Shadow Hills has a new take on paranormal romance and I loved that. Anastasia Hopcus really builds up the history of the tow3.5 because of the mystery
Shadow Hills has a new take on paranormal romance and I loved that. Anastasia Hopcus really builds up the history of the town and Devenish Prep, Phe’s new school. The mystery behind the town and its inhabitants is really well-written; it draws the reader in without giving too much away, so I was curious to see exactly where it was going.
The paranormal aspect of Phe’s weird dreams, that she sometimes shares with the gorgeous and mysterious Zach, kept me glued to the page. All the strange powers and gifts that the townies, Zach included, possess made me need to know exactly what was going to happen.
As a character, Phe is pretty much amazing. She’s witty and funny, but also strong. She’s willing to stand up for herself and others. Phe’s snooping reminded me of Veronica Mars and it made for a fun mystery/detective story.
The one thing that I really didn’t like (and most probably won’t agree here) is the romance. I love me a good romance story, I really do. But I am so over two people meeting, instantly having that connection, and falling in love in 0.2 seconds. I want to see more buildup and the romance between Phe and Zach lacks that.
They meet, have some tense ‘I know there’s something strange about you’ conversations, then all of a sudden, Zach throws caution to the wind to break all the rules because he loves Phe and cannot be without her. And clearly, Phe feels exactly the same way. Life would be so much worse if she could not be with this guy she met only a few weeks ago.
Sorry, my rant is over now. But, the romance has its moments. There’s plenty of tension filled scenes that lead to steamy kisses for people to enjoy. And if the romance isn’t your thing, the mystery about Shadow Hills is still there figure out. Not to mention, Hopcus does an exceptional job making the secondary characters interesting and enjoyable to read.
Shadow Hills wasn’t quite what I imagined, but the paranormal, and almost magical (witchy magical) aspects kept me reading. I was just as eager as Phe to figure out exactly who or what the townies were, and why her dreams were so vivid and seemed to all come back to her dead sister. Hopcus does mystery very well and I have a feeling that almost anyone who loves paranormal romance will probably enjoy this one.
Opening line: I had thought nothing could be worse than what they had already done to me, but I was wrong. ~ pg. 1
Favorite lines: “Exactly. Life isn’t a series of steps you take to get somewhere. It’s everything that happens in between. Or, you know, something like that, but more eloquent and less clichéd.” ~ pg. 32...more
When We Were Saints is the story of Archibald Lee Caswell, your everyday, average 14 year old boy, who goes on a pilgrimage to become a saint. Archie’When We Were Saints is the story of Archibald Lee Caswell, your everyday, average 14 year old boy, who goes on a pilgrimage to become a saint. Archie’s life drastically changes the day his grandfather Silas, an old prophet, dies and tells Archie he is a saint. The day of the funeral, a young girl comes up to Archie and hands him a card that basically says the same thing. Clare Simpson, the girl from the funeral is a very religious 15 year old who convinces Archie that he truly is saintly and that the two of them are soul mates. From there, Archie goes on a journey to find God and become the saint he believes he is destined to be.
This book was a rollercoaster of a ride for me. There isn’t a lot of action or crazy things happening, but it truly made me think. Archie’s journey to sainthood is moving and made me think about religion in an entirely different way. That being said, this book is filled with the Catholic religion. I think that alone may make a lot of readers pass on this. I’m not particularly religious, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Nolan has created an unforgettable character in Archie. He is your average boy, but unique in the so many ways. His devotion to Clare is startling at times, but almost understandable. Clare herself is a startling character. Her complete, unwavering devotion to God is incredible and terrifying. Archie wants what she has and almost loses himself to find it. Their pilgrimage moved me to tears.
I couldn’t even put the book down towards the end because I was so connected to Archie and I needed to know what was going to happen to him. It’s impossible not to care for him. Archie is so young and naïve and he has so much love pouring out of him that I instantly felt connected with him. I never really felt that way with Clare, but I don’t think the reader is supposed to. Clare is the catalyst for the pilgrimage and Archie’s reason for wanting to be closer to God, but she does so much more than that for him. Their journey isn’t just about finding God, it is about finding the goodness in humankind and becoming saintly in ways that aren’t even related to religion.
