Sunday, March 27, 2011

She Smells The Dead by E.J. Stevens

She Smells the Dead (Spirit Guide, #1)

It's the beginning of senior year and Yuki's psychic awareness of ghostly spirits is threatening to ruin her life. Her ability to sense spirits of the dead isn't glamorous like the ghost hunting on television.


SHE SMELLS THE DEAD.

The smell impressions are becoming stronger. Yuki is being visited in her dreams, and she suspects that her friend Calvin is involved in something strange. To make matters worse her crush on Garrett is going unrequited, Yuki's friend Emma is on a rampage against bee oppression, and annoying Calvin Miller mysteriously disappears. Will Yuki be able to focus her powers in time to save the lost soul who is haunting her? Meanwhile, who will save Yuki from following the spirits into the light?

E. J. Steven's novel is a combination of paranormal romance and mystery with a good bit of humor thrown in.  The main character Yuki isn't really named that, but chose that nickname over her real name Vanessa.  You'll have to read the book to see what the nicknames she's been through to see why she chose a nickname.  The novel takes place in high school in a small Maine town where Yuki's best friends are Calvin and Emma.  Calvin is a huge meat eater, but into meditation and spiritual matters.  Yuki is a vegetarian and Emma is completely Vegan.  It makes for fun and interesting fodder at the lunch table.

The mystery begins when Yuki is overpowered with the smell of vinegar.  Both Calvin and Emma know about her strange "talent" and help her in her sleuthing to find the ghost that is connected to the smell.  She can't see him or talk to him.  She only has a smell to go by.  Her parents don't know about her talent so she works around that.  And she has to rely on her friends for rides as she doesn't have her driver's license yet, afraid a scent will overtake her and she'll pass out while driving.

She has the hots for the bad boy in school Garrett Hamlin but suddenly finds herself attracted to Calvin.  She soon finds out why and things get really strange from there.  And that's saying a lot since she can smell dead people.

This is an easy to finish in one night book.  The writing flows quickly, there are no gaps in the story that need explaining except maybe how Yuki came to have her talent.  But the story builds momentum leading to the next novel.  There are no cliffhangers.  It ends with a good conclusion but you know there is more to come.  I loved the story between Cal (vin) and Yuki.  They'd obviously been friends a long time and they are so opposite it is hard to believe they are friends.  She's as goth as they come  and he's as outdoorsy as they come, yet they are perfect for each other.  He calls her his "Princess Dung Beetle" which she sometimes likes.  You'll have to read to see how that came about.  There are no betrayals in this book, everyone is a good down to earth loyal friend.  The story is told from Yuki's perspective, first person narrative so we get a chance to see inside her head.  Her observations, especially in high school are funny.

I really loved this story.  The romance was just enough.  The paranormal was definitely something new and it wasn't just the smelling dead people.  I left out a big part so I don't spoil it for you.  And the strong friendships were nice to see.  The biggest villain at high school this time was a "jock" and not a girl.  So yay for the girls we aren't as bitchy as we're portrayed to be!!  At least not in this novel.

This novel is G rated.  Anyone that likes paranormal romance/mystery should enjoy this quick read.

Heather in Sandwich

Look for my review of the second book in this series in a few days

This came in my Spirit Storm Prize Pack and it was everything it promised to be!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ada Legend of A Healer by R. A. McDonald

Ada Legend of a Healer

No sickness, No injuries, No pain, No limits.


If you had the power to heal, what would you do?

For fifteen-year-old Ada discovering that she can heal feels more like a curse than a gift. When she learns of the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance, and sees the indifference of so-called friends, she sets out for Paris to find her.

The power to heal protects her, but also has her hunted by a man who sees her as nothing more than his fountain of youth. Ada realizes her true power is her will to survive, and that her only chance at freedom is to become the best at escaping.

Ada hasn't grown up in a house with a white picket fence. Instead she was cast off and absorbed into the foster care system, quickly putting up a shield of hostility. Always knowledgeable of the sicknesses of those around her and never getting hurt just seemed like facts of life. Finally on her last strike of trouble, an estranged aunt comes to the rescue, giving Ada the knowledge of how to use her healing power. Now Ada, who up to this point has shunned the world, all of the sudden has the power to heal it.

This book delves into the psychology and growth of a teenage girl coming to grips with the knowledge that there are some good people out there; some people worth healing.

