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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Immortal: Love Stories with a Bite edited by P. C. Cast

Immortal: Love Stories with a Bite edited by P. C. Cast (various authors)
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc (for Borders Books)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Review by: Cholla

In Immortal: Love Stories With Bite, edited by New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night series P.C. Cast, seven of today’s most popular YA vampire and contemporary fantasy authors offer new short stories that prove when you’re immortal, true love really is forever.

Rachel Caine (the Morganville Vampires series) revisits the setting of her popular series, where the vampires are in charge and love is a risky endeavor, even when it comes to your own family

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize) gives us a love triangle between a vampire, a ghost and a human girl, in which none of them are who or what they seem

Claudia Gray (Evernight) takes us into the world of her Evernight series, in which a pre–Civil War courtesan-to-be is courted by a pale, fair-haired man whose attentions are too dangerous to spurn, in more ways than one

Richelle Mead (the Vampire Academy series) brings us the tale of a young vampire on the run from the rest of her kind, and the human boy who provides the getaway car, as well as a reason to keep running

Nancy Holder (the Wicked series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) immerses us in a post-apocalyptic New York where two best friends are forced to make a choice that may kill them both

Kristin Cast (the House of Night series) introduces us to a new kind of vampire: one with roots in Greek mythology, and the power to alter space and time to save the girl he's meant to love

Rachel Vincent (the Soul Screamers series) explores a new corner of her series with the story of aleanan sidhe capable of inspiring the musician she loves to new creative heights, or draining him, and his talent, dry

And Tanith Lee (Black Unicorn) shows us what happens when a bright young woman with some supernatural savvy encounters a misguided (but gorgeous) young vampire.

Love vampires? Love vampire romance even more? Then this is definitely the anthology for you. Packed with a fistful of big name young adult authors like Rachel Caine and Richelle Mead, Immortal: Love Stores with Bite is a powerhouse of exciting and engaging short stories to fit every taste.

Haunted Love by Cynthia Leitich Smith kicks off this collection with a ghost story. Spirit, Texas is your typical small Texas town, complete with abandoned movie theater with a spooky past. When new girl Ginny Augustine approaches Cody Stryker looking for a job at the newly renovated spooky theater, he figures that a little help couldn’t possibly hurt. When the ghost of a teenage girl, murdered in the Old Love theater, shows up, things get a bit more than complicated… Cody’s hiding a secret, but so is everyone else. Haunted Love is a wonderful story combining two aspects of the paranormal world into a mystery with more twists and turns than you’d ever expect.

Following Haunted Love is an out-of-the-ordinary story by Kristen Cast entitled Amber Smoke. All Jenna wants for her senior year is to be cool for a change. What she doesn’t plan on is Alekos and the Furies intervening in her future. Jenna begins the story as your typical teenager, and a bit shallow to boot. By the end of this short story, her entire outlook has changed and she’s even grown up some. She shows great potential and I’d definitely love to read more about this pair.

Dead Man Stalking by Rachel Caine follows in the third slot of this wonderful anthology. Family relationships are never easy. Just ask Shane Collins, he knows better than the rest of us. So what do you do when your father is anti-vampire and you’re dating one? Like I said, it’s complicated. This was my first taste of the acclaimed Morganville Vampires series and I liked it a lot. Shane is a very strong character who rises to the occasion and makes the best decision possible, considering the tough situation he’s put in. I’m definitely going to have to read more of this series.

Tanith Lee has long been a favorite author of mine, so I was pleased to see her short story, Table Manners, in the fourth slot of this anthology. This was probably one of my favorites in this collection. In this lovely short, Lel is the daughter of an unusual man, one who treats vampires. She knows Anghel for what he is the moment she first spots him and is determined to help at all costs. One of the most unique vampire stories I think I’ve ever read. The characters are different and the storyline is more than enjoyable.

