Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

SHREDDED!!

Drop into the world of girls’ freestyle BMX for an action-packed summer road-trip adventure.
 
Josie Peters thinks she’ll do anything to qualify for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event the summer before her senior year. She can handle road trips and back flips, but when flashy rider R.T. Torres tempts her with an easy “in,” the sacrifices required threaten to send Josie spinning out of control.
 
 
Author: Karen Avivi
Title: Shredded
Genre: Young Adult >Contemporary 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 5 out of 5 Stars I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!
 
What a Fantastic Story by Karen Avivi!! Okay so maybe I have a soft spot for girls who push the limits with sports that are dubbed “guys sports”, but the storyline, the characters, the flow of the writing – it was all there. I read this book in one sitting. I started it early in the morning over coffee and finished it before my overnight shift at work. It was enthralling, captivating, and kept me intrigued.  There was no real major drama or over the top climax, just a real life look at an extreme sport and the girls who refuse to take no for an answer. 
 
I liked Josie A LOT. She was a strong character and she didn’t get everything handed to her with a big shiny bow. She actually had to work for it. And she worked hard. I am not sure if I would be so eager to get up and keep going after the major wipe out she took. But I loved her guts, I loved her charisma, and I loved that stood up for what she wanted. I liked all of her friends – Lauryn, Alexis, Miguel! They all fit well and brought out something in Josie. Okay, Alexis was a little annoying, but that was the point! I also liked R.T. and I liked that the story didn’t get caught up in major romance. It was nice to see the dynamic of Josie’s family… it was more realistic and as I have said a million times, I love realistic  authenticity! So, another reason I will mention about why I loved this book was how through the whole thing I could see the movie playing in my head… I pictured the characters, the events, the crowds of people… It was so clear!!
 
A little tid bit about me and a final reason why I LOVED this book… I used to skateboard and freestyle rollerblade with a group of guys in junior high into early high school. I was a lot more daring and put together with my rollerblading than I was the skateboard. I never could master keeping it attached to my feet. But the rollerblading, whoa, watch out. I was a psycho on wheels! Ptts… we called ourselves “The Psycho Chickens”.  
 
When Josie would talk about grinding, the half pipe, or jumping stairs, my heart would pound harder as I remembered those days for myself. The feel of the rush as you push harder toward the jump, praying as you fly through the air that you land it – Whoa, it was a blast! Even her infamous wipe out reminded me of a pretty bad fall I took. Nothing broken, just a concussion, but the adrenaline in the situation is intense. Unlike Josie, I was a bit more leery after this fall. I think I was finally aware that I could actually get hurt. 
I’m fascinated by BMX riders, especially girl BMX riders. The level of guts and bravery is exceptional and that is another reason why I loved this book so much. It was a fun, easy read that showed me another sport that girls can excel at as well as reminded and rekindled some of my own childhood memories. Memories, that as I read felt so fresh.  Back then, girls on skateboards was frowned upon. My parents Loathed it and it was the cause of much tension, but like Josie, I didn’t care what other people thought. I loved the way it made me feel and that was all that mattered. 
 
I truly truly hope to see more from this author in the near future. I cannot thank her enough for bringing this fantastic book into my world and letting me write a review. And if she accepts, I think we just might be hearing a lot more from her soon… in the form of an author interview. Because I don’t know about you, but I am beyond intrigued about her knowledge of BMX riders and I just want more!! 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary YA, and who also loves extreme sports and the girls who participate in them. 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Manic Mondays, Review Archives

SHATTERED!!

Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #4
 

Identical twins, Miranda and Nastasia Moralez, couldn’t be more different. Being the head of the cheerleading team, Natasia is the most popular girl in the school. Miranda is not, taking photographs in her spare time for the school paper. Life is normal until a tragic accident takes the life of one twin. Miranda quickly realizes that the car crash that took her sister’s life was no accident. It was planned. Now, Miranda has to find out who wanted her sister dead before she succumbs to the same fate.

 
Author: Sandra Madera
Title: Shattered 
Genre: Young Adult >Short Story >Mystery/Suspense 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble (Free)
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 
 
I really enjoyed this short story by Sandra Madera. I thought it was really well written, well put together and had a great plot. I was left in suspense throughout the whole story and found myself liking or disliking characters, that in the end were justified.  There is one detective (all who have read will know who I mean) that I wanted to bitch slap at every turn of the page… being a criminal justice professional myself, I kept thinking who the hell is this (BLEEP) and how is no one keep her in check. Then…. it all became clear. 
 
I LOVED the ending.  I really thought it was fantastic. What a great twist of events and the author did a great job of bringing the whole thing together. It wasn’t predictable at all and kept me guessing. I even judged a couple of the characters, just as the author wanted us to do I’m guessing. 
 
The only thing I didn’t like, but it helped tie the book together, was that these two identical twins seemed to barely know one another. Most twins I know are inseparable, run in the same circles, and are very similar. Not the case with shattered. Like I said though, it helped tie the mystery and suspense together so I get it… but I think I would have liked to see it come from a different angle. Fear maybe? Or threats? So much juicier and SO much more personal had she wanted to tell her and couldn’t… (that’s all I will say about that.)
I highly recommend this fantastic short story to anyone who likes YA Mystery and Suspense!! 

Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

WHAT I DIDN’T SAY!!

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. 
 
His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He’s been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it’s too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.
 
When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he’ll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn’t limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she’ll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she’ll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn’t say before, even if he can’t actually say it.

Author: Keary Taylor 
Title: What I didn’t Say
Genre: Young Adult >Contemporary > Social Issues > Romance
Publication Date: April 2012
Links to Purchase: Amazon;Barnes & Noble
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 
 
I really really really liked this book. I almost absolutely loved it… It kept me entertained, hanging on and turning page after page. I loved Jake and Sam, well lets be honest, I liked Jordan, Rain, and Carter too! I think the message in the book is a great one -something we can all learn from. 
Underage drinking has become an epidemic in this county and teens think they are indestructible. I have seen first hand the way a car accident caused by carelessness can destroy lives. My story doesn’t have the same outcome as Jake’s… yes he is mute, but at least he is alive. My personal experience resulted in the death of my best friend. 
 
We all endure hardships in our lives, but it is how we move on from there, what we do to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves on and keep moving forward that defines us. Life is about obstacles and yes, there are some that make us want to give up. I think this was one of the things that made me really enjoy this book. The author shows us how easy this would be for both Sam and Jake- to just give up and say who cares. But, that’s the cowardly way out and it takes a bigger person, a stronger person to keep moving forward. 
 
I felt connected to Jake and Samantha as people. They both went through some major life struggles at such a young age, but their perseverance was up-lifting. The way they learn to lean on one another is also touching. Their friendship wasn’t over the top or unrealistic, which made it that much better for me. They were genuine, honest, and real. 
 
There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book… no gripes or rants I need to go on. Oh wait, okay maybe one… but this seems like a constant pattern for me… I wanted an epilogue. LOL. I was hoping to see a glimpse of Jake in college or later on in his life. However, not having this, in NO WAY changed my opinion of the book.  This book was great. It will leave a lasting impression on me forever. I was impressed by the authors portrayal of Orcas, of her character development, and her rich storytelling! 
 
 I highly recommend this book, you will no be sorry you read it! 
 
 
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LINDSEY’S CHOICE!!

Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #3
 

Lindsey Connors is a typical 16 year old. As with many young girls her age, she is presented with many difficult choices and situations. As we know as adults, some of the choices, good or bad, we make at a young and vulnerable age may guide the rest of our lives.

Are you ready for the fun and unique part? This story is interactive. It allows the reader to participate in Lindseyʼs Choices. Live through Lindsey! It is tailored so the reader can control the direction of Lindseyʼs journey toward maturity.

The first tough decision confronting Lindsey is whether to start drinking alcohol at a party. Does she give in the peer pressure and be accepted by the popular crowd or does she decide to stay with her old friends?

