Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday [@CarrieRyan]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

A delicious tale of revenge and identity from Carrie Ryan, the bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth

In the wake of the deadly devastation of luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after torturous days adrift with her dying friend Libby, knows that the Persephone wasn’t sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son are claiming—it was attacked.

To ensure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very powerful Wells family, Libby’s father helps newly orphaned Frances assume Libby’s identity. Frances has spent years in hiding, transforming herself into Libby, and she can no longer allow the people who murdered her entire family and Libby to get away with it. After years of careful plotting, she’s ready to set her revenge plans into motion—even if it means taking down the boy she’d once been in love with: the senator’s son.

The game has just begun, and Frances is not only playing dirty, she's playing to win.

published June 2, 2015 by Dutton Juvenile - add to your Goodreads

Now you know my pick but what's yours? Link me to your post or tell me in the comments!

If I Stay ~ Movie Review [#IfIStayIn #IfIStay]

Today is the last day to enter my If I Stay Blu-ray & Paperback Giveaway and if you missed last Thursday's #IfIStayIn Tweet-Along with author Gayle Forman, you might not be aware of how amazing the movie is. (Or just how much you want to win it!)

A refresher . . .

If I Stay
November 18, 2014
106 minutes; PG-13
starring: Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley
on IMDb/buy on Amazon

movie synopsis:
Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. (from IMDb)

about the book:
Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

If you have already read the book - and maybe Where She Went, too - than you have already experienced Mia's story.

You've read as Mia and Adam fall in love, as she and her family interact . . . as she is forced to make a truly heartbreaking choice. If I Stay is a book that doesn't go easy on the emotion (at all; obviously) but also has some brilliant story.

If I Stay the movie works because everything so fabulous about the book, is there. If you've read the book, you get to see it come to life. If you haven't, you'll see what seemed a very true portrayal of Forman's novel . . . and likely want to read the book(s).

There were things I had forgotten that I loved about the book, like Mia's quirky family and their interactions, but the movie did a great job reminding me. Even - maybe especially - knowing what's to come, the scenes with Mia, her parents and her brother are so lovely. They're humorous, their touching and they feel oh so very real.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia, Jamie Blackley as Adam and Mireille Enos as Kat, Mia's best friend have great chemistry. Right from the very beginning, there is obviously something between Mia and Adam. As we see more of their relationship, they have the perfect blend of the sweet, in love and the awkward, new relationship. What we see between Mia and Kat really feels like two best friends. It's cute, it's funny . . . and it's all heartbreaking when juxtaposed with the accident and Mia's choice.

The movie is beautifully filmed. The flashbacks, where we learn Mia's story prior to the accident, are lively and colorful, busy while the 'present' scenes with Mia's family and friends, with Mia have an almost stark quality. It not only helps clearly distinguish the two periods, it elevates the emotional impact.

The music in If I Stay - both the soundtrack and the music the different characters play is fantastic. For a story where music is so much a part of the characters and their journey, the soundtrack fits really well and is just as great as it needed to be.

Basically? If you loved the book, you have to see the movie. If you haven't read the book (or for some incomprehensible reason, don't want to) but like really good movies, then you have to see If I Stay.

I really hope they will adapt Where She Went, as well. (Shh, don't tell but I liked that book even more than If I Stay.)

Now hurry up and go enter my (US/Can only, sorry!) If I Stay Giveaway to win a copy of the book and the Blu-ray of the movie!

thank you to Fox for my copy to review - and to participate in #IfIStayIn

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Young Elites ~ Marie Lu review [@PenguinTeen @Marie_Lu]

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
Putnam Juvenile
October 7, 2014
355 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

In The Young Elites we do meet some heroes, but they are not the focus of our story. Instead The Young Elites is 'the origin story of a villain.' This makes the novel different right from the very start. Our main character isn't the 'good guy' who is going to save everyone and live happily ever after. No, Adelina is a girl who has darkness in her. Perhaps more than even she is aware of.

This first book introduces us to Adelina and tot he world she lives in. The blood fever swept through
 the country when she was a child. leaving adults dead and many children scarred or otherwise physically altered. Known as malfetto they are seen as bad luck and blamed for nearly any wrong to befall their family or their country.

