Beware That Girl

Kate is a scholarship kid all the way – she has a sordid past she won’t talk about, brains that compete with the best Ivy-Leaguer, and the street-smarts to do whatever it takes to claw her way to the top. So when she meets Olivia at her new private school, Kate decides that Olivia is her new mark. Only, Olivia is a bit strange. She has a mysterious past year where she was missing from school. Her mega-rich dad is never around, and her emotions seem flat. Kate befriends Olivia out of self-preservation (after all, sleeping in a penthouse with your new bestie is far better than an old cot in a basement), but eventually starts to care for her. Worry about her. And when hot Mr. Redkin starts to snoop too close to Olivia, all of Kate’s warning bells go off.

In this twisty and exciting thriller, Kate races to uncover Olivia’s past and Mr. Redkin’s intentions, only to discover that this might be the only situation she won’t be able to manipulate her way out of. Lies, money and jealousy flare up for an exciting game of cat and mouse in this YA novel.

This books was brilliantly paced. Teresa Toten is a masterful storyteller. She blends a distinctive Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liar vibe with Girl on the Train twists. I finished the book in just a few sittings, which is always a good sign. Though I wanted even more from the ending, or heaven help me, a second book, I was completely thrilled with this book. Kate is pitch perfect, as is Olivia (though my knowledge of trust funds or prep schools is rather limited!). I found myself shifting from one character’s side to the other. Throw in the glitzy world of the mega rich, and you’ve got quite the page turner. Who doesn’t love a scandalous dirtbag and dirty secrets?

Highly recommended!

WINTERKILL, by Kate Boorman

Title: Winterkill, Author: Kate A. Boorman

Emmeline is wayward – at least, that’s what everyone in her settlement thinks. Someday she’ll slip down a slope and fall headfirst into something dark and sinful, like her grandmother. That’s why she and her whole family have a stain. Add in an injured foot, and Emmeline isn’t the most popular resident of her settlement. The woods surrounding the settlers are strange and dark, but they call to her. Her dreams turn feverish, beckoning her to come closer, to discover the secrets the council wants to hide. But having a stain on her already marks her as one to watch, and she can’t be too careful. She doesn’t want to end up at the crossroads like her grandmother, hung in a cage to die in the elements.

So when Emmeline discovers a secret in the forest, she must decide who to trust. Kane, the handsome boy from the other side of the colony? Her lifelong friend, who has his own secrets to hide? And when one of the leaders of her colony asks for her hand in marriage, she must decide: truth, or the chance at clearing her and her family’s stain forever.

WINTERKILL is fantastic. I ripped through this book in two sessions, devouring the pages. I was spooked, I was intrigued, I was hooked from page one. Emmeline is perfectly sixteen. She’s courageous and curious and she’s looking for love in all the presumably wrong places. The setting is new and powerfully stark, and the voice of the protagonist is pitch perfect. Emmeline draws you in to her world and never lets you go. I ordered the second book as soon as I was finished. You will too!

Book Review: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted, Author: Naomi Novik

UPROOTED by Naomi Novik is a stunning high fantasy novel that I enjoyed from page one.

Agnieszka is a teen in a small village outside a haunted and self-aware forest. The Dragon, a sorcerer, comes to her village and takes a girl every ten years. This year he will come again, and everyone knows he will come for her best friend, Kasia. Instead, it’s her hand he grasps at the choosing, and so she is torn from her family and thrust in to a new and terrifying life.

The Dragon, as it turns out, is not as half as scary as she thought. True, he lives in a lonely tower just outside the deadly forest, but he is quiet, grumpy, and skinny. He never touches her, and in fact begins to teach her magic. He nurtures the magic inherent within her, though he doesn’t like it, filling Agnieszka with pride and wonder for the first time in her life. In fact, Agnieszka starts to feel a heat between them, a spark of something she never thought she’d feel toward the sallow sorcerer. When her friend, Kasia, is taken by the woods, Agnieszka rushes to save her. What Agnieszka finds alters the face of her Kingdom, and her life, forever.

This is a phenomenal book. If you love fantasy like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, anything like that — this is the book for you. I absolutely loved Agnieszka’s feisty nature. I loved how she threw The Dragon’s attitude back in his face. I love that she fights for everything she believes in, her friends, her family, no matter what.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. The writing is wonderful. Novik is a true master of her craft (and no wonder, she’s written about a million other books). The settings are crystal clear, the wood is terrifying, the plot unfolds at just the right pace. Trust me, if you like fantasy, READ THIS BOOK. I am going online to look for the rest of her books. This one is THAT good.

