Sunday, December 23, 2012

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered
Splintered by A.G. Howard is not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but an extension of the story.  What if Alice Liddell really did go beyond the looking glass?  What if what she experienced was not told correctly in Lewis Caroll’s book?  Splintered is the story of Alyssa Gardner, a descendant of Alice.  Because of Alice’s visit to Wonderland and everything she did there, a curse has been placed on her family that affects the women.  Each descendant is touched with madness, being able to speak and hear nature and being hunted down by Him. 

Alyssa is dealing with her mother being locked away in an asylum because of what occurred 12 years earlier.  Was she trying to kill Alyssa, and who made her do it?  Not only is Alyssa dealing with her mother’s sanity issues but she has also been dealing with her slip in reality since she turned 14.  What lies ahead is a journey down a rabbit hole in order to fix Alice’s mistakes and save the rest of the women in her family, including her.

Armed with small glimpses into her memory, items hidden from the past, her ultimate crush and a strangely familiar guy’s advice Alyssa dives down the rabbit hole.  Here she encounters a Wonderland like no one ever imagined.  To say that Wonderland was already a dark fantasy is an understatement after reading the descriptions in this novel.  On top of the disturbing differences, Alyssa must fulfill her destiny to save Jeb, her crush, and ultimately her blood line.  What really is amazing is the clever twist at the end, the twist that explains the true motives behind the characters of Wonderland.   A very haunting and deceptive tale—much like fairy tales—Splintered is a genuinely good read.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is in one word: GOOD.  Not the most flowery of words to use but this story has the ingredients to become the next Hunger Games or Divergent series.  Set in a dystopian world where there is a virus IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) that is causing children between the ages of 9-13 to die or become PSI (have psychic abilities).  Those that become PSI are feared by the adults and this cause the taking of children from their home, once symptoms hit.  The children are taken to camps and separated by a different color x marking their PSI power.  There are a total of 5 groups: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Red.  Green means that the child is good at solving puzzles/mathematical equations, the Blue means they have the ability to move objects with their minds, Yellow is for those that can control electricity, Orange is for those that can control others and their thoughts, and Red is not fully explained.

Ruby is our main character, who has been institutionalized since she was ten, she is now 16.  It is unclear what happened to get Ruby sent away, meanwhile you hear about others’ stories.  This leads to a mystery of her true code color.  She is placed with the greens but is that what she really is?  At some point someone infiltrates the camp and breaks Ruby and a boy named Martin out.  Because of their special powers, a group of rebels see them as a ticket to destroying the new world order.  As, Ruby begins to think about this group of rebels and what her part might be, she decides it would be better to make a run for it, to find her grandmother.

She then finds Liam, Chubs and Zu, kids that have escaped another camp and are on the run.  Once she meets up with them a world wind of suspense and lies commence.  Ruby will not tell them her ability, they do not tell her what they have been through and this person they are searching for, an Orange who helps way wards like them, who is he really. Bracken chose the brilliant technique of missing puzzle pieces and strung them along in this novel.  By the end I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, for that matter I still don’t.  I don’t mean this negatively at all, the end begs for a sequel and I don’ think it is possible to know what will happen in the next book.  I loved it and think this is a great book for both genders since it hits romance, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Surrender (The Ferryman and The Flame, #1) by Rhiannon Paille


Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame #1)
Kaliel was warned about her love for the Ferryman.  One day he will marry the land and leave Avristar forever.  She doesn’t listen, and because of what she is—a flame, one of the nine apocalyptic weapons, she sparks a war.”

 
Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame, #1) by Rhiannon Paille was enchanting and heartbreaking.  The story opens in the Great Library of The Island of Avristar.  Kemplan works in the the Great Library, here he finds a parchment with a drawing on it of the Ferryman and the Flame.  Of course his negative response makes it obvious that something like this happened in the past and destroyed the land, something like this should never happen again.

After that scene we meet the male main character, Krishani, he is elven and is tall, strong, with black hair and one blue and one green eye.  He is part of the brotherhood and his destiny is a big mystery but also a bigger honor.  He first sees Kaliel when she is bathing in the lake, which is forbidden due to the merfolk.

Kaliel is the female main character. Described to be pale skinned, with pale hair and emerald green eyes she is a curious elf.  She swims with the merfolk and speaks to trees, things that others cannot do.  After meeting Krishani a “flame” is sparked within her that cannot die.

The Great Oak is where everyone in Avristar goes to learn their destiny and then they marry the land, which I think means that everything the people of Avristar do is for the land and can only love and be married if the land approves.  The Great Oak has told both Kaliel and Krishani that they will have important roles in the next war of Avristar.  What they eventually realize is that they are the Flame and the Ferryman, respectively. 

The setting is magnificent or at least the descriptions were amazing.  The love story is your classic star crossed lovers story but with fight.  Kaliel will not “surrender” her love to marry the land.  She and Krishani vow to never surrender, but with an old foe searching Avristar for the remainding flames and killing them, will this vow be broken?  A great tale to have in YA libraries.

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen ,#2) by Rebecca Maizel

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen, #2)


Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel was a great read.  I loved her world of vampire, which held an almost gothic romanticism of authors such as Anne Rice.  To be frank it was a breath of fresh air from the cookie cutter vampire stories out now, not that I don’t love those too.  After receiving Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen #2) from NetGalley.com it took me about 4 hours to read.  I was not planning to read it but I missed the world of Lenah and frankly after the end of the first book I knew that if Lenah had survived the ritual so had Rhodes.  This led to the question, where the hell is Rhodes?

Stolen Nights tells you where the hell Rhodes has gone to and if you are patient enough Maizel does a beautiful job of unfolding all the intricacies it took to get to book one for the characters.  There was of course no easy way of unfolding their story, that of Rhodes and Lenah.  At times it was difficult to decipher if Rhodes was the wonderful partner Lenah had painted a picture of in book one.  Lenah also seemed to be having difficulty maintaining her faith on Rhodes and their love for each other. 

What about that lovely fellow Justin, you might ask.  Well he is around as well, but there is clearly a change in him.  Whether it is about Rhodes showing up or because he is unsure of Lenah, it is hard to tell.  Okay not really, there are clues as to why Justin is a little different in the sequel but still it is shocking.  There are some, um, nice scenes with Lenah and Justin.

The book is centered on discovering the truth.  What was once thought of each character is tested and strained to better understand how the characters set out on their course during the first book.  With interesting new players, that are potentially harmful and scary, along with the multitude of sacrifices each character has to face Stolen Nights gives the same thrill as Infinite Days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Broken by A.E. Rought

BrokenA string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his specter in the moonlight and the fog.