Along with action and adventure, Ada, Legend of a Healer also brings to light numerous philosophical issues. Like many middle and high school girls, Ada is introduced to society's harsh realities at a young age, so she's built a wall of anger to strengthen her self reliance, to survive. Despite the pressure and demands, Ada refuses to sacrifice her self-worth, and in this she discovers that a strong will overcomes all obstacles.

I was asked, "why the questions at the back of the book?"

My answer: Because Girls Like to Think. R.A. McDonald (Picture and Summary taken from Good Reads).

I was given this book for review from the publisher House of Lore Publishing.  This in no way influenced my opinion of this novel.

Well, this novel had a little bit of everything in it and left me with some questions that I was a little uncomfortable with answering.  Actually I couldn't answer them.  It starts out ordinary enough with Ada in yet another foster home with the typical portrayal of two unfit foster parents.  Ada has done something outrageous to get herself out of a bad situation and the social worker is once again sighing and taking her to the house where she waits until she gets a new place to live.  This time is different though.  They finally reach her Aunt Jessie who takes her away and things get really strange from there.

Ada has always had the ability to heal things.  She's known it and it's made her stay away from people and be the weirdo.  She was left by her mother as a baby with Jessie and  for some reason, Jessie put her in the foster care system and because of Ada's antics, not entirely her own fault, she's bounced around a lot.  But with Jessie, she learns people want her for her power to heal and will go to any lengths to get her.  Jessie has the power to heal as well and they're after her too.  There are a lot of chase scenes and separation of Ada and Jessie.  But the real power of the story lies in the difference in beliefs between the two.  Jessie believes the power to heal is a gift and it's her duty to heal the sick.  Ada believes it's almost a curse and that the sick are sick for a reason and that if she heals them, then the Earth will be over populated.  As they discuss this at a safe place with a professor who sides with Jessie and they discuss Ada's mother, Ada decides she needs to find her mother. So, in the middle of the night, she runs away.

Over the course of a few weeks, Ada gets her passport and heads to the airport for Paris, the last place anyone has seen her mother.  She's wise about getting through security being fifteen and without an adult then meets someone who helps her to learn French and takes her under her wing.  Ada has healed a few people out of desire before she left and while she lives with this woman she heals her too.  But it's dangerous to heal too many and people come looking for Ada.  She escapes and stays with a friend.

She makes friends with kids her own age in Paris and they practice something called "Parkour" where they run for hours, scaling walls and stairs, jumping over things, jumping from building to building, you name it they climb it, jump it, scale it.  The first day she's with them she runs for five hours through Paris and doesn't even get tired, but that's because her body heals itself.  Through several weeks she and Daniel get closer and they along with their two other Parkour friends Florien (male) and Elaine help her look for her mother.

Running throughout the novel is the underlying fact that Ada is not safe anywhere and neither is anyone close to her.  She's always in danger of being caught and the people that want her will use any means to get what they want. I also forgot to mention that some of the people that want her are for their own gain, health and money, making sure only those that can afford it get healed.  She isn't free.  But she is free in who she uses her healing powers on.  And she wants to keep that freedom. 

At the end of the novel, which ends with the definite conclusion that there will be sequels, there are questions to consider and a request to answer them on the website http://www.adaslegend.com/ .  I looked through them.  They are incredibly thought provoking and some, I just couldn't answer.  Here's a tough one- Should the betterment of humanity be considered more important than the rights of an individual?  Now take a moment to consider- she can heal cancer, paraplegics, diabetes, broken necks, bring people back from the brink of death.  She can touch someone and know what's wrong and how to heal them.  Should she be forced to do that if she doesn't want to?  Put yourself in that position.

I really enjoyed the story in this book.  It was interesting, the depths to which Ada thought about what she could do and the thought she put into whether or not to heal someone was of great importance.  It's a character driven novel, but there is plenty of action.  Parkour is indeed real as described by Wikipedia-
"it is a utilitarian discipline based upon the successful, swift and energy-efficient traversing of one's surrounding environment via the practical application of techniques, based around the concept of self-preservation and the ability to help others."  There was a lot of thought and detail in the book, but not too much.  There are also a few black and white illustrations in it, some hard to see, others very clear in detail.  The final page shows a glowing Ada with the words "THE LEGEND CONTINUES".

So, you want a little thinking with your reading, Ada, Legend of a Healer is the book for you.  Want a great story with a little romance, a lot of action and a well thought out plot and main character?  Ada, Legend of a Healer is the book for you.  It's both and you can take it either way, think about the implications (I found it hard not to) or just read it as a story.  I of course left quite a bit out.  Didn't want to give away the surprises.  But it's a quick read, unless you pause to consider and then you may get stuck for days.  This novel could be rewritten with Jessie and Ada thinking opposite ways and it would be a whole new story.  So many possibilities.  If you answer the questions in the back of the book, give me a shout.  I'd like to know.

