Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











GhostingFrom Goodreads: On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

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If you haven’t yet added this unique novel to your TBR pile, then I’m going to suggest that you do so right now. Written in free verse, this novel throws out exactly what each character is thinking as it happens, and while initially jarring, I found that I liked it very much. Readers easily know who is thinking and speaking as the sections are chunked, focusing on one character at a time, but it certainly isn’t a traditional novel in the sense of its flow.

Ghosting, told through the eyes of the many teens involved in the prank/misunderstanding, allows readers an up close and personal look at these teens inner and outter lives before and after the life-altering event. I have to say that it took a while to lead up to the event in question, painting a vivid portrayal of the characters lives, and it was as if I was their shadow, watching, knowing something bad was coming. This put me on pins and needles, and I liked how well I got to know all the characters as the plot slowly drove toward the event that changes everything. And once we are there, it all seems to then quickly tumble to its end as those involved attempt to heal in many ways. It’s beautiful, and the ark of a story is followed superbly as we build to the climax and resolution. Due to the way it’s written, this is actually a rather fast read, though it looks to be much longer than it really is, so do not let the size of the novel stop you from picking up this unique read. Four and a half stars.

4.5 starsI received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle (Only $3.99 at time of this post) | Barnes and Noble

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Unlikely FamilyFrom Goodreads: When Joshua Anthony finds himself homeless at fourteen, he is determined to survive on his own. With the help of motel owner Curt, Josh is doing just that when he encounters three other homeless teens; Charles, Elise and Leah. They decide to band together, pool their resources, and form their very own unlikely family. Along the way, they encounter Liz, a 27 year old woman who is down on her luck and needs a break. Will these teens be just what she needs to get her life back on track?

This is the story of four resilient teenagers, determined to thrive in spite of their circumstances. They encounter many hardships on their road to adulthood, but also learn to love, hope, and find success.

Join this unlikely family on their journey of discovery. Laugh with them, cry with them, fall in love with them as they do with each other.

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This story is indeed amazing. Told from five different first-person perspectives, readers get to know five homeless people, four teens and one adult, as they make an unlikely family. Though the story sometimes reads a bit clipped, it drew me in as a reader and captivated me. These kids are amazing, and as the story unfolded, I found myself drawn to them and their plight, rejoicing with their triumphs, and crying with their failures. Adams has written a clean read–though homeless, there is no sex or prostitution, an aspect that generally is prevalent in stories I’ve read about homeless teens. While not every situation in the novel struck home with me, I connected very much with the characters, and by the end Adams had me ugly crying so hard that I had to set the book aside–it tour my heart out, and yet it was a most beautiful scene… be ready to have your world rocked as you fall in love with the five main characters.

Honestly, this is a beautiful, poignant story that is definitely a must read. Yes, it made me cry, but overall it’s a story of triumphs, and there is a believable happy ending. In my opinion, the only aspect that needs work is the cover. Unfortunately, the cover is one I would definitely pass up in a bookstore or anywhere I saw it, truth be told, because it looks too fake and it just isn’t interesting to me. A new cover, sleek cover would grab readers’ attention, which needs to happen because this is an amazing, poignant read. And you really do need to read it. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from the author at a book festival.

Amazon Paperback | Kindle



Monument 14 Sky on FireFrom Goodreads: Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected…

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I absolutely adored the first novel in this series, and while this second novel is very well written, it just didn’t grab me like the first. While part of this has to do with needing to rekindle my relationships with the characters, and thankfully Laybourne gives readers all the reminders they need to get back on track, the main issue for me was the font. Normally, I don’t discuss layout or font when critiquing a novel, especially since it generally has no barring on the story itself—the author doesn’t control font in a big publishing house—but I just can’t get over it. The novel is split between two characters, Dean and Alex, as they branch off from one another and tell their stories as the days unfold. Dean and just a few young survivors are staying behind at the Greenway Superstore due to blood toxin issues, and so events unfolding there are told through his eyes, in a normal, every day font. On the other hand, Alex, Dean’s brother, and the rest of the young survivors have taken the bus and are driving 60+ miles to the airport in attempts to bring people to help rescue Dean and the other survivors who can’t weather the toxins in the air. And here is where the story lost me—I had trouble reading Alex’s point of view because the font changed, and it wasn’t a normal easy font for me to read. It was lighter than normal font, with the letters elongated and spaced out, and it really impacted my reading. One can’t enjoy something they struggle to read, and while I get the idea behind different fonts, I think it was a not so great move on the part of the publishers. I just couldn’t get into Alex’s story because I struggled so much to follow it.

This novel is actually rather short in the realm of things, sitting at 213 pages, and truthfully, not a whole lot happened. There were a few issues that arose, but our heroes and heroines were able to smooth things over quite quickly, which is good, but doesn’t leave much in terms of excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the story, and I’m excited to see what happens next for the characters, but I hope there is just a little more substance and, of course, a normal font throughout. Three stars.

3 stars

I purchased this novel from Barnes and Noble.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



FrenzyFrom Goodreads: 14-year-old Heath Lambert is spending his summer at Camp Harmony in the picturesque Cascade Mountain Valley. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the soothing calm of nature as he weighs a heavy decision. The camp offers distractions: his friends, Cricket and Dunbar, always up for trouble; his reluctant crush on Emily, one half of the beautiful Em & Em Twins; and hulking bullies Thumper and Floaties, who are determined to make him their punching bag for the summer. But no one rattles Heath like his creepy cabin mate, Will Stringer. Brilliant, cold and calculating, Will views the world as one big chess game, and he’s always three moves ahead of everyone else.

Heath soon learns there’s a much bigger threat to contend with. Something’s wrong with the animals in the surrounding forest. A darkness is spreading, driving them mad with rage. Wolves, bears, mountain lions-even the chipmunks are infected, spurred on in droves by one horrific goal: hunt and kill every human they find.

Heath and a ragtag band of campers are faced with a choice: follow Will’s lead and possibly survive, or follow the camp staff and die. But how do you trust a leader when you suspect he’s more dangerous than the animals you’re running from?

Heath came to Camp Harmony to be surrounded by nature. He’s about to get his wish.
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What would happen if the land-dwelling animals of the world suddenly lost their fear/love of humans and began outright attacking us? It would be like a zombie apocalypse, but with animals, which in my opinion, is even more scary… and that’s exactly what Lettrick pens in his exciting novel, Frenzy. With an airborne virus that spreads an altered version of rabies, animals of all shapes and sizes are infected, shedding their fears and lusting for blood–mainly, the blood of humans.

Enter Heath, a young man who’s already staring death in the face due to a resurgence of cancer, and the prospects don’t look good. But at least he has this last summer pretending everything is okay. That is, until a brood of animals begins slaughtering his campmates.

With the river as their only respite from the hoards of animals intent on obliterating their existence, Heath and his “friends,” Cricket, the Ems, Will, Dunbar, Miles, and a handful of others find themselves trapped and running out of options fast.

This is a fast paced read that I highly enjoyed, and I think most MG and YA readers will feel the same. There is a lot of death within the novel–animals are quick, as it is, but even so, it’s a believable and enticing enough read–and thankfully it’s not too graphic.

While there are a lot of characters, Lettrick makes it easy to tell them apart and their plights are believable. It’s awesome. Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Disney-Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 8, 2014.



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