Review: Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Publication Date: November 29th, 2011

Coleman & Scott
Format: Kindle Copy
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
Everyone leaves a mark. What if yours could be erased?
Untraceable is a new teen wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course – two hot boys.
16 year old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

I sent an email to the author last week asking her where I could purchase her book. I’m not sure if she could tell but I was a little…er, frantic. I literally searched all the on line bookstores and I couldn’t find a copy! Well, she was nice enough to tell me that her book wasn’t available yet. Duh! Anyway, I waited {im}patiently like a good little bookworm that I am and when the day finally arrived, I wasted no time and devoured this baby right away.

Untraceable is a story about a teen who doesn’t know the words surrender, relinquish, defeat, give up, submit or any other words synonymous to concede. Grace is practically the only person in the whole town who believes that there’s something suspicious about her father’s disappearance. The rest of the population of small town North Carolina just tolerated her inquisitiveness as a way to deal with grief, even her own mother. Grace seem to keep finding herself in a heap of trouble as she digs up clues to her father’s whereabouts. But she’s determined. She refuses to give up hope; as long as there’s no body, Grace will scour every square inch of the Smokies to find her father. What she discovers along the way is the gruesome reality of what extremes people will do for money and a boy with a history connected to her search.

Grace is such a refreshing character. Her rock hard determination and belief that her father was still alive parallels her will to do whatever she sets her mind into. Her best trait is that she just wouldn’t give up, no matter how ludicrous she may seem to other people or no matter how many times she’d hit a dead end. She just keeps going. Nothing fazes this girl, not even a knife to her throat. Heck, she’d pet a bear one moment and give a guy a roundhouse kick on the next! I truly enjoyed reading her POV. She has this funny opinion about herself; not so much self-deprecating but just candidly real.

The action in this novel was unrelenting. It made for a fast read, in my opinion. The gruesome parts were a bit unBEARable – I found myself tearing up on some scenes, especially the one with a trapped cub. If you’re an animal lover, there are some hard-hitting, hard-to-swallow facts about poaching. It was disturbing and yet I was oddly thankful for the education.

I’ve never been a fan of camping or any outdoor activities myself. But after reading this book, I may sign up for the next fly fishing class. I have no clue how  Ms. Johannes did it, but she somehow romanticized all the things I hated about any outdoor activities known to man.

Now, I’m sure you’ve read me lamenting about annoying love triangles many a times and unfortunately, this book has it. FORTUNATELY, it wasn’t the kind that made me want to yank my hair out.  It almost felt like the author was running two different stories. It wasn’t that Grace was a completely different person when she was with either guys, it was just the way she compartmentalized either boys. Never did I feel the usual annoyance that I usually feel when I read love triangles and I think it also had something to do with the way Ms. Johannes gave Grace a feeling of certainty on who her heart truly belonged. I know there were some instances where she could’ve gone either way but I wasn’t fooled. The boy whom she ended up with (?) just felt like her other half. There’s just no ifs and buts about it…and I may or may not be biased to the Brit boy because he kept calling her, “blossom”. Sawwwwwwooooon (oh crap! did I just spoil that?)

This book ended in a cliffy and I’m dying to read the next one. If you’re looking for a change of pace, this YA suspense will just be the ticket. This book had me up and at ’em at four in the morning. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Untraceable is a well conceptualized, well written novel that’s truly one of a kind. It had an environmental message woven in a tale about a family’s way of dealing with a loss of a loved one. Unconventional, yes but oddly appropriate. Everyone’s got a way of telling a story and I thought that S.R. Johannes did a marvelous job.  I love finding great reads that really wasn’t even in my radar up until seven days ago. Don’t pass up on this book.

