Category Archives: Young Adult

Crash – Lisa McMann

By: Lisa McMann
Visions – Book 1
Available January 2013

Description: If what you see is what you get, Jules is in serious trouble. The suspenseful first of four books from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that. What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her.

Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow. The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees.

The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

This Blonde’s Review:
When I saw another series by Lisa McMann I knew I had to read it.since I really enjoyed Wake. While this is a decent story, it wasn’t quite to the same level and was mildly disappointing.

The story is about a girl who has a vision that repeats itself over & over. It shows up on billboards, tv shows, just about anywhere she looks could potentially show her the vision. It’s a crash that leaves 9 people dead. When she decides to figure it out she realizes who one of the people is someone she cares about.

I didn’t feel we had much chance to know Jules. She’s our main character but we were just reading these things she’s thinking without getting a feel for who she is. She tells us about her family to have an idea of who they are and she tells us about a boy she likes. No clue why she’s so devoted to him when he won’t talk to her, she just is.

While I don’t expect highly in depth stories for everything I read you’ll have a hard time catching my interest with a pair I can’t care about. I was much more interested in the siblings.

The story is an interesting concept. She’s not someone with visions, she is someone who has One vision. It’s the same over and over until she does something to change it. It’s not one I’ve seen and I’d be interested to she if she gives the characters more depth in the second book after the interesting angle she throws us at the end to draw us into book 2.

If you enjoy the idea if a normal girl having visions & setting out to save some lives then you may enjoy this one. If you prefer more depth you may want to wait & we can see if she gives us more in book two before you get started on this series.


Alice in Zombieland – Gena Showalter

Alice In Zombieland
By Gena Showalter

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently. I’d tell my sister no. I’d never beg my mother to talk to my dad. I’d zip my lips and swallow those hateful words. Or, barring all of that, I’d hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time. I’d tell them I love them. I wish… Yeah, I wish

This Blonde’s Review
I never realized how much I didn’t like Alice until I read Alice in Zombieland. The original Alice always struck me as spoiled, uninterested in anyone but herself, and rather unlikeable. I liked the adventure perhaps, but not Alice. Our Alice is nothing like that.

Ali grew up with a drunken father she knows is crazy. He’s so distracted by the monsters he sees that he can’t seem to care about anyone else. His desire to protect them outweighs his ability to be there for them. Ali’s mother makes excuses for him so is little help in their daughter’s attempts to have a real life. For Ali’s birthday she talks her parents into something they’ve never agreed to before & that changes everything.

In a blink Ali loses everything that matters to her. She didn’t bounce back like nothing is wrong, because no one really could. But she isn’t going to give up forever. Soon she’ll fight. Because now she knows her dad wasn’t crazy.

She moves to a new house to live with her grandparents, had to go to a new school, make new friends. Ali gets lucky by making the best type of friend (who I loved) early. Life gets complicated as soon a she makes eye contact with the most dangerous guy in school. Because we can’t have a story without a love interest and our Alice can’t have a study boy. Especially as she gets herself into more scrapes and shows us how tough she really is.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this I’m since I’m not fully into the zombie trend. Ali won me over though. She’s obviously had a hard time and can’t even think of certain things at first. Despite that she’s stronger than she seems. She will avenge her family, even when life takes a turn for the unexpected. I can’t help but respect a girl who will fight for what she believes, even if it’s easier to retreat.

If you enjoy strong characters who wrong let their baggage defeat them, dangerous boys who are more than they seem, & zombies that aren’t your typical zombies then you’ll love this one.


Lucid – Adrienne Stoltz

Lucid coverLucid
By Adrienne Stoltz
Available Now

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different–except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This Blonde’s Review:
Have you ever had a dream that felt real? For Maggie and Sloane it’s more than just a dream that feels real. For them, they share their lives through their dreams. When Maggie is asleep she can dream of Sloane’s life as if she’s living it, and when Sloan is asleep she dreams of Maggie’s life.

As their lives start to change and they each find a guy worth keeping around, they start to struggle with their shared lives. They know this isn’t a normal way to live and they know that no one else would believe it. That if they were believed the people around them would think they were crazy. As they start to open up about their unusual dream connection the people in each life insist that she is the real one and that the other girl is just a very realistic dream. They can let go of each other, but what will be left when that happens?

