Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray

First off, I must say that setting a young adult paranormal on board the tragedy of the Titanic is a fantastical idea. 

That said, there is plenty more to like about Fateful by Claudia Gray. There is the heroine, Tess Davies, a young ladies' maid hoping to change her fortunes once the Titanic docks in America; there is Alec Marlowe, the tortured first class passenger who harbors a strange, heart-breaking secret; there is Myriam, a third class Lebanese traveler whose friendship Tess comes to value in many ways; there is Irene, the young woman Tess cares for who has secrets all her own; and there is the Titanic itself, steeped in all the tragedy and grandeur of history. Tess is a young woman ahead of her time, determined to escape the life of a ladies' maid and live on her own in America, and her family's personal tragedy propels her to take chances she might otherwise avoid. Once on board the Titanic, however, her strange encounter with with a wolf on the streets of Southampton turns into an even deeper mystery when Tess finds herself stalked by the creepy Mikhail; her very life comes into danger when she realizes just whom--and what--she is dealing with.

I really enjoyed Fateful with its fast plot, evil villain, and paranormal aspect. The fact that Ms. Gray was able to weave her story among the great ship and its real life passengers was very enjoyable for this Titanic buff, and she explains her liberties fully in the author's note. If the characters are a little too cardboard caricature, it's all right since the story fulfills its purpose and ends on a particularly unexpected measure. My biggest issue was with the idea that no one would report or raise a cry when a rather large wolf escapes and kills a man; that particular scene was really unrealistic, even for a paranormal. And though I loved the "romance" between Alec and Tess, I seriously doubt his ability to fall in love with a ladies' maid, even one who knows his secrets and rescues him. But still, it's a young adult novel and it's a paranormal so I can overlook that little qualm because the ending makes up for every single issue I had. I'm hopeful there will be a sequel or two because this story certainly isn't over. Fun and engaging with a unique setting. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Because My Reading Is Slower Than Christmas This Year...

Stolen from Estella's Revenge:

Age:   Classified but it's going to increase in just a few days

Bed Size: Queen but still not large enough...3 cats plus a hubby=tiny tiny bed space.

Chore that you hate: Laundry. Neverending. When someone puts a piece of dirty laundry in the hamper after I think I'm done, moms everywhere feel my pain.

Dogs: Don't own one because I'd only want a German Shepherd or some other large creature and we just don't have a yard for one now.

Essential start to your day: Coke. Drink of the gods.

Favorite colors: Red.  All red, all the time. Oh, and black.

Gold or Silver: Gold.

Height: 4'11". My brother is 6'2". Go figure. Wacky genes in my mom's family.

Instruments you play: Does the stereo count?

Job Title: On my ID it says Technology Queen so that's what I'll go with. I teach Technology to grades 5-8 at a middle school. So actually my ID should say Nuts.

Kids: Two girls, ages 20 (gasp!) and 15. Not sure how they got that old without me killing them, either accidentally or on purpose.

Live: Yep, I'm alive. In NashVegas, with the country music people.

Mother-in-Law’s name: Linda, though I still feel weird calling her that since I've known her since I was 16.

Nicknames: Taminator.

Overnight hospital stays: Only when having my girls. Even having my gall bladder out didn't require an overnighter.

Pet Peeves: Micro managers.  Also lazy people.

Quote from a movie:  " 'Allo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare to die."

Right or Left handed: Right, the hand of champions.

Siblings: Younger brother whom I fought with daily growing up but love to pieces now.

Time you wake up: 5:40 a.m. This time is very precise because it's the last.possible.moment. I can sleep to and still get my daughter to school by 6:55 a.m. I shower at night and everything. I am *NOT* a morning person by any stretch of the imagination and I never will be.

Underwear: Yes!

Vegetable you hate: Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Vile, nasty weeds.

What makes you run late:  Playing on the computer.

X-Rays you’ve had:  Do mammograms count? Then yep, I've had those. Plus I had x-rays when my gall bladder attacked and also when I had bronchitis a few years ago.