The reader can identify with Lindsey and her friends and can think about what they would do in the situations presented to Lindsey. The reader can see that with each choice Lindsey makes, her life is changed, she changes, and her choices have a profound impact on the people around her.
 
Following the initial decision Lindsey makes, the story then branches into two story lines. Lindsey continues to be faced with many new and challenging obstacles: a friendship with a bullied and suicidal student, peer pressure to take drugs, and challenges in relationships. How can Lindsey pursue her passions and not get caught sitting on the sidelines? Read how with making certain choices she realizes what is important in life OR read how with making different choices she lets life pass her by.
This book enables the reader to make choices in a fictional world, in order to assist them in making the right decisions in their own lives.
Author: Laurel Peterson 
Title: Lindsey’s Choice
Genre: Young Adult > Social Issues
Publication Date: October 2012
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 
 
So let me just say, as a kid I LOVED choose your own adventure books. I have looked for them for my niece and nephews, but they are unfortunately not as popular today as they were 25 years ago. I had toyed with the idea of writing a book like this myself, so when I saw this Indie author had done it I just had to pick it up. 
I liked all the choices we were able to make for Lindsey and I think the author did a great job setting up those choices. There were times when it was predictable, but that could be because I am an adult who knows full well the repercussions of the behaviors Lindsey was faced with. But for teens reading this book, which hopefully they would read both versions as I did, they would see very clearly how different a situation can go, based on ONE CHOICE! I think that is the biggest message here… and I think Laurel paints the darker side well.
 
When I went back and read the alternate choice (I chose the darker version first) I liked that the author tied in every choice that led to the major decision Lindsey had made in the alternate version. Again, it showed the reader (teens) that how we treat people, how we act, what we do, and inevitably how the choices we make impact more than just ourselves. 
 
The one thing that I didn’t like… hmm, that’s not really the right terminology here. It wasn’t a dislike by any means, but it was the reason it got 4.5 stars and not the full 5. I already mentioned some of the predictability, which was one thing, but also I guess I would have liked to see the darker choice a little darker (more dire consequences) and the other choice less fluff filled. This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on who is reading it though… it just seemed to perfectly put together with a very pretty, shiny bow! 
 
And on that note, I will tell you I loved that the author showed us the outcome of Lindsey’s choices in the future. She gives us a glimpse (in each version) of how Lindsey’s life as well as those around her, turned out. This is a pretty big deal as it gives you a sense of not just the impact of our decisions like I already mentioned, but how those decisions effect the rest our life. 
 
I highly recommend this book to anyone with pre-teens heading into high school, teens, and adults who have teens. It paints a very real picture of the choices we make and the consequences that follow. 
 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

WAITING FOR MARTHA!!

It is Halloween night. Four teenage friends spend their evening having fun and scaring younger children then suddenly, quite unexpectedly, one of the four, Martha goes missing. The fifteen year old simply vanishes without a trace leaving her friends and family anxiously searching for her. They are all waiting for Martha to come home, but as the night goes on they come to realise that they might be waiting for a very long time.
Waiting for Martha is a novelette first published as part of the compilation ‘Twists and Turns’
Author: Elly Grant 
Title: Waiting for Martha
Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 2013
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
My Review: 3 out of 5 Stars 
I don’t have too much to say about this short story. It was an interesting book, with a cool twist to the plot. However, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. The main character Martha was pretty blah… and very selfish if you ask me. This was a short story, so there wasn’t much time for developing the characters… however, I did see that this story was originally in a compilation of other short stories (Twists & Turns) and the author received feedback to make it it’s own stand alone book. I thought maybe this would give the author a chance to expand on the story.
 
There were some things I liked… well I should say, I liked the story, but there just wasn’t enough connection to it. I did like that the story takes place in France I believe it is (based on the author’s home) and I enjoyed the language and banter. There were words or items I did not know so I had to look them up, but that happens when you read books from foreign authors. I have no problem with that as long as it’s consistent, which it was. 
 
The cops or detectives were dicks… gosh, if I were Martha’s parents I would have kicked them out of my house or filed charges if I was treated like that by officers. As a criminal justice professional, I can understand the need to be skeptical but they should remain neutral and get the facts… they were rude, antagonizing, and constantly pushed to get a rise out of everyone. 
 
Just as I got to the part where my heart began to pound and I was on the edge of my seat… thinking, OMG, here it comes… the story ended. Yep, just like that… it ended where I felt we had finally reached a climax. There was so much that could have happened at this point and it didn’t. I understand the author wanted this to be a short story… this is not lost on me, but man… talk about leaving the reader hanging!!
 

 

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SO MANY REASONS WHY (SO MANY REASONS #1)

Twenty year old Emma hasn’t left the house since she was attacked as a child. Now, with the impending release of her attacker from prison, Emma knows it’s more important than ever for her to regain control of her life. From her unrelenting nightmares, to her strained relationships, to her crippling agoraphobia, Emma feels as though her life is spiraling out of control.
When her professor, Simon Anderson enters her life, Emma must deal with feelings she has never experienced before. 

Though both she and Simon know their relationship is bordering on inappropriate, neither of them are able to ignore the intense chemistry that is quickly developing between them.
What was supposed to keep her mind off the attack has left her more confused than ever. When there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t be together, is simply being in love really enough?

Author: Missy Johnson
Title: So Many Reasons Why (So Many Reasons #1)
Genre: Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 2013
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
My Review: 3 out of 5 Stars 
 
This is a rare occasion where there may be a couple of small spoilers because I simply could not avoid them and successfully give me honest review!
 
This book has so much promise so it disappoints me have to give it only 3 stars. And to be honest if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities it did have I’m not sure I would have been able to get through it- and this is difficult for me to say. Okay, so let me see, where should I begin. Lets start with what I liked since that it usually what I do. I liked the premise of the story- Emma’s attack, her agoraphobia, her two best friends, the family drama she uncovers… her grandmother! I thought the author did a good job setting up the details of the attack, Emma’s reluctance to interact or trust others and so on. However these things led directly into what I didn’t like. 
 
First, I was totally confused as to where the author wanted us to think this story was taking place. I kept praying she would mention it because I was baffled by some of the language (slang) being used. She mentioned London and New Zealand, so I thought… oh okay, this must be Europe- which made sense because Emma kept using British or Australian slang (some of which I had no idea what she meant so I had to re-read the sentence or paragraph to try and decipher it) THEN out of no where she starts talking about Kansas and Connecticut. WTF?? And low and behold more than 3/4 of the way through the book we learn Emma lives in New York?? Then why the hell is she talking like she is British or Australian (Mate, Las… it went on and on). I believe I saw the author was from Victoria which I am assuming is British Columbia, so this is probably how she talks. However, as a reader, it was really confusing and the slang should have been more americanized. 
 
Second, It took me a loooooong time to jump on the Fifty Shades bandwagon and I never officially took the leap. I read the first two books and was sooo annoyed 30 pages into the third, that I have yet to finish it. So, when I started seeing words/phrases/behaviors from fifty shades (ie. inner goddess, biting her lip, calling her Miss Mancelli) I was annoyed. I loathed some of these things in Fifty Shades because they were so overused.  I will also say, while I don’t mind some romance I am not really into erotica AT ALL!!! So when suddenly the book took this turn I was forcing myself through these scenes. Not that they weren’t well written, don’t get me wrong. They were. The author did a good job portraying erotic, vivid sex scenes, but this is just NOT my thing. 
 
And FINALLY, the part that irked me the MOST… so Emma’s attack-her agoraphobia… it all made sense. It was a cool twist and had SO much potential. She was unwilling to trust anyone but her two closest friends, she was fearful of opening the door, she was petrified of the day her attacker would be released from prison. I liked ALL of this. THEN out of no where she sends an email to someone a professor she doesn’t know and within hours they are flirting back and forth. She’s smitten and crushing on him and acting like a school girl. Okay, still believable I suppose. Then suddenly, in the middle of the night he calls her?????? Wait, didn’t she smash her phone that morning? Didn’t Tom give her his phone as a replacement?? How the heck would he have her number??  Emma takes this call in stride like it’s no big deal… hmmm. Then when he randomly shows up at her apartment she opens and the door and invites him in like they are old friends. Isn’t she supposed to be a scared, jumpy, agoraphobic who freaks out when she has to answer the door? And to just let him in? This is where the book pretty much lost me… and it
 
