The Unfortunate Tale of Little Mary Jenkins

First Lines: The tiny kitchen was deserted.  Drops of chilled condensation clung desperately to the outside of a half-empty glass of soda sitting next to an old, avocado green telephone.  With the exception of the tick-tock of the plastic clock hanging on the wall over the old couch, a heavy silence draped the room.

This is another book I got from the author for review (if you haven’t noticed a trend yet, you will).  I’ve been almost collecting these books for a few months before I realized how behind I was on them.  So for the next couple of weeks, these will be the only books I read.

In this very short novella, Sam and his friends are looking for a good time.  After stumbling upon a secluded spot, Sam begins telling them a ghost story, the story of Little Mary Jenkins.

Really, this thing is super short.  Like, 30 pages.  You could knock this out in under an hour.

So this is the author’s very first published work, and I feel kinda bad about having to review only 30 pages of his work.  I mean, most other authors get what, about 200 pages before you have to review their work?  It just feels a little too judgmental to me, but I must carry on.  (my wayward son…) (bad joke.  Never mind.)

With the book being so short, I felt that the characterization was really rushed.  I wanted more “show-not-tell”.  Like, at one point one character was thinking something like, “There goes [XXX], the annoying one in the group.”  Which is fine, but I would have really liked to have been able to see that for myself.

And I also didn’t find the ghost story to be all that scary…perhaps because I read scary stuff all the time.  It just didn’t really bother me, but I know other reviewers who did find it scary.  To each his own.

What I did like was the way the characters spoke up during the ghost story.  That felt really real to me, more so than if someone were to tell the story uninterrupted.  How often does that honestly happen?  Not with my friends or family, I can tell you that.  So I liked that.

Overall, it’s a very quick, spooky read and a good start for this author.  Not bad if you’re one of those people who really wants to freak themselves out at midnight on a dark and rainy night.  (That’s not gonna be me.)

Sound (Solid, #3)

First Lines: “Never thought it’d be you,” I growled, pushing back against her with all my strength.

When I finished Settling, I knew I had to get my hands on the third and final book in the trilogy.  So thank you, Shelley, for helping me out there!

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

It’s been one crazy summer for Clio Kaid.  It was one thing to learn she was part of an experiment before she was born to alter her genetics, one that no one except the doctor knew about, but quite another to find herself in the midst of a large number of conspiracy theories and plots.  But hey, at least she discovered her abilities and made some new friends, right?  Well…if they weren’t all mad at her.  Now that summer’s ending, Clio feels more lost than ever.  Will she be able to pick up the pieces of her life before the summer ends?

Ok, so right off the bat, I didn’t find this as good as Solid.  It was definitely good, but I remember being glued to Solid, and I wasn’t to this one.  (Admittedly, part of that could be because I read the first half of it in one chunk whereas I had to wait to read parts of Solid, so the suspense built up more.)

I really didn’t think there was as much character development in this one, not in the way I would have wanted.  I felt there were a couple of opportunities for it, but they were missed in favor of easier escape routes.  I still like the characters, though.  They were the same ones I liked in the previous books.  There was the one plot thing with Jack, though, that I didn’t remember from Settling and it really just didn’t seem to fit in the story.  I was confused about that.

I also think the climax came about rather suddenly.  We were just skipping along, all butterflies and sunshine, and then BAM!  Evilness.  And just as quickly, we were back to butterflies and sunshine.  It was a bit disorienting and anti-climatic, especially for a series.  However, the falling action was really quite enjoyable and kinda my favorite part of the book.

Overall, it’s definitely not a bad read.  It rounds out the series well and stays true to the characters.  I just wish more had been done in the story to further it more into epicness.

Tempest (Tempest, #1)

First Lines: Okay, so it’s true.  I can time-travel.  But it’s not as exciting as it sounds.  I can’t go back in time and kill Hitler.  I can’t go to the future and see who wins the World Series in 2038.  So far, the most I’ve ever jumped is about six hours into the past.  Some superhero, right?

