Cover Impressions: I am a little underwhelmed by this cover. I like the font and the eff...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I am a little underwhelmed by this cover. I like the font and the effect but I feel like maybe it needs another color or two - it is just too much of the same... And it certainly doesn't scream "ghost hunters".
The Gist: Kennedy hadn't planned on spending her evening traipsing through a graveyard, searching for her cat and she certainly hadn't planned on encountering a girl who looks oddly out of place - and floats. When the ghost follows her home and takes the life of her mother, Kennedy finds herself in the company of a group of ghostbusters claiming that she is part of the Legion - a century old organization designed to protect the world from a demon. Kennedy takes her place in the group while still doubting the validity of their claims and joins on their search for a mysterious device that may be their only hope of saving themselves, and the world.
Review: Have you ever felt like an author is flying so high on the success of his/her previous book(s) that he/she is under enormous pressure to produce his/her next book in 1/4 the time that the first one took to write? I do not know if that is the case with Unbreakable, but it certainly feels like it is. Ultimately, it feels like what was meant to be a 500 page novel has been condensed into under 200 pages. Everything in the novel seems to happen too fast. Blink.... there's a ghost. Blink..... Your mom is dead. Blink..... a demon want's to kill you. Blink..... you are part of a ghostbusting crew. This also means that there is no time to SHOW the reader what is happening and Garcia instead relies on pages of info-dumping. During these sessions we learn about a century old order of which Kennedy's mother was supposedly a part. Now, I can suspend disbelief with the best of them but, you would think that there would have been some type of clue - even something that wasn't evident until after this new knowledge. But, no. Even at the end of the book, we still know NOTHING about the mother's involvement with the League and haven't gotten any answers to the big questions.
The condensed version of this novel also mean very little in the way of character development. I did enjoy Priest, but Alara felt like the typical female rival who hates the main character at the beginning but grudgingly comes to respect her by the end. I also had a big problem with the twins. First of all, I kept mixing them up and had to constantly go back to remind myself which as the broody one. If you are going to write twins - you had better be able to make them sound different from one another. Then there was their immediate infatuation with Kennedy, their immediate rivalry over Kennedy and the fact that they had SEVERAL arguments over who was going to "take care of" Kennedy every time they went out on a mission. Seriously, does the girl not have any self respect? It seemed the Kennedy's only job was the fuck things up. This is an all too familiar ploy within the YA world and one that I am beyond tired of. I hate watching the main character have to be rescued over and over again. I hate listening to her brood over how useless she is instead of learning some actual skills.
There are some scenes in Unbreakable that are pretty damn scary. The part in the Children's Home was freaky-deaky and the setting of the final battle was downright terrifying. I really could have gotten on board if there were more of these scenes and less "I like you but I'm not good enough for you" moaning between Kennedy and Jared. I also was temporarily hooked by the teaser of a twist at the end.
(view spoiler)[For just a moment, I thought that the ghosts were going to be the good guys, that the "League" was going to turn out to be the bad guys and that they had used Kennedy but, alas, Garcia copped out just making the device evil and Kennedy goes on her merry way with the Scooby Doo gang with no new information that what we started with. (hide spoiler)]
But it turned out to be no where near as cool as I had hoped.
Unbreakable just didn't hook me but it may be different for those people who were big fans of the Beautiful Creatures series. I may give the second book a shot when it is released. Here's hoping for more ghosts, less whiny romance.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Supernatural Violence Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Cover Impressions: I like this one a lot. The piercing blue eyes draw you in and the blo...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I like this one a lot. The piercing blue eyes draw you in and the blood splatter elevates it from the "pretty girl in a dress" typical fare. I do wish there was something in the background; a room, a palace, even the Eiffel tower. Also chuckling at the tagline.
The Gist: Colette's life has fallen apart. Her parents are separated, she has had to move into a tiny apartment and, despite being able to stay at her fancy prep school, she can't tell her snotty friends or they will ditch her. BUT, there is one shining hope - a class trip to Paris that Colette hopes will change her life. Upon landing, however, she discovers that there have been several gruesome murders in the city, and that they may have something to do with the mysterious family heirloom that she discovered in a long forgotten box.
Review: I am a huge fan of Katie Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die series. So, naturally, I was all in when I found out that she was releasing a new book. I don't know a great deal about Marie Antoinette, but the premise seemed really interesting. The thought of the famous queen hunting down and decapitating those who had wronged her made me giggle and the promise of a Parisian setting had be intrigued. I loved following the characters through some famous sites and hearing tidbits of history (punctuated by the appearance of a few dead participants!). The plot is fun and unfolds at a brisk pace. Once the mystery is laid bare, there is a real sense of urgency that kept me reading late into the night.
I did have a little difficulty connecting with the main character. Even though Colette is the better of her friends, she is still pretty shallow and vapid. I had a hard time taking her seriously and I kept rolling my eyes at the very "teenagerness" of her every thought and comment. I remember not being particularly fond of the main character in the Bad Girl's Don't Die series, but Alender had three books in which to let her grow and mature, this (as far as I know) is a stand-alone and Colette's transformation is a little too quick. It was nice to watch her finally make some good choices when it comes to her friends. The other characters are fun, but not particularly well developed. Audrey didn't have much personality other than being the complete opposite of Hannah. Brynn seemed completely unnecessary. Hannah was completely heinous - Regina George would be proud of this one and I honestly felt bad for Pilar, she seemed so sweet and talented and kept putting up with Hannah's abuse.
The love interest is sweet, but doesn't overtake the plot. This is not the story for someone looking for passion in Paris! Jules is cute, sweet and respectful. He is the complete opposite of Armand, who had developed a strange fixation on Colette and gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies (also, I completely pictured him as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast). I did really enjoy getting to see the relationship between Jules and his family, but the way it impacted Colette's own relationship with her brother was a little unrealistic. By the end, Colette is a completely changed person. She stands up to her friends, is generous with her mother and kind to her brother. If this had happened at the end of a series of books, it could have felt like a genuine change, but the fact that it all occurs in 10 (I think) days, makes me doubt that it would last beyond the first few days at home. Overall, the ending is a little too clean and easy. All the loose ends are tied up, everyone is safe, Hannah is alone, Colette is a better person and everything goes back to normal.
I am definitely an Alender fan. I will stick around for any other books that she writes, but here's hoping that she goes back to the series format that allows for some realistic character development.
