Q&A Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Pages: 496, hardcover
Series: Thunder Road #1
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An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

1) Best Part of this Book?

I was excited to read a new series by McGarry, I loved all of the characters in Pushing the Limits and I couldn’t wait to see new characters and see what could be done with them. The best part of this book was the new world, it was a community and I see exactly where McGarry can pick up all kinds of new characters for this series. This is such a wonderful world and I want to see it developed down the road.

2) Favorite character?

I really adored and loved Olivia. She was such a wonderful character that was so beautifully fleshed out. It was also a side character that really stuck out to me. I loved so many of the side characters in this series and that makes me so excited to go forward with it.

3) Worst part of this book?

I feel like this book was so fleshed out. That it was so well developed that nothing really stuck out to me as bad. I enjoyed the fact the club is legal, and how that is dealt with both within and without the club. Especially Emily’s Dad.

4) Favorite Quote?

Emily hops up on a stool and props her elbows on the bar. “You wear the crazy crown. For real, who carries a knife and, seriously? Who walks in with a bra on and is okay leaving without one? Those things are expensive.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

Not exactly. I expected this to be an illegal club, I’m glad that it wasn’t, I liked how it worked within the world and the story. Overall I was just really happy with this book. I can’t wait to dig into the next one because Razor seems like such an interesting character.

I do also want to go off topic just a bit, but as someone who has an adopted sister, I loved the way that Emily’s adoption with her Dad was handled, it was handled so well and I’ve seen adoption go badly in books. This was so great and I thank McGarry for it.

 

Pickup

 

If you aren’t sure about starting with McGarry’s books since there’s four in the other series you can absolutely start here, it doesn’t go off her old books at all and it’s really fresh and different.

 

Sondra

Q&A Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Pages: 577, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits, #4
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Bonus novella included: Crossing the Line.

Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

1) Best Part of this Book?

I really loved seeing West’s character, I knew in Crash Into You he had a lot more to his story, just like with Beth there was something really cool about her that made me interested. West had me interested. I wasn’t disappointed I loved seeing him grow into something that is so much more than she could be.

2) Favorite character?

Hmmm, I think in this one I really liked both West and Haley equally. I think that the two complemented each other so well. Obviously all of the couples complemented each other well, but I just loved the push and pull of these two.

3) Worst part of this book?

I really expected just a tiny bit more of Rachel and Isiah. I know we didn’t get much about the other couples after they were done. But with this being West’s story I expected to see something of her, more than just a couple scenes. Call me selfish. I wanted more. I love her okay.

4) Favorite Quote?

“Don’t think of it as falling. Think of it as jumping- with me.”

“How is jumping better?”

“Falling happens. Jumping you choose.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

I wasn’t sure if this book would include a lot of the other couples or if it would just wrap up with their story. While I was hoping that it would include the other characters I was really happy that West and Hailey got their full story told. I’m really happy for the two of them.

 

Pickup

 

So I binged this entire series so hard. I can’t even begin to recommend it to everyone. I’ve already made some friends read it and I will probably push this series on everyone who enjoys books like these. I know that I need so many more.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Q&A

Written by: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 264, hardcover
Series: Rebel Belle, #3
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Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that a large portion of it was an all-female road-trip, with three very different girls fighting evil together! I love the role that Harper’s relationships with Bee and Blythe played in the series, and how much we got to learn about Blythe. The humor in the series is, as always, on point.

2) Favorite character?

Blythe plays a bigger role in the book than she did in the previous one, and I appreciated every moment of her–her practical, ruthless thought process, her sass, the parallels between her and Harper, and the relationship they developed.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ending fell really, really flat for me. Pretty much the second they walked into the cave, I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was forced, and predictable, and I have never ever read a book where the particular trope the author used actually worked.

4) Favorite Quote?

“What’s a pretty thing like you want with a sword anyway?”
“She’s going to use it to castrate guys who ask stupid questions,” Blythe answered for me, her voice flat.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Yeah, pretty much. It was predictably, but fun and lady-centric and generally a fitting end to the series.

