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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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Every day is a challenge for Camden Pike  because his girlfriend Viv was his entire world, but  it's been two months since his life changed forever. Two months since the accident. Two months of maintaining her shrine. Two months without holding her. 

While visiting the site of the accident one night, Camden notices an eerie green light and a girl on the other side calling his name. He soon learns that the green light is a portal into a parallel world
where Viv is still alive. Determined to have her back, Camden ignores the fact that the Viv he lost in his world isn’t the Viv living in the other one. As the portal begins to shrink, secrets unfold and obsessions turn deadly.
 
Emily Hainsworth’s debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Through her portrayal of a grieving young man, she captures the realistic and complicated internal conflicts that he undergoes while dealing – or not dealing - with his girlfriend’s death. Hainsworth effectively makes Camden a flawed character who must work through multiple issues: his father’s abandonment of the family, his absent workaholic mother, his fall from grace as the football star, and his emotional instability. All of these issues lead to
the guiding theme of this novel, which is “What if?” What if we’d chosen something different?
 
All of us are presented with choices, and based upon those choices, we follow a certain path. Camden is no different. What he discovers in the parallel world is that the same people exist, but their different choices led them to different futures. For instance, instead of giving up on football when his leg was shattered, the other Camden pushed himself to overcome the injury. As a result, even though the “real”Camden’s initial goal for entering the other world was to reunite with Viv, he also realized the
possibilities for what he could accomplish if he refused to give up. He had to realize that he possessed the strength within himself to do great things – without Viv. 

Nina is the girl that Camden meets the first night that the green light appears. Although he doesn’t recognize her, she knows him from her world, and she serves as his guide – a conscience, almost – as he works through his love and loss of Viv, as well as his renewed discovery
of her in the other world. Nina has secrets and she holds the key to Camden’s happiness, but she also wants him to make the discoveries on his own. 
  
The ending of this novel is so bittersweet that I’m STILL thinking about it. There are so many ways that I wanted it to go, but Hainsworth executed it so beautifully that there was only one way that it could end. I love, love, love this book, and I’ll probably reread it in the near future because I didn’t want it to end. 
 
ARC Provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publish Date: October 1, 2012


 
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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.

 
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Violet Ambrose has a special gift; she senses the echoes of people who have died brutally and tragically. Not only can she sense the echoes of the dead, she can also see the imprint on their killers. The only downside to this gift is that Voilet never reaches the victims in time to save them.

When the echo of a young boy leads her to his body, she gains the attention of certain law enforcement who want to use her "talents" to crack a cold case. Not sure if she's ready to expose her secret, she retreats into the security of her perfect family, boyfriend, and friends only to be unsettled by eerie phone calls, threatening notes, and little "presents" left for her at her home. The more Violet tries to deny her gifts, the more the dead refuse to let her.

This is the second book in the series, and other than a few references to the near-death experience at Homecoming and serial killers, it's completely stand-alone. I had no problem getting to know the characters or following the plot - maybe because it was so simplistic. This leads to the downside to this book. It was boring and predictable. The book jacket boasts of suspense, but the author's writing style left little doubt as to who the stalker and killer were long before the end of the novel. Not only that, but too much attention was spent on Violet's perfect relationship with her perfect boyfriend Jay. Even when they were fighting, he was perfect. Instead of adding to the story, it became annoying, and I found myself gravitating towards Chelsea, the spunky, off-color, totally inappropriate best friend.

 
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Tess and Tobias Goodraven are a wealthy, seventeen-year-old married couple living in Mass. during 1892. Both of them lost their parents in a theatre fire when they were young, which led them to become intrigued by the phantom world, and each other. Their morbid fascination with the occult helps Tobias stumble upon an old legend about the 1662 Salem Witch Trials and the "First Accused," who was a real witch and purely evil. Unable to resist, Tobias convinces Tess to take a train to Blackthorne to see if the legend is true, and what they find is spirits who refuse to let go, and a witch bent on making sure there are no survivors.

The basic premise of this book was great. In fact, another reviewer sums it up when she says, "Excellent idea, terrible execution." First of all, this book is slotted for 6th-9th grades. The fact that the protagonists were married made the story unrelatable. I know why the author did it - it ties into the ending/climax - but it creates a disconnect from the first page. In addition, there is no plot development, just action. Every time someone would die, I would think "Who was that?" and I would read on because I really didn't care to go back 50 pages to figure it out.

Overall, this book rambles in a lot of places, then has scary scene after scary scene. The legend is alluded to, but the reader never gets the real story of the murdered lovers or how Widow Malgore (the evil witch) became evil. I would have LOVED to read flashbacks of their lives so that the ending was more powerful.

Shallow writing, at best.   flag