For those of you who crave controversial topics, I present to you Kelly Braffet’s Josie and Jack. This book is beautifully written all the way up until the shocking conclusion. This book is centered on the title characters, siblings Josie and Jack Raeburn. Josie and Jack are teenagers who are isolated and inseparable. They live in a mansion and are homeschooled by their father, who is a college professor. Their father is depressed and filled with aggression, and is only home two days a week. He leaves his children home with his version of a curriculum and groceries. Josie and Jack are both emotionally wounded individuals, and their story is consuming. The mom has committed suicide years earlier, and was once a student of their father. Jack is the oldest, and highly protective of his younger sister. When Jack encourages Josie to get a male friend under false pretenses, he acts in a jealous rage when it seems she may actually be into the guy. Jack is a more knowledgeable the world outside the mansion where they reside, and he engages with his sister in drugs and alcohol. Their relationship is dangerous and treads on a wisp of a line between brother and sister from the very beginning. Josie and Jack have a toxic relationship. This novel is narrated by Josie, who has an obvious obsession with her older brother. Fortunately, there are no explicit scenes between Josie and Jack and everything is implied, which makes this book tasteful. The tone is extremely dark, but it is an elegantly written novel. It enraptures you all the way until the shocking conclusion.
One of the most twisted books I’ve read so far is definitely The Merciless by Danielle Vega. This novel is very scary and truly a worthy horror story. The protagonist of the novel is Sofia Flores. At the beginning of this novel, Sofia is introduced as a military child who is apprehensive to repeat the cycle of new girl-new school-new friends. The first person Sofia meets at her new school is the rebellious Brooklyn. However, she inadvertently thrust into a friendship with the three most popular girls at her new school who are Alexis, Grace, and Riley, their leader. These three girls fit the description of your typical mean girls, but the kicker is that they’re devout Christians. The target of their wrath is former member of their group, Brooklyn. They have professed Brooklyn to be a ritualistic animal killer and possessed by the devil. You will end up as conflicted as Sofia as she tries to decide how to do the right thing and struggles to make it of the ordeal she is placed in alive. Lines between good and evil, while at first clear, will easily begin to get distorted. The main themes of this book include Christianity and demonic exorcism. One of the most unexpected elements of this book is graphic depictions of torture. This novel offers a gratuitous dose of gore and violence. To describe it in movie terms I would say it would be a mash-up of “Mean Girls”, “Heathers”, and “The Craft”. Danielle Vega’s novel in perfect in so many ways, and I loved the delivery. The Merciless will give you supernatural, suspense, and it is totally creepy. The ending will totally blow your mind, also.
Pastels are definitely in, now. They’re the typical springtime-summertime palette. There has not been one store that I’ve visited this season where there was not a display of soft-hued pants or jeans. Pastel colors provide a soft, tone-downed look. Soft-colored hues work to complement brighter colors and printed pieces, too. Some even claim these soft colors keep them cool in the summer. Tip: Top off your look with a lightweight pastel jacket or blazer.
Another Little Piece, written by Kate Karyus Quinn, is certainly a different kind of horror story. Quinn’s Another Little Piece gives a new meaning to “eat your heart out”. The beginning of this novel may have the reader a little confused, but as the story unravels you’ll begin to get it. I like that our protagonist is sort of the antagonist, too. The main character of this novel is Annaliese Rose Garden. Annaliese suddenly reappears one year after she went missing. Annaliese has only vanished and returned one other time. The first reappearance, she showed up at a party drenched in blood and screaming, only to vanish seconds later. This time, Anna/Annaliese is suffering from amnesia. The suspense of this novel kicks in at the first page, which I liked. This story gets creepier as Annaliese’s past begins to unravel. This book has a lot of flashbacks, but it doesn’t overwhelm the reader. However, patience is required as the pieces are slowly connected together. This was a well-executed and original storyline. The pacing will keep you on the edge and craving more. There is the perfect mixture of blood, gore, and paranormal elements.
Sonya Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs, is not for the faint of heart. Some of the passages in this book had me queasy. This novel is filled with turmoil and suspense. For those of you who crave happy endings, I warn this book is not for you. It is the tale of five rambunctious children, surnamed Willow. The father is a stern and domineering, and the mother has become a bit of a recluse. They are proprietors of a run-down caravan park that is operated on a farm in rural Australia. Griffin, the patriarch, shows a toxic and authoritarian approach to parenting. Griffin, along with a traveling artist, becomes of the main antagonists in this tale. There is plenty of suspense, drama, and undertones of an incestuous relationship. A few of the characters include: a hardworking and obedient eldest brother, an eldest sister who is beloved by all (including the father) and extremely vain, a probing younger brother, a middle brother who is an misunderstood artist and abused by the father, and the youngest girl who looks up to her older brother. The most intense of scenes that will have you on the edge does indeed involve dogs. This family is anything, but fragile. There is no good guy in this book.
