Category: YA

Beyond the Grave (Past Midnight #3)by Mara Purnhagen

Beyond the Grave (Past Midnight #3)by Mara Purnhagen
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Harlequin Teen

Synopsis:

A haunting new tale in the Past Midnight series…

I can’t move forward with my life until I know my demons are confined to the past…

Being Charlotte Silver, the daughter of famous paranormal investigators, means my life isn’t like that of other teenage girls. Especially after what happened to my parents. Things changed. I missed prom and deferred my big college plans. But I still have my boyfriend, Noah. He’s everything I could want—if I can figure out what’s up with him. Suddenly Noah is secretive.

I fear it has something to do with what happened to us three months ago. The bruise Noah suffered during a paranormal attack has never completely faded. Now I’ve learned Noah is researching demons. And when he disappears, it’s up to me to find him—before something else does.

I really like the 1st 2 books Past Midnight(my review) and One Hundred Candles(my review) in this series. There are 2 other novellas – one prequel to One Hundred Candles and the other one prequel to the last book – but I have not read them yet. But not reading the novellas in between did not take away anything for me. It was a great and satisfying end to a very good paranormal series.
In this one, Charlotte is trying very hard to lead a normal life after what happened to her family, after the Watcher decided to punish them all. Her mom is in a long term facility center in a vegetative state and her Dad spends almost all his time with her. He is lost interest in anything that was once an important way of life – and Charlotte knows that it is all her fault. When medical bills from the hospital mount, Charlotte decides to help Shane ( who is the part of there team and like a family member) to get some footage from an old prison so that they can complete a DVD that they had promised to do and get some money in the process. What starts as a harmless little video coverage, turns out to be something really grave and dangerous as the Watcher somehow finds a way back into Charlotte’s and her family’s life and this time it is the love of her life, whose life is at stake including everyone of her loved ones.

I really liked this book. I loved the way Mara made sure Charlotte learned from her mistakes in the last book. I do not know what to say about this one because I seldom find the right words when I love a book so much. Charlotte is a person, I am sure you will identify with. She is strong, without knowing it. It is not just Charlotte, it is the whole list of people related to her that make this book so special. I knew somewhere in the middle who the watcher would be this time, but this dd not spoil the end for me at all. But I was really really scared for Noah, Michael and Bliss. Surprisingly I was not scared for Charlotte, I oddly believed in her – trusted her.

“Trust is a choice we make. And you can’t trust everyone”, she said. “But you can always trust your family.”
-pg. 135 from e-Galley of “Beyond the Grave”

We choose what we leave behind. For some, it is anger and grief and a hurt so deep it echoes for centuries. For others, it is joy and wonder and gratitude.
– pg. 253 from e-Galley of “Beyond the Grave”.

I hope you do read this series, if like me you enjoy a little dose of paranormal here and there. Thanks to Netgalley for my copy of this eBook.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen


I love Sarah Dessen’s books. As I have said before, her books have the ability to be refreshing, simple and light yet talk about issues that are not-so-simple either. It is easy to connect to her characters and there is no way you don’t feel for them.

Auden is a perfect girl, she is studious – brings straight A’s – acts more mature for her age. She lives with her mother, who is a professor at a university. She tries hard to live upto the standard her mom wants. And her father (who is also a Professor) divorced her mother (when Auden was 16) and lives at the beach noy very far from where Auden lives, with his new wife.

She thinks of spending her summer much as all the other summers, reading for her university classes (which have not even started) and roaming around in nights because she cannot sleep. But everything changes when she receives a small frame from her brother ( who is total contrast to Auden) with the title ‘Best of Times’. She then accepts the invitation from her Dad and step-mother, to go visit them and their newborn (Thisbe).

This one summer changes everything for Auden. She meets Heidi, whom she judges even before knowing her, same for all the other people except Eli. She understands that it is not always about success,

“Maybe it was true, and being a girl could be about interest rates and skinny jeans, riding bikes and wearing pink. Not about any one thing, but everything.”

Auden gets a second chance at living her childhood with the help of Eli. She gets to enjoy herself and understand that it wasn’t too bad to lose and not to be a success all the time.

