Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Angelfire Trilogy by Courtney Allison Moulton

Book One - Angelfire

Ellie Monroe is a senior at a high school in the suburbs of Detroit. The days leading up to her seventeen birthday are chaotic at best. She suffers from terrifying, reoccurring nightmares that drugs and therapy do not help. Her parents are constantly fighting when her father is at home. Only her best friend Kate understands and lends a sympathetic ear. After school one day, she spots a boy that she hasn’t seen before standing under a tree. He is cute but looks too old for high school. Ellie gets the feeling as if she knows him from somewhere but shakes it off. Then she notices him staring back at her. Ellie blushes and heads to her mother’s car. The next morning, she gets a call from Kate to turn on the morning news. Mr. Meyer, her economics teacher has been found dead that morning behind a bar. His body has been severely mutilated and a long hunting knife with a gut hook was left behind.

School is cancelled for the day and Kate comes over to Ellie’s house. After a nap that ends in another nightmare for Ellie and a movie marathon, the girls decide to meet up with some friends mat the ice cream shop. Not wanting to talk about Mr. Meyer’s murder, Ellie tunes out her friends and scans the people in the shop. She sees the boy from outside the school from the day before. Noticing his appearance, Ellie once again gets the feeling that she that she knows him from somewhere. He notices her staring and he looks back at her. She turns her attention back to her friends. Ellie goes to throw away her trash. When she turns around, the boy is right behind her. He asks her if she remembers him. Disappointment is on his face when she answers only from the day before. He introduces himself as Will. Her friend Landon comes over and tells Will to stop talking to Ellie. She tells Will goodbye and Landon to chill out as they walk away.

At dinner that night, Ellie’s father is home for once. Tuning out the conversation, it isn’t long before Ellie realizes that her parents are arguing over her nightmares and bring up Mr. Meyer’s death. Ellie gets up to head to her room. She spends the evening watching movies. Her parents continue to argue. At midnight, the happy birthday texts begin. She decides to spend her first moments as a seventeen year old by sneaking out of the house and sitting on the front porch. Soon, she decides to go for a walk around the block. She hasn’t gone too far when she hears a low rumble in front of her. There isn’t a sign of a car and thoughts of Mr. Meyer cause her to think that maybe she should have stayed home. Suddenly, Will appears in front of her and she becomes nervous. Only four houses from home, she turns to go but Will stops her. Ellie sees nothing but comments on the smell. Will tells her that she isn’t able to see into the Grim yet. He is talking to someone but Ellie still doesn’t see anything.

Realizing that she knows nothing about him, Ellie heads home. Will tells her to wait. She turns to see Will afraid. He asks her to come to him but Ellie shouts “no!” “Don’t scream. You’ll make him attack.” Panicking, Will grabs Ellie before she can leave/ will is too strong and Ellie can’t escape. He comments that he is ready to quit playing games. He presses his palm to her forehead. There is a blinding white light and her heads feels as if it will explode. A cruel wind batters her but she is supported by Will. The light and wind disappear and Ellie thinks she sees wings. Blinking, there is nothing there. Tired but energized, the haze around her disappears. With clear eyes, she sees Will marvels that she can see through the darkness of the night. Then she sees a large, dog-like monster. Not afraid but calm, Ellie is flooded by strange memories and thoughts that she knows are her own. Will is suddenly familiar and Ellie realizes that she needs to fight but has no weapons. Will kicks the beast back and Ellie holds out her arms to will two khopesh swords out of thin air into her hands. The weapons feel familiar. Beginning to spar with the beast, it grabs the hood of her sweatshirt and yanks her to the ground. Ellie smashes her elbow into its face and it drops her. Will has it by the throat and tells Ellie “now!” before she can think; she has shoved a sword through the beast’s throat, turning it to ash. Ellie passes out.

The next morning, Ellie wakes up exhausted. She is annoyed to have dreamed of Will and her nightmare seemed all too real. She is still in her clothes from the day before except now her sweatshirt is missing. Her mom makes her pancakes for her birthday and promises to take her to buy a car that afternoon. Her father has already left for the day. Ellie asks her mom if she heard anything last night. She apologizes for all of the arguing but Ellie says that she means like a growling dog. Her mother gives Ellie an odd look and asks if she had another nightmare. No, I wasn’t sleeping and her mom tells her to shut her windows. Ellie thinks that she must have been dreaming and that she is now officially crazy.

