Perfect Lies

Warning! Read Kiersten White’s Mind Games and Annie and Fia (an ebook novella) before proceeding. You will be all kinds of confused if you don’t! (Of course, if you’ve come this far in this particular series, you’re probably already confused.)

I don’t quite know what to say about my latest read. Perfect Lies is the sequel to Mind Games by Kiersten White, which I read just three short months ago. I wish I’d read these two books back to back. Maybe that would have alleviated some of my initial confusion.  Even with a fairly short time span between reading Mind Games and Perfect Lies, it took me longer than I would have liked to re-familiarize myself with the characters and the story line (which is complicated enough without having to remember details).

If you’ve read Mind Games, you know that the basic story revolves around two sisters: Fia, a fighter with seemingly perfect instincts, and Annie, a blind Seer who has visions of the future. Both girls have been controlled by the Keane Corporation (really bad place with a worse leader who seeks to keep girls with special abilities in his power and debt), and they are trying–in different ways–to take control of their own destinies.

That’s kind of where Perfect Lies picks up.  Annie and Fia have been separated. Annie, who most believe to be dead by her sister’s hand, is with a group of people working against Keane from the outside. Fia, however, is working against Keane from the inside…with the help of James, Phillip Keane’s son and potential successor.

Perfect Lies is told from the perspectives of both sisters, but their stories are told–at least at first–in different time periods. It’s easy to see, though, from the notes at the beginning of each chapter–Three Months Before, Twenty-Eight Hours Before–that both perspectives are leading up to one huge event.  It’s not always clear what that event will be or how Annie and Fia will make their ways to it. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I figured things out until very late in the book. (Odd for me, but kudos to Kiersten White for keeping me guessing!)

Like Mind Games, Perfect Lies really messed with my head. In addition to not knowing what the characters would do from one minute to the next, being inside Fia’s head was sometimes jarring. In order to confuse the Readers (mind-readers) around her, her thoughts were often chaotic, and that definitely comes across in the text. I also wanted Fia to wake up and really see the people around her and how they were either helping or hurting her already damaged psyche. The same could be said for Annie, but I think Annie dealt with the people around her in a much more positive way than Fia did. Of course, Annie didn’t have to deal with always being the protector or, you know, a hired assassin. That was Fia’s job.

It was interesting to see how the sisters’ stories came together at the end and how they resolved what could have turned into total devastation. (It was bad enough, but it could have been much, much worse.) What I found interesting was that it wasn’t Fia who ultimately saved the day. It was Annie, the sister who nearly everyone saw as weaker and disabled. That, in my opinion, is awesome and sends a message that strength comes in many forms. No one, no matter how weak he/she appears to be, should ever be counted out. That’s something I need to remember in my own life.

Now that this short series is over, I have to say that I did enjoy it. It was quite the mind trip, and I’m messed up enough to admit that I like that. If you are drawn to books that are kind of out there, I highly recommend both Mind Games and Perfect Lies. Just give them a try!

Published in: on March 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mind Games

Happy New Year’s Eve, dear readers! I hope everyone has had a great year filled with wonderful books! (I’m good with the wonderful books part of that sentence. The “great year?” Not so much. I’m praying that 2014 is kinder than 2013 was. There were some good times–the birth of my second niece, Ellie, being the best of those–but there were some extremely low points that I’m still struggling to deal with.)

Anyway, you guys likely don’t want to hear any sob stories from me. You’re here for the books, right? (If not, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place.) My last post of 2013 focuses on an aptly named book–Mind Games by Kiersten White. I picked up this book because I adored White’s Paranormalcy series, and I hoped Mind Games would have, at the very least, a similar tone. Well, I was wrong on the tone thing, but I still got another gem of a book from this author. Mind Games is, as the title would suggest, quite the mind trip, and, even though I’m thoroughly enmeshed in the world created in this first installment, I still have tons of questions about what’s really going on. I’m sure other readers are with me on that.

Mind Games is told from two different perspectives–those of sisters Annie and Fia–and their stories venture into the past and the present (and even the future, to a certain degree).

