The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston

CREATURE
The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston
Published by Razorbill (Penguin Group)
Genre: YA, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

A hidden laboratory…

A brilliant invention…

A team of quite unusual creatures…

But can they save the department?

Elliot Von Doppler and his friend Leslie think nothing ever happens in Bickleburgh, except inside the gleaming headquarters of DENKi-3000—the world’s fifth-largest electronics factory.

Beneath the glass towers and glittering skywalks, there’s a rambling old mansion from which all the company’s amazing inventions spring forth. And no one except Uncle Archie knows what’s behind the second-to-last door at the end of the hall.

Until Elliot and Leslie are invited to take a glimpse inside.

They find stooped, troll-like creatures with jutting jaws and broken teeth; tiny winged things that sparkle as they fly; and huge, hulking, hairy nonhumans (with horns). It is unlike anything they’ve ever seen!

But when Chuck Brickweather threatens to shut down the DENKi-3000 factory if a new product isn’t presented soon, the creatures know they are in danger. And when Uncle Archie vanishes, it’s up to Elliot, Leslie, and every one of the unusual, er, “employees” to create an invention so astonishing it will save The Creature Department.

Information has taste? Robert Paul Weston’s The Creature Department is one delightful and utterly unpredictable idea and event after the next. We should expect nothing less from a book with a glow-in-the-dark cover!

Elliot Von Doppler accepts an invitation from his (rather mysterious) uncle to visit a research and development department at a local factory and…all at once… the summer doldrums have ended. He and pal Leslie are confronted with the inexplicable, the somewhat disgusting but otherwise-quite-nice, and quite desperate group that are in charge of company inventions. Herein we are catapulted into a world that we can make sense of, but certainly cannot predict. It’s a fun romp with odd creatures (and a few great illustrations) odd inventions, and odder executives. Science and creativity meet and so much fun erupts! Loads of humor collide with some slimy descriptions, and manage to create a mild level of suspense from one scene to the next.

All age readers will enjoy the ideas about friendship, loyalty, and a sense of the ridiculous; and likely share a great desire to try out the famous dim sum recipes, too. Although this story is meant for Middle school readers – this adult reader was completely entertained from start to finish.

My Recommendation: buy this for the young reader on your list, but read it yourself before you pass it along!

Medium Rare by Meg Benjamin

RARE
Medium Rare by Meg Benjamin
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (311 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Rose Ramos was a reference librarian, until she inherited her grandmother’s house—and the family talent for connecting with the other side…

Moving into the lovely Victorian in San Antonio’s King William District is a dream come true for Rose—and also a nightmare. That’s the only explanation she has for the man hovering above her bed. But Skag is a ghost who’s been part of Rose’s family for generations. And now he’s all hers.

When Evan Delwin, a reporter out to debunk the city’s newest celebrity, posts an ad looking for a research assistant to investigate a famous medium making his home in San Antonio, Skag suggests that Rose apply for the job. Delving into the dark side has its own dangers for Rose—including trying to resist Delwin’s manly charms. But as the investigation draws them closer together, the deadly currents surrounding the medium threaten to destroy them all…

This is definitely a book that you can not judge by its cover. Looking at the cover you may assume this is a typical romance novel, but don’t let the cover fool you. I have to admit I was quit surprised at the contents and plot. The author has created a story that has a balanced mixture of romance, suspense and paranormal. The even flow of the plot kept drawing me in to continue reading more. Medium Rare is book two in the Medium trilogy.

Rose Ramos has not only inherited a lovely Victorian home, she is also introduced to the family spirit guide, Skag and she also inherited the family talent to see and communicate with the other side. Being a medium with such a willing partner, Rose and Skag start Locators, Ltd.

As with a medium rare dish, many factors come in to play to make the meal satisfying and Meg Benjamin did just that.

Starting with a hint of romance and suspense, Rose submits her resume to Evan Delwin, who is looking for a research assistant. Evan has written books on exposing psychic fraud and his interest is peaked after he receives a call highlighting a mysterious psychic by the name of William Bradford. The medium that made the call seems to have conveniently disappeared. As Rose and Evan spend more time together interviewing and investigating William Bradford they seem to have found a fondness for each other. Rose starts to notice that Evan is hot; Evan feels the need to call Rose or stop by to discuss the case, however Rose has been hiding the fact that she is a medium. Will Rose reveal her secret before it is too late? What caused Evan to have such doubt in the powers of mediums and psychics?

Now mix in a bit of terror. The author does a fantastic job of building the scary scenes starting with Rose being chased by hellbound dogs and then shortly there after ravens attach her home, later to encounter demons lurking to collect more souls.

Meg Benjamin really shows her talent for being descriptive, with keeping the plot flowing and building a successful plot with a lot going on but still not too much where it will lose you. The novel kept its interest all the way through. When I first looked at the cover I would have never thought this novel would be packed with such a powerful punch.

I am not one to eat my meat medium rare but I have to say this was a satisfying read.

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman

WELLS
The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin Books)
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (273 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rated: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Lupine

Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!

Would you believe time travel was possible? I wouldn’t and neither did Leo … until a small time machine appears in his room and he sees a tiny girl and another rider…Himself!

When he starts to search for this mystery girl, he finds the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library which lends out famous and even magical objects instead of books. Hidden away in the storage is the Wells Bequest, which holds all the sci-fi machines in all books, including a shrink ray, lasers, robots and that time machine.

When Simon, a worker at the NY Repository, threatens the others with Tesla’s death ray, Leo must attempt a journey to 1895 to stop this contraption from ever getting into Simon’s hands.

When I opted to review this book, I was under the impression it was the sequel to “The Grimm Legacy”. It’s not … exactly. More of a book that has some of the same settings. I admit to being disappointed I didn’t get to see more of the characters I’d come to love in the first book, but once I got past that, I enjoyed The Wells Bequest for what it was instead of being frustrated for what it wasn’t.

Packed full of history, mystery, and of course the romance between characters, The Wells Bequest has a great plot for readers who love science fiction, the great inventions created, and who enjoy learning something new about the world’s greatest inventors.  I especially enjoyed when Leo and the mystery girl, Jaya, must go back to fix what Simon has done to the fabric of time, without ripping their own future to shreds.

Truthfully, the story was a little slow in the beginning, and I found it easy to set the book aside, but after the first five chapters, Polly Shulman had me hooked. It was a real page turner at the end, and it was hard to predict what else might pop out around the corner.

Fractured by Teri Terry

FRACTURED
Fractured by Teri Terry
Book Two in the Slated trilogy
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

How do you know where to go when you don’t remember where you came from?

Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost for ever.

Or so she thought.

Kyla shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But she can – and she’s beginning to realise that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But the more she learns about her history, the more confusing her future becomes…

Psychological thrillers have always captured my attention, and this book was one I can easily see being made into a movie due to its superb plotlines and interesting characters that seize my heart.

Kyla’s story is one of action, amazement, and mystery that I found riveting from beginning to end. The entire concept of her life and the being slated was one that I found refreshing, since it was so unique. This story is truly not comparable to anything I have ever experienced, thankfully. Kyla has lived a interesting life to say the least, and it doesn’t seem like the adventure will end for her any time soon.

While I found this story enchanting, I felt that there was a learning curve in the beginning. I had not read the previous story in the series. Therefore, it took me a few chapters to really get into the flow of the story, and understand the concept. I recommended the story to my daughter, and she too ran into the same concern when she started reading the story. I would not consider this a story that can be easily read as a standalone novel, since it seems to pick up right where the first installment ended. I can say however, that after read a few chapters and I began to understand the concept of the story, I was able to pick up on the story and enjoy it.

One aspect of this story that I appreciated was that the author was able to incorporate a dynamic romantic plot that was age appropriate. My child is around the target age for this book, and I have found in the past that sometimes a romantic plot just seems a bit too adult or complex. This is not the case in this book, it seems to be right on target. Even Kyla’s fascination with multiple guys depending on who she was with at that time was not only appropriate behavior for Kyla’s age, but also executed suitably for its audience. This is a story I gladly let my daughter read, as I knew she would love as much as I did.

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

LEMON
The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books / Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (304 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Rose

In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.

The Lemon Orchard is a beautifully written book with a touch of mystery and a touch of romance.

There are basically two stories here— the romance between Julia and Roberto and the mystery surrounding what happened to Rosa.

The romance bloomed due to Roberto and Julia both losing their daughters five years before–Julia’s daughter, Jenny, to death–a possible suicide–and Roberto’s daughter, Rosa, being literally lost in the desert as they tried to reach the US. This creates a bond that surpasses the differences in their backgrounds. Julia is the niece of Roberto’s boss and she’s housesitting while her aunt and uncle are in Ireland.

The strongest part of the story is the mystery about what happened to Rosa. The detail Ms. Rice goes into and the research she has done on illegal border crossing is evident.

The character development is beautifully done– not only the main characters but the secondary characters as well–even the ones that are not present such as Julia’s aunt and uncle. I would love to read their story. I would also like to see more of Jack Leary, the retired border control officer who plays such a large role in solving the mystery of Rosa’s disappearance.

Told in first person from Julia’s perspective and in third person from other characters’ perspectives, The Lemon Orchard is an easy book to read and get involved in.

Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin

THINK
Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin
Publisher: Dial Books (an imprint of Penguin Group, USA)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (393 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Fenella was the first Scarborough girl to be cursed, hundreds of years ago, and she has been trapped in the faerie realm ever since, forced to watch generations of daughters try to break this same faerie curse that has enslaved them all. But now Fenella’s descendant, Lucy, has accomplished the impossible and broken the curse, so why is Fenella still trapped in Faerie?

In her desperation, Fenella makes a deal with the faerie queen: If she can accomplish three acts of destruction, she will be free, at last, to die. What she doesn’t realize is that these acts must be aimed at her own family and if she fails, the consequences will be dire, for all of the Scarborough girls.

How can she possibly choose to hurt her own cherished family not to mention the new man whom she’s surprised to find