Between the Bookcovers

Blogging About the Books I Read






Author: Colleen Houck


Published: June 7, 2011


Pages: 496


Rating: 4/5 Stars








Description from Goodreads:




Kelsey Hayes is no ordinary college freshman. In fact, the eighteen-year-old girl has just returned from India, where she risked her life—and her heart—to rescue a handsome Indian prince from a terrible curse. Back home in Oregon, Kelsey is determined to move on, despite the lingering feelings she has for the man she left behind. She meets Li, a completely average guy who offers the promise of an ordinary, curse-free life. But just when Kelsey is ready to move on, Ren reenters her life, on a quest to reclaim her heart. Danger threatens their newly rekindled love and to save him, Kelsey must journey with someone else—a man who wants her for himself. The saga begun in Tiger’s Curse continues in Tiger’s Quest, as Kelsey finds herself in an epic battle between good and evil. From the shores of the Pacific Northwest to the jungles of India, the mountains of Nepal and Tibet, and the mystical realm of Shangri-la, this suspenseful tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption is not to be missed.


Review:




This book picks up where the first left off. The first part finds Kelsey back home in Oregon and attending college, trying to put her tiger adventure behind her. But Ren comes to find her and danger follows. In an attempt to unravel another prophecy, Kelsy travels to Nepal and the mythical city of Shangri-la. Another action packed adventure follows as she attempts to save the tigers from their curse.



This is Houck's second novel and the writing shows vast improvement from the first book. There is none of the slower, simple writing found in the first book. This book will capture your attention from the first pages and not let up until the very end. The details of the prophecy are amazing and Houck's ability to come up with unique, exciting adventures is notable. Those who enjoyed the first book will be very pleased, this sequel will continue to capture your attention and heart as Kelsey tries to help the tigers while finding the love she seeks. If you did not read the first novel you can


pick up this one and understand what is going on. This is an excellent series and I am looking forward to the next one.




Rating: An excellent and well done adventure/love story that is well worth your time.

Author:  Michael Mullin
Published:  September 27, 2011
Pages:  476
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
 
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

Review:

Alex is a normal teen who hates visiting his uncle so much that his parents agree to leave him home by himself for the weekend. Soon after a super volcano erupts, changing his world to a dark, ash filled moonscape where the survival is an everyday struggle

There are an abundance of post apocalyptic YA books out there but few provide the impact of Ashfall. Mulligan has provided a realistic and terrifying book that starts with a bang that will leave you breathless until the last page is turned and keep you thinking for days afterward.  The world he created is dark with glimmers of hope and a powerful message about the choices people make when faced with disaster. There are no supernatural beings or man eating zombies here. There is no need; the way man changes when survival is uncertain are scarier than any imaginary beings could ever be.

The story is told from Alex's point of view, a refreshing change. He is a typical teen who is realistic and imperfect. I came to care for him as he seeks his family and loved the way he changed and grew as the novel progressed. The other main character, Darla, is a smart, quirky farm girl with mechanical knowledge that she uses to problem solve. The relationship that develops between them is natural and believable, and the romance is understated and beautifully written.

There are many lessons learned here: life can change in the blink of an eye; society is fragile and can easily disintegrate in the wake of a large disaster; and difficult decisions have to be made when survival is on the line. One of my favorite quotes of the book:  "For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my spices. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity. No, we'd given that up on our own."

This is a book that should not be missed. I raced through it and then came back later to reread it again. It will make you stop and think about how you would react in the same situation. And it made me want to prepare for a disaster so that I would have the resources available if society broke down and we had only ourselves to count on for survival.

This is the first of a planned trilogy. I and anxiously awaiting the next installment, due out in October 2012.

Rating: Do not miss this one! A powerful, realistic story that will leave you wanting more.

Note: I received this book from the publisher via NeyGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.







Author: Colleen Houck
Published: January 11, 2011
Pages: 448
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:


The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Face-to-face with dark forces, spell- binding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.


