Thursday, March 31, 2016

Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

Series: Beware the Wild (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Paranormal Romance/Southern Gothic

Subjects: swamps, folklore, supernatural, mystery, ghosts, spirits, ghost hunters

Setting: Sticks, Louisiana (A town near a swamp/Bayou)

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Candy (Candace) Craven Pickens

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 356 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for…forever.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. She and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, but Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been appearing in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.

But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the family.

As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers…and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.”

My Review: Behold the Bones is a companion novel to Beware the Wild, which was told in Sterling POV. This book is from the POV of Sterling’s skeptic friend, Candy Pickens. It’s set in the small town of Sticks in the Louisiana bayou. Candy, unlike most of the town, can’t see the wasting Shine. Sterling says that the Shine actually goes out of its way to avoid Candy. Candy also can’t see the ghost that other folk are seeing.

Candy is scientifically minded and very much a skeptic of the southern superstitions. She sees the swamp stories that she’s read and herd as a fun thrills used for manipulation. Until people in Sticks report ghost siting’s that sound like the ones from the stories. Candy feels left out because she can’t see the ghost. Sterling, Abigail and Candy trek into the swamp to the Shine tree and try performing a ritual that Candy hope will let her see the Shine. Nothing seems to happen.

A few days later the producer and star of the hit TV show, Local Haunts, Mr. Roosevelt King moves into the Lillard house historical site and they renovate it. Sticks is now in the spotlight. Mr. King hopes to film his show there and find answers to what’s happening. Candy meets his children: Gage, an attractive 18-year-old guy, Nova, his sister who’s in Candy’s grade, and their kid brother Thad. 

Candy  (and the whole town) goes to a gala for Gage’s 18th birthday. A ghost crashes the party and it’s the first ghost Candy’s ever truly sited. She touches the ghost and the ghost disappears and now the whole town thinks she’s got a superpower for banishing ghosts. It’s caught on camera and Mr. King wants it for his show and Candy believe that this will ruin her life. Candy wants out of Sticks and she doesn’t want any country baggage following her.

Natalie C. Parker really knows how to write a southern story full of creepy atmosphere. I’ve never been to the South before (unless Kentucky counts), but her books make you feel like you’re there. Since the book is set in late summer, you can imagine the sticky heat and stick that the swamp must bring. Sometimes in summer, it feels like that here in Illinois too (we have lots of mashes and it gets very humid). The swamp becomes like a character in itself. The Shine is some kind of magic that lives in the swamp and comes from a cherry tree that’s always in bloom.

Candy’s perspective is actually more interesting than I remember Sterling’s being. Sterling described by Candy actually seems a lot more peppy and sweet than I remember, possibly because she got together with Heath, and also she’s got her brother back. Abigail is very quiet and she’s African American and like girls. I forgot about her in the first book. Anyways, these three girls and a great bond of friendship. Sometimes things become strained. Candy’s sometimes to bold, and Sterling is like the glue and Abigail tends to be bottled up. They make friends with Nova King because she seems nice, but she may actually just want their help and information.

These books are really enjoyable and fun. If you enjoyed paranormal stories set in the south, like Beautiful Creature, The Magnolia League, Ghost Huntress, or TV shows like the Originals, you may enjoy this. Also, if you love anything related to New Orleans or Louisiana, swamps and gators. Even horror stories not set in the south, like the Creeping.

Cover Art Review: I love the colors of this cover. The Payne’s gray-blue and magenta contrast really well. There’s a face in the fog above Behold with eyes made of branches. The title treatment is cool and creepy.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige

Series: Dorothy Must Die (bk. 3)

Genera(s): Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Subjects: magic, adventure, retellings, witches, wizards, fairy tales

Setting: Flat Hill, Kansas, Oz

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Amy Gumm

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 270 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $18.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “In this dark, action-packed third book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm—the new girl from Kansas—must do everything in her power to save Kansas, kill Dorothy, and make Oz a free land once more.

Amy Gumm’s mission to take down Dorothy Gale is not going according to plan. Dorothy has found a way to bridge the worlds of Oz and Kansas, and if the power-hungry dictator of Oz has her way, Kansas will be destroyed forever. Now, Amy has to team up with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to save her home, restore the balance between the magic and nonmagic worlds, maybe get the guy—and kill that not-so-sweet Kansas farm girl once and for all.

In the third installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Danielle Paige’s twisted versions of beloved Oz characters are back, including the biggest, baddest, most famous of all: the Wicked Witch of the West.

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.”

My Review:  If you thought this was the final book of the Dorothy Must Die series, then you were wrong. I was wrong. I was completely expecting a finale, but it ended with more questions and problems left to be resolved. Will this series stop at 4 books, or continue to 5 or beyond?

So, Amy and the witches appear in what used to be Amy’s home, Dusty Aches trailer park. They can’t get back to Oz, so they have to find another way. They suggest that Amy look for Dorothy’s original shoes, the silver slippers. They tell her that Dorothy farm used to be where her school is now. Also, now Nox joined the Quadrant of witches and he’s no longer allowed to have a relationship with Amy.

