Donnie Darko Girl

Donnie Darko Girl

YA & NA book reviews from a Donnie Darko fangirl

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.

Review
5 Stars
a super fun read, especially if the popular kids at school picked on you, too!
Confessions of a Queen B* (The Queen B* Book 1) - Crista McHugh

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.

Confessions of a Queen B* was a rollicking ride through high school with Alexis, the Queen Bitch, and I also named her the Queen of Snark. I loved this girl, but man, she had some majorly steep walls up all around her. I was glad to see she had at least two friends. Even if you are going after the popular kids, you still need friends!

After being humiliated in front of the entire school (when you find out how, well, I think you'll agree it was a really messed up thing for someone to do), Alexis decides to get revenge by creating a gossip blog called The Eastline Spy where she outs people who do crappy things. To Alexis, anything and anyone are fair game, including the awful school lunches and one class everyone joked you only had to breathe to get an "A". That class changed after her post on it by the way.

So everyone is terrified of Alexis. She uses that fear to help those who are bullied, which is cool, but she's also not friendly to the victims of bullying. When Alexis and the quarterback, Brett, must partner up in a school project, she's forced to look beyond her stereotypes when she slowly begins to realize Brett isn't the kind of person she thought he was.

He's able to thaw her out a bit - she's pretty icy to him at first - and I loved them working together. Their back-and-forth banter was entertaining and had me laughing. Alexis is a sharp-witted girl, and while I hoped she would stop letting the popular kids get to her, I didn't want her to lose her wittiness. To me, they still must be getting under her skin because otherwise she'd stop her blog, right? Or maybe I'm wrong?

Confessions of a Queen B* is a quick read, and I loved EVERY MOMENT. Alexis's friends reminded me of the friends Lindsay Lohan had in Mean Girls, and they were pretty awesome friends to have. I think Alexis is a tough girl to do what she does, but I also think she could soften up a bit. There are times it's good not to be a bitch, lol. Confessions of a Queen B* is a fun read, and I'm looking forward to grabbing the next book in the series!

Review
4 Stars
sweet and lighthearted romance with diverse characters!
The Trouble with Playing Cupid - Tamara Philip

The Trouble with Playing Cupid is a cute and sweet story that you can read in one sitting. December is a successful singer with a heart of gold. I LOVE December! I found her non-divaness refreshing, and she donates a lot of money to charities. She uses her fame and money to help others, and that endeared her to me for life.

Tom is a British actor and a total heartthrob. I wasn't quite rooting for a romance between the two at first because during the appearance on Trace Randall's show, Tom seemed a little bit like a jerk and too aloof for my liking. Does he not pay attention to who other people are? He didn't even know who December is! I'm pretty sure IRL British actors know American celebrities. They mix. They mingle. I was kind of like, "How dare you, Tom!" See how much I love December??

"When he played the role of a self-indulgent vampire..." = best line ever! I laughed so hard when I read that about Tom! Kind of sounds like a Lestat-type character.

When I realized there's more to Tom than what he shows on camera, I was on board for him to get together with December. I liked the buildup to their romance, and it was very sweet.

The Trouble with Playing Cupid had me laughing, swooning, and cringing - sometimes all three at the same time. I ended up loving the characters, especially December's bodyguard and stylist. There was more telling than showing sometimes, but it's a short read, so I think it was in order to give background on the characters. I thought The Trouble with Playing Cupid was a standalone going in, but once I found out there's a sequel, I'm looking forward to finding out more about December's best friend and agent, Clarissa.

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

Review
4 Stars
well written suspenseful read with diverse cast of characters
The Legacy (The Birthright Trilogy Book 1) - Necole Ryse
I received a review copy for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

The Legacy is a quick story - you can read it in a couple sittings. I've been getting into YA mystery and thriller novels lately, and this series sounded interesting, and look at those covers! They're gorgeous and caught my eye right away. I'm also reading novels that tell a variety of stories about a variety of people. We need diverse reads! :D

When The Legacy begins, Raevyn is on her way to a prestigious Ivy League school for African Americans. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, the problem is she's being dragged against her will. Raevyn's dad pulled a lot of strings to get her enrolled, and she has to pretend to fit in because she's in some sort of trouble and there's nowhere else for her to go. She has to rely on her cleverness to make up for what she doesn't know.

