Category Archives: Series

Camp Boyfriend

Finished Camp Boyfriend by JK Rock.  (I work for this company but have nothing to do with this book.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?”

This is the second book in the Camp Boyfriend series (and the first full-length one, after the introductory novella) and we are back spending time with Lauren and Seth.  This time, though, things are incredibly different.  Lauren and Seth aren’t together (they break up at the end of every summer) and Lauren is (a) very popular in her new school and (b) dating an incredibly popular guy.  Even so, she’s excited to get back to camp and the people she considers her real friends—and, of course, Seth, who she obviously considers her real boyfriend.

The problem with Lauren is that she’s way, way too nice and that she spends more time trying to figure out what she SHOULD do than she does trying to understand what she WANTS to do.

When you consider all these things, there’s no real surprise that camp isn’t what she expected it to be.  Her real friends don’t seem willing to accept that Lauren (while popular) still is who she always used to be.  And Seth isn’t exactly enthused that she’s dating another guy.

While I spent a good deal of the book mentally screaming, “TALK TO EACH OTHER, ALL OF YOU!”, this is such an incredibly fun, sweet series.

After this, each book is told from a different perspective and I’m excited for that (although I’ll miss Lauren and Seth and Matt).

Recommended.

Camp Kiss

Finished Camp Kiss by JK Rock.   (I work for this company but I have nothing to do with this book.)

Summary from Goodreads:

The Camp Kiss That Started It All…

Lauren Carlson, a fourteen-year-old expert on the cosmos, superheroes, and science fiction trivia has a crush on her longtime camp friend, Seth. Last summer she’d dreamed about upgrading their relationship to BF/GF status and this year she has a plan… if only her well-meaning cabin mates wouldn’t interfere before she’s ready. She hasn’t even adjusted to her new braces yet, let alone imagined kissing Seth with them. When a dare pushes her out of her comfort zone, will she and Seth rocket out of the friendzone at last? There’s only one way to find out….“

This novella is absolutely adorable.  I never went to camp, and this book (and, I’m guessing, its sequels) makes me so sad about that.

So this centers around Lauren, who’s gone to camp for several years.  She’s had a crush on Seth for a while, and finally she’s determined to do something about it (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that her cabinmates have dared her to kiss him and you absolutely cannot break a dare at camp).

It’s probably not a spoiler to say that things go well for Lauren, at least initially. My only problem with this book  is that the thing that breaks them up seemed a little ridiculous.  But then I’m 34 and I would be willing to bet that it would make a lot more sense if I were 16.

Even so, this is a fantastic book and I am so excited to keep reading! (And while most of the books center around different people/couples, Lauren and Seth are back in the next book, Camp Boyfriend.  It’s also a full-length book, so I’m excited for that, too.)

Recommended.

AlibiZ

Finished AlibiZ by Karice Bolton.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rebekah vows to expose the truth behind the RecruitZ that are killing the innocents. These creatures must be stopped, but so should the people controlling them. When Rebekah uncovers who is behind the uprisings, her own life becomes in danger.

I was so excited to get this book, because RecruitZ was pretty much my favorite series debut in a long time.  You know how sometimes a book that you look forward to can be a letdown because it can’t possibly live up to the hype? That was not at all the case here.

As tends to be the case in middle books in a series, there is some new information learned here.  The unique thing, though, is that everything that happens in this book is both unexpected but also, when considered in the context of the first book, completely obvious.  Like, of COURSE this would turn out to be true.  It has to be an incredibly hard line to walk, but Karice Bolton makes it look easy.

What I love most about this series is the fact that, while it’s about what happens after a zombie apocalypse, the zombies are almost an afterthought.  Society is well along the path to rebuilding itself and the villains tend to be entirely human (as opposed to the formerly human, current zombies).

One of the things that fascinate  me the most in books like these (about potentially world-ending events) is how people react to it.  You see a lot of extremes and people tend to be either much better or much worse than you may have reasonably expected them to be.  That’s definitely the case here.

I love this series and I cannot wait to read the third installment (which would be true even without the insane developments in AlibiZ).

Highly recommended.

