Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Restorer

Called the Graveyard Queen, Amelia Grey has been working alongside her father, the local cemetery grounds keeper since she was a child. All grown up, she is now a renowned historian and restorer of cemeteries but being able to care for the hollowed land is not the only thing she can do, both Amelia and her father can see the dead.

"I was twenty-seven years old and I’d never had a best friend, never had a real confidant and had never once fallen in love. From the time I was nine years old, the dead that walk among us had isolated me from the living. With that first sighting, my life had been changed forever. Like my father, I’d learned to live with my secret, had even come to embrace the solitude, but there were times, like tonight, when I wondered if madness might not also wait for me behind the veil"

There are very strict rules when it comes to having this gift; one is never to make contact. Second, do not let them know that you can see them or they will attach to you and you will never get away. The third is to never get close to a person who has a ghost attached to them." That one is a bit harder for Amelia since she has feelings for John Devlin, a police detective, assigned to investigate the recent body that has turned up in the cemetery after a storm. Of course, it cannot be as simple as a washed up casket; this is definitely a newly deceased person who did not have a proper burial. But of course, that isn’t the only body in this story. Just when you think you have all the creepiness tied up Tom Gerrity, an ex-police officer who wants to torment Devlin shows up with some information of his own. Who is the Prophet and why does it set John Devlin off?

What does bother me about this story is that both Amelia and her father have the same ability, but yet Amelia is adopted. It hit me as strange that two people who are unrelated coincidently have the same gift, but now I am wondering if there is more to this story that will be revealed in future installments. Just one more twist in a very interesting tale.

“We can learn so much from the dead”

The end is quite twisty so be prepared to pay close attention. Things that you think are, aren’t, things that didn’t make sense are left dangling for the next in this planned trilogy, so be prepared to be left questioning and having to draw your own conclusions until next time.

Amanda Stevens definitely has a series to keep any eye out for.

Publication Date: 4/26/11

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Case Histories

Let us begin at the end where I can honestly say, “I didn’t see that coming”. Usually writers lead you down a rambling path where you at least think you know where you are going. You might have chosen a different style or a different course, but in the end, it always leads to the most likely suspect. Well, let me tell you, the who-done-it in one of these stories completely blew me away.

Case Histories is the first in a series featuring Jackson Brodie, a retired police officer turned private detective who is hired to solve three old cases. Told in a spiral fashion, the reader is introduced to Amelia and Julia who’s three-year-old sister Olivia went missing 30 years ago. Theo Wyre whose daughter was killed by a lunatic who barged into Theo’s law practice wearing a yellow golf sweater and Shirley Morrison who is trying to locate her sister Michelle who was living a rather isolated existence with her husband and daughter.

Told in a spiral story-within-a-story fashion, the reader is dragged back and forth through all three plots and the timeframe that they take place until by the end they all seem to wrap themselves up in a rather neat orderly manner - that is all except the one that I didn’t see coming. I actually found myself looking back over the book to see what I had missed.

Be prepared for red herrings and more than a couple throw away characters, but do note, you have to pay attention. This book is not an easy read, you have your work cut out for you and there is a set ups for the next book in the series. So if you are ready for a thinking person’s book, take your time and dig in.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I tried, I really did, but from the beginning, this book did not take off for me. The concept is great, but the delivery lacked the spark that would make me want to reach for it and continue to read.

When books are compared to Atwood or Westerfeld, that is a very tall order and when it misses the mark, that leave the reader with a bad taste in their mouth for this genre. But do not give up; there are very good books out there in the YA Dystopian Genre. Spend some time looking around and see the other books that have been recommended within these reviews.

As an overview:

“When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.”

This book seemed to have started somewhere in the middle and I felt that I was playing catch up the whole time. Just not the right fit for me at this time. I will hand it off to a teen and maybe they will see it from a different perspective that I just did not get.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

I really, really, want to believe this book, but being a natural born skeptic, I really, really, really (notice there are three really’s that time) want to believe that this is true. I want to hope that a child’s innocence is not being exploited, that a child’s recollection of heaven could be a true thing. At this date and time, there is so much cynicism that I no longer know what is true.

After a near death experience, 4-year-old Colton Burpo, the son of a rural Nebraska pastor, comes back with a tale of meeting Jesus. This is not something that he blurts out all at once, but little parts shared over an extend period of time. Each revelation shocks his parents with information that a child of his age and experience would not know.

Colton appears to never waver in his storytelling. His message is always the same and he holds true and fast as to what the son of God looks like. Shocking the whole family when another child, who also has been to heaven, paints the perfect picture.

I had originally heard this story one morning while flipping through the radio looking for something to listen to on my way to work. Never being a fan of the religious channels I usually just past them by, but this morning something caught my attention and I just needed to find out more about this story.

The book starts a little slow and you wonder why going to a pet store is that big of a deal, but as the chapters push on, Colton immerges into quite a normal child with an extraordinary story to tell. His experiences are told in easy to understand kid language that give the book a bit more realism and makes even a cynic like me sit up and take notice.

This book is a quick read, an easy read, so I suggest you take a chance, reach your own conclusion and walk away from it with you own opinions as to the reality of a child’s tale.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Agatha Rasin and the Love From Hell

Agatha keeps pulling me back; I cannot say that each book is better than the last, because that is not always the case, but I find myself wanting to be Agatha’s cheerleader.

She constantly makes bad choices, but I am not sure that she does it intentionally. She seems to be that person who always fails at doing the right thing. For instance, the in ink is barely dry on her marriage certificate to James Lacey when already the marriage is over. Agatha is just too independent to be married to the demanding James, so when their small community witnesses a very public argument and then James turns up missing with blood on his front doorstep, Agatha is most assuredly the prime suspect. Nevertheless, there is more to this story since James himself seems to have a wandering eye and the town knows about that too.