 

Pickup

If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll probably read this one anyway. But yes, this series is worth finishing.

 

Sondra

Mini Review: Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

MiniReviews

Written by: Matt Phelan
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Pages: 216, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.

The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.

Mini

 

I’m not completely sure where this review is going to go. Snow White was an amazing idea, it was an amazing concept with taking this classic story to the 1920’s. There were so many amazing ways to update the story into something that easily worked, in fact the ideas were so effortless that it made perfect sense. So in reality I should be gushing about this story, and in a way I am gushing about the way that the story worked, about the ideas that Phelan used to turn this story on it’s head. I loved the idea of the mirror being ticker tape, I loved the way the seven dwarves were brought into the story. I loved so many amazing plot ideas of this graphic novel that it’s insane.

So what was the problem? Well, often times I was confused. I couldn’t figure out on the art alone what was going on. I had a few pages sometimes where I gave up on the story and just moved along until I was able to see exactly what was going on again. I got the gist of the story, I understood what was going on, but I don’t feel like I got the full story that Phelan wanted to present.

Here’s where things get really interesting though, because I read an ARC the images were in low resolution, and they weren’t in color. Does that mean that when the finished copy comes out I’ll be able to follow each panel of the story? I’m not sure. I do know for sure that I’ll be picking up a finished copy to look at it. Because if this story does become much clearer then I am completely absolutely sold on this concept and idea.

Sondra

Q&A Review: District Ballet Company Series by Katherine Locke

Q&A

Written by: Katherine Locke
Release Date: April 13, 2015
Series: District Ballet Company

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Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had… or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

 

1) Best Part of this Book?

I have three things to talk about here, and I’m not how to because they’re all intertwined: the writing, the love story, and the portrayal of mental illness.

When I say love story, I don’t just mean between Aly and Zed (though that too, they’re absolutely beautiful and electrifying and soul-shattering together) but between both characters and ballet. And this is where the gorgeous, lyrical writing comes in–the way Aly and Zed think about each other and about dance is powerful and brimming with emotion. During some of the dance numbers in the series, I could actually hear music in my head.

And then Aly has anxiety and an eating disorder, and Zed is a recovering alcoholic, and the portrayal of that is excellent as well. There are short chapters where Aly talks to her therapist throughout the books, and a lot of what she says completely mirrors what’s in my head at times. Also, I love that the series consistently treats mental illness not as something to be fixed, but as something to be managed.

2) Favorite character?

Aly has a special place in my heart, just because her issues with anxiety mirror my own so much. She also has very good taste in tea.

3) Worst part of this book?

The pacing was not great–particularly a quarter of the way into the second book, when Aly and Zed were rehashing the same issues over and over, which is true to real life but not the most interesting thing to read about. I was also very bored by the prequel, though maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it after the other two and not before.

4) Favorite Quote?

“There will be bad days. What if the bad days are too bad?”
“There were bad days before this, and we’ll handle any bad days to come. I promise. That’s what we do, Aly. We’re pretty good at weathering storms.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

In terms of the general outline of the story, yes. In terms of the writing and its effect on me, definitely not. I ended up a lot more invested than I thought I would be.

 

Pickup

Yes! If you’re interested in ballet, or second-chance romance, or mental illness (and physical disability) representation, or writing that will make you Feel Things, you should definitely pick up this duology.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: November 26th 2013
Pages: 474, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
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From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight A’s and the perfect life—that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

1) Best Part of this Book?

Oh dear…well… Out of all of the books this one is my favorite. I absolutely adored this couple. I loved Rachel, and I adored Isaiah. This couple just won me over, especially because I saw so much of myself in Rachel. She truly was the best part of this book. It’s rare I find a character that reminds me so much of myself. I just loved her okay.

2) Favorite character?

Whoops. I kinda just talked about that didn’t I? Rachel reminds me so much of myself, I mean minus the fact that I don’t know squat about cars. But I can appreciate cars, I can appreciate it a lot. But overall I just could’ve taken a lot more of her character, I could’ve taken more books about her too.

