Sunday, July 28, 2013


Series: Cipher #1
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: 7/22/13
Format: eARC
Pages: 325
Source: Received from author for review
Summer Davis sees deaths before they happen. She attempts to live a normal life by focusing on the dance team and her quarterback boyfriend. But then the way-too-cheery Angel of Death shows up and tells her she’s a Cipher—a person chosen to help people who are going to die resolve problems with their loved ones. Ashlyn Moore, one of Summer’s classmates, is going to die, and she needs Summer’s help before that happens.

It’s nearly impossible to get through to Ashlyn, who surrounds herself with chess nerds and geeks and makes it clear she doesn’t want to be friends. Desperate to complete her Cipher task before it’s too late, Summer turns to Troy, the guy who’s always been there for her and one of the few people she can trust. With his help, she makes progress. In fact, the closer she gets to Ashlyn and her friends, the more she feels like she’s finally found where she belongs.

As the clock starts running down on Ashlyn’s life, Summer decides to change her objective. She’s going to save her new friend before it’s too late—even if it means messing with fate.

Whether she's writing a story from an adult or a teen point -of-view, Cindi Madsen always manages to create strong characters with tons of heart. 

Cipher is a Young Adult Contemporary story with magical realism. And though that "magic" is a very important part of the story, what really impressed me about Cipher was just how truthfully Madsen was able to portray the teen experience.

I won't lie, I had a pretty great experience as a teenager. I was popular and had a good family. But like almost every teen, I also had a lot of doubts, confusion and insecurities. Summer, the heroine of Cipher, is a popular girl who feels lost. Madsen did such a thorough job of bringing Summer to life that I couldn't help but to be taken back to my own teenage experience. Summer was sweet and funny and brave, but she was also real. She doesn't always make the right choice, react the "right" way, or say the right thing, but she does her best, and for me, that is what makes YA so important. Not for me, with my ability to see things in hindsight, but for a teen, who is facing many issues and decisions on a daily basis. This is the kind of story I will want my own daughter to read when she is old enough.  

Back to the supernatural, or magical, aspect to Cipher.... Being that I'm not reading much of anything but realistic fiction these days, I was wondering if I would be able to truly embrace that aspect. I've read many books with reapers and guardian angels and the like, but nothing with the same angle as Cipher. I found the change to bring both tension and emotion to the story, and I was hooked. 

Cipher was a complete win for me. Madsen's writing was as charming and nicely paced as always, the characters were well-developed with tons of heart and humor, the story was humorous, intense, and emotional. The ending left me both satisfied and ready for more. In many ways, Cipher is only the beginning. and this is going to be a great series.

Favorite Quotes:

  "Sometimes I do feel a little lost, though." To her dismay, her voice cracked. "I don't even know how to get back to the person I used to be." And I don't even think it's possible with everything that's happening to me.
  His hand brushed across her shoulder and then he gently lifted her chin with his fingers. "You're still in there." His eyes locked onto hers, and it felt like he was peering inside of her, pulling out all her secrets.   ~eARC, 46%

  Troy smiled down at her, and her heart jumped into her throat. The lights turned his skin colors. Red, green, blue. Glimpses of every shade of Troy, and they all looked good. The song ended, and the world seemed to stop, just her and Troy, standing in the middle of the floor.  ~eARC, 58%

  "Be good. You're awesome. I love you"  eARC, 66%

Purchase Cipher


About the author:
Cindi MadsenCindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She is the author of YA books All the Broken Pieces, Cipher, and Demons of the Sun and adult romances Falling for Her Fiancé, Act Like You Love Me, and Cinderella Screwed Me Over.

Connect with Cindi at:
her website | Twitter | Facebook | blog



  1. That's a beautiful review, hon! I was one of the popular ones as well and had/have so many friends. I still deal with insecurities and doubts as I'vee just finished my 2nd year in college and I have my thoughts and feelings from my HS years freshly in my brain so I can see myself connecting to Summer easily. I don't think that every heroine should be the nerdy, shy girl so that's cool. I've found myself reading contemporary more often than not just as you so I'm glad that the paranormal aspect was easy to grasp and original to you. Thanks for introducing it to me:)

  2. Cipher does sound like an interesting and unique kind of paranormal. Didn't realize this would be more on the contemporary side but I like that too. I just love when a character can really take you back to the old days and you can relate well to them.

  3. I haven't heard of this book before now but it sounds wonderful! Definitely popping this on my TBR pile.

    A great review Andrea!

  4. I am kinda liking this new trend of magical realism. I like how they read like contemps but have a bit of magic to them still. This deff sounds like an enjoyable read. Great review!

  5. I was hoping to read this one last week, but I ran out of time. Hoping I can get to it this week. Great review! I'm excited!

  6. I'm going to be reading Cipher this week. Sounds awesome!

  7. I am reading this one very soon!! I got way behind on reading with getting a new puppy. I can't wait to get to this one though. Cindi is awesome and I have loved all of her books so far. Great review!!

  8. I'm intrigued. Interesting review.
    Thanks :-)

  9. The cover and premise sounds wonderful and so glad to hear that you enjoyed

  10. Such a great review! I unfortunately haven't read any of her books yet but I know you and Val and Amy rave about them so they must be good. I really want to read her Cinderella Screwed Me Over book :)

  11. Reminds me of Soul Screamers but a tamer version I think.

  12. Yay! I'm so glad you liked this! I read the synopsis a few weeks back and I immediately added to my TBR! I can't wait to get this one for myself! Great review Andrea!

  13. Wow great review!! I love the cover of this one. And it does sound like Soul Screamers a bit! I love that it's about a popular girl, and not about the wallflower lol

  14. What a great review, Andrea. I know you love Ms. Madsen's writing and I've added her to my TBR because of your reviews. I'm certainly going to be adding this one as well, and I think I will have both my daughters read it as well. You're right about it being important for teens to see (read) teens being faced with decisions and how they go about them...whether they choose wisely or not. Thanks so much for sharing this! :)

  15. I really did find myself interested by this summary, which is surprising. I don't normally find angel books all that appealing. It just depends, I suppose!

    It's good to hear you really liked this and it was realistic to the teen life.


  16. Aww, this sounds like such a beautiful but bittersweet story, Andrea! I adore Cindi's writing as well so this needs to go in the TBR. Wonderful review, Andrea! :)

  17. Great review! The blurb for this one definitely sounded intriguing! I remember loving Cindi's writing so I'm sure this will be just as awesome! =)

  18. Oh I know I'll love it if Cindi wrote it. Gotta find some time for this one.

  19. I really like the sound of this one. And I totally agree with you on the whole magical realism thing. It makes for an interesting read, especially when you have strong characters in the picture! And I'm so happy to hear about the teen experience being "real". I definitely need to check this one out! I'm glad you enjoyed this, Andrea! Brilliant review! =)

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  20. I've had my eye on this book! I'm glad you enjoyed it--means I'll probably love it too :) I love being brought back to my teenage years. It's ;pretty amazing when an author can bring you back to another time in your life. I love reading books about angels, and the fact that this one is unique is intriguing to me. I love when an author takes a unique twist on something where everyone else follows more of a formula.

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  21. Great review, Andrea! You really sold me on this, especially since I know you pretty much only read realistic fiction these days and still enjoyed this one.

  22. Wonderful review Andrea. I loved this book to. Cindi did such a great job with it.


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