Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off FriendsBetter Off Friends
Elizabeth Eulberg
Point
Release Date: February 28, 2014
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 9780545551458
Websites:
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Elizabeth Eulberg has done it again! Better Off Friends is another great contemporary from Elizabeth Eulberg that left me grinning from ear to ear. 
It’s hard to review a book you liked so much. I’m finding it difficult to start off this review. There is so much I want to say, but I’m having issues figuring out how to say it. 
I loved the structure of the story. Macallan and Levi were recounting the story of their relationship, starting from when they first met in 7th grade. Between each chapters, present day Macallan and Levi would provide commentary on their actions in the past. The chapters alternated point of view between Macallan and Levi, and it was great getting into each of their heads to see how they interpreted the same events. I loved that because the story started in 7th grade, you got to see the full progression of Macallan and Levi’s friendship. You got to relive their relationships’ ups and downs. I loved that their friendship wasn’t perfect, because no friendship ever is. 
I loved both Macallan and Levi. They were extremely well written; they felt like real people. While they sometimes made stupid decisions, I couldn’t help but like them because they felt real. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when it comes to relationships with friends, and it was great to see them tackle the ups and downs of their friendship. Levi and Macallan made the book. Macallan was such a strong character. I loved how protective she was of her family and of those she cared about. Levi was adorable, and it was great seeing him trying to adapt to his new home. 
Their friendship is what drives the story. I loved seeing their relationship develop, from friends to something more. They both care deeply for each other, despite the rough patches their friendship hits. It reminded me a lot of friendship’s I’ve actually had. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, but they managed to work through their arguments and road blocks. I loved how we got to see the relationship transform and grow. Levi and Macallan realize at different times that they feel something more than just friends, but something is always getting in the way of them getting together. 
This book was so cute. While the romance is important, it is really a book that focuses on their friendship. It was great to see such a strong and complex friendship between a guy and girl. While the book does have romance, I would have enjoyed it just as much without it. This story would still be great regardless of how their romantic relationships ended up. It was really a story about friends, family and were your heart feels at home. I think this beautiful quote sums up what this book really is about: “But in truth, home isn’t necessarily where you sleep at night. It’s where you feel like yourself. Where you’re most comfortable. Where don’t have to pretend where you can just be you.” 
Elizabeth Eulberg is an author I know I can turn to for a great contemporary YA novel. Her books never fail to put a smile on my face and improve my mood. The Lonely Hearts Club helped improve my rejection from my number one college, and Better Off Friends had the same effect. Elizabeth Eulberg’s book always lighten my mood; her books remind me of the why YA books are so great. For the few hours of reading Better Off Friends, you can escape from your troubles and just enjoy the story of Levi and Macallan. Their story will lift your heart and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. I would highly recommend this book, along with Elizabeth Eulberg’s other books, to everyone and anyone as they are magical and have the power to leave you grinning from ear to ear. 

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage

Going Vintage

Lindsey Leavitt
Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 9781599907871
Pages: 320
Website:
Rating: 4 Stars
Seriously, where has this book been my whole life and why haven’t I read it sooner? I’ve read other books by Lindsey Leavitt, but this book was just what I was looking for. Funny, sweet and heartwarming, Going Vintage shows that its hard to be a teen, no matter what era. 
The premise of this book is simple, but makes for a cute read. After Mallory discovers that her boyfriend has been cybercheating on her, Mallory decides it is time for a change. When Mallory discovers a list of goals her grandmother had in 1962, Mallory decides it is time to demodernize.   Going vintage for Mallory has its ups and downs, and along the way Mallory learns a lot about herself and those around her. 
I loved how much Mallory grew throughout the course of the entire novel. In the beginning, Mallory was soley focused on her boyfriend. When she breaks up with him, she does not really know who she is or what to do. While deciding to try to live its the 1960s seems a bit drastic, for Mallory, it fits. She’s a bit different, marching to the beat of her own drum, and sticking to something she believes in. She was sarcastic and funny and I loved her voice. Mallory is obsessed with keeping lists, part of the reason why she becomes fascinated with her grandmother’s own list, and I loved that each chapter would begin with one of her lists. 
The secondary characters really helped to complement Mallory and round out the story. I loved Mallory’s entire family. Her dad and her mom had their own little side story that ended up working nicely into the plot. I loved that her dad’s job was sort of “Storage Wars”-esque, while Mallory’s mom was busy running, and hiding, savings blog. I really liked her parents and their story. Mallory’s sister Ginnie was so cute. She was very different from Mallory, but the pair complemented each other well. Their relationship was spot on. Mallory’s Grandma was the character who surprised me the most. Her list from junior year of high school is what drives Mallory and I loved learning about the women behind it. She’s not exactly what you would expect, and she proves that high school back in the 60s was just as difficult as it is today.
The romance in the book was very cute. Oliver Kendall, who just happens to be Mallory’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin, proves to be a good match for Mallory. The scenes between the two of them were so fun to read; I couldn’t help from grinning. While they have their misunderstandings, their relationships works really well. Going Vintage isn’t primarily a rom-com book, but the romance fits in well with the plot.
Despite the fact that giving up all modern technology to accomplish outdated goals (what is pep club anyways?) is a bit of an outlandish idea, Lindsey Leavitt makes the book work. The book could have easily been very cheesy and full of fluff, but Leavitt manages to expertly weave a tale that tackles the difficulties of being a teenager and finding yourself. This book was heartfelt and showed that high school is never perfect; every teenager, no matter what decade, faces their own unique challenges. 
This is my second book by Lindsey Leavitt that I’ve read, but I will definitely be checking out any of her other books. She has an incredible talent of telling entertaining stories, that also deal with real issues facing teens. Going Vintage is a cute and fun read that delivers a heartfelt story about the difficulties of being a teenager. If you are looking for a quick and enjoyable read this summer, I’d pick this up.

