Guarding the Lake by Dana Burkey

Guarding the Lake is a quick, fun read that I adored. Natalie is elated to learn that the boy she has been crushing on likes her back. Or does he? Natalie displayed a great deal of integrity, and I was relieved with the way things ended (since this is such a short book, it’s hard not to give anything away!). I found the book to read quite realistically, which is sometimes a challenge with YA books (I love YA, but it seems like a lot of times the characters have the maturity of a 20 year old, not a 16 or 17 year old). I look forward to checking out more of Dana Burkey’s work.

My only critique is that the chapters ended abruptly, which made transitioning between scenes feel a bit choppy.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The copy I reviewed was in audio book format, and the narrator, Amy Hilburn, does an excellent job.

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Snowed by Maria Alexander

31559083I’ll admit, I chose this book based on the cover. Well, I received a free review copy from LibraryThing, but my request was because of the cover art. It is eerie and wonderful.

I am not a huge fantasy fan, but I could not put this book down. Charity, the main character, was someone I could relate to, even though I am not a STEM person or a skeptical. I was bullied for being different back in high school.  I am unfamiliar with Krampus, having only just learned about him last year thanks to American Dad, and I thought the way Maria Alexander retold his story, and Santa’s, was quite interesting. The ending was a disappointment. I’m all for cliff-hangers, but I think I would have preferred the author to stop at the end of the final chapter and not added an epilogue. There is a LOT of cussing, so if you’re put off by swearing, this might be hard to read. I’m not typically a fan of swearing, but it does make the characters more believable.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Book cover image via Amazon.com Description: Navy blue/black gradient background with a carousel lit up in the center of the picture.

It wasn’t until I was almost done with this book that I realized I was enjoying it. Starting out, it didn’t seem all that original. Sydney’s mother is similar to Macy’s mother in “The Truth About Forever,” and the major plot (superstar older brother breaking the law, yet parents in denial of it being the son’s fault) reminded me of Carolyn Mackler’s “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things.”

However, I did find myself filled with rage when it came to Sydney’s mother, and I had to remind myself that I shouldn’t throw my phone against the wall (since that’s how I was reading the book). And any book that can provoke such a strong emotion is definitely a book worth reading.

Speaking in Tungs by Karla M. Jay

Wow! I did not think I would enjoy this 26142984book as much as I did. It started out slow but ended with a bang. The main character Marleigh is witty and enjoyable, a speech therapist who has left busy San Francisco and moved to rural Pennsylvania after discovering she was adopted in hopes of learning more about her birth parents. She takes a job as a traveling speech therapist, which results in stepping way outside her comfort zone.  Since this book falls into the mystery genre, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and eventually I lost interest and had to put the book down for a couple days. I’m glad I picked it back up, though, because after I made it to the halfway point, I could not get enough. While the book ends on a positive note, one key point was not answered. I am looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing what lies ahead for Marleigh.

I received a copy of this book from Book Review 22 in exchange for my honest review.

Someone I Wanted to Be by Aurelia Wills

***Trigger warning: Attempted rape scene

coverIf this book had been written 20 years ago, it probably would have been one of my favorites. Thinking back to my high school years, I would have related quite well with Leah, the book’s protagonist. Even though we do not share immediate traits, I was often the underdog during my middle and high school years. While her experiences and mine are differently, I still found her to be a believable character.

As an adult, I wanted to give Leah hugs while at the same time shake her and ask her why she let Kristy control her life. The book started out predictable: DUFF Leah trails after gorgeous and bitchy Kristy (admitting that sometimes she hated Kristy) and other friend Corinne, who is also beautiful, but nice, though Corinne also blows Leah off when Kristy demands so. We’re supposed to feel sorry for Kristy, whose mother is dying of cancer, but it’s hard to feel sympathy to someone who ranks up there with Regina George. By the end of Chapter 2, however, the plot turned into something original, though it vaguely reminded me of “Jail Bait” by Leslea Newman (very vaguely). I ended up enjoying the book immensely and wanted to give Leah high 5’s along the way. Even though the book ended neatly and hopeful, I would have loved seeing an epilogue.

I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for my honest review.

The Creepshow by Adria J. Cimino

51q-lmj1blI knew this was a good book when I wanted to throw it against the wall.

The Creepshow is a realistic look at corporate life, where men dominate the industry and women are expected to put up with being sexually harassed and to always put their work before their families. Adria J. Cimino definitely ignited rage over the injustice of it all, and I found myself thinking “just one more chapter” at the end of each chapter, simply to find out if Wanda “wins” in the end. I liked that the romantic plot was not the centralized theme, though I wanted to shake Wanda more than a few times and encourage her to lower her guard.

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers giveaway.

The Trouble with Family by Heather Hobbs

The Trouble with Fa27855978mily allows readers the glimpse of a blended family’s first summer together, told in first-person POV by 14-year-old Molly.

Molly and Ben, her brother, father marries Susan, a divorced mother of three, less than a year after his wife/Molly’s mother died. Not only that, Molly had only met Susan once or twice before the wedding, and her step-siblings are equally unhappy about the arrangement. Molly is forced to share a room with her kleptomaniac stepsister Clara. Susan’s character outraged me at times, especially when she insisted on Molly and Ben calling her “Mom” only a few weeks after the wedding, and when she confiscated Molly’s pen pal letters, insisting that Molly was unknowingly writing to sociopaths. Molly’s father basically sits back and does nothing to intervene, most likely because Susan is prone to tantrums.

As a teen, I might have enjoyed this book more. Had I been a child of a divorced family, I may have found this book more relatable. Overall, it was a good book, but the epilogue was a bit of a let-down. After the climatic last chapter, I had hoped for more of a follow up in the epilogue; however, it was just a few paragraphs about what happened immediately following the climactic scene.

There was some laugh-out-loud dialogue in this book, my favorite being: “I’ve never driven a car and Ben insists it’s harder than it looks. But if you almost run over an old man, you probably should call it a day.”

Stars: 3.5
Genre: Young Adult

* I received a copy of this book from LibaryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for my honest review.