Yummy food that you make: I don't cook so this is a pass.

Zoo animal:  Tigers...any big cat really.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

Wherever You Go has the potential to be a creepy paranormal young adult novel--teenager loses the boy she loves in a horrific car crash but he's not really gone; he's watching over her every move, unable to move on into the light because of his unfinished business on earth. And it is indeed a paranormal, but not in the typical sense that many young adult paranormals are today--there is the ghostly boyfriend watching over Holly, the survivor of the car crash that took his life. But it's so much more, layered so well and so heart wrenching that it transcends the typical novels out there today.

Six months have passed since the car crash that took Rob's life and yet he finds he can't move on into "the light", if there is even such a thing. So Rob spends his eternity watching over Holly, the girlfriend he loves but who never really fit into his popular crowd. Holly's trying to cope with her loss, but her problems are so much bigger than just losing Rob; her mother is working two jobs to try to make ends meet, so Holly must be surrogate mother to her younger sister Lena, cooking and cleaning and basically keeping their small apartment going. When Holly's beloved grandfather Aldo comes to live with them upon his diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Holly is stretched beyond her limits to cope. That's when Rob's best friend Jason enters her life, and together, they try to accomplish the items on Aldo's memory list while becoming more to one another. Complicating all of this is Rob's inability to be seen or heard by anyone...except Aldo. And his ramblings to Rob are mostly just the result of his Alzheimer's, right? So how can Rob make peace with his life and help Holly?

All of this is the tip of the iceberg for this wonderful novel that crept into my soul with every word and every page. Holly, Rob, Aldo, Jason...they are all so well written and so believable that the paranormal aspect is totally secondary to the depth of the story. The glimpses into Rob's parents' lives after the loss of their son, the generous way Holly attempts to hold her family together, Jason's growing feelings for his dead friend's girlfriend all round out this story fully. Moving between points of view--Holly's in first person, Rob's in second person, and Jason's in third--kept me reading "just one more page" until I was done. This one's moving, focused, and spirit-filled. Go read it now.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Need To Start Reading This Series Now

Book # 5 in the Soul Screamers series, If I Die, is a definite game changer. Kaylee and boyfriend Nash are both bean sidhes slowly working on restoring their relationship which was damaged by Nash's frost addiction and the appearance of Sabine, his former girlfriend. Kaylee knows her life isn't going to be normal, but she never expects the news she receives via Tod, Nash's dead brother (who is also a Reaper)...her death is going to occur in six days and there is absolutely nothing she nor anyone else can do to stop it. So what would you do if you knew you only had six days in which to live? Of course sex with Nash will be high on the list (or is it?), but Kaylee chooses to make her life count for something so she begins a battle against the new math teacher, Mr. Beck, who is also an incubus using teenaged girls as his sexual play toys.

There's a lot going on in If I Die, but the underlying theme is definitely Kaylee's impending death and her attempts to deal with it. Ms. Vincent handles all the issues with humor and determination, and I came away from this story feeling that it was about so much more than a teenaged paranormal experience. While Kaylee's time is running out, she's forced to face her feelings for Nash; to say that I am beyond elated at what happens is an understatement. And while the novel's focus is on the shortened timeline of life, it never loses sight of the fact that Kaylee and her friends do battle nefarious Netherworld beings and even human problems. Tod is a major force in If I Die, and this reader is seriously in love with his gallant decisions and his secret infatuation coming into fruition. And I don't think anyone will foresee just how this book comes to its climax.

I am so excited that this series is just improving with each book because that's often a rarity. Ms. Vincent's characters are conflicted and multi-dimensional; it's obvious they are coming to grips with their talents yet still wrestling with human feelings. There's not a weak character in the bunch, and Kaylee's bravery in the face of her demise had me cheering. I simply cannot wait to find out what happens next! Keep up the good work, Ms. Vincent. You've got a fan on the edge of her seat here.


