Friday, April 17, 2015

The Conspiracy of Us by by Maggie Hall

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Available Now
YA Thriller
Putnam Juvenile
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio CD/ BN/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter
Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.


Okay, so I know this has been compared to the Da Vinci Code for YA and yes, it is complicated, maybe a little too complicated, but it has a few too many faults for me. Avery is okay, but after living a very sheltered life, moving from place to place for her mom's job and never having friends or a boyfriend, she all of the sudden starts noticing a boy who suddenly asks her to prom. After a week at school. After she has found him stalking her. And she goes. To prom, that is.  And then things get bad from there. She's a bit like a helpless bird who has crashed into a window and is stunned. Her wings are hurt and she spends most of the novel that way. Being rescued. Again and again and again. And while I don't mind the rescue thing, it does get old after a bit.

But the story line was very interesting. Twelve was the magic number- 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 ruling families who can shut down Prada as well as have private planes on standby in every major city in the world. One prophecy looking for the One with the violet eyes. Bet you can't guess who has violet eyes??? Though she wears contacts to make her eyes brown so she keeps her identity a secret for a bit, gathering information about the prophecy and who her family is among the twelve ruling families. I'm still not sure who she belongs to and I didn't realize this was a series. I have to say that Avery gets more gumption and depth towards the end of the book and the story is much more interesting in the later third of the book than in the first two thirds. It's the only reason I will probably borrow the next book from the library and read it.

However, more troubling to me, I couldn't keep straight who the good guys were and who the bad guys were- The Circle or The Order and maybe that was intentional, I'm not sure. You will also have to swallow a lot of disbelief in the romance department. I believe this is a world record in how fast a YA couple falls for each other. I think it's a day and a half. Now, it might have something to do with the prophecy or something else magical though there have been no signs of magic so far. And there is a second guy, but I believe Avery's preference is clear, so I don't think there is a love triangle. Time will tell.

There is a lot of violence on and off the page. Some of it is really violent and could be disturbing to younger YA readers. Talk about the violence is glib among most of the characters as they are used to it, though Avery is not. I think a lot of readers would find this very fun to read and would be able to swallow what I found troubling in the novel. It might have just been the wrong time for me to read this novel. Or maybe I was just expecting something a little more. If you go in with a lighthearted attitude I think you'll enjoy it. But the insta-love, rescue syndrome, and bad decisions as well as hazy prophecy and secret societies just made it too much for me to really love this one.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Compulsion by Martina Boone

Compulsion by Martina Boone
Heirs of Watson Island Series
Available Now
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ MP3 CD/ B&N/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

I believe timing is everything. The first time I tried to read Compulsion I put it down after the first couple of chapters. It just wasn't the right time. That was last Fall when it came out. But I picked it up again and was able to breeze right through it. Now, it isn't without it's problems, but I could let those problems slide for the sake of the story. 

Compulsion is set in the South, an island off of South Carolina, one of my favorite settings. Everything is slow and sultry and the author does a great job of making me feel the humidity and the warm breezes of summer. Too bad I didn't pick this up on a snow day! I didn't feel that this had a gothic feel to it but there are definitely ghosts and skeletons in the closet. Any old Southern family has some of those in their closet, I suppose.  But I'll start with, I couldn't tell for sure because of the vagueness, but I think Barrie fell in love in less than a day. Yes, so if you have a real problem with insta love, forget this book. She was already worrying about Eight leaving for college after two or three days. Yeah, so there is that, but....if you can overlook that, there is a really great story in there.

First there is a great family story that unfolds about the heirs of Watson Island, The Colesworths, The Beauforts and  The Watsons. There is an interesting mythology surrounding the original owners and their heirs and  there is a mix of ghosts, Gullah and voo-doo lore. If you live along the Southern Coast, South Carolina to Northeast Florida- maybe to St. Augustine, you take for granted the lifestyle and the pace of the area. And the stories of how the areas were inhabited and still inhabited by ghosts and spirits. There are so many traditions and superstitions and generations, it's really hard to keep things straight but it makes for a great story, especially if your family is part of that story. Regardless of what God you believe in or don't, it's hard not to believe in some of the superstition and stories being told and that's exactly what happens to Barrie, only she can see it with her eyes. She has a gift for finding lost things, a pull towards those lost things like a yearning, and if she doesn't go find it, it becomes insistent almost to the point of pain. The Beauforts have their own gift as Barrie finds out belatedly. And the Colesworths have one as well, an unfortunate one.

This story is kind of meeting the family and introduction to the island kind of story. Oh, yes, there is a big action scene and mystery that gets taken care of but there are some very big loose ends that need to be taken care of in the next novel. Barrie's gift is interesting and one that definitely can be exploited by the wrong sort if she lets them. Luckily, Eight seems to be her protector right away even if Barrie doesn't want a protector. She doesn't quite sell me on that point. But I do see how Eight could be a little infuriating. And Barrie, for getting thrown headfirst into a situation she knows nothing about and is forced to swim through secrets and lies and betrayal looking for the truth, I'd say she's a strong character. She does not get rescued by Eight, but rescues herself so that is a commendable aspect of her personality. She's level headed even when she's falling apart. Even when I'd be shrieking ( I can only take the ghost thing so far). And she is very kind. To her Aunt Pru who does deserve it. To her cousin Cassie, the jury is still out on her. And in general to the people on Watson Island and even the spirits. She falls in love with the place, the place her mother grew up, and I think she learns to forgive and understand her childhood there.

You really should read it if you are into ghosts, and Southern folklore and curses. Yes, there is insta love, but it's almost part of the curse, they are just destined to love each other, it's always been that way. Why fight it? Especially when Eight makes Barrie so happy, and his gift is was it is. So forgive the insta love and read it. It's worth it. I really do recommend it! Especially if you are still in a part of the country that is thawing out!!


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