Some were left with more than physical markers of the fever, a few gained abilities. The Young Elites.

The Young Elites, whose identities are secret, are feared - believed capable of amazing feats and thought responsible for numerous murders. The Inquisition Axis aims to find the Young Elites, to eradicate them in the name of King and country.

Adelina sees the Elites with that same air of mystery, of fear, and intrigue that others do. Never dreaming she could become one of them

I love Adelina's story. Her childhood is reminiscent of one in a fairy tale - one with all of the evil beings and hardships but without the fairy godmother or princess ending. The way her memories are worked into the story is fantastic. It not only adds to whatever the present situation is, enhancing that part of the tale, but also creates a fuller picture of Adelina and her character.

The world she lives in, with the malfetto, Inquisition, the Dagger society, the fever and how each group and what is thought about them and done by them has affected society, is incredibly well imagined and portrayed.

Not only is The Young Elites different from other stories, taking place in a fresh, unique world, the characters are brilliant. The more we learn about each of them, the better their stories fit together and the more you can connect with each of them. The there is some darkness to both Adelina and The Young Elites as a whole only makes for a more rewarding experience. With new revelations just when it seems everything has been discovered and the question of where Adelina's story will go, this novel will keep readers captivated until the very end. (And then eagerly awaiting the release of the second book.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cover Reveal: Sleeping Tom ~ E.V. Fairfall

Sleeping Tom
February 15, 2015
Contemporary, YA, Romance
add to Goodreads/pre-order Sleeping Tom

About Sleeping Tom:
Hitchhiking is a bad idea but Caden is desperate.

When she accepts a ride from the first car to come by she meets Gabriel. He’s her age, hot, and the closest thing she has to a savior. Problem is, he is a total jerk. With nowhere to go, Caden convinces Gabriel to let her stay with him for one night. He reluctantly lends a couch.

That night Caden wakes up to strange noises. Concerned, she rushes into Gabriel’s room, already anticipating his bad temper. Instead, he’s kind, sweet, and suspiciously harmless—nothing like the man who gave her a ride. He seems like a different person altogether, and claims he is. By night he is Tom, and by day he is Gabriel. Caden finds herself drawn to the mysteries hidden in his eyes.

For Gabriel, Caden is an annoying mistake. One night turns into many, and despite all his anger towards her, she stays. She even seems to accept him and his flaws, but he still doesn’t trust her—is she staying for him, or has she already discovered more than he’s willing to share?

About the Author:
I love to write just as much as I love to read. I try to read a book per week, which doesn’t always work out, but it’s the thought that counts. Aside from all that I am a huge animal person.

Transformed is my first novel, but it isn’t my first publication; I’ve had several short stories published over the last two years. My main goal as a writer is to explore humanity and to give people something fun to read.

The Cover:

cover reveal thanks to Xpresso Book Tours

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brazen ~ Katherine Longshore (earc) review [@KALongshore @PenguinTeen @VIkingBooks]

Brazen (Royal Circle)
Viking Juvenile
June 12, 2014
528 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

I really like reading historical fiction and novels centered around the Tudors are some of my favorites. Katherine Longshore's Brazen takes place in and around the court of King Henry VIII, but it's main characters are two people to whom not much attention is usually paid: Mary Howard and Henry Fitzroy.

While Henry VIII's illegitimate son, 'Fitz' and his young wife Mary Howard  are usually either on the periphery of Tudor tales or not present at all, this is the chance for their story to be told. While Brazen, is of course fiction, the characters were real people and the larger events, those more worth recording, definitely happened. The intricacies of their daily life and relationships may be imagined but thanks to the factual foundation Longshore used, along with the period phrasing and customs, it is all terribly believable.

As Mary falls for Fitz, as she attempts to discover who Mary is - not just her mother's daughter or her father's daughter or even the Duke's wife - readers won't be able to help falling for both of them, as well.

