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Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Raft – S.A. Bodeen

The Raft coverThe Raft
By S.A. Bodeen
Available August 2012

Description:
Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.

This Blonde’s Review:
Have you ever considered what could happen if your plane went down? For Robie that’s a common concern since she lives on a small island and has to take a small cargo flight. The type of flight where every pound matters. When her flight goes down all she can do is wonder if anyone knows she’s out there.

After Max, the co-pilot, gets her out of the plane and into the life raft all she can do is hope someone knows they’re out there. She spends her time reading a pamphlet that gives survival tips and getting to know Max. Robie isn’t sure how she’s supposed to survive without food or water, but she’s able to figure it out as she goes. As long as she can keep the raft from leaking and stay away from the sharks.

As Robie tries to survive we see her attempt to maintain her sanity and who she is. When you’re in a situation like that it’s easy to lose yourself, so I couldn’t help but want to read to the end to see how far she’s willing to go to survive. With a mix of luck and a strong will to live, Robie manages to make it to an island and find things to eat along the way.

I enjoyed reading this one. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to be stranded in the ocean. She isn’t perfect and doesn’t stay entirely sane, but I loved watching her try to stay true to herself despite the situation. I loved that she didn’t lay down and give up, even when she wanted to. She was a strong character, even when she didn’t know how to be.

I didn’t want to put this one down. I needed to see what would happen next and how far she’d go. I kept hoping and dreading certain outcomes, which made me want to keep reading and find out.

If you want to read about a girl doing what it takes to survive when there doesn’t seem to be any hope, you’ll want to read Robie’s story.

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The Boy Recession – Flynn Meaney

The Boy Recession coverThe Boy Recession
By Flynn Meaney
Available August 2012

Description:
It’s all about supply and demand when a high school deals with the sudden exodus of male students.

The boy recession has hit Julius P. Heil High, and the remaining boys find that their stock is on the rise: With little competition, even the most unlikely guys have a good chance at making the team and getting the girl. Guitar-strumming, class-skipping Hunter Fahrenbach never wanted to be a hot commodity, but the popular girls can’t help but notice his unconventional good looks. With a little work, he might even by boyfriend material.

But for down-to-earth Kelly Robbins, the boy recession is causing all sorts of problems. She has secretly liked her good friend Hunter for a while now, but how can she stand out in a crowd of overzealous Spandexers? As if dating wasn’t hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

This Blonde’s Review:
Like toppling dominoes, the boys have all left Julius High. Budget cuts and the loss of a football coach have a bigger effect than anyone could have predicted when several families move their sons to places with more options. When school starts there is an unusually high number of girls. With so few options for them, it gives the guys left chances they never would have had before. It will also lead to a whole new kind of boy crazy for the girls fighting for prom date.

Kelly is a nice girl. She is the kind of girl people get along with and guys are comfortable around. Except that they’re so comfortable around her that she doesn’t date. The mass exodus of the male population of her high school doesn’t give her hope of finding a date. Hunter is a slacker. He sleeps in class, doesn’t cut his hair, and doesn’t care for the effort of chasing a girl. He just wants to hang out with his friends, and if a cute girl wants to make out he’ll take it.

When Hunter and Kelly start working on a project together they’re able to get to know each other better. As they know each other better and see the way the girls treat Hunter, they will be able to learn what they really want. This book is written from both points of view, with alternating chapters. It’s interesting seeing the way their minds work. There isn’t a steady obsession for them the way many of those types of books are, instead it feels like we really are watching a girl and guy figure out if they’re interested or not.

The Boy Recession was refreshing since it wasn’t a high love and passion type of love story. There was no destined to be together and fighting for/against it. In most books I read lately the characters have high feelings and it takes up most of their attention. In this one, they’re not sure. They’re interested but they don’t think the other is, so they move on to other things.

This was an adorable story. I enjoyed getting to know Kelly and Hunter. Seeing both of their viewpoints was great, since we should have had an entirely different book if it was only one of them. We’re able to see what life could be like in that sort of situation.

If you enjoy the idea of a real to life romance while seeing what could happen when you take most of the guys out of a school, you’ll enjoy the Boy Recession.