Review:



Kelsy just graduated high school. She is alone in the world, having lost her parents to a car accident. She gets a job in a circus, and cares for a white tiger. When the tiger is bought by an Indian gentleman for a wild life park in India she is offered a job to escort the tiger there. When in India the tiger reveals that is is actually a man cursed to remain a tiger for most of each day. The only way to break the curse is to follow an ancient prophecy. But the wizrd who cursed him is still around and anxious to stop the quest. As Kelsey works to help her tiger they begin to fall in love, making this a love story as well.


When I started this book I felt that it was going to be an average book. The first
few chapters told an interesting story but the writing seemed to be somewhat simple, with information that did not seem necessary. But as the book progressed the story took off and I was hooked, leading me into a wonderful journey filled with magic and a quest to find the tresure that will break the curse of the tiger. The quest is full of adventure and intrigue, incorporating Indian legends and Gods. The author did her work, the stories made me want to hop online and do some research on my own, to learn moreof the old stories and gods in the novel.

Kelsey is the main female character. She started as a typical American teen, but as the story unfolded she added multiple layers of dimension and I grew to like her. Ren, the white tiger
who changes to a man is also an interesting but I wanted to know more about him.
But they are developed enough that I came to care for them both, hoping they would be succesful in thier search. The love story is well done without overt sexual scenes.



I liked this book and it is the first of five, I can't wait for the next book as the quest continues. The rights have been picked up for a movie as well.


Rating: An great adventure story, worth your time.



4 stars

Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Published: October 26, 2010
Pages: 272
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review:

Dash and Lily are alone for the Christmas holidays. When Lily leaves a notebook with clues in a bookstore, Dash finds it and they begin to communicate via the notebook, developing a relationship on paper until they can meet.

This is a good little book with the undertones of love, but not an overwhelming love story and would be enjoyed by both sexes, this is by no means a chic lit book. The characters were well developed and shared the things we all were scared about as teens - being liked, what is normal, how to fit in. Dash and Lily had many things in common, making their adventure a bit more believable.

As Dash follows the clues they lead to more dares. He in turn dares Lily to follow his clues and so the relationship is built. The dares in the book were fun to follow and see how each character would react. When Dash and Lily finally meet it is a disaster, and only in a book do things turn out so perfectly.

I liked the story but felt myself wanting more. The ending seemed abrupt and I wish there was a few more chapters to wrap things up. But this is a book worth reading, as the writing is fun and the message can be enjoyed all.


Rating: Enjoyable book worth a look.


Author: Ann Aguirre
Published: April 12, 2011
Pages: 212
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from t
he only world she’s ever known.

Review:

The story starts with girl 15, who gets named Deuce on her 15th birthday. It is sometime in the future and she lives in an underground world where life is hard and short. She has trained to become a huntress, and her job is to find food and fight off the "freaks", transformed people who have sharp teeth and claws and hunger for human flesh. I won't add anyspoilers, but we follow Deuce as she becomes a huntress and her life as it unfolds in the Enclave.

I love dystopian literature, and this should be considered among the best. It is fresh and original with all the elements you want in a this type of book. And although it is not long, there are no wasted words. I applaud Ann Aguirre for creating such believable worlds, both below and above ground. The Enclave was hot and creepy, I found myself becoming claustrophobic just reading about it. When Deuce moves above ground another world is created, just as interesting and dangerous as the first.

The characters are well developed. Deuce is a strong female protagonist who grows throughout the novel as she learns to trust herself and others, and even finds love along the way. The secondary characters are just as well developed.

And while there is a love interest, this is by no means a love story. It is one about survival in a world where everything that can go wrong has, and survival is measured by days not years. It is an exciting read with danger around every turn.

I loved this book. I started reading and could not put it down. And when it was over I was left breathless and wanting more. It stayed with me for several days, as I relived the journey of Deuce and her friends, and pondered survival in their world. I am so happy a sequel is planned, I cannot wait for the next installment.

