Book Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

25036310Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. 

Team Midsummer had the amazing chance to interview Caleb Roehrig and we love him. Check out our interview here.

I read this book in a matter of hours.  The only reason I put it down for a few minutes was to run from one airport terminal to the other so I could make sure to catch my flight home.  Even then, I held the book in my hands, unwilling to let it go or lose my place for too long.

When Caleb said he set out to write a thriller, I’d say he succeeded in spades.

First things first, let’s talk about characterization.

Flynn, oh, Flynn, my sweet snowflake.  He is so well rounded as a character, he has his flaws, he has his snarky sarcasm that made me laugh out loud (to the chagrin of my neighbor on the flight), last-seen-leaving-aestheticand he has a struggle of accepting himself for who he is.  He is brash, he is ridiculously self confident in that he will find clues and information that the cops can’t find about his missing girlfriend, and I assume he must have an extremely trustworthy face, because a lot of people he doesn’t really know open right up to him.  Although, I think my main concern here is that those people’s parents didn’t teach them to not talk to strangers.  But again, I could always talk to a wall, so I’m not the best judge!

January is somehow able to be likable despite all of her flaws and her incessant lying.  For instance, even waaaaaaaaaay before the events in Last Seen Leaving, she was consistently portraying her boyfriend, and so-called best friend, Flynn is a very negative light to those around her.  Not only to some of the kids at her new private school, but also to her coworker, who she also pitted against Flynn to make him jealous.  She’s definitely a master manipulator, and I credit Roehrig for still creating a character that I was rooting for, even though I kind of hated her too.  She reminded me of one of those girls in high school who definitely thought she was better than anyone and everyone, therefore isolating herself from everyone.

The mystery/thriller aspect.

This story kept me on my toes the entire time. While I do have my reservations about girls just giving up a lot of random information about January to a guy they’d never really met before, I loved that Flynn had this whole Nancy Drew thing going on (Side note: Nancy Drew was way better than The Hardy Boys).  He’s definitely a bolder person than I’d ever be.  I’d be persuaded to let the cops handle it and then wallow in my own misery, but not Flynn.  Which I love.  I found it so amazing that he was kind of bad at investigating, and the killer was definitely not someone who I immediately suspected, so I credit Roehrig for laying plenty of false leads throughout the narrative that were pretty convincing.


I just fangirl flail about Kaz and Flynn. Just, go read this.

4.5 Bards!






Keep up with the rest of our LGBT Month Celebration!


Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday


Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: November 3, 2015

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises.




Book Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

damagedone22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. She’s even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . .

This novel is one that snuck up on me.  I really liked the synopsis and knew that I had to read it.  However, I didn’t expect all of the twists that came with this story.  Damage Done will definitely make you squirm a little in your seat as it brings some very uncomfortable topics to light, i.e.  a school shooting.  At first I thought that Panitch was doing something so great by dealing with the aftermath of school shootings by focusing on the family of the shooter and how everything clearly changed for them after such a tragedy.  What really happened in those 22 minutes, however, is something much more sinister and stained by another secret that is just as jaw-dropping.

Julia/Lucy is the narrator of Damage Done and from the beginning she seems like such a sympathetic narrator.  She’s the only survivor of what happened during the school shooting, save her brother who is in a coma after shooting himself.  Her family had to move after they became town pariahs and were pestered by journalists constantly at their home.  So the family moves a few hours away and assumes aliases so they will no longer be associated with the tragedy.  I think that is a really realistic possibility that could happen to families of school shooters.  But anyway, we take everything that Julia/Lucy says as truth because she gives us no reason not to.  The only possible way you could infer that she MIGHT be an unreliable narrator is all of the lies she tells concerning her past, but it is seemingly justified in order to protect her new life.

Many of the secondary characters are a bit weak based on their descriptions and their lack of fleshing out, but again with an unreliable narrator like Julia/Lucy then it is completely understandable that they might not be considerably developed.  Michael is practically a typical version of a “good boyfriend” and Alana is the basic archetype of a best friend who will do anything for her friend.  But really, it just seems that Julia/Lucy has manipulated them like she manipulates the reader.

Kudos to Panitch for surprising me with the awkward and uncomfortable reveal toward the end of the novel, and for providing such an unreliable narrator that was so subtle until the last few chapters that I wasn’t sure what to believe.

4 Bards for Damage Done


Book Review: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

GetEvenBree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

I’m yet to  be disappointed by any of Gretchen McNeil’s novels.  I really should read her novels as soon as I get my hands on them, but for some reason they always get put on the backburner.  I blame the fact that I have two bookshelves in two different rooms, and the ‘M’ books are in the other room.  Anyway, I’ve had a copy of this since May 2014 and I’m so bummed I didn’t read it before now.

I’m a sucker for a good private school story, because it really does create an isolated world for which all of the crazy drama can occur.  Get Even did NOT disappoint in this category.  I really love how McNeil creates so many individual characters within this story.  Not only do the four main characters stand out individually from one another and have their own unique voices, but even the secondary and supporting characters are so vividly created that the novel just flies by and it almost felt like I was watching a much more devious episode of The O.C. (am I showing my age here? The O.C. was AWESOME.)

