The Killer in Me

Last night, I finished yet another book that I got to read courtesy of NetGalley. This book, The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison, is due out on July 12th, and it’s a great read for teens and adults who like murder mysteries and psychological thrillers.

The Killer in Me is a somewhat convoluted tale, and readers may stay just as confused as the protagonists…but that’s a good thing. That’s what keeps the pages turning. Am I right about what’s going on? Am I wrong? What’s really happening here and how will everything end? The doubt I experienced while reading this book made me even more eager to keep reading, simply so that I could get the answers I desperately craved. (I actually got so involved in the book that I forgot to eat dinner last night. I looked up at one point, saw that it was 9pm, and just kept right on reading. Dinner could wait.)

Nina Barrows has been plagued by strange dreams for as long as she can remember. Every night when she closes her eyes, she sees the life of another–a man she knows as the Thief. This man is a killer, and he’s good at what he does. He leaves no trace of himself or his victims, and no one suspects what he’s truly capable of.

No one but Nina.

She’s done enough research to believe that the Thief is real, even if she only knows of his exploits through her dreams. She needs to catch him in the act and expose him for the killer that he is. But how? How can one teenage girl expose a serial killer, especially when there’s no evidence–other than the images in her own mind–of what he’s done? Who would believe her if she told the truth about her dreams and their connection to possible criminal activity? Would they think she had something to do with these killings? More to the point, does she have something to do with them?

Eventually, Nina finds help in the form of Warren, a guy from school who would do nearly anything for her. He accompanies her on a quest to find the truth about the Thief, a man they come to realize is a seemingly normal guy named Dylan Shadwell.

Nina and Warren track Shadwell to his home in New Mexico. It is here that Nina uncovers a shocking truth that could change everything she thought she knew about herself, her dreams, and her complicated past.

What is Nina’s connection to Dylan Shadwell? Is he really the normal guy he seems to be, or is he playing an elaborate game with Nina at the center? Will Nina’s obsession with uncovering the truth amount to a wild-goose chase, or will she discover more than she ever wanted to know?

Who is the Thief? Is it Shadwell? Is it Nina? Is this mysterious killer even real…or is he a figment of Nina’s imagination?

Discover the remarkable truth for yourself when you read The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison.


I don’t want to give more away than I already have, so I’m going to wrap things up quickly. It’s enough to say that there are some “Holy crap!” moments in this book. Some you may be able to see coming. Others will likely shock you. You’re in for a thrill ride either way.

In my most humble opinion, The Killer in Me is a good book for upper middle grade, teen, and adult readers. Yes, it’s essentially about a serial killer–who may or may not be real–and that brings with it some gruesome imagery. It’s not, however, gratuitous. It’s true to the story and is not overly graphic (most of the time). Some middle grade readers will be able to handle it. Know your readers, and recommend this book accordingly.

If I’ve whetted your appetite for this book and you’d like to learn more about The Killer in Me, visit author Margot Harrison’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

Happy reading!

Lair of Dreams

Caution: Read The Diviners by Libba Bray before proceeding. There may be spoilers ahead!

Last month, I finally made time to read the first book in a thrilling, terrifying series. That series, of course, began with The Diviners. Yesterday, I finished reading the second book in the series, Lair of Dreams. Well, if The Diviners scared me, Lair of Dreams terrified me to the depths of my soul. Thanks to the fabulous Libba Bray, I can now add dreaming to the long list of things that scare me. (If you’re curious, that list includes–but is not limited to–clowns, balloons, thunderstorms, zombies, most forms of social interaction, the dark, and failure. Yes, I’m aware I have issues.)

Moving on…

Lair of Dreams picks up where The Diviners left off. Let’s dive in, shall we?

After the horrendous battle against Naughty John, the whole world knows of the existence of Diviners, and Evie O’Neill is determined to be the most famous of them all. She is now the “Sweetheart Seer,” and she performs her object readings on a very popular radio show. Evie is a media darling, and she’ll do almost anything to keep it that way…even aligning with her nemesis, Sam Lloyd.

As for Sam, he has own agenda, and he needs Evie’s help to finally discover what really happened to his mother. He knows she’s still out there somewhere, but he’s having no luck in uncovering the truth behind “Project Buffalo,” the shady government project that may have something to do with locating (or even creating?) Diviners. Sam knows his mother was involved in the project, but he doesn’t know how…or why. He’s hoping that Evie’s object-reading ability will clear things up, but can he work with Evie, a girl who craves the spotlight, while keeping his own abilities a secret?