3) Worst part of this book?

Unlike Dare You To, the angst in this book felt more natural. I didn’t dislike anything really. I loved and adored this book so much that I need people to read it just so they can understand me as a person. Whoops this is supposed to be worst part of the book….

4) Favorite Quote?

“When I’m with you, even my past seems like a bad dream,” he says. “I’ve sat on this hill a hundred times, and all I used to see were lights that represented places where I wasn’t wanted, where I never belonged. Now, when you aren’t with me, I look east and know one of those lights represents you, and I don’t feel alone anymore.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

After how much I loved the first two books I didn’t think I could get a book that could top the other two, let alone find a book that could easily work its way up in my favorites. This one really just won me over heart and soul and I’m just really happy.

 

Pickup

You need this series in your life. If you enjoy contemporary novels with that great happy ending and great characters? Just trust me. Just go get this series and read it.

Sondra

ARC Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

ARC

Written by: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Pages: 368, hardcover
Series: The Fixer, #2
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The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

LetsTalk

What. Even. I don’t even really know what to talk about with this book because I felt like I was strapped into a roller coaster without my permission and just shot into space because Lynn though it would be fun. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. I mean it was an amazing book, I’m so entranced with how realistic Lynn is able to make her characters react to things. But overall I’m just sitting here with this book in my lap and staring at the pages like I expected there to be a whole lot more words. More pages.

Like, dear lord, let me at least breathe while I’m trying to read. I’m really quite sure I didn’t breathe for a very good long portion of this stupid book.

Didn'tWork

Well there was that one plot twist I’m really angry over, but I really understood why the character chose what they did, so I’ll let it slide.

The biggest thing I want to talk about in this review is the ending. While I would’ve been okay with the ending had this been a trilogy, as of right now, it’s not. This series is a duology, which means this is the final book. But the ending of the book sets up for more books, it doesn’t tie things up. Is this because there’s no tying things up in a world like The Fixer? I don’t know. I don’t know if Lynn expects to get a third book or what exactly her thought process was. But I will say this, I wasn’t happy with that being the ending to the series. Not at all. So many amazing ideas went into this book and I just feel so unfulfilled that this is the end to the series.

 

DidWork


I touched on the characters, but I want to talk about it more, I’ve been told that Lynn has a psychology degree, and while I don’t know personally if it’s true or not, I do know that she has an amazing way with characters. The characters react, and interact so realistically that I sometimes forget I’m reading someone’s fiction rather than an account of real life. I’m just so thrilled with everything in this novel.

I loved how we have a plot for the book, but it’s also a large amount of over arcing plot from the first book. We have dynamics and shifting allegiances and Holy Plot Twist, Batman! I don’t know how one mind can come up with so many amazing wonderful things. But I do know I’m gonna be picking up more of Lynn’s books.

Pickup


If you’ve not yet read the Fixer series then I do recommend it. But I also caution you that if you aren’t okay with very open endings, you might want to hold off until we see if we get a book three.

That all being said if you want to help try and get a book 3 then I say we band together and let the world know #WeWantTheFixer3

Sondra

Q&A Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Q&A

Written by: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 372, hardcover
Series: The Fixer, #1
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This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that this book was absolutely NOTHING like I expected. My friend got me to read this series after her screaming text messages to me over The Long Game. But when I started The Fixer I was expecting a teenager who fell into “Fixing” friends problems, something that was simple and probably fun. What I wasn’t expecting was the book that I got. A fast paced, thrilling amazing experience that had me utterly guessing from page 10 until the very end.

2) Favorite character?

Gotta be Ivy. I related to her on a huge level, especially when we found out her whole backstory. I don’t want to get into spoilers but she was just a precious angel who I wanted to protect.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ship man. Or lack thereof. The groundwork was all there… BUT GIVE ME KISSING OR GIVE ME DEATH.

4) Favorite Quote?

