Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Myra McEntire. HOURGLASS

I love it when a debut author blows me away! This book is a spectacular combination of mystery, supernatural, and science fiction with a powerful romance. It may sound like a tall order to pull off, but the author does is brilliantly.

Emerson Cole began seeing ghosts shortly before her parents were killed in an accident. After their death, she had a bout with depression and was sent to live in a mental hospital. Finally, with the right combination of meds, she stopped seeing the ghosts.

She moved in with her older brother and his wife and planned on attending her senior year in her hometown. But, after being a zombie for so long on medication, Emerson decided to wean herself off the meds. Of course, this brought on the apparitions again.

Her brother called in a specialist to help her with her "problem." Emerson was doubtful, but agreed to meet with Michael, the specialist. Her takes her by surprise when he reveals that he sees the same "ghost" jazz band that she sees. He convinces her that he's there to help her. In fact, he's part of an organization called the Hourglass that's made up exclusively of people like her with special skills. And the ghosts she's been seeing aren't really ghosts, but ripples in time.

Emerson begins to learn a lot about her abilities, as well as what she can do together with Michael. But it involves some danger, so she must make some tough choices.

This book really has it all. The suspense is gripping, the romance is electric, and the supernatural aspects are unbelievable! It's truly an original.

The ending didn't necessarily predict a sequel. So I didn't expect one. However, I was THRILLED to hear that a sequel is due out in June, called TIMEPIECE. I just can't wait to get back to these characters! You will LOVE this!

The trailer for HOURGLASS is below. It's short & sweet, but I really liked the music. It evokes the mood beautifully.

      

Saturday, January 28, 2012

John Green. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

John Green always writes such vibrant, spunky characters. My heart is full of joy while spending time with his characters. Even though the subject matter is heavier here, I still finished the book with feelings of great pleasure at having spent time with Hazel and Augustus.

Hazel and Augustus are quite the pair. Hazel has terminal cancer that affects her breathing, so she carries an oxygen tank. Augustus is in remission from cancer that caused the loss of his leg. Hazel is afraid to let Augustus get to know her or love her, because she's afraid that she'll die leaving him surrounded in grenade-like destruction.

Augustus can't help himself and charms her into a relationship. Hazel ends up a very willing participant. They both become obsessed with a book that ends rather suddenly. The character has cancer, so they assume that the author made some literary choice to end the book so suddenly, with so many unanswered questions, to symbolize her death. Together they ponder visiting the author in Amsterdam where they will convince him to divulge all the secrets of the characters.

They ponder a variety of subjects. They have such witty, smart and thoughtful conversations. They also deal with tragic events. The humor balances the tragedy beautifully.

All I can really do to convey the beauty of the book is to show you a quote:

While Hazel and her dad are discussing what he believes. He says,
"I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it - or my observation of it- is temporary."
I was burning up my Nook with so many highlights! I could give you more, but then I would spoil too much of the plot. Read it yourself, trust me!

It's about love, pain, and living your life in spite of everything. The trailer doesn't give a lot away about the book, but it's beautiful, so I'm posting it anyway. Check out John Green in all his glory here.






Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beth Revis. A MILLION SUNS

A MILLION SUNS is the sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. If you haven't read it, then you may want to steer clear of this review, because there will be rampant spoilers. *look away, look away - quick*

We join Elder and Amy right where book one left off. Eldest has been killed, Orion was frozen and Elder has just been told that Godspeed will never land. The engines are no longer working, so it will never get close enough to Centauri-Earth to land. Elder takes over as Eldest, although he wants to continue going by the name "Elder."

Elder and the shippers discuss the engines and the other mechanical problems on the ship. They begin working on solutions. The next major thing Elder does as leader is take everyone off Phydus. This causes major issues, because people can choose to work or not work. They begin making all kinds of decisions. Violence, hunger, murder all begin occurring on the ship for the first time since the plague. Elder is truly tested as a leader. There are even rumblings of revolution.

Amy begins getting clues to a puzzle that seems to lead to another big secret. She and Elder begin uncovering another mystery that may be bigger than they can handle. It seems they will have to make a choice that may mean life or death for the entire population.

I loved the sequel as much as the original. It kept me coming back for the suspense and the mood created by the author. She created such a depressing sense of foreboding that I felt exactly how Amy felt about begin trapped on the ship. Her desperation was palpable.