Later at school, Ellie washes her hands in the bathroom and looks in the mirror. She sees thin black lines spreading from her hair, across her cheek and around her eye. Frantic, she can’t wipe them off. Backing away from the mirror, Ellie closes her eyes. When she opens them, the lines are gone. She composes herself and leaves. In the hallway, she runs into Will. Scaring her, Ellie asks him why he is at school if he doesn’t go there. Then she notices the tattoo covering his arm. It reminds her of the lines on her face just a moment ago. His are beautiful and she can’t stop staring. Will asks her if she is alright. I’m fine, she answers. Will tells her that he needs to talk with her about that night before. She tries to leave but he is adamant that her life depends on it.

Who is Will? Why has he been watching Ellie? Are Ellie’s dreams just nightmares or is she remembering something? What really happened the night of her seventeenth birthday? Does Mr. Meyer’s murder have something to do with Ellie? And just what is happening to Ellie?

Wings of the Wicked – book two

Now that Ellie has discovered the truth about her existence, her world has been turned upside down. More human than in her previous lives, Ellie struggles to maintain a normal teenage life with her duties as the Preliator. Even though both will and Ellie have admitted their feelings for one another, will is keeping his distance and tries to keep their relationship on a business like level. A relationship between the two of them could be seen as improper and even considered dangerous. And Ellie's heart is breaking.

Caden comes to Ellie's school one day to warn her that Bastian has recovered the sarcophagus of Enshi. Caden likes things status quo and doesn't wish for the end of the world. Ellie realizes that Bastian just doesn't want her soul destroyed but for the Second War or the Apocalypse. He is also there to warn her that Bastian is hunting her. He is sending his worse and their order s are to capture Ellie alive. Bastian is looking for the key that will break the Enochian or angelic spell keeping whatever is inside imprisoned.

In a preemptive move, two more angelic reapers, Marcus and Ava, join up with them. Ellie knows Marcus from the past but Ava is a completely new face to her and neither girl gets along with the other. Ellie is a little jealous of Ava because she suspects that there may have been something between her and Will in the past. When  Ava demands that Ellie fight her weapon less to prove her abilities, Ellie lays her hands on Ava's wrists and calls all of her power, Angelfire, forth. Burning her, Ava says that is enough. Why after all of this time is Ellie in possession of a new power? Could it have something to do with the fact it took her forty years to reincarnate? Can Ellie balance both parts of her life; human and Preliator?  Is Ava really demonic instead of angelic as Ellie would like? Has something gone on between her and Will in the past? Why is she still having problems recalling her past? Is Ellie the key to unlock the angelic spell on the sarcophagus? Can she evade Bastion's minions? Why is Caden passing Information along to her and can he be trusted? Can Will get past the restrictions placed on him in regards to his relationship with Ellie or are they doomed to be apart?

