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Posts tagged ‘Mystery’

Zombies + Pizza = A pretty decent weekend!

So this weekend I found myself with a little down time in the evening.  The other half was wrapped up in course work, so of course I had to be super studious by his side!  And by super studious I mean reading a whole bunch of amazing and incredible books.  Mine have fewer diagrams of human bodies, but they have way more magic and unexplained phenomena.  All the hard work of reading led to a brief pizza break, a viewing of a truly epic horror film, and then more reading!  All in all, a truly satisfying October weekend.

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield had me at zombies.  Though in all honesty it was not the zombies that kept me reading.  Instead, it was the amazing characters and the awesome adventure they went through.  Which more than made up for the fact that the zombies in this book are very much in the background.  Hailey is a sixteen year old girl with the amazing ability to heal.  This power is hers because she descends from the Banished, who came to America from Ireland centuries ago.  Healing, however, is not her only power, that would be too simple.  Hailey can also create zombies, but only if she tries to heal someone when it is too late.  She is finally getting a chance at a normal life, after surviving some unimaginable hardships she finally has a home with her Aunt Prairie and little brother Chubs.  That is all shattered after a secret call to her secret boyfriend Kaz.  Someone tapped the line.  Someone knows where she is living.  And that someone just kidnaped her aunt and brother.  Hailey and Kaz go on a cross-country journey to save their loved ones and protect the Banished from mysterious forces who would exploit them.  They can only hope they’re not too late.

Fantastic plot, wonderful concept and some beautifully created characters.  Littlefield gives herself a solid base on which to make crazy things happen in Unforsaken, and I loved every minute of it.  The powers that Hailey and her family have are understated in the best way.  They never discover an ability that can magically save the day, they have to rely on their wits and the power they already have and have mastered.  The action was superb.  All too often a girl can be overshadowed in a story like this by her oh so hunky boyfriend.  While Kaz does sound oh so hunky, he never becomes the main action guy.  He and Hailey are truly equals in all of the action scenes and plotting and that makes it wonderful to read.  They work so well as a team that I had no trouble believing that two sixteen year olds could take down this mysterious and evil corporation.  The back story is given to the reader in wonderful little hints and subtle remembering of the past.  Never feels out of place, never feels forced and it always is relevant to what is going on at that point in the story.  Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on its companion title!

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There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

So it was rainy, and dreary, and gross.  The weather this weekend was remarkably like that of Prague.  Prague happens to be a city in which most of the book I read this weekend takes place.  Coincidence?  I think not!  I controlled the weather via my reading choices!  Next time I’ll read a book about fire raining down from the sky and see what happens.  Anywho, the book I read this weekend had some fabulous word creation, great mythology, and a heroine who grew on me like a tumor.  You hate it at first, then get used to it, then when it is removed you kind of miss it in a weird way.

My reluctantly liked heroine came from a book by Laini Taylor called Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Karou fills her sketchbooks with picture of monsters that don’t exist, and tells tales of what they do in their far away world.  Only, their world isn’t so far away.  In fact, it is accessible via a portal just 10 minutes away from her apartment.  Karou has always known these monsters, they are her family.  They are, in fact, the only part of herself that she is very sure about.  But the world is stirring around her, and more creatures are coming out of the woodwork.  Is there something more to Brimstone’s tooth business than meets the eye?  Is there a reason that scorched handprints have been showing up on all the doors?  And who is the stunningly beautiful man who Karou senses following her, and why did he try to kill her?

This book had a heroine who I was sure was going to make me want to hurt myself rather than finish reading about her.  I was all set to hate her.  And then she had to turn out to be kind of awesome.  She never became a blundering wreck, she did not immediately fall for her one true love, and even when she did, she was very reasonable and controlled about the whole thing.  Karou had wonderful perks and some great flaws, and I would let her travel by my side if I had to kick some otherworldly angel booty.  The romance storyline was wonderfully done and meshed in well with the books mythos and world creation.  At no time did I find myself not believing the world that Ms. Taylor was creating, even though it was very far-fetched.

So not only can you see dead people, you can talk to them too? And bring them back to life!? I’m gonna go stand over here…

So it is new book time once again!  My weekend was a jumble of reading and breaking furniture and then more reading!  If I had the powers over furniture that Kate Winters has over the dead, you can bet that all my broken furniture would have been resurrected this weekend instead of being haphazardly piled in a corner.

Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw is the story of Kate Winters, a fifteen year old girl who just wants to work in her uncle’s bookstore and not get involved in war.  Her dreams are soon shattered when the wardens descended, taking all the people from her small town of Morvane.  But they are not just drafting people from towns at random, they are looking of someone.  Someone who can raise the dead. Someone like Kate, who just brought a blackbird back to life.  Now Kate is the prisoner of the toughest warden of all, Silas.  He has some sort of plan for her; Kate just is not sure what.  She is sure of two things: firstly, that she has to save her uncle from a life of slavery; and secondly, that her old friend Edgar is more than he seems.  Kate’s entire existence is coming apart before her eyes; can she build it back up and come to terms with her new powers before it is too late?

Shadowcry was an amazing first from Ms. Burtenshaw, I was duly impressed.  The relationship between Kate and Silas was one of the highlights of the book and was touchingly realistic.  In fact, Ms. Burtenshaw’s strength is in developing complex relationships between characters and making them all flow together.  There are many characters in this book, and they are all pretty much thrown at you, no time to get adjusted.  It is through dialogue and interaction that you really learn about them.  The scenes where Kate goes into other peoples’ memories is pretty impressive as well.  Normally I am very anti explanations via some sort of convenient ability to see the past, read minds, etc.  The way this book treats them, however, does not annoy me as much as I thought it would.  They are not leaned upon or used as a crutch; they are just part of the overall story.  Shadowcry is a book that I devoured quite quickly and I would love to visit Kate Winter’s world again.

Two Janes, Two Very Different Stories

This weekend was a hot pink weekend.  I have always felt that some days are best described by colors, and this weekend was totally hot pink.  It was exciting and dangerous and slightly edgy, which are all qualities that Hot Pink embodies.  It just so happened that during this Hot Pink weekend, I read two books, which coincidentally had Hot Pink covers, and main characters named Jane.  And while one was a vampire and one lived on Coney Island, they did have one thing in common, they are both freaks.

Jane Jones has not always been called Jane Jones.  She originally was Josephine.  But when you family are a bunch of vampires, moving around from town to town is part of the package.  Now Jane can walk out in the sun, see her reflection, eat garlic and she most certainly does not sparkle.  She would be a pretty typical vampire too, if it were not for the itty-bitty problem of her blood intolerance.  So Jane is a vampire who cannot suck blood.  A freak among undead freaks.  Thanks to the Internet, Jane stumbles upon a man who claims he has a cure for vampirism.  Jane wants that cure more than anything, and so does Timothy, a handsome vampire who has spent most of his undead life wandering alone.  He wants to get the cure for Jane and himself so they can live their lives together.  Except Jane is now faced with a teacher who knows more about her past than she’s comfortable with, some startling familial revelations, and a human boy named Eli who has taken a liking to her.  With all of this excitement, what is a vampire girl to do?

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge is one remarkable vampire book.  And this is coming from a lady who feels that vampire books are played out at the moment.  Caissie has developed a great character in Jane, managing to convey life if you had to live as if you were 16 for the rest of your life.  Her popular vampires are a little 2-D and not has fleshed out, and the reason for hating Jane seems ill-explained, but it works to make a convincing problem for Jane to have to deal with.  Reading about two vampire girls fighting it out over a human boy was also quite hilarious and refreshing.  The romance in this book is low-key and natural, no one true loves, no eternities with your soul mate, just a straightforward high school crush, which was realistically portrayed and a joy to read.  Jane was a heroine I could see myself reading more about, not just for her, but for her family as well.  More books about them navigating the complexities of modern day vampires would be a welcome addition to the world of badly written vampire drivel.

Our next Jane has the same problem our first Jane has, the constant moving from place to place.  She has been all over the world with her family, following the career of her father, a roller coaster designer.  He has not been much of a roller coaster designer since her mother died, but he has kept the family travelling as a structural engineer.  Now that her Grandfather has died, they are headed back to the states for a year to settle things at his house on Coney Island.  Jane had never met her grandfather, nor does she really know anything about her mother’s side of the family.  Imagine her surprise when she finds out that her grandparents were sideshow freaks in the early days of Coney Island, her mother was really trying to be a mermaid, and most of her childhood games were based upon old rides on Coney Island.  Jane is trying to figure out the mystery of her maternal family, the mystery of the Dreamland Social Club at school, the mystery of Leo’s strikingly familiar tattoo, and the mystery of who she really is.  That is a lot of mystery for one girl, but Jane is ready to figure out if Coney Island is a place where she belongs, and why her mother kept running away from it.

I will confess, I lived in New York City for a while.  My sister lived near Coney Island, and I would go out to see her.  Dreamland social club by Tara Altebrando paints the picture of Coney Island so vividly I got homesick.  Every character she introduces you too has the right amount of backstory for their importance to the plot.  Everyone is fleshed out and has a place, you feel like you are there in that high school, no matter how odd it may seem.  The mysteries and law-breaking that happens are written beautifully and believably, so I never at any point went, “there is no way two kids could do that.”  The relationships between Jane and other characters are stunningly done.  Jane and Marcus have some of the best brother sister interaction that I have ever read, and the buildup between Jane and Leo is nicely done.  I hope Tara Altebrando keeps writing more, because this book impressed me more than anything I have read in a long time.