Age: 12 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Death by decapitation Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: Very pretty. I love how she is leaping into the water, rather than fa...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Very pretty. I love how she is leaping into the water, rather than falling as is common in a lot of YA covers.
The Gist: A re-telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet through the eyes of Ophelia.
Review:I have been seriously procrastinating on writing this review. THis is a direct result of the annoyance I felt while reading this book. I chose A Wounded Name as one of the books to read while I was staying with my parents, preparing for my wedding. I was hoping for a book to drag me away and give me a moment of to of respite from the insanity of wedding planning. However, A Wounded Name ended up being the ONLY book I read because reading another page was the LAST thing that I wanted to do. Bring on the crazy relatives, just don't make me read any more of Ophelia's tortured world!
A Wounded Name has the distinction of being the only book I can recall reading in which I hated ALL of the characters. Every. Single. One. I realize that this follows the plot of Hamlet pretty damn closely, but I could have done with some characterization to at least make one of two people appealing. Dane is an ass. Ophelia has no spine whatsoever. Her brother and father are duel control freaks and, frankly, the character the reader is meant to truly hate, is the only one who behaves decently throughout the whole book!
The relationships in this novel are creepy at best, downright scary at worst. Ophelia appears to have feelings for Dane but never takes any control and allows herself to be lead wherever he wishes. Where he wishes, also tends to include physical abuse, which she endures in order to show her love. THE FUCK OPHELIA??? She is constantly hiding the bruises, engaging in dangerous activities at his behest and making excuses for his actions. Speaking of bruises - the author is OBSESSED! Nearly every page mentions actual bruises, past bruises, bruise colored objects and on and on and on. It has gotten to the point where I will never again be able to read that word without cringing inwardly.
Ophelia's relationship with her father and brother is not much more healthy than that with Dane. Both men are incredibly controlling and treat Ophelia like an invalid. The family also seems to be distant and uncaring, while overly familiar with each other's private lives. At one point, Ophelia describes her brother's sexual activities in a way that made me want to call child services.
To compound on the horrible characters, there was a great deal of confusion about the time frame. There are modern conveniences, such as cell phones, but antiquated ideas about women's roles. The females are the school are raised to be obedient wives and the administration fights against any suggestion that they should change. The language also got more and more annoying as the book went on. I was looking for a re-telling of a Shakespearean masterpiece, but that doesn't mean I wanted to read someone else's version of Shakespearean language. Every time the teens started speaking this way, it immediately jolted me from the story and made me question the author's choices.
A Wounded Name is merely a butchered classic that fell far short of expectations. I do not think I will be anxiously awaiting any more of Hutchison's books.
Age: 16 and up Sex: Kissing, Sex among teenagers Violence: Physical Abuse, Gunplay, Poisoning Inappropriate Language: Whore, Prick, Bastard, Crude language regarding sex and masturbation Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Smoking (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is awesome. The first one that I saw had similar shading b...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is awesome. The first one that I saw had similar shading but just featured a set of keys. It wasn't nearly as creepy. I believe this is the final cover and it is a great change. The shadows draw your eye into the frame and the blurring coupled with the lace adds the perfect spooky factor. Although, I do wish they had given the book a more stand-out name. Asylum is just far too common - a Goodreads search provides 837 results.....
The Gist: Dan Crawford has finally escaped the opression of his foster home and high school. At New Hampshire College Prep, a summer program for teens, he is excited to spend his days with students that share his thirst for knowledge and geeky tendencies. He soon discovers that the dorm in which they are to spend the summer is actually Brookside, a former asylum that featured drastic experiments meant to cure the criminally insane. Feeling a strange connection to the building's history and suffering from nightmares that don't always come at night, Dan and his new friends begin to explore the bowels of the building and find that there are some secrets that should stay buried.
Review: That cover is sure to pull in any horror fan. However, the book itself is not strong enough to hold them there for long.
The characters in Asylum are far too one dimensional. It seems important to the plot that we understand the drastic changes in their personality that are brought on by living in the asylum, but we are given little to no time to actually get to know them before those changes begin. We are expected to believe that the three are the best of friends after having known each other for only a week. Couldn't the author have at least had them "meet" online, prior to attending the summer school program? What's more, there is an underlying plot featuring Jordan's obsession with an "unsolvable equation" that seems to completely drop out of the storyline without any resolution. Is this meant to be a series? Am I missing something?
The setting for this novel is phenomenal. A student dorm built in what used to be an asylum and featuring a (sort of) locked basement with the trappings to spell out the horror that once occurred there. That has all kinds of potential! The author does do a good job of creating a tense and spine-tingling atmosphere whenever the kids are in the basement. This is aided by the addition of pictures which puts this book in that new sub-genre of multi-media fiction a la Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, though I do wish that the EARC had actually contained more of the pictures that will be featured in the final edition - since that is what interested me in the title in the first place.
The plot of Asylum starts off strong by weakens as we get further into the mystery. There is some meandering into the past via dreams and visions which give us a glimpse into the mind of the madman who once ran the asylum, but we never learn any real details about what went on there other than a vague notion of horrific surgeries. One the murders start, we get to watch the cops bumble around and the kids go into Scooby Doo mode. The constant arguing and teenage drama that comes with the three main characters gets tedious rather quickly and, eventually, when the killer is finally revealed the dialogue becomes downright laughable. Rather than being scared, I found myself rolling my eyes and wishing the plot had gone in any direction other than the most obvious.
Asylum may represent one step towards the road to a new genre as more and more authors attempt to bank on the commercial success of Ransom Riggs. However, until an author is able to seamlessly weave together pictures with a strong plot and compelling characters, I will be staying away.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Murder of Teens Inappropriate Language: Asshole, Shit, Bitch, Pissed Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking(less)
Cover Impressions: Not quite sure on this one. It certainly didn't attract me upon the r...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Not quite sure on this one. It certainly didn't attract me upon the release. I only put this one on my list after reading several rave reviews. I like the purple background of the city, but the image in front doesn't quite seem to fit with it.
The Gist: On the heels of an incident involving a wealthy playboy and a little too much honesty, Evie O'Neill has been sent to New York to live with her uncle and aid him in the running of his museum. When a murderer starts depositing bodies around the city bearing mysterious markings, The Museum of Creepy Crawlies is thrust into the limelight and Evie embarks on a dangerous investigation that will bring her further into the occult, and into danger, than she ever thought possible.