Tragically orphaned when they were younger, Annie and Fia are now under the control of the mysterious Keane Foundation. Annie, the older sister, is blind but gets glimpses of the future in her visions. Fia, who will protect her sister at all costs, is guided by her infallible instincts. Both of them are tools to be used by Keane, for whatever purposes deemed necessary.

When Fia rebels against an order to assassinate someone, her world–which was precariously balanced to begin with–begins to unravel. She doesn’t know who to trust anymore…and that includes those closest to her.

Through the years with Keane, Fia has had to do some truly horrible things, things that stained her hands with blood, but now she’ll face her most daunting task.  How can she escape Keane’s clutches while keeping her sister safe? Is that even possible anymore? What choices does Fia have, and can she use those choices to bring down Keane before he gets more girls under his iron control?

Annie’s visions and Fia’s instincts lead readers through a world of secrets, lies, espionage, and murder in this thrilling novel. Both girls are strong characters…even though their strength manifests in very different ways.

Nothing is tied up neatly at the end of this intriguing book, and that makes me even more eager for the sequel, Perfect Lies, which is due for a February 18, 2014, release.

Fear not, though! If you want more of Annie and Fia, there is a free prequel short story–titled Annie and Fia–available for download.  I read it immediately after finishing Mind Games, and it definitely added to my understanding of these fascinating characters.

For even more information on Mind Games and other books by Kiersten White, check out her blog at http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/.  You may also like this book trailer from HarperTeen. It captures Mind Games in ways I could never hope to. Enjoy, and have a happy New Year!

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Slide

It’s been a while, dear readers. I freely admit that I’ve neglected this blog for the past couple of weeks, and my only excuse is that I needed a break. Whenever Knight Reader feels more like an obligation than a fun hobby, I like to take a step back and spend some time focusing on other things. Yes, I still read during my brief hiatus, but I didn’t feel the need to blog about those books (mostly picture books and mindless romances). Also, I’m gearing up for a new school year, and I needed to just do nothing before I dive back into the school library grind. (My fellow school librarians can no doubt relate to how hectic the beginning of a new school year is.) Now, feeling a bit refreshed, I’m ready to get back to sharing books with people. Thanks for bearing with me.

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I never know what I’m going to get when I download free ebooks. Sometimes, these free books are less than stellar. Other times, though, I’m pleasantly surprised. The latter scenario was true of my latest read, Slide by Jill Hathaway. It was a free Kindle download last month, it seemed interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was a pretty good read, and it definitely kept me guessing. Readers who like a fast-paced mystery with supernatural undertones will likely agree.

Sylvia “Vee” Bell is not what one would call a normal teenager. Sure, she has many of the typical problems–parents, popularity (or lack thereof), siblings, boys–but she has to deal with something that most people don’t. The “experts” call her condition narcolepsy, but they really don’t know the whole story. They don’t know that when Vee falls asleep/passes out, she doesn’t just lose consciousness. She “slides” into the minds of others. She sees what people don’t want seen. She learns things she doesn’t necessarily want to know.

When Vee slides into one mind, however, she sees something that turns her blood cold. She sees her sister’s best friend, Sophie, dead. Her wrists are slit, her bed is covered in blood, and someone–the eyes through which Vee is viewing this scene–is writing a suicide note. Vee, of course, is the only person who knows that Sophie was murdered, but how can she prove to everyone that this is not the obvious suicide that they seem to think it is…especially when she doesn’t know whose mind she slid into.

As Vee searches for answers, she uncovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her sister, and even her own father. But how do these long-kept secrets have anything to do with what happened to Sophie…and what is continuing to happen in Vee’s community? Who is ultimately responsible for the terror in her town, and is there anything Vee can do to put a stop to it…before she’s the next victim? Unravel the mystery when you read Slide by Jill Hathaway.

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While Slide was an engaging, gripping book, it’s not one I would have picked up had it not been free. (Kudos to whoever decided to make it a free download last month. You reached at least one new reader.) Now, I kind of want to see how the story progresses in the next book, Impostor. Maybe it’ll be a free download soon.

