Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Sarah's life is not what with think of as normal. They move a lot, whenever the cold gets especially sharp and the smell of wet dog gets especially strong.  But, her mom and dad seem to figure out how to make it work, until they don't- and her mom disappears.  That is when she chances to meet Alan, the beastkeeper in the little not quite forest behind her house, and life doesn't return to normal.

This is a dreamy, dark, story woven around a fire on a winter evening of old magic and curses and pain.  It is beautifully written - lyrical and sharp at the same time.

When I finished I wanted to start at the beginning again, because I knew I had not paid attention to the right threads in this story! I have a feeling this will be a book you hear more about!

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Grace is one messed up ambassador's granddaughter.  That seems to follow here all around Adria, the country where she lands with her grandfather.  She lived in Adria with her mother for ,any Summer's before the fire and her moms death.  Now Grace has been bumped from therapist to clinic and finally landed at the last spot available- her grandfathers house.  Grace is haunted by her moms death- she smells smoke and sees the scarred face of her moms killer everywhere. Except her mom was not killed by the scarred man, and there is a death certificate to prove it.

I had this mystery all figured out, from her moms actual killer to the shady figures appearing in the empty embassy down the road.  But, I was wrong! I love it when I am wrong!  And boy was I wrong!

This story didn't begin or end with this book.  This continues on in the next book. But there are details that are cleared up. Grace solves part of the mystery- and realizes she is not all alone. That makes a big change for her!

I liked this- it was a mini Bond-there was spy work, some acrobatics and diplomacy between embassiesand some pretty big twists. I enjoyed this quick read.

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Image from LibraryThing

Hallelujah, not the best name for a cool girl-so when Hallie was welcomed in to Luke's group and then his arms she as sure she had arrived.  Instead, she became the butt of harassment and ridicule. And it just wouldn't stop.  Life in school and church had deteriorated to the point that Hallie's only real wish is to disappear. And the it was time for the youth group camp out.

When Rachel, the new girl, tries to make friends Hallie one more time and Hallie snubs her- that is the end.  Rachel breaks off the hiking group and starts back to the camp . Hallie feels bad and joins her and Jonah, Hallies old friend joins them.  It should be an easy walk down the mountain.

Should be., but it isn't.  There is a rain storm, a mudslide, and that is all it takes for these three to become hopelessly lost.

So- this is a pretty predictable story.  The there have to depend on each other to make it back.  There is a bear, some unexpected injuries, no food and a bear.  The part that wasn't as predictable was their relatives bishops with God and how that is woven into the story.  I appreciated the honesty and the non- preachy attitude. I also liked that it wasn't all tied up neatly at the end. Hallies questions remained.
I would recommend this one. Survival stories are a hit, weave in a love story and a growing friendship and this was really good.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Crash by Lisa McMann

image from LibraryThing
Jules is haunted by an image of a fiery crash and body bags. This private video plays again and again on billboards, road signs and her computer screen.  Her own private hell to watch over and over.  And if that isn't enough - the video slowly adds details, including the face inside one of the body bags - and she knows him!

Mental - right!  On top of that, Jules father is a hoarder. His mental illness makes Jules fear that she is also losing her mind!   Her dad's breakdown was traced to the beginning of a feud with a rival pizza family.  And it just happens that the son of the pizza dynasty is the face in the body bag that Jules sees!  Oh yeah, and he is her secret love!

What is a girl to do???

That is the story.

This premise really intrigued me.  How would you convince someone else that you know something bad is/might/could happen to them without everyone thinking you are completely off your rocker?  Because really, visions can't be true - right?  But, what if they are true?  What if ignoring this vision brings Sawyer's death?

It was a little weird to read a book that centers so much on pizza following Saint Anything which also focuses on pizza!  It made me hungry!!  Just an odd coincidence.

This is a slim book - and the first of a series, the vision seems to be moving on to other characters. There is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet feel to this - but with a vision twist. I would recommend this book.  It grabs the reader quickly, with very little background and keeps your attention throughout.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

image from LibraryThing
I like a good Sarah Dessen! I can count on strong female characters, a bit of a love interest, a family plot and some sort of twist.  But, most of all, I can count on a happy ending - there will be a resolution!

That is just what I found in Saint Anything.  This is the story of a girl, Sydney,  hidden in the enormous shadow of her older brother, Peyton.  That is just fine - until Peyton veers farther and farther from the straight and narrow and ends up in prison.  And then Sydney realizes the depth of his shadow on her parents - they simply don't see her at all!

In an attempt to start over, Syd transfers schools and slowly makes friends with Layla and her family at Seaside Pizza, the family restaurant.  That sets the stage for this book.  Inside the pages there is a creepy, lurking friend of Peyton's, a band competition, a moment of alcohol and a medical emergency.  Through it all, Sydney learns to trust her heart and finds her voice. And her parents finally see her as the individual she is.

I would say finding what is lost in an unexpected way is the theme of this book, whether that is friendship, strength or a new and different reality.

I enjoyed this book and it's comfortable predictability!
I recommended this already to my niece and my daughter!
As I said - Sarah Dessen doesn't disappoint!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

image from LibraryThing
I liked Mare and the premise of this book - a girl with no prospects becomes Someone (with a capital S).

But the Hunger Games vibe was incredibly strong - a little too strong for me in the beginning!!

Mare is from the Stilts (the lowest of the low) and she is a Red (meaning her red blood puts her in the serving class) held down by the Silvers (silver blood and special powers), the ruling class.  She has a deep commitment to Kilron, an orphaned friend from the Stilts, and is committed to his welfare at all costs.  And, she is falling in love with two men - who just happen to be brothers and princes - Cal and Mavern.

I can accept and even enjoy all those details. But, there was one detail that just pushed it over the edge.  She is also an unwitting revolutionary - operating without seeing the big picture - a pawn for both sides.  That was a little too Katniss-ish for me.

The theme is - making yourself someone when you have NO chances to be someone.  That is appealing to all of us middle of the class, miss average, invisible readers.  And there is LOTS of violence - swords and war and matches to the death and blood and gore - which appeals to a different part of the reader's' psyche.

My overall
feeling - it was an intriguing and fast read. It is the first of a series and even with my doubts I would like to know what happens to Mare, so I would read the next one!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Guilty by David Baldacci

Will Robie - the CIA operative with a heart.  He stands for right and justice. And he is one messed up dude!  His last job was more than he expected - a single shot took out a dictator in a foreign land and his daughter hidden behind him.  It messed him up just like Jason Bourne at his last assassination attempt.

So what is Robie to do?  The Blue Man sends him home to deal with his family problems - his father has been accused of murder.  In typical Baldacci fashion he begins to unfurl the murder mystery.

I was hooked - sort of.  This all felt more contrived than other Baldacci Robie books.  I am tired of him almost finding his way out of the dark of the CIA and being pulled back in.  This did it again.

I really didn't like the end of the book.  The pulled and broken father/son relationship is stretched and messed with throughout this book.  And then it is miraculously mended.  I don't really like that. It pushes the edges of Robie in a way that I don't appreciate.  And makes me even sadder when I think about it in relationship to friends with father issues  - neatly tied solutions just don't ring true!

So - did I like it?  It kept my interest and my focus on the beach in Mexico. But - i wouldn't recommend it.

Vacation Book #3