Tag Archives: Death

Contemporary
February 27, 2014 posted by Nichole

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

19383432Three knocks can change everything…

“She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.”

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart. 

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.

 

There’s so much that I want to say about this book. First, it was off the charts amazing. Second, it was so entirely heartbreaking. And third, can I please go back in time and reread it again? Or can there just be a second book? I want more! Holy crap…I am in LOVE with Rebecca Yarros’ writing style. This lady has TALENT! I normally am not the biggest fan of New Adult books, but I read every. single. word. of this one.

I’m not one to cry in books, but I was fighting back the tears within the first couple chapters of Full Measures. The writing style and the concept of the book was so raw and real. I would lay in bed at night and keep periodically holding my breath to make sure that my mom was still breathing in the next room. The loss that this poor family felt over the death of their husband/father was shattering to me in more ways that one. I actually did end up crying toward the very end of the book. I guess I can add this to the very small list of books that have made me cry.

When it comes to NA books, I typically can’t stand the female leads. That was so not the case with Full Measures. I absolutely adored Ember from the very beginning. She was such a strong female lead, and I loved being in her head. Most of all, I loved watching her step up for her family and not take any crap from anyone. She was so brave. So powerful. So strong. I loved her. I could just stay in her head all day.

As much as I loved Ember, no one was as brilliant as Josh. He was, by far, the star of this book. I think that I may actually have a new book boyfriend to add to my list. This man radiated hotness in every single scene he was in. Hell, even when he wasn’t in a scene, I was still drooling thinking of him! My GOD…I LOVED him! I need more time with this man.

In most ways, Full Measures follows the typical outline of an NA book. It starts out with some background, goes into a full out romance, and then there’s a fight and a make up at the end. I’m not spoiling anything for anyone. That is the typical outline of an NA book. However, Full Measures managed to take it one step further and actually blindside me with a twist. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. I was not prepared for what happened at ALL. This is the first NA book that has actually managed to make me reread what happened and still be like WHAT?! Major kudos to Rebecca Yarros.

Throughout most of Full Measures, I had rated it a solid 5 stars. However, I docked it one star due to the slight decline during the last 75-100 pages.  After the shocking twist happens it’s still good, but loses a little heat. I did still really enjoy the book, but I just wanted a little more from it. I also would have liked a few more sexy scenes thrown in, as well as a few more cute scenes. So, the book was amazing, but it just needed a little more to make it perfection.

Overall, I loved it. I would totally recommend this one! If you’re a fan of J. Lynn…..well….then this book is right up your alley!

 

Pages: 301

Publication Date: February 10th, 2014

Publisher: Entangled

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Book Reviews
February 12, 2014 posted by Nichole

The Lure – Lynne Ewing

18052928From the bestselling author of the Daughters of the Moon series comes a gritty, sexy novel about a teen who is forced to become a “lure”-a beautiful girl who is used to lure victims of gang violence.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery lives in the gritty outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. When Blaise is invited to join Core 9, one of the most infamous crews, she jumps at the chance. Though her best guy friends, Rico and Satch, warn her about the danger, she agrees to be beaten for a minute straight as part of the gang’s initiation ritual.

Now Blaise is finally part of a crew. A family.

But things get only more dangerous when she becomes a member of Core 9 and tensions with a rival gang heat up. Trek, the head of Core 9, asks Blaise to be his “lure,” the sexy bait he’ll use to track down enemy gang members and exact revenge. Rico and Satch tell her it’s a death sentence, but Blaise can’t resist the money and unparalleled power. As Trek puts Blaise in increasingly dangerous situations, she begins to see that there’s more to lose than she ever realized-including Satch, the one person who has the power to get under her skin. With death lurking around every corner, should Blaise continue to follow the only path she’s ever known, or cut and run?

