Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reviews: The Sweet Dead Life (book #1) & The A-Word (book #2) by Joy Preble


Title: The Sweet  Dead Life 
Author: Joy Preble
Series: Sweet Dead Life #1
Published: February 4th 2014 by Soho Teen
Ebook, 244 Pages
Genre: Paranormal Mystery > Angels
Source: Library
Reading Level: YA



"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. And two, my brother is a perv."



So begins the diary of Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad year. Her mother spends all day in bed. Dad  vanished when she was nine. Her older brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. Really sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her, looking pretty good. Better than ever, in fact. Downright... angelic. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that her brother didn’t survive the accident at all, and she isn’t just sick; she’s being poisoned. Casey has been sent back to help Jenna find out who’s got it out for her, a mystery that leads to more questions about their mother’s depression and their father’s disappearance.



The Sweet Dead Life is a mix between YA and Middle Grade. Forteen year old, sweet and funny (sometimes downright hilarious) Jenna Samuels believes she is dying, and with good reason. Jenna is very very sick. She thinks the worse that she may be dying and without being able to pay to see a real doctor she knows death is inevitable. Her pot-smoking brother is doing everything he can to make money for treatment. While her Mother is lost in her own world is misery, heartbreak, and despair because of the disappearance of her husband. Jenna is slowly getting worse. When she passes out abruptly, her brother rushes her to the hospital only to end up getting into a bad car accident. When Jenna wakes up things begin to change. Casey, her brother looks very different, his acne is gone, he smells good, and has an almost "glow" about him. A very pretty paramedic, Amber is weirdly hanging around and Jenna is not sure why. Soon, Jenna finds out she is in fact NOT dying but being poisoned. How, why and by who? Jenna, Casey and Amber need to find out these answers before it's too late. If that wasn't enough, Jenna keeps on wondering why her brother is acting and looks so different. The truth, will blow you away. As this mystery unravels, Jenna may end up getting a lot more than what she bargains for.... 


Right from the start The Sweet Dead Life had me laughing. Jenna is one of most funniest characters I've read about in a while. She is quirky, sarcastic, and her breezy attitude is everything I love about this book. Even throughout her hardships, she was always making me smile. The mystery side of the book was what I loved most. The author always had me guessing. Now, the paranormal side (angels) I ended up not liking as much. It's not that this aspect was bad or poorly written but more so I wanted more of it in book one. You don't even find out the truth about Cassie until middle-end of the book. Also, once you end up figuring out who's been poisoning Jenna and why the story begins to dry up a bit. I just was not as impressed by the ending. 

All in all The Sweet Dead Life was a fun, quirky read with a thrilling mystery entwined with paranormal mix. A great read more so for the middle grade crowd but still quite fun for adults. 

3.5 STARS - I liked it a lot. Would recommend.




Title: The A-Word
Author: Joy Preble
Series: Sweet Dead Life #2
Published: May 13th 2014 by Soho Teen
Ebook, 244 Pages
Genre: Paranormal Mystery > Angels
Source: Print ARC via Publisher
Reading Level: YA

Jenna Samuels is about to turn fifteen. It's been almost a year since her stoner brother, Casey, bit the dust. Almost a year since he returned as her guardian angel, along with his "angel boss," Amber Velasco, the hot twenty-something former EMT. Almost a year since Casey and Amber used up their one-time-only angel power of flight to save Jenna from the evil Dr. Renfroe, swooping down to catch her as she tumbled off the balcony at the Houston Galleria. In short, a lot of A-word shenanigans and a mostly happy ending.

Except now Casey's begun to wonder why he's still hanging around—not that he minds protecting Jenna. She's a handful, but there's got to be a bigger picture, right? Something to distract him from his on again/off again, doomed relationship with cheerleader Lanie Phelps, who has no idea her boyfriend is, well, dead. After all, he can't use his angel wings anymore. Neither can Amber.

Enter Bo Shivers, Amber's "angel boss"—a mysterious A-word guy Jenna and Casey didn't even know existed. Whiskey-guzzling. Handsome in a grizzled way. Unpredictable. Okay, make that crazy. Bo lost his angel wings in an earthly flight a long, long, long time back—and he's been a thorn in Angel Management's side ever since. But Bo knows something is coming. Something big. Something that was worth forfeiting wings for Jenna... something that might just change everything for everyone.
Purchase @ Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound | The Book Depository

Review will contain some spoilers. Be warned. 

The A-Word picks up pretty much within days of where The Sweet Dead Life leaves off. Jenna is slowly trying to get back to normal, hanging out with her BFF  Maggie and even trying to catch the eye of a certain sexy football player, Ryan. Jenna has accepted that fact that her life will never be the same. Her brother is a ANGEL or A-Word as Jenna like to say still having problems saying the actual word. "EMT" Amber, Casey's "angel boss" still remains close by to keep an eye on Casey and Jenna. Casey doesn't understand why he still remains earth-bound especially after he's used up his ability to fly after saving Jenna. He did what he was sent to do, to protect Jenna. Why hasn't he moves on? 

Amber suddenly becomes more and more distracted and distant. Something's going on. Jenna and Casey need to find out what. Out of the blue, a dead sexy older man named Bo, "Bo Shivers" (what a name! ;)) comes into the picture and he may end up being the key to finding out what's going on with Amber. Bo happens to be Amber's "Angel Boss" and knows more than he's letting on. Although, the main reason Bo is hanging around is Jenna but why? 
More mysteries than ever come out in The A-Word. Why is Amber acting strange, and how really did she die? Who is Bo Shivers and why is so attracted to Jenna. Will Casey even get to leave and be accepted into Heaven? Mostly, how is this all related to what happen last year?

All of these answers and more are revealed in The A-Word. You won't want to miss it!


There was so much going on this this book that at times I was confused to where the story was going. Once again I wanted MORE of the paranormal aspect added and while yes there was a lot about angels, I just wasn't enthralled by it. At times, I was even kind of bored. While book one gave me a good mystery, The A-Word fell short for me. I wasn't feeling Jenna's character as much as I did in book one. I also ended up really not caring much for Amber. Her story was just not very interesting at times for me. 

The A-Word was very likale and has many great qualities. I feel more of the younger crown may take more from this one more so than I did. All in all, I will admit it was a fun read. Jenna is just a funny as ever, and I loved seeing her grow-up and fall in love. I really enjoyed seeing more of the secondary characters Maggie and Ryan get more of a involving role in The A-Word. They really bring the book together near the end nicely.

A definite read for Middle-Grade/YA readers but just as fun for adults never the less. :)


3.5 STARS - I liked it a lot. Would recommend.






About The Author: Joy Preble

Find Joy @

Joy Preble is the author of the popular and highly acclaimed Dreaming Anastasia series and now the Sweet Dead Life novels. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is now a full-time writer and lives with her family in Texas, where she has learned to say "y'all" without any hint of irony.



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