A really crappy situation all the way around. I think this book about gave me a heart attack - I was terrified Raevyn's secret would come out, that she isn't a legacy and had major strings pulled to get into the school. I kept waiting for her to be found out, and then I wasn't sure what would happen to her. As the plot unfolds, you find out more about Raevyn and why her dad forced her to go to B.W. Fitzgerald.

Regina, Andrea, and Corrine are the three girls who taken Raevyn under their wing, yet she finds herself on shaky ground with them. There are moments where she truly has fun with them and they're like real friends to her, but then there's times where she feels out of her element around them. Think of Mean Girls. You never know where you stand with girls like those. Not really.

Then there's the two guys at the university who both try to win Raevyn's affection - Andre from her French class and Jeffrey. Something about both of them seemed off to me, and I couldn't help wondering why Raevyn allowed herself to be romanced by them when she was still planning a future with the guy she was forced to leave behind - her boyfriend, Antoine, who's in prison and also part of the trouble she's in.

I was dying to find out why Raevyn's dad never mentioned he went to B.W. Fitzgerald, who wants Raevyn gone badly enough to threaten her, and what was going to happen next. What sort of trouble was she in with Antoine and could she really trust him? I wanted to uncover her family secrets as much as she did! All of these thoughts kept me turning the pages quickly, and the suspense ratcheted up several notches. The Legacy does end with a cliffhanger, and I'm looking forward to the next book.
Review
5 Stars
amazing read!!
The Beginning of Never - O. E. Boroni
I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
 
Though I haven't read Eleanor and Park yet, I have readTwilight, and the thought of those two books meeting together sounded irresistible. Though it says in the synopsis this book is a contemporary romance, I still thought there was going to be a paranormal element like vampires to the story, but there isn't one. I was actually relieved there weren't vampires to be honest.  
 
The Beginning of Never is a novel that may look and sound like it's a typical teenage tale of angst and woe, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Rather, this novel is about working through pain, falling in love for the first time, dreaming of something better, and becoming who you want to be. The characters are realistic and have unique, individual voices, and I loved getting to know them.  
 
I'm drawn to characters who have lost a parent. It's something I have in common with them and am interested in reading how they deal with the loss. At the age of 14, I lost my mom to cancer, and it may seem strange, but I really like reading about characters who have that similar kind of pain to work through. I feel like I'm working through my own right alongside them. 
 
Lenora is angry. Very angry. I know what it's like to feel that way and not know what to do with any of it. Carrying all of that around is exhausting. She's been robbed of years with her mother, who died the day before Lenora's birthday three years ago. She doesn't handle her anger well, to say the least, and when her behavior becomes alarming, her dad sends her away to boarding school. There she meets Alex.
 
Alex's middle name is Nathan, and that's how Lenora refers to him throughout the book, so I will here, too. Nathan is hot and cold with Lenora, and while I may have rolled my eyes a time or two, I couldn't help thinking some teenage boys really are like that. Their romance develops naturally with some bumps along the way. There's bound to be misunderstandings between two people, even those who seem to be the most in sync, and with Nathan not terribly outspoken about his emotions, it makes it even more likely Lenora would find his behavior difficult to decipher. At times I found his behavior difficult to decipher, too. 
 
