Friday, March 29, 2013

Yesterday

Yesterday is a YA sci-fi novel by C. K. Kelly Martin.

In 2063, sixteen year old Freya is terrified that she has lost her brother forever. The U. N. A. (United North America) has already moved everyone off the coastlines because of climate change, there’s a constant, real threat of ecoterrorism, and the increase in a robot working class has forced a massive amount of people into unemployment and complete dependence on the government. Now, there’s a new disaster coming…

In 1985, sixteen year old Freya has just moved to Canada after losing her father in a unexpected, tragic accident. Her mother, sister, and Freya are trying to get through the sorrow and adapt to their new life.

But for Freya it’s difficult because everything seems… wrong. Especially when she looks at her life before moving - her old friends, her first boyfriend – it all feels flat. Unreal. Distant.

Perhaps it’s just the grief. But it doesn’t feel like it.

Then one day she sees a boy. A gorgeous boy. That’s not what catches her attention, though.

She recognizes him.

She can’t say how, from where, or from when but it obsesses her.

And then the dreams start. Dreams that are more real than her memories.

But pursuing this, searching for the truth… it is putting Freya in danger.

Yesterday was pretty darn cool!

Initially, I felt the tentative mystery vibe that Martin gives and liked it. I felt like there was a definite something going on – and I reveled in the creepy, ominous feel that kept me aware that something was weird here.

For a while I was a bit ambivalent about Freya. I didn’t dislike her, I sympathized with her grief, but I wanted more from her. Maybe more personality? But as the story continued, I rooted for her to find the truth – I began to care.

Yesterday
is a trippy thrill ride! A science fiction novel mixed with the 80s time period, it’s a hard novel to pin down and explain. I will say, though, that I had a theory as to what was going on and I was WRONG! Yay!

Getting better and better as it goes along Yesterday becomes a suspenseful escape novel – twisting and turning and being constantly intriguing. I definitely recommend it – it grew on me pretty strongly by the end!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction

Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction is a YA anthology edited by Carrie Ryan and featuring authors like Meg Cabot, Laini Taylor, Diana Peterfreund, and Margaret Stohl – among others!

Assembled here are fourteen short stories that feature a prediction or prophecy of some sort. It’s a cool premise because it can be interpreted so many ways, that though there is a common thread to each story each one is so unique from the other.

Starting off we get a tale from Laini Taylor that is evocative, interesting and intriguing. It felt enjoyable – and complete! That’s one of the main pet peeves I have with short stories – I don’t want to feel like it’s the start of the story instead of a satisfying, completed one. With Foretold I didn’t have that problem.

Next, Diana Peterfreund’s story had a chilling and excellent vibe. Truly great!

In fact, each story in Foretold has something creepy, funny, or thought-provoking to offer. There’s a Hitchcock flavor to one, dark disturbing aspects to others, and then humor (like Cabot’s) that is fun, memorable and happily recognizable.

All the stories were original. And there were really no duds!

The only one that fell a bit flat for me was the last one by Richelle Mead, which I think is because it felt like I was missing chunks. Like I was supposed to already know these people and this world, though I didn’t. I think it might have been an inclusion to her Vampire Academy series, which I’ve never read.

But other than that, Foretold was really fantastic! An extremely well-done anthology!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Strings Attached


Strings Attached is a YA historical drama by Judy Blundell.

Seventeen-year-old Kit Corrigan went to New York City in 1950 to pursue her dream of being a dancer.

And to flee her messy family situation back home in Providence, Rhode Island. Not to mention her broken relationship with Billy – who enlisted in the army after their break-up.

It’s not easy in New York. Money isn’t flowing, even after she gets a part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show.

But then Nate Benedict, Billy’s father, comes around and offers help.

With strings.

He wants to offer her a nice apartment and a possibility at a better job – as long as Kit uses it to keep him informed on Billy, and does him favors when he asks.

Kit knows better than to trust Nate – he’s a lawyer involved with the mob – but a place of her own is so tempting. And seeing Billy again makes her heart hurt with yearning. But if she does it, will the favors ever end?

What would be like to be indebted to a man like Nate Benedict?

Strings Attached surprised me, I have to say.

There are a lot of frothy, soapy, fun books taking place in the 20s lately that I’ve enjoyed – and despite this one being in 1950 I still thought it might have that sort of tone.

