Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.


  • The humor was fun, especially finding out that Caymen has the same humor as her grandfather.
  • I enjoyed how Skye was involved in this story. (Although I still think she could've had more involvement.)
  • I appreciate that Skye and Henry stayed together for the entire story.
  • The doll shop element was unique. While I have had porcelain dolls ruined for me because of Talking Tina from The Twilight Zone, it definitely makes this book stand out.


  • This pattern of a love triangle. It was incredibly obvious the whole time that she was going to pick Xander, making the need for a love triangle unnecessary.


  • Much of West's style involves telling the reader a lot of information, most notably whenever the readers meet Skye for the first time. The information should've been woven in and presented more creatively instead of listed.
  • Use of parentheses was excessive, detracted from the story, and those should have been properly edited out.
  • There was also an abundance of semi-colon use. Not only that, it didn't seem that the author knows how to properly use semi-colons. Semicolons can be difficult to use; they should only be used by people who know how to use them correctly.
  • Xander wiping his mouth on his sweatshirt is uncharacteristic for a rich boy, and Caymen buying a magazine so thoughtlessly is not characteristic of someone who comes from a family with little money. I speak this from my personal life. Money is tight, and I think twice before even purchasing my food, let alone purchasing a magazine just to read one article. If she really is poor, it would be more in character to just read the article there in the store.
  • "I don't know how I existed without him because his energy feels like my sustaining force in this moment." Cliche, too much reliance on the boy, and why can't girls have their own lives apart from their guys in YA literature?
  • Some gaps in the story. For example, when Caymen's mom went to the Wednesday night thing, this whole part was completely skipped and glossed over.
  • High-tension scenes were really short. When people argue, they usually do so much longer than they did in this novel. This detracted from realism and getting into the story.
  • The chapter lengths. For some reason, a scene would be broken up into multiple chapters, when really it probably would make more sense to combine some of them. This was stylistically distracting, and perhaps not the best choice.
The thing that really saves this novel is that fact that at least it was funny. Also, the unique doll-store thing. Other than that, this book could have used a lot of cleaning up, and loses a lot of quality and potential that it could've had otherwise. Two jellyfish it is.

If you read the novel as well, please leave your thoughts! I would love to hear them.

Book Review: One Wish Away by Kelley Lynn

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
Be careful what you wish for…

Lyra has always been ahead of the curve. Top of her class in school, a budding astronomer, and with a best friend like Darren she barely has time to miss the mother who abandoned her family years ago. She's too busy planning to follow in her father's footsteps, and to become the youngest astronomer at Space Exploration and Discovery. 

When a star goes missing Lyra is determined to get to the bottom of it only to discover her braniac dad is the mastermind of a top-secret government experiment. They promise to build a perfect world, one galaxy at a time, but with every tweak of the present, a bit more of the future starts to crumble.

Lyra has to go undercover to reveal the truth and let humanity decide if the consequences are worth more than wishing on a star.

This book had an abysmally large amount of typos. For example:
Nirvana, recently released another album, the first one... (unneeded comma).
"That someone in this room lead their team to a win at the State Academic Decathlon Competition." (wrong tense - "led" is past and "lead" is present).
He shakes is really old flip phone. (Assuming 'is' is 'his'.)
"Tell the Altair's..." (no apostrophe needed).
"We're very careful" Dad assures me... (missing comma)
"the boy's track team" (pretty sure this is supposed to be a track TEAM of boys, not one boy's track team. boys' track team [wrong apostrophe placement] - same in that come to the girl's games.)
I wonder why my Dad didn't come/that our Dad had picked me up/so my Dad has the ability ("Dad" is not supposed to be capitalized in these contexts - it's a proper noun when she is addressing him, but "my dad" should not have any capitalization. This occurs more often than just these instances, but if I included them all there would be too many to mention).
Also, on page 8 there is a backwards quotation mark.
The list goes on and on, but for the sake of getting to other parts of the review I'll just leave it at that. Needless to say, all of these typos will not help the book's rating.

