Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

 Published September 17, 2013
from William Morrow
It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.

As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family's past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.
I enjoyed this a lot, but I couldn't help but consider some of the messages in the book. I can't mention most of them because I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll try to stick to general ideas.

I felt that a lot of mistakes were made by the parents that you see through Sylvie's flashbacks. Sylvie's sister Rose is supposed to be taking care of her but is doing a terrible job; She's too selfish to care for anyone but herself (though she doesn't exactly do a great job of that either). But most of Rose's issues go back to how she is raised and the choices her parents (mostly her father) made.

Sylvie goes looking for answers about her parents because it is her testimony that will play a big part in the conviction of who the police think killed her parents. What she finds out will forever change what she thought she knew about them, but she also finds out a lot about herself along the way.

Help for the Haunted is a great story and I didn't want to put the book down- full of mystery and wonderfully written.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
I loved this book! It's been on my "to read" list since it came out and I finally was able to borrow a copy from a friend. I spent most of the book trying to figure out (as did Marco and Celia) what "the game" is and how a winner will be determined. There is just something about this book that I found beautiful. There is so much beauty in the things created by Celia and Marco. There is beauty in the circus itself. And the magic is beautiful. Of course there was ugliness, too, but that mainly lies with Celia's father... I think Celia's father is a horrible man.

This wasn't a traditional "love story". They spend so much of the book doing things for each other (indirectly) and so little time together. It made me a somewhat sad to see them being in love from a distance, but that does more to show that they really do feel that way and it isn't something that will pass. It is a beautiful, touching and magical (literally and figuratively) story.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Published September 3, 2013
by Little, Brown Books

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
When I first read the description I wasn't sure what to expect when it just said "monsters" but I wasn't surprised when it turned out to be vampires. They're everywhere these days. The idea of a "Coldtown" was new though. The idea is that once a town is showing signs of infection they get blocked off and everyone living there, even if they aren't infected, are stuck inside. Bounty hunters catch vampires and bring them to the towns where they can either collect money or a marker. Markers allow someone on the inside who isn't infected to get out.

It was entertaining and I'll be honest that, yes, it is another story with an attractive looking vampire and all that stuff. If don't like that kind of thing this probably isn't for you, but if you can still appreciate a good YA vampire story, this is a pretty good one. You can pre-order a sample of the book for Kindle for free from Amazon that has the first 68 pages.