 

The Hunt – Andrew Fukuda

The Hunt coverThe Hunt
By Andrew Fukuda
The Hunt – Book One
Available May 2012

Description:
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

This Blonde’s Review:
People aren’t humans. People are the ones who eat humans, who can’t stand the light, who crave blood. Humans are not the intelligent and dominant species on the planet. People are. Humans are a delicacy.

Gene grew up knowing his life would end if anyone ever found out he was human. Instead he pretended to be one of them. He lost his mother and sister when he was young and his father later. All he can do is continue trying to survive.

Against the odds he’s chosen to attend a human hunt and he has no choice but to act as though he wants it. Surrounded by people who want nothing more than to devour any human they can reach and the girl he’s drawn to against his will, he has to try not to be found out. He has to figure out how to survive until the hunt and what he’ll do once the hunt starts.

This book was fascinating. Clearly this is a vampire book, but never once are they referred to as vampires. The people in this book have many misconceptions about humans, making it easier for humans to survive among them if they don’t screw up.

Gene is doing what it takes to survive. When you hide who and what you are for too long you learn to hate it. It’s strange but somehow expected that Gene wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be human. He has spent so much time with people that he doesn’t know what it means to be human or seem to understand that other humans would be similar to him. When he meets the humans he’s supposed to hunt or sacrifice to save himself, he’ll learn more than he expected.

Learning how to be human and have feelings in the midst of a pack of hunters isn’t the safest thing for Gene, but it might be his only hope.

I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it as I watched where it seemed to be heading. There were several parts I thought would be the end but weren’t. I was actually surprised to find out that this book is part of a series. I was unaware of that going into the book, but the ending was the kind of cliffhanger that made it clear there was another book to follow. I’m eager to see where the author is going to take it, since he set this world up in such a way that it seems impossible for them to have a happy ending. Clearly we’re hoping it’s possible for them somehow.

If you enjoy the idea of a world where humans aren’t the top of the food chain and a human boy is struggling to survive since giving up isn’t an option, then you’ll want to read Gene’s story.

 

Miracle – Elizabeth Scott

Miracle
By Elizabeth Scott
Available June 2012

Description
Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.

Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved.

This Blonde’s Review:
How can she be a Miracle if she doesn’t care about anything at all?

Megan should have died. Everyone else on board the plane she was on died when it crashed. Megan has no memory of the crash or how she got to the hospital, all she wants is for everyone to stop Watching her. She wants them to stop expecting her to be the grand Miracle who could be a shining example of what others should hope to be. There are only two people who look at her without expecting her to be something miraculous, the gruff lady from church and the boy next door. Luckily for Megan she can turn to them for the help she needs. One has experience with post traumatic stress and dealing with events that are too awful to remember. The boy next door has his own demons to work through and understands what it’s like for people to look at you and only see something that happened to you.

Reading Megan’s story and the way she turns from the people who care for her was heart wrenching. Elizabeth Scott is a fabulous author and she didn’t let us down with Megan’s story. Megan’s descent was a slow spiral that people were blind to, because they didn’t want to see it. We see the way a traumatic experience can change family dynamics and friendships. Reading this story made me think of an experience in my own past that thankfully didn’t end fatally. As I read Megan’s story I could see how she could act and feel the way she did and imagined how awful it would be if my experiences had been different.

As with most problems they’ll find their way to you eventually if you don’t deal with them. As Megan fights against remembering what happened to her we can only hope she’ll get help before she loses herself completely. Not caring anymore makes it easy for the ones who have been there to recognize a kindred spirit. They’re there for her whether she accepts their help or not. Those characters are my favorites. I loved them more than I liked Megan and I couldn’t help but care for her. They’re all misfits and damaged in their own ways, but they all have a strength to share with the others, even if they don’t recognize it.

Fans of Elizabeth Scott are likely already impatient for Miracle to come out. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re unfamiliar with Elizabeth Scott you’ll discover she can put us into a story and make it seem real. If reading about a girl trying to recover from the emotional and psychological impact of survival sounds interesting to you then Miracle is going to be a book you’ll want to get a copy of when it comes out in June.

