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Who R U ReallyFrom Goodreads: Thea’s overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

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When I was a teen, I played an online role playing game much like Skadi, and I met some guys online. The good news? We didn’t really have cell phones then… it was a new concept and they were really expensive, and since everyone I wanted to talk to lived in my tiny little town and had a landline, I didn’t have any use for a cell. Neither did the guys I talked to ask me for my number, but I do wonder now if any of them were potential threats. I’d forgotten about this phase in my life until I read this novel. I constantly spoke to a man in Denmark and a man in Florida–I say man because I’m pretty sure they were past college age, but I don’t remember ever really asking them. And I used computers at the local college for this, not at my house, so tracking would have been a little more difficult, but still. Wow. Technology is fighting and I can’t believe that I ever decided it was a good idea to start chatting up random strangers I met in the online gaming community… and back then, as a teen, I never even thought of predators or internet safety, which is what makes this story all the more real for me.

And while Thea is an aggravating main character because she just doesn’t get it, she’s very much like I was at her age. She’s oblivious to the world around her, it seems, and not even when her friends and family try to spell it out for her does she relent and realize the danger she truly is in. She’s so far gone believing that Kit is her one true love that no warning signs blare for her, and so I spent a majority of this novel yelling at her through the pages. Mainly because this is very realistic, even though I hate to admit that. I hate that there are girls who fall prey to internet predators, and I hate that Thea’s parents still couldn’t protect her once they realized what was happening. It’s a sick and twisted world we live in, but thankfully we have novels like this one that paint a very real picture for our teens and tweens—showing them that sometimes we don’t know best, that our family and parents can see things we can’t, and that we need to listen to them.

The plot itself moved right along, and I really enjoyed the novel, though I did find that the predator in this story was, unfortunately, obvious. There are some telltale signs early on in the story, and everything points to this person, so I was a little disappointed with this specific aspect of the story, but otherwise it was really well done. And while Thea did drive me crazy at times, I loved the suspense that begins to build as her parents get involved and strange things begin to occur. The end had me rigid in my seat, and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely going on my students’ outside reading list as an option.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for a honest review.  This title releases officially on September 18, 2014.

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The Break Up ArtistFrom Goodreads: Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 



After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

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Admit it. There has always been that one relationship (or two) that you were dying to break-up. Whether it was because your best friend turned into someone different, or the couple was in so deep they couldn’t see how wrong they were for each other, or perhaps just because you were jealous—you’ve wished that someone would come along and break them up. Meet Becca. She’s your person.

I have to admit that I nearly didn’t pick up this novel. Readers just know going in that Becca is going to get caught, that the people in her school are going to make an example of her, and that it’s just not going to end well for her. And because that sounds very much like a bunch of teen movies I’ve seen, I nearly stopped myself before I even began reading. And I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to my inner monologue. The Break-Up Artist is actually a hilarious tale and, though we know how it’s going to end from the very beginning, Siegel makes this novel stand apart from all the teen angst movies and books out there, and I highly enjoyed nearly every minute of it.

Becca has seen how relationships can ruin a person, so she’s made it her job to break up relationships before they get to the stage where they ruin lives. Amazingly enough, well, perhaps not knowing human nature, there are tons of clients willing to pay the masked break-up artist if she can successfully break up the couple in question. And in the beginning, it seems harmless enough. She really is doing some people a favor by breaking them up, as seen by how self-absorbed and forgetful they become around their significant other. It’s true, people change around their beau, especially teens in relationships, and so it makes sense that Becca has found a calling in “helping” her peers return to their right sense of mind.

When Becca is asked to break up Huxley and Steve, she takes on the challenge, and hilarity ensues along the way, but so do some very real life lessons, like fate, friendship, and right from wrong. Becca has a lot to learn in the love department, and at one point even she is duped into the “relationship” throng, going against everything she’s ever preached, and learning that perhaps what she’s doing isn’t right at all. Constantly battling against herself and her desire for friendship, especially as she see’s her true friend, Huxley, return to her, Becca has a lot of growing up to do, and this is the perfect tale to tell it all. Though I didn’t agree with her when it came to her best-friend’s boyfriend—in fact I found her to be quite silly in her antics here—I get what she’s going through, and I just adored how the entire story unfolded. And there’s going to be a sequel of sorts—I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Becca! Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Harlequin Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release today!

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