Slide is not a particularly deep book, but it does explore family dynamics and how secrets and jealousy can tear relationships apart. It is a mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. (I’m pretty good at picking up on clues, but even I didn’t really expect things to end they way they did.)

If the premise of Slide intrigues you, I urge you to give Lisa McMann’s Wake series a try. These three books (Wake, Fade, and Gone) are very similar, in my opinion, to what occurs in Slide, but they’re a little more fleshed out.

For more information about Slide and author Jill Hathaway, visit http://www.jillhathaway.com/index2.php.

Dead Silence

Caution!  You’ve GOT to read the first three books in Kimberly Derting’s creeptastic Body Finder series (The Body Finder, Desires of the Dead, and The Last Echo) before reading the fourth book, Dead Silence. Each book builds on the one before it, and all of them are pretty great. If you’re looking for a wonderful supernatural mystery series, you definitely want to give this one a try!

I’m not sure what’s going on, but lately I’ve been craving a good mystery. Maybe I’m just experiencing Sherlock withdrawals, but the past two books I’ve read have been mysteries, and I’m only craving more. Within the next week or so, I’m hoping to read Social Suicide, the sequel to Deadly Cool, and Game, the sequel to Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers–both mysteries. (Of course, I’m watching my share of mysteries on the telly as well:  Ripper Street, Criminal Minds, all the Law & Order reruns I can handle, etc. Good stuff.)

Anyway, my latest read, Dead Silence is the fourth book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting. This entire series is awesome, and this fourth book definitely went a long way in satisfying my longing for a good mystery. (I’d probably be even more satisfied if I knew there would be more books in this series!) Dead Silence is a real page-turner, and it lives up to the three books that preceded it, and I would definitely recommend the entire series to anyone who likes a bit of woo-woo, supernatural stuff with their mysteries.

Dead Silence continues to follow Violet, who can sense echoes of those who have been murdered. She can also sense the imprints of those echoes on the murderers. Her “gift” has gotten her into some dangerous situations. She’s even been a target of a serial killer herself. That experience left Violet with more than just horrible memories. She now carries an imprint herself, for she had to kill or be killed. It’s a lot for any teenager to handle, but Violet is not like most teenagers…

With the help of a therapist she can’t stand and a team of other “gifted” individuals (who she’s learning to tolerate), Violet is coming to terms with her abilities…even the imprint that disturbs her waking and sleeping hours. She still feels the pull of the echoes of the dead, but maybe–just maybe–she can control her desire to find the dead and those who killed them.

Then again…maybe not.

When Violet is led to a murdered family, it’s clear that she’s leaping before she looks yet again. Once more, she finds herself involved in an investigation that will lead her down some dangerous roads…roads that she may not be ready to travel. For this murder scene is not like most others. A strange symbol has been left in blood at the crime scene, a daughter is missing, and one of the bodies is missing an echo. Violet knows this person was murdered, but where is the echo? And if there’s no echo, is there no imprint on the killer?

Violet will find some of the answers she’s seeking in an unexpected place–her grandmother’s journals. Her grandmother shared the same gift Violet has, and she documented a lot of what she went through…including what a missing echo could mean. Grandma also wrote about a group of individuals gathered together, all of them with odd abilities. Violet will learn more about her gift, but she may also learn more than she expected about her own team…and who may have brought them together.

As Violet searches for answers about her own life and team, she’s also trying to figure out who could have possibly murdered an entire family…and possibly many others. Who is this madman, and how is he controlling those around him, convincing them to do his bidding? What hold could he have on them, and what led him to kill?

Violet will have to lie to everyone she cares about in order to solve this mystery…but is she really prepared for the consequences of so many lies? And when the truth is finally revealed, what could it mean for Violet and those closest to her? Can Violet keep her friends and family safe when chaos, pain, and death seem to follow her? Is there any way to balance her desire to use her gift for good with her need for a “normal” life? Is “normal” even possible? Unravel the mystery when you read Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting.

