Suspicion

Thanks to NetGalley, I have once again been privileged enough to read an early copy of a thrilling new young adult novel. This time, I turned my attention to Suspicion by Alexandra Monir. (This book is set to be released next Tuesday, December 9th.) I had previously read one other book by Ms. Monir–Timeless–so I was fairly certain I would enjoy Suspicion. And when I heard that it was like a combination of The Princess Diaries, Downton Abbey, and Alfred Hitchcock, I was even more eager to read it. (Also, the cover is gorgeous, no?)

Seven years ago, Imogen Rockford endured a horrible tragedy on the grounds of her family’s estate in Wickersham. Her parents and her aunt and uncle were killed in a terrible fire, and Imogen has spent the time since trying to put the horrifying events firmly in the past. She cut off all communication with her grandfather, her cousin Lucia, and Sebastian, the boy both she and her cousin adored.

Fate, though, seems to have other plans for Imogen…

When Imogen learns that both her grandfather and cousin have passed away, she’s faced with the realization that she’ll have to return to the Rockford family home in England…as the new Duchess of Wickersham. That’s quite a bit of pressure to put on her seventeen-year-old shoulders, but Imogen knows only she can fill this role. Only she has ties to the estate that cannot really be explained.

Upon her arrival at her newly-inherited estate, Imogen is flooded with both a sense of rightness and a feeling of dread. For some reason, she belongs here, but why? Why does the land come alive in her presence? Why does she seem to have some sort of power over the gardens? What abilities has she been ignoring for all these years…and who wants to make sure that she never has a chance to discover just how important those abilities are?

As Imogen learns more and more about her place–and her family’s history–in Wickersham, she begins to uncover a mystery that defies everything she’s ever believed. She also grows ever closer to Sebastian, the boy she’s loved her entire life, the boy who chose her cousin, the boy who is hiding secrets of his own.

Can Imogen unravel the web of deceit surrounding her before she’s caught up in yet another tragedy? Will her newly (re)discovered abilities help in her quest for the truth? Who can she trust with her own secrets? And who is hiding something so shocking that it will shake the foundation of Imogen’s entire world? Read Suspicion by Alexandra Monir to find out!

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First, let me say that I did like this book. It was a quick, fun read that kept me guessing…but it was rather unrealistic at times (aside from the supernatural elements). I had issues with the lightning-fast romance part of the story, Imogen’s totally ridiculous “magical powers” (which I didn’t think added all that much to the plot), and the unrealistic ending. The ending especially was just a little too neat for me, and I can only hope that the one piece of “unfinished business” in the book will come back in a sequel and mess things up a bit.

All of that being said, I do think Suspicion is a good read for those who like their mysteries peppered with a bit of romance and a dash of the supernatural. When you throw an English setting into that mix, you’ve got me. I’m probably not alone in that.

If you’d like to learn more about Suspicion and other books by Alexandra Monir, check out her website, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Published in: on December 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Iron Trial

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you probably know that I will read anything that Cassandra Clare cares to write. So it should come as no surprise that I was eager to read the first book in her new middle grade series co-authored with Holly Black. Well, I finally got around to reading The Iron Trial, book one in the pair’s five-part Magisterium series, over this holiday weekend, and I’m pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it…and it’s something I can add to my school library and promote to my students. (I think it’s a great read for upper elementary on up.)

There are elements that many readers will find familiar in The Iron Trial. A boy learns he has magical abilities, goes to a hidden school for those of his kind, becomes close to two other kids (a boy and a girl) at this school, gets into a bit of trouble, and works to solve a mystery that could endanger his life and the lives of those around him. Sound familiar? Yeah, the similarities to Harry Potter can’t be ignored…but they can be used to urge Potterheads to pick up this book. Readers will undoubtedly notice the parallels, but I also believe they’ll be pleasantly surprised by how things are different. Clare and Black take the story we expect to read and turn it around on us, and I think most readers will be both shocked and intrigued with how this plays out. I know I was.

