Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent book 3)

"One choice will define you."

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first two books in the series, Divergent and Insurgent, Stop! I don't want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.

Allegiant is told from both Tris and Four's POV. Needless to say, what our main characters, their friends and acquaintances find outside the fence comes as a complete surprise. All is revealed and explained. I don't want to say any more so as not to ruin the ending for true fans. You can come talk with me when you are done.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia (Legion series book 1)

"I never believed in ghosts until one tried to kill me."

Kennedy Waters lives with her mother in a row house just down the street from Georgetown University. It is just the two of them since her father left when she was five, because he just wanted a normal life for his family. Her best friend Elle drags her out one night to go to the movies with some friends. When she gets back home just before cures, she notices that her mother has waited up on her like she usually does. There are no lights on in the house and it seems that the power is out. She goes upstairs to look for her mother and notices something is immediately wrong. Kennedy notices the stench of cigarette smoke. The temperature was much colder like a window had been left open and a light is flickering from her mother's room. In her mother's room, her cat is sitting on her mother’s chest on the bed and lets out a guttural sound like a scream. Kennedy goes to her. Other but it is too late. She is dead.

Four weeks later

Elle is helping Kennedy pack up her room. Kennedy has decided to go to boarding school than live with an aunt she hardly knows. Wanting to spend one last night in her room by herself before her aunt sells it, Elle agrees to cover for Kennedy with her mom. Asleep in her bed, Kennedy tries to pull herself from dream. It feels like someone is on top of her, trying to suffocate her and she sees her cat, Elvis. She then hears her bedroom door bang open and someone shout “take the shot!" A guy is standing in the doorway and he raises his arm. A shot rings out and the weight is lifted off of Kennedy's chest. At the foot of her bed is floating girl, a ghost. A second shot hits the ghost and it dissipates. A guy her age touches her shoulders and asks if she is okay. Kennedy asks who he is. "My name is Lukas Lockhart, and that's my brother, Jared." She looks at the guy in the door and notices that the brothers are identical twins. Knowing she is about to be sick, she rushes to the bathroom and locks the door. The brothers are outside the door and ask if she is alright. Kennedy asks them what just happened. They tell her that a vengeance ghost was using her cat to suffocate her. She recalls the night her mom died and realizes what really happened. The guys want to take Kennedy with them, she isn't safe. The ghost tried to kill her. She bluffs that she is going to call the police. They reluctantly leave and she wonders how they knew her name.

After spending the day at the library looking up information on paranormal activity and vengeful ghosts and trying to locate the Lockhart brothers, Kennedy goes back to her house at dark to finish the packing that should have already been completed. A little apprehensive about more ghosts in the house, she notices a black van parked across the street. Deciding that her neighborhood was safe if she got into trouble, Kennedy walks over and knocks on the window. She is shocked when Jared Lockhart is sitting behind the wheel. For the first time, she realizes how gorgeous he is. Lukas is with him, snarky as he was the night before. Kennedy isn't buying the answers they give her when she asks about the previous night. Lukas tells Jared that she deserves to know the truth. She is in danger because the demon who wants to kill her will just send more ghosts.

The three of them go back into Kennedy's house to explain to her why a demon is using vengeance spirits to kill specific people, one of them being Kennedy. She wants to know why. The long story short is that the Catholic Church formed a secret society, the Legion of the Black Dove, to destroy another secret society, the Illuminati before they could kill the pope. Turns out the Legion was made up of five excommunicated priests who didn't play by the rules. Not knowing who the members were, the Legion turned to a grimoire to summon and command a demon named Andras. Not believing the Lockhart brothers, Kennedy starts to question them. Before she can respond, an unplugged radio comes on and begins searching on its own for a station. It eventually settles on an Alice in Chains song but repeats the same line over and over, "Ain't found a way to kill me yet--" . The kitchen cabinets start shaking and the knives from a block start flying through the air. It is all Kennedy, Jared and Lukas can do to escape the house and drive off in their van.

