#Review: In Every Way, by @Amy_Sparling

in-every-wayTitle: In Every Way
Author: Amy Sparling
Rating: 5/5 stars

“It’s the start of summer and Josh Graham will be working at his parent’s surf shop. When his best friend Colby goes on vacation, Josh is stuck working with Bryce—and all of Bryce’s terrible ideas for summer. They make a list of what the “perfect girlfriend” would be like, and now they plan to find her. It shouldn’t be too hard, since Josh is one of the hottest, most popular guys in school. Right?

Bess Navarre would rather read a book than go outside. She’s chubby, dorky, and a self-proclaimed loser. But when her grandmother volunteers her to work at a boutique on the beach, Bess has to comply, no matter how humiliating it is. Bikinis and Bess do not go together, and now she feels even dorkier than ever.

When Bess and Josh’s paths collide, sparks fly. But it won’t be that easy. Bryce wants Josh to date a supermodel. And although Bess might just fit all of the things on Josh’s list, she won’t give herself a chance to figure it out. (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

I’ve never read Sparling’s work before now, and I’m glad I started with this book. The description is what grabbed me. It sounded like a quick, light beach read of a romance. With summer winding down, the setting is something that definitely caught my eye, but there was more to the story that kept me reading.

I haven’t read many books set in that in-between time after high school graduation and before college starts. It’s a strange summer in limbo and a lot happens in an adolescence’s life. I enjoyed that aspect of this story. Both Josh and Bess grow over the period of time this book takes place. They’re done being high schoolers, but not quite adults. There’s young love, but maturity between both at times. It’s a fresh take on romances for me.

Sparling also touches on bullying, popularity, and self esteem issues in the book. Both are very real for the age group of these characters to deal with. They make the characters who they are, while at the same time the book isn’t bogged down by drilling these into the reader’s head. It’s there, it’s important, but the characters slowly overcome issues and I enjoyed how the author did it. And even in the end, like in real life, things don’t go away magically. People, and the characters in this book, need time to work through things.

In Plain Sight is a book that deals with Josh and Bess’ friends and if it’s anything like In Every Way was, I know I’m going to enjoy it. This book was a great way to end my summer reading. Maybe I can start my fall with more from the author.

fancy lineresize

You can grab this book from:

Amazon

fancy lineresize

About the Author:

Amy Sparling is the author of The Summer Unplugged Series, Deadbeat & other awesome books for younger teens. She also writes books for older teens under the name Cheyanne Young.

Find out more:

Review: Smacking Back, by Laura Bradley Rede

Title: Smacking BackSmacking back
Author: Laura Bradley Rede
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“In a future where everyone wears an avatar and the internet connects to your brain, cyber bullying has reached a whole new level – and one victim has reached her breaking point. This thought-provoking short story by Writers of the Future award winner Laura Bradley Rede is a must for fans of YA science fiction and dystopian. This edition includes discussion questions and links to bullying-prevention resources for use in book groups and in the classroom.” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

As can be found in the description, this story’s main theme is bullying. What caught my eye was that it’s a sci-fi story as well. That was a fun combination because it showed that it really doesn’t matter what the time period or society in question is, bullying is always an issue.

Even in the world of Smacking Back, where information can be fed directly into someone’s brain, there are people who feel the need to take advantage of others just so they can get away with not doing their work. This is the classic situation of a bully getting the weaker kid to do his/her homework, but with a futuristic flare.

While the bullying is the theme in the forefront, and I feel that it was well executed without being preachy, I also enjoyed the technology that Rede threw into the story. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to think that being so physically connected to the net is in our near future. It also, like many great sci-fi stories, brings up possible issues that could arise with the advance in technology. There are always consequences to go along with the benefits. This works to aid the creation of the bullying situation, as well as hints at the question of what other issues could this future society have through this technology.

