Book Review: I.C.Q.: A Novel By Og Maciel

I.C.Q.: A Novel By Og Maciel

A YA Contemporary Romance Novel published by Og Maciel (02/09/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC


Auggie is a senior who spends most of his spare time teaching himself coding and freelancing his skills to earn some money. He meets Clarissa online in a chat platform and quickly falls head over heels for this girl he’s never met in person.


High School, Epistolary, Coding, Online Persona, Self-Taught, Online Games, Computers, 90’s, Online Relationship, Romance, Pop Culture, Dating

My Review:

I was a child of the ’90s and was never into computers like the main character Auggie. He is at the forefront of coding and using home computing technology when it first came out. It’s fascinating to read books like I.C.Q because of our culture (and generation’s) obsession with technology. The home computer of the ’90s is like the personal phone of the 2000s. New and exciting and, of course, the parents just don’t get it. I could really feel Auggie’s excitement and his passion for working with computers, software development, and coding. I sympathized with him so much when his parents dismissed his work with the computer as just a hobby and not that important. Maciel really brought this relationship alive and I wished I was into coding!

The very adult conversations that Auggie has with his parents are awesome and rather fascinating. He’s levelheaded and can provide an outside – almost- perspective. With his own relationship, he is anything but objective. He gets caught up in his own feelings and emotions and reactions to the point where he doesn’t even realize that his girlfriend might also be hurt and upset. He is a great model of showing growth and communication in a romantic relationship.

I pulled out my high school love notes because of this book and they were just as sappy and romantic as the correspondence between Auggie and Clarissa in the back half of this story. The overly dramatic way they write to each is very much the essence of a high school romance. I might have rolled my eyes a few times, but reading their letters reminded me of my 17-year old self away on an adventure and constantly writing love notes to send in the mail to my boyfriend of the time. This book will bring out all the nostalgia and is very authentic to teenage drama and heartache. If you would like the nostalgic feeling of teenage love, you’ll definitely enjoy the emotion this book brings out.

The format of this novel changed a bit over halfway through and you’ll be reading those love letters for most of the rest of the chapters.

The ending was disappointing for me. It lacked a satisfying conclusion and a sense of closure for the characters and their relationship. I prefer to have a closed ending. If you’re a reader who doesn’t mind open endings, you might not be disappointed because there is a lesson learned and Auggie does express his thoughts about what happens in the end.

This novel was published by Og Maciel on 02/09/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.0

Links for more information:


Og Maciel’s Website

Book Review: Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris

Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris

A Contemporary YA Romance Novel published by Laurie Boris (11/18/13)


Daniel is a mid-thirties art teacher with a terminal illness. He is passionate about teaching, art, and maintaining his privacy. He has lived for years in an upstairs apartment to his downstairs landlady and her daughter, Caitlin. Caitlin grew up with concern for Daniel that has grown from protectiveness into her first real crush. Daniel starts teaching art to Caitlin, even giving her private lessons. As time goes on, Caitlin’s feelings for him grow stronger, even as Daniel’s condition worsens and he starts a relationship with a lonely married woman.


Coming of Age, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickness, Suffering, Art, Teacher, Painting, Love, Loss, Passion, Emotion, Coughing, Breathing, Pain, Infatuation, Protective, Family

My Review:

The world needs more books like this. Books with characters who have a terminal illness but are living their lives. Books where the terminal illness is a large part of who the character is and how it has molded them but also where the illness is not the main story line.

The way Boris describes breathing in this book brought me back to the days when I tripped my asthma and couldn’t draw enough oxygen. When the tendrils of panic would take hold. Maybe other readers who have never felt short of breath, short of oxygen, will also be able to sympathize and not just empathize with Daniel through these vivid descriptions.

The story itself was very interesting and I enjoyed both Daniel’s and Caitlin’s perspectives in their relationship.

The ending was very well written. It was truthful and abrupt. It was emotional yet inevitable.

This novel was published by Laurie Boris on 11/18/13 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Laurie Boris’s Website


Book Review: The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer

The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer

A YA Coming of Age Novel published by Ahimsa Press (06/17/20)


‘Once people have decided you’re a “quiet one,” they never let it go.’ Location 391

Meredith has lived 18 years as the preacher’s dutiful daughter. They’ve never had to give her a curfew because she’s never been out late. She’s never had a boyfriend. Even thinking about being the center of attention makes her anxious. In her last year of high school Mare drunkenly signs an ‘anti-virginity pact’ with her best friend Johanna and promptly forgets about it. Until it resurfaces as copies spread all over school. Pushed into the spotlight, Mare doesn’t know what to do, but she wishes she was still invisible. All the attention – most of it negative – threatens her reputation, her standing with her family, and even her new romantic relationship.