Not at all.

Instead, we get a slow burn – initially what I thought was a little too slow, but it paid off – tension and a novel that is very mature.

Strings Attached solidly showed us glimpses of the past, fleshing out Kit’s character as well as the others and adding more depth to the story. For quite a while it felt low-key, but with time it deepened and became more suspenseful.

Really, Blundell creates a well-done character study here and superb period drama. It was far more serious than I initially expected – in a good way!

Twists and turns take place that I didn’t expect, and there’s a sense of growing up, of learning, and reconciliation that is strong and effective.

Strings Attached
is very, very good. You should definitely read it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fuse


Fuse is a YA post-apocalyptic novel, and the second in the Pure Trilogy, by Julianna Baggott.

Seriously, if you haven’t read Pure yet, reading this review will not be a good idea! Pure is an excellent book and I strongly recommend checking out my review of it here, instead of spoiling yourself by perusing this review of its sequel.

Agreed?

Okay, now for those of you who have read Pure, here’s a light synopsis of Fuse:

Outside of the Dome, the world is a nightmare. Partridge and Lyda, both Pure – untouched by the disasters that have wrecked the world by living in the Dome – are seeing now that the Wretches are not all terrible people – but they have endured horrifying conditions.

Now, Partridge and Lyda, along with the non-Pure revolutionary Bradwell, tough Pressia, who has ties to Partridge they’ve only recently learned about, and El Capitan the changing leader fused to his brother Helmud are learning just how much Partridge’s father had to do with what devastated the people outside the Dome.

As the Dome begins a new plan to break the Wretches, these five teenagers are learning of a plan that was put into works long ago – a plan that may save millions of lives – if only they can enact it.

But it will not be easy…

As usual for a sequel my summary is rather brief and vague. I always feel that if you read a previous book you should kind of already know if you want to continue that story – and then why know too much about what’s going to happen? At this point hopefully you’re already invested!

I know I was. Pure was quite something. It was one of my stand-out books of 2012, as you can remind yourself here. And Julianna Baggott has awed me again with Fuse!

As always, I wish I’d had the chance to reread Pure before Fuse, but with the bit I remembered clearly and the soft reminders at the beginning I ended up okay.

Starting with an enthralling prologue, Fuse just kept getting better and better. Switching viewpoints gave us a panoramic view of all these characters and presented a stark, bold, vivid post-apocalyptic landscape and deep plots that kept me consistently involved.

Fuse is heart-pumpingly, nerve-wrackingly scary suspenseful! It’s intense, stomach-turning, forceful and creative. Baggott has a strong vision of this world – and she gets it across very, very well.

Somehow the romance element of Fuse feels believable, which is astounding. Discoveries, revelations, and a steady stream of info makes the novel a “middle” book with purpose and momentum.

This really is a trilogy that Hunger Games fans should be more aware of! It has chilling, memorable, disturbing scenes and it’s fast-paced, ever-moving plot is electrifying.

Really, Fuse is a phenomenal, shocking second book. And I can’t wait for the conclusion. This is an epic that I dare you not to become glued to!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shadowfell

Shadowfell is a YA fantasy, and the first in a trilogy, by Juliet Marillier.

For years now, Neryn has been living a Nomadic existence – always trying to stay one step ahead of the Cull. In Alban, now that Keldec is king and has been for years, having even a suspicion of magical power is a death sentence – perhaps on your whole village.

Neryn has seen the devastation with her own two eyes. The haunting images are burned into her mind.

Having the ability to see and speak with the fey beings called Good Folk is means of instant enslavement. And because of the fear of everyone living in Alban, Neryn can trust no one – and she cannot blame them. If whispers reached the Cull that anyone had harbored, helped, or not reported anyone suspected with magical power they can be handed a discipline just as harsh.

Now alone, destitute, and so very weary, Neryn clings to the one hope – Shadowfell. A place where those who disagree with Keldec’s ways, and want to go about reclaiming their kingdom, live and train. No one even dares speak the name. But Neryn is determined to find her way there.

Her journey brings her into contact with Flint – an inscrutable, quiet stranger that seems helpful. She also comes across Good Folk that speak of tests, trials, and prophecies.