Evie and Sam have the media’s attention at the moment…but something else is in the news as well. A mysterious sleeping sickness has taken hold, and it has all of New York on edge. People are being trapped in their dreams, and there appears to be no cause or cure for this strange illness. Is there anyone who can figure out what is happening?

As it turns out, there is. Two young Diviners, Ling Chan and Henry DuBois, are dream-walkers, and the ability to discover what–or who–is responsible for the sleeping sickness may reside with them. But what if they don’t want to leave the dream world? What if it’s so much better than the prejudice and ridicule they face every day?

For many people–Ling and Henry included–dreams are quickly turning to nightmares, and there appears to be no escape. Diviners and their allies will have to work together to stop this evil from spreading and taking those they hold dear. But how? How can they stop an evil that exists in dreams?

On the fringes of this terror, there’s always the odd gray man in the stovepipe hat, known to some as the King of Crows. This shadowy figure, who was also present during the Naughty John fiasco, seems to thrive on terror, but his endgame is unclear. What does he have to do with the sleeping sickness, and how will the Diviners play into his plans?

As the Diviners navigate the terrifying dream world threatening to invade even their waking hours, they must also unite to face the uncertain future ahead of them. Something big is headed their way. Will their abilities be enough to fight it? Who or what will try to get in their way? And what will they discover about themselves and their “gifts” in the process?

Find out just how dangerous dreams can be when you read Lair of Dreams, the thrilling second installment in Libba Bray’s Diviners series.

_______________

To say that I liked Lair of Dreams would be something of an understatement. Granted, I could not read it at night, especially right before bed, but I still enjoyed every bit of it. This book, like The Diviners, is rich, complex, and provides a rather interesting, alternate-history type look at life in the 1920s. Those who read this book may just find themselves doing a bit of research into just how much of it is historically accurate. (A lot of it, by the way.)

If you, like me, are already eager for more of The Diviners, well…we’re all out of luck for now. According to Goodreads, there will be two more books in the series, but there is no timeline on when we can expect them. Given that the two books we already have come in at around 600 pages each, I imagine it takes the wonderful Libba Bray quite some time to research, write, rewrite, and otherwise prepare the books for publication. So, I guess we’ll just have to be patient.

As news of future books in The Diviners is released, I imagine it will be on Libba Bray’s website first, so check there often. You can also follow the fantastic Ms. Bray on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

If you’d like to hear more about Lair of Dreams from Libba Bray herself, check out the interview below from BookCon 2015. Enjoy!

Dreamland

Caution:  Read the first two books in Alyson Noël’s Riley Bloom series, Radiance and Shimmer, before continuing!

About thirty minutes ago, I finished my final book of Spring Break 2012 (and since I have to return to work tomorrow, this post will probably be a short one—well, for me anyway).  The book I chose to wrap up my spring vacation was Dreamland, the third book in the Riley Bloom series by Alyson Noël.  Oddly enough, I began my vacation with the second book in this series, Shimmer, so there’s a nice bookend feel here.  All of the good things I’ve said about Radiance and Shimmer definitely apply to Dreamland as well, and I’m sure the same will be true of book four, Whisper.

 

In each of these books, we learn more about Riley Bloom, a twelve-year-old Soul Catcher who is learning the ropes in the Here and Now (the author’s version of Heaven).  It’s not always easy for Riley, especially since what she wants most in the world is to be thirteen—a feat somewhat difficult to accomplish since she died when she was twelve.  Like most twelve-year-olds, Riley is very self-centered, but she’s also lonely, afraid, and still kind of stuck in the life she left behind, particularly her relationship with her big sister, Ever.  So far, she’s avoided any real trouble with the Council (the “governors” of Here and Now), but her guide, Bodhi, is pretty sure her luck will run out eventually.

When Riley and Bodhi are ordered to go on a vacation after their last fiasco (which Riley would point out ended remarkably well), Riley doesn’t know what to do with herself.  Her work is her afterlife.  She doesn’t have any friends other than her dog, Buttercup.  Her family has moved on.  Bodhi appears to have a girlfriend.  So what is there to do?  Well, she could pay her sister a little visit.  Even though she’s warned against it, Riley decides to visit Dreamland, a place where she can enter her sister’s dreams, communicate with Ever, and finally learn what it takes to be a thirteen-year-old.