Coming of Age, Teenagers, High School, Senior Year, Seniors, Party, Alcohol, Introverted, Anxiety, Bullying, Preacher’s Daughter, Atheist, Friendship, Dating

My Review:

I absolutely love an emotional coming-of-age story and this book did not disappoint. The strongest emotion I felt while reading was anxiety. I consider myself an ambivert and experience shyness and anxiety when I’m at the center of attention sometimes, but Meredith takes this to an entirely different level. Wismer so specifically describes all aspects of anxiety so well that not only could I empathize with Mare, but I could sympathize. I think anyone reading this novel could understand what anxiety actually feels and looks like if it’s unfamiliar to them.

This book unpacks so many teenage dramas and it packs quite a punch. The bullying felt real. The anxiety felt real. The home and church life of a preacher’s daughter felt real. The religious abuse felt real. The homophobia felt real. The nastiness of the in-crowd felt real. The only over-the-top drama subplot that didn’t feel as real was the animal abuse.

I absolutely loved how this book tied romance and a romantic relationship with a strong friendship angle and the relationship between siblings. I loved the story of Meredith and her relationship with Johanna, her relationship with Sam, and especially her relationship with her sister.

This novel was published by Ahimsa Press 06/17/20 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Katie Wismer’s Website


Book Review: Love Songs, Detours, Et Cetera (Senior Year Sweethearts Book 1) by Starla Huchton

Love Songs, Detours, Et Cetera (Senior Year Sweethearts Book 1) by Starla Huchton

An Contemporary YA Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (04/14/19)


On the first day of her senior year of high school in the small town of Highland, Iowa, Trina gets to school before any of the other students so she can volunteer and help the teachers. Trina bumps into the most popular and best looking boy on that first day. Is it her imagination or is he trying to follow her around school? Trina has one best friend in the entire school and everyone else either ignores her or makes fun of her and her mom. Why would Ethan give her the time of day?


Romance, Love, Friendship, High School, Sewing, Costumes, Musical, Alternative Lifestyle, Family, Best Friends, Senior Year, Volunteer

My Review:

Starla has a way with building amazing characters. I felt like I was Trina. She blends into the background and does her own thing but isn’t afraid to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. Trina drives an old car and has dreams of going places, specifically leaving her small town. Though I’ve never really been in a small town, I felt like I understood entirely the feeling of being unique and standing out in Highland, Iowa. I loved Trina’s interactions with her mom, with her best friend, and with Ethan. Trina’s voice was distinct and she knew what she liked, who she liked, and what she wanted.

The dialogue was clever and realistic and mesmerizing. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The romance was perfectly developed and I loved being inside Trina’s head with her nerves and her anxieties throughout it all. I especially loved Ethan’s reactions to Trina’s anxiety.

Ethan was also well developed as a character. He had a robust life outside of his interest in Trina. He had his own wants and dreams as well as his own faults and problems. I really enjoyed the complication of Emmaline, Ethan’s younger sister in the story as well.

The details of costume building and theater were super fun and I really liked how at this particular high school the theater nerd was the most popular kid in school.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 04/14/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website


Book Review: Paper Cranes (A Fairytale Twist Novel) by Jordan Ford

Paper Cranes (A Fairytale Twist Novel) by Jordan Ford

A YA Contemporary Romance Novel Published by Amazon Digital Services (6/16/17)


“I know it must seem odd sometimes like we’ve never really fit into this world. But there’s magic in words and storytelling. I’d be lost without books, Tristan. They’ve kept me afloat through my darkest days. Escaping into another world full of love, enchantment…heroes. It keeps me breathing.” (Kindle Locations 1450-1452).

Tristan decided to live with his dad when his parents divorced because his mom had someone to come home to and his dad did not. Tristan feels more and more burdened taking care of his dad. He doesn’t want to participate in school or be social and would rather be the typical morose teenager until he meets the girl in the tower next door, Helena. She is straight out of a fairytale with her mild English accent, proper English, and romantic notions.


Puppy Love, Tower, Fairy Tale, Paper Cranes, Wishes, Quirks, Poetry, English Assignments, Love, Romance, Divorce, Teenagers, Dreams

My Review:

Tristan, outside of Helena feels incredibly real and like sullen teenager, but with Helena he is full of puppy love. Most of this book was focused on the ridiculous and hard to read over-the-top puppy love. Helena never felt real to me and she was a flat character and though Tristan idolizes her and her unique ‘personality’ she felt unreal and exaggerated to me.

Tristan is incredibly dynamic. He’s your typical broody teenager, but his backstory is rather interesting. Every moment we were in his head as he interacted with his dad or his mom, I was engrossed in the book.

The plot was quite predictable, a bit dull and unremarkable. If only more of the book was devoted to Tristan, it would have been a much better read.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services on 06/16/17 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:


Jordan Ford’s Website

Book Review: Girl on the Brink: A Novel by Christina Hoag


Girl on the Brink: A Novel by Christina Hoag

A Contemporary YA Novel published by Fire & Ice Young Adult Books (8/30/16)


“People have to help themselves. There’s nothing you can do. You have to protect yourself from dangerous people, and that means walking away.” (Kindle Locations 4238-4239).

