Book Review: Cold Kiss

Cold Kiss

Amy Garvey

Harper Teen

304 pages

Wren is a high school student who seems to be more reclusive since the death of her boyfriend Danny over the summer.  Her two best friends, Jess and Darcia have tried to get her to come out and socialize, to no avail.  However, it’s not grief that is keeping Wren away, but the fact that she is spending time with her boyfriend.  The dead one.

Wren has special powers.  She has not learned how to control them and her mother and other female relatives have the same powers, but no one is willing to talk about it.  Wren decides to go ahead and see if she can raise Danny from the dead.  He was her first love and her grief at losing him is overwhelming.  Unfortunately, she really doesn’t think it through, and Danny coming back to life is not at all what she expected.

Danny is not the same.  He is mopey and despondent.  Wren is forced to hide him in the rafters of an elderly neighbor’s garage and the stress of constantly checking on him and keeping such a huge secret is taking its toll on her. All this insanity culminates with the arrival at school of a new boy named Gabriel, who quickly learns Wren’s secret and embarks on a way to help her.

The overall story of Cold Kiss is a sad and desperate one. Wren realizes that she has to figure out a solution to Danny’s presence but that opens up the grief of losing him the first time.  She is guilt stricken with the situation she has put Danny in and laments that she didn’t love him enough to let him rest in peace.  Instead, she made a selfish decision to bring him back without thinking about what she would be putting him through.

Personally, I didn’t see it that way.  Obviously Wren made a huge mistake in bringing Danny back to life, but I never saw her as selfish.  That’s not to say I liked her.  It became obvious early on that something needed to be done about the Danny situation, but Wren preferred to just stick her head in the sand and ignore the problem.  I understood the tension she had with her mother but I wanted to scream at her for not going to her mother with the problem knowing that her mother could help her figure something out.

Paranormal YA is not generally my genre of choice, but bringing a dead boyfriend back to life was not something I could pass up.  It was a fun read that raised some interesting questions but it didn’t blow me away.

Other Reviews:

Good Books & Good Wine

I received an egalley of this book via Netgalley.

This book counts towards RIP VI.

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September Reading Wrap Up

 

It can’t be denied.  Fall has finally arrived.  That means my footie pajamas have come out of hiding and I am drinking copious amounts of coffee and chai lattes.  Candles are constantly burning and I am always wrapped in a cozy blanket.  So what does that mean for my reading? Well, it means that I am reading more.  I expected that to be reflected in my numbers this month, but it isn’t really.  Part of that is due to The Alienist, which took me ten days to read.

Here is what I read during September:

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

The True Memoirs of Little K, by Adrienne Sharp

The Poison Tree, by Erin Kelly

Cold Kiss, by Amy Garvey

Napoleon’s Privates, by Tom Perrottet

Curtains, Tom Jokinen

Jumping off Swings, Jo Knowles

That’s a grand total of 9 books, plus one DNF (Waiting for Robert Capa).

I had a tie for my favorite book of the month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for my challenges, you may remember that I dropped pretty much every challenge earlier this year, but I am participating in two challenges at the moment.

Information for the Europa challenge can be found here. I chose to read 4 Europas by the end of 2011.  I don’t know if that will happen, because at this point I have only read one.  Plus, I am in such an RIP swing of things that I have been reading mostly books that fall under that category.  Maybe I should join the perpetual challenge . . .

RIP is my favorite challenge of the year.  Information for it can be found here. I have already surpassed the level I chose, which was 4 books.  So far, I have read 5 books for this challenge and I plan to keep going strong in October.  Plus, I plan to read The Lantern for Carl’s RIP readathon, so I am looking forward to that too.

How was September for you?

Book Review: The Poison Tree

The Poison Tree

Erin Kelly

Pamela Dorman Books

336 pages

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
and he knew that it was mine, —

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

Karen Clarke is the type of college student that fades into the background.  You wouldn’t notice her.  She never gets into trouble, she completes her work on time and everyone knows what to expect from her.  That all changed one summer during the 90s when she meets a free spirit on campus named Biba Capel.  Biba lives with her brother Rex and the two of them leave a bohemian lifestyle.  They are very carefree, enjoying wine and music every night in the family home they share together, with not much else mattering.  Karen is enamored by their lifestyle and she quickly abandons her old life to move in with the siblings.

