Friday, July 3, 2015

DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE by Carrie Ryan is Your Perfect Summer Read

DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE is a beautiful, fast-paced suspense story perfect for a summer afternoon by the ocean (or pool).

Frances Mace is one of three survivors after a luxury ship, Persephone is attacked. Over 300 other people were brutally murdered aboard the ship before it was set fire. But the other two survivors, a Senator and his son, aren't telling the truth about what happened aboard the ship. They claim it was a rogue wave that "attacked" the ship and caused it to sink.

Frances and her friend Libby are left to survive alone on a rescue raft for seven days before they're found. Unfortunately, Libby dies moments before the yacht reaches them. Libby's father, Cecil, is devastated. When he realizes the attackers will be looking for Frances and could be out to kill her, he convinces her to step into Libby's life. As Frances, she wouldn't have parents or anyone to protect her. As Libby, he could send her out of the country and away from these men who invariably would be hunting her until she's silenced. Frances lost her parents and everything else in her life. Cecil lost his wife and daughter. They could help each other overcome the devastation.

Four years later, Frances is firmly ensconced in Libby's life. She's come back home to seek revenge against the Senator and his son Grey. Why did they lie about the attack? Were they involved? To complicate the issue, Frances and Grey fell in love on the ship. But when she saw him lie to reporters about the attack, that love turned to ice cold hate. However, seeing him again, four years later, those romantic feelings come bubbling up. Will she be able to continue her plan, while being physically drawn to him?

I read this in only a few days. The suspense kept me flipping through the pages quickly. The writing is lovely and lyrical. Identity plays a large part of the appeal for me. If you assume another person's identity, what happens to your old one? Can you really ever leave that person behind? And how would that feel to leave yourself behind. Do the two identities blend to form someone new?

This is a beautiful story. I'm not typically attracted to revenge stories, but with Carrie Ryan's reputation, I told myself I'd give it a few pages. Well, that's all it took to grab me.

I loved it, and you will too!

Here's more about the book and the author.

And the trailer for you:

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU by Moriah McStay is a Beautiful Debut

EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is a lovely, original debut by Moriah McStay.

What a lovely, original debut by Moriah McStay. We often wonder what would happen if we took a different path. Would our lives be substantially different or better, perhaps? In this case Fiona wonders about an accident that happened to her when she was a child. The accident scarred her face. People have treated her differently her entire life because of that one moment in time. She wonders how her life could've ended up. 

Turn the page and we hear from Fi, who is living the exact same life, without the scarred face. This is a story about one girl who lived two different lives. In alternating points of view, we see how their lives seem very different. But they both end up with struggles to overcome. Each girl must take her own path to become her best self. 

I enjoyed the journeys of both Fiona and Fi. I loved the premise, and the author pulls it off really well. The stories are different, with the same characters, but their relationships have shifted. The differences cause different aspects of each character emerge. I can imagine the author enjoyed getting this chance to tell two plot lines with the same characters. I can imagine it involved lots of post-its on a giant white board to keep it all straight! Somehow, Fi and Fiona end up as distinctly different voices, which is a credit to the author. 

I loved this story. It's about relationships, human connections. It's also about inner strength and overcoming obstacles to grow and be your best self. I'll be thinking about it for a while. I'm looking forward to reading more from Moriah McStay!

Enjoy this lovely story you won't soon forget. 

Check out the author's website here

Friday, June 26, 2015

DEAD TO ME is a Fabulous Forties old Hollywood Mystery by Mary McCoy

DEAD TO ME is fabulous! It's set in 1940's old Hollywood. I can't remember ever reading a YA novel set there, so right away, it felt new to me.  Alice's sister has been missing for four years, so when she gets a call from the hospital, she's relieved to finally see her. But her sister has been badly beaten and she hasn't woken up.

Soon after Alice realizes how badly hurt her sister is, private detective Jerry Shaffer walks into the hospital room questioning Alice. Little does he know, Alice isn't the meek sixteen-year-old she may appear to be. She turns it around and begins questioning him. Then she proceeds to begin her own investigation to uncover the brute who pummeled her sister into a coma.

Although the author takes familiar elements (young girls fleeing to Hollywood to become the next famous starlet, cops owned by thugs, actors owned by major studios), the story has a freshness that I truly enjoyed. After hearing about the cryptographers during the war, Alice and her sister Annie learned to create their own secret codes using ciphers. This skill comes in handy when certain clues are unearthed that only Annie can decrypt.

