Thursday, December 10, 2015


Title: Zeroes
Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Published: September 29th 2015 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 546 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Series: Zeroes #1

Ten years ago, I found Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and fell in love with it. Since that time, I have been on the lookout for another young adult fantasy that would give me the same feel. Unfortunately, I felt let down by Zeroes. This book does not have the same pull that his previous writing did. I did not find myself connecting with any of the characters or the plot; and found myself constantly flipping to the end wondering when this book was going to be over and yet hoping that with each chapter something would grab me.

Zeroes begins a year after Ethan (Scam) angered his fellow “superheroes” and completely broke up a group of teens that all have special abilities. Scam, for instance, has the ability to use a voice that he cannot control to talk about events that he has no previous knowledge of. This voice will just let loose and this is what had gotten him into his most recent predicament. Somehow coming up with too much information during a bank robbery has set his world spinning.

With Chizara’s (Crash) ability to decimate electronics, Nate’s (Glorious Leader) ability to charm, Riley (Flicker), though blind, can see through the eyes of others, Thibault (Anonymous) with his ability to be easily forgotten and Kelsie (Mob) who can control a crowd with just her mind.

The book, to me, seemed over the top. Not sure that it will fully play to the early teen set since the main characters are too overdone and young adults are much more sophisticated when it comes to this genre. The plot is redundant and drawn out and I am sure that the premise of teens who are trying to get away from Russian drug dealers has been done before.

Second thought, maybe this really is not about a new book series and just a premise to open the door for a movie with multiple sequels. I could see that. This book might have better appeal as a movie tie-in, but then again, that seems to have already played out. I do wish this writing team well but I cannot seem myself searching out any future books.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Girls She Left Behind

Title: The Girls She Left Behind
Author: Sarah Graves
Expected Publication: January 12, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Lizzie Snow #2

I know that when it comes to prologues, some readers choose to skip that part, but when it comes to “The Girls She Left Behind”, you have to start there. This sets up the whole book and without it, the reader will be a bit in the dark as to what choices were made deeper in the book.

Cam was the bad cousin that smoked cigarettes and liked boys; Janie was the good cousin that likes to attend the knitting club in the church basement. On that fateful night, Cam convinced Janie to head out to the park for music and boys. Ariel Castro, the Ohio man who kidnapped girls and kept them imprisoned in the basement, inspired what happens next -- Sarah Graves put her spin on the story by allowing one an early escape and therefore creating a new dynamic to the story.

Janie never told anyone what happened that night, she assumed that the lump she saw on the mattress was her dead cousin and all she could think was to get out, take no one with her, just save herself. Years later, when the group of women are released from the home where they were kept, she goes into panic mode. How is she going to keep her secret hidden?

Lizzie Snow, the new sheriff deputy in Bearkill, Maine already has her hands full with a forest fire that is bearing down on her town of 1,100 people and a missing teen that has a history of running away. Tara Wylie the blonde haired blue-eyed cheerleader tends to disappear for a day or two at a time so no one is concerned - that is until her mother starts to panic and does not tell all that she knows.

Henry Gemerle, the man that has kept three girls prisoner in his basement for fifteen years has managed to escape from the forensic hospital that he was being held in and is on his way to Bearkill. He is out for revenge, the person who betrayed him is there, and he will get his vengeance.

Dylan Hudson and Trey Washburn are both making hard plays for Lizzie who is not sure that she wants to stay in Bearkill since all the leads for her missing niece Nicki are leading her nowhere. If the reader remembers, Winter at The Door (book one in this series) that is what brought Lizzie to Maine in the first place. When her sister was found murdered, her niece went missing so now every time a child or body is located that matches a very vague description, Lizzie races to find answers.

As Lizzie tries to locate Tara, the story of Cam and Janie takes over. As the town is slowly being consumed by an inferno, Lizzie finds herself rushing into this firestorm one more time. Stories are not adding up and if one more person lies to Lizzie, she is going to take everyone down. She knows that the answers are on this fiery mountain and she has to get there before all is lost.

You bounce back and forth between present and past in addition to having multiple speakers in each chapter. Several times, I found myself stopping and rereading so I could figure out who was talking. You definitely need to read this book in large chunks otherwise you will get lost.

This is a captivating series and I do hope that Sarah Graves brings us more Lizzie Snow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dream a Little Scream

Title: Dream a Little Scream
Author: Mary Kennedy
Published: August 4th 2015 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Dream Club Mystery #2

When the climax of the story is peaking, the first thing that came to my mind was “he’s got a flip phone?” Somehow I am thinking that this is not what the author had intended for me to be thinking about; but this story had gone on for so long that I was easily distracted.

For me, it was hard to take a crime mystery seriously when it revolves around receiving clues from dreams. I know that the premise of the book is dream interpretation and since this is a cozy mystery, I went along with it. When the storyline becomes stagnant, the group is very fortunate in that someone will have a dream that will point them in the right direction. I know I should not be insulting since I am the one that chose this book and continued to read, but there has to be limits.

When Taylor Blake and her sister Ali are not running their candy shop in Savannah, Georgia, they are hosting Dream Club meetings in their apartment. When Sonia Scott, a celebrity chef, arrives in town and agrees to a book signing, Taylor and the club have their hands full when one member swears that Sonia has stolen her family’s recipes, one member holds her responsible for a family member’s career demise and Sonia herself is embroiled in an affair with a person on her own team. What the dream club had not anticipated was Sonia’s sudden death. Now the real question to the group is -- can their dreams help them to solve this crime before Taylor and Ali lose their shop.

Add in the usual side romance of the main character and cats and you have a typical cozy mystery. The location and the unique way that the mystery is solved, through dream interpretation, and a little bit of private detection, makes this series a little different than the rest. Will the premise appeal to everyone, I cannot say but it was a way to spend a couple of hours on a quiet weekend.