The Keening by A. LaFaye

 

This was an interesting but kind of sad ghost story.  It is also one of my favorite kinds of ghost stories – the ones where the ghosts all gravitate towards one person (usually one person who can see them and communicate with them) whom they need to pass on a message to those they left behind.  I’ve always been interested in the afterlife, if one exists.
Liza Layton loses her mother to influenza, and it’s up to her to ensure that her father is taken care of.  He’s a very talented but eccentric carver and spends most of his time carving – so much that his in-laws want to have him committed to a work farm called Elysian Fields.  Lyza must overcome her fears to get him the help he needs.
When it comes to ghosts and the afterlife, there isn’t anything here terribly groundbreaking.  It’s pretty standard – person starts seeing ghosts, ghosts need person to pass on messages to the living so they can move on, person lives in fear of going crazy and being institutionalized.
That being said, I really liked it.  The author says that the story came to her in a dream, so the story was written with a dreamlike quality and I have to agree – the story does have a dreamlike quality to it.  I kept picturing Lyza’s house with an overcast sky and fog surrounding it.  That’s dreamlike to me, anyway.
I think this book was originally released in 2009, but was re-released in April 2011.  I was able to read this thanks to NetGalley.

Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer

I didn’t like this one too much.  The main character Sarah was an unlikeable skank, and the book was mostly really boring – the build up of Sarah’s relationship with Agnes and Maddy took forever.  The good stuff happened a few chapters after the fawn died.  I never was able to muster up any sympathy or caring for Sarah at all.  I thought the relationship between Agnes and Maddy was far more interesting.  I only finished it to see how many random strangers Sarah would sleep with (only two; three if you count the random person she slept with in high school).  I don’t know what it is with authors and their penchant for writing distinctly unlikeable characters – this whole casual sex thing is a rather contrived character flaw.  Not only a contrived character flaw, but a half-assed character flaw that also seems to be some sort of political statement.  I dunno.  I just think there’s a difference between truly flawed characters and truly unlikeable characters with a boatload of very bad habits and characteristics.

The ending was also really sad.  I think this book was marketed as a paranormal young adult novel, but there wasn’t anything really paranormal about it, other than the possibility of Maddy casting a spell on Sarah to make her chubby.

After by Amy Efaw

Note:  review contains some spoilers.

This is a very compelling book about a teenage girl named Devon who gets pregnant, spends the pregnancy in severe denial and then dumps the baby in the trash once she gives birth.  Unfortunately for her, someone discovers the poor baby and she is arrested for attempted murder.  The rest of the book covers her trial and her stay at a juvenile detention center.

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“Two Moon Princess” by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

This review was originally published at Good Reads.

Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is about a princess named Andrea who travels from her planet, Xarens-Ra, to our planet – California, to be exact – through a mysterious door hidden inside a cave. It is more fantasy than sci-fi, though, and we don’t actually find out how the door works. But it opens whenever there is a full moon in both worlds at the same time, and on Xarens-Ra, both moons (called Athos and Lua) must be full for it to open.
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“Ultraviolet” by R.J. Anderson

This review was originally published at Good Reads.

This is a story about a teenage girl named Alison, who watched a fellow classmate Tori disintegrate before her very eyes. Due to her synesthesia, she thinks she is responsible for Tori’s disappearance – and so does everyone else. She is then sent to a mental hospital, where she tries to figure out what is wrong with her and what exactly happened to Tori.

Since Alison has synesthesia, the descriptions of the colors Alison hears, the lies she tastes – and all the things she senses – are creative and well-written.

All the characters are important. There aren’t any characters used to dump information on the reader or anything – everyone has a role, even the minor characters.

In the end, Alison finally learns to fully embrace her synesthesia and uses it to solve many problems, including the one in the climax of the book.

She learns that everyone around her had something to hide (this is not necessarily a bad thing) and that the thing that everyone had to hide was usually a tragedy in their past. She also learned that two important people in her life were not what they seemed.

The mystery of Tori’s death and whether or not Alison was responsible was compelling. I did not want to stop reading.

There are a couple of plot twists I won’t go into here, because that would spoil the book. I kind of saw them coming too, but I didn’t mind because I was hoping the story would go in those directions anyway.

I sincerely hope there will be a sequel to this one.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for letting me read this book. It will be released in September of this year.