Cheerleading can be Murder by Carissa Ann Lynch


This clichéd, little book begins with cheerleading and ends with cheerleading. The middle of the book – more cheerleading. For those of us who don’t care about cheerleading one way or the other, it might be difficult, dare I say painful, to swallow the life and death stance on cheerleading portrayed in this book.

There are very few characters in the story and none of them are impressive or even likeable. It is written first-person, which makes it harder to read. Dakota is shallow, flighty, will literally do anything to be a cheerleader, and every ounce of happiness in her life is based on making it to the varsity squad her freshman year. Oddly enough, this school doesn’t seem to have a junior varsity anything, and the squad is a meager six girls. No wonder they’re willing to kill each other; they have to go above and beyond to make up what is more like half of a squad.

In her quest to beat out all the nasty, petty girls at school, she proves to be even more shallow than them all. For example, someone shreds her uniform and she has a very public melt-down that would make any parent ashamed. She’s not going to live it down anytime soon, but she couldn’t care less in comparison to her trashed uniform. Throughout the entire book she has the maturity of a five-year-old. She takes offense at each little infraction, thinks horrid thoughts about every other girl, throws a hissy when the guy she thinks is a dork, but she might like a little even though she deems him a loser, is spotted kissing some other girl. Thankfully, she’s incredibly superficial and the next day he becomes her boyfriend and she later professes her true love for him.

She’s not the only girl to give teenagers a bad rep. For being such a tiny book, there are numerous instances that made me cringe. The girls are vicious, nasty, have egos that rival Madonna, and take capricious to a new high. They cannot figure out whether they hate each other or they are besties. Within one paragraph, Dakota is going to tear her former best friends’ (there are two and you can safely pick either one in this scenario) hair out and then she is ready to “forgive” said girl for all the ways she wronged her. To clear things up, they all wrong each other over and over, until I had a headache from rolling my eyes.

Supposedly, there is a sociopath who is meant to drive the story and provide suspense. Warning: there is no suspense. Out of seventy chapters, maybe three are dedicated to that individual and they last thirty seconds. The author took the bad guy right out of the book. Then comes the great revelation. It was far from great, although it was a revelation, since any of these girls could have easily been the one slashing tires and killing kittens. That particular character has basically zero action, so it had to be tied up with a bow in a long paragraph at the end that explained why she was crazy. There are no hints and she is given only a cursory description, which I immediately forgot. If you’re looking for a book where you actually have to think and guess, move on.

After everything that happens, Dakota is still so immature that she thinks it is quite a shame that the evil cheerleader is evil, because she could have been great the following year. She tried to kill people, so it would make sense that her cheerleading abilities are inconsequential, but not according to Dakota. As wretched as these teens are, the adults are sorry excuses for parents and teachers. From the mother who spoils Dakota rotten to the coach who goes into graphic detail about kitten innards, they are a disappointment which explains a lot about these kids who are in desperate need of a conscience.

Overall, the writing is very basic and unengaging. It reads like something a teenager wrote and fits perfectly with Dakota’s bipolar thoughts. Don’t let the title fool you; this is not a horror story. This is baby Dean Koontz and lacks suspense completely. I was so disturbed by these teens that the “evil acts” took a back seat. This series came highly recommended, but the only redeeming moment I found was when Dakota ponders why her mother’s sandwiches taste better, just because she makes them. The fact is food made by others, especially a loved one, always tastes better. This was the one poignant moment.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – It’s hardly suitable for teens. I’m thinking more along the line of tweens. Adults should definitely steer clear. As for genre, it’s supposed to be horror, but it falls into the category of underdeveloped stories for teens.
  • Level of sexuality – Zero. If there had been any, I would have been very concerned. I was relieved that they were too busy being jealous and mean to even think about it.
  • Is there graphic language? Nope. They think and act like children, which leaves the dirty words out.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Did I cry? Tears of frustration and then tears of joy when I finished.
  • Is this part of a series? Sadly, yes. It is book one of Horror High.
  • Level of character development – What character development? Not only did this book lack plot, suspense, and relatability, it lacked actual characters. Dakota is spoiled and thinks only of herself. That is how it starts and how it ends. Everyone else is a varying level of a clichéd, boring character who lacks a real personality.

I had looked forward to this book. It has great reviews and I was hoping for something to keep me on the edge of my seat. It does have the word horror in the series, after all, so how could it not. The book is tiny, but it took me days to finish. Every time I picked it up I couldn’t bear it and down it went. Finally, I forced myself to finish. The last seven or so chapters are dedicated to the so-called ending and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Then, as an afterthought, the author tosses in a little epilogue that makes the reader rethink what they just read. It was a weak attempt to gain interest and took ten seconds to read. Needless to say, it did not entice me to continue the series. On the other hand, more than a few people have rated it highly. I suspect they might be about twelve years old, don’t have children, don’t know the actual definition of sociopath, are void of real empathy, or more than one of the above. I am sorry to give this ⭐️ star. I’d like to think that the author put forth some effort, but it was dry as beef jerky. One redeeming quality that many amazing indie books lack and I’m happy to point out here – I didn’t come across any typos.

