Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unbreakable

Unbreakable
by Kami Garcia

One month after Kennedy's mother dies of a supposed heart attack, Kennedy is herself attacked by a vengeance ghost and nearly killed.

"Nearly killed" because just as her breath is being stolen away, two boys show up and get rid of the ghost.  They then whisk Kennedy away just as a demon destroys her home and everything she's ever known.

On the run from ghosts, a demon, and the police who've put out an Amber Alert on her, Kennedy must face a few facts about her own heritage and the world around her.

With the help of the twin brothers who rescued her, a young genius, and a snarky teen girl, Kennedy is on a quest to find a way to destroy the demon who killed her mom and with all the guardians and loved ones of her companions.

But the demon knows who they are now and they are running out of time to get him before he gets them.

Final thoughts: Looking at other reviews, most comments are that this is pretty much a Supernatural fanfic written by a respected YA author.  I don't know about all of that, but I do know that this book is full of a few hits and a whole lotta misses.  There are too many moments where things just happen suddenly and I found that I had to go back an reread paragraphs to see if I missed something.  Sometimes I had missed something, and I'll admit that.  Other times, it was the author who missed something and just made a sudden left turn with no warning.  I did like a few things and was pleasantly surprised at times, but it just wasn't consistent.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, October 6, 2014

Princess of Thorns

Princess of Thorns
by Stacey Jay

As a child, Aurora's kingdom is overrun by ogres who are set on consuming the souls of humans and taking over the world.  In order to protect her children, Aurora's mother bequeaths her fairy gifts upon her daughter as she dies.  Now an orphan, Aurora and her brother run to the fairies to grow and train.

Now ten years later, Aurora's brother has been captured by the ogres and she is running out of time to save him.  Unfortunately, she's can't do it on her own and she sometimes rushes into bad decisions, so she walks right into a trap.

Luckily for her, she's rescued by a prince on a quest for a princess.  Unluckily for her, he's actually looking for her because he needs to get married, and quickly.

In order to rescue her brother and stop the prophecy from coming true, Aurora must disguise herself as her own brother and keep her rescuer from suspecting anything.  That means lying to him, even when he earns the truth, and keeping her own feelings to herself in order to protect him.

Her only hope now is that she's not too late.

Final thoughts:  Interesting story that combines a few fairy tales into one.  This is not strictly a retelling of a fairy tale since it's Sleeping Beauty's daughter who is the main character, but it does have some nice moments.  We also see the eleventh prince from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans" and we get a few moments with Little Red Riding Hood.  The romance is a little odd mostly because of the way the two characters often seem to just anger each other and lie all the time, but it does make a bit of sense.  In the end, it's a cotton candy book that's mostly fluff, with no real depth, but still some fun nonetheless.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Song of the Quarkbeast

The Song of the Quarkbeast
by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange is a foundling who is running Kazam Mystical Arts Management, one of two groups who manage the magic in the Ununited Kingdom. The Great Zambini, the mage in charge, has gone missing and will only pop back for a few minutes at a time, though never in the same place.  The competing magic company is led by one of the most dangerous mages of all time.  A bridge needs extreme repairs, which requires more mages than Kazam currently has.  And the king doesn't really like Jennifer at all.

Now Jennifer has to keep Kazam running, get the magic sorted and organized, find the Great Zambini, stop iMagic and the mage in charge, Blix, from taking control of all magic, repair a bridge, and avoid angering the king.

If only mages weren't turning to stone left and right.  If only the most powerful magic wielder around hadn't given up magic forever.  If only the Great Zambini would stop disappearing.  If only the bridge repair hadn't become a contest that would determine the fate of Kazam and all magic in the Ununited Kingdom.

Jennifer is the only person who can stop it from getting out of control... more than it already has.