 

I’m being totally honest here, when I first received The Lure in the mail, I didn’t want to read it. It was contemporary, about gangs, and I knew that someone was going to be killed off at some point in time. Three things that really don’t capture my interest all that much. I was a sucker for the cover, though, and I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. And, man, am I glad I did.

The Lure is one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching books that I have ever read. I laughed, I cried….I wanted to throw the book across the room several times. Needless to say, this is one that evokes so. many. feels. Seriously….if you’re a big contemporary fan…make sure that you have some tissues handy. There were times when I was reading this book that I actually wondered if Lynne Ewing went undercover as a gangster to write this book. I don’t know how she did it. Honestly…I don’t know how to do anything but gush about this book. It was just so good!

Every single character in The Lure was spot on. I was surprised at how head over heels in love I fell with some of the characters simply because they were gangsters up to no good, and I didn’t think I could like anyone like that. I was wrong. I loved them. I’m a little ashamed to say that I even loved the bad guys. Not because they were bad, but I loved them because they felt so real. That’s the thing. Everyone in this book was so real. I often forget that I was even reading a book.

I could sit here and talk about every single aspect of The Lure but all you’re going to hear me say is how great it is. It was such an amazing book. I really really really really hope that there’s a sequel! I guess covers do say a lot about a book, because if it wasn’t for the cover I probably wouldn’t have read it….and let me tell you….this was awwwwesome! Go pick up your copy today!

 

Pages: 288

Publication Date: February 11th, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Rating: : ★★★★★

 

If You Find Me – Emily Murdoch
Book Reviews
March 26, 2013 posted by Nichole

If You Find Me – Emily Murdoch

15793231There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

 

Carey and her little sister Jenessa have lived in the woods for as long as they can remember. For Jenessa, it’s been her  whole life. They’ve survived off beans and other canned foods, had no running water or electricity, shared a cot in a trailer, and were constantly abused by their meth-addict mother when she was actually around. But their mom has now been missing for two months, and food supplies are running low. Carey doesn’t know how much longer she and her sister can survive without their mom.

One afternoon a man and a woman appear in the woods, claiming that Carey’s mother sent them a letter claiming that she could no longer take care of the girls. It comes out that Carey’s mother kidnapped her when she was four-years-old, and now the man (her father) has found her and is going to take both the girls back to live with him and his family. There, Carey finds new clothes, and unhappy step-sister, a new life, a new school, and old and new friends who will forever stick by her side.

 

For all my life, at least throughout my teenage years up till now, I have loved kidnapping cases, murder cases, missing persons..everything along those lines. There are times that my DVR will be filled with those types of shows. Trust me, it drives my mother nuts. So when I read the back of If You Find Me, I knew that it was a book specifically for me. I had not doubt that I was going to love this book.

I fell in love with If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch after the first paragraph. Normally it takes me a few chapters to fall in love with a book, but not with this one. The first paragraph was all it took. That paragraph prepared me for an amazing read to come, and I knew that I was not going to be disappointed. This time I was right.

The main character, Carey, was so strong, heartbreaking, dedicated and loyal that she actually became a real person in my eyes. I was drawn to her character immediately, and it was amazing to have the chance to watch her growth throughout the book. I also fell in love with the younger sister, Jenessa, as I think all of the characters in the book did as well. At times, it was hard to read about a six-year old girl who went through everything that she did, but she was such a little trooper. In all honesty, this  book would not have been nearly as good without her.

If You Find Me is so genuine, so….raw…it just feels so real. The writing was consistently amazing throughout the whole book. It never had downer moments or boring chunks. It was just perfection all the way through. I will say that this book left me emotionally exhausted when I finished it. I don’t think that I have ever read a book where I have cried so much. I was just a giant mess from the beginning to the end.

I loved watching the relationships in this story. There was Carey and her little sister Jenessa, who she raised from birth. Then there was the timid relationship between Carey and her father. It was heart wrenching to read about them together. Carey’s mom had told her such awful things about her dad, and she was afraid of him. I loved watching that fear slowly dissolve. Some of the best relationships in this book were between Carey and her step-sister, Delaney, and those of her and her newfound friends. Carey’s being forced into situations that she never thought she would have the chance to experience, and it warmed my heart to read about them.

