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Sara Gundell has commented on (16) products.

Betting Blind by Stephanie Guerra

Sara Gundell, January 19, 2015

A gritty story about one troubled teen, and the extreme measures he’ll take to find happiness and success in life �" and the consequences of those actions, are the highlights of Betting Blind by Stephanie Guerra.

Guerra has a real knack for capturing the gritty details of her teen protagonist’s life, and giving plausible, realistic reasons for his not-so-great choices. The book takes unexpected and daring turns, so even if you think you know where this is going, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

The story is left without a final resolution �" so readers will have to wait for the sequel (due out sometime next year) to find out the rest of the story. But Betting Blind is certainly compelling enough to warrant that next book �" and readers will want to know what happens next, and see how the rest of Gabe’s story unfolds.
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Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Hook's Revenge

Sara Gundell, October 28, 2014

Peter Pan is kind of a jerk, and there’s no one better to let you know why than Jocelyn Hook, the daring (and, let’s admit it, much more kind-hearted) daughter of none other can Captain Hook. Her saga of surviving (and escaping) finishing school, and her quest to avenge her father’s death against the Neverland’s tick-tocking crocodile make up the rollicking adventure, Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz.

Schulz has captured all the joy and magic of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan story, and reconfigured Neverland for an all new set of adventures through Jocelyn. Schulz writes with a witty tone, her cantankerous narrator imbuing the story periodically with even more color and humor �" as Jocelyn navigates the trials and tribulations of finishing school, pirating, and revenge.

There is much to say about Hook’s Revenge, but I’ll start with this: it’s a delightful story, filled with charm and wit, endearing characters, imaginative plot twists, and plenty of humor. Schulz’s charming storm is lovingly enhanced by John Hendrix’s wonderful illustrations �" each one filled with action, emotions, life, and all the tiny details that bring moments from the text to life.

Hook’s Revenge is simply a delight to read. Funny and charming and magical �" everything a book should be.
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Deadly Delicious by K. L. Kincy

Sara Gundell, July 24, 2014

One spunky heroine. A dash of romance. A sprinkle of magic. And one horde of cake-craving zombies. Those are the winning ingredients to K.L. Kincy’s charming and delightful new middle grade novel, Deadly Delicious.

I was charmed right away by Kincy’s voice in Deadly Delicious �" with a slow drawl inside my head as I read the narrative of young Josephine. I was transported to the South �" hearing the cadence and rhythm of people’s speech, feeling the clammy heat, and soaking up the atmosphere. Every time I picked up this book to continue reading, I found myself happily whisked away to Josephine’s world.

The whimsical storyline is also equally enchanting, and it’s fun to see how Kincy has crafted this particular brand of magic �" using recipes to conjure spells. A colorful cast of supporting characters add to the magic of Deadly Delicious, and really bring Josephine’s story to life.

At first, I wasn’t 100% sure the romance was necessary to the story �" and it certainly takes a backseat to the main plot, and Josephine’s growth as a character. But the blossoms of first love, as Kincy has so lovingly captured them here, add a nice finishing touch �" like the frosting to the cake that is the rest of the story. And while younger readers may not connect to this aspect of the story, there’s nothing that will stop them from enjoying Deadly Delicious on the whole.
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Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley
Ask Me

Sara Gundell, April 14, 2014

I didn’t plan to read Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley in a single sitting. I didn’t plan to stay up until midnight finishing the last page. I didn’t plan to race through all 293 pages in the same day.

But what’s that saying about “The best laid plans” … well, needless to say, I did read Ask Me in a single sitting. In the same day. And stayed up until midnight to do so. Because sometimes a book is so captivating, the characters so engaging, and the plot so enticing that you can’t just put it down and go to sleep. Such was the case with Ask Me.
Ask Me hooked me from the very first page, as a mysterious narrator describes hitting and killing a man with his car on purpose. The narrator is so casual in this description, so blase about the whole matter. It’s shocking �" and yet the narrator’s demeanor so calm. As a reader, I immediately wanted to know more �" only to have this twisted, murderous, captivating narrator taken away from me on the very next page.

Then we meet Aria �" who is just as captivating in her own, less murderous way. Sure, she’s an angsty teen �" but with a damn good reason for her angst. She’s an oracle, after all, and can’t help herself from responding to questions (any question) with often mysterious answers. This “gift” has made her something of a social pariah �" but as she fights to unravel the mystery of her friend’s death, Aria blossoms as a character. We see growth, development, strength.

And even though I figured out the identity of the murderer before the actual “reveal” �" it didn’t matter. There was still so much mystery layered into the story, that I had to keep reading. I had to know more. Motives and reasons and emotions were all at stake, and these questions kept me turning the pages of Ask Me until the whole truth was revealed.

Perfect for fans of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series, Ask Me is a masterful new addition to the YA shelves. Pauley weaves together the thriller and paranormal genres, tossing in a dose of romance and the charm that is an earmark of all her books, creating a story that is wholly engaging and delightful to read. It’s not an easy feat to combine a toe-curling romance with edge-of-your-seat thrills, but Pauley does so masterfully.

And though it appears Ask Me is (for now, at least) a standalone novel �" I would gladly, happily read more adventures featuring Aria and her friends.
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Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin
Wise Young Fool

Sara Gundell, August 8, 2013

Rock `n' roll. Teenage delinquents. And the overarching question: who IS Ritchie Sudden? That's the premise behind Sean Beaudoin's wildly hilarious and brilliantly plotted new novel Wise Young Fool.

Beaudoin writes with his usual signature style, putting his stamp on every page of this story that -- in a tongue-in-cheek intro -- is credited by the editor to the mysterious teenager Ritchie Sudden. (WE know Beaudoin is the author - but hey, let's go with the theory that a teen really wrote it. That makes the journey a heck of a lot more interesting to read.)

Through Ritchie's narrative, and Beaudoin's quick-wit writing, the reader experiences a teen who is big on dreams and even bigger on inner turmoil. If you'll excuse my language, Ritchie has some #%@*! going on in his life and he hasn't quite figured out how to deal with it. (Not that we expect him to; he's a teenager. Duh.)

As the story of Ritchie's tumultuous journey to juvie unfolds, Beaudoin shows us a teen in pain -- struggling to overcome, move on, and have just a few things go his way. It's a raw, honest journey -- but mixed in with Beaudoin's rock `n' roll sensibility and sharp-tongued humor, Wise Young Fool is an utter delight to read. Every single page. Just delightful.

I can easily see Wise Young Fool finding a home on the bookshelf next to Catcher in the Rye (though Ritchie would probably hate being compared to Holden Caulfield, but DEAL with it, Ritchie. Deal with it) and in the hands of teenager readers who want a book that just screams "THIS IS MY LIFE AND IT DOES NOT SOUND LIKE A CONDESCENDING ADULT WROTE IT." Huzzah.
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