All Broke Down

Finished All Broke Down by Cora Carmack.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this second book in “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author Cora Carmack’s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with “All Lined Up,” a young woman discovers that you can t only fight for what you believe in sometimes you have to fight for what you love.

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he s arrogant and infuriating, she can t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.”

I’ve loved every book that Cora Carmack has written but this is easily my new favorite.

It’s definitely her sexiest book to date (which is pretty impressive, all things considered) but that’s not why.  (Okay, that’s not entirely why.)

Silas and Dylan could easily have been caricatures, right?  I’d be willing to bet that if you read the synopsis, you’ll picture her as a young Reese Witherspoon (and if you didn’t before, you probably agree with me that she sounds perfect) and Silas sounds like any one of a number of bad boys that we’ve encountered in books and movies and TV shows since there WERE books and movies and TV shows.

I immediately identified with Dylan, as I think any over-achiever would tend to do.  She’s smart and funny and a good friend.  She’s also prone to living her life to please other people, as opposed to living the kind of life she wants to lead.

As for Silas, he’s living exactly how he wants to, but is terrified that things will change and he’ll live the sort of life he was destined for before he found football.

These two absolutely should not work, but they do.  And it’s more than a little magical to see how they fall for each other and how they just mesh.

I’m very excited that the next book will be about Torres, because I liked him a lot in this novel.  (I really hope the fourth book will be about Stella, because she deserves something happy.)

The only problem is that book three isn’t out until SPRING.  You guys, that’s forever!

Highly recommended.

Atlantia

Finished Atlantia by Ally Condie.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from publisher):

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.”

I’ve read Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy (and really enjoyed it) and while this is completely different, it’s still incredibly good.

I wasn’t sure if this is supposed to be our world (think Planet of the Apes) or if it’s completely different.  I’m still not sure (although I don’t think so) but I just went with it.

I loved the idea of people living underwater (and I love the fact that the community is called Atlantia) and that some of them have evolved into sirens.  This is an excellent world Ally Condie built.

And oh, I loved Rio.  She’s smart and determined to get what she wants, and she never gives up.  And I loved Bay, although we didn’t spend that much time with her.

I enjoyed this book tremendously.

I’m not sure if this is a standalone or the start of a series.  I hope it’s the start of a series because I miss Ally Condie’s books.

Recommended.

Famous in Love

Finished Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s incredibly fun but it’s also got a lot going on under the surface.

I think most people have had little daydreams about becoming famous and this book addresses that somewhat—the idea that, while it seems incredibly fun at first glance, there are a lot of other things to consider.  You’ll earn a lot of money, of course, but you’ll also have to give a lot of things up: privacy, obviously, but also a lot of your relationships will change.  It will be hard to relate to your friends who have minimum wage retail jobs when you can match their weekly salary in probably, what, half an hour of work? This was touched on in this book, but I think it will come into play in the next two books, as well.  (YES, this will be a trilogy and that makes me ridiculously happy.)

I feel like this contemp is breaking all the contemp rules (trilogy, not standalone; love triangle where both boys are actually good people, not the obvious choice and the distraction) and I love it.

And yes, while we’re here, let’s talk about the boys.  I love Rainer and Jordan but my choice is clear: I am SO Team Rainer.  And again, it’s not that Jordan is a bad choice.  He isn’t.  I just feel like we got to know Rainer more in this book and I like him as a person and as the “leading guy” for Paige.

Bottom line, this book is an absolute delight and I can’t wait for everyone to read it and talk about it.

Highly recommended.

The Silent Murders

Finished The Silent Murders by Mary Miley.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Vaudeville actress Leah Randall took on her most daring role ever when she impersonated missing heiress Jessie Carr in order to claim Jessie’s inheritance in The Impersonator. Now that the dust has settled around that tumultuous time in her life, Leah has adopted Jessie’s name as her own and moved to Hollywood, where she’s taken a modest but steady job in the silent film industry.

Jessie’s thrilled when Bruno Heilmann, a movie studio bigwig, invites her to a party. She’s even more delighted to run into a face from her past at that party. But the following day, Jessie learns that sometime in the wee hours of the morning both her old friend and Bruno Heilmann were brutally murdered. She’s devastated, but with her skill as an actress, access to the wardrobes and resources of a film studio, and a face not yet famous enough to be recognized, Jessie is uniquely positioned to dig into the circumstances surrounding these deaths. But will doing so put her own life directly in the path of a murderer?

With Silent Murders, MB/MWA First Crime Novel Competition winner Mary Miley has crafted another terrifically fun mystery, this time set in the dizzying, dazzling heart of jazz-age Hollywood.”

Like the first book in the series (The Impersonator), this book is full of little winks at classic Hollywood history.  (Jessie’s really good friends with the person who becomes Myrna Loy, who is friends with the guy who becomes Gary Cooper—fun fact: many people change their names in Hollywood!)

Also like in The Impersonator, Jessie is a fun, easy-to-root-for heroine.  While I preferred the first one, this was very entertaining.

It centered around  a slew of murders that are seemingly centered around guests and workers at a big Hollywood party.  Not surprisingly, Jessie finds herself right in the middle of it and realizes that she is taking certain clues far more seriously than the police are.

This series is incredibly fun and I’m excited to see where they go next.

Queen of Someday

Finished Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin.  I received a copy from the author for review.

QoS Cover

TOUR PIC

Summary (from Goodreads):

ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES…

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?”

This book is just completely fun.  It’s been compared to the CW show Reign, and I can absolutely see that comparison.  Unlike Reign, though, it held my attention for the entire thing (I watched, I think, two episodes of Reign.  Maybe three.)

I loved Sophie, who is completely pragmatic.  She’s there to marry Peter.  If she does, her family will be safe and she will be comfortable for the rest of her life.  She doesn’t love him and she knows he doesn’t love her, but she knows that love has nothing to do with it.  She has a responsibility to her family and to her own future and she’s going to fulfill it.

Except then she meets Alexander and all of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore.  And, not surprisingly, there is also a great deal of court intrigue (not surprising to anyone who’s read Katherine Longshore or Philippa Gregory).

This book is a complete delight and I cannot wait for the sequel.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Sophie and how she lives with the choices she made in this book.

Recommended.

Whisper From the Past Blog Hop

I’m happy to host Elizabeth Carsten Langston today!  She’s the author of the Whisper Falls series; the third book is out now.  (I have all three and am so excited to binge read them, hopefully soon.)

The Whisper Falls series has time travel elements, since all 3 books have settings in 18th/19th century North Carolina. I had to do a huge amount of historical research, which I absolutely love to do. Yet I also love reading historical fiction. When I was asked about doing a guest post on my favorite YA historicals, I was happy to agree. But there were two problems: (1) picking only ten and (2) deciding which were my favorites.

So here is my list of the most memorable YA historicals that I’ve read (with a few middle grades and one time travel thrown in). The books are in alphabetical order by title, because it wouldn’t be fair to rank them in any other way. They’ve all touched me as both a reader and a writer.

  1.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  2.  Fever 1793 by Laura Halse Anderson
  3.  The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams
  4.  Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  5.  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  6.  Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  7.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  8.  The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  9.  Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  10.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Book 10, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, has long been one of my favorites.  Its hero is named Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton.  In the Whisper Falls series, I have a secondary character—Senator Nathaniel Eton. I promise you—I didn’t do that on purpose (Senator Eton’s name evolved from several different possibilities), but I’m pretty glad that it’s true.

I also want to mention several authors that I love to read: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott.  Although they were writing contemporary fiction at the time, their books are classics and give us a wonderful look at the 19th century.

I’m always ready to read more historical fiction—so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

The Young Elites

Finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This sounded very different than Marie Lu’s Legend series and initially I was a little worried about how I’d enjoy it.  (Turns out I was worried for nothing; while the two series are not at all similar, both are incredibly enjoyable.)

I liked the idea of there being these “young elite” people who have these incredibly creepy powers.  (I sort of picture them as being like the kids in Village of the Damned, in terms of being able to make things happen with their mind.)

They view themselves as being descendents of the gods; not surprisingly, “regular people” view them a little differently—they’re considered demons and are hunted and killed on a regular basis, typically in creepy ways.

I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle with what’s going on, and I am so excited for the second book in the series.

I’m definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu goes next.

Highly recommended.