“Life is full of screw-ups. You’re supposed to fail sometimes. It’s a required part of the human existence”

I think I loved Auden but most of all I really liked the fact that I got a lesson on never judging a person by his/her looks. I am sure I would judge anyone just the way Auden did. And I was in for surprises too, because I connected more with Heidi than anyone else. I know most of you will gawk, but I did like (towards the end) Auden’s mom too.

“An ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have the last word.”

I am sure this will be one book that will stay with me, because I really felt a lot of things change in me too. I really connected with Heidi, who is a new mom – struggling with a very colicky baby with no help whatsoever from Auden’s Dad ( who has to get his 9 hours uninterrupted sleep to function). The strength of this book lies in all the secondary characters that are there, all of them seem so real and from each one of them Auden learns something new.

I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy this book.

One Hundred Candles (Past Midnight #2) by Mara Purnhagen

One Hundred Candles (Past Midnight #2)
by Mara Purnhagen
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by Harlequin (first published February 9th 2011)

It’s taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I’m settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it’s not as if Noah is anything more than a friend….

But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I’ve opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.

Charlotte is finally feeling a bit normal, she has 2 best friends, is not leading a nomadic life but is been in the same school for past one year, is looking forward to the prom and it seems a boy is interested in her too. Even though she had to spend the Christmas day in some kind of sanatorium with Dr. Zelden – the bestselling author and very known Demon-hunter ( who sounds more bogus than real) – looking for demons, she still feels good about her life. But when Zelden’s help, Marcus snatches her hands and tells her that ‘the curtains have been pulled too far, a price has to be paid’, Charlotte knows there is something quite not right about her life. Marcus has no idea though, what got into him and neither has he any idea, how he almost broke Charlotte’s hand. Followed by this Charlotte with her friends, on the insistence of Harris – her crush – go to a party where there play the game called One Hundred Candles, in which each person has to tell a true ghost story and light a candle. Nothing seems unusual until the very next day, things start happening in the school – that are kind of the same as the stories told in the game. Charlotte has to figure if someone is playing a prank, or the voice she had heard at the sanitarium had some how followed her here.

I read and reviewed the first book (Past Midnight) in this series and really liked it. So I could not pass the chance to read the next one as well. One Hundred Candles is a very fast read ( I was done in 2 days) and really a page-turner. I really liked this one, which had more action than the first book. The fact is that I like Charlotte and her 2 BFs – Avery and Noah – too. But I have to say that I was somehow disappointed with her decisions (even though I understood her reasons well) which led to all the issues in the end. But I still felt very bad for her and her family. I am very happy that the author did not drop out Zared from this one, even though he didn’t have much to do.

All in all this was a satisfying sequel and I am going to get to the 3rd book soon. This is turning out to be an entertaining series.
Thanks to Netgalley for my copy of this book.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley


Flavia de Luce is a not your normal 11 year old girl. She is a genius, spends her days doing chemical experiments and her specialty is poisons. She lives with her widowed father and 2 sister ( whom she totally despises) in an old mansion. Everything is normal until one day there is a dead bird with a stamp in it’s beak and not long after Flavia finds a man in their cucumber bush, breathing his last. Flavia is not sad or evenly remotely depressed. She takes it upon herself to solve the crime, in which her father is the main accused.

I think I read this book in January and forgot to review it here. After reading glowing reviews about this series, I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. Finally I did, and I really did enjoy this one. Flavia, our 11 yr old poison specialist is such an adorable character. Set in the English country-side in the 1940s (I think!) this book has an interesting mystery at it’s core. But I think it is Flavia and the other characters and their dialogues and circumstances which make it most enjoyable. Though I was really put-off a little bit at the start but when the story really starts it is just un-put-down-able.

If there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as “dearie.” When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poisons, and come to “Cyanide,” I am going to put under “Uses” the phrase “Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one ‘Dearie.’”
Still, one of my Rules of Life is this: When you want something, bite your tongue.
-pg. 60

I really am looking forward to the next in series.

Starless Sky by Paige Agnew

Starless Sky
by Paige Agnew
Paperback, 456 pages
Published January 20th 2010 by Trafford Publishing

Synopsis:

Starless Sky – Starless Sky is about a girl, Kahlen, who is experiencing the loss of a friend. Kahlen feels alone and lonely, but she also gets tired of people feeling sorry for her and giving her sympathetic looks. Going to Dean’s Creek is the only place she finds solace. Well, at least it WAS the only place until Kennley showed up. Now she can’t even find solace there…or can she?

