake sports histories go, this is a good one, and a fun one, and when one is reading a book like this, fun is what you are looking after. If even real sports histories gain much of their appeal from the fun of athletic competition, that is true even more so for fake sports history.
5. Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson ** – I am very mixed on how I felt about Dreamland. That 2 stars up there really saddens me and don’t get me wrong–this book wasn’t awful it just felt a bit unsuccessful in execution. The overall pacing of the book was very uneven and the middle really dragged for me. There was an entire section I think could have been edited down to help the flow of the novel. You won’t see it in the summary, but not only was this book about a girl dream walking and breaking the rules but also a crime mystery.
6. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver **** – On the surface, Vanishing Girls appears to be a mystery about two missing girls, but is essentially a story about the grief and guilt experienced after a traumatic loss. The story is told by two narrators, Nicole (Nick) and Dara Warren, both before and after a terrible automobile accident. The story begins just before the accident on March 27 but also includes flashbacks to provide some backstory.
7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson **** – It’s been a month since Lennie’s nineteen-year-old sister Bailey died, and Lennie is a mess. She refuses to move any of Bailey’s things in their formerly-shared bedroom, she’s writing poetry about Bailey and leaving it all over town, and she’s barely talking to her best friend Sarah or the people she lives with, her Gram and Uncle Big. She’s never known her mother, who supposedly has the family’s “restless gene” and left when she was young—but she’s even feeling her mom’s absence more strongly now that Bailey’s dead. Oh, and since the funeral, she’s been attracted to every boy.
8. Shards & Ashes by Various Authors **** – This is a great collection of dystopian tales – some old worlds and some new ones. Some leave you bawling and some just in awe of the authors’ ingenuity. All of these short stories have clever twists and heart-wrenching moments (whether from romance or family moments or whatnot). Although this is only the second anthology I’ve ever read, this is the best one yet. There are no confusing plots or major cliffhangers (although some stories could be expanded into actual novels).
9. The Things I’d Miss by Andrew Clover *** – At the age of 42, Lucy Potts has started to question the path that her life has taken. She is married to the eccentric Simon, whose intense enthusiasm for life once appealed to her but now annoys her. As she struggles with being a good mother to their beloved sons, keeping on top of the artistry work and supporting him through his spontaneous decision to open up a Kiter’s Paradise centre for the local beach, poor Simon just doesn’t seem to be able to be enough. When Lucy is in a car accident, she is greeted by a mysterious guide who encourages her to explore the larger decisions she made in her life, but not stray too far from her body for fear of what might be lost. Suddenly, Lucy’s map of life seems open again as she is free to look at what have might have been had she chosen the other man who still haunts her dreams.
10. Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout ***** – Alex is a half-blood, she is part human and part Hematoi. Three years ago she attended a school to become a Sentinel called The Covenant. A Sentinel is a guard that helps protect full blooded Hematoi from the Daimons. Daimons are creatures that suck the aether out of pure and half blood Hematoi. They can also turn pure bloods into Daimons as well but so far they have never turned a half blood.
11. Ultraviolet by R J Anderson *** – Alison wakes up in an unfamiliar place; she’s in hospital about to be moved to a psychiatric institution for young people. Although Alison has not been arrested, the police are suspicious of her because she was the last person to see sixteen-year-old Tori before she disappeared. Alison is unable to explain to anyone, including herself, what really happened that day: at first they were just arguing, but then Tori disintegrated into nothing.
12. Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Kay Kristoff ***** – Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, who broke up only the day before, escape Kerenza among a retreating fleet of ships that includes the Alexander (where Ezra ends up), the Hypatia (where we find Kady) and the Copernicus (where Kady’s mom is located). The Alexander, which responded to Kerenza’s distress call, is part of the United Terran Authority (UTA). A BeiTech battleship called the Lincoln, destroys the Alexander’s wormhole gate generator trapping the Alexander in this sector. The nearest jump station, Heimdall (where Kady’s dad is located) is six months away. The Lincoln chases the retreating fleet in an attempt to wipe out all witnesses.
13. Pledge by Christina Garner ***** – The prologue of Pledge was short but surprisingly ominous and dark. I genuinely didn’t know whether to smile or be very afraid. The opening chapter introduces us to our protagonist Eden who is preparing to leave for college. We also see she has some issues for which she takes medication but we aren’t privy to the illness itself just yet. Throughout the first chapter we get tiny glimpses into Eden’s past and we begin to see why she takes medication. I also understand her reasons for wanting to escape her old life completely and start afresh somewhere new. Eden while we don’t know much about her at this point is an extremely complex character with astounding depth and at times it almost seems like she has multiple personalities as she switches between a calm Eden and an internally raging Eden is seconds but this is just her way of processing things going on around her.