This book also had very short paragraphs and abnormally short sentences. For example:
It's the eighth astronomy book I've searched, not to mention all the online research I did before I resorted to physical books. Not like anyone would really know what I'm talking about. Or care.
The above quote is only a minor representation of the abruptness of broken sentences. The last two sentences of that paragraph should have been combined for the purposes of flow. This is a pattern that is present throughout the entire novel.
I look past my reflection in the window, out to the night sky.
I guess if they don't want to talk about what's on their mind, I might as well ask them questions about what's on mine.
Those two paragraphs are right next to each other. The first one has one sentence, and the next only has two. Yes, short paragraphs are and can be effective, but when the story is literally only made up of short sentences and short paragraphs, the effect is lost and it interrupts the flow as readers move through the piece. Again, these are just quick examples of what is present throughout the novel.

The narration also heavily relied on telling rather than showing. For example:
she looks like she's going to say something else: what in her expression tells readers this? Readers cannot see this, and this looks different on every person's face. Is it in the eyes? The eyebrows? A hesitation shown by a scowl? This is entirely unknown to readers, who are forced to create their own mental image.
she says defiantly: Again, is it shown in the eyes? Crossing her arms? Does she take a step forward with a fist raised? Considering her niece is in handcuffs, at least some body language should be expected.
in a tone that portrays his desire for this to be over: most likely his tone is not the only contributor to this feeling. Maybe he moves his hand in the air like he's dismissing them, or shrugs his shoulders. Once more readers have no idea what they are supposed to see.

Considering the opening began with a victory of the state decathlon, it's very odd that this almost never comes up throughout the rest of the course of the novel. It should have had a much larger role than just serving to attempt to draw readers into the story. Therefore, a strange disconnect is created, making the beginning not very relevant to the rest of the story.

Darren is actually a wonderful character, and the way he and Lyra show their affection for each other before admitting their feelings is very realistic. However, after admitting their feelings it started to feel weird, and the pacing went a bit too quickly once they confessed to each other. The hints at his lack of money (which should have played a larger role in the story) and other aspects of his character were well done.

As for the story itself, in terms of world building the effects of each wish on the reality were well cataloged, explained, and noticed by the characters. The story was consistent with itself in terms of information; each character was very true to himself or herself throughout every situation. This is one of the greatest strengths of this novel; unfortunately, it is overshadowed by many other issues.

Finally, the novel ended on a cliffhanger. Normally this is fine, but there is no indication that another book will follow. Considering everything that happened, readers (including myself) probably feel cheated by this ending and expected more. The cliffhanger felt like a cop-out because whatever followed was too difficult to write. However, this may merely just be one reviewer's opinion.

Overall, the world building is solid and the characters are solid, but the story was not told well. The big picture idea is there, but the details should have been more thoroughly edited. Therefore, this novel will receive a two-jellyfish rating.

Please leave some thoughts below! I love hearing from you guys!

*I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. In no way was my opinion influenced by this fact.

Book Blitz: The Sham by Ellen Allen

The Sham
Release Date: 09/07/14
238 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

When love leads to death, be careful who you trust…

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods.

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The idea for this book came to me in a nightmare... It was so vivid that I imagined I was 17 again, at school, in the same group of 4 friends that I used to hang around with. We were involved in a murder and cover-up. I started writing partly as a way to get it out of my head and then the characters turned into real people... and Emily and Jack were born.

As some of the early reviewers have stated, it is quite extreme in chapter one, and necessarily so. This is the incident that sets up the whole book; something awful happens that sets off a train of events for the characters. This book is a mystery in two ways in that we're: 1) trying to find out who killed Emily's classmate; and 2) trying to work out who Jack is. I hope you enjoy it!

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About the Author
I’ve just finished writing my first book, so I’ve been busy trying to work out how all the pieces fit together – the planning, the plot, the rules, the imagination, the characters, the grammar, the structure, the endgame… there’s too much stuff to remember and a lot of the information that I’ve discovered online about how to write isn’t that good or even well written (the irony in reading advice on writing that isn’t well written…)

So I decided I needed to find somewhere to store the good stuff. Then it occurred to me that other people might find it useful too. So here it is. My online reference tool of all the useful (i.e. good) advice for writers-to-be. I only post here when I have something really useful to say about the craft (Twitter is for daily musings, Goodreads to review and Amazon to buy my work); it’s all about the quality here, folks, not the quantity… Enjoy!