Now it is up to Agatha to find James, prove her innocence, prove that James did not murder the trollop that he was rumored to have been having a not so clandestine affair with and tie it all up in a neat bow so she can move on with her life.
I know it sounds like just another day in Agatha’s life, but somehow this book is just a little bit different. Agatha comes across as bit more human, a bit less assured and possibly a bit more likeable, even if she does have hard cruel bearlike eyes.

As I have said before, you really do have to begin these books at the beginning to get the full Agatha affect. Some are better than others; some leave you wondering what goes on in Agatha’s mind, but in the end, she is an endearing character that makes you wonder what she could get up to next.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Among the Departed

Having never read a Vicki Delany I took a leap of faith and plunged into book five of the Molly Smith series. I do not know what I have missed in the previous books, but this one left me with a rather flat feel. After the first two chapters, the book leveled out on a monotonous journey to a rather predictable ending and the lead characters resembled more of a flat Stanley than the multi-dimensional feel that persons of their positions and responsibilities should.

What began as a search for a little boy who wandered away from his families camp in British Columbia, turned into a case of who-done-it when the body of missing Brian Novack shows up after having been missing from his home for fifteen years. You would think that the family would rejoice in the finding, but only one of them is, which tells the reader right off that maybe the family has not been quite as forthcoming with information in the past that they should have. However, that really does not matter, they are a mess and now it is up to Sergeant John Winters of the Trafalgar City Police to sort out what really happened and which person in this town is to blame for the death.

There are multiple sub- story lines going on here and at times, I wondered if Ms Delany was just throwing anything she could at the wall to see what would stick. I found myself asking repeatedly “does that really move the story forward” and found by the end that most of it was there solely for shock factor. Will I continue with the series, no, did I miss anything by not reading the first four books? I cannot see that I would have.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dead as a Doornail

Maybe I need to spread these books out a little bit more, because all of a sudden they are blurring one right into the other. After putting this one down for a couple of days, I truly couldn’t remember what it was about, I had to grab it out of the donation pile just to remind myself what the focus was.

If you have not read this series from the beginning, do not continue with this review, because there might be some spoilers. We know that Sookie is a waitress with a disability; she can read the minds of those around here, those that just happen to not be vampires. Therefore, when Alcide Herveaux asks Sookie to help read the minds of his “were” pack in hopes of helping his father become the next leader, she really has no choice. Well, of course she can do that, even if it is a strange ritual and parts of it just are not something that Sookie would ever like to know exists.

Then add in someone who is out trying to kill shape shifters and Sookie’s house is partially burned and Jason is still dealing with his own monthly difficulties and Tara is keeping vampires in her house and you have yet another week in the life of Sookie.

As I said before, maybe I need to spread these books out a bit more. They are starting to be the same story over and over with slight character changes in each installment. Skookie is a very likeable simpleminded character that always seems to get herself into one hot mess after another and needs to depend on her otherworldly friends to get her out.

I do not know what direction Charlene Harris will take these books, but the one thing that I do know, that kindly looking grandma sure has some hot blood running through her veins.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pearl Versus the World

Pearl tells a heartbreaking but simple story that explores the sensitive issues of dementia, grief, loss and loneliness from the viewpoint of a young girl. A girl that does not fit into the world that she is part of. A girl that does not rhyme with the world around her. A girl that loves her grandmother who taught her “sometimes a poem needs no rhyme to be just right. Sometimes a poem just is”.

That is Pearl, she just is. She is just a little girl facing heartbreak for the first time, she is just a little girl looking for her place, she is just a little girl looking for her +1. She is just a little girl.

Being a children’s book, this happy-sad story might be too much for the 8 – 12 age group that it is designed for. Quite sad in most parts with a nice ending that will leave a wide opening for conversations with your children about the difficulties of loss and growing up.

Pearl is an enduring character that will stay with you, she is a survivor, a young girl who has faced more sadness and loneliness than she should have, a girl that will one day find her way, but first she has to find her new place, a place for just two - with her granny watching over.

Friday, March 4, 2011


It is hard not to compare Delirum to Westerfeld’s Uglies series. Not that that is a bad thing, both are very good and if you have not had a chance to check out Westerfeld, I highly recommend it.
"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure."

First, you have to admit that is quite a catchy way to start a book, especially a book aimed at young teen readers.

Lena Holliday is nearly 18, the year in which she is to undergo the treatment that will prevent Amor Deliria Nervosa, an insidious disease that affects your mind so that you cannot think clearly, or make rational decisions about your own well-being. In only 95 days, she will no longer have to fear that this disorder will affect her and she will be able to lead a perfectly normal life without the dangers of love and not have to face the madness that those from the old days had to endure.

Set within the borders of Portland, Maine, an area sealed to prevent the spread of this disease, Lena lives a controlled life, a life watched over by the Regulators who are always on the lookout for symptoms of this disease. She looks forward to not having to live in fear that her mind and body will one day turn against her.

Not wanting to live the quiet desperation that her mother faced, when three unsuccessful procedures left her uncured, Lena looks forward to the security of this life changing procedure. That is until she un-expectantly meets a boy that will forever change her belief, a boy that will show her a world that she has never known, a forbidden place that offers beauty and wonder.

Lauren Oliver grabs you quickly from the beginning and slowly weaves you to a climatic ending that has you wanting to grab her by the collar and shake her until she tells you want happened. I have not been this impressed by an ending in quite a long time and I commend Ms Oliver for piquing my curiosity.