Friday, November 28, 2014

Books Recently Read

Every Ugly WordEvery Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ashley is going through a terrible period of bullying at her high school. People dwell on some past mistakes she made, her looks, and her social status. They are brutal with their words, vandalism of her possessions, and physical attacks. She has her best friend, Matt, at her side, but she can’t reveal her romantic feelings to him. He’s dating one of her bullies, unaware of everything Ashley is going through.

There is one person who is unconditionally, wholeheartedly in her life. When Ashley looks in the mirror, she sees her twenty-something self. Her older self gives her advice, particularly to prevent a tragedy that could destroy Ashley’s future since her older self already lived it. I kept turning the pages to see what this event would be.

This is a powerful story that lingered with me after I put it down. I felt for Ashley and despised her tormentors. I hoped her older self would get through to her, so that Ashley could have a happy future when everything was so bleak for her in the present. This is a definite must-read for YA readers who want to read an unflinching account of a bullied character’s existence. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write about Real SexSugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write about Real Sex by Erica Jong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of personal essays and short stories about the female experience and womanly desires. The contributors are diverse in age and religion—not so much in race, from what I could tell when there are no author photos, although one writer is Asian. Since it’s an anthology, some pieces were better than others were. I had my favorites and ones I perceived as average. Overall, I give this book four stars.

Claudia Must DieClaudia Must Die by T.B. Markinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Claudia is on the run. She stole a lot of money from her abusive, deranged husband, and he sends some goons after her. She needs a plan, so she can have a normal life without being pursued. When she espies Parker, a college student who looks exactly like her, her brain gets into gear. Parker might be the key to her freedom.

She leads the goons to her doppelganger. When an assassination goes wrong, Claudia’s plan backfires on her. Not only is she hunted by her deranged husband’s thugs—who are also victimized by him—but now Parker and someone powerful on her side also want Claudia dead.

It was interesting seeing everything play out. At first I disliked Claudia, but her history revealed she had a reason to target Parker, although that was very wrong of her. Parker is also a great character. When her girlfriend is killed in the botched assassination attempt, the reader gets to see a whole new side to her. The novel is action-packed and suspenseful, with some humorous scenes. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Bully BookThe Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eric is an average kid, so he shouldn’t stand out. But this school year, he will. Former friends and ruthless classmates turn on him. He wants to find the underlying cause of this sudden treatment and discovers a terrible conspiracy against boys who are given his label. Eric is this year’s Grunt.

The Grunt is someone chosen to be an abused outcast. There’s a Bully Book out there, an instruction manual on how to choose and torment the Grunt. Eric does whatever it takes to get his hands on it. He goes to extreme lengths and risks his safety. His bullies are onto him and threaten him, but that doesn’t stop Eric.

This is a powerful novel about bullying and the social interactions of middle schoolers. The pacing and action make this a fast read. I rooted for Eric as he researched, spied on people, and interviewed others in order to find the Bully Book.

Devils in the Dark (The Devil in Miss Drake's Class Book 1)Devils in the Dark by Marcus Damanda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A grisly chat session almost turns deadly. Audrey has been bullied in person and online to the point that she takes a knife to her arm. The Facebook Fifteen, a group of ruthless classmates who led her to this point, try to hide, but they can’t. Not from the authorities, and not from a mysterious entity who’s watching them. The entity has a computer and is tracking Audrey and her bullies. This entity is the master of hundreds of souls of dead children. He’s going to go after her bullies. Audrey heals and returns home, and she has no idea what has been brewing since she’s been gone.

This book is engaging with its fresh angle in the paranormal genre. Audrey is very real and I detested her bullies, except for one of them who shows some actual compassion towards her. The entity is deliciously evil and horrific. I can’t wait to read more about Audrey and him in book 2.

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this epistolary novel. Told with emails and other documents, the reader gets acquainted with Bernadette—her eccentricities, her agoraphobia, and how she’s despised and misunderstood by many. After she disappears while on a trip to Antarctica, her daughter Bee is determined to find her. The humor and quirky characters were amazing.