What kid wouldn’t want magical powers? What kid wouldn’t want to attend the Magisterium, a super-secret school to learn how to use those abilities? Callum Hunt, that’s who.

For as long as Call can remember, his dad has told him that the Magisterium is evil and that he must do whatever it takes to fail the Iron Trial, a series of tests used to determine who earns a place at this magical school. And Call does his best to fail…and it looks like he’s succeeded. He fails spectacularly and gets the lowest possible marks at the Iron Trial…but he’s selected for the Magisterium anyway. Not only is he accepted; he’s with one of the best mages, in the group with the most gifted apprentices. What’s going on here? Why would anyone want him as an apprentice? What is so special about Callum Hunt, a kid with a bum leg who wants to be anywhere but here?

As Call begins his Iron year at the Magisterium and learns more about magic, he begins to wonder just what his dad had against the school and magic. Call is learning so much…and he’s actually getting pretty good at his studies, despite his rather horrible start. His fellow apprentices, Aaron and Tamara, soon become his closest friends, and that’s kind of a big deal to a kid who really didn’t have friends before now.

Call is becoming more and more comfortable with himself and his abilities, so he’s eager to learn just why his dad didn’t want him here. Since Call is a curious sort with a certain disregard for rules, Call begins to investigate. He stumbles upon a few things that might answer some questions…or they might create even more.

It seems that Call’s past is tied to the most feared being in the magical world, the Enemy of Death. This figure, cloaked in mystery, is responsible for the deaths of many, many mages–including Call’s mother–and he’s still out there, biding his time until he can use the forces of chaos to rise to power. The Magisterium has recently discovered its own weapon in the coming war with the Enemy…but will that be enough? What if the Enemy has already infiltrated the Magisterium? What will that mean for the Magisterium then? And what does all of this have to do with Call?

Soon, Call will come face-to-face with his past, his place at the Magisterium, and what it could mean for his future. He learns just why his father wanted to keep him from magic. What will Call do with this new and disturbing information? Time will tell…

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I hope I haven’t given too much away in this post. I want readers to be just as floored by the ending–and what it could mean for future books–as I was.

The second book, The Copper Gauntlet, is expected to be released sometime in the fall of 2015. I, for one, can hardly wait to read more about the adventures of Call, Aaron, and Tamara, and what they do with everything they learned in The Iron Trial. Should be interesting to say the least.

If you’d like to learn more about The Iron Trial, I encourage you to visit the official website. It has loads of information on the book, the authors, and the world of the Magisterium. There are also some games and other extras that look like fun. You may also want to take a quick peek at the video below. Enjoy!

Published in: on November 30, 2014 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Unbreakable

Thank goodness for NetGalley! I’ve only been a member for a short while, but this awesome service has allowed me to be the first to read some pretty awesome books, including the first two books in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls After Dark series, Reborn and Eternal. Well, just two days ago, I was invited by NetGalley to read Unbreakable, a Shadow Falls After Dark eBook novella, which will be released to the masses on September 30th. (That was a pretty good surprise on an otherwise craptastic Monday.) Of course, I dropped everything and commenced with the reading.

If you’re at all familiar with the first two Shadow Falls After Dark books (or at least the first since Eternal doesn’t come out until October 28th), you already know a little about the character of Chase Tallman. He’s the oddly compelling vamp who turns Della’s world topsy-turvy. But what do we really know about Chase? How did he become a vampire? What led him to Della?

Unbreakable answers a few questions about Chase, but several more are left unanswered. Readers learn a bit about his relationships with his family and his loyal dog, Baxter. We also see Chase’s first brush with love and how that eventually led him to Della.

While we did see the tragic circumstances that led to Chase becoming a vampire, I do wish that part of the story had been a little more fleshed out. I wanted to see how he dealt with the aftermath. Also, there was really no mention of the whole “rebirth” thing, and I would have liked to see more of Chase’s early days as a vamp. Maybe these things will get more attention in the next full-length novel (which I think should be out next summer).