That cover is just so cool, right?  I love the falling and the cloud thing.  Just awesome.  I’m gonna just jump right into this.

It’s 2009 and Jackson Meyer is pretty much your average college sophomore.  He’s cool, friendly, and has a girlfriend that he loves to spend time with.  He’s average…until he discovers his ability to time travel.  But it’s not like in the movies.  Jackson can go back in time, but he can’t change anything.  One day, strangers burst into his girlfriend Holly’s room when they were together and shoot Holly.  Jackson accidentally jumps back in time, only to get stuck in 2007.  Desperate to find his way back to 2009 to save Holly, Jackson has little choice but to hang out in 2007 and find out what he can about his ability.  But it doesn’t take long for the people who shot Holly to come looking for him.  And they have only one mission: recruit Jackson to their side…or kill him.

I’m not gonna lie: the main reason I put this on my to-read list months ago was because the girlfriend’s name is the same as mine.  It’s not very often you see books with a girl named Holly (or at least, not as often as you see like, Katie or Violet).  So I went for that.  I’m not the biggest time travel fan, but I can definitely get into it.

I found this read to be thrilling and mysterious, but a little slow at times.

It takes a while in the beginning for it to take off.  About the time you start understanding how Jackson’s ability works and who his friends are and such, he’s stuck in 2007 relearning everything.  It’s difficult to keep up at that point, since you’re essentially relearning everything too.  It wasn’t until the mystery picked up that I finally started getting into it.

I thought Jackson was a super sweet guy while still being a guy.  I mean, he wasn’t like a Matthew McConaughey in a chick flick.  By that, I mean that guy that guys watch going, “Dude, no guy acts like that.”  I forget where I just heard that lately…  Anyway, Jackson is a guy I think male readers could really buy into.

I really liked Holly (of course.  She does have my name.  But why are all fictional Hollys BLONDE?). I thought she was a very dynamic character and that she was incredibly well-written for the twist that the author throws her.  I wish that made more sense, but it may be a slight spoiler if I try to rewrite it.

There’s quite a bit of action in this and I know I’m starting to say this a lot, but I think that male readers could really potentially like this book.  (As a future teacher, I’ve really started trying to find these books, which is why it constantly gets mentioned).

Spotlight Friday (65)

Hey guys!  It’s Friday!  And a little later than I usually post these, but still.  Since I didn’t do one last week, I felt obligated to make sure this one got out.  Enjoy!

The Lives We Lost (Fallen World, #2) by Megan Crewe

Release Date: February 12, 2013

*Slight Series Spoilers Ahead*

Summary (from Goodreads): A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father’s abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Megan Crewe’s second volume in the Fallen World trilogy is an action-packed journey that explores the resilience of friendship, the ache of lost love, and Kaelyn’s enduring hope in the face of the sacrifices she must make to stay alive.

What’s To Like: In the midst of this current flu epidemic, things like this are incredibly creepy in their potential to become real.  It’s so weird, but then again, I like creepy.  And I really thought the characters in the first book were so amazing.  It was such a good read.  So I expect good things from this one.

My review of The Lives We Lost.

Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Release Date: February 12, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

What’s To Like: Ruta Sepetys is an amazing writer.  Between Shades of Gray was amazing, and I’m not doubting this will be just as awesome.  It’s just be awesome.  I’m just going to sit here and fangirl over my girl crush on Ruta.

My review of Out of the Easy.

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1) by Kiersten White

Release Date: February 19, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. 

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

What’s To Like: I’m really excited to see what Kiersten White has to show us now.  I haven’t finished the Paranormalcy series yet, but I plan on doing it as soon as I can.  But this looks promising.  I bet it’s going to be full of humor as well as very serious topics.  That’s the beauty of her writing.

My review of Mind Games.

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)

First Lines: We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake.  For three dark days my brother and I had tracked it through the maze of caves to its lair on the mountain’s summit.  And now we beheld it, curled atop its treasure, its pale fur and scales ablaze with moonlight.