Review: The Diviners is set in the 1920s. The setting plays such a strong role that it begins to behave as another character - a character that hogs spotlight and spouts and endless stream of dialogue. In the beginning, it is a charming and useful means of orientation. However, as the novel continues, and the slang and explanations or 20s customs begin slow the plot, it becomes incredibly tedious. As I got further and further into the book (and begin to note the sheer girth of the novel) I began to question whether 90% of it was necessary.
In addition to the wordiness of the author there was an issue with the size of the cast. Evie is a fun character, as were her friends, Mabel and Theta. I think I would have much preferred if the novel has simply followed them through this mystery. Instead, however, it jumps through countless characters and scenes in what soon becomes a dizzying game of "where the heck are we now?" I kept waiting for the characters to find one another and form new superhero group who takes on demons and ghosts but SPOILER ALERT they never do!
The mystery was solid and the deaths were scary to read. These scenes were among the most enjoyable for me (at least in a cringeworthy way). I was a little disappointed when the big baddie didn't turn out to have manifested or possessed a real person, but I could easily have gotten over that if there has been a few more answered questions. The Diviners ends, the bad guy is gone (ish), but there are many plot lines left hanging. I am as yet unsure whether or not I will return for the next in this series.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Sex Violence: Gunplay, Murder, Dismemberment Inappropriate Language: Whore, Bitch Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use Other Issues: Abortion, Suicide, Spousal Abuse(less)
Cover Impressions: This is the second cover for The Dead and Buried. The first showed a shadowy figure descending a staircase. It fit well with the st...moreCover Impressions: This is the second cover for The Dead and Buried. The first showed a shadowy figure descending a staircase. It fit well with the storyline and added an extra creep factor. This cover, however, is less impressive. The cover model looks like she is sleeping, not dead, and it doesn't stand out from the other YA books on the shelf.
The Gist: Jade has finally gotten her wish. She has moved to a new house, in a bigger town and with a better school. Shortly after moving in, however, Jade starts to feel odd cold sensations throughout the house and her little brother, Colby, describes a glimmering girl that visits him in his room. Jade discovers that the teen queen of her high school, Kayla, had lived in her house and that she had died there under mysterious circumstances. When Kayla threatens Jade's brother, Jade must worm her way into the inner circle in order to try and find a killer.
Review: This is my second foray into the world Kim Harrington. I read Clarity, which I enjoyed, but not enough for me to rush out and buy the sequel. I feel much the same about The Dead and Buried. I was really excited for it when I saw the original cover. I love ghost stories (see my reviews the Dead Girls Don't Die series) and TDAB fits that bill. However, there were some aspects where it was lacking.
The premise is one we have all seen before, teenager moves into new house, weird stuff starts happening, he/she discovers the house is haunted and endeavors to find the killer and set the soul to rest. There wasn't really any new ground broken in this book. I was hoping Kayla would possess Jade and try to win back her old life - but no. I never really felt like Jade was in any danger. Yes, Kayla possessed her brother, and yes, those moments were a little tense, but I don't think we saw enough of a relationship with him in the beginning to make these moments really hit home for me. Even throughout the novel, it seemed like Colby was always out of the picture, and when he did appear, he had very little personality.
The rest of the interactions between Jade and her family seemed a little too unreal. She never fights with her father and her arguments with her stepmother are pretty tame. I did enjoy Jade's friendship with Alexa. She was quirky and it made me happy whenever Jade chose her over the popular kids - putting substance ahead of flash. I was disappointed when Alexa basically disappeared in the second half of the book. As soon as Jade begins to develop a relationship with the boys (Donovan and Kane) her interactions with Alexa seem to fall off. I found both the boys to be rather boring and didn't really see the appeal of either of them.
Had The Dead and Buried ended with some huge twist that I never saw coming, I probably would have enjoyed it a great deal more. It was a pretty quick read and it was well paced. Unfortunately, the minute a particular character was introduced, I had a strong feeling that they were the killer and my suspicions were confirmed with one of the least exciting reveal moments that I have ever read.
Overall, The Dead and Buried was underwhelming. It is fine as a quick read, but didn't have a whole lot of substance.
Age: 12 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Murder by pushing down stairs Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover feels very contemporary fiction to me. There is nothing ab...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover feels very contemporary fiction to me. There is nothing about the cover image that feels supernatural and only the title hints at the paranormal elements that are crucial to the story. I do not feel this one would stand out on a shelf.
The Gist: Having been pushed in front of a subway, Charlotte wakes to find herself in a swanky hotel and in the company of the Dead Girls Detective Agency. Together they must find Charlotte's murderer in order to give her a chance to move on.
Review: This was a very tough read for me and I am surprised that I managed to make it to the end. The Dead Girls Detective Agency had a fun and interesting premise, but the writing, characters and plot were lackluster at best.
From the very first chapter, this novel featured A LOT of dialogue. I get it, Charlotte had to be introduced into this new world and some groundwork had to be laid. However, there had to be a way to accomplish this that did not involve pages and pages of info-dumping with very little in the way of comic relief and no action whatsoever. For the first half of the book, we are forced to endure endless explanations of the rules. What the rules are, who made the rules, how to bend the rules, what happens when you break the rules. This is interrupted occasionally while Charlotte moons over the boyfriend that she left behind, realizes that he is a selfish twit, and then is informed by her ghost-mates that she gets 9 chances to break the rules - so let's go have some fun! Seriously? All that time spent building the world around these rules and then we frivilously toss them out the window so that we can drop in on Beyonce and Jay-Z? That feels cheap to me and makes me angry that I had to sit through Ghost 101 when none of it actually mattered.
The writing featured a great deal of teen-speak that did not feel genuine. In all my years of teaching, I have never heard an actual, honest-to-goodness teenager use an acronym in a sentence. Yet, these teens drop OMG's like a middle-aged parent trying to be "cool" with their kid's friends. The author also chose to engage in one of my serious pet peeves in YA: name-dropping. I know it is tempting. You want your book to be relevant, you want your readers to be able to relate to the characters: "She likes Simple Plan? OMG! I love Simple Plan - we could be BFF's!!" In reality, in stinks of desperation.
The plot of The Dead Girls Detective Agency crawled. I found myself skimming pages, just waiting to get to some action. There were some higher points, like when the girls possessed the cheerleaders (aptly named the Tornahos) but even those did not live up the the potential for hilarity. There was very little in the way of action. We had a few tense moments where the killer is revealed and a few more when Tess and Edison's connection is revealed. I was pretty disappointed at the choice of murderer. I am never a fan when the killer is revealed as being someone to whom we are barely introduced and, in this case, doesn't even warrant a name.