If you’d like to learn more about Unbreakable and C.C. Hunter’s other amazing books, be sure to check out the author’s website here.

Published in: on September 17, 2014 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Eternal

Caution: You MUST read the entire Shadow Falls series (Born at Midnight, Awake at Dawn, Taken at Dusk, Whispers at Moonrise, and Chosen at Nightfall) and Reborn, the first book in the Shadow Falls After Dark series, before even thinking about reading Eternal (or this somewhat spoilery post on it). I know that’s a lot of reading, but it’s worth it!

Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read Eternal, book two in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls After Dark series, a couple months early. (It won’t be released to the world until October 28th.) I loved the first series and Reborn, so I figured I’d feel the same way about Eternal. I did.

After being reborn and finding herself with powers beyond what a “normal” vampire possesses, Della Tsang is more determined than ever to work with the FRU, the agency that governs supernaturals, and to uncover the mysteries shadowing her family’s past.

The sudden–and not entirely welcome–appearance of a ghost will make Della’s life more confusing than ever. This ghost is trying to tell Della something about her family and showing glimpses of two captive young vampires who need to be saved from certain death. Who is this presence haunting Della, and can she figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her before it’s too late?

Della is also working to unravel her feelings about two very different young men: Steve, a shapeshifter she’s been sort of dating for the past month, and Chase, the enigmatic vampire who is now bonded to her and seems to know just when she needs him. Della isn’t exactly thrilled about her connection to Chase, but even she can’t deny that her feelings for him are growing. It doesn’t help that Della and Chase are working closely together investigating a case for the FRU. Can she remain true to Steve when every part of her screams to be with Chase? And will fate take this decision out of her hands?

Della’s world is in more turmoil than ever before. How is she supposed to do everything expected of her and still keep her cool? So much is weighing on her, and she’s close to her breaking point. Della doesn’t know which way to turn sometimes, and she feels like she’s being pulled in opposite directions. A mysterious ghost, Steve, Chase, Burnett, her friends, and even her estranged family. Everyone seems to want a piece of Della. But who can she really trust? Can she even trust herself to do what’s right?

Should Della remain loyal to Shadow Falls and the family she’s chosen for herself there? Should she do whatever possible to uncover the truth–however painful it may be–about her father, who has all but turned his back on her? Should she take a chance with Chase, even though it could jeopardize everything she’s been working for? Nothing is clear for Della Tsang, but she’ll do whatever she must to find the answers she needs. And those answers may just lead her to even more questions…

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I’ll go ahead and warn those still reading: Eternal ends on a mother of a cliffhanger. If I had been reading a print copy of this book, I probably would have thrown it across the room. I can hardly wait to read the third book, but considering that Eternal isn’t even out yet, I probably have quite the wait ahead of me. *Insert impatient sigh here.*

There is some good news, though! On September 30th, there is going to be an ebook novella released that’s all about Chase, Della’s nemesis/sometimes love interest. It’s called Unbreakable, and if you check out this announcement on C.C. Hunter’s website, you’ll learn a lot more about what’s sure to be a very enlightening read.

If you love books with supernatural goodness, I strongly urge you to check out both the Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls After Dark series. Both are excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Della’s journey in the next book.

For more information on the books mentioned in this post or author C.C. Hunter, visit the author’s website, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.

 

Published in: on August 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ghost House

Next week, Ghost House, a new book by Halo author Alexandra Adornetto, will be released. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy via NetGalley this weekend. I was in the mood for something kind of spooky, and that’s what I got with Ghost House. It was a bit predictable and vaguely “Twilight-ish” at times, but it was a fairly enjoyable book that will be a big hit for those readers who like a bit of romance–especially seemingly impossible romance–in their supernatural tales.