Life in Henry's court is a perilous situation for all of them - not just Mary and Fitz but Queen Anne, Mary's friends Margaret and Madge and everyone else, too. It is a great time for a story to take place, all that much better because it's when it happened. The juxtaposition of Fitz and Mary's relationship, so tender, innocent and heartbreaking with the unraveling court is fantastic.

Most know that Henry VIII's wives did not fare so well. The more you know about the time period and the characters, the more you will know what is to come as you read Brazen. Anne is only Henry's second queen and seeing some of the beginnings of what he put into effect, how laws and feelings changed while seeing these two teens try to discover themselves and each other, is a great pairing.

The happenings of the King, Queen and courtly politics add more drama, tension and suspense to Fitz and Mary's tale.

They are people who lived half of a millennia ago, who face dangers we can only imagine. They had to deal with rules and restrictions that likely seem absurd to us (for Fitz's health, the could not consummate their relationship until the King gave his permission). Understanding all of that, though, they are people, characters you can identify with and one's you'll feel for. Even, or perhaps especially, know (some of) what's to come.

I really appreciated Longshore's note at the end of the novel about what is known, what was factual and what was imagined. It's nice not to wonder how much of a story was true (or to wonder without some facts). The novel was set at the perfect time in the character's lives and gave us a glimpse itno a relationship I have not seen imagined or examined elsewhere. Brazen is a very enjoyable read.

(Longshore's previous novels Gilt and Tarnish are Royal Circle books but it is not necessary to read either or both of them prior to reading Brazen. They are all Tudor novels but standalone tales that do enhance each other but don't have to be read consecutively.)

thank you to the publisher for my copy through NetGalley for review

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday [@MsAnnAguirre]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…

coming April 7, 2015 from Feiwel & Friends - add it to your Goodreads/pre-order from Book Depository/pre-order on Amazon

That's my pick for this week - what's yours?

#IfIStayIn Tweet-Along (+ Giveaway Link) [@Cambio @IfIStay]

Have you entered the If I Stay Blu-ray and paperback giveaway posted yesterday?

Already have your copy of the movie? (Or don't live in the US/Can?) There's something for you, too: #IfIStayIn Movie Night Tweet-Along. Tomorrow, November 20th at 8:00 pm (Eastern) there will be an If I Stay tweet-along where author Gayle Forman will using the @Cambio Twitter to answer fans questions.

I'll be taking part in the #IfIStayIn celebration with my own questions, comparisons between the book and movie and some questions for you!

It sounds like a great way to spend part of a Thursday night!

So, think up your best Mia, and Adam (and Teddy and Liz) questions Tweet them to @Cambio and join us tomorrow night to see the answers and relive your favorite moments along with everyone else.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Giveaway: IF I STAY book + blu-ray [@IfIStay]

Is it freezing where you are, too? One great way to stay warm and avoid the chilly outdoors is to watch a movie. Even better when you don't have to brave the cold to buy said movie.

Enter the giveaway below to win a copy of IF I STAY on Blu-ray along with a paperback of the book by Gayle Forman!

Prize: one (1) copy of the Blu-ray and one (1) copy of the paperback novel by Gayle Forman
Eligible: must live in US/Can

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 17, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography ~ review [@actuallynph @CrownPublishing]

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Crown Archetype
October 14, 2014
294 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a guest stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

I loved the 'choose your own adventure' books when I was a kid. Sure, I may have cheated and either peeked  at what the path I didn't choose led to, or tried for horrible deaths, but they were fun.

While Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is not a children's book, it is done in that same fun way. With some choices leading to horrible deaths.

Right from the start, with Neil's childhood (your childhood in NPH: CYOA) you are presented with choices as to what direction you would like his (your) life to take. Do you want a happy, well adjusted childhood? Or should hobos be present?

Each path is interesting to read about and contain the humor Harris is known along with candor, honesty and fantastic storytelling. As your life progresses, you'll learn things about yourself, Neil Patrick Harris, that you did not previously know. Either because they aren't well known or they're not at all true.