Heather in Sandwich

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Conjurer Princess by Vivian van de Velde

The Conjurer Princess

Seventeen-year-old Beryl's wedding ends in murder when a baron abducts the bride. The church and law turn a blind eye to the abduction while Lylene, Beryl's younger sister, is left homeless and seething for vengeance. Lylene goes to a wizard for help, bargaining to learn magic. The bargain has a bitter dark side not fully explained to Lylene ... and so does Beryl.


Like the stories in Vivian Vande Velde's collection Curses, Inc., this character-driven novel has an ironic bite. Despite her good intentions, Lylene's naïvete is her undoing.

This book was brought to my attention when I read Small Review's Guest Post at Tiger Holland's All Consuming Reviews.  She wrote that one of her favorite couples was Weiland and Lylene.  Well, I had to see what she was talking about.  The love story is very shy and understated as the story is set way back in time, and yet you feel the blossoming of something between them.  They go through a lot together.  It isn't insta love.  In fact, in the beginning it's insta hate between the two.  But they are thrown together to survive and I think their reliance on each other, their shared experiences and losses, their shared anger all bring them together.  There is no big romantic declaration and yet at the end, you can see that the truce between them is something more.

The story is a great one and a quick read and one tweeners and adults would love.  Here is Lylene watching her sister get married to the boy who proposed to her when he was a youngster after her sister demanded he do so.  It was always assumed they'd marry.  Lylene is standing between the children's group and the adult's trying to decide which group she belongs in.  All of the sudden they are attacked after the vows are made and  Randall, the groom, is killed.  Beryl the bride is swooped up, Lylene's aunt tries to stop the brute who takes her and she gets a boot to the chest three times and dies from her injuries.  The Baron that kidnapped her marries Beryl and claims Randall's lands and Lylene is left homeless and penniless.  She's hellbent and determined to rescue her sister.  So she demands that a wizard teach her all he knows about wizardry.  He reluctantly agrees and she works as a maid to pay for his services.  But he doesn't teach her until one fateful night.  In an instant he teaches her and finds that she has only the power to duplicate things that don't last long and the magic has an unfortunate consequence.

Lylene is resourceful though and conjures a gold piece to secure a room for the night at an inn.  She's fine until the gold piece disappears.  She's in real trouble until she spies the chivalrous, but very inebriated Shile and the very unwilling Weiland across the room.  They take up her cause killing a few men and take off with her making camp hours later.  Her ability comes in handy when they are ambushed, but Weiland has a thing against magic.  He keeps his distance from her.

They find the castle where her sister is being kept and all is not as Lylene thought.  Trouble, big trouble happens and Lylene almost shoots her sister with an arrow.  Lylene escapes the castle with her companion much wiser to the ways of the world.

It was a bittersweet story and like I said the love story wasn't what you might expect.  It was chivalrous I'd say.  Weiland is a true gentleman and does what he promised to do.  He's a great companion to her and I wish the author had continued their story.  But I'm satisfied with the ending.  You just know there is an HEA.

Vivian Vande Velde was a prolific writer.  I plan to read more of her stories.  Plenty are available on Paperback Swap and on Amazon.  I recommend her stories.  They are fairy tales, but not always the light fare you might expect.

Heather in Sandwich

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Immortal Beloved (Immortal Beloved, #1)Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.


Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her
dead.


I don't know where this book has been hiding but I'm so glad I found it! This is a book about Immortals. Those seem to be popping up in my hands a lot lately. But this had an incredible mythology surrounding it and there is light and dark and these Immortals have Magick. That's the dark and the light- bad and good magick. That's how the story starts with bad magick. Nastaysa is with the usual crowd, drunk and headed to the next party. They fall out of the cab laughing while the cab driver yells at them and then she watches almost spellbound as her friend Incy crushes the man's spine with dark magick and leaves him dying in the street. And Nasty, as they call her, is horrified but can't do anything about it, so she leaves him in the street and gets drunk to try to forget. The next day she's running from her friends trying to make sure she gets as far away from them as possible. She remembers a woman telling her it didn't have to be this way, another Immortal.


Fast Forward, Nasty is basically doing hard labor and working on being a good girl. But she's having to relive the pain that she was running from. Some horrible things she's hidden away. And there's Reyn who seems so familiar to her and not in a good way. And Nell who hates her because of Reyn. And circles and star walks, and a job and crystals and scrying and it's almost more than a girl can handle.