A bit of warning, this book strongly discusses the topics of drugs and rape. If you can’t handle those topics, then do not read this book. Personally, I thought that those topics made the book stronger. Both Carey and Jenessa had to go through so much during their young lives, and the honesty and realistic quality of the book were well received on my end.

My few complaints with the book are very simple ones. First, the book needed to be longer. It’s only 256 pages, but it needed to be a lot longer, in my opinion. There was so much that wasn’t captured in this book that I was hoping to see. Secondly, I was hoping for some scenes that never happened. I wanted to see the girls in therapy, I wanted to see more of their time in school, and I wanted the mother to come back in the picture for a brief period later in the book. These things didn’t happen, so I feel that Carey’s story is very unfinished. I believe that If You Find Me is a standalone, but I would love to see more books from Emily Murdoch in the future, even if they just cover Jenessa or Delaney’s story. Finally, I really didn’t like how much of her childhood Carey actually remembered. I barely remember anything from when I was four. And, yes, it make sense that Carey remembered a thing here or there. But it was really weird to have someone mention something and her be like “Oh, yes! I remember that!” and then remember a bunch of scenes about it.

Guys….this book was so amazing. I cried, my heart broke, and then I cried some more. I was an emotional basket case from the very beginning. I want to recommend this book to each and every one of you. This is what great writing is. All of you need to go out and read Carey’s story.

This book actually released today, so go out and get your copy. If you’re looking for something similar to If You Find Me, I would suggest Nora Roberts Quinn Brothers of Chesapeake Bay series. It’s an adult series, but it is amazing, and I have read it way too many times to count.

Pages: 256

Publication Date: March 26th, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Rating: : ★★★★★

 

Teaser Quote: “Beans ain’t free, but they’re on the cheap, and here in the Obed Wild and Scenic River National Park, dubbed ‘The Hundred Acre Wood,’ I must know close to one hundred ways to fix beans. From the dried, soaked-in-water variety to beans in the can-baked beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans….

It don’t sound important. It’s just beans, after all, the cause of square farts, as my sister used to say with a giggle on the end. But when you’re livin in the woods like Jenessa and me, with no runnin’ water or electricity, with Mama gone to town for long stretches of time, leavin’ you in charge of feedin’ a younger sister – nine years younger – with a stomach rumblin’ like a California earthquake , inventin’ new and interestin’ ways to fix beans becomes very important indeed.

That’s what I’m thinkin’ as I fell the scratchy cookin’ pot full of water from the chipped porcelain jug and turn on the dancin’ blue flame of the Bunsen burner: how I can make the beans taste new tonight, along with wishin’ we had butter for the last of the bread, which we don’t, because butter don’t keep well without refrigeration.”

 

 

Two Weeks’ Notice (Revivalist #2) – Rachel Caine
adult books
January 6, 2013 posted by Nichole

Two Weeks’ Notice (Revivalist #2) – Rachel Caine

In  New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine’s “thrilling”* Revivalist series, Bryn Davis finds out that making a living can be rough if you’re already dead…
 After dying and being revived with the experimental drug Returne, Bryn Davis is theoretically free to live her unlife—with regular doses to keep her going. But Bryn knows that the government has every intention of keeping a tight lid on Pharmadene’s life-altering discovery, no matter the cost. Thankfully, some things have changed for the better; her job at the rechristened Davis Funeral Home is keeping her busy and her fragile romance with Patrick McCallister is blossoming—thanks in part to their combined efforts in forming a support group for Returne addicts. But when some of the group members suddenly disappear, Bryn wonders if the government is methodically removing a threat to their security, or if some unknown enemy has decided to run the zombies into the ground…

 

I was a big fan of the first book in this series, Working Stiff, so I was really excited to read this book. Unfortunately, I don’t have much good to say about it. It was really boring throughout the entire thing, I didn’t feel any connection to the characters, and I was quite frankly grossed out.