On the drive away from her house, Jared and Lukas begin to explain what just happened. Andras uses vengeance spirits to do what he is unable to do; harm and kill the living. The Legion has vowed to protect the world from Andras' attacks. The Lockhart family has been fighting the attacks for over two hundred years. Each member of The Legion chooses a blood descendant to assume their role at the time of their death. Two Lockhart cousins were original members of the Legion and over time, those roles have been passed down to Jared and Lukas. Upset that their relatives summoned a demon that eventually led to her mother's death, Kennedy is completely unprepared to learn that her family is also involved in the Legion.

Stunned, Kennedy has no one left to either confirm or deny that someone in her family was part of the Legion. At all times, there are five members of the Legion. One month ago, all five members were killed at the same time and in the same way. Not only did Jared and Lukas' father and uncle die but Kennedy's mother was murdered as well. At what best could be described as their home/ workshop, Kennedy meets the other two members, Priest and Alara. Turns out each member has a specialty they bring to the team inherited from their relative. Of the five, Kennedy is the only one who was kept in the dark about her destiny. Each member of the Legion kept a journal that has been passed down through the generations. Priest is the weapons maker. He is shows Kennedy his journal. Looking through it, she spies a drawing that has the symbol of Andras on it. When asked, Priest had never noticed it before. Turns out it is some kind of ocular device called the Shift. Calling the rest over to look, Lukas recalls his uncle reading him a passage from his journal that mentions the Shift. The newest members of the Legion think they might have uncovered a weapon to destroy Andras.

Is Kennedy the fifth member of the Legion? What if she is not! Why did her mother possibly keep this legacy from her? What specialty could she bring to the team? Can they find the Shift? Is it capable of finally destroying Andras? What happens when Kennedy's heart wanders to one of the Lockhart brothers? Will it cause turmoil amongst the five or bring peace to the Legion?

Let's just say the concluding chapters were creepy and heart stopping with such an emotional cliffhanger that you will be clamoring for book two, Unbound, in 2014.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Wicked Within by Kelly Keaton (Gods and Monsters book 3)

"No one is safe for her fury."

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first two books in the series, A Beautiful Evil and Darkness, Stop! I don't want to ruin the series for you.

Two weeks have passed since Ari stabbed the goddess Athena during their battle in the ruins. With just three and a half years until her twenty-first birthday, Ari is desperate to stop the centuries old curse on her family and becoming a gorgon forever. For the first time in her life, she no longer feels lost and alone. Ari has found a home and family in New 2.

With Henri and Violet, they travel to the swamp to visit the River Witch. He tells Ari that she must locate the Hands of Zeus or everything she holds dear; her family, friends and New 2 will be destroyed by the wrath of Athena. The destruction of New Orleans by her hand fifteen years earlier will be child's play compared to what she will unleash. The Hands of Zeus are actually Athena's child, frozen in stone. It will be their only chance at survival. Athena wants Ari to resurrect her child but she also knows that Athena would not spare her life. If Ari finds the Hands and brings them to him, the River Witch will lift Ari's curse. It is known that Josephine Arnaud, a Novem council member, head of the Arnaud family of vampires and Sebastian's grandmother, has knowledge of the whereabouts of the Hands. It seems that Josephine has something against Athena. The River Witch knows too much about the situation for Ari to trust him, but he did teach Violet some things when she was younger. Before they leave, the River Witch tells Violet that her day is coming and to face fear head on. Ari is frightened by his words.

Sebastian has changed as well since Athena turned him to stone and Ari resurrected him. Now that he has drunk blood and turned towards his vampire side, he has withdrawn from Ari and the rest of the kids at the GD house. Now he will always need blood to live. Part vampire and part witch, his powers have manifested since he was brought back to life. Not wanting Ari and his friends to see how the blood lust has changed him, he has lied to and kept things from them. Sebastian is determined to help Ari and find the Hands of Zeus, especially when Athena offers the Novem a deal. Knowing where the Hands are, it is not long before they are found to be missing. The race is on to find the Hands before someone else's agenda can be fulfilled.

Can Ari find the Hands of Zeus before Athena or someone else? Are the Hands really Athena's child frozen in stone? Why did Josephine hide the Hands and what does she have against Athena? How is the River Witch connected to Athena and the curse? Will Ari know her destiny when the time comes? What is Violet's part in the ultimate showdown? Will Ari be able to break free from Athena's curse? Can Sebastian accept what he has now become? Can Ari and Sebastian live happily ever after?


