The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Cat Winters reimagines Hamlet in a totally different way.  Our main character, Hanalee, has recently lost her father.  Almost a year ago he died, the court said it was due to the injuries he sustained from being struck by the car of Joe Adder, the preacher’s son, while intoxicated.  Now Joe is being released for good behavior.  Some think Hanalee should stay away from Joe Adder, but she is bent on vengeance and plans on making him pay for what he did.

Set in the 1920’s in Oregon, Cat Winter’s takes on some tough topics, like the Klu Klux Klan, homosexuality, and eugenics.  She masterfully weaves history, Hamlet, and fiction into an exciting read (plus, I love to geek out over all the Shakespeare references).

Hanalee and Joe take readers on a wild ride full of intrigue, mistrust, and violence to rival the Danish play.

This book is for older teens and emerging adults (especially Shakespeare lovers).  Parents be advised of the above topics covered as well as some cursing.


The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Author, Julie Berry, brings to life a story from a very dark time in history.  Protagonist Dolssa de Stigata is a young woman living in the 13th Century.  Dolssa is educated and pious, from a wealthy family.  Unfortunately, the Middle Ages were marked by paranoia, persecution, and hypocrisy, therefore, many women who dared to preach (like Dolssa) were stripped of their wealth and executed.

Dolssa’s story brings the tragedy of the inquisition into sharp focus through character’s around her as well as through her own voice.  The author brings some empathy even to the persecutors as the story unfolds for them as well.

Love, friendship, religion and piety are all examined throughout this story.  This would make a wonderful book club book for discussion or to teach in a high school history class.

rebel of the sands

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Alwyn Hamilton brings myth to life and gives an Eastern flavor to a teen trope in Rebel of the Sands.  The tale’s protagonist, Amani, feels trapped in the tiny desert town of Dustwalk.  Under the roof of her uncle, she is destined to be married against her will.  Amani knows she was meant for greater things.  She has one talent that may be able to get her out; she is a crack shot with any firearm.  Unfortunately, girls are not allowed to compete in the gunslinger’s competition.  She must rely on stealth and subterfuge to enter the contest.  When she meets Jin, a stranger who is almost as good a shot as Amani herself, she is led down a path to discovering a secret that she’s kept from herself.  This is a fine launch into an adventure series with a sweet romance.

The Geeks Are In Charge

Has anyone else noticed how so many of the things we were mocked for as teens are now popular?

May the Fourth is a new holiday…honoring this generation that grew up with the original Star Wars movies.


Comic book characters are leading feature films – even the Anti-hero Deadpool has his own movie and video game!


Merc with a mouth


We are no longer freaks on the fringe, but rather the people in charge, decision makers.  We have raised the next generation on the cannon we loved and now it is coming back in spades!

LARP materials


Blood Stain by Linda Sejic

The beginning of this story has me intrigued.  Elliot is an educated girl.  She holds a chemistry degree, what she can’t hold is a job.  Money is tight, in the wake of an unspecified hospital stay for her mother, Elliot and her sister, Clara (not to mention Elliot’s brother-in-law and new nephew) are going to have to cut some serious corners.  Big corners for a gaming girl like Elliot, like internet access.  No internet service is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and pushes Elliot to work for the creepy doctor in what appears to be a haunted mansion.  Elliot wants to run, but she can’t go home, she needs this job too much.  I am curious to see how the cast of characters interacts in the next instalment.

*Review copy provided by Image comics*


Character, driven by David Lubar

This book is so much fun, especially for those of us that love word play.  With chapter titles like;

She Walks In, Beauty

Inter Lewd

A Band, End All Hope


readers know they are in for verbal gymnastics!

Our protagonist, Cliff, alternates between telling us the story and talking directly to the readers.  I felt like these tangential interludes were folded in well and often with humor.

What else is worth mentioning?  Robert’s going to Rutgers next year to study business. Butch is going to Syracuse to study theater.  Robert is about four inches taller than I am.  Buth is a head shorter.  I am exactly as tall as myself. Except when I slouch.

  • p.29

“‘How would you let a girl know you liked her?’ I asked.

He shrugged and blushed at the same time. ‘I’d kiss her.’

‘You can’t just kiss a girl,’ I said.

‘Course not.’ He gave me a look like I was an idiot. ‘You have to ask permission.’

‘Good point,’ I said.

‘Nobody has the right to kiss you without permission,’ Jimby said…

  • p. 55

This book kept me laughing with the familiar descriptions of the wild teenage male, in the hostile environment of high school.

Juggling the sodas as I threaded through the crowd, I watched Paul put his arms out.  Shelly, my date, my future partner in passion, fell into his embrace and merged with him.  Flesh turned fluid.  They gyrated, making love with their clothes on as their hands kneaded and caressed each other’s bodies.

I stood, feeling the weight of the soda in its waxed cardboard cups.  The seat from the humid air condensed on the outside of the cups and rolled across the backs of my hands, as if my fists were weeping.

They danced.

I, still the wallflower, died a little.  Not becasue a girl I’d lusted after seemed to be dropping me.  Okay, yeah, because of that, too.  But also because my friend didn’t hesitate to snatch away my happiness.  In five years, I’d asked out two girls.  At this rate, I’d go on my next date in the middle of college.  And then lose thaat girl to a professor.

  • p.127

This is a great book for older teens! * Spoiler…sex does happen.