Shadows in the Silence– book three

After the cliffhanger in Wings of the Wicked, it all comes down to the final battle. Ellie must find the relics needed to destroy the Enshi and save herself. Who will survive and who will die in the thrilling conclusion of the Angelfire trilogy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Infinityglass by Myra McEntire (Hourglass book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first two books in the hourglass trilogy, Hourglass and Timepiece, Stop! I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.
“The dead have come back to life. Time has been rewritten. The space time continuum has been damaged. Anyone with the basic time gene could see ripples; imprints of people from the past, which had turned into entire scenes, streets full of people, even buildings. These rips were getting worse.”
The Hourglass will need to locate the legendary Infinityglass if it has any chance of fixing the space time continuum. Jack Landers is still on the loose and now Teague, the supposed head of Chronos, is looking for it as well but for her own purposes. When Lily, who has the ability to locate things, senses the Infinityglass, the member of the Hourglass are stunned. Always believed to be an object, it turns out that it is actually a person, seventeen year old Hallie Girard of New Orleans. She is the daughter of Paul Girard, a dealer of special artifacts on the black market. He uses time travelers to retrieve objects. Hallie would describe her father as a “magical mafia boss”, but never to his face. Girard Industries has many businesses under their umbrella, including Chronos. Paul is the true head of Chronos and Teague is his estranged wife. She has pretty much abandoned her family.
Liam Ballard has sent Dune Ta’ala to New Orleans to further his research on the Infinityglass. Meeting with Paul Girard, he will pose as Hallie’s bodyguard in order to stay close to her. Dune is not happy to find out that he will be staying with Poe Sharpe. Liam reassures him that Poe believed that he was working for Chronos when in actuality Teague was lying to him. Jack Landers also manipulated Poe’s memories. When he realizes the truth, Jack stabbed him. Dune needs to remember that a gravely injured Poe rescued Michael and Emerson from the rip. Liam tells Dune that Poe can be trusted. Dune asks Poe to tell him what Hallie is like. A genius he says who takes college courses on line and dances seriously. Hallie is like her father, you are better if to stay on her good side. Poe warns him to be prepared; Hallie has a sexy way about her and uses it to get what she wants. Poe asks him not to tell Hallie is in back in town. Dune asks if the two of them are together, No, just friends now but the less Hallie knows the better. Teague has lied about everything.
Hallie is not happy to learn that Dune is her new bodyguard, especially since he will have unprecedented access to her. Pulling one of her old stunts, she climbs out of her window and goes to an old bar in the French Quarter. Sipping her drink, she is surprised when Dune comes to retrieve her. The attraction between the two of them is mutual and Hallie attempts to use it to her advantage. She is tired of her father keeping her in an ivory tower and just wants to get out and have a little fun. Dune is worried about keeping his job after her father finds out she left home. Trying to get her out the door, he makes comment about how she could slip past him by changing her appearance. She demands to know what her father has told him. Only that she has “an uncanny knack for appearances.” Suddenly, Hallie morphs her facial features back to their original form. Dune doesn’t react and Hallie is furious. She wants to know exactly who he is. Just then, multiple time rips appear in the bar and Hallie realizes that Dune can see them. They step out of the bar and into the courtyard to escape the noise and talk.
Once outside, Hallie is cold. Dune takes off his jacket and wraps it around her shoulders to keep her warm. She notices that he isn’t carrying a weapon and his flimsy excuses aren’t working on her. Scrambling for answers and a way to get her back home, he confesses to knowing about her transmutation ability. She pushes him for more answers and he reluctantly reveals that he also has time related abilities. She asks if he works for Chronos. No he says and then she remembers hearing her father talking about the Hourglass. He tells her that he is the only person capable of helping her and that he was hired by her father. Being her bodyguard is just his cover. He is like a historian and the Infinityglass is his area of expertise. Dune admits that she is in fact the Infinityglass and he is there to help her. Not knowing enough about her abilities, she doesn’t immediately accept his offer of help. She turns to leave and accidentally walks into a rip. Once inside, her body merges with a man inside. His memories become a part of her. All Dune can do is stand back and watch. Finally, she pushes herself out and the rip closes. Dune catches her before she can fall when she reemerges. Hallie is ready to accept Dune’s help and learn what being the Infinityglass is about.
What powers does the Infinityglass possess and what is their purpose? Will Hallie and Dune be able to figure them out? Do the two of them act on their mutual attraction? How did Hallie become the Infinityglass? What secrets is Teague keeping? How will Teague attempt to use her daughter? Can Dune keep Hallie safe? Will she be able to mend the space time continuum to right the wrongs of Jack Landers?

Even though each book of the Hourglass series is told from two alternating POVs that change with each installment, fans will be glad to know that all six main characters are reunited in this book.
Visit Murphy’s Law, the Official Hourglass Series Website.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Survival. Of the Fittest.

