Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski was just okay

What happens when 98% of a homeroom gets a tainted flu shot that gives them telepathy? Suddenly, high school becomes a place with no secrets. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and no one is safe from the fallout.

Sarah Mlynowski has certainly come up with an interesting idea. A group of high school students who can all read each other’s minds. It’s not easy when a girl finds out her best friend thinks she’s fat or when a girl has to listen to the guy she is in love with crush on another girl, but deeper, more hurtful secrets are also revealed. And while I think the idea was solid, I though the execution needed some work. Some of the characters weren’t well developed, and a lot of the decisions that were made didn’t make sense and didn’t seem to resolve anything.

[Spoilers]

Cooper, who is hurt more by the telepathy than anyone else, in the end decides to keep it so that no one can ever lie to him again, but his reasons for keeping the telepathy (instead of taking an antidote to clear it up) don’t add up, and I had trouble buying his sudden change of mind and his excuse for not going through with it. The ending felt a bit rushed and wrapped up a little too neatly for me.

Not a bad read, but could have been better. I think this is definitely for the younger YA reader.

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Half Bad is Entirely Excellent

half badI was lucky enough to win an ARC of Half Bad (book 1 in the Half Life Trilogy) by Sally Green, and I can say that this book is excellent. This is a must-read, a fresh, exciting new series in the overdone paranormal genre. I had grown tired of the Typical Trio, i.e. the usual suspects in far too many paranormal books: vampires, werewolves, and witches. I had begun to skip over a book that even mentioned one of the three. But when I read the blurb for Half Bad, I thought, wow, that sounds completely different. Maybe I should give it a shot.

There’s no maybe about it. This book is unlike any paranormal I have ever read. Nathan, born to one White Witch and one Black Witch, has been hated and feared most of his life. He lives in fear of being classified as a Black Witch by the cruel council who tries to control every aspect of his existence. To them, he is merely a pawn in an endless war against his Black Witch father, but Nathan is so much more than that.

I attended a writing symposium where a popular YA Paranormal author said, “Think of the worst possible thing you can do to your character and then do it. Then think of the second worst thing that could happen to your character and make it happen.” I think Green attended the same symposium because she does not hesitate to make Nathan suffer and to torture him. Literally, Nathan is abused, held captive, burned, branded, scarred, and hunted like an animal through this page-turning book. The amount of suffering he endures is heartbreaking. At one point, I thought to myself, “if Nathan goes dark and kills everyone who ever hurt him, he’ll be totally justified, and I will still love him.” Yes, his suffering is that bad.

Green has created a great, strong voice in Nathan’s narration, combined it with a good supporting group of characters, and created a fast-paced, intriguing plot that had me turning page after page. So much happens in Half Bad and, yet, you get to the end, and the story is anything but over. I can’t wait for the next book to come out and see where Nathan leads us next. The sequels will definitely be on my most anticipated book lists.

Look for Half Bad in stores on March 25, 2014 from Viking Publishing. You will not be disappointed!

Blur #1, a clear winner in YA Thriller Fiction

blurWhen recently deceased Emily starts appearing to Daniel Byers at funerals and football games, Daniel assumes what any teenager would: he’s going insane. But the nightmares (daymares?) don’t stop, and he’s driven to find out what really happened to Emily. How did a girl who was a strong swimmer drown? And why did her ghost tell him to find her glasses? And why is the new girl, Stacy, avoiding him? And why is he, a healthy, athletic high school boy, suddenly getting headaches and passing out?

Steven James crafts a tale that is mystery, thriller, and paranormal all rolled into one. He keeps readers guessing about who-done-it, what’s up with the new girl, and what is happening to Daniel. In my experience, a lot of books that deal with a character suddenly having visions usually choose a kid who is already an outsider or someone who is considered weird. But James chooses the high school quarterback, a high-profile boy if ever there was one, and the son of the local sheriff as his protagonist. I liked that he used a character who would be in the limelight, whose sudden oddness would not go unnoticed.

