Key-bottle creekIn this gritty, realistic wilderness adventure, thirteen-year-old Cort is caught in a battle against a Gulf Coast hurricane. Cort’s father is a local expert on hunting and swamp lore in lower Alabama who has been teaching his son everything he knows. But when a deadly Category 3 storm makes landfall, Cort must unexpectedly put his all skills-and bravery-to the test. One catastrophe seems to lead to another, leaving Cort and two neighbor girls to face the storm as best they can. Amid miles of storm-thrashed wetlands filled with dangerous, desperate wild animals, it’s up to Cort to win-or lose-the fight for their lives.

Cort’s parents are separated and his father continually goes to his mother to convince her to come back. On one of these occasions, a hurricane hits and leaves Cort to try to save their houseboat and keep the neighbours safe.

Cort is no stranger to the landscape around their home. His father leads tours on both land and water throughout the area and Cort accompanies him often. When the storm hits,  Cort finds himself swept away along with the neighbours’ girls. They find themselves in a secluded area with hogs, snakes, spiders, alligators and bears who are fleeing the floods. The three try to find safety, but they are outnumbered and  Cort must find help.

The story is very fast paced with constant action. A fun and on the edge-of-your-seat read for Middle Grade/Teen readers. The book also tackles the tough subject of divorce and dealing with emergencies. The writing is well done and really puts you in the southern U.S. Alabama state of mind. I recommend this one for those that enjoy reading stories with family issues or survival stories involving animals and nature. I enjoyed it and think you will to.



Bracken-Passenger coverBel:

Cover

I have the audio book, which is a similar cover to the paperback. We see a bottle on the sea. In the reflection is a ship in a bottle, though in the actual bottle there is a view of New York City. The olde-worlde script the title is in, fits the story perfectly.

Characters

Even the evil characters have their own valid points for being who they are. I’m sure giving each character their own moral code isn’t an easy task, but it is certainly the key to making them believable, easy to relate to, and complex.

Favourite

I LOVE Etta. Making the best of every situation and gettin’ it done. Girl has a spine and a mind of her own.

Least Favourite

Hmm… This is difficult. Knowing why evil characters are the way they are makes it really hard to hate them. I think I’ll pick Wren. Buffoon in the extreme.

Beginning

In present day New York, Etta is prepping for her violin performance, and eavesdrops on her Mum and violin tutor arguing. Nothing goes as planned, and she ends up being accosted by one of the other performers.

Storyline

She wakes up on a ship in 1776. She’s been kidnapped to complete a task, and with the help of Nicholas Carter, she makes moves to get it done so she can go home to 2015.

Ending

There’s another book coming and Bracken is the queen of the cliff hanger.

Thoughts

Travelling through time isn’t a new concept, but this is hardly a wishy-washy half-baked idea. Alexandra has wielded her mastery of well written characters and immersive world building to fling us across the centuries at break neck speed.

Hold onto your hats folks. You’re gonna love the ride.

Quote

‘Etta stood at the same moment as Chase; only she was the one close enough to land a slap on the officer’s face. The crack of flesh on flesh stunned Nicholas, who’d leapt up to restrain his friend from lunging across the table.

“And these are the actions of a lady.” Wren sputtered.

“Aye,” Chase said approvingly, “and a damn fine one at that.”’ ~ Awkward dinner conversation.

 

Bracken-PassengerJoelene:

Cover

A glass bottle with New York City in side. Underneath the bottle reflects an 18th century ship. The cover alludes to the very different worlds of both main characters.

Characters

Five families in the world are born to travel across time. Etta Spencer belongs to one of the families that has almost died out. Nicholas Carter’s family is the most powerful, controlling all timelines that it has knowledge of.

Favourite

Both Etta and Nicholas are amazing characters. They work well together. I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite from them.

Least Favourite

For inconsistency only, Sophia. She starts as such a promising character: someone who is able to read the weaknesses of others and exploit them to her advantage. Unfortunately, that initial ability is never touched on again and, in future situations, she proves incapable of reading anything about the people around her.

Beginning

Etta is preparing for her debut as a concert soloist. Despite her talent, she is debuting later than many of her peers. On the night of her solo, she witnesses the death of her beloved mentor and is shoved back into 1776.

Storyline

The formidable Ironwood family is after an artefact, and prepared to kill anyone who thwarts their efforts to find it. The patriarch, Cyrus Ironwood, believes that Etta is the key to finding the object.

Ending

Mixed feelings. It increases the possibilities for the next novel, but not necessarily in directions that I like. That said, it’s emotionally satisfying.

Thoughts

I really loved this novel. I’ve recommended it to quite a few people already, and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

The fact that Bracken engages the dark parts of history that people usually avoid is a massive bonus, though I would have liked some more detail on those aspects. Does Nicholas interact with other people of colour? Did his foster father? Where did either of them cultivate the idea that race shouldn’t be a barrier?

Quote

The moment her realised he would only ever be a valet to a half brother who would never, ever, not in a thousand years, acknowledge him publicly as such, Nicholas had merely swallowed the bile rising in his throat and finished retying Julian’s cravat the way he preferred it to be styled.

bracken_afterlightKrista:

Cover

I really enjoyed the imagery on the cover: the opposition of ship vs land, also the bottle. I imagine it represents how she feels trapped (she was kidnapped after all).

Characters

Favourite

Etta for sure. She is very witty and funny, and yet outgoing and vulnerable. Nicholas is a close second though!