14. The Mark of Noba by G. L. Tomas **** – The opening chapter of the mark of Noba was good. We are introduced to our protagonist Sterling who snuck out after curfew to hang out with friends, after being dropped off he tried to sneak back in but is caught by his mother. We also learn that some kids from the local area have gone missing which sparked my interest immediately. Sterling strikes me as an ordinary teenage boy at first but I have a feeling there is more to him than meets the eyes and I was really excited to see what would happen next. Sterling the next day is deep in thought thinking about his friends and the students that went missing when he noticed a strange yet pretty girl who he feels he knows from somewhere but has no recollection of meeting her before. Very soon after seeing the mysterious Sterling is called to the principal’s office where he is told his mother has had another psychotic breakdown to her schizophrenia and is released from school. To top off his day Sterling has a very strange and scary dream about a burning forest and people fighting, despite his carefree, I don’t care attitude Sterling is very freaked out by the dream. At this moment in time I feel sorry for Sterling because of his home life.
15. Ride of your life by Ran Zilca **** – The forward by Phil Zimbardo was very inspiring, he describes Ran Zilca as an everyday hero as he was someone special, someone that refused to let his environment fringe what he was do and began going again the socially accepted flow. While only a few pages into the book I was extremely eager to hear more about Ran and learn more of his journey across America. Ran’s life was especially good he was an extremely successful man who was living the American dream but he felt every decision he made tied him down further and that something was missing from his near perfect life.
16. Succubus by Brandon Varnell **** – The opening chapter to Succubus was amazing, we are introduced to Christian also known as the Executioner who has been tailing a vampire with the intent to kill it. The lesser vampire unknowingly leads Christian to its coven. Christian then proceeds to slaughter all 8 vampire with the skill and ease of an experienced assassin. Christian is part of a religious sect within the Catholic Church that deals with eradicating paranormal activity. While Christian initially comes across as very serious and stiff he has an hilariously internal monologue at times which I found to be very amazing. Just mere hours after slaying the vampire coven Christian is given a mission outside his normal comfort zone; a succubus.
17. Scornful Saide by Felicia Tatum ***** – The opening to this book was amazing, it was dark, gripping and beautifully written. Our protagonist Sadie is a hunter of people who abused their gifts, like vampires and we are introduced to her as she is tracking down and vampire, who she ultimately kills. We also learn that she is the strongest sorceress in generations, since her grandmother. I loved the part in the first chapter where we learn on Sadie’s heritage and some of the things she has gone through before the events of this book and I hope there is a prequel out or to come soon as I really would like to learn more about the mysterious Sadie’s past. The amazing writing style and world building just continues through the second chapter which left me absolutely stunned I could not believe how enthralled I was, literally glued to the pages.
18. Nostalgia by Garfield Whyte ***** – After reading TJ’s last summer in Cape Cod I was quite excited to read Garfield Whyte’s memoir Nostalgia from: A city set upon a hill. One thing I have noticed about both books if they open with a summary written by someone other than the author, I found these opening to be strange and intriguing and certainly peaked my interest in the book before I began reading. Compared to the previous book I read by this author this book is extremely short at only 70 pages making it an extremely quick read for a memoir as Whyte is only focusing on his high school years rather than his entire life. Whyte grew up in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica, where he and most other boys dreamed of attending Munro College a highly regarding school in the area, in which Whyte started in 1977.
19. Shadows of the forest by Emma Michaels ***** – The preface to this book was beautiful enticing and heartbreaking in equal measures and there is a high level of mystery and suspense introduced as soon as the rules are mentioned. From the offset the short, direct chapters are really effective at drawing the reader in, we learn of twins Lily and Cole whose family collapsed after their parents’ murder and both are now in hospital after a horrible accident. Lily realises almost immediately that there is something very wrong with the hospital she is residing in. As her memories of the accident clear she realises that the heartbeat in her chest that felt so familiar yet so foreign wasn’t her but that of her brother Cole. Lily really struggles to come to terms with this even going as far to find a way to undo what Cole had done for her. Lily believes herself to be worth less than him because of the way she had been treated by her father. Neither twin had a great upbringing thanks to their abusive father but Cole always protected Lily from the brunt of his rage. Lily has always seen herself as bad and Cole was always the good and she feels he deserved far better than what he got.
20. Stargazer Lilies or nothing at all by Stephen Lomer **** – Stargazer Lilies or Nothing at all is a short story collection which isn’t something I read a lot of but after some recommendations I spotted a blog tour for this particular book and decided to give it a go. Due to this being a collection of short stories it is going to be slightly shorter than my normal reviews.