The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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The book’s about a girl named Sofia who moves to a new town and befriends the three popular girls (Riley, Alexis and Grace). They want her to spy on their former friend, Brooklyn, who’s now more “alternative” (dark eyeliner, tattoos, piercings, etc.). It’s literally Mean Girls in reverse for the first few chapters, but the book knows that and at one point Sofia quips “Most girls would just write a burn book.” (Pg. 112)
This is much more violent and gory than Mean Girls though. There are very detailed descriptions of physical harm and dead bodies. The book moves along at a quick pace and once it gets to the part where Riley (the head popular girl) is trying to “save” Brooklyn, the pace really picks up. This ends in kind of a cliff hanger, but I already own book two. I actually bought that one first. Oops.
I enjoyed this, though I think there could’ve been a bit more character development. We mostly learn about Sofia through her interactions with her grandmother and flashbacks and not much is really mentioned about the other characters. One other small issue I had, and it might be petty, is that there’s a song that’s supposed to be skipping on a cd in the book and it’s going “shout to the, shout to the,” but the song is “Shout at the Devil” not “Shout to the Devil,” so the lyrics are wrong.
I’d recommend it to anyone who likes young adult/horror who doesn’t mind swearing. It was also kind of fun reading a pink book with a pentagram on the cover on public transportation. I gave it 4/5 stars.

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Brief, Horrible Moments: A Collection of One Sentence Horror Stories by Marko Pandza

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This book has 242 one sentence horror stories and not one of them was truly scary. I honestly couldn’t wait to finish this one. It got repetitive very fast. The author seemed to get stuck on the themes of being buried and/or eaten alive and having your loved ones come back from the dead. I’m aware that there’s not much that you can do with one sentence, but some of them were actually pretty long.
I won this in a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads but all opinions are mine. I gave it 2/5 stars.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Save the Date is about the weekend of seventeen year old Charlotte “Charlie” Grant’s sister Linnie’s wedding. All she wanted was a perfect weekend with the whole family together. Everything that can go wrong, does. Instead, she has to run around town with the Bill (the wedding planner’s nephew, which might not be so bad), try to keep relatives and neighbors from fighting, attempts to put off her decision about college, has a fight with her best friend and then there’s that thing with her brother’s best friend, Jesse.
In the end, the wedding is mostly saved and Charlie and learned a lot about herself and her siblings. Then her other brother reveals something that shocks everyone, which leads to more drama and hijinks in typical Grant fashion. The book ends on a hopeful note.
I seriously felt like I’d known these characters forever. The book takes places in the fictional town of Stanwich, Connecticut like Matson’s other books and I enjoyed visiting there again. I like that surrounding towns such as Putnam and Mystic were mentioned as well. This is the second book I’ve read by Morgan Matson and I just picked up The Unexpected Everything.

I gave this one 4/5 stars and I recommend it to fans of Morgan Matson, people who like contemporaries and anyone who likes a good YA book about family and figuring out your life.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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I read an excerpt of this book on Riveted (rivitedlit.com) and was hooked immediately. After waiting a month or so my local Books A million finally got it and I happily bought it. I love the cover. It’s so pretty!

The Wicked Deep is about a town that celebrates the Swan Season each June. During this time, three sisters who were drowned 200 years ago come back from the dead, each one chooses a local girl to possess and they each choose a local boy to drown.

The characters and setting are unique and the story moves along at a good pace. The main character, Penny, is relatable and easy to identify with. I really felt for her with her family situation. The romance in the book does happen kind of quickly, but I didn’t mind and I thought it worked well. There’s a great quote about love in the book that goes “Love is an enchantress–devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.” (pg. 177) that I feel is an accurate description of how love can be.

I like the different elements of magic in this story: the curse of the Swan sisters, fortune telling, tea reading, etc. The town of Sparrow, Oregon is a very interesting place and the author made me feel like I could see each shop and dock with her descriptions.

I really enjoyed Ernshaw’s writing style and there are a few plot twists to keep things interesting. The first one caught me so off guard that I actually said “Woah.” out loud and then wished I had someone to discuss the book with. The other twists were good too.

I rated this one 5/5 and I recommend this book to everyone.

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp

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Unbroken is a collection of short stories about teens with a variety of disabilities written by autors who also have disabilities. There’s a good amount of diversity represented here too. Most of them are good, but I did find myself losing interest a little bit in the middle of the book. It might just be me, but in some of the stories it wasn’t quite clear what the disability was.
My favorites were “The Leap and the Fall” by Kayla Whaley and “One, Two, Three” by Corinne Duyvis (It’s called “A Curse, A Kindness” in the official version.) I plan on checking out more of their work.
I received my copy for free from NetGalley but all opinions are my own. I would recommend this book to teens with disabilities, anyone who wants to diversify their reading and people who like short story collections. 3/5 stars.

Hiding Out by Tina Alexis Allen

I honestly thought this would be better than it was. The book was mostly about the author’s college years, which she spent working at her father’s travel agency, going clubbing and going out for drinks (with potential lovers, friends and family, especially her dad).

There’s a deeper story about the weight of secrets and the damage they cause, but it’s buried under everything else. Allen talks about the inappropriate relationships she’s had through out her life, but sees nothing wrong with it. I honestly felt bad for her mother. The poor woman is treated horribly and the author mentions how heavy she is every time she’s in a sentence. It’s like she really wants you to know this woman was not skinny. At one point I felt like yelling “I get it! Your poor mom’s fat. Shut up!”

The book ends kind of abruptly with the last chapter jumping to 2005 when the author’s father has died. She mentions that she has a partner, worked in fashion and left that to act, and that’s it about her life now.

I won this book through a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads, but all opinions are my own.

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

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Star-Crossed is about an eighth grader named Mattie whose class is doing Romeo and Juliet as their class play. She begins falling for the girl, Gemma, who’s playing Juliet and comes to terms with it over the course of the year since she’d previously had a crush on Elijah.

I like that the main character is smart and has good relationships with her friends and family. There is some drama in the book between the main character and her friends and a mean girl and her friends, but it’s nothing too horrible. Mattie’s friends are really great, funny and supportive and so is her big sister.  The way the crush is handled is well done and I think it’s a great book for middle school readers. I enjoyed all of the Shakespeare in the book since I like his work, especially Romeo and Juliet.

I won this one in a First Reads giveaway from Goodreads, and I’m happy that I did. This is a light, fun read and I recommend it to middle schoolers (and anyone older) who likes lgbt books and retellings of Shakespeare’s work. I gave it 4 of 5 stars.