Final thoughts: Cute read meant for young adult readers, but it may be a bit too clever for many.  Fforde's Thursday Next series was amazing and fun to read, but that one was rich with in-jokes and puns that only bibliophiles would truly understand.  This current book is much the same with all the cleverness and in-jokes that many might not catch or understand.  The story itself is a little roundabout with small items placed early on in the book that are not referred to again until near the end of the book and those items turn out to be key pieces of the puzzle; that kind of foreshadowing may go over the heads of some.  Overall, this is a cute read and a lot of fun if you get the jokes.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love
by Ken Baker

Angel is the darling of her parents' eyes.  She is perfect, skinny, popular, and basically everything a parent could ask for.

However, this book isn't about Angel.  

It's about Emery.

She's the second daughter.  She was named after an emery board after her mother got a manicure while pregnant.  (Angel was named so because she was a blessing from the angels above.)  Emery has always been a few sizes too large with a real addiction to fast food and snacks, which is a problem for the more health-conscious family.  As the child of a minor basketball player and a former professional cheerleader, Emery just doesn't fit into her assigned role.

When an opportunity comes for her to help make her family famous, kick-start her sister's career, become popular, and lose a few pounds, Emery's resistant, but signs the paperwork anyway in order to help save her family home from being taken back by the bank.

What follows is a reality show nightmare with hidden cameras, production teams, people who fake friendship to get some air time, and a weekly weigh-in during which Emery is forced to wear a bikini on live TV.

But we all know that reality TV isn't all that real and Emery discovers that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than even she knew.

Final thoughts: This started off as a pretty decent read, though a little unrealistic when it came to her weight.  She's just under 200lbs but, for some unknown reason, she's so fat that her bikini completely disappears under her fat?  Ummm... no.  That's not happening at that weight.  The idea of losing 50 pounds in 50 days is unhealthy no matter what, but there's a portion in time when Emery cuts her calories down to around 800 a day, while also taking laxative tea and exercising way too much.  That's extremely unhealthy and there are no real consequences for Emery for those decisions, which sends the wrong message to girls who are reading this.  While Emery's YouTube rants are well done and make a great deal of sense, the ending is just a complete mess.  It didn't so much end as just drift off with no real resolution of the issues.  Additionally, there was no falling madly in love since she was already in love when the book started.  Overall, this just wasn't that great.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

After waking in a dark, metal box, Thomas rises from the ground into The Glade, where dozens of boys have spent the last two years just trying to survive.

All Thomas knows is his name.  

All any of the boys really know is their names.

Surrounding the Glade is The Maze.  Every day, select boys go out in the morning to run and map the maze and then return before the doors close at night.

And it's very important that the doors close at night because the Grievers come out then.  Get stung by a Griever, and you may not survive.

Just as Thomas thinks he might be able to fit in, someone new comes to change everything that all the Gladers have ever known.

Now Thomas may be the one person who can solve the maze and they are running out of time for him to figure it all out.

Final thoughts:  I think I'm now out of love with dystopias, and it's not because of this particular book, but more because of the formula, especially when it comes to cliffhanger type endings and conspiracies.  I also think this is definitely a book for boys so I think middle school and early high school boys would really appreciate this book a lot more than I do.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crossing the Ice

Crossing the Ice
by Jennifer Comeaux

After failing in the one competition that would assure three US pairs teams could go to the Olympics, instead of just two, Courtney and Mark must return to the practice rink to prepare to take one of those slots when Nationals start in a few months.

Unfortunately for them, their bitterest rivals and the top contenders for one of the spots has just arrived at their rink and have signed with their same coaches to train for the same events.

It's easy to hate Stephanie, as she seems to hate everyone who crosses her path.  However, her brother and partner, Josh, may actually be a pretty decent guy.

As sparks fly from more than just blade metal, can Courtney keep her cool long enough to keep her eye on the Olympic prize?