--Goodreads.com


Broken by A.E. Rought is a twist on the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  First, Frankenstein is the classic story of the hubris shown by the main character in acting as God.  There was mob mentality linked to criticism of this novel and also connections to sexuality (the monster has no gender) and also connections to the author’s life (Shelley miscarriage so there are some critiques that compares that ordeal to the novel.)  Frankenstein is a masterpiece; Broken is well a ride of intrigue, dash of hubris, dash of zombies, mixed with star-crossed lovers and a big helping of “wait… that just happened?”  Broken is a standalone book with borrowed aspects of another story. 

Emma Gentry is the MC; she has just lost her boyfriend in a tragic accident.  Trying to cope with the loss of one of the most important people in her life, Emma is just resurfacing from what seems like a slumber away from others.  She is an empty shell of her former self, an enigma to those around her because everyone expects her to be herself again.  As she is trying to navigate through her life Alex Franks crashes in and stops all progress.

There is something frighteningly familiar about Alex, his eyes have the same signature Daniel look to them and there is something about Alex that makes Emma feel again.  Emma doesn’t necessarily feel safe around Alex at all times because there are things that no one can or will explain to her.  How did Alex’s father save is life?  Why was there a string of disappearances around the time of Daniel’s death?  Why does Dr. Franks hate Emma? And how is Daniel’s best friend connected? 

The book takes a little while to get to the actual meat and potatoes of this story; however, it remains intriguing enough to reach the climactic ending.  A tale of love lost, mad science experiments, separation of soul and body and ultimately of betrayal.   Broken keeps readers engaged and thinking about the ethics behind Dr. Franks and Alex Franks.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
 
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan was both wonderful and flat.  The premise behind the book is that Lily has left a red notebook hidden in a secondhand book store.  She is doing this because her brother believes she needs romance in her life, and this is the way to do it.  At this particular book store, a boy named Dash likes to rack the shelves and fill his literary curiosity.  On this one particular day Dash notices a curious looking book, well notebook, on the shelf.  He opens this said notebook and in it he finds an invitation to play along in her book of dares, ending with “I’ve left some clues for you.  If you want them, turn the page.  If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”  Dash of course will be spending Christmas alone, like any regular fun loving young adult so he decides this will be a great adventure for him. 

Many of the dares aren’t as ridiculous or funny as you might think.  There are some thought provoking moments in the novel, where dares are not the only option but so are truths.  Lily and Dash become obsessed with, well each other, and what the other means to them.  Without knowing each other both Lily and Dash have put each other on this pedestal as the person that will save or smooth their life.  They give too much importance and bias to each other, which only leads to the point that they might disappoint each other in the long run when they meet.

That was the wonderful part, besides the awesomely hilarious adventures these two have, I really did not see the romance between them.  I don’t want to ruin anything but it almost seemed force, as if that is how it should be and that is why it is.  Some book romances make me roll my eyes but rarely do I find some that just don’t jive with what the author has created.  Perhaps this is an individual’s bias or perception but still I must pray tell.  Other than that, it is a fun book that should be read in December with hot chocolate and a playful disposition. 

Undeadly by Michele Vail


Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)
 
 
“The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...”

Undeadly by Michele Vail isn’t perfect but boy do I love reaper stories and necromancers.  I think YA paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi is a great genre; however, sometimes the stories are too repetitive or are trying too much to be like the previous hit.  Reapers are awesome though, because death is real.  Does not matter that reapers might not be real, but death is and so I like the spin of reaper stories.  I believe that those are the stories that make you think about life and death on not just a superficial note but also can sometimes help readers think on a subconsciously real note. 

Undeadly is the story of Molly Bartolucci, our average MC who wishes to be kissed by the most popular boy Rick at her birthday party… why is that so hard to accomplish.  Sorry Molls, but you have been selected to be a zombie-raising reaper, chosen by the god Anubis.  Of course this could have all been avoided if she had not unintentionally stopped Rick from dying and undoing Rath’s work.  Rath is reaper, I do not know how I feel about the name Rath… well I like it but, anyway Rath shows up at her party to claim Rick’s soul, Molly undoes it and is told that she comes from a line of reapers. 

Nekyia Academy, academy to reapers, is where Molly finds herself after the eventful night of Rick’s “death.”  Here are some cool moments like Molly comes from an old family of reapers so she has a ghoul that waits on her hand in foot—he can be fun at times.  Molly also meets some friends that are not too stuck up and help her adjust to life at the academy and also with some strange going-ons. 

Of course it is not enough to have to deal with learning your true identity and everything that comes with that, no.  There is also something happening on campus.  Students are dying and Molly might be at the center of the reasoning behind the killing spree.  What will Molly do about the dying students, her weird alive again boyfriend Rick, Rath’s aloof gorgeousness and training to be a reaper?

Molly was a fun character and I didn’t highly dislike any of the characters.  This was an enjoyable first book the Reaper Diaries Series.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Break My Heart 1,000 Times
 
 
Break My Heart 1,000 Times is a creepy tale of ghosts and the difficult process of grieving.  Unlike other books, this novel is neither a ghost story nor is it just a story of loss.  Let’s look at what this book is centered on.  Apparently there was an “Event” that occurred on Earth.  After said “Event” many died tragically; however, those people would never be forgotten.  Images of those that were killed during the “Event” are now stuck on replay.  Here is an example, MC Veronica sees her father every day at the breakfast table.  Every day he flips through the same newspaper, drinks the same coffee from the same mug, and give the same look to her mother and leaves.

There are some unique takes as to why the images remain.  Of course these are not interactive ghosts; however, that changes a bit.  SO not only is this story about the after effects of the “Event” but there is also a ghost in Veronica’s home, who she is not aware of, yet.  This ghost has intent; this ghost is not an image.  Veronica is intrigued by this fact but also to who the ghost is. 

To add to that side story, Veronica has a creepy teacher that has been rumored to have killed a young girl a couple of decades ago.  Unfortunately for him, this dead girl is an image at his door every morning, fortunately for him there is no proof he killed her (remember there is no intent with the images, it’s not like she can have a full blown convo with the police). 

Better yet, there is another teacher in Veronica’s high school that is writing about the difference of the images and why they came into existence.  Kirk, a classmate of Veronica’s, investigates the images for this teacher… and somehow it’s all connected to the side story above.  This isn’t just a mystery book; it is also a book about loss and grieving.  Veronica’s mother captures this, by stating that every time she sees her husband and has to see him leave without interacting with him it’s like her heart is breaking 1,000 times.  How could we live with the images of our loved ones popping up every day like clockwork?  Would it hurt more when they stop appearing?

