Tag Archives: debut authors

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson Review

45 pounds

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson
Penguin Young Readers Group
July 11, 2013
256 pgs

After yet another humiliating shopping trip with her perfect mother, sixteen-year-old Ann is determined to lose weight. For real this time. Especially since she is going to be a bridesmaid in her aunt’s wedding. Despite that fact that she has tried most of the gimmicks and fad diets, with no lasting success, Ann turns to yet another diet plan she sees on television. Ann has a long list of struggles to deal with. Her family is life is chaotic, her so-called best friend has a new group of friends, and as the wedding date approaches, the pressure to lose weight becomes unbearable. Ann eventually reaches a breaking point, which actually leads to a turning point. Family secrets are revealed, the perfect dress is found, and a family begins to heal.

I admit I was worried that this was going to be a fat-girl-is-shunned-but-loses-weight-and-everything-is-perfect kind of story. It was not. Ann is a complex and well-developed character who is surrounded by a delightful and slightly dysfunctional cast of supporting characters. Ann’s struggles are heartbreaking and unfortunately many readers will easily relate to her. She often loses her way, her focus, and her temper, but in the end she learns the importance of balance. The messages in this book are so simple and gently told. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt out of balance, left out or uncomfortable in their own skin. A lovely debut from an author to watch.

This one will pair nicely with Revenge of the Girl With a Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Happy Reading!



Top Ten Tueday: Time to Get Serious


Last week the Broke and the Bookish asked us about our favorite light, fun reads. This week we are looking at the flip side-serious books. I am going to be honest, I am not a huge fan of “issues” books. I really hate to be reminded of how horrible people can be to themselves and each other. That being said, I do have a few go-to books that deal with tough topics.

1. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton. This debut novel by a local author deals with the aftermath of rape. It is beautiful and heartbreaking.

what happens next

2. Please Ignore Vera Dietz A.S. King. Really, any A.S. King. She is brilliant. Vera Dietz deals with issues of betrayal, abuse, and death. Ask the Passengers deals with homosexuality. Both are lovely. I will let you in on a little secret. I would take the YA Issues Book Crown away from John Green and give it to her. There. I said it.

please-ignore-vera-dietz ask

3. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Bullying, school shooting, and suicide. Powerful stuff, told from point of view of the girlfriend of the shooter.

hate list

4. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. This book about bullying continues to haunt me. Brutal and disturbing.

some girls

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This one is an adult nonfiction, but I think it would appeal to some teen readers. Racism and medical ethics collide in this shocking story.


6. The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. This one may appear to be a science-fictiony horror story on the surface, but at its heart it is about kidnapping, trauma, and post traumatic stress. It is horrifying and disturbing and I loved it. I confess that I am a little afraid to start the sequel.


7. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. Now this is how I prefer my “issues” books. This is a book about grief, but there is an awesome road trip and a cute guy. There are light moments, but you never forget that it is a book about loss and grief. A favorite.


8. Pushing the Limits and Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I love these gritty romances that star good girls, bad girls, good guys, bad boys, drugs, poverty, messed-up parents, homosexuality, first love, sex and more. Must reads for fans of Simone Elkeles.

pushing the limits dare you to

9. Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg. This is another “lighter” serious book. Smart and sassy on the surface, this book is anything but shallow. Issues include messy dysfunctional families and the pressure put on girls to be pretty in order to fit in.


10. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. Gosh, it has been a while since I have sung the praises of Piper Vaughn and this awesome book! The issue: a deaf teen in a hearing world. Love, love, love this book.

fiveflavorsof dumb

Honorable Mentions go to:

perfect chemistry summer rules of survival okay for now going bovine nantucket blue

Happy (grab a tissue before you start) Reading!



Mondays With Megan-Spring Readathon Wrap-up

Hello dear reader, Happy Monday! As you may know, I participated in another Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon over the weekend. I was so excited. I was so prepared. I was so sleepy…and threw in the towel during hour 18. *Sigh* Well, lesson learned! No more Cousins Night Out before a readathon. I will redeem myself in October. Of course the event was not a total bust. I think 18 hours of participation is not too shabby and I finished three books. Now I am only 4 books behind on my reading goal! How about a big It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? list? Thanks to Book Journey and Teach Mentor Text for hosting!

mondayreading Mon Reading Button PB to YA


mind games golem what happens next sweet revenge fruits basket1 ocd finger lickin relish

