Monday, December 28, 2015

DARK HOPE by Monica McGurk

Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies
First of all, a huge thank you to for copies of Book One and Two of ARCHANGEL PROPHECIES.  Your contests are greatly appreciated by your blog followers.

Hope Carmichael was kidnapped as a young child.  She doesn't remember much except for the dark stranger who rescued her from a seedy motel room and returned her to her parents.  The ordeal forever changed her father who was with her in the park on the day of the abduction.  After her safe return, his overprotectiveness and obsession with religion destroyed her parents marriage and left her living with him while her mother pursued a business career that required extensive travel.

Now a teen, Hope has opted to leave her father whose odd behavior has become too much to take.  Moving to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with her mother promises to offer a more normal existence.  Starting at a new high school has Hope a bit nervous, but she is determined to make the best of it.  It feels good to have the freedom to come and go and experience life as a regular teen.  The only reminder of her childhood trauma is the strange mark that appeared on her neck presumably at the hands of her abductor.

After a rocky first day at Dunwoody High, Hope meets Michael.  Also, fairly new to the area, the two share the same classes and seem to hit it off.  Hope finds Michael attractive and strangely attentive, but being the target for "new girl" taunts isn't exactly her idea of fun so she welcomes his protection.

A class project has Hope partnering with Tabitha, the daughter of a local minister.  Their project involves an investigation of Atlanta's human trafficking problem.  This takes Hope and Tabitha into potential danger and reveals another side to Michael.  After he intervenes to save Hope, she recognizes him as the stranger who rescued her from that motel room long ago.  When he explains that he is the Archangel Michael sent by God to protect her, Hope's life heads down a path she could never have anticipated in her wildest dreams.

For readers looking for adventure and danger that includes guardian angels and unexplained powers, DARK HOPE and its sequel DARK RISING are perfect reads.  Author Monica McGurk's writing career began with fan fiction based on TWILIGHT, and readers will recognize a familiar tone and voice as they enjoy this new series with Hope and Michael.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
A teenage girl is kidnapped years after another little girl disappeared in the same town.  The circumstances are different, but Philip Digby is determined to get to the bottom of both cases.

Digby and Zoe, a new girl in town, form a strange crime fighting duo in TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE.  The relationship between Zoe and Digby is a complicated one.  Most observers listening to the taunts between the two would never imagine the they consider each other friends, and at times, even Zoe finds herself wondering the same thing.

When Zoe learns that Digby's little sister was a kidnap victim years ago, she begins to understand his obsession with locating the latest missing girl, Marina  However, Marina's disappearance from the home of her wealthy family doesn't seem to fit the same crime scenario.  Despite the seemingly unrelated nature of the two events, Digby uses his cunning yet odd mind to solve the mysteries with the  reluctant help of Zoe and an assortment of other acquaintances.

Thanks to a neighbor who won a copy of Stephanie Tromly's TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE on Goodreads, I was able to enjoy this mad-cap mystery adventure.  Witty dialogue, dicey ideas, and non-stop action make this a fast-paced read.  I'm looking forward to sharing this with some teen readers.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

EXIT POINT by Laura Langston

Exit Point
I was able to read EXIT POINT thanks to a student who shared his copy with me. 

Logan is dead, although he isn't really sure at first.  When he opens his eyes, he is surrounded by gray robed figures and swirling colors.  He is being told that he was supposed to take Exit Point 5 but evidently took the easy way out at Exit Point 2.  Exit Point 5 would have meant extending his life until 2066, however, his early departure ended things for him in 2004.  Well, that's a bummer.

When he is visited by Gran, Logan realizes that he is indeed dead, but if this is heaven, things are definitely not what he expected.  Gran and his personal guide to the afterlife, a guy named Wade, are quick to inform him that he has a mission to accomplish before he can completely cross over.  His job is to save his sister Amy from a rat bastard and his plans to sexually abuse the nine year old.  Unfortunately, it may be tricky since the rat bastard is none other than Logan's uncle Herb.

What follows for Logan is a crash course in learning how to make contact with the living.  It is not as easy as one would think, but he knows Amy's safety depends on his ability to learn quickly. 

Author Laura Langston takes readers on a fascinating adventure into the afterlife.  Logan's ability to make contact with his loved ones will have readers thinking carefully about unexplained sensations and random memories they may experience involving their own lost loved ones.  I will be thanking my student for generously sharing this quick read with me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST by Eric Lindstrom

Not If I See You First
Here are some of Parker's rules: 1) Don't help me unless I ask, 2) Don't talk extra loud to me, 3) Don't treat me differently, and 4) Don't deceive me.

Parker is blind.  A tragic car accident killed her mother and tore Parker's optic nerve, leaving her in the dark.  After the accident, Parker depended on her father for everything.  They had been close before, and that closeness only increased.  But then, he died. 

It has been months since Parker's aunt, uncle, and cousins moved into her family home.  It was decided that having Parker adjust to new surroundings would be too much, and she appreciated that they were willing to make the sacrifice and move.  Parker is now able to concentrate on adjusting to life without her father.