Both the format of this autobiography as well as its subject drew me to it. While I would likely have read a more traditional autobiography of Neil Patrick Harris, as well, this was so much better. The style fit the author and provided an opportunity for more things to be a part of the book than would have fit in the usual autobiography. You're able to read about the confrontation with Scott Caan while maintaining the humor.

I really appreciated all that was included in this autobiography. From his childhood, his introduction to theater, his first jobs and what came with that fame to understanding his sexuality, his family and his children, this is a very candid tale. You never feel like Harris is (or you are, as the book presents it) oversharing, but you get a fuller picture of who he is, what his life is like and what it has been like than I had imagined.

Some adult content (part of his life and his story) do make this not a kid friendly book - despite the format - but the combination of the format and the content (adult and not) make it a great read for older readers. Fans of Neil Patrick Harris or even people kind of aware of that Barney Stinson dude or who watched Doogie Howser and who liked Choose Your Own adventure books, need to get this one.

A note on format/layout: This was a really well done ebook. At the end of each chapter there were links to your possible choices. It would be easier, I imagine, to flip back and try the other path or to look for parts you missed in a print book. Using bookmarks does help, though. It also seemed that the linking was all done correctly with nothing leading to an incorrect location.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Burn Out ~ Kristi Helvig (earc) review [@KristiHelvig @EgmontUSA]

Burn Out (Burn Out #1)
April 8, 2014
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone--her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun--one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora's fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father's request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

Kristi Helvig's Burn Out is a really good YA sci-fi read. It is three hundred years in the future and, after an asteroid headed for Earth was deflected and sent into the sun, the sun's gone into a sort of hyper-drive.  The oceanss have long since boiled away, there's a lack of oxygen and temperatures are extreme enough to be deadly.

While I'm not sure the science of Burn Out (the sun is quite far away with possibly other gravitational pulls along the way; I do think the characters would have died of dehydration even considering how things were supposed to work), it is an enjoyable book. Once you accept that the asteroid hit the sun, not Earth and now the sun is basically out to kill everyone, most of the rest works well.

From the change that occurred in societal structure to the scientific advancements made and even (mostly) how Tora's been surviving, it is all creative and you can imagine Tora's day to day. There is a nice balance of worry and near hopelessness which makes perfect sense given the situation, and the hope, the ability Tora has to continue on thanks to her routine and maybe, finally, getting out.

The introduction of the new characters comes with a logical reason and introduces something new to Tora's world. The danger from both the environment and from her visitors presents some very interesting dilemmas. The new situation causes Tora to question herself in ways she hadn't before and to question if things she held as truth are really so true.

I very much enjoyed the character development that happened. Throughout the book we learn more about Tora's life before the story started - and as a result, the world she lived in. The more we learn about her, her past and her family, the more we can connect with her character and current events.

There is just the right amount of ambiguity with the other characters and their motives. It is hard - if not impossible - to tell if they're as bad as they first seem. The changes that take place in their behavior as well as how Tora views them is nice.

As you get pulled into the story of Burn Out, of Tora and the other characters, the questionable science is easily forgotten. You can't help but wonder how things will resolve - and if they will all make it there. My only real problem with Burn Out was that ended - and a bit more abruptly that I liked. Though, it only left me more anxious to read Strange Skies, the sequel.

Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Martian by Andy Weir and Stitching Snow by RC Lewis

thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for my advance copy to review

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Bittersweet ~ Shewanda Pugh [@ShewandaP @XpressoReads]

Bittersweet by Shewanda Pugh (Love Edy #2)
Razor's Edge
December 9, 2014
YA Romance
add to your Goodreads/Love Edy on Goodreads
pre-order for Kindle

about Bittersweet:
In the aftermath of one tragic and uncertain night, Edy and Hassan shut out the chaos with a kiss. But when Hassan’s traditionalist mother sees that kiss … well, a nightmare of a different sort begins. After all, he still has an arranged marriage on the horizon.