 

Unraveling – Elizabeth Norris

Unraveling coverUnraveling
By Elizabeth Norris
Available 24 April 2012

Description:
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

This Blonde’s Review:
Janelle died. She knows she did. One minute she was walking along, the next a truck comes out of no where and hits her. She died. Somehow Ben brought her back. They say you see your life flash before your eyes when you die, but that wasn’t exactly what happened for Janelle. Instead she sees her life the way someone else would have seen it and she feels what that person must have felt watching her. She can’t understand how she’s alive or how she saw what she did.

No one believes that she really died and Ben isn’t talking. Janelle isn’t the daughter of an FBI agent for nothing, so she goes looking for answers.

I enjoyed Janelle and how intelligent she was. I didn’t care for how easily she was swayed when she knew how Ben felt about her. It seemed like she fell in with the idea of Ben because she knew how he felt about her. I would have rather seen her care about him without the certainty that he loved her before she knew he existed. Ben was a stranger to me for the whole of the book. The author draws on the mystery of Ben for the first part of the book, which is to be expected and usually enjoyed. When we were supposed to be learning about Ben and starting to care for him I couldn’t find it in me to care about him. Perhaps it was knowing that he had fallen head over heels for Janelle for seemingly no reason and held onto that while she remained oblivious to him. He felt spineless to me, even though I know it had to take a lot of strength to make it through everything he went through.

Reading the description of this book led me to believe it would be about people with special abilities. And it is, but it isn’t Just that. There is a reason the author gives Janelle’s father a fascination with X-Files and abnormal cases. Seeing the way Ben and his friends handled their situation was a great example of how different people handle a difficult situation. The author did give us plenty of reasons to love Ben, mostly centered around the things he was willing to do to protect Janelle. I just couldn’t accept their relationship as anything real.

I had a few issues with some of the side stories that were included in this book. Some of them felt pointless except to make a minor point later in the story. And the way this one ended drove me Crazy. Was it really going to be that way? After everything she went through, Janelle didn’t get the ending I expected at all. At the same time I respect that the author didn’t give us the easiest and happiest option we could have had. Considering Ben’s choices we knew there was no option for an ending that was perfect. As much as the ending had me wondering What The Heck I also think it was great that the author took the story where she felt it should go instead of where the reader might want.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a good book and I know there are many readers who would enjoy this one. The author explores a theory I haven’t seen much of in young adult fiction and I think it’s a great idea that many will enjoy. I know that my lack of feeling for Ben isn’t going to be the usual response. Despite my concerns about the story I enjoyed reading it and found myself staying up late to find out where she was going to take it.

If you enjoy a strong female lead you’ll enjoy Janelle. If you love a guy who is dedicated to helping the girl he loves even if she doesn’t know he exists you’ll want to read about Ben. If you want to read about how the guy can save the girl and how they can work together to save the world, then you’ll want to read this one. This one has a taste of science fiction but doesn’t go into the science too strong, so it can appeal to those who aren’t usually fans of science fiction but like the concept.

 

The Last Echo – Kimberly Derting

The Last Echo coverThe Last Echo
by Kimberly Derting
The Body Finder – Book Three
Available 17 April 2012

Description:
In the end, all that’s left is an echo…

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet’s talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it’s Violet’s job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by “the girlfriend collector” she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new “relationship” and Violet may have caught his eye.

This Blonde’s Review:
Violet finally has someplace she feels like she can fit in. She has a place where she isn’t the only one who can sense things most people can’t. Not everyone is accepting her with open arms, but enough do that she feels she belongs there. Jay may not be comfortable with it, and her parents may be worried about it, but Violet feels that everything is fine. She’s safe.

Except Violet isn’t as safe as she thinks she is. All of her searching has put her in the path of the wrong kind of men. One wants to kill her and the other wants to love her. No matter how careful she tries to be she can only be lucky for so long.

I enjoyed getting to know Violet, Jay, and Rafe in the first two books in this series. The Last Echo gave us another chance to get to know them. We were able to learn more about the other members of the group this time around too. Violet learns secrets about the other team members after one of them is injured and says something surprising. The information we learn can make us see some of our characters in a new light.

When Violet comes to the attention of the Girlfriend Collector we know the author won’t make it easy enough on her that he gets caught before he tries to take Violet. We all loved reading about the chase in the first book in this series, and let me say that you’ll love the chase in this one too. I especially love the surprise the author throws at us when we’re almost to the end. We don’t usually expect that sort of thing to happen to our main characters. You’ll love it.

