I've been following Anne Michaud for a few years now. This is some of her best work. The stories build in mood as the book progresses until the reader...moreI've been following Anne Michaud for a few years now. This is some of her best work. The stories build in mood as the book progresses until the reader has a hard time sitting still, antsy for the climax which never fails to deliver. Each story is masterfully crafted to be taut with intensity and full of vibrant characters. Each set of characters a little different, a little strange.
Death Song is a new twist on the origins of mermaids. The tale weaves through a few years in lives of best friends and a small town that has dark secrets buried in its waters. The ending left me breathless and wishing for a film adaptation.
Black Dog was the most difficult of the bunch to read but only because of its tough subject matter. It is a very eerie and bittersweet story following a couple days in Scarlet's trip abroad with the hope of re-inventing herself. She's unhealthy in many ways and possibly being followed by a large black dog whose intent is unclear.
A Blue Story, the story of a girl who notices that, along with businesses, pets are disappearing at an alarming rate in her town. This didn't seem to fit in this group as well as the others and is the reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5. It felt awkward and sometimes the passage of time wasn't clear. It was, nevertheless, deliciously dark.
Dust Bunnies gave me the shivers. It's a short glance into two sisters visiting Germany to pack up their recently deceased Grandmother's belongings in an apartment that holds a very large, very bizarre secret. The spark of romance in this added just the right touch but I read it with the lights on.
We Left At Night was the best story to end this book with and my favorite of the five. Ever the zombie-story-lover, I was drawn in immediately by the urgency and fast pacing set up from the start. I wanted to understand everything that was happening and go on the journey with the family. A couple places were a written a little fuzzily so that I couldn't quite picture what was actually happening but it added to the fear factor of a zombie laden tale.
Overall a fantastic effort on the part of Ms. Michaud. I'd recommend this to all horror lovers, especially those who love female protagonists and don't require a happening ending every to single story.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'll be honest & say up front that I did not finish this book. This review is based on the first half, almost exactly & that...more**spoiler alert** I'll be honest & say up front that I did not finish this book. This review is based on the first half, almost exactly & that is as far as I got before I didn't want to read any more of it. It started off really well. I loved the entire idea of the story & the set up of the characters was pretty good. They were earthy, well-described kids from inner-city London & they felt very real to me. I could appreciate the roughness around their edges because of their backgrounds & upbringings. It all made sense to me.
The idea of the numbers, of being able to see the date someone is going to die by looking in their eyes, was pretty inventive. I hadn't seen any other book like it before & it definitely started out with some great instances of the numbers causing Jem distress as she sees them in the eyes of everyone from her drug addicted mother to her new best friend & possible love interest to everyone waiting in line to board the London Eye before a tragedy strikes.
Jem's world "explodes," as the synopsis above states, about one quarter of the way through the book. Then the two characters go on the run, afraid that they are going to be blamed for the incident they narrowly escaped thanks to Jem's gift. Which is when the plot ends, the numbers cease to be of any consequence, & we become immersed in the raw essence at the bottom of the barrel for both Jem & Spider.
Neither of the teens has any sense of how to make it on the run. Spider steals cars & picks fights with other motorists while speeding down the road, bringing far too much unwanted attention to them but he can't seem to help it. Jem whines incessantly & takes every single thing Spider says to her as a reason to start a fight. For the rest of the portion of the book that I read it was basically a non-stop exercise in pure frustration as I watched the characters who treat each other like their least favorite brother or sister somehow manage to discover they are in love & have sex. No plot. No numbers. No character development. Just hormones & fights & really bad dialogue. I had enough & put it down when it felt like it was never going to end or if it did end I wasn't going to care what happened to the characters anymore.
I can't say what happened through the rest of the book. Maybe it was fantastic in the second half but I didn't like having to slog through to get to it. I would recommend this book to people who are not averse to threadbare plots when excitement is promised. Perhaps this book was meant to only be a slice of life but the publishers needed to market it differently to get more sales, I don't know. The writing was pretty good. The story, when there was some, was good too. It just wasn't for me.(less)
I have to say that this is probably one of the best books I've read about vampires ever. Not that I've read a lot but it takes a lot for me to like a...moreI have to say that this is probably one of the best books I've read about vampires ever. Not that I've read a lot but it takes a lot for me to like a vampire book & this one I loved. First, it's somewhat of a dystopia because society has completely become vampires & humans (or "hepers" as they're referred to in the book) are pretty nearly extinct. Drop in a human boy pretending to be a vampire to survive & the entire premise of this book was like pure candy.