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Book Review: Gideon Lee (Gideon Lee #1) by Lisa Orchard

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
Lark Singer’s relationship with her mother is prickly to say the least. As she enters a musical competition that could launch her career, Lark also searches for answers her mother would rather keep hidden. Throw into the mix the fact her best friend Bean has been acting strangely, and Lark finds herself launched into uncharted territory. Will her quest for answers sabotage her musical aspirations?

I am a musician, and therefore quite critical of how music is represented and shown throughout a story. That being said, I do play bass guitar and am confused as to why Stevie would be playing chords on his bass when in fact the bass guitar's purpose is to play the bass notes, maybe walk a few chords, but otherwise lacks chords. A chord needs needs at least three notes being played at the same time, and considering a bass guitar only has four strings, this doesn't happen often. Also, I have two pairs of drum sticks, and while I am well aware that they will not fit in my back pocket, I seriously doubt they would be able to fit in any back pocket, especially if someone were to sit down. Ouch! The thought of it is painful.

The story itself doesn't really make sense. It's titled Gideon Lee, which makes readers think that this is what the book is about. That couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, the story revolves around Lark writing lyrics and Bean acting strange. A title should not only be loosely tied to the rest of the novel. It makes it feel much less cohesive, and more like separate parts of a story instead of a whole.

The writing itself is also not as strong as it could have been. For example, in the narration are statements such as the following:
I like anonymity
I see the school in the distance
The sky is the color of slate
These statements tell the reader what the narrator is seeing or feeling instead of showing. Obviously, the narrator is the one who sees the school in the distance. "The school looms in the distance" or something similar would have been much more effective. An enjoyment of anonymity can be shown if someone seems to pause to stare and the narrator ducks her head, silently praying to herself that she isn't stopped. That tells readers all they need to know, and doesn't feel so much like a statement of the obvious.
Several info dumps are also present throughout the story. The one about Lark's grandmother is more understandable, but information presented when Bean is introduced could have and should have been more effectively woven throughout the story so that readers will actually pay attention and remember those things. Clumping too much information together is not strategic or good writing. Similarly, when describing Pearl's, a large info dump followed for a venue that never even physically appears throughout the story.

It also feels like the narrator is aware she is in a book, also emphasized by several strange occurrences. For example, Lark and Bean have known each other for years, but mysteriously his first time entering Lark's mom's room is when they're searching for her guitar. If they really are that close, it's more likely that he's been in there at least once or twice, perhaps while playing hide and seek or when accidentally wandering in during his first time there. Also, for the first time in Lark and Bean's friendship, she brings up the fact that she doesn't know her father. This seems rather odd considering how close she and Bean are supposed to be, and takes away from the idea that they supposedly share everything with each other. Both of these instances make it feel like Lark knows she's in a book, detracting from immersion and realism. Even more strange is the fact that it takes Lark until Chapter 3 to note that her mom was 16 when she was born and how it must have effected both of them. Once again, it feels like a plot device inserted in, when it could have flowed more naturally. Not surprisingly, this is also a piece of information that Bean doesn't learn until it comes up over the course of the story.

However, there were some descriptive elements present throughout the story that showed thought and care in crafting the statements, which is always nice to see. For example:
His voice is raspy, and sounds as dry as the chalk dust that seems to have penetrated his lungs.
like the sun dipping below the horizon on a summer night
this new one takes me prisoner
its squeaks betraying its age
In short, similar descriptions to that were also present and added nice detail to the story.

The relationships in this story were also slightly odd. Francine may have been hiding Lark's father's identity from Lark, but Lark's response is extreme and not very realistic. There is an incredible amount of disrespect present throughout their interactions on Lark's end. Most concerning is the sentence "I almost want to go downstairs and start something with her. Just to relieve the pressure, but I don't." Even when really frustrated and annoyed with someone, it isn't normal to enjoy using arguments as a way to relieve tension, considering the hurt and pain that comes after an argument. Her inability to see through what Bean is doing is also not realistically shown. While warning signs can be present for what was happening, her denial is not portrayed in realistic way.

Finally, while this book is supposed to be the first in a series, it ends on a very abrupt note. While there is an art to ending on a cliffhanger, this just leaves readers confused and feeling like all the tension that was built up had zero resolution. It's understandable that not all tension will resolve at the end of a book, but so little of it actually was confronted that this is very confusing.