Rating: Not to be missed, a great dystopian novel


Author: Jonathan Mayberry
Published: September 14, 2010
Pages: 464
Rating: 5/5Stars

Description from Goodreads:

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Review:

The world changed 15 years ago when something made people into zombies who spread the sickness by biting. Now the populations exist in small groups behind wire fences, and the zombies rule most of the world. This is the setting where Benny Imura is introduced, now at the age when he must declare a vocation in order to live in the town and share in its resources. After trying several jobs he decides to follow in his brothers footsteps and become a zombie killer. But the job is nothing like he imagined and as he leaves the town to venture into the world he learns many life lessons.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel and I was pleasantly surprised. Mayberry has provided a wonderful story about what is important in life, tucked into a zombie novel with lots of action. There are so many colorful characters inside, including Tom Imura, Benny's brother, his childhood friends and Lilah, the wild girl who is the object of legend, living alone in the wilds and killing zombies that wander the world outside the gates ("the ruin").

Benny doesn't really like Tom, he is nothing like the "cool" zombie killers named Charlie Pink Eye and he can't imagine why he is respected by the townspeople. When Tom takes him into the Rot & Ruin he comes to see Tom as a compassionate man who sees zombies for what they once were - people like them with hopes and dreams, and lives worth living. He sees how Tom uses this compassion to "quiet" the zombies and give them a final death.

He also comes to see the cruel people who use the zombies for fun and games. He realizes that the world inside the gates of Mountainside is only a glimpse of what is really happening. When his friend is kidnapped and taken to be used in zombie fights he must risk everything to save her.

Mayberry has created an interesting world where zombies outnumber the living and the world is a dangerous, dark place. But it also holds spots of goodness if you look for it. There is plenty of zombie type violence here, but it is used as needed to make the story real. I found this one of the better YA novels with zombies. I found myself immersed in the Rot and Ruin and could not stop reading until I found out how things turned out. I highly recommend the book for the moral story it teaches. It will be appreciated by teens and adults for the wonderful story it tells.

Rating: A wonderful story with zombies, don't miss this one

There are quite a few new releases in the next week, July 12-18:


Sass & Serendipity
Author: Jennifer Ziegler

Description from Goodreads:

For Daphne, the glass is always half full, a situation is better managed with a dab of lip gloss, and the boy of her dreams—the one she's read about in all of her novels—is waiting for her just around the corner.
For Gabby, nothing ever works out positively; wearing any form of makeup is a waste of study time, and boys will only leave you heartbroken. Her best friend, Mule, is the only one who has been there for her every step of the way.
But when the richest boy in school befriends Gabby, and Daphne starts to hang out more
and more with her best friend, Mule, Gabby is forced to confront the emotional barriers she has put up to stop the hurting. And for once, her sassiness may fall prey to her definition of stupidity.


Sometimes it
Happens
Author: Lauren Barnholdt

Description from Goodreads:


On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Sebastian dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction--and one night, into a passionate kiss.

The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Sebastian, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think...



The Summer I Learned to Fly
Author: Dana Reinhardt

Description from Goodreads:

Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.



Texas Gothic
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Description from Goodreads:

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.







The Other Countess
Author: Eve Edwards

Description from Goodreads:

It's 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey's family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will's eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated.





The Hidden Coronet (The Relic Master #3)
Author: Catherine Fischer

Description from Goodreads:

The coronet, a potent ancient relic, might be the only way to defeat the power that is destroying Anara. But it has been lost for centuries, and only legend tells of its whereabouts. Will Galen and Raffi be able to find it before the Watch does?







Forever (The Wolves of Mercey Falls #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Description from Goodreads:

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater

then.

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.


Author: Alex Flinn
Published: April 27, 2010
Pages: 400
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

Talia fell under a spell...Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic...
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another tim
e—to a stranger's soft kiss.
I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels...The good news: My parents will freak!
Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?


Review:

Jack and his friends are on a tour of Europe when they wonder off from their tour. They stumble on a village frozen in time. When he finds a beautiful girl (Talia) who is sleeping he is compelled to kiss her, breaking a curse that awakens her from a 300 year nap. The story follows Jack and Talia as they make their way back to the United States and Talia adapts to life in the modern world. Will it be the perfect love story or will the evil witch who cursed Talia win in the end?