Once again, this post doesn’t come close to capturing how amazing I think this book is. I was captivated from start to finish, and I REALLY hope there are more books in this series. (Considering the way things ended, I’m hopeful, but I can’t find any mention on the interweb of more Body Finder books. Bummer.) As I was reading Dead Silence, I was also halfway watching a documentary about the Manson family. The similarities between that notorious group and the bad guy(s) in this book are very noticeable and thought-provoking, and it makes this book an even more engrossing read.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book to middle grade readers, simply because some of the imagery is kind of graphic. (Of course, they probably see worse when playing Call of Duty.) There’s also a couple of steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous) that younger readers may not be ready for. (Again, this is not true for all readers. Some young ones are probably have more experience with this than I’m comfortable admitting.) Like I’ve said before, know your readers and what they can handle. Recommend books accordingly.

If you’d like more information about Dead Silence, the rest of the Body Finder series, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/index.php. You may also want to check out the Dead Silence book trailer below. It doesn’t give too much away, but it kind of makes Violet seem creepier than she is in the books. Just my opinion…

Beautiful Redemption

Spoilers ahead!  If you haven’t already read the first three books in The Caster Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, and Beautiful Chaos) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, do so immediately! They are AMAZING, and you can’t possibly understand the fourth book without reading these first!

Yesterday, fans of YA literature descended on Charleston, South Carolina, for YALLFest.  Sadly, I was not among them.  I’ve been feeling kind of crummy lately, so I decided to stay at home and get some much-needed rest.  (This turned out to be a very good decision as I’ve been sick all weekend.  Wouldn’t have been a good idea to be three hours away from home with the way I’ve been feeling.)  Anyway, even though I wasn’t at this young adult book festival in person, I was there in spirit (and I hope I can be there physically next year).

Since my weekend was rather uneventful, I did get to spend a lot of time reading.  This week’s pick was Beautiful Redemption, the fourth and final book in The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (one of the driving forces behind YALLFest, by the way).  I had been looking forward to this book for a while, and my appetite was only whetted by seeing the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of the first book, Beautiful Creatures.  Beautiful Redemption was released on October 23rd, and I waited a little while to start reading it.  (I had to finish a couple of other books, and I needed to re-familiarize myself with how Beautiful Chaos ended.)  I started Beautiful Redemption at the beginning of this week, and I finally finished it this morning.  At several points in this book, I had to put it down–not because it was bad, but because I had to calm down, breathe, and remind myself that the characters I’d come to love in the previous three books had to have a happy ending in this final one…even though things weren’t looking good for them at present.  You see, I’ve become attached to these characters (as so often happens when I get absorbed in a series).  I think part of it is because the major part of the action in these books takes place in South Carolina (my home state), in a community that’s not at all different from the one I live in now.  I relate to these characters.  No, I’m not a Caster (witch)–at least, I don’t think so–but I do know what it’s like to be different in a small southern town.  It’s not easy, so I tend to root for anyone, real or fictional, who’s trying to survive when the odds are stacked against them…and when others keep telling them that what they’re trying is impossible.  And things don’t get much more impossible than rewriting history and coming back from the dead…

Ethan Wate has sacrificed everything, even his very life, to restore Order to the world.  He fell from the Summerville water tower to save everyone he loves.  But death is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Ethan is determined to find a way back to his small town of Gatlin, his family, his friends, Amma, and the love of his life, Lena. He becomes even more determined when he realizes that his death was not something that had to happen.  Horrible forces are rewriting destiny to suit their own ends, and Ethan may be the only one who has any hope of stopping them (and restoring his own life in the process).  But Ethan needs help.  This is a huge, seemingly impossible, task and one he can’t complete on his own. He needs to find a way to communicate with Lena and Amma and get their help to save the world…again.