Overall, this book wasn't stellar, but it has potential. I would still be interested in reading subsequent books in the series to watch both author and character development. For now, this book will receive two jellyfish.

Thoughts? Please don't hesitate to stop by and say hi! I love hearing from you guys.

Book Review: Beautiful Curse by Jen McConnel

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Mya Jones is cursed. 

She is, hands down, the most beautiful creature on earth. But beauty can wound, and Mya finds herself reviled and shunned by her peers. If there is even a chance that she could start over, Mya longs to take it, no matter the risks. 

So when the strange Mr. Merk offers her a new life away from home, Mya is hesitant but hopeful. Only she didn't count on the mysterious Ross, or her feelings for him. 

BEAUTIFUL CURSE is a contemporary retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid.

I had never heard of the myth of Cupid and Psyche prior to this, so I appreciated how this novel introduced me to a different part of Greek mythology. The novel does start out a little slow, but the moment Mya turns around to see Ross's face, there was no putting the book down. After reading, I looked up Cupid and Psyche's story and was pleased to see how the author stayed true to the story but also made the storyline of the novel her own.

I did find it strange that there was no explanation for Mya's transformation the first time around. The reader is just told that it happens, and is expected to accept this fact. While this is partially because this is a story that involves fantasy, it is too much of a stretch to have this transformation happen and not explain its root cause.

It was also great to see how the work was put together as a cohesive whole. For example, having Ross show up as a red-headed boy earlier on and as the red-headed boy later on was a great addition to the story. The most enjoyable part of this story was how it makes readers think about beauty, its meaning, and whether it should be prized the way it currently is. For that, this novel definitely receives points.

However, I did find that the writing itself could have used some improvement. Most notably, there were passages where the only description of an event was "annoyed" or "frustrated". Instead, these descriptions could have been shown. Clenched fists, almost punching a wall, facial expressions, all these contribute to helping readers experience and visualize what is happening in the story. Descriptions of buildings were great, however. While it doesn't entirely make up for what I previously mentioned, at least it shows that the author knows how to show more than tell, and that she could learn to do so better in the future. It is also important to consider that what I read was a translation of the original text and that it may have contributed to the words that were chosen for the version I received.

Mya and Ross's romance is also not my favorite aspect of the story, in the beginning. Perhaps it's just me, but I disliked that he kissed her without asking first, even though she definitely liked him and wanted to kiss him. I disliked that she barely knew him and was infatuated with him, reminding me of some other YA novels where the same thing happens. It just doesn't feel very realistic. However, as time goes on and the two get to know each other better, especially after Mya turns around in an attempt to see his face, the plot and storyline improve significantly.

Finally, under normal circumstances I would consider the events of the novel to be unrealistic. However, through the lens of the myth retelling I find it more acceptable, and appreciate the overall story for it more as well.

This will receive three and a half stars, bumped up because of my appreciation of the Greek mythology aspect of it. Mostly, it gets a higher rating because it made me reconsider the idea of beauty, and that is what novels should do.

Please leave your thoughts below as well! I love discussing books.

Book Review: The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5) by Pittacus Lore

Can't believe that this series is starting to draw to a close. It seems like only yesterday when I began reading I Am Number Four.

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
The worst was supposed to be over. We were reunited after a decade apart. We were discovering the truth of our past. We were training and getting stronger every day. We were even happy...

We never imagined the Mogodorians could turn one of our own against us. We were fools for trusting Five. And now Eight is lost forever. I would do anything to bring him back, but that's impossible. Instead, I will do whatever it takes to destroy every last one of them.

I've spent my entire life hiding from them, and they've stolen everything away from me. But that stops now. We're going to take the battle to them. We have a new ally who knows their weaknesses. And I finally have the power to fight back.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.

Number Two in England.

Number Three in Kenya.

And Number Eight in Florida.

They killed them all.

I am Number Seven.

I will make them pay.

Lately, I've been attempting to write more cohesive reviews instead of listing my pros and cons, so here goes nothing.

The summary above suggests something very different from what is found in the novel. It is implied that Marina's POV will be present in the book and that there will be a huge focus on going after Five and making him pay for killing Eight. If this is a compilation of her thoughts during this novel, then it must be toward the middle or the end, where she has actually met Adam, the true-born Mogadorian. Even more confusing, the summary is not the main point of the novel, and Marina's POV is not shown. Therefore, the summary felt deceptive as a ploy to make readers pick up the novel.

