Donnie Darko Girl

Donnie Darko Girl

YA & NA book reviews from a Donnie Darko fangirl

Review
3 Stars
heartwarming story but a lot of repetition
Amish Christmas Baby: Book One (Amish Secrets 1) - Samantha Jillian Bayarr

Amish Christmas Baby definitely isn't my typical read, but I picked it up when it was free, looking for holiday reads. I don't read Christian fiction and don't know much about the Amish, but I was in the mood for a Christmas-themed story to get me in the holiday spirit.

It was a quick and heartwarming read. I loved Ellie to pieces. She's the one who finds the baby on her doorstep, and I think she has a heart of gold. A remarkable woman with a kind heart who thinks of her family first and what she can do to take care of them.

I was put off that a mother would just dump her baby off in the snow. What if no one had heard the baby crying? I felt bad for the mother, but her baby could have gotten very sick, or even worse, died!

There was a lot of repetition with Ellie wanting the baby and wondering whether it'd be better for her to raise the baby or the mother to take care of the baby, since she knows who the mother is. The repetition caused me to knock off a star.

Amish Christmas Baby is just the beginning of a little series. I'm not really interested in continuing on with the series, but other readers will likely enjoy it. Not quite how I hoped this first one would turn out, but a heartstrings tugging kind of short story nevertheless with well developed characters.

For more of my reviews, check out Donnie Darko Girl!

Review
3 Stars
well written but ends on a cliffhanger
Zombie Thanksgiving: A YA Paranormal Story - Rusty Fischer

Going in, I knew "Zombie Thanksgiving" was only 24 pages so I tried to prepare myself for an extremely short story. The writing was so good, but it was still just way too short for me though.

It's good that "Zombie Thanksgiving" left me wanting more but also bad because I had so many questions. I would have liked more background on the zombies and the main characters. What happened to them next? I might never find out!!

This is why short stories, in my opinion, are so difficult to pull off. Readers want them to accomplish A LOT in a short amount of time. I'd rather not read one that ends on a major cliffhanger, which "Zombie Thanksgiving" does. So if you're okay with cliffhangers, give this one a go. Otherwise, you might end up pulling your hair out wondering what happens next.

For more of my reviews, check out Donnie Darko Girl!

Review
5 Stars
fun read for the fall!
Pumpkin Spice & A Body On Ice: A Dixie Cupp Diner Mystery - Willow Monroe

Starla Cupp and her best friend, Poppy (I love her name!), run the Dixie Cupp (yep, spelled with two p's) Diner together. I love their friendship; they're truly best friends who support each other. It's so nice to see two strong women supporting one another - no tearing each other down going on here! Just really refreshing.

At first I thought the town of Sugar Hill was a cozy one where everyone knows everyone but quickly discovered while everyone does know each other, they don't necessarily like each other. There are a lot of secrets floating around, and it's anything BUT a cozy little town. There are some serious shenanigans going down.

I laughed when the police chief, who's a major health nut, gets roped in by the mayor to judge the annual cupcake contest. There went Starla's hopes of keeping up her winning streak!

I loved Starla. She says she doesn't just let things happen to her - she says she lives life on purpose, and I really love that motto. Starla made me want to start living my life "on purpose" and stop feeling like everything is out of my control.

The twist was a surprise. I might have seen it coming a tad, but I was left guessing there for a while.

I just really really want more of these characters and searched to see if the author is planning on it. Not sure at this point, but I think chances are good. I definitely want more Starla!

I also bought a book by the author called Mall Santa Murderfor 99 cents because I enjoyed her writing so much.

So happy to have been able to scoop up Pumpkin Spice & a Body On Ice for free! I feel lucky to have discovered such great characters and writing!

Check out more of my reviews at Donnie Darko Girl!

Review
5 Stars
My God the writing is beautifully dark!
Eleanor's Gift - Isis Sousa, Isis Sousa, Clare Diston

After reading the first sentence of Eleanor's Gift, I thought, my God, Sousa's writing is beautiful! And it's not the kind of writing that's just beautiful for the sake of beauty without going anywhere - no, the story is enriched and propelled forward by it. The characters are richly drawn and come to life on the pages, and you can imagine what they would be like in real life. 

There is a subtle sense of horror underlying the events that happen in Eleanor's Gift, a creepiness that you can't outright define, an insidious danger lying in wait. At first, I thought the mysterious stranger was walking into danger at the hands of her rescuers, but then I began to sense that there was something mysterious and indefinable about her. She's found with strange marks on her neck, and I couldn't wait to find out how she was the only survivor and where those marks came from. 

Sousa is a master at weaving a Gothic tale and leaving you satisfied though Eleanor's Gift is a short story. If you tend to shy away from short stories, I really think you should pick this one up because it's exactly the way a story should be set up and told.

 

I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

Check out more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl!    

Review
5 Stars
awesome read for any time of the year but ESPECIALLY this time of the year!
My Buddhist Christmas - Jeremy Phillips

I've been fascinated by Buddhism as soon as we learned about the religion in high school. I took a few classes on it in college, and I don't think I've come across a book where the main character is Buddhist, so I jumped at the chance to read MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS. I really wanted to see what it would be like around Christmastime for someone who isn't Christian.

Most of my family are Christian. We celebrate Christmas with all of the traditions that go along with it. While I've tried to imagine how people of the Jewish or Islamic faiths must feel living in the U.S. around Christmastime, I've never thought about Buddhists, so this book called to me, begging to be read!

There aren't too many young adult novels with a male lead character, especially one with a good head on his shoulders like Chris. He's so likable, and I could relate with him in some ways - feeling like you're too uptight and missing out on fun when what your friends are doing doesn't feel quite right to you, wanting to do something you love to do, and just navigating through the pressures of being a teenager and a high school student. And his loss...I could identify with his grief.

I felt protective of him, especially when the parents of the girl he likes didn't think he was good enough for her. I did think Mary invited him a bit soon to meet her parents, though. I mean, they hang out one time after school, and then she invites him to a pre-Christmas dinner the next week to meet them! I don't think I would have said no either if it was someone I had a crush on...I'm pretty bad at saying no...but with Christmas coming up, I thought it was pretty brave of Chris to take that challenge on. That's another reason I felt so protective of him.

And wow, Chris's band mates annoyed me. I couldn't believe how they kept putting off practicing their music. Surely there had to be some better girls or guys to be in the talent show with?? They seemed to know nothing about Chris, nor did they try to know anything him. Yep, I was definitely feeling protective of Chris.

MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS does an excellent job of showing what it's like to be Buddhist, better than any textbook I've ever read or could ever hope to read. That's exactly what I was looking for when I dove into Chris's story. Though it isn't quite Halloween yet, it was a perfect book to get a head start on some holiday reading. I love reading books that take place around Christmas, and I love learning about Buddhism, so it was a win-win for me. You won't learn the entire religion in one book, but you'll be able to understand it in a practical way of what it might be like to live day to day as a Buddhist. Five stars for MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS all the way! :D

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl.

Review
3 Stars
slow at times but would read the next book
Into Darkness - Hayley Barrett
INTO DARKNESS, just by its title, had me itching to read it. Plus, I liked that the book is a dystopian novel that takes place in New Zealand. INTO DARKNESS also sounded like it would give the genre a new twist. 
   
I liked the main characters Alexandra (Alex) and Will. Though Alex is naive and snobby, I felt that was a result of her upbringing and hoped her experiences trekking through the wilderness and being at Elder Grey would open her eyes to the way the world really is. I could see this was a perfect opportunity for her to really do some growing up, and I wasn't wrong. I also kept in mind she's only fifteen. That's super young to be sent to what basically amounts to be a prison.  
 
At first I thought Will was going to be an angry character for the entirety of the book, but that wasn't the case. Whew! He's a realistic guy in my opinion, and there are a lot of things I liked about him. He's brave and honorable, and he's genuinely charming. All charm with no smarm. Ha!   
 
INTO DARKNESS would have earned another star from me if there had been more background given. There are snippets of Alex's past, but it seemed like there was more of a focus on Will's past. Don't get me wrong, I was interested in him, too, but I wanted to find out more about Alex. What I did find out explained some things, but I wanted more, which is a good thing.  
 
I also wanted to know more about New Phoenix, and the Drifters were a bit confusing. Parts of INTO DARKNESS were slow, but then a new character was introduced, and my interest picked up again.  
 
If there's going to be a sequel to INTO DARKNESS, then I'm definitely going to read it. I think this story has a lot of potential, and I'd love to see where the author takes it.  
 
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can find more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl.

 

Review
4 Stars
identified with the MC in this heartstring tugging read!
Not Enough - Mia Hoddell

It's taken me way too long to read a novel by Mia Hoddell! Her books have been on my TBR for a long time, and now that I've read Not Enough, I'm doubly excited to get started reading more of her work.

Not Enough's synopsis called out to me - I'm an introvert and have felt the effects of others not understanding what that truly means, although not to the extent the main character, Neve, feels. I believe there's a spectrum when it comes to determining whether you're an introvert or an extrovert. Rather than someone being 100% introverted or 100% extroverted, we fall somewhere on the spectrum, with some of us closer to one end or the other while still others fall somewhere in the middle.

I fall closer to the introvert end of the spectrum, but there are situations where I can identify with being an extrovert. If you want to get down to the nitty gritty in the case of Neve, her character is probably an extreme case of introversion. The way people in her life treated her was abysmal, especially her own mother. Thank God she had Blake, whom I'll get to in a moment.

Cece is briefly introduced in the beginning, and wow, what a piece of work she is! Cece says things I would never say to someone who's supposedly my friend, and I couldn't understand why Neve bothered with her. Possibly low self esteem, which Neve definitely struggled with. Let me list the ways in which Cece is a TERRIBLE person!

1. Encourages Neve to drink alcohol until she's trashed
2. Encourages Neve to pick a random guy for sex
3. Berates Neve when Neve doesn't do exactly what she wants her to do
4. Doesn't care about Neve's safety or well being AT ALL

I could go on.

Cece does the opposite of slut shaming to Neve. I didn't know there was such a thing. And I couldn't believe when the words, "You should have wanted it. Everyone else would have," fell from Cece's lips. REALLY??? Wow...just wow... I probably would've decked her.

Even sadder? Neve's mom basically encourages those same things.

The thing is, Neve envies people who can let loose and have fun, in a safe way of course. I envy those people, too. I'd love to go to a club and dance like no one's watching. That sounds like a lot of fun to me. Like Neve, I worry about being laughed at, which doesn't sound like a big deal even if it happened, but for people like me and Neve, it would crush us. It's a legitimate fear that causes her to freeze up.

Blake is the bright spot in Neve's life. Man, when I say he's there for her, he's REALLY there for her! We all need a little more Blake in our lives. The chapters alternate between Neve's POV and Blake's POV, and I really liked knowing what he was thinking. It helped flesh out his character and made him more realistic, plus I fell just a bit more in love with him hearing his thoughts and feelings.

As for the huge secret Neve's been shouldering, I can understand why she wouldn't want to share that. People don't react well to something like that, especially if they've never been through it. There's a huge stigma, which is sad because then the people who need help don't always get it because their fears outweigh their hope.

Not Enough is a well-told, heartbreaking story that delivers a punch to the gut and makes you fervently wish for Neve's hope to outweigh her. You'll root for Blake and Neve to see what they have in each other and that the beauty of their friendship could bloom into so much more.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
You can find more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl.

Review
5 Stars
the supernatural mixed into the zombie apocalypse for good measure!
Four (Their Dead Lives,1) - Zack Scott

I received a copy of this book for an honest review. You can find my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

"We leave as four."

FOUR is a zombie story to be devoured, heh heh. But seriously, this was a great zombie read with well developed characters and a well written plot. There's even something extra thrown in supernatural-wise besides the zombies, which had me turning the pages to find out what it was because it isn't revealed for quite a while.

The four main characters - Jeff, Scot, Alec, and Kale - are friends from high school who are like the four Musketeers, but they've had drama where two of them hate each other and they all four generally drifted apart after high school. They organize a reunion of sorts, and pretty soon everything goes to hell. Literally.

Scot's a player. He has a sort-of girlfriend, and I say sort of because he cheats on her, constantly. He's a douche, but I didn't totally hate him. I disliked him greatly, lol.

Alec is sweet and ready to settle down with his high school sweetheart. He's having trouble with his dream of becoming a firefighter. I liked him quite a bit. He seems to make solid decisions and be a caring person.

