Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Can there truly be love after death? 

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life or her actual death, she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive. 

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss. 

Hardcover, 404 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperTeen
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

What teenager is this forward?  Ridiculous quote time!  I think three from the first 100 pages will suffice:

"'Beautiful.  Too beautiful for people not to have noticed you the other night.'"
-Joshua pg 35

"'...otherwise I'm crazy and I'm talking to a beautiful, electrified, imaginary girl.'"
-Joshua pg 71

"'Anyway, it doesn't matter where we go, I just want to be wherever you are.'"
-Amelia pg 87

Joshua, I do believe you are crazy.  I understand some odd behavior from Amelia since she's been dead for a mysterious length of time and hasn't brushed up on how to act like a non-dead-and-desperate person.  But Joshua?  His only reason for wanting to be around Amelia is "UR BEAUTIFUL AND I SAW YOU IN THE WATER WHEN I DIED.  WEIRD."  Granted Amelia's main reason for wanting to be around Joshua is also his looks, added with the fact he's the only person who can see her so, you know, slim pickings.  I don't like it.  It's not even insta-love; it's insta-attraction and nothing else.  No chemistry.  Just stupid.
Also, all mysterious-ness is forced.  All questions regarding Amelia could be answered with a minute of research.  And on that note, if I was a ghost and suddenly starting to remember my previous life, I think I'd be more interested in that than following around a boy who is perfectly aware of who he is.  Furthermore, if I were a boy hanging around a ghost only I could see who didn't even remember her last name, I would start investigating.  Immediately.  This book is written in the modern age (or not stated otherwise), and Joshua doesn't even think to look up recent obituaries on his smart phone?  Or go look up old newspaper articles about a girl who died in the river?  No desire to know the unknown?  What the hell! 

There is no love between HEREAFTER and me.  It is unfortunate, because I don’t like to not like books, but this one was a complete dud with me.  Momo and the infinite sadness.

Final Thought: Zero.  Just zero, no toadstools.

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

Paperback, 374 pages

Published January 2nd 2014 by Hodder Children's Books 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

WITCH FINDER is a wonderful and atmospheric read, but with a few hang-ups.  The story was very dry -- dry is the best way I can put it, I think.  Not that I’m sure what a moist story would be, but it’s definitely the opposite of WITCH FINDER.  The dryness in addition to being a somewhat depressing story made this book harder to read for me and even harder to review.  I’m rather torn: I did enjoy the story and remained interested while reading, but it was hard to keep reading for long or the world would seem to turn gray around me.

The treatment Rosa experiences is absolutely abhorrent.  It was hard to stomach at times and honestly left a bad taste in my mouth after reading some passages.  I had to take this book baby steps at a time because there was just only so much sadness I can handle reading at a time.  Also, animal lovers be warned: there are some despicable things that happen to a puppy and a horse.

The romance was sweet, but felt kind of forced and the pacing was off.  It was hard to believe that someone with such hatred towards witches could fall in love with one knowing exactly what she was.  I mean, I adore forbidden love, but this one didn’t feel right.  Not quite instalove, but close; our main man’s transition between being murderous and then in love felt a bit cut short.  Also, let me repeat that: he is murderous.  He is actually plotting her demise and falls in love with her.  Just sayin’.

While the romance was hard to swallow and Rosa’s life was draped in sadness, I think the book really excels in its world building.  The story is crafted in a darkly realistic Victorian London where witches are real and deadly.  I liked how the author pulled together fantasy and historical fiction to make a Victorian magical realistic setting.  It was different, and I happen to really like different.

I will more than likely continue with this series, as I am super interested to see where the story is going.  Though WITCH FINDER seemed a little messy and had its ups and downs,  I overall still really liked it.  I’m hoping to feel a bit more connected to the story in the sequel, but I guess we’ll see on that.

Final Thought: 3 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Another Little Piece of my Heart by Tracey Martin

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2013 by Harlequin Teen
 (info grabbed from GoodReads)

Could this retelling be as good as the original PERSUASION by Jane Austen?  I don't have a clue, I have not read PERSUASION -- but I'm starting to think I should.  I don’t read contemporary often, but when I do, I read PERSUASION retellings.  And ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART makes my insides do a happy dance thinking about it. 

It was filled with sweetness and spark, with a dash of modern day teenage angst.  Claire and Jared made for believable and relatable characters and had such chemistry.  I could fall in love with their story again and again.  The only complaint I have is that Claire’s stubbornness started to get a bit silly towards the middle of the book, but whatever.  It’s forgivable, because in my head she’s a real person.  You forgive your friends when they’re being a little over emotional, right?

My favorite thing about ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART was how absorbed into the story I was.  It is a rare thing for me to find a book I can’t put down, and I could not pry myself Kindle away for long after I started this story.  Each character had depth, there were moments of pleasant unpredictability, and the plot moved along at a good pace.  There is nothing to complain about.

Basically, I ate this book up and am eager to read anything else Tracey Martin dishes out.  The story is adorable and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes breathing. 

Final Thought: 9.5 out of 9.5 toadstools.

This review is also posted on GoodReads