Nasty is funny. She knows she's lived like a total brat and even a sociopath at times not caring about the human world and she admits it. She has finally had enough of that lifestyle and runs away. She finds the sanctuary she's looking for only it's a working farm and she has to actually work. The novel is written from her point of view and she actually talks to us the readers. She always forgets her gloves, working in the garden, picking up walnuts, washing dishes (say it together now, of course) is one of the ways she brings us into the story. I read that she was whiny, but I don't think so at all. She's incredibly self aware. And if you want to see character growth she grows by leaps and bounds.

The story between her and Reyn is heartbreaking. The both have reason to hate each other though I believe hers is stronger. And yet they are attracted to each other. A conundrum to say the least. Then there's the underlying story of Incy and company coming to look for her. She's scared of him now. She's hiding from him. But someone at River's Edge, her sanctuary, wants her dead and has hexed her room and bed to kill her.

Through flashbacks we learn about Nasty's life as a child and some of the things she's been through. She's almost 500 years old has been through and seen a lot. I'm hoping the next book reveals more history in it. A few of the characters are fleshed out, but I really only felt like I knew Nasty and River the best. We only begin to start seeing Reyn towards the very end of the novel. But I think the other characters will become more fleshed out in the next book.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire (Angelfire, #1)
This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.


When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember. (Picture and Summary from Good Reads.)

Okay, I'm not going to say a lot about this because everyone has reviewed it.  I actually read this pretty quickly so it's easy to read.  The author doesn't drag it down with anything unnecessary.  There is a lot of action with great fight scenes and Ellie and Will kick butt a lot.  Those are fun to read and it's so great to see a girl be more powerful a fighter than the boy.  HA!  Loved that about this book.  There were some obvious things left open for the next book and I'm not sure how Ellie is going to graduate when she has zero time to study.  I wasn't impressed with the romance part of it.  Hoping that part will get better in the next book.  And I felt like I didn't know Will at all.  He only revealed something personal about himself once and that was it.  I felt a little cheated.  On the other hand, I feel like I know Ellie really well and thought she took her being a reaper fairly well.  Of course, she did have the memories that were coming back to her.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book.  I thought the writing was great, the plot is good and despite it being a totally new world to me, the author introduced it slowly, explaining each new level of reaper, it's powers and strength.  I never felt lost in the fight scenes.  I always knew what Ellie and Will were fighting and why and what to expect.  The author did such an excellent job of introducing this new world without information dumping.  Other authors could take lessons from her.  The ending was satisfying as you know there are another two books on the way, but there are no cliffhangers.  I think this was an excellent start to a series  with  a whole new type of paranormal monsters!

Heather in Sandwich

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Miles from Ordinary: A Novel

Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....


“No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.



Miles from Ordinary is the story of thirteen year old Lacey and her mother Angela as they struggle through one day, the day that they both start new jobs. For Lacey it's a welcome relief from caring for her mentally ill mother, a chance to make friends, to feel normal and to reconnect to her Aunt Linda, in the place she used to work, even if she doesn't work there anymore, the public library. For Angela, it's a terrifying ordeal which she is attempting we can only assume because Lacey has talked her into it and on some level she doesn't want to let Lacey down. She's going to be a clerk at the checkout counter in the Winn Dixie, something she's done before, but she's very hesitant, really doubtful that she can do it. Lacey walks her through when she should meet her at the bus stop and goes on to her volunteer job with doubts. She's angry at her mother for not letting her be a normal teen and then chastises herself for being mad at her. She knows her mother isn't right.


Through a day full of flashbacks, we learn that Aunt Linda, Angela's younger sister used to live with them but the two sisters had a huge fight over Angela's mental health and Angela kicked Linda out. She called the police and went so far as to get a restraining order. Lacey knows how to get in touch with her, but feels abandoned and is angry with her, so she doesn't. But she's drawn to the public library where she worked secretly hoping she will stop by and Lacey will be there.

Lacey is a likable teenager. More than that, she's admirable even if she's in over her head. Maybe she doesn't know how sick her mother is. But she's too stubborn for her own good. And her aunt, knowing how sick her sister is, should have checked in with her. But the real fault for the condition of Angela and Lacey's plight, is Angela. She has medication she can take but won't. She was diagnosed as depressed, but it seems to have gone beyond that. I believe, considering what she'd been through, she had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she just, as the author wrote kept, "...slipping over a steep ledge in slow motion."

The story is told from Lacey's point of view and is set in present day in a small town in Florida. Lacey thinks about her mother constantly thinking how this or that will affect her mother. She looks at the world in a kind of black and white good for momma bad for momma kind of way. She has so much inner conflict and no one to talk to about it. Or help her. This is really her story and everyone else is a secondary character.

The final events are chilling and heart wrenching with Lacey still believing she can take care of her mom. She's loyal to a fault. Even after her mother's frightening words.

This is a fast paced novel, as the events all take place in one day. I can't say whether it's plot driven or character driven-maybe both? They are both tied so closely together and it's kind of like running downhill to the end. You can't turn the pages fast enough and you can't skip a single word. It gains momentum right until the end. Then there's a little time to sit and take a breath and wonder.

I received this ARC from Library Things Early Reviewers Program free of charge.  This in no way influenced my review of this novel.

Heather in Sandwich

Saturday, March 12, 2011

By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www.through-the-light .com.


While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters shines a light on how bullying can push young people to the very edge.

Daelyn has been demeaned, bullied, tortured and almost raped through her years in school.  For some reason, the teachers and principals always believe the other students, making her feel further bullied.  Daelyn was overweight most of her life and that was the main fodder for the bullies, but not all.  She tried to make her parents listen, but they just passed it off as kids being kids.  Her mom went on diets with her saying it would be "fun" and her father would sneak food to her at night.  She was sent to fat camp where they were tortured with emotional abuse and physical exercise beyond their limits.  She final went home when a boy died.  But that was before.  She has made a few attempts to take her life and failed.  The last attempt, pouring bleach and ammonia down her throat only resulted in a burned stomach lining and collapsed esophagus.  She has to wear a heavy neck brace, can't talk, and all her food has to be pureed.  She doesn't realize that she's become a frail, skinny, looking girl.  And that she's pretty.

Daelyn flies under the radar.  It's what keeps her safe and how she plans to slip from this world without anyone knowing her plans.  Her father monitors her computer so she can't get on suicide websites.  But she finds one that he can't trace and there she begins her countdown.  Twenty four days.  But a boy begins sitting on the bench with her while she waits for her parents to get her from school and he worms himself into her life without her permission.  Next thing she knows she's staying at his house because she can't be trusted to stay at home alone and her parents both have meetings when there's a half day of school.  Despite the fact that Daelyn can't talk, Santana talks a lot asking lots of questions.  She writes some answers down. Others she ignores.  Then she finds out something about Santana that seems to make her think.  She doesn't stop her countdown, but one day in chorus (she did it as a joke) a mean girl elbows her and a teacher moves her to a different section.  In a way, he sticks up for her.  And she ends up standing by the overweight girl.  And she's nice to the girl and the girl starts chatting to her and sits with her in another class.  Daelyn even writes a joke about the mean girl to the overweight girl and they laugh in chorus.  But she's not supposed to be making friends.  She's supposed to be letting go of everything.

Daelyn is not a pitiful character.  The neck thing gets to me, but that's a personal thing.  She's strong in her decision to end her life.  She isn't blaming anyone.  She blames herself.  She doesn't believe in God because he was never there for her before.  And she really thinks her parents will be better off without her.  She doesn't take her medicine that was seeming to work.  She really is strongly convinced that suicide is the answer.  The website is not one that talks you into doing it.  It ask questions that make you think about your choices.  It makes you wait those twenty four days.  It asks if you've thought of this and that. Have you decided how, where.  Have you decided who will find you etc.  But asks deeper questions like who will become you after you're gone.  Daelyn keys in no one, but can't help but think of the overweight girl in chorus.  Tougher questions come.

The author does a great job of portraying a girl in the depths of depression.  There is no feeling.  An absolute absence of any emotion.  Inside is dead.  That's how Daelyn is for most of the book until Santana starts to stir feelings in her.  She's a sympathetic character.  She doesn't whine about her life.  Maybe because she can't feel.  She just lays it out in flashbacks in black and white.  She doesn't even seem to hate the people that were so cruel to her.  She can't feel even that emotion.  But Santana is hard to ignore.  He's loud with bleached blond hair and colored tips and he seems to appear out of nowhere.  And like I said, he talks a lot.

I can't say I enjoyed this book because I don't enjoy reading about suicide.  But this was a very well written book on bullying, its effects on the victims and suicide.  It addressed a very tough subject with integrity.  People that attempt suicide aren't doing it for attention.  They're doing it to say, "Hey, I NEED HELP!"  They should be treated with respect and kindness and understanding. Not like a freak, a criminal, or a burden.  They should get help because the next time probably won't be an attempt.