So I spent my weekend destroying flesh-eating muties, how about you?

Okay, so I didn’t really unleash my righteous fury on some zombie scum.  But I did read a book where they did!  And that is almost totally like doing it yourself.  Almost.  There might have also been a little shape shifting bad-boy love in my life this weekend.  That was in book form as well, but a lady needs something to do when her partner in crime is out of commission (thanks wisdom teeth.)  So this weekend while I had only planned on reading one new book to review, opportunity smiled upon me and now you are the ones who benefit!  Without further ado I introduce the two newest books in the Tucker Free Library’s collection: Enclave and The Gathering!

 

 

Enclave is a first book by the lovely Ann Aguirre and I hope it is not her last!  Part I Am Legend, part Y the Last Man and a sprinkling of Hunger Games makes for an exciting read in one of the best post-apocalyptic dystopias I have seen in recent months.  These tribal societies have developed underground where you are not given a name until you turn 15, mostly because few make it to that age.  Once you turn 15, you either become a breeder, a builder or a hunter.  We follow the story of Deuce, recently given her name and branded as a hunter in her tribe.  She is partnered with Fade, the only boy who survived alone in the tunnels for years.  Deuce and Fade are supposed to get food for the rest of the tribe, and kill any freaks (flesh-eating monsters) that get in their way.  When they find out that the freaks are growing smarter, developing strategies, and have overrun the closest tribe they trade with, they find themselves at odds with the tribal elders.  It seems like the ruling faction does not want the true power of the freaks known.  When they are exiled, what choice to Deuce and fade have but to try out their luck, above ground.

Our next book takes place in a small close-knit community as well, on a island up in Canada.  The Gathering is the newest creation of Kelley Armstrong, who is a force in the world of Young Adult literature.  Maya is dealing with the loss of her friend, convincing her parents to let her get a tattoo, and generally dealing with the things life throws at you when you are sixteen.  And while most sixteen year old girls don’t have to deal with being catnip for mountain lions, or having the ability to speed up the healing process in animals, or have a best friend who can “read” people, Maya does.  She also has a birthmark which caused an uproar in a tattoo parlor, has attracted a bad-boy to her side, and makes her think twice about where she has come from.  Add in a reporter getting murdered and strange shenanigans going on around the island, and you get one confused teenager who just wants to solve the mystery of herself.

Time Travel Tuesday!

It’s Time Travel Tuesday!

We are taking it back, way back, to 1965.  An era of peace, love, Woodstock and MYSTERY!  Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone is the original mystery book, with a dash of the fantastic for fun.  It follows the adventures of three siblings, Barney, Simon and Jane, as they spend the summer in Cornwall (That’s in England) with their Great-Uncle Merry.  Instead of a peaceful summer in Cornwall, the children end up finding a piece of parchment, old and worn with age that shows them the way to a treasure linked to King Arthur.  But of course finding a treasure linked to the great King Arthur will not be easy, not with the agents of the Dark in their way.  Who are the agents of the Dark you ask?  Why everyone knows that when you are on a quest for an Arthurian relic, it is probably the Grail, only one of the most powerful ancient relics in the world. Therefore, it makes complete sense that there would be an evil, sinister force trying to find the grail and use it for nefarious purposes.  So three unsuspecting children searching for the Grail are now part of an even larger fight between the Light and the Dark, a fight that spans centuries.  It is a risky adventure they embark upon, but one that sets into motion the actions on which a phenomenal series is based upon.

At first glance, this book does not have the most attractive cover.  In fact, it is pretty cheesy, and a little ridiculous.  But the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” rings true in this case, because it is what is inside that counts for this book.  While Over Sea, Under Stone is downstairs in our J Fic collection, it is still a book that I, in my old age of twenty-something, go back to read time and time again.  There is always a surprise for me when I read it, picking up on new points I had never noticed before, or starting to piece together clues that I missed previously.  The language is also fantastically advanced, as well as thoroughly British.  Thinking of going across the pond to visit foggy old London town?  Consider this book your introduction to the use of such words as “Smashing” and “Jolly”.  The pacing is wonderful, and while the book was originally written in 1965, there is not much in the book that makes it date itself.  Give it a shiny new cover and take away the copyright date, and no one would even know that this book was not written in the past few years.

The rest of the series is equally fantastic and equally overlooked, Cooper basically was at the forefront of writing supernatural mysteries for young adults, well thought out and intelligently written.  So wander down to the J Fic room, and take a look at Over Sea, Under Stone, it may just surprise you.