I’m torn between really liking what the don’t get mad girls do in the story and thinking that it is still a form of bullying.  Essentially the main four are absolutely 100% against bullying and only choose targets that have somehow done something to deserve their punishment.  But again, I struggle with the fact that they are bullying the bullies to some extent, which really kind of makes the cycle repeat.  However, McNeil is such a strong author, I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t intentional.  I still found all of the members of DGM pretty relatable and I think that each character has a little bit of everyone in them.  There is always the rebel, the shy one, the overachiever, and the dramatic one.  It isn’t as black and white, of course, but there is a little bit of each girl in a lot of people I know and went to high school with.  So again, the characterization was spot on.

WHY didn’t we get to see who the killer was at the end?! See, I can’t even say SPOILER ALERT, because it isn’t a spoiler!  It is a cliff hanger, and a major one at that.  I am going to be waiting impatiently for Get Dirty, and while we wait, you should check this book out too!


Amazon| Flyleaf Books | Barnes & Noble

4 Bards


Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday


Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

MMSAI Tours Presents: The Third Twin by CJ Omololu



You may have heard CJ’s story, she’s an amazing author with amazing friends who are supporting her as she battles Stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to her brain, hips, spinal cord, and several organs. Until recently we weren’t sure if CJ would make it to the release date of The Third Twin, but with the help of some modern medicine, and a whole lot of good thoughts and prayers – it looks like things are good to go for the big day.

I couldn’t be happier to be one of the bloggers on this tour, helping to support this book and the amazing strong woman who wrote it!


Author: CJ Omololu
Release Date: February 24th
Publisher: Delacorte

Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It’s Pretty Little Liarsmeets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.

When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.


Holy crap on a cracker.  I started this book around 7 PM one evening and finished it within a few hours.  Omololu sure knows how to drive a plot forward by consistently raising the stakes, but let me start this again (with a little bit less ridiculous gushing).

This novel features identical twins, and I don’t know about you, but the existence of people who look so much alike that they are able to impersonate one another without anyone realizing it has always fascinated me.  Granted, The Third Twin turns it very quickly from fascination to freaked out.  I am really glad that the novel was told in the point of view of Lexi, because it is much easier for me, as a reader, to respect her voice and character development throughout the novel.  I absolutely adored how Omololu really showed how being caught in the middle of a conspiracy and the main suspect in a murder can really alter your perception of trust.  Kudos to you for that, Omololu, now I’m terrified of everyone!

Lexi was an extremely well developed character, and I’m honestly pleased with the somewhat shallow development of her twin, Ava, because it really fits in with her character’s personality.  Sure, Ava does start to become more filled out toward the end of the novel, but I prefer her being the shallow twin who really doesn’t seem to understand that keeping the Alicia thing going will just cause more problems.

Back to the plot: Omololu just does not waste time with needless words and descriptions, she gets right to the point and jumps right into the middle of the story.  I absolutely adore when authors do this.  There isn’t anything that turns me off of a book more than when an author starts to do what I call “Charles Dickens-ing” (Definition: using way too many words to get to a specific point, that could have been done just as effectively in less words).  Not only does it pick up, but the ball gets rolling almost immediately, and holy cow does it get rolling.  Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I started the book and before I knew it, it was over.  Brilliantly plotted and paced.

There is a bit of a romance in the story, but the main focus remains on Lexi, Ava, and Alicia.  Also, that twist toward the end I was not suspecting, and many candy canes and unicorns to Omololu for tricking me and keeping me on my toes.

4.5 Bards



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cynthia Photo Robin Mellom 2-24-11ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CJ OMOLOLU is the author of the ALA-YALSA Quick Pick Dirty Little Secrets and several other YA novels. She loved to read but never thought to write until she discovered that the voices in her head often have interesting things to say. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two sons. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @cjomololu



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Book Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

I’ve been waiting for this book ever since Lindsay announced her book deal with Greenwillow Books what feels like forever ago.  Sure, a lot of the reason I was looking forward to it is that I’d followed her blog, twitter, and instagram for a long time, and that I’d fallen in love with the title (which makes me sound a little odd). I was super bummed I couldn’t get my hands on an ARC, but I was so excited that I preordered my copy months in advance.

This book was everything I wanted it to be and more.  Although I’m not going to lie, at first I thought the book was going to be focused on someone who had a “murder complex,” but after I read the synopsis I felt pretty dumb!

Anyway, the story is set in a somewhat dystopian future where the world was ravaged by a plague that killed pretty much everyone, and but a 17 year old developed a cure.  Granted, not by the narrator, but by a secondary character who ends up being pretty important.  I feel like that character must of been Sheldon Cooper smart.

So turns out there is this crazy oppressive Initiative that pretty much controls the population’s food rations and job levels by causing those who are around 16 years of age to go through a type of testing/murder test for a job.  I was a little bummed that this wasn’t more explained, it was just kind of glossed over.  The narrator goes through it, and then the focus of the story switches and we never really find out why it was established that way.  So, for book 2, can we get some answers?!

I read this book in less than 24 hours, and it was so much fun to read.  The concept of a dystopian nation being oppressed by an all seeing force isn’t exactly new, but the addition of The Murder Complex to the story really makes Cumming’s narrative extremely individual and fascinating.

Zephyr and Meadows relationship begins in a very confusing and odd way, but their resulting friendship, rivalry, and relationship could give any person on this roller coaster some whiplash.  I’ll tell you a secret though: I love roller coasters.  GO pick this up. I can’t wait for the next installment.

4.5 Bards for Lindsay Cummings! You go Lindsay Cummings.





And none for Gretchen Weiners.

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