Riding on the heels of Tanith Lee is Changed by Nancy Holder. Set in a post-apocalyptic New York, two best friends are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the other. This story shows the true strength of friendship over love and hit me hard. It was very real-to-life in respects to the teens of today’s world and the challenges and choices they face. Although probably the most frightening of the stories contained in this collection, it was also one of the most relatable.

Blue Moon by Richelle Mead was one of the most interesting stories in Immortal. Lucy is an ancient prophecy come to life. But not for long as her family is out to kill her before she can set the prophecy into motion and change the state of the world as they know it. After essentially kidnapping an innocent human, Lucy is forced to make some hard decisions and look her future in the face. I loved her character – she was fresh and new as far as vampires go. She wasn’t over-confident nor was she even very sure of herself most of the time. She and Nathan, her captive human counterpart, learned as they went and discovered they were more alike than they could have dreamed. I do hope that Lucy does eventually get a novel of her own.

Tying things together and finishing up this great collection is Free by Claudia Gray. Free is the only historical story of the bunch, but it couldn’t have been written in any other time period. Patrice is a free black teen, not something you saw much of in New Orleans in 1841. In order to stay free, she must find a rich white man to take her as a temporary wife, like it or not. On the night of her presenting, she finds another choice in the form of the vampire, Julien Larroux. Patrice is very independent and outspoken considering both her age and time period. It’s always exciting to see a woman in history stand out against the ties holding them down. Free is another of my favorite stories for many reasons. It is a very unique and intriguing story, but it also has quite the surprising twist at the end that took me quite by surprise. I just love when a story does that. I am going to have to look up Ms. Gray’s series and learn more about Patrice.

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite is a wonderful collection of widely varying stories suitable for both teens and adults alike. With many different genres and just as many different takes on the vampire legend, you’re certain to not get bored with this anthology. Nor will you think that you’ve read this story or that one before as each are as unique and individual as their authors. A must-read for any lover of vampires, Immortal: Love Stories with Bite will not disappoint.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ghost Huntress 4: The Counseling by Marley Gibson

Ghost Huntress 4: The Counseling by Marley Gibson
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (267 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid

Kendall has just discovered who Emily really is, lost her boyfriend, and nearly died doing the thing she loves most--ghost hunting. It's time to take a break and try to reconcile all the changes she's going through. So Kendall heads to the Sierra Mountains, where there's a camp especially for young people with gifts such as hers. It's a time for reflection and self-discovery.

But when she gets to California, she once again finds restless spirits--and the boy in her last vision. It may be the end of one chapter of her life and the beginning of a new one.

How do you learn to control your psychic abilities?

Danger and problems almost swamp Kendall when she finds herself with not one, but several forms of psychic talents. Her spirit guide, also her natural mother, passes over into the light leaving Kendall floundering with her newfound skills. Her adoptive parents send her to a camp which specializes in counseling and teaching young psychics to get the best out of their abilities.

The teenagers see, hear, empathize and see the auras of people, ghosts and locations. Their abilities are incredible but none of them have any idea how to control their gifts. Only one boy stands alone. He wears a beanie, sunglasses and gloves at all times and the others think him weird, but Kendall finds him intriguing.

The story is exciting and looks at psychic abilities from the young adult point of view rather than the adult, as is usually the case. Kendall and her friends have to learn how to use their talents to the best of their abilities without letting themselves be swamped by the pleas of the ghosts and lonely spirits.

The only reason I didn’t give this book full marks was due to a few occasions where Kendall didn’t seem to get a situation which should have been perfectly obvious to her with or without the use of her talents.

Apart from this I found it a very entertaining book with hidden depths which drew me in from the beginning and made me want to carry on reading until I reached the end. I notice this is book 4 of the series. I haven’t read any of the other books but from the hints given regarding Kendall’s awakening I would love to read the previous three. This was an intriguing book I'd recommend to lovers of the paranormal.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Camp Club Girls: Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh

Camp Club Girls: Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh
Publisher: Barbour Publishing Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid

When six girls from different parts of the country end up as roommates at camp, they also join forces to find out what’s really going on beyond the crafts and Bible quizzing. Where are the strange noises coming from? And what’s the “DanGer” warning all about? “Camp Discovery” indeed! The mysteries seem as thick as the woods surrounding the cabins!