Love attacks the glue of their two bonded families; while the slow tug of success pulls Edy and Hassan in opposite directions. After denying their feelings for so long, they now have each other, but are forced to ask themselves if being together is worth it.

about author Shewanda Pugh:

Shewanda Pugh is a tomboy who credits Stephen King with being the reason she writes romance. In 2012 she debuted with the first novel in a three part contemporary adult romance series, Crimson Footprints. Since then, she's been shortlisted for the AAMBC Reader's Choice Award, the National Black Book Festival's Best New Author Award, and the Rone Award for Contemporary Fiction in 2012 and 2013. She has an MA in Writing from Nova Southeastern University and a BA in Political Science from Alabama A&M University. Though a native of Boston, MA, she now lives in Miami, FL, where she can soak up sun rays without fear of shivering. Her first young adult romance, Love Edy, was released on June 24th, 2014.

and now for the cover:

Want to read Love Edy before reading its sequel Bittersweet? Currently, Love Edy is free on Kindle - get it here .(Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get the Free Kindle App and read that way - on your computer or most mobile devices!)

and check out the Bittwersweet Cover Reveal Facebook Party for games, prizes, sneak peeks!

cover reveal thanks to & part of Xpresso Book Tours

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Because You Exist ~ Tiffany Truitt Book Blitz +Giveaway[@tiffanytruitt @limitlessbooks]

Because You Exist (Light in the Dark Series, #1)
by Tiffany Truitt
November 11, 2014
Limitless Publishing
Life is good for LOGAN MIDDLETON. He’s quarterback of the Shepherd High football team, nephew of the town’s most successful lawyer, and boyfriend of Jenna Maples, a girl who has finally agreed to take their relationship to the next level. But nothing good lasts forever.

With only a few minutes of last period English left between him and a weekend alone with Jenna, Logan blacks out. When he awakens, he finds himself in a future where Shepherd High lies in ruins, nothing is what it seems, and everyone he loves is dead. Logan is a shifter. Chosen to travel through time, it’s up to him to figure out how to stop the terrible events that claimed his once perfect life.

Of course, all of this might be easier if he wasn’t paired with the one girl who’d rather see him dead than help him, JOSEPHINE. A girl he tormented during childhood. Strong-willed with biting wit, who lives in the shadows. Tough and dark, Jo is Shepherd High’s most notorious outcast and Logan’s opposite in every way. Together the two must overcome their many differences to figure out why they’ve been selected for such an overwhelming task, and who selected them in the first place.

Before it’s too late… 

About the Author
Tiffany Truitt received her MA in literature from Old Dominion University. Her debut Chosen Ones, first in the Lost Souls trilogy, is a searing look at what it means to be other and how we define humanity, as well as a celebration of the dangerously wonderful feeling of falling in love.

Author Links: 
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I was down on the ground before I even had a chance to make sense of what was going on. The

side of my head was bleeding. Someone had punched me. One of the survivors was sitting on my

back as I struggled to lift my head to see what was going on.

Our new friend stepped towards Josephine. She didn’t make a noise, her face remaining

emotionless. It was as if something snapped into place within her, like a shield or force field. If

she was feeling scared you couldn’t tell. The only sign of any emotion at all was her breathing.

Her chest rose quickly up and down.

“Let’s see what’s under the pretty wrapping paper,” the leader said, stepping even closer to

Josephine. He grabbed her by the pocket of her hoodie and pulled her close to him. He reached

up and forcefully yanked down the zipper. Still Josephine didn’t protest. I continued to struggle

to get up, but the man on top of me only laughed and pushed me back down. For every second

that Josephine sat there still and quiet, I thrashed around more violently and cursed louder.

The leader of the group grabbed underneath the shoulders of her jacket and pulled it off like a

magician would when revealing his great trick.

“Hot damn,” he sang.

I stopped thrashing about. Under the hoodie, Josephine was wearing a tight-fitting, sleeveless

tank top sporting the Shepherd High emblem, no doubt part of her track uniform. I couldn’t stop

myself from looking. The girl had a body. Her arms were slightly defined, the arms of an athlete

but not in a scary way. She also had a great pair of boobs. Yes, I noticed. I only looked for a

second because I knew she didn’t wanted me to look at her.

“It’s been so long since we’ve had a girl,” the man said, slithering closer to Josephine. He

reached out his palm, running it down the side of her face until he reached her neck. He wrapped

his hand around her neck. Josephine still didn’t react.