Very interesting ghostly read.  Thanks NetGalley!  3/5 stars.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

Blind Spot would be a B-  grade novel.  It definitely had potential with its dark story of perceptions and consequences. 
There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

This unflinchingly emotional novel is written in the powerful first-person voice of a legally blind teen who just wants to be like everyone else.” –Goodreads.com
See?! Potential!  Murder mystery is mixed with a handicap that creates even more problems, because Roz cannot see things as clearly.  What I liked about his novel is the take on handicapped people and how others treat them and also how sometimes to prove a point they can harm themselves trying to be independent.  Unfortunately, in this story Roz actually harms others while she is trying to be independent. 
Roz is friendless and now must take a Special Ed course on how to deal with your handicap and the outside world.  Of course Roz hates being labeled handicapped and feels like the class is only meant for people with mental disabilities, not her.  The reality is that Roz has isolated herself trying to be independent.  Because she doesn’t use the label, handicapped, most people do not know she has a disability.  All people know is that she avoids eye contact (which makes her seem rude and obnoxious) and that she wears ridiculously thick glasses. 
Enter Jonathan, I believe he is compared to a Greek god, he is popular and just what Roz thinks the doctor ordered.  Jonathan being the actual douche bag that he is is really using Roz and her feelings for him.  Along with Jonathan comes Tricia, an emotionally disturbed student in Roz’s new class.  Tricia is definitely out there; however, since she actually talks to Roz and Roz feels superior to her Roz accepts this classroom “friendship”.  Then there is Dellian, a HS coach and the teacher in the handicap class.  His major job is to push Roz’s buttons.  A night out at an underage party leads all 4 into a disastrous calamity.
Tricia is now missing, Roz cannot remember anything (except an argument with Tricia) and Jonathan has confirmed that Dellian might be responsible.  Now Roz must uncover the truth about Tricia.  Did the teacher do it?  Are they having an affair?  Did Tricia runaway?  What happened that night and why can’t Roz remember? Told through time (days before incident, days after incident) the reader along with Roz will discover how everyone is connected to what happened to Tricia, but not before accusations and crimes are committed by those that are responsible for that night.
Major potential; however, the story was missing something… I don’t know what exactly but when I finished this book I was not overly impressed but I wasn’t completely disappointed.  The themes were clear and so was the story, perhaps Laura Ellen’s next novel will be better.

Thanks NetGalley!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Gathering Darkness by Lisa Collicutt

The Gathering Darkness by Lisa Collicutt


The Gathering Darkness is a fun ride.  Founded on the concept of reincarnation, it is a story of two soul mates running from a jealous jilted lover.  At first the story is slow in unfolding.  The characters Brooke Day, Samantha (her cousin), Marcus Knight, Evan Knight, Maggie and Jenny are a few of the main characters.  Brooke is sent to her cousin’s house after an issue that occurs back home.  She feels this is a torturous trip, especially since every time Brooke visits Deadwich she has night terrors and a creepy feeling around the Ravenwyck Inn (owned by Maggie).

After adjusting to a new school and meeting the key characters, Brooke discovers that there is something in Deadwich connecting her to the Knight Brothers, specifically Marcus.  As they get close to one another stranger connections are revealed and even stranger stories are being thrown at them.  So even though there is a slow beginning, the story quickens it pace.  At some points I felt much like Brooke, she couldn’t trust anyone but Marcus because everyone was suspect.  Not until the end of the book do you realize how interwoven everyone is in this story.

My biggest surprise was the twist at the end.  Considering the players and who they were during the beginning of the story it was difficult to see that connection.  However, when all was revealed at the end I was more like “WTF, no way!”  Definitely a fun and mysterious novel in the ever popular paranormal romance YA genre.

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic (Healer, #2)



Maria V. Snyder strikes again. Author of such series like the Study series, Glass series and the Insider series, Maria does it again with her Healer series. Scent of Magic is the second book in the Healer series. Avry, the main character is introduced in the first book, Touch of Power. In the first book Avry is described as a young woman with healing powers, unfortunately thanks to the plague and the actions that the Healer’s Guild refused to take during the plague as warranted outcast standing for all healers that remain.  Even more unfortunate is the decree sent out by King Tohon, of one of the 15 realms, where he places a bounty on healers dead or alive.  After being on the run for 3 years Avry is rescued by Kerrick, who is looking for a healer for his friend Prince Ryne.  After many adventures, setbacks and discoveries Avry, Kerrick and his group of men accomplish the impossible.

Scent of Magic, picks up right where the first book ended.  Avry and Kerrick decide to separate, even after they have figured out their feelings.  Avry, now presumed dead after helping Prince Ryne wants to figure out Tohon’s dead soldiers.  She needs to see the link between the death lilies and his touch.  Kerrick needs to find Ryne and the others to deliver the news of Avry’s “death.”  What everyone now has to focus on is Tohon and his conquering of the other realms.  He is too strong for Ryne to defeat and other realms have fallen to him or have signed over their land and people in order for “peace.”  Avry goes into Estrid’s army in disguise and proves to be a great teacher, since she can’t heal.  She teaches the soldiers Kerrick’s techniques in moving silently in the woods.  She also tries to explain about the dead soldiers but no one believes her and she and Prince Ryne must discover a way of defeating this squadron of the dead.

What really stood out in this book from all of the others, including other series by Synder is that fact that both Kerrick and Avry’s point of view was displayed.  I had an arc so was not sure if it alternated every other chapter or just jumped from one side to the other.  This lead to more action and more storytelling, as the story doesn’t take place with just one of the characters.  Not once did I think, this book would be better without all of its content.  The characters remain sturdy and loveable/hate able, depending on the character.  New revelations on the connection between the death lilies, the peace lilies and mages are brought to light and while there is blood and carnage there are some surprising twists and reappearances of former characters from the first book.

To add to that this book is also full of deceit, witty humor, sarcasm, gross implications and forgiveness.  I generally love most of Synder’s books, with the small exception of the Glass series, but this series by far has the surprising situations that characters like Yelena and Valek got into, but with more “umpf”.  I don’t know how to describe it but it is almost as if this is a final draft of the story that helped the Study series take off… which in simple terms it’s BETTER!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette


Dark Star
Dark Star is the realistic hero story.  Set in the Twin City the novel tells the story of a modern hero, Morning Star, and her daughter Audrey.  Audrey is the main character, she’s a bit rough around the edges and a joker, oh also she is somewhat psychic.  She has lived all her life with the reality that her mother is a superhero at night, thankfully her best friend, Gideon, also knows this secret.  Gideon is the perfect personality to counter Audrey rough edges.  Not only is her mom a superhero but she also has a sidekick, Leon, who happen to appear to them 3 years prior to the opening of the story without warning. 

Audrey starts to notice things changing.  First there are the missing girls.  Girls are going missing around town and neighboring places and no one knows why.  After her friend is hurt, Audrey must figure out what is going on.  Because she repeatedly ignores her mother and Leon’s warnings, she gets attacked by a Harrower.  That’s right; her mother doesn’t fight crime of the stealing and killing kind, but of the demon kind.  This opens a can of worms that Audrey didn’t realize existed.  Not only do demon exist but there is also a group of demon fighters that exist, a clan if you don’t mind named The Kin, and Audrey’s mother, father and grandparents are part of the Kin, so is Leon.  Audrey is now the key to something and the harrowers want her dead… it will take a lot of self-discovery and perseverance to defeat those that haunt her.

Dark Star reminded me of the adaptation of Batman by Christopher Nolan.  Granted they are both on different playing fields but if we strip things away and sticks to the basic concept, both stories are similar.  It is the journey, the inner discovery and the sacrifice that make both stories important.  The main heroes of both stories aren’t superman, they have big Achilles heels and can be swayed for good or bad; however, the change comes from within them.  Audrey had not considered herself to be superhuman or even just psychic, she hadn’t seen her life going into this direction but after some soul searching she is ready to take on what comes at her. 

With a strong MC and supporting characters Dark Star is a great book.  Especially with reach gems like: “He never got bullied nor had his head dunked in a toilet or whatever else the little cannibals in elementary school come up with when they decide to eat their own.” Or great character profiling/descriptions “Detective Wyle chuckled.  He looked tired and even scruffier than the last time I’d seen him.  He certainly knew how to play the brooding antihero, all rough edges and stubble and dark rumpled hair.”  For her first book I think Bethany Frenette hit the nail on the head and wrote something that will be able to keep people excited and intrigued. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
5 stars

This one of the toughest books I have ever read. I started getting teary-eyed by the prologue... I was like, "Really? You need to get a grip!" I was already aware of the content in this book, but like most didn't have a clue as to why this young girl killed herself and then decided to make tapes and pass them along, to specific people. I really loved her story.

I really didn't look forward to reading this book because of the whole suicide issue. I don't care how self assured you are in your adult life, chances are you felt alone at least once in your adolescent life. I am not saying I was suicidal but I can understand wanting to be done, thankfully, I am strong willed and let this roll off my skin. Unfortunately, now that I work in the public school system (not that that makes a difference in teen suicide) it is hard to brush off someone’s anxiety about life and being alienated. I do remember growing up and saying that kids took things too seriously, bullying was not bullying when I grew up; it was accepted and also thought of as character building. But now with the world as connected and voyeuristic as it is, this generation has to deal with things differently than the past.

I do not approve of suicide, but who am I to judge? If a person says they are done, they are done. It’s like trying to get someone to quit an addiction; they need to want it too. Hannah did want it, but so many little actions done/not done caused her to disconnect to the world. (view spoiler)[What if Justin didn’t spread a stupid, seemingly harmless rumor? What if Alex didn’t stop being her friend, and in turn make Hannah and her other friend Jessica butts (no pun intended) of his joke to earn some cool points? What if Jessica wasn’t a total tool and didn’t believe the beginning rumors? Oh hey, what if Tyler wasn’t only not a creep but also a not a creep that took incriminating photos of Courtney and Hannah? (Although, Hannah should have probably stopped to think about some of her actions.) Ooo, what if Courtney was a total bitch and played with Hannah’s vulnerability to make friends (once you are a slut to the rest of the school it’s hard to take back)? Marcus Cooley, really how about you are not a dirt bag and try to touch a girl in the first 10 minutes of your date… Zach, #7, he’s one of the biggest roles in this. Hannah did make a point of trying to share out what she was feeling and because she didn’t want to be with him he stripped that away from her. I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to admit to wanting to commit suicide. Not only did he take away the only encouraging human contact but he also ignored her last real plea for help. Ryan, what did he do? Well, what if, instead of using her poem for his paper, he tried to be a friend and talk it out with her? Oh, wait what if he told a guidance counselor? (Very simple things to do.) Clay, well you’re just awesome. She clearly states that Clay doesn’t belong in this list, but maybe their last encounter made her feel like he needed to know why she did it. And thankfully Clay is not as dense as most people, and he got that, hence why he didn’t blame himself…DUH. Justin again…surprise…. Jenny, well this is kind of the representation that even those we find to be human can sometimes lack humanity. I think Jenny embodies Hannah’s lack of faith in humanity and in herself as well. (At this point Hannah is pretty committed to dying…) Bryce… if I have to single out how he plays a part in cracking Hannah, well, I feel bad. (Also, Hannah mentions her lack of involvement, she understands it is her fault as well, I don’t forgive her for that but I also don’t hate her for being scared.) Why did Hannah let him “rape” her? She didn’t, she was already gone, she had already let go. Like she said she became what they had all told her she was. (If it feels like she wanted to commit suicide… then you clearly didn’t realize that she had already decided it at this point. There is no reading between the lines she did admit to it.) Mr. Porter… he is another Jenny. At that point the decision was made, but Hannah wanted to see just one more time if there wasn’t a mistake in her plan. She wanted someone to show concern. Yes, suicides are about attention, because normally the person who will kill themselves are lacking in people caring, or in people treating them like they can be cared about. Mr. Porter, I dislike him the most! As a professional in education, I cannot believe that sometimes these troubled students have to deal with idiots like this. THERE IS AN EFFIN SOCIAL WORKER ON STAFF; you don’t know what to do: CONTACT THEM! (hide spoiler)]. There is nothing ridiculous about Hannah and her experiences. When people find insignificance in suicide, then they prove why that person committed such an act. Just like her peers that scoffed at the student note about suicide. Judge lest ye be judged… This book is meant for those that can be understanding and sympathetic. Suicide has become a huge issue in our culture. Kids are getting better at alienating each other and people are getting better at blaming those that are alienated. Turning a blind eye to obnoxious behaviour leads to more accepted obnoxious behaviour, which leads to alienation, that leads to depression and feeling closed off from support, and eventually can lead to suicide. However, this book shows us that we all have a possible role, big or small, in helping someone from suicide. It shows the importance of human compassion and makes us all question our past actions and transgressions. And if you feel, at the end, like this wasn't your experience, then I feel eternally sorry.