On an assignment for her newspaper internship the summer before senior year, Chloe meets Kieran. He is attentive and charming and wants to be with Chloe. After her last relationship that went nowhere, Chloe is alll too happy to be with Kieran, but he immediately starts to take over her life. He is with her at all times and she slowly starts losing her friends because she only wants to be with Kieran. It isn’t all roses and dates, though, as Kieran’s possessive side is also full of violence just below the surface waiting for an opportunity to lash out. Relationships are never perfect, but Chloe will soon learn that this one with Kieran is bringing her down a path she will have a hard time leaving.


Physical and Emotional Abuse, Reporter, Internship, High School, Friends, Boyfriend, Romance, New Relationship, Bad Relationship, Bad Boyfriend,

My Review:

I wasn’t really sure if Kieran was a bad boyfriend or not. He gets possessive early on. On their special date it’s all about him and his acting and using her to video him to get ready. When she wants him to meet her friends he cleverly manipulates the situations so they don’t meet and she doesn’t see her friends that night. This could be normal or it could be the shallow end of a bad situation. Kieran is the puppy dog lover who follows Chloe around and makes her feel special with all the attention. So what if he’s jealous? So what if he makes her do things she doesn’t at first want to do? They are made for each other like peanut butter and pickles on a sandwich, right?

Anyone who’s been in a bad relationship will see the signs, but innocent Chloe doesn’t know any better. This book was so scarily accurate I had trouble putting it down and going to bed. I was waiting for that climax. I was waiting for something truly dreadful to happen to Chloe. I was waiting to see how far Kieran would go.

The beginning was a bit slow to get to the plot of the story, but the smooth writing style and interesting insight into Chloe’s relationships with those around her will keep you reading until you get to the meat of the story: Kieran.

Much like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Girl on the Brink is a book people NEED to read. Chloe had few relationships herself before Kieran came along and what he did might have appeared normal or justified, but seeing it from the outside the signs are much more clear. This could happen to you. It happens every day. Domestic abuse is NOT okay, either emotionally or physically and both boys and girls need to know what it looks like.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and this is an honest review.

This novel was published by Fire & Ice Young Adult Books on August 30th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Christina Hoag’s Website





Book Review: Bound by Duty (Bound Series Book 1) by Stormy Smith


Bound by Duty (Bound Series Book 1) by Stormy Smith

A Contemporary YA Fantasy/Romance Novel published by Perfect Storm Publishing, LLC  (07/23/2014)



Since she was born, Amelia has been promised to the Prince, the son of evil Queen Julia. Amelia herself is no Princess, but she is an Elder, one with magical abilities. Her father never wanted her to practice her magic or to leave the safety of their home, to wait out the years until she turned twenty one and had to fulfill her promise to wed the prince. All Amelia thinks she wants is a few years of normalcy, so she leaves home and safety to go to college. At first she only has one human friend, Bethany, but then she meets Aidan. He is gorgeous, but she holds back, knowing she is not free to choose for love. Still, Aidan relentlessly pursues her until she can no longer say no. Amelia’s life has changed so much since she left home, but there are quite a few more surprises ahead for her.


 Magic, Mage, Family, Secrets, Loyalty, Prince, Queen, Evil, Promises, Mate, Best Friend, Brother, MMA, Power, Animages

My Review:


Amelia, Micah and Cole keep important and relevant information from each other for apparently no other reason than a “feeling.” This does create plot items, but ultimately doesn’t feel real.

I want to love the main character but at best she was likeable. She was easily overpowered by her own anger and inner magic. She was often selfish to the point of putting others at risk. She didn’t have much of a chance in this book to show if she was romantic or nice (except when she was guilted into remembering she had a best friend etc. and to be nice). She wasn’t mean or cruel, per se, but she wasn’t overwhelmingly friendly. This ties into the boy girl romance aspect I roll my eyes at in most books with a romance. Why does Aidan like her, why does he persist in trying to win her over? Subsequently why does Amelia like Aidan, only because he chose her? There isn’t anything special about him, other than the fact that he likes her, or is there? The author hints and drops clues as to the effect under the skin that Aidan has on Ame, his effect on her magic, the intense way she feels. Still, it was too much love at first sight for me.

My favorite character was Bethany. She was the most interesting of the bunch, and human at that. Bethany was a southern belle, a pageant queen, a beauty prone to mild forms of drama. I can just imagine her being so lively and animated and stealing the spotlight for this book.

Amelia’s story about how she wants to be normal is the main story, but she is also part of a greater and more intriguing story that she is a large part of.

This novel was published by Perfect Storm Publishing, LLC  07/23/2014 and is available on Amazon here.


TLDR Star Rating: 4.0


Links for more information:


Stormy Smith’s Website