Chloe Kennedy recently experienced a loss that shook her entire world. When her mother passed away suddenly, the walls Chloe had carefully built in her mind came tumbling down, and she was no longer able to block out the ghosts that haunted her as a child.

Now, Chloe is dealing with even more change. Her father has decided that he simply can’t cope with his own grief and that of his children, so he’s sending Chloe and her younger brother to live in England for the summer. Chloe is not happy about spending weeks on her grandmother’s estate, Grange Hall, but this may be her chance to escape the ghosts that have suddenly reappeared. Well, Chloe is about to learn that her encounters with ghosts are only just beginning…

On her first day in England, Chloe meets a strange young man in the woods. He’s not dressed like anyone she’s ever met, and, while Chloe is wary of him, she’s also oddly drawn to this young man. His name is Alexander Reade, and Chloe soon realizes that Alex is not altogether “real.” He’s a ghost. Alex lived at Grange Hall long ago, and he is still very much connected to the house…and what happened there.

As Chloe learns more about Grange Hall’s horrific past–and Alex’s place in it–she finds herself developing some disturbing feelings for Alex. Chloe knows nothing can really come of a relationship with a ghost, but she can’t help but fall a little more in love with him each day. That is a problem, especially when a vengeful spirit named Isobel is determined to do anything–even kill–to make sure Chloe and Alex remain apart.

What is Alex’s connection to the mysterious and menacing Isobel? Can Chloe do anything to stop the approaching horror before someone gets caught in the crossfire? Is Chloe willing to sacrifice her beloved Alex–or herself–if it means stopping Isobel once and for all?

Join Chloe and Alex on a harrowing journey through life, death, revenge, and redemption when you read Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto.

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Ghost House is a great read for a dreary, rainy day. It started off kind of slow, but the action really picked up the more I read. I read the last three-quarters of the book in just a few hours, and the ending kind of threw me for a loop. I look forward to seeing how things progress for Chloe (and Alex) in the next book, Ghost Hour. (There’s currently no publication date for book two, but I’m guessing we can expect it sometime next August.)

I would recommend Ghost House to teen (and adult) fans of books like Twilight, C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series, and even the ghost stories of Mary Downing Hahn.

For more information on Ghost House and author Alexandra Adornetto, visit her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter. A book trailer is supposed to be released soon, but as of this posting, it’s not available yet.

Published in: on August 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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City of Heavenly Fire

If you’ve come here looking for spoilers, you have definitely come to the wrong place. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to tell you much of anything about City of Heavenly Fire, the long-awaited conclusion to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. Do yourself a favor and read it. And the rest of the series. And the prequel trilogy. And anything else that Cassie Clare writes. Even if it’s her grocery list. I’m pretty sure even that would be epic.

For those not caught up with all things Shadowhunter, you absolutely MUST read the first five books of the Mortal Instruments saga before picking up City of Heavenly Fire. Those books are City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, and City of Lost Souls. (And no, seeing the movie adaptation of City of Bones is not a substitute for reading the book. In my opinion, the movie was absolute crap and didn’t begin to do the book justice.) I’d also highly recommend reading the prequel series, The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess). There’s a fair amount of crossover, and you may not get the importance of certain things if you don’t have the background provided in the prequels. (Hint: Brother Zachariah for the win!)

I honestly don’t know what I can say about City of Heavenly Fire without giving too much away. From the very first page, I was enthralled, and I’m still processing a lot of what happened. Throughout this 725-page tome, I laughed, I cried, and I got angry. It was an emotional journey, and one that I won’t soon forget…especially since I was extremely worried about my favorite character for much of the latter part of the book. (If you’ve read my other posts on these books, you likely know who I’m talking about.)

Those of you who’ve read the series thus far will get everything you’ve come to expect in a Mortal Instruments book. Snarkiness, sadness, redemption, action, emotional upheaval, intense battles, loss, fear, laughter, and love overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. The characters we met in the first book–Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec, Isabelle, and Magnus–have grown so much, endured so much, to get where they are, and this final war with Sebastian, Clary’s own brother, is their greatest battle yet. They are being tempered in a great fire, and, if they emerge, they will be stronger than ever.