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy and not great, at that.  It's supposed to be romantic, but it just doesn't give that vibe well.  I think that what's really messing me up is an early quote from Stephanie about Josh just using Courtney to throw her off her game and then he'd dump her when he had her all off-balance.  There wasn't anything else done with that idea and I just kept expecting it to pop up somehow and create some sort of tension.  But... nothing.  Why include the quote and then never follow through with some sort of resolution to that idea? Also, Josh is just too perfect for words.  He's a nationally ranked pairs skater who somehow graduated from UCLA on time, while still skating daily, and now he's been accepted to their law school.  He also can play any song by ear after just hearing it once or twice. He can draw a bit and he's this amazing skate choreographer.  All this while Courtney skates and serves drinks and food at a local bar in order to pay for lessons and costumes.  Not the worst ever, but not amazing, either.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Broken Realms

Broken Realms
by D.W. Moneypenny

Things are pretty simple for Mara.  She's an only child of a mother who is very much into meditation and the power of the earth, but Mara's ok with that.  She's a gadget-guru who can basically fix anything that comes her way, so she works at the local repair shop to make a little money.  

Now she's on a flight that contains a teen boy running with a glowing orb being followed by Mara's doppelganger.

And then the back of the plane explodes.

Suddenly there are over 100 dead bodies, and yet no one is claiming them because they all think their loved ones miraculously survived, even if they did come back a little strange.

It turns out Mara accidentally opened portals between worlds and now doppelgangers of all of the passengers are wandering around causing problems.

So now Mara, a doppelganger named Ping, and Mara's brother from another reality must try and track down the other "passengers" and send them back to where they belong, while also keeping her alternate reality mother from getting through and destroying everything Mara loves.

Final thoughts:  Talking, talking... so much talking!  It's overwhelming how much talking there is.  I get that there is an entire system to explain, but it felt like I was trapped with a dull professor in a metaphysics course who just droned on and on.  I finished it because I wanted to see the plot through, but I really didn't enjoy myself doing it.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tortured Souls

Tortured Souls
by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Kacie was born with the ability to see ghosts.  They've always been around and she's done her best to send them on their way to the great beyond even though she's had to hide what she's doing.  Her mother left her family years before because of this gift and her father has blamed her ever since.

Now it's time to stop hiding who she is and Logan, a gorgeous guy with similar gifts, is going to help her learn how to control her powers.  Then Logan introduces her to the Orion Circle, a group of people with talents ranging from empathy to the ability to read the history of objects with just a touch.

As she learns more about who she is, Kacie also learns more about the supernatural world around her. She also learns that there is a murderous spirit that has trapped the souls of thirteen children in a manor, and that spirit has set his sights on Kacie.

Now she must find a way to free those souls, while still keeping hers.

Final thoughts:  I like the premise and there were some good moments, but this was a little messy. There were some serious jumps in the story where things could really have been given some detail and there was an extremely annoying wink at Twilight with a mention of werewolves and the Native American reservations where they are kept safe.  This could be an interesting series if the author ups her game a little.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ghost House

Ghost House
by Alexandra Adornetto

Just days after her mother suddenly dies, Chloe's grandmother takes her and her brother away from their home and their father and brings them back with her to England.  They wind up in a renovated mansion in the English countryside, away from distractions, including WiFi.

Now Chloe has nothing much to pass the time except a few horses, helping around the house, and chatting with the ghosts that haunt the home.

Because suddenly, without her mother to give her the strength she needed, Chloe's "gift" for seeing the dead has come back full force.  

The good = Alexander Reade - 150-year-old ghost of a 23-year-old man who is very good looking and seems to really like Chloe.

The bad = Isobel Reade - 150-year-old ghost who was the wife of Alexander's brother and Alexander's secret lover in life.

The ugly = the story that lead to their deaths and Isobel's desire to destroy anyone who could come between her and Alexander.

If only Chloe could ignore the pull she feels to Alexander... 

