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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »


Customer Comments

Beverly B has commented on (203) products.

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
Starbird Murphy and the World Outside

Beverly B, September 26, 2014

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside is a funny and moving look at the power of family and the importance of being a strong confident individual. After living all of her 16 years completely cut off from the world on a rural commune completely off the grid, Starbird is sent to Seattle to live and work for a commune owned business. Starbird awkwardly trying to navigate life in the city is hilarious. Her descriptions of her first experience with high school are laugh out loud funny, and her scathing review of the students, teachers, and culture of high school is spot-on. But the most memorable events in the story are the ones that trigger Starbird's slow transformation into her own person as she realizes The Free Family Farm is not perfect, and its leaders are corrupt. Starbird loves her Family so much, that even when she has irrefutable proof of the corruption, she insists there must be a logical explanation. Starbird Murphy is a strange teen. She is totally devoted to her family, her mother and brother, and to The Family, the other people on the commune. Unlike most teens, Starbird never questions the thinking or decisions of the adults in her life, she has no desire to ever leave The Free Family Farm, and she has no interest in finding out how the rest of the world lives. She knows she is completely ignorant of the basics of normal life, but she doesn't care that she has never ridden in a car, used electronics or money, never been to school, a mall or a party. She has never even had a conversation with anyone who was not a member of The Family. When the adults on The Farm tell her that it is her "Calling" to move to Seattle and work in the restaurant The Family owns, she does as they expect even though she is sure that living in Seattle and working as a waitress is not her calling. The ending is disappointing. Evidently members of The Free Family Farm do not believe in holding people accountable for dishonest actions.
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Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey
Buzz Kill

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

Buzz Kill is a fun, traditional who-done-it with a great amateur detective. It refreshing to read a novel where the surly teen slacker protagonist is female rather male, and Mollie Ostermeyer is the most likable anti-social surly teen slacker to come along in a while. Mollie is confident that her love of the Nancy Drew books she read when she was nine gives her the knowledge and guidance she needs to solve the murder of the football coach. But Mollie is no Nancy Drew. She is more like Shaggy from Scooby Do. Her goal of just barely graduating high school without joining cliques or clubs, or standing out at all - ever, is turned upside down when she stumbles upon a dead body. Reluctantly, she is forced to take center stage when her father is targeted as the #1 suspect. Mollie perseveres battling mean girls, teachers with a grudge, and unmotivated cops, all the while trying not to be distracted by the gorgeous football player she thinks may be the killer. Hopefully, this will not be Mollie's only detective adventure.
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The Testing (Testing) by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing (Testing)

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

The Testing is an entertaining quick read. It has all of the required dystopian plot details - totalitarian plutocracy government, food shortages, poverty, secret communities, etc. The Testing also has an exciting surprise twist and a nail-biting suspenseful conclusion. Its strongest element is Cia, a protagonist who has led a sheltered life and is not ready for the cruel and diabolical actions of her opponents as she tries to win a spot in the competition to attend the university. Cia's father warned her to "trust no one no matter what." Of course, being a teen, Cia does not listen. She suffers some painful and heartbreaking consequences for not heeding her father's advice. But most importantly, is she entering into a romantic relationship with someone who is using her to get ahead and is intending to betray her? Have to read the sequel to find out, of course.
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Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin
Knightley and Son

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

Middle grade readers who are new to detective mystery stories will enjoy Knightley and Son. The premise for the characters is promising - - Darkus, a young teen who has spent the last four years mastering his father's legendary observational and problem solving skills; Tilly, his much more interesting teen step-sister who is even smarter than Darkus and may be smarter than his father; And Allen, Darkus' father, a brilliant detective who suddenly woke from a mysterious coma after four years. There are a couple of twists in the secret society conspiracy plot, but no real surprises. The characters are not very developed, but since this is the first in a series, the characters may become more intriguing as the series continues.
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Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington
Sure Signs of Crazy

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

I was skeptical that a book dealing with catastrophic mental illness could be targeted to middle grade readers and deal with the subject in an authentic and significant way. I was very wrong to be skeptical. Karen Harrington's novel is moving and memorable and not even a little bit overly sentimental or superficial. Protagonist Sarah Nelson is an inspiration and a role model for how to deal with life's difficulties. From minor horrors like having to buy a box of "girl supplies" from a young male clerk, to having her Dad humiliate her by interrogating her new friend - the teen boy from across the street - to unimaginable burdens like making sure no one learns her mother is in a mental hospital for trying to kill her when she was a baby, Sarah struggles, but survives with courage and resilience. Using Atticus Finch as her guide, and her diary as her therapist, Sarah vents her anger, owns her fears, and plans out how to be happy anyway. Sure Signs of Crazy is going to be a classic.
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