Highly recommended.

THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magician's Trilogy Boxed Set, Author: Lev Grossman

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman.

“Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”

So we begin a murky, dark fantasy. Quentin is good at school, but not great at making friends. Like many of us, he’s obsessed with a children’s fantasy series, and dreams of another life, another world, where he can be magical.

He’s interviewing for a prestigious college when he finds an entrance to another place – Brakebills. It’s a secret university for magicians, hid behind a cloak of invisibility. When he passes the test, he is whirled away to a school where he is a prodigy, where he finally has friends who are equals, and where he belongs.

But a dark force waits just beneath the surface. A force of magic that threatens the school and the magical world itself.

I won’t say more than that, because I don’t want to give away what happens. Does he flunk out? Succeed? Hook up with his old flame from his old life, Julia? The new hot girl at school, Alice?

This book was off the charts. I absolutely loved every minute of it. Grossman is a master storyteller. Quentin is sympathetic, yet flawed. I loved him and was annoyed by his mistakes. I envisioned myself as a Brakebills student. I cried for Quentin’s losses.

I’m going to invoke the holy name of HARRY POTTER. Yes, this is compared to Harry Potter, but other than a young man going to a magic school, there’s not many other similarities. This is a great book that stands on its own.

A very dark, thrilling tale of getting exactly what you asked for. The truth can be a cruel mistress.


Are you still reading this review?


(Also this is now a series on Syfy, but I’ve only seen an episode or two. It didn’t seem to follow the book plot-wise. But still worth watching on its own!)

The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (Raven Cycle Series #4)


Can we just start out with: I love this book. I love this series. Maggie Stiefvater is one of the most talented writers of our generation/of all time. Where is Kanye when I need him? OF ALL TIME, Y’ALL.

Here’s an excerpt of my review of the first book, just so you know what the series is about:

Blue, daughter of a ‘seer’ (a clairvoyant), has a unique skill. Although she can’t communicate with the spirit world herself, her presence amplifies clairvoyant and psychic abilities in those around her. And when she sees the dying ghost of a boy named Gansey on St. Mark’s Eve in the church graveyard, her mother tells her it can only mean one of two things. Either he is her true love, or she’ll kill him by the time the year is out. And those points may not be mutually exclusive.

Set in small-town Virginia, this lyrical mystery weaves the viewpoints of the local “Raven Boys” from a prestigious private school with Blue’s own sharp narration. The boys aren’t like normal rich kids – they are searching for buried treasure in the form of an un-dead historical figure, waiting to grant his finder any wish. Blue is drawn to them, even as she knows that Gansey will soon die. With several twists, this book will keep readers flipping pages well in to the night.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way…THE RAVEN KING is the last book in the Raven Cycle, a four book series. It was so amazing. Each book builds on the last, creating a fascinating urban/fantasy/magical realist world (depending on who you talk to, I’m sure) that I just cannot get enough of. Part Southern Gothic in the  vein of Anne Rice, part YA teen angst, part just amazing fantasy, you will not be able to put it down. And if you haven’t started the series, lucky you! You get to read all four at once.

I’m jelly.

Blue is a a heroin we can root for, Gansey is so swoonworthy it hurts (OMG he calls her Jane, JANE and I can’t stand it I love it) and we cannot wait for them to get together. Maggie is an absolutely phenomenal writer. She grabs you from the word go, and you will not look away.

I loved the mythology, I loved the setting, I loved the characters.


I loved the CARS. Gosh, there are just not enough cars in books. I loved Gansey’s Camaro, since I have one, too. I loved the details of these books, the complex character relationships…Truly a masterpiece.

In conclusion: Buy all four books. Read them. Tell everyone you love about them. Maggie Stiefvater wins this decade for best series.




Title: The Case of the Missing Donut, Author: Alison McGhee

The Case of the Missing Donut is written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Isabel Roxas.

This delightful children’s book is so much fun to read to your kiddo. My daughter absolutely loved this book from the library. So, for her birthday, we bought her her own copy. The illustrations are delightful, and the story is written like a real western. The Sheriff, a little boy, is on a mission to bring home a dozen donuts. His trusty deputy (this schnauzer) is there to help him along the way. But what happens when one donut goes missing?

A real treat for little ones, 3-5 years old. Highly recommended!