When We Were Saints isn’t a love story and it isn’t necessarily a story about finding God either. It is a story about a boy finding himself. Archie goes on a pilgrimage to be closer to God, but he actually discovers the person he is and the person he wants to be. It is a moving, emotional journey that will stay with me for a long time.
Opening line: Archibald Lee Caswell had named the still he and his best friend, Armory Mitchell, had built in the basement of his grandparents’ home The Last Hurrah, in honor of Armory, who was moving with his family to Washington, D.C.
Favorite line: Maybe that’s all it really takes to be a saint – those simple acts of kindness....more
Frozen Fire is a very difficult book for me to sum up. There were so many different aspects of it and the overall message of the book was so differentFrozen Fire is a very difficult book for me to sum up. There were so many different aspects of it and the overall message of the book was so different from what I had expected. The story opens with a mysterious phone call in the middle of the night. Dusty is home alone when a strange boy phones her and tells her he is dying. Some of the things he says invoke memories of Dusty’s missing brother Josh and she sets out to find him. Instead, Dusty comes face to face with a menacing man, his two sons, and their pit bulls. From there Dusty’s entire world is turned around and the boy is at the center of it.
I can’t really say too much about the plot without giving away any major details, but I will say that it was extremely well written and wrought with mystery and suspense. There are more than a few chilling scenes that may cause goosebumps and raise the hair on the back of your neck. The first few chapters are menacing in the best way possible and I was instantly hooked.
Dusty seeks the mysterious boy out because she yearns to find her brother, and in doing so, she is sucked into the mystery that is the boy. No one knows his name or where he comes from, but everywhere he goes, bad things seem to occur. There are people all over the country who wish to seek the boy out and persecute him for various crimes they cannot prove he was a part of. He appears to be some sort of paranormal being that is able to know intimate details of everyone’s lives, including Dusty’s. This boy doesn’t look normal either. The best way to describe him is almost as an ethereal being. He is pale. So pale that he is as white as the snow. His hair is the same color and his eyes are a striking pale color that people are unable to forget. He is capable of great harm, but Dusty remains unafraid.
Dusty is by far one of the strongest female characters I have ever seen. She is described as a Tomboy and she is more than willing to get into a fight, but it isn’t just her physicality that makes her strong. Emotionally, Dusty is a very strong character. She lost her brother and soon after her mother leaves. Her father is a self-described pansy, yet Dusty remains strong. She forges through life and attempts to maintain who she is. The appearance of the mysterious boy shakes up her world and Dusty is forced to summon all the strength she can muster.
Frozen Fire isn’t necessarily the paranormal thriller that it is described as, but it is an engaging, mysterious, and interesting story. There are some very slow moments that drag out descriptions of snow and the landscape, but Bowler is able to create such vivid imagery that I almost didn’t notice. There were many times when I felt like I was buried in the snow with Dusty. The visuals in the book are absolutely phenomenal and I could easily picture it throughout the book. The mystery surrounding Josh and the boy were compelling, but they were dragged on for too long. The book isn’t long, but I wanted to know what was going on. There was so much build-up throughout the novel, but the payoff didn’t come until very late on and it didn't fully answer all the questions that were presented. The ending also had me a little confused. The unanswered questions detracted from the impact potential that the ending could have had. Still, Frozen Fire was a thought-provoking read that examines so much more than just the mystery of Dusty's missing brother and a strange boy.
Opening line: “I’m dying,” said the voice.
Favorite line: There could be no innocence in a world without justice....more
Captivate picks up right where Need left off. Zara has just barely escaped the clutches of her pixie dad and now she, along with her friends and GrandCaptivate picks up right where Need left off. Zara has just barely escaped the clutches of her pixie dad and now she, along with her friends and Grandma, must somehow keep the pixies at bay locked in an iron-fortified house. The only problem is that with the pixie king’s waning strength, new pixies are coming to town looking to take over. Not all pixies are as kind as Zara’s dad and not all pixies will allow the humans to survive. Astley, a seemingly friendly pixie arrives and forces Zara to question everything she has done to the pixies. His arrival also brings the potential for a war. Pixies want power and with the king in such a weak state, that power should be easier to obtain. What happens when the threat to Zara’s family, friends, and boyfriend becomes too great? Zara must make a decision that could change everything.