The excitement begins when six girls, strangers to each other, meet at a summer camp. They all have different strengths and weaknesses and form an immediate bond with each other. Their friendship is put to the test when they try to discover what is making weird noises on the run down crazy golf course. This leads to the mystery of who is digging holes and why is a member of the camp staff trying to keep them away from the golf course? Add to this a gorgeous wriggling puppy which they must keep hidden, and you have a delightful book sure to appeal to any age group.

The girls are typical pre-teens, curious about anything and everything. They can also be scared by noises and events they don’t understand, but are brave enough to investigate - as long as they don’t have to go alone.

I loved the way the different personalities all wove together. The pacifier, the gadget queen, the golfer, the performer, the horse lover and the nature lover. All their skills were put to the test as they set out to solve the mystery surrounding the golf course.

This is a lovely book, captivating enough to keep the reader wanting to find out what’s next, but without any of the bits parents often object to. The inspirational part adds a depth to the characters without making them seem like children who can do no wrong.

Camp Girls: Mystery at Discovery Lake is a book I would encourage any pre-teen child to read.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moon Spun by Marilee Brothers

Moon Spun by Marilee Brothers
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Genre: Paranormal, Contemp
Length: Short Story (148 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Junior's back from Mexico with his movie-star entourage. Beck's using his half-demon charms to "heal" a new girl. Mom's still wacky and now she's dating Principal Hostetler. High school is still an obstacle course of drama queens, bullies and nutjobs. The Trimarks are still a menace, and the moonstone pendant has revealed even more mind-boggling powers. In other words, Allie Emerson's life as the Girl Voted Least Likely To Save The World From Evil has gone from Weird to Super-Charged Super-Weird, and it's about to get even weirder. You're a faery princess. So says the mysterious Ryker, whose handsome talents include turning himself into a hawk. By the way, he and Allie are destined to marry. In faery land--Boundless. If they can save it from forces even more deadly than Trimarks and high school. The third book in the Unbidden Magic series plunges readers into a rich other-world of danger, humor, romance, fable, fairytale and magical destiny.

What could possibly be worse than not fitting in at High School? Again, Ms. Brothers has a quick answer for us: Your Mom, dating the principal of your high school. Once again, teen Allie’s everyday life problems vie with her magical world problems for overall disaster quotient.

Moon Spun kicks off with a Allie-problem that is sooo Allie: an empty underwear drawer. On the other hand, totally great things await, or maybe just possibly-great; the return of her boyfriend, Junior.

We have to start doubting Junior straightaway; only he’ll surprise us (and Allie.) He’s a surprise to that old half-demon too (and if you didn’t read book 2, you might well find yourself puzzled at this point.) Allie has enough other issues to keep us occupied than the various boyfriends or potential boyfriends; like her powers seem to go awry in funny incidents. I never could quite figure out if Allie was delighted with being the fresh fruit queen, but her wry response to so many incidents was again a delight. Dialogue is, as ever, fast paced and belieavable.

I love how Ms. Brothers maintains the rural and small-town flavor in Moon Spun. It would have been easy for me to overlook the setting here, as I’ve read the first two books of the Unbidden Magic series. Yes, we still do have the chiming apple tree and grumpy bull. The trailer Allie lives in is still twenty-four feet long. Characters are true to those we met earlier. My main complaint is that perhaps this wasn’t different enough. Nice to find Allie still sorting all this stuff out – and there is still plenty of unpredictable happenings; but the one new thing is probably the hardest to simply believe: the abrupt addition of the fairy kingdom kind of drops out of the sky. The Boundless world is also little Endless. This story is far from dull though: Moon Spun is a fast paced, fun read. Fans of the inestimable Allie will definitely enjoy this third in the series.