Final thoughts: Adornetto just can't seem to get her writing up to snuff.  She interrupts a great story with information that comes out of the blue and is truly unnecessary.  There are errors everywhere. The characters are inane and unsympathetic.  Chloe turns 18, but often whines like she's 8. She's completely incompetent and does nothing to fight the events around her.  She doesn't even really talk a good game.  This could have been a fascinating and gripping story in almost anyone else's hands.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, July 21, 2014

Threats of Sky and Sea

Threats of Sky and Sea
by Jennifer Ellision

Bree Perdit had a pretty good life.  She helped her father run an inn in a tiny town at the northern end of the kingdom of Egria.  She chopped wood, watered ale, served patrons, and helped keep the bills paid.  To her, it was the perfect life.

When Bree accidentally overhears the conversation of Elemental Adepts in the forest outside her inn, she suddenly finds herself embroiled in politics she never knew existed.  She also finds out her father isn't who she thought he was.

Now Bree must survive court intrigues, political battles, and a king who is determined to conquer an island nation that controls the sea.  All he needs is the secret Bree's father has carried for years.  A secret even Bree will find impossible to believe.

Final thoughts: I was drawn into this one and kept reading, but part of the reason I did was simply because I was waiting and waiting for the very obvious secret to be revealed.  The "secret" was so obvious from very early in the book that it was difficult for me to understand how none of the characters could figure it out earlier.  I almost screamed at the book; it was so frustrating.  The romance between Bree and Caden seemed impossible, as well, since the author didn't really develop it so much as just declare late in the book that it was so.

Rating: 3/5

Madly, Deeply

Madly, Deeply
by Erica Crouch

As children, Annaleigh Wells didn't really like William Calloway.  They came from different classes and his wealth made him seem entitled and spoiled.

However, over time, Anna and Will became more than friends.  Their love was a love that was not to be denied.

When Will's mother died, his father abandoned him and his sister to the servants of their home.  The day Anna came back, after allowing him time for grief, she saved Will from making a horrible decision and sealed her own fate with the powers that surround everyone.

As their wedding day nears, Will's sister, Mary, tries to make everything perfect, hoping to avoid tragedy.  But fate is not that kind.

Can their love survive the worst that can happen?

Final thoughts: A modern novelization of Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee", the first half is pretty interesting.  However, around the second half, the story falls apart.  The focus changes from a love story to a grief story, with a final decision that just feels off.  It feels like it could have used a flash-forward or something like that.  It was a little unresolved.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Better Off Friends

Better Off Friends
by Elizabeth Eulberg

Macallan lost her mother in a tragic car accident just a few month ago.  Everywhere that Macallan goes, she gets sympathetic looks from her classmates and teachers.  It's exhausting especially when all she wants to do it focus on her schoolwork and forget her sadness.

Levi just moved to Wisconsin from California and had high hopes that he would start the new school year as the cool new kid.  Unfortunately, his pony tail makes him stand out in all the wrong ways and his love for a BBC comedy show confuses people.

When Levi and Macallan meet, they don't really connect until it turns out that Levi's favorite show is Macallan's favorite show.  Now someone thinks Levi is cool and someone doesn't look at Macallan with sad eyes.  They each now have that one person to trust, share secrets, and have inside jokes that no one else understands.

As time goes one, these BFFs become so close that everyone else assumes they are a couple, even when they're not.  Seriously!  A guy and a girl can be best friends without any romance, right?

Right?

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy fluff book.  This one is a teen rom-com with all the twists and turns.  The alternating points of view are nice, though the voices are basically the same either way.  Maybe it's a formatting issue with this NetGalley version, but the "conversations" at the end of each chapter between the two leads, as well as the alternating PoV in the final chapters became very confusing because there was no way to identify who was speaking.  Fun and fluffy with no real brain strain.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful
by Yvonne Woon

On her birthday, Renée Winters spends time with her best friend, swoons over the guy who finally noticed her, and discovers the bodies of her parents.

A week after her birthday, Renée's grandfather forces her to move across the country to attend an exclusive boarding school in Maine. 

At Gottfried Academy, Renée studies Latin, Horticulture, Crude Sciences, and other subjects not normally seen in a high school curriculum.  There are also students not normally seen in high school like the extremely exclusive group of students who almost always speak fluent Latin to each other despite it being a dead language.

