Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Draw the Dark by Ilsa Bick

How I managed to read two books in a row about a guy who struggles with a difficult power, I never know...but I did.

Christian has a gift, although he sees it as a curse. He can make people's darkest fears come alive on paper, or draw their death. It worked on his teacher when he was seven and on his aunt when he was ten. Since then he's struggled to control it.

But he can't control his mind when he's asleep. He wakes up one morning sore and still tired, to find his uncle, the sheriff, wanting him in for questioning. In his sleep Christian went to an old barn owned by the richest guy in town and, hanging from a rope by one arm, spray-painted "I Saw You" with a couple of Nazi swastikas. He has no memory of this, but must clean it off and do community service.

Working at the nursing home isn't so bad until he stumbles upon Mr. Witek. Somehow they're all involved and Christian knows he must figure it all out before it's too late.

Amazing book. Slow start, but by the middle it's going at a good speed. The mysteries get more involved as you go along, and Christian's visions on paper get stranger and stranger. Very enjoyable and not at all scary, like I thought it was going to be!

Venomous by Christopher Krovatin

Locke has problems controlling his anger. He calls it 'the venom' and when he loses control, people get hurt. He doesn't want the venom to be in control at all, but he can't always help it.

Then Locke meets Renee and she seems to have the power to keep the venom under lock and key. His best friend Randall introduces Locke to her and to a whole group of people, including Casey, who has his own dark side to struggle with.

The venom won't stay quiet for long, though, and things are far from over. Can Locke figure out how to conquer it once and for all?

Fascinating book. Locke is a complicated character, and even though I was thinking about Spiderman from almost the beginning...you do want him to figure everything out. The supporting characters for the most part are well-drawn and have their own voices. The venom's voice, when it comes out, is a little creepy.

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Maddy's Home Ec class has had some...problems. In the past three months, three girls have died. They weren't well known, but after the third death, people start to wonder.

Then Maddy runs into the new boy Stamp, literally. He asks her to meet him at a party one night, so she sneaks out. On the way, she's struck by lightning and dies.

She's not dead though, just undead. A zombie. And as such, she needs to follow the rules or be put down for good. But Bones and Dehilia--no surprise they're Zerkers--can't wait to take Maddy down. Going through everyone she cares about to do it. And Maddy must join Dane and Chloe to fight.

Too bad none of them know what to expect.

I enjoyed this zombie romance. Maddy's a fun character, but she isn't the only fully-fleshed one. The setting is well-done and even though almost everyone dies, highly entertaining.

Virgin Territory by James Lecesne

Dylan didn't want to move to Florida from New York City, but everything changes when his mom dies. The move was suppose to be temporary, but Dylan's grandmother is in a nursing home and escapes often enough that Dylan's father wants to be nearby.

Then the image of the Virgin Mary appears in a tree on the golf course Dylan works at, and everything changes. He meets Angela and the Virgin Club, where they do what they want and are willing to take the risk. Soon they're all breaking into houses and unknown to Dylan, stealing things. One thing Angela steals is the small figurine his grandmother treasures, and getting it back could be life or death for her.

I did enjoy the book, although if you're looking for more stuff with the Virgin Mary, you will be disappointed. That's the catalyst that brings everyone together, but that's almost a sidenote. A good realistic fiction. Especially with a guy as the main character.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Cass gets along with the dead a whole lot better than the living, but that could be because the dead know almost everyone's secrets--and they're willing to share. Cass uses these secrets to protect herself.

Then Tim, a senior who's mom died, guesses at her secret. He's willing to do anything if she'll just see if she can talk to his mom. Cass thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get back at her ex-best friend and her boyfriend for backstabbing her in the 7th grade, but revenge leaves her cold.

Then enters the complications of her feelings for Tim and his obvious downward spiral. Can she attempt to find a place among the living again?

Yeah, it's chick lit, but it's got a nice paranormal angle to keep things interesting. Cass does some growing, which is good, even though part of me didn't want her to, and it seems realistic. I enjoyed it!

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

John, or Four, is not from Earth. He is one of nine Legacies escaped from Lorien before it was decimated. In those nine sets the fate of the universe.

But the first three are dead and the Legacies must be killed in order. John and Henri, his guardian, head to Ohio to hide, again. It's worse this time, since John knows he's next.

He still tries for a normal life. Sarah, a girl who catches his eye from the beginning, is also interested in him, and Sam, a nerd fascinated by space and aliens, are his two only friends. John tries to avoid drawing attention, but it only works to a point. Meanwhile, his powers are developing; he is able to control light and fire, move things with his mind, and that's just the surface.

Then Sarah gets trapped in a burning building and all hell breaks loose. John's cover is blown and the Mogadorians are coming.

While the action keeps up, even with John's training and everything at school, nothing really happens until late in the book. The story has a lot of good elements, but the ending felt like the movie Thor: "I'll come back for you". A good book and it should be popular. Who doesn't like a superhero.

Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Ok, so once again, I find myself reading a book in a series, and I don't want to give away what happens in the other two books by talking a lot about this book.

What I will say about this book is this one was the best of the three. I didn't think it would be when I started, but I absolutely could not put it down. This pulls stories mostly out of the 2nd book, Dead-Tossed Waves, but there are a few references back to The Forests of Hands and Teeth.

Well worth the read, and wonderful!

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Alex doesn't have a bad life--for the most part. Her mother died when she was young, her father has shut himself off and her sisters don't feel the same way she does about the whole situation.

