Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Book Review: THE FALL OF FIVE, by Pittacus Lore #YA

The Fall of Five (the Lorien Legacies series), by Pittacus Lore
Published August 2013 by Harper Teen


About the Book (from Goodreads):
The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?

John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found each other. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.

But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they’re hiding out in Nine’s Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.

The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More importantly, they’ll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.

And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.

The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.

Lorien will rise again.

My Take:

I'm a fan of this series, although I have to admit thinking none of the subsequent books live up to the promise of the first. That first book in the series is such a wonderful blend of action, adventure, aliens and teen angst that it hooked me on these characters and their struggles.

In the books that follow, the author has relied more on the action and adrenaline to further the story lines and much less on authentic emotions. Even aliens have emotions; that's part of the draw of the first book - how alike the human and Lorien races are. And how teenage emotions can cloud even the bravest hearts.

Spoiler alert: if you aren't up to date on the series but plan to read them, skip the rest of this review, or at least down to the last paragraph!

For example, in the last book, John is finally reunited with Sarah at the end, and are together throughout this book, but we don't see any emotion or interplay between them that goes beyond the mission. The author almost gives us a glimpse a few times, but backs away from emotion in favor of upping the action instead. John should also have to deal with his attraction to Six (and their kiss), which is also glossed over in a most unsatisfactory way by both John and Six. And Sam, who is head over heels for Six, but can't seem to tell her. Nine almost gets a growth arc but it never fully realizes, nor does he learn to speak without expletives or treat other people with respect. Too bad. Sam has chapters in his own POV, which seem shallow and whiny, given his character and situation. He already had his growth arc, yet now he reverts to insecure.

Don't get me wrong, the action is great. The situations and dialogue keep you turning pages at an alarming rate, but the emotional depth is missing. I felt that in the last book as well, which is how I was able to wait for this installment to come out in paperback. And I can't decide if I will even buy the next book or not. I may wait and borrow it from the library.

If you're a fan of the I Am Number Four series, of course this is a must read. If you haven't read any of them, try book one. And maybe stop there. You decide.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: SAY NOTHING OF WHAT YOU SEE by Christy Effinger, #TWRP

Say Nothing of What You See, by Christy Effinger
Published 2014 by The Wild Rose Press


About the Book:
When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.
MY TAKE:

Christy Effinger's debut novel is a dark psychological thriller with a definite noir feel. The story starts slowly, in fits and starts of reflections and backstory, but once it gets rolling it sweeps you along on a psychological roller coaster through dark emotions and human frailty.

Seventeen-year-old Mira Piper just wants to finish high school, leave for college, and never look back. Her neglectful mother with the string of abusive boyfriends are anchors dragging her down, her Aunt Charlotte the only thing keeping Mira afloat.

When her aunt commits suicide right before her eyes, Mira feels abandoned, damaged, unloved, and unloveable. She barely protests when her mother upends their lives to seek the enigmatic Dr. Simon, a creepy and controlling spiritualist who trains mediums in a remote rural setting.

Once in Dr. Simon's clutches, it becomes clear he has an iron  hold over his disciples and the townspeople, and a strange fixation with Mira. The way the author describes Dr. Simon and his predatory attention to the young girl send shivers down your spine, triggering all kinds of warnings that Mira is too emotionally damaged to see. When her mother leaves the mansion, and leaves her behind, Mira feels she has no choice but to stay and do what the doctor tells her.

When the doctor crosses a line by hurting and imprisoning a young man, Mira's conscience begins to dig itself out of the hole where it was hiding. She's never been strong enough to stand up for herself, but can she defy him when someone else's life is on the line?

Parts of this book seem to fit with the New Adult genre, but others seem too slow, with flowing dark descriptions of inner turmoil.  Too contemporary to be truly noir, with not enough sexual tension to be firmly categorized as a romantic suspense, I had trouble fitting this book neatly into a genre. The writing is solid and the first person POV firmly draws you into Mira's emotional damage. I think it could have used a stricter hand in editing, as Mira rambles and repeats herself, but if you like slow-building,  psychological thrillers, give this book a try.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with debut author, Christy Effinger #TWRP



Today I'm happy to have Christy Effinger as my guest. Her first book was just published this summer by The Wild Rose Press, a New Adult paranormal thriller. I'll post my review of Christy's book on Friday, but right now please welcome Christy.

Hi, Christy! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I live near Indianapolis with my husband and baby daughter. My poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications. I enjoy reading all kinds of books, from literary classics to commercial fiction. My paranormal new adult novel Say Nothing of What You See was published by The Wild Rose Press in August 2014. 

What's your favorite part of being an author?

I love the duality of writing. It’s a process of creation, but also a process of discovery. Writing has taught me to be more observant of the world and human behavior. I’m still honing this skill. My goal is to be a person who notices everything. 

Why New Adult?

I wrote Say Nothing in my twenties, so it seemed natural to focus on a young protagonist who was struggling to find herself against a backdrop of darkness and deception.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Someone asked this in another interview and I said flying. Now I’m going to give a different answer. I’d like to be able to live without sleep. Just imagine what I could accomplish if I wrote all night while everyone else slept. Talk about no distractions!

LOL, I've never heard of that as a superpower, but I would have to agree it would be pretty cool! Tell us about your latest release!


When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.


Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel. Help us see how you visualize your characters - We’re talking dream cast!

I think Saoirse Ronan would make a great Mira. For Troy, maybe someone like Liam Hemsworth. And for Dr. Simon, I have no idea. I’m going to leave that up to the readers!   

I love Liam Hemsworth! He'd be a great Troy! Maybe someone like Alan Rickman for the enigmatic doctor...
 
Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

Links to buy book:

The Wild Rose Press:

  
Amazon:


BN.com



Author Links:








Thanks for visiting today, Christy! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Book Review: The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride, by Cora Seton

The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride, by Cora Seton
Published 2013 by One Acre Publishing

About the Book (from Goodreads):

Ethan Cruz should be mending fences on his Montana ranch, but instead he’s driving to the Chance Creek, Montana, airport – to pick up the bride he didn’t know he had. This latest salvo in his ongoing practical joke battle with his best friend, Rob Matheson, has gone too far, and Ethan plans to send his “bride” right back home, then get busy plotting his revenge. One look at Autumn Leeds changes his mind, however. Perhaps he needs a bride, after all. A breathtakingly beautiful city bride.

Autumn Leeds needs a story – fast – or she’s going to lose her lucrative contract with CityPretty Magazine, so when she sees the crazy video plea for a modern mail-order bride for a cowboy, it sounds like the story of the century. Making a video of her own, she casts herself as the perfect mail-order bride for a rancher, but when she finally reaches Montana, she’s surprised to find Ethan’s the perfect cowboy husband-to-be. Against her better judgment, her plan to keep her handsome groom at arm’s length disintegrates into a night of passion spent in his arms.

Ethan knows he can’t keep playing this game – he has to come clean with Autumn and tell her the truth; about the practical joke and about the state of his ranch. He’s about to lose it all because of the debts his mother racked up before his parents’ deaths. Now his sister, Claire, wants to sell the ranch and collect what little money they can. He’ll be out of a home and a job, and in no shape to support the bride he desperately wants to marry, after all.

Autumn’s in bigger trouble than ever. Not only has she fallen in love with the subject of her expose – she might be carrying his child. If she doesn’t write this article and secure her contract for another year, she’ll lose everything – her career, her apartment, and more importantly, her family’s approval. The only alternative is to stay and marry Ethan. But how can she trust a man she’s just met when she knows too well that men always let you down?

Can a love based on lies last?

My Take:

I have to admit I picked up this book because the title made me laugh. Well, and cringe a little as I hate when the word "email" is hyphenated. I'd never read a cowboy romance before this summer, but Devon McKay's Cowboy on the Run hooked me on the cowboy hero idea. bHowever, just like every vampire isn't as sexy as Eric Northman, not every cowboy romance has a swoon worthy hero. Luckily, Cora Seton delivers.

This is the first book in Seton's Cowboys of Chance Creek series. Her cowboys live on ranches in rural Montana, herding cattle, raising horses, drinking beer, and playing jokes on each other like friends who've known each other forever often do.  We meet this particular group of guys while they are waiting at the airport for the latest practical joke to play out.

One of Ethan Cruz's buddies posted a video on You Tube looking for a bride for Ethan. They filmed Ethan's drunken rant one night, edited and posted, then sorted through the applicants, all without telling Ethan. He's understandably pissed, and not sure what he's going to say when the unsuspecting woman gets off the plane.

Autumn Leeds has secrets of her own. A writer for a snarky NYC women's magazine, she answered the ad in order to write a sardonic article and secure her job at the magazine. She doesn't expect to actually fall in love with a cowboy, of all people, and barely expects to last the trial month she agreed to. And yet...

Sparks fly between them when Ethan and Autumn first meet. Watching them try to keep their secrets and try not to fall for each other is both hilarious and heartbreaking and makes for a fast, fun read.