Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(38) Quantum Leap with Angels

Title: Mercy by Rebecca Lim
Publisher: Hyperion
280 pages
Genre: YA Supernatural

Received as an advanced electronic copy from netgalley.  This book is set to be published May 17, 2011.

Synopsis: Mercy in an exile from heaven with shattered memories of who she used to be. She's doomed to "wake" repeatedly on earth in a new body, each time assuming a new life. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by her lost love, who pleads with her to find him.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen-year-old reeling from the loss of his twin sister, Lauren, who was kidnapped two years ago. Only Mercy and Ryan believe his sister is still alive. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose: she can help. So she doesn't understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the mystery of Lauren's disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Review: I read this book without reading the synopsis first so I wasn't really sure what was going on at first.  I wasn't sure if this was a story similar to the tv show Quantum Leap with a human trapped jumping from body to body trying to get home or if Mercy was supernatural.  It quickly became apparent that Mercy was some sort of supernatural being, which I now know to be an angel.  The premise is still very like Quantum Leap though.  Mercy jumps from human body to human body without any warning, and has to quickly figure out who she is and what she is doing.  She rarely interferes in her hosts life but when she jumps into Carmen a high school choir Phenom on a school trip, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery surrounding the disappearance of the daughter of the family she is staying with and finds herself compelled to help.

The brother of the missing girl reminds Mercy of Luc who she dreams about all the time, a lover who she can't seem to find anymore and who keeps cautioning her to do nothing.  But does Luc really have Mercy's best interest at heart? As Mercy discovers who she is there are more and more questions that pop up about how she became what she is and why she is hopping from one body to another.

Filled with mystery of what might have happened to Lauren the missing girl, who Mercy really is, who the Luc is that Mercy always dreams about and why she wants to help this time the people around her this time.  This is apparently the first in a series and it is a great start.  I whizzed through this book, completely intrigued by everything.

Monday, April 25, 2011

(37) Gods and Monsters

Title: River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace Books (Penguin)
336 pages
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...

Review: Book 6 in the Mercy Thompson Series. Mercy and Adam are on their honeymoon but that doesn't prevent craziness from following them.  Being married to the Alpha male of a wolf pack has its advantages and disadvantages.  The events in this book really put Mercy and Adam's relationship to the test along with their instincts.

While camping on Native land Mercy and Adam help rescue a native man and find themselves in the middle of a mystery that has roots older than many fae.  While Mercy's heritage is somewhat of a mystery we get a glimpse but not many facts into her background.  They also find themselves meeting others of a similar heritage to Mercy.

Filled with Native American myths and lore this book had a different yet equally enjoyable feel to the other Mercy books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(36) Born of two worlds

Title: Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Publisher: Black Cat (Grove Press)
461 pages
Genre: Fiction, Gender Studies

Synopsis: Wayne, born into the harsh, rural landscape of Labrador, Canada, in 1968, is a hermaphrodite. It is his father who ultimately decides to raise him as a male and names him. Only Wayne’s parents and their friend Thomasina Baikie, also present at his birth, are aware of his gender duality. The two women silently battle against Wayne’s father’s gender assignment, and as Wayne grows older, he must contend with the two genders struggling for dominance within him. His father, Treadway, a trapper who spends most of his time outdoors, works hard to steer Wayne away from his feminine side. His mother, Jacinta, becomes increasingly estranged from her husband as she mourns the loss of her female child. Following the tragic death of her husband and daughter, Thomasina travels the world and sends enticing postcards to Wayne of the world beyond his own.

Review: This is the book I had wished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenedes and despite the fact that Middlesex won a Pulitzer prize I did not like it, I felt it was lacking something personal which Annabel delivers on. Annabel leads you through Wayne's birth and his fathers decision to raise him as a boy and his struggle to have Wayne be the man he envisions. Wayne's mothers struggle to let go of the daughter she lost and Wayne's struggle with his identity despite not knowing that he was born as an intersex child. The only other person who knows of Wayne's dual gender is a neighbor Thomasina who loses her husband and daughter in an accident and sees in Wayne the daughter that she lost.  

There are so many interesting characters in this book and the way they interact and the reasons behind their actions is fascinating to read.  The small town rural setting is perfect for this type of book since they seem to be so much more personal.  Everyone knows everyone else's business and the men are expected to act a certain way and the children fall into the roles that their parents had even though they dream of "getting out".

Truly a study of gender identity and how the equipment you are born with doesn't always express who you are on the inside.  Wayne believes he is a boy but also identifies with the female side of himself in many ways  and when he finally finds out about his dual sexuality it is interesting to see where it leads him. I can't recommend this book enough.

Friday, April 15, 2011

(35) Wicked Games

Title: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Teen
328 Pages
Genre: Young Adult

Synopsis:
Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Review: What a dark strange tale.  Ash is a modern girl who has the sight to see the faerie world which is a frightening place. Keenan has been searching for his Summer Queen for centuries.  Each girl that he pursues thinking she might be the one will either become the Queen or be bound as a Summer Girl losing her mortality and forever tied to Keenan or if she accepts the challenge and fails she may become consumed with Winters Chill and become the Winter Girl.  Its a dark twisted tale of treachery, power struggles and free will.