The main character, Gene, whose name we don't actually find out until about half way through the book, is very believable. He grew up with a father, also a human pretending to be a vampire to survive, who drilled into his head all the rules he needed to follow to survive. He follows them so meticulously that he has almost convinced himself in some ways that he IS actually a vampire. Though that's not something he fully realizes until he meets other humans. Then he spirals through conflict between what he's all but been brainwashed to think & feel about "hepers" & remembering who he is - a human.
What absorbed me most was not Gene or even his fascinatingly enigmatic girl friend, Ashley June. No, it was the action sequences that hooked me in & kept me tuned in until the very last page at which point I went, "What? No more?!" Mr. Fukuda is a wordsmith, using words brilliantly to create timing, tempo, & terror in bright flashes like sunlight in the otherwise necessarily dark setting.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys vampire novels, dystopians, or horror in general. While it's not too blood & guts-y as you might expect from this sort of novel, it does have some grisly parts to it. As a horror movie buff they didn't bother me but they may not be for the faint of heart. Otherwise this is a fantastic read & I cannot wait for the continuation!(less)
Transfer Student starts off almost sleepily & sort of meanders it's way into the action. There was almost an alien feel to the Earth de...more3 1/2 Stars
Transfer Student starts off almost sleepily & sort of meanders it's way into the action. There was almost an alien feel to the Earth described in the first few chapters surrounding Ashley. I can't pinpoint exactly why that was but perhaps it was merely foreign to me to be in the inner circle with the supposed "in crowd" as they wildly hurtled themselves through drugs & sexual references while on a field trip. That Ashley behaved so masculine with regard to her sexual desires & daydreams that made me instantly dislike her. I think her cavalier & careless attitude toward it was unattractive. But she didn't stay unattractive long.
Rhoe struck me as more naive & juvenile than Ashley. I felt his personality & thoughts were more age appropriate & his dedication to his family was honorable. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see both his world & our world through his eyes. Sometimes I laughed out loud reading how he viewed things like cars & drinking water once he & Ashley had swapped bodies across the universe. I appreciated his side of the story by far more than Ashley's but Ashley did eventually grow on me too. There was some good depth & character growth among the two protagonists that I felt was handled very nicely & realistically.
Both the world we know & the alien world of Retha were brilliantly painted. It felt very tactile & relatable whether we were surfing the waves in LA or gliding through the air toward the divide between Retha & the Other Side. And once the story really got going, it was a pretty fun read. I did roll my eyes every so often at the gratuitous topic of sex/sensuality in all its various states & I feel I would have given this 4 stars if that part of the narrative had been largely absent. I do understand that hormonal teens finding themselves in the body of the opposite sex would be quite the sensory overload but I felt there was so much more that could be explored outside of that.
Transfer Student was a very interesting read. It's not meant for younger readers but belongs with more mature readers. The entire idea behind this book is fascinating & I would definitely look forward to more books in this world/series if the focus is slightly shifted.(less)
I absolutely loved the story for Hell's Game. The entire premise reminded me of one of my most favorite series from the early 90s called The Forbidden...moreI absolutely loved the story for Hell's Game. The entire premise reminded me of one of my most favorite series from the early 90s called The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith. Not to mention the entire book felt like it was a modernization of the great Point Horror masterpieces of the same era. I was immediately immersed in familiar ground & taken on a ride that was both expected & then completely new at the same time. I loved every second of the story; all the character interactions & growth as well as the great nuances of old & new story telling that abound on each page.
The idea of Hell calling down a game on people who had tricked an innocent soul into being kidnapped by Hell was pretty great. I loved the idea because, thanks to the way it was written, I was able to segregate reality from the very fictional story being told. I loved that we had quite a few character archetypes that managed to grow beyond their set molds like the pretty popular girl who is just really a witch, the meat-head jock who wants to be more, & the stereotypical smart Asian chick with a hidden past. Each character was well designed & fleshed out. Each level of hell was intricate & meticulously brought to life by Ms. Lo.