So on this scenerio continues, progressing very quickly until within a few days she is having this erotic, raunchy sex with a man she barely knows, after being sexually abused years prior that has forced her into hiding. To me, this seems contradictory. While some victims of sexual assault become promiscuous, Emma’s behavior just doesn’t add up at all and this really bothered me. It became too unbelievable. One minute she’s ranting about her attack and agoraphobia and the next she is…well you know.  On a final note, I will say that I was glad to see that Emma’s problems weren’t magically solved by the end of the book… this helped redeem it somewhat, but at the same time, there was one event that was very predictable to me, but I guess we will have to see how it unfolds in the next book. 
 
I will more than likely read the second book in this series because that’s how I am…. I just have to finish a story, but I certainly hope some of these things are worked out… well as much as can be at this point.  
 
 
 
 
 
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SIMPLY MINE!!

Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature Week #2
 
Best friends Meagan Davis and Jake Nichols were born on the wrong side of the tracks. Living in a rundown trailer park–her with a welfare scheming, neglectful mother and him with a father wounded in the Gulf War and suffering from PTSD–they forge a friendship they this is unbreakable.
 
When Jake returns from spending the summer with his grandparents to begin their senior year, he realizes he needs and wants more. Meagan misreads his subtle hints and becomes terrified that she will lose her best friend. Prideful and too stubborn to admit her feelings, even to herself, they begin a game of jealousy that threatens to destroy everything.
 
And just as Meagan realizes her love for Jake–he gives up, thinking he has been wrong about her all along. She tries to push past her pride and reach out; he insists that things can never be the same. He begins an intense physical program to prepare him for the Army after graduation–a decision she feels is a mistake. Depressed and lonely, Meagan begins to piece her life together without Jake, taking refuge volunteering for a children’s art program and discovers she wants to be a teacher.


While their career plans begin to fall together, the gap between them grows so wide that only an epic winter storm has the power to bring them together. Will they be able to repair the damage to their friendship and admit their feelings for each other?

Author: M.L. Gardner & Jane Carrington
Title: Simply Mine
Genre: Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: January 2012
Links to Purchase: AmazonB&N
Reviewer: Megan

My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars I Loved it.

This was a book that was right up my alley. It was a fast read- another one sitter, and it was interesting. I loved Meagan and Jake and the conflicts they faced. Again, I could relate. Maybe, just maybe, when I am reading the descriptions of books I am subconsciously drawn to the ones that strike a cord with me on a personal level. All I know is I kept shaking my head thinking, “yeah, I know how that feels” or “wow, I’m not only one.” 
I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will read Simply Mine and hate Jake’s tactic.  While I wish he would have just come right out and said what needed to be said, I think many of us can relate to the dilemma they find themselves in. Maybe his approach was a little extreme, but it sure got her attention didn’t it? 
 
I loved the progression and growth of the characters throughout the book and I loved the ending, even though I will admit I was disappointed there wasn’t more, which is why it got 4.5 stars and not the full 5. I would have even settled for an epilogue that gave us a glimpse… and was bummed when I didn’t get this. The final resolution was wrapped up in just a few final pages and I felt cheated. 
 
On a lessor note, there were also several grammatical errors throughout the book, which I am not typically one to point out. It’s not my thing… I like to focus on the content of the story, but this was a great debut novel and I think this is something the author can really learn from… I know I did (Thanks Trish 😉  
 
Overall though I loved the story and the character development. I am intrigued to know what becomes of Meagan and Jake… and it just so happens, that while trying to contact the author, in regards to being selected for Manic Monday, I saw she has plans for two more books in the series… but no date set for when. Here’s hoping for sooner rather than later! 
 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves YA contemporary romance novels with strong female protagonists!