In the midst of loss, there is life; a sentiment Kahlen was not quick to accept. But in the process of the daily routine of school, dropping grades, frustrated parents, and pain, Kahlen begins to gain insights (the kind that comes from fortune cookies or good friends). Her new found wisdom and the strain of dealing with Kennley and his troubling past lead her to an exciting new phase of life.

I think any kind of loss is the MOST difficult thing in the whole world and if the loss is of someone extremely close to you, it becomes difficult sometimes to even breath or live a normal life thereafter. For Kahlen, life was cruel, unjust and hard when she lost her only best friend in an accident. And it was even more difficult when wherever she turned all she got to see is pity on the faces of people she loved and also on others she didn’t care about. When a new guy who has no idea as to what has happened to her comes to her school, she feels this is the escape she needs from all the pity surrounding her and may be, she feels, this will also help her cope with the horrifying loss she has had.

Kahlen is a pretty strong kid and you feel for her as she tries to get over what really happened. Her parents think, because of her lack of ample reaction, she should get some help. Whereas other kids at school, don’t forget to remind her of her friend. There is no way you won’t be touched by what this girl going through. Added to this is her trying to sort her feelings for Kennley and her worries about his pasts which he is not too willing to share.

It is a good read, but I found a lot of editing mistakes here and there, which could be corrected in the final copy. But this did not keep me from enjoying it at all. I am sure everyone of us will relate with Kahlen in some way or the other.

About The Author

Paige wrote her first book, Starless Sky at age 15 and published it in January of 2010. Starless Sky was birthed during the time of grief and loss while Paige was in the 8th grade.Paige loves to know that she can speak words of life through writing that brings entertainment, escape, or healing to readers. She can write words that make readers cry, laugh, exclaim with excitement, or stay up all night wondering what happens in the end. Her sense of humor and from the heart personality shines through her writing. She was born in Michigan. Her compassion and sense of humor is in all of her writings. When Paige is not writing, she enjoys sports, dancing, singing, playing the piano, reading and attending her brother’s college football games. In addition, spending time with family, friends, and her dog, Tigger are important to her. She is also actively involved in her church and community.
Visit Paige Agnew’s website http://paigeagnew.com

Starless Sky is available for purchase at:

Amazon.com
paigeagnew.com
barnesandnoble.com
schulerbooks.com

Purchase her Audio Book

http://paigeagnew.com/

Thanks to YP Publishing for the review copy.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1)
by Sara Shepard
eBook, 208 Pages
Published December 7th 2010 by HarperTeen
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:

I had a life anyone would kill for.Then someone did. The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of thePretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.Let the lying game begin.

Who has not heard of Sara Shepard, better known for her Pretty Little Liars Series, I think she is one of those YA authors who has a HUGE fanbase. I have not read the Pretty Little Liars Series but seen the 1st movie and liked it quite a lot. So I was instantly thrilled to see her new series out and excited when I got the chance to read it. I went in it with lot of expectations, I don’t know why had so much expectation as I had not technically read anything by her, but I did.

As it is, it was a great read. It was full of suspense and with a ghost in the background talking and all, it was fun too, to some extent. But it didnot blow me away, the way I was expecting. I think it was because of the abrupt ending, I just wanted to know more. After a while in to the story, I just could not stop reading. I had to know and then just like that the book ended ((darn)), now I have to WAIT for the next one and I cannot tell you how much I want to read that one 🙂

Emma and Sutton are twins who never knew of each other existence. Sutton was adopted and had a life everyone would kill for and somebody killed her and then posted a YouTube video of it. Emma who spent her life with foster families after getting the raw part of the deal, finally sees the video, mails Sutton (after finding her FaceBook page) and instantly gets a reply according to which Sutton is dieing to meet her. The only problem being that the message was not sent by Sutton. Emma comes to where, Sutton and she were supposed to meet and is kidnapped by Sutton’s friends and dragged to a party. And then and there Emma starts to live Sutton’s life as Sutton’s ghosts looks on. Emma is horrified when she recieves a note and then a warning in which she is asked to just carry on as Sutton or else she will also be killed.