Available here on Amazon


Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


I wasn’t sure if I should review this book. It has thousands already and was made into a truly horrible movie. Fortunately, I read the book before watching it. For all those people who saw the movie but haven’t read the book, and those who haven’t given it a thought at all, this review is for you.

Samantha Kingston is a snobby, popular – yet despised by many – teenager. Her three best friends are equally superior and they are all hard to like. They are typical teens with complicated home lives that turn them into monsters who mistreat the other kids at school. From the get-go, I disliked each one, including Samantha. The movie Mean Girls describes them perfectly: callous, selfish, unsympathetic, shallow, and they think they are entitled to everything. That all changes, though.

The book starts with Samantha’s death. It’s eloquently written and grabbed my attention right away. Every time she died, my heart ached, and she matured dramatically. When she wakes up that first morning and realizes she is replaying the previous day – much like the infamous Groundhog Day – she finally notices the people around her and takes a deeper look at her friends, family, and fellow students.

These so-called popular girls have made the lives of everyone around them miserable. There are certain characters that are vital to the story, because they open Samantha’s eyes and she recognizes the abuse she doles out. Having once been a loser, she will do anything to maintain her popularity and that means being a nasty individual who follows the queen bee like a thoughtless sheep. Through her death, she is able to see the repercussions of that one day on those who choose not to be a groupie.

Determined to figure out how to survive, she sets about righting her wrongs and dealing with the emotional pain of repeating them over and over. She approaches each day as a test to figure out what she needs to do differently in regards to a specific victim. Multiple tests lead to her feeling better about herself, after all she did just help someone whom she had originally ridiculed or destroyed their relationships. But she’s not surviving. She is missing the purpose behind this cosmic experiment. Needless to say, she eventually figures it out in a great epiphany.

While this book is more young adult, I think the message is something that applies to everyone. Whether you can get through it, due to the whole high school scene which is a bit nauseating, is up to you, but I believe it is worth your while. I sped through this book, eager to reach the end. Would she live? Would she die? Whose life would she alter for the better? For once, I found a book that kept me in suspense. Watching her evolve over a short period of time was heartwarming and the author did a phenomenal job of putting the reader inside her head. It was beautifully written, especially considering the content that was emotionally difficult to read. Thus is high school, though; it’s one long, often discouraging, trial after another.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – It’s not quite fantasy, but it does have that timeline aspect. It’s not time travel, but it’s definitely disruption. It’s aimed for teenagers, but I’m an adult who absolutely loved it.
  • Level of sexuality – They’re teenagers. They think about it a lot and put great emphasis on it. Part of her day and a decision she faces repeatedly, is whether or not to lose her virginity to her drunk, superficial boyfriend. Overall, the level is mid, but that is due to the importance and detail given to sex in general.
  • Is there graphic language? Like I said, they are teenagers, desperate to become adults. There is some, but it’s not excessive.
  • Did I cry? You bet and more than once.
  • Did I laugh? There were entertaining moments that made me chuckle. They were a nice break in an otherwise serious novel.
  • Level of character development – Samantha grows exponentially. She starts out as an obnoxious teenager who follows the cliché popular girl everyone hates, and turns into someone who cares about the people around her and her impact on their lives. Her friends do not evolve, but they are not the ones living the same day over. The author peels the layers away for each one and they become something much deeper and, surprisingly, they are all relatable. I would be interested to find out how they are affected by Samantha’s last time repeating that day.

Considering the high number of books I have read, it means a lot when I say that this is one that will haunt me forever. Will I ever read it again? Probably not, but that does not reflect upon the writing, the story, the characters, or the message. It is cemented in my mind and I will never forget it. I cannot recommend this highly enough, even for readers who cannot stand high school books. This goes beyond the trivialities of high school. The true story is applicable to every person and every stage of life. I gladly give it a rare ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. The movie will quickly fade from my memory, but the book will live on forever.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble

Jackaby by William Ritter


It is winter 1892. Abigail Rook has just landed at New Fiddleham in New England. Although a proper young English woman, she has absconded with her school tuition money to go adventuring and heads straight to America. There, she’s penniless, wearing a scrubby dress, and looking for employment. Fortunately, she stops at an inn where the landlord lets her stay the night in exchange for kitchen labor.

The next day, after many inquiries, she finds questionable work with Detective Jackaby, who speaks of mystical creatures that abound in the everyday world. Since she needs this job, Detective Jackaby can say whatever he wants. Her job is to assist him in whatever investigative endeavors he is involved in, and she plans on being irreplaceable. Their first challenge is a murder scene. Abigail is quick to get started and begins asking questions and searching for clues. Jackaby discovers she is quite handy at drawing attention to herself, with a feminine swoon, as he accomplishes sneaky business to avoid the police.

