Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Castles on the Sand (Shattered Castles, #1)Series: Shattered Castles #1
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: 8/17/13
Format: ebook
Source: Received from author for review
"A fast-paced blend of high-stakes drama and average teenage concerns (sex, appearance, friends), capped with a welcome message of hope." ~Kirkus Reviews

If there’s one thing Madison Lukas understands, it’s pain. The pain she feels when her mother ignores her completely. The pain her best friend endures as her parents starve her as punishment. The pain of a dangerous boy whose mother has to be carried away by law enforcement on a regular basis.

She gets it. She feels the pain of others as if it were her own.

But when a mysterious man claiming to be her long lost brother appears with promises of relieving her suffering, trusting him could reveal more truths than Madison is ready for. Because the truth can hurt, too.
Madison lives her life second best to her best friend Kailie, invisible in the same house as her mother, and in an overall state of severely low self esteem in that she thinks of herself as fat and pasty. The story is completely from her point of view, but chronicles her experiences navigating mean girls at school and the joys of first kisses and first dates. Throw in public humiliation and a long lost brother she didn't know she had and you're in for an emotional ride.

Starting with her brother John, I thought that part of the story was going to be the main focus and I was so wrong. He is on his Mission as a part of the Mormon Church and has spent a great deal of time searching for his sister, who he hasn't seen for 15 years. He throws the big brother card around early, and I was glad to see something that would get a real emotion out of Madison. This girl is so downtrodden by everyone around her that I was sad for her, but also so mad at her that she wouldn't just stand up for herself. She thought what she should say, and not to rock the boat wouldn't actually say it. Which brings us to the boys.

Jean-Pierre is the popular guy at school and wants a physical relationship with her on the DL....next....if only! She likes how he makes her feel, but made her feel guilty for not being ready to do more like he was. And that is not okay with me. Cue more anger. Carson is the opposite but puts down her choices, whether it be for kissing JP (thanks to small town gossip that will live on forever) or who she has as friends. Dude needed to get a clue. If he's already telling you what to do and you're not officially dating him, don't date him! Alex is one of those strong silent types. He's in trouble a lot, but still tries to do his best taking care of his mentally ill mother. Another thing you'll learn about this small town is they're not all that understanding of people who are different. I liked Alex the most just because he would simply talk to her with no agenda, or judgments. Friends first type of relationship building are a joy to read for me, so I liked this even though Madison didn't give him a chance for almost forever.

So boy drama was heavy, but it was nothing, and I mean nothing compared to the mama and BFF drama that was in store. Her mother stays focused on her pottery and is so distant they're almost not on the same planet. She literally cuts her off in the middle of a sentence and would be "oh, well I'm going to bed." and just walk away and close and lock her door. What was that about? That plot is slow and gives out information even slower, so don't expect them to be winning mother/daughter duo of the year anytime soon or to let you in on why her mom treats her this way until the end. Equally crazy behavior comes from her best friend Kailie. This is the real kicker of the story, and I cannot risk spoiling it. Trust me when I say you don't want to miss this book because some cray cray stuff goes down between those two and I was so surprised. Heavy, but thought provoking in a way I wasn't counting on.

Castles on the Sand is one of those books that makes you feel. I went through the gamut of emotions early but mostly I felt mad and frustrated at how Madison is treated by the people she is close to. I really hated her mom and her best friend Kailie for, I would guess, at least 75% of the book, maybe longer. Teenage years are hard, but when you don't have your mother or a good girlfriend on your side to get through it, it can be even tougher. Madison has to dig deep time and time again to prove what she is made of and surprisingly I always rooted for her, even when I wanted to help her wake up from her nightmare because she didn't seem to be doing much but treading water. Take a chance on this one, and I think you'll enjoy it too. It's one of those raw, real to life stories that you know could have or is happening to someone you love.

Favorite quote:
"I just imagine everyone in your life taking and taking because you've got it to give," he adds. ~27%

"So how was your day?" I quip.
"Fine - oh I see. It does just roll off the tongue automatically, doesn't it?" ~ 29%
Purchase Castles on the Sand at:
About the author: 
Emily Mah Tippetts writes romance under the name E.M. Tippetts and science fiction and fantasy under the name Emily Mah. Originally from New Mexico, she now lives in London with her family. Before she was a published author, she was an attorney who specialized in real estate, contracts, and estate planning, especially literary estate planning.

Her most recent pro publications have been her science fiction and fantasy short stories in magazines like Black Gate, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and the anthology, Shanghai Steam.

Connect with EM at:
Website  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads



  1. I had to check and make sure you had not just written my own biography when I read your review Andrea! LMAO

    I had it pretty great at home. I was blessed there but I can relate a good bit of what your describing about Madison as far as feeling fat and unappreciated. I was always the chubby kid which usually made me the blunt of everybodies humor and no matter what I accomplished it seemed I was always playing second fiddle to my best friend. I haven't read this one but thank gosh I didn't seem to have things quite as bad as poor Madison did. ")

  2. Ugh Madison's mum and best friend so awful! I've come across some horrible mother daughter relationships and this sounds like it will be right up there. I'm glad you were still able to connect with Madison's character despite her not standing up for herself as much as you wanted. I want to give this book a try as you mentioned some crazy stuff happens but then the mother daughter relationship may bug the hell out of me. Another great review Andrea! :)

  3. I hate secondary characters like that! I just want to shake them out of the book. Glad you kept rooting for Madison! Great review!

  4. This sounds good, but I think the secondary characters would have me so irritated that it might affect my enjoyment of the book. Madison sounds like a great character though. Fab review!

  5. I've heard good things about this one. Thanks for the review Courtney!

  6. Mama drama and BFF drama..this does sound like its raw and will get to you, awesome review!

  7. Great review, Courtney! I love books that evoke emotions and this one sounds like it does that! ;) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Um...not sure I could read this. I'm angry and Maddison and JP just reading your review. Hmmmm...

  9. Great review Courtney. This is the second good review on this book I have read. I may just have to check it out.


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