Despite my obvious issues with plot and writing, Cox could have pulled me back in with some kick-ass characters. Alas, this was not the case. The characters felt very cookie-cutter to me: the sweet one, the nerdy one, the fashionista, the bitch, the slutty cheerleaders, the sleazy ex-boyfriend, the new love interest. All of them acted as expected. They didn't do anything exciting and they didn't have any clever, funny or interesting dialogue. Charlotte was incredibly boring, naive and gullible. I was also bothered by the fact that she described herself as a prolific reader - yet she didn't speak like one. At one point she even says "And one time, she helped me with a Shakespeare assignment, because I'd just finished reading Harry Potter and kept getting confused between Halmet and Hagrid and it was completely messing up my essay on why he had issues." Seriously? You claim to read a vast and varied array of books and yet you have trouble distinguishing between two characters? I just couldn't relate to a girl that 1) dumped her best friend the minute she found a boyfriend 2) talked about the boyfriend non-stop for the majority of the book and 3) didn't use her special new ghostly powers to do some serious damage to the slutty cheerleaders and the boyfriend who hooked up with three of them within a few days of her funeral.
The Dead Girls Detective Agency just didn't work for me. I was expecting a fluffy and humorous read, but this one just didn't have enough substance to hold it together.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing, talk of "hooking up" Violence: Murder - pushed in front of a subway Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Pissed, Ho, Asshole, Slut, Whore Substance Use/Abuse: None (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover does not even scratch the surface of the awesomeness that...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover does not even scratch the surface of the awesomeness that is inside. See those fantastically creepy drawings? Those are EVERYWHERE and they get even better.
The Gist: Scarlett was dead, to begin with. Heh, always wanted to start a review like that. Anyway, in attempting to avoid a painfully awkward class trip, Scarlett Dedd accidentally kills herself - and her entire family. In finding herself Bodily Challenged, Scarlett does the only sensible thing and attempts to gain some ghostly pals - by killing her old friends.
Review: I cannot possibly go any further in this review without mentioning the illustrations in this book. Not only are they clever, creative and deliciously gruesome, they are also integrated into the text in a way that I have never seen before. The storyline is melded with pictures, doodles, membership cards and coffee stains. The way that the author plays with words and pictures (see below) is fun and keeps the reader entertained. Elements like these add a sense of whimsy and macabre and would certainly enthrall any young readers.
The story is told through several sources. Along side the traditional narrative style, we see Scarlett's blog, online conversations and even an interview transcript. Personally, the constant changes in perspective and style took some getting used to, however, I can appreciate the creative effort and I know that my students would find it fun and refreshing. The plot took an interesting twist when Scarlett decided to try and kill her friends so that she would have some company, but otherwise was fairly predictable.
The characters are an interesting bunch. They are the artsy kids. The ones who tend to dress in black and compare recipes for fake blood rather than the latest party. While the "teen speak" feels a little forced, the characters feel like a realistic portrayal of typical teenagers. The only part that really bothered me about the secondary characters is that they don't seem particularly affected by the death of their friend. They also seem determined to exploit her current situation for fame and popularity rather than try to communicate with her. For her part, Scarlett incredibly self-absorbed, whiny and exceedingly dense. This is rather annoying for about the first half (how long does it take her to realize that her parents are also dead?) but it does get better. Eventually, she gets over her naivety and is able to put the needs of others before her own.
Scarlett Dedd is certainly a book that will appeal to fans of graphic novels and to those readers who can appreciate a little blood and gore.
For a taste of Scarlett Dedd, you can also follow her blog: ScarDeparted
Age: 12 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Death by poisoning, several attempted murders Inappropriate Language: Retard, illustration of character gesturing with middle finger Substance Use/Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is what first attracted me to this book. It is deliciously dark, simple and stunning.
The Gist: Velveteen was murdered by...moreCover Impressions: The cover is what first attracted me to this book. It is deliciously dark, simple and stunning.
The Gist: Velveteen was murdered by a serial killer named Bonesaw. She spends her days emerging from purgatory in order to chase down errant spirits and attempt to foil the plans of her killer. When purgatory is thrown into upheaval, it is up to Velveteen and her team to hunt down the culprits and restore the balance between the living and the dead.
Review: The blurb for this novel led me to believe that it was the story of a ghost seeking revenge on the serial killer that murdered her. That story excited me and I imagined a dark and disturbing show-down between killer and victim. This was not what I got. Instead, Velveteen centers around a group of souls that are attempting to escape purgatory and return to the "daylight". This story is not nearly as exciting.
A major problem exists with the world building in Velveteen. It presents a unique representation of purgatory, however, there is little to no explanation of anything that is going on. We are left to stumble after Velvet in the hopes that she will drop some tidbit of information that will help bring this world into being in our minds. Alas, these tidbits are few and far between. For example, purgatory seems plagued by Shadowquakes. I never got a clear picture of what this looks like, nor what it means for the souls that are left in it's wake (one girl appeared to be captured by the first quake but was later mentioned as being shaken up - but fine). We are led to believe that all of purgatory is mashed together from items that can stolen from the living and smuggled in through the cracks, yet there is a train and it is never explained how this came to be. Every time I encountered one of these issues (and there were many) I was left flicking back pages, convinced that I had missed something. It ruined the flow of the story and left me annoyed.
The characters themselves are bland and boring. Velvet is a terrible leader and the souls that make up her team seem interchangeable. They evoked no sympathy or emotion whatsoever and were not the least bit clever or witty. It is never explained what makes these particular teenagers special enough to be members of the ________ team. ________ was such a boring character that I just had to go back and look up his name. There was zero chemistry between him and Velvet and her half-assed attempt to stay away was annoying and wasted time that could have been spent on developing the plot or explaining what the heck was going on.
When Velvet interacted with her killer there was a real sense of urgency and excitement. These scenes gave a titillating glimpse into the book that could have been. Unfortunately, there were only a few of these moments and, in order to reach them, I had to wade through page after page of grey dullness in purgatory.
In the end, Velveteen left me unsatisfied. I realize that this is the first in a series, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't provide SOME answers to the motivation of the villain, or the secrets hidden by those in charge. Velveteen gave me no closure on this story and no desire to continue with the next.
A final note on appropriateness: As a teacher, I would NOT recommend this book to my students for fear of being fired. There is A LOT of casual swearing (see below), some pretty nasty violence and description of torture.
Age: 17 and up Gender: Female Sex: Allusion to sexual acts Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay, Kidnapping, Torture Inappropriate Language: A LOT AND OFTEN! Piss, Shit, Blue Balls, Bitch, Slut, Ass, Tripping Balls, Dumpster Baby (just wrong), Whores, Fucking, Douche-Baggy, Dick, Pussy Substance Abuse: Use of Gas? (less)
Cover Impressions: So much cover love. Even before reading the book I was a big fan of t...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: So much cover love. Even before reading the book I was a big fan of the creep factor behind each of the Bad Girls Don't Die covers. After reading, I am happy to note that every detail included in this cover, from the dress to the flowers, is reflective of the story. The color scheme features the prettiest lavender and makes me want to blow it up and frame it.
The Gist: Alexis and ghosts go way back. She has successfully thwarted both a possessed doll and a demon seeking poise, perfection and death. These encounters have left her with the ability to see ghosts through the lens of a camera and stripped her of her best friend, her boyfriend and now the one thing that was keeping her sane; her photography.
Review: I have been waiting for this finale for a very long time. I had high hopes of growth for Alexis and some truly scary moments for myself. I was not disappointed on either point.
The fact that Alexis only sees ghosts (other than Lydia) in pictures and on film is a really neat twist. Especially being faced with them in magazines and textbooks. It makes me think about how often we look at photographs and video in our everyday lives. For Alexis, this twist seems to take away the one constant in her life – her photography. At this point, she has lost Megan, Carter and now her one refuge. It makes for a bleak start to the novel but I think Alexis needed to be broken down and stripped of her safety blankets so that she could grow into a better person.
This plot twist also creates some truly terrifying moments. Imagine shooting pictures in the dark that show a gruesome specter standing right in front of you, but not being able to actually see the creature with your own eyes. It adds an extra element of terror to the novel's ghostly encounters. This time around, the ghosts are incredibly intense and terrifically terrifying. This is not one to read while home alone. Or perhaps it is the perfect book for that.
Alexis continues to struggle with her character flaws but growth is on the horizon, I promise! I know some readers are annoyed by characters who take too long to start behaving in a manner that we see fitting, but I believe Alender has portrayed an accurate representation of the effort and emotion that goes into seeing one's flaws and attempting to fix them. That said, I was very happy when Alexis finally begins to trust other people and, eventually, herself. And then there is Lydia. Despite her trying to kill all the member of the Sunshine club in From Bad to Cursed, I always liked Lydia. I was very happy to see her return and even more happy to see her role advance from background lurker to strong supporting character. Lydia has a way with snarky remarks and reminds me that even the prickliest of teenagers can be hiding a real strength of character beneath.
Katie Alender manages to create a plot with an exciting blend of low build and high action. Chilling moments are interspersed with emotional breakdowns and relationship building. The intricacies of the story are slowly revealed and begin to knit together to create an ending that incredibly satisfying for those of us who have read and loved this series and these characters (even Alexis). I am sad to see it end, but happy that it did so on a high note. I cannot wait to see will flow from Mrs. Alender's pen next.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female, though not strictly. Sex: Kissing Violence: Death by falling, Attempted murder/suicide Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Some underage drinking
“A cute accountant, piped up the voice in the back of my head. Shut up, voice.”
“After school one Monday, I decided I deserved a break. A little fun in my life, for once. So I set aside the whole afternoon to organize the kitchen junk drawer.”(less)
Cover Impressions: I really do like this cover. It is simple, clean and effective.
The Gist: In this sequel to Hourglass we switch to Kaleb's point of view and learn more about his emphatic powers. Jack Landers is still on the lose and time rips are becoming more frequent, and real, than ever. Against this backdrop, The Hourglass is issued an ultimatum, find and deliver Jack, or face an alternate timeline that could destroy its members.
Review: This book was not easy to get into. I read Hourglass quite a long time ago and, despite re-reading my review and checking this site I still found it very difficult to remember exactly what had happened and what we had previously learned about Rips and Time Traveling. I was pretty confused for at least the first 50 pages or so.
I was also unimpressed with the we-hate-each-other-so-much-you-just-know-we-are-going-to-end-up-together romance that I have seen over and over again. And, of course, Kaleb becomes a one woman gal practically over night. Because, as we all know, bad boys are only bad boys until the right girl comes along!
I did eventually come to like Kaleb and I got sucked into the story once it got going. The ending was a little unsatisfying but, that is par for the course for middle book in a trilogy (this is a trilogy right? Someone correct me if I am wrong). I do feel kinda like. in the end, nothing was accomplished in this book that couldn't have been achieved in a short story or novella.
I am beginning to think that time travel books are just not for me. It seems like cheating to be able to benefit from the shock value of killing off characters only to cheapen it by changing time/bringing them back to life. There also tend to be long-winded explanations of how time travel works and complicated materials and/or circumstances required. Timpiece had both of these.
Overall, I was underwhelmed by Timepiece. There wasn't really anything wrong with the writing. The characters were enjoyable enough. The plot moved at a decent pace. I guess there just wasn't anything that stood out as GREAT and this (coupled with my Time Traveling issues) left me lukewarm at best
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: Mentioned but not described Violence: knifeplay, gunplay Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Underage drinking (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is better than the predecessor but I am still not a fan. C...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is better than the predecessor but I am still not a fan. Come on publishers! The authors write fantastic books and you put crappy covers on them (or crappy books and beautiful covers - GET IT TOGETHER!). The cover model seems a little to grown up and the back-on-to-the-camera-looking-over-my-shoulder pose has been done and done. At least she doesn't have a tattoo.
The Gist: Shift picks up a few months after the events of Shade. Aura has helped Logan make the impossible transition from Shade back to Ghost and must deal with the fallout as her attention seeking ex-boyfriend demands to steal the spotlight once more. Aura's attention, on the other hand, is back on the oh-so-endearing and not-so-eternally-patient Zachery. With help from both, Aura begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding her birth and the special abilities that she and Zack possess.
