Publicat în Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Synopsis:

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Review:

I started this book. Found it too slow after some pages and abandoned it for a few weeks. Afterwards, I started seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as one of the best new stories you could put your hands on. Got back to it and… couldn’t stop until the ending. At 6AM… Daaaamn, what I was about to miss if I didn’t give it a second chance!

I honestly thought that I’ve read so many Young Adult dystopian novels for the last few years that there’s no chance of any new book of this type to still surprise me or get me hooked up. That’s pretty much what I had in mind when I started The Grace Year and the slow paced beginning didn’t really encourage me to change my opinion. I’m so grateful that I trusted those articles saying that you shouldn’t miss this book!

Slowly, the classical story of the rebellious girl who opposes the traditional and over controlling society starts to grow new and surprising threads and lets you uncover hidden meanings. Perhaps the storyline doesn’t differ so much from other books of this kind. But there’s so much more depth between the pages, so much freedom to choose whatever you wish to understand from it, so much pain and hope and happiness and destruction, all of them entwined together, all of them starting to gradually flow through your blood stream. Moreover, the most important and impressive fights are not the ones with other people or with the horrific system, but the internal ones, with your own beliefs, with everything that you grew up to have faith in and that is slowly shattering behind your eyes.

Your eyes are wide open, but you see nothing.” This is what the story is about. About getting out of your comfort zone, opening your mind and seeing the verity against all odds, letting go of all the pride and certainty that what you know is what the truth really is. Because that’s the hardest fight you could ever win and some of us never do.

The book is violent and bitter, with small moments of hope that sparkle like lost fireflies in the darkest night. Even the ending, although you might call it a somewhat happy ending, is not bringing any miraculous changes. But it does leave traces of hope: of a better life, of a better society, of hidden kindness that lies within the people you wouldn’t expect and in the most unforeseen places. And sometimes, this is the best we can do and the most realistic aspiration that humanity could have.

Publicat în Cyndy Aleo, Uncategorized

Undying (Undying #1) by Cyndy Aleo

Synopsis:

What if the world isn’t ready for your miracle?

Cameron Tattersall’s wife, Adrienne, should not be cooking breakfast when he wakes up. After all, he buried her yesterday. Yet the woman in his kitchen not only claims she is his wife, but also refuses to accept that she’s supposed to be dead.

Cameron doesn’t know what this woman is: hallucination, con-woman, or bona fide miracle. For all he knows, he’s crazy, but her reappearance may return the only thing he ever wanted: a life with Adrienne.When their families discover Cameron isn’t alone in his house, the couple learns coming back from the dead has its own set of trials: angry surviving family members, confused insurance companies, and a media storm that simultaneously wants to build the couple up and tear them down. There’s also the matter of just who, or what, was buried in that coffin. Or not buried.

Thrust into the spotlight, Cameron and Adrienne have to decide whether living under a microscope is a fair trade for a miracle, and to reconcile their need for privacy with the desire for answers.

Review:

I probably cried when I was reading some sad books when I was a child. I definitely remember crying a damn cascade while reading half of the Harry Potter books. But it’s been decades ago and since then, my masochistic brain keeps looking for books that would tear me apart completely and make me feel everything that the characters feel at such a deep level that I’d forget that I’m crying for the pain of an imaginary person.

When I started this book I chose it because of how interesting the idea looked. Maybe it’s a thriller with an impostor trying to impersonate the dead wife of a poor husband. Maybe it’s a zombie book. Maybe it’s a fantasy one. A dead wife showing up in her husband’s bed next day after her funeral? I literally had no idea how things could have evolved. But what I definitely didn’t expect was to cry uncontrollably after the first chapter. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. Without notice, the story starts flowing through your veins, touching every part of your soul, forcing your brain to feel absolutely every single damn thing that Cameron feels. You’re thrown into a path of pain and anguish so deeply that you feel the story at the most personal level. Because what is the biggest fear of all of us? Not spiders, not monsters, not poverty, not loneliness, not our own death. But the death of our loved ones. And the feeling that no matter how much you’d wish, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to stop that, to help them, to keep them longer next to you.

