Category Archives: Review

>REVIEW: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (April 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373210264
Source: Net Galley
Rating: YYYY

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

REVIEW

With THE GODDESS TEST I have finally encountered a novel that is a fantastic pairing of Greek Mythology (Persephone and Hades) intermixed with a unique and romantically mysterious tale.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter is a story centered on a protagonist who has been saddened by life; her mother is dying, she has no true friends to lean on and has never been on a date in her life.Yet, soon after Kate and her mother arrive in Eden events begin to change for them both, but non so much as with Kate. After a tragic event occurs Kate makes a promise that she could have never imagined would eventually lead her to become a willing captive in Hades lair.

As I read THE GODDESS TEST, I began to question certain points of the story line, but although those questions were not answered right away, most of them were worked out before the end of the novel giving the story a bit more of a mysterious edge. I really enjoyed seeing Kate grow out of her doomed existence and blossom into a character that was worthy of becoming a member of the immortal court. And although I knew Kate promised to stay with Henry for her allotted time by the end of the book I did not want her to leave *sigh* I adore a good love story. Yet, those moments with Henry weren’t the only ones that did a number on my heart I was also left misty eyed by her special moments with her mom and friend James.

THE GODDESS TEST ends on a questioning note that now leaves sitting on pins and needles until the next installment, GODDESS INTERRUPTED, hits the bookshelves next year.

>REVIEW: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

 

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Razorbill; 1st edition (October 18, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595141715
ISBN-13: 978-1595141712
Source: Audiobook
Rating: YYYYY

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the
list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply
affect teen readers.

REVIEW
 
WOW! What can you say when you just have read something that is so profound and moving that you cannot believe what has just transpired: that with each breath you take it brings forth a little more understanding, a little more pain and despite that pain you’re glad that you experienced it. That is exactly how I felt after reading THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher and I am so kicking myself for not reading this amazing book years ago.
 
The book starts out like any other day for Clay Jensen, until he receives a box of tapes that unveil the startling and painful confession of Hannah Baker, former classmate and suicide victim. It is at this point that the story takes on it’s alternating POV with Hannah slowly and methodically explaining her thirteen reasons why and Clay trying to understand and question why he is given these tapes. As each reason floats into Jensen’s ears he is filled with sadness and hatred for those that hurt Hannah, but mainly for himself for he saw all the signs and he stood by and did nothing. A fact that these tapes confirm but that he is powerless to change.
 
As Hannah’s story came to light I understood her feelings of betrayal, her loneliness and sadness and my chest would get so heavy, I couldn’t breathe. Her pain was so raw and real that I would have to step away and stop so that I could process everything. I consider myself lucky to have an amazing support system so that if I had a bad day I would have many to help me, but what if things were different? That is when I see this story being a reality for many and it breaks my heart.
With THIRTEEN REASONS WHY I suspect that, despite some heartbreaking touches, it isn’t purely fiction. Blowing through Asher’s vision of a lonely and misunderstood girl is the bone-chilling wind of truth; that words and actions have repercussions that cause a ripple that fan out and effect everyone around us. I highly recommend this read to everyone, but be forewarned because you will never forget it.
 
favorite passage…
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why)
 

>REVIEW: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (November 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439903467
ISBN-13: 978-0439903462
Source: Audiobook
Rating: YYYYY

When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed to be a truth was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between her loyalty
to her parents and her feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be
betrayed. The question is . . . who?

REVIEW

In Writing What I Saw and How I lied, author Judy Blundell has created a taut mystery that is showcased in the classic film noir style. A story interlaced with deception and pretense and at it’s heart is a young girl who is desperately trying to uncover the truth.

It’s 1947 and Evie is a 15-year-old girl enjoying her teen life post WWII. Her stepfather, Joe has come back from the war and their lives soon turn into the American dream. Before Summer ends, Joe decides on a family vacation to ritzy Palm Beach, little did he realize that running never solved ones problems.