The Corporation is flying the fifty contestants and entire production crew to Paradise Cove for the 41st Miss Teen Dream pageant when disaster strikes. The plane crash lands on a seemingly uninhabited desert island. Only fourteen contestants survive and none of the crew. Left with a few bottle of water and a handful of bagged pretzels, these fourteen teenage beauty contestants must find a way to survive until they are rescued, if they don’t kill one another first.
Adina Greenberg, Miss New Hampshire, only entered the Miss Teen Dream pageant for an expose on beauty pageants for her school newspaper. She quickly spars with the quintessential contestant, Miss Texas Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins who believes they should continue their pageant preparation over finding a way to survive on the island. When the remaining girls vote to make Taylor their leader over Adina, it’s not long before each girl scrambles to keep their secrets hidden.
In spite of everything, Taylor turns out to be quite the leader. The girls pull together and start to make an existence for themselves in the island. They are quite proud of all the work they have accomplished. Friendships are formed and true identities are revealed. But soon, the realization of their situation begins to set in. Turns out, these teen beauty queens are not alone after all.
Beauty Queens is a hilarious romp part Lord of the Flies, part Lost and a whole lot of girl empowerment that pokes fun at beauty pageants, corporate America, celebrities and every social issue under the sun. No one is safe from Ms. Bray’s humorous jabs, including your funny bone. The author herself reads the audio version of this book. Definitely worth listening to.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Mara Dyer Trilogy, books 1 and 2 by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – book one

Mara Dyer (not her real name) was the only survivor of a building collapse that killed her friends Rachel and Clare and her boyfriend Jude, who was Claire’s brother. She doesn’t remember how she got there or what happened, only waking up in the hospital. Upon her release, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Rachel had been her best friend since the first day of kindergarten. Claire and Jude were recent arrivals to their Rhode Island town. Mara psychologist suggested that she be placed in a long term care facility. Her mother, also a psychologist, agreed by her father the lawyer did not. Instead she asks her family to move away. Everything in her life, her house, her school reminds her of Rachel. The family moves to Florida to start over. No matter what, Mara’s mother hovers over her, always worrying and looking for signs that she isn’t coping.

Mara and her older brother Daniel transfer to the exclusive Croyden Academy for the Arts and Sciences mid-trimester, late for their first day, Mara retrieves their schedules while Daniel reassures their mother on the phone. The siblings go their separate ways after Mara reassures her brother that she will be fine. Lost on the sprawling campus, she finds the vending machines before she can locate her Algebra class. Having left the house without eating breakfast, Mare digs out her last two quarters to but a package of M&Ms. The package becomes stuck. Mara gets frustrated but she hears a voice with a British accent talking to her. She turns around and sees a gorgeous, disheveled boy smiling at her. Looking to see if there is someone else behind her, the boy is gone when she looks back. A girl and boy walk by her then and the girls tells her to “watch it.” Explaining that she is a new student, Mara heads off to class.

Dreading walking into class late and drawing attention to her, Mara experiences the first of several hallucinations that day when she walks in. completely unprepared for it, she ends up falling to the floor, busting her nose. Not the way she wanted to make a first impression, the teacher excuses her to the bathroom to clean up. Looking in the mirror, she sees Claire’s face instead of her own, rattling her even more. Pulling herself back together, she heads back to class where she is miserable until the bells rings. Alone at lunch, Mara sees and hears Jude. Distressed, she opens the first door she finds and by chance, it is her Spanish classroom. Her teacher proceeds to belittle her in front of everyone.

At the end of class, a quirky boy asks her how she is doing. He is also in her Algebra class and introduces himself as Jamie Roth. Fine really except the girl who made the rude comment earlier. Anna, Jamie says after Mara describes her. He then asks her if she went near Noah Shaw. Describing the boy with her, Jamie tells he that is Aiden Davis, Anna’s boyfriend before she dated Noah and Aiden came out of the closet. Supposedly, Noah dropped Anna after dating only a couple of weeks and he supposedly Croyden’s resident womanizer. Mara realizes that she has just made her first friend at Croyden.
When Mara’s mother picks her up after school, she sees the dried blood on Mara’s neck. She lies that it was just a nose bleed but her mother doesn’t buy it. Mara keeps the hallucinations to herself. Mother and daughter ride home in silence. Mara heads to her room and her mother leaves her home until dinner. On the evening news, there is a story about Jordana Palmer, a murdered tenth grader and the possibility of new evidence. Mara briefly hallucinates that the story is about her friends’ deaths in Rhode Island and asks to turn off the TV.