But Dreamland is not without its dangers, and Riley may not be prepared to face them.  Riley’s tendency to leap before looking might just land her in more trouble than she can handle.  Can Riley break through the nightmare she finds herself in?  Will she learn what it really takes to grow up in the Here and Now?  Or is she doomed to remain a child—with a child’s fears and immaturity—forever?  Is growing older possible for Riley, or is that yet another dream that remains out of her reach?  Read Dreamland by Alyson Noël to find out!

Dreamland is yet another book that is great for upper elementary, middle-grade, high school, and adult readers.  There’s something for everyone to enjoy (and, more importantly, there’s something everyone can learn).  I look forward to reading more of Riley Bloom’s adventures in Whisper, due to be released on April 24th.  (Just two weeks away!  Woohoo!!)

For more information on Alyson Noël and the Riley Bloom series, visit http://www.alysonnoel.com/ or follow the author on Twitter @AlysonNoel.  You can also check out this awesome book trailer for Dreamland (available on YouTube):

Falling Under

One word comes to mind when I think about my latest read, Falling Under by Gwen Hayes–macabre.  The events of this book are horrifying and gruesome, but there is still a truly captivating love story in the midst of all the horror.  Falling Under takes the concept of forbidden love to new heights–and depths–with the story of Theia and Haden.  Romeo and Juliet had nothing on these two.

Theia Alderson has led a very sheltered life.  Her father restricts her every move for fear that she will end up like her mother.  Theia’s only escape is in her dreams.  It is there that she enters a terrifying world and meets a mysterious young man who ensnares her, body and soul.  But are these just dreams?  How can they be when the boy she’s been dreaming about is suddenly before her as a new student at her school?  It seems that Theia’s dreams and reality are about to collide…

Haden Black is the boy Theia’s been dreaming of.  She knows it, and he knows it.  From their first glance, Theia and Haden are drawn to each other.  Why, then, does Haden insist on pushing Theia away?  She knows he wants to be with her, but she can’t help but wonder at his hot-and-cold attitude.  It soon becomes clear that there is a darkness inside of Haden that he wants to protect Theia from.  But Theia may be beyond Haden’s protection.  Dark forces are at work that will pull Theia and Haden together while delighting in tearing them apart.

What is Haden really trying to protect Theia from?  Can love ever fight against the evil surrounding them?  The answers, I’m afraid, are not simple, and both Theia and Haden will have to rely on their friends and their love for each other to save them.  Will they overcome all of their obstacles, or will they simply fall under them?  Enter the madness and find out when you read Falling Under by Gwen Hayes.

Falling Under is at once a creepy, beautiful, horrifying, and emotional read.  The worlds created in this book were nightmarish and terrifying and definitely elicited an emotional response from me.  The characters grew and learned more about themselves as the story progressed, and the plot was so engrossing that I finished this book in less than 24 hours.  I was hooked.  I’m looking forward to the journey these characters take in the next book, Dreaming Awake, due out some time in 2012.  For now, though, I think I’ll move on to a book that doesn’t make me fear my own dreams.

If you’d like more information about author Gwen Hayes and her books, visit http://www.gwenhayes.com/index.asp.

Beautiful Creatures

So, I just finished Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and let me just say that I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!  It’s got everything a weirdo like me could love–witches, curses, true love, secrets in a sleepy Southern town, eccentric relatives, and a kooky librarian.  Best of all, the action takes place right here in South Carolina.  Yay!  Because of this setting, I could definitely relate to some things the main characters experienced.  Living in a small Southern town can be a blessing or a curse, depending on one’s point of view…but that’s another story.  I also loved that this book was presented from a male perspective.  That’s something that a lot of fantasy books are lacking.  In Twilight, we get the story from Bella’s perspective; in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, we hear Clary’s side of things; but, in Beautiful Creatures, Ethan tells the story, so it’s an interesting twist and one I think a lot of readers will appreciate.

In Beautiful Creatures, we meet Ethan Wate, a sophomore in high school who is counting the days until he can leave Gatlin, South Carolina, forever.  His mom died last year, his dad is a shell of his former self, he’s tired of the people in Gatlin, and he just wants out.  Things begin to change, however, when he encounters the new girl in town, Lena Duchannes.  She’s strange, she lives in the oldest town in Gatlin, she’s immediately hated for being an outsider, but Ethan is drawn to her.  See, Ethan’s been dreaming about Lena for years, and, when they finally meet, the electricity is instant.  Ethan is sure there is something magical here.