I will say that the ending, while heart-breaking at times, was rather satisfying, and didn’t leave me with–you know–the urge to throw the book across the room or egg the author’s house. (I cannot say the same for my feelings when I finished reading Allegiant.) I felt it was a very fitting end to a beloved series, and it served well as a new beginning for many of the characters who’ve come to mean so much to me.

The official City of Heavenly Fire book trailer was released a few weeks before the book, and it captures the basic mood of the book. (I will admit I’m not crazy about the trailer. Something about it felt a bit off. The same is definitely NOT true of the book!) Check it about below, compare it to the book, and judge for yourself.

I first met these characters six years ago, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the time we’ve spent together. Luckily, I don’t really have to say goodbye. I’m fairly certain I’ll see them again in Cassie Clare’s next Shadowhunter series, The Dark Artifices. We definitely get glimpses of what we’ll encounter in the new series, starting with Lady Midnight in 2015. Our newest adventure will center around Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs in the Los Angeles Institute, and, if what I saw in City of Heavenly Fire is accurate, we can expect another thrill ride from these young Shadowhunters!

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I know this post didn’t give you a ton of information about City of Heavenly Fire, and I do apologize for that. It’s just that this series means a great deal to me, and I find it rather difficult to put my thoughts on it into words. Those I’ve used here don’t feel adequate in any way. If you take anything away from this, though, I hope it’s this: Read anything you can find by Cassandra Clare. She will wrap you up in an intense story, give you characters you grow to love, and teach you a little something about caring for your fellow man (or vampire, werewolf, warlock, whatever) along the way. Her books–this one and any others–are not to be missed.

The series is complete...for now.

The series is complete…for now.

In the Shadows

After wrapping up my previous post on MILA 2.0, I decided to dive into yet another book-in-progress. I honestly didn’t expect to get so involved in the story that I would finish it in a matter of hours. That book is In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo.

Now, I’ve read other works by Kiersten White before (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally, Endlessly, Mind Games, and Perfect Lies), but this one is a little different. In the Shadows is told in both text and art. White wrote the text story, and the amazingly talented Jim Di Bartolo presented another story through his illustrations. I knew the art and text stories were connected, but it didn’t become clear until the very end just how they fit together.

Cora and Minnie live in a quaint town in Maine where their mother runs the local boarding house. One day, a mysterious young man, Arthur, comes to stay with them, and life as they know it is never the same.

Arthur is a rather taciturn boy, but he looks after Cora and Minnie and vows to protect them from the past he fears may have followed him. And he’s not the only one. Two new young men have arrived at the boarding house, and they have more in common with Arthur than any of them know.

Charles and Thomas, sent away by their wealthy father, are in Maine for a while. Charles is slowly dying, and Thomas is determined to make his brother’s days as happy as possible. Part of that happiness comes in the form of Minnie, one of the girls living at the boarding house. Charles is enamored of Minnie, and, while she enjoys his company, her attention never really leaves Arthur, the brooding young man who lurks in the shadows. Thomas, on the other hand, quickly turns his attentions to Cora, and she seems to have feelings for him as well. But is love in the cards for any of these young people, or is an unknown threat just waiting to tear them apart?

It seems that Arthur, Charles, and Thomas–or their families–are somehow connected to an ages-old society, a society that will do anything to protect its secrets. These young people are in very real danger, and they will have to use their wits and every ounce of strength they have to get out of this mess alive.

Arthur knows more about this looming threat than he’s telling, but he doesn’t want to go down the road that drove his parents mad. He may not have a choice, though. When evil threatens his friends, Arthur must make a difficult choice that could impact his life and the lives of those who care about him. What could this choice mean for Arthur and his future? Only time will tell…

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If you enjoy books like Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck or others that combine text and art to create unique and memorable stories, I think you’ll be very happy with In the Shadows. Both the art and text in this book presented interesting–and often terrifying–tales, and the closer I got to the end, the clearer the connections between the two became.

