Review: You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

From Hicklebee’s: Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.

Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the “No Good.” One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . . .

The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax.

I just finished reading this book about twenty minutes ago. This is an odd time of day to write and publish a review, everyone has gone home for the day doing their own thing and maybe only a few will read this, and then the rest will come tomorrow. Once every so often a book resonates with you in a way that you really can’t explain. You want to shout it from the rooftops but what exactly would you say?

I am having the same trouble here. How do I tell in you a coherent way just how powerful this book is? Why you should read it when there are thousands of other books to choose from. How do I tell you that I cried tears; but they weren’t of despair and they weren’t borne of hope?

The story is shortish, 240 pages to be exact, like most Kephart books. I am in awe of how Beth can jam-pack such a small package with such power and meaning. The story is told from alternating points of view. Sophie who is fourteen, and Emmy whose baby was stolen.

Reading You Are My Only is like reading two diaries at the same time. The information is so provoking and so intimate you almost feel a bit shady for reading. Sophie tells you her hopes and dreams, she tells you the situation with her ‘Mother’. She tells you how she feels about the boy next door and his dog, though she isn’t allowed to play with him because she has to stay inside away from the No Good.

Emmy tells you about the day her baby was stolen and one yellow sock was left behind. The way her husband treated her after, how she almost died that same night looking for her but was rescued by a nice man named Arlen. Emmy tells you what happens when they say she is crazy and is locked up in a mental institution and about the friends she makes there; her ever present desire to find her baby.

The conclusion is bittersweet, and heartbreaking, and hopeful. It is everything I would have every wanted it to be. The side characters are amazingly fleshed out for such a short book and the prose so beautiful your teeth feel a twinge.

If you ever do one thing that I say (and you should do all the things I say) let it be reading this book. I promise you from the very bottom of my jaded heart that it will invoke feeling and oh, how I wish for you to feel this too.

You Are My Only publishes on October 25th. Please consider a online preorder from my local indie. They ship world wide.

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Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

From Goodreads: Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Be Warned: Spoilers ahead for book one:

Oh Sophie Mercer I love you for such an abundant amount of reasons. You go to a boarding school for the magically bad, you have two hot guys at your beck and call, and you are so freaking funny that literally the other night when I was reading, there was an incident involving my nose and some diet coke.

I was concerned for a moment that the return of demon daddy would have Sophie turning into one of those characters. You know the ones that whine about their issues all the time. *cough*BellaSwan*cough* But no, Sophie you kept it real and continued to give me laugh out loud funny while solving a mystery and dealing with heaps of drama.

I love Demonglass even more than I loved Hex Hall and that says a lot. It is not very often anymore that I become a true fan of a serious or an authors work and I tell you right now. I will follow Rachel Hawkins’ writing journey where ever it takes her because this is some seriously brilliant stuff.

The writing is tight, the characters are amazing, I never anticipate the whodunit and I don’t get annoyed that I can’t figure it out. Hawkins writes like my teenage head worked and I know that teens will enjoy Sophie and co. for all of her antics. I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes and my express wish that you go buy this book or the first now. You will not regret the purchase.

Sophie learns she is betrothed to Cal:

As I stomped across school grounds, all I could see was Cal sitting with my dad in some manly room with leather chairs and dead animals on the wall, chomping on cigars as Dad formally signed me away to Cal. They’d probably even high-fived. Pg 19 ARC

Sophie gets a computer at swanky Thorne Hall, no computers allowed at Hecate:

Computers were also forbidden at Hecate, at least for students. Mrs. Casnoff supposedly had one in her private quarters. Jenna and I had spent one very boring Magical Evolution class speculating on what her e-mail address might be. Jenna thought it was probably something dull, like just her name, but my personal vote was for I guess now I could find out.

I give thee 5 stars for originality, spunk, and making coke shoot out of my nose. A job well done.

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher.

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Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

From Goodreads: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Over a year ago I wrote a review for Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, and I scheduled it to come online when the book hit stores. A few days ago I wrote a post about Rachel Hawkins and went to get my link to my review. I remembered it all so well. The review never posted. So over a year I have been telling people “Oh yeah I loved Hex Hall, check out my review.” or emailing Disney Book Group “I reviewed Hex Hall and would love to continue reviewing this series.” LIAR! I never even noticed my review never posted. So sorry Disney Book Group, Rachel Hawkins, and random people who I told to check out my review.