“Don’t touch her,” I yelled out. Maybe we weren’t friends, but she was all I had in this world. I

wasn’t going to sit back and let anything happen to her.

“I wonder if you’re the dark one?” he asked her, choosing to ignore me entirely. “I hope you’re

the dark one. I’ve only ever had me a light girl before. They say it’s bad luck to mess with you

shifters, but I figure we already have had our share of bad luck.”

“I remember the light one. I remember the light one. I remember the light one,” the third man

began to chant.

“She didn’t even fight back. Fighting back is what lets a man know he’s alive. You know what I

mean. Don’t you kid?” he said finally turning to me.

“Go to hell,” I replied.

This caused the men to begin to laugh. “Hell doesn’t want me, kid. Neither did God. If God

wanted me I’d be dead like the rest of them. At least that’s how I look at it. You’re the hell and

you’re the heaven. We’re just what’s left.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but the longer I kept him talking the more time I had to

think of a way of getting out of this. Why couldn’t I shift at will?

“What did you mean about a conductor?” I asked, trying to stay focused even though the blood

that was seeping out of my head wound was beginning to run into my mouth.

“You had your chance to get your questions. I said give me the girl, and I would give you the

answers. Sorry.”

“Let’s make a new deal,” I replied. I just needed more time. I could think of a way to get us out

of this. I had to think of a way. I was still pretty sure that whatever happened to us in this present

would follow us to our normal present.

And maybe there were things worse than death. These weren’t civilized men. I didn’t know if I

could buy all his heaven and hell talk, but I did wonder how they survived. Was it purely because

of their predator sensibilities—some eff-ed-up version of Darwin’s theory? Or had they been

allowed to survive, chosen by the same people or thing that allowed us to be shifters?

“No deal. But I do want to play a game. Can’t say we get much in terms of entertainment around

here anymore,” the leader replied, pushing Josephine next to me on the ground. Her eyes met

mine and I saw fear for the first time since the men had showed up. I wanted to find her hoodie

and enclose her in it. I wanted to protect her.

“Here’s how it will work,” the man continued as he circled around us. His friend still held me

down, and while Josephine was free to move, I knew she wouldn’t leave me. “I will give you a

five minute head start. You hear me? Five minutes. After that, game on. But you should know

that we love to play rough. We don’t care if you’re shifters. As far as we’re concerned, why save

the world when they didn’t want us around in the first place?”

The man holding me down must have received some signal from the leader because he let me

up. I scrambled to my feet and held out my hand for Josephine, but she didn’t take it. She pulled

herself to her feet and looked at me. I looked back.

We were screwed.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Five minutes started thirty seconds ago.”


“I know why they sent us here. Why this memory is important.”


“So, I could know you. So, you could trust me. We’re partners. Maybe the people who are

controlling this aren’t doing it to play with us. Maybe they’re trying to make us strong. Ready for

what’s to come.”

Just as quick as the emotions left Jo, they returned. Her chin wrinkled up and her eyes slammed

shut. She dropped the rope and brought both hands up to cover her face. Her fingertips pressed

into her forehead, her knuckles turning white.

She was fighting it.


She curled her fingers into fists. “Don’t try to justify them,” she spat out between her arms, her

face impossible to see.

“I wasn’t trying—”

She yanked her hands from her face and looked straight at me. Enraged. “You were. You like

things to have explanations. You need answers. Sometimes evil is just evil. Sometimes people

just like making other people feel pain.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off again. “I’ll never be normal. Never! I’ll always

be this way. I am so thankful you saved me, but I can’t be happy to have to live this again. I live

it every day. I’ll always be this freak. Stuck.”

“That’s not true.” Maybe it was. I didn’t know.

Her anger was soon replaced by defeat. She walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. She

didn’t speak. She pulled her hands inside the sleeves of the robe. When she looked back at me, I

was startled to see her look scared. Truly frightened.

“What is it, Jo?”

“I think I like him. Ben. I think he likes me too,” she said quietly, turning her face from me


I swallowed hard.

