It's not as gritty or rough as the Sandman Slim series as it's written for the YA crowd. But it has the familiar elements of Egyptology and myths andIt's not as gritty or rough as the Sandman Slim series as it's written for the YA crowd. But it has the familiar elements of Egyptology and myths and Hell and punk rock and the underworld. The MC is a teenage girl who lost her father and her comfortable way of life, leaving her depressed and, at one point, suicidal. Her best "friend" is her deceased brother she sees only in her dreams. It's so beautifully Kadry-twisted. Even the underworld town of Iphigene will be easily recognizable to his Sandman Slim fans.
When the MC, Zoe, makes what appears to be a deal with the devil so she can see her father again, her messed up world becomes a fight for her soul. She breaks into the underworld and discovers the secrets behind this halfway point to eternity. She needs to find her way home, but she wants to make the afterlife better for her father and brother.
The book starts with a great build. We learn about Zoe and her former life which, in turn, makes her present life a living hell. But, when she gets to the underworld, the book becomes a bit chaotic and twisted, much like the town of Iphigene and it's characters. The ending feels rushed with a few well-placed coincidences. I could tell Kadry did not intend to make this a series, but he easily could have. I enjoyed Zoe and her brother, they were good, strong characters. Definitely could have survived a series.
As the only child of brilliant scientists, Daniel Calder's education is not the usual school district curriculum. Homeschooling in Seattle, archeologiAs the only child of brilliant scientists, Daniel Calder's education is not the usual school district curriculum. Homeschooling in Seattle, archeological digs in Greece and mountain climbing in Patagonia make for a well-rounded upbringing for a child cursed with dyslexia. On his eighteenth birthday, tragedy strikes and Daniel is left with a vague image in his mind of what happened. No one else saw the moments leading up to the tragedy, but it haunts Daniel. When he reads of other similar events throughout the world he recognizes a pattern. His dyslexia may prevent him from reading letters, but his ability to recognize patterns goes back to his childhood when he first helped his father "read" an ancient Greek artifact, The Phaistos Disk.
Daniel is unwillingly drawn into a global mystery involving mysterious deaths, ancient history, the Phaistos Disk, linguistics, mythologies, and a religious cult, when his father goes missing in Rome. Surrounded by his gang of teenage prodigy friends, Daniel decides he must go find his father. It is at this point in the story that most readers will need to completely suspend any form of disbelief in order to enjoy the rest of the book. The moment Daniel pulls out his Platinum credit card (yes, it is made of real platinum) to buy three first-class tickets to Rome for kids who are barely old enough to vote, the story gets a bit, to put it bluntly, far-fetched.
Morag is a teen prodigy in linguistics and is able to read and/or speak dozens of languages, both ancient and present day. A daughter of archeologists, the girl is a gold mine of ancient history, was helping Daniel's dad interpret the Phaistos Disk before he disappeared, and is able to solve a few world mysteries while meditating on a boat in the Aegean. Rosko, also a prodigy, must be part cyborg, as he appears to have completely recovered use of his previously shattered leg from the accident on Daniel's birthday. And Daniel, while dyslexic, the boy is able to surf the Internet for answers. He is also a master chef, marathon runner, mountain climber, deep ocean sailor, scuba diver, a black belt in karate, and, my favorite, a helicopter pilot. And he just turned eighteen a few weeks ago.
But, I digress.
As the teens race around the globe to save the world (yes, save the world) and rescue Daniel's father, they come up against evil men who are determined to stop them. A few fortunately placed characters that prove extremely helpful, almost to the point of Deus ex Machina, are there to help the teens. How else do you find an Armenian with a rifle when you need one? Platinum credit card, of course. If the story weren't so fun to read I would have firmly planted my face in my palm for the entire book. It gives the reader an education in ancient world history and mythology that is easy to understand and rather enjoyable if you are into that sort of stuff.
Now, the ending, which truly isn't the ending because this is a trilogy: WHAT? Ummm, never saw any of that coming. And there is an element that will truly break Daniel's teenage heart. But it does leave the door wide open for...I'm not sure what...in the next book. I know I will read it because while my disbelief was adequately nuked in this book, I still enjoyed the experience. I guess if I can totally believe in a world of teen wizards saving the universe, why can't I believe in a world of teen archeologists doing the same?