Abigail has found her niche and nothing is going to take it away. She is a stubborn young lady, who has always yearned for adventure and has certainly found it with Jackaby. Although the book is not a cliffhanger, I was ready to go to the next one immediately. Myth and mystery collide nicely in the story, and as Abigail got comfortable, so did I. It would have been disappointing if the two had not been a large part of this story. The reader is introduced to a rather possessive ghost, a duck with a pond on the third floor, and a frog with amazingly noxious fumes.

This story is entertaining and full of strange and interesting happenings. It runs full tilt to the very end, no confusion, even though there is a lot of action. There are a few other interesting characters that are the meat, while a frog, a duck, and a ghost are the potatoes.

I love a book that doesn’t disappoint, so be prepared to like this one, as I recommend it for those with inquiring minds looking for entertainment.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading ages – I’m going to mix two genres by saying this is mystery/fantasy. I think adults and older teens will enjoy this.
  • Level of sexuality – None or very low, depending on what you consider sexual.
  • Is there graphic language? None.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No, but I smiled a few times.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, thankfully, this is book one of the Jackaby series.
  • Level of character development – What you see is what you get. Jackaby is a strange and interesting man, and Abigail insists on adventure in her life and receives it. She shows a lot of maturity just by doggedly chasing her dream.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble

New Release: Dirty Flirting by Ava Alise


Dirty Flirting: Part One by Ava Alise

“Sometimes one kiss is enough to change everything.”

Easy hookups, no commitments, kinky fun.
That’s my motto after what I’ve been through with men. I’m all about enjoying sex without any needy attachments. Been there, done that. All the romance and happily ever after mess? Maybe I’ll try again at 30.

But then this guy happens… DREXEL ADAMS

After a searing kiss, our little flirting game seems more like foreplay. He’s hot as F$&%, and he’s filthy in bed.

He’s everything I crave… until he asks for more.

Now what the hell am I supposed to do?


On Amazon $0.99 and Kindle Unlimited






The Beauty Doctor by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard


The year is 1907. Women still wear their hair over layers of padding, they wear corsets and covers, which require a maid to help with dressing, they have no recourse when it comes to homeliness or when a small facial defect assumes huge proportions in a young woman’s mind. Make-up is minimal or non-existent in most homes. This is a prime time for the Beauty Doctor to move into your neighborhood.

Abigail Platford is about to flee the home of her soon-to-be in-laws and their son, her fiancé, leaving them far behind. These very wealthy people are smothering Abigail with their disapproval of both her and the upcoming marriage between her and their son. Arthur Hennessy isn’t truly interested in Abigail and she isn’t in him either. This is an easy way for Abigail to regain a home that was lost and for Arthur to cover his interest in a young man. The night before she is leaving, she meets Dr. Franklin Rome, a very handsome man, who causes a hot flush to creep over her face, as they introduce themselves to each other.

Abigail’s father had been a doctor and had encouraged her dream of one day becoming one, as well. Now, without the support of her father, she knows it is only a dream, but she does have a good start in the medical field, having worked with him. She must find employment immediately, if she is to survive. She thinks of Dr. Rome and, knowing where his current patient resides, she chooses to wait outside for him in the hope of him employing her.

It takes a little time for the doctor to decide he has just the job for her. He explains to her that he is a ‘Beauty Doctor’. He is the one who fixes a bump on a woman’s nose, injects her wrinkled skin with paraffin, and heals lesions on her face. He needs Abigail to attend parties or women’s gatherings, where she can basically advertise for him. Abigail, herself a beautiful woman, is unsure of the honesty of this ploy, but involves herself deeper and deeper in Dr. Rome’s medical practice.

As I read this book, I wondered if Dr. Rome is for real. He’s very good at his job, but soon he shows himself to be wholly driven by money. He does work hard to improve his skill, but that involves kidnapping people off the street. Abigail is so enthralled by him that she talks herself into accepting anything. Even a very questionable business venture involving other doctors.

I didn’t find Dr. Rome to be an empathetic character. In fact, I pretty much disliked him from the beginning. He’s a philanderer on a grand scale and Abigail is overly innocent when he starts to be interested in her. Abigail hasn’t any discernment; she hopes this is true love.

There were several characters you are meant to dislike. In fact, it seemed like almost everyone lacked any redeeming qualities. The book is well written without any shortcuts in the storyline. I do think that I should have liked Abigail more, but her turning a blind eye to the doctor put me off. Most readers will find this to be a very good story. It’s highly involved in right-and-wrong, good vs. evil.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I call this ‘historical’. It is not a romance in my opinion, and the reading age would be late teen and adult.
  • Level of sexuality – There was one scene that was a bit graphic. Other than that, it was tame.
  • Is there graphic language? Not a lot.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – I was most interested in Abigail, as she is the main character. I was sorry for her predicament; it was go along or be back on the streets. However, I really didn’t think much of her. She gained strength as time went on. I just expected more from her.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble