Undead Girl Gang

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

When high school witch Mila finds out that her best friend Riley has died by suicide, Mila is devastated. How is this possible? Riley isn’t, or rather wasn’t, the kind of girl who would kill herself, especially by drowning herself in the disgusting green lake.

But that’s what the police rule her death as.

Unable to accept it, and going with her gut instincts Mila turns to the one source that could help her crack the case of her friend’s murder: witchcraft.

With the help of an old spellbook, a tube of lipgloss, and the cover of night Mila somehow succeeds to bring back, not only Riley, but to also bring back two fellow classmates, June and Dayton, who died suspiciously just before Riley.

With a group of undead girls, and determination, Mila sets out to set the record straight. To prove that her best friend wouldn’t voluntarily leave her behind. But what she uncovers is more frightening than the three undead girls she’s harboring.

Will Mila crack the case? Or will she end up another victim?

Undead Girl Gang, written by author Lily Anderson, is a realistic read with a heavy paranormal/ghoulish twist. This book will have readers thinking deeply about friendships, and the lengths one will go to for said friendships.

Author Anderson’s writing is stunningly strong. It’s descriptive to the point where, as a reader, I was fully immersed and engaged in the plot that oftentimes it felt real to me. More than though, Anderson’s writing is real – from the dialog to the character interactions, everything felt organic and authentic.

Like her writing, I also found Anderson’s well crafted characters to be just as organic and authentic. Main character Mila is a true force to be reckoned one. She’s full of angst, girl power, and confidence. But those characteristics aren’t the only ones that make up this complex character. She’s also shy, vulnerable and emotional, and very aware of, not only who she is, but of the world and the people in the world around her. Even though she’s a flawed character, and even though sometimes as reader you won’t always understand her motives, the growth you will see in her is what makes her so likable and relatable.

I also love that author Anderson crafted a character like Mila and didn’t shy away from her being angry. She challenges the thought that girls and women shouldn’t be or get angry. And I love how she turned Mila’s anger into something constructive. More than that though, I love how she shows readers, especially female readers, that it is normal and it is okay to be angry.

But Mila isn’t the only great character to fill the pages of this book. Heck! She isn’t the only female character that oozes girl power. Though dead Riley, June, and Dayton are all fantastic representations of what girl power truly means – they believe in relying on themselves to solve the mystery of who is behind the female killing spree in Cross Creek, they stick together no matter what, and more than that they are capable of handling tough situations without the help of outsiders.

I loved all these aspects of these characters, but what I loved most is how, though the story, as a reader I had the chance to see their friendship go from complete and utter hatred of each other to loving and understanding.  And still, I loved how as I was reading it made me reflect on my own friendships, and the lengths I’d go to for my very own friends.

Moving on from the characters, as a person who doesn’t read a whole lot of mystery, I enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on in this small town alongside Mila and her undead girl gang. To say that there were so many twists and turns I didn’t see coming would be an understatement. Anderson has truly created a story that will keep readers guessing and terrified.

There is a whole lot to love about Anderson’s latest novel Undead Girl Gang. It was a five-star book for me, a feat that I feel is very rare for me. It was the perfect blend of realisticness and ghoulish horror. And it had a bit of something for everyone – from laugh out loud moments to downright scary ones.

Seriously, what more could you ask for in a book!?

(Cover image from Goodreads)

 

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Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue is a tall. She is one of the few openly out people in all of Eulogy, Mississippi. And while her life has been uprooted after Hurricane Katrina, she and her family are surviving the best way they know how.

But even though she knows that there are bigger and greater things for her out there in the world, she is happy. And nothing is going to challenge that.

That is until Freddie, a boy she was friends with as a child, suddenly reappears in her life. Freddie challenges Ramona in ways she never thought possible. He challenges her in their morning swimming practices at the local Y. He challenges her to think of even bigger and greater things for herself and her life outsider of her small town and her growing family. But more than that, he challenges her to love differently.

Ramona isn’t necessarily ready to welcome these challenges. And quite frankly, she’s scared of accepting those changes. But with senior year coming to a close, she’s forced to face those realities, those challenges, and those changes.

Ramona survived one disaster. But will she survive the disaster that has been brewing her entire senior year?

Ramona Blue, written by author Julie Murphy, is a realistic read that will pull at readers heartstrings.

Author Murphy is a true superstar. And just like her, the writing that fills Ramona Blue is too. Murphy’s writing is strong, it is emotionally charged, and above all things it is smart. So much so that it will make readers think about life, about love, and about aftermath of disasters.