How right he is.  Magic is definitely involved.  Lena is a Caster.  (“Witch” is such a cliched term.)  On her sixteenth birthday, she will be claimed as either a dark or light caster.  Her birthday is in less than six months, and she’s freaking out.  It doesn’t help that everyone in the town seems determined to hate her, and some of the “concerned” citizens even try to throw her out of school.  Her one port in the storm is Ethan.  For some reason, they are connected.  They can even communicate telepathically.  They don’t know why.  As Lena’s birthday draws closer, she and Ethan grow closer as well even though they may be ripped apart when Lena is claimed.

Ethan is determined to find a way to help Lena.  He knows she cannot be “turned to the Dark side,” for lack of a better phrase, but he must find some way to make sure that she stays in the light.  He and Lena seek out the help of Amma, the strange woman who helped raise Ethan, and Marian, the town’s weird librarian.  They also receive help from a couple of unlikely sources.  (You’ll have to read to find out what I’m talking about.)  In the process of their search, they are engulfed in a story as old as the town itself and the possibility of history repeating itself.  What will happen?  Will they find a way to save Lena from what seems to be her fate?  Read Beautiful Creatures to find out.

By the way, the sequel to Beautiful Creatures comes out on October 26th.  The title is Beautiful Darkness.  For more information, visit http://beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/.  Enjoy!

Gone

Gone is the final book in Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy.  If you’re unfamiliar with these books, I encourage you to check out the previous two books, Wake and Fade, before reading Gone.  This is definitely a series that requires you to read each book in order since the stories build upon each other.  If you’d like more information on Wake and Fade, please look for my previous blog posts on those books.

In Gone, Janie is continuing her struggles with being a dreamcatcher.  She thinks the only options in her life are total isolation or living in the real world but dealing with being blind and crippled by her late twenties.  Janie doesn’t know what to do.  She wants to stay with Cabel, her boyfriend, but she doesn’t want to burden him with everything happening to her, and she’s tired of being drawn into his increasingly disturbing dreams.  Janie is beginning to think her only choice is withdrawing from society completely.

Janie’s world undergoes yet another shift when her father enters the picture.  She’s never met the man and didn’t even know his name until she discovered he was in the hospital.  When she visits him, she is immediately sucked into some seriously disturbing dreams.  She tries to help her father in his dreams, but how can she help him when the experience is so painful for her?  And what do his dreams even mean?

As the story progresses, Janie is faced with some major decisions, and her father’s illness adds yet another twist to a life that, whatever she decides, will be filled with more pressure than one teenage girl is prepared to handle.  What will Janie do?  Will she choose isolation and spare herself the trauma of being drawn into others’ dreams?  Or will she choose to be with her friends and face an uncertain future filled with dreams, nightmares, and eventual blindness and inability to take care of herself?  What would you do?  Read Gone, the final installment in the Wake trilogy, to find out how Janie decides to cope with her “gift.”

Even though the language in this series was a bit too strong for me, I thought the books were good, fast reads with interesting storylines.  I am happy to see it wrapped up in Gone even though the ending is not really nice and neat.  I think these books are great for anyone who wants to read about dreams or about both the ups and downs of having, for lack of a better word, superpowers.  Are superpowers gifts or curses?  You decide.

Fade

Fade is the sequel to Lisa McMann’s bestselling novel Wake.  It continues the story of Janie, a teenager who is an unwilling participant in others’ dreams.  She is a dreamcatcher.

Janie is continuing her undercover work with law enforcement, and her relationship with her partner Cabel is developing nicely.  Her boss, Captain, has given her some notes from her predecessor.  Janie is reluctant to read Ms. Stubin’s journal because she is afraid of what her future as a dreamcatcher will bring.

Janie is also on a new case.  She is working undercover to catch a sexual predator at her high school.  Cabel is against her work on this case, and many arguments ensue over Janie’s position as bait for a predator.  As the case progresses and the identity of the predator is revealed, the relationship between Janie and Cabel becomes more strained, and Janie faces a danger that she never expected.

What will Janie do?  Will she catch the predator in time, or will she become the next victim?  What will be revealed about her future as a dreamcatcher?  Read Fade to find out the intriguing answers…

Wake and Fade are two books that are immensely popular with the young adults in my library.  I know quite a few adults who enjoy them as well.  I was thrilled to learn that there will be a third book, Gone, coming out in February.  I think it’s interesting to wonder how I would react if I could be involved in the dreams of others if it meant certain sacrifices being made in my life.  I honestly don’t know what I would do.  (Luckily, I don’t have that particular problem, but I am holding out hope that a superpower will manifest one of these days.)  It’s a mystery.