The main character, Bryn, grated on my nerves from the very first page. I didn’t overly love her in Working Stiff, but I never exactly disliked or even hated her. I couldn’t stand her in this book! She was annoying and whiney, and I just could have done without her. I also didn’t fall in love with the romance between Bryn and Patrick, which is really interesting since I loved them in the first book. I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t stand her or just because of the writing style, but I was really let down.

If you are really grossed by gore and blood and all that nasty stuff, then this is not the book for you. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Walking Dead and a little bit of action and nastiness in my books, but this was just disgusting. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to read about someone’s eyes getting scooped out (yes, that really does happen.) It was nasty on a whole different level, and I was not okay with it. I feel the need to wash my eyes out right about now.

The ending of this book was so awful and so disgusting that I skimmed that last chapter. I don’t even know how the ending went down because I was SO grossed out! Nasty! I don’t want to ruin the ending for all of you guys and girls who are going to read the book, but it gets GROSS! I’m talking dead people, zombie chompers, eyeball scoopers, decaying bodies, chewing on arms GROSS. I will not be continuing this series because I don’t even want to see where else Rachel Caine can take this crazy storyline. Yuck!

 

Tilt – Ellen Hopkins
Book of the Month
December 5, 2012 posted by Nichole

Tilt – Ellen Hopkins

Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

 

Mikayla: A girl head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Dylan. A love of weed, boos and parties. A family that’s tearing apart at the seams. An unwanted pregnancy that will change her life forever.

Shane: Out of the close. In love with a boy named Alex, who just happens to have HIV. A drunk father who looks upon him with disgust. A little sister heading toward death. A mother with almost no hope.

Harley: A fourteen year old who sees nothing but fat when she looks in the mirror. Divorced parents, one heading toward a new marriage. A desperate search to find out who she is. Drugs. Boos. Sex. False Love.

Shelby: A four-year-old who is regarded as a person with no sense of life. Confined to tube feeding forever. Hovering on the brink of death, she just wants her family to be happy.

Alex: HIV positive. In love with Shane. Catholic Private school. On his way to an Ivy League.

 

All of these characters, among many more, play a major role in Tilt by Ellen Hopkins. A novel of poetry, rape, love, depression, homosexuality, HIV, drugs, sex, teen pregnancy, mental illness, death, and self discovery. Join Mikayla, Shane, Harley and the rest of the people that surround their lives in this realistic, contemporary piece that Hopkins has built.

 

I have never been a fan of poetry or even contemporary books, if I want to be honest. I’ve never seemed to understand poetry or appreciate the realistic theme of contemporary books. Sometimes life just sucks, and, for the most part, I don’t want to read about it. I like to submerge myself into the unrealistic. The werewolves, vampires, witches, and other things that go bump in the night take me away from the realities of the world. It’s a chance to escape and put myself into a whole other universe. While Tilt, by Ellen Hopkins, was as real as it can possibly get, I found myself devouring it. I would sit down and read hundreds of pages at a time, lost in the depression that shaped the character’s lives. I was hooked plain and simple.

It took my awhile to get attached to Tilt, because I had to adjust to Hopkins unique writing style. I’ve never read a book by Hopkins before, so it caught me a little off guard that the entire book was poetry. It wasn’t difficult to read, though. Unlike the poetry that we’re forced to read in school, Tilt was an actual story with beautiful form and breathtaking words. It was also a very fast read. Most books fill up their pages with words, while Tilt had a brief section of words on each page.