Jeff was transferred from the regular military to a special military that's kept quiet from the public. He got into great shape after high school after spending that time wishing he was stronger.

Kale doesn't seem to have grown up much after high school. He has a roommate, and they play video games a lot. He's pretty gung ho about being a hero and won't let the other guys forget about the mysterious event that happened when they were younger, and I was glad for that. I HAD to find out what happened and what it meant for them in the present time.

Watching these guys try to put the pieces of their friendship back together was riveting. There was a lot of baggage there they could either work through or choose not to. The characters were well written, the plot well developed, and the action with touches of romance was balanced well.

Something happened when they were in high school, and there were hints here and there that it was a supernatural occurrence of some kind and what it was could help in the zombie apocalypse. I was DYING to know what it was and couldn't wait to find out.

Oh, and of course the zombies! The zombies were scary AF. Some were super fast, others were slow, and you basically didn't stand much of a chance against them. The totally, totally skin crawling, shiver inducing, look-under-your-bed-before-sleeping kind of zombies. Ah, George Romero would be so proud!

If you're a zombie/horror fan, you really need to snag a copy of FOUR. I would NOT steer you wrong! Plus, I'm picking up the second installment asap. :D

Review
4 Stars
so excited to dive into this story, I nearly forgot how beautiful the cover is!!
It's a Wonderful Death - Sarah J. Schmitt

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

You know how there are books with gorgeous covers that immediately attract your attention, so you check out the synopsis, and you're like, I've gotta read this book! It sounds too awesome to miss! And you're so excited, you even forget how beautiful the cover is because you're looking forward to diving inside to the story?

That's how IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH was for me. I couldn't wait to dive into the meat of this story. Could. Not. Wait. I had all kinds of scenarios I was imagining, and it was exciting. Really and truly exciting. Plus, I love to see how authors imagine the afterlife to be. It's always interesting and never disappointing.

So in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, popular girl RJ dies before her time because she's accidentally touched by a Grim Reaper, and as you can imagine, she's super pissed. Though she's a brat, I actually liked her snark and couldn't help but laugh at her attitude. Sure, she's self-entitled and stuck up and desperate to retain her popularity, but she's also very real. There are people like her out there (I know, right?!), and I actually found myself rooting for her.

I wrote this status update when I began reading the book: I'm only 14% in so far, & I love it so much! It's so funny and snarky and adorable!

There were things I liked about IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, and things I didn't like. As I mentioned, I liked RJ quite a bit. One thing that bothered me was how Death was called "Death Himself" every time he was mentioned, although I ended up getting used to it. I understood why he was referred to that way the first time, but after that I thought it was unnecessary.

I wanted more from the moments where RJ was to go back in for a do-over. Those moments didn't last long enough for me, and it seemed almost too easy for RJ to change her thinking and thus change her future. People don't change overnight, so I wish more time had been spent on RJ's transformation because I loved seeing her change. I think time spent on the trial could have been better spent on RJ's moments back in time fixing what she didn't get right the first time around.

It was refreshing to have a story that didn't revolve around a romance. There are touches of romance in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, but it isn't the crux of the story. I really appreciated that.

The ending was really surprising! I wasn't expecting it to end the way it did. This isn't to say I didn't like it. I'm not disappointed at all - I think it was a fitting end, I just didn't see it coming. It caught me off guard, which is a good thing. I like not being able to predict things in books.

Overall, I recommend IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH for anyone who loves a good story with redemption and exploration of life, death, and what it all means.

Review
4 Stars
intriguing and surprising mix of angels, demons, nephilim, and fae!
Matchbox Girls - Chrysoula Tzavelas

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

MATCHBOX GIRLS was a pleasant surprise to me. The concept of angels, demons and nephilim isn't new, but when the fae were also thrown into the mix, I was intrigued. Tzavelas took these beings and infused new energy into them and the urban fantasy genre.

I connected with Marley right away as someone who also suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Worries that seem illogical or not so bad to other people is catastrophic to me, especially worrying about something really bad happening. This is what Marley worries about the most - something terrible happening to someone.

I loved to see great friendships among Marley, Branwyn, and Penny. It's rare to see strong female relationships in novels nowadays, and when I do come across them, I savor them!