Now there is no clear ending to the novel.  The author lets you decide for yourself what you think Daelyn did on the last day.  I know what she did and I have my proof to back it up.  But some others might see it differently.  But be it bullying or suicide this novel is a great lesson on both.

Heather in Sandwich

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington

ClarityWhen you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?


This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?(Picture and summary from GoodReads).

Clarity is a great debut novel by Kim Harrington.  It's set in present day in the fictional town of Eastport on Cape Cod.  This was a fun book for me to read as I live on Cape Cod.  The novel is narrated by 16 year old Clare and it starts out with a bang literally.  The first page will definitely get your attention, but then it slows down a little.  Clare's family business is psychic readings-her brother Perry can talk to ghosts, her mother can read minds, and Clare can hold an object and read the past, sometimes.

Clare is a strong, no nonsense girl who is put in a bad place when a tourist is murdered and her brother is the last one that was with her.  She's asked by the mayor to help the new detective in town because the mayor believes in her skills.  It helps that she used to date his son, Justin before she found out he cheated on her.  One problem though, the new detective doesn't believe in her skills and neither does his cute son who she has to work with.  Add a few more bodies, a couple of run ins with Justin, and  a new psychic in town and Clare has her hands full.

The author's writing style is easy to follow and after you settle into it, the story is a quick and easy one.  I thought I knew who the killer was, but in one way I was wrong, so look for a great plot twist at the end.  There is a love triangle, you've probably already guessed that, but it's handled well and the family bond is strong.  There are a lot of other stories going on along with the main plot that keep this story fresh.  Clare's ex boyfriend, Justin is still in love with her and she's confused about him.  Gabriel, the new detective's son seems attracted to Clare, but dismisses any information she gets using her gifts as good detective work.  He scoffs at her gifts, refusing to believe in her families abilities.  The new psychic in town seems to be able to predict the future, something Clare's family doesn't believe anyone can do.  And she's ruining their family business.  One of the richest men in town is running for mayor against Justin's father, the mayor.  So there's a lot going on in Eastport and it summer on Cape Cod, always a busy time.

I really enjoyed this novel.  It had a little suspense, some romance, some danger and a couple of plot twists that kept it interesting.  I loved the sub plots and how they tied into the main plot.  I also loved the bond between Perry and Clare.  Even though she discovered things about him she didn't know before, Clare still loved Perry enough to find the real killer and he loved her enough to trust her with the truth.  I also loved the honesty of Justin and Gabriel and I loved the set up for the next novel.  I can't wait to read it!

This was a pretty clean read with only some general talk about sex.  I'd say thirteen and up would be fine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hex A Witch and Angel Story by Ramona Wray

Hex, A Witch and Angel TaleLike most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life. So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed. (Picture and Summary from GoodReads)

I read a couple of chapters on line and loved the way the two main characters Lily and Ryder interacted with each other. A little snarky, step back, watch, advance, it was like a dance and it was so fun to watch. But then Lucian Bell enters the picture and everything goes awry. The romance between Lily and Ryder suddenly becomes urgent and Lucian is everywhere Lily is, rescuing her even when some mean girls are in the bathroom talking trash about her knowing she's in there. Lucian knocks on the girl's bathroom door and asks one girl out then tells her she's too fat unless she can lose ten pounds by Friday and does the same to the other girl. They both run out crying. It's about the only time I liked him. Now I don't mind jealousy or love triangles done correctly. But Lily isn't clued in until way late in the game and therefore we aren't either. Oh, and did I mention Lily's painful talent that when she touches anyone but Ryder, she goes into spasms and her head feels like it's going to explode and she can see the person's past and future. Kind of makes dating hard until Ryder comes along.

Anyway, the plot is moving along nicely, the characters all fleshed out we don't know who is good and who is bad but we know one is and we know who we like definitely. Then Lily starts getting different pieces of the puzzle. And tries to make them fit. The story is told from her point of view, which is enjoyable most of the time because she's got a wicked sense of humor and some seriously sexy thoughts about Ryder. However, some of her inner self talk had me confused and I had to stop and try to figure out how that went with the rest of the story.  Ramona Wray is a great writer. Snappy comebacks and witty inner dialogue, but I just kept being led off track. There was just too much sometimes. It was funny, but too much.