As Renée begins to get used to her classes, she also gets used to the presence of Dante.  He's the school recluse who speaks Latin like he was born to it, but also speaks to Renée like he can't stay away from her.

But Renée soon learns that there are many secrets at Gottfried and Dante may have the biggest one of all.

Final thoughts:  There's something that draws you in to this book, but nothing that really sticks when you're done.  It's messy, especially at the end.  There's a quote about soul mates at the beginning of the book, which actually has nothing to do with the relationship between Dante and Renée. (SPOILER:  They attracted because she was the person reborn with his entire soul, NOT because they share a soul.  That's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than what is stated at the beginning and that opening is designed to confuse the reader, not add to the overall reading experience.SPOILER ENDED)  The last page was just weird and it felt like the author just wrote it after waking up one day and then forgot to edit it later.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, June 27, 2014

Almost

Almost
by Anne Eliot

Three years ago, Jess Jordan was almost raped.

Three years ago, Gray Porter almost testified to jail the senior who almost raped Jess.

Now, Jess is almost normal, at least to the outside world.

Now, Gray is almost ready to tell Jess the truth about what he knows.

But promised must be kept and bargains must be made.  

In order to convince her parents that she's normal, Jess decides to get a "pretend" boyfriend.  

In order to protect her from herself, Gray becomes Jess's "pretend" boyfriend. 

Now they are getting closer, both to each other and to the truth.

Final thoughts:  Very compelling story about the aftereffects of rape, even "almost rape".  While Jess was saved on the night of the party, her sanity wasn't and this book effectively puts the reader into the mind of the victim.  With the large number of rapes in this country, most of which go unreported, girls everywhere need a book like this to help them see that there is hope even if it takes years to get to it.  This is a good companion to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.  The only real problem I had with this was the unwillingness of the characters to prosecute the attacker.  "Protecting the victim" is a fairly lame excuse in this book and the dad's reaction in the hospital after the attack was the wrong one, especially his refusal to get his daughter tested for rufies and other drugs.  It furthers this story, but it's not a decision that should be promoted.

It is also a true shame that the cover looks like it was designed in the 70's by someone on psychedelic drugs.  A new cover could really help get this book into the hands of the people who need it.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Broken

Broken
by Dean Murray

Adriana Paige's mother moved them both out to Utah for a fresh start after her father and sister died in a tragic car accident.  She also hoped that getting away from the familiar would help Adriana get past the constant memories that overwhelm her and cause panic attacks that can last for days.

It isn't too long before Adriana realizes that a new place to live doesn't mean a new start on life.  The panic attacks continue and often cause fainting spells.  She also starts having extremely lucid dreams about places that she has never seen.

At school, she meets and catches the eyes of the two boys who lead the two rival factions at the school.  Somehow, she goes from being neutral party to being the person caught in the middle.

Who will Adriana choose and will that side end up being the right one?

Final thoughts:  Show!  Don't tell!!!  Constant telling... again!  There was an extreme amount of laziness here as Murray seems to decide that it's easier to skip the things that might be hard and then just tell us what happened after.  This is especially true with the final conflict.  There is also a character introduced near the end who seems to only exist to help explain something that the reader doesn't even get to see in the climax.  It's frustrating and annoying how little is actually shown throughout the book.  The Twilight element is here, as well (again) with Adriana getting the nickname of Adri, even if she doesn't want it and it makes no sense.  She's got some secret power that no one understands, yet.  She's told it's too dangerous for her to know things and to get close to people.  She could get hurt.  But she pouts a bit and his love for her is so strong that she lets her do what she wants.  His love that is too strong, too dangerous, too inexplicable.  Why they love each other is never explained.  She suddenly loves him only because he saved her mother's job and not because she actually has any real feelings for him.  But they're in love... so that's all ok.  Avoid.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mine to Spell

Mine to Spell
by Janeal Falor

When Cynthia's oldest sister was freed and her father was defeated and imprisoned, Cynthia and the rest of her sisters thought they would finally be able to control their own destinies.  After a lifetime of being owned by her father and forced to suppress her natural abilities, Cynthia might finally be able to practice magic.