This story brings up an issue that’s been around for thousands of years, but one that seems to be a big focus in our culture today when we look to eradicate it. I think that getting into the mind of the victim in this instance gives good insight into the victim mindset. It also leaves the reader questioning the actions of everyone involved, not just the bullies.

fancy lineresize

You can grab this story from:

Smashwords (free at the moment)

Amazon ($0.99 right now)

fancy lineresize

About the Author:
Laura Bradley Rede grew up the oldest of nine kids in a small town in Maine. She now lives in a little hippie-punk neighborhood of Minneapolis with her wonderful partner, their three amazing children, one Great Dane, one dachshund, and four city chickens. She is a winner of the Writers of the Future Award for fantasy and science fiction and the author of the YA paranormal romance DARKRIDE, and its upcoming sequel CROSSFIRE, as well as many YA short stories. She often quotes Bela Lugosi, the original Dracula, who said “I have never met a vampire personally, but I don’t know what might happen tomorrow.”

After all, a girl can dream.

Find out more:

ARC Review: Miss Me Not By Tiffany King

Title: Miss Me Not
Author: Tiffany King
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Miss Me Not is a beautiful story of self-discovery, forgiveness, caring, and love. 

Madison Hanson’s past demons have given her a shadow of an existence with little hope. With the sudden tragic death of a fellow student, Madison questions her own life choices, and is now forced to evaluate everything she thought she believed in. When fate intervenes and partners her with Dean Jackson, a popular “all around good guy” from school, Madison gets a glimpse of a life that is filled with sunshine that has the power to break through the darkness she has cloaked herself in. 
With Dean’s help, Madison discovers a desire to finally step out of the shadows, and embrace life and all its gifts.
” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

*Read as an ARC copy received from the author*

Tiffany King has yet again wowed me with her writing. I’ve read all of her books since Wishing For Someday Soon was published earlier this year, and I’ve never been disappointed.

In her newest novel, Miss Me Not, King has stepped outside of her comfort zone to write a story that packs a punch for anyone who reads it. It’s edgy. It’s hard-hitting. It’s going to make any reader stop in their tracks and rethink various aspects of life. It might even make some readers feel more grateful for the life they lead.

What I enjoyed most was seeing the inner workings of Madison’s mind. This novel is told in the first person point of view, though Madison’s eyes. I don’t think it could have worked better if done much differently. Without that window into how Madison saw things, I don’t think the reader would be able to sympathize with her character as much. The experience of various events would have been to limited from an outsider’s perspective. On the topic of POV, I did think that at certain times, it would have been nice to get to see Dean’s view on things. I think knowing his motivations in a less limited way would have furthered my understanding of the story, as a whole. What was his plan from the beginning? How did everything factor in together? I think knowing from his POV earlier one would have worked well. Don’t get me wrong though, aside from my wish for some of Dean’s point of view, the first person from Madison worked very well.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the pacing of the story is definitely different from King’s books like Forever Changed and Unlikely Allies. It wasn’t as fast paced when I read it. In a way this worked very well to allow me to soak in what I read. And on the other hand, I enjoy a book that goes, goes, and keeps going. King has a gift when it comes to a smooth and fast paced story-line, all while not hindering the reader from grabbing every detail of a story. Again, another personal opinion here.

The darker subject matter and emotional ride Miss Me Not holds within its pages made me at times put down the book and take a step back. It’s not the easier stuff to deal with. There’s bullying, broken families/friendships, thoughts of suicide, and other topics I won’t bring up in the review. Let this be known: Miss Me Not might not be for every reader. There were times when even I didn’t know if I wanted to pick the book back up. This isn’t saying that it’s a terrible book. It’s the opposite of that. It hits close to home in many areas and in relating to some parts of the story it makes too a little uncomfortable. I feel this is the work of genius storytelling.

In closing, I feel that this story, for me, deserves another read through sooner rather than later. Now that I’ve finished it, I think I’ll appreciate it even more than I already do by experiencing it all over again.

fancy lineresize

About the Author:

Tiffany King is the author of The Saving Angels Series, Wishing For Someday Soon, Forever Changed, and Unlikely Allies. Writer by day and book fanatic the rest of the time, she is now pursuing her life-long dream of weaving tales for others to enjoy. She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iPhone and iPad  chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

For More Info: