Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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Review: Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

May 22, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★★

Review: Follow Me Back by A.V. GeigerFollow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on June 6, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
three-stars
Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

Diversity: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 3 (Tessa has severe agoraphobia and it’s written pretty well)
Intersectionality: 0

I’m all about social media-based books and non-romance boy band books. Kill the Boy Band was a favorite  of mine last year despite its fatphobia, but recent release #famous and Ali Novak’s The Heartbreakers failed me. As the first free read I’ve had in months, I chose Follow Me Back. It’s always time for a thriller and the social media aspect was just the icing on the cake! Though it isn’t told entirely through tweets, DMs, and police reports as the jacket copy implies, Follow Me Back was a solid read. Then the ending happened and it went bad.

Read more »

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Review: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

May 27, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Darker Still by Leanna Renee HieberDarker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Magic Most Foul #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on November 8, 2011
Genres: YA, YA Historical, YA Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-stars
I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I'd ever seen--everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable...utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I've crossed over into his world within the painting, and I've seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked--bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (uses the g-slur; though time-appropriate, it’s still a slur)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0 (Natalie starts out as mute but She Gets Better because She Feels Like It)
Intersectionality: 0

Once upon a time, I downloaded Darker Still and proceeded to not read it for about four years. Oops? My best friend and I talked of the book often because she loved it and the cover model always looked like Taylor Swift to us in passing, but it took being ordered to by the great TBR Jar for me to finally read it. Worth it, I’d suppose? It’s a mess with its characters, but I found it incredible for the frame narrative and Natalie’s diary entries alone. Read more »

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Review: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

September 10, 2015 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Heartbreakers by Ali NovakThe Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
Series: The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: BEA 2015
Goodreads
two-stars
"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Stella will do anything for her sister—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD... for three hours. At least she met a cute boy at the Starbucks beforehand. A blue-eyed boy who looks an awful lot like...

Oliver Perry. Of course Starbucks guy is the lead singer for her least favorite band. Thanks, universe. But there may be more to Oliver than his world-famous charm, because even after she insults his music—to his face—he still gives her his number. Seriously, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver—dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band—when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Stella’s triplet Cara has cancer and has had it before too)
Intersectionality: 0

I brought this entirely upon myself. I read Novak’s debut novel and had a lot of mixed feelings about it, but I also had a lot of FEELINGS and could hardly put it down. I swear, someone put crack in the ink/e-ink. Everyone needs a little fluff sometimes and boy band romances have been steadily on the rise since One Direction hit it big, so this was bound to happen eventually. I still had a lot of FEELINGS about Novak’s sophomore novel, but they trended more toward anger. Read more »

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Review: Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg

June 27, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn RosenbergDream Boy by Madelyn Rosenberg, Mary Crockett
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 1, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
four-stars
Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

Fun fact: Every person that has ever shown up in your dreams is someone you’ve seen before. You may have only seen them in passing and not remember seeing them at all, but your mind will reach into your unconscious memories for faces because it can’t create entirely new faces while you sleep. While this has the potential to be really fun (that means any celebrity you like that has seen you even in passing may have dreamed about you at one point, if that’s what you like), it also made me grumble about the premise of this book because it’s about entirely new people springing forth from dreams. Read more »

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Review: My Life With the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

March 2, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★½

Review: My Life With the Walter Boys by Ali NovakMy Life With the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2014
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
two-half-stars
Sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard is devastated when her parents are killed in a car accident. She has no one to turn to except for her mom's best friend Katherine Walter. Jackie quickly discovers that Katherine is no stranger to being a mom-she's got twelve boys! And every single one is a handful...

Adjusting to life with the Walter boys is not going to be easy, especially when two of them start to show an interest that definitely goes beyond brotherly.

Give me a prompt and I’ve probably read a fanfic like it. Such things happen when you’ve been reading fan fiction for about six years. The premise of The Walter Boys is no exception; I’ve read at least three in which a girl’s parents die and she moves into a house full of hotties. Did Novak’s novel manage to impress me more than the fics like it? Sadly, no. It’s got a compulsive readability about it, but it’s often problematic and 98% of those problems go back to one person: Cole Walter. Read more »

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Review: See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne

December 30, 2013 Reviews 0

Review: See Jane Run by Hannah JayneSee Jane Run by Hannah Jayne Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 7, 2014
Genres: YA Thriller
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
one-star
I know who you are.