Finn has adapted a classic fairy tale and added a twist of having to adapt to a new time period. The characters are well done and fun to watch. Talia is a typical spoiled princess at first but soon changes as she must rely on Jack to help her make her way in her new world. Jack has his own problems too, parents who expect him to do as told, and not choose a career that he desires. In the background is the wicked witch who placed the curse on Talia and is determined to recapture her.

The plot is predictable and at times funny, especially as Talia tries to adapt to the new technology she finds in Jack's world. I did find it an easy read, but saw the ending coming half way through the book. I enjoyed the novel, it is a light and fun book if you enjoy revisiting the fairy tales from your past with an updated twist.

Rating: An enjoyable, fun retelling of a classic fairy tale.



Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Published: June 28, 2011
Pages: 464
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister.



Review:


Lochan and his sister Maya have grown up in a dysfunctional family where they have been abandoned by their father, their alcoholic mother is absent most of the time and they and are struggling to keep their siblings together and out of the eye of social services. Close in age, they have grown up as best friends as well as brother and sister. Both are stunned when they realize they are falling in love with each other and that the feelings are mutual. This is an absorbing story of their dilemma and how they handle this taboo, and how it is likely to end.

Tabitha Suzuma has taken on a subject not often written about, especially in YA novels. But she has done a beautiful job in making the story of Lochan and Maya come alive and exploring the difficulties and heartbreak found when siblings fall in love. Incest is most often portrayed with an aggressor and a victim, here it is a mutual desire without victims, but not without consequences.

The chapters are in first person and alternate between Lochan and Maya, giving us a view from both main characters. This allows us to get inside their heads and get to know them both, and I found that I found myself thinking that they deserved to find the happiness they wanted and deserved. All characters were well developed, I found myself wanting to cry for the situation these siblings were left in by the adults who were supposed to care for them.

Despite the topic, I found that this was an incredibly well written book. I wanted for things to work out for Maya and Lochan, despite the views of society and the law, but I knew that the book was not destined to have a happy ending, stories like this never do. However, the ending was not what I expected and it was a tragic, heartbreaking conclusion to one of the better books I have read this year. This is definately written for the older set of teens, but anyone older will also find this an absorbing book.

Rating: An excellent book about a taboo subject, not to be missed

There are just a few new books being released this week.

Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Description from Goodreads:

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister.








Lost Voices (Lost Voices #1)
Author: Sarah Porter

Description from Goodreads:

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

The first book in a trilogy,Lost Voicesis a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.


Also, in June several books were released in paperback editions. You may want to check some of them out:


The In My Mailbox feature is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I had a great week, considering I was moving. Here is what I received, let me know which one you would like to see reviewed next:















Welcome to all my new readers. I have been involved in moving so my blogging has not been as frequent as I like, but I hope to get back to my 5-7 posts a week. If there is anything you are really wanting to have reviewed, please leave me a comment and let me know.

Author: Charlie Higson
Published: June 14, 2011
Pages: 496
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

THE DEAD begins one year before the action in THE ENEMY, just after the Disaster. A terrible disease has struck everyone over the age of sixteen, leaving them either dead or a decomposing, flesh-eating creature. The action starts in a boarding school just outside London where all the teachers have turned into zombies. Together they begin a terrifying journey to find safety, and home.

Review:

Ever since I finished reading The Enemy, I have been anxiously awaiting the publication of The Dead. And Higson didn't disappoint with this one. The book opens with the start of the disease, and the YouTube video of The Scared Kid. As the disease spreads a group of boys find themselves stranded at a boarding school, fighting off the teachers who have become living monsters who want to eat them. It follows them as they watch the progression of the disease through the staff until the kids are left to fend for themselves. Anyone over sixteen has been stricken, and once again we follow the trials of the kids as they look for ways to survive in a world where they have no adult assistance and have to fight for their lives.

Higson has given us several wonderful characters, all of whom have their own unique traits and you will find yourself hoping that they can figure out a way to survive in a world turned upside down. It is heartbreaking to follow them as they realize that their parents are likely dead or diseased and that the world as they knew it is gone.