I do recommend reading Moonstone, first in the series, and then Moon Rise before this one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Summer and Shiner by Nolan Carlson

Summer and Shiner by Nolan Carlson
Publisher: Vintage Reflections Publishing
Genre: action/adventure, contemporary
Length: Short Story (87 pgs)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Tulip

Carley and Troop, blood brothers for life, spend a summer together like no other. Releasing a trapped raccoon, battling their club rivals, the Spiders, climbing Cave Springs Mountain at night, and skinny dipping in crazy old Luke Webster's pond are just a few of their adventures. Travel back with Carley and Troop to a simpler time...a time for growing up, adventure, and fun!

School is out for the summer in Randall, Kansas. It is the late 1940's and Carlisle "Carley" Bimberg and his best friend, pure-blood Cherokee, Bryan "Troop" Whitewater are walking through the woods. They have finished the chores for the day and are just being boys.

They encounter a racoon that is caught in a trap that was left by a careless hunter over the winter. They rescue "Shiner" and Carley makes him a pet, with permission from his parents.

Shiner is the best pet that Carley could hope for and goes with him everywhere. Shiner even sleeps with him, nestled under the covers like a small child.

Carley and Troop are co-founders of a gang called the Mustangs and are constantly butting heads with Mick and his gang, the Spiders, and Mick's mean dog, Devil.
The boys are spending the summer doing initiations with the gang, learning about miracles that are more earthly than heavenly and forming friendships that get stronger by the day.

Nolan Carlson has written a book about a much simpler time and does a great job of placing you in that era. His description is wonderful and you are made to feel like you are there with the characters.

What really appealed to me was the part about Carley reading Moby Dick for pleasure. There are no cell phones, no internet, no TV. Just a very simple life, with maybe some radio for media.

The only issue that I have is that I have a hard time thinking that nine to twelve year olds would really relate to the story. Most kids of that age today wouldn't fathom the simpleness of the era and the pace of life that these boys enjoy.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed the story. It made me wish for a return to a simpler existence.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Crescent by Jordan Deen

The Crescent by Jordan Deen
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 16+
Length: Full Length (188 pages)
Rating: 3 suns
Reviewed By Dogwood

Becoming a werewolf is not an option for seventeen-year-old Lacey Quinn, but death can be a strong motivator. Lacey is so focused on her future that everyday life has passed her by. Counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, Lacey is almost home free. But when she falls for the mysterious Alex Morris, she lands in the middle of an ancient war between two enemy wolf packs. Tempting dreams, tantalizing lies and a dangerous love triangle ensues leaving Lacey heartbroken and confused. Lacey's fate rests in the hands of Alex and Brandon, but both are pulling her strings for their own agendas. Even as she slips further into the dark world of werewolves, Lacey struggles to find the truth and save the only family she's ever know.

Lacie thought her biggest problem was her parents, she had no idea just how big of a problem they were! Lacie's parents constantly fought. Her father liked to get drunk, and her mom just argued back. They were both dragging Lacie into it all the time, so she spent a lot of her time wandering around her neighborhood, or sitting in her play house. One night while sitting outside she met a new friend. Grant, a larger than life dog, who kept her company, and made everything alright.

Lacie had spent most of her summer hanging at the mall or the beach with her best friend Jillian. She was about to start her senior year, but she didn't expect things to be much different. Boy was she wrong. Not accustomed to dating at all, she met a handsome new transfer in the office on the first day of school. She flubbed it, at least she thought she did. Crazy as it seemed, this hottie was interested in Lacie, and only Lacie. She was instantly mad about him, but with some trepidations, she blamed it on her lack of knowledge on how a relationship is even supposed to work. A few days later she meets Brandon in the office. That's when she realized what it means to instantly fall in love. She had no idea she could have feelings even stronger than the ones she had for Alex. And so begins Lacie's dilemma.

Lacie starts having these vivid fantasies of Brandon, of their future together. But at this point she can't make out what's a dream and what's reality. To be honest, I had a hard time even understanding what was supposed to be the dream, and what was real. So I felt for the girl. The book definitely keeps you interested. You want to know what's going on and why. There is a point you just start getting suspicious of everyone. I don't want to give too much away, but obviously Lacie has to choose, between the two handsome men. Is Brandon telling her the truth, which is so hard to believe, and goes against everything she knows? Or is Alex really right for her?

