Monday, April 29, 2013

Amber House

Amber House is a YA supernatural novel by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed.

Arriving at the sprawling, centuries old Amber House in Maryland for the first time to attend a funeral for her grandmother, whom she barely knew or met, Sarah Parsons can’t help but be awestruck. It’s magnificent, and it’s a part of her family’s legacy that apparently her mother has no interest in whatsoever.

Yet with help from her sweet baby brother Sam, he and Sarah convince their mom to let them stay at Amber House as she works to sell it for the best price possible.

There are mazes to get lost in, revelations to be found, and so many places to explore. Jackson, an enigmatic boy her age that knew her grandmother far better than she, tells tales of hidden diamonds and leads a hunt for them in their downtime.

Meanwhile, Sarah’s not minding the company as she grows closer to handsome, wealthy Richard who introduces Sarah to a life of society functions and privilege.

However, it doesn’t take long before Sarah begins to have visions at Amber House. Glimpses of the past, some good, some terrible. And she’s starting to wonder if there’s a reason she’s seeing these things, besides possibly being crazy…

Holy Toledo, this was excellent!!! I LOVED Amber House!!!

This was a perfect, spooky, “haunted house” novel with very well-written, likable lead! Sarah is the type of teen girl character I love – she has hobbies, opinions, and self-respect. She’s not whiny, mean, or hateful. Her faults are believable and make her real. The fact that she adores her autistic little brother only helps make her awesome!

Another thing I felt was fantastic about Amber House – the secondary characters! Complex, mysterious, three-dimensional, and giving further depth to the story, I was extremely impressed!

Whether haunted, magical, or what have you – Amber House is infused with so much family history, secrets, and supernatural energy that it vibrates with intrigue! There’s humor, thrills, chills, romance, and a level of family relations that is done so well – it’s kind of the whole package!

An increasingly suspenseful vibe runs through this intelligent, gothic, absorbing thriller, and with shocks, twists and romance, I was a happy camper!

Apparently this is to be a trilogy, and with an end like Amber House gave, I’m glad! The next book is to be called Neverwas, but sadly I don’t know when it’s going to be released.

Once you read Amber House, I think you’ll agree… it needs to be SOON!!!

*Please forgive the exuberance of exclamation points; my enthusiasm got the best of me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mystic City

Mystic City is a YA romance-oriented futuristic fantasy novel by Theo Lawrence.

In the future, Manhattan has been affected by environmental issues and has been essentially held up by mystics, people with special powers and abilities that have come out of hiding. They have assisted in creating the skyscrapers called the Aeries where the rich and powerful live.

Like Aria Rose and her influential, political family.

Yet thought the mystics provide the energy to keep the city pulsing, after a terrorist attack concocted by their kind many years back they have been drained of their powers on a regular basis, and regulated to the Depths, the squalor where the poor live.

All of this is common knowledge to Aria, but on her mind are other things. Such as the fact that she is wildly in love with Thomas Foster, the son of her father’s long held political rival. Such as the fact that their families have shockingly embraced their union and they are now engaged to be married.

Such as the fact that she has no memory of any of it.

They all tell her she overdosed on a mystic drug that has messed with her memory, but no one is giving her a chance to remember Thomas before their wedding day. Their Romeo & Juliet love affair is going to help get the family the votes they need to stay in power in the upcoming election.

But when Aria is with Thomas she feels… nothing. Shouldn’t there be some remnant of her love for him, if she was willing to risk the wrath of her family to be with him?

Then she meets Hunter. Attractive and dangerously rebellious, he’s a mystic that has not been drained of his magical abilities. In him, she has feelings she doesn’t come close to with Thomas.

It’s time to search for the truth…

Shall we all agree that the cover of Mystic City is gorgeous? The shimmering loveliness evokes a grace, mystery; fantasy and romanticism that makes me just want to stare at it! Very nice.