Despite her longing to have a friend, to trust someone, Neryn knows that she cannot. She must work to avenge her family, salvage her own life, and be the person her grandmother wanted her to be…

But will she make it to Shadowfell on her own?

Reading a pure fantasy novel can be very nice. In Shadowfell, Neryn is a sympathetic character. I appreciated her strength and devotion to apply the principals her grandmother taught her to her difficult life. She was admirable.

This world, Alban, is in a state of fear and horror. It was palpable, and quite often saddening. The Good Folk, when they come in the picture, are charming and give a touch of whimsy, but the darkness is still felt. You can sense the stakes here.

At times I felt that Shadowfell was a little slow, but at the same time it has an epic journey feel to it. So, when every once in a while the novel fell into what felt like a lull, it was still good – and usually was working on character development.

In the end, despite sometimes scenes or paragraphs feeling drawn-out, a core of deep feeling, love, and hope made Shadowfell a book to appreciate.

And it gave me plenty of reasons to seek out the sequel. Shadowfell is really a great book for fantasy lovers that want compelling character growth and a quest for something bigger than oneself. I liked it quite a bit!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unspoken

Unspoken is a YA fantasy/paranormal novel, and the first in The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Since Kami Glass was born she has spoken, in her head, to a boy she’s never met. Over the years she’s known to keep it quieter, though she doesn’t hide it. Because of this, Kami has become a bit of an outsider in her small English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

But the thing is… he loves him. And the worry as to whether it’s all an “imaginary friend” doesn’t bother her all that much.

In the meantime, she has a best friend, runs a school newspaper, and is flexing her investigational skills in looking into the mysterious Lynburn family that townspeople seem to both revere and revile.

When the Lynburn family return to Sorry-in-the-Vale after having left it before Kami was born, Kami sees an opportunity to break the best story ever. Disturbing things start happening, though. Screeches in the woods. Her own mother dodging her questions. Blood.

And when Kami meets the two teenage Lynburn cousins Jared and Ash she finds that she may know one of them.

Very well.

Everything is changing…

First off, I absolutely loved Unspoken.

That’s why I can’t help but be sparse on my synopsis – every little thing was voluminous to me, and I don’t want to spoil it for you!!!

Unspoken has such a marvelously singular plot! I loved the twist from the get-go, the emotional connection Kami has to her “imaginary friend”, the mystery and the creepiness! Loved, loved, loved!!!

Sarah Rees Brennan penned Kami as hilarious, quick-witted, self-sufficient, confident, and AWESOME! An excellent, excellent character – and just so very different! Really refreshing.

In fact, the whole cast of characters sparkle with vibrant, memorable personalities. Each one stands on their own, which can be rare to find in books – but so very wonderful when it is!

The fact that I felt connected and invested to these people, that they felt real, made Unspoken all the better! After all, I care – so the terrible, scary, sad, funny scenes mean all the more!

Plus, we get to experience a spooky yet comfy English town full of rumors, paranormal developments, and enigma! I loved it!

Hmm, how many times have I used the word “loved”? Yeah, I’m aware of it. I can’t help it!

Unspoken is a fantastic book! It’s heartbreaking, suspenseful, and beautifully unique – and I am absolutely DYING for the second book!!!

I hope that every single one of you lovely bibliophiles that hasn’t read Unspoken yet does RIGHT NOW and gets this book the attention it deserves before book two is released!

What do you think? Up to the challenge?

It’s an awesome one!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Undead

Undead is a YA zombie novel by Kirsty McKay.

Bobby is back in Great Britain after living in America for the last many years. Her accent and slang is an odd mixture that is causing her to have serious difficulty fitting in now at her English school.

So the school trip to Scotland is miserable.

But it’s about to get worse.

While the bus is at a stop at a roadside restaurant, almost everybody gets off – except Bobby and rebel Smitty. And they end up waiting a long time…

Until some kids come stumbling back with not so good news.

They’re teacher? Yeah, he’s trying to eat them. Not to mention most of the students, restaurant staff, etc.

Apparently nearly everybody has turned into zombies – and Bobby, Smitty, and a couple other survivors that seem like they’re hiding something are going to need to go through Survival 101.

Or become someone’s meal.

I’m not much of a zombie person. I don’t like The Walking Dead. But every once in a while there’s a twist that I can appreciate – the lyrical haunting feel of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the absolute hilarity of Bad Taste in Boys.

I was hoping that Undead would be kind of crazy humor like the latter of my examples. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for zombie lovers, it’s a much more sincere zombie book.

Undead is kinda creepy and gross. There wasn’t as much humor as I wanted, instead there’s drama – which is hard to care about when you barely get a chance to know the characters before they’re imperiled.

There is a bit of an interesting mystery as its revealed someone might be lying… but I have to admit that this particular plot thread didn’t seem to go anywhere. Undead isn’t a bad book – in fact I’m sure that zombie fans will love it, particularly horror movie fanatics.

Yet, I just could not gel with it. Not my kind of story, characters, or tone. I’m not a blood n’ guts girl.

For me? Nah… For you? Read it and find out!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Predator's Gold

Predator’s Gold is the second novel in the YA sci-fi/dystopia Predator Cities quartet by Philip Reeve.

If you haven’t read Mortal Engines yet, I strongly recommend you do before you read this review and get some inevitable spoilers. You can read my review of that first book here.

Now, if you have read Mortal Engines feel free to continue…

Since the Traction City of London was demolished, Tom and Hester have spent the last two years flying the Jenny Haniver, trading and seeing the world. Their relationship has deepened, and the two have found a kernel of contentment after all the pain.

Yet an acclaimed author/adventurer named Pennyroyal asks for passage on their aircraft and when ordinarily they’d say no, they say yes. And suddenly they’re being pursued by rocket-firing gunships!

Their modicum of peace seems to be over.

Finding refuge in the ice city of Anchorage, Tom finds himself remembering how much he liked living on a Traction City. He starts to dread taking to the sky again. Hester, though, sees a city devastated by plague and madness. It’s a ghost city – sprawling but inhabiting only a few.

And Anchorage’s course is headed straight towards the Dead Continent of North America – a perilous path and hopeless destination.

Their adventure isn’t over…

Predator’s Gold has a startling, attention-grabbing first paragraph that reminds me what a great writer Reeve is. What a way to start!

I have to admit, I was pleased to pieces to see Tom and Hester’s romance, with time having passed in the interim between books, and strengthened. It made me happy! Of course that meant I cared, which meant I was in for a sometimes painful read!

Freya and her Traction City of Anchorage have an enigmatic, creepy feel… I was intrigued and nervous for our lovebirds. And I was right to be, as emotional turmoil begins here – jealously and bitterness start to poison relationships, and upsetting turns take place!

I was excited with the journey to America just because I was really wondering what they’d find there, but the characters’ personal relationships were hurting my heart!!! No details here, you’ll have to read it for yourself… but suffice to say Philip Reeve has made me connect to these people, and these people have flaws and make mistakes… and its agony!

Predator’s Gold has some amazing writing – sentences that Reeve constructs are equally complicated and lovely. Intense imagery and emotive prose. And the characters are three-dimensional, not always likable, but always fascinating! It can be disturbing, disheartening, and heartbreaking... but consistently absorbing.

As we reach a surprising, sweet, thrilling, ever-unpredictable end I was satisfied and more ready than ever to read the next book in the quartet! I can see why people have raved about this series!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

In a Fix

In a Fix is a contemporary fantasy novel by Linda Grimes, and the first in a new series.

Ciel Halligan is an aura adapter – and a good one at that. Like a human chameleon, she’s able to take on others’ auras and flawlessly slip into their lives.

That is, in fact, her job.

Whereas a lot of the other aura adapters use their talents for, say, the CIA – Ciel has never been good with blood. So, she started her own business as a facilitator – she takes on clients and deals with problems the people don’t want to face themselves.

Ciel’s latest job was going really well. Snag a marriage proposal from an extremely attractive man while enjoying the relaxation of an all-expenses-paid sunny vacation? Sure, she’ll get paid for that.

But then things go really wrong.

Said attractive man gets kidnapped, and the beachside bungalow becomes a ball of fire.

Maybe completing this particular assignment is going to be a little tougher than she thought…

Oh. My. Gosh! In a Fix was a BLAST!!!

