Friday, March 18, 2016

Recent Read

Six of Hearts by L.H. Cosway

Why this One:  I was following the books a fellow GoodReader had just done a review on that sounded very interesting.  It was the second book in the series and when I looked it up on Amazon, I saw the first book, Six of Hearts, was a freebie.  Well that was a done deal for me.

Genre: YA

Steam Level: Makes for the perfect temperature, hot but not enough to burn your tongue

Synopsis: I think in triangles. You think in straight lines.

I show you a table and make you believe it’s a chair.

Smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, misdirection. I trick and deceive.

But most of all, I put on a good show.

The world thinks I killed a man, but I didn't. Bear with me. It’s all a part of the plan.

Revenge is what I want. I want it for me and I want it for her.
I want it for all six of us.

She doesn't remember me, but she’s the reason for everything. She’ll be my prize at the end of all this–if I can hold onto my willpower, that is. Maybe I’ll slip up a little, have a taste, just a small one.

So go ahead and pick a card. Come inside and see the show. Look at my hands, look so closely that you can’t see what’s happening while you’re so focused on looking. I’ll be destroying your world from right here in the spotlight.

You’ll never see me coming until it’s too late.

I've only got one heart, and after I've pulled off my grand deception I’ll hand it right to her.

So, sit back, relax, and let my girl tell you our story. You’re in for one hell of a ride.

My Thoughts: I’ve been on such a run of good reads lately that I love the fact I’m an avid reader.  And surprisingly to me, a good number of them are YA and told in the first person – both of which weren’t my usual pick until recently.  And Six of Hearts continues this Most Excellent Streak.  I loved it, just loved it.

It starts out very angsty, a young boy living in Ireland, who’s been abused by his father, is hiding out when some shady looking people come and burn his house down.  He loses his family in the fire, his younger brother, his mother and his father.  He stays for a few days with his neighbours before an uncle from the US comes to take him back with him. This is all told from third person past tense.

The book then switches to first person present tense and becomes the story of Matilda, rather ordinary young woman named Matilda.  She lives at home with her lawyer father as well as works as his admin assistant.  They’ve been very close since her mother was murdered when she was 10.

Her world starts to gain colour though when Jay Fields enters the story.  He is an illusionist extraordinaire Jay Fields.  He’s amazing at what he does.  He wants to hire Matilda’s dad to represent him in a libel suit he is planning against the local newspaper whose reporter wrote a scathing article against him almost accusing him of murders.  Her dad refuses, thinking he’s not a good enough lawyer but somehow Jay ends up renting a room in their home.

Matilda is dead set against it.  She has a very strong attraction to this gorgeous, charismatic entertainer and just knows it couldn’t possibly reciprocated, as successful and captivating as Jay.  But he does give off vibes at times that just maybe…….

I know I’m going way overboard on the adjectives, I try not too as a rule, but one simply can’t help it with Jay.  He really is the bees knees, a bag of chips and all that jazz.  He’s brilliant at his illusions and he has what seems to be a twinkle in his eye at all time.  Yet on very rare occasions Matilda catches what seems to be anguish in their depths.

I loved Matilda too.  Though she considers herself ordinary, she’s far from it.  According to others, though she get it herself, she is quite attractive.  Jay seems to think so, though he gives out very mixed messages to her at times.  I love her enthusiasm and wonderment when she sees one of Jay’s illusions.  She’s quick witted and keeps up with Jay quite easily in the quip department.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I haven’t said anything about the story itself.  To say anything risks giving it away and I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone.  So final word:

You’ve nothing to lose but you can gain a great book and a possible new author.  I know I did. I’m now reading book 2.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Would I read it again: and enthusiastic yes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Recent Read

How to Save a Life by Emma Scott

Why this one: It was one of those books that comes up “Recommended because” in reference to One Day Soon and since I thought that book was brilliant…..

Steam Level:  pretty heated

Genre: YA

Outline: Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness.

Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits.

Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life.

My Thoughts: I think if I had read this book at a different time, I may have gotten more out of but coming on the heels of One Day Soon, and because I found One Day Soon so…. Everything, How to Save A Life didn’t have as much of a chance.  It’s like watching a brilliant ice dance skate in the Olympics, the kind that gives you goose bumps.  Each move by both is perfection, even down to the move of a hand.  Their connection to each other is intense and the audience knows it’s watching something they will rarely see and experience.  And then the next pair of ice dancers come on to the ice and they do a wonderful job, worthy of high scores, but it just didn’t give you the goose bumps that the first pair did.  On another night. In even the slightest of circumstances the second couple could come first – but just not this night.  That’s how it was with this book.

Josephine, or Jo, is one very angry, very damaged young woman.  It’s her final year of high school and she’s the ‘new girl’.  She lives with her uncle and as a long distance truck hauler, they move around a lot and even when they settle somewhere, he’s not around much.  Jo has good reason to be angry.  She was abused by another uncle, though the author doesn’t really get into it in any detail.  When she scarred herself on purpose to make him stop, her mother who already suffered from mental illness, couldn’t handle it and killed herself.  So Jo was left with basically no one.  We don’t know about her father.

She gets involved with the ‘geeks and freaks’ crowd though she also bangs the jock of the school.  This gives her the ‘illusion’ of being in control though of course we the readers, know this never really works.  But it adds to her isolation.

But there is someone even more isolated that Jo who attends the small town high school and that is our hero Evan.  He is ostracized by everyone and bullied and made fun of.  And even worse, it is his foster brothers that lead the charge.  They hate him with every breath they take

He interests Jo, here is someone very handsome who to her should be one of the cool kids but then she hears his story.  He has visions and has spent time in a mental institutions.  In the cruelty that can be young people that’s all it takes.