In the beginning, what appears to be a tragic death during the ravage of Hurricane Josephine in Savannah, Georgia becomes a dark story about demons anIn the beginning, what appears to be a tragic death during the ravage of Hurricane Josephine in Savannah, Georgia becomes a dark story about demons and one girl's determination to free her dead friend's soul. Loyal friends since grade school, Dovey and Carly were inseparable until the night Hurricane Josephine swept Carly away with its thick, putrid waters. One year later, Dovey and the city of Savannah have still not recovered from that night.
Started on anti-psychotics after Carly's funeral, Dovey has lived in a drug-addled haze the past year. After seeing Carly in a coffee shop, Dovey makes the decision to quit taking her meds. Then, she begins to see the horrifying things others do not. The mysterious, and gorgeous, Isaac, a bartender in a place that does not exist on any map, introduces her to the world of demons and ghosts and cambions. The more Dovey learns, the more frightening the story becomes.
Written as a YA novel, Servants of the Storm has the usual teenage distrust of adults, high school drama, death do us part friendships, and a three-way love triangle. But what makes this book stand out from the prevailing paranormal YA books are Dovey's strength and maturity. The girl experiences some horrifying events. True, she does rely on Isaac to guide her through this previously unknown supernatural world, but he is not her savior. Her determination to save her best friend's soul from a cruel afterlife is strong. And towards the end of the book, Dovey displays some heavy-duty cojones.
The author has also written the city of Savannah to be construed as another character in the story. More than just a backdrop, the reader can actually feel and smell the death and decay of Dovey's hometown. Josephine's destruction still plagues the city. Dark alleys feel sinister, previously grand mansions are dilapidated shells, and the battered Savannah has yet to recover and find her feet.
But one thing that will continue to niggle at the reader's mind throughout the book is the medication Dovey is supposed to be taking. Was the death of her friend so traumatic she needs to be on anti-psychotics? Stopping any med cold turkey will have side effects. The questions concerning her meds return again and again for Dovey and the reader. The author does not give easy answers.
It's a mature read for paranormal YA as some chapters are rather sinister, and Dovey's conflicted feelings concerning Isaac are quite sensual. I wish there was more input concerning the world building from other characters. And towards the end, while it is a race to save Carly's soul, it felt compressed with too much circumstance. Although the ending has some readers expressing their desire for this book to be part of a series, I think the ending was perfect. It stands alone....more
The first few chapters of this debut YA novel introduces the reader to Liv Bloom: foster care system child, talented artist, new scholar to the eliteThe first few chapters of this debut YA novel introduces the reader to Liv Bloom: foster care system child, talented artist, new scholar to the elite Wickham Hall, and obnoxiously pretentious. As she takes in her new surroundings at Wickham Hall, everything reminds her of works by no less than two different artists. By page 5 she is comparing the New Hampshire license plate motto, Live Free Or Die, to Modigliani's pregnant suicidal muse.
I wanted to toss the book. But, patience is a virtue and mine was rewarded in the end.
Using the familiar new kid at elite high school format, Liv stands out because she is different (poor), rebellious (dresses differently), and instead of coming from the privileged, aristocratic family lines that populate Wickham, she is a scholarship student, a Scollie. Wickies are known for their money, their success, school traditions and their apparent teacher-approved hazing of the Scollies. Liv's first day is humiliating.
Attending her first dinner at Wickham, Liv is mortified at how much she stands out from the other students. Sitting next to the sullen lonely guy in the corner, Liv meets Gabe, also a Scollie and now a partner in misery. But, it is the student body president, the rich and gorgeous Malcolm, who catches her eye and asks her to share the first dance with him.
This is all pretty straightforward, boilerplate YA storytelling until the night Liv goes to meet the equally smitten Malcolm in the forest. Everything changes. The story becomes a mystery/ghost story with a teenage twist. Liv, while still dropping artists' names and their masterpieces with her every thought, becomes more appealing. Her separate relationships with Gabe and Malcolm evolves into a three-part alliance; each member, especially Gabe and Malcolm, must sacrifice their previously conceived notions concerning each other to make this relationship work. They need to find out who killed Liv.