Annie is a feisty, determined sister. Even when unsavory facts are uncovered about her family, she doesn't let anything stand in her way of getting to the bottom of the whole sordid situation.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns of the story, as well as the characters.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hilarity Ensues When you Accidentally Invite the Devil to Live in Your Basement: HELLHOLE by Gina Damico

HELLHOLE is hilarious, all the way through. I grabbed every spare moment I could find to get back to reading it. It was a breath of fresh air after reading a few dark books in a row. And yes, I just said that reading a book about the devil was a breath of fresh air. Weird, but true.

Max Kilgore accidentally invites a devil to live in his basement. Max assumes he satan, like the devil. But he soon finds out that his devil is only one of many. This particular devil is in charge of salty snacks. He demands that Max bring him stolen snacks on a regular basis while demanding that Max find him a mansion (with a hot tub) to live in. And the kicker - the mansion has to be "stolen."

Max only agrees because the devil promises to cure his sick mom. Before he realizes it, Max gets deeper and deeper into debt with the devil. But with the help of a few friends, he may be able to get himself out of trouble.

I loved this book! It's in my top five for the year.  It's original and a total joy to read!

Watch the trailer to get a feel for the humor in the book

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Masterful Storytelling in BELLWEATHER RHAPSODY by Kate Racculia

I really can't write a better description of Bellweather Rhapsody than the author herself, who sums it up on her website like this:

"My second novel asks the big questions, like:
What if Glee and Heathers had a baby and sent it to band camp at the Overlook Hotel?"

BEST DESCRIPTION EVER! This is totally accurate.

But I will trudge along and write a review anyway.

Kate Racculia is a master storyteller!

First of all, the setting is rich and delightful. The Bellweather is a historic hotel run by Harry Hastings, the concierge, who has lovingly taken care of it and its guests all these years. You can tell that the hotel was really something special back in its day, but the years have taken their toll, and with its lack of business, money hasn't been spent to keep the hotel in its former glory. The Bellweather has ballrooms, an auditorium, and a Tiffany glass domed rooftop pool. Since it's in upstate New York in the middle of a snow storm, references to The Shining are appropriate and encouraged.

The story begins in 1982 when a twelve-year-old bridesmaid witnesses a murder suicide in room 712 of the Bellweather. Then it skips fifteen years ahead to the Statewide competition for band, orchestra, and choir. We're introduced to two of the main characters, twin brother and sister, Rabbit and Alice Hatmaker. They've both made it to the Statewide their senior year. Their new music teacher that year is Natalie Wilson, who drives them to the hotel in a "short bus" merely because she knows it will aggravate Alice. Alice is a bit of a Rachel Berry, who is confident in her talent and future as a singer/actress. While Rabbit is a very talented bassoon player with a secret.

Arriving at the Bellweather, we meet the conductor, Fisher Brodie. Fisher is a talented piano player with an offbeat way of conducting and a semi-tragic childhood. Viola Fabian is in charge of the event, after the previous organizer had a heart attack under questionable circumstances. Her daughter Jill Faccelli is Viola's flute-playing prodigy daughter who hates her mother and simply wants to be left alone.

Imagine throwing all these characters together in a hotel with a few hundred more music-making teens for the weekend. Add in a few suicides or murders and you get this fabulous character driven, spectacularly written novel.

Also, the music! The author successfully writes about music, so that you can hear it. Plus, there is an orchestra scene near the end that is especially lovely and took me back to my own days in band to those special moments when everyone experienced the same joy of playing beautiful music well together.

There is just so much wonderful here. I highlighted so many passages that I adored. The descriptions, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, and the tone are pure perfection. This is my favorite of the year, so far. Did I mention it just won the Alex Award? Totally deserving.

The author's website has some fun links for you. You can see a Clue-like map of the Bellweather and some printable Tarot cards. Nifty. You can click below to go directly to the map.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another John Green Movie - PAPER TOWNS Trailer is here!

The next YA book to movie hit is on the horizon. PAPER TOWNS by John Green is coming out this summer, July 24th. The trailer is out NOW. It seems like it will do the book justice, but I guess we'll see.

Also, check out this adorable video with John Green and Cara Delevingne, who plays Margo.

Happy Reading! Err...watching?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I REMEMBER YOU by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Whelp, you know me and time travel books. I thought I REMEMBER YOU sounded like time travel of some variety, because Lucas remembers things from the future. It's not exactly that, but I won't spoil that for you.

Your quickie synopsis: Juliet and Lucas are falling in love, but when Lucas "remembers" things about Juliet he could not possibly know, Juliet begins to wonder if something is wrong.

I enjoyed this. The love story between Juliet and Lucas felt remarkably real. The author captures all the little details of first love: the intensity, the desperation, the way a smile or touch can send shivers down your spine.

I also enjoyed the friendship between Juliet and her best friend, Rosemary. The secondary characters are well fleshed out and enjoyable.  Overall, what I noticed most was the beautiful descriptive writing.