Cameron goes through all of this in the year when he finds out that his wife, Adrienne has a devastating form of cancer. She’s young, beautiful and healthy and all of a sudden the terrible news descend over them. And one year is not enough to get used to the idea that the whole future that you imagined is shattering to pieces. But one year of suffering is also clearly not going to make things easy when he wakes up after her funeral to find her in their kitchen. Young. Beautiful. Healthy. Undead. And cooking breakfast.

So what follows is exactly what you would imagine. Because Cameron lives in our universe, not a parallel one, not in a fantasy world. He lives in this one, where miracles don’t exist, when you cannot continue your life like nothing happened after the wife that you just buried literally just came back from the dead. The world will not allow it. You will become a „case” that needs to be studied and explored from all the practical angles: legally, medically, by lawyers and doctors and churches and media. Over and over again, since there seem not to be any answers that could solve such a mistery.

I loved how realistic the author treated her idea. She took an unthinkable fact and throw it in our society that is very far from accepting the impossible as possible. There’s nothing forced, nothing romantic and magical about it. Her characters don’t treat the whole thing just like a miracle because the human brain simply doesn’t work like that. No matter how enormous the happiness and amazement can be once they accept that what happened is true, they are still very well anchored in reality and take the whole right and mundane road to understand how was it possible.

Every reaction, every gesture, every word and action, even the ones that piss you off are all perfectly drawn and completely understandable and realistic. I loved the fact that nothing comes easily, that the characters actually go willingly into the chaotic carousel that their lifes became, even if sometimes they cannot feel in any other way than totally overwhelmed by what’s happening to them.

If you have any doubts about reading this book, just take them all and throw them into the garbage right now. You need this book! The storyline is flawless, the writing, the characters, the action, everything has a bright, shinny „perfect” label on it! You will be carried through the whole spectrum of emotions, you will cry, laugh, be surprised, melt into a puddle, die of curiosity and live the whole story at the same intensity as the characters are.

Publicat în April Fernsby, Uncategorized

A Deadly Delivery (A Psychic Cafe Mystery #1) by April Fernsby

Synopsis:

Karis Booth has had psychic abilities for as long as she can remember. But this is the first time she’s used them to solve a murder. 

Things are changing rapidly for Karis. As well as filing for divorce from her unfaithful husband, she decides it’s time to make peace with her estranged sister, Erin. With trepidation, Karis visits the café which Erin owns. To her great relief, Erin welcomes Karis back into her life with open arms. 

During their reconciliation, a young woman, Carmel, calls into the café with a bread delivery. As Karis watches Carmel, she experiences a strong psychic vision. She sees two shadows following Carmel. Only one of the shadows belongs to Carmel — the other belongs to the person who is going to murder her later that day. 

With help from her sister and an old neighbour, Karis does all that she can to find out who murdered Carmel. It doesn’t help that the investigating officer is an ex-boyfriend who broke up with Karis because he couldn’t cope with her psychic abilities. Despite this, Karis won’t rest until she finds the killer. 

Review:

We all have guilty pleasures that we try and try to stay away from, but eventually we just give up to and succumb into temptation. Don’t we? One of this guilty pleasures of mine are chick lit books. I know, I know. The stories are more or less the same every time, there are no „wow” events that would blow your mind and the scenarios are not bringing anything challenging for your brain to digest. But still… every now and then I start missing chick lit so much that my kindle gets filled up in 2 hours with 137 books that will probably remain unread for the rest of my life. Pretty much like when you’re going to the supermarket while hungry and end up with a whole cart of useless products that will expire and die in your fridge, completely untouched. Do I ever learn my lesson? Nope. But the good part is that… well, at least books don’t expire. And honestly speaking, the pleasure with which I finally read that one chick lit book (from the hundred that I got) is priceless.
This time, my spark of joy was A Deadly Delivery: a crime/mystery novel, with a touch of paranormal. Fast, well executed, with a little bit of everything. The main storyline follows the suspicions death of one of the side characters but on the way, we discover a background family story full of guilt and regrets, a romance that was supposed to be dead and buried but seems to blossom unexpectedly and a lot of charming and heart warming characters. There’s literally not a single thing that I disliked during the whole reading time.
One of the things that surprised me is the age of the heroine. I’m used to this kind of books to have young and innocent main characters, whose naivety accentuates the humor of the uncanny situations they end up into. And considering how easily manipulated Karis was during her marriage, initially I thought she’s just a young chick, just discovering her new inner strength along with her psychic abilities. The surprise came later, when I found out that she’s a middle aged woman, with an adult daughter even and that she’s actually having this wakeup phase way later than expected. All of a sudden, the story caught new shades and I was forced to rethink everything in my mind, from the look of the characters to the relations between them and to the impact that every action has on them. And weirdly, the story became even better from that point on.
There’s not a lot to tell about the book if I don’t want to give spoilers that would ruin your reading. If you’re in the mood for something light that will put a smile on your face, A Deadly Delivery is a good choice. It’s not a shallow story, it has a good background, some heartwarming moments and follows some deep topics that are somehow avoided in this genre: abusive relationships, difficult choices when it comes to sick or old family members, the way past events that seemed unimportant actually leave scars that are never erased, asking for forgiveness and allowing you also to forgive yourself, etc. It’s a bittersweet read, leaving you with a warm feeling in the end, but carrying you through some areas that normally you might try to avoid thinking about.
Publicat în Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss (Cold Kiss #1) by Amy Garvey