Her head and her heart are battling it out on every page. Your mind changes about as much as hers. You want to believe Brandon when you are with him, but then again, Alex is just so great. That was one of my favorite parts of the books. It wasn't predictable in the sense, you never really knew who she was going to choose, and you never knew who was telling the truth. Even though the author gave several clues throughout the book, it wasn't enough to give the ending away. So you just keep reading, without a clue of how much time has passed, or what's going on in the world around you.

The author had a great way of getting you attached to the characters. So that you would be battling with the same decision Lacie was. What do you want Lacie to do? I found myself asking myself a few times, what would you do? Only to respond with, "I have no idea, thank goodness she is the one who has to decide, not me." I felt like this was a common coming of age metaphor for a lot of women her age. We all at some point, have to decide, what's right for me, and what's right at the moment? Usually, someone will always get hurt. It doesn't matter how you slice the cake. It's wonderful how the author is able to just pull you into the story like that, so much so, you feel as though you are actually the main character.

Aside from the fact that I thought this was a great plot, and an entertaining story, I gave it 3 suns. Why you ask? There were a few issues, that I just couldn't get over. I found it a bit strange how in the beginning the book's main focus was on the fact that Lacie's parents were a tornado, fighting pretty aggressively. Then suddenly, it just all stops with no explanation at all. There were just parts of the book, that needed more explaining. I was also troubled by the foul language. There were several times that bad words were used, and it's just not my style. Also, the book focused heavily on Lacie losing her virginity and needing to sleep with Alex. I felt this could have been avoided. It didn't seem natural for her parents to be so encouraging of her physical relationship with Alex. It seemed strange. I also am not a fan of cliffhangers, but that didn't take away from the book for me. Especially, since I saw there is a sequel coming out. That just guaranteed I will be reading it.

Basically, this was a really good book. Not like your typical werewolf story. Almost like a modern day werewolf Romeo and Juliet. I would recommend this book to just about anyone, anyone over 16 that is. I don't feel it is right for the youngest of young adults. I am not a big fan of fantasy and paranormal books, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one, so I know it can be enjoyed by anyone. So if you enjoy reading period, just pick this one up and try it, you might find you have a new favorite author on your hands.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Foresight by Sherry D. Ficklin

Foresight by Sherry D. Ficklin
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (174 pages)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed By Dogwood

All Grace Archer wanted to do was graduate from high school and get on with her life. But the Gods of Fate had other ideas. Attacked at her graduation by a mysterious woman and a gruesome henchmen, Grace was lucky to escape with her life.

Rescued by her Aunt Phoenix and a Fae warrior named Chris, Grace is confronted by a startling truth: her mother was the Greek Goddess Pandora. Now it has fallen to Grace to protect her mother’s box from the crazed demi-goddess Lilith, who is determined to use it to unleash destruction on Earth.

As if her blood legacy wasn’t bizarre enough, Grace has begun to develop frightening new powers that threaten to destroy her from the inside out. In a world where nothing is what she thought it would be, can Grace find the strength to defeat Lilith? Can she learn to control her powers before she loses her mind?

When Grace thought she would barely make it through graduation, it was only because she was bored, she had no idea she literally would barely make it out alive. Graduation is supposed to be a happy, relaxed day. All Grace could think about was how badly she wanted to get out of there and eat a cheeseburger with fries, little did she know, that wasn't going to happen.

Right away you are slammed into a mythological world full of demon vampires and a prison escapee named Lilith who wants nothing more than to have Grace's blood on her hands, literally. Grace makes it out of graduation with the help of a hunky looking guy named Chris, and her Aunt Phoenix. Grace's parents died when she was just a little girl, so she was raised by her Aunt Phoenix in a small town in Colorado. Most of her life seemed pretty normal, until today, when she finds out, this isn't her real life at all.

