Stolen by Lucy Christopher


Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , | Posted on 6:30 AM

Rating: 5 / 5 stars.

Gemma doesn't understand why Ty chose her; picked her out in the airport coffee shop with his piercing blue eyes, drew her close, and swept her away.

It soon becomes clear, though, that he has planned this out carefully. The wig, the fake I.D., the drugs.

Ty didn't just kidnap her on a whim.

This book is brutal and stark and utterly beautiful, just like the Australian outback where Ty takes Gemma. He tells her there is no one else; he tells her that this place isn't on any maps. And if this could be true anyplace on Earth, it would be Australia. There are no roads. No telephone lines, no airplanes, no people -- just the sand and the sun and the endless sky.

The setting is a palpable force in the narrative, woven into the structure and the atmosphere and the characters themselves, and that is part of what makes this often grueling story not just bearable, but compelling. Christopher won't let you disconnect from this world; you are drawn towards both characters, Ty and Gemma both, fighting to survive in a harsh landscape that strips everything down to the bare roots. The second-person narration, which I usually find gimmicky, is intimate and claustrophobic and heartbreaking here.

I don't want to spoil anything more about this book, so I'll just say that Stolen is pitch-perfect, and you may never be prepared to read it, but you should anyway. Trust me.

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready


Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:39 AM

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Aura sees ghosts -- but so do a lot of kids her age. In fact, everyone born after the Shift can, which means people sixteen and under are constantly being pestered by the restless spirits of the not-so-departed. Which, of course, their parents and elders can neither hear nor see.

Talk about a generation gap.

Aura's aunt is one of the few 'adults' who could see spirits before the Shift, so she can sympathize with the constant pestering. Then again, she's built an entire career on the new vociferous status of the dead, creating a legal practice for ghosts to air grievances and settle unfinished business -- in court. Apparently, something about a lawsuit can bring most ghosts the closure necessary to move on.

In the meantime, most kids born post-Shift wear lots of red (a color that seems to repel ghosts) and try to ignore the spirits crowding around them.

Aura works in her aunt's office, taking notes and testifying for clients on the stand (it's a well-known fact that the dead cannot lie), but she tries to keep this part of her life from getting in the way of her real loves -- like her amazing musician boyfriend Logan, who is one gig away from breaking into the record industry and launching his Irish rock band into the big time.

While she knows that Logan loves her, Aura is terrified of losing him to the seductive world of rock stardom -- so for the night of the concert and his birthday, Aura is making some special preparations of her own.

She never expected the night to end this way: Logan's body down the hall, while Aura stands in his bedroom, staring at his violet-hazed spirit.

Her boyfriend is dead, but definitely not gone.

Logan's family wants him to move on. Aura's aunt wants her to testify in court about his death. But Logan still loves her, and Aura can't bear to lose him twice.

At the same time, Aura is being plagued in other areas of her life. She's working on a research project about prehistoric monuments (think Stonehenge and other cool places) which she suspects holds the key to the reasons behind the Shift -- and she is suddenly saddled with a class partner, an improbably attractive Scottish boy who is disconcertingly good at flirting.

Aura feels disloyal, but at the same time, what future can she have with a dead boyfriend? And who the hell is this Zachary anyway?

A good solid read, with a nice touch on the love-triangle aspect -- this could have been a disaster, but Smith-Ready handles a tangled emotional mess with the right amount of sensitivity, showing Aura caught in the in-between of grieving and moving on, holding on to who she loves and yet and needing more...

The only quibble I had was with the world-building -- great concept, but not nearly enough about the Shift and its implications. This is probably the build-up to the sequel, when things will really get moving, so we'll have to see. In the meantime, I'd recommend this for as a slightly spooky, romantic Halloween treat.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:37 AM

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

If you're a vampire, hag, werewolf or faerie, you should probably stay away from Evie, because a) she can see right through your glamours and b) she has a taser.

It is pink, sparkly, and she calls it Tasey.

Avoiding Evie is going to be difficult, though, because she's a member of the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and her job -- actually, her whole life -- is about tracking down otherworldly creatures and neutralizing them. Which means a quick jolt from Tasey, clamping an anklet on the unlucky creature, and then reading them their rights.

For the hapless hag or vampire, this basically amounts to: stop eating people, or the anklet will trigger a lethal dose of electricity, holy water, silver, or what-have-you.

Most of the people Evie meets on the job aren't that happy to see her. Or count as people, exactly.

For a teenage girl, it's not an ideal life, but Evie has her best friend mermaid Lish and seasons of Easton Heights, her all-time favorite teen soap, back at the Center. And Raquel, her boss, is even kind of the mother Evie never had, in a disapproving-sighing way.

But then something starts killing off paranormals, and Evie runs into a boy who's even stranger than she is, and he seems to know something about what's going on, while hinting that the IPCA isn't maybe the awesome organization it pretends to be...

I liked this book as a light read, and it's all due to Evie. She's just irrepressible, and her natural optimism and friendliness somehow didn't come off as annoying or stupid or both, which is impressive. She even almost made me forgive her ridiculous love of pink. Almost.

I only had two real issues: the 'love triangle' setup that the marketing copy seemed to be pushing, and the lack of explanation on Evie's past. [Warning: mildly spoilerish]

I do not mind The Romance. The boy that Evie is Meant to Be With has many lovely qualities and is quite swoon-worthy in his way. The Other One is, frankly, abusive.

Okay, so he's a faerie, and they are typically uninterested in petty mortal things like morals. Reth has his own agenda, and that's all that matters to him, and that's fine. Essential to the plot, etc. -- I get it. But no way should anyone be portraying his actions towards Evie as anything romantic. Just no. The whole interaction is the picture of an abusive relationship, even to the part where Evie gets told she's "overreacting."

I nearly threw the book across the room. I realize this may be my personal issue. But I have to believe that there was no thought in the author's mind of Reth being a serious contender for Evie's affections, and the plot, thankfully, bears this out.

The other issue was just a case of "I want more!" whenever it came to Evie's background or the faeries or the various prophecies swirling around. The book may have been trying for mysterious, but the overall effect was frustrating. Perhaps a sequel in the works?

Excellent pick-me-up read if you'd like to hang out with Evie (and you will).
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