Here is a passage that I highlighted. Tell me you don't love this room. Doesn't it make you feel right at home. I want to toss a ball around with these dogs.

In the back of the house, it was all tennis and dogs. Piles of leashes and worn collars, chewed-up tennis shoes, tennis balls rolling around under counters, dogs rolling under the chairs, chasing them, sleeping with tennis balls grasped gently in their mouths. Tennis balls crowned the mail pile, held up broken table legs, mixed with the apples and oranges in the fruit bowl, and even, bizarrely, took pride of place in the door of the fridge where the ketchup and salad dressings are supposed to go. 

Also, I simply adore the description of the town library. (The setting is 1994, by the way.)

I love the way it smells of clean carpet and furniture polish and the dust-meets-chemical scent the microfiche readers emit. I love the librarians' low voices, the muted thumping of the wood chairs against the tables, the water fountain gurgling politely just inside the door. makes me want to go visit the libraries of days gone by. Perhaps I shall install a microfiche reader in my library. Okay, maybe not.

I'll leave you with the author's website to read more about this book, as well as her other books.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Need Some Inspiration? Read RITES OF PASSAGE by Joy N. Hensley

If you're looking for a strong female character who doesn't give up, no matter how many times she's threatened, Sam's your girl!

Sam McKenna is the only daughter in an all-military family. Her dad is a Commander of Special Forces, her brother was a Ranger, and her other brother is the cadet colonel at Denmark Military Academy. It should have been no surprise that Sam decides to be the first female recruit at the Academy, after her brother dares her to enroll. But people were surprised - and enraged.

Sam is allowed to enroll in Denmark Military Academy, but she is thwarted at every opportunity by her superior officer, Corporal Matthews. He verbally abuses her and is much harder on her than any of the male recruits. He also gets physically rough with her while others aren't looking.

The only bright spot of Sam's existence at the Academy is her drill sergeant Dean Stamm. He is the only one who appears to be on her side. But even with his help, Sam encounters another tough challenge. There is a secret society that is bound and determined to make her quit. What began as a dare from her brother ends up being the hardest thing Sam has ever done. And she will not quit.

I really enjoyed this! Sam is an incredible inspiration for young girls. She shows tremendous mental and physical strength through the book. It does have a bit of a love story, as well as some interesting family dynamics.

The author attended military school herself, which explains why the book feels so authentic. Check out her website for more behind the scenes information and some of the songs mentioned in the book. After you read the book, or even before, read the part about the song by Billy Joel, Goodnight Saigon. Then listen to the song. It's quite emotional.

Go here to read a sample from the book.

And I'll leave you with a book trailer. Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

COURT is Yet Another Unique Tale from Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick's COURT is such a unique concept that her publisher didn't want to take a risk on it. Well, I could've told them to go ahead and take a leap of faith, because Cat Patrick's previous books are unique and people love them! FORGOTTEN features a girl who can't remember her past, but can remember her future, while REVIVED's main character has died and been revived five times. So, yeah, unique totally works for her! (Check out my interview with the author here, by the way.)

Anyway, Patrick proceeded to self-publish the book. I don't normally read self-published books, because a lot of times I can't get my hands on a print copy for my library, so I steer clear of them. (Or they simply aren't very good, and I don't have time for that.) But, if I know the author's work, then I bend that rule. I had enjoyed Cat Patrick's other books, so I knew I was in for a treat.

Here is your quickie synopsis:
For more than 300 years, a secret monarchy has survived and thrived within the borders of the US, hiding in plain sight as the state known as Wyoming. But when the king is shot and his seventeen-year-old son, Haakon McHale, is told he will take the throne, becoming the eleventh ruler of the Kingdom of Eurus, the community that's survived for centuries is pushed to the limit.

Original concept, right? Each of the main royal families control a section of the Kingdom, where a certain resource is predominant (oil, coal, wind, etc.) Before Haakon can take the throne after his father's death, his mother announces that he must marry Gwendolyn, the daughter of the Duke of Coal. While marrying will solidifying the monarchy, it will also make him appear more mature. However, neither Haakon or Gwendolyn want to marry. As the story continues, many secrets and hidden plots among the royal families are revealed.

I loved the concept. I was super curious to see how this society could be hidden in plain sight. I still have more questions, but I enjoyed the discoveries in this first novel. The story is told in multiple points of view, which works well, since I wanted to know about all sides of this hidden society. One character would have been limiting. The plot moved quickly and built to an exciting ending. I grew to love some of the characters. Overall, I liked this so much that I may have to lift my ban on sequels to read the next one. That is, if there is a sequel. I have many more questions about this world. (There has to be with that ending, right?)

I'm leaving you with some tidbits from Cat Patrick's website about the evolution of this book:
Happy Reading!