I couldn't see how my favorite MC's would get out of this one but Ramona Wray wrote a good ending. She showed some major character growth in the villain at the very end and everything wrapped up nicely. I don't see a sequel coming out of this one, but the characters were fun and it was a nice light read.
 
Heather in Sandwich

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Falling Under (Falling Under, #1)






Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.


As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.(Summary and Picture from Good Reads).

Falling Under (Falling Under, #1)I had no idea what to expect from this novel having not read any of the reviews before I started it.  I didn't want to know anything about it.  And let me tell you, this was seriously scary to me.  It was a cross between Alice in Wonderland,  The Corpse Bride and Lemony Snickett.  But it was all terrifying because for a good part of the book I had no idea what Haden was and he wouldn't tell.  He wouldn't touch Theia in either the waking or dreaming world yet made her achingly aware that he wanted to and therefore she ached to touch him.  Her first sight of him his very disturbing and the macabre revelers with him are repulsive.  When she wakes in the morning there is always the disturbing proof that what she experienced was all too real.

Theia's mother is dead, we don't know how for a good part of the book but can guess at a certain point in the book.  Theia is under her father's thumb literally.  He has a shopper pick out her clothes, khaki pants and sweater sets.  The only variation is in color.  Her room is decorated by a designer to fit, not Theia's tastes but what a girl her age should want.  Not personalized by clothes or her room, their relationship is not personalized either.  They barely talk and Theia longs for affection.  She bends to her father's every rule all in the hopes of keeping her safe.  Theia's mother was wild and look where it got her.

But even Father's rules can't keep Theia from the lure of Haden and he cannot stay away from her.  And once she's fallen under, it takes her friends to get her back.  And once she is under she's not so sure she wants to leave Haden behind.

Theia is a well developed character and grows from a scared little mouse to a wet sponge to a strong, determined girl bent on getting what she wants.  However, she's not quite sure of the rules and who she's messing with.  Haden, seems like a first class jerk at first.  But then we start seeing the parts of him that Theia sees.  Why she likes him.  Then they disappear.  He is the most enigmatic of all the characters until we find out exactly what he is, then all is explained.

The side characters are great and at times add to the tension or the comic relief.  Donny (Donnatella) and Ame (Amelia) are Theia's best friends.  They both always have her back.  Donny is always on the prowl for guys and never stays with one long enough to tie herself down.  Ame has been in love with the same boy for 4 years.  Madame Varnie who happens to be a 19 years old boy that is a real psychic.  And then there's Gabe hopelessly in love with Donny and Mike hopelessly ignorant of everything but food. He is most ignorant of the fact that he is  Ame's crush.  They all serve their purpose in the story which is well told and seamless.  The build up to the terror is better than I've read in a long time keeping in mind I read YA and do not read Stephen King.  But this terror had me glad I was reading in the daylight even if the wind was howling.

Here are a few sentences to tempt you taste buds: "...I witnessed my own shadow shifting apart from me on the canvas of the wall.  I jerked from the unnatural sensation of seeing myself disengaged.  My shadow turned to look behind her and then she ran frantically.  I watched her, fascinated as she ran a circle around the room, trapped on the wall yet oddly not attached to me any longer.....All at once she stopped racing and spun around and upside down like a pinwheel, getting smaller and smaller.  Then the other shadows in the room began funneling towards her disappearing shape, and they too whirled like water around a drain.  In horror, I watched them all swirl into a pinpoint and disappear.....I padded in that direction, only to stop short in front of my mirror.  I wasn't in it.  I had no reflection, though everything behind me was clearly visible."  Freaky huh?  That isn't the worst of it. It's actually only the beginning.  And I'm so glad this only the first book in the series.  For a debut novel, this is really outstanding!  Actually, even if it wasn't a debut novel, it's outstanding.  It's got a great romance in it.  There is only the hint of sex in it.  There are probably a few bad words in it.  But there is sexual innuendo in it.  I'd let my 14 year old read it if I thought he'd be interested at all.  I think I read it so fast none of these things registered with me.  The ending was satisfying but left enough of a cliffhanger that you could draw your own conclusions or wait for the next book.  I purposely left out some labels so it wouldn't spoil things for anyone reading this review.

