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Aug 31 2014

The Weekly Blaze {52}: August 25-31

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Welcome back, lovely readers, to another week of Lit Up Review. (Who else is excited that tomorrow will be September? Fall, a season that we adore, is almost here!)  Here are all the posts you may have missed:

Tuesday, August 26: Willa’s Review of Love and Chaos by Gemma Burgess: “Burgess has succeeded with this funny, poignant, and thought-provoking novel that made me do a couple things I’ve been scared of doing for a while.”

Thursday, August 28: Ten Illuminations on Throwback Books: We have been known to be short a few illuminations in the past, but this week we hit an all-time low with two illuminations! Embarrassing! We Lit Up Review staffers apologize profusely.

Friday, August 29: Willa’s Review of Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson: “It’s a high-stakes novel that takes you on a roller coaster of political secrets, science mistakes, and the difficulties of having parents who don’t get you.”

Saturday, August 30: Our August Spotlight Book Club Wrap-Up: Read our thoughts on The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings.

Aug 30 2014

The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The Murder Complex Showcase

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The “Spotlight Book Club” is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book club that features books we haven’t read yet and that is full of avid readers like ourselves, so we decided to start an ONLINE book club with readers like us all over the world! Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will each post a mini-review along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!

August’s book was The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings!


An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

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?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

Now for our mini reviews!


I don’t have much to say about this book. Before I started reading it, Willa told me she didn’t think I would like it, and it turns out she was right; I didn’t get too far before deciding to put it down. The Murder Complex is not bad; it simply isn’t a “me” book, and I never would have picked it up had the rest of the Lit Up Review team not chosen it for a book club selection. The concept did not interest me, but if it intrigues you, I’d say to give it a try. There’s a great chance you will have a better experience than I did.



My main issue with this book was I felt it just needed a bit more tweaking. There were plot points that would be introduced and then dropped, and as a reader it made it difficult to follow and to connect with the characters. Even though I wanted to, I wasn’t able to reach a point where I really cared about the characters, although I do see some good characteristics, etc. For me, it wasn’t a very impressive book, which disappointed me because I had really high hopes for it. The overall idea was AMAZING, I just wish there had been some more tweaking to it, because maybe it could’ve hit that high point I was hoping for. I would say give it a try, because I’ve heard some positive things, so let me know if you enjoyed it – I’d love to see your thoughts!



This is a book that definitely shows how I diverge from the rest of the Lit Up girls. It was so up my alley. I LOVED it. This book lived up to my expectations. It’s solid, immediately gratifying, and delivered with the polished ease I usually associate with esteemed writers like Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls) or Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls series). I’ve read for Lindsay before and her writing is such high quality to me. She effortlessly sets up enthralling scenes and strong characters, with talented manipulation of suspense and writing that packs a punch. The scenes in this were constructed perfectly, with a nice balance between shock elements and clearly articulated explanations of world building. The clarity in which Cummings presents the narrative is a marvel to be sure; you could learn a lot by analyzing the way she puts it all together. It’s all charged with this effortless intensity, this mixture of scenes that are just undeniably cinematic in nature and make me think that it’ll be a great appeal to kids looking for the next Maze Runner series.


Aug 29 2014

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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20894021Novel: Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson | Goodreads
Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Publisher: Arthur A. Levin Books (Scholastic)
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that’s John Grisham’s THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton’s THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

I’m a sucker for books like these. High stakes thrillers with some science and a mysterious male character? Yes, please. So I was excited to get going on this one, mainly because I wanted to see what the scandal was. (And also I’m a total nerd and wanted to see all the cool science stuff that was going on.)

The book started and I was very “ehh” about it. Love is the Drug definitely has a slow start, and it takes a bit to adjust to the style of narrative, but once you’re about halfway in, it really picks up. Suddenly I couldn’t put it down and I was flipping pages right and left. I became attached to Bird, and was invested in her search for the truth and justice. Coffee interested me on so many levels, mainly because he’s a character who you only get the chance to really skim the surface of, and just as you’re getting deeper, you don’t get to know any more. But, there wasn’t really much you could do about that (you’ll see what I mean).