While in Palm Beach, Evie and her parents encounter several patrons at their hotel, but one particular couple quickly becomes fast friends with them and soon they are all inseparable. Then one dance with a handsome stranger turns their cozy group into something else all together. Evie begins to feel the first stages of young love and maybe it is because of this fact that she does not realize the web of lies and ultimate treachery that will soon complicate her life. When an unimaginable tragedy occurs Evie’s world and the house of lies that it was built on begins to crumble and she must decide on which truths to bring forth and what lies to keep hidden thus signaling the end of her innocence.

While reading WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED I became completely absorbed with this story and within a few pages I was that girl in 1947. I fell in love with the style and ambiance of that time period for it was well detailed and described in this story. Judy Blundell did an amazing job of showcasing a time period that had an air of romance to it while bringing forth some of the ugly truths. One of the most disturbing moments to witness was the anti-Semitic treatment of the Jewish population in the united states during that time period along with the unspeakable crimes that were committed by some US soldiers during WWII. Yet, while this subject matter was harsh to digest it was secondary to a mysterious tragedy whose truthful unveiling will forever remain unanswered.

Although I could see some of the plot lines that were coming before they solidified before my eyes I still could not believe it. And unlike Evie I am not sure that I would want to know what exactly happened, for it would surely not bring forth any peace. I admired her strength and resolve and was left hopeful that her newfound knowledge would provide a change for the better.

After reading this novel I could not stop thinking about it. I understood Evie and her reasons for what she did but was haunted by that choice. Would I have done the same thing and what truly occured that tragic day? I will always wonder.

One of my favorite moments…“This could be the worst thing, even worse than everything that came after: Even now, if I could go back to that moment–I wouldn’t change a thing”

Author Interview with Clare B. Dunkle

“Former librarian Clare B. Dunkle is a writer worth watching. Gifted with the ability to create unique historical fantasy novels with a narrative pull like a Hoover, she wins fanatically dedicated readers right and left.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing with Clare B. Dunkle, author of serveral books including BY THESE TEN BONES. Besides this recent re-release Clare has also written THE HOLLOW KINGDOM TRILOGY, THE SKY INSIDE, THE WALLS HAVE EYES and recently THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS. So, Please sit back and relax and join for a spell.
RR: Upon reading about your background I noted that you lived in Europe for several years. Did that experience influence your writing?
CBD: Oh, yes, tremendously. When we arrived in Germany, I hadn’t written a word of fiction since seventh grade creative writing class. When we came home seven years later, Holt had already published my first four novels. I think it was partly the isolation that did it: I honestly didn’t have a lot else to do with my time. But it was also that feeling of being at the heart of it all. I’d read folktales and history about Europe since childhood. Now, here I was, driving through dark German forests that looked like they could hold a gingerbread house or two and walking through crypts beneath the great cathedrals of Europe. The ancient buildings and landscape there really got into my blood and strongly influenced books like BY THESE TEN BONES.

RR: BY THESE TEN BONES was originally released in 2005 before the recent craze of werewolves that have now became mainstream in today’s YA literature. How do you feel about that?
CBD: Well, I’m delighted that it’s encouraged my publishing house to release a paperback edition. BY THESE TEN BONES is a favorite of mine. And I’m glad YA werewolves are getting their time in the sun—or, rather, moon. I prefer them to vampires.


RR: What is your book BY THESE TEN BONES about?
CBD: The story is set in the medieval Highlands of Scotland, a time and place when everyone believed in werewolves and knew to kill them on sight. Maddie, the town weaver’s daughter, becomes interested in a reclusive young woodcarver named Paul who comes to their town, but she can’t persuade him to speak to her. When a hideous creature almost kills the carver, Maddie becomes entangled in a life-or-death secret that could destroy her entire town.