But things are never that easy.

When death threats start appearing during family gatherings, Cynthia realizes that she must sacrifice her own happiness and be sold to a new master in order to keep her family safe.

After the contract is signed, her new master takes her away and tries to steal her magic, so Cynthia fights back.  Suddenly she has made herself a free woman... and a target.

Her sister can't help her now; she must prove her ability on her own, though she does have the help of a very handsome stranger from another land.  

Now Cynthia has one chance to prove that women can be as strong and as powerful as the men of her country, or die trying.

Final thoughts:  This is a sequel and I read the first book awhile ago, so it took some time to get back in the swing.  I didn't love it like I remembered loving the first one.  I missed Serena and the switch to her sister's POV was disconcerting.  Cynthia had some good moments, but she was really all over the place.  I think the author was going for strong and sincere, but worried for her family, and instead Cynthia came off as never able to have a consistent thought or feeling.  She's naive and constantly doubting absolutely every thought, feeling, and decision she has or has made.  The middle of the book was good, but the beginning and end were weak.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Followers

Followers
by Anna Davies

Briana has just finished her first semester as a transfer student to a private school in Maine and it hasn't gone well.  Her mother has fond memories of being a social butterfly at MacHale, but Briana just can't seem to catch a break.

When she decides to stay around for winter term and audition for Hamlet, she hopes to really shine and maybe even become the popular girl she's always dreamed of being.  If she can be Ophelia, she can join the theatre kids and really get a social life that she can be proud of (and maybe shut her mother up).

However, when the director dies suddenly, the school decides to open the auditions to both MacHale students and the "townies" of Forsyth.  Suddenly, Briana has more competition than she can manage and she's left without a part.

To make her feel better, the director makes her the social media director and tells her to tweet the entire rehearsal process.  While not enthusiastic about it, Briana gives it a try only to find that someone is beating her to the news.  In fact, that person is tweeting events before they even happen... including murder.

Final thoughts:  Ugh.  So annoying.  Red herrings were dropped everywhere.  There's a recently discovered body of a girl who went missing twenty years before so there's the threat of a ghost story.  Red herring.  Bree's mother claims to have been a famous student at the school, but the only picture Bree finds has her mom in the back row while the soon-to-be-murdered student is performing, so is mom a murderer trying to force her daughter into the spotlight?  Nope.  Red herring.  There's a constant whodunit vibe, but nothing comes of it.  Everyone seems so uncaring about the deaths of people in the beginning.  Ms. Davies, please note that no one casts an understudy for a minor part, which Ophelia really is in the grand scheme of things, and then doesn't cast understudies for the 4-5 other parts that are really more important.  Ophelia needs an understudy/matinee actress, but Hamlet, the main guy, the one in EVERY SINGLE SCENE, doesn't need some sort of back-up?  Ummm... Nope.  There's also the annoying book jacket information, which is wrong.  No one hacks her account... ever.  The death referred to on the jacket is actually the third, not the first.  The tweet quoted isn't in the book.  Grr...  The ending is poorly done, sudden, and not very good.  It's really predictable even though it keeps trying to surprise the reader.  Not worth the time.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Proxy

Proxy
by Alex London

Knox is constantly getting into trouble.  He's been in trouble regularly since he was five.  But he's never been punished.

Syd has never been a troublemaker.  He's always tried to stay on the right side of things.  But he's always been punished.

Syd is Knox's proxy and Knox is Syd's patron.  When Knox does something wrong, Syd gets punished for it.  In turn, Knox's family pays for Syd's education and basic medical care.

Knox sees Syd get punished, but he doesn't stop it because he knows that's the system.  That's the way things are.

Syd has never seen Knox, but he knows that's the system.  He's just waiting for his debt to clear and his time to be served.