Monday, October 14, 2013

Visions series by Lisa McMann (books 1 and 2))

Crash - Book one

"She can't believe her eyes."

Jules Demarco has harbored a crush on Sawyer Angotti since they played together during indoor recess in the first grade. Her family runs Demarco Pizzeria restaurant. She is shunned at school because she smells like pizza. The family lives in an apartment over their restaurant. Her father suffers from depression and is a hoarder so she never invites friends over. Her mother is the driving force behind the business since her father stays in the apartment most days. The middle of three children, Jules is further shunned at school by the vehicle she drives. For advertising, her mother has her drive their food truck. It has two giant meatballs on the roof but she get ten bucks a week from her older brother not to have to be seen anywhere near it. Most of the students at her school like Angotti's Trattoria restaurant better, owned by Sawyer's family. Friends throughout school, Sawyer's father made him break of their friendship in the seventh grade when he discovered it. Their families have feuded for years. Supposedly, the Angotti's stole the sauce recipe from the Demarco's and now sell it by the jar in local stores.

Every few days, Jules sees the same vision. Sometimes it moves, like on the movie screen the first time she experienced it. Other times it is still like a picture and always on a Jose Cuervo billboard down the street. No matter how Jules' experiences the vision, it is always the same; "a careening tuck hits a building and explodes. Then nine body bags in the snow." One night after a busy day in the food truck and night in the restaurant, Jules sits down to relax and finish watching a movie on the DVR. After collecting her money for the week from her brother, Jules hits play expecting to see the movie. Instead, her vision occurs. Backing up the footage, she watches it play out on the TV several times in slow motion. The last frame is a scene she hasn't noticed before; a close-up of three of the body bags. On closer inspection, Jules notices that one of the bags is unzipped and the head of a dead body is exposed. Much to her horror, the face Jules sees is that of Sawyer Angotti.

Her visions are becoming more frequent and in more places than ever before. Jules is constantly checking to see if Sawyer is still alive. On a Saturday night when a group of her classmates come in, she waits on their table. When she tries to take their order and asks "What sounds good tonight?" She gets "Angotti’s sounds good but they're closed." Panicking, she rushes out and goes to their apartment. She turns on the TV and searches for a phone book. A gardening show is on but suddenly the sound is mute. Looking up, Jules sees her vision again but this time it is longer. The building catches on fire and she notices new details about the structure. She is upset because she doesn't know what to do about the vision. After getting Angotti's phone number, she calls. A man answers and informs her that the restaurant is closed for the night for a family wedding reception but will reopen the next day. She wants to ask about Sawyer but the caller asks if she is Jules. She confesses that it is and Sawyer tells her that he recognized he voice. That and her family's name came up on the Caller ID? He wants to know if she is spying for her family but she tells him that she wanted to know why they were closed since they never are and to make sure things were okay. Hearing her mother coming to check on her, Jules whispers that's he is sorry and hangs up the phone. She reassures her mother that she is alright and her mother tells her to rest and bit and leaves. Then the phone rings and the Caller ID shows that it is Angotti's Trattoria. Jules doesn't answer the phone.

Jules continues to study her vision on the TV in order to glean some more details and guesses that it might be the back of Angotti's. She sketches out the new details and makes plans to check to see if she is right about her assumption.

What is really happening in Jules' vision? Who else besides Sawyer Angotti is in the body bags that she sees? Why is she having these visions? What happens when Jules works up her nerve and tells Sawyer about her vision? Is she able to save his life?

Readers will be clamoring for the next book.

Bang - Book two

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Crash! Stop! I don't want to ruin the series for you.

"They never saw it coming."

It has been a week since Jules Demarco received her first kiss from the boy she has loved since the first grade. And one week since Sawyer Angotti first saw his vision. Unlike Jules, Sawyer's vision includes sound, eleven gunshots in fact. With Jules' father unable to let go of his feud with the Angotti family, Jules and Sawyer find their stolen moments together too few for her to really help Sawyer. Before too long, the reoccurring frequency of the vision increases for him and he figures out that it pertains to a school shooting. Together in their determination to save those in the vision, Jules is helping Sawyer make sense of what he is seeing.

