Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: ‘Intertwined’ by Gena Showalter

Most 16-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him: One can time travel. One can raise the dead. One can tell the future. And one can possess another human.

With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's a younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die.

He's so over it. All he wants is peace. And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a loner; she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, he should stay away. But it's too late....

Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist. Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger - but not everyone will come out alive....
(Audible product description)

This book had a lot going on--time travel, romance, necromancy, body hopping, prophesy, family secrets, cheating boyfriends, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, faeries, witches, zombies, Vlad the Impaler...what!?!  It’s like a giant paranormal soup, afraid to leave anything out!  But somehow, it works...mostly. 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Intertwined.  The reviews have been mixed.  But I like Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series, so I wanted to check out her young adult work. 

Aden has four other souls living in his mind, each with separate personalities.  He can hear them, but he must speak out loud in order to reply.  As a result, his parents abandoned him to the foster system and the state thinks he’s mentally ill.  I was afraid having five people in one body would get confusing, but it really wasn’t.  Each soul had a distinct personality.  That said, I really wish these characters would have had more of a chance to develop before introducing forty other characters. 

Seriously, the sheer number of characters was insane! I’m hoping this is just because it’s the first book in a series, and it serves as the introduction to all of the players.  Maybe future books will settle down a bit and allow the characters to grow. 

Other than having way too much going on, there were things I liked about this book.  Aden was a good character, but so was Mary Ann.  My first assumption was that she would be Aden’s love interest, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.  Instead, they are really close friends.  It’s a refreshing twist in a YA book that a boy and a girl can be friends without needing to develop into a romance.  Of course they each fall for other people, meaning this book actually has two love stories.  (Why not have two?  This book has everything else in it.) 

Of the two romantic storylines, I was more drawn to Mary Ann and Riley.  Aden’s Victoria is an 80-something year old vampire princess.  He thinks she is totally hot, and she comes across as cold.  It’s a weird, somewhat shallow combination.  There is more chemistry between Mary Ann and the werewolf, Riley.  Things move slower with them, more believable. He first appears to her in his wolf form as a guardian, walking her to and from school each day.  He is able to speak into her mind, but he refuses to tell her who he is or show her his human form.  Their connection is strong before he ever reveals himself to her.  The scene where he finally does is beautifully written with all of the teenage awkwardness one might expect.  It reminded me of how it must be to meet an internet crush in person for the first time. 

So while it was a lot to take in, I have already bought the second book, Unraveled.  I’m interested in Aden, Mary Ann and the gang enough to stick with it.  I just hope the next book is more focused.

Overall, I give Intertwined...

Plot - 4 bookmarks (fast-paced)
Character development - 2 bookmarks
Love story(s) - 2 bookmarks (Aden & Victoria) and 4 bookmarks (Mary Ann & Riley)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Jeremy Sumpter (Aden), Shay Mitchell (Victoria), Juno Temple (Mary Ann), Steven R. McQueen (Riley)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
(Amazon product description)

Wow.  This book was so not what I was expecting, and I mean that in the best possible sense. 

I have always said that no one can truly know what happens inside a marriage. For this reason, I try never to judge or pick sides when it comes to the marriages of my friends and family. Gone Girl is a perfect illustration of now different a marriage can really be compared to the way it appears from the outside. 

On the surface, Nick and Amy are perfect--good looking, successful, rich.  So when Amy goes missing the country is up in arms over the possibility that Nick is responsible for her disappearance.  As a reader, I wanted to believe in his innocence.  Nick doesn’t make it easy to keep that faith in him up.  He lies to the police, behaves strangely and holds his secrets close.  As the book progresses, the perfect Amy’s flaws begin to show also, deteriorating her character so much that you begin to feel Nick is better off without her. 

The cool thing about how this book is written is that it is first person point of view alternating between Nick and Amy.  This gives you glimpses into each of their heads.  However, this is a perfect example of unreliable narrators, because you can never really trust what either is tell you is the truth.  It makes for a fascinating read! 

My only sort of criticism is that when I finished reading it, I wanted to throw the book across the room.  The ending is so different than what I was expecting, and not what I wanted to have happen at all.  At the same time, it was strangely perfect.  I’m dying to talk to someone about this ending!  I think I will assign this to my book club next time it is my turn to pick the selection.

Gone Girl explores complex themes of trust, fidelity, child exploitation, economic recession, mental illness, bias in the media and the court of public opinion.  These themes are layered over a fast-paced, suspenseful plot, creating a rich and poignant novel.  One of my favorite books of 2012!

Overall, I give Gone Girl...

Plot - 5 bookmarks (intricate and fast-paced)
Character Development - 12 bookmarks!!!!  (Okay, so my rating system only goes to five, but this is my review, and I can rate it how I want.)
Mystery - 5 bookmarks (Not one that you are likely to figure out a head of time.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rachel McAdams (Amy), Chris Pine (Nick), Ashley Greene (Andi), Cherry Jones (Bony)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Arcadia's Gift - A new YA paranormal from Jesi Lea Ryan!

That's right, my new book, Arcadia's Gift, is available in e-book now!  (The print will be a month or two yet.)  Arcadia's Gift is the first in a planned trilogy.  Here is a brief description:

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

I can't tell you how excited I am to finally share this story with the world.  I've been working on it for almost two years.  I guess it's a bit like sending your child out into the world and hoping like hell they will succeed, or at least not make a fool of themselves.  :)

Anyway, if you are interested in checking it out, here are some links:


If you decide to read Arcadia's Gift, I'd love to hear your feedback.  Feel free to leave a short, honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc.  Or you may leave me a message in the comments section below.  

Thank you for your support!


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