Though there were a few things I found hard to believe (Daniel told way too many people about his visions, and his investigation into Emily’s death seemed a bit too easy), I liked the characters and the overall story that James created. I would have liked more resolution or at least dialogue at the end between Daniel and his father. That was a situation that needed some conversation. I won’t unleash a spoiler, but what happened between them at the end deserved some ink, in my opinion. I would’ve liked a deeper exploration of Daniel’s sudden visions, but since this is a series perhaps that will come in the next book.

Overall, a good read. A different read. I will definitely add Daniel’s future adventures and visions to my to-read list.

Chad Guidry’s Louisiana Through My Lens transports the reader to Cajun country.

Chad Guidry's Louisiana Through My Lens transports the reader to Cajun country.

From images of cypress stumps rising from the swamp waters like ghosts to the Spanish moss creating a canopy among the trees, Chad Guidry’s photographs capture the haunting beauty of Louisiana’s swamps located in the heart of Cajun country.

Guidry has a true eye for photography that is evident in each photo. His sunsets are stunning, capturing an array of colors that make the images seem to rise right off the page. He includes the wildlife of Louisiana in his book. From gators and crawdads to fish and birds, the very animals that bring the swamps to life bring Guidry’s photos to life as well.

Turning the pages of Louisiana Through My Lens transported me back to the time I spent on the bayou and made me feel as if I was once again on a boat cutting through the swamp while Spanish moss waved overhead.

Anyone who enjoys wildlife, nature, and beauty will love this book. I highly recommend it.

A fitting end to the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Rush

After I read The False Prince, I wrote a blog about whether or not one can trust a narrator who lies, and Jaron is certainly that. Throughout the third and final book, he deceives us readers with his tricks and his unrevealed plans and his secret alliances.

The Shadow Throne has everything the first two books had: action, adventure, and deception, but it is also far darker than the previous books. Jaron is pushed beyond his limits and almost breaks. It was refreshing to see that the clever boy king could endure loss and abandon hope, that he could fight his way back from rock bottom.

It was a satisfying end to the series even if I felt that too many of his plans were kept hidden. I was left thinking, if all of this has been in place all along, was there really any threat to Jaron and his kingdom? How did he make so many alliances and plans without revealing them to the readers until the last possible moment? Sure, it builds suspense, but it also builds suspicion from the reader. I felt a little too kept in the dark. I found myself not really believing any looming threats or danger because I knew some big Jaron twist would come along and reveal that a contingency plan had been in place all along which negated the level of the threat to begin with, and that became true and a bit disappointing the further I read.

There were a few other things that irked me but to discuss them is to drop major spoilers, so I will refrain for now and wait until after the book is published to expound.

Don’t get me wrong. I still liked the book. I like the cast of supporting characters. I liked the ending of the series. I guess I just had a harder time buying into The Shadow Throne than I did The False Prince and The Runaway King.

The Big Reveal is here: The Cover of Sacrifice, The Elementals #5 by Brigid Kemmerer

The artwork for the cover of Sacrifice is here and it’s the hottest cover yet. Seriously, how am I going to stop looking at the cover long enough to read the book? Is it hot in here or is just this picture? Sacrifice is expected in October 2014 from Kensington Teen. Until then, we’ll just have to stare at the covers!

The USA cover for Sacrifice

The USA cover of Sacrifice

The Australian Cover of Sacrifice

The Australian Cover of Sacrifice

Sacrifice: Book 5 in the Elemental Series

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick is used to pressure.

He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight…

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17149158-sacrifice

Brigid Kemmerer website: http://www.brigidkemmerer.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrigidKemmererWrites?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrigidKemmerer

Amazon link to Elemental Series: http://www.amazon.com/Brigid-Kemmerer/e/B005IB0MTA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391773518&sr=8-2-ent

Barnes & Noble link to Elemental Series: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/brigid-kemmerer/3072647

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=brigid+kemmerer&search=Find+book

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/storm/id495681634?mt=11

IndieBound:  http://www.indiebound.org/search/apachesolr_search?author_filter=Kemmerer%2C+Brigid