RR: What kind of research did you have to prepare for BY THESE TEN BONES?
CBD: I was obsessive about my research for this book. Several of my ancestral lines are Gaelic, and my maiden name is Scottish, so I didn’t just want to stick characters in plaid and give them funny accents. I did quite a bit of nonfiction reading, took the family on a long Highland road trip with stops at all the living history museums we could find, and finally invited one of the world’s foremost experts on the medieval Highlands, Mr. R. Ross Noble, to read the manuscript and give me his comments.
It was an honor to work with Mr. Noble on the book. At the time, he was just retiring after twenty-five years of curating the Highland Folk Museum. Now he’s helping out UNESCO as a member of the Scotland Committee. I prepared him a special annotated copy of the manuscript, with the story in one column and my historical research pertaining to the text in another. He read the manuscript several times and was very supportive and helpful.

RR. Who was your favorite character in BY THESE TEN BONES and why?
CBD: Wow, that’s a hard question. I don’t think I can choose between Maddie and Paul. I love Maddie’s enthusiasm and optimism. It takes a lot to slow her down. But Paul has been through so much, and he feels things so deeply. Really, they’re so sweet together that I love them both.


RR: What do you want your readers to take away from your book?
CBD: You know, I never do write a book to try to get readers to take away a certain message. I feel strongly that that’s not what fiction should be about. Fiction is a chance for readers to have a new experience—a safe, risk-free experience—and I do hope that each reader takes away from my books something of value to him or her. But since each person’s experience coming into the story is different, I can’t predict what that person’s experience will be on the other side of the story either, and I think that’s as it should be.

RR: What was your favorite book that you read as a teen and why?
CBD: Sad to say, I read fewer books as a teen than I’ve done at any other stage of my life. School and university were so demanding! Fortunately, the books that were assigned in class were very worthwhile. Two books in particular have stayed with me as favorites, although you’ll wonder why because both of them were grim. The first was ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. That’s a fictionalized account of exactly what the title states: one day in the life of a prisoner in Stalin’s gulags. It’s surprisingly cheerful—just business as usual. And it’s so real. The first time I read it, I couldn’t put it down; I especially couldn’t stop to eat because that seemed like an insult to the prisoners. I don’t know how they had the strength to keep going. I know I wouldn’t have.
The other book is ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, by Erich Maria Remarque. It’s about life in the trenches in World War I, and again, it’s just so real. It’s amazing how humans can adjust and keep going in the middle of carnage and chaos. It’s almost unbelievable, really.

 
RR: What are you in the process of writing next?
CBD: My daughter and I have just completed a revision of her anorexia memoir, VANISHING GIRL. We’ve gone through trauma and heartache together, and I’m very proud of her for speaking out.


RR: What is on your nightstand now?
CBD: P.T BARNAM: AMERICA’S GREATEST SHOWMAN, by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., et al. It’s a fascinating read; that’s a slice of Americana I had no inkling of. Also THE GREAT CIRCUS TRAIN WRECK OF 1918, by Richard M. Lytle. It sounds like a joke, but what a tragedy! Eighty-six people were killed.


RR: With all the YA novels that are coming out this year, besides BY THESE TEN BONES, what are you most eager to read?
CBD: I can’t wait for my friend Jennifer Ziegler’s new novel, SASS & SERENDIPITY. It’ll be out in July from Delacorte, and so far I haven’t been able to wheedle a galley out of her.


RR: What is the best way for a reader to find you i.e. facebook/twitter/blog?
CBD: I am on Facebook, so that’s a good way to reach me. Also, I run my own website, http://www.claredunkle.com, and readers can find a web form there if they want to ask questions. I’ve posted photos there from my Highlands trip and other background information about BY THESE TEN BONES, as well as information about my other books.

RR: Thank you, for this great interview and I hope to see you again. It has been a pleasure as always.
CBD: Thank you for having me! It’s been great fun.

If you liked this interview and want to find out more about Clare please follow her to TEMPTING PERSEPHONE on Thursday. BY THESE TEN BONES by Clare B. Dunkle
February 15, 2011

A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of Maddie, the weaver’s daughter. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust. But there is an evil presence in the carver’s life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her—and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

>REVIEW: WAKE UNTO ME by Lisa Cach

WAKE UNTO ME by Lisa Cach

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Speak (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142414360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142414361
  • Source: Publisher
  • Rating: YYYY
  • Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It’s what her dead mother’s note suggested, and it’s what her recurring nightmares allude to.

    Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams–and her small
    town–she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.

    But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?

    Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.

    REVIEW

    I did not know what to expect when I began reading WAKE UNTO ME by Lisa Cach and I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a story that is filled with historical intrigue, mystery and a romance that transcends space and time.

    Caitlyn Monahan is a 15 year old girl haunted by dreams since she was a little girl, some dreams are harmless and other dreams are nightmarish, filled with screams and disturbing images. Caitlyn longs to be normal and to escape those dreams that plague her, but she cannot deny the feeling that she does not belong and that leaving Oregon is the answer. Then an opportunity presents itself to Caitlyn, one that she immediately embraces and soon she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school, Chateau de la Fortune.

    Once within the stone walls of her new boarding school her infrequent dreams escalate to a frequency that is unsettling. And despite that fact Caityln is eager for those dreams because there she encounters a charming young man named Raphael. She cannot believe the feelings that come forth whenever she is with him, the undeniable pull and attraction and the sense that she belongs to him. Together they uncover a mystery that is hundreds of years old, one that reveals a startling history of her school and it’s grounds, but nothing frightens her like the secret of whom and what she is, her destiny finally revealed.

    I have to admit that initially, within the first few chapters I was shaking my head. I found that the ease in which Caitlyn found her new school and was accepted to be a bit far fetched, and I am always sceptical with sudden romances. Yet, I pushed forth and found myself pulled into the romantic mystery of this book. I could not pin point the exact moment at when I was totally consumed by this story but I could not stop reading it, the need to find out about this castle, this boy and what brought them together was the only thing I cared about. There were many twists and turns on the road to this discovery and it made this book all the more intriguing. I enjoyed uncovering the bits and pieces of the puzzle as I went along, even those that I could see coming that would usually annoy me. Yet, with this story it all seems to fit.

    I really enjoyed The Davinci Code and WAKE UNTO ME reminded me alot of that favored read. The historial and religious aspects that were presented were well detailed and intriguing. Not to forget the paranormal edge that was paramount to Caitlyn and her own mystery that was unique and a great distraction. This book great read for all ages.

    >REVIEW: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

    The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
    Reading level: Young Adult
    Hardcover: 352 pages
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books (November 2, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0316090530
    ISBN-13: 978-0316090537
    Source: Purchased
    Rating: YYY

    Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

    In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.

    REVIEW (a tad spoilerish)

    Debut author, Daisy Whitney has written a story that is very close to her heart. The subject of rape is never an easy subject to broach and she gives us a story that tells us to stand up for the injustice, to let your voice be heard.

    The Mockingbird’s opens up with one of the most frightening situations around; waking up next to someone and having no knowledge of what happened the night before then knowing that something has gone horribly wrong. Alex Patrick is that girl, waking up next to Carter, a boy she barely knows, and as she presses her mind bits and pieces come forth and she realizes that they had sex. Still confused she leaves his room and goes back to her dorm and after confiding in her friend she realizes that she had unconsensual sex…rape.

    Knowing that justice needs to be served Alex’s friend leads her to THE MOCKINGBIRDS, a not-so-secret-society that quietly governs the student body when crimes are committed. Alex is not convinced at first that she should engage The Mockingbirds for any assistance, she just wants everything to go away. Then more bits and pieces of that night fall into place and she is soon witness to the rumours that Carter has begun. Scared and traumatized, Alex begins to alter her day to day life avoiding Carter and all things that remind her of that horrible night, even her beloved music serves as a painful reminder and it isn’t until she takes control and decides to fight does the tide turn and put her in control.

    What I liked about this story is how well Daisy described the emotional turmoil that Alex was going through. The emotional and physical support she recieved was good to witness and the budding romance with Martin, a Mockingbird, provided the contrasting difference between being in control of whom your with and the date-rape.

    What I had issue with is the vigilante justice of The Mockingbirds. Although their presence and actions became a source of power for Alex in this story I think that certain actions were of the same bullying nature that they themselves advocated against. When I stopped to think about it, I could not condone it. I believe that Alex should have gone to the authorities, because the sentence that Carter recieved would never have been enough. I was also a bit put off by Alex not going to the doctor and verifying if she had sex or not for never was the mention of pain or blood being present afterwards.