The suspense of the mystery kept me reading. Big issues are uncovered and it makes you think about how you would handle the choices they're given.

I also enjoyed the growth of Elder's character and the relationship between Elder and Amy.

I highly recommend this series! Unfortunately, we have to wait an entire year for the next book. It's called SHADES OF EARTH. In the meantime, enjoy the website dedicated to the series. It's pretty nifty.



Monday, January 9, 2012

Amanda Hocking. SWITCHED

New St. Martin's Cover
This book was originally self-published and sold a million copies in eBook format. I even  purchased it myself back when it was 99 cents. But, I never got around to reading it. I’ve read self-published books before and been disappointed, so I was reluctant to begin this book. But, I finally relented, after perusing the list of books on my Kindle looking for one I hadn't read.  And, lo and behold - I really liked it! I think it’s an interesting cross between THE PRINCESS DIARIES and  BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.

On Wendy Everly's 6th birthday her mom tried to kill her, with a knife. Her mom kept telling Wendy that she was a monster and wasn't her real child. She was convinced that her own child had been stolen and Wendy was left in his place.

Now a teenager, Wendy has never really fit in anywhere. She's gotten kicked out of schools for various reasons. Friendships elude her. But her brother and aunt have always taken good care of her and tried to help her as much as possible after the incident with her mother.

One day, Finn, a strange new guy at school begins watching her. Finally, she confronts him and he has an interesting tale for her. Apparently, she isn't really human. (Was her mother right, after all?) She belongs to a secretive supernatural society. And he wants her to come back there with him.

Although Wendy senses that he may be right, she is reluctant to leave her brother and aunt. They're all she has, and they've been good to her. But the decision is made pretty quickly for her a few days later when a mysterious looking team of kidnappers try to nab her. Finn rescues her in time, but it's too late for her to stay. She must go with him.

As I said, I really liked it. Yes, the copy I read was the original self-published version, so it had some grammatical/spelling issues. But, in my opinion they were very minor. They certainly did not hamper the story for me at all, the way I've seen self-pubs do in the past.

I'm really curious about how the newer version looks compared to the original. On the author's website, she mentions that it will be "cleaned-up."
Original Self Published Cover

The story was interesting enough to keep me wanting to read it, even with the minor issues. I'm really excited to read the sequel. Since I missed the sequel when it was for sale previously, I'll have to wait until the re-published date in February - darn! But that's okay, because it will be the "cleaned-up" version, so it should be more polished.

I have to say, overall, it's a pretty great start to a unique series!

Check out the author's website here.


And, of course...the trailer:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beth Revis. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

New paperback cover (better, IMHO)
Amy and her parents are cryogenically frozen and placed aboard the ship Godspeed that will take 300 years to land on a planet they plan to colonize. Her mom is a genetic scientist and her father is a military strategist, so they are crucial to the mission. Her father gives her the option of staying behind on Earth, but Amy can't imagine being separated from her parents.

Unfortunately, Amy is accidentally awakened on the ship about 50 years before the planned landing. They cannot refreeze her, and she knows her parents cannot be awakened early to be with her. So, she's all alone on a strange ship with a few thousand strangers.

Amy discovers that this new society is strange and completely different from Earth. The leader is tyrannical, but claims to have everyone's best interest at heart. Her one possible friend, Elder, on the enormous ship happens to be the next in line to lead. She isn't sure she can trust him, since he's being trained to lead in the same manner. But when another "frozen" is killed and several others threatened, Amy and Elder become closer as they begin uncovering mysteries and lies together.

Original Hardcover
It's difficult to do a summary of a book with so much going on! I feel like I'm still digesting it and sorting it all out in my brain. So, it's hard to write the review. Maybe that's because I read it mostly one day.

Anyway...it's suspenseful (kept me up very late) and it's a great science fiction story. It has a lot of emotion with a ton of ethical issues. I think the book jacket says it best - "It's a cross between TITANIC and BRAVE NEW WORLD." Yep, that about sums it up perfectly!

I'm so glad I waited to read it, because the sequel comes out in 10 days! YAY!

Find out more about Beth Revis here at her gorgeous website.

The trailer is a GREAT teaser. Check it out: