I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for inforThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’m kind of on a roll with teen mysteries lately. I found I Spy Dead People while I was looking for information about the third book in Gemma Halliday’s delightful Deadly Cool series. Her name popped up as the coauthor of this book, which is a complete fallacy. Halliday didn’t co-write I Spy Dead People, she published it. This is, possibly, a cheap gimmick, but one I have no objection to. I probably wouldn’t have purchased I Spy Dead People if Halliday’s name hadn’t been associated with it, and that would have been a shame. It’s a fun teen mystery with a dash of paranormal.
I Spy Dead People introduces us to teen sleuth Piper Grimaldi, a girl inspired by strong heroines like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Kind of dated for a 15 year old at this point, but I’m not complaining.) Piper and her father just moved (for the zillionth time) to a neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. Such is Piper’s life; her dad writes True Crime and every year they have to follow a new story so her father can write a new book. Piper’s sick of moving (it’s hell on her social life) and hopes Texas will stick. Especially when she meets a potential best friend and–even better–a potential love interest.
Though the love interest gets mentioned in the blurb, the romance in this one is scanty at best. In fact, I’m not even rooting for the obvious guy. I prefer the guy whom Piper firsts describes as kind of a skeezeball. (I liked him from the start, probably because of the fedora. I don’t care what Piper says, they are cool!) Piper spends most of the book trying to solve the mystery of her next door neighbor’s murder. She doesn’t have much time for romance. Her determination to solve the crime is fun and funny and, thankfully realistic. As a 15 year old, Piper’s scope is limited. There’s only so much she can discover with her limited resources and sometimes her investigation looks a lot more like snooping. Still, you gotta appreciate that she gets the job done, even when it’s at risk to her own life.
About Piper’s supernatural ability, I’ll say little. I don’t know if it’s spoilery to reveal, so I’ll just say that it adds a degree of interest that I really liked. I look forward to learning more about her powers as the series progresses. I still have a lot of questions, but I look forward to them being answered. Yes, I’ll definitely be reading book two. In fact, I can’t wait for it to come out. Jennifer Fischetto has written a delightful teen mystery and created a fun new heroine. I think Piper and I are going to be new best friends....more
At the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't sAt the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't safe for Amelia. In The Kingdom, Amelia punctuates her decision to stay away from the haunted Devlin by agreeing to restore a graveyard on an isolated island away from Savannah. The job--which is meant to be a distraction as much as a way to get some distance--turns out to be far from what Amelia was expecting.
Instead of a straight-forward job, Amelia learns that she's been summoned to Asher Falls for a reason. There's something nefarious going on on the island, and somehow it's tied to Amelia's past. Lots of questions are answered in this installment but, by the end, even more are forthcoming.
The Kingdom seems almost like it takes place in an alternate reality from The Restorer. Amelia thinks about Devlin a lot--even as she feels a spark of attraction to Thane Asher. There's a pretty large part of me that wishes that The Kingdom had come before The Restorer. But--it would have needed some pretty significant alterations to work. Still, the departure is pretty disruptive. But maybe that's because I just want to get back to Savannah (and Devlin)?...more
Eerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I hEerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I had the added pleasure of hearing the accents of the characters. Whether Khristine Hvam got them right or not, I don't know (though I noticed that she depended a bit too much on droppin' g's), but it tickled me.
The Restorer tells the story of lonely Amelia Gray, who makes her living as a graveyard restorer. It's not just a profession, though. Amelia can also see ghosts--a talent which comes at her peril. For the most part, though, Amelia has managed to keep herself safe from ghosts--until she meets Detective John Devlin.
The attraction is as immediate as it is unfortunate. Because Devlin is haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and child. Too bad the dead body that shows up in the cemetery Amelia's been hired to restore means they keep running into each other.
With Gothic shades of Rebecca and a compelling mystery to boot, The Restorer captivated me. I listened to the entire book nonstop until I heard the last word. Then I headed back to Audible to get book two....more
It feels like just yesterday that I heard about this book and squealed over the prospect oThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
It feels like just yesterday that I heard about this book and squealed over the prospect of a "hot neighbor cowboy" and trying to get Small to run away to Texas with me in pursuit of same. Now, here I am, writing my review for it. Life is good. Well, not as good as it could be. Small has thus far elected to stay with her fiance. Ah, well. More hot neighbor cowboys for me. Texas Gothic tells the story of Amy Goodnight and her sister, Phin. Amy and Phin are ranch-sitting for their aunt during the summer after Amy's high school graduation. All Amy wants is to survive until she gets to college, where she hopes to live a normal, non-magical life. You see, Amy's family sees ghosts and makes potions. Amy is the self-appointed "normalizer" of her family. She's the one that tries to control the crazy, and she looks forward to college as a time away from being the one that holds everything together. Unfortunately, the summer at the Goodnight Ranch is going to make that impossible for her. It's also going to force her to realize that she isn't as normal and non-magical as she thought. Even if Amy doesn't actively practice magic, she uses it. And she has powers she's refused to acknowledge for many years. When she meets Ben McCulloch, she finds herself defending the very things she's spent so many years deriding herself. It doesn't help that Ben's got a chip on his shoulder regarding Amy, her family, and ghost stories. You may safely assume that their romance isn't a tale of love at first sight. Amy is a likable heroine. She's both funny and perceptive. Her story is one of my favorites--I like when a heroine makes a journey to self-discovery and thereby develops a sense of self-worth. I don't think that Amy began the story with low self-esteem, but rather that she didn't have the confidence to stand up for what she knew to be true if it meant risking others' opinion of her. I probably like this storyline because it's something I know I'll be working on probably until I die. But I digress. I also really enjoyed Amy's sister, Phin, who reminded me of Merlin from Laura Kinsale's Midsummer Moon. All too cerebral and often failing to understand humans, human interaction and human emotion, but being adorably wonderful and lovable all the same. And, of course, completely frustrating to deal with in reality. Especially for Amy, whose dearest wish is that no one should find out how truly bizarre her family is. Finally, there is the hot cowboy neighbor, Ben. Amy's first meeting with Ben doesn't go well. Neither does her second, third, fourth or fifth. I'm not usually one for best enemies to lovers relationships because they generally become silly in their attempt to maintain the bad blood. Or, at least, the characters come off as silly. And don't even get me started on the whole "I HATE you/But your pecs/abs/beautiful face/I MUST suck your face" phenomenon. Amy, while attracted to Ben, is completely aware of his jerkiness, and calls him on it. Even once she knows the true source of his irritation, she doesn't melt into a puddle of understanding. She knows that whatever frustrations life has thrown at him, that doesn't excuse bad behavior. Clement-Moore did a fantastic job with Ben in that she really made him seem like a nineteen or twenty-year old boy. Unfortunately, she did such a wonderful job that I can't crush on him. He needs another ten years to mature. It happens. Over all, I really enjoyed this book. It's not too heavy on the ghost stuff, but it's there, and I like the idea of all the Goodnight products that "work like magic" because they actually contain magic. That was awesome, and I wish it were true in real life. Amy is a character--and this is a world--I wouldn't mind revisiting. I think there's room for Amy to explore her talents, and for Amy and Ben's relationship to grow and stretch, and for an added bonus, there would be more Phin (and her hot Latin love interest, Marc). So, yeah, highly recommended. Preorder this title, if you haven't already. ...more
I’m a well-established Maureen Johnson fan. I especially enjoy her travel fiction—Thirteen LThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I’m a well-established Maureen Johnson fan. I especially enjoy her travel fiction—Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope, and Girl at Sea. I was thrilled to learn that Johnson’s latest book would take place in a boarding school set in London. Talk about a fantasy setting. I practically hit the roof when I won an ARC from LibraryThing. Fortunately, my internal hype over the setting not only lived up to expectations, but so did everything else. The Name of the Star is a fantastic, absorbing, delicious read. I can’t wait for the next installment. No matter how stellar the setting, it wasn’t the only thing that worked for me. I loved Rory. I totally identified with her, her anglophilia, and the “research” she does before she travels to her new school and new country. She appreciates and notices all the little differences that delight me when I travel to a new country. She’s very much an outsider, by virtue of her analytical mind, and I often felt that her brain cranked in a way that’s very similar to my own. She has none of the annoying, self-effacing behavior that so many teen heroines have these days. She’s the first main character I’ve wanted to hang out with in a while. You know, if she weren’t fictional. Johnson also creates an enjoyable cast of supporting characters, each of whom has something to offer both Rory, and the story. The only exception to this is her love interest who, while pleasant, can’t hold a candle to the more sober, mysterious Stephen. I’m hoping this is purposeful and that we’re going to be treated with one of those oh so delicious slow burn romances. Please, Maureen, please! I also want to say that Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job crafting the relationships in The Name of the Star. In addition to insta-love in teen fiction, there’s also a preponderance of insta-best-friendships. I meet new best friends all the time, but they’re not really my best friends. They’re just people I have an immediate connection with. Becoming close with someone takes more time than that, and is rarely (never?) so completely cemented so quickly in real life. Rory’s relationships develop, morph, deepen through the course of the novel, but because of shared experiences, confidences and the passage of time. I loved that. Finally, there’s the plot. Ms. Johnson totally played me on this score. I was two steps behind the entire time. I’m not generally a fan of Jack the Ripper stories, but I liked the way that Ms. Johnson approached it. Her book isn’t a exploitation of a century old unsolved murder, but an exploration of why it captivated audiences then, and why it continues to captivate now. As far as the supernatural plot goes, that worked for me too. A lot of it strikes me as setup for the rest of the series, but I’m not complaining. Johnson does it skillfully and logically. She ties in loose ends and weaves in seemingly unimportant elements like the master she is. Frankly, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you find yourself disillusioned by Teen Paranormals, I suggest you pick up The Name of the Star. It’ll remind you why you liked the genre so much to begin with. ...more