Some of the topics that Tilt introduced were really easy to read, while others were really hard for me to get through. I loved the topic of teen pregnancy. I am so addicted to movies and books that discuss teen pregnancy because they are so real. Teen pregnancy is a major thing that goes on in today’s society. When I was a junior in high school, there were three senior girls who were almost to term with their pregnancy. Today, most of the girl’s from my very first high school are either pregnant, married, or both. I’m not kidding when I use the word “most.” Honestly, I don’t know a girl at my first high school who doesn’t have a kid or a husband. I thought that Hopkins beautifully portrayed how teen pregnancy truly is. She didn’t sugar coat it or make everything turn out okay. She was realistic with how things work in real life.

I did have a problem when it came to Harley’s story, probably because I related to her the most. I had a big issue watching a fourteen-year-old girl suffer through weight problems, deal with a dirtbag father, have divorced parents, and look toward other’s for love. The beginning of Harley’s story wasn’t too intense, but by the time I made it to the last quarter of the book, I found it very  difficult to read the pages dedicated to her. It wasn’t because the writing was bad. Actually, the writing was beautiful. However, I had big issues with some of the topics that came up in this story.

Ellen Hopkins did such a great job of portraying the love between Shane and his boyfriend. This is a very controversial topic for some people, but I was in love with it from the moment I read the synopsis. Gay love and homosexuality in general need to be more explored in young adult books, because it is a real life topic. Being gay does not make someone unequal or unimportant. I really enjoyed watching the growth of of Shane’s dad. He was really against Shane ever since he came out of the closet. He would preach to Shane and tell him what an abomination he was, and that really effected me. Shane, while a fictional character, reminded me of people I’ve met in similar situations. To me, Shane was a real person with his own issues and emotions. To me, he was no less than a straight person, and I loved him from the get go.

I had a bit of a problem with understanding who was who and who was related to whom. Everyone seemed to know eachother, and I was pretty lost throughout most of the book on how people knew eachother. It wasn’t a big deal, but I found myself kind of giving up on that aspect of the book.

The only thing that I really questioned in this book, besides who knew who, was how realistic it was that an entire branch of family was so messed up. I would have preferred that none of the characters knew each other, and that we were witnessing people from all over the United States.  I only say this because I have a large branch of family, and I know other people who do as well. I’m not saying that this can never happen to one family, but from my perspective, I’ve witnessed it usually being one family and the rest of their family stays out of it. However, I did enjoy how real and true Hopkins stayed to her story lines. She didn’t cut around the edges or add something fake in to draw in her readers. She told it how it was, and I really appreciated that.

I do have to warn people that the topics of rape and mental abuse are included in this story. Most of the guys, especially the teenage boys, in this story really offended and disgusted me. It is never okay for someone to pressure you into sex or to request favors that you are not interested in. It is never okay for someone to give you ultimatums or to make you feel obligated to do something you don’t want to do.  It is never ok for your partner to pull guilt trips or to constantly make you feel bad or worthless just to get their way. These are all forms of abuse, and if you’re experiencing them, then you need to contact an adult or the police. Please keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re married or not. Abuse is abuse and rape is rape. Never put up with it. I want you all to know that you can always contact me about these things going on in your life, and I will keep it between us unless you officially tell me you’re a minor. You can go through our contact info on the tabs above and specifically request to speak to me. I will not judge you, but I am always here to talk to. You can also contact me via our twitter page.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was beautiful and realistic, and it moved me in more ways than I can express. To me, the ending was a little unfinished. I would really like to see what happens with the rest of their lives and how they work through their struggles. Everyone needs to go buy or borrow this book immediately, as it is a must read.

 

Pages: 604

Publication Date: September 11th, 2012

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Rating: : ★★★★½

 

Teaser Quote: “And if candor
strikes to forcefully,
step back, draw careful
breath, and consider the angle
your words must take
before you open
your mouth, let them leak
out. Because once you tilt the truth,
it becomes a lie.” 