1. Mind Games by Kiersten White is the first in a new series. It is a huge departure from her Paranormalcy series and took some getting used to, but in the end, I really liked it!
2. The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud is the second book in the Bartimaeus series. I listened to this one and enjoyed it more than the first. I will definitely finish this series. I was on the fence when I began.
3. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton is a fantastic debut by a local author! I often struggle with “issue” books and this was no different. It seems so wrong to say that I loved a book that deals with the aftermath of a drug rape, but I did.
4. The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock is another debut novel. The issues are bullying and homosexuality. It was fine.
5. Fruits Basket vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya. A teen reader of mine insisted that I read this. I don’t read much manga, but I enjoyed this one. I will probably read on.
6. OCD, the Dude, and Me by Karen Roedy Vaughan. Wanted to love it. Ended up just liking it. I think I may have over done it on the contemporary fiction. Once again, traumatized girl being saved by a guy. The whole OCD part was very interesting.
7. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich. I missed the exploding car bits in the last one…she brought back the fire balls with a vengeance. Good old predictable fluff.
8. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. I LOVED this graphic novel memoir. I may have to own this one. I will definitely be gifting this one to a few foodies. Perfect.

Currently Listening To:

caleb life after life

Currently Reading:

nightmare affair dare you to my one square inch hallowed ones

I am so excited to have an e-galley of Dare You To by Katie McGarry! The others are in preparation for the Ohioana Book Festival. So far I am enjoying all of my reading this week.

Happy Reading!


Insomnia by J.R. Johansson Review


Insomnia (The Night Walkers #1) by J.R. Johansson
June 8, 2013
360 pgs

Parker Chipp hasn’t slept in more than four years. He has a terrible secret, one that is most likely killing him. What no one knows is that he watches the dreams of the last person he has eye contact with instead of having his own. A much-needed reprieve from this burden comes with the new girl at school. Parker has no idea why, but for some reason he can actually sleep in Mia’s dreams. Now, his sleep deprived body and brain crave Mia’s dreams, but working out the eye contact is tricky. The more he pushes, the more Mia runs away from him. As sleep deprivation takes its toll, Parker begins to have blackouts and hallucinations. When Mia begins to receive threats suspicion naturally falls on Parker. Can he convince his friends and himself that he is not a monster or has the darkness taken over?

Insomnia will keep you up all night just trying to figure out what is going on! There are so many twists, turns, and red herrings that I was kept guessing until the very end. Parker’s decent into madness is swift and disturbing. His struggle with The Darkness is reminiscent of Dexter’s Dark Passenger (I love that show!). This is a truly creepy and riveting read and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

Give this to fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake series and Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy for review.

Happy Reading!


Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

nantucket blue

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Disney Hyperion
May 7, 2013
304 pgs

Cricket Thompson knows that this summer is going to be epic. She has been invited to spend the summer in Nantucket with her best friend Jules and the rest of the Clayton family. In addition to beach parties and sunbathing, she is confident that this will be the summer that her long-time crush, Jay Logan, finally notices her. Unfortunately, all her plans go up in smoke when tragedy strikes. Her invitation is revoked and she faces a summer trapped bouncing between her depressed mother and newly remarried father. Taking matters into her own hands, she heads to Nantucket alone to offer her support to the Claytons. Nothing goes according to plan, but Cricket manages to have an unexpectedly epic summer in spite of everything.

This touching debut novel is the perfect summer read. I loved Cricket and her devotion to Jules and their friendship, even at a time when Jules could not reciprocate. Readers may be eager to criticize either or both of these characters over their treatment of each other, but I have actually been in both situations and have to say that they are both completely realistic and believable. The romance was a bit of a surprise (though admittedly I have hoped for it) and provided an interesting plot twist. The forbidden guy was sweet and funny and the issue of sex was well handled. I enjoyed all of the little side stories and each one plays a role in shaping Cricket into the person she was both when she arrives in Nantucket and who she is at the end of the summer. There is plenty of conflict to sink your teeth into, but the moments of pure joy will warm you heart. I will definitely be watching for more from this author.

You may also enjoy The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, and My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Happy Reading!


Mondays With Megan-Spring Cleaning!