Hereafter has a whole lot going for it. There's the lovely cover for one thing. And the factThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com
Hereafter has a whole lot going for it. There's the lovely cover for one thing. And the fact that Amelia reminds me a bit of Evie from Paranormalcy, or maybe Clara from Unearthly. Both of whom I loved. However, I think ghost stories may not be my thing. Because, while Hereafter has a lot going for it, I find it difficult to move beyond the whole dead and incorporeal thing. I mean, a ghost doesn't have a body. It doesn't live and it won't age. All of these things kind of put a damper on the romantic element I'm so fond of. Particularly in a Teen novel. I also have to point out that I didn't know until I finished the book, got home, and began to draft for this review, that Hereafter wasn't going to be a standalone. While I was reading it, I was wondering how things could possibly end happily. So, what, Joshua is going to spend the rest of his life in a relationship with a ghost-girl no one else can see? That didn't sit well with me. Not that it's fair to ask Amelia to give up the one person willing to communicate with her (without a hidden agenda), but Joshua is the one who is still, you know, alive. And in possession of a future. I wanted one them to be realistic about the fact that, to the rest of the world, it looks like Joshua talks to himself and, apparently, makes out with the air. I'm just saying--It's a fact that needs to be considered. Luckily, there will be two more books in which to explore this complication in their relationship. I just didn't know that while I was reading it...and so I found Amelia and Joshua's relationship a trifle...strange. I think the main problem I had with this novel was that I was confused a lot of the time. Perhaps it's just my puny brainbox, but I wasn't clear on why Eli was doing what he was. Or, rather, why he was being asked to do what he was. And what were Joshua's grandmother's powers, anyway? Why do she and her grandchild have them, but not her child? What has so thoroughly convinced her that all ghosts are evil? While I enjoyed this book--it read easily--I'm not sure it works as a stand alone. Well--obviously it doesn't. It's part of a series. Duh. But sometimes a series can only be read from one book to the next. Which works if they've all been published, but not if you have to wait a year for the next installment. I need enough answers to find the first book satisfying while still wanting more. I want to add that the mystery surrounding Amelia's special abilities, and the role that she's going to take in the hereafter, are compelling. I want to know more about them. And I want to know what the deal is with the Seers, and how many there. But, more than anything, I'm wondering when Joshua's going to wake up a little and realize that there are going to be some drawbacks to having a ghost for a girlfriend. I'm not saying that I want Hudson to make the complications insurmountable, but that Joshua comes off as incredibly naive and incredibly young by his complete denial that there are any. All in all, I think this was a satisfying debut. I look for more from Tara Hudson in the future. ...more
You may or may not be aware of my great appreciation for Kalayna Price's Haven series--it iThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
You may or may not be aware of my great appreciation for Kalayna Price's Haven series--it is my personal favorite between the two she's published. The Alex Craft books, while imaginative and well-written don't appeal to me, character-wise, as much as Kita and Nathaniel do. My old prejudice against the Fae probably pays a part here, too. The Alex Craft books feature a love triangle, and I fear I am firmly entrenched on the losing side--a habit I abhor. As the description says, Grave Dance picks up a month after the events of Grave Witch. We find Alex in a better place financially--work has picked up and she's semi-notorious. Unfortunately, her recently awakened Fae side has been making a nuisance of itself in any number of ways. All of which are about to come back to bite her in the butt. I didn't dislike this book, but my primary enjoyment of it doesn't come from Alex's first person narrative. What I like best is the secondary characters. Roy, the ghost, her friend Holly, her recently rediscovered (and now Changeling) best friend, her landlord Caleb, and the her friend, John, the policemen. I spent a great deal of time speculating on a secondary romance that was either completely in my head, or is going to take some more time to come to fruition. I often felt that I could leave or take Alex, which was a bit odd because she possesses a great many of the attributes I like in a heroine. I also remember liking her better in the first book. In Grave Dance, there was a disconnect. At times, I felt like she was a pale imitation of Merit from the Chicagoland Vampires series. They have plenty in common (familial estrangement, unhealthy eating habits), but Alex can't really live up to the awesomeness that is Merit. Neither, unfortunately, can her love interests live up to swoon-worthy Ethan. I used to think of myself as a person who enjoys love triangles, but the way this book handles the theme is a perfect example of why they are also frustrating--and risky for authors. Keep in mind this is my opinion, okay? Love triangles work when it's clear which party will win out. When a reader becomes invested in one half of a triangle (as they invariably will be), they will only find satisfaction if the series ultimately goes their way. This is why the Merit/Ethan/Morgan triangle worked for me--there was never any question in my mind who Merit would end up with. Ditto Mercy/Sam/Adam. It's a phenomenal thing when an author can maintain the tension of a love triangle while still conveying the outcome. It's a dangerous widow's walk--with too obvious on one side and frustratingly vague on the other. The Alex Craft books lean heavily on the too vague side, which makes me disinclined to become invested in the stories. I think my dissatisfaction with this novel is based on two personal preferences: my feelings about love triangles, and the fact that most of it revolves around the Fae and Faerie. They were definitely a presence in the last book, but Grave Dance takes things up a notch, Faerie-wise. However, I hope you'll still give this series--and the Haven books--a try....more