From the get-go, my opinion of the contents behind that dazzling cover, though, were messy. On the one hand, the environment seemed interesting and visually exquisite – despite being, I felt, a bit confusing and jumbled.

Writing wise, a lot of it was telling not showing, at least for the first half. Yet I was constantly intrigued. Aria as our main characters often came across as bland and too familiar-feeling when compared to other girls in YA today, yet there was an addictive air to Mystic City I could not deny.

You see my problem?

I kept feeling pulled in two directions, on the one hand my brain kept telling me that Mystic City had too many recognizable plotlines that trumped the parts of it that were unique, that the novel was unimpressive even as it was weirdly absorbing, and that I couldn’t stop reading it despite my increasing frustration over Aria’s blindness to plot twists that were obvious to me.

Oh, I’m so torn! Obviously, Theo Lawrence did a good job at the romance aspect of it – just in the fact that while part of me was consistently saying “meh” or “blah”, another part of me just HAD to know what was going to happen next.

Maybe there’s a hopeless romantic in me that was swept away by the sweeping forbidden love story aspect? Maybe.

My arguments are moot, because at this point I really do need to read the next book.

How about you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Dragon's Tooth

The Dragon’s Tooth is a middle grade/YA fantasy adventure, and the start of a series called Ashtown Burials, by N. D. Wilson.

Two years ago siblings Cyrus and Antigone’s lives changed completely. After an accident left their father dead and their mother comatose, their older brother Daniel had to leave school to take care of them. To get by, they moved out of their familiar California home into the aged, drooping roadside motel in Lake Michigan their parents owned, in hopes of making some income.

It’s not doing all that well.

Now their lives are about to change completely… again.

An old man with bone tattoos over all his body except for his face arrives, and demands a specific room in the motel. In less than 24 hours, the old man is dead, the motel is in tatters, and Daniel is missing.

Not to mention, Cyrus and Antigone are in possession of strange keys and are being hustled to a secret society called the Order of Brendan, who apparently are explorers that have kept the world’s secrets, protected powerful artifacts, and confined unkillable prisoners for generations.

Somehow, the Smith siblings are tied to this society. They must survive here; thrive here, if they want a chance of finding their brother – and not losing yet another family member…

I loved The Dragon’s Tooth! This is an honest-to-goodness imaginative, magical, exhilarating adventure!

At the beginning, there’s a gloomy, mysterious, eerie air that really pulsates. Even though the characters are young, the tone is more than accessible to readers of all ages – which I, as you probably know by now, adore!

N. D. Wilson has created characters that are complex, humorous, heartbroken, and startlingly real for a middle grade fantasy book – not commonplace or cliché personalities, either. And as we are introduced to the expansive, enigmatic, creepy but thrilling placed called Ashtown, my bibliophile heart soared!

From start to finish I was captivated with The Dragon’s Tooth!!! Glued, enchanted and awed by the adventure, depth, intricate puzzles and fully encompassing story created here. It actually reminded me a little of how it felt to read Harry Potter for the first time, which is extremely rare. As though I was entering a story that knew where it was going, was going to take me on a journey, and really pull my imagination out of reality and into a real-feeling fantasy world! Fantastic!

The Dragon’s Tooth is dark, grim yet quirky, and enthusiastic! Family secrets, magical revelations, impossible quests, and unanswered questions makes this novel a “children’s” book meant to be read by more than children!

Here is an action-packed, heartfelt, funny, surprising, sprawling tale with a robust adventure ambiance. I loved it!

I’m absolutely THRILLED to know it’s a planned FIVE book series! I now MUST find book two, The Drowned Vault, and book three, Empire of Bones, is coming out later this year!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Romeo Redeemed

Romeo Redeemed is a YA paranormal fantasy novel, and the sequel to Juliet Immortal, by Stacey Jay.

I was very passionate about Juliet Immortal – which is why my little bibliophile heart will break if you don’t read it before Romeo Redeemed! If you haven’t had the chance yet, read my review of Juliet Immortal here.

Now, for those readers who have delved into the sprawling battle-like epic that the tale of Romeo & Juliet was turned into in the first book – do you really need any details on Romeo Redeemed?

Maybe just a few.

Essentially after being a callous psychopath for hundreds of years for the Mercenaries that work to destroy love, Romeo made a momentous decision at the end of Juliet Immortal that has given him a chance to redeem himself.

Sent back to an alternate timeline where damaged, withdrawn Ariel Dragland is still alive, by those who try to keep love alive, the Ambassadors, Romeo is tasked with not only keeping her alive – but also with making her fall in love with him.

For some reason, Ariel is an important, dangerous piece of the puzzle of the power struggle that’s been going on in the universe for thousands of years. And if Romeo succeeds in his undertaking, the Ambassadors will give him protection from the never-ending hunt of the ruthless Mercenaries.

But Romeo is beginning to feel more than the initial sweet lies of seduction and realizes that he may not want to work for either side…

I feel that’s vague enough to leave plenty of surprises!

Unlike Juliet in the first book, Romeo is no hero. In fact, he’s more of an anti-hero. Yet there is a part of him that wants to redeem himself – and in Ariel he begins to believe that’s possible.

I really felt Romeo Redeemed was fantastic! It was incredibly suspenseful both emotionally and supernaturally. Fast-paced, yet graceful. Some seriously dark and disturbing turns made the light all the brighter.

Now, I won’t say I thought it was AS amazing as Juliet Immortal. Almost, though.

It’s just that the war for Ariel’s dark vs. light sides was intriguing, gripping, and heartrending – until I got just a tad irritated with the back and forth. In the end, it was all worth it – and quite beautifully done. For a small amount of time though, I was a bit frustrated.

Romeo Redeemed is a blistering, electrifying, yet somehow very sensitive read that has a great streak of originality. Excellent!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Love at Any Cost

Love at Any Cost is the start of a new historical romance series from Julie Lessman called The Heart of San Francisco.

In 1902, spunky Texan oil heiress Cassidy McClare is on her way to spend time with her affluent cousins in San Francisco after having her heart trampled on by a low-down, dirty fortune hunter. Soured on men, her run-in with extraordinarily good-looking and charming Jamie McKenna at the train station does nothing to cheer her up – she can tell he’s just another pretty boy womanizer.

Finding out that Jamie’s a dear family friend and will be spending an awfully lot of time around the house she’s staying in – and that he’s set his determined eyes on her – doesn’t make her any happier.

Resolute to enjoy her time with her cherished kin, Cassie tries to give the charismatic flirt the benefit of the doubt and starts to befriend him. He still wants more though, and a small part of Cass is starting to wonder if she might feel the same…

Yet Jamie has worked hard his whole life to make a better life for his mother and crippled sister and is determined to marry well. With no real money of his own, he is desperate for the funds to get his sister a surgery that will ease her constant pain. If he finds out that Cassidy is not as rich as is assumed, will he still be interested? Or will Cass be left heartbroken by a fortune hunter yet again?

Here Julie Lessman introduces us to another delightful, large bunch of relatives in the McClare’s while pulling us into the captivating Gilded Age.

I’ll admit that at the beginning of Love at Any Cost, I was not so sure. An accidental, cantankerous meeting at a train station? Felt kind of cliché and tired to me. As a voracious reader it can be hard sometimes to be very satisfied with the typical.

Yet, it didn’t take much patience and time to start to gravitate towards this loving, personality-bursting group of individuals and the perfectly detailed (without drowning us in huge descriptive paragraphs) historical element! The bathing suits, Dr Pepper references, and clothing has such a natural but absorbing feel that really sweeps the imagination into the time period. Julie Lessman proved excellent at that for the 1930s in her Winds of Change series, too!

Not only focusing on Cassidy and Jamie’s romance, we get to know and care about a couple of the older characters as well and their heartaches. Not everything is resolved in a perfect bow in book one, which I love, and I am definitely eager to find out what happens next – and dive deeper into other family member’s own stories!!!

Mixing faith in God, character development, humor and a passionate love story Love at Any Cost was a very involving, engaging read. It’s hard to find a lot of originality in romances, but with the Gilded Age era and the family drama (and shocks!) included, Love at Any Cost proves to be a pleasing novel that adds more punch than the norm.

I hope it’s not long before book two!!!

*Available April 15, 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*I received a copy of Love at Any Cost from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.


Touched is a YA contemporary fantasy novel by Cyn Balog.

Nick Cross lives life on a script.


Since he was born he “remembers” his future, the sooner it’ll happen the clearer it is. And if he goes off script, it causes all his future memories to change – and what a painful experience that is.


But Nick cannot ignore someone’s life being in danger. Yet saving one person may mean that he doesn’t save another’s. This adds up to possibly disastrous consequences.

For the first time, as the summer in Jersey Shore is winding down, Nick cannot predict what will happen next. Taryn, the girl he decided to save, is… different. When he’s around her, his script quiets down. He feels almost… normal.

She holds family secrets that may explain why Nick is the way he is. But their meeting has put Nick on a path that puts him a position of making choices he never wanted to make…

Last year I read Cyn Balog’s Starstruck, which I thought was really different and impressive. Touched is not as playful or fairy-tale-esque – but reinforces my belief that Balog is an author to read based on name alone.

Touched has such a unique, bizarre, but incredible concept that fascinated me from the get-go. Living life on a script sounds so distracting, so difficult – the fact that Nick even tries to attempt to act normal is admirable and brave.

Infused with paranormal mystery and tentative romance, I was racing through this suspenseful story with a desperate need to know what would happen next. There was a short period of time about two-thirds into Touched that lagged just a tad for me, but that quickly changed.

With a really interesting, thought-provoking core, Touched is quite romantic and surprising.

And as it reaches it heartrending conclusion it’s shocking, bittersweet, and lasting!

In my opinion Touched was very, very, VERY good!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage is the first novel in the new YA steampunk adventure series Finishing School by Gail Carriger.

Only recently have I become aware of the Parasol Protectorate series and actually bought the complete set at a great deal. Alt-Victorian era fantasy steampunk with wit and humor? Um, sign me up! I haven’t gotten the chance to read them yet, though.

The Finishing School series takes place in the same universe, just a little earlier apparently.

In it, we meet fourteen-year-old Sophronia. As she is always managing to get into trouble and act terribly un-ladylike, her mother jumps at the chance to send her to a finishing school when a representative of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality appears interested.

Not long after entering the odd, large dirigible of a school does Sophronia realize that she won’t be just learning how to perfect her horrendous curtsy here… she’ll also be advised as to how to poison someone most efficiently, divert attention, and how to excel at espionage.

This is starting to look like more fun…

Etiquette & Espionage was AWESOME!

As someone who loves whimsical, wordy entertainment such as the dearly departed but beloved Pushing Daisies, I adored the fast-paced, fun, inventive, jaunty vibe of Etiquette & Espionage.

Here we have witty wordplay, saucy silliness, and frivolously fluffy fun! Hilariously funny names, a bombardment of info and nutty intrigue and a feisty, spunky heroine to follow in this fantastical steampunk alt-Victorian world!

The days I was reading Etiquette & Espionage I had continual reading interruptions, though. It made it harder to attach to the swift, awesome world and focus on the ever-moving, constantly clever narrative in a way that allowed me to truly soak it up. This was disappointing. Just life stuff. It would have been even better if my mind hadn’t been pulled in other directions!

What we have here is pure diversion: it’s delightful, persistently amusing, lively and energetic with fanciful language! Not to mention marvelously memorable secondary characters, paranormal beings, and mysteries!

Happily, the next book – Curtsies & Conspiracies – is going to be out later this year, so we don’t have too long a wait! Because what was I thinking when it ended?

I want the sequel NOW!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The FitzOsbornes at War

The FitzOsbornes at War is the third and final novel in The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper.

Being that is an epic (in my opinion) three-part story I almost must insist that you read them! Below, my review is going to have practically no synopsis because I want to give nothing away to fans of the two previous books. So, it’ll be safe to read for it’ll contain pretty much just my opinion.

Yet, I want to include links to my reviews of the two prior books so you can check them out and READ THEM as soon as you can. What an utterly incredible trilogy!

First Book: A Brief History of Montmaray
Second Book: The FitzOsbornes in Exile

As I said before, I don’t really want to go into detail as to the plot of The FitzOsbornes at War except to point out that it focuses on all the journal entries of Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia and encompasses all the events of the FitzOsborne family during the World War II era during 1939 – 1944.

A Brief History of Montmaray introduced us to this eccentric, charismatic, tremendously close family and the scandals, tragedies, and exultations they undergo. They’re a royal family of a country very few have heard of (fictional to the real world) called Montmaray. They inhabit a crumbling castle, their king is a bit mad, and they have almost no other residents on their small island kingdom.

Then the rumblings of World War II began and everything changed for this family.

Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. As far as I’m concerned, The FitzOsbornes at War is a conclusion to a truly grand, sweeping saga!

It’s an impressive 552 pages – and I loved every second of it!!!

Sophie’s clever, natural tone is comforting to read. It’s a fascinating historical time period and gives a mixture of family drama and ominous foreshadowing of the war – giving way to actual wartime.

Our narrator is a delightful, smart, truly likable young woman and oh! how I care for her family. The stark realties of war are unmistakable – and The FitzOsbornes at War made me feel like I was there - hearing the sirens warning of the air raids, taking shelter underground, hearing the explosions and feeling that hollow fear of, “How many died? Anyone I know? Will I survive?” The grief of death, of seeing all that was once sturdy crumble. Undergoing food rationing, standing in queue only to go home without. Michelle Cooper writes this like an authentic journal, and writes it very, VERY well!!!

The FitzOsbornes at War is exquisite, understated, yet exceptionally powerful. Taking place over five years, this is an epic, heart-stopping intimate conclusion. A momentous wartime novel that incorporates Sophie’s coming-of-age.

It’s shocking, horrifying, and so very sad at times.

I mean, really, the last line about made me bawl. I reread that last line a few times just because of the utter beauty of it.

This is a lasting, stunning story and any fans of historical fiction should be hurrying to grab their copies and be taken on this unforgettable journey.

I am so very proud to have a quote from my own humble blog on the inside back jacket cover (the author bio section). I’m honored, because I think this might be one of my favorite books that I’ve been quoted on.

As a bibliophile I feel contented yet mourn the end. I feel a bit emotionally drained, actually.

It was more than worth it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Infernal Devices

Infernal Devices is the third YA sci-fi/dystopia novel in Philip Reeve’s Predator Cities Quartet.

As with all series, jumping into the middle of it tends to spoil many plot points of earlier books – not to mention it’s usually confusing! I strongly suggest that if you haven’t read Mortal Engines and/or Predator’s Gold to click on their titles to read my reviews of those books instead.

Even a review can ruin stuff for you! At least in the synopsis. So, please be careful! I don’t want to spoil anything for you… I’ll cry bibliophile tears!!

A final warning to those of you that still need to turn away…

Over a decade ago the engines of Anchorage settled and have not moved since. Now, the city is nestled in the land that was once America – a place that many never believed still existed.

Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw have settled in, raising their daughter, and reveling in the peaceful life they’ve created. They don’t speak about the past, the terrible things they’ve seen or experienced. Better to enjoy the way things are now.

But their daughter, Wren, finds their sleepy life in the small town stifling. She yearns for adventure, excitement, exploring!

When an opportunity presents itself to leave Anchorage-in-Vineland, she leaps at it. All she has to do is take with her an item called the Tin Book from Freya’s vast library. As no one even knows what it is, or what its purpose was in ancient times, she doesn’t feel too badly about it…

Yet Wren’s naïve about the ways of pirates and falsehoods – and soon her choices to leave behind the quiet country life may be ones she regrets…

Infernal Devices takes place sixteen years after the events at the end of Predator’s Gold. This gives us an opportunity to see where Hester and Tom’s life has led. Very interesting.

However, I’ll admit that at first (and occasionally throughout the book) Wren is kinda… annoying. I think the reason I felt this way, though, isn’t the fault of the character. She doesn’t know what her parent’s went through to provide a life that is “boring” and that made her perhaps a bit clueless. So, there’s innocence there, too.

As we venture out of Anchorage-in-Vineland I soon was captivated yet again by the compelling surprises of this world Reeve has created. Here again we’re presented with various shades of gray when it comes to the characters choices and personalities.

That sense of adventure, danger, suspense, sorrow, and even humor is remarkable to have stuffed in one book! It took me everywhere along the range of my emotions! Infernal Devices was rousing, nerve-wracking, and absolutely heart-breaking!

Reeve puts me in the difficult position of not always knowing what to think about individuals in the book. Without going into detail, there are traits in some forefront characters that disturb me, yet I always still want, for whatever reason, to have faith in them. I care about them.

That’s why, the end of Infernal Devices made me very sad – and very, very conflicted.

Thank goodness there’s still one more book – A Darkling Plain. We’ll see where it goes.

I certainly can’t say that Infernal Devices didn’t affect me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Every Day

Every Day is a YA contemporary fantasy novel by David Levithan.

Every morning A wakes up and is in a new body. They’re always A’s age, currently sixteen, but they can be male or female, plump or thin. Anybody.

It has always been this way.

Over the years A has accepted this. A works to make sure the day is seamless in the life of the body A’s inhabiting that day, tries not to get noticed, and definitely does not get attached.

That was the hardest part when A was younger.

But when A wakes up as Justin one morning he meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon.

Something about her changes everything. The rule about staying detached and not reaching beyond the personality realms of the person A’s occupying no longer matter.

Here is someone A wants to be with – day in, day out, day after day. Every day.

But A has no control over whatever A is. Tomorrow A will be somewhere else…

As someone who reads a LOT, I have to say that this premise kind of blew my mind. Not just the initial idea of it, either, but the way David Levithan executes it is… stunning.

You can never get past the fact that the plot is fascinating and original, because new revelations about it, primarily on an emotional level, keep piling up in a lyrical, delicate manner.

There’s a melancholy, lonely tone that drew me in and made me yearn desperately for A’s happiness. Every Day is unexpectedly suspenseful, searingly raw, and encapsulates both a beautiful innocence and a striking astuteness.

Now, I am not a seeker of LGBT novels and because I’m sure some of you may not be either, I will disclose that Every Day features a character that is really neither boy nor girl because of what A is. A also shows up in bodies that are at times heterosexual and at times homosexual.

Except for just a few brief moments, I never felt that David Levithan really had any kind of agenda or mission to get up on a platform on the many issues and opinions related to such a topic. So, this didn’t bother me too much. I let go the times I felt he went further than necessary.

In fact, there’s a sweet tenderness to the way each life is played out – a tolerance that no matter where we stand we should agree with. So, though those situations weren’t always what I’d prefer, I felt the kindness and good-hearted core trump anything else.

Every Day is in many ways heartbreaking. But it also has an inspirational, hopeful feel that is addictive. I read this book so quickly!

With startling twists, never-ending surprises, and a profound sense of emotional depth, Every Day is a book that stays with you. It’s different from anything I’ve ever read before.

There’s more I would say if I weren’t concerned about spoiling anything for you. So, I’ll leave it with this:

Wow. I want more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

King of the Dead

King of the Dead is the second novel in Joseph Nassise’s Jeremiah Hunt Chronicle, an adult urban paranormal/horror series.

The first book, Eyes to See, was one of my Stand-Out Books of 2012 and was a really amazing start to a series! So, you know that I won’t want you spoiling it by reading the review of King of the Dead – that is, if you haven’t yet read Eyes to See!

Instead, you can read my review of Eyes to See here. In other words: Only those who have read Eyes to See are to continue reading this review! Got it?! Okay.

I also don’t want to spoil the lot of you by giving you too many details on the new book’s plot – so this will be a bit of a vague, light synopsis.

On the run from the FBI, Jeremiah is wanted for years of horrific murders he did not commit. However, it’s hard to combat their belief when just a few months ago a creature called a doppelganger appeared on surveillance committing such an act.

Explaining this would not go over well. Instead, Hunt, magic-worker Denise, and berserker Dmitri are doing their best to stay as many steps ahead of the manhunt as possible.

But when Denise has a vision that compels her to go to New Orleans – they oblige.

Once there, they find that there is an unseen siege going on in the city.

Good thing Jeremiah Hunt is there. After performing a hair-raising ritual to find his kidnapped daughter he has exchanged his human sight for power to see what cannot be seen by others: ghosts, dark spirits, and all those things we’d rather not think about.

It’ll come in handy here…

King of the Dead was compelling, intriguing and dark with bits of humor peppered in. Featuring a truly an excellent narrative voice to keep things moving and interesting all the time, it’s creepy and thrilling!

Actually, the book is straight-out FUNNY at times while creating a fascinating urban fantasy/paranormal world that is intricately detailed with more layers revealed in this second novel. At a really satisfying pace, too.

King of the Dead gave me that feeling you’re sure to be familiar with as a fellow admitted bibliophile. The can’t-stop-reading-who-cares-about-sleep-itis. It’s fast-paced, intelligent, and awesome reading!

Now, the end… well, I’ll admit that all of a sudden things felt kinda rushed, which was disappointing. The cliffhanger wasn’t all that exciting instead of being rather… upsetting? But despite that King of the Dead was still amazing, and I am FULLY on board for the next book.

Watcher of the Dark is the name of the third book, which will be out in November of this year. I’m sure it’ll resolve the cliffhanger and be great! I’ll be there!

Hopefully this will be an ongoing series – it has the potential to be epic!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Little Woods

The Little Woods is a YA contemporary mystery by McCormick Templeman.

Ten years ago, Cally Woods sister and her sister’s friend went missing from a camp at a boarding school named St. Bede’s. Never found, the two girls were presumed dead.

Since then, Cally’s home life has gone off the rails. So she jumps at the opportunity for a full ride at St. Bede’s, even if it is the middle of her junior year. It’s a great opportunity, education-wise, if a bit morbid. But she requests that no one be told of her dark history with the place.

Suddenly Cally is thrust into a world of parties, secret romances, and that unsettling feeling of being part of crowd inundated with privilege and prestige since birth without speaking the same language. But it doesn’t take long for Cally to feel like maybe she’s making friends – maybe.

Quickly she finds out, though, that just a few months ago a gifted student named Iris vanished – and it floods Cally’s mind with memories of her sister. She desperately wants to solve the disappearance, and deep down knows she wants to link it with her sister’s case.

Not before long, Cally finds that beneath the façade of studious, playful perfection St. Bede’s is full of secrets…

As I said when I read/reviewed Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield (review here), I have always been a fan of a well-plotted, well-delivered YA mysteries. Historical mysteries and Agatha Christie’s have always been fun for me, too.

Again here, though, The Little Woods just never became a fully developed novel – in my opinion. I really wanted to care about what was going on, but I wasn’t amused enough, creeped out enough, or invested enough.

Cally, as our heroine, didn’t connect with me either. Her way of talking (more often than I’d prefer she used “like” in what was, I think, supposed to be a humorous manner) and general personality did nothing for me, except perhaps grate a bit. And since The Little Woods is first person voice narrated, it gave the novel a bland vibe.