“Everything that touches this earth leaves a special imprint, a unique mark that proves we existed in some way – no matter how invisible we may feel.” – S.R. Johannes

November Rewind

Hello, everyone!
I’ve got to say I’ve been slacking off with a lot of things lately but that doesn’t mean November hasn’t been that busy for me. I’m still working out the kinks and stumbling my way in the book lovin’ blogosphere but I have to say that where I am at the moment is so much more than I’ve expected to be. I’m very appreciative to those who continue to comment on my posts and talk to me via Twitter. Please feel free to harass me over there, I rarely bite! Anyway here’s the bitty of what happened this month.
                       9   The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
                     12 Darker Still by Leanna Rennee Hieber
                     13 Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra
                     14 Take this Regret by Amy Lichtenham
                     16 The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier
                     17 The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
                     18 Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
                     20 Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
                     21 Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel
                     22 The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
                     24 Breathe by Abbi Glines
                     24 Unlovable by Sherry Gammon
                     25 Stork by Wendy Delsol
                     27 All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield
                     29 The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Average rating for November: 3.5 Stars
Book Recommendations from November Reads:  SHATTER ME, THE VINCENT BOYS, OBSIDIAN

GABY MULLENS (Touch, A Love by Any Measure, Destined, Legend)
EMILY LIN (Shatter Me)
I think that’s about it folks! I still have a box of books that’s waiting for a good home, so stay tuned for that. A Million Suns Arc Tour is making a stop here in December which makes me positively giddy and nervous because this will be my first! As usual, many thanks to those who stick around long after the giveaways have been won…it makes me happy that you’re interested enough to keep following. 

Review: The Space Between by Brenna Yavanoff

Publication Date:  November 15th, 2011
Format:  Hardcover, 363 pages
RATING:  4 out of 5 Stars

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this? Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped – and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be. This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Brenna’s debut novel, The Replacement didn’t really appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong; the novel was a study in world building with a story line that’s quite unique. But the lyrical writing left me completely baffled. I thought that the book was better suited for the intellectual types, because heaven knows, I’ve yet to figure out what it was about.

When I saw this book on Goodreads, I’d given it a somewhat lukewarm reception. I was expecting the same writing style – puzzling in a lot of ways but beautiful nonetheless. But after reading just the first two chapters of The Space Between, I could tell that my reactions to Brenna’s books would be as different as night and day.

The simplistic beauty of Ms. Yavanoff’s writing quickly ensnared me. I know that lyrical prose are just the bees’ knees but sometimes, authors tend over-write a story. I’m a fan of say what you mean, and mean what you say principle in life and the same goes when I read. Don’t over think a scenario. Don’t convolute the story with flowery words that has a tendency to complicate the simplest of things. If we were to speak in fashion terms, don’t over accessorize. I think Brenna’s straightforward writing in this novel made my reading experience much more pleasant.

There are a lot of ways where TSB trumps all the other angels and demons books that are out there. First of all, angels blur the line of good and evil and the same goes for the demons. It was so easy to root for the demons because other than collecting souls destined to hell, they weren’t the homicidal, evil bunch that we’ve come to know. Angel Azrael particularly, makes the perfect candidate for the most sinister, pyschopathic character of the year. He’s an angel…of the blood-letting, torture-loving variety. The good and evil scale was certainly imbalanced in this book. There were more good on the demons’ side than on the angel’s side. Confused yet? It’s simple really. It was a role-reversal of epic proportions. But not all demons were sporting an invisible halo – as was in the case of Beezlebub. I’m still on the fence about where to categorize him but knowing the reasons for doing what he did, I could sympathize to a point.

Daphne, the main character is a spawn of Lilith and Lucifer who decided to go earth-bound to find her brother Obie. The best thing about these siblings is that they seemed to have not gotten the memos that they were supposed to be evil. Obie, for instance, saves broken souls from an imminent eternal stint in hell. Granted, his father is Adam (yes, that Adam!) but her mother is Lilith. In Jewish Mythology, she was Adam’s first wife – the disobedient one and consequently, the evil one. Obie decided to leave Pandemonium for good in exchange for a dismal life on earth. But when he disappeared, Daphne had no choice but to find the only semblance of love she knows – that of her love for her brother. On the surface, it would seem like she’s just a half-demon, half-angel who was suffering from an identity crisis. But deep inside, she’s really consciously fighting her true nature – the succubus. This girl has some pretty wild abilities. Aside from being a firestarter, she could take away a person’s dark emotions – sadness, grief. She could also walk in your dreams and her shed blood turns into an army of Daphne. I honestly think that being a demon doesn’t fit her bill. She wasn’t evil – maybe a little confused about her identity but definitely far from evil.