I am not a religious zealot, nor do I own a soap box that I perch on, I am just a regular person who hopes that I did not commit something as vile as the characters in this book. I hope because I am human, and being human I will err and there is nothing I can do about that. Just hope that I didn't not err to greatly, and never ended up on any one's list of why they killed themselves.

I Hunt Killers By Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)



Okay, where to begin?  Well I would like to first start out by saying that when I was around 16 or so I discovered a particular website that peeked my deep dark interest of murder (www.crimelibrary.com).  I would like to state for the record, that everyone is interested in death, because (hello!?!?!) we are all going to die.  I am not so much interested in death, but in what motivates human beings to bring about death, in an untimely and unnatural manner.  One last point I would like to state is that out of all the stories in the Bible the most I think about and quote (loosely of course) is the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder. 
Anyway, after stumbling upon the website, I devoured as many stories as possible about notorious murders and serial killers.  On occasion I look at the stupid crimes, because they are hilarious in a non-I-am-demented kinda way. I was completely addicted to finding the quirks in the the stories of each murderer and loved reading the mistakes that led to their downfall.  Billy Dent is right, when a killer gets caught it's on purpose.  Too many simple things lead to the arrest of notorious and albeit veteran killers.  <u>I Hunt Killers</u> does for me what www.crimelibrary.com did for me so many years ago. 
I don't shy way from gruesome things, nor do I sit around and act completely crazy; I just like puzzles and interesting things that deal with the human condition,which isn't always pretty.  Jazz, is like my guilty pleasure sharing bff.  He knows everything anyone needs to ever know about the hunt, the techniques, the urges because his father coached him.  He also has to deal with asking himself if it is healthy to be overloaded with curiosity and knowledge on serial killers, much like I felt when I was younger. "Is this creepy that I spend my time reading about murders?" I've even been accused (I use this term very loosely)watching too many shows on murderers, because I am planning to be one (totally not true.) 
I like the way Lyga took the idea of this young person, growing up with a serial killer for a father and basically made it a natural evolution of Jazz's overall character, in the most unnatural way.  I say unnatural because most people are inclined to believe that raised in a similar situation a "normal" child would be broken in character or even try to emulate their parent.  Lyga was like "Nope, Jazz is going to have issues, but he's not stupid and he's going to be a survivor. Will he survive himself? I don't know but shoot I am going to make this an interesting ride!" That's one of the main reasons why I like Jazz.  He's smart and inclined to think like a killer, he has to deal with his "dark passenger" and he really wants to save people because of what he wasn't capable to do for his father's victims.  He's effed up for sure and that is very relate able. 
IF you like Dexter, think of this as a young Dexter growing up with a serial killer for a dad, instead of a nice cop (albeit one who cheats on his wife).  This young Dexter still does not have a clear calling, except that he knows he has a dark passenger and that he will do anything to keep it from taking control!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Beta (Annex, #1)

"Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.
Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bio engineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to.
At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia's mind?
If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happiness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.
The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, "Beta "is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world."- Goodreads.com

Beta is the first novel of the series "Annex" by Rachel Cohn.  I have not read many of the novels that have made Cohn a success to the general public (i.e. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and the Cyd Charisse Series).  Before reading this book I read a few Goodreads reviews and became nervous, nothing like being pumped to read a new book, get it as a galley and then read terrible things about the story/characters/writing/author.  I am sure those opinions are warranted; however, it makes readers nervous.  I almost got rid of Beta from my TBR list, but clearly that didn't happen. 

SO my journey into Beta-world was... interesting.  I think that at first it was difficult to understand why Elysia existed, why this island existed, and where was the rest of the world in conjunction to this Utopian island.  This is because Cohn just jumps to Elysia and how she is the "first" successful Beta (teenage clone/driod... apparently teenagers are volatile with the whole hormone thing and so they do not make a successful clone/droid).  As the story progress, glimpse of answers to the how and why this Utopian world exists and why it's so God awful expensive.

It took awhile to find the corruption in this book, obviously it is a series and Cohn ends the book in a cliff hanger... so nicely done because I will be reading the second book to figure W.T.F is going on here!  I won't say that the story is ingenious, because many times I thought "I am reading The Host... no wait is this some other YA novel."  I could see many similarities to books that I have already read, and that frustrated me; however, towards the end I was like "Nooo She Ditin!"  For those few moments I saw that perhaps I don't quite understand what Cohn is going to do with the characters. 

The end helps, there are a lot of twists and turns that are offered for those readers looking for excitement; however, there is recreational use of drugs and flippant sex also there is the whole "Clones/droids are not good enough to be considered as having rights and they aren't people, but we can take advantage of their bodies for our own pleasures...SWEET (NOT!)."  There are undercurrents to the ideas of right and violations of rights in this book, so I cannot completely knock it for it's relevance and for trying to have a message... but you have to have an open mind about it. 

I know there is not enough substance about the story in my review but I feel that right now all I could say is: there is a girl MC who is a genetically made clone of a dead girl, who is bought by one of the rich families on the island to entertain them.  She hangs out with her "siblings" and their friends.  Meets a boy, falls for said boy (even though she is having flashbacks of her First's love), said boy had an accident a year ago... he is acting weird, flashback lover some how is on the island, girl starts experiencing human emotions and experiences, girl gets abused by the system and her "family", girl runs away, girl who is a clone might not be just a clone... but human? Right! That's what I thought... a "No She Ditin" moment!

My advice, stop comparing YA novels, or all fiction work to the classics... because a book cannot become a classic the day it is published, it becomes a classic due to it's perseverance and relevance to the test of time (key word...TIME).  Have FUN with the book, don't judge it until the last sentence and then you can either have a moment like I did "What?!?! Is she crazy? Now I have to wait to see what that was all about... and what do you mean the clone/non-human is...? NO. SHE. DITIN!" Or  you can say "Eh, this was crap..." It's up to you.


I gave Beta a 3/5 stars because it can be better, there is room for improvement, similarities to other stories are too uncanny; however, there are surprises that make you think!

This book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley.com.  No money was exchange for this review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)

The Assassin's Curse is a great add to the YA novels that have been launched over the past decade and a half.  A lot of the YA novels have some parts romance and some parts supernatural/myth woven into them, and this novel is no exception. 

We begin this journey with PIRATES! That's right pirates.  As soon as Ananna of the Tanarau clan is introduced I was hooked.  She is betroth to a handsome son of another pirate clan, in hopes to create an allying bond; however, after meeting this person Ananna is too disappointed.  She wants to command her own ship and crew (of course this is not possible since she is a girl and the pirate clans do not favor women in leadership roles.)  Too annoyed with the situation, she runs out on him and the union to be.  Here enters... the real conflict.

