The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. Remember. Survive. Run.


With my love of all things dystopian, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to this series. I have been told by numerous bookworm friends and even my students to read this book because it is so good. I guess I will just have to plead the never ending bookworm struggle of too many books and not enough time.

I am glad I listened, though. This is a fantastic book. It’s like Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Divergent all mixed together. It is jam packed with action from beginning to end, with just enough mystery and twists and turns to keep the story compelling. I loved the characters and even teared up a bit at some parts. I’m excited to see where the story goes in the next two books. Definitely a must read.

2016 Reading Challenge: A dystopian novel


Paperweight by Meg Haston

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?


I really wanted to love this novel. When I read the synopsis, I thought it would right up my alley, and there were parts of the this book that I did like. I liked the characters. I thought Stevie was a believable, raw, and real character. Her story was heartbreaking and I felt real sympathy for her. I liked the other girls that Stevie met at the treatment center and her shrink. I thought the compassion they had for each other was touching, and the type that you only see among a group of people who have experience brokenness. I think the story is well researched and that Haston depicts eating disorders in a real, but sensitive way. 

It is an amazingly honest, depressing, and brutal story. Haston does not sugarcoat anything. It is emotional and the emotions of the character, especially Stevie run high. But, there was still something missing for me, and I’m not even sure what it was. While I felt compassion and sympathy for the characters, I still felt a sort of disconnect, and because of this, I had a hard time truly getting into the story. I have read other similar books and have been able to feel connected to the stories, and honestly I don’t see much difference between those stories and this one. But for whatever reason, this one lacked something for me.

Having said that, I still believe that it is a worthwhile read. I am sure that it will resonate with others more strongly than it did with me. It is a good book and an important story to be told. Give it a chance. 


The Giver (The Giver #1) by Lois Lowry

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.


I first read The Giver when I was in eighth grade and it quickly become one of my favorite books. It was my first introduction into Dystopian Fiction, a genre that I have grown to love over the years. I have since reread this book several times, as I have experienced one of those full circle moments...I am now the teacher sharing this wonderful novel with my students. 

Each time I read it, I find something new. I am struck again and again by the idea of a Utopian society. On paper it sounds great - no war, no crime, no poverty, no disease, every need met, everyone has a place and purpose, complete harmony. That is until you start to consider the cost of that perfection - the loss of freedom, free will, individuality, etc. It’s these conflict desires that make the story so intriguing. I loved experiencing the awakening of Jonas to the truth behind his community and I love watching my students experience it as well. I love the relationship between Jonas and the Giver and Jonas and Gabriel. 

The one thing I don’t love about this novel is the ending. I am always left with a desire for more. What happens to Jonas and Gabe? What happens to the people they left behind? What affects does Jonas’s decision have on the community? I know there are sequels to this novel, which I have not gotten around to reading yet (although I have decided that I will get to them this year!), but I don’t think any of them will answer my questions. Perhaps that is part of the brilliance of the novel. Perhaps Lois Lowry wrote the ending the way she did so that we, the reader, would be free to imagine our own.

2016 Reading Challenge: A YA bestseller


Built (Saints of Denver #1) by Jay Crownover

Sometimes you have to tear everything down to build something new…

Sayer Cole is frozen inside. At least, that’s what it’s felt like for as long as she can remember. She’s yet to let anyone past her icy exterior – and the one guy she thinks might melt her heart couldn’t possibly be interested in someone so uptight.

Rough, hard and hot-as-hell, Zeb Fuller has rebuilt his life and his construction business since protecting his family sent him to jail all those years ago. His elegant client, Sayer, makes him feel like a Neanderthal in denim, but despite the many hints that he’s been dropping to get to know her better, she seems oblivious to his charms.

Just as things finally start to heat up, Zeb’s past comes back to haunt him and he needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. As these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, fire and ice collide in an unstoppable explosion of steam…


I am a huge fan of Jay’s Marked Men series and was sad to see it come to an end, but the great thing about Jay’s new series, Saints of Denver, is that it is connected to the previous series. So while we get a new batch of characters to love, we still get to check in with our old favorites too. Now I don’t usually go for the bearded type, but Zebulon Fuller might have just changed my mind. Holy hottness!! This book has everything that makes Jay’s books great - real and raw characters, drama and conflict, a few twists, and plenty of passion. I loved it from start to finish, and it was an excellent start to what I know will become another one of my favorite series.


Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5) by Jay Crownover

We all need a hero...let the Saints of Denver begin

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own...if only the man will let him close enough to mend what's broken.


This little novella serves as the bridge between the Marked Men series and Jay’s new series, Saints of Denver, and what a wonderful little bridge it is. Orlando and Dominic’s story is smoking hot, more so than anything Jay has written so far, and if you have read her other books, that’s saying something. But this novella is more than just steamy, it also has a lot of heart. Has Lando works to mend Dom’s body, he works to mend Lando’s broken heart. Love, love, loved this one!


Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) by Abbi Glines

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…


I both love and hate Abbi for this book. I love her for giving us such a beautiful story about loss and love. I hate her for writing a story that twisted my heart for over 300 pages and never relented. I was hooked from page one and couldn't put it down. I loved West and Maggie, and my heart broke for them over and over again. This book is much tamer than what I am used to reading from Abbi. It's definitely mature YA, but nowhere near her other NA novels. All the things that make Abbi an amazing author are still there and Until Friday Night is another prime example of her literary genius. I can't wait to see what happens next in the series.