There is plenty of zombie type violence here, but necessary for the kids to keep themselves safe. The journey they take from the countryside into London had me on the edge of my seat and I found I could not put this book down.

This book explains a lot of questions that I had after The Enemy, but if you have not read the first book you could start here and then read it. You will not be disappointed and this one is not for the YA audience alone, anyone who loves zombie books will find this series well done and worth your time. I hear that there are six book planned for this series, I cannot wait to see how the story progresses and this series at the top of my wish list. Oh, and make sure to stop by and see "The Scared Kid".

Rating: An outstanding series, do not miss this one!




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NeyGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.



Author: Jen Violi
Published: May 24, 2011
Pages: 336
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

Since her father’s death four years ago, Donna has gone through the motions of living: her friendships are empty, she’s clueless about what to do after high school graduation, and her grief keeps her isolated, cut off even from the one parent she has left. That is until she’s standing in front of the dead body of a classmate at Brighton Brothers’ Funeral Home. At that moment, Donna realizes what might just give her life purpose is comforting others in death. That maybe who she really wants to be is a mortician.

This discovery sets in motion a life Donna never imagined was possible. She befriends a charismatic new student, Liz, notices a boy, Charlie, and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too, and finds herself trying things she hadn’t dreamed of trying before. By taking risks, Donna comes into her own, diving into her mortuary studies with a passion and skill she didn’t know she had in her. And she finally understands that moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting someone you love.

Jen Violi’s heartfelt and funny debut novel is a story of transformation—how one girl learns to grieve and say goodbye, turn loss into a gift, and let herself be exceptional...at loving, applying lipstick to corpses, and finding life in the wake of death.


Review:

Donna is on the cusp of adulthood but is still trying to get over the loss of her father. After the death of a classmate she realizes that she is drawn to the funeral home and is interested in learning more about becoming a mortician. As she explores her options for the future she realizes she must confront her grief from the past in order to move on.

Adolescence is such a difficult time of change when teens must choose their careers and face life after high school. Jen Violi has captured the difficulty of this time so well in this book, it is a wonderful primer on how to deal with making choices even when they go against everything your parent wants.

Donna is a complex and well developed character. She faces a difficult choice of pleasing a parent or choosing a career that makes her happy. The courage she displays in making a choice that endangers the relationship with her remaining parent was remarkable. The way she grew while dealing with her unresolved grief made me want to reach in and hug her. The secondary characters are also well developed and interesting, making this a very well rounded book.

The main topic was strange for a YA book - handling the dead. The author has opened a window into a world not often explored. And it is a fascinating world where the art involved in caring for the dead is explored. It makes it clear that death is something we all must deal with and makes one thankful for those who care for our loved ones after death.

Grief is also with here but not the main theme of the book. This is a wonderful book about making difficult choices and the rewards that are there when one seeks them.

Rating: A wonderful story about difficult choices




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.

Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: September 28, 2010
Pages: 306
Rating: 5/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Review:

Remy is left alone with her small brother in a world where a rabies type virus has turned most of the population into zombies. She has learned to protect herself and when her brother is transported to a government safe house she has to try to find him. The story follows her as she goes across the western US, picking up colorful characters along the way. There is plenty of zombie type violence and the action is nonstop as she tries to locate her brother as readers wonder what makes him so special that the government wants to protect him?

I was sucked into this book from the first page and found it hard to put down. Remy's is a wonderful character, strong and independent, but wanting to be with others makes her vulnerable. She is on a mission to find her brother, all she has left of her family. The other characters are also well done: Lazlo, a rock star, and Tatum, a soldier who goes out of his way to help Remy, and a tame lion they find on the side of the road. There is plenty of blood and gore here, with zombies who seem to be getting smarter as they evolve.

There is no guarantee that the characters will survive, and many don't as they run for their lives. The dark, hostile world Hocking has created is a joy to read about, and the love story thrown into the action packed novel makes this a wonderful read.


Rating: An Excellent story you will not want to miss.

