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It’s been one year since Lucca’s death. One year since a horrible
accident changed Brooklyn’s life forever. As she continues trying to pick up the pieces after her boyfriend’s death, another tragedy strikes on the one year anniversary: Gabe, the driver of the car that killed Lucca, and Brooklyn’s
friend, gives up on life. Unable to live with the guilt of surviving when he killed his friend, Gabe overdoses and ends his pain. 

Nico is Lucca’s older brother. He gets to live in the house that feels the constant anguish of Lucca’s absence. Instead of turning to drugs or partying to deal with his sorrow, Nico runs. He runs to block out the world. He runs to block out his parents’ disappointment. He runs to block out the guilt he feels for being alive when his brother’s dead. He runs until…Lucca’s ghost gives him a mission: help Brooklyn.

Soon after Gabe’s death, Brooklyn begins having nightmares about him. She thinks they’re simply dreams until Gabe starts visiting her when she’s awake. 

In this companion to I Heart You, You Haunt Me (2008), Schroeder explores the effects of survivor’s guilt. Each character in this novel is either directly or indirectly impacted by the death of Lucca and Gabe, and she shows that time knows no limits to sorrow. What makes this novel so effective is the fact that she addresses this issue from multiple perspectives (parents, siblings, friends, and boyfriend/girlfriends). 

Although this novel is categorized as young adult, I truly believe that people of all ages could read it and glean meaning from its pages. If anyone has lived through loss, they can connect with the struggles of Brooklyn, Nico, and the parents. Depression is very real, and it’s usually gradual.

Each aspect of death has its own tragedy that people must work through. Just because people look “fine” doesn’t mean that they are. Sometimes, as a society, we don’t know what to say to people who are suffering, so we say nothing. Schroeder’s book shows us that, to make a positive impact, sometimes all we have to do is give someone a hug and ask, “How are you doing?” Then, listen. 

I love this book; it is heartfelt and simplistic in its depiction of loss. However, for readers who like more description, more drama, and aren’t poetry fans, they probably won’t find as much enjoyment from this one as I did. Still, I think that everyone should give it a try.

**This novel can stand-alone, but the first one is good, too.

 
 
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Briony Larkin has a secret. Stepmother warned her never to tell. Or, she would
surely die. But, she can no longer keep the secret because the Boggy Mun is
plaguing people with the swamp cough, and Rose, her twin sister, is its next victim. Besides, Briony owes Rose her life. She's indebted to Rose for what she did to her. It was her anger that summoned the wind that made Rose fall and hit her head, never becoming "quite right" after that. That's what evil girls do.

Briony Larkin is a witch with the second sight that allows her to see the Old Ones. Briony Larkin is also dangerous. She must keep her emotions under control so that she doesn't hurt others like she did Rose and her Stepmother. But, as Eldric Clayborne - the boyman who seems to see inside her soul - and she grow closer, she's finding it
harder to control her emotions. 

Since this novel was a National Book Award Finalist, I really wanted to like it. In fact, the entire time that I was reading, I kept searching for things that I could gush over. Unfortunately, I didn't find any. The basic premise of this novel was intriguing, but the execution was off. For instance, the storyline was difficult to follow in a lot of places because Briony (the narrator) would go on random
tangents that reminded me of reading a Faulkner novel. The only problem is that the rambling usually had nothing to do with the point that she was trying to make. Instead of being a literary device, this became so distracting and
frustrating that I wanted to stop reading. In addition, for people who aren't familiar with folklore and mysticism, all of the Old Ones and their functions became confusing; it didn't help that most of their functions weren't adequately explained and
differentiated.

I love folklore and mysticism, and I was really  disappointed in this novel. I'm not sure if I'd built it up because of the CHIME/SHINE (Myracle, 2011) debacle, but it was a tedious read. I know that there will be others who love it, who will make me second-guess my judgement, but it's not one that I would recommend to
others. 


 

 
 
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What would you be willing to give in order to have everything you've ever  wanted? Money? Your time? Your soul?

Kasey is finally home from the mental hospital, and she's having a difficult time making friends. Afterall, who
wants to be friends with a girl who was possessed, and tried to murder her  parents? Hesitant to build a new relationship with her little sister, Alexis  decides to hang back to see if Kasey can survive the "survival of the fittest"  atmosphere of high school on her own.