Descriptions were heavy for secondary characters, possibly distractingly so, but none of them were really likable. As the mystery finally began to accelerate, after a lot of (sorry to say) uninteresting jibber jabber from my view, there is some incomprehensible reasoning for not going to the authorities. Sadly, it was just one of those times that you realize you do not gel with a book. Doesn’t mean YOU won’t though!!!

Because The Little Woods clearly was not for me, I ended up heavily skimming most of the end portion of it. I did want to see how it all turned out.

Many readers will appreciate The Little Woods, I’m sure. What didn’t come across as titillating to me, most definitely could for you! I can see what the author was going for – a gritty boarding school murder mystery.

Unfortunately, it just did not capture my attention – hopefully it will yours!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Ghost of Graylock

The Ghost of Graylock is a YA ghost story by Dan Poblocki.

Neil Cady and his older sister Bree are new to town – staying with aunts for the time being for reasons they really don’t want to think about.

Looking for a way to distract his brain from thinking about what’s going on at home, Neil is all for exploring the supposedly haunted abandoned hospital.

Mental hospital, that is.

Graylock Hall was a place to treat children and teens for mental disorders – until several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Legends and rumors swirl about the place – one of which being that the place is very, very haunted.

Taking along his new friend, Neil is excited to check it out. He’s got a flashlight with fresh batteries, a camera to catch any legitimate ghost activity, and a mind to explore.

But what Neil doesn’t realize is that even after you leave Graylock… it may not leave you…

I think we can all agree that abandoned insane asylums are always super creepy – and this one is no different, almost by default. It’s an ideal place for a ghost story.

Now, though we get a little glimpse of the circumstances causing Neil and Bree to stay with their aunts, overall I felt that The Ghost of Graylock kind of threw us into the moment Neil decides to set off for Graylock without much background. That caused a bit of a disconnect for me.

There’s a definite unnerving air to the novel – strong vibes of an atmospheric horror movie – but without having that investment in the characters my interest was limited. Everyone is different – my bibliophile tastes tend to need a reason to care about the people in the story for me to get really into it.

The Ghost of Graylock has a nice little mystery edge to it as they try to find out more about the ghost, the stories behind Graylock. And I will admit that the book kinda spooked me – which surprised me.

More and more was revealed about Neil and Bree, so by the end of the book I did care a bit – and it ended up being a frightening, good ghost story.

The Ghost of Graylock is perfect for horror/ghost lovers that like their stories to be more eerie than grisly. Have fun!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters is a YA contemporary novel by Natalie Standiford.

On Christmas Day, the Sullivan sisters are faced with a big problem. Their wealthy, feared, influential grandmother has announced that she has received a prognosis that she may soon die – and that their entire family has been cut out of her will.

Unless, that is, she receives a confession (in writing) by New Year’s Day about something that someone in the family has done that has offended her deeply. She will then consider reinstating their status in the will.

If their family is cut out of the will and blocked from the trust accounts their family will be penniless.

Issue is, all three Sullivan sisters have been involved in activities that have displeased their grandmother lately.

So, the confessions begin.

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters was an pleasant read.

Standiford splits the novel into three parts – each section is written in first person voice by one of the three Sullivan sisters. We are essentially reading each confession as penned by the girls.

It’s certainly a different type of outline and setup for a novel. There’s an odd, funny, offbeat but always congenial vibe. The family is quirky, and each character has a pretty strong, distinct personality – which is cool.

I’ll admit though, that despite NEVER being bored, I did occasionally wonder what the point was of reading Norrie, Jane, and Sassy’s confessions. But by the last page I realized it all tied together very well to create a sweet, perhaps bittersweet, family tale.

In some ways, I think that Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters could have been more touching if it had pushed it just a tad more – or maybe more lighthearted if Standiford didn’t want to go that route.

However, it was fun. And really there doesn’t HAVE to be a point to fun!