Author: Katie Crouch
Published: May 3, 2011
Pages: 368
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.


Review:

Alex grew up in a commune in California, a life she thought was perfect until her mother dies in a car wreck and she is left alone. Soon she is sent to live with her grandmother in Savannah, Georgia, and finds that she is very out of place. Her grandmother is the head of the Magnolia League, a secret society within Savannah that rules the town. At first Alex thinks it is some type of social club, but soon learns that it is a secret group that relies on the magic of hoodoo, an African American folk magic. With hoodoo the power within the Magnolia League is unlimited: wealth, youth, love. But the price one pays for the power is high. Alex wrestles with the power of the magic and her desires to pursue her own life, but does she have a choice in the matter?

I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel. The use of the supernatural has become so common in YA literature today that many of the books seem to run together and it can be hard to find something new. Ms. Crouch has really provided something refreshing and interesting in her use of the hoodoo magic. I was not aware of this type of magic and found it fascinating. The use of a magic so powerful that those who practice it will not partake speaks volumes about the bad side of using magic to get your needs met. But magic has a seductive side too and those who are in the League cannot seem to see the dark side of using it to craft their lives.

The story grabbed me from the start and I found it hard to put it down. The setting of Savannah was perfect for the story and a place where hoodoo magic had deep roots. Alex is a wonderful character who longs to belong somewhere but has a hard time finding out what she really wants. Unfortunately for her, her grandmother is all too happy to dictate what she should do.

Following Alex's journey of discovery through the maze of hoodoo magic and how it has been woven into the lives of her family kept me on the edge of my seat as she found skeletons in the closet that I was not expecting. There was also plenty of romance and intrigue to be found in the story. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next installment, I can't wait to see how Alex's story turns out.

Rating: An excellent story you will enjoy




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.


Author: Megan McCafferty Published: April 26, 2011 Pages: 336 Rating: 4/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.


Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Review:

In the near future, a virus has made most people over the age of 18 infertile. This has made it popular, even encouraged for teens to become pregnant for others as soon as they can. Babies are now a commodity, and educated, white females can demand high prices for their "deliveries" (babies are not discussed). In this world we find identical twin girls, separated at birth, now meeting for the first time. Melody's parents have encouraged her to hold out for the highest bidder, making her pregnancy a high priced deal. Harmony was raised in a religious community where girls are encouraged to marry at thirteen, and she has come to make Melody realize that pregnancy for hire should not be done.

When I started reading this book I wasn't sure I liked it. The ideas were so foreign it was hard to read. But as I delved into the book it became a fascinating look at what could happen in a world where the pursuit of money is more important than then babies you create. It soon became clear that the adults in this world had changed the way their children think, and had the ability to encourage them to sell their womb space to the highest bidder. I felt sorry for the teens who felt they had to join in and help populate the world.

The two main characters were at first glance so very different, but as the story progressed, the ways they were alike b
ecame more apparent. The story was told from two view points, each twin alternating chapters. Their characters were well developed with Harmony the easiest to like with her sweet language and good intents. The slang used by Melody made her a bit harder to follow, but you could see her realization of her real predicament as the story progressed. The secondary characters were also well developed and likable, even fascinating. It was hard not to be disgusted with the parents, although they were not present for much of the story it was clear that their own desires drove them to make choices for the girls that were in the best interests of themselves, not their children.

This is a book that made me think. Parental approval, even encouragement, to become pregnant along with the financial gain, and peer pressure, made giving birth just another teen milestone.
The way McCafferty set up the future world where this, along with constant advertising that was geared toward encouraging teen pregnancy made it clear that this is something that could happen if the circumstances were right.While the book could be seen as a lighthearted, fluffy read, the themes are real and deserve to be examined. Women are clearly devalued in this world and the way the characters eventually stood up for themselves made me want to cheer. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I soon found out that a sequel is planned, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: An excellent story that will leave you thinking




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.

About This Blog

I review mostly Young Adult literature, any genre. I also review other fiction, especially horror, science fiction and historical novels. I also have occasional giveaways.

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