Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott


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As I was searching the high school library for another “bullying” book to prepare for The Truth About Alice book club meeting, I stumbled upon living dead girl (2008) by Elizabeth Scott. This book takes “bullying” to a whole new hemisphere, and is really about a perverted (and obviously psychotic) middle aged man, Ray, who kidnaps young girls and sexually molests them. The reader learns this fact on page 4 of the novel, and frankly I wanted to slam the book shut and throw it across the room! That is not what I was expecting from reading the back of the book! However, I persevered even though the story is terrifying, and I wonder how many children are really living in this condition?!

This story is told from the first person point of view of Ray’s current girl whom he names “Alice.” She was kidnapped at the age of 10 when she was on a fieldtrip at the zoo with her class. He mentally and physically abuses her and breaks her spirit by threatening to kill her parents if she runs away or reveals him. He has her pretend to be his daughter when in public, but by the time she is 15, she is too old to attract him anymore. Ray has Alice plan to kidnap a new young girl. He targets a 6 year old at the park; Alice knows her destiny (like the “Alice” before her) is death.

The ending left me questioning what actually happens to “Alice”; only one thing is certain and I was so relieved!

It is difficult to recommend this novel, though once I started I could not stop reading. Other books about kidnapping that I have read and also left me completely disturbed are: Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel (2011), and Stolen by Lucy Christopher (2009).

By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters


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In preparation for an upcoming book club discussion about The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (2014), I have been on the hunt for books dealing with bullying. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson are both terrific novels on the topic. I recently learned about By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead (2010) by Julie Anne Peters, and this novel provides a great example of a teen who has been bullied since a very young age due to being overweight. I learned a new term in this book — “bullycide” — which means suicide due to bullying.

Daelyn Rice has made several unsuccessful attempts at committing suicide, but this time she finds a website called “” which helps people on their quest to commit suicide. She has 23 days to plan her death, but during that time she meets Santana, a charismatic boy suffering from cancer, and Emily, an overweight girl at school who needs a friend.

The ending left me perplexed. Did she or didn’t she?

Bullying continues to be a problem today even with all of the information we have.
Bullying is defined as:
1. The behavior is repeated over time.
2. The aggressor intends to do harm, if only to embarrass.
3. An imbalance of power exists between the aggressor and the target.

The discussion questions at the end of the novel would be great for a teen book club or class. The book is short and can easily be read in an afternoon. It is insightful and revealing from the point of view of a 15 year old girl who believes that it is too late for hope.

Thanks to the Emmy Awards I learned about the Kind Campaign () which sounds like a great organization that empowers young adults, especially girls, to speak positive words to one another — to build up, not tear down.

The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore


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Wow! I just finished The Revenge of Seven (book 5 in the I am Number Four series) and it was awesome! Very action-packed, and the ending…Wow! I have chills!

In this novel, the Garde seek to destroy Setrakus Ra before he can invade earth. He has kidnapped Ella, and we learn that she is his granddaughter! Setrakus Ra is Lorien! The Garde is divided – half in Florida and half on the run from the Chicago invasion. Eight is dead, and Five is a traitor – or is he?

The Garde finds out how to unleash Lorien on Earth with the hopes of preventing a war with the Mogadorians; unfortunately they are too late. The war has already begun, BUT hope is here. Marina and Six successfully deposit what remains of the Lorien inheritances and pendants into the Lorien sanctuary, and now Earth stands a chance.

In grand “Men in Black” and “Independence Day” style, Setrakus Ra goes to New York City with the desire for a majestic entrance and open arms from the human race. He is disappointed. John and Nine are there to greet him. Chaos ensues.

Fabulous ending! I cannot wait for the next book which probably will be a year from now…Grrr!

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross


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The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is the second book in Kady Cross’s Steampunk Chronicles. Book One is The Girl in the Steel Corset which is our introduction to Finley Jayne joining Griffin Kings’ band of extraordinary misfits.

Book two begins with Griffin and his group traveling via airship from London to New York City to attempt to clear the name of their friend, Jasper Renn, who was arrested on murder charges at the end of book one. Griffin does not believe that Jasper is capable of murder — at least not without just cause. So Griffin, Finley, Sam, and Emily find themselves in the lavish Waldorf-Astoria as they make plans to free Jasper. They quickly learn that Jasper was not arrested by lawmen, but rather captured by a ruthless gang leader, Dalton. Finley infiltrates Dalton’s evil gang to get close to Jasper with hopes of a rescue, but Jasper refuses to leave because Dalton has Jasper’s former girlfriend, Mei Xing, held hostage with a clockwork collar that will choke her if she attempts to escape.

This steampunk novel set in 19th Century New York will not disappoint. I look forward to the next book in the series, The Girl with the Iron Touch (which will feature Emily). Also The Girl with the Windup Heart was recently released. There are several novellas that also makeup the chronicles. It’s a fun series!

Where She Went by Gayle Forman


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WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! I usually try not to give away the ending of a book, but the review below will give answers to If I Stay as well as Where She Went. Be forewarned! 

Through most of Where She Went I was very upset because I honestly did not believe that I was going to get my “happily ever after” ending that I love so much. I was really angry about that, but then I thought, “How brilliant!” because how often does a “realistic fiction” novel actually capture the essence of a first love break up? How many real life first loves actually stand the test of time and work out? So I had resigned myself to the fact that Mia and Adam would not end up together. Of course, this is a YA novel, and it does have the expected (but beautiful and touching and heart wrenching) ending.