I read a digital copy of this book via NetGalley, but I think this is definitely one case when a print copy would have been preferable. At the book’s conclusion, when the connections between the two stories were revealed, I would have liked to flip through the book’s artwork to see what I may have missed. That’s not so easy to do with an ebook (especially one read with Adobe Digital Editions, a less than desirable ereading option). So, take this advice: READ A PRINT COPY OF THIS BOOK! (Sorry for screaming at you, but I had to get my point across!)

I’m still debating on whether or not to purchase this book for my elementary school library. I think a lot of my students will enjoy it, but the illustrations do contain some scary imagery that elementary students may not be able to handle or even understand. I do think In the Shadows would be a very welcome addition to middle, high school, and public libraries. It’s a quick, easy read that packs a punch.

If you’re still not convinced to read In the Shadows, take a look at the eerie trailer below. It effectively captures the mood of the artwork present in this book and makes me want to read the book all over again!

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bang

Read Crash, the first book in Lisa McMann’s Visions series, before proceeding. These are definitely not stand-alone books. The second book, Bang, will be extremely confusing if you haven’t read book one.

I’m not going to give much of a prelude to Bang, the second book in the Visions trilogy. (I just closed a book fair–which I unknowingly scheduled during the full moon–and I’m so far beyond tired that I can barely think straight.) If you enjoyed the first book, I think you’ll love Bang just as much…if not more.

In Crash, we met Jules DeMarco, a sixteen-year-old plagued by disturbing visions of the future. She saw a truck crashing into a rival Italian restaurant and exploding, killing up to nine people. Thanks to lots of investigating and a bit of luck, Jules was able to prevent a horrible tragedy. One of the lives she saved was Sawyer Angotti, the son of her father’s most hated enemy.

Now, Jules and Sawyer are a couple, but this couple is facing something that most don’t. It seems that Sawyer is now having visions of the future. Jules doesn’t know how or why this mess was passed along to Sawyer, but she’s determined to help him figure things out and do whatever she can to stop another tragedy from occurring.

While Jules saw visions of a truck running into a restaurant, Sawyer sees something very different, and he’s having trouble coping with his visions and how he can possibly turn things around. He sees what appears to be a classroom, a gunman in black, and bodies piled all around. Yes, his vision seems to be pointing to an eminent school shooting, and the thought that it’s up to Sawyer to stop it is enough to send him into a panic.

Jules knows how Sawyer feels, but she’s also frustrated that she can’t see the visions herself. All she can do is guide him as best she can and trust in this boy who has come to mean so much to her.

Even though they have the odds stacked against them–visions of a disturbing future, a family feud, abusive parents, etc.–Jules and Sawyer do what they must to be together…and to stop a lunatic from taking innocent lives. Will they be able to solve this mystery before tragedy strikes again, or will they get embroiled in a situation so dangerous that they are caught in the crossfire? Read Bang by Lisa McMann to discover the truth for yourself!

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If possible, I think I enjoyed Bang even more than I did Crash. I liked seeing how the relationship between Jules and Sawyer developed. Things were quite steamy at times, but I honestly believe this was a realistic depiction of two teenagers in love, especially when the relationship is essentially forbidden by their parents. (There’s definitely a Romeo and Juliet vibe here…but, you know, without the senseless suicide.) They had to sneak around to be together, lie to the people around them, and take whatever time they could get. I think all the secrecy added yet another element of danger to their relationship–because the terrible visions weren’t enough–that made their being together even more appealing.

