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Monday, September 29, 2008

Sleepless by Terri Clark

Ever since she foresaw her friend’s murder and alerted the police, Trinity has been dubbed the “Dream Girl.” Although the police had arrived too late to save her friend, they apprehended the murder. Although Rafe was caught, Trinity can hardly rest easy—Rafe was deemed mentally insane, and thus, could not be thrown into jail. Instead, he was put into a mental institution instead. But Trinity knows that Rafe was not ‘mentally insane’, a psychopathic murderer, perhaps, but not insane. But with the help of a slimy lawyer who would do anything for money, Rafe got away with just going to a mental hospital. Things don’t get any better when the lawyer who got Rafe out of a prison sentence’s son, Dan, shows up at Trinity’s front door. He says he wishes to apologize, and promises to help her if she ever needed it. Even after hearing him out, Trinity still finds him hard to believe, despite the fact he vehemently claims that he is against what his father does.

Trinity tries to live as normal a life as she can, but it’s hardly easy when she has disturbing dreams that often foretell something. She’s been purposefully aloof for her whole life, not getting close to anyone because of her fear of being rejected as a crazy girl with weird dreams. However, her best friend, Coral, wants her to open up and live a little. Go out for some fun and parties, have a boyfriend, and enjoy the summer. But Trinity is too used to her seclusion, and hardly wants to venture out.

But that is all about to change…

When Trinity suddenly gets dreams about Rafe plotting his next murder, she freaks out—because Rafe is after her now. With her mother away on a trip and Coral away at soccer camp, Trinity impulsively calls Dan and asks him for help. The two flee Trinity’s home to a motel, trying to figure out their next step. Trinity’s fears are confirmed when they find out that Rafe has escaped from the insane asylum. After some thought, Trinity and Dan start digging around for some leads, hoping to find Rafe before he finds Trinity and kills her. But it’s all easier said than done, especially since Trinity is not the only one who can dream walk.

Rafe also possesses dream walking abilities, and appears multiple times in Trinity’s dreams, apparently drawing power from his pain as he cuts himself. He tries to reach Trinity physically in her dreams, but Trinity narrowly evades capture. Having shunned her abilities all her life, Trinity hardly knows the extent of her powers. As Dan and Trinity try to learn more, Trinity tries to say awake so Rafe cannot harm her while she is sleeping. But with time running low, and Rafe’s powers seemingly manifesting, Trinity may not have much longer to live if they cannot find a way out of this psychopath’s murderous path!

I liked how Trinity grew and matured as a character, trying to get over her guilt of not being able to help her friend and believing all her life she was a ‘freak’. I don’t want to give too much away, but the quote from Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility,” comes to mind when I think of Trinity’s ability, which could go real far if only she would embrace it and not shy away from it! Though it would be understandable for any teen to want to shun an unusual and unnerving ability like Trinity’s and want to be like a normal teenager!

Sleepless was a well written, suspenseful story that’ll keep readers hooked from page one! With a thrilling plot and a nice touch of romance, Sleepless will keep readers up late to finish this action-packed novel. Trinity’s fear was especially well expressed and believable, helping take readers on an exciting ride throughout the whole book! I really enjoyed reading this novel and will really look forward to Terri Clark’s future novels! Fans of Wake by Lisa McMann will love Sleepless!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover

After a long year at school, summer school would sound less than appealing to plenty of students. “Enthusiastic” would not describe Benjamin Holt’s reaction when his parents announced that he would be away all summer—at school. Luckily, his best friend Andy will be going along. Though the pair may seem normal on the surface, Benjamin and Andy have telekinesis abilities. They’ve been using this gift to their advantage from a young age; from levitating frogs to reading each others minds.

Though most kids lack these special abilities, Benjamin has had them since childhood and has grown up in a family that also possesses these special talents. His two brothers levitating toy cars is perfectly normal for Benjamin, but when a mirror in his house suddenly starts talking, even Benjamin is taken by surprise. Benjamin is soon teleported to summer school—and one summer vacation he’ll never forget!

Benjamin is stunned to find that there are a lot of children and people that also have supernatural talents, such as telekinesis, telepathy, telegnosis, and advanced science. He is enrolled into different classes to help hone his abilities where he makes new friends like Iva, Heidi and Gary.

Benjamin learns that he is a telegen, a human with special abilities. In fact, all the people teaching and attending the summer school are telegens! And the surprises for Benjamin don’t end there—the summer school itself is currently on Lemuria! Lemuria, like Atlantis, is a “lost continent.” Both are sunk beneath the ocean and are virtually unknown and uncharted by humans. Before, they were just like any continent: above sea level and accessible. However, because the people of Atlantis were exploiting and enslaving humans, the telegens of Lemuria tried to restore the balance by subduing the trouble makers and encasing Atlantis in a shield that did not allow them to leave the city. As a final precautionary measure, they sunk both Lemuria and Atlantis deep into the sea.