I wanted The Beginning of Never to keep on going and never stop. The writing is superb, and the characters were so vividly brought to life, I felt like I really did know them. I love this book like I do a dear friend. This book does end on a cliffhanger, but not to fear - the next installment will be out really soon. And I can't WAIT to get my hands on a copy!! 
Review
4 Stars
pretty cool YA sci-fi
Synthetica - Rachel Pattinson
I received a copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
 
 
I can resist a terrific-sounding science fiction story, and one that's YA, too? Yes, yes, and yes! Synthetica is a story that gave me a lot to think about with technology and how it could fit - or not fit - into daily life. There'd be both positives and negatives as with anything. Honestly, I don't think I'd want a chip implanted in my skin with my ID and info all there for just anyone to scan. The thought kind of freaks me out, but on the other hand, it'd be cool not to have to worry about losing my driver's license or something.  
 
I anticipated seeing what Pattinson's vision of the future would be like. Some aspects of Anais' life made me feel jealous while others made me glad I'm not her. I loved that people had such colorful hair! Anais was born with pink hair - her parents chose it. How cool would that be?? But then again, I wouldn't want to be stuck in a job I had no passion for with little to zero chance of moving on to something better. But I knew Anais was strong and if anyone could move upward, it would be her. 
 
Synthetica is well written with plenty of action and a touch of romance. I wasn't quite sold on Anais and Xander's relationship because they seemed to function better as friends than romantic partners in my opinion. Anais and her friend, Dalla, are total opposites, so it was interesting to see their interactions. Sometimes Dalla seemed to be so immersed in her own world that she didn't notice Anais' pain, but I think we all have at least one friend who can be like that, right?   
 
On the plus side, I was anxious to find out what the Hacker was up to and if he'd be found and stopped. I liked the mystery of what he was doing added to the sci-fi. There were times I was shouting (in my mind) to Dalla and Anais not to do what they were about to do. I wouldn't say I was totally attached to the characters, but I still didn't want them to do something dumb. 
 
What drew me to read Synthetica more than anything was the vision of the future as well as the Hacker. There are dystopian elements to this story, although I think Synthetica leans more toward sci-fi than dystopia. The society isn't completely abysmal for people. Places are kept neat and clean, and the citizens didn't seem to be under the heavy-duty control of a dictator-like ruler. 
 
If you're a fan of YA sci-fi with some mystery woven in and like thinking about what society would be like in the future,Synthetica is a book I'd recommend to you.           

 

Review
4 Stars
high fantasy at its best!
Blades of Magic - Terah Edun

Man, I love audiobooks. I'm really into them now, and they make me so happy. If my eyes are tired, I can still immerse myself in a book! Take an exciting story, add a talented narrator, and you have Blades of Magic. Listening to this book made me even more excited about audiobooks as well as the fantasy genre. 

Sara pulled me into her story right away. I was mystified by her father's death and wanted to find out what happened to him. Sara's faith in her father was touching, and I trusted her belief that if he was a deserter, he must have had a good reason for it. I loved how kick ass Sara is - it's always thrilling to find out the heroine is strong and self-reliant. She doesn't need to lean on a significant other - she stands tall all on her own. 

It took me a while to warm up to Ezekiel, but I ended up liking him quite a lot. The back and forth between Sara and him was a lot of fun to listen to. He reminded me of the kind of character who's really book smart but doesn't have much common sense. I pictured him as Wesley from the TV show,Angel. That's who Ezekiel's character reminded me of right away, and the image stuck in my mind, glasses, hair cut and all. 

Ezekiel's disdain for fighters like Sara is evident in the beginning, but once he got to know her, he found out there was much more to her like her honor, faith, and intelligence.     

There's plenty of action with a touch of romance in Blades of Magic. I loved the magic, especially the possibility that Sara could become what's known as a beserker - a mage who becomes so immersed in using his/her powers that it overpowers them. That was a scary possibility but also a cool twist to the story. 

It took me a little bit of time to get into the story in the beginning. I listened to the first chapter twice, and the second time was pulled in quickly. 

Sylvia Roldn Dohi, the narrator for Blades of Magic, had a pleasant voice to listen to and varied her tone accordingly with what was going on in the story. She was in tune with what she was narrating, and it was easy to tell which character was speaking because she also varied her voice for each person. 

This was my first Terah Edun book as well as audiobook and certainly won't be my last. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series as well as her other series. 