I hated Mia through most of this novel. It was only the very VERY end that saved her. Where She Went is told from Adam’s point of view, and his love, loyalty, and passion for Mia is quite impressive! The novel takes place three years after If I Stay, and Adam is a famous rock star and Mia is a Julliard graduate and an up-and-coming cellist, famous in her circles. Mia broke up with Adam when she went to Julliard, and Adam’s world is destroyed. Through his pain at losing Mia, he writes numerous songs that launch his band into superstardom. One day, Adam walks by Carnegie Hall where Mia happens to be playing and attends her performance. Afterwards they spend the night touring unique places in New York and not discussing what is really on their minds until the very end when both are supposed to be on a flight in opposite directions – London and Japan. Their reconciliation, better late than never, is exhilarating!

I highly recommend If I Stay AND Where She Went!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


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Since the movie is coming out soon, I had to read If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This realistic teen fiction novel follows the story of Mia before and after the car accident that killed her entire family leaving her fighting for her life. Mia, a talented cellist working her way to Julliard, is in love with an up and coming rock star, Adam. Though complete opposites in nature, their music binds them as well as begins to drive them apart. In an outer body experience, she watches her friends and extended family talk to her while she is in a coma, and Mia understands that she may choose to stay (to live) or die.

This novel is emotionally heart wrenching, and I loved it! I made the mistake of reading the beginning of the sequel, Where She Went, which is told from Adam’s point of view and now that is all I can focus on. I am not satisfied with how the continuation of this story began, but I’m hopeful for a happy ending! These characters deserve that!

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door tells the story of Lola, a free-spirit and future costume designer, and the two guys in her life – the “bad boy” rock star who is 5 years older than Lola and her handsome and trendy next door neighbor who broke her heart two years ago. Lola must resolve issues of identity and truth before she can choose the boy who is right for her. This novel which takes place in San Francisco also brings back the two characters from Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and St. Clair now in college) which was a welcome treat!

A good story. Isla and the Happily Ever After (August 2014) will include characters: Anna and St. Clair as well as Lola and Cricket in addition to a new couple with the story taking place in New York and Paris. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has been on my “to read” list for quite a while. Published in 1999, this award-winning novel is by no means a new release! This story will appeal to those who enjoy realistic teen fiction, specifically those books like The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

In Speak, Melinda (who will be entering 9th grade) attends a before-school party where she drinks a little too much alcohol and is raped by a soon-to-be senior. She is scared, confused, and hurt and calls 911 but ends up running home. Everyone at the party knows she called the police and several students are arrested. (No one knows she was raped.) Melinda begins high school as a complete outcast, even abandoned by her “best” friends. She spends her 9th grade year withdrawn and rarely speaks, especially to adults. Her ex-best friend begins to date her rapist, and Melinda must find a way to tell her friend. Though the story is sad and dark, the novel ends hopeful for Melinda.

Other recommended novels by Laurie Halse Anderson include Wintergirls (eating disorders) and Fever 1793 (historic fiction/plague).

Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer


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Snakeroot is the continuation of the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer. Normally I am a big fan of Andrea Cremer. I’ve read all of the Nightshade series plus the prequels Rift and Rise as well as Invisibility which she co-wrote with David Leviathan. But Snakeroot falls short of Cremer’s normally great stories. It has been a while since I’ve read the Nightshade series, so I had a difficult time remembering who Adne is, and this story pretty much revolves around her. Also, this book seems to have a difficult time getting started and does not get interesting until the end where it abruptly stops with no resolution, so another book is certainly forthcoming. I am not sure why the title of the novel is Snakeroot; though I seem to remember that word from another of the Nightshade books, I do not recall it ever mentioned in this book.

Snakeroot begins where Bloodrose ends. The rift is closed cutting off Bosque Mar from the world…or did it? Logan Bane learns how to communicate with the demon and that Adne is the key to bringing Bosque Mar back into full power. The Searchers lack organization and begin to fight one another. The wolf pack still lives in isolation (and are fully wolves), but Shay seems to have some knowledge of his human life since he helps Adne and Sabine.

If you are a Nightshade fan then you’ll probably want to read this book (I am a fan), but most likely you’ll be disappointed by the lack of story / action / romance, but maybe the next book in the series will get up to speed with Cremer’s usual talent.

Burn (Pure trilogy book 3) by Julianna Baggott


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I am not a fan of the Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggott. Books in the series include Pure, Fuse, and Burn. The series is set in a futuristic dystopian society where an evil man planned to destroy the majority of the population leaving only a few people alive to live in a dome (and a few other safe havens) where he hoped to create a superior race. When he sets off the bombs people not in the dome were either killed immediately or fused to whatever they were beside. For example our main character, Pressia, was holding a doll, and the doll was fused to one of her hands. Her soon to be boyfriend, Bradwell had been running through a field of birds when the bombs hit fusing the live birds to his back. The grossest fusings were those who were physically attached to other humans, including the vicious, tribal group of “mothers” fused to their young children (still alive on their bodies).

I read Pure and enjoyed it okay…enough to want to know what happened to the characters. Fuse was okay too, but Burn was drudgery. I kept looking longingly at the huge stacks of books that I want to read and wondered why I was wasting my time with this book, but I was determined to see the characters through to the end. I did not enjoy this book, and I do not recommend this series. There are too many really great YA dystopian novels to waste your time here.


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