Linda Grimes has come up with an awesomely unique ability – the way it’s used, described – it’s just cool! And the characters? Ciel is hilarious, likable, perfectly self-deprecating without being pathetic at all – and a feisty, tenacious gal!

Here we get outstanding, sidesplitting dialogue, a bevy of hot guys, fantastic secondary characters – I mean, really, really diverting!!!

Now, as someone who really doesn’t care for books to get too graphic on the sexual side, I will warn you that there are few scenes that step over the line a tad… but the tone is kept lighthearted even then. This book, and a few others I’m starting to dip my toes into, is starting to let me believe that some adult books may actually take themselves less seriously – and are fabulous!

In a Fix features a fun case, fun main character, and a FUN BOOK! As I was reading it, I was ENTERTAINED – like, HAPPILY!!! There are a gazillion books out there, but I still can’t deny that one of my favorite types is one that will make me feel joyful as I read it – In a Fix did that!

Paranormal + humor + romance + crazy/hilarious/dangerous criminal plot = awesome!!!

I. Must. Read. Sequel. NOW!!!

It’s called Quick Fix, and I believe it’s coming out later this year – and I’m thrilled! If all the romantic tension, humor, and fun tone are back I’m hopeful for a nice, long series.

Are you in?

P. S. I had no idea how to pronounce Ciel’s name – so I went with “Kyle”. If you know otherwise, tell me please! :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moonlight Masquerade

Moonlight Masquerade is a regency romance by Ruth Axtell.

Rees has worked hard to lift himself out of his middle-class upbringing, working to provide for his sister and mother and make them proud. So when he was offered an important job with the Foreign Office he took it.

However, it involves him masquerading as a temporary butler stand-in in a high-class household.

Essentially, he is to investigate, or spy on, Lady Celine Wexham – French by birth, but seemingly a model British subject. Widowed and beautiful in 1813, she remains unmarried and is inconceivably kind to her servants.

But she could also be passing along information to those in favor of Napoleon staying in power.

Commissioned to find out where Lady Wexham’s loyalties lie, Rees does his very best to fit in the fashionable London townhouse – and not be too enchanted by her.

What haunts him, though, as he watches her thoughtful eyes and graceful poise as she goes about her day, is what will he do if he does find evidence she is a spy?

Moonlight Masquerade has an interesting cloak and dagger concept that places our romantic leads in the positions of a high-class lady and her butler, or so he plays. I loved that idea; it provides extra tension and an initial blockade to any attraction that makes the novel feel unique.

As a LOVER of the regency period, I love that Ruth Axtell places the story in 1813. She gives delightful, but not overdone, descriptions of Lady Wexham’s gowns and the surroundings of a wealthy household.

The espionage and class differences make for a more attention-grabbing than usual romantic obstacle, and the characters are shown to have more depth that just surface beauty, allure and charisma. We get glimpses into their pasts; understand why they believe what they believe. I liked that!!

Rees can occasionally be stuffy, but it was good that he had flaws. Made him more real. Lady Wexham is shown, as well, to have her faults.

Moonlight Masquerade is an admirable romance with good drama over the choice between love and country. It’s a solid, different historical romance that encompasses a war – and two compatible people that stand, possibly, on opposing sides.

To know for sure, read the book for yourself!

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

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

Hanging by a Thread

Hanging by a Thread is a YA paranormal mystery by Sophie Littlefield.

Clare Knight has recently moved back to her childhood town of Winston, along with her Mom, just in time for summer.

Only problem is that July 4th is a dreaded holiday in Winston – everyone is hoping and praying it won’t be like the last two where someone has gone missing or ended up dead…

Trying not to worry too much about it, Clare’s enjoying her new business she’s running with her best friend where they sell her redesigned vintage clothing.

But Clare has an ability she doesn’t share with others – when she touches certain pieces of clothing she can sometimes see glimpses into their pasts.

So when she stumbles across a beaten up denim jacket and gets a vivid, startling vision of violence and fear, Clare is suddenly much more involved in the disappearance of Amanda Stavros, the girl who went missing the previous Fourth of July…

I spent a lot of my younger reading years gorging on Joan Lowery Nixon and her excellent YA murder mysteries. I’ve always been a fan of a good, solid mystery – with a decent, likable sleuth. So, I was looking forward to Hanging by a Thread – thought it might bring me a little nostalgia.

Sadly, it did not.

Initially, Clare comes off as a little self-important but I hung in there because it was (at first) fast-paced and there was a mystery to be had!

Unfortunately, the mystery part of the novel was drowned in continual descriptions of sewing, ripping up old clothes, and paragraphs of seemingly pointless drivel.

And Clare never got better, to me she got worse. Her character was wishy-washy in her pursuits and harsh to her mother without much provocation, which I couldn’t excuse. She was just not sympathetic at all, and for some reason the author wanted to keep having her yammer on and on about herself, her love of fashion, etc. For me, that was boring and kind of annoying.

You practically forgot it was a mystery until occasional instances would bring it up again. We get a few psychic visions that are muddled in their execution, in my opinion, and a LOT of cliché-ridden romantic tension with the bad boy in town.

Please remember that you might love it – and if you are a sewing enthusiast you might adore those pages of details – but for me it all seemed so out of place. By the time the mystery was resolved, which I did indeed correctly guess, I was ready to move on to another book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caught in a Moment

Caught in a Moment is a YA fantasy by Martin Dukes.

Teenage Alex Trueman slips into daydreams – lucid, awesome daydreams that are way more interesting than the lesson at school or the supermarket as he shops alongside his hard-working Mom.

But it’s during his daydreams that something strange starts to happen.

Alex begins to notice a stutter in time. For a moment, everyone is stationary – and then with a shake of his dazed head everything is normal.

When the stutter starts to go longer, though, Alex takes advantage. A little showing off, a little harmless fun against the bullies that insist on tormenting him… nothing too terrible. And it impresses his friend.

But Alex’s enjoyment of the oddity with time comes to a screeching halt when it causes him to enter the bizarre world of Intersticia – where time has stopped moving altogether.

Trapped, there’s a panicky feel to walking amongst people frozen in time – the quiet is terribly loud.

When Alex meets fellow teenager Will and pretty Kelly he’s relieved there’s people about. Yet it leads him to fellow dreamers that have become trapped in Intersticia – all of whom are led by the disconcerting Ganymeade who hands out strange, seemingly pointless and often cruel tasks to perform for food.

It’s not long before Alex finds out that his ability to manipulate the motionless world around him, as in his earlier pranks, is supposed to be impossible. And that this ability may put a dangerous series of events in play…

Caught in a Moment really, really impressed me! Martin Dukes writes with rich imagery that gives you the sights, smells, and sounds of Alex’s day even just as the story open’s during a dull school lecture which suddenly gets much more exciting when time freezes for a moment – great hook!

Alex’s vivid daydreams come suddenly and vibrantly and were very well-written. Kinda unlike anything I’ve read before…

Trippy, cool, and creepy, Caught in a Moment provides a fascinating concept that is self-aware of its own inconsistencies and peculiarities and works with them through the main character. It’s perplexing, engaging, and mysterious as we soak up various ideas as to how an immobile world would work.

An interesting turn of events later on in the novel made me look at things from a different perspective and see a deeper layer to the book. It constantly morphed, adding levels of plot and continuing to be inventive, intelligent and happily puzzling!

Caught in a Moment was very, very good! Martin Dukes is publishing a sequel by the end of the month titled Worm Winds of Zanzibar, and next year a third book called Angelic Upstart. I’m very interested in reading them!

To be honest, I’m kind of saddened that Caught in a Moment is not fortunate enough to have a more eye-catching cover or general knowledge in the book community. I really hope that all you awesome bibliophiles check it out and spread the word!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Holders

The Holders is a YA paranormal novel by Julianna Scott.

Becca, seventeen, has been her brother’s protector since she can remember. He’s always been different. The voices in his head have caused many to try and put him in a mental institution – or worse. Yet Becca has always known, deep down, that the voices are real.

And no one is going to take her brother Ryland from her if she can help it.

So when two representatives from a “school” in Ireland called St. Brigid’s talk about how all they want to do is help Ryland – that he’ll fit in for once and be happy – she’s not naïve.

Yet as she listens, she realizes these people seem different. So, she agrees for them to take him – but only if she’s right by his side.

Thus starts her journey to Ireland.

Once there, she begins to learn more about her own family history and a legend about people with special abilities called Holders.