I know this review is getting longer but I really must say a few words about Truman. He’s angsty, rebellious and had a predilection to suicide. I just want to take this boy home, feed him, clothe him, cuddle him. It’s the mother in me. His loneliness was so real that the sadness just drips off the pages. And this was where Daphne had to fight her instinct to drink all of Truman’s darkness away. In fact, she could’ve easily have taken all his pain but she chose not to because it wasn’t hers to take. Truman also has a bit of a history. The fight to skip through pages took a lot from me. I was impatient to know the real Truman and when the revelation happened, it was a little…underwhelming. There wasn’t much fan fare. I thought that his reactions toward the appearance of Daphne and her kind in his life was too nonchalant – as was his reaction when he learned who his real father was.

Even so, this book was amazing. I think that Ms. Yovanoff went over and above all the angels and demons myth retellings that we’ve been reading. The most admirable element about her writing is her ability to create the most visceral and yet fantastical world. The Space Between clearly shows her versatility in such a way that she was able to go off tangent from her inaugural work. I couldn’t say it was a personal growth as a writer but I think she just widened her spectrum to reach a broader audience.

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

Publication Date: June 27th, 2011
Text Publishing Melbourne Australia
Format: Paperback, 202 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Mim knows what she wants, and where she wants to go — anywhere but home, stuck in the suburbs with her mother who won’t get off the couch, and two brothers in prison. She’s set herself rules to live by, but she’s starting to break them.
Now Mim has to retrieve a lost package for her mother.
Does this make her a drug runner?
Why is a monster dog called Gargoyle hidden in the back shed?
And Jordan, the boy she sent Valentines to for years, why is he now suddenly a creep?
How come there’s a huge gap between her and her best friend, Tahnee?And who is the mysterious girl next door who moans at night?
Over the nine days before her seventeenth birthday, Mim’s life turns upside down. She has problems, and she’s determined to solve them herself. But in the end, she works out who her people are, and the same things look entirely different.
If Mim would just be what the world expected her to be, then maybe her whole life wouldn’t be a constant fight against the current. If she would just be the type of girl who grew up surrounded by thugs and drug dealers – one who smokes, uses drugs, wouldn’t keep her legs closed, then perhaps her mother would know just what to do about her. But Mim is stubborn, adamant to leave the place where hopes and dreams go nowhere. The rules she set for herself become her religion and in nine days before she turned seventeen, she goes and breaks most of them through no choice of her own. It started with a package, it ended with a package. For better or for worse, Mim’s life is about to change.

I never usually comment on the cover of a book that I review, but I’d like to talk about how appropriate this one is. A silhouette of a girl running away or running toward something on a train track. It’s befitting that the girl on the cover is really no one definitive. Because you’ll never really know the real Mim. The real Jemima Dodd hasn’t really lived yet; not until she’s become the person that she’d always strived to be. She refused to be defined by the life that she’d always known and refused to accept that there was nothing else for someone like her. Her stubbornness is commendable – admirable. She’s lived a hard life for a girl her age and yet there’s an innocence about her that’s noticeable. It was in her undying hope that life could be better; in the way she loved Jordan from a far. But at the same time, there is this edge – a hardness about her that bailed her out of trouble time and time again and one that she’d used to help others. 