The biggest drawback for this book is the lack of editing that I found. Almost every page featured some sort of grammatical or spelling error, the omission of a word, the misuse of a word or its homonym, punctuation error, or the odd swapping of a character name from scene to scene as happens with Kristin's father who appears to be named both Nathan & Bryan depending on the scene. I find myself unable to recommend this book based on the number of errors in the editing because they were very distracting to me as I read the book. There were a number of times that I had to stop reading because I could not immerse myself anymore due to the errors. Then I came back because the story itself was so intriguing that I wanted to know what would happen next.
Overall this book gets a dual grade of 4 stars for the story & characters but it sinks to 2 stars due to the lack of editing & prevalence of errors. I felt the strong wish that I had been given the chance to copy-edit this book myself before it was published & sent out for reviews. I believe in the story & really enjoyed what I read. I just wish it had been presented with more professional editing than the copy I received.(less)
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book when I first started reading. I'm not sure what I had expected & I think I may have mis-read the sy...moreI wasn't sure if I was going to like this book when I first started reading. I'm not sure what I had expected & I think I may have mis-read the synopsis before I agreed to review it because it's a vampire story. I know. I don't do those. Ever. But once I got into the story, I found the writing & the characters to be very entertaining.
Amber, 18-year-old recently turned vampire & former housekeeper, is stuck in a large house in Scotland while her hunky 500-year-old vampire soulmate does his bounty hunting thing in other parts of the universe. She hasn't been particularly clued in to what vampires do or much of their history so she's a little out of her depth when she's alone. Enter the dangerous ex & the mysterious disappearance of a good friend, not to mention the strange, hardcore door to the basement guarding only a rusty pile of chains. Then there's the strange apparitions of blood, whispers, & a growing blood lust that shouldn't be possible for Amber. All of it makes for a pretty fast, fun read.
One of the things that always makes me wary of young human/old vampire pairings is the tendency for the author to forget the hundreds of years of experience & life that the vampire has had. They drag him down to the teenage level as far as maturity & intelligence goes. Or they don't make a good enough case for why someone who does possess a higher maturity level & intellect would be interested in a young human. Ms. Scott avoided this problem very nicely when she gave life to Amber Reed. Not only is the girl feisty, snarky, & alluring, she's also got an excellent head on her shoulders, great self-confidence, & the ability to relate to her centuries-old love on many different levels. She is believable in the role she plays & likeable at the same time.
I loved the mystery of this story. Not just in the plot but in the settings. We are treated to the beautiful & eery Scottish countryside as well as the dark & foreboding landscape of Hell. I was impressed with the fact that there was an abundance of ambience in the story which was presented in such a way as to not bog down the fast-paced story but somehow managed to just be there.
I wasn't fond of all of the reference to making out, sexual teasing, and the debate on whether or not to have sex. I felt that a lot of it was out of place within the context of the story & sort of left me with the feeling that this is not really positioned correctly in the YA genre. It's more of an urban fantasy with younger adult characters. That said however, Dead and Beyond is a very well-written book with relatable characters against a very moody, beautiful backdrop. I will probably, at some point, go back & read the first 3 books in this series to answer some of the questions I had.(less)
I'm not sure where I first heard about this book but the moment I saw the video book trailers, I knew I had to read it. I'm not one for watching book...moreI'm not sure where I first heard about this book but the moment I saw the video book trailers, I knew I had to read it. I'm not one for watching book trailers but the way in which they were done was more intriguing than detrimental to the book & once I got into the pages I was NOT disappointed! Not only is 172 Hours on the Moon a fast-paced, thriller but it is also rich with character & some pretty creepy history too.
First, the whole idea of teens going into space is completely preposterous because of how much of a liability they would be but I loved that Mr. Harstad made it all seem so plausible. The story is mostly told between the points of views of the 3 teens: Antoine, a French teen looking to escape his own heart break, Midori, a creative Japanese girl who yearns for freedom, and Mia, a Norwegian rock band member who has no desire whatsoever to go into space. Each is unique with differing interpretations of their surroundings & the events taking place. Each places different value on different details & bits of dialogue which, when added all together, we are treated to a very well-rounded, full look at the story.