*Note: The “sexy times” in this book, while not terribly graphic, are frank. Jules, the book’s narrator, doesn’t hold her feelings back, and the reader sees just how Jules feels about her first foray into a romantic relationship. Some middle grade readers–I hope–are probably not ready for this, so use caution when recommending this book to tweens and younger teens.*

Another thing I appreciated about this book and its predecessor was how close Jules was with her siblings, Trey and Rowan. That closeness extended to Sawyer when he was experiencing the lowest of lows in his life. These kids had to deal with more than most their age, and they did it with maturity. Sure, they had to break some rules, lie, and sneak around, but what do you expect when their parents are unreasonable, crazy, and even downright abusive?! I’d probably do the same thing! Through everything, though, they stuck together and presented a united front. I find that admirable.

I am looking forward to Gasp, the next book in this series. Given that these strange visions are seemingly passed from person to person, I’m curious to see who will be cursed with this “ability” in the next book. I guess I’ll find out on June 3rd!

If you can’t wait until June 3rd to learn more about Bang, Crash, and more from author Lisa McMann, check out the author’s website, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Reborn

Proceed with caution! Reborn is the first book in C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls After Dark series. It might behoove you to read the entire Shadow Falls series before continuing with Reborn. In my opinion, it is kind of necessary to have some knowledge of what happens in the original series before continuing with the spin-off. If you need a list of these books, look below.

There are also a couple of ebook novellas that add to the series and what happens in Reborn. They are Turned at Dark (Shadow Falls #0.5) and Saved at Sunrise (Shadow Falls #4.5).

If you’re still reading this post, I’m assuming you’ve already read the entire Shadow Falls series. Next week, Reborn, the first book in the Shadow Falls After Dark spin-off series, will be released to the masses. (I was lucky enough to read an advance copy via NetGalley.)

Reborn (and the rest of this new series, I imagine) is told from the perspective of Della Tsang, the rather moody vampire we met in the original series. Della is still living with roommates Kylie and Miranda at Shadow Falls, but she’s got her eye on a future with FRU, or Fallen Research Unit, the agency that governs the supernatural.

Della just has to convince Burnett, the big, bad vampire in charge, that she’s got what it takes to be a FRU agent. This may not be the simplest of tasks given that Della has a tendency to go off into dangerous situations with little regard for the consequences. Also, Burnett has a protective streak a mile wide when it comes to any of the young women in his care. A little sexist, yes, but, considering that Della’s own family seems to have written her off, kind of comforting.

When a new guy enters the picture at Shadow Falls, Della’s life gets even more complicated. Chase, a super-powerful vampire, has an air of danger about him, and Della is sure she’s run into him before, but she can’t quite place where. She’s sure he’s hiding something, but she may have to put her suspicions aside if she truly wants a place in the FRU. She and Chase are on the trail of a murderer, and any conflicts could convince Burnett to pull Della off the case that’s quickly taking over her life.

As if worrying about her place with FRU weren’t enough, Della has a few more issues on her plate. Steve, a shapeshifter she’s sort of in a relationship with, wants to make things official. Della’s not sure she’s ready for that. After all, the last guy she loved left her when he discovered she was a vampire. Della doesn’t want to put her heart on the line if Steve will up and leave her one day. And the mysterious Chase also seems to be interested in Della. Officially, Della loathes the newcomer, but she can’t deny that he has a certain appeal. What does he really want with her, and should she be even thinking about Chase when Steve so clearly wants to be with her? Well, the answers to those questions may be more complicated than even Della realizes…

Della is also dealing with the possibility that she has vampire relatives she never knew about. Apparently, her dad had siblings that could have faked their deaths because they were turned (much like her missing cousin Chan). Della is using every resource she can think of to determine if she has an uncle or aunt out there somewhere. Since her own father seems to hate her, Della is longing for some sense of family, especially family who understands what being a vampire is really like.

Della Tsang is facing quite a few changes in her life at Shadow Falls. Tracking down a killer, getting a taste of her future career, a thoroughly confusing love life, trying to find her family, and so much more. You see, while all of this is going on, Della is also experiencing a strange sickness. Her senses are on the fritz, she’s running a fever (very unusual for a vampire), she’s having some pretty intense headaches, and, to really make things odd, she’s seeing ghosts. What exactly is going on here, and can Della figure things out before it’s too late?