The side stories of the people who lived in Tudor Crescent were heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. They were minor characters with major impacts: Lola, the phone sex operator; The Tarrants who’d had to suffer a lifetime of physical abuse from the head of the family; the ever-knowing Benny and to Mrs. Tkautz who’d always had a prayer on her lips for Mim. To Kate, who lives a perfect life with the perfect family but who’d been waiting for the chance to break out of her skin. The best friend, Tahnee who grudgingly admire Mim. These group of people gave this book a whole another dimension and become tiny pieces of who Mim is whether she likes it or not. 

This story is about not losing sight of your dreams and about giving the people around you a second chance. A person can’t be an island. Eventually, you’ll need someone. Sometimes, your expectations and judgments become a wall that isolate you. 

These Aussie authors astound me over and over again. The stories they create has a realistic quality that has a tendency to tell you how it really is. The ugly side of life become a fairy tale that leaves a smile on your face long after you finish reading. Man, these books are hard to come by and very expensive to acquire. But never do I find myself regretting each and every time I buy them. 

IMM #16

In My Mailbox is a weekly event over at The Story Siren, which showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the sixteenth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.


Metamorphosis by Devon Ashley
Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell
Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
Dreams Unleashed by Linda Havley
Breathe by Abbi Glines
Farsighted by Emily Chand
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Dancergirl by Carol Tanzman
Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling
After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
The Dark Elite by Chloe Neill
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Death Watch by Ari Berk
Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

What’s in your mailbox?

Review: Unlovable (Port Fare, #1) by Sherry Gammon

Publication Date: January 13th, 2011
Worldpainting Unlimited Inc.
Format: Kindle copy
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars


Port Fare, New York, has fallen into the clutches of true evil. The Dreser brothers have arrived with a scheme to increase drug sales in the area by whatever means possible. Seth Prescott is part of MET (Mobile Enforcement Teams) a branch of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). He’s been assigned to work undercover at Port Fare High, and things aren’t going very well, until senior Maggie Brown enters the equation. He’s harbored a secret crush on her from day one, and now that she is in the center of the case, he’s trying to stay clear and objective while walking the line between business and unrequited love.

Maggie is truly the poster child for Heroin Chic, complete with jutting bones and dark-ringed eyes, but is she an addict, or is there another reason for her appearance? She struggles with her feelings for Seth, fearing he is just another person who will eventually let her down, as everyone in her life has done thus far.
Maggie has spent her life caring for her alcoholic mother. A task that has left her heavily burdened and alone. Before long, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worst, sending Maggie’s life into a tale-spin.

While Seth works relentlessly to inject fear into the dealers and flush them out into the open, Maggie fights to stay alive as the hunt turns deadly.

Seth and Maggie’s romantic journey is one of humor, heartbreak, and self-discovery.


Here’s my major beef with this book: I could not, for the life of me, reconcile Maggie’s voice with the chaos and heartbreak and angst that was going on her life. There’s a certain flippancy about her that was definitively off-putting. I mean, serious issues were tackled here including, but not limited to: parental neglect, malnourishment, drugs peddling, alcohol, murder, sexual assault, torture…etc and yet her musings sounded light hearted and sometimes even blithe.  She lacked the dark undertones better suited for the themes of this book. And I certainly couldn’t agree that the author’s intent was to give this book some lightness due to the severity of subjects at hand because if that was true then I can only give her credit for trying. I, for one, wasn’t convinced. 

I found myself frustrated with Maggie’s character, period. She was very strong in her conviction to stay away from Seth and yet she couldn’t say no to her abusive ex-boyfriend. Zach called her Maggot quite a few times, stupid in some occasions, belittled her principles about no sex before marriage and yet she was unable to voice out her protests when he came and forced her to help him make the queen bee of the school jealous. 

Maggie was such a contradiction in all the ways possible. She’s painted as the saddest looking girl you could ever imagine – physically and emotionally but for some odd reason, boys and creepy old men found her attractive. I don’t discount her self-esteem issues but you’d have to work doubly hard to convince me either way. There was a certain disconnection between a character who’d had to endure what she had and the actual character drawn in this novel. 