But Jo gets to know Evan better and she sees he’s a wonderful caring young man.  As their young love begins to grow and flourish and as she begins to trust Evan. Jo slowly lets down her walls a bit.

But just as things start going very well, a tragic incident happens and they are ripped apart from each other and Jo’s life slowly descends into hell.

Will they find each other again?  Can they heal each other?  Can their love overcome all that keeps them apart? This is what is answered in the second part of the story and I’m not going to tell.  Instead, if I’ve intrigued you enough, you will want to find out for yourself.  I will say though that it becomes a road trip book, based mostly on the ‘visions’ that Evan still sees.

I loved both Jo and Evan.  Jo is only keeping it together by a thin veil of ice, never really letting herself trust, always expecting the worst and sometimes even sabotaging herself to get what she thinks she deserves.

And Evan – well, even as a young high school student he’s swoon worthy.  His past is almost as sad, he was abandoned and then later adopted by a couple who aren’t really aware or care, what is going around them, how horrid this young man they took in is being treated.  He will break your heart with his story.

I have no problems whatsoever recommending this book and I’m sure many will very much enjoy it too.  For me though, not quite as much as the ‘other’ book

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Would I read it again?:  I don’t know honestly.  I can see me starting to read it and the other book calling to me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Recent Read

So much for my previous plans.  Instead I bring you a review for a book that rocked me - seriously rocked me!

One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters
Why this one: I happened to notice it received glowing reviews at both Amazon and GoodReads and very few bad ones.  The price was good so I gave it a try
Steam Level: The first love scenes didn’t happen until closer to the end and they weren’t very descriptive – but they were perfect, completely perfect for the book.
Genre: Young Adult
Outline: He found me in blood and tears.
I stayed with him through darkness and fire.

We loved each other in the moment between innocence and bitter truth.
We were the kids easily ignored, who grew into adults we hardly knew.

We weren’t meant to last forever. And we didn’t.

He ran away.
I tried to move on.

Yet I never stopped thinking about the boy who had fought to keep me alive in a world that would have swallowed me whole. He was the past that I buried, but never forgot.

Until the day I found him again, years after believing I had lost him forever.

And in cold, resentful eyes, I saw the heart of the man who had been everything when I had nothing at all. So I vowed to hold onto the second chance that was stolen from the children we had been.

Sometimes fate is ugly. Life can be twisted.
And who we are can be ruined by who we once were.

For two people who had survived so much, we would have to learn how to hold on before we were forced to let go.
My Thoughts: Every few years a book ‘gets to me’ on a very rare level that few books do.  The last one that did was Transcendence by Shay Savage and the one before that was Broken Wing by Judith James.  And now, this year, it’s One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters.  This book has changed me in a fundamental way.  Its theme is homeless young people.  At the back of the book it states the author has worked in this field and it’s so obvious that she has.
As spring approaches, the squeegee kids start to come out.  I don’t know if others know who these young people are but they stand at the traffic lights of major intersection and when the lights turn red, they clean the front window of your car, hoping you will give them some money.  In the past I’ve always kept my fingers crossed that I’m not held up by the light and they won’t approach me, but now that will be different.  I’ll keep change in the car if I’m stopped.
This book broke my heart.  It’s told from Imigen or Imi’s first person account. It’s told in two times, a chapter 15 years in the past when she lived on the streets and then present time when she is a successful Social Worker at a hospital.  What both the past and the present have in common is Yossarian – or Yoss.  It’s Yoss who really broke my heart.  In the past he’s a young man, 18, who has been on the streets since he was 12 and left a very abusive home.  He sees Imi when she first runs away from home at age 16 because she’s pretty much been neglected by her scattered brained mother who puts whoever is her current boyfriend ahead of Imi.  Yoss can tell that Imi is an innocent when it comes to street kids and brings her under his wing for protection.  He is the leader of a small band of screwed up young people.  He and Imi fall deeply in love.  Even though the book is told in the first person, this author is brilliant in her ability to make us BELIEVE and FEEL this love despite their young age.
But Yoss has had to do some terrible, terrible things to survive and help his small group.  Thankfully the author hints at what he’s done rather that describe it, but since I think she’s a brilliant author, even implied and not even told from his POV, we feel his anguish and despair at the helplessness of his life on the streets and his self-loathing.  Even writing up this review is making me feel it again.
The present time line has Imi and Yoss meeting up again for the first time in 15 years.  That’s all I’m going to say for the present time as to say more would give away spoilers.  Enough to say though that even though it’s been 15 years since last they saw each other, their love and need for each other is still as strong and enduring as when they first met.
If you read other reviews, and I encourage you to do so, many of the reviewers say they don’t have the words to really describe this book and I add to their feelings.  This book is beautiful, it is haunting, it will stay with you long after you finish.  I was crying the last three chapters of this book.  And I mean could only read for a bit before I couldn’t see any more for the tears.  My throat hurt from trying to hold them back.  I have NEVER done this while reading a book before.  Transcendence made me cry at the end, every time I’ve read it.  But this one had me crying harder and much earlier in the book.  And it was a cry that I needed.  Things in my personal life have gone wonky again and while I know I need to cry ‘cause it does make one feel better after, I haven’t been able to.  But in reading and crying during the latter part of this book, though to be honest I probably could have almost from the beginning, it helped me.
I was thinking “I can’t recommend this book because it’s written so incredibly well emotionally but I can’t NOT recommend it as it’s one of those books that comes along very rarely and I don’t want anyone who loves the genre to miss it.  Even if they are affected half as deeply as I was it will be very emotional for those who read it.
Other reviewers have said that 5 stars is not enough for this book and in that I agree with them 100%.  I only wish we could rate higher for those books that rock your world and change you to your core.
Grade: 50 out of 5
Would I read it again?: When I’m ready for the emotional punch it will give me, absolutely!