Monday, August 18, 2014

Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2)
 
“Your life is not your own, Vi,” she said.  “Don’t you know that? It belongs to the people who love you.  So you need to take better care of it.”

Between the Spark and the Burn

 

Between the Spark and the Burn picks up where we left Violet.  River is gone, her parents are back, and things seem to be gathering dust again.  Violet is in an obvious funk since River left with Brodie, and Neely is trying to find his brother while keeping secrets of his own.  Violet, Neely, and some of the old gang get together at first to find River; however, Violet and Neely are separated from Luke and Sunshine early on and will go together from town to town looking for River.  Following odd tales, tabloids, and the radio Violet and Neely eventually find River’s location, but what they don’t expect to find is a Sea God, a boy with burning hair and a sweet disposition, twists and turns that lead to Brodie, and love.  I know it’s not cool to have a love triangle (I hate them myself), but in this book it worked.  Violet doesn’t seem to be comparing the two and she’s not using the two, if anything they are all using each other for the sake of River.  I am really curious to find out what happens in the next book, because frankly s*&^ just got real.  The end left me hopeful and hopeless.   I love this series and this author because she keeps an air of cool interest, splashed around in beautiful prose.  It is hard to have a writer both embody the sublime in their descriptions and in their diction.  Another rare gem to add to the YA collection, with a crazy cast of characters, even crazier shenanigans, and all set in eerily beautiful rare towns. 

4 out 5 stars.  Thank You Edelweiss!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Random by Tom Leveen

Random

Random by Tom Leveen is a strangely compelling idea, with not such a great execution.  Set in the span of a night, Tori receives a random phone call.  She doesn’t know the caller, it was all by chance, but the caller is desperate and he connected with Tori.   Tori doesn’t have time for this, she needs to clear her head and get ready to go on trial for murder, and her Facebook page is beyond incriminating.  The problem is, the first person who reached out to her killed himself (why she’s on trial), and the second person to reach out to her needs to be talked off the cliff before he jumps.  Dealing with the death that she might have caused, and dealing with a stranger who needs help are more than what Tori can handle, but does she want another death on her conscious? 

This was a terribly good idea.  I like when writers look at an event through different eyes.  Most of the time bullying stories are told from the victim’s perspective or close relation of the victim; however, this story is told in through the bully’s perspective.  A huge challenge for most people to understand is that adolescents are the most dangerous people, due to the fact that they do not know right from wrong all day.  I don’t want to say that parents or others do not teach them, but most if not all adolescents learn through doing and seeing.  Coupled with the fact that they are trying to fit in, this can be dangerous as illustrated by Tori’s story.  I appreciated the angle and also the truth behind “sometimes people don’t understand their actions affect others.”  This can be psychologically explained, since teens are thinking about themselves and trying to figure out their role in the world.  What I didn’t appreciate was the execution.  The story was too short; there is no way of really knowing if Tori changes, or if anyone really learns a lesson.  I also did not like the fact that people felt the need to bully a bully.  I get tough love, I get teaching a lesson, I don’t get why people can feel superior enough to bring someone else down just based on that person’s actions, especially when those teaching the lesson are morally right and also teenagers.  Where were the parents?  Why didn’t those that wanted to teach Tori a lesson team up with the parents or adults to show that this was a lesson learned, instead I felt it was for self-serving reasons.  Not a terrible story, just very superficial and at times frustrating. 

3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the Well

“We are the fates that people fear to become.  We are what happens to good persons and bad persons and to everyone in between.  Murdereddeads live in storms without seasons, in time without flux.  We do not go because people do not let us go.”


The Girl in the Well by Rin Chupeco is the story of two ghosts, a boy with tattoos, and a Japanese folk tale of horror.  The girl in the well is said to have lived a long time ago, in the days of the samurai.  She was a dutiful servant but was in love with another/She was in love with her master, and depending on what version you read her master took one of the ten tablets in her care in order to make her surrender to him/she pretended to lose one in order to test his love for her, he then beat her until she agreed to sleep with him/ as punishment for her lie, and then unsatisfied the master throws her down the well and she breaks her neck: forever gazing at the world upside down and with a twisted neck.  She is the ghost that rises from the well, she is the ghost that screams bloody murder, and she is the ghost that kills those who do wrong.  The reader is introduced to the ghost at first and we learn that she know finds retribution for children who have been murdered, by murdering the culprits and in turn releasing the spirits of innocent children attached to their murderers; we follow her through the story until she meets the tattooed boy, also known as Tarquin, who appears to have a malignant spirit that follows him around.  Soon Tark begins to notice her, his cousin begins to notice her, and she is no longer a vengeful ghost, she becomes the woman in white, while the entity that is poisoning Tark is known as the woman in black. 

This was such a creepy, horrific story.  If you have seen Ringu, or The Ring, then you are familiar with the girl in the well.  Using Japanese folklore really amps up the horror in this story, since to me, Japan happens to do a wonderful job freaking the daylights out of people.  The woman in white is not a bad spirit to innocent people, but she is scary in her own right, and the woman in black is just awful.  There are gruesome scenes, gruesome crimes committed, and ancient rituals to explore in this fast paced novel about tragedy, malice, and redemption.  If you like horror, but not supernatural whimsy (which I thought was the “horror” description for this book), and you wouldn’t mind some culture in your life I suggest picking up this book.

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss.

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan


The Islands at the End of the World


“The president’s voice is strong.  ‘My fellow Americans, and my fellow citizens around the globe: I apologize for the deceptions of the past twenty-four hours.  Well-intentioned advisors have counseled me to keep secret what we’ve recently learned.  My conscience and my heart will not allow that.  I have made the determination that you have a right to know about the extraordinary—”

The flat screen turns blue.  A small text box bounces about the monitor: Weak or no signal.”

Leilani is your typical teenage girl living in Hawaii with her parents and brother.  The only thing not typical about Leilani is that she is epileptic.  This has caused her to be an outsider in social groups (along with being raised on the mainland and being half Hawaiian) and also to feel bad about certain things she cannot do, like driving.  Other than that, she lives a pretty normal life.  Her father and she are leaving their island to go to another in order to get into an epileptic drug study.  Once they leave her mother, brother and grandfather at home strange things begin to happen.  First it was a meteor that struck down and created a minor tsunami, secondly Leilani has been having odd dreams of times past before humans, and finally all satellites and communication devices are down, even microwaves stop working.  Stuck on the wrong island, Leilani and her father fight their way through hysteria, internment camps, and really, really bad people.  What happens when the apocalypse begins, but you are cut off from a main land or continent?  What will Leilani do when her medicine runs out?  Why does she keep dreaming during her fits?  Are her mom, brother, and grandfather okay?

The Islands at the End of the World is a fascinating look at one of the most popular themes in YA right now.  Almost every other book (hyperbole, people, hyperbole) in YA is a dystopian/apocalypse story that questions how we will cope if things go bad.  What can we do when all the technology that we rely on is wiped away, when life as we know it is changed completely?  All these novels take place on American main land ground, characters end up traveling crazy distances to reach resolutions to their stories; however, Leilani must travel from island to island to reach her home, and furthermore she and everyone else are cut off from the rest of the world.  They do not know how everyone else is fairing.  On top of this theme there is also the element of Hawaiian folklore/culture and aliens… that’s right I said aliens or some extra-terrestrial beings.  I just found the story intriguing and also a breath of fresh air to be introduced to Hawaiian folklore, and also the perspective of islanders about the end of the world.  This book also does not lack in humor: “I thought you didn’t believe in violence.”  “I never believed in Armageddon, either, but guess what?”  “It believed in you?”  Cannot wait to read the next book, pick this book up ASAP!

4.5 stars out of 5.  Thanks Edelweiss.
 

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)
 
Edith has always been “the dog” at school.  The butt of all the popular crowd’s jokes and after one really humiliating incident she has no reason to keep living.  She wants to end her life, and in turn end her misery.  At the moment of her suicide, a beautiful guy shows up and tells her that she has another option.  He can give her 3 favors, in return for 3 favors she will owe his benefactors.  You see, this isn’t a regular devil’s wager, this is a game that immortals are playing, and the stakes are high.  Edith decides to take him up on his offer, and becomes a stunning beauty, who then plans to take revenge on the in-crowd for their past sins against her.  But soon, Edith will learn that when you make a devil’s wager, you are no longer in control.  The in-crowd begins to drop like flies, and Edith doesn’t know if it is her that is doing it or if it is the mysterious Kian, who she is falling for but cannot fully trust.

This was a very confusing first book for a series; however, it wasn’t that difficult to follow the whole idea of a game being played by immortals, using mortals.  I don’t like Edith, whatsoever because she embodies the selfishness and self-centeredness that she hated about her abusers.  All her anxieties melt and all of a sudden she’s a certified mean girl… I mean, really? ANNNNNNNNNDDDD we have a stalker-Cullen like in Kian.  He has been following Edith for god only knows how long, he was there during the “incident” and all this girl can do is spiral down the love hole.  I don’t hate this book, I don’t even dislike it, but it was not my favorite.  I want to know what happens next, but at the same time it ended with a baby cliffy, not a whopping one that will keep me on my toes until the next.  I say try it, there is some funny banter occasionally and it’s not terrible.

 

3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks NetGalley.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

Fiendish



“Every little stitch and seam told me I was changing, leaving behind my old, baby self… then the voice would rise up in my ear, getting louder, echoing around me.  Hold still and sleep.  It was easier to turn toward it, to follow it down into a jumble of dreams—hills and creeks and hollows.  Trees to climb, fields going on forever.  I fell headfirst into a sinkhole of pretty things, and the world inside your eyelids is just as big as the one outside.” 


Brenna Yovanoff creates another fascinating YA gothic paranormal story with Fiendish.  Clementine remembers going into the garden to fetch a tomato for her mother.  She remembers that there was something off about the tomato, it was a stone.  She remembers closing her eyes, and following the instructions to hold still and sleep, but always conscious, always thinking.   Always alone, waiting, until one day she hears voices and is rescued from her cellar with her eyes sewn shut, still wearing her childhood frock.  Clementine is saved by Eric Fisher, but was she saved or did he unleash a threat on to the town that had been locked up?  Soon questions like that one begin to pile up, because whatever happened years ago, the night Clementine was hidden away, is happening again. Delving deeper in order to understand what happened those years ago will only stir the pot more, and soon Clementine and her rag tag group of friends and Fisher will be called to pay the price for what they are.  It’s not always easy being an outsider, especially when there are mysteries and unexplainable things arising.  With swamp people known as Fiends, magical powers, and obvious hate crimes this is another stunning story of the outcasts in society from the author of The Replacement, The Space Between, and Paper Valentine. 

 

4 out of 5 stars.  Thank you Edelweiss!

The Wonder: Queen of Hearts Saga Book #2 by Colleen Oakes


The Wonder (Queen of Hearts, #2)


"If she could not quench the fire burning within her, she would set Wonderland ablaze."

Ahhh!  Yes, this was such an awesome 2nd book!  Dinah has escaped her father's clutches, leaving Wardley behind.  Lost in the Twisted Woods with Morte, Dinah is barely surviving, and her father is searching for her with his best trackers.  Soon betrayal is met with allegiance, when one of the best trackers, a spade named Sir Gorrann, captures Dinah and proposes taking down the King.  With a new goal in mind, a protector she is not sure she trusts, and thoughts of Wardley to keep her warm Dinah sets out to rescue Wonderland, rescue herself, and destroy the tyrant she has called father.  Secrets, hidden agendas, the caterpillar, and serious disappointments are in store for the storybook's favorite Red Queen.  Sometimes people are born bad, and other times it is the people around them that make them bad.

Cannot wait until the next book, it will definitely be bloodier and angrier.

4 out 5 stars.  Thanks Netgalley!