Will Jules and Sawyer be able to unravel the clues from his vision in time to alter it? Can they save lives? What happens when their respective families learn about their relationship? Will Jules' father be able to cope?

The Visions series concludes in 2014 with Gasp.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

"Love is the toughest game of all."

Derek Fitzpatrick finds himself expelled from the Regents Preparatory Academy at the end of his junior year for a stunt at graduation. He took the blame so that five of his friends wouldn't get in trouble but he never believed for one moment that expulsion would be his punishment. With his father on a six month deployment as the commander of a submarine, Derek must now live with his new stepmother and her five year old son, Julian. Brandi is only eight years older than him. When she announces that she is moving back home to Chicago, he doesn't want to go. With no way to stay in California, he will have to move to a new city to finish his senior year of high school. To make matters worse, Brandi announces that she and his father are going to have a baby. Derek is floored.

Ashtyn Parker is the only girl on her high school football team. Her mother left the family to go to New York and her father has checked out on her life. Joining the football team hasn't made her father, a former state champion football player himself, any more interested in her life. Truly alone, she has dated Landon McKnight, a fellow teammate for the past year. Now getting ready to start their senior year of high school and hopefully win a state championship, everyone knows that the college scouts will be there looking at Landon but will be seeing all of them as well. At the start of summer, the team gathers to vote on a team captain for the upcoming year. Ashtyn and Landon are both shocked when Ashtyn is voted as team captain. Landon doesn't take it very well.

Brandi has taken Derek and Julian to live with her father, who she hasn't seen in years. Derek picks up on the tension between them two of them, especially when her father says that she didn't mention a stepson coming with them. Put out at first, he makes sleeping arrangements for Derek. As they all go into the house, Derek notices that Brandi hasn't mentioned that she is expecting. Wanting to escape the confines of the house, Derek goes out into the overgrown backyard. He spies a tool shed and looks around. A hot looking girl comes up behind him with a pitchfork and demands to know why he is there. She accuses him of being from Fairfield to prank her but Derek doesn't know what she is talking about. Warning him, she throws the pitchfork at his foot and locks the shed. Derek is now trapped.

Ashtyn goes into the house looking for her father and finds a woman rummaging in the refrigerator. Looking twice, Ashtyn realizes that it is her older sister Brandi, whom she hasn't seen in seven years. Telling her sister about the guy she has locked in the tool shed, Brandi realizes that she has met her stepson, Derek. They run outside to free him. Derek is able to locate the key hidden inside the shed and passes it out to Brandi. She unlocks the door and introduces her sister Ashtyn to her stepson Derek.

Ashtyn spars with Derek immediately. Finding him attractive, he is the last thing she wants to think about. Her problems with Landon are just beginning when he cannot let go of the fact that she was voted football captain over him. Julian literally worships the ground Derek walks on and even her dog prefers Derek over herself. Deep down, all Ashtyn really wants is to be accepted and loved by her parents. Derek is finding it hard to keep all thoughts of Ashtyn from his mind. He wishes for just one more day with his dead mother. Trying to make the best of his situation, he tries repeatedly to break through Ashtyn's tough exterior. Soon all of her friends are drooling over his physique and flirting unabashedly. Even though Ashtyn is technically Derek's step aunt and is constantly irritated by him, it isn't long before her thoughts begin to stray to him. The tension between the two of them is thick.

Landon and Ashtyn break up when he transfers to Fairfield to play football and become captain of their team. The two of them were going to attend an elite football camp in Texas that summer. Landon was going to be Ashtyn's ride. Derek gets a letter from his maternal grandmother wishing to see him one last time before she dies and to make up for all of the mistakes she made when her daughter married Derek's father. Ashtyn pushes him to go to Texas to see her and drive her to the camp, since she has no other way to get there. Derek eventually relents and the two of them drive together to Texas.

Can Derek break though Ashtyn's tough exterior? Is Derek willing to accept his new life or will he bolt as soon as he can? Will Ashtyn finally get acceptance from her father? Can the fractured Parker family find its way back to one another? Will Ashtyn be able to lead her team to a state championship against Landon and Fairfield? Does Derek makeup with his grandmother before it is too late? What secrets is Derek keeping from Ashtyn and how do they impact her? And will the two of them ever be able to admit their feelings for one another?