Least Favourite

Pretty much anybody proud to claim the name if Ironwood. That family has some issues.

Beginning

Upon the night of her violin debut, Etta is surprised by a fight between her mother and teacher, and suffers something that at first look seems like a panic attack. She witnesses her teacher murdered, and she is pushed into a worm hole by a unknown girl, who jumps with her.

Storyline

Etta finds that she has special blood in her genes that allows her to time travel. She has been kidnapped under the order of the Eldest Ironwood family member and finds herself on a pirate ship traveling to New York, where she will ultimately be told what her purpose is and who will die next if she doesn’t fulfil his wishes.

Ending

Very much a cliff hanger. We are left not knowing how several storylines end and only small details of choices the characters have left. But, as this is a duology all the answers will be answered eventually.

Thoughts

Like Bel, I also listened to the audio book, which I felt was very good. I have never been a fan of time travel novels, and it’s really rare for me to read one that I would recommend. Unfortunately, I found this one fell onto middle ground; it was ok, but I really didn’t care much for the pacing. However, the characters held my interest in the story, and I will most likely pick up the second book to see what happens with Etta and her mother.

Quote:
“You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.”  – Nicholas to Etta

 

Discussion

If you were able to travel to any time and place in history, where would you go, and why?

 

http://www.alexandrabracken.com/

Audio CD

Published January 5th 2016 by Brilliance Audio

ISBN 151136114X (ISBN13: 9781511361149)

 



casey-how to fallSixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have–she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.

Beloved author Jane Casey breaks new ground with How to Fall, a thrilling and insightfully written mystery.

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published August 26th 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin (first published January 31st 2013)

Jess was one of the most determined and opinionated protagonists that I have read in awhile. She not only stated her mind, she was clear with her intentions up front, which is why I found it surprising, at times, how open others were with her. I mean, expecting her to keep something secret was never going to happen.

The similarity she bore to her dead cousin was so close that when others looked at her, it brought all their memories to the forefront. People became hostile or sad whenever she was around. She, in contrast, seemed to feel very little empathy, especially when it came to the matter of her cousin’s death.

Overall, the novel maintained pretty constant pacing throughout. Jess got to know the community and found a comfortable summer job and, of course, met the cute boy next door. There were times in the story when Jess was wise beyond her years.

I really enjoyed the setting of the story as well. It had a terrific atmosphere and a variety of character types. There is still a lot more I would like to learn about Jess, and I am looking forward to the next book. I would recommend this one to those who enjoy suspense and mystery. I liked it and I think you will to.



wanga-my heart and black holesA stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. 

Hardcover, 302 pages

Published February 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

original title

My Heart and Other Black Holes

ISBN

0062324675 (ISBN13: 9780062324672)

It’s expected that a novel focusing on a plan to commit suicide is going to be depressing and melancholy. There is not much that the story brings plot-wise that is not described in the synopsis. It’s a story that focuses on two characters: Aysel and Roman. They meet on an Internet suicide site and make a pact to commit suicide together.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to say in my review of this story, as the book cover pretty much summarized the whole book. What I figured I would do was discuss my feelings about the story. It is hard to know whether the actions and feelings that the characters experience are enough to consider suicide. People lose themselves in emotions, become blind, lost, panicked, content or happy on an individual basis. It’s such a personal issue, how can  I judge whether they were justified in their thoughts?

Aysel is having a hard time at home and school. She feels constantly judged, eyes on her at school and also in her own home. She has a hard time expressing her emotions. Roman, on the other hand, feels that a part of him is missing. His actions caused harm and the guilt weighs him down so heavily that he’s lost his way.

This story is mostly about working out your feelings. Sometimes you find your way through them, but sometimes you don’t. The decision to follow through with your intentions, or finding a way to release them becomes the main objective of the book.

I personally agree that the best way to really understand how you feel is to open up. Conversation really does wonders, and when things are brought to light, the majority of the time you feel better. Since I am a strong believer in honesty, releasing emotion through conversations is the best thing for you emotionally. It depends on who’s around you though. Often releasing through writing, drawing, exercising is a good start, and both of these characters seem to have fallen into a place where they block out using that kind of release.

The message I got from the book was… don’t be afraid to talk, ask the hard questions, get to know yourself and others. I’m not going to say it was an easy book to read, or that I would recommend it to everybody. But I think that it was well presented and could really connect with some readers. There is a message here and taking some time out to really think about it, or discuss it with others, might give some people comfort.

 



larson-igniteAlexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy—before it’s too late?

Going back into the world and continuing the story of Antion was better than I expected the second time around. I was a little worried when book one showed us a little love triangle happening, but it really doesn’t take focus away from the great story line of the series. In the sequel to Defy, the story gets more intense as more black sorcerers arrive in the Kingdom. King Damian is under attack from his neighbours and must find out where they are coming from. It’s very unnatural to have so many black sorcerers and there must be a connection between them and the attacks from the other Kingdoms.

When terror finds its way into the castle, Alexa must go out into the forest to track down some answers and save those in need. What she finds herself doing is constantly battling her own people and the evil magic that has put a heavy cloud over Antion and its people. Talk about dedication!

I have really been enjoying this series because of the main character. Alexa is one of the most admirable characters I have come across in a long time. Her devotion to her Kingdom and righting wrongs is very powerful. She is determined, selfless, and very strong willed. The world building is good; this is one of those series that has really sucked me in, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy and adventure.



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