It doesn’t take long for Becca to realize that there might be an alternative reason that St. Brigid’s wanted her brother. He may be the one they’ve been waiting for…

Becca’s fierce loyalty to her brother is honorable and her extremely early high school graduation at age fifteen makes her unique as a protagonist.

As The Holders continued, I found that the abilities rooted in Irish legend and tradition was interesting and it was very easy to visualize the school in Ireland.

The romance aspect of The Holders was refreshing as Alex and Becca’s connection was based on rapport and personality than just pure attraction. And though I kinda/sorta saw it coming, the big shocks were pretty surprising.

It was going relatively strong there for a while, but then I felt the plot got a bit more mushy and romance focused that I prefer. I really can only take certain romance-focused books well – they have to be written a way my taste enjoys, which tends to be rare-ish.

Yet The Holders was still good. It has some faint resonance of Twilight themes and I kept thinking of the Holders as a more naturalistic X-Men story with leprechaun accents! Ha! Fine, if not extraordinary, read.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter

The Tutor’s Daughter is a historical fiction novel by Julie Klassen.

Well aware that her father’s boarding school is ailing financially in 1812 Devonshire, Emma Smallwood reaches out to a baronet that previously educated his sons with them. Two sons that Emma shares childhood memories of – one fondly, one not so fondly. Knowing that he has two younger sons perfect in age for her father’s services, she writes to him in the guise of her father – determined to salvage their life’s work.

In response, they receive an invitation to move to the baronet’s cliff-top manor for a year to school the young men at home. Since her father had also been frighteningly out of sorts since her mother’s illness and death, they accept – hoping for a fresh start.

When they arrive they find themselves in the midst of a enigmatic display of shock at their presence.

The strangeness doesn’t stop there.

Late in the night Emma hears someone playing the pianoforte, yet when she mentions it no one else acknowledges a similar experience. And she has a distinct feeling that her bedroom is being entered when she’s asleep or not there…

Amidst the Cornwall coast where shipwrecks are commonplace and strong principals are held by the locals, Emma finds herself enmeshed in peril, mystery, and romance.

The Tutor’s Daughter was wonderful!!! This has a true Regency feel to it.

I loved the slow, but constantly intriguing, unfolding of the mystery, romance, and character development. The era felt real here, not forced or unnatural. There was a genuine simplicity, gentility, and romanticism that wasn’t marred by people acting in a way not proper for their time. It was spellbinding!

A moody, atmospheric environment encapsulates The Tutor’s Daughter. The salty sea air, beautiful but dangerous cliffs and disturbing recounting of many shipwrecks that have plagued the area is riveting.

Plus, our main character Emma is compassionate, smart and wholly worth rooting for. I felt she belonged in her time, but wasn’t a whimpering ninny either. Thank goodness!

Nothing felt rushed, and there are some excellent surprises and suspenseful moments. I really, really enjoyed it and relished the story!

*I received a copy of The Tutor’s Daughter from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

You Are Not Here

You Are Not Here is a YA contemporary novel written in poetry by Samantha Schutz.

Annaleah shared something special with Brian. She loved being with him. When they were together, nothing else really mattered. Even if no one else really knew about their relationship, it felt perfect.

But then he died.

Sudden. A heart issue of some kind. Something no one could have predicted.

And now Annaleah is grieving – deeply, painfully, and constantly.

Yet she has no one to share the grief with – she never met his family, his friends.

She’s on the outside, alone, and wondering if she can survive the mourning she doesn’t even feel allowed to have.

You Are Not Here is a heartbreaking novel. The fact that it’s written in verse give it a rhythmical, poetical elegance that makes the words flow right off the page and stab you in the chest. It hurts to read.

There is an authenticity, an intimacy, and a subtly that resonates after you close the pages.

Reading it took almost no time at all. I read it in less than a day. But it has an impact, a beauty. Certainly well-done and moving.

Something different among the fantasy and paranormal – it’s nice.

*Just a Note: Blogger has changed the way I upload pics for the cover of the books I'm removing. Because of this, the appearance of the way the cover shows on this blog has changed. As of yet, I have not found out if there is a way to customize this. I much prefer the previous look - and I aplogize if you do to! Feel free to email me if you know a way I can make it appear the way it did before. Thanks!