The next morning in AP English, Mara discovers that she has already covered the material her new teacher is about to go over. When the teacher asks a question, Mara is the only person to raise their hand. The teacher calls on Mara but a British accented voice calls out the answer instead. The teacher reprimands Noah and Mara realizes the voice belongs to the notorious Noah Shaw. To the teacher’s delight, Mara and Noah begin a spirited debate over the answer. When the teacher moves on, Mara pulls out her copy of Lolita to read rather than listen to the lecture.

Trying to get out of class when the bell rings, Mara inadvertently knocks over her chair. Noah quickly helps her. When she drops her books in the hallway, he stops to help again. He comments on her choice of reading material. Soon, Mara is hurling insults at Noah but he is amused. Heading towards Algebra class, Mara realizes that she is having a hard time getting Noah Shaw out of her head.

Mara begins to have the same reoccurring nightmare where she remembers how she ended up being with her friends the nigh they died. Arriving at school early one morning, she goes for a walk to clear her head. She hears whimpering and finds a severely abused dog cowering in a yard. Trying to help it, the owner finds her. They exchange words and he chases her off. Thinking bad thoughts about the owner, she runs back to school, making it just in time for English class. When class is over, she bumps into Anna. Anna makes a nasty comment to Mara and Noah quickly comes to her defense. He follows Mara to her next class, trying to make conversation the entire way. Noah sits next to her in Algebra class even though he isn’t a student in it. Noah stares at her though the entire class while Anna sits seething.

After reporting the abused dog to animal control, Mara goes after school to see if it has been picked up. When she reaches the house, she sees police cars and an ambulance. Mara scans the yard looking for the dog when she sees the owner dead. His death is exactly the same way she imagined it that morning. It should be impossible and she goes into shock. While being checked out by an EMT, she overhears the police talk about how the dog will be put down. Not wanting that to happen, Mara sneaks away with the dog while no one is watching. In bad shape, Mara knows that she must get the dog to the nearest vet. Carrying it back to her car, she runs into Noah in the parking lot. He is quite nasty to her until he realizes that she is trying to get the dog help. Noah takes the dog from her and says that there is a vet close by. Mara goes with him and is surprised to find out that his mother is the vet. She discovers that she really doesn’t know who Noah Shaw is.

What happened the night Mara’s friends died in Rhode Island? Why has she suppressed the memories from that night? Did Mara inadvertently have something to do with the do owner’s death? Who is Noah Shaw? Can finding love help Mara solve the mystery that is now her life before someone else gets hurt?

Twists and turns abound for Mara as she attempts to figure out what is real and what is imagined.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer – book two

SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you haven’t read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in its entirety. 

Mara has been temporarily committed to a hospital; psychiatric unit after her breakdown following the events of her father’s trial. Angry with her parents, she quickly realizes that if she convinces everyone that she only suffers from PTSD and knows her hallucinations aren’t real, she wouldn’t be committed to an inpatient facility. Only Noah believes her when she says that Jude is alive and behind some of the things happening to her. When her mother breaks down that she only wants Mara well and not to end up like her mother, she begins to realize that her abilities/curses are possibly genetic. Playing on her parents’ guilt, Noah helps convince them that the unit isn’t safe. Mara knows that she must go to an outpatient program instead.

Mara is pleasantly surprised to find her friend Jamie Roth in the same program as herself, but that seems to be the only upside. Never allowed alone, her father takes her to and from the program. Daniel must accompany her but Noah is allowed to stay in her life. On quite friendly terms with the Dyer family, Noah knows Mara’s mother approves of his presence in Mara’s life but her father does question his motives. Determined to help the girl he loves, Noah Shaw will stop at nothing to uncover the mysteries surrounding Mara and himself.

Is Jude really alive and terrorizing Mara or is he just a hallucination? Does Mara’s grandmother play a part in what she is going through? Where do Noah’s abilities come from? Can Mara ever earn her family’s trust again? And what happens when Mara discovers that Noah is still keeping secrets from her?

With suspense, mystery, surprising revelations and a killer cliffhanger, readers will be clamoring for the final book, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, due out October 22, 2013.