Cursed – Jennifer L Armentrout
Book Reviews
August 31, 2012 posted by Nichole

Cursed – Jennifer L Armentrout

Dying sucks–and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things–including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden’s adopted father, a man she’s sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister’s hand again. And hell, she’d also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn’t?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not’ve been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

Ember has had the power to kill people with the touch of her bare skin ever since her little sister brought her back to life from a fatal car accident that killed both herself and her father. It’s not something that she can turn on and off on her own will. No. if anyone touches her bare skin, they die. This definitely makes it difficult for Ember to cuddle with her little sister, let alone anyone.

With her mother refusing to even take care of her own body, not to mention that she still thinks Ember is dead, it is up to Ember to provide for all three of them. This means that Ember has to pay the rent, do the shopping, take care of her little sister and take herself to school everyday. With her father’s life insurance money running out, Ember does not know how much longer she will be able to provide for her family.

One day when Ember goes to pick up her little sister from school, she finds that someone else signed her out early. It turns out that a family of paranormals (if that’s what you’d like to call them) kidnapped both Ember’s little sister and mother, and now Ember is in their clutches as well. Their mission is to help the girls (mainly Ember’s little sister) control their unique gifts (or curses) and to learn that they can come across normal in an abnormal world. After the move, though, Ember realizes that someone is now hunting her, and she must learn more about her powers in order to save her life.

Lately I’ve been hearing how awesome Jennifer L Armentrout is. It was pretty much demanded, by a wide variety of people, that I read some of her books. Thanks to Spencer Hill Press, I recently received a copy of Armentrout’s newest book, Cursed. I picked it up shortly after I got it, because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

First I have to say that I really enjoyed Jennifer L Armentrout’s writing style. I could tell that this lady could write. The first 3-5 chapters flowed really well, and I was really interested in seeing how the story would play out. That’s when things started to go downhill.

I had major issues with this book because the males in the story completely dominated. The men kidnapped Ember and her family, they threatened to kick her out and never let her see her family again, they grounded her, they yelled at and threatened her, they made her feel guilty for being upset that they initially kidnapped her, they bullied her, and they stalked her in her room while she was sleeping. The men in this story basically could do whatever they wanted. It actually bugged me so much that I couldn’t finish the story. I only got to page 188 before I got so disgusted that I had to set it down.

Ember’s character also really bugged me. Never once (in the whole 188 pages that I made it through) did she even attempt to grab her sister and break out of there. She just sort of submitted to the men because she found them scary. And then she goes and falls for Hayden, the son of the man who kidnapped her. Hayden treated Ember horribly. He constantly made her feel guilty, belittled her, yelled at her whenever she mentioned that they kidnapped her, and he would go up into her room at night and stare at her while she was sleeping. It was creepy! Ember just put up with it because she “liked” him, and she didn’t want to be separated from her little sister. It was all really just so appalling.

For once I would like to see a story where the villains are females. Why do they always have to be males? Why do females always have to be the weak victims? And the worse part? These story lines are usually written by female authors. What kind of impressions are these leaving for young girls? This is my issue. I was so disturbed by this book that I had bigger issues with it than Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s a pretty big deal.

So many people have told me how awesome Armentrout’s Lux series is, but I’m really nervous to read another book by her now. I was really offended and uncomfortable throughout Cursed. I definitely think parents and teachers need to discuss these issues with their children if their kids are going to read this book. It”s not ok for young girls or boys to think that this is how society works. If things are going to change, then people need to grow up with the knowledge that things that occur aren’t always right.

Pages: 312

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Rating: : ★☆☆☆☆

 

Teaser Quote: “I ran my fingers over the plant. Like it was laughing in my face, the colorful blossoms went first. Pink and white petals broke off, and by the time they hit the soil, they’d turned brown. Ugh. I really was Death in sneakers.”