As a reader I appreciate a good character driven book. Ramona Blue was definitely that kind of book for me. I immediately liked Ramona and put all my faith in her as a reader. She is a fantastic character, and one that readers of all ages can learn from and through. Ramona is strong and smart. She is caring, loving, and is loved. She is determined. And even though she isn’t as confident as she should be, she believes in her friends, her family, and the life that she’s created for herself.

She is definitely flawed, but honestly so. She’s messy, and stumbles to the point of falling, but she learns and picks herself up. And deep down, I got the sense that she’s angry — angry at the fact that her sister’s lazy boyfriend is living with them, angry that her friends will all be moving on and moving away after graduation, angry at her mother that abandoned her. And all that anger is real and is justified. It was nice to see a female character accept and embrace that.

Besides Ramona, Murphy has created an unforgettable cast of characters that readers will easily love. There’s Hattie, Ramona’s older sister who is pregnant and in constant need to be taken care of. There’s Freddie, long lost friend who challenges, not only what Ramona thinks, but also how she feels. And still, a quieter character that I wish had more page time was Ramona’s hard working dad who loved his girls like no other book parent has. He’s solid and stable, just what his daughters need and deserve.

Ramona Blue is a special book. Especially for me. Why? Because it made me think. When Hurricane Katrina hit the southern region of the United States it was devastating for places like Louisiana. And I’m sure you know that too. But what author Murphy does is make readers realize that Louisiana wasn’t the only place affected. Much smaller cities in many Southern states were also devastated. I learned a lot about this, and from this book.  I truly appreciated that how Murphy’s book made me think, made me see, and made me understand how this natural disaster still affects people and communities to this very day, all these years later. In short, Ramona Blue is an important book.

I’ve read Murphy’s other books, and while this is very much a Murphy book, it’s different. In all honesty, it’s a difficult book to read. There is a sadness to this book (and I mean that in the best way) that readers will immediately feel. But with that sadness comes a sense of hope, and Murphy has excelled at injecting hope into this story, her characters, and her readers.

There’s a lot to love about Ramona Blue. And if you have already read this book, you already know that. But if you haven’t, I urge you to. Take this journey alongside a blue haired girl named Ramona. You too will love this book!

 

 

Around the Web (#25)

June is Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate than to share some quotes from YA Books that celebrate all things Pride!

I’ve always wanted to start a book club of my own! Wait, you do too? Check out these tips! A book club is a bit too much, how about a book swap?

We should celebrate Pride year round! Here are some books to keep the celebration going!

Seriously … The Day The Crayons Quit is probably my most fave picture book! If you love this book, and you’re an educator you’ll want to check this out!

I guess there will be a book 2 of Fantastic Beasts?! Or at least an original screenplay.

Drawn Together by Minh Le has been on my radar and TBR list since I first heard of it a few months ago.

Calling all Baby-Sitters Club fans: find out which two baby sitters you are! (If you’re curious, I got Mary-Anne and Dawn … but I don’t necessarily believe the results!)

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Newest YouTube Channel I Started Watching: Coral Joy Travels

Newest Blog I Started Reading: N/A

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was taken by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

Summer is (practically) here and that means a new TBR list!

I’ve come to realize that, not only will I forever have a never ending TBR list, but that I generally don’t love these lists. While I feel that they give me a good idea of what I  want to read, I find that I don’t necessarily stick to them. They always seem to be tentative lists, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

With that said, these are the books that I am hoping to read during the summer!

  • Unclaimed Baggage by Jennifer Doll
  • Family by Micol Ostow
  • Save the Date by Morgan Matson
  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black
  • How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mylnowski, and Lauren Myracle
  • Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks
  • The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

So there you have it, dear readers. The top books that are on my TBR list. What are you planning on reading the summer? What books do you think would make the best summer readers? Please share in the comments!

Freebie Friday: Favorite Album Book Tag

Hello Readers!

As you know by know I enjoy watching a lot of book tag videos on YouTube.   And there are a lot out there. Now while I haven’t watched them all, I noticed that something was missing.

There are plenty of tags that combine my two favorite things – books and music – like the playlist tag (created by ) and the OMG This Song book tag (created by Katesbookdate  … I think) and even the Music & Books tag (created by Jessethereader) .

But the kind of tag that I was searching for only seemed to exist in my head. So I though, why not create a tag of my own.

So let me (try) to explain the obvious tag that’s been brewing in my head. Basically, you take a music CD (or album or whatever it is you may call it). It could be an all time favorite album, it could be a random album.  All you have to do is go through track by track and pick a book that relates to the the song title, the lyrics, or even whatever the meaning of that song means to you.

I think this sounds like fun, and it sounds like a tag that could be done over and over again without getting old and stale.

Today I’m going to be doing my newly created tag and I hope you enjoy it!

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The album I’m choosing for this tag is one that is an all time favorite. It’s one that I can sing each and every lyric to. It’s one that makes me feel the most me ….

No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom

Track 1: Spiderwebs (or a book about sticky situations)

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Track 2: Excuse Me Mr. (or a book about trying to get the guy’s attention)

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Track 3: Just a Girl (or a book all about Girl Power)

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Track 4: Happy Now (or a book with a happily ever after)

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Track 5: Different People (or a book that celebrates the main character being different from all his/her character peers)

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Track 6: Hey You (or a book about following ones dreams)

For the Record by Charlotte Huang

Track 7: The Climb (or a book about overcoming a challenge)

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Track 8: Sixteen (or a book I feel every sixteen year old should read)

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Track 9: Sunday Morning (or a book where you’ve seen the most character growth)

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Track 10: Don’t Speak (or a book about heart break)

Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

Track 11: You Can Do It (or a book about a big misunderstood)

Undead Girl Gang by LIly Anderson

Track 12: World Go Round (or a book set in a foreign destination)

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Track 13: End it On This (or a book that is the last in a series)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Track 14: Tragic Kingdom (or a book with a fantastical element)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

When Will’s brother is shot and killed by a former friend it’s up to Will to follow the rules. With a gun tucked into his waistband he knows what he has to do: seek revenge on the dude who took his brother’s life. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that Will knows has to be followed.

As he steps into the elevator seventh floor of his apartment building, Will is visited by several people from his past. From friends to family members, these are all people who know the truth. They’re all people who have died by the same rules that they once lived by. Bit by bit, floor by floor Will comes to understand the story of his brother’s untimely death, and how each of those people who went before his are connected to it.

But on this long way down, will they help figure out what he’s supposed to do?

Long Way Down is a novel in verse written by author Jason Reynolds. And if you are familiar with his body of work you will know, that just like the books that came before, it is realistic, raw, and often gritty.

As a reader, I appreciated this books realness, the rawness, and the grittiness. But Long Way Down, for me, left something to be desires. While I feel that his writing is strong, I have to say that there was something about this book that stopped me from enjoying it fully.

Main character Will is a unique one, and while I appreciate that, I feel that he wasn’t entirely as fleshed out as he could have been. Because of this I felt as if I couldn’t get to know him. To say Long Way Down isn’t a character driven book would be an understatement.

Long Way Down was filled with a cast of characters that were difficult for me as a reader to relate to. They felt very removed. But with that said, I truly appreciated the many viewpoints I received as a reader, proving that there are many sides to one story. Because of this, it gave the book a layer of depth I wasn’t expecting. I liked how each character was a part of Will’s past, and how they ultimately affected his future.

I liked the characters, so much so that they were the main reasons that I kept reading this book. Beyond the characters I genuinely liked the story line of this book: a boy struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved brother, and the realization that it may be his turn to step up to the plate to play by the rules.  The struggle that Will faces is real, so much so it’s palpable.

But even though I liked the main story line, I didn’t love the format. For me personally, it just didn’t work. As I was reading, it often felt choppy, and not completely whole. More than that, I felt that the story had no real resolution by the book’s close, and that really bothered me.

Long Way Down sadly missed the mark for me. Which, if I’m being completely honest was a real disappointment because I had such high hopes for this one. I’m disappointed in the book, but I am not disappointed I read it.  But I do feel that even though it wasn’t a favorite of mine that you should check it out. Maybe your experience and the takeaways will be different for you. Read it, and let me know what you thought of this book. I’d love to know and discuss it further.

(Cover image from GoodReads)

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Awaken The Travel Bug

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was taken and altered by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

I was bit by the travel bug a long, long time ago. I remember being a little girl and my grandparents filling my head with tales of their travels. They visited the Island, drove down the California coastline, cruised around Alaska, and toured Europe.

As they told me stories I remember thinking: I want to do all those things too!

Now that I am an adult I have been very fortunate to make some of those travel dreams come true. I’ve been to London and Italy, I just recently visited Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. I’ve been to Louisiana, and Florida. I even made a u-turn in Arkansas on my way to Beale Street.

The point I’m making is that I do not necessarily need any book to awaken the travel bug in me. It had been awaken a very long time ago.

But! There are books that, even though they don’t awaken the bug, they do nudge it to want to travel and explore even more!

  • Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  • Reunited by Hillary Weisman Graham
  • Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Have you been bit by the travel bug? What books have awaken it in you? Please share in the comments!

(Cover images from Goodreads)