Sunday, May 29, 2011


One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Beth says 4 Stars…
This book had a relatively normal concept initially that then mutated into something completely different than I expected. I found the change refreshing since I’m always a fan of unexpected directions. There were large portions of the plot that I expected… the arrival of a mysterious, yet attractive stranger. Really? I felt that it also was a bit slow to start, but definitely got into a good flow in the early middle. As far as writing style goes I thought this was a very nice first outing, with a solid base and room to grow. The settings were delightfully lush and well thought out; I could easily picture them with the vivid details given. I liked how McEntire managed to slip in the details without making them obviously placed; they felt natural.

Finally, a heroine I loved reading about! Emerson walked the line between being terrified and courageous extremely well, showing both of those sides in her personally. All of the freaking out that happened tended to the side of completely understandable and never moved into excess. She took things well and in stride, changing when it behooved her without fundamentally altering her personal identity (well, other than her concept of herself and her abilities). Of course Emerson gets into a bit of a love triangle, but it doesn’t take over the story so how odd and silly it is never becomes a major issue. Then there’s Michael, who fills about half of the stereotypes for men in paranormal romance type novels, but has a bit of something extra. Whether it’s the slightly unexpected plot turns or just something about how McEntire writes him, he evolves from the ever-so-obvious tall, dark, and broody male lead into a more interesting character. His interactions with Emerson always managed to entertain in some fashion, no matter if they were silly and casual or intensely revealing. I didn’t want to look away from the page if the two of them were on it together. The peripheral characters seemed interesting enough, and I think that over the course of the series they will deepen and become more of a presence.

Overall I thought this was a solid debut; nothing unbelievable, but very good. The pacing could have been better, but there’s a nice foundation of writing and a fantastic set up (the premise, characters, and setting) to launch a series. There’s some serious potential for epicness here, which makes this a series to watch. This is for people who like paranormal romance, but are tired of reading about vampires/werewolves/whatever else. If you’re in the mood for something that’s just inventive enough this is the book for you! I for one can’t wait for the sequel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla? And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't turned into just any pixie. . . She's Astley's queen.

Beth says 3.5 Stars…
I find this series difficult to describe… I really enjoy reading the books, but know they’re nowhere near amazing. The plots keep getting more and more complicated to the point of confusion. This plot bounced around from one thing to another without emphasizing clarity. I didn’t always know where I was in the story or how the action related to the endpoint of the novel; I actually got a bit fuzzy on the purpose of the story as well. However random the plot might have been, it still managed to be quite entertaining and engaging. The settings could have used a bit of improvement, although I acknowledge the brevity of the characters’ stays in a few locations. I also feel like I haven’t seen any growth in Jones’s writing style, which I rather expected. Not to say that there’s anything particularly wrong with it, but improvement can always happen.

Oh Zara. The angsty conflict that surrounds her grated mightily on my nerves. I really wanted her to make up her mind in her love life, which wouldn’t have had nearly the amount of drama but would have been more satisfactory to me. I also didn’t see an evolution in Zara’s character; she changed more in the first novel than in the second two combined. Nick’s absence caused a large amount of moping and pining, and that was one the biggest sources of angst in the novel. Astley started to grow on me, but I don’t particularly buy their relationship. There’s no heat coming off of the page when the two of them are together, which doesn’t exactly make for the most believable of love triangles. I still love the supporting characters and find them vastly entertaining. The Buffy references slid into the dialogue made me super happy!

I can only recommend this book as fun. It isn’t the greatest literature by any stretch of the imagination and at times falls into mediocrity because of the huge volume of paranormal/fantasy books flooding the market currently. However, I once I started the book I just couldn’t stop reading it. This is a fun and mindless summer series that could work well either on the beach or just sitting attempting to do next to nothing.
Book from Library

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


i have always been broken.
i could have. died.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.

It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” again.

Beth says 4 Stars...

This book made me realize that I really don't like verse form in novels. I'd thought that it could have been a particular author's style, but now I know that it's simply the form. Even though this isn't my favorite format, I have to say that the book was good, particularly if you love verse. I'm not sure if it was just the copy I had, but there were some very odd things with the formatting. The change in the type interrupted the visual flow and fragmented the page. Although it made an interesting parallel to Mel's fractured mental state, I did find it distracting. The setting felt very hazy and indiscriminate, which worked well with the atmosphere of the novel. Since Mel had no real clue or care as to where she existed, it made sense that the readers couldn't be certain of anything either. The plot often became garbled and I had a bit of trouble teasing it out at times. It didn't flow particularly well and if a few well placed items hadn't pointed the direction the story was to head in early on I would have been completely lost. The plot sort of meandered throughout the middle of the novel and then barreled forward at a breakneck pace near the end.

It's almost hard to analyze Mel as a character. I felt that I got a good feel for her mentally, but it's hard really say if I understood her thinking because of the verse form. I'm pretty sure nobody actually thinks in verse and I know that I don't. That made it rather difficult to connect with Mel's thoughts. Another issue I had was that although I felt for Mel I never understood her. Her issues and the effects they had on her are so far removed from my own experiences that I had a bit of trouble relating. Also, Mel exhibited relatively little growth over the course of the book. It seemed to be more of an exploration of her scarred psyche and didn't allow her to evolve. She would have made much more of an impact on me if I had noticed some forward development instead of a regression. On the other hand, Henry was a fascinating character. A large portion of it was due to the mystique he had for Mel and the rest of the "family". I also found him particularly well written... I could feel his magnetism through the page, especially how Mel always referred to Him with a capital H. This emphasized how much of a God figure he was to her and everyone around him.

Overall the book was not quite my cup of tea, but I can't deny that it was good. There were some frightening aspects of it, particularly how someone can be so damaged they let themselves be drawn into anything that feels like meaning. This is perfect for someone who loves verse novels or books with intense break downs of characters' minds.
Book from Publisher

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fixing Delilah

First of all, sorry for the absence. The whole finals and end of semester things took over my life, but now it's summer, which means time to read and blog!

Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Beth says 4 Stars...

I enjoyed Ockler's other novel, but even though I'm enjoying realistic fiction more I still go in hesitant. Once again I found the world she created an interesting place to reside for a brief time. The setting felt relatively real, but I found a few flaws as well. I think that Delilah not being as familiar with the town could have been used to enhance the experience for readers. However, we only got a few half recollected memories without the descriptions needed to bring it fully to life. I honestly just expected a bit more and finished the book disappointed in that sense. I predicted a good bit of the ending... it wasn't terribly original. That's not to say it lacked an emotional punch (I totally cried), but it lacked any real inventiveness.

I still have no tolerance for characters that constantly whine and complain, especially when the story centers on them. Delilah got more than a little angsty at points, which gave me the urge to reach into the pages and shake her. I understand that she had some issues to deal with, but honestly would a little more gumption have killed her? I think not, but the bouts of griping weren't overwhelming. I found Patrick and the romantic component of the story sweet. It didn't become overdone, which I feel is a problem in a fair number of novels. The best part of the novel hands down was how Ockler portrayed the relationships between the Hannaford women. Even though there was the huge, central event/family secret from years before the story felt fractured. Instead of fixating completely on what happened, it focused more on the fallout of an explosive secret. I also appreciated how things never magically repaired themselves and any healing that happened had to be earned.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It would be perfect for a rainy day curled on a couch alone. I wouldn't recommend it for the beach, particularly if you're near the end and have a predisposition towards waterworks like me. If you're in the mood for an interesting family drama with some darkness that never goes too far pick this one up!
Book from Library