- All the Feels by Danika Stone
What it’s About: Liv is devastated when the newest movie in the Starveil franchise kills off her favourite character, Spartan. With the help of her best friend Zander, who she has a secret crush on, she launches an online campaign to force the creator to bring the character back from the dead.
What I thought: I wasn’t sure about this book, so /I checked out some online reviews. Turned out, people either really loved it or really hated it. And they’re both right. There is some good, fun stuff here about being part of a fandom and going to a convention. The problem is that Liv’s love for Starveil sometimes seems rather unhealthy. For example, when her campaign takes off her school grades start to suffer, and this isn’t the first time her education has taken a back seat to the movies. He mother does confront her about this, but it feels like the book’s attitude is that the mother simply doesn’t understand.
And she’s not the only one who seems to have some issues. At one point a character states that the fans opinion is the only one that matters. The fans are the customer and the customer is always right, but really, saying that what the creators and actors think is irrelevant is going a bit too far.
Bottom line? There’s some good stuff here, if you can past the fact that the characters sometimes seem like they’re just this side of thinking Annie Wilkes was the hero of Misery.
- Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
What it’s About: Breezy wakes up after being murdered, and finds that she has the ability to sense whether the people around her have killed anyone, and to take out those who have. She decides to seek out help from a church she hears about, only to find the church is a cult determined to exterminate monsters like Breezy. Oops.
What I thought: It’s a decent, creepy story, but nothing more than that, at least for me. Breezy was a good main character, but none of the secondary characters were fleshed out enough for me to feel much about them. And I personally didn’t like the ending. Admittedly the choices made here are legitimate one, but they just don’t appeal to me, though I can’t say more without spoiling the book.
- The Swap by Megan Shull
What it’s About: Ellie has just been dropped by her best friend Sassy. Jack, who Sassy has a huge crush on, is struggling to please his father. Then they swap bodies.
What I thought: This book is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a middle grade body swap story. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s a fun read that doesn’t require much thought. Actually, thinking too hard about it would probably be a bad thing. If you’re looking for some enjoyable fluff, it’s worth a look.
- Unrivaled by Alyson Noel (Beautiful Idols #1)
What it’s About: Layla Harrison, Tommy Phillips, and Aster Amirpour take part in a challenge set up by Ira Redman. He wants young ambitious people to promote his clubs, with the goal of bringing young, hip and famous customers through the doors. The top prize for the contestants is Hollywood’s hottest young starlet, Madison Brooks. Then Madison disappears, and Layla, Tommy and Aster find themselves potential suspects.
What I thought: A little while ago I read an article about big mistakes writers make when creating their novels. One of the things the article said should be avoided was starting with an attention grabbing scene and then pulling back to sometime in the past. The article argued that this is nothing more than an attempt to hide the fact that the first part of your story is too boring to work.
Unrivaled begins with a scene where Madison is grabbed from behind, and then shifts to a month earlier. And it’s about halfway through the story that we see the first hints of danger. So it would seem that Unrivaled has committed a major mistake, right? But honestly, I didn’t mind. It took some time to mix Layla, Tommy and Aster up with Madison, not to mention each other. And I was invested in the three main characters, for whom the competition has some serious professional and personal implications. Layla is a blogger who blasts the antics of celebrities. The contest offers her a chance to make connections, and if she wins the top prize, the money she needs to get to her Journalism school of choice. Tommy is hoping to make connections to help his music career, and perhaps the money to allow him to quit his day job and put all his focus on music. He also happens to be the son that Ira doesn’t even know exists. And Aster is hoping to become the next Hollywood starlet, even though it could mean being disowned by her parents, who expect her to marry a “nice Persian boy” and be a stay-at-home mother. So, Unrivaled might be a bit slow to get going, but it’s well worth a read.
- Unplugged by Donna Freitas (The Wired #1)
What it’s About: Humanity now exists in two separate worlds. The Real World, and the virtual reality of the App World. Skylar Cruz is a Single, meaning that her family sent her to the App World for a better life while they stayed behind in the Real World. Skylar was fortunate enough to get the Sachs family as her surrogates, and became best friends with their daughter Inara. But she’s still looking forward to turning seventeen, when she will return to the Real World for a year before making a final decision about where to spend her life. But then, without warning, this practice is discontinued and the border between the worlds is closed. Skye is devastated, until she receives a mysterious message that suggests there may still be a way to cross between the worlds.
What I thought: I really enjoyed this story. Skye was an excellent main character, with her torn loyalties between her biological family in the Real World and her surrogate family in the App World. If I were to make a complaint about this novel, it would be that I found some of the side characters unlikeable. It’s not completely clear yet where these characters will fall in the conflict of the story, though I have some strong opinions about where I think they should end up.