Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Elizabeth Woods. CHOKER

Wow, wow, wow!! I couldn't put this one down. It is so suspenseful that I nearly had to physically force myself not to skip ahead to see what happens next! This is the first book by Elizabeth Woods and I cannot wait to see what she writes next. Now for the summary:

Cara is not having the greatest time in high school. She seems pretty normal by all accounts, but she's bullied by the popular girls. The first glimpse we get into their cruel behavior is when Cara nearly chokes to death on a carrot at lunch. Ethan, the cute guy that Cara has been watching lately, appears behind her in time to do the Heimlich on her to rescue her. This type of event (almost dying) would seem to garner sympathy from most kids. However, the mean girls use this to taunt her for days afterwords by making choking noises and calling her Choker.

Cara begins reminiscing back to fifth grade before she moved away from her best friend Zoe. They did everything together and had so much fun. If only Zoe could be here now to help her through her trouble in school. Later that day Cara is shocked to find Zoe in her bedroom when she gets home. Zoe has run away from home and wants to hide out in Cara's room for a few days. Cara is thrilled and agrees to hide her best friend. After reconnecting with Zoe for a few days, things begin to look up for Cara. She summons more courage to be herself at school and finds her confidence again. She's being invited to parties and flirting with cute boy, Ethan. But just as everything is looking bright for Cara, her enemies start having trouble. Her neighbor, mean girl #2, drowns in her pool. Then another girl goes missing. Surely the arrival of Zoe has nothing to do with all of this, right?

This is suspenseful,  gripping and creepy! You WILL NOT be able to put it down! Elizabeth Woods has written a brilliant first novel. I looked for her website to find out more about her, but she doesn't seem to have one, yet. I will certainly be looking forward to whatever she writes next!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lauren Myracle. SHINE

I'm amazed at the diversity of books that Lauren Myracle writes. You have the TTYL friendship series, the BLISS & RHYMES WITH WITCHES horror type books and the adorable ELEVEN series. SHINE is absolutely like none of those. It's special all on it's own.

If you're wanting a light summer read. This is NOT it. If, however, you're wanting something real, disturbing, thoughtful and gritty. This is your book.

The talented Lauren Myracle brings you into the small town of Black Creek, North Carolina. Cat's best friend, Patrick, has just been beaten into a coma. It's assumed to be a hate crime, since he's gay. In the small town of Black Creek, it's insinuated that he had it coming. The local police follow what little clues they have but don't seem that determined to do any real investigation. So Cat sets out to find out who did this to her best friend.

After being violated herself a few years before, Cat pulled away from Patrick and her friends. This slows her investigation down a little because she has to re-establish some relationships. Her eyes open wider as she delves deeper and deeper into her friends' lives over the past few years. As she slowly learns what happened to Patrick, she begins the process of healing herself.

I can't say that I enjoyed being in this world particularly, as I have with other books. But I did root for Cat and enjoyed reading it. The mystery sucks you in completely from page one. It's beautifully written. Lauren Myracle did a spectacular job in bringing this world to life. I walked the woods and climbed the rocks right alongside Cat. The book will resonate with many for a wide variety of reasons. But get ready to be shocked and saddened. Although, just as the title suggests - it's not a completely sad story!

Go visit Ms. Myracle's adorable website! I don't know when she redesigned it, but it's super adorable!! <3

Monday, June 13, 2011

Maureen Johnson. THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE

If you didn't realize it by the title, this is the sequel to 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES, and if you haven't read that yet, STOP and go do that before you continue here. I warned you: SPOILERS ahead!

As you remember from the first book, Ginny's bag was stolen on a beach in Greece before she could read the last envelope. This book is about that last little envelope. One evening as she's waiting for Keith to pop up online and message her, she gets an unusual message from a stranger. The message includes the first half of that last little blue envelope. Supposedly, the person sending it purchased her stolen backpack and the letters were still in it. If she meets this person in London, she'll get to see the rest of the letter.

Since it's winter vacation, Ginny convinces her parents to let her go and stay with Richard while she figures this out. After visiting with Richard upon arrival, she seeks out Keith. He's used to her popping up out of nowhere, so she doesn't call first. She gets a surprise to find out that things aren't exactly the same between them. Also, when she meets this person (who turns out to be named Oliver), she finds that he isn't as horrendous as you'd expect a blackmailer to be. He might even be, well...handsome, in a brooding sort of way.