Synopsis:

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

Review:

I chose this book after I browsed through some GoodReads reviews and most of them were describing it as beautifully written, lyrical, heartbreaking, haunting, etc, etc. Plus, a lot of readers were mentioning how they cried while reading it more than they did in their whole life. And that’s exactly what I was wishing for. A book that would rip my heart apart, that would tear me to pieces and stick me back together, that would leave me breathless and make me live for a few days inside the protagonist’s mind.

And while I did enjoy going through the story, the book definitely didn’t reach the expectations those reviews created.

Wren is a teenager that inherits magical powers from her family, but is still pretty much witless of the way she can use the powers inside her, since they are a taboo topic in her house. So when her first love dies suddenly, she impulsively takes the decision to try and bring him back. Only that, of course, the… thing that she brings back is barely a shell of the boy that she loved. And slowly, day after day, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I loved how the author made a very clear difference between the flashbacks from the past, that illustrate the amazing relation between Wren and Danny and the present, when things are so wrong, but still tender, painful but still heart warming. Before Danny starts becoming a complete different being, in the first weeks after his death (and resurrection), he still holds most of the parts that made him be who he was. He’s still the one Wren loved more than anything, he’s still her comfort zone, still the one that makes all bad things disappear with only a hug. It’s only his need of her that starts growing in an alarming way, his increasing addiction to her presence that makes things worrying. And slowly, his memories that Wren was hoping to hide are now all surfacing, making him confused, angry and dangerous.

When the protagonist meets another boy that is also gifted in a similar way she is, and whom unexpectedly, seems to know what she’s done, it starts becoming obvious that she needs to fix the mistake that she made.

I loved the realistic feeling that the book offered, despite the fact that it’s a fantasy story. The magic has its own place, while life continues to be very normal in most of the ways. Wren has to juggle between hiding her undead boyfriend, going to school and a part-time job, not losing her best friends for good, following her mum’s rules and keeping a decent relationship with her family. And between all of this, she also has to deal with the guilt of falling for somebody else, while Danny’s new existence is revolving only around her.

Even if usually I roll my eyes when I hear about love triangles, the author did such a good job that it didn’t disturb me at all. Considering that Wren is only 17 and that her life is such a huge chaos, I didn’t find it weird or inappropriate that the new guy looks like the only light in the whole darkness. Plus, she’s mature enough to solve her own mess without turning to him as a damsel in distress. Or, at least, not more than she should. All her mood swings are comprehendable, all her drama queen moments are very much self explanatory because of the pressure that she’s holding on her shoulders.

I enjoyed the whole ride, I emphasized with all the characters and understood their decisions and motivations. I didn’t find any remarkable personalities in any of them, but they are all well written, without major flaws and give you the feeling that they could be any real persons that you could meet in your everyday life.

The strongest point of the book remains the romance. It’s sweet and surprisingly, comes in smaller doses than expected and makes you melt a little bit every time when you encounter it.

Of course the novel will have a different effect on each reader. But in the end, I believe it’s almost impossible not to like the story. Because what’s the biggest fear that we all have if not the fear of losing our loved ones? And so, just by thinking about it, all the actions and decisions of Wren become alternative realities of what each of us, the readers, might do in an imaginary world where death wouldn’t be the final step.

Publicat în Megan Crewe

The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1) by Megan Crewe

Synopsis:

It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 

And then you’re dead.

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

Review:

One of the never ending obsessions that I will always, always have are apocalyptic stories. And from all the world ending scenarios, the killing virus has always been one of my favorites (rivaling with zombie stories probably ^_^). Therefore, the moment I read the description of The Way We Fall, it instantly became a must read. And even if I only rated it with 3 stars, because of some negative aspects that I’ll cover later, overall, I loved reading it.

I haven’t check other reviews yet, but I’m guessing it’s very possible for a lot of people to be disappointed by this book. Contrary to what you might expect when it comes to an apocalyptic novel, The Way We Fall is not really a fast-paced story. The description sounds way more impressive or grand than the actual acts that are taking place in the world of Kaelyn.

Returning to live on an island with her family, the protagonist, a sixteen-year-old girl, has the usual teenager concerns: adapting to the new school, becoming a better person, making friends or getting out of her comfort zone. But what she doesn’t know is that soon, the so-called problems that she has are going to be a joke, compared to what’s coming next. Slowly, without any warnings, an epidemic infection starts making victims on the remote island. And all of a sudden, Kaelyn’s whole world shatters and all the people she loves and cherishes are falling victims of it, one after another. Being separated from the coast and isolated by the government, the survivors must find a way to discover a cure and in the same time, deal with the depletion of resources and with the rebellious groups determined to turn the disastrous situation into a living hell.

The absolute mind blowing fact is how casual and completely non-heroic the whole story is. Every single book or movie that treats the apocalyptic topic will have heroic characters that protect everyone around them, that keep their loved ones safe (and alive!) and manage to magically find the cure that will eventually save the world. But one question that’s always been in my mind is… if something like that would ever happen in reality, how ignorant would we be, how unprepared to deal with this and how easily would we all collapse? We are not heroes, we’d have no support from the governments that are probably incapable to deal with the chaos, we live in our protective glass bubbles that would suddenly explode into millions of pieces. Realistically speaking, we wouldn’t be able to save anybody, not ourselves, not our families or friends, much less the whole world. We’d literally be at the mercy of pure luck or faith, not able to do much except for maybe putting on a breathing mask, avoiding crowded places and some other small, irrelevant and probably useless safety measures.

And that, ladies and gents, that is exactly what happens in Megan Crewe’s novel! None of her characters is a hero. Not any of them is a former CIA, United Nations or FBI employee, to know what to do in case of disaster and to have higher connections that would save them. They are all regular people, with regular lives and with their hands tied up in front of the catastrophe they’re facing. So all they can do is help each other in modest ways, to organize themselves in the chaos surrounding them in order to get the feeling of a purpose, the illusion that they are doing something, whatever they can, however small that is, instead of just doing nothing and waiting to die.

I was surprised and I absolutely adored this new approach on the topic, it’s not something that I remember reading in any other books. The downside is that it doesn’t really offer a thrilling experience. There’s not a lot of action going on, there are very few pages that leave you breathless and craving for more. You can literally put the book down at any given time and then forget about it for several days. Of course you’ll still have a tingle of curiosity, but The Way We Fall is definitely not one of those reads that make you stay awake till 5AM in order to finish it.

There’s not much to say about the characters. They’re mostly colored in black and white, being either the good ones or the villains. Not a lot of substrate, not somebody you’d adore or hate from the bottom of your heart.

Of course, since it’s an YA book, there’s a love story developing and weirdly, it didn’t make me roll my eyes. I understand how, despite the catastrophic events (or actually because of them?), the surviving instincts would be accompanied by the need of fellowship and the feeling of belonging, in order to compete with the growing despair. Plus, there was nothing forced or exaggerated in the romance, no sudden Romeo and Juliet vibe, so the addition of the love story was welcomed.

If you’re ready for a slower and less impressive storyline than the usual end-of-the-world novels that you’re accustomed with, give it a shot. It’s definitely a fresh approach of the apocalyptic stories and if you’re not starting it with huge expectations, you might find yourself hooked on after the first few pages.