Review
5 Stars
Drawn to This Story Like a Moth to a Flame
The Violet Hour - brynn chapman, victoria lea

I received a copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour atDonnie Darko Girl.

The Violet Hour's synopsis caught my eye because I thought it sounded like a unique and mysterious read. I don't get into historical fiction a lot, but that aspect of the novel has much to do with what drew me into reading it.

I'm drawn to reading about characters who have lost a parent. I know that sounds macabre, but I've been through it myself and can relate. While The Violet Hour's main character, Allegra, lost her mom to suicide, I lost my mom to cancer. Throughout the novel, I always had this hope that maybe Allegra's mom wasn't really dead. Maybe it was all a mistake or some sort of twisted misunderstanding. I think my feelings about wishing my own mom was still alive bled into The Violet Hour. I really do.

Allegra is a bright, intelligent young woman, and for her time, well, she's ahead of it. It was incredibly brave of her to leave behind the comfort her father's wealth afforded her and go out into the world to live her own way. I couldn't have done it, and I admired that about her. Her father sounds like a horrible man, and it's no wonder she was determined to get away.

I definitely found Brighton interesting, and of course I wanted to know if everything the musicians whispered about him was true or not. I wouldn't say that Allegra and Brighton were victims of insta-love, but they were attracted to each other right away and I loved it! While Allegra was determined to try to spend as much time with him as possible, he was fighting his attraction to her. So they weren't instantly in a relationship, but one developed over time naturally.

The mood of the story was a bit spooky and mysterious, which I loved. Each layer of mysterious happenings was revealed at a good pace - not too fast, not too slow - and I was left wanting to find out more. I was right about The Violet Hour - this is a unique and well written story. The time period, right before the Civil War, made for an interesting setting.

The Violet Hour could very well make you want to grab as much historical fiction as you can if you aren't already a fan of the genre. Plus the spooky mood with hints of danger throughout makes for an engrossing read. I recommend The Violet Hour to anyone who can't resist finding out secrets and Allegra and Brighton are characters you're definitely going to want to get to know well.

Review
4 Stars
the bad boy & the good girl = fireworks!
Stupid Boy (New Adult Romance) (Stupid in Love Book 2) - Cindy Miles

I received a copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

After loving Stupid Girl, I was excited to read Stupid Boy. With different characters as the focus, Stupid Boy can be read as a standalone, although I think reading Stupid Girl first will enhance your experience since the stories are connected.

This is probably going to sound morbid, but I do like reading realistic fiction where the characters are broken and need to work through their dark past in order to truly live. Stupid Boy makes me think about the saying, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." Kane sees that right away about Harper despite the outer image she's trying to project, and I think it's because he comes from a painful background, too.

Kane's experiences have given him the ability to see it in someone else, even someone he's just met. When both people have that in their past, they can understand each other in a way without words that other people may not be able to do. I think Harper was trying much harder and more desperately to repress the experiences she had been through, and that was why she didn't see past Kane's exterior shell right away. She wants to pack her pain in a suitcase and keep it in the back of a closet, away from her sight.

I wanted to know what had happened to both of these characters, and through bits and pieces here and there, you come to know what they went through. It's horrifying, and no one should have had to go through that.

I was happy to see Olivia and Brax from the first book in Stupid Boy. I really liked them and was hoping they'd be connected to the characters in this book, which they are.

The only thing that kept me from giving the book five stars was the story lulled in places. It might have been just me and my frame of mind at the time, but a few places were slow for me. Other than that, I really loved reading about Kane and Harper's story, and I'm looking forward to reading about new characters in the next installment.

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Star Trek 3 News!
Star Trek 3 News!

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Review
4 Stars
emotional post-apocalyptic story
The Blast - Sarah Perlmutter

I received a review copy for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

The Blast is a fast-paced, post-apocalyptic young adult novel with a very young heroine, Beatrice, at the core of the story. After the blasts force Beatrice, her younger brother Henry, and their parents into their bunker, things are never going to be the same for them again. Lucky for Beatrice, her parents prepared for an emergency such as this and had made and stocked the bunker with all kinds of supplies.