Now telegens from Lemuria are placed all around Earth as agents, making sure everything on Earth is fine, and that Atlantis was still under control. But lately, the shield around Atlantis has been weakening, and their own agents have been getting out and infiltrating humankind once more. Is it right to keep a whole population captive just because there were trouble makers in the past? Or are the telegens of Lemuria doing the right thing and protecting the human race? There are some that would give anything for the shield to be lifted from Atlantis so they can dominate the humans, but others wish to keep their abilities secret.

When Benjamin and his friends wander off one day, they discover a hidden passage that leads them to The Emerald Tablet. Their fateful trip down the secret passageway would change their lives forever—Benjamin holds the balance of two worlds in his hands, as well as the power to raise the two sunken continents. He and his friends are linked by the Tablet into an Alliance, and they must find the three keys of the hunter before their dark nemesis does, or the worlds will be doomed. But fate always offers two choices, will Benjamin free the world he knows is being unwillingly held captive, or will he restore the balance so that humans can remain ignorant of the telegen’s existence?

I really liked the idea behind The Emerald Tablet as well as the Alliance’s exciting adventure—both were very creative. Although I thought some of the characters were a bit 2-D (or at least I would’ve liked to see them a bit more in the story and get to know more about them!), it will appeal to many young readers! The Emerald Tablet is a great start to P.J. Hoover’s new series and the surprising twists and turns will leave you wanting more of Benjamin’s adventures!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A BFF Novel: The Guy Next Door by Carol Culver

All may be going smoothly for the rest of the kids at Manderley Prep, but Maggie seems to be the only exception. Maggie’s parents are going through a divorce and the two are all too eager to express their rage and hatred for the other to Maggie. The worst thing is? Maggie’s dad is refusing to pay for her chorus’ spring competition trip to Hawaii! On top of that, the school’s fencing club has been cancelled, and fencing was the one sport Maggie loved and excelled at.

Already short on funds, it doesn’t help that Maggie wants to get invisible braces since she’s too afraid to smile with her teeth covered in metal braces. Surrounded by kids of wealthy families, Maggie’s too ashamed to let any one other than her closest friends know of her financial troubles. The main reason she wants her smile back? Ethan Andrews. Ethan’s always been the “guy next door” that Maggie hung out with throughout her childhood—until Maggie fell for him. But since Maggie’s parents are divorcing, Maggie has moved with her mother to rented home and her old house is being sold. With her less than extraordinary looks and her metal-filled smile, Maggie hardly catches Ethan’s eye. But that could all change, if only she could figure out a way to go on that trip to Hawaii and find the courage to make the first move!

With a few tricks up her sleeve, a bit of scheming, and her talented and caring friends, Maggie just may make her way to Hawaii, and make her way into Ethan’s heart!

The Guy Next Door is a light-hearted, romantic YA read. Although I have not read the rest of the novels in Carol Culver’s BFF series, and may be missing a bit of background information, I didn’t find The Guy Next Door confusing and it still made for a nice read. This novel (especially the plot) wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary, just cute romantic YA novel. But it does portray a typical teenager’s high school experience quite accurately, as well as Maggie’s feelings and her crush. Overall, it was realistic and believable, and I did like how the POV switched so we could get a peek into both Maggie’s and Ethan’s minds and thoughts—it definitely enhanced the story!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

When most people hear the stories on TV talk shows about young kids getting kidnapped and abused, most ask why they didn’t get help. But just how easy is it to get help? How easy is it away to get away after suffering abuse after abuse, to both mind and body?

Alice was abducted when she was ten years old by a man named Ray during a field trip. Her life was never the same again. For years she was abused by him, forced to do indescribable acts, beaten, and threatened constantly. She is not allowed to go to school, but instead stays at a dinky apartment with only yogurt to eat. She wasn’t Alice at first, but Ray has threatened to kill her family if she does not obey him, and he has molded the formerly carefree little girl into Alice, his perfect little girl. Now she is fifteen, she is a malnourished shell of her former self, constantly hoping for the ultimate release from her sufferings—death.

But Alice is taken by surprise when Ray orders her to find a new, younger girl for him. He wants a new Alice, a new girl he can mold, abuse, and break. Could this be Alice’s chance freedom? Can she really get away? Or will Ray kill her? Or will Alice actually help Ray complete his inhumane plans, destroying the last shred of humanity and sanity she has left?