Undeadly by Michele Vail

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)Undeadly
Michele Vail
Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Series: The Reaper Diaries #1
ISBN: 9780373210466
Websites:
Rating: 3 Stars
This book has been sitting on my TBR list since its release way back in 2012. It was one of those books I wanted to read if I got the chance. Well, I finally got the chance.
My feeling on this book are a bit mixed. I really liked some aspects of it, but others, not so much.  I read this book in one sitting, but there were times when I wanted to put it down. However, I knew if I put this book down, I most likely wouldn’t be picking it up. I was hoping this book would be similar to the Mythos Academy book series or the Covenant series, but it was a bit different than that. I think I might have just been expecting more from this book than it was able to deliver.
I’ll start with what I did like. I really liked the main character, Molly. Michele Vail did a fantastic job writing a character who jumps off the page. Molly voice was one I really liked; she actually sounded like a 16 year old girl. Through her entries in her reaper diaries, you really got to see that Molly was sarcastic and sassy, but also tough and caring. Molly loves her family, despite what she finds out about herself. I was glad that the story was told from Molly’s point of view because she had enough attitude to carry the story. If she wasn’t so strong of a character, I probably would have put this book down and not looked back. 
I really loved the idea of this book. Greek gods and goddesses have been the focus of a lot of retelling recently. It was refreshing to have book focused on the Egypt gods. Personally, I love Egyptian mythology, and was glad to see this book had a focus on Anubis. It is also a zombie book, but not in the way you would expect. Zombies are common place in this world, and they don’t want to eat your brains. Ghosts and spirits also are abound in this book. But with the focus on Anubis, God of the Afterlife, that is almost to be expected.

However, there were also things I didn’t like. I felt like most of the secondary characters, with the exception of Molly’s family, were very bland. They lacked depth and were forgettable. I can’t even remember the names of her friends at Nekyia; they ended up blending into the background. And then there is Rick and Rath. I found nothing interesting in either of them. I know that Rath is supposed to be the hot reaper tutor, but I felt like I knew nothing about him. He was just there to serve as love interest. The romance was stale and felt not existent, both with Rick and Rath. Molly’s feelings for Rath came out of no where, and that annoyed me. I really wished that the secondary characters had more substance to them. 
The pacing of this book was a bit off. I was interested in the plot, but things would happen too fast and without a lot of explanation. I would have to accept some plot points without really understanding them. Other parts of the novel dragged, or just didn’t fit with what previously happened. It was a struggle to continue reading when the pacing was all over the place. 
While Undeadly did not meet my expectations, I enjoyed most of it. Molly was a great character who was able to make me laugh and sympathize with her. I definitely want to see what happens next, especially with an ending that is a cliffhanger. The concept of this book was very intriguing, but failed to deliver at sometimes. Despite the issues I had, I do plan on continuing this series to see where Michele Vail takes us. 

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne

Poison Dance (Midnight Thief, #0.5)

Poison Dance
Livia Blackburne
Publisher: Lion’s Quill Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Series or Standalone: Midnight Thief #0.5
ISBN: 9781940584003
Pages: 86
Website:
Rating: 4 Stars
Poison Dance serves as a prequel novella to Livia Blackburne debut novel Midnight Thief. It’s currently available for FREE on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m super excited to read Midnight Thief when it comes out next month. Poison Dance serves as a great introduction into the world of Livia Blackburne’s novel. 
James is an assassin in the crumbling Assassin’s Guild. He meets Thalia, a dancer, who asks James to help her kill a powerful nobleman. While the novella is short, it does a good job setting up the world for Midnight Thief and is a great introduction to Blackburne’s writing. I haven’t read Midnight Thief yet, but if it’s anything like this prequel, I’ll know I’ll love it. 
I really liked James and can’t wait to see more of him in Midnight Thief. While he might be an assassin, he’s a good guy. He’s not corrupt and at first refuses to help Thalia because of the dangers of the job, for him and her. He’s got a good group of friends to whom he is loyal. He makes his decisions for the right reasons. When the Assassin’s Guild new leader starts targeting him, James just wants to get out of Forge, but events make that difficult. I’ll be interested to see more of him in Midnight Thief. 
Thalia was an interesting character. I felt bad for her. Her actions are motivated out of love for her sister. She knows the risks of attempting to kill a powerful nobleman, and is willing to do anything to avenge the death of her sister, including losing her own life. I was hoping she would have a happy ending…but we don’t always get what we wish for. 
While the story is short, the plot is intricate and detailed. Livia Blackburne manages to weave together two story lines into one short novella, an impressive task. The pacing was spot on, with details being revealed at the right time to keep the readers interest. The action is great, and the twists impressive. I cannot wait to see how this ending shapes the world in Midnight Thief.
Short and sweet, Poison Dance introduces us to the world of Forge, a world riddle with corruption. I cannot wait to see more of James and the world Livia Blackburne has created. If possible, I’m even more excited now for Midnight Thief than I was before!