Review: Jeri Smith-Ready continues to surprise me. A good half of this book is spent on angst-ridden teenage relationships, a considerable part of the plot involves a complicated love triangle and finding answers to the BIG QUESTION seems secondary to the day to day issues brought on by teenage hormones. I SHOULD hate this book, but I don't. I FREAKING LOVED EVERY MINUTE! I think perhaps it is the author's ability to create characters and situations that are so desperately real that my gut wrenches with sympathy, longing, anger or betrayal. I wanted to hug the characters, or shake them, or slap them (whichever was appropriate for the situation).
In the second half of the novel, the action picks up considerably and we start to get some answers to why the Shift may have happened and what makes Zachery and Aura particularly special. After reading this book I am ridiculously happy that the final book is being released in a few days and I won't have to wait long for the rest of my answers (and to see Aura and Zachery finally have sex - seriously, I have never in my life rooted more for two teenage characters to get it on - Jeri, what have you done to me??!!)*
As I mentioned in my review of Shade, this is really a book for the older end of the YA spectrum. I am sure lots of readers can handle the mature elements (and I am sure that I read way more risque stuff when I was a kid) but, as a teacher bent on avoiding parental anger and keeping her job, I wouldn't give it to any student under the age of 16.
Favorite Quote: "Her energy drink took effect right away, and I wondered if it had disappeared from the mainstream market because it had been made from the pituitary glands of deposed dictators and executed serial killers."
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Discussed but not described, some naked shenanigans. Violence: Gunplay Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Fuck Substance Abuse: Underage Drinking
Cover Impressions: To be honest, the cover did not entice me at all. The semi-headless girl in the spangly top smacks of paranormal romance (a genre I...more
Cover Impressions: To be honest, the cover did not entice me at all. The semi-headless girl in the spangly top smacks of paranormal romance (a genre I usually avoid) and makes it look generic. The color combination feels off, though I can't quite put my finger on why...
The Gist: Aura and most of her friends were born after the Shift that allowed the dead to interact with the living. She has spent her entire life trying to avoid and ignore them. That is, until her boyfriend joins their ranks. Now she walks a tightrope trying to keep him from turning into a dark and twisted shade while fighting her growing feelings for the very cute, and very alive, Zachery.
Review: I fought off this book for a long time. I would read a review or see it pop up on a friend's shelf on Goodreads, check out the blurb/cover and promptly shut it down again. Over and over. I don't do paranormal romance very well. I do big plots with lots of action and adventure and this - isn't that. Finally, I could fight it no longer. I had to see what the fuss was about. Let this be a lesson to you (and me) when a book keeps popping up, read it. Don't dismiss it because of the genre, or the supposed love triangle or your expectations of Just Another Ghost Story. Because this book isn't.
Aura (Just a note - I do hate the name) presents such a realistic portrayal of a teenager that I cannot help but love her. She has temptations, she has urges, she doesn't always do the right thing and she lives with the consequences. I had expected a lot of guilt and whining after Logan's death, but there wasn't. She didn't exactly move on, but she didn't present the reader with diatribes about how this was all her fault and she was a horrible person. Speaking of Logan's death: that was some powerful shit. Even though I knew it was coming, even though I knew I couldn't stop it, it hurt to watch. He was just a sweet kid who thought he was invincible and I wanted to yell at him, tell him what was coming and to not do anything stupid (P.S I yell at tv and movies all the time). It was like watching a horror movie where an innocent girl calmly gets ready for a bath while the audience cringes because we know there is a serial killer hiding in the shower. It was that level of sick-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach suspense for me. That was the point where Smith-Ready had me hooked.
This is not an action filled plot, but it kept me reading just the same. The scenes with Zachery are sweet and exciting and Oh So tempting. They brought me back to those heart thumping first kisses as a teen and the thrill of young love (or at least lust). There are hints of a bigger plot at play, and I do wish this had been explored a little further and that a few more details had come to light. It is very clear that this is part of a series (trilogy?) and we are forced to wait for our answers. Instead of action and adventure we get moments of Oh Noes! and pain that is piercing and palpable. I can't wait to move on to the next one!
As noted below, there are elements within this book that may raise the age level. In the past, I have seen a few of my grade 8 (14-15 year old) students reading it. They really enjoyed it, and they are smart kids, not likely to follow in Logan's footsteps, but I would not personally place it into the hands of anyone under the age of 16.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Females Sex: Spoken about, not described. Masturbation. Violence: None Inappropriate Language: Retarded, Ho Bag, Fucker Substance Abuse: Underage Drinking, Use of Cocaine(less)
Ghoul Interrupted is another solid addition to a great series. M.J. continues to be tough AND smart (a rare combination in many modern fantasy novels)...moreGhoul Interrupted is another solid addition to a great series. M.J. continues to be tough AND smart (a rare combination in many modern fantasy novels) Heath continues to be sweet and dreamy and Gil continues to be a complete and utter wuss (all the while injecting hilarity). And finally, after sending a number of threatening letters to the author waiting patiently, DOC IS BACK! WOOT! I loves me some smart-talking parrot!
Fans of the series will not be disappointed with the action-packed plot and oh-so-scary moments. (less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were likeable and the plot was unique enough to keep me guessing. I found myself rooting for the charac...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were likeable and the plot was unique enough to keep me guessing. I found myself rooting for the characters while watching horrified as they snatched bodies and borrowed lives.
P.S I realized while reading this how terrified I am by over-zealous religious parents. I kept waiting for one of them to burn the symbol of the cross into her flesh, whip her while reciting bible verses or, worst of all, make her watch The Passion of the Christ.
This was the one part of the book that didn't quite work for me. Jenny's parents were strict and controlling in a not-so-healthy, your-daughter-is-going-to-grow-up-to-despise-you kinda way. But, I didn't see anything that would make Jenny go all abandoning her body. Billy I get - (view spoiler)[ dad in prison for nearly killing mom while kid watched leading him to a life of drugs and crime (hide spoiler)]. Jenny, on the other hand, (view spoiler)[jumped ship because her parents took away a camera. (hide spoiler)]
4/5 Stars because it was interesting enough for me to use my baby's nap time to finish it (the mom's know how precious this time is). ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Cover Impressions: This cover fits really well with the first in the series. The girl ha...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover fits really well with the first in the series. The girl has a seriously intense and chilling stare and begs the reader to ask whether she is emerging from the door or protecting what is within. While her expression is dark and menacing, her outfit is sweet and child-like, presenting a wonderful contrast. The scroll work on these covers always adds a delicate detail that adds interest.