Book Review: FLAME

Title: Flame (Sky Chasers Series #3), Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan

FLAME is the third and last book in the SKY CHASERS series by Amy Kathleen Ryan.

Here’s what the series starts off about:

The inhabitants of the Empyrean spaceship have one main goal in life – reach and terraform New Earth, and procreate. Waverly is the oldest girl born on the Empyrean, and she’s all but made up her mind to marry Kieran, the future captain of the ship. But when their sister ship, the New Horizon, attacks without warning, she is kidnapped along with all of the other girls. Infertility plagued the New Horizon for its entire mission thus far, and Pastor and leader Anne Mathers plans on rectifying that situation by violently ‘rescuing’ these girls and putting them on her ‘safer’ ship. Kieran is left to battle over control of the ship with brooding Seth, who also harbors a deep love for Waverly. Will Waverly and the other girls find a way to escape and get home? Who will take over the Empyrean – Kieran or Seth?

In FLAME, we see the exciting and unexpected conclusion of the series. I LOVED it. I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of flat or disappointing series endings lately. Thank goodness Ms. Ryan really stepped it up. This is a phenomenal space-opera series with big thematic and moral questions.

I highly recommend this series! Read my reviews for book one and two as well :)




I was lucky enough to win a copy of ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews from WE SO NERDY on Twitter. Thanks so much, guys! I loved it.

Highschool sucks, and Greg Gaines knows it. Up until this year, he’s treaded just on the outside of social circles, not really making friends and not really pissing anyone off, either. He had one kind of friend, Earl, a foul-mouthed black kid from a bad suburb down the way, and his own kooky parents to irritate him.

Everything changes when his mom, again, it seems just to irritate him, forces him to talk to a girl he knew from Hebrew school because she has cancer. Specifically, Leukemia. As he rebuilds a tentative friendship with her (though he wouldn’t call them ‘friends’) he learns just how horrible of a person he might be. She’s dying of cancer, and he and her aren’t falling in love, aren’t particularly connecting, and he really only comes to visit because otherwise he feels guilty.

So when Earl comes around and offers to show her he and Greg’s super secret homemade movies, he’s more than a little pissed. But the movies delight her and she becomes their only fan.

Can Greg become a better person as he watches a tentative friend die? Will he and Earl realize their dream of making films? Or will everything just blow up in their face?

Review: I loved this book. Hands down, this is the  best book about cancer you will ever read. Greg is outright hysterical in his worldview and his own sheepish assessment of himself and how he lacks as a human being. It’s like SUPERBAD meets THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, as I told my husband. I won’t give away what happens, but I will say that Greg is an unflinching, honest creature that we all can relate to. No one ever feels good enough, and I imagine if a friend has cancer, you never feel like you are doing or saying the right thing.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of contemporary, and especially of schmalzy “sick” fiction, but goodness. This book was amazing, funny, poignant without trying too hard…it’s amazing.

You should read it. Please, go read it now. You will thank me.

Book Review: The Dark Days Club

Title: The Dark Days Club, Author: Alison Goodman

Lady Helen Wrexall is at the edge of her new life: She’s about to be formally presented to the Queen of England. After this, she’ll be ready to find a husband and marry, beginning a new life where people might forget that her mother was a traitor to the crown.

But when she meets mysterious Lord Carlston, she’s intrigued. Especially since he’s back in town after a scandalous past – and right at the same time her maid goes missing. But Lord Carlston isn’t anything like what people say. He’s charming, he’s kind, and he’s powerful. Helen begins to dig deep into the bowels of Regency London with her maid, searching for the missing girl. Her guardians, an aristocratic aunt and uncle, want her to settle down and stop seeing the infamous Lord Carlston. It’s the only way she’ll meet a suitable match. But she can’t stay away. Especially when he reveals Helen’s secret powers, and her mother’s truly heroic past. London comes alive with dark demons, powerful secret government societies, and those who fight for the world’s safety. Helen will have to make a choice: live a quiet, peaceful life with a husband and relative safety of a rich English lady, or fight the demons of the world as her mother did.

What did I think?

I absolutely LOVED this book. I’m a sucker for Regency books, and Alison Goodman is a master storyteller. Her words were beautiful, her settings perfectly realistic, and her facts spot on. You can tell she really did her research. I felt like I was there! I never wanted to leave. Plus, you get the added bonus of dark magical underworld, and it’s a match made in heaven! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. And honestly, I’m going to go back and read Ms. Goodman’s back list. This book is that good!