Lena is heartbroken by Ethan’s death, but she knows that he’s somewhere out there watching over her.  Ethan, however, may be even closer than Lena knows.  When she sees things moving (things that only mean something to her and Ethan) and gets strange messages in the local newspaper’s crossword puzzles, Lena knows that Ethan is trying to reach her.  It’s not always clear why Ethan needs the things he’s asking of her–river stones, an audience with the Greats, the Book of Moons–but Lena knows she must find a way to help him  if she has any hope of uniting with Ethan one day.  Getting these things, though, is the easy part.  It then becomes Ethan’s job to use what Lena–and Amma–send him to fight the evil that is threatening to destroy the world that he sacrificed so much to save.

Ethan will face unspeakable horrors in his quest to return to Lena–old and new enemies alike.  He’ll also encounter some unexpected allies along the way, those who have been tortured by the very being that Ethan must now destroy.  But will Ethan’s quest to reverse his fate and prevent even more atrocities be successful? Can one young man defeat what he believed was his destiny and make it back to the life and love that mean so much to him?  What bargains will he and those he loves have to make this time, and will they be worth what comes next?  Nothing that Ethan is facing is easy, but he and his loved ones will do what they must to be reunited once more…no matter what the cost.  Will it be enough? Is redemption possible?  Read Beautiful Redemption to discover how far people are willing to go–and what hells they’re willing to travel through–to get just one more chance to be with the ones they love.

It should go without saying that I love this book…and the three books that preceded it.  This whole Caster Chronicles series is made of awesome, and I just wish I had been able to make it to YALLFest to hear the authors talk about the series in person.  (I would have also like to get my books autographed!  Maybe next year.)  Even though the ending of this series made me cry (which isn’t difficult since I’m a big softie), I was very satisfied with it.  It ended the way it needed to, in my opinion.  I applaud Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl on a truly excellent supernatural series, and I can’t wait to read more of their work in the future.  Kudos!

If you’d like to learn more about this series, the authors, or the upcoming movie adaptation of Beautiful Creatures, I urge you to visit one (or more) of these sites:

You may also want to check out this book trailer for the entire series.  It doesn’t give away much, but it does look pretty cool.

Published in: on November 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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After Obsession

Well, it’s been a crazy week.  (Thankfully, not as crazy as last week.)  I’m finally starting to get back to normal after last week’s home invasion.  I’m hoping my reading will pick up as soon as things are kind of on an even keel.  Right now, though, I’m lucky to finish one book per week.  (This makes me very sad.)

This week, I finished After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel.  I had high hopes for this book because I enjoyed Carrie Jones’ Need series.  (I still have to read the fourth book, Endure.)  Unfortunately, After Obsession didn’t really live up to my expectations.  I felt that the plot was too rushed, the ending was a bit too neat, and I didn’t quite buy the love-at-first-sight thing between the two main characters.  Also, there was a lot of woo-woo supernatural stuff in this book but very little explanation behind it.  I’m a reader who needs to know why things happen, and this book didn’t deliver on that count.  Maybe I’m being too critical.  Maybe not.  But it’s my blog, and I can do what I want.  So there.

When Aimee and Alan meet, it’s like they’ve known each other forever. There’s an instant connection, and they know they’ve seen each other in their dreams…dreams that paint a disturbing picture of the future in their small town in Maine.  Something dark and evil has taken hold in town–something that has taken lives before–and it’s up to Aimee and Alan to drive this darkness–known only as the River Man–away.

But are two teenagers strong enough to fight an evil they can’t understand?  And what will happen when the River Man makes someone dear to both of them his vessel?  Is there any hope of saving someone after an evil spirit becomes obsessed with them…and before he takes full possession?  What mayhem could result if they fail?  What will they have to sacrifice to succeed?  Read After Obsession to find out.

I realize I haven’t told you a whole lot about After Obsession, but the more I think about it, the more I dislike this book.  (That is hard for me to admit.  I don’t like being negative about books.)  It just felt too choppy, and too many things were left unexplained.  I’m all for using my imagination, but even my overactive imagination couldn’t fill in the many holes left in this story.  I liked how Native American spirituality played a part in the book, but even that wasn’t given the attention it deserved.  With most books, I can see a movie in my mind as the action unfolds.  This book was just words on a page, and I wasn’t engaged at all.  Very disappointing.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can find more information on After Obsession on Carrie Jones’ website (http://www.carriejonesbooks.com/), or you can check out the book trailer below.  As far as I know, this is a stand-alone book.  If there were any sequels, I doubt I would read them.  Do with that what you will.

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Last Echo

Warning!  If you haven’t read The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead, please do so before continuing with this post about the third book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, The Last Echo.  Spoilers ahead!

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m fascinated with books about serial killers.  (Maybe it just means that I’m incredibly interesting.  Probably not, though.)  I don’t mean that I like true crime books.  I don’t.  In fact, if it actually happened, I want very little to do with it.  (Unless we’re talking about Jack the Ripper.  Fictional books based on his crimes are kind of awesome, especially Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star.)  I enjoy fiction that gives me a glimpse of what it *might* be like if a serial killer were running rampant.  I also like it when teenagers are the ones responsible for stopping the killer.  That explains why I’m such a fan of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series.  In each book, the main character, Violet, uses her extrasensory ability to locate the bodies of the dead and match the echo attached to the body with the imprint left on the killer.  (If you’ve read these books, this needs no explanation.  If you haven’t, read the first book, and all will become clear…sort of.)  This unique ability is both a gift and a curse.  Sometimes Violet’s ability helps the dead to find peace.  But sometimes it puts Violet in a killer’s sights…

In The Last Echo, Violet is coming to terms with people finally knowing about her ability.  She’s working with a team of kids with their own psychic connections to the dead.  When she finds the body of a young girl, she’s drawn into the case of a serial killer known only as “the collector.”  This madman kidnaps young women and keeps them as his girlfriends…until they do something that upsets him.  Violet and her team, including the enigmatic Rafe (who shares an unsettling connection with Violet), are using all of their considerable abilities to find this killer.  They might even use a few less-than-legal methods. 

When one of these adventures gets them into a bit of trouble, Violet unwittingly becomes the target of yet another psycho, a gang member who has so many imprints attached to him that Violet wonders just how many people he’s killed.  In addition to tracking “the collector,” Violet is now working to put someone else, someone who may be even more dangerous, behind bars.

Violet’s life is more complicated than ever before.  Her work with the team, while it makes her feel like less of a freak, may be putting her very life in danger.  (And even though she kind of likes working with this special team, she’s getting a little sick of all the secrets being kept from her.)  Her parents and her boyfriend Jay want her to quit, but Violet has this need to help the dead find peace.  The only way to do that is to use her special ability to find their killers and bring them to justice.  Violet may be in more danger, however, than she ever thought possible.  She’s in the sights of not one but two killers.  One wants her to die.  The other wants to make her his…forever.

How can one girl cope with being a target?  How can Violet use her ability to stop more deaths—including her own?  Solve the mystery when you read The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting.

I know this is not my best review/recap, which kind of sucks since I enjoyed this book–the whole series, really–so much.  I totally downplayed the complicated connection between Violet and Rafe and its impact on Violet’s relationship with her super-supportive boyfriend Jay.  (No, that’s not sarcasm.  Jay is almost too-good-to-be-true in his support of Violet and her decisions.)  While I think this is a very important part of the book, I honestly feel that the story—the search for “the collector” and the other psycho fixated on Violet—is more important.  The Last Echo was all about Violet and her issues with her ability, whether it helps her or puts her in the line of fire.  In the end, it was totally up to Violet to save herself.  (Also, I fully expect that the next book in this series will delve even deeper into the connection between Violet and Rafe.  At least, I hope so.)

Speaking of the next book, there’s no word yet on a title, cover, or synopsis, but it is expected to be released sometime in 2013, probably in the spring.

For more information on The Body Finder series, the author, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @kimberlyderting. 

Still not enough?  Well, check out this book trailer for The Last Echo from HarperTeen.  It’s pretty cool.  Enjoy!