And oh the twins! I loved how Marley struggled a bit with the chaos they created when she first took care of them. It made the story so realistic because 4-year-old twins would be a handful. I've only had one 4-year-old at a time, so I can't imagine having two! They sound like cute girls, and I'd protect them like a mama bear as Marley does. Marley is super smart and has great instincts. She follows her gut feeling - if something doesn't feel right, she knows something is wrong, which was so refreshing to see in a heroine!

The mystery disappearance of the twins' uncle, Zachariah and wondering how Marley would keep the girls safe from those beings who were after them kept me on the edge of my seat. I read MATCHBOX GIRLS in about three sittings, only because I had to sleep, lol.

My only complaint is hard to explain. Some of the action was a little hard for me to picture because of the way it was described. It wasn't a huge issue or anything, and maybe it's just me.

If you're looking for a fresh take on angels, fae, and the like, I recommend you pick up a copy of MATCHBOX GIRLS. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, INFINITY KEY. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed MATCHBOX GIRLS so much, I've already bought the sequel so hopefully I can get to it soon!

Review
5 Stars
awesome steampunk take on Frankenstein!
This Monstrous Thing - Mackenzi Lee

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

This Monstrous Thing is an awesome steampunk take on the Frankenstein story that breathes new life (ha ha!) into the monster tale. When Alasdair's brother Oliver dies, Alasdair brings him back to life using clockwork parts but he doesn't come back the same way he was before he died. Then the book fast forwards two years.

Alasdair keeps the fact that he brought Oliver back to life a secret from their parents, and I wondered why. I could see both pros and cons of letting them know the son they thought was dead was alive again in some way, but I think ultimately Alasdair feared for Oliver's safety. Clockwork men and women are hated and feared, and Alasdair knew he couldn't hide Oliver forever if he brought him home.

I wasn't a fan of Alasdair's father - he was too gruff with his living son. If I only had one son who was still alive, I'd like to think I wouldn't be so tough on him. I guess it was because of the difficult life their family leads due to the secret and illegal work they do with clockwork parts. Still, I wasn't a fan of their father.

I do like Alasdair and Oliver. Their relationship sounded very close before Oliver died, but it changed after Oliver was brought back from the dead. It changed in ways Alasdair couldn't have predicted, and I loved the exploration of their relationship and the factors that changed it.

Admittedly there were a couple of slow moments in This Monstrous Thing; however, I still enjoyed the story. I love that there's an exploration of what makes us human and the question of whether that humanity is wiped away (and if so how much?) when you start adding mechanical, moving parts to keep the body going. But most of all, how much humanity remains when you die and are brought back with mostly mechanical parts? When you can't remember much of your life?

If you're a fan of Frankenstein and are looking for a fresh re-imagining of the story involving a tale of two brothers, then This Monstrous Thing will be right up your alley.

Review
5 Stars
an EXCELLENT look at society and body image, well worth the read!
The Body Institute - Carol  Riggs

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

I think THE BODY INSTITUTE is a brilliant idea for a story. Doesn't it sound like a magical cure for all those extra pounds a person would want to shed? But this being a sci-fi story, you just know there's something insidious about this "fix" for obesity, especially thinking about transplanting someone into another body in order to achieve the desired results. *shudders*

I can't lie - I'd love for someone to temporarily take over my body and whip it into shape for me. But what about the girl who does it? Would my feelings about her well-being cause me to change my mind? It's not an easy answer because the solution is so tempting.

THE BODY INSTITUTE takes place in the future, and in this future, junk food is heavily taxed. If you're overweight, you pay more taxes, too. The more weight you keep on and the longer you keep it on, the more money you have to pay. Everyone has to be weighed in every so often, which is how the government tracks who's taking care of their bodies and who is not.

Morgan is a Reducer - she's one of the teens who take over the body of an overweight teen and works out until the desired number of pounds is lost. She has to eat healthy and exercise A LOT. Not only is this interesting in itself - it would have been plenty to read about - but there's even more to the plot when Morgan can't remember what she did or said during the time she's in the Loaner body.

Plus there's the parents of the girl whose body Morgan is responsible for getting in shape - they're rich, and the mother looks at Morgan with disgust. I thought it could have been how she looked at her overweight daughter AND looking at her daughter's body, knowing there's someone else in there. I had a feeling they weren't going to be getting along and looked forward to the conflict that was sure to come.

There's so many ethical issues to take into consideration when thinking about this story, and I can see junk food being taxed one day. I can see people who are overweight paying more taxes. That's what made THE BODY INSTITUTE so eerie - I could see it all happening. What if we could transplant someone's mind into someone else's body for a while? Who are we as the human race? Are we just a collection of processes taking place in the brain, or are we more than that?

Morgan's grandfather raised a great point about being human - he tells Morgan she'd be a different person if she had been born in a different body. She'd have a different personality and wouldn't be the same person as who she is today. I think that's absolutely true. A lot of who we are is influenced by things like our body shape, hair color, eye color, skin color. Look at how human beings treat each other differently on outward appearances - especially skin color. People are discriminated against everyday based on their gender or race or age.

THE BODY INSTITUTE explores so many themes - society, body image, body shaming, and even the question of how involved the government should be in the health of its citizens. You can't miss THE BODY INSTITUTE. It's an absolutely brilliant novel that will have you discussing these issues long after you're finished reading!

Review
5 Stars
I KNEW I had to read this book!
Stepping Stones (The Stone Series) (Volume 1) - Kacey Vanderkarr

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but characters who deal with crippling grief draw me in like a moth to a flame. And good lord, that synopsis! What fate could be worse than death?? What's the plan? STEPPING STONES sounds like a contemporary with possibly a supernatural element in there somewhere. I knew I NEEDED to read this book!

I like that Onna was weirded out by Everett knowing her name before they officially met. That was so realistic to me, and I'd wonder how some guy knew my name, too. Sure, I'd think he was cute, but I'd still think, okay, that's weird. So there's no instalove, but there's an attraction that Onna denies and kind of fights because so many other things are going on in her life right now.

Onna just doesn't have time for it. Her parents are divorcing and her brother just died, so these two major life changes are what she has to focus on working through. I loved it when Onna brought her friend Hunter back to the topic of her parents divorcing when Hunter veered off course to discussing Everett. Hunter is a great friend, though. She's a lot of fun and there for Onna through thick and thin. You need a friend who's fun to be around whether you're going through a lot of crap or not.

I liked Everett quite a bit, too. He honestly didn't strike me as creepy as you might think since he somehow knew Onna's name before they met. It's almost like he can read her mind and knew what she needed when she needed it. Wouldn't that be a great to have someone like him around? Not a mind reader, but someone who senses what you need the most, especially your emotional needs, I mean, wow.

The car accident that took the life of Onna's brother about killed me. So. Many. Feels. I couldn't believe the way it happened, and wait until you read that scene! It was even sadder than I thought it could possibly be. As a mother of two young children, I already think about how fragile life is, and you never know when it's your time to go. STEPPING STONES explores this truth in depth, and you'll want to hug your friends and family and tell them how much you love them after reading this. Five stars all the way!

Review
4 Stars
gorgeous inside & out
The Last Necromancer - C.J. Archer

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

 

Okay, before I begin talking about THE LAST NECROMANCER, here's two facts about me: necromancers are super interesting to me, and I can't resist gorgeous covers. I mean, look at that cover! Isn't it ridiculously fantastic??

 

I find necromancers to be so intriguing, and the title of the book combined with necromancy combined with the lead character living as a male when really she's female had me dying to read this book. Charlotte, who has gone by Charlie to pretend she's a boy, is a character I loved immediately.

 

In Victorian London, she's cast out of her father's house (by her own father!!) and is forced to live on the streets. Needless to say, during that period of history, living as a girl would have been extremely dangerous for Charlie. It's dangerous enough as a boy, and she's been basically homeless as a child for five years.

 

I won't lie - that opening scene was a bit horrifying, but probably not for the reason you might be thinking. It would have been worse if the characters knew Charlie is really a girl. But when she learns about the secret organization, the Ministry of Curiosities, whose members want to use her secret talent, there's no going back for her. She has to make a decision whether she's going to work for the organization or not.