The history of the DARLAH station & the moon missions were maybe my most favorite parts of the story though the revelation of all the information behind everything came deliciously slowly. I loved the weaving of fact with fiction throughout the entire 328 pages, all the way to the very end with an epilogue of people who are landing on the in the future.
The story moved quickly & I was easily immersed right into the middle of the situation with the characters. The mood was dark & very creepy throughout which I greatly relished because, as a horror movie fan, I felt I was in the midst of one myself. The end of the book, the climax of all the build up, was absolutely fantastic & completely terrifying. I loved every minute of this book & would love to read more just like it so I hope it spawns a few similar ideas with their own unique spins.
172 Hours on the Moon is a must read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi thrillers. I found myself thinking of movies like Event Horizon, Pandorum, Supernova, & Sphere. Not to mention the multiple mentions of horrific Japanese superstitions about ghosts such as the Slash Mouth Woman which seriously added to the scary ambiance throughout the novel. I recommend that if you're easily creeped out, read this one with the light on & not under the covers with a flashlight!(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was not for me. That's the first thing I'll say about it. I didn't finish it. I tried. I got 2/3 of the way through and ju...more**spoiler alert** This book was not for me. That's the first thing I'll say about it. I didn't finish it. I tried. I got 2/3 of the way through and just could not continue on because I'd just had enough.
What I learned about Nailer:
1. Nailer is such a badass little guy that he is MUCH more interested in saving his extremely abusive, drug-addict, murderer of a father than he ever will be completely sold on saving a girl who's greatest act against him was to carelessly forget that not everyone is educated like she is. Okay. 2. Nailer would also rather be around a girl who would sell him out & leave him for dead than be around a girl who has money & forgets sometimes that not everyone else does. Sure. 3. Nailer is a jerk who spends most of his time wishing he had either killed the girl or sold her to her enemies because either one would have made him a boat-load of money. Yep. 4. Which leads me to feel that Nailer is not worth reading about because I can't identify with him or his position in anyway. It's simply offensive to me.
That, combined with the sluggish pace at which the story meandered toward a vague semblance of a plot, leaving in its wake a plethora of either irrelevant (non-character-developing, non-expository, non-interesting) or excruciatingly repetitive dialogue, was just more than I cared to continue reading. And yeah, don't drill for oil in or near the US because it will eventually cause the fall of Western civilization. Got it.
This is my personal preference. I know that others will look at this differently & possibly enjoy it. Mores the better! I think each book should have an audience. I'm just not that audience for this book.(less)
I am a huge fan of Angela Carlie's writing & this book did not disappoint. I enjoyed getting to see Jess's point of view through the events of the...moreI am a huge fan of Angela Carlie's writing & this book did not disappoint. I enjoyed getting to see Jess's point of view through the events of the story which was first told from Lora's point of view. Jess's family is fascinating, including those who are not related by blood but by other bonds. The history of how they came to be immortal, the process they must follow, was intriguing and I sort of wished there was a little more history there.
Without fail, Angela has created fully realized characters who seem to live on the pages of their own volition. I really loved that they were multi-faceted & that even the villains had subtleties which Jess picked up on here and there throughout the book. Jess is snarky & full of attitude. Her inner thoughts are often very acerbic & just as often hilarious. She is completely a teenager & completely real in the moment.
Jess's relationships with both Nicu & Johnny were confusing -- and they were supposed to be! These guys pull at her for differing reasons but seemingly with just as much force at times. And while Jess may have gone back and forth over which of them she felt most attracted to at the time, it was not the focus of the story which is rightly focused on evil chicks who can turn into spiders & do some pretty nasty things. *shiver*
I felt the story meandered a little in places, but that could have been because Jess was only going through the motions for parts of the story due to things she had experienced. There was quite a bit of hot & heavy sensuality & some kind of gross descriptions of violence & injury laced throughout the story which I don't personally mind too much but I would recommend this book to older teens & true young adults.
All in all, I would definitely say that anyone who enjoys paranormal, shape-shifty goodness should pick this one up & if you haven't read Loramendi's Story (the first book in the Lords of Shifters series) -- what are you waiting for? Get that one too!(less)