We know from the very beginning that something awful happened that summer, resulting in someone’s death, although we know not who the victim is.  We also know that Rex has been imprisoned for a decade for the crime and that he and Karen have a daughter together.  The rest of the circumstances remain a mystery that slowly unfolds throughout the book.

If you haven’t read the book, I would suggest skipping the next paragraph, unless you enjoy spoilers**

I could see why Karen had such a fascination with Biba, but as the book wore on, I began to loathe Biba. In fact, loathe may not be a strong enough word to describe the dislike I felt for her.  It was so ridiculous that Rex gave up ten years of his life for her, and I wish he would have thought it over before he decided to shoulder the blame.  I suppose there is little chance that he would ever be able to fully realize what a selfish brat she was though.  I was so happy that Karen was able to realize it though.  I was GLAD she killed Biba at the end.  I very rarely wish for someone’s death in a book, but the gall she had to try and come back to a daughter she abandoned with no thought for anyone but herself really irritated me.

End spoiler**

My cousin has been after me to read this book for weeks.  We often share book recommendations but I have never been hounded by her to read a book the way she did with The Poison Tree. After reading it, I can see why.  It was a great psychological thriller and Kelly’s writing was perfect at keeping me invested in the story.  Every chapter left me wanting more, so I would keep tearing through the book, unable to put it down.  And as the story kept unraveling, it got more and more interesting.

I will definitely be including this one on my Best of 2011 list.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket

Beth Fish Reads

I purchased this book used from a book sale. 

This book counts towards the RIP VI challenge.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Quirk Books

352 pages

I know, I know.  ANOTHER review for Peculiar Children.  It’s getting ridiculous, but it’s for good reason.  Because seriously, you have to read this book.  If you have previously been on the fence about it, I am about to convince you to bite the bullet and pick it up.

Jacob grew up hearing a myriad of creepy, paranormal stories from his grandfather.  Levitating girls, invisible boys and the like.  As a kid, he believed the stories unflinchingly, but as he grew older, he believed his grandfather was feeding him fairy tales and he became a a skeptic.  That is, until his grandfather died.

The death left a void for Jacob, and in an attempt to come to terms with it, as well as his grandfather’s life, he travels to the Welsh island where his grandfather spent his adolescence, at a group home that Jacob thought was for refugee children from the war.

So Jacob’s exploring the island.  He is hoping to find Miss Peregrine, who is the matron of the home, but when he finally finds the home, it is obviously abandoned.  In fact, it was bombed during WWII, just after Jacob’s grandfather left.

So that’s when the weird shit starts to happen.  Jacob is able to travel back to September 3,

One of the many creepy photos.

1940 and all of a sudden, he is in this parallel universe with his grandfather’s peers.  And boy are they peculiar!

It’s pretty obvious by my preface that I loved this book.  It was so atmospheric, as well as deliciously creepy.  The paranormal aspect is not generally something I go for, but I am glad I gave it a chance.  Maybe someday I will be head over heels for the genre.  I thought it was done at just the right pace, with enough realism in it to keep me interested.

My biggest question once I finished the books was perhaps an unfair one.  Would Peculiar Children be as good without the pictures?  Do the pictures make the book? My answer is that the pictures add such a cool element to the story that they take an average plot line and turn it into something special.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much without the pictures, but that’s not to say it’s a bad story.  I am just a sucker for pictures.

We’re heading into cooler days (although you wouldn’t know that today.  It feels like the middle of summer again!), and what could be better than to curl up with a good book? With Halloween coming up, this one is the perfect choice.

Other Reviews:

Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Good Books and Good Wine

Jenn’s Bookshelves

Fizzy Thoughts

Capricious Reader

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

This book counts towards RIP VI.

Book Review: The Alienist

The Alienist

Caleb Carr

Random House

512 pages

It’s 1896, New York City, and teenage male prostitutes are being brutally killed by a serial killer.  The police commissioner at the time, Teddy Roosevelt (yes, THE Teddy Roosevelt) wants the crimes solved at all costs, and he secretly employs the help of Dr Lazlo Kreizler.  Kreizler is an alienist, which is a fancy name for a psychologist, and he is using his background to determine the criminal’s motives and history based on facts he can glean from the respective crime scenes.  Today, Kreizler would be called a criminal profiler, but back in 1896, there was no precedent, so his work had to be completed on the down low.

Kreizler enlisted the help of a Times journalist, John Schuyler Moore, as well as Roosevelt’s secretary Sara and two brother doctors, Marcus and Lucius.  The five rounded out a team that spent every waking minute poring over the cases and carefully constructing the traits of the perp.  As time wears on, they are in a frenzy attempting to find the killer before he strikes again.  Likewise, they are trying to protect themselves because they are being stalked as well.