As for Seth, well, he can’t do anything wrong. He’s perfect; too perfect that he’s yawn inspiring, instead of awe-inspiring. 

The attempts to add in some humour to this book felt forced and out of place. I also had a difficult time accepting that her mother didn’t really mean every single ugly words she’d ever thrown her way.  Honestly, it’s like every character in this book was suffering from an identity crisis. The entire novel was focused on Maggie having to live with an alcoholic mother. This woman spent the whole time drunk, passed out and verbally abusive to Maggie on the odd times that she was sober. Toward the end of the book, Maggie found some letters that her mother had apparently written to her in the midst of her drunkenness. The mother in the letter and the mother on the couch were, I swear upon anything that’s holy,  two different characters. I had a hard time believing that it was the same woman. 

Truthfully, I stopped quite a few times and debated whether or not to continue but I’m so tired of having to quit on books because of exasperating characters. The plot had so much potential – a romance between an undercover cop and a student at a high school – not original by a mile but still has its allure. Unfortunately, the flaws in character development distracted me relentlessly. I remained angry from the first quarter of the book until the bitter end. There were some editing mistakes as well (leach instead of leech pg. 37, master chief instead of master chef pg. 242). 

I wish I could say something favourable about my reading experience. But I’m at a loss. Others would enjoy this story very much. I just didn’t…couldn’t.  

Review: Stork by Wendy Delsol

Publication Date: October 12th, 2010
Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover, 355 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

Goodreads SUMMARY

Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.


I have had this book fermenting in my currently reading shelf – a week? a week and a half? Maybe even two. It’s one of those books that I couldn’t really fault for its inability to whet my reading appetite. During those sporadic moments when I was finally able to give it my undivided attention, I found Stork to be just mildly interesting.

To be honest, I was a little reluctant to read this book because the MC seemed like someone I’d avoid reading. I’m not at all interested in fashion so the synopsis put me off a little bit. To my surprise, Katla turned out to be a refreshing character. She’s quirky and funny with a voice that was genuine to her character. Having just relocated from sunny California to wintry Minnesota, you could say that she’s like a fish out of water; completely out of her elements. I liked how this girl didn’t sound like a complete wuss while she whined about how cold it was. I was also prepared to read someone so vain but was glad to find out that she really wasn’t. 

Her romance with Jack – though destined,  didn’t feel like it was one of those be-all, end-all type of relationship. It wasn’t as far-fetched, so the eye-rolling took a break the entire time I was reading this book. 

Forgive me when I say that the fundamental retelling of the legends in the book bored me – and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine. It’s just something that I wasn’t at all interested in. The majority of the book dealt with this retelling so for the most part, I was just forcing myself to read. I’d bought a hardback copy of this book previously then Candlewick had sent me another copy for review. I never liked giving tepid reviews, because to me, it feels like I never really gave the book a chance. I just wish I enjoyed this a bit more than I did. 

Review: Breathe by Abbi Glines

Publication Date: May 16th, 2011
Wild Child Publishing
Format: Kindle Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Sadie White’s summer job isn’t going to be on the beach life-guarding or working at rental booths like most kids her age. With her single mother’s increasing pregnancy and refusal to work, Sadie has to take over her mother’s job as a domestic servant for one of the wealthy summer families on a nearby island.

When the family arrives at their summer getaway, Sadie is surprised to learn that the owner of the house is Jax Stone, one of the hottest teen rockers in the world. If Sadie hadn’t spent her life raising her mother and taking care of the house she might have been normal enough to be excited about working for a rock star.

Even though Sadie isn’t impressed by Jax’s fame, he is drawn to her. Everything about Sadie fascinates Jax but he fights his attraction. Relationship’s never work in his world and as badly as he wants Sadie, he believes she deserves more. By the end of the summer, Jax discovers he can’t breathe without Sadie.

But can their love overcome the disparity in their lifestyles? Or will they have to learn how to without each other breathe again?