Living Dead Girl is undoubtedly a haunting book that will stay with you. It was shocking and sickening how cruel one human could be to another. The tone in Living Dead Girl was powerful and realistic, which was probably the most shocking thing of all—this situation could be possible, and that such unfortunate have happened before. I feel as if I’m at a loss of words on how to describe this powerful, shocking, and disturbing book and do it justice! Living Dead Girl is an unforgettable novel that was written amazingly well—the characters had such realistic personalities and the story was just conveyed and expressed through Alice phenomenally!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

Julie may look like an ordinary kid on the outside, but she is anything but. Her mother is Rapunzel, yes the Rapunzel, who was locked in a tower and forced to let her hair down so her mean witch step-mom could visit her. But that was years ago, and Julie’s mom, along with other fairytale characters have escaped the Wild.

The Wild was responsible for all the classic fairytales; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and all the rest, but there was a price to pay for these classic stories; the characters were trapped in their stories, doomed to forever play their parts, eating porridge, testing chairs, and running away from bears, over and over again. Once the story ended, the characters had to begin again—they had no choice and were forced into their roles, doomed to such for eternity.

But then Rapunzel rebelled, and along with her, a group of other fairytale characters. After much toil and trouble, she finally broke free, along with her fellow characters, reducing the formerly engulfing and controlling Wild to a small vine-like creature. Then Julie was born, after the Wild was defeated, but Rapunzel’s husband had never made it out alive.

So Julie had a good childhood; her mother ran a local hair salon, her grandmother (the witch of Rapunzel’s story) guards the wishing well by her motel (for a wish made in the well could cause the Wild to grow and regain its strength), Cinderella (Cindy) gives rides to Julie every now and then, and Puss-in-Boots is Julie’s ‘brother’. Sure, Snow’s seven dwarves can be quite a nuisance sometimes when they’re over for dinner, but Julie has her mom, and her best friend, Gillian, who knows Julie’s secret.

But Julie’s mom rarely ever talked about what happened in the Wild, why her father did not make it out, and how Rapunzel got out in the first place. The Wild is just an annoying green lump under Julie’s bed now, eating up Julie’s shoes and transforming them into various magical objects.

Things go smoothly for a while, until one day Julie finds her mother gone, and runs into her room, only to find that the space beneath her bed is empty—the Wild is gone. Seeing a strange green object growing and taking over the town, Julie realizes that the Wild has gotten lose somehow, and is trying to regain its old powers and old characters. As her attempts to find her mother prove futile, her mother’s friends try to whisk her away to safety, but Julie needs to find her mother, so she and her friends will not be forced to endure the same fairytale stories over and over again.

Plunging into the Wild, armed only with the fairytales she remembers and a backpack filled with the magical objects the Wild had created during its residency under her bed, Julie is off to find her mother. But can she make it through the Wild’s paths, which are full of traps and dangers? Or will the Wild trap her in a fairytale of her own, making her a prisoner of the same plot and events over and over again?

There is only one way out: the Wild must be stopped. But can a twelve-year-old match up against all the foes of fairytales and the Wild’s plans? One thing’s for certain, if she cannot find her mother and a way to escape the Wild, Julie may be stuck in a story of her own—forever.

Into the Wild was a very creative novel! I loved how different classic fairytale characters were given new personalities and included into this great plot! Into the Wild was a very fun and action-packed adventure that made for a very enjoyable read that I would recommend to all fantasy lovers!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Brothers Torres By Coert Voorhees

Frankie’s brother Steve, is everything he’s not—popular, the star soccer player at their high school in New Mexico, and the guy that can get any girl he wants. Frankie waits tables at his family’s restaurant, Les Torres, passes time by setting off explosives with his best friend Zach, and tries to gather the courage to ask his long-time friend and crush, Rebecca out.

Frankie may look up to his brother, but he still resents the fact that Steve has never had to wait a table in his life, has all the girls throwing themselves at him, and is not too happy with the fact that Steve is trying to earn the respect, and possibly join the local cholos, a group of dangerous teens in town. Yet Frankie lies and covers for Steve when he mysteriously doesn’t come home some nights and comes home looking a little banged up.

The prospects for Frankie don’t look that promising as he continues to spend his time lower on the food chain than his brother and watches as his crush gets asked to homecoming but rich boy John Dalton. John Dalton is the son of the local businessman responsible for the Tortilla Emporium; the huge enterprise that bought Rebecca’s family secret recipe for their tortillas, mass produced it and became rich. Dalton is also on the soccer team with Steve, but the two aren’t friends since Dalton’s arrogant despite being quite an awful player.

