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Things I'm Seeing Without You

Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni (330 pages)
Overview: Tess Folwers is grieving the loss of a boy she only met once; she is grieving her first love. Her phone feels oddly silent, knowing that he isn't on the other end of all those accounts they used to talk while hundreds of miles apart. She drops out of school and drives to her dad's house where she takes part in his eccentric funeral business to distract herself from her loss. As she's trying to move forward, she comes to discover that everything with her deceased first love, Jonah was not as it seems, setting off a spiral of odd events as she and others who were close to Jonah work together to come to terms with the loss. Overall: 3

Characters: 3 I never really formed a close connection or felt very invested in any of these characters. This isn't to say that they weren't interesting or had boring storylines, it's just that none of them felt developed beyond a flat, paper-like state. The male…
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Book Con Review: The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle (339 pages)
Overview: Lily has ADHD which means that sometimes she's a bit impulsive, especially when she gets stressed. This might explain why she kissed Abelard Mitchell one day in the waiting room of the vice principal's office. That, and, Abelard is hot. The awkward kiss is just one of a series of near disasters that unite the two kids from the fringes of the school. Lily has never been a favorite with her teachers while Abelard, who has Aspergers, is seen as a genius by his teachers and a punching bag by the student body. While they both don't love being different, they love what society says is broken about each other, and that just might be enough to teach them to love themselves.  Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I love Lily! She makes the perfect narrator with her bouncy energy and fast paced mind that keeps the reader jogging to keep up on the race through the story. I also love that this is another book with ADHD and d…

The Celebrities We Need

Last night, I spent the evening watching one of the most spectacular, mind boggling shows I've ever seen. The stunts had me holding my breath, the dancing was a stunning balance of strength and vulnerability, and the vocals were amazing, even if you didn't consider the athletic feats Pink performed while singing.
Pink got me thinking about the idea of celebrity and its relation to role models, because of her songs about believing in yourself, and the stories she told to the audience.
While the concept of celebrity is often villanized, it's something more important to society than we might realize. Stars are regular people with regular experiences who have gained a following, elevated their voices on a pedestal, gained riches, opportunity, and a life that most people couldn't dream of. And, while some people call it unfair or unrealistic, I think it's important to show this select group triumphing to prove success is a possibility regardless of what you must overco…

Short Story: No, I'm Not Okay

No, I’m Not Okay
September 9 I can’t believe I’m doing this again in the same stupid journal that Mom gave me last time someone died. Nonetheless, I’m pouring down my thoughts and feelings because six years ago some old guy, who claimed to be a grief counselor, told my mother that it would help. Help what? I’m not exactly sure. It certainly didn’t make me feel better about the pile of ashes that was my dad.

Ten year old me gave up the activity after a week, like most things I tried at that age. Ten year olds do what they want.

Now, though, I'm worse off because I didn't just lose a parent, I lost the parent. As in, the only surviving person who had to put up with me and my sister within five states… or anywhere.

I probably sound a little blunt, or insensitive, or maybe even disrespectful (Can you be any of these things about your own situation?), but you have to understand how stupid I feel writing about my “feelings”. To make matters worse, I honestly don't know how I feel. Sa…

Spotlight Review: Accidental Bad Girl

Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan (May 15)
Overview: Kendall never intends to wind up getting blackmailed by a drug dealer or wrapped up in a massive police sting. She also never imagines that she'll fully regain her reputation or self confidence after the scandal that marked the end of junior year. But all of these things and more happen in this action packed, New York City thriller. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I was actually surprised by the nuance of the characters in the book. I waffled on Kendall at first, as I wondered if she would gain more depth, but with every quarter, it turned out, I found a new layer of Kendall hidden in the pages. The other characters present their own share of interesting details and surprising twists. Kendall's new friend, Simone, who has plenty of controversy of her own, grounds the story when it tries to take off into a spinning whirlwind, and she grew to be my favorite. She contributes an extra depth to an otherwise beach-ready thriller.

Plot: 4…

Spotlight Review: We Are All That's Left

We Are All That's Left by Carrie Arcos
Overview: This duel narrative recounts the horrors faced by a mother and daughter decades apart. Zara is injured in a terrorist attack in modern day Rhode Island and left to deal with both her wounds and her mother's coma. Nadja, her mother's, story of trauma began long before that, though, during the Bosnian War when she was only a teen. The intersecting stories work to bring the distant mother and daughter closer together as they learn to cope with the pain of their experiences. Overall: 4

Characters: 3.5 The two parts of the book felt like two totally different books. I would give five stars to Nadja and her family (and adoptive family) from the third person account of her life during the war. I felt like I got to know these people, their fears, and their motivations.
Unfortunately, though the present day storyline was told in first person, I never felt like I got to know Zara or anyone who touches her life. Everyone there just felt …

Spotlight Review: The Dead Enders

The Dead Enders by Erin Saldin (448 pages)
Overview: Someone is setting Gold Fork on fire. The idillic mountain town for Weekenders and dooming trap for Dead Enders is thrown into chaos by a series of untraceable fires. Four best friends are thrown to the center of it the summer after junior year. Though the town feels chock full of threats and traps, the dangers might be closer than they appear. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I thought the four friends were interesting, but I wasn't able to emotionally connect with any of them. Erik is misunderstood, stressed, and forgotten by those he loves. Davis is a writer and the richest of the town crew, so he is sometimes resented. Georgie sells the tourists drugs to earn money towards escaping with her band, but it starts to overwhelm her the more she's encouraged to push. Finally, Anna is quiet though consumed in a fight to keep the grandmother she never had, Vera, located in the nursing home in town. Though it is told from all their points…