Category Archives: Dial Books

Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Supernatural Elements
Length: 252 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.


Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke is a quirky, whimsical young adult novel that is part mystery, part romance and part fairy tale.  With cast of interesting characters and an unusual (and intriguing) storyline, this fast paced read is impossible to put down.

Wink, Poppy and Midnight are classmates whose lives become intertwined after Midnight Hunt becomes neighbors with Wink Bell.  Midnight is a sweet young man whose love for Poppy is unrequited but that does not stop them from sleeping together.  Poppy is a manipulative, mean girl who makes no effort to hide that she is only sleeping with Midnight because the boy she really loves wants nothing to do with her.  Wink is a dreamy young woman who helps take care of her younger siblings and more often than not, she has her nose buried in book and her head in the clouds. Midnight is enchanted by Wink and once Poppy realizes his affection for her is waning, she devises a plan to exact revenge on Wink.  From the novel’s tagline, readers know to look for a hero, a villain and a liar, but exactly which character fills which role?

Midnight is the most grounded and normal of the three teenagers.  He is going through a bit of a rough patch since his mom and older brother have recently moved to Paris so his mother can research her next novel.  The separation may or may not signal an impending divorce and this uncertainty definitely weighs on his mind.  Midnight is surprised but relieved by his interest in Wink but extricating himself from his arrangement with Poppy is a little more complicated and difficult than he thought it would be.

Poppy makes no apologies for her cruel streak and she embraces her dark side.  She has a circle of loyal friends who are devoted to her and do whatever she asks without question.  While nothing really seems to faze her, she is heartbroken that the boy she wants feels nothing but contempt for her.  Although Poppy really does not want Midnight, she does not want Wink to have him either.

Wink is very a unique young woman.  She is unflappable and she is unconcerned with other people’s opinions of her.  She is free-spirited and capricious but she has a good sense of who she is and what she wants.  Wink loves to read and she tends to view the world through the lenses of the books that she reads.

Wink Poppy Midnight is written from each of the character’s perspectives and their voices are unique and quite distinctive.  The story itself is quite atmospheric and April Genevieve Tucholke brings the characters and various settings vibrantly to life.  The storyline is engaging and while at first it seems to be a straight forward coming of age type tale, it morphs into a somewhat twisted story of revenge only to become a mystical mystery with seemingly supernatural elements.  Despite a rather confused, convoluted conclusion, it  is an enjoyable, if somewhat nonsensical, young adult novel that I liked and recommend to readers of all ages.

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Filed under April Genevieve Tucholke, Contemporary, Dial Books, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Supernatural Elements, Wink Poppy Midnight, Young Adult

Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

boy mostTitle: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 430 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han 

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.


In Huntley Fitzpatrick’s latest release, seventeen year old Tim Mason is The Boy Most Likely To utterly and completely steal readers’ hearts. In this long-awaited companion to My Life Next Door, the wryly humorous Tim is clean and sober and trying to get his life back on track when someone from his past drops a bombshell in his lap. For the first time in his life, he is trying to do the right thing, but in doing so, will Tim jeopardize his future plans and his tenuous relationship with Alice Garrett?

Tim is used to being the family screw up so it is no surprise when his cold and distant father issues an ultimatum just as he moving out. Either he clean up his act for good by his eighteenth birthday or his father will yank all financial support including his college fund. When Tim’s original living arrangements fall through, his best friend Jase offers to let him move in the apartment over the Garrett garage. Tim is finally making progress with his sobriety and pursuing his GED when shocking news completely and totally upends his life.

Tim is easygoing and laidback and one of his defense mechanism is hiding his insecurities behind self-deprecating humor. The people in his life expect the worst of him and unfortunately, he has made so many mistakes, he is convinced he can nothing right. Tim is used to taking care of himself and he is quickly overwhelmed when his wild days come back to haunt him. While it takes a good part of the novel, he finally begins to realize he deserves to be judged on who he is now, not his previous behavior. He also begins to understand that he cannot do everything on his own and he accepts help when it is offered to him. However, the biggest change for Tim is accepting responsibility for his actions instead of using drugs or alcohol to escape from his problems.

Alice is beyond furious when she discovers Tim is moving into her apartment but when she learns the reason why, she is instantly sympathetic to his plight. However, she is not planning on taking care of his messes since she is already taking care of her siblings while her dad continues recovering from the injuries sustained in a hit and run accident a month earlier. Unbeknownst to the rest of the family, she has willingly put her college plans on hold until he is back on his feet. However she is barely keeping up with family’s hectic schedule and college when Alice is overwhelmed by stunning news about the family’s increasingly precarious finances.