So Amy heads back to school and suddenly her high school nemesis Madison is trying to be her friend. Madison already gave birth to her baby Dustin Jr. and is carrying him around school and is no longer queen bee. Dustin, the father of her son and Amy’s previous crush also befriends her. Amy enlists them to help with her search under the guise of looking for proof that Dorothy was real.

No one believes Amy’s story about where she’s been, but she can’t tell them the truth because it’s too crazy. Also her mom’s cleaned up while she was gone. No drugs or alcohol. She’s living in an apartment since the trailer’s gone and she’s even got a job. When Amy and the witch finally do go back to Oz, all hell breaks loose and Glinda and Dorothy are no longer on the same side, but not on Amy’s side either.

Yellow Brick War was an interesting 3rd book, but it was very short. I wonder if Danielle could have just extended the book to make it a finale. I did like the few romance scenes with Nix, but there wasn’t enough. I love the character still. They’re all pretty unique and funny. The book feels like a comedy series at times on top of the fantasy stuff. I love the magic and creatures. Stuff seems weird, but in a good way. I recommend reading the novellas prior to reading this. I recommend this series to fans of Once Upon a Times and other retellings.

Cover Art Review: I like the minimalist style and texture, but this cover doesn’t have a character on it like the previous ones.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting

Series: The Taking (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Sci-fi Mystery/Romance

Subjects: abductions, abilities, aliens, government agencies, love, mystery

Setting: Washington state, Utah

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Kyra Agnew

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 354 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “Romantic and action-packed, The Replaced is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.

Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?

Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the Body Finder series, The Replaced is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human.”

My Review:  I finally decided to start this series since I know the 3rd book is coming out in 2 months and it’s spring break, so why not series-binge? I read the Taking and now I read The Replaced. I’m really enjoying this series. This sequel does not disappoint. It’s just as good as the first book. The only probably I had with it was the lack of Tyler, and Kyra romance with him. The Taking series is a fun, entertaining and mysterious sci-fi read. Perfect for fan of the X-files. I watched the new 6-part series recently, so I felt in the mood for some alien stuff.

To recap The Taking, Kyra Agnew, a 16-year old girl from Burlington, Washington, was taken after her high school softball team won the championship in 2009. She got into an argument with her dad, exited the car and saw a blinding light. She wakes up on the ground behind a gas station thinking she somehow choose to sleep outside for the night. She doesn’t find out that actually 5 years have gone buy since that night until mistake her boyfriend’s younger brother Tyler for her boyfriend Austin. Tyler who was only 12 last time she saw him, and is now suddenly looking 17. She starts to fall for Tyler, since Austin already moved on. The NSA is after Kyra, and wants to experiment on her. Kyra meet Simon, another Returned who knows more about this stuff and she learns that normal Returned usually come back within 48 hours, not 5 long years. She can heal faster than the others, see in the dark, hold her break longer, sleep less and move stuff with her mind. Kyra finds out her blood is toxic and she infected Tyler accidently. Kyra tries to save Tyler by taking him to a place where abduction happen a lot and want the aliens to save Tyler by making him a Returned. Agent Truman comes after them. Kyra uses telekinesis to get the gun away. Fireflies appear and Tyler is taken, and Kyra is knocked out.

In the Replaced, Kyra, Simon, Jett and Willow are at a different camp than the one Simon ran, since that one was attacked. She makes friends with a girl named Natty. Thom runs the camp there. Simon’s camp stays separate from the Silent Creeker of Thom’s camp. They hear news of Tyler possibly being held captive by Agent Truman’s Daylighters (the shady NSA section). There’s also a message that may have be sent by Kyra’s father. Kyra, Simon, Willow, Natty, Thom, and Jett go on a rescue mission, which turns into a bust. They escape, but can’t go back to their camp, so they end up traveling all the way to another camp in Utah, outside Zion National Park. Since they’re being tracked and their photos are out there, the have to change the appearance. So in a gas station bathroom, Kyra dyes her blond hair a reddish brown, Natty dyes hers black and Willow’s hair goes from brown to brown (not much of a disguise).

The other camp is big, but is run by someone Simon and Thom had a falling out with. When they arrive, they’re treated like prisoners. The leader runs the camp like a boot camp for soldiers. Also, there may be a traitor in the mist, giving information to the Daylighters. Kyra runs into someone she never expected to find at the camp

I enjoyed this sequel. I really liked how many interesting twists there were. Especially near the end. I suspected as much just based on the title. I really think Kyra’s abilities and alien hybrid DNA stuff are cool. I like books about super powered teens. I still a little disappointed in the romance of this sequel. I kind of feel like the author wants out hearts to break over Tyler by making him so wonderful and then taking him away.

I recommend this series to fan of: The Rules trilogy by Stacy Kade, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Unremembered by Jessica Brody, Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, Blackout by Robison Wells, Rush (the Game Trilogy) by Eve Silver. Pretty much anything with aliens, or teens gaining superpowers. X-file fans, Fringe fans, Kimberly Derting fans (I only read the Body Finder series).

Cover Art Review: Cool looking cover. Looks like stars in the type. Too bad it’s not metallic.