Firstly I want to mention that I love boarding schools. If your book has a boarding school setting you get like a gazillion automatic bonus points of awesome and Hex Hall was a win of boarding school drama. Sophie was such a fantastically likable character that my teenage self who wanted nothing more than to go to an awesome boarding school would have so been besties with her.

There is drama, intrigue, mystery, hot guys and a bunch of fucking faeries. Seriously someone needs to off those bitches. Sophie and her vampire roommate are bullied around a bit by the mean girls crowd and then there are some ghosties making trouble all over the place. It is all a big witchy mess.

What I love most about Hex Hall and Sophie is she is still learning, she isn’t one of those characters that is uber proficient at everything she does and she messes up all the time and when she does mess things up it’s usually wicked bad. We get to learn about Hawkins universe as we laugh out loud at Sophie’s antics and she has some damn good dialogue in this book people. I can’t wait to see what Sophie gets herself into next in Demonglass (which will not take me a year to review.).

If you haven’t already read Hex Hall then I urge you to pick it up!

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from another blogger. Many moons ago.

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Review: Vampire Crush by A. M. Robinson

From Goodreads: First, six mysteriously pale new students show up at Sophie McGee’s high school. Then, Sophie’s childhood nemesis James reappears, still displaying a knack for making Sophie’s blood boil. When Sophie finds out that James has a connection to the new students, she decides to investigate…never expecting her life will quickly begin to resemble a campy horror movie, complete with budding crushes and bloodthirsty villains.

Perfect for fans of the Vampire Kisses and Vladmir Tod series, A. M. Robinson’s debut novel sparkles with action, intrigue, irresistible wit, and sizzling romance.

Vampire Crush started out very strong for me. I marked several passages in the beginning of the book and was laughing out loud from the dialogue written into the main character. I adored Sophie and her modern Nancy Drew charm but alas the book fell flat as around the middle I felt that the action wasn’t coming as fast as it should.

This book is the anti-Twilight. Sophie doesn’t want anything to do with Mr. Tall Dark and Dead or any of his friends who just show up at her school and seem to genuinely like Michigan. However she knows there is something weird about them and as the competition for school newspaper editor comes to a head she has to have this story.

Sophie was a great character and had a lot of depth. The side characters mostly fell flat and seemed to be there for stereotypical dialogue purposes only. I am going to quote three of my favorite passages from the ARC form which may change when the final printed copy is available.

Sophie on the first day of school:

As for the building itself, nothing has changed since last May: it could still double as a penitentiary, albeit a penitentiary with a lot of jail spirit and a streamer budget.

Sophie on choosing a seat at an assembly:

The seat happens to be next to Neal Garret, who’s nice enough in an “I went to space camp this summer” way, but who brings his hamster to school at least once per year. The way he’s murmuring to the left pocket of his khakis right now makes me think that today is that day.

Marisabel (one of the vamps) on reading Twilight:

Marisabel just shrugs, rolling on her back to stare up at an open copy of Twilight. Her long brown hair cascades over the edge. It sways as she shakes her head back and forth.
“This is not right at all,” she says. “Edward is dreamy, though. Maybe you could get some tips.”

So all in all this was a fun read and a great start for what I am assuming is to be a trilogy.

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from Hicklebee’s in ARC form.

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Pre-order Hex Hall!

I know lately my reviews have been kinda negative. I thought I had lost my love for YA, everything I had read left a boring bad taste in my proverbial mouth. Hex Hall cured my woes. If it wasn’t so long until this book came out I would be singing its praises in the form of a 4 star review. A huge thank you to Alexa at Not Enough Bookshelves for sharing her early copy with me!

Seriously have I ever asked you to pre-order something? No! Why do I ask you now you ask yourself? (That’s a lot of asking) because if you do not have this book in your hands on the release day you are going to be so out of the loop when everyone and I mean everyone starts singing the praises of this book and you have no idea what they are going on about.

My best Teen Read of the year so far! I hope to do some fun stuff during the release week.

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