Monthly Archives: March 2015

School for Sidekicks – Kelly McCullough

School for Sidekicks coverSchool for Sidekicks
By: Kelly McCullough
Available August 2015

Being a hero isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be in this funny and genuine novel from adult fantasy author Kelly McCullough.

Evan Quick is a GIANT superhero geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero himself. Every morning he checks to see if he’s developed his powers overnight, and every day there’s nothing. No flying, no super strength, no invulnerability—that always hurts to check—no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to turn off the alarm clock without smacking the switch.

But then Evan somehow manages to survive a supervillian’s death ray, and is sent to the Academy for Metahuman Operatives. Unfortunately, his new school is not what he expected, and instead of fighting bad guys, Evan finds himself blacklisted, and on the wrong side of the school’s director. If Evan ever wants to realize his dream, he must convince his “mentor” Foxman, a semi-retired has-been, to become a real hero once again.

This Blonde’s Review:
Evan has always dreamed of being a superhero, going so far as to keep a video diary to track and potential changes. Every day he wakes up and takes stock and every day is the same, no powers. Until his birthday when something strange happens, but everything believes it was a machine malfunction. When nothing else happens he assumes maybe they were right. When he’s involved in a supervillian’s attack and manages to survive and save the day he finds himself at a new school away from his family and everything he’s ever known.

Evan learns the hard way that there is more to life as a metahuman than he ever knew, and as a superhero geek he thought he knew it all. The things he learns aren’t all good and soon he is on a path to find out everything that is being hidden from them. Luckily Evan has made friends and manages to assemble his own team to determine what is happening.

I kind of loved that the things that they found out weren’t things that had an easy answer on what to do with the information. Was the school’s director right or wrong? And now that they know the things that they do, what do they do with that information? Until they are distracted from that unanswered question by some activity by the same supervillian that hit Evan with a death ray before.

I enjoyed this one, even if there were similarities to other sidekick books because there were enough things that were different. I like the idea of books that show that sometimes the big names are imperfect and the little guys can be the ones to step up and have a big impact. I also really enjoyed the way this one had some very hard situations regarding whether certain actions by people in positions of power were justified or not. It was very interesting.

If you like superhero stories that aren’t about the big names and instead are about the regular guy learning how to be the hero then you’ll enjoy Evan’s story.

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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Book Review


Love Fortunes and Other Disasters – Kimberly Karalius

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters coverLove Fortunes and Other Disasters
By: Kimberly Karalius
Available May 2015

In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

This Blonde’s Review:
Fallon has dreamed of attending high school in Grimbaud and following the family tradition of getting a love fortune that leads her to marry her high school sweetheart. Instead her fortune dooms her to a life without love and that is unacceptable. Luckily she is able to team up with an unlikely group of other students who also have unfavorable love fortunes and they work together to get to the bottom of what is happening with the love charms in Grimbaud.

This book was interesting, they act as though charms and fortunes are common occurrences and that the only thing that makes this town different is the accuracy of the love fortunes from Zita’s shop. Until you look a little deeper and realize that there are not other love charms available when there used to be many more available, including common free charms passed down by word of mouth. It was interesting to see.

Getting to know Fallow was so great. She is a little uptight, with rigid rules of what she will eat or wear, but when you’re raised the way she was it makes complete sense. She wants to care and to be part of things. With the reputation Sebastian has you know we aren’t supposed to like him but each little thing you learn makes it clear he’s the kind of character that has more beneath the surface. Collecting silence and a love of his grandmother are not characteristics of a guy that isn’t likeable.

If you enjoy books where the characters decide to fight what others have told them is their set destiny then you’ll enjoy this one. It was a good light read and might make you think about whether it would really be worth it to skip the heartbreaks and go straight to your true love if possible.

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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Book Review


Sweet – Emmy Laybourne

Sweet coverSweet
By: Emmy Laybourne
Available June 2015

*People would kill to be thin.*

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

*But will they die for it, too?*

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.

This Blonde’s Review:
Laurel and Viv couldn’t be more different. Laurel wears boots and is comfortable with her weight. Viv likes to dress up and is always working to lose weight. When Viv’s dad pays for spots for both girls on a highly sought after celebrity weight lose cruise they have different views. Viv can’t wait to see how much weight she can lose and shows up prepared with smaller sizes of clothing. Laurel is happy with her size and only goes to support her friend.

Laurel catches celebrity host Tom’s eye right away. He can’t help but notice how different she is from everyone else and how real she is. But Tom isn’t the typical celebrity either, he wants more for himself and wants to live a healthy lifestyle. He chooses not to take an Solu since he’d rather work hard and eat right.

Tom and Laurel falling for each other the way they did was rather quick and unlikely, but I couldn’t help but like it anyway. His uncertainty and her unwillingness to be on display. They each had their shy points but they were willing to do what was needed for each other and to lean on each other. And they were smart enough to outwit solu and the other passengers.

The twist in the story was great. I loved the way they worked it around even with how unlikely it all was. If you’re willing to go with the story without worrying about how possible it all is then it was great and tragically terrible all at the same time.