I was very impressed with not only the character development, but also the way in which Johnson navigated the science/political world and the clashes that arose because of it. The investment that scientists make in helping society and the unfortunate times when they get results that are used for things they had never planned. The dynamic between Bird and her parents is a very complicated and stressful one, and for much of the book you see them in the same way Bird does – high-strung, uninterested in Bird’s aspirations, overly invested in work – but as the book goes on, you grow to understand them, and I love this in a novel. I love to understand a character’s motivation as the book progressed, and to dive into the whys of their character. It’s always a rewarding experience.

I was very impressed with Love is the Drug. It’s a high-stakes novel that takes you on a roller coaster of political secrets, science mistakes, and the difficulties of having parents who don’t get you. Bird is one heck of a narrator too; fiery and tenacious, which are two qualities that make any book better.

Aug 28 2014

Ten Illuminations {10}: Throwback Books

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“Ten Illuminations” is a bi-weekly feature hosted by Lit Up Review where we recommend our ten favorite books that fit under one topic. Inspired by The Broke and The Bookish’s “Top Ten Tuesday,” “Ten Illuminations” gives you five people’s recommendations in one! Note: for the duration of the summer, “Ten Illuminations” will only include eight illuminations because Meredith is studying abroad and unable to contribute.

For today’s edition, we’re recommending “throwback books,” stories that take place in the past, but no more than a few decades ago.


11595276The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

If I remember correctly, this LGBT novel takes place about thirty years ago, in a world where prejudices were a little more common and passionate than they are today. The backdrop creates more challenges for the protagonist than today’s society might, making the “throwback” setting perfect for this story.

perksThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This one is not truly a “throwback book” since it takes place in the year it was published, but because that year happens to be 1999, I am counting it. (I could not think on another title to fit the category, so I cheated.) Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower now is like taking a trip back to the 90s, so I would recommend it to nostalgic adults as well as teenagers.

Aug 26 2014

Love and Chaos by Gemma Burgess

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17934395Novel: Love and Chaos (Brooklyn Girls, #2) by Gemma Burgess | Goodreads
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Wild child and secret romantic Angie wakes up in a hotel room with $3,000 and no memories of the night before. Her best friends aren’t talking to her, she can’t get a job in fashion, her parents are divorcing, and she’s about to turn twenty-three. And life is about to get much worse.

Brooklyn Girls: Love and Chaos continues the story of our five favorite grads sharing a brownstone and starting out in New York City through Angie’s eyes. On a journey from private jets and yacht parties to dirty subways and hipster bars via crazy storms, flash floods, and retail jobs from hell, Angie discovers who she is, what she wants, how she’s going to get it —and a crazy little thing called true love.

Meanwhile, her roommates lives are imploding, too. Coco’s self-medicating and self-loathing, Pia’s breaking up and cracking up, Madeleine’s finding her voice and Julia might—just might—have met someone she can actually date.

Brooklyn Girls is the hilarious, inspiring Gemma Burgess series every twenty-something has been waiting for that tells you that whatever you do, whatever mistakes you make, everything is going to be okay. All you need is a little luck, a little work, and your best friends.

I was a massive fan of Gemma Burgess’s first book in this series, Brooklyn Girls and it ended up being one of my favorite new adult books of all time. Her books are hilarious, well written, and fun to read. (Maybe because I want to be a Brooklyn Girl….?)

In book two, Angie is our main character. In Brooklyn Girls we got to read about Pia and her rise to success, but Angie was always this mysterious best friend who hadn’t figured out what she was doing and seemed to be partying all the time. So, in Angie’s book we see her at her very lowest, and in true Angie fashion, she is picked up by a boat boy, hitches a ride on a private plane back to New York, and decides she needs a life change. And this could easily be one of my favorite parts of this book – the fact that Angie just decided, “You know what? It’s time to change. I’m going to get it together.”

And so we embark on Angie’s roller coaster of a life, with crazy rich people, liars, creeps, and some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Burgess has succeeded with this funny, poignant, and thought-provoking novel that made me do a couple things I’ve been scared of doing for a while. Sometime we just need that little push, and this book might be your push. I absolutely adored this book, and wild child Angie has taken a firm hold in my heart as a character I adore.



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