When Knox goes too far and Syd must suddenly take on a debt that's far too large, Syd makes the decision to leave the system.  He won't take this punishment for his patron.

He'll just take his patron.

Final thoughts:  This has a very interesting premise.  I enjoyed the ideas and the basic plot.  However, the point of view drove me nuts.  It didn't really fit any mode like third person limited or omniscient.  From paragraph to paragraph, the reader is shown one person's view and feelings and then the next person's with no warning or consideration.  I kept having to readjust throughout the entire book, which just frustrated me to no end.  So while the plot and ideas were original and interesting, the writing was just annoying.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sixth Grave on the Edge

Sixth Grave on the Edge
by Darynda Jones

It's just a normal week in the life of PI and Grim Reaper, Charley Davidson.

There's an old, naked, VERY well-endowed ghost riding in the front seat of her jeep.

There's a demon buying souls to eat and a desperate human who wants his back.

There's a looming threat on her life and the life of a friend.

And there's the steaming hot neighbor who is waiting for an answer to his simple yes/no question.

Nope!  Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Final thoughts:  Messy.  I LOVE Charley and her stories, but this one just seemed like an effort to remind readers of all the important characters, while setting up for the big final conflict.  Her dad and evil step-monster pop in for one plot set-up that doesn't get resolved here, but looks like it may in the next book.  The detective plot really is not much to work with.  There are a ton of B-, C-, and even D-plot things going on, but not much for the plot overall.  And I soooo predicted the final scene books ago.  Hopefully the next will be better since I really want to finish this series out with a bang and not a whimper.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale

The Stepsister's Tale
by Tracy Barrett

Ever since her father gambled away the family fortune and then ran off to die drunk and alone, Jane and her sister, Maude, have trying everything they can just to survive.  Their house is literally crumbling around them and their mother's mind is crumbling with it.  She insists that they continue to behave like ladies even though they are alone with no servants, no money, and no future.

When Mamma returns from a long journey with a new husband and a new stepdaughter, Jane has only slight hopes that things may get better.  When the new man in her mother's life dies suddenly, and it's discovered that he was deeply in debt, the sisters must not only find a way to survive the winter, they must also survive their spoiled new sibling.

With the help of a mysterious family in the woods, Jane may just get her family through the winter.

With the attention of the Prince of the Realm, Jane may just get rid of her spoiled problem.

Final thoughts:  Nah. Not worth it.  Barrett doesn't seem to have a grasp on the older teen mind, so what's written feels childish and petty.  Is Jane 17 or 12?  It's impossible to tell, especially when her younger sister reads like she's 6.  Who slaps someone just because a comb gets stuck in hair?  And how are we supposed to feel sympathy for that slapper?  The romance is nice enough and there are some interesting changes to the traditional Cinderella story, but no one comes out sympathetic or even likeable.  Even the cover looks like a Gossip Girl book.  It's bland overall.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wickedpedia

Wickedpedia
by Chris Van Etten

Everyone knows that Wikipedia is awesome!  If you need to get some information for a report, start with Wikipedia.  And if your teacher isn't very tech savvy, you can even lift information straight from the site and into your paper.

When Cole catches his rival (and ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend), Josh, cheating, he decides to play a little prank and make sure that his ex can see what a cheater Josh is.  By simply adding a few paragraphs to an entry on American serial killers, Cole sets a little trap that has Josh doing an oral report on Cereal Killers like Frank N. Berry, the Rise-and-Dine Killer.

After that stunt, Cole decides to go even further and write a few Wikipedia articles on his ex, her boyfriend, and a few more.  In his articles, he depicts them all at their worst and even includes a death for each one.

But everything changes when the first person dies... just like he wrote it.  When the next attack happens, Cole realizes that there are no coincidences.  Now he needs to figure out how to stop the killer before it's too late.

