Hourglass

Last year, at YALLFest 2013, I heard a charming, entertaining author speak*, and I’ve been meaning to pick up her books ever since. That author is Myra McEntire, and I finally made time to dive into Hourglass, her first novel, this weekend. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the world created by Ms. McEntire, and I can hardly wait to read more. (There are now three books in the Hourglass series, and I plan to devour the others during my upcoming holiday break. Woohoo!)

*I should also note that Ms. McEntire was so entertaining that I recommended her as a guest author at the annual conference of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. Wonder of wonders, she accepted SCASL’s invitation, so I’ll get to see her once again in March!

Emerson Cole is not exactly a typical seventeen-year-old girl. In fact, almost nothing about Emerson is what one would consider “normal.” When her name pops up, “crazy” is the word most often used to describe this troubled girl.

And why is Emerson so troubled? Nothing big, really. She simply sees ghosts of the past nearly everywhere she goes, she’s traumatized by her parents’ deaths, and she’s recently decided to go off her meds because they make everything feel all fuzzy. Emerson has tried nearly everything to help herself cope with the strangeness that is her life, but she’s never really thought about embracing what makes her different. At least, not until Michael enters her life…

Michael Weaver, a guy not much older than Emerson herself, works for an organization known as the Hourglass, and he’s been hired by Emerson’s older brother to help her through some of her issues. What her dear brother doesn’t know, however, is that the mysterious Michael hasn’t come into the picture to make Emerson “normal;” he’s here to show Emerson the true depth of her power.

Soon after meeting Emerson, Michael explains that her encounters with ghosts are much more than what they seem. They are, in fact, ripples in the fabric of time, and Emerson has the unique ability to actually travel to the past, even change things if she wishes to. Michael wants to help her do just that.

Emerson is soon dealing with some fairly unbelievable information, things that make her question everything she thought she knew about herself and the universe. And as if that’s not enough, she’s also confronting some pretty inconvenient feelings for Michael. There’s this weird electrical charge whenever they touch, and their pull toward each other is undeniable, but Michael rebuffs her at every turn. Why? Is it simply because her brother hired Michael to help Emerson? Or are there other things–other people–getting in the way of a possible relationship between Emerson and Michael?

As Emerson learns more about herself, her abilities, her past, Michael, and the secretive Hourglass organization, she comes face-to-face with some truths that are at once horrific and seemingly impossible. Does she really have the power to change her fate and that of those around her, or have other forces already manipulated Emerson’s life and abilities to achieve their own ends?

Well, as they say, time will tell…

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Hourglass really puts a different spin on the whole time travel concept, and it’s one that I think a lot of readers will enjoy. There’s way too much time travel fiction out there that just glosses over the physics behind the concept. This book doesn’t do that. It actually takes a look at things like the space-time continuum and how changing one thing in the past could have devastating consequences in the present and future. The science nerd within me is rejoicing over this…and trying to decipher what the book’s conclusion could mean for time itself.

Aside from all of the time travel stuff, Hourglass has a flawed, totally relatable protagonist. Emerson is far from perfect. She has huge errors in judgement all the time, but I truly believe that her heart is in the right place. She wants to do the right thing, but it’s not always clear how to do that. And when she finds herself floundering, she does what so many YA characters don’t–she talks to the adults in her life, tells them the truth about her situation, and listens to (even if she doesn’t always follow) their advice. Also, she’s like a mini-ninja, so that makes me like her even more.

So, we’ve got time travel, and we’ve got a likable main character. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah! The totally infuriating (in a good way) love story! The push-pull between Emerson and Michael was both wonderful and exasperating. Every time I thought they were about to confess their feelings for each other, I was thrown for a loop. (So was Emerson, by the way.) I didn’t know which way to turn, or even which way I wanted to turn. And when another swoon-worthy guy entered the picture, I was even more confused. Who should Emerson really be with? Should she be with anyone? It’s all very confusing…for both Emerson and the reader. And the book’s resolution, while it does kind of resolve this one big thing, also makes it clear that Emerson’s immediate future will likely be anything but moonlight and roses.

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If you’re looking for a riveting YA read, I urge you to give Hourglass a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For more information on Hourglass, its sequels, and Myra McEntire, check out the author’s website, Goodreads, and Twitter. Ms. McEntire is also a contributing author in the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me, so you may want to give that fabulous book a read as well!

Bloodrose

Spoilers ahead!!!  I finished reading Bloodrose, the third book in the Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade trilogy last night.  If you keep reading this post and haven’t already read Nightshade and Wolfsbane, you will be sorry!  Sorry, I tell you!

After you’ve read these two books, then you should proceed directly to Bloodrose!

War is looming. Calla Tor and her pack of Guardians (aka werewolves) are uniting with the Searchers to finally defeat the evil Keepers who have oppressed them for as long as anyone can remember.  The primary weapon in this war is Shay, the Scion (and, quite possibly, the love of Calla’s life), who can only defeat the bad guys if he obtains every piece of the Elemental Cross (two kick-butt swords made out of four pieces empowered by earth, air, water, and fire).  Finding the pieces of the Elemental Cross is treacherous, but it is a journey that must be made if this war is to be won.

As if waging war isn’t tough enough, Calla also has to tread the dangerous waters of her own love life.  After saving Ren, the guy who was supposed to be her alpha mate, Calla is worried about Shay’s reaction and what it could mean for the battles ahead.  Calla must deal with her feelings for both guys.  She thought everything was so cut and dried, but what if it’s not?  What if she really is meant to be with Ren?  What if Shay’s role as the Scion places him forever out of her reach?

Even though Calla is torn between the boy she’s always known and the one she gave up everything for, she has to put her own desires aside to face the difficult journey ahead.  She must step up as the alpha of the pack (since she can’t choose her mate at the moment) and lead her fellow wolves and their Searcher allies into battle.  They will face horrors that make them want to give up, they will encounter former friends who have become their enemies, and they will lose people they’ve come to care about. 

These warriors will dive headlong into certain death in order to break the hold the Keepers have on them and everything they hold dear.  Will they be successful?  Do they have any hope of winning this war when it’s not clear who is friend and who is enemy?  And if they do drive the Keepers away, what does it mean for Calla and her pack?  Will Calla finally choose her mate, or will that choice be taken out of her hands?  Do the wolves even have a place in a world without Keepers?  Read Bloodrose, the final installment in Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade trilogy, to discover the sacrifices that must be made in war and in love.

Like so many before it, I don’t think this post has done justice to the breathtaking story that is Bloodrose.  It was a fantastic book, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading.  (I almost called in sick to work yesterday so that I could finish the book.  I didn’t, but I did rush home after school and immediately began reading.)  There was a surprising amount of humor in this book when you consider that it’s a tragic love story set in the midst of a supernatural war.  I was also gripped by the love triangle in Bloodrose (and the other two books in this series).  I felt torn right along with Calla, and, for a large portion of this book, I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to end up with Shay or Ren.  (She had some steamy scenes with both of them.  So steamy that I would recommend this book for ages 16 and up.)  In the end, though, I was very satisfied with how the Nightshade trilogy concluded.  I mourned the loss of a couple of characters while I celebrated the demise of others.  I felt like everything happened as it should, and, at least for a while, the world of the Guardians and Searchers is at peace.  A great end to a great series.

But wait…there’s more!  There’s currently a Nightshade novella, Treachery, available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, which tells Ansel’s story.  (You might recall that he is Calla’s little brother.)  There will also be a prequel to the Nightshade trilogy, Rift, which should be out on August 7th of this year.  For more information about these extras and the entire Nightshade series, visit http://www.nightshadebook.com/.  Enjoy!