Captivate was just that, captivating. This sequel to Need is much more fantastical. The story is set more in the world of fantasy, as opposed to the more reality-based world of Need. Pixie legend and lore play a huge part in Captivate and the world of pixies is explored so much more. The phobias that were splashed throughout the pages of Need take a backseat to Zara and Devyn’s guide on How to Survive a Pixie Attack. This guide makes for great and funny chapter titles. I will say that I do miss the phobias though. They’re still in Captivate, but not nearly as much as they were in Need. The phobias gave Zara some quirkiness in Need and I feel like she’s lacking that now.
That being said, Zara gets so much development in Captivate. She begins to realize that locking up the pixies really isn’t morally right and maybe they should consider doing something else. Zara also starts to learn who she really is and maybe who she is going to be. There are still more than a few damsel in distress moments, but she finds some inner strength. I have to say that Zara wielding a sword was a little unbelievable to me. I can understand her need to fight, but Zara+sword=fail. It’s just not her. Aside from that I still love her character.
Nick, on the other hand, really got on my nerves. He went from being interesting and sexy in Need to be completely overbearing and controlling in Captivate. I was so thankful and overjoyed when Astley showed up to shake things up a little bit. I found myself completely drawn to Astley and reading on hoping to learn more about him.
Captivate is full of action, which isn’t bad, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as Need. The action seems forced at times; like it’s there just so something can happen. The story could have been stronger if it was more character-driven, but it is still a great follow-up to Need.
The ending leaves so many questions unanswered, so now I’m desperately awaiting the third book (which I’m praying has a whole lot more scenes with Astley).
Opening line: Sometimes there are bizarre people who actually like physical education class.
Favorite line (It’s actually a chapter title): Pixie tip: A pixie’s true skin color is blue. Cookie Monster, Grover and lovable Muppets are also blue. Do not confuse the two. Muppets don’t kill you. Usually. ...more
For eleven year old Evie, moving with her father from Michigan to New York is torture. Not only is she leaving behind her family and friends and the oFor eleven year old Evie, moving with her father from Michigan to New York is torture. Not only is she leaving behind her family and friends and the only life she’s known, but she’s leaving behind her Mom, who died ten months ago from cancer. For Evie, the apple orchard means nothing and her life is devoid of magic because her mom is gone, but with the gift of a seed an adventure blooms. One that may help Evie believe in magic once more.
Evie’s story is heartfelt with lovely little touches of fantasy. As a character, Evie is wholly realistic. Her grief radiates off the pages and is enhanced by the stark atmosphere around her. Her new home of Beaumont, NY is full of dead trees and empty buildings. Thought to be cursed, the orchard that her father just bought is not only their home, but also a place that sits directly beside a cemetery, constantly reminding Evie of her loss.
Evie’s father reminds me of people I’ve met in the past, lost in their own lives and doing the best they can in the only way they know how. He’s not the best, most sensitive father in the world, but he loves his daughter with his whole heart. Snippets of flashbacks to Evie’s mother Tally bring the woman to life and make both Evie’s and her father’s grief resonate that much more.
The fantasy elements arise with the story behind a seed given to Evie by Rodney, the man who used to own the house. Rodney had never met Evie, but he insisted that his sister give a girl named Eve the seed. With this, the Biblical story of Adam and Eve begins to play out. Evie goes on quite the adventure with a ghost boy named Alex, where they both learn that magic is all about believing.
K.L. Going has weaved a beautiful tale about grief, magic, hope, and life beyond death with The Garden of Eve. I’ve read some reviews that complain that the book is too overtly religious and has too many Biblical references, but I’d disagree. School age children are not going to be reading this book and thinking about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. All these things are mentioned, but religion is so far from being the focus here. The Garden of Eve is the perfect story for a blustery day – with the right amount of grief, countered by a touching story of believing in the magic that still exists after death.
Opening line: “Once there was a beautiful garden.” ~ pg. 1
Favorite lines: Watching him now was like meeting someone on the street who you hadn’t realized was missing – you felt all the pleasure of seeing them and all the pain of missing them at once. ~ pg. 29
And this one captures Evie's grief:
“How long ago did your mom die?” “It’s been ten months now,” Evie said. “How can you live without her?” Evie studied the darkened trees. “Sometimes I don’t want to.” ~ pg. 115...more
Percy Jackson is not your average 12 year old boy. Most adults view him as a bad seed because he gets into fights and is often expelled from his schooPercy Jackson is not your average 12 year old boy. Most adults view him as a bad seed because he gets into fights and is often expelled from his schools, but when his teacher transforms into some scary monster, Percy realizes that all is not as it seems. The thing is, Percy Jackson isn’t just a dyslexic, ADHD kid. He also happens to be part god, or demigod. His mother, Sally, is a normal mortal woman, but his dad is Poseidon, the god of the sea. When Percy realizes all of this, he also realizes his life will never be the same. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief follows Percy, along with new friends Annabeth and Grover, on a quest to recover Zeus’ missing lighting bolt; a bolt which Percy has been accused of stealing.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is an adventure-filled, action-packed romp that middle grade children will love. This is a reread for me and I loved it this time just as much as before. The mythology is not only interesting, but it will hold the reader’s attention completely. Even if you know little to nothing about Greek mythology, Riordan fills you in without overwhelming you.
Percy is an instantly likable character. He’s also very realistic for a 12 year old boy. At times he is angry and volatile, but other times, he just wants to cry and I think that perfectly represents an adolescent of that age. All of the characters are very well-written and I couldn’t help but want to go on this journey with them. The Lightning Thief is the perfect start to an epic adventure and I highly recommend it.
Opening line: Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.
Favorite line(s): The real world is where the monsters are. That’s where you learn whether you’re any good or not....more
Living Dead Girl cannot be easily summed up with a few words and a passing review. It is so much more than its 150+ pages. The best way to describe itLiving Dead Girl cannot be easily summed up with a few words and a passing review. It is so much more than its 150+ pages. The best way to describe it is chilling, haunting, disturbing, terrifyingly real and brutally honest.
Once upon a time Alice had a normal life, a normal family, normal friends and wasn’t abused daily by a man named Ray. All that changed when she was kidnapped from a field trip to the aquarium. Now she’s abused sexually, physically, verbally, and any other way possible. Her life is hell.
Reading this book is like walking on glass. Every step, every page, hurts. Alice’s pain digs a little deeper into you every time you turn the page, until you feel like you’re there bleeding along with her.
Scott does not hold back and that makes this book a very difficult read. Not everyone will be able to get through it because of the subject matter and the harshly graphic nature of it, but the fact is that the things depicted in the book happen all the time. It’s horrible, but it happens.
This may be the only book I’ve read for the ‘Banned Books Reading Challenge’ that I almost understand the extreme censorship that some people try to impose. A lot of people would not and will not want their children exposed to it, but like I’ve been saying, one person’s beliefs should not be pushed upon others and what is not appropriate for one person may be perfectly fine for another.
Living Dead Girl is a chillingly beautiful exploration into the mind of a kidnapped girl who is told to never grow up, yet can never truly be a child after all she has gone through. Alice is difficult to relate to because of the circumstances, but it’s impossible not to empathize and care for her. I was unable to put the book down, but I was terrified to know what would happen next. Alice’s story will never leave me, as it never should.
Opening line: This is how things look: Shady Pines Apartments, four shabby buildings tucked off the road near the highway. ~ pg. 1
Favorite line(s): Once upon a time, I did not live in Shady Pines. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was. ~ pg. 5
*This is the ARC version and words, sentences, cover art, etc. may have changed before official publication...more