Grace's mother is actually the goddess Pandora. Lilith is desperate to find out where Pandora hid her box, and Grace's blood is the only access to it. If the box is opened, then we all know the ending to that story, it's the end of the world. Grace discovers her Aunt is actually a faerie, who was best friends with her mom. Chris is also a faerie, but we will get back to him later. By the way, it's actually an urn too. Apparently the gods don't like calling it a box. Grace has spent a lot of her life in special classes teaching her things like how to shoot a bow and arrow, and studying mythology with her aunt. She had no idea she was being trained the whole time. Now it is up to Phoenix and Chris to save mankind, which happens to be their job, by taking Grace to Faerie City. Lilith is unable to gain entrace, so they just have to wait it out until the eclipse passes. Which happens to be the only time in a couple hundred years before the urn can be opened again. If only it were that easy right. It is quite the adventure trying to make it to the closest gateway to Faerie City. Grace continues to learn more about herself, and we get in on the secret as well.

Chris is a handsome faerie with the uncanny ability to sway people's thoughts and feelings. At first Grace was a bit annoyed with him, but suddenly she is falling for him. Is it all part of his plan, or is it for real? Although Chris looks about the same age as Grace, he is actually a bit ancient. So he was around when she was born, and made a vow to Pandora to protect Grace no matter what. And that is just what he intends to do. He wont let anything get in his way of saving her and humanity.

Throughout the story you will meet quite a few gods and faeries that make the story terribly interesting. It's nonstop action with a bit of romance thrown in. Just enough romance in my opinion. I like that it doesn't overpower the main plot of the story. Grace is a fantastic character, that you really want to like, but sometimes she does things a normal person would do, that just drives you crazy. There will be a few times you are yelling at her not to do something, but alas, she does it anyway. She is a sweet girl that makes it hard to stay mad at her for long. I did find it strange how quickly she bought into the whole lifestyle, but heck, what else did she have to lose, she just graduated and has no plans. I probably would have been hoping it was true too. Lucky for her it is.

I gave this book 4 suns, simply because I felt this story was missing a few important scenes. Everything flowed nicely, but just a bit too quickly. Normally, when I read a book, I think: okay let's get to the point. This time I was wondering how we even got there. I realize they were running for their lives, but it would have been nice to have more details here and there between the important stuff, just to make it more believable to me. There were a lot of unanswered questions for me about her father, so I would have loved to have more detail there. Not to mention the huge cliffhanger left at the end of the book. Okay, maybe not huge, but a cliffhanger nonetheless. Of course this only leads me to believe that this is a series, and there are more to come. If so, then I can't wait!

The author does a great job at telling the story, describing the scenes perfectly. Not too much detail, but just enough that I could see it. I also thought she did well expressing Grace's different emotions throughout the story. I know I would be feeling a wide range of them, so I am glad she showed that, without it seeming like a roller coaster ride.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I even chose finishing it over sleep. I would recommend it to just about anyone. There are a few scenes I felt were a bit gory for me, so it might not be good for someone very young, or someone who is squeamish. If you like mythology, fast-paced fighting scenes, and emotional romances, all with some juicy gossip, this is the book for you. I personally guarantee you will enjoy it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Sleepless by Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (215 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Wisteria

Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.

But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her. . . .

Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?

Let me start off with saying: THIS IS A MUST READ. Eron is a sleepbringer- charged with the care and safety of his assigned “clientele”. Julia, one of Eron’s charges is in danger, big danger and the rules dictate Eron can’t interfere. But, that won’t stop him.

This story is amazing. I read mostly paranormal novels and this one brings a whole new edge to the regular fair of vampires, werewolves and angel books that is out there right now. Julia is blindly dealing with the death of her boyfriend—and surprisingly—she’s not upset. Along with his friend, Bret, Griffin helped buffer Julia from the rest of the world. But when Griffin is killed in a car accident, she realizes she has lost her buffer and her best friends.