“I’d tell you that you can’t stay mad forever,” Ivy commented, “but I’m pretty sure you’d take that as a challenge.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

I really already talked about this but oh hell no. Such an amazing thrilling crazy ride and I don’t even know where to start with how much I loved and adored and just like wow. It was a total wow book. I couldn’t wait to dive right into the second book and see exactly where this goes.

 

Pickup

Absolutely! Give this one a try and see what you think of it! I was really surprised by it and honestly? I was glad to be so surprised.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28th 2013
Pages: 456, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits, #4
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Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

1) Best Part of this Book?

Aside from the fact that Beth goes from a crazy person to someone who warms my heart and makes me smile? I think that’s probably a huge thing. I wasn’t a fan of Beth and I wasn’t sure how I would handle her book. I was absolutely surprised by how amazing Beth was, and absolutely blown away by her character development.

2) Favorite character?

As surprising as you might think it would be, it’s actually Ryan. Not Beth. She was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But Ryan is precious and I love him and I just want to hug him and his precious heart.

3) Worst part of this book?

This book seemed a little bit more angsty than the other McGarry books. Which isn’t a bad thing I didn’t mind angst, but this one had some seriously painful moments. Painful guys.

4) Favorite Quote?

“How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we’re not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?”

5) Was it what’s expected?

When I’m reviewing a series I might change up this one because when you’re reading a series you’re pretty good at what you’re gonna get. I knew that things were gonna get bad (Admittedly maybe not that bad) but it would all be okay at the end of the day.

PickupIf you haven’t picked up any of McGarry’s series then you should pick this one up. Because it really changed how I felt about Beth as a whole, which made me really happy.

Sondra

Guest Review – Jedi Academy: A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

ARC

Written by: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Release Date: July 26th 2016
Pages: 176, hardcover
Series: Jedi Academy, #4
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Book

 

Victor Starspeeder is psyched to be starting school at the Jedi Academy. His sister, Christina does not share an enthusiasm for Victor’s newfound educational path. She’s horrified that her annoying baby brother will be there to cramp her style.

While Victor means well, his excess energy leads him to spend a lot of time in detention with the little, green sage, Yoda. Yoda wants to channel Victor’s talents, so he makes the young Padawan join the drama club. Victor is not pleased. “Learn to control your anger, you must! Successfully manage their emotions, a good Jedi can. Box step and jazz hands … hee hee … young Padawan will!”

Victor will have to make new friends, get on his sister’s good side, learn to use the force, and hope the year’s drama club performance (“Wookie Side Story”? “Annie Get Your Lightsaber”?) goes off without a hitch!

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This is a very, very special review for me because this means a whole lot to me. See when I was at TXLA16 I got handed a few Middle Grade books, I went ahead and took them because I have a lot of younger kids in my life, they love asking me for books and I love being able to give them books and see how excited they get for reading. Recently I got a new job and met a kid named Ryan. He’s a huge geek like me and we got talking about Star Wars, and books and I remembered this book I had tucked away in my bag for kids. The next day I saw him I brought him the book. I explained to him what an ARC was, and what I do with my blog. He was utterly thrilled with the idea of blogging about books and ARCs, you’d think I’d given him a precious jewel over a simple book.

Then it was Ryan’s turn to surprise me. Because after finishing the book he brought me this:

IMG_2843

 

That’s right. He wrote me a review of the book. Which is what brings me to this very special guest review of The Jedi Academy by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Sondra

LetsTalk

I like the book. The book is awesome and therefore reading it you will want to watch Star Wars. If you don’t like Star Wars the book is not for you. If you like Star Wars you should read the book. For everyone who is interested in the book read it, but when you start read until the end of the book don’t stop reading. It starts with a kid named Victor. Victor has transferred to The Jedi Academy. His sister, Christina, is already there. During the book Victor makes new friends and gets a new enemy. The reason you need to watch Star Wars is to understand what and who some things are. Now Jake’s sister thinks that Jake will blow her cool. At first Jake meets a kid named Zach. Later his sister hands him a note saying that Zach was trouble and that Zach is using him to get a date. Then at the end of the book he finds out that his sister was right about Zach.

Ryan