Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Inside cover blurb:

“Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.”

-from publisher


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I do not have enough positive words in my vocabulary to accurately represent how I feel about this book!

To be honest, I first heard about Ramona Blue due to the many negative reactions it was getting on Goodreads…from people who hadn’t even read it yet! People argued that the story is about a gay girl turning straight.

But as someone who actually took the time to read it, I can say that this book is not even primarily about sexual identity. Anyone who claims otherwise is doing this story a disservice.

Ramona Blue is about a teenage girl who feels responsible for her family’s well-being, who can’t imagine her life ever being any different than what she knows. It tackles so many issues from race to poverty and it does it well.

For me, Ramona Blue is a lesson in dreaming and rising above your circumstances. I think that deserves nothing less than an enthusiastic five star review.

Plus: The entire cast is so well done. There really is no such thing as a supporting character in Julie Murphy’s writing and I love that! She also has an incredible talent for highlighting her settings, essentially turning them into a character all their own.

Minus: This book is flat out great. Don’t listen to the haters- just read it and judge for yourself 🙂

If you like this book, try:

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo– I try not to recommend things I’ve already reviewed on my blog because I want to highlight as many books as possible. But If I Was Your Girl is such an incredibly powerful LGBT story that I would re-recommend it a 100 times. It is much less rom-com than Ramona Blue and much more about real-life consequences of society’s harmful norms, so be prepared for a challenging read.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Inside cover blurb:

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.


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Let me just start out by saying there are some seriously gruesome bits in this book. I guess I should have known considering Kendare Blake did write a horror duology (Anna Dressed in Blood), but reading about Athena pulling bloody feathers out of her eye…. *shudder*

But gore aside, I was pretty impressed by Blake’s take on the Greek pantheon. I’ve definitely read a lot of books based on Greek mythology, but this felt like something fresh. And spooky! I also like that she found a way to incorporate the mortal heroes, so it feels like getting the gang back together in the modern age.

Not sure that I’ll read the sequel…but I might just to see if Hades makes an appearance!

Plus: A fresh take on the old myths. Great action scenes, which can be really hard to pull off.

Minus: Why are they teenagers again…? I feel like there is some much needed context missing here.

If you like this book, try:

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The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan- Teenage god, but with a much more slapstick feel.

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Inside cover blurb:

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.


It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.


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All weird plot devices aside (One sister is blind and the other has no voice or sense of touch? What’s the metaphor there?), this is a great book about the bond between two sisters (not gonna mention Frozen, not gonna mention Frozen…oops).

Spindle Fire has a fast-paced plot with a lot going on and each chapter alternates among different characters. Sometimes it did seem to move a bit too quickly, glossing over certain elements of the story. I also found the Isabelle/Aurora story line a lot more interesting than Malfleur and her sister’s.

But I did love the dream world!

Overall, I wasn’t totally in love with it, but I’ll probably read the second one, if the cover is as cool as this one.

Plus: We finally get an imagining of what happens to Aurora while she’s sleeping! Great cliffhanger ending too.

Minus: I did want to hear more about Malfluer’s awesome dark magic?? Hopefully we’ll get that in the sequel.

If you like this book, try:


Entwined by Heather Dixon- Also a fairy tale retelling (The Twelve Dancing Princesses) featuring sisterly bonds.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Inside cover blurb:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.


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This is one of those books where I just want to reach through and hug the main character because, man, poor Hannah really just got caught up in some bad stuff.

Thirteen Reasons Why really shows the impact that seemingly small actions can have on other people, reminiscent of the butterfly effect. And it had me reading for three straight hours because I had to know what happened in the end.

Honestly, finishing this book made me want to do better as a fellow human and that’s a powerful thing.

Plus: The way the story unfolds, with each character weaving in and out of the narrative- definitely my favorite aspect of the book.

Minus: I wanted to demand more of a lot of the characters, like Justin in particular and even Hannah at some points. But I had to remind myself to think of it the way a freshman in high school would and then some of the characters’ actions (while I don’t agree with them) did seem more plausible.

If you like this book, try:

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Paper Towns by John Green- A story in which puzzle pieces must be put together to find out what happened to a missing girl, but with a much less heavy tone.