When Kasey's group of outcasts  create the Sunshine Club, and find themselves at the center of popularity and
acceptance, Alexis gets suspicious and joins. She quickly finds out that they've  conjured a creature named Aralt who promises riches and fame in exchange for  their souls. As the club grows and approaches "graduation day," strange things  begin happening and people start dying. What once seemed like a harmless
agreement to become popular has turned into a coven of young girls willing to  kill to keep thier evil master happy.

I was wary to read this novel because I wasn't sure that Alender could repeat the intensity of the first novel; however, she skillfully drew upon the elements of her first novel to create an entirely new plotline. Although it dragged in a few places (i.e. Alexis's relationship issues with Carter), the majority of the novel built suspense through folklore, urban legend, and people's worst nightmares. Very few people can write effective supernatural suspense thrillers that maintain intensity throughout a novel, let alone a series, but Alender is one of them. For instance, book two ends with so many options that her third BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE is sure to be just as unique. I cannot wait for her to write it!     

*This can be a stand-alone novel.         

 
 
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Something dark and sinister is on the hunt. During a tumultuous Calcutta night
in 1916, a brave English lieutenant saves a set of twins from "it" before losing
his life in an effort to protect them. Unfortunately, the monster refuses to
give to up, and will stop at nothing to possess them. Time is on its side, and
as the children grow into young adults, they find out that their days are
numbered.

This is a fun, quick read that has just enough suspense to
keep the plot moving. Althoughit isn't as scary as what hard-core horror fans  might like, and it's pretty cliche, there were a few places where the hair stood  up at the base of my  neck.            

 
 
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Frannie seems like a normal high school senior; only, she's not. Gifted with special "supernatural abilities," she's caught the attention of Satan himself. In an effort to beat Heaven for her soul, He sends his most trusted demon, Luc (aka Lucifer) to tag her soul and send her straight to Hell where she can help Him defeat his old nemesis, God, once and for all. The only problem is that God knows about her talents, too, and isn't giving her up without a fight. He sends Gabe (aka Gabriel) to intercept Luc and save Frannie from the temptations that Hell has to offer.

There will be a lot fo people who love this novel simply because they love angels and demons, love triangles, and good girls who catch the attention of the bad boy. Unfortunately, for readers who enjoy strong plots and in-depth characters, they won't get it here.

The first "sore-thumb" that stuck out in this novel was that the author tried to write it from two different points-of-view - Luc and Frannie. Other reviewers have commented on this, and I agree that it wasn't executed well at all. In fact, Luc sounded like a cliche, sex-driven teenager instead of a 7,000 year old demon from hell. In addition, his voice was so similar to Frannie's that I had to look at the title of the chapter to remember who was talking. Not only that, but Gabe was "supposed" to be an integral part of the love triangle, but the reader never read his POV, which left him out on the fringe. Instead of doing the alternating POVs, the author should have taken an omniscient voice to make the reading more fluid and believable.

Now, the love triangle. It was simply contrived. I mean, it's not like I didn't see it coming, but it was so poorly done that I honestly didn't care. For instance, one minute Frannie is wanting to have sex with Luc, then out of nowhere she fantasizes about Gabe. In fact, Gabe disappeares for chapters at a time, then all of a sudden, Frannie gets mad at Luc, and runs to Gabe for "comfort" and wonders if she's in love with him. In the real world, this is called a rebound. Also, I never felt like Frannie was in love with either of them with how easily she flip-flopped. Instead, it just seemed that she wanted to have sex and was willing to be with whichever showed the most interest.

Now, Frannie. She claims to be a strong female and doesn't need a male in her life to feel self worth; yet, within a few chapters, she's obsessing about Luc, Ryan, and Gabe. A little contradiction? In fact, her goal becomes getting the two "hottest" guys on campus interested in her before her best friend, who seems like a nymphomaniac, can.

Now, the language. This may seem minor, and, in fact, I'm pretty liberal with my views on curse words when they're used in the proper context. But, the characters used so much language in this book that it came off like they were trying to "play like adults" instead of representing high school seniors. When I teach a young adult novel, I'm very straightforward when I tell my students that language is part of character development, and it adds to the authenticity of the novel. For instance, if we're reading about inmates on deathrow, we aren't going to see them say, "Brother John, let us break bread together." No, they are going to use the "F" word as well as a few others that aren't so PC. But, even then, the author has to choose the language and decide what adds and takes away from the novel. This one relied too much on puns like "Go to hell" to the point that I was rolling my eyes.

I have other frustrations, but, overall, I wouldn't suggest this one.