Final thoughts:  This had sooo much potential.  I was really into it.  And then it ended.  Really.  It just ended.  Huge climactic scene and then it just ends.  There's no real resolution.  No denouement.  Nothing.  Maybe there's a problem with my book?  Maybe it's missing the last chapter?  I hope so because otherwise the end is a massive disappointment.  This is an ARC, so there's still potential for that to get fixed, as well as the errors in grammar and a few name mistakes.  I enjoyed the story overall, but that ending... ugh.

On a side note, that book description online is WRONG.  There are things referenced that never happened.  Maybe they got edited out after the description was written.  Bad book jacket descriptions always bug me, so this is a personal pet peeve, but also important for the publisher to fix.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 3/5 (would have been 4 if not for that ending)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Streetlights Like Fireworks

Streetlights Like Fireworks
by David Pandolfe

For most of his life, Jack has worked to hide his weirdness.  As the son of a prestigious lawyer from the firm of Atkinson, Atkinson and Atkinson, it wouldn't do for him to be outed as a kid with paranormal visions.

But for all his trying to hide it, his family has made it clear that he just doesn't fit in.  And it feels like his parents are always trying to push him away.  They even force him to go to summer camp, despite the fact that he's more than a little too old for it.

On a trip to the local guitar shop, Jack holds a Fender Telecaster guitar for a just a few moments, just enough time to touch the strings, when a vision of a rock singer fills his mind and tells him to bring the guitar back to her.

With his family fearing him and his friends in the dark about what he can do, Jack feels like he has no other choice than to approach the town outcast, Lauren, who has her own freaky history.  Once together, they start on a journey that will change everything.

Final thoughts:  Decent read.  It's a coming of age story for the kid who doesn't quite fit in.  The paranormal doesn't really stand out, but some of the coincidences are strange.  The final resolution was a little predictable, but the ending was kind of a let-down, though it does set the stage for a sequel.  I'm not as enraptured as other reviewers appear to be, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fighting for Infinity

Fighting for Infinity
by Karen Amanda Hooper

For months, Maryah has been trying to figure out what made her previous incarnation, Mary, decide that all of her memories of all of her previous lives must be erased.  What was so horrible that erasing her history and torturing the love of her existence was her only option?

She's about to find out.

Unfortunately, the only way to solve the mystery is to be the prisoner of the one person she hates the most.  Dedrick's been obsessed with Mary and all of her incarnations for centuries.  He also thinks he has almost everything he needs to become a literal god among men.  

He just needs one more thing.

And only Mary knew where it was.

Can Maryah figure it all out before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  FINALLY!  A satisfying end to a trilogy.  The final book has everything it needs and almost nothing that it doesn't.  While there are moments that felt out of place, the overall story was well-paced and exciting.  My only real issue comes with the last chapter, but it's too spoilerish to put here.

Rating: 4/5

ARC provided by NetGalley 

Update:  I just had a moment of true giddiness!  A hidden gem I just found during my re-read of the book (having started from the first one and gone straight through) about 39% in:
   Nathan stared up at the sky.  "My old friend Wil used to say, 'It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.'"
   I grabbed Nathan's knee.  "I'm having déjà vu. Maybe I'm remembering Wil from a previous life. No, wait, maybe not. I think that's a Shakespeare quote."
   "Right. He was famous for his writing in that life."
   My eyes bugged.  "You knew William Shakespeare?"
   He smugly winked. "Still do."
   I gaped at him and tugged his shirt. "Who is he now?"
   "I'm not at liberty to say, but he's been in a few movies and on television. One of his series even had a star in the name. Funny how our origins stay connected with us no matter how different each lifetime is.  He's still sharing stories with the world, just in a different way than when he was Shakespeare.  You'd be surprised how many gifted souls there are roaming this world."
   William Shakespeare reincarnated. My father would have been beside himself. "Does he have a soul mate?"
   "He and Anne have been together through thick and thin."
   "That's so cool.  In a way Shakespeare is still alive."
   Nathan leaned back on his elbows. "Yes, older and wiser."

So... Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stand By Me is the reincarnation of William Shakespeare?  COOL!

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