Ok.  So when I first heard about this series, I was really intrigued.  I liked Frankenstein when I read it in high school and now in college, it was kind of the first thing my boyfriend and I started bonding over, since that’s what our class was reading when we first met.  So having a new piece to the Frankenstein story was something I really wanted to have.

At 17, Victor and his twin brother Konrad, are inseparable.  They do everything together, from staging plays to getting into trouble.  So when Konrad gets sick, Victor will do anything to find a cure.  With the help of his best friend Henry and his cousin Elizabeth, Victor sets off.  On his journey, he will be tempted by the darker sciences…sciences that may be dark and deadly…

Let’s start with the positives.  I really thought this was a great revisioning of Victor’s teenage years, considering they are almost entirely neglected in Mary Shelley’s work.  (Have you read that recently? It leaves out all kinds of details.  Years go by before you realize it.)  This was a show of how Victor starts down the path he is clearly on by the time we meet him in the original novel.

I also really liked the character of Konrad, who is not in the original book.  I didn’t at first because I felt it strayed too far from the canon, but Konrad eventually won me over.  I liked how the other characters were portrayed as well, especially Elizabeth.  I’m seriously hoping I get to see more of her in the sequel.

What was really interesting were the directions the plot took.  It was pretty masterfully crafted in order to have its own storyline as well as tie into a preexisting novel.  I liked that.

What I didn’t like so much was how action based parts of the story were.  This is just a personal thing, I know.  I mean, I really looked forward to the character development and then to see a whole bunch of pages that were devoted to action and gory details (trust me on this one: weak stomachs should probably proceed with caution on this one).  I don’t have the strongest stomach when it comes to blood and gore, so this was a little trying in parts, considering it was so detailed.

I also found parts of the book slow or predictable.  Mostly though, that stems from my feelings on the action.

I really do think this series is targeted toward male readers, and that it could potentially turn them into more avid readers if given the write encouragement.  It’s really something I could see my brothers reading, and they hate reading fiction.

Before I Wake (Soul Screamers, #6)

First Lines: I was a virgin sacrifice.  And yeah, it’s just as creepy as it sounds.

When I came back to school for this semester, I first had to make a trip to the library for books.  Duh.  I was only going to get 2…and then I saw this on the shelf.  I couldn’t pass it up, not after having waited this long to read it.  And I mean, the last one completely blew me away.  I read that one in one day.  So I had high hopes for this one too.

*Series Spoilers Ahead, If You Haven’t Read The Last 5*

Really, I’m not kidding.  Read on if you dare.

…Ok…I guess if you’ve made it this far, you want the synopsis.

Kaylee died on a Thursday, which kind of sucks.  But hey, at least he didn’t get her soul.  …And it turns out death can’t even get you out of school.  Kaylee didn’t think it would be so hard to fake being alive.  She spent about a month “recovering” from her “near-death experience”.  She’s struggling to fit in with her friends, find time with her boyfriend, oh, and stay visible in the human world.  In order to even pretend to be alive, Kaylee has to collect wrongfully taken souls.  It brings her face to face with an old foe, one who could threaten Kaylee’s tenuous hold on life.  Being immortal won’t save her.  And this time, it isn’t only Kaylee’s life on the line…

I think maybe going into this, I may have had too high expectations.  It was still really good, but it just wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

For starters, this book went back to characters and referenced things from books and books ago.  If you’re a totally avid fan of this series who reread these books 4 times each, I suppose remembering those things wasn’t a problem.  But it’s been a long time since I’ve read books two, or three, or four, and I just didn’t remember some of those things.  It made it harder to get into the story.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I still totally got into the story.  I love watching Kaylee kick butt, and hearing Sabine’s attitude, and seeing the Hudson boys.

And I’m still looking forward to the next book in the series.  But I’m of the opinion that the series may need to wrap itself up pretty soon.  I just want to see the conclusion, to see who lives and who dies, and who they beat.  Then again, disclaimer, I have a hard time paying attention to series that go much over 4 or 5 books.