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Mel's Book Blog

I read and review whatever strikes my fancy and many things strike my fancy. I'm particularly fond of Young Adult, New Adult, dystopian tales, and mystery thrillers. Easily distracted by the newest book in the shelf.

Currently reading

The Upside of Unrequited
Becky Albertalli
Tin God
Stacy Green
Arrows Through Archer
Nash Summers
If There's No Tomorrow
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Secrets of Power Negotiating: 15th Anniversary Edition (Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator)
Roger Dawson

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli I can't even begin to name all the things I love about this book. It's cute, funny, sweet, and so totally human. Some of the best characters I've seen in a YA novel in quite some time. Can't wait to see the movie.


Darknet - Matthew Mather 2 1/2 rounded up. A quick read; however the story felt a little flat to me. I liked the characters well enough. I just felt the story lacked depth and would have been better with more fleshing out of the darknet. The darknet is a fascinating subject, so there was great potential for a really good thriller. Instead the darknet was portrayed in very generic terms and the story ending wrapped up a bit too quickly and too neatly to generate much of a reaction out of me.

The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves: A Novel

The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves: A Novel - James Han Mattson The lost prayers of Ricky Graves was my Kindle First pick for November, 2017. The story is a retrospective of the aftermath of a tragedy which befell a small New Hampshire town, unfolding through six different points of view: Harriet Graves, Ricky’s mother, a single mom a little too self-absorbed in being a good mother to really notice what’s actually going on with her kids; Alyssa Graves, Ricky’s sister (eight years older), who has her moments of closeness with her brother, but the age gap is too much to really call them close; Corky Meeks, Alyssa’s ex-boyfriend and Ricky’s camp counselor and sometimes mentor; Jeremy Little, Ricky’s online chat buddy and possibly Ricky’s one attempt to reach out for help; Mark McVitry, one of Ricky’s tormentors and a survivor of the event; and Clarie Chang, a casual acquaintance of Ricky’s who makes a halfhearted attempt at friendship, as much of an attempt as a teenager can manage without having her popular friends know that she’s doing it.

The story is very poignant in its realness. How many times have we witnessed the pain of another, but don’t reach out to them because of the walls they erect around themselves or the walls we erect around ourselves to protect ourselves from having their problems bleed over into our lives and the possibility of us becoming the victims of their tormentors or the target of derision from our friends?

Jeremy’s ex-boyfriend, Craig, sums it up fairly well when he refers to social media interaction as “a digital tapestry of unanswered prayers.” But on closer inspection, the characters don’t even have to go online to see this “enormous wall of human misery.” It’s all around them. But somehow it’s easier to pretend that it’s no big deal; that it isn’t even there. Until the tragedy of reality shoves it in their faces.

For the most part, the characters in this book are not very likeable, not even Ricky. But they are very real. And they are us. And it’s the journey to forgiveness, for not doing enough, for not being enough, that makes this an unforgettable story.

World's End

World's End - Upton Sinclair Historically accurate and a great representation of the experiences of everyday people during WWI.

Ignite Me

Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi Without a doubt, this will be my favorite series of the year. The writing is evocative and truly phenomenal. And the short story/novella pieces told from Adam's and Warner's POV added a whole other dimension to the story.

Destroy Me

Destroy Me - Tahereh Mafi I didn't want to like Warner or to feel sorry for him, but as it turns out, there's more to him than initially meets the eye. This novella is a great character study of Warner and what has made him the man he is. It explains Juliette's confusion where he is concerned. She has sensed all along that he is not quite as he seems, that there is more lurking beneath the surface. He loves her, but his love is obsessive and quite scary. A great lead-in to Unravel Me.

Thinking Straight

Thinking Straight - Robin Reardon I made it to 84%, but had to put it down. IDK... I'm just not feeling this one. Too introspective.


Elpida - C. Kennedy Omorphi brought us lessons of strength. Tharros showed us the qualities of courage and perseverance. And Elpida brings us the message of hope. Always hope.

Of the three books in this series, Elpida is my favorite. I loved Ómorphi and Thárros, but Elpída was a remarkable gelling of all the story elements: the characters, their backgrounds and experiences and how they came to be the people they are, who did what to whom, and why. It also brings home the lasting effects of the evil that abusers perpetrate on their victims and the daily struggle victims go through to hold on to their new life and their ever-fragile hope. Cody Kennedy gives us a never-before-seen glimpse inside the complex psyche of the abused child and the four lives they must construct in order to survive: the secret you, the “normal” you, the real you, and the you created and shown to your abusers.

With the arrival of Timotheos at Wellington, we get an in-depth look into what Christy’s life was like before he was rescued. Having Thimi with him is, in many ways, a double-edged sword for Christy. He is so very thankful and relieved to find his “little brother” alive, yet seeing Thimi struggle in his new life and surroundings brings back all the memories Christy has tried so hard to master. It is very humbling and heartbreaking to see how a happy event like being reunited with a loved one can trigger nightmares and terrors anew—to see Christy breaking all over again—the terror more horrifying than ever before. Also how small everyday things we take for granted like roasting marshmallows can be a trigger… the innocent childhood pleasures of life, forever tainted by evil monsters who steal the very soul of a child.

Throughout the story, Christy struggles with worry and concern over Thimi adapting to his new environment as well as questioning how Michael could possibly love someone as damaged as he. He also worries that spending so much time with Thimi, away from Michael, will adversely affect his and Michael’s relationship. After such horrific abuse, he has a hard time wrapping his mind around how someone like Michael could cross his path, bringing “love and kindness and safety.” And a hard time hanging on to the new life he has built for himself. The memories that Thimi’s arrival triggers threaten to pull him under once again. And the ultimate heartbreaking moment is seeing Christy utterly shatter in the chilling confrontation with Michael.

In Thárros, we saw a crack in Michael’s perfect veneer as he experiences trouble controlling his rage at what Christy has endured—a normal reaction for caring people to experience when they discover that such evil exists in the world. In Elpída, Michael struggles to be Christy’s rock while denying and stuffing down his own terror at almost losing Christy. He also struggles with other very human emotions—jealousy and self-recrimination for being jealous of the time Christy spends with Thimi. His jealousy leads him to a very dark place, nearly causing him the loss of the most precious piece of his heart. His only saving grace being his parents, Bobbie and Mac, who provide him with stern, albeit unsolicited, guidance, advice, and constant reminders of who he really is; as well as, Jake, his steadfast friend who is never shy about setting Michael straight when the situation calls for it.

Did I mention there’s also a mystery? Yes, there is, and it is folded neatly throughout the book and keeps the story moving at a nice pace. Get this book… get this series. It’s a wonderful story with heartrending depth of emotion, life-affirming courage and hope, and the best-developed cast of characters I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Within these pages, you will find laughter, you will find tears, you will despair and rage at the evil that exists, but above all else, at the end of the journey, you will find hope—elpída. This series has a permanent place on my OMG shelf.

Frank at Heart

Frank at Heart - Pat   Henshaw 3 1/2 out of 5.

It was kind of sappy and cute, but a perfect easy one-day read. Loved the characters and the town.

Exodus - The House of Silence

Exodus - The House of Silence - J.A. Jaken I would give this 3.5 of 5 stars. The writing is very good and the characters are very interesting. It moved a little sluggishly for me in the beginning as we got to know the characters rather gradually in the context of their day-to-day lives. And there are a lot of characters, so it was a bit difficult to keep them all straight as the story is told in their alternating viewpoints. It wasn't until 2/3 into the book that the action/plot-driven element kicked in and even then it was a bit of a cliffhanger ending. All in all it was an enjoyable read, but I'm undecided at the moment as to whether I will continue with the rest of the books.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher A unique and interesting format. It lent itself well to portraying how the impact of individual actions can coalesce into a very traumatic outcome and the emotional wreckage left behind in the aftermath of suicide. Intensely chilling and poignant.

Too Late

Too Late - Colleen Hoover A very chilling, brutal glimpse into the world of a narcissist and what it's like when a particularly entitled, obsessed one becomes fixated on a person. I found the characters to be very well-developed and, in the case of Asa, very frightening.

Legacy (Grapes of Rome, #1)

Legacy (Grapes of Rome, #1) - Remmy Meggs War is always brutal, but particularly so in Ancient Roman times. The story opens with the playfulness and carefree life of typical twelve-year-old Roman boys. Born of noble blood with few cares in the world, discovering the delights of Roman society—trips to the city for sumptuous meals in fine restaurants, the hustle and bustle of the city market and the slave auctions, shopping trips for fine clothes. But this trip also has more serious endeavors as Dante is tasked with procuring supplies and staff for his first adult venture of sheep herding and helping his mentor, Don Fedele, with the purchase of arms for his father’s newly commissioned army. On this trip, Dante takes his first step into manhood as he is called to defend his father’s honor. And this experience lays the foundation of Dante’s future persona as a military commander—the keeper of swift, hard, cold justice.

A subsequent trip to the city (to accompany his father to a meeting of the Senate) is interrupted as the Republic is attacked and Rome is at war. The young boys are summoned to their fathers’ sides on the battlefield to observe the waging of war, lessons all Roman boys must learn. The Romans are victorious in their first battle against the Etruscan and Latin forces, but the victory is short-lived as a surprise attack throws the outing into chaos. The boys are sent away with their bodyguards, but unwittingly are drawn into the battle as they have to fight for their very survival and are plunged into the atrocities of war; friends and fathers are lost in the most brutal ways. Brokenhearted warriors are the most fierce and vicious. The brutality of this attack pushes Dante over the edge and he emerges as a man… a warrior. “Vengeance has made the boy a man.”

But this is merely the beginning of the story. Follow Dante’s expeditions into the grim underbelly of war as he discovers that the enemy does not always wear a different uniform or fly a different standard. Treachery runs deep as son betrays father, countrymen betray countrymen, and friends betrays friends.

Grab a front row seat to this action-packed story. Witness boys becoming men in the harshest of ways. This book is jam-packed with amazing characters and the brutal atrocities of war, but it is also a story of friendship, loyalty, and love. Very well researched and realistically portrayed. A must read.

The Dusk Parlor

The Dusk Parlor - S.A. Stovall 3 1/2 out of 5

I think this writer has a lot of talent and potential. This was an enjoyable read with very good character development. The one thing that would have made this story better was a bit more complexity to the plot, more of the Yakuza element. As any fan of Yakuza fiction will tell you, we like to be immersed in the culture, the gritty underbelly of what their world is really like. And the prospect of men who are trying to leave that life behind is beyond fascinating.

Power Play

Power Play  - Avon Gale While book one was just plain hilarious with Lane's craziness and book two was chock-full of Riley's and Ethan's adorable cuteness. This book was outright HOT! Who doesn't love a broody, moody Russian who thinks he deserves every bad thing that's ever happened to him juxtaposed with a guy who has lost so much, yet perpetually sees the glass as half-full?

Once again, Avon Gale charms us with her completely lovable characters, but THIS BOOK... this book was the full Monty. It has it all: great characters and an amazing story to boot and angst... did I mention the angsty Russian? If you were only going to read one book in this series, this is the one to grab up. But I warn you, the characters are addictive and I bet you can't read just one.


Breakaway - Avon Gale There's only one word to describe this book and that is FUNNY! Admittedly the plot was fairly simplistic and a bit predictable, but the characters the author has created are all works of wacky art. They are quirky, weird, oddball, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, yet down-to-earth and the genuine real deal. I positively adored each and every one of them.

I already have the rest of the series (thus far) loaded onto my Kindle and look forward to meeting the rest of these guys.