To most people, Parker appears tough and independent.  She evens has a morning running routine that gives her a feeling of control and helps her deal with missing her dad.  A peer aid helps her in her classes at school, but she is determined to be as self-sufficient as possible. 

Despite her tough exterior, Parker not only misses her father, but also mourns the end of her relationship with her boyfriend Scott.  They were best friends and more until an incident in eighth grade when Scott broke the ultimate rule with Parker - "Don't deceive me."  Now she is trying to learn to trust all over again.  It might be possible that a new friend, Jason, can renew her faith in friendship with a guy.  But, just as she's getting comfortable, her feelings for Scott being to resurface.

NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST is the debut novel of author Eric Lindstrom.  I was impressed with the strong voice he created in Parker as she deals with the curveballs life has thrown her way.  Full of grit and determination, Parker doesn't wallow in self-pity and will serve to encourage others dealing with life's issues.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

HER COLD REVENGE by Erin Johnson

Her Cold Revenge
Grace Milton watched the massacre of her family and she swore revenge.  Finding the killers is proving to be more difficult than she anticipated.  Part of that difficulty comes from the fact that she is a woman, and the world of law enforcement and bounty hunting in the Wild West doesn't welcome women.

As she waits for the Guiltless Gang to surface, she has to make a living so she fights for every chance she gets to bring in petty criminals and claim the rewards.  Slowly, she is gaining respect from some of her competitors, but it isn't going to be easy to convince everyone that she deserves to a place with the other bounty hunters.

Another complication is facing her feelings for Joe who helped her survive and convinced the Ndeh tribe to take her in when she needed it most.  Reuniting with Joe has Grace questioning the emotional and physical attraction that draws her to him and leaves her worried that getting too close to him might make her too soft to carry through with her revenge. 

Grace also feels the need to champion the cause of the other women trying to survive in the tough world of the West.  Widows and children and her dear friend from the Ndeh tribe are depending on her.  Despite the distractions, Grace clings to her desire to honor her family's memory.

HER COLD REVENGE by Erin Johnson is the second book in the Wanted series.  Intense action, hardened criminals, and romance all combine to grab readers and keep them wanting more.  Book #3 is due for release in August of 2016.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Chasing Forgiveness
Neal Schusterman's UNWIND series is one of my favorites.  It still gives me chills when I think of it.  Winning this year's National Book Award has some of his older titles reappearing on bookstore shelves.  CHASING FORGIVENESS is one I hadn't read until now.

Preston Scott's father is getting out of prison.  Preston's life changed forever when he was twelve years old when his father killed his mother.  Surprisingly, everyone seems to be able to forgive Preston's father so Preston tries to do the same.

Living with his maternal parents may seem strange, but they insist it's the only place for Preston as he awaits his father's release.  They are protective and hesitant when their daughter's killer returns and once again becomes involved in his family's world.  Preston believes his father is determined to make things right again, but he still isn't sure he can offer his full forgiveness.

Schusterman captures the raw emotion surrounding a family torn apart by a horrific event and what it takes to mend what was torn apart.  Although the focus is entirely different than the dystopian world of UNWIND, Schusterman's storytelling is sure to hold reader attention and leave a lasting impression.  I am eager to read his National Book Award winner CHALLENGER DEEP.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


A Madness So Discreet
Author Mindy McGinnis takes readers into the frightening world of the insane asylum of the early 19th century.  Dank basement containment rooms, corrupt management, and lobotomy procedures were the norm in many facilities.  A MADNESS SO DISCREET combines terrifying medical treatments, sexual abuse, and murder into a spine-chilling tale.

A terrible family secret has stolen Grace Mae's voice and landed her in a mental hospital in Boston.  Unable to speak of the act that ended in an unwanted pregnancy, Grace spends her days listening to the awful sounds made by her fellow inmates and observing the horrible treatment prescribed by doctors and nurses in the name of 19th century mental health.

Due to a "treatment" for a perceived misbehavior, Grace loses the baby and is taken to a cell in the basement where she is befriended by a neighboring cellmate.  With his help and a faked lobotomy, Grace is able to escape.  Among the conditions of her escape, it must be thought that she is dead, and she must accompany a Dr. Thornhollow to her new home in an Ohio asylum and agree to work with him studying the criminal mind.

The Ohio asylum is run by a much more sympathetic staff, and Grace even makes friends with two girls who are also patients there.  Although she has regained the ability to speak, part of the deception involves her remaining mute.  Despite this handicap, she still finds comfort from her new friendships and the fact that her move to Ohio has allowed her to escape her abuser.  However, she is now worried for a little sister still living in her family home. 

A MADNESS SO DISCREET explores the human mind and what it does to maintain its tenuous grip on sanity when threatened by the atrocities in the world around it.  Multiple story lines and gripping suspense make this novel a sure winner.  McGinnis is also the author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK and A HANDFUL OF DUST.