To be released on 12/13

Believe it or not,  I read this right after The Vincent Boys. So naturally, I have not quite come down from the scintillating high of reading such an awesome book. Breathe was Abbi Glines’ first published work. I’d recommend reading this first before The Vincent Boys. The stories are not related in any way; I just think that this book is a good introduction to Abbi’s works. After reading both of Gline’s books, I can honestly say that I’m looking  forward to  Existence’s release. 

Abbi Glines’ debut featured a sort of  rags-to-riches story about a girl who lived her whole life poor. Sadie’s mother seemed to be reluctant to grow up so she’d had to be the one to take care of her. Her life lessons include being smart about boys and keeping people far away enough so she’d never have to depend on anyone but herself.  With her mother being pregnant, Sadie had no choice but to take over her mother’s job of a housekeeper for the rich. When she found out who her employer was, she needed to reiterate to herself  that food, rent, and a sibling on the way was more important than to be caught up in Jax Stone’s world. Unfortunately, being involved with Jax proved to be inevitable.

This was such a sweet story; with believable characters and albeit, predictable plot. I’m not going to take anything away from Abbi’s writing; I thought she did a marvellous job, considering this was her debut.

My grievance was the less than impressive Jax Stone. He certainly didn’t fit the rockstar typecast. I expected a bit more angst from this guy, perhaps some moody tantrum throwing. But this guy was zen as zen can be. So much so that he felt underdeveloped. I guess it’s difficult to bring more personality into a cast when the book is being narrated by another. Also, some of his dialogues were…a bit cheesy. Perhaps it was the song writer in him, but I found myself cringing at some of the stuff he’d said and his song lyrics were just as fromage heavy.

I’m also disappointed with the resolution of the conflict. It felt a bit rushed to me. I’ve always been fond of grovelling males in a novel and had expected one here. Sadly, Sadie accepted Jax’s reappearance in her life quite easily.

I think this is still a good read for those looking for contemporary romance. If you can get over the cheese, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

Review: The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines

Publication Date: October 21st, 2011
Kindle Edition
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars


Being the good girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Ashton Gray has grown weary of playing the part to please her parents, and to be worthy of the town’s prince charming, Sawyer Vincent. Maybe That’s why she’s found herself spending time with Sawyer’s cousin, Beau, while he’s away for the summer camping with his family. Beau is nothing like her perfect boyfriend. He’s the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, dangerous in ways she’s only day dreamed about, and the one guy she should stay away from. 
Beau never envied Sawyer his loving parents, his big nice home, or his position as quarterback. He loves him like a brother. Which is why he’s tried everything in his power to keep his distance from Sawyer’s girlfriend. Even if he has loved her since the age of five, Ashton is Sawyer’s girl, so therefore she’s off limits. But when Sawyer leaves for the summer, Ashton, the one girl Beau would move Heaven and Earth for, decides she wants to get into trouble. Stabbing the one person who’s always accepted him and stood by him in the back, is the cost of finally holding Ashton Gray in his arms. Is she worth losing his cousin over?…. Hell Yeah.

I have a confession to make. I uploaded Kindle on PC at work because of this book. I wasn’t going to, I swear! But I kept reading some glowing reviews that I just had to check it out myself. As soon as I got to the first two pages, I pretty much kissed productivity goodbye. I’m awful, I know! I have to uninstall this program before the IT gets wind of it. Can you imagine how much trouble I’m going to be in? I shudder to think.

This is quite possibly one of my favourite contemporary lit of the year.  It was so addicting that I barely noticed the time passing. Before I knew it, a work day had passed and 8.5 hours were spent…well, not working.