After disgracing her clan and the clan of her suitor, his family sends out an assassin to take care of her (b/c why not right?)  Ananna must now use proverbial words from wizards and her own common sense to survive, except something happens that she or anyone else could not have foreseen.

Enter Naji, the assassin.  He is amazing at what he does and almost succeeds, but when Ananna fails to run away from his attacks and helps him from a snake attack (that would have killed him) both become tied to each other.  Naji must now serve and protect Ananna no matter what! (This is the curse).  The rest of the book follows the two of them trying to break the curse and separate from each other's hold (if Ananna is away from Naji too long intense suffering is placed upon him.)  During their journey for separation they encounter good wizards and bad ones... apparently there is battle going on, connected to people like the assassin.  Ananna's suitor also makes a reappearance that will make you laugh and also wince. 

 I loved the chemistry between Naji and Ananna.  The witty conversations and one liners were refreshing, too.  I'm not too sure yet how the wizards are going to attack them in the next installments to come but it is safe to assume that this strong heroin and her assassin will be ready to take it on, all the while bickering with each other.  This was such a breath of fresh air, and the back drop of the middle east is perfect (especially if you are tired of the supernatural just lurking in people's high school!)


***NOTE: Copy of this book is provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.
I'm not paid for writing reviews.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor


What I Didn't Say


This was such a great story! Keary Taylor did a great job writing about consequences, risks and love. We meet Jake Hayes, one of 7 children in the Hayes family. During his freshmen year of HS he meets Samantha Shay and falls completely in love with her. For the next 3 years he only has eyes for Samantha, but no nerve to reach out to her.

Unfortunately, in their senior year of high school, after a victorious Homecoming Game Jake and his teammates gather for a party full of drinks and drugs. During the night, after being ripped by his two main BFs on how he doesn't have enough courage to tell Samantha, they decide to drive to her house. Of course being drunk and high they think this is the perfect thing to do, so they pile into a car and head to her home, on their way they are involved in a car accident. Both of his friends Carter and Rain are fine, but Jake takes the worst of it, he loses his vocal cords. Now facing the fact that he will never be able to speak, Jake realizes that he will never be able to tell Samantha what he wanted to say to her that night (Hence title: What I Didn’t Say).

The story then unfolds to how Jake’s dreams have to be changed and also how Samantha now spends more time with him, teaching him ASL (American Sign Language) during his period 3 class. Samantha has been keeping a secret since August, and when I realized there was something she was hiding, I almost did a face palm, thinking this was going to be overkill for bad luck; however, I will say that her situation is different and helps Jake learn to cope with his negative feelings after the accident. Samantha and Jake’s story is one to remember especially since there are so many lessons involved (consequences of drinking and driving; consequences of keeping silent; risking to open up to someone; risking to be different and to love that difference; risking your heart; learning to love and trust; accepting that someone or your community loves you.)

Definitely 4 stars!





***NOTE: Copy of this book is provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.
I'm not paid for writing reviews.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)

"No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again."



Pushing the Limits was… okay.  I don’t mean it in a condescending manner, if I was 14-18 years old I would love the story of Echo and Noah, but as a 24 year old, who has had a mature relationship and has not had to deal with the craziness these two characters had to deal with personally, I feel like this book tried to much and wasn’t enough.  Both characters have a tough go at life and have not personally dealt with anything emotionally or mentally, this book did not completely give way to their journey; however, they are 17 years old and the adults in their life kind of suck… until the last 80 pages or so.  It was a good effort and there were a lot of things I liked.  I did not fall in love with Noah and I didn’t think Echo was particularly a strong character but I love them both and understand the choices they have made… they are also 17-18 so I’m sure they have time to grow up… in make believe world of course.  There were moments when I thought their individual stories would tear me up, but I think the author superficially covered Bi-polar and accidental arson.  It’s okay though, because the writing wasn’t terrible and the characters were snarky… and I like snarky!
***NOTE: Copy of this book is provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.
I'm not paid for writing reviews.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tiger's Destiny (Tiger Saga #4) by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Destiny (The Tiger Saga, #4)


I don't think this is a review, more of a rant... so be forewarned.

I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES

YA and love triangles are like the straw that breaks the camel's back for me in many different books that I have read. Sometimes I can really love the concept of the book and the characters and then Goddamnit a trifecta of stupid love choices is created. WHY?!?!? That's not love. IF you love Boy A completely and only really love some qualities of Boy B, what the F*&^ are you doing thinking there is a choice?!

Do have to say that sometimes love triangles work. For instance, in Carrie Jones Need series I completely admired the way the love triangle worked. I really fell for Nick and Astley for Zara. I understood that she loved Nick, unfortunately Nick made the choice to complete push Zara away when she needed him the most, because he disliked her "Pixiness." Who was there during her time of need was Astley, and even though she had some unresovled feelings for Nick she realized that Astley deserved her love as much she deserved the acceptance of her human and pixie nature from him. THAT'S HOW YOU DO A LOVE TRIANGLE. Not how it was in this book. "I can't live without brother A so I will marry brother B...." ummm what?!?!?! One of the worst female characters yet, no character development at all for Kelsey.

I do have to say that I enjoyed the character development of Kishan.. He matured, HOORAY! As for Ren, eh. He's stagnant, much like Kelsey. Does that mean they are meant to be, well just find out by reading or we can all realize there was never a love triangle but mainly a weak woman who couldn't face the choice of loving the one that loves you and you cannot live without. I also loved how heart breaking the last sacrifice was (I just don't like him being used during the whole book by Kelsey). Boy did I cry. I don't want to discourage readers from this book because of the sensless love triangle, but the last sacrifice that is what makes this book a 3 star instead of an aggrevaited 2 star. The aggrevation is worth the last 60 pages or so.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Slammed by Colleen Hoover