This book was rather interesting, but it’s one that makes you wonder since the author doesn’t make it obvious who is real. The way they both have the same name makes it clear that they aren’t two different people with a strange connection. Reading their story we can see reasons why both would want to escape their lives. As their lives start to overlap and each girl sees something from the other one’s life we have to watch and hope she’ll get everything straightened out before it’s too late.

The idea of someone creating such an involved double life is interesting. It’s not quite a split personality since it all takes place in dreams, so it’s not anything I had ever thought much about. I’m not sure it was the best time for me to read this one since I was a little distracted, making it hard for me to get lost in the story. But even with the distractions and having to reread certain parts of it I still enjoyed it.

If you enjoy books where you aren’t sure what’s real and what’s all in the character’s heads then you’ll enjoy this one.


When We Wake – Karen Healey

When We Wake coverWhen We Wake
By Karen Healey
Available March 2013

My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

This Blonde’s Review:
Our lives can change in an instant. For Teagan that’s exactly what happened on what she thought was one of the best days of her life. She finds herself waking up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. Teagan had died and somehow been brought back to life.

Being brought back doesn’t feel like a new start for Teagan. It’s the end. Everyone she has ever known or loved is gone. The people who loved her lost her and some of their lives were changed forever because of it. She doesn’t know why she was brought back but she knows that nothing is what it should be.

Teagan was the kind of girl you can like, but not everyone would understand. She wanted to change the world and was willing to go do what she could to make it happen. Waking up in the future was nothing like she expected. Some of the laws are things she thinks are fantastic (humanure) but others leave her struggling to understand how they came to be. To make things harder for her, she’s a teenager who is more outdated than many of the adults in it.

Teagan is a passionate, stubborn, and determined girl. She manages to make a few friends and won’t give up on herself. When she stumbles into information she shouldn’t have about why she’s there, Teagan will do whatever it takes to bring it to light.

I enjoyed Karen Healey’s vision of a futuristic Australia. Some of the concepts that are introduced are things I had never thought of before but would be great for people to consider. It makes me wonder why I’d never heard of some of those ideas before. Other things aren’t so great, but I can also easily see how some of them can play out.

Teagan’s journey isn’t one that we can look at and figure it has to have a good ending. There is no way for her to ever go home, so going forward is all that’s left. With the information she has and the people who don’t want her to have it after her, there are only so many options left for her. I admit that I’m torn on the ending but with that information I have to say I think it was done very well.


If We Kiss – Rachel Vail

If We Kiss coverIf We Kiss
By Rachel Vail
If We Kiss – Book 1
Available Now

What would happen if we kiss?

Kevin led me quickly around the side of the building, then stopped. I managed not to crash into him. I tried to look calm, cool, unperturbed. I told myself not to laugh, especially not a snorting kind of laugh. “Wha . . . what did . . .”

And then he kissed me.

If We Kiss is the story of Charlotte (Charlie to her friends), who finds herself falling for a boy who is off-limits. Her best friend is in love with him, and her mother and his father are dating. Still, Charlie can’t help but wonder, what would happen if we kiss?

This Blonde Reads
This one was rather hard to review since I didn’t care for it, yet it was hard to say exactly why. Charlie makes some bad choices but nothing that has prevented me from liking characters in other books.

Charlie is basically just your average good girl. She’s not too experienced with boys yet lets a guy lead her outside to make out with her against a building, then acts like it never happened. Then the obvious thing would be for her friend to start dating him and her not to admit what she feels for him or what happened between them. Even better is when they start spending time together and she gets to see that she really does like him like she thought. Throughout it all Charlie listening to her friend fall harder for Kevin.

Then we have Kevin. There have been books where I’m torn on whether I can like our lead girl or not but the guy is the one who wins me over. This is not Kevin. I don’t actually see what’s so great about Kevin, since he is the very picture of a guy who doesn’t care what girl he has as long as he has one to make out with. Clearly a winner.

I wanted to like this one, but I found myself irritated and not caring about any of the characters. Not caring about anyone involved made it pretty hard for me to enjoy their story. I hate to make it about the author and the book, since there wasn’t necessarily anything to set this book apart from the others I’ve read that are similar, so perhaps I wasn’t in the right mindset for this one.

If it sounds good to you then you really should give it a try. You may connect with Charlie and find yourself really loving her story.