Alice initially has a difficult time viewing Tim as anything but her younger brother’s messed up friend, but a surprising friendship begins to form between them. Tim is quite flirtatious and in the beginning, their interactions are an amusing series of come-ons from Tim which Alice mercilessly rejects. The transition from friends to something deeper is slow and they suffer a few misunderstandings and miscommunications along the way.  Alice is quick to misjudge Tim and he just as easily jumps to conclusions about her reactions to the unexpected complications in his life but they resolve their conflicts fairly swiftly.

Although written from both Alice and Tim’s points of view, The Boy Most Likely To is primarily Tim’s story and the growth of his character is absolutely phenomenal. He has to go through some very difficult situations and it is immensely gratifying watching him discover the inner strength to do what is right despite the hardship he is facing. There is a great deal of depth to Alice’s character and it is quite rewarding seeing her loosen up and expose the vulnerabilities she hides behind her tough, control freak exterior. The romance between Tim and Alice is very sweet and despite their previous experiences, it is really the first meaningful relationship for both of them.

The Boy Most Likely To is a truly captivating novel that is heartfelt and engaging. The characters are beautifully developed and though flawed, they are sympathetic and easy to relate to. The story is exceptionally well-written with a realistic plot and Huntley Fitzpatrick deftly balances real life problems with humor and compassion. All in all, a heartwarming and poignant young adult novel that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dial Books, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Rated A, Review, Romance, The Boy Most Likely To, Young Adult

Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

minnow blyTitle: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher through Penguin’s First to Read Program


A hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in yourself

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes is a unflinchingly honest portrayal of life inside a religious cult. Although a work of fiction, every heartbreaking detail rings true and the novel raises very thought-provoking questions and answers about blindly following the teachings of a self-proclaimed spiritual leader.

When Minnow Bly was five years old, her parents followed Prophet Kevin into the Montana wilderness where they helped build and then lived in a secluded Community with other followers. They never questioned the Prophet’s increasingly bizarre teachings and they followed his every command without any protest. The Kevinian cult believed in taking more than one wife and the Prophet decided which young girl the much older men would marry. The women and children carried out the most strenuous tasks while the men were made Deacons of the “church”. The cult members had no contact with the outside world but Minnow faintly recalled small details of life before her family joined the Prophet which caused her to doubt some of his proclamations.

When the novel opens, Minnow has been arrested for a vicious assault on a young man following her escape from the wilderness compound. She is convicted of the crime and sent to a juvenile detention center where an FBI forensic psychologist offers her a deal that could lead to her parole on her eighteenth birthday. In exchange for his testimony at her upcoming parole hearing, Minnow must tell Dr. White the harrowing details about the night the Prophet died and the Kevinian compound was set ablaze. Through flashbacks and her vivid account to Dr. White, the story of Minnow’s life with the Prophet is revealed and surprisingly, with the help of the doctor and her cellmate, Angel, Minnow begins to heal from her horrific ordeal.

While not technically a mystery, there is a suspense element to the storyline. Minnow is reluctant to divulge the events of the night of the Prophet’s death but why? What reason could she possibly have for keeping a secret of this magnitude? Is she responsible for his death? If not, who is trying to protect? The answers to these questions might just lie in her surprising and unexpected friendship with Jude, an outsider who lives close to the religious compound. This friendship leads Minnow to sneak away at every opportunity to escape her cloistered life with the Kevinians. These experiences with Jude also foster some of her skepticism of Prophet Kevin’s somewhat ludicrous teachings.

At the juvenile detention center, Minnow strikes up an unlikely friendship with Angel who helps her navigate the confusing life among the other inmates.  After years in seclusion, Minnow is incredibly naive and at first, she finds it difficult to leave behind the teachings of Prophet Kevin. She is also uncertain of her own opinions and looks to others to tell her what to think about the questions she has about life, faith and the world in general. Minnow is extremely intelligent and through the programs available to her, she begins the arduous tasks of learning to read and gain the skills needed to live a regular life. Surprisingly, Minnow does not turn her back on faith and she finds comfort in certain passages from the Bible.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is an extraordinarily fascinating novel and the storyline is incredibly compelling. Minnow is an extremely complex and sympathetic character and she is also very easy to like despite the circumstances that led to her incarceration.  Cults are infinitely intriguing and Stephanie Oakes provides a credible scenario for how disenfranchised and dissatisfied people can easily be led astray as they search for a better life for themselves and their loved ones.  An absolutely outstanding novel that is quite hopeful despite the rather serious subject matter and one that I highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dial Books, Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Stephanie Oakes, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, Young Adult