Heather in Sandwich

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado . Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now. (Summary and Picture from Good Reads)


Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)
*Spoilers if you haven't read Perfect Chemistry.  And why would you want to read a review of the second book in the series if you haven't read the first book?????  Go read Perfect Chemistry, it's worth it!*

I probably should not have read this right after Perfect Chemistry.  I was tired of gangs and Mexican boys with attitudes.  I should have read something a little lighter.  But instead I picked up the sequel and felt like I was reading the same book as Perfect Chemistry, a little.  All the same cockiness, drugs, gangs, troubled boy, girl trying to save him etc.  was all there.  Of course, it was written very differently and I have to give Simone Elkeles an A for effort for taking basically the same plot and putting a whole different cast of characters in it and twisting it around.  I honestly didn't see how she'd work this one out, but then that's why I'm not the writer.  She tied up all loose ends and gave us a glimpse into the future which was amusing.

As she did in Perfect Chemistry, the chapters alternated between the two main characters Carlos, Alex's middle brother and Kiara, the daughter of Alex's old psychology professor and Carlos just happens to be staying in his house after he gets in some trouble at school.  As far as character development goes it seems to me that everything is a problem for Carlos.  Whether he's at school, in the REACH program, with his brother or with Kiara.  He seems to only let down his guard when he plays with Brandon, Kiara's little brother.  He is constantly worried.  It takes the joy out of his life and out of the time he spends with anyone.  Kiara on the other hand doesn't seem to worry about anything.  She just seems to have an "Oh Well," attitude about everything.  It's not believable.  I didn't feel attached to either character so I didn't really get emotionally attached to the story.  However, that did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.  And I loved the descriptions of the mountains as Alex was driving Carlos into Boulder from the airport.  I tried to stay up all night to finish this one, but my tired eyes just wouldn't let me.  It will definitely capture your attention and reel you in right from the beginning, despite it being similar to Perfect Chemistry.  There's just something about those Fuentes boys.  You have to know what's going to happen to them.  And you hope for the best for them.  I can't wait to read Luis' story, Chain Reaction coming up in August.

Heather in Sandwich

Awakened by Ednah Walters

Awakened (Book One of the Guardian Legacy)Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons, but no one told her she is not supposed to fall in love with one.

Orphaned as a child and raised by an eccentric grandfather, Lil is concerned with surviving high school and is unaware she's a Guardian—a being with super powers charged with killing demons and protecting humanity. But when she meets Bran, a mysterious boy with amazing abilities, his psi energy unlocks her latent powers.

But Bran has a secret that can destroy their growing relationship. He's part demon. But in her heart, Lil knows Bran is not evil. So when her grandfather is kidnapped by a powerful nature-bender and Bran is the only one who knows where he's being kept, Lil convinces the other Guardians to trust him, not knowing her grandfather is just the bait. And the truth that she discovers in the demonic enclave may just destroy everything she believes in, unless she makes the right choice—love and sacrifice.(Summary from GoodReads).

I could get detailed and pick this book apart.  There were things wrong with it and you could look for lots of things if you wanted to complain about it.  But I picked this book up because I wanted an enjoyable YA fantasy.  And guess what?  That's what I got.  They author includes a break down of who's who in the front but I didn't think the book got that technical.  I thought it was fun to see the kids beating each other up and then sneaking out because they didn't like getting left out of things.  They were typical teenagers with superpowers.  The romance between Lil and Bran is kind of insta love, but I think it's more like hero worship on Lil's part.

And then there's a lot of fighting.  And trying to figure out what's going on.  And some great reveals.  And more great fights and a quest and more fighting and then it's over.  It was really fun to read.  One part that I did think should have been treated harsher was the punishment of the jocks at the dance and that's all I'll say.  You'll have to read it to find out.  I ran through this one not worrying about character development or plot or anything else.  It was just an enjoyable read.  And I'm not messing it up by delving too deeply into it with all that stuff.  Read someone else's review if you want to know about it.  It was a fast enjoyable read for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Heather in Sandwich

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Talk to Me Tuesday #9

Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post and link back to I Swim For Oceans.


This week's question: What is your take on book to film adaptations...do you have a favourite or least favourite?
 
 
I don't have a real big opinion on this.  I usually don't go to movies when I've already read the books.  I'm almost always disappointed.  So far, I haven't been wrong.  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Stormbreaker and The Tale of Desperaux, I'm not even sure those were the same ballpark!  I'll concede a few of the Harry Potter's have been good.  But then the books have been so long, how could they possibly live up to the book.  And don't even get me started on the Twilight series.  I saw the first one and didn't bother with the others.  Now, Hollywood is taking notice of some of our beloved YA's.  How will they butcher them?  Please dear Lord, don't let any of the Twilight people near them!!  Oh, and sorry I'm so late to the party.  I'm just slipping this one in under midnight.
 
Heather in Sandwich

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