This Is Not a Drill – Beck McDowell

This Is Not a Drill coverThis Is Not a Drill
By Beck McDowell
Available October 2012

When high school seniors—and former couple—Emery and Jake find themselves held hostage in a first grade classroom, they must do all they can to protect the kids. Brian Stutts, a U.S. soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Iraq, pulls out his gun to convince the teacher to hand over the son he’s not allowed to check out because of a custody battle. The situation turns deadly when a security guard appears at the door and Stutts impulsively opens fire. When the teacher is carried from the room, the children’s fate is in the hands of Emery and Jake. While Jake searches for a way to communicate with the policemen surrounding the building, Emery, fighting her shyness, fear, and POTS symptoms, tries to reach out to the soldier. She gains a new understanding of what he faced in Iraq, and discovers remarkable strength in his small son.

This Blonde’s Review:
This book can speak to so many people in the wake of so much violence in schools over the last several years. Except this school is an elementary school, and the man doing the threatening is a US Soldier.

Jake and Emery have a past that they’ve had to work around for the sake of tutoring together. When Brian Stutts takes over their classroom they have to work together to keep the children in their care safe.

Jake is easy to like as we watch him try to get the kids out without Stutts realizing he’s communicating with the outside. We’re supposed to be unsure of him since we see also see the side to him where he ruined things with Emery without even thinking of the consequences.

Emery has had issues of her own, including the pain of what happened between her and Jake. She refuses to fall apart in front of the children and does her best to understand what’s happening. We’re able to get to know Stutts and his motivations through Emery. It’s rare that we can hate the “villain” and feel bad for him at the same time.

This book dealt with a heavy topic but wasn’t heavy handed about it. It was easy to get drawn in and want to race to find out what happened. I don’t want to give too much away, but I have to say that I think this one was rather well rounded. It wasn’t too ‘easy’ of an ending, yet it wasn’t looking for the most heartbreaking way of ending either. It leaves the characters wondering what is really important in their lives when it could be cut short unexpectedly?

This one was a little tough for me in some ways since I do have small children who coincidentally go to an elementary school with the same (common) name. And I am more than familiar with the military community, so put those two together and it’s enough to break my heart. Since the author seemed to make this book more about life than sorrow it wasn’t something that was hard to read, instead it had me torn in what I hoped would happen.

If the description sounds interesting to you and books where teenagers have to step up and keep others safe, then you’ll enjoy this one.


Altered – Jennifer Rush

Altered coverAltered
By Jennifer Rush
Altered – Book 1
Available January 2013

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

This Blonde’s Review:
They only remember the lab. She wishes she could help them have more.

Anna has always been drawn to Sam, even though there’s been little encouragement. Their lives are conducted on separate sides of glass walls. She assists her father with his work, seldom leaving the lab.

When the Branch shows up to take the boys things take an unexpected turn. The boys escape and Anna’s father tells her to go with them. As they run from the branch there are secrets that come out and memories that start to surface. They have to work together to find out what their connection really is so that they’ll know what they’re dealing with. They need to discover the truth about themselves to survive.

I’ve never been a big fan of the big romance without reason. We don’t know why she’s so drawn to him, I don’t really get the feeling that he’s as interested as she is. Then we find things out that make their romance angle even less romantic, so I honestly had a hard time feeling that aspect of the book. I’d have been much happier if the author had left that out or made the attraction part happen later, maybe something that came as a surprise.

Despite that big part of the book that drives me crazy there were some interesting parts. I did like the connection Anna has with the group since I wouldn’t have expected that, though the author did make the why more complicated than it needed to be.

If I don’t look at her love of Sam I do like the dynamics between Anna and the rest of the group. She has varying levels of friendship with the boys, one is like a best friend down to another who seems to hate her. I liked that there were different relationships within the group, even if they were a little too easily placed in roles. The upside of that is that not everyone really fits the role they play.

The Branch is interesting since it gives this book the real drive. What is the Branch, why are they so invested in the boys, and are they responsible for why the boys can do what they do? These questions are what drove me to finish reading the book even though the Anna/Sam thing drove me a little nuts.

Sadly, I was disappointed in this one. It did end well and the end made me like Anna much more than I had the rest of the book, so because of that I may find myself reading the second book in this series. It won’t be one that I search out or pay for, but if I’m able to borrow a copy from my library I’m sure my curiosity will lead to my checking it out.

If mysterious government organizations, deep and abiding love without reason, and teens who are capable of more than they should be appeals to you then you may like this one more than I did. Please let me know what you think if you give it a try!