Ash may be the Summer Queen but she will only consent to taking the test on her terms.  Keenan isn't used to taking no for an answer and is baffled by the modern girl.  I really like the characters even when I didn't "like" the characters.  The story itself had so many layers that there is much that left me wanting to learn more but I guess thats what the other books in the series are for.

Monday, April 11, 2011

(34) Redemption and Forgiveness

Title: Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Publisher: Little Brown
292 Pages
Genre: YA

Synopsis: Kip McFarland is living with a painful secret: when he was nine, he set Bobby Clarke on fire. And Bobby died.

After four long years in a juvenile ward, Kip is rehabilitated. He's got a new, "perfect" life. But no one knows he's got a past. No one knows about the nightmares and the guilt that torture him. They don't even know his real name.

What do you do when your past catches up with you again and again? When the journey to salvation always leads to a dead end? When the person you're most afraid of, the person you'd move anywhere to escape...is yourself?

Review: What a great book.  I was really impressed by how Gail Giles tackled this tough subject.  What Kip did was horrible and at first I wasn't sure whether to hate him or to feel compassion for him.  Giles takes you through therapy with Kip trying to discover why he did what he did and how he can move forward with it.  The book is written as Kip telling his story to someone else and there are places where the other person who isn't identified reacts to Kips story and I found my thoughts and feelings very much in line with this persons thinking.  Do you forgive someone for this horrible crime? How do you forgive them? Is that person still the same or have they changed? Can they find redemption or forgiveness and who do they ask forgiveness of? It is a book filled with no easy answers and even harder questions.  Sort of a young adult Jodi Picoult book that deals with the hard issues but doesn't really give you the answers.  It makes you see things from different sides and really take a look at yourself and how you would respond.  Highly recommend this book.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

(33) Love Makes A Family

Title: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Atria Books
466 pages
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: When music therapist Zoe Baxter’s latest pregnancy ends in a stillbirth, her husband Max decides he can’t handle any more heartbreak and leaves her. As she picks up the pieces of her life, Zoe is surprised to find herself falling for a school counselor who happens to be a woman. While Zoe is finding happiness with Vanessa, Max falls off the wagon and is helped by a pastor from his brother’s evangelical church. Vanessa and Zoe wed in Massachusetts, and Vanessa offers to carry one of the fertilized embryos Zoe and Max stored. Excited by the prospect of being a mother, Zoe goes to Max to get him to release the embryos to her and is shocked when he instead sues her for custody of them, backed by his church.

Review: I was unsure about this book when I picked it.  Being a lesbian mom I was a little worried about this one.  Jodi did me proud though.  Her portrayal of LGBT relationships and the struggles that they face in parenting, and just everyday things was wonderfully done.  From the struggle to have children, marriage, and all the other hoops we have to jump through just to have basic civil rights.  Zoe and Vanessa's struggle is not an uncommon one and it was beautifully portrayed. It really brought to light that it isn't the make up of the people in a family that makes it - its the love that binds them all together.

Zoe's ex-husband Max and his struggle with life was also well done and Pastor Clive was so well portrayed found myself having to put the book down and walk away because I was so angry at what he was preaching. I'm not a Christian and it pushed every button I have when he started preaching about how Christian homes are the ideal and best homes for children.  I was outraged for people of other religions and don't even get me started on his beliefs about the "gay lifestyle".

I found myself completely intrigued by Liddy, Max's sister in law - the devoted Christian wife who was struggling with her own infertility issues throughout the book. I wish her character had been a bit more fleshed out. At first I wasn't sure I liked her but as the book went on she became more real and I found her to be one of the most compassionate characters in the book.  She saw the good in people and maybe learned a bit more about her religion in the process of the lawsuit over Max and Zoe's embryo's.

Jodi Picoult couldn't have written a more timely book, that really gives a glimpse of the struggles of LGBT families and the civil injustices that we face on a daily basis.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

(32) Kick Ass Woman

Title: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
Publisher: Crown Publisher
307 pages
Genre: Thriller

Synopsis: Vanessa "Michael" Munroe deals in information - expensive information- for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique band of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gun runner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protegee she earned the respect of the jungles most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation over the years until something sent her running. During almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.

Until now.

A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter, who vanished in Africa four years earlier. Its not her usual line of work, but Munroe can't resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the land of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she's tried for so long to forget.

Review: So many of the reviews of this book compare Munroe with Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium Trilogy.  While I can see some of the similarities I find Munroe much more approachable than Lisbeth.  Lisbeth is socially awkward with little affect.She kicks butt but she has the social skills of a gnat.  Munroe is also a survivor, and knows how to handle herself  but she can be charming and funny.  She uses her wit, her excellent language skills and her power of observation to solve peoples problems by providing information that they couldn't get on their own.

I enjoyed following her story, learning how she came to be who she was and I appreciated that I didn't have to wait until the 2nd book to really learn more about her character.  While some of the action might have been over the top I'm not sure it was any more incredible than what I've read in other books and accepted as plausible.  I thought this was a great start to a new series and I'm really looking forward to the next book.
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