The Blast had some major surprises in store. The grittiness of the world after it goes to crap is so realistic, it feels like it could really happen. In a situation like this, where your life changes forever, bad things are bound to happen, and Perlmutter doesn't shy away from from those kind of things happening. I knew life wasn't going to be pretty for this family, but I had no idea they were going to go through so much grief. What really helped them out was the preparation Beatrice's parents had done in case something like this happened.

The nuclear winter was really freaky. The description of what it was like when the family went out scavenging for supplies with ash surrounding them and completely frigid temperatures making it impossible to venture far from home was so realistic. It was just like I imagined a nuclear winter to be like, and it gave me chills!

As I mentioned before, The Blast was very fast paced, taking place over five years, but I wished the pace was slower, taking its time a little more. The story is so rich with so much potential it felt a bit rushed at times. I wanted more!

Beatrice is literally just a kid at eleven-years-old, yet she's had to kill people to protect her family. She isn't even a teen at the beginning of the novel. The things she's had to do for herself and her family to survive keep haunting her, and are things no kid her age should have to see let alone do. Though it was necessary, it changes her forever. There's no going back. She's forced to grow up quickly.

There's foreshadowing here and there of things to come, but the way those events unfold is what will keep you riveted. I couldn't put this book down! The Blast is the kind of story I read in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I was pulled in right away, and the suspense and grittiness of this new world post-apocalypse had me enthralled.

Review
3 Stars
gritty interracial romance but weak heroine
Incarcerated - Inger Iversen
I reviewed the audio book version of Incarcerated for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

I've heard great things about author Inger Iversen, and her books have been on my must-read list for a while now. I've been getting into audio books lately and really love them. Depending on the narrator, just by listening, you can lose yourself in the story in a different way than if you were reading it yourself.

Olivia Peppersmith does an excellent job narrating Incarcerated and has a pleasant voice to listen to. She gives each character his or her own distinctive voice, and I'd listen to any audio book she narrates.

Incarcerated gives you insight into what some of the men in prison could be like. Maybe there are guys like Logan in there who don't deny what they've done and who want to finish serving their time so they can get out and make a life for themselves. I didn't hate him, but I didn't quite like him either. I didn't know what to think about his racism. It didn't seem he had learned it from his parents, so it wasn't something that seemed to be deeply entrenched in his belief system. But I wanted to scream at him, you didn't know what Katie looked like or what her ethnicity was but you fell in love with her anyway!! So what does he think that tells him??

I think Katie was a weak heroine, but I think she was supposed to be shown as vulnerable. If she hadn't been, she probably wouldn't have started the pen pal program to begin with. She's dealing with a lot - the death of her mother, her overbearing father, pressure from work deadlines, her former boyfriend abandoning her right after her mother's death, and agoraphobia. I just wish she had grown and become stronger by the end, but to me, that never happened.

I didn't think Katie's friend, Teal, was much of a friend. I know she wanted Katie to break out of her self-imposed exile, but forcing her to go to parties is not the way to go. To me it was the equivalent of telling a depressed person to "snap out of it!" or "get over it!" The only time I liked Teal was when she tried talking sense into Katie when she found out about Katie falling in love with an inmate from the pen pal program. Everything Teal said to Katie at that time was true.

Incarcerated kept me riveted. I wanted to know how everything was going to turn out in the end. Would Katie and Logan be able to make a romance happen? Truth be told, I wasn't totally rooting for them but wasn't completely against them either. I thought Katie could do a lot better, especially when it's apparent Logan is racist, but also thought she was a better woman than I for not judging Logan solely based on his prison sentence, before she knew he was racist.

Realistically, they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to make it as a couple. I don't know if I would want to make it work with someone like Logan who judges me based on my skin color even after getting to know me, but Incarcerated gave me a lot of food for thought, and for that, I'm grateful.