Oliver won't simply give her the letter. He reveals that they must go on a journey to find several more pieces of art that Aunt Peg left around the world. After they assemble them, then they will put them up for sale. But he's going with her, because he wants a cut of the profits. Keith won't let her go alone with this stranger, so he worms his way into the trip. And he brings his "friend" Ellis with them. The four trek off together to solve Aunt Peg's last mission.

I enjoyed this very much! Maureen Johnson did a fantastic job of making this different, but just as exciting as the first. The first book was so intriguing and I enjoyed going on each of the journeys with Ginny. So to make the sequel as interesting, but while also making it a different, yet still a conclusion, in a way, of the first book - well that was challenging, I'm sure. And the author lived up to that challenge! Without revealing too much, I will tell you that Aunt Peg's last letter was worthy of the wait! I wanted to quote a large portion here, but I would rather you read the book and discover it for yourself.

Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite authors! Here are some of my previous reviews. I think my favorite overall is SUITE SCARLETT and the sequel. This is the original cover, which I adore! Anyway, check out all of MJ's books here at her beautiful website!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ally Carter. UNCOMMON CRIMINALS

What fun!! I LOVE this series! I reviewed the first one just a while back, so I was thrilled to get a review copy of the sequel so soon. I said last time that this series is like a cross between Thomas Crown Affair and Ocean's Eleven. But this time it feels more like White Collar, but with teens. Maybe that's because the season just started and I watched it last night. But anyway, I adore that show, so that's a huge plus. This book is sophisticated, smart and a ton of fun. Each caper is more elaborate than the last.

In this book, we join Kat in Russia as she's finishing a job recovering a Cezanne originally stolen by the Nazis. so it can be returned to its owner. We learn that she's been doing these jobs all by herself while refusing help from Hale and the crew. But when the next job includes recovering the largest emerald ever known and originally belonging to Cleopatra, Hale convinces her she needs help. Many attempts have been made on this emerald over the years and they've all been disastrous, which explains why it supposedly has a curse on it.  Uncle Eddie strictly forbids the attempt. So the crew must figure a way to complete the heist without his help.

Ally Carter is such a talented writer! She brings action scenes to life like no other, all while creating the most interesting characters! Kat and her crew are so vivid in my mind. I feel like I spent this adventure alongside them. And it was a BLAST!

You will not want to put this one down. Join these Uncommon Criminals on June 21!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Elizabeth Scott. BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER

I've adored all of Elizabeth Scott's books. As you can see here, I've reviewed many of them. Some of them hit you over the head with their powerful prose and plot. Others have a quiet strength that builds to an emotional ending. BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER is in the second category.

It sucks you in right away. Abby's sister Tess is in a coma. Abby has been visiting her every day since the accident. We learn from flashbacks and memories that Tess is the perfect daughter. Abby feels like Tess has always had it easy. She's pretty, smart and always knows how to act. Abby is the complete opposite. She feels pretty unsure of herself and has always been in Tess's shadow.

When a gorgeous guy begins working at the hospital, Abby gets an idea to wake up Tess. Eli had walked into Tess's room to drop something off and when he spoke, her eyes seem to move behind her lids. Surely, it's because she hears his voice, thinks Abby. So, she makes a deal with him to begin visiting her room and talking to her. Abby just knows that she'll wake up after listening to him. Then Eli will fall in love with her and everything will be back to normal.

But as Abby gets to know Eli, she discovers that she likes him. Plus, he's really acting interested in her. Abby's not sure how to handle that because guys never, ever like her when her sister is around. In addition to this inner conflict, Abby begins to discover some things about her sister that contradict her perfect image. She unravels the mystery surrounding her sister while attempting to unravel the mystery of her own trouble with love.

I enjoyed this sweet story of forgiveness, understanding and courage. You'll enjoy Abby's journey and root for her, like I did. Will she learn that she's worthy of love and be brave enough to give away her heart again?

For more about Elizabeth Scott and her fantastic books, go to her website. For more of my reviews of her books, go here for a listing.