Friday, October 07, 2011


There's a lot to like in Eve by Anna Carey; it's a dystopian young adult novel (very popular right now) with lots of action. Just as she's ready to graduate from School, Eve discovers a horrifying secret about not only her future, but the futures of all the girls she's known during her lifetime. Faced with an immediate urgency to decide her own life, Eve seizes the moment and escapes into the wild on a long, unprepared journey to "Califia" where she can hopefully be an agent for change in New America. Along the way, she meets up with another runaway, Arden, and Caleb, another young adult who has escaped his own nightmare existence. And like in most dystopian novels, Eve must decide if the trade off for freedom is actually worth the price it's going to cost in lives and relationships.

Side note: Did anyone besides me get sidetracked briefly by the names of the two main female characters, Eve and Arden? All I could picture at times was the actress Eve Arden, of Rydell High fame. Maybe it's just me.

Now for what there is not to like in Eve...As I've seen in other reviews, the background of Eve and the other orphan girls at School is fairly ridiculous, given what their futures hold. Why spend all that time and energy educating these girls and then basically physically use them up when they turn 18? I need some justification for the foundation of a story, and it's just not there in Eve. Eve is also so incredibly naive that I found it almost impossible to believe she is 18, no matter that she was so sheltered most of her life. She just doesn't seem to get any more mature as the story moves on, and that's irritating. And while this is the first in a series, I would like to have known more about New America itself and just what the King is hoping to gain by using up his best and brightest in such horrific ways.

Eve has a good premise but the characterization is lacking; Eve just isn't sympathetic enough for me to worry about what's going to happen to her. She's way too focused on herself, especially after all Caleb does for her. It's going to be a long haul to get her to think beyond her own feelings, and I'm not sure the way the author dragged her evolution out in this novel that it's going to get better any time soon. Still, it's not a bad novel by any means; I liked Caleb and I'm hoping Eve is able to be that instrument of change she's so longing to be. I will probably read more in the series, but I do hope I can stop thinking of Eve as a thirteen year old and get her mentally to the strong eighteen year old I hope she can be.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass is the first in a series by Myra McEntire that focuses on Emerson Cole, a teen with a problem: she sees dead people. The images began showing themselves to her shortly before she lost her own parents in a bus accident, and over time, she was committed to a mental hospital and drugged to rid her of her visions. Now seventeen, she's back in her hometown for her senior year after spending time at a boarding school, living with her older brother and his wife and trying to avoid the images that still exist around her. When her brother engages the Hourglass group to try to help Emerson, for the first time she feels hope because suddenly it seems as though she's not crazy and alone and there might be other people in the world with the same powers. But will all this new knowledge place her in danger?

Emerson is likeable enough right off the bat, and it's clear early on that she's not delusional when she sees not just ghosts, but entire scenes of images from long ago. The young man sent from Hourglass to help her, Michael, is just as mysterious as her visions, however; it remained unclear throughout the novel just how Thomas, Emerson's brother, found the Hourglass and why he'd feel comfortable letting her be "treated" by someone scarcely a couple of years older than she. Once Emerson begins to understand that she has the ability to use her "gift" to rectify a grievous wrong, though, she immediately feels compelled to help a group she's known for approximately a week; Michael himself is less than forthcoming about her gift and the danger she is in now that the secret seems to be out.

Emerson's a very real character, with emotions that resonate with a typical teen; it's not hard to understand how she'd fall quickly for Michael, though it is more irritating to see how he continually pushes her away. I kept thinking of the television show Heroes once Emerson actually meets with others who have these unusual gifts; that's not a bad thing, but it does make the premise less than original. But the author's style of writing is light and quick, and the story moves along rapidly as the danger builds. I liked the twist with Jack and if I felt that Thomas wasn't quite as diligent a guardian as he should have been, I could live with it because overall the story is quite entertaining. There's a lot of explaining in the final few chapters which does distract from the action, but this one's definitely fun and I'm looking forward to see where the story leads. Imaginative and captivating.