 

The Ministry operates within the government but also a bit separate from it. The fact that Charlie isn't sure if the Ministry is dangerous or not added intrigue to the novel. I looked forward to finding out how it would be revealed Charlie is in fact the girl they've been searching for. I wanted to know how Lincoln Fitzroy, the one who's been searching for Charlie, would react.

 

My only issue with THE LAST NECROMANCER was the first third of the novel kind of dragged for me. Don't get me wrong, the opening scene grabbed my attention and pulled me in right away, but after that, it slowed down a bit too much until Charlie learns about the secret organization. But then the story picks back up after that.

 

Overall, I highly recommend THE LAST NECROMANCER. It's definitely a brilliant read, and you'll love Charlie right away. Plus, necromancy!

Review
4 Stars
The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl - Martin Lastrapes

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

Initially, what really drew me to read The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl was Olivia's character as an aspiring author. Also using the names Adam and Jesus together made me think this novel would have something to say about religion, and I was interested to see if I was right.

These three characters - Olivia, Adam, and Jesus - cross paths and are brought together seemingly by chance. Lastrapes takes you into their pasts where you find out what they were like and how they came to be where they're at today. They're realistic characters, written into a gritty realistic world.

I really liked Olivia. She's the type of character I could see myself becoming friends with. I wasn't sure if I would like Adam, but I did. He's a super new vampire - he's only been one for thirty years, and as pointed out in the novel, that's a blink of the eye in terms of immortality. Jesus's character was striking, and he wasn't at all like I thought he would be. He's into wrestling, which I don't care about at all, but I was interested in his relationship with his mother and why he became a vampire hunter in the first place.

The choice of Adam and Jesus still strike me as interesting names to choose for characters. As characters in The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl, they aren't all good or all bad. They're flawed, and there is no clear "winner" to me because I liked them both.

I would have rated this novel 5 stars, but there were some choppy moments with a lot of flashbacks. Overall, The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl is a unique kind of love triangle that reminds me in some ways of one of my favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where there's these interesting characters who have come together and the world isn't entirely safe. You have to be careful when you step out at night! This novel is definitely NOT Twilight, so no worries there. Pick up a copy and let Lastrapes bring you into the story of Olivia, Adam, and Jesus.

Review
5 Stars
we're so much more than our voices
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids - Sarah Ockler

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour organized by Diverse Book Tours can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

I'm a bit ashamed to admit this is my first Sarah Ockler book. I own Twenty Boy Summer but just haven't had a chance to read it yet. I would have written that book off as a fluffy romance had I not read glowing reviews from other bloggers. And I'm so glad found those reviews because if I hadn't, then most likely I would have missed out on The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, and that would have been a travesty.

The cover as well as the author drew me to checking out the synopsis. That cover is so beautiful and fits with the story and atmosphere of the book. Ockler's writing is tremendous and gorgeous and just lyrical. I felt like I was reading a poem at times.

I fell in love with Elyse's character right away. Though she can't speak, she stands out the most in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. Until meeting Elyse, I never would have thought about how much we allow our voices to define who we are. Though she sees herself as broken having lost her ability to speak, she was able to find out, albeit under tragic circumstances, that she's so much more than her voice. Her voice was just one part of her identity. It's sad when you realize something like that after you've lost something that was precious to you.

But I didn't look at Elyse with pity - I looked at her with pure admiration. So far from home in a world so different from what she's used to, she does her best to survive day to day. She misses home terribly but also needed to get away from there at the same time. And Elyse is another character I'm drawn to because her mother died, too. She never got to know her, but I know the emptiness left behind from the loss all too well.

I also must admit I had some trepidation about Christian because he's described as a "notorious playboy." I worried his character would end up being stereotypical, but he really surprised me in the best of ways, from the moment he said so calmly, "There's a girl writing on my boat." As if that's an everyday occurrence for him! It was then I knew I was going to like him.

Elyse's "cousin" Kirby and "aunt" Lemon were good for Elyse to be around. I liked both of them, and though Kirby is the opposite of Elyse, I think it was good for Elyse to be around someone so positive and bouncy.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a YA contemporary you can't afford to miss. Perfect to read during summer (or any time of year!), if you've been shying away from contemporary novels, you really should read this one. This novel will change your mind about whether or not to read the genre. Definitely a game-changer. An emotional and often humorous read you'll remember for a long, long time.