Throat, written by R.A. Nelson, is a refreshing take on the vampire genre. Finally, we have an author who can bring us a character with some depth. Our heroine, Emma, is a real girl with real flaws. The development of the characters within this novel and the pace worked really well. The protagonist in this story is an epileptic teenager, who just can’t win for losing. The story begins with an upset Emma getting upset and acting out by taking her mother’s car. There is an accident followed by an attack by a creepy assailant, who bites her. Emma has a seizure during the attack and undergoes a bout of amnesia, afterwards. When her memories began to resurface, she remembers the attack and it doesn’t take long for her to realize that she is a vampire. Emma deals with acceptance, survival, and love, in addition to coming to terms with being a vampire. So, there’s a cruel vampire named Wirtz, two vampire factions (Sonnen and Verloren), guy candy by the name of Sagan, and a battle between good and evil. This book was so good I wish it were a series. Nelson’s Throat is very entertaining and filled with a generous amount of action, too. His characters are relatable because there is real emotion and there is a character with actual “character”. This novel works because it is unique and original. Did I mention that one of the groups of vampires actually worships the sun? I finished this delightful read in a matter of hours.
William Malmborg’s Text Message is the perfect thriller. This disturbing horror story thrusts you into action as soon as page one. The novel details a horrific abduction, after a trip to the mall. The main character is a college student, named Mallory. During a trip to the mall, her sister, Jenna, is kidnapped by a sadistic murderer. Mallory is ordered to complete embarrassing tasks within the mall via text message, in order to save Jenna. Her sister undergoes gruesome acts of torture by her abductor. Text Message is a highly suspenseful read. Malmborg’s novel is packed with detailed scenes of blood and gore. Mallory is engaged in a deadly cat-and-mouse game by a perverted serial killer, with an insatiable need to torture unsuspecting women. This book is extremely graphic. Malmborg’s nail-biting thriller will surely keep you on the edge of your seat. I didn’t expect this book to be so mature and twisted, but I enjoyed it. You’re given the two vantage points of Mallory, as well as the two possible suspects. Even after you know who the killer is, the tension steadily builds as Mallory continues to play the game. A lot of moments are uncomfortable and unsettling, but they are what boost the plot. The unexpected twists, action, and edge-of-your-seat suspense prohibited me from ever being bored. This book showcases the lengths one will go to protect their loved ones. The premise is plausible and helps to prove what a great writer William Malmborg is. Text Message is an awesome thrill ride.
This outfit features the crop top. It’s time to get those abs ready because this spring the crop top is projected to be one biggest trends. The crop top was made popular in the 90’s, and had a re-emergence last year. I suggest pairing it with boyfriend jeans, as with this look, or with a high-waist skirt, that grazes the knees. A high-waist, A-line skirt is adorable, if you choose to opt out of pairing it with jeans. These options keep your outfit from looking too provocative and skimpy because that way you’ll show just enough skin. Finally, floral prints are all the rage now for both men and women. I like printed pieces because they stand out. My only advice for floral is to save the brighter floral prints for the warmer months, and darker prints for the winter. The only exception, would be of course be if your floral-printed piece is long-sleeved, or pants made for the winter. You don’t want to look out of season. Lesson of the day: Keep it ladylike, and bare just enough skin. Don’t dress out of season.
My Life after Now, written by Jessica Verdi is an extremely well written novel. It puts the spotlight on an issue that is rarely talked about in young adult fiction, which is HIV. Verdi’s novel is the perfect example of how one seemingly small misstep can result in a drastic change in one’s life. This novel covers not one, but two controversial topics (HIV and homosexuality). The main character is Lucy. Lucy is a typical high school student. She’s very involved in theatre at her school, she’s popular, has two best friends, and an equally popular boyfriend named Ty. After her archenemy steals her boyfriend, Lucy goes out with her friends and has the dreaded, drunken, one-night stand. It is only after the fiasco that Lucy asks herself did she use a condom during her tryst with the stranger. Next, enters her estranged and pregnant mom in the picture. The backstory on their relationship is her mom and dad had a fling in college, her mom got pregnant, and Lucy’s father ended up keeping her. Her mom, on other hand, left and became a drug-addicted groupie. Lucy only remembers seeing her mom one other time, and here she is out of the blue, in need of help from her father. Then, we find out Lucy’s father is gay, and he has a partner. Therefore, Lucy has two dads. I know it seems like a lot to take in, but it gets really interesting. Lucy gets tested for STDs, and discovers out she has HIV soon as she finds a new guy. All of this happens in the first beginning of the book. As the story continues we journey through Lucy’s struggle to come to terms with her diagnosis, and to cope with the untimely arrival of her mother. This novel is beautifully written, and the main character displays real emotions. I loved this book because it showcased topics not typically found in young adult books.
Music Box (The Dark Carousel, #4),by Anya Allyn, was the perfect ending to the series. Allyn did an excellent job wrapping up all of the loose ends. Music Box had a greater volume of science fiction elements than the previous installments. It is told through alternate points of view of Ethan and Cassie. Just as the other The Dark Carousel novels, this one picks up where the last book concluded. There was a vast amount of heart-pounding moments from beginning to end. In Music Box, Cassie is thrust into her role as Balthazar’s bride, and dreading the impending consummation in the summer. Vivid descriptions of Balthazar’s chamber, his previous brides, and the marionette dolls are frightening. Cassie and her crew find themselves back in Miami, and later make a return to the dollhouse to. That’s as much as I will say without giving away any major spoilers. Allyn’s last installment brings ties together all of the characters, brings startling revelations, and there are many sacrifices and losses. The ending was unexpected and bizarre, however, I totally got it because it stayed true to the story-line. This was a great conclusion to and awesome series, and I’m looking forward to the prequel.