But when Frankie gets into several confrontations with Dalton, eventually ending in a fight where Frankie gets beat up, Steve steps in. Helping his brother out and actually acknowledging Frankie in school, Steve promises to help Frankie get revenge on Dalton. But just how far will Steve go for revenge? Is it all just for show for the cholos? Frankie isn’t nearly as tough or brutal as Steve; but can he stop his brother if he goes too far? Can Frankie stand up for what’s right, or will he be unable to stop his brother and the rising conflict?

The Brothers Torres had a very honest and sincere tone throughout the whole book, and the characters, especially Frankie’s was very well developed. The honesty of this book really kept my attention and made The Brothers Torres an extremely realistic and captivating read. The Brother Torres reminded me that books don’t need to have some fantastically stunning supernatural element or shock you and grab your attention—a well written story with a honest and believable tone can hold your attention just as well as any fantasy book!
Unfortunately, I do not take Spanish and so the some of the little phrases in this book were lost on me, but other than that, I recommend The Brother Torres to all readers, Spanish student or not, looking for a meaningful and honest book.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Dominique’s heading to her senior year of high school and she’s never really had a boyfriend before. The complete opposite is true for her best friend Amy, who thinks boys are the best thing around and have gone after her fair share of guys. But it all changes one day when Dominique, quite literally, runs into a cute guy at a game.
With the help of Amy and some yearbook pictures, Dominique tracks down her cutie, who happens to be Amy’s fellow track team mate, Wes.

Emailing Wes to apologize for running into him and thanking him for the band-aids he offered, Dominique soon finds herself hanging out with Wes and getting to know him better. Before long, the two get over their shyness and start going out. Things move quickly from there as they find themselves going beyond French kissing. They spend time together doing various things and getting to know each other better. But even as they are getting closer and closer and going farther and farther, they both have to think of college next year. Wes has been accepted into NYU while Dominique decides to go to Tulane because of a large scholarship offer. The two believe that they can still be together, even with the distance between them.

Soon Wes and Dominique go to prom—and go all the way. They spend most of the summer together before they have to head off to college. At first things work out well, but as Wes grows more and more distant and doesn’t contact Dominique as much, Dominique starts to worry. Why is he ignoring her? Doesn’t he still love her? They had sex together (among other things) and were each others’ first, for crying out loud! So why isn’t he emailing her? And why isn’t he willing to see her more often?

Anatomy of a Boyfriend is a very blunt and honest story of a girl and a boy exploring relationships and sexuality for the first time. It gets very graphic and explicit at certain points, so I would only recommend this novel to older readers. But it’s an honest book that shows both the most agonizing and happiest parts of first love.

The paperback edition of this novel will be released on September 23, 2008, so don't forget to pick up a copy at your local bookstore!

(I think this has to be the first YA book I’ve read with a character that shares my first name, which is pretty cool!)

p.s. sorry about the font issues...I can't seem to fix it!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

(This is the sequel to mystery novel Death by Bikini and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it! Death by Latte will be much more enjoyable & understandable if you’ve read Death by Bikini first)

Although Aphra’s been missing Seth ever since his family was forced to move once again, Aphra’s determined to find the mother that left her years ago. And since Seth’s mother gave Aphra her mother’s address as thanks for helping her family out, Aphra will do just that. Heading to Seattle, Aphra is looking for her mother, Natalie and some answers, but what she gets is a lot more than that.

After arriving and finding her mother, Aphra gets a less than warm welcome and is hurt that her mother wants nothing more than to send her back to her father. She learns that her mother still has ties to the CIA and now works with and shares a flat with fellow CIA contact Joe and Stuart. But Natalie’s hasty plans to get Aphra back to her father and his remote resort island is foiled when Joe dies suddenly after being poisoned and Seth shows up, demanding Aphra give back the ring he had given her before their parting at the island. Seth’s ring, which seemed like a sentimental gift, may just hold a secret that many would kill for… Things are just getting more complicated, especially with some returning mysterious characters that Aphra had hoped that she had lost during her last adventure.

But Aphra won’t have much time to ponder her feelings for Seth as the both of them are on the run again with Natalie and Stuart. They’ll have to come down to the bottom of this mystery or they might just meet a sticky end! Who are their allies and who are their foes? Can Aphra and her mother work this out together? And as tides turn and more twists and turns and thrown into this treacherous journey, can they figure out who the trust and what to do?

This excellent sequel to Death by Bikini was just as thrilling as the first book! Aphra’s struggle to figure out her relationship with her mother and her attempts to understand and get closer to her mother was realistic, as was her struggles over her relationship with Seth. Her feelings are especially well expressed, which made this story all the more believable and characters easier to connect to. Death by Latte is filled with plenty of twists that’ll keep you at the edge of your seat and will leave you thirsty for more (sorry for the bad pun)!

Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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I receive review copies of books from publicists, authors and publishers for an honest review. I do not receive monetary or other compensations for posting reviews.