I didn’t realize until I got to the end that this series would have more than three books, but with the curve-ball the author threw at us I knew there had to be a fourth. Luckily there is. I can’t wait to see how Violet deals with the new threat entering her life. It’s going to be great.

Kimberly Derting has given us a great mix of characters. At times it feels like she puts too many dangers in one book, but at the same time she balances them so well that I don’t feel like she has thrown problems at Violet just to keep from having down time. The author manages to give us the downtime to learn about our characters and decide what we think of them as people in between everything else. I love that about her. Getting to see from the killer’s viewpoint is another great thing Kimberly Derting gives us. We are able to look in his mind and see how really awful and creepy he is since he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he’s doing. Being able to look into the mind of the killer is something not every author can pull off but I think the author did a fabulous job.

You will not be disappointed by the third book in the Body Finder series. It will leave you eager to find out anything you can about the next book in this great series. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet you should get started on it soon. If you enjoy strong characters who can use a morbid talent to make good things happen you’ll enjoy Violet. If you like seeing a strong character stumble into the trouble she thought she could avoid and sitting on the edge of your seat to find out how far it will go before she’s saved or manages to escape, then you’ll love reading about what happens to Violet in the Body Finder series.

 

Of Poseidon – Anna Banks

Of Poseidon coverOf Poseidon
By Anna Banks
Of Poseidon – Book One
Available May 2012

Description:
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . .

This Blonde’s Review:
When Emma runs into Galen when on vacation with her best friend we think we know exactly where this is going. Clumsy girl and extremely hot guy, instant attraction. Fiesty best friend there to push the shy main character to go after the guy. And in some ways, we’re right. In others, Anna Banks throws us for a loop.

Meeting Emma is eye opening for Galen, since he never expected to sense someone like her on land. She doesn’t look like the Syrena and she doesn’t act like them either. Since Syrena can’t sense each other on land, being able to sense her shocks Galen. He is drawn to her even while he doesn’t want to believe what his senses are telling him. When Galen sees proof that she is Syrena and has the gift of Poseidon he knows he can’t ignore Emma’s existence.

In a move that is only possible with the help of humans and lots of ready cash, Galen follows her home and starts attending the same classes she does. Luckily for us Emma doesn’t want to fall into Galen’s arms the way the rest of the girls in school do. When she finds out he isn’t human and that she isn’t as normal as she thought, Emma still wants to stand on her own without him.

Galen isn’t willing to admit what he feels for Emma since he knows her abilities make her destined for someone else. All they can do is hope to find an answer before anyone else finds out about her.

I enjoyed Emma. I love that even though Galen is supposed to be the hottest of the hot she still won’t fall all over him. She won’t listen to his demands or back down from him. Galen is such a foolish boy I can’t help but love him and want to smack him. He’s used to keeping his own counsel and doesn’t tell his sister, his best friend, or Emma any of the information that could be useful to them.

I loved the secondary characters in this one too. The temperamental sister, the lovable best friend, the caring but stubborn mother, and the rest. They all showcase different elements of our main characters and can guide them in unique ways. Each character had distinct impacts on the storyline and weren’t pointless additions to the story. Often I forget several of the characters because they seem to have little to no use in the story except to say that the main character had a friend/sister/etc. That isn’t the case here.

I have so many other comments I wanted to make about this story, but most of them pertain to information I don’t want to spoil for you. There were a few things that were obvious to me from the beginning, but it may not be obvious to everyone since the author wasn’t in our faces with the information. The twist doesn’t come out of no where so readers who don’t see few details coming from early in the story will find it easy to look back and recognize the signs.

I really look forward to reading the next book in this series. I would love to see more development of the world Anna Banks is creating, it’s a fascinating one. I also can’t wait to see where Emma will end up. Will she be on land or with the Syrena? With Galen, someone else, or alone? And I can’t wait to find out what happens with the last part of the book. It could go so many directions that I wish I had the second book right in front of me to find out.

If books about Mermaids and a girl who finds out she’s a mermaid with above average powers, then you’ll want to know Emma and the world of the Syrena. The cover didn’t appeal to me, but this is a case of don’t judge a book by the cover.