If you enjoyed Emmy Laybourne’s other books you’ll likely enjoy this one too. And if you like books where being true to yourself is the best way to survive then you’ll enjoy this one.


Joyride – Anna Banks

Joyride coverJoyride
By: Anna Banks
Available June 2015

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

This Blonde’s Review:
Carly has had to grow up faster than any of her classmates. She can’t be a teenager since she is working hard all the time. She’s either studying hard in an attempt to make a better life for herself, or she’s working to earn as much money for her family as possible. Carly’s parents were deported several years before so she has been living with her brother while they both work hard to earn money to get them back in the United States.

When Arden does something big that causes him to see Carly he can’t seem to look away. He can see the way she tries to hide and fly under the radar. But Arden also sees the fire that she keeps hidden and knows that she would be the best accomplice in his pranks. Until he’s unable to see anyone but her.

I loved Carly and Arden. They have such different lives but neither have had it easy. Their baggage is heavy and not something any else can understand, yet somehow they’re able to help shoulder it for each other. They’re both strong characters who will fight for what they want. They didn’t know to fight for themselves until they met each other.

If you enjoy books with unlikely couples who teach each other what really matters in life then you’ll love Carly and Arden’s story.


How to Say I Love You Out Loud – Karole Cozzo

How to Say I Love You Out Loud coverHow to Say I Love You Out Loud
By: Karole Cozzo
Available August 2015

Words are strong. Love is stronger.

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can’t shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.

Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

This Blonde’s Review:
Jordyn’s life may seem great from the outside but home isn’t as easy as she likes to pretend. Her brother is autistic, in a highly sensitive world of his own. So much of Jordyn’s life at home is built around accommodating her brother that she wants her high school experience to be one without him in it. When his special school is closed unexpectedly and he starts attending the same high school she does everything she can to pretend she doesn’t know him. Instead she spends time with her friends and tries not to think about Alex.

I felt so bad for Jordyn and couldn’t imagine being in the position she was in. She wants to care about her brother but she doesn’t believe they can connect. It is easy to deny someone you can’t feel a connection to. Yet despite everything she does care and wants to protect him. But she wants to protect herself more, especially after the experiences of her childhood and the looks people still give him and their family. We can all relate to the fear she feels, even if part of us wants to think we’d do something better or different.

Seeing people try to get close and Jordyn try to balance letting them close but not too close was heartbreaking. We can see the way it hurts them and the way it hurts Jordyn. We can see that when you keep people from getting too close you find yourself alone. Finding her own voice was the most important thing for her to do. The way she did it was so perfect that I couldn’t help but love it.

If you enjoy books where the main character has to learn to accept the people she loves and find her own voice then you’ll enjoy this one. Jordyn will struggle and may lose some things, but speaking up and speaking out will help her find herself.


Wrong About The Guy – Claire LaZebnik

Wrong About The Guy coverWrong About The Guy
By: Claire LaZebnik
Available April 2015

Claire LaZebnik’s latest twist on a beloved classic asks the age old question: Could the girl who knows everything be wrong about the guy?

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie’s stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand. But Ellie isn’t the kind of person who’s content with simply having it all—the people in her life have to be equally happy. And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie’s plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don’t turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all. Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she’d expect.

This Blonde’s Review:
Ellie is one of those girls who thinks she can make everything around her into what she wants it to be. She thinks she knows what is best for herself and the people around her and is willing to push to make those things happen. She loves her family and the few friends she lets close.

I really enjoyed Ellie. She’s spoiled but she’s a good person at heart. She wants to do the right thing and take care of people she cares about. If that means pushing everyone into believing the same things she does then that’s what she’ll do. Ellie isn’t right as often as she thinks.

Watching Ellie learn that she isn’t right about everything was great. She’s surprised to learn about all of the things that she is wrong about. She risks important relationships trying to maneuver everything into what she wants. She has to accept that sometimes life is about allowing others to make their own decisions and accepting that we won’t always know what is best for others. We have to allow them to see what is best for themselves too.

If you enjoy books with characters who have to accept that they don’t have all the answers then you’ll enjoy Ellie.


The Fill-In Boyfriend – Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend coverThe Fill-In Boyfriend
By: Kasie West
Available May 2015

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

This Blonde’s Review:
When Gia got dumped by her boyfriend at her prom she thought that that was the end. She was going to her prom alone and now her friends would never believe she existed. Gia has a big frenemy problem, a newer girl to the group has been undermining her at every opportunity. So when she sees a guy waiting in the parking lot not going in she takes a leap and asks him to fill in.

When Fill-in Bradley gives her a public breakup and leaves she can’t stop thinking about him. When she’s given the chance to return the favor she’s happy to see him again. As they get to know each other again she can’t help but start to care about him. She can’t seem to come clean to her friends since she expects them to reject her. So she keeps trying until she’s put on the spot and has to make a choice.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt so bad for Gia that she had those issues with her friends, that she didn’t have people she could trust. But I loved the new friendships she was making, they were so much better for her and more likeable. I loved them and couldn’t help but want things to work out for them.

If you enjoy books where our main characters bungle their tricky situations and somehow find their way to something better then you’ll enjoy this one.