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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Beautiful Chaos

Spoiler alert!!! If you haven’t read Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, turn back now. Even if you have read these wonderful books, it might not be a bad idea to reread them a bit before starting book three, Beautiful Chaos. This book will make absolutely zero sense if you’re not pretty familiar with the first two books in the Caster Chronicles. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I finished reading the third book in the Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Chaos last night, over a year after I read the second book, Beautiful Darkness. That was not smart. I really should have reread book two before re-entering this world. But it’s too late now, and, to be honest, it didn’t take that long to re-familiarize myself with the fascinating characters created by authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Revisiting my blog posts on the previous two books did help, though.) The characters, plot, and setting in each of these books are unbelievably rich and dramatic, so a little effort expended to remember details was well worth it.

If you’ve read Beautiful Darkness, you may recall that Lena, a powerful Caster (or witch, to you people not in-the-know), claimed herself as both Light and Dark, an unheard-of occurrence in the Caster world. Well, in Beautiful Chaos, we learn that big decisions like the one Lena made can have catastrophic consequences…

Ethan Wate, a Mortal, and his Caster girlfriend, Lena, have barely survived Lena’s seventeenth moon, and now they must deal with the fallout of Lena’s decision to be both Light and Dark. Lena may be both Light and Dark, but Gatlin, their small South Carolina town, is all dark. The Order of Things has been torn asunder, and Gatlin–and the entire world–is in total chaos. Gatlin is experiencing record-breaking heat, swarms of locust-like insects, lakes drying up, and lots of other stuff that makes people thing that the End of Days is near…and they might be right. Even Lena’s family of Casters is experiencing the chaos. Their powers aren’t working the way they should, and they all know that things will get much worse before they get better–if better is even an option.

Ethan is experiencing his own brand of chaos. He’s forgetting things, he’s being haunted by a strange voice that has followed him out of his dreams and into the real world, and he can no longer trust Amma, the woman who has always been there for him, because she has delved into a darkness that he can’t pull her out of. Is there anyone he can turn to? How can he figure out what’s wrong with him when there are so many wrong things happening?

As Ethan, Lena, and several friends–both known and unexpected–try to find a solution to the madness engulfing the world, secrets are revealed, more questions arise, and Ethan is faced with a horrible choice. What will he have to do to restore order to the world and save everything he knows and loves? Can order even be restored when Ethan and company are seemingly fighting fate itself? What price must be paid to save the world? Find out when you read Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

But wait…there’s more!

Beautiful Chaos is not the end of the Caster Chronicles (and based on the way it ended, I can only say, “Thank the Maker!”). In addition to a novella, Dream Dark, that takes place before the events of Beautiful Chaos, there’s also going to be a fourth book in the Caster Chronicles. I don’t know what the title will be yet, but I do know the book is set for a 2012 release–most likely in the fall. I’ll post any information about the book’s release, title, and cover as soon as I possibly can. No matter what the details are, based on the previous three books, I can guarantee that book four will be amazing. (I’m also hoping that it has a happy-ish ending, especially if it’s the last book in this emotionally-draining-yet-somehow-satisfying series.)

For now, though, you can find a lot of wonderful Caster Chronicles stuff at the authors’ website, http://beautifulcreaturesnovels.com/, and the official fan site, Caster Girls & Boys, http://castergirls.com/. Enjoy!

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Haven

Last week, I finished a book that was sort of a hybrid of X-Men and The Hunger Games (Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi).  Purely by chance, this week, I finished Haven by Kristi Cook, a book that’s a bit like X-Men meets Twilight.  (Maybe the universe is telling me that I need to have an X-Men movie marathon this weekend.  I’m okay with that.)  In any case, one of these books was new and different.  The other…well, the other was extremely predictable and easy to put down.  If you’ve read my review for Shatter Me, you can probably guess which of these two books was my favorite.

In Haven, readers are introduced to Violet, a teen girl with strange abilities.  She’s always been an outcast, but she has a good feeling about her new boarding school, Winterhaven.  She’s drawn to the place, and she soon learns the reason why.  Winterhaven is a school for others like her, students with special “gifts,” psychic and supernatural abilities that mark them as different from those outside the school.  Inside the school grounds, they are safe and can learn to hone and control their talents.  Violet can finally share her ability–disturbing visions of the future–with others, but she doesn’t see how she can control these visions…or stop them from coming true.