When Riley first gets the postcard tucked into her bag, she thinks it's a joke. Then she finds a birth certificate for a girl named Jane Elizabeth O'Leary hidden inside her baby book.

Riley's parents have always been pretty overprotective. What if it wasn't for her safety...but fear of her finding out their secret? What have they been hiding? The more Riley digs for answers, the more questions she has.

The only way to know the truth? Find out what happened to Jane O'Leary.

I thought Jayne did a great job with her previous YA thriller Truly, Madly, Deadly, but almost everything that made it great is missing from See Jane Run. Perhaps I thought the other book was better because it touched on stalking and obsession, which are two of my favorite elements/subjects ever? My love of those can make me miss other flaws, especially if the stalking/obsession bits are written well enough. Though fun to begin with and quite easy to get wrapped up in, See Jane Run is riddled with cardboard characters, horrible decisions everywhere, and a plot driven solely by those horrible decisions. Read more »

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Review: Scorched by Mari Mancusi

October 27, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Scorched by Mari MancusiScorched by Mari Mancusi Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 3, 2013
Genres: YA Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
two-stars
Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise–her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head–a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Sometimes, you need mindless stuff to get through the day. Scorched was the mindless stuff to get me through the aftermath of a terrible dentist appointment and olfactory flashbacks to the laughing gas that made me sick multiple times. At first, the wild, fun elements of dragons, time travel, and mind-reading/mind-influencing people all mashed together entertained me, but as the novel went on, my annoyance at how Trinity failed to pick up on the most obvious holes in everyone’s stories and other such issues were what kept my mind off the pain and flashbacks.

Trinity starts out as a character with potential. The “child raising their parent/grandparent” trope is here and it’s still a little stale, but her cynicism and difficulty trusting others after her mother’s suicide and her grandfather’s many terrible business decisions comes across well. What makes Trinity such a hard heroine to get behind is that she doesn’t appear to have anything even close to resembling a working brain. What she lets Connor and Caleb get by with concerning their hole-filled stories is too much for me to believably take.

When Connor and the dragon both speak into her mind and call her Fire-Kissed, she doesn’t question it (on Connor’s part, anyway). Apparently, she has less of a problem with a human being talking into her head than an unborn dragon egg. It takes Caleb doing the same thing to make her ask questions about those two things! Though she does ask about the relationship between her and the dragon egg, she fails to ask the most important questions (like the direct relationship between them in the future and what Connor means by her being “an added layer of protection”) AND takes his obviously evasive answer with no further questions on it. Oh, and the obvious holes in their motives go unquestioned too.

Not only is dumbing down Trinity to the point where she misses obvious red flags an example of how not to build a conflict or novel, it’s also an example of how thoroughly her prior characterization as cynical and untrusting is contradicted. Despite her saying multiple times she’s cynical and doesn’t trust other people, she only asks questions about half the time and is quick to trust both opposing sides. Even when ignoring what we readers learn in the short time we spend in Caleb’s and Connor’s points of view, Trinity is ignoring so much for the sake of building a weak conflict between Connor’s and Caleb’s respective sides that it’s painful.

If she were really that cynical, she would have wondered right off the bat if the kids the Dracken “found” and trained to tame dragons were kidnapped or at least asked immediately how they got there. They were rescued orphans and not kidnapped, but it’s very important that she doesn’t question anything about it and thinks they have families. How likely is it for a parent to react with “Okay, take my kid!” when time-traveling strangers tell them their child can control a dragon? Exactly. So why would she think that’s entirely plausible?

I love the idea of the dragons and Trinity’s dragon Emmy is sweet enough when she’s not burning people alive, but they lack the strength to keep standing when the tsunami of Trinity’s contradicted characterization and forced stupidity strike. Her love interests are rather typical too. We’ve got Connor, the angsty one with a stick up his rear end, and Caleb, our run-of-the-mill cocky dude with the big ego who likes to wear leather pants while riding a dragon. Neither is well-developed by themselves or with Trinity. One twist caught me off guard, but for the most part, it’s all predictable because we notice everything Trinity glances over for whatever reason.

Scorched is the start of a new series for Mancusi, but I don’t plan to stick around for it. As much as I wanted to like it–and really did for the first hundred pages or so–it failed to stay entertaining. Anyone who wants more dragons in YA might want to give it a shot just to see if they’ll like it better and find exactly what they’re looking for, though.

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