_______________

C.C. Hunter has once again packed a bunch of stuff into one book. Della definitely has a lot to deal with, and she manages to do it with the sass that we’ve come to expect from her. But we also get a glimpse of a Della we may not have seen before. Yes, she presents a tough exterior to those around her, but her emotions are often in a state of turmoil. She struggles greatly with her father’s disappointment, she wants to make Burnett proud of her, she’s fiercely loyal to her friends, and she seeks justice for the innocent. Della also wrestles with seeing herself as a monster. (We know she’s one of the good guys, but sometimes all Della can see is the fear associated with the word “vampire.”) This character wants love and acceptance, and she’s sometimes too blind to notice that she’s had it since she stepped foot into Shadow Falls.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Reborn, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it–and the original Shadow Falls series–to teen readers. (It is a bit mature for middle grades.) If you think this book is worth a read, I encourage you to pick it up on May 20th!

If you’re a book trailer enthusiast (like I am), you may also want to take a peek at the Reborn video below. It’s just a wee bit spoilery, but it doesn’t give too much away. And it’s kind of awesome.

For more information on RebornShadow Falls, and author C.C. Hunter, visit the author’s websiteTwitterGoodreads, or Facebook.

The next book in this series, Eternal, is scheduled for an October 28th release.

Published in: on May 14, 2014 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Crash

I’ve been a fan of Lisa McMann‘s work since I read the first book in her Wake trilogy way back in 2008. I’ve since read that entire trilogy (Wake, Fade, and Gone), Cryer’s Cross, and Dead to You, all fabulous books by an equally fabulous author. (She’s also written a middle-grade fantasy series, The Unwanteds, that’s on my to-read list.)

Yesterday, I finished the first book in McMann’s Visions series. The book is Crash, and it was just as strange, compelling, and captivating as the other books I’ve read by this author.  It’s a very quick read that will definitely appeal to boys, girls, reluctant readers, and those who will devour any book in sight.

Jules Demarco tries to keep her head down. Any girl who usually smells like pizza, drives around in a truck sporting two huge meatballs on top, and has a father who is a hoarder would probably do her best to go unnoticed…but that’s growing more difficult by the day.

Jules recently started having visions of a horrible, fiery crash, and she sees this vision everywhere. On billboards, TV and computer screens, windows, books…everywhere. In the not-too-distant future, an out-of-control truck is going to run into a building and explode, killing as many as nine people. But when? And where?

Jules tries to look for clues as to when and where this crash will eventually happen, and she’s shocked by what she discovers. Someone she truly cares for–a guy from a family that hates her own–will die if she doesn’t find a way to halt this tragedy.

But what can Jules possibly do without people thinking she’s crazy? How can Jules convince anyone to take her seriously when even she doesn’t really understand what’s going on? Especially someone whose family flips out if he so much as glances at Jules?

One thing is certain. Time is running out, and Jules will have to do everything in her power–including putting her own life at risk–to stop the worst from happening. Will she succeed, or will her vision of this crash ultimately take everything from her?

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This book reminded me a little of the Num8bers series by Rachel Ward. (This British YA series revolves around a few people cursed with seeing everyone’s date of death hovering over their heads. Creepy but cool.) Like Num8ers, Crash–and the rest of the Visions series, I guess–deals with catastrophic future events that a young person is trying desperately to change. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that a power like that could come in handy…but I’m not sure I’d want the responsibility.

Crash is a YA novel with some bad language and adult (though not necessarily sexual) situations that may make this better for high school students, but mature middle school students may be able to handle it. I don’t know. You know the tweens and teens in your life better than I do. Use your best judgment.

Crash is the first book in the Visions trilogy. The second book, Bang, is already out, and the third book, Gasp, has a June 3rd publication date.

 

Published in: on March 26, 2014 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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