    That being said THE MOCKINGBIRDS is a good read, dealing with a subject matter that is difficult with a voice that should be heard.

    >REVIEW: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

    >DESIRES OF THE DEAD by Kimberly Derting

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061779849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061779848
  • Source: Publisher
  • Rating: YYYYY out of 5
  • The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

    Violet can sense the echoes of those who’ve been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.


    As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she’d turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike’s tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

    REVIEW

    As I began reading DESIRES OF THE DEAD I was instantly reminded of how much I enjoy Kimberly Derting’s engaging and spot on stellar writing style and it was not long before I was totally sucked into this story and devoured it in one sitting.

    DESIRES OF THE DEAD begins a few months after THE BODY FINDER with Violet Ambrose and her extraordinary ability of sensing the echoes of those that had been murdered. These echoes come to Violet in a variation of ways and overwhelm her until she uncovers the source that has caught her attention. And in this story she discovers a body but since she is still afraid from her her last murder case she decides to approach the situation differently and this action brings the attention of the FBI to her doorstep. This is the last thing that Violet wanted, especially now that she and Jay are a couple and the rules seemed to have changed, she feels that she cannot confide in him of this new development for fear of him being worried about her. Yet, that is the least of his worries because someone has it out for Violet and they are making their hatred known. Now Violet is in fear of not only her life but of revealing her secret, but can she make the right decision before it is too late?

    Ok! Can I tell you how much I adore Jay and Violet as a couple. They are one of my all time favorites, because their relationship seems natural and not forced or pretentious in any way. Their interactions are sweet, romantic and yes, sexy as heck. I could not get enough of them and kept going back to read certain of their moments together because I am a sap for romance and well….they are just that good together. There are also some new characters in this book that will keep intrigued along with the wicked plot twist and turns that will have you guessing up until the very end.

    Desires of The Dead by Kimberly Derting is one of those jigsaw puzzles of a read whose pieces slowly snap together creating a smart and nail biting suspense story with each page that is turned. After I finished the last few pages I was completely floored and all I could say was “DAMN, I totally did not see that coming.” I love it when a book can do that to me, and how I after finding out this week that Kimberly has been contracted for two more books I want those books, like right now.

    If your looking for a suspense novel that has the perfect amount of mystery and suspense, combined with one of the most endearingly romantic couple’s around then DESIRES OF THE DEAD is that book. And if you have read Kimberly’s previous book THE BODY FINDER than you know what I am talking about and if you have not, then you seriously need to. This series is fantastically amazing and recommended for teens and adults alike.

    I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberly Derting earlier this week and if you go HERE you can read that interview and enter in a chance to win signed copies of her books 🙂

    >REVIEW: By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

    >BY THESE TEN BONES by Clare B. Dunkle

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312659271
  • Source: Publisher
  • Summary: Goodreads
  • Rating: YY
  • There’s hidden places all over this land-old, old places. Places with a
    chain for them to chain up the wolf when it’s time.

    A bone-chilling tale of werewolves and love, set in medieval Scotland

    A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver’s daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.

    There is an evil presence in the carver’s life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

    REVIEW

    When I was given the opportunity to read BY THESE TEN BONES by Clare B. Dunkle I jumped at the chance. It was not the first novel that I have read by this author so I was intrigued.

    This story centers on Maddie, a curious young girl who lives in a small Scottish village that one day is visited by a traveler and his mute companion, Paul. It is not long before a dark shadow falls about the village and bad things begin to happen. Paul is gravely injured by a creature one night and while he is on the mend Maddie falls for the handsome stranger that is not mute at all and it is then that Maddie learns of Paul’s secrets and the danger that keeping them can mean for her village and all of those that she loves.