Meet Ashton, Sawyer and Beau – best of friends since they were kids. Growing up, Ashton and Beau were the quintessential trouble makers and Sawyer was the one who’d had to constantly bail them out of trouble. They were inseparable until Ashton and Sawyer became an item, forcing Beau to the sidelines. Ashton changed dramatically from the wild child to the prototypical preacher’s daughter just to keep the perfect veneer that everyone expected from her. They eventually grew apart, to the point that Beau didn’t even know who Ashton was anymore. Heck, some days, Ashton didn’t even know Ashton anymore. But deep inside, Beau knows that the real Ashton he loved from afar and for so long was still hanging around her goody-two-shoes persona, bursting to come alive. All he had to do was help her realize that perfection is as fabled as unicorns.

I’m a sucker for bad boys, and man Beau played this character to a T. He’s mischief and swagger and compassion all rolled into one frustrated hot mess. Unlike every other bad boy characters I’ve read as of late, he didn’t make me want to yank my hair out in utter aggravation. He didn’t go out of his way to be a jerk to Ash. In fact, I actually loved the way he needled her to bring out her true personality.

I think this is the FIRST ever love triangle that I could honestly say I truly enjoyed reading. I’ve figured it out that the annoyance usually come from a character whose feelings waffle between the other two sides. It drives me up the wall! But here, Ash’s reluctance to be with Beau stemmed from the fact that she would be the reason for the possible wedge between Beau and Sawyer. I thought her selflessness was commendable. She was willing to valiantly walk out of the boys’ lives for their sakes.

The romance between Beau and Ash was sizzling hot; so hot that I’m not quite sure if this fits the YA tag. But I’m not the tag police so I couldn’t really care less. Just a heads up though, there was a word that was used that I don’t really think is suitable for the YA audience. I won’t even mention it. And please don’t think that I’m conservative. I’m far from it. Heck, I don’t even know if this book is being marketed as YA, so maybe this little reminder is moot.

Anyway, I really love this book. The writing was fresh and straightforward. I couldn’t ask for a better book to risk getting in a whole slew of trouble at work.

So why the four star rating? There were some minor…very, very, very minor editing miscues (bare instead of bear, and since instead of sense). I have a Kindle copy so maybe the paperback copy will be different.

Review: Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel

Publication Date: July 24th, 2012
Delacorte Books
Format: EPub from Net Galley
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.

Lurlene McDaniel’s signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.


Ripped from the headlines, Red Heart Tattoo is a story of people coming together after a couple of attention-hungry kids set off a bomb in a high school. And in the centre of the chaos was Roth; a tattooed senior with a reputation for inciting malice. Roth has been attracted to Morgan for what seemed like an eternity.  But Morgan was on the opposite spectrum of Roth’s world; she’s popular, president of the students council and was the other half of the ‘IT’ couple in school. That didn’t deter Roth from trying to catch her attention either way, however and Morgan would do just about anything to calm her breathing every time she catches Roth staring at her like he was flaying her skin. When the senseless violence happened, they found themselves at the centre of it all; Roth was the hero, Morgan, the straight A student whose blindness was brought on by PTSD. 

This is the story of coping – to perish or to strive. A story about hope and how a traumatic event can change a person. From the beginning of the novel to end, the characters’ metamorphosis was astounding. Roth, for example was a completely different person. Gone was the arrogance, the egotism that you’d know of him at the beginning of the novel. Physically he was still Roth, tattooed, pierced and perpetually disheveled. But on the inside, he’d become responsible and a person who actually cared. This was basically the theme of the book: what would become of a person after going through a harrowing experience. It wasn’t just the physical damage that was costly. These are high school kids – fragile in some ways. Adolescence is hard as it is, compounded with this trauma and you’ve got yourselves a succession of appointments with a therapist. 

I wish this book was longer. I wish there was a sense of contentment when I finished this book. It wasn’t rushed or anything, but I wanted to read more. There were characters here that barely scratched the surface of who they were and who they could be. But I understand. It’s difficult to end this novel with rainbows and unicorns. This novel wasn’t about a couple of kids who got bullied. These was about them being bored and lacking the attention at home and school. Senseless violence, no matter what the motive, is still senseless. There’s no valid reason.