“I’ll never have what you and Jenna have.”

“You don’t want what we have. Remember? It’s not honest or something.”

Jo shook her head slowly. “What would I know? I’ve never been in a relationship. I watch

people in relationships and read books. That’s all I can base my conclusions on. But I don’t want

to be alone. I wish this wasn’t another thing my father could take from me.”

It killed me to say this. I didn’t like Bentham. He was cocky. He didn’t deserve her. But she

liked him. And I would watch out for her. “Why don’t you tell Bentham? Be daring. Try an

actual date before you ship yourself off to a nunnery. I’m sure he’d say yes. You two do talk like

every minute of every day. Right?”

“It won’t ever mean anything. I can’t even wear a damn short sleeve shirt without panicking.

Eventually, things will get...intimate.”

“If he’s worth anything, he won’t push you.”

“I know he won’t. But maybe I need to push myself. I’ve never told him about these things. I

never told you, and you’re pretty much the only friend I have. If I can’t trust you, the person

destined to my partner, how can I ever even hope to kiss a boy without wanting to throw up?”

“You’re talking now,” I offered.

And she was.

And I felt honored.

Honesty was tough, but it was also a gift.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jackaby ~ William Ritter (earc) review [@AlgonquinYR]

Algonquin Young Readers
September 16, 2014
299 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Jackaby  is most definitely Doctor Who meets Sherlock (really either the BBC Sherlock or CBS'). An investigator, Jackaby is able to solve crimes because he sees what others do  not. Supernatural things included. His abilities help to create the eccentric R.F. Jackaby everyone knows about but very few, if any, understand.

It is the ordinary, more mundane things that Jackaby fails to notice. Making Abigail Rook, newly arrived in New Fiddleham and in need of lodgings and employment, a perfect match.  She notices those things that don't take an ability to see other worlds - but are still vital to the case.

From her very first day, with her very first case: a serial killer, Abigail's contribution to their investigation is not in question. What is in question is whether or not she can work with the eccentric Jackaby and believe in all that he claims to see and know. Even if she cannot see it for herself.

Ritter's debut is an incredibly fun read. While he has some of the same traits and quirks as the modern interpretations of Sherlock and/or of the Doctor, Jackaby as a whole is a fresh and original character.

He is absolutely that quirky detective whose interactions with others come off a bit . . . odd. He seems to have more interpersonal skills than Sherlock, for sure. The real strain for Jackaby seems to come from being able to see so many things, know of so many things and even expect so many things that others simply don't believe in and cannot see.

Abigail is a perfect match for him. Despite the time period (1892) she is quite independent. Arriving in New Fiddleham with no prospects and no concrete plans, she is not exactly what one would expect of a young woman at the time. Yet, she has just the right amount of anxiety around things like her dresses to fit. The questions she presents to Jackaby, the things she sees that he doesn't and the different way she makes him think of things,makes them a great team.

It's also enjoyable to see how she adapts to life and work with his character.

The mystery made sense when it all came together, unnoticed clues becoming part of the solution. There weren't clues that could help the reader really piece it all together or red herrings to imply a solution ultimately proven false. Yet, I enjoyed reading about Jackaby, the magical and mystical world he is aware of, seeing Abigail become part of that world (even if unable to see it) and watching as they learned to work together and even, possibly, become friends. The strength of the rest of the novel more than compensated for what was a bit of a light mystery.

Jackaby's humor, the main character and how Abigail Rook's character plays off of him, and the world he is a part of make the novel a great pleasure to read. I do hope that this won't be a standalone novel, I would love to read more of Jackaby and Miss Rook.

While it doesn't quite fit in the review, my love of Chapter 13 bears mentioning. A quote that demonstrates some of why I love Jackaby and Jackaby:
"Well, you had the stick."

"His eyebrows furrowed. "This is a shillelagh. It was cut from Irish blackthorn by a leprechaun craftsman, cured in hte furnace of Gofannon, and imbued with supernatural powers of protection. That" he gestured to the book - "is a book."
- Jackaby pg 144

digital copy received for review thanks to publisher & NetGalley

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