Slammed by Colleen Hoover   Slammed is a unique concept but lacking in some departments that it makes the novel a guilty pleasure.  I think there was not enough depth in some the situations that occurred; however, after reading books that just have broken my heart i.e. The Storyteller (no… I’m not letting it go… I’m still pretty traumatized… le sigh), I needed a story that ended in a perfectly wrapped present.  I also found it intriguing that in most YA novels I fall for the 2nd option because everyone else falls straight for the 1st awesome guy the MC likes, and I will just plainly say they make me too wary to fall for them.  That was not the case for Will, even Layken was trying to find ways to diminish how awesome and loving he really is.  But I have gotten ahead of myself…
Slammed is about a young girl (18) whose father has recently passed.  Layken is no longer a resident of Texas.  After her father’s passing it is up to her mother to pay the bills.  Unfortunately her mother cannot support her 2 children and pay the bills, this leads to the family moving to Michigan.  As soon as they arrive to their new destination Layken meets Will.  And, literally, all of a sudden she’s falling for him!  And, really so did I!  What I love about this insta-love is that you don’t fall in love with Will because he’s a vampire or some other superhuman, but because he is broken and broken similarly like Layken. 
Will introduces Layken to the world of Slam, an emotional soul baring poetry performance at the local club… yes Will is that perfect that not only is he hot, strong, and smart but he writes poetry because why not make every guy the reader will meet 2nd best? ;)  I wish I can divulge some more on this story because everything in it kept me somewhat on my toes; however, I don’t want to ruin it.  All you need to know is that this book is about: life, death, love, trust, obligations, responsibilities, ethics, friendship and family. 
I really loved Layken’s poem “Mean.”  Ladies if the guy you love has ever hurt you or just frustrated you to the point of heartbreak…  “Mean” can be very cathartic! I give this book a 4, not because it’s compatible with the likes of Tolstoy, Faulkner or Hemmingway, but simply because the story was just instant gratification… there’s tears and heartbreak but it’s still wrapped in a pretty bow.  Sometimes we need the pretty bow!


***NOTE: Copy of this book is provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.
I'm not paid for writing reviews.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)


"Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love."  And so begins the tale of the Raven Boys.  Maggie Stiefvater has roped me into her web of stories from Mercy Falls trilogy to Scorpio Race to Books of Faerie trilogy; however, in Raven Boys is completely different and completely Maggie. 

The reader is introduced to Blue Sargent, daughter of the local psychic and completely devoid of any psychic ability, except that she can make others' energy stronger, she's like an antenna.  Thrust into this world of Virgina old money and magic, the reader learns of the Aglionby Prep School for all the old money sons.  Not only do we have the dynamic of the Southern blue blood versus the everyday person, but also MAGIC!!! 

Our main characters are Gansey (old money/leader of group/obsessed with Ley Lines), Adam ("white trash" trying to get a better life), Ronan (old money/shark like), Noah ("smudgy"/never hungry/cold hands/shy) and finally Blue (will kill her true love with a kiss/antenna for psychic energy/the missing link to the group.)  Blue unwittingly meets Gansey in the cemetery during St. Mark's night, where the soon to be deceased march along and Blue's mother or aunt record the names of those that will pass away in the up coming year.  This creates a catalytic journey in figuring out if Blue has something to do with Gansey's death or if there is something bigger going on. 

The book was full of past/future betrayals, mystery of the Ley Lines (magic lines through the earth that have a other worldliness about them.), bonds of friendships, nervousness of true love and hope for absolution.  I don't think there is a person out there that can write a great review of this book without giving something away, because Maggie did a wonderful job of weaving in every character to each other/ to other past actions and finally to the story of Glendower, which is the basis of what is driving Gansey. 

All you need to know is that this is one loopy, bumpy ride of 4 friends looking for the lost King Glendower's body in Virgina.  These four friends become close to Blue and as it turns out not everyone in their town is as innocent as they seem and not all the characters really know each other's darkest secrets (except maybe Gansey and Blue)!

5 stars!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

League of Strays


League of Strays is your modern day psychological thriller for YA readers.  While that seems like a loaded statement, League of Strays also  had some missed opportunities.  

In the beginning the reader is introduced to Charlotte, your average boring good girl senior, who happens to be new in town.  She is on her way to a clandestine meeting in the woods.  Charlotte is not the only one that has received an invite.  Soon she meets up  with the class valedictorian (Nora) and and the resident bad chick with a bad attitude (Zoe).  The person that called to order this first meeting of the League of Strays is mysterious Kade, along with his best-friend Richy.  Kade explains that they are all social misfits.  That they have been preyed and hassled for their whole lives for no reason and frankly it is time to get payback.  

 The minute I started to read this book I decided to look at the cover on Goodreads.com  unfortunately I just saw a whole bunch of reviews about how this book deals with the glorification of bullying and also gay bashing; however, that was not my experience at all.  I for one read and watch documentaries about famous killers, cult leaders and also child killers, so Kade immediately started to glow neon colors when I read some of his initial remarks and also Charlotte's perception of him.  The minute he discloses that he has been "profiling" this group I already know he's psychotic.  For those that believe this book to be a glorification of bullying, look at Charles Manson.  He was able to rally young people to do horrible things.  So when that is on the news or someone writes about it, is it glorification?  I do not want to give away the ending but nothing that happens shows that an eye for eye is the best thing to do and that you will be a hero for bullying your tormentors. 

 Actually, I liked this book because it shows how misfits can ban together for the common goal of destroying those that they feel deserve it.  It shows society how this occurs and ultimately Goodreads.com members have given an example by going ballistic on the author.  There is also the point that the author did not make this a lesson to be learned book but more of an observation of what would occur if you or any other person made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, like the characters of this novel.  Honestly the minute they ban together how are you suppose to get to a rainbow at the end?  Just going along with Kade's ideas puts a damper on happy endings.

To comment on the gay bashing scene:  I have seen real gay bashing, I have read and learned about real gay bashing that has occurred since at least 1970s and they are not pretty, never will be; however, it is a common thing that occurs in life, high school or other wise.  Why should the author not write about it, not include it in the many plans in getting back those that bully gays?  I don't think she wrote the scene and was like "Hahaha I hate gays!"  Nope I think her characters took route to things that the norm wouldn't, that maybe she would never think of or others that have been tormented think of doing.  The characters were misguided and ridiculous, which makes me want to point out that not everyone that is bullied kills themselves, sometimes they kill others or torment them.  This book is about the latter.

Comments on Characters:  I am still a supporter of this book just because some people don't know how to read a book and then have a real educated opinion; however, the characters lack... character.  Charlotte doesn't develop a bad bone until the end and no one wants to get Kade mad.  I can understand the psychology that supports this behavior from the other members but Charlotte and Nora lacked conviction.  Kade was well done, he is one scary MOFO and believable as a sociopath.

I would recommend this to people with open minds.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alchemy by K.J. Wignall

Alchemy (Mercian Trilogy, #2)

By the end of the first book, Blood, we know that Will is not being chased around by just the vampire world, but there is also a sorcerer out there looking for Will, but why?  Alchemy is the story of Wyndham and his connection with Will.  Like the first book there is break in perspectives, but unlike the first book this break is between 3rd person and Wyndham. 