The Dead I Know – Scot Gardner
Book Reviews
December 22, 2011 posted by Bianca

The Dead I Know – Scot Gardner

“When Aaron gets a job at a funeral home, he surprisingly takes to it. But there are dark secrets hidden in Aaron’s subconscious. He experiences dangerous bouts of sleepwalking and recurring dreams he can’t explain: a lifeless hand, a lipsticked mouth, a man, a gun… Can he piece the clues together and figure out the truth of his past?”

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When John Marsden proclaims, ‘I have never read a book more gripping, nor more triumphantly alive’ you would assume that Scot Gardner’s The Dead I Know is going to be something pretty special. Churning through the book in a couple of hours, I would have to say that John Marsden was on the money. Scot Gardner has created a story that is realistic, haunting, bone-chillingly scary and life-affirming.

Aaron Rowe is a sleep-walking teen who has left school for a job with a funeral director. In an occupation that would freak most people out, Aaron has found a sense of belonging. His boss, John Barton, and his wife, look out for him – no strings attached, even if their young daughter is bossy and interfering. While Aaron’s job is on the right track, his nightmares are getting worse and he is scared he is going to do something that he will regret, or worse – not remember.

When you first meet Aaron, you really wonder what you are in for. There is nothing about his life that you would want nor admire, except for the fact that after a much needed haircut he is considered to be very attractive. He has no friends, his new job is at a funeral home, he lives with someone whose mental health is rapidly degenerating and his personality isn’t exactly thrilling.

The Dead I Know is told from Aaron’s point of view. While it never feels like he is lying or manipulating the reader, there are some things he definitely isn’t telling us, either because he can’t remember, or doesn’t think it necessary for us to know.  This makes the reaction of other characters towards Aaron perplexing; they seem surprised and pleased when he shows normal behaviour. They know something we don’t. We are also left in the dark about Aaron’s ‘American’ accent and ‘Mam’. As some readers will know, Mam is the English version of ‘Mum’. This character, and the lack of details surrounding Aaron’s past, shroud him in mystery. However, it becomes clear that there are reasons why Aaron is so comfortable with his new job, so familiar with death – something to which his ever-increasing somnambulism and nightmares attest.

Despite this, we are drawn into Aaron’s world, perhaps because he seems so good. There is a dangerous moment where he could be seen as a loser loner, but we soon learn that he is just quiet, reserved, and a little damaged. He is respectful to his boss, loves Mam, and while his judgment regarding her is cloudy, he always seems to do the right thing. A different character in a YA novel might do the exact opposite, just to add drama. He respects his elders, he does his job well, is honest, and even though he may be one of the most traumatised fictional characters you might have met, he doesn’t take advantage of this by engaging in stupid behaviour.  Even in his darkest hour, where we aren’t sure what he has or hasn’t done – we fully sympathise with him.

It also doesn’t hurt that Aaron is hot. The imagery of him sleep-walking in his pyjamas is just too cute, and it is in his interactions with Skye Barton, his boss’ daughter, that I feel we have a new romantic hero in Aaron. Don’t get me wrong though, there is no romance with Skye – she is only 12! He is calm and gentlemanly when the most patient of us would have told her to rack off, and that was enough to make me like him. A lot.

The Dead I Know reminded me of Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief and Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, in the way I reacted to certain scenes. Hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-standing-up-and-really-needing-to-put-the-book-down-because-it-was-so-affecting type reaction. But I couldn’t. The difference with this book is that it was ‘real’ – no ghostly narrators or fantasy creatures. It was Aaron’s own thoughts and experiences regarding death that made me feel this way. It was confronting and refreshing to feel this way reading a YA book; I am used to them being unputdownable due to thrills and romance.

By the end of The Dead I Know, you will feel happy to be alive and realise how resilient the human spirit is. It is also heartening to read a YA novel where the adults are kind and nurturing, where the adults involved protect children, rather than just used in an ‘all grown ups are bad’ plot device that allows the protagonist to rebel and roam about, free of adult supervision.

Pages: 216

Publication Date: May 2011

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Challenge: n/a

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote:  By giving him grace, I found some of my own. The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be.