The Gist: Alexis has spent the last few months in blissful normality. That is, until her sister Kasey is released from the mental hospital and promptly finds a group of friends who are a little too perfect. Worried that Kasey may be in over her head again, Alexis and her friend, Megan, join the Sunshine Club in order to protect her. The girls quickly learn that you never get beauty, poise and a launch up the social ladder without sacrifice.
Review: Alender really knows how to write her ghosts. First the evil doll-obsessed little girl and now a spirit that feeds on the teenage obsession to be pretty and popular. The novel starts off slowly, as each girl takes small steps towards "self-improvement" but features some truly chilling moments once the girls begin to depend on supernatural influences and to forget how they survived without them (the scene with Emily in the bathroom - HOOO BOY, that freaked me out a little).
Alexis is still a fairly unlikeable character. She mistrusts her friends and is reluctant to make any gestures of compassion and friendship towards her sister (she just got out of a mental hospital - invite her to some parties and don't make her eat lunch by herself - it is not that hard!). At one point she even asks herself when she turned into "The kind of person I claimed to hate" but doesn't appear to change her behavior. This gets worse as she begins to think and act like a teenage Stepford wife. Alexis' continued flaws did, however, allow me to see things from Lydia's point of view which may or may not play out in her favor in the final book.
Though this novel is the middle book in a series, I believe it could stand fairly well on its own. It does not suffer the same flaws as many middle books - where big secrets are rarely revealed and the plot only serves to prepare for the last novel. Here we have a real clear ending to one story, and the hint of the beginning of the next which made me want to jump right into As Dead As It Gets. Which is exactly what I am going to do as soon as the sun goes down!
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Self harm with curling iron, hand to hand fighting, knifeplay Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None
“Rule one: Don’t be friends with ghosts.”
“I felt the oddest combination of emotions – happiness and apprehension at the same time. Like my heart inflated and then ran away and hid under the bed.”
“Look on the bright side, I told myself. It might not be ghosts. Maybe it was just drugs. Or blackmail.”(less)
Cover Impressions: The colors here are beautifully muted and soft. The scrollwork adds a...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The colors here are beautifully muted and soft. The scrollwork adds a delicate detail and reflects the lace curtain. The image of the little girl hiding in lace is just creepy enough to set the tone, without over-doing the "freak out" factor.
The Gist: Alexis lives in the quintessential Halloween Haunted House. She has always liked it, until her sister starts acting strangely. Suddenly the house appears much more sinister and Alexis must enlist the help of those she least expected in order to save her sister and banish the evil that surrounds her.
Review: This is my second time reading Bad Girls Don't Die. Even so, I could only read it in bed if my husband was there. Katie Alender does an excellent job of creating that delicious sense of suspense that only truly great scary stories can achieve. She is also incredibly skilled at writing scenes that begin with the easily explained and end with the truly terrifying.
The story falls on the shoulders of Alexis who is, at best, a deeply flawed character. She is usually callous and sometimes mean. She often goes out of her way to spread rumors about those who have hurt her in the past. This is not the character you root for from the beginning. This is the character that you realize has a lot of growing up to do and hope that she does. I have encountered these types of character before, but I am very pleased that in Alexis' case, all of her growing up does not occur within the first book. She continues this development and I hope by the third book in the series will have become a character I can be proud of.
Alender also does quite a good job of painting realistic relationships, between Alexis and her "arch enemy", her crush and her sister. The cheerleader is not all villain, there is no insta-love and the sisters do not bond over boys and shopping. Instead, we see these relationships grow and develop (albeit under extreme circumstances) and Alexis begins to see the value in each, especially the love for her family.
There are far too few truly creepy YA books out there. We tend to gorge ourselves on this genre in younger years, with Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark, but we seem to lose it as we get older. Thank you Katie Alender for bringing me back to those childhood moments of sneaking a flashlight into my room and reading beneath the covers.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both, though leaning a little more toward the females Sex: A kiss Violence: Attempted poisoning, death by gas, fire Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None
"Preps are like cheerleaders, only with less jumping"
"A Kasey-size shadow as way back in the darkest corner of the room, near the long-abandoned tool bench, making clanking noises as it dug through piles of discarded junk. Werewolf, my brain said. Zombie!" (less)
Cover Impressions: Love it so much I am pretty sure this is going to be my Halloween cos...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Love it so much I am pretty sure this is going to be my Halloween costume. The bright spots of red in an otherwise monochromatic image are phenomenal and I love that you get this great image of Anna's house (once you finally tear your eyes away from the lady herself).
The Gist: Cas Lowood hunts ghosts. With the death of his father, he took up the family blade and is preparing himself for the ultimate battle - with his father's killer. Along the way he is intrigued by the story of Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost who died under mysterious circumstances and brutally murders anyone who dare enter her house. As Cas investigates, he finds a ghost that is far beyond anything he has faced before. With the help of his new friends, Thomas and Carmel, he tries to get to the bottom of Anna's murder and discover what makes her so special.
Review: This is actually my second time reading Anna Dressed in Blood. The first time was before I really got into blogging and so I didn't write a review. This time, I chose it as the season opener for my student book club.
I love the feeling of this book. Blake doesn't shy away from amazingly brutal scenes and it engages the reader in a way that a more censored version never could. This novel is not for the faint of heart. There are some truly gruesome and horrific scenes. One of my favorites involves the first time we meet Anna - the ghost who changes everything. There is very little lead up. We stop only for a short visual description before Anna unleashes her terrifying power. Anna walks a tightrope in between all powerful evil goddess and sympathetic character who we root for. The author has done an incredible job of letting us see all of the facets of her character.
I enjoyed watching all of the missteps as Cas develops friendships for the first time ever. I found myself smiling or laughing each time he would lament how much easier it was the deal with the dead rather than the living. The characters of Cas, Anna, and Thomas are decently well developed and interesting but I never really get a feel for Carmel. She doesn't seem to add anything significant to the plot other than playing the girl in their Scooby Doo Gang.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a veritable "This Is How You Do It" when it comes to the balance between suspense and action. Blake does a wonderful job providing enough action to keep the plot moving very quickly while also allowing for some relationship building and character development.
I am a fan - reading everything Kendare Blake writes for the rest of her life.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Graphic Supernatural Violence Inappropriate Language: Bastard,Shit, Fuck, Dick, Ass, Douche, Pussy, Bitch, Whore Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Smoking Other Issues: Scary scenes - may give younger readers nightmares (less)
Cover Impressions: Meh. Not feeling the sleepy stare or washed out color.
The Gist: In Shine, Aura and Zach set out to solve the remaining mysteries of the Shift. Their efforts are hampered by the interference of the DMP, who are willing to go to extreme lengths in order to maintain control of both the ghost population and the teenagers that can see them.
Review: Boy oh boy, was this one ever hard. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but this one left me bored. Perhaps, part of the blame lies in the timing (I started the book just before returning to work after a year of maternity leave) but the rest has to lie with the book itself.
For a good chunk of this novel, Zach was being held by the DMP. With him out of the picture, I should have been able to see some quality Aura time and important development in the secondary characters. Instead, I got to watch Aura whine and her friends serve as little more than chauffeur or confident (allowing Aura to whine some more about Zach).
When they couple were finally reunited, I was treated to a vomit inducing love-fest as they discovered that sex was the most mystical and magical activity in the entire world. And, of course, being connected the way that they are, it was SUPER SPECIALLY MAGICAL and we needed to be reminded over and over and over. The frequent sex sessions (or the whining over not being able to touch each other for a few hours) interrupted an already suffering plot.
I found it difficult to keep the bad guys straight in this one. In the previous novels, we had one big bad government agency. In this one, it seems like there are multiple mysterious entities that want to use/kill Aura and Zach. I am normally fine with a little government conspiracy theory, but this one was incredibly confusing with the number of players and, eventually, I just stopped trying to figure out who was doing what.
This series was never really one that I would put in my classroom, however the sexual behavior is seriously amped up in this installment and I definitely would not recommend it for my junior high students.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: LOTS! Violence: Gunplay, Knifeplay, Torture by Isolation Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Bullshit, Slutty, Bitch, Jesus, Dick, Bastards, Shit, Piss Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking(less)
Cover Impressions: So pretty and creepy and oh so enticing. This cover fits very well wi...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: So pretty and creepy and oh so enticing. This cover fits very well with the previous Anna book and they both look lovely on my shelf - I just keep staring at them.
The Gist: Cas can't say goodbye to the girl who sacrificed her soul to save the lives of him and his friends. When images of Anna start invading his life like waking nightmares, he realized that he will do anything to get her back - even walking into the depths of Hell.
Girl of Nightmares is one of those books that, no matter how busy my life was, I couldn't bare to put it down. I loved Anna Dressed in Blood and was really looking forward to jumping back into this world.
I was little disappointed with the amount of time that was dedicated to Anna. I understand that we had to be introduced to a new character (will she get her own spin off?), but I wasn't particularly fond of Jestine and I missed my Anna! Cas was his old sarcastic self, but a little more angsty as he tries to figure out his feelings for Anna and whines a little more about how no one will give him any information. Thomas and Carmel continue to be great characters, though they don't get a lot of action in this book.
In comparison with Anna Dressed in Blood, this installment is much more of an adventure or mystery than a horror story. There are horrific elements right from the beginning, but no real action or re-action to them until about halfway through. That being said, the inclusion of The Suicide Forest (which I can only assume was based on the forest in Japan) was fantastically done and super creepy. Once Cas managed to make his way into Hell (if that is what it was), things fell off for me. I felt like things happened a little too quickly and I was unable to stop and take a breath. I really wanted a minute or two to spend with Anna and for her and Cas to re-connect, but everything was a bit too fast-paced for that to happen.
As a teacher, I have a bit of an issue with the amount of swearing that Cas does. I understand that it is unrealistic to expect teenagers not to utter that famed four letter word, but Cas' swearing is a little too frequent and a little too varied. Because I am constantly worried about the reaction of parents to the books that I provide for my students, this alone is enough to stop me from keeping the Anna books on my shelves - and that disappoints me, because I have students that I think would really love them.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Blood-letting, Torture, Knifeplay, Battle with Supernatural Entities Inappropriate Language: Shit, Ass, Piss, Fuck, Dick, Jesus, Bastard Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking
Notable Quotables: "It's the Monday of the last week of the year and if I have to sign one more yearbook I'm going to sign it in the owner's blood."(less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is super-creepy I love the image of the girl and the fact...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover is super-creepy I love the image of the girl and the fact that her face is almost completely covered in shadow. The colors are reminiscent of the lake that plays such a large part in the story.
The Gist: Neil and his sister, Bree have been sent to spend some time with their aunts while their father chases his dreams and their mother gets treatment for depression. Attempting to escape the pain of his family life, Neil emerses himself in the tale of Graylock Hall, a local asylum where three patients drowned and a nurse was blamed for their murder. When the kids and their new-found friends visit the abandoned building, they encounter a fearsome entity and vow never to return. That is, until they discover that whatever they found, refused to be confined by the walls of Graylock and followed them home.
The Ghost of Graylock is an engrossing, fast-paced read that is perfect for October. I didn't quite make a connection with the characters, and there really isn't much in the way of their development, but I did enjoy the plot. I actually found myself putting the book down at one point because I was at home alone and was getting creeped out. Poblocki manages to create an air of mystery and suspense throughout this entire novel that is punctuated by moments of horror that keep the reader jumping.
While the plot was not dead-on predictable, there were some moments where I really couldn't believe that the kids hadn't figured this out yet. For example, even upon seeing the ghostly figure and being able to describe her dress, it took them an incredibly long time to realize that there were not looking at the adult nurse in crisp, white uniform but instead at a teenage girl in a floaty, white dress. It was also a little unbelievable that the aunts were not more concerned with the whereabouts and activities of their niece and nephew.
As I mentioned, the characters are fairly typical teens, but I feel an opportunity was missed for character development. Neil is struggling with his fears about his own capacity for mental illness but this issue seems to be largely ignored as we reach the end of the book. Bree seems inconsistent in her attitude towards the ghost hunt (at one point I thought this was hinting toward a possession - I wish that had been the case) and I started to get annoyed with her. For their part, Wesley and Eric seem to serve only as local informants or transportation and they do not add anything to the story.
Barring its faults, The Ghost of Graylock is a fun, quick and spooky read that is perfect for Halloween. It does not feature any issues that make it inappropriate for a middle grade audience and has enough of a plot and creep-factor to draw in kids that are a little older as well.
Age: 12 and up Gender: Both Sex: None Violence: Drowning Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None Other Issues: Discussion of Mental Illness (less)