Wyndham is out destroy the true evil that Will represents and for the past 2 or 3 centuries he has been collecting vampires and experimenting on them.  His main goal is to kill Will and stop a powerful prophecy from manifesting.  Alchemy is full of adventure and killing. 

Eloise is now back at a school, which happens to be property of the Earl of Mercia.  Will has taken residence there under a closed portion of the property.  Unfortunately they cannot just wander about looking for clues to Will's existence, because Wyndham has taken on a ward and placed him at the elite school to spy on Will.  As the book progresses there are more spies in the lives of Will and Eloise, and they must battle with the thoughts of betrayal in order to remain safe together. 

For  some reason, either the plot or the writing has gotten better, this book was so much better than the first.  When I say it's full of action, I mean it.  There is always an attack on the horizon and plenty of creepy ghosts, but not to mention we, and Will, finally meet other vampires.  Eloise's faith in Will is rocked and tested by the sorcerer, he gave her a glimpse of what would become of Will if the prophecy manifested itself, and for a moment that scares reality back in to the situation for Eloise.  Thankfully Will is convincing of wanting to be of help and protection of her and Eloise's faith in Will's good side returns.  There are also unlikely alliances that make this sequel great and set up the expectations for the next book in this series.  One of the major things that occur, which would not be a spoiler, is that after a reaction from the vampire Queen, Will and Eloise are convinced that there is two parts to the prophecy and that they have only been hearing of the worst case scenario, which doesn't fit in Eloise's part.  What could the other side of the coin look like?

At the end of this book I felt that Wyndham represented all the "good guys" that really just use evil to accomplish the "good" they are doing.  His experiments and lack of understanding leads me to believe him a zealot, but of unfounded reasons... and I think he sees that too, but it is to too late for him to change.  Wyndham also does something incredibly stupid at the end that will shape what comes next in the life of Will and Eloise.


Blood by K.J. Wignall

Blood (Mercian Trilogy #1)

I had put Blood on my TBR shelf but I usually clean through my shelves and dump anything below 3.5 stars... it's not a good system but it's mine.  The reason I end up putting Blood back on my TBR shelf is because I received the sequel as a Galley.  Boy, was that the best change of mind ever!

I love Blood, unlike most YA vampire books this one stays true to darkness, much like Dracula and Interview with a Vampire.  Blood starts off with old bold print, that signifies we are being addressed by William of Mercia, the MC and also vampire in this novel.  What is different than most YA novels is that Will is one of a kind, or at least that is how he lives.  For the past 8 or 9 centuries will has been alone, with no other vampire to share secrets or trade information on how to be a vampire. At this particular point in Will's life it is the 21st century and he has just awoken from a 20 plus year sleep.  (Vampires in this world sleep or hibernate for long periods and then feed off of young blood and will be sustained for months.)  As what he is accustomed to, Will goes out looking for someone to prey on.  What he finds is a world full of missteps.  His victim knows who Will is and even better tells Will the name of the one that asked for him to be sired.  Jazz, the victim also tells Will that he needs this particular girl and that the girl needs him.

After finishing off with his victim Will bumps into Eloise, the girl Jazz spoke about in his brief encounter and in his writings.  Will and Eloise (a runaway) band together to figure out Will's destiny and hers.  This leads them on a trial full of church's, libraries, tombs and estates.  What Will needs to know is why he was made into a vampire, why his right as Earl of Mercia was taken from him and what is Eloise's role?

Eloise, the run away, takes to Will, because frankly she is open minded and Gothic so that makes it okay.  Anyway... Eloise is also used as bait for Will seeing as he has a sweet spot for her, if only he can just kiss her with out wanting to devour her... so they kiss like once, but it's adorable.  Eloise is the rope that tethers Will to this world, because if it weren't for him protecting her he would just go on a suicide mission to find the "Suspended King" and find out what he has to do with the 4 vampire kings. 

The book is written in 3rd person but occasionally it switches to Will's perspective (notice the bold typeface).  It's not a spectacular book but I think it keeps the idea that Will is a monster and that Eloise and anyone that wants to be around him will have to accept that part of him.  Granted it helps that Eloise also encourages him not to give up on the good parts of himself. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Send by Patty Blount




Patty Blount's novel Send is a poignant story.  I don't think I can pick a better word to describe this story, unless you count "bittersweet."  This story does not end in a neat bow, nor does it have a ridiculously happy or sad ending.  Send is about the how every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  It's about how one choice can mark and change the course of your future, but it is also about forgiveness and self-acceptance.

The beginning of Send we meet Daniel at the front of his new school on his first day.  He is witnessing a typical "Jock" harrassing a scrawny "Nerd".  After battling with his inner self (Kenny) Dan decides to interven.  This becomes a common theme to his life.  Dan is constantly at the rescue, and he tries so hard to make sure no one will be tortured if he can help it.  During all this the reader becomes aware that Dan committed a crime, that he went to Juvie and was harrassed like the scrawny kid (Brandon), and that Daniel is not his real name. 

 As the book progresses so many little puzzle pieces fall into place.  At his new school no one knows who he is and what he did when he was 13.  Kenny is the person living within him and sometimes Kenny will show up in Dan's back seat or sitting next to him.  Kenny is 13 and Kenny is Dan's crutch/falling grace/alter ego/sickness/self-hatred.  No one knows about Kenny and that Dan has active conversations with Kenny.  This is an important character and a piece of Dan that shows the readers how desperate he has become because of the fallout of his actions when he was 13.

Julie Murphy is the love/hate/love interest in this book.  Their first meeting did not go well because Julie watched the fight involving Jock (Jeff) and Nerd (Brandon) and did nothing to stop it, so it was up to Dan to step in, with his jaw.  As you read you notice there is something Julie is hiding and while you know Dan is hiding something, he never talks about it, until the end.  All the reader knows is that at age 13 Dan hit send and someone died, he went to court, later to Juvie and 5 years later is when we meet him.  What Julie is hiding is pain.  She hurts because her brother committed suicide when she was 13, her father is obssessed with finding the boy who he thinks killed him.  As time progresses Julie and Dan get close and share certain parts of their story, but their complete stories don't come out until the end.

This is such a complex book that Blount has woven.  Lies, perceptions, and truths all come to head in this great story of mistakes, vengance, love and hate, and forgiveness.  Even though you might think you know what is going on and how these stories and lies are connected, nothing will prepare you for what happens at the end.

5 stars!