Eron is the Sandman assigned to her, always has been. He’s watched her grow and now that he’s about to become human, he wants to be in her life. But there is one problem: Griffin has agreed to be the Sandman that will replace Eron—and he will become responsible for Julia’s safety.

This novel winds a tight tale that loops and wraps around itself until you are not sure which way is up and what the characters true motives are. It had me staying up half the night to untangle the web of confusion I was wrapped in. This is the first novel I have read by Ms. Balog, but I will say- I’m now 100% fan of her writing and plan on picking up all her other novels. Please check this one out!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nothing Like You by Laura Strasnick

Nothing Like You by Laura Strasnick
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 16+
Length: Full Length (240 pgs)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Wisteria

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything—so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect... and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.

Holly isn’t exactly the most popular girl in school, but when she starts hooking up with uber-hot Paul Bennett, she thinks her life has turned around. Yeah, that’s just the beginning of her troubles.

This book opens with Holly Hirsh and Paul Bennett hooking up in his car at the beach. It quickly gets into a hush-hush type relationship with the two as Paul is already dating a popular, gorgeous, and surprisingly nice girl, Saskia. To make matters worse, Holly is dealing, not-so-well, with the death of her Mother. It doesn’t take long for Holly’s best friend, Nils (the stereotypical hot boy next door) to start noticing a change in his friend.

This book is filled with very messy friendships that will leave you asking questions and searching for answers that sometimes aren’t immediately known. I loved how Strasnick develops Holly as a character, and regardless of her not-so-honorable tryst with Paul, you feel sorry for her and the sticky situation her actions have thrown her into. Nils' character seemed flighty through most of the book and left me heartbroken for him in the end (once you read it, you’ll understand). The only thing I wish about this book is that it was a series.

This book was easy to get into, hard to put down, and ultimately a tear jerking story that left me wanting so much more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 16+
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Snowdrop

NAOMI AND ELY ARE BEST FRIENDS. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine - until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution." Can these best friends come back together again?

This is the second collaborative novel from Cohn and Levithan – both authors that I adore. I went into this book with high expectations as I have really enjoyed the previous co-written novel as well as many of their individual novels. They did not disappoint.

Naomi and Ely, best friends from an early age, are like one entity and feel like a part of them is missing if the other is not around. The friendship between the two is one of comedy, spontaneity and uniqueness. Naomi loves Ely in more than a friend kind of way even though she knows that Ely is gay. They pretend that one day they will get married, but Ely doesn't realize that deep down Naomi wants that pretend game to come true. They create a No Kiss List, so that they know which guys are off limits for dating – “The No Kiss List is our insurance against a Naomi & Ely breakup”. As the novel goes on, their friendship gets ripped apart, because one breaks the pact of the list. This leaves the two torn with the truth, angry at each other and themselves and trying to put the pieces back together.

Each chapter is written from a different character's point of view, not just Naomi and Ely, but friends and lovers too. It is a very interesting concept to have so many points of view for the same story as it goes along, but it also lets you see how others see the friendship develop and fall apart. Each chapter has a uniqueness to it and the style of writing changes based on the character speaking. Naomi's sections use a lot of wingding font images to stand in for some words, which for the most part I understood based on the text surrounding them. The only other characters style that stood out to me was Gabriel, Naomi's maybe love interest. His one section was a play list of songs, he made a mix tape for Naomi, where he explains why each song has meaning and you learn quite a lot about his past through this process. It was a very creative way to show the background of a character.

I found myself fighting for Naomi and Ely and wanting them to finally figure out their issues and make nice again. It was exciting to see how they each come to a realization about themselves and actually learn from the “breakup”. Naomi grows so much as a character, from being a snotty, self-absorbed girl into an understanding and compassionate lady. And Ely himself learns that all he has truly wanted was love, but kept pushing everything away that might actually bring that to him.

Overall, a great read and an interesting look at friendship, the meaning of love on many different levels, and how life can throw curve balls at you to test your ability to weather the storms. I hope to see more from Cohn and Levithan in the future as they write so beautifully together.