Emma does not know whom to believe and all she wants to find out is who killed Sutton and get out of her life. It is suspenseful and I thought including Sutton’s ghosts voice alongwith Emma’s was brilliant. Somehow I just wanted Emma to hear Sutton. It was really sad that she could not. Sutton could only see, hear and feel what Emma could and had no idea as to what had happened. What little that she did know came to her as flashes of memory. Sutton in life, was not a likable character but you could not stop feeling sorry for her as a ghost.

I think the next installment will be even better. I just know it. Can’t wait.

Desperate to read:

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2) by Sara Shepard

Sookie Stackhouse #7: All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead
by Charlaine Harris
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Ace Hardcover (first published May 1st 2006)

Synopsis:

Betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse must now not only deal with a possible new man in her life-the oh-so-handsome shapeshifter Quinn-but also contend with a long-planned vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, the local vampire queen is vulnerable to those hungry for a takeover. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she’ll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

OK, officially I think this was one of the best plots. There were so many conflicts, Sookie had and there were so many choices she had to make. I am glad she did the straight-talk with Quinn, I like him – I don’t want him to be hurt. Oh yes, you heard right, I finally like someone and I keep thinking he is real, is it not weird to want a character in a book to be happy and not hurt?
There is a whole lot happening here, and I am sure anything I say will not really get the message across. Only thing, I don’t understand why the Vamps are not burning the Fellowship guys, crap. I hate them. And for once I felt sympathetic towards Sookie, I felt really bad for her in the end.

CymLowell

Kid Konnection: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 3rd 2008 by Puffin (first published April 1st 2007)
Synopsis:

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all `Dear Diary’ this and `Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.

Since its launch in May 2004 on Funbrain.com, the Web version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been viewed by 20 million unique online readers. This year, it is averaging 70,000 readers a day.

What can I say about this book, that has not already been said? It is a total-laugh-riot. OMG! There is no way, you won’t laugh, while read this “Journal” (as Diary is a very Girly name) and it is not Greg Heffley’s idea either, it is his mom’s.

Greg Heffley is a 6th grader, who is small for his age. He has a elder brother Roderick, who he thinks is bent upon humiliating him; a younger one Manny, who he hates because his parents love him the most and best friend Rowley, who is just plain below his standards. This book chronicle one school year, and has pretty cute illustrations on every page. Jeff tries to become popular among girls, stands for election, tried to become a star with his comic strips and volunteers for being the safety girl for the kindergarten kids because of the free hot chocolate they got for doing it. Each and everything he tries, turns out to be a failure.

There is lot of sarcasm, humor and laugh-out-loud commentary. I am not sure if I would want to read it to my 6th Grader but I do think the humor will be well appreciated and enjoyed by older kids, say 9 and above. But I think parents would have to make the call, really because this doesn’t really give you any moral messages and Jeff comes out to be not the kind of kid you would want, but there is lot of self-deprecating humor and lot of talk about how middle school is. It is enjoyable and I immensely enjoyed it too.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #6) by Charlaine Harris

Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #6)
by Charlaine Harris
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 16th 2009 by Gollancz (first published 2006)

Synopsis:

As a person with so few living relatives, supernaturally gifted Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never thought it would be her cousin Hadley, a consort of the Vampire Queen of New Orleans. Since Hadley was a vampire, she was already dead – weird! And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley’s estate, Sookie discovers that someone doesn’t want her snooping around, going through Hadley’s possessions and her past. But why? And who?

Well, I need to confess, I liked Bill a lot. Maybe better than Eric, but unlike many other lovers of this book, I did not like earlier that Sookie and Bill’s relationship was on the rocks. Now, that it is definite that they are never going to be together, I am making an effort to like Eric and Quinn. Quinn, of course what is there not to like, but through out the book I kept on thinking that Quinn would definitely turn out to be a bad guy and poor Sookie will be hurt again – hmm, you have to read to find out if I was right in thinking so.

With the entry of Queen of Louisiana, things have got a royal feel, and I, like Sookie, am more than ready to return to Bon Temps. One last thing, I totally love Amelia, she is so cute and of course Bob, her cat.