As Violet adjusts to life at Winterhaven, she encounters the most intriguing guy she’s ever met.  (Of course she does).  There’s something about Aidan Gray that draws Violet in, and it appears he feels the same way about her.  But his emotions seem to run hot and cold.  One minute, he’s completely crazy about her.  The next minute, he’s doing his best to push her away.  How does he really feel about her, and why is he so determined that Violet keep her distance?

Violet isn’t sure what’s going on, but she is certain of one thing:  Aidan is playing a starring role in her visions, and the future doesn’t look good.  Why is Aidan covered in blood?  Who is threatening her friends?  Why does she see herself killing the boy she’s come to love?  What do these visions mean, and can Violet find a way to stop them before it’s too late?  Read Haven by Kristi Cook to find out.

I must admit that Haven was not a top read for me.  It was simply too much like Twilight for my tastes (even though Violet was a bit less needy than Bella Swan).  There was always this push-pull between Violet and Aidan that, in many ways, mirrored the Bella-Edward relationship.  Can he suppress the urge to bite her?  (Oops.  Kind of gave it away that Aidan’s a vampire.  My bad.)  Will the kissing go too far?  It’s been done.  I did like Aidan’s interests in science and possibly finding a cure for his “disease,” but, all in all, the story was very predictable, and the resolution was a bit anticlimactic. 

If you’re set on reading about boarding schools for teens with special abilities–and X-Men is not your thing–I would go with Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall books (Hex Hall and DemonGlass) over this one.  If, however, you decide that Haven is the book for you, be prepared for a sequel as well.  The second book, Mirage, is set for a summer 2012 release.  For more information, go to http://kristi-cook.com/.

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Clarity

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have some kind of psychic ability.  I imagine myself as a female version of Professor Charles Xavier of X-Men fame.  (Also, I’m not much of a talker, so I think things would be a lot quieter if I could just communicate with people through telepathy.)  Anyhoo, the main character in my latest read, Clarity by Kim Harrington, showed me that having a psychic “gift” may not be all it’s cracked up to be…especially when there’s a killer involved…

Clarity has an ability that makes her something of an oddity in her town.  She gets visions of the past just by touching certain objects.  Normally, she simply uses her “talent” to entertain tourists, but something has just happened that will test just how useful her ability really is.  A girl has been found murdered in a local hotel, and the powers-that-be want Clare’s special brand of help to solve the crime.  (Well, some of the powers-that-be want Clare’s help.  The new detective and his super-hot son aren’t so convinced.)  Clare is eager for this chance to do some good with her gift, but her visions lead her in a direction she never expected.

Clare soon discovers that her brother, Perry, has a connection to the dead girl.  Even though she’s working with the police, Clare does all she can to cover for her brother, even though she has some doubts about how innocent he really is.  All of the evidence is pointing to him.  Even Clare’s visions seem to implicate Perry, but there just has to be something–or someone–Clare is overlooking. 

As Clare continues to dig for information, she becomes convinced that her brother is innocent.  The question is…who is guilty?  Could the murderer be right in front of Clare–someone she never would have expected?  And will that person silence Clare to keep things quiet?  Can Clare make things clear before the killer strikes again?  Read Clarity by Kim Harrington to find out.

Clarity was a quick, easy read that kept my interest from the first page.  Despite her unique gift, Clare was a character that readers, especially teen girls, will relate to.  (She has quite a few issues with the guys in her life.)  She’s flawed, and she tends to judge others too quickly, but she does what she can to protect those she loves.  I think all of us might relate to that.

I hope you take the time to read Clarity.  Even though it does have a fairly neat resolution, there is ample lead-in to a sequel…which is good, because the second book in this series, Perception, will be released sometime in 2012.  I look forward to the further adventures of Clare and company.  It should be interesting.

If you’d like more information on Clarity or author Kim Harrington, visit http://www.kimharringtonbooks.com/.  Have fun!

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