As noted with the previous book, once again it is very difficult to discern between the different viewpoints, which can only be understood by looking at the context. With Ella's it was generally obvious, seeing as she was separated from everyone else during that time, but it was especially difficult to understand the difference between Four and Six whenever they were in the same location. Ella's POV does not read like she is younger than the other two, and the other two don't sound different in terms of thought processing even though one is male and one is female.

The story also tends to be told instead of shown. For example, saying that Setrakus Ra talked about the destruction of Lorien "like the death of a whole planet is nothing" tells readers nothing about his tone or how this is shown physically. Similarly, when Adam is "sounding eager to help Malcolm," there is nothing in his voice inflection or physical action that shows this eagerness. Rather, these things are merely stated to the readers.

It was striking that Five did not want his eye healed, which at first appeared to merely be a way to remind him of what he did and of his betrayal. However, he uses this deficiency to his advantage, which is an incredible tie to the human experience of overcoming weaknesses by exploiting and using them in novel ways. Also, when Four gave Adam his dad's sword, that was a great scene. It takes something used for evil and will now be used for good. Both of those actions were very striking and meaningful.

Finally, it was incredible that Adam was able to enter a place supposedly only accessible by members of the Garde. This leads to interesting possibilities, as does Sam's newfound abilities. The story itself is much more solid than the writing, as it has been in previous books as well.

After weighing all these observations, I have decided to bestow 3 jellyfish on this novel. I do look forward to the next book  and hope it is a satisfactory finale.

Have you read any of these books from the Lorien Legacies series? Please share thoughts and comments!

Book Blitz: Ruination by Amanda Thome

Ruination (Worlds Apart #1)
Release Date: 04/15/14

Summary from Goodreads:
What if everything came down to a single test? If your life was defined at seventeen, could you handle it? Could you accept your fate leaving the ones you love, or would you risk it all and stay?

One test stands between Vanessa and Central. One chance to make the leap across the walls to a better life. At seventeen, Central considers Vanessa an adult. Her labor role, marriage, and housing divisions will be dictated by her performance on the leap.

Dedication and unfaltering friendship has bonded Vanessa to Garrett as they fight for their chance to leap into Central. But what happens when love overtakes reason? When defiance in the name of love creates an unintentional fracture in their nation.

Without warning Vanessa is at the mercy of the nation that’s supposed to protect her. Exiled and abandoned she must fight but she find’s she’s not alone. With her heart divided she seeks her revenge, but will her stand be enough?

Ruination is the next YA dystopian trilogy that will hook you from the start! If you liked Veronica Roth's Divergent series or Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series then be prepared to get addicted to Ruination.

Buy Links:

About the Author
Amanda Thome is the Author of Ruination, book one in the Worlds Apart dystopian trilogy. Amanda grew up in Maine and later moved to Pennsylvania where she obtained her bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College. She later received her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University. Amanda currently resides in San Antonio, TX with her husband Clint.

Author Links:


Another whip of thunder cracks and my entire hilltop quakes. The bolt strikes down in the middle of my field. The thirsty land’s no match for the fiery energy. Within seconds the field’s ablaze.
Bright orange walls of fire extend, consuming everything in its path. The gusting winds carry embers of light scattering them all around me. I leap to my feet sprinting to the closest fire. I stomp out the wall that formed along my dandelion field.
Intense heat attaches to my back and dances along my spine. There’s a wall of orange against my shelter. My home, my everything’s about to be destroyed. I run uphill, choking from the assault. Smoke creeps its way into every crevice of my lungs. My eyes water and burn and my throat and chest constrict.
I should leave and run away but I can’t, I have to fight for my home. I stumble to my shelter grabbing armfuls of dirt, desperately throwing them onto the encroaching wall. I’m fighting a losing battle but I don’t care. I fling armful after armful of dirt but the wall continues growing.

I can’t win, I have to surrender, I see it now. I backpedal past my shelter as another wall of heat scorches me. I’m surrounded. Smoke and heat blanket me and I can’t see past the thick barrier of grey ash. My throat constricts and I hear a sick wheezing from my chest. My legs buckle and I collapse.


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