I have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads.com. I love that I can keep track of all the books I have read and want to read. I love that I see what other people are reading. I hate that it keeps telling me I am behind on my 2013 reading goals. I am also not thrilled with my enormous to-read list. Let’s face it, chances are pretty slim that I am not going to read all of the 214 items that are currently on the list. It’s time for some spring cleaning. I thing that anything added to the to-read list before 2011 can be removed. *UPDATE* Well, that did not go well. I removed four books. Time to reassess. I would like to whittle the list down to 200. It’s a totally arbitrary number, I know. But 200 is prettier than 211. Off I go. *UPDATE #2* Ok, this time I was ruthless, but my to-read shelf is a measly 190 books long! Please don’t ask me to explain what kind of sense this makes.

A sampling of what didn’t make the cut:
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer, Dead to You by Lisa McMann, and Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mylnowski are just a few that have been removed from the list. Any strong arguments for putting them back?

What was saved?
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman has been on the list since 2009. I am planning to read it during this year’s Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. If I don’ t read it in April, it’s off the list. The most recent addition is The Well’s Bequest by Polly Shulman. It is supposedly a companion to The Grimm Legacy, which was so cute.

I also made some progress on my currently-reading shelf. Time to check in with Book Journey and Teach Mentor Text for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

mondayreadingMon Reading Button PB to YA


poison jellicoe road delphine nantucket bluefrom bad to cursed

I really enjoyed Poison by Bridget Zinn and I finally get it when it comes to Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I am so happy I decided to move that one from its dusty spot on the to-read list! I didn’t particularly enjoy Delphine by Richard Sala. The story was weird, but the illustrations were interesting. Finally, I got a little summery-romance fix with Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. Look for a review later this week. Continuing my efforts to finish series that I have started and neglected, I finally picked up and flew through the second book in the Bad Girls Don’t Die trilogy, From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender. I can’t wait to get to the final book!

Current Audio:

mr. penumbraI am enjoying Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It’s a bizarre combo of dusty old books and crazy technology. There’s a secret society and a modern-day quest.

Currently Reading:

clockwork princess ashfall little women lost stories insomnia

I got Clockwork Princess last Thursday, but I let it sit unread until Sunday. I am torn between wanting to dive right and devour it and wanting to linger and savor it. So far linger and savor is winning. Speaking of linger, I continue to enjoy both Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Lost Stories by John Flanagan a few pages/chapters at a time. I have Ashfall by Mike Mullin on the Nook for elliptical time, and I just downloaded a new e-galley, Insomnia by J.R. Johansson. I have plenty to keep me busy this week!

Happy Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday-My Spring 2013 TBR List


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about Spring. And books, of course. I am sure most of you have overwhelmingly enormous TBR lists, so you understand how difficult it is to pick just ten(ish). I am hoping, with the help of a few readathons, to make a huge dent in my reading lists this spring. Here a few coming soon and already published books that I hope to enjoy while I watch my dog tear up all the muddy grass and new plants the flowers bloom.

Coming Soon:

clockwork princess ocd, the dude, and me taken hero's guide moon and more

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare 3/19/13
2. OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn 3/21/13
3. Taken by Erin Bowman 4/16/13
4. The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy 4/30/13
5. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen 6/4/13

Already Out:

mind games nightmare affair madman's daughter monsters of men

6. Mind Games by Kiersten White
7. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
8. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepard
9. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Non YA Books:

thedinner pure map of time

10+. The Dinner by Herman Koch, Pure by Julianna Baggott, and The Map of Time by Felix Palma.

I am looking forward to my spring reading! What is on your list?

Happy Reading!


The First Mondays with Megan of 2013

Happy New Year! I had a lot going on over the past few weeks (who didn’t?) and just couldn’t manage to blog, but it’s a new year and time to make a whole bunch of new lists. I am going to try to cram a bunch of stuff into this one post. Bear with me.

First of all, yay for Downton Abbey being back! I love Shirley McClaine and the much needed comic relief she and Maggie Smith provided. Thank goodness for that because things are looking kind of bleak for all my favorites. But I don’t want to think about poor Bates or Mrs. Hughes right now…Let’s move on.

Just a reminder that the Bout of Books 6.0 read-a-thon starts today and it’s not too late to sign up. I am participated for the first time. In case you are interested, here are my goals for the week.


The first challenge of the read-a-thon is hosted by The Book Barbies and it’s a fun one!

You have made a scientific discovery (who knew you were so good at science?!) on how to bring fictional characters to life. The problem? The method still isn’t *perfect,* so you can only bring two people to life, and they must return to the land of fiction in 30 days. Who will you choose as your bestie and your love interest for that one splendid month? (Feel free to add pictures if you like, but they are not required.)

My Picks:

hearts nerd

I have a tie for my BFF. It’s a toss-up between Lucy from the Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey and Jessie from Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. On the one hand, Lucy is an awesome, sassy human girl who gets to hang out with the dreamiest vampires ever. On the other hand, Jessie is another awesome human girl learning to embrace her love of nerdy things. I would totally play Dungeons & Dragons with her!


As for a sweetie? I think I would enjoy spending a month with Halt from The Ranger’s Apprentice series. He’s an adult, so it’s totally not weird! His dry, sarcastic wit is right up my alley.

Still with me? Cool. Time to check in with my favorite Monday meme, hosted by Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

mondayreading Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I have finished my first two books of 2013!

hattieblood and starlight

 The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis is strong debut and I enjoyed it, but it left me wanting more. I will certainly be watching this new author. I also finished Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. This sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone is dark and devastating and brilliant. I continue to be amazed at how invested I am in this series.

Currently Reading:

okay when she woke little lady life of crime

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt is a reread for book club this week. My first experience with this was on audio and I am really enjoying the bird pictures this time around. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan has been on my TBR pile for ages. This modern Scarlett Letter retelling comes highly recommended by a couple of coworkers and it is my new book on CD. I am kind of putzing my way through the final book in the Little Lady Agency series, The Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester Browne. I am enjoying it, but it is  not a priority so it gets set aside often. I am just fine with that. Finally, I am working on an ARC of How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller.

On Deck:

emperor twelve vintage

This year I want to finish up some of the many series that I have going. To that end, I am going to finally read book ten of my beloved Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan. I recently learned that he is working on one more in the series and I am desperate to start his Brotherband Chronicles series, but I want to wrap things up with Will, Horace, and Halt first. I am also really enjoying the predictable comfort of the Stephanie Plum series so I might start Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich. Finally, I hope to get to another ARC this week. My NetGalley dashboard is literally overflowing with goodies. I think I will start Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt. So, that’s the plan!

Happy Reading!


Mondays With Megan-Hello, December!

I won’t bore you with all my vacation details, I promise. But maybe just a few highlights? I had a relaxing week hanging out at my sister’s 36 acre ranch, feeding chickens (and for a few days one poor turkey…), bribing horses, cuddling with a pack of dogs, and generally being lazy. Except for when we were outside exploring. We even attempted some Black Friday shopping, but apparently the shop keepers of Red Lodge, MT didn’t get the memo that is was the biggest shopping day of the year. The first store we stopped at was closed-at 9:45 am! I even managed to get some reading done. A good time was had by all (except for  the turkey, but he sure was tasty). How about one picture? Pretty horse, pretty snow.


This is just one of the many reasons why I am way behind in my reading and probably won’t make my goal of 200 books this year. I still have a few weeks and  I am trying! Let’s check in with Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts and see what everyone is working on this week.

mondayreading Mon Reading Button PB to YA


 amulet dash and lily this is howsloppy

I really enjoyed Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty! I am sure I will eventually continue listening to The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud, but I have to move on to other more pressing books on cd…Jacky Faber!

Currently Reading:

In the car: Viva Jacquelina! by L.A. Meyer. Hurray for Jacky’s tenth adventure!


On the Nook: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I cannot believe I am still reading this one. Seriously. I need to focus!


On the night stand: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. I just started this one, but it appears that it is going to be an opposites attract sort of rom-com.

meant to be

I also have a few items that I am just sort of putzing around with. You know, those books that are just there, always within reach, but you’re not fully committed to. Anyone else have those? Anyway. I do.

alice hard eight

Happy Reading!


We’re Half Way Through! Hour 13 Mini-Challenge

Wow! Twelve very productive hours in and it’s time to pause for a mini-challenge.

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
2) What have you finished reading?
3) What is your favorite read so far?
4) What about your favorite snacks?
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!


1. I am on a roll, not sleepy at all and the old peepers are just fine so far!

2. I have finished three books! Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, Of Lamb by Matthea Harvey, and Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

3. My fav so far is definitely Hold Me Closer, but I will also admit to laughing out loud many times while reading Pilgrims.

4. Favorite snack-peanut butter covered pretzels, but I am totally looking foward to some bruchetta in a bit. And peanut M&Ms. Obviously

5. I am going to confess that I have not been doing much blog visiting yet. Sorry guys!

Now I have to pick my next book. Decisions, decisions.

Happy Reading!