    Although I found this interpretation on werewolf lore to be interesting I did not find it engrossing and at times I found myself meandering through the story that was somewhat vague and esoteric. The character’s of this story were also wrapped up in a cryptic fog that did not allow me to invest a care for any of them and believe me, I wanted to. What I did appreciate about this story was the overall atmosphere that came across as dark and mysterious for it provided enough menace to draw a few good ripples of fear. I only wish that it could have been enough to make me enjoy this story a bit more than I did.

    >REVIEW: CRYER’S CROSS By Lisa McMann

    > CRYER’S CROSS by Lisa McMann

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416994815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416994817
  • Source: Audiobook
  • Rating: YYY
  • The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive.
    As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall
    is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried

    REVIEW

    CRYER’S CROSS by Lisa McMann has been a highly anticipated book for me. I like reading a suspenseful, frightening story and this book seemed to fit the bill. Yet, as I was reading it, I could feel the tendrils of fear but just like whispers on the wind, the fear dissipates never truly taking hold.

    The story was well paced and edged with mystery from it’s very first words and the tension seemed to build with every page, so I was a bit surprised that although I could recognise this I was not fully engaged. The story is not predictable, but there is a repetitious nature in regards to Kendall’s maudlin memories over a missing loved one, but I attribute that to keeping in character to her compulsive nature. Her character’s issues soon uncover a dark and dangerous truth that leads her to a desk that she is convinced hosts the entity of her boyfriend Nico. The ultimate mystery of why and how the school desk is possessed is glossed over and not too convincing.

    What I could relate to in this story was the protagonist that did not follow in the cliche of girls portrayed in books recently. Kendall, is an ordinary girl with OCD who desperately tries to hide these compulsions so that people would not find her odd. And her world is rocked to it’s core when her “boyfriend” disappears without a trace, leaving her feeling lost and alone. To witness her struggle with the situation is heartbreaking because I can truly feel the loss that she is experiencing for the relationship that she has with Nico is well detailed and realistic.

    In the end I did find this book to provide a bit of escape reading, because once you do begin you feel a compulsion to finish. The need to uncover the truth in regards to it’s mystery is attributed to Lisa McMann’s quality of writing. I only wish that I the tone was a bit more menacing.

    Did I forget to mention that CRYER’S CROSS is also a stand alone novel? A fact that I can truly appreciate, because I truly miss stand alone reads.

    >REVIEW: ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre

    > ENCLAVE by Anne Aguirre

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312650086
  • Source: Publisher Pitch
  • Excerpt: First two chapters HERE
  • Rating: YYYY
  • 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 to 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 the only world she’s ever known.

    REVIEW

    WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

    ENCLAVE is as brutal and fierce as the territories that it inhabits. A fast paced read that will lead you down dark tunnels, encounter dangerous gangs and flesh eating freaks while exploring a post Apocalyptic landscape. It is a story that hovers in the fringes of your mind and refuses to let go.

    In reading ENCLAVE you have a story centered on Deuce, a teenage girl that is brought up in the underground tunnels of New York City post Apocalypse. Brought up to believe that the mandates of her tribe are for the greater good she never questions their actions. But once Deuce becomes a huntress and is paired with Fade, the tribe’s outcast she begins to see witness the ugly truths concerning her tribe. One fateful day everything she has ever known is turned upside down when she and Fade are banished topside(aboveground), where they are left to fend for themselves and try to survive among the freaks that want to consume them. Fade’s previous existence topside proves to be invaluable especially when the freaks prove to be the least of their worries, but he insists that they cannot stop until they reach the Northern lands. The adventures that ensue are filled with nail biting moments of tender exhanges and fierce confrontations.

    I enjoyed this different take on a dystopian society that Ann Aguirre has penned. The world and culture that she has created is well detailed and chilling, below and above ground. Besides it’s setting I immediately felt a connection to Deuce. Her character demonstrated a passion and strength that was admirable and I understood what makes her tick. I witnessed her struggle with everything she had known to venture into the unknown and a develop a connection that she could have never imagined. I personally could have gone without some of the romantic elements in the story, but at least it is a slow building relationship that I can accept. The ending was not left on a major cliff hanger but you are left wanting to know what happens next and I cannot wait.

    ENCLAVE VIDEO