Without giving away some of the better parts of the story, I can say I loved how the three teens were forced to communicate with one another. How do you hold a conversation with someone you can't see? There are rules, similar to those at Wickham Hall that regulate ghost hood. And, Liv is not the only ghost.
Some aspects of the story are silly, but the book itself is engaging and the teens are compelling. And, I learned more artist's names than I thought possible in a YA novel.
From the very beginning of the story, when Holly wakes up Christmas morning feeling a sense of doom, the reader recognizes that something is just notFrom the very beginning of the story, when Holly wakes up Christmas morning feeling a sense of doom, the reader recognizes that something is just not right with this woman. Even after checking on her sleeping teenage daughter, the beautiful Tatiana, an adoptee from Russia, Holly continues to experience a sense of dread. Her thoughts skip from a bump on her husband’s hand to a water stain in the dining room to something that happened to the chickens to wallpaper that continues to peel off the bathroom wall to her thirteen-year writer’s block. Something is just not right.
Narrated by Holly, with some flashbacks to her and her husband’s trips to Siberia during the adoption process, the entire story takes place that Christmas day. Other than a few phone calls to friends and family, the present time interaction is chiefly between Holly and Tatiana.
Trapped in their house by a raging blizzard, Holly prepares the Christmas dinner while ruminating over Tatiana’s increasingly bizarre behavior. She keeps changing her clothing and jewelry. Her moods swing from loving to angry without warning. When she hides in her room, she ignores her mother’s requests for help with the dinner; then she will suddenly appear and act as if nothing was wrong.
The reader learns about Holly’s experiences in Siberia at the orphanage where she and her husband meet their beautiful “jet-black Rapunzel” baby girl. Returning after the obligatory three-month waiting period to bring their daughter home they recognize that while she remains as beautiful as they remember, Tatiana is now thinner, her black hair longer.
While Mind of Winter has it’s creepy moments, Holly’s constant anxious fretting becomes an annoying detraction from the story. Perhaps the author wanted the reader to feel trapped inside Holly’s head, just as she is trapped inside her own home. There are clues hidden within her internal dialogue, and while I was able to guess the ending, sometimes I found myself blocking out her constant, seemingly inane, increasingly paranoid thoughts. ...more
When Jess Galvan walked into that seedy bar in Mexico, his goal was to carry a package across the border and use his earnings against his crazy ex-wifWhen Jess Galvan walked into that seedy bar in Mexico, his goal was to carry a package across the border and use his earnings against his crazy ex-wife in a custody battle for their daughter. Instead, a poorly timed act of altruism lands Galvan in a Mexican prison inhabited by the legendary El Cucuy.
Returning home from a lousy day at the community swimming pool, Sherry Richards is kidnapped and becomes another statistic in a growing succession of sixteen year-old females who have disappeared. Her mother, recently rehabilitated from a powerful cult, calls the police.
Sheriff Bob Nichols, of the woefully understaffed Del Verde County office, believes Sherry is just another runaway until the mother’s psychiatrist, Ruth Cantwell, contacts him. She supports the mother’s fears and convinces Nichols to jump into her bright red Prius and pay a visit to the cult compound.
The Dead Run, a story that involves a freakish cult, ancient legends, supernatural beings, patriotic bikers, a still beating heart in a box, and a dangerous trek through the desert inhabited by the Virgin Army of zombie girls, is unquestionably bizarre. The writing is hip, gritty, violent, and fast-paced with some laugh out loud moments. The fact that the writer is also the author of the hysterical “children’s” book, Go the (BEEP) to Sleep, makes the dark humor of this outlandish story even more wicked.
Now, any horror story that includes the supernatural is going to be a stretch of the imagination. The Dead Run, however, requires an elastic contortion of the reader’s imagination; sometimes asking much patience and indulgence on the reader’s part. While I enjoyed the chapters the covered Galvan’s horrific desert trek or the sheriff’s misadventures with the psychiatrist, I felt the story was interrupted too often by mystical nonsense. When one of the characters bathes in a tub filled with virgin blood (kept at a constant body temperature) while telepathically communicating with his father, my face did a solid palm slap while my eyes rolled to the back of my head.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book and most of the characters, but when it came to the end and I realized there would be a sequel, I didn’t feel pressed to anxiously await the next one. It was a fun ride, but I’m okay if I’m left in the desert with the Virgin Army of zombies.