The only people she counts on are her two best friends--Bethany and Zack. Then she meets Cole, a new student she's been assigned to tutor. Cole seems to understand her from the get-go and he accepts everything. He's so nice and caring. Which is why she can't understand why Bethany and Zack don't like him. Why Cole can't get along with them either.

Then Cole's jealousy gets out of control and he hurts Alex. She's shocked and scared, but when he apologizes, she forgives him. Maybe it was a mistake. Then it happens again. And again. She knows she should leave him, but it's all her fault and everyone will blame her for pushing them away to keep him.

But sometimes things go too far and that decision is taken from you.

This book was utterly engrossing. I was sorry, annoyed, and angry at the characters at different times all the way through the book. Alex's anguish and how she feels about Cole and breaking up with him is very believable and gut-wrenching. Absolutely fantastic.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine can't believe she's been captured. Now she'll either be a bride or be forced to work in a brothel, forced to sell her body for food and have children before she dies.

Which will only be four years from now. Everyone born these days only lives until they're 20 for females, 25 for males. Rhine has avoided the Gatherers thus far, but no longer. She's taken, drugged, and married to Linden, along with two other girls. Despite Linden's obvious attachment and wealth, Rhine thinks only of escape and finding her twin brother. She knows he'll be looking for her, but won't be looking in the right area. She hopes to find him before he takes off. But escape takes planning. And cunning.

The first in a series, because the ending is a cliffhanger. An interesting plot, with girls having to give birth as early as possible to keep the human race going and almost everyone dying young. Tense, beautifully written, and with great characters. Highly recommended.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The fifty contestants of the Miss Teen Dream pageant trained for months, even years, to strut their stuff in front of the cameras. Too bad their airplane crashes on an unknown and deserted island and some of those 50 girls don't make it.

The survivors are left wondering if they'll ever be rescued. They continue to train for the pageant, but in order to survive they also have to learn how to find food, fend off snakes, and cope with the lack of civilization.

Meanwhile, on the same island, The Corporation--responsible for all merchandise and entertainment available to everyone in America--plots to undermine the government by supplying weapons to America's worst enemy.

Yet another hilarious book by Libba Bray. Enough things go on here, most of all a parody of the way society is. Humor, adventure, and a dose of romance.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Every child is safe until their 13th birthday. Then parents have the option of 'unwinding'--cutting their child into pieces and giving them to others. Once they turn 18, that's no longer an option.

Connor's parents decide to unwind him when he's 15. Risa's a ward of the state that no longer has the funds to support unnecessary talent. Lev is a tithe--born for the purpose of unwinding. All three are thrown together when Connor decides to break for it and kidnaps Lev to avoid getting shot with tranquilizers.

Connor and Risa end up at a sanctuary for unwinds, until things go terribly wrong.

And Lev, well, he makes some uncomfortable decisions.

An unusual concept and telling. The book focuses on different characters--most often Connor, Risa, and Lev, but it is told in 3rd person. The society is always in the background, and those who are unwound still have a voice throughout. Science fiction thriller to be sure!

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia has been Matched with Xander, her best friend. Virtually unheard of, Cassia is pleased she doesn't have to wonder what her match is like. When she puts her microcard of Xander in her screen at home, though, someone else's face pops up for a few seconds--Ky.

Cassia's told Ky can't be Matched with anyone, but she can't help but wonder. The two of them are thrown together, for hiking, leisure time, and in her neighborhood. He's from the Outer Provinces and while at first that scares her, she becomes fascinated. Her feelings begin to grow, especially when her Grandfather gives her an illegal poem, Ky teaches her how to write, and she begins to question the Society, Officials, and her life.

Then Ky is taken away. Cassia has to decide where her loyalties will lie.

This is the first in a series. I liked how the book unfolded, and Cassia's growth. A lot happens in the book and most of it seems important in one way or another. In a way it reminded me of The Matrix (everything reminds me of a movie!)

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Deuce has lived her whole life underground in the enclave. She's also been in training to be a Huntress, someone who protects, hunts, and fights for the enclave's survival. After her naming ceremony which identifies her as an adult, Deuce is partnered with Fade, a lone Hunter from Topside. Neither is happy about it at all.

Soon that doesn't matter. The two are punished for not following direct orders by bringing a deformed outsider into the enclave. The outsider brings news--Nassau is gone, overrun by the Freaks who threaten everyone's survival. Deuce and Fade are sent to find the truth--a mission no one expects them to survive. That's only the beginning of their adventure together.

A fantastic book. Loved the characters and setting along with the plot. A lot like The Hunger Games and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Can't wait for the sequel.

Kick by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman

Sergeant Jerry Brown is asked to look into the case of Kevin Johnson, a 13-year old arrested for car theft and kidnapping. Kevin was with another 13-year old, Christy, driving Christy's dad's car.

Kevin has a few secrets to keep and isn't sure if he can trust Sergeant Brown. His own father was killed in the line of duty, and Kevin doesn't know how to handle the grief and anger that comes with that. He's sure that he was doing the right thing for Christy, but it has definitely gotten him into big trouble.

As Kevin tries to help Sergeant Brown with another case, play soccer, and keep his nose out of trouble, something will have to give. When he finally decides to tell what happened the night in question, will it all work out?

This is told in alternative voice and has many subplots. They are mostly handled well--the subplot of the illegal alien feels like it came out of left field. Kevin and Jerry are both great characters. The chapters aren't identified with who is speaking, but it's easy to figure out. Highly enjoyable.

Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson

This is a collection of short ghost stories from the TAPS group so well-known from Sci-Fi.

Most of the stories are definitely spooky. Some of them are ok, and some could do without the beginning story or the interaction of the staff. On the whole, entertaining.