The Alienist took me ten days to read.  Now, granted, it is a fairly long book but the mystery keeps you engaged throughout.  So I am not sure why it took me so long to finish the book.  I can only surmise that it was just bad timing, with too many distractions coming along.  In fact, there were at least two or three days where I didn’t have a chance to read a single word at all.  But I digress . . . on to my thoughts.

The Alienist was my very first RIP book and it was a great choice. Very atmospheric.  I loved the setting of New York City at the turn of the century.  Delmonico’s, a famous NYC restaurant, was mentioned frequently, and there were even some in depth descriptions of some NYC slums, so there was quite a bit involved.

As for the mystery aspect, it was different than that of most mysteries, in the sense that you know exactly what the detectives know.  They discover the identity of the madman about halfway through the book but then there is the matter of tracking him down and capturing him.  So there is no AHA moment at the end where you discover who the bad guy is–you’ve already uncovered that!

The Alienist is definitely a psychological thriller.  You really get into the mindset of the killer and you learn why he is driven to kill.  It is hard for most people to fathom, but laid out as it is in this book, there is no question as to why someone like this would need to kill.

I am glad I started off RIP with a bang, even if my reading took longer than I normally like.

Other Reviews:

A Little Bookish

BiblioFreak Blog

I purchased this book years ago, and it has languished on my shelves ever since.

 

The Sunday Salon, 9/18/2011

Wow, what an awesome week.  BBAW is something I look forward to every year, and I had a great time blogging and chatting with other bloggers about what we love: reading and blogging! Because of the hoopla that comes along with BBAW, I chose not to post any reviews this week. I do, however, have two reviews coming up this week: The Alienist and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

I was so happy to make a small dent in my RIP stack and trust me, I could continue to read RIP books for the rest of the month.  However, I have some other reading obligations so the RIP books have gone by the wayside for the time being.  It’s a tad bit disappointing, only because the weather has finally turned to fall! I broke out my footie pajamas and the winter blanket for our bed.  Despite the fact that it keeps my house on the chilly side, we have had our windows open 24/7 for the past week.

I am pretty sure the weather has also increased my caffeine consumption as well.  I just got a Kuerig coffee maker and I can’t stop using it!! I got peppermint mocha creamer (omg!!) and tons of different flavors of coffee, plus chai latte pods too! I keep trying to exercise my self control and limit how much I am drinking but it doesn’t always work.

As we speak, I am curled up in bed watching What Not to Wear with a cup of coffee as I blog but later on today I need to go to work.  What are your plans for today? How have you been doing on the RIP challenge?

RIP VI is here!!

The RIP challenge (hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings) is near and dear to my heart.  I will be the first to admit, I have lousy luck with challenges.  There are just not enough hours in the day to read all the books I would love to read, so often I have other obligations as far as my reading goes, ensuring that the challenge books fall by the wayside.  Either that, or I just lose interest.  There is one reading challenge that I always participate in though, and that is the RIP challenge.  Fall could be my favorite season of the year, and I love settling into the season by reading spooky books.

There are three basic levels to RIP VI and I am going for the highest one, Peril in the First.  I am obligating myself to read at least four books for this challenge, although let’s be honest–I usually read more than that because I am a glutton for spooky reads in the fall.

I have compiled by list for this year’s RIP, although this pile is not all inclusive.  I have some books on my kindle that I will probably include plus it is always possible I will acquire new books!

An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears: I have wanted to read something by Pears for awhile.  I found this one at a used booksale and picked it up.

The Angel of Darkness and The Alienist, Caleb Carr: I have heard great things about the latter, and it would probably be the one I would read first.

The Witch’s Trinity, Erika Mailman: I bought this one on clearance a few years back and figured it would be a great choice for the challenge.

Bad Things Happen, Harry Dolan: I have wanted to read this since it first came out and now the 2nd book in the series has been released!

Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron: It is time I read something by this author.  There is just no excuse!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs: I am so excited for this one!

The Poison Tree, Erin Kelly: My cousin just finished this one and loved it, so that definitely inspired me to add it to the pile.

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness: I don’t know much about this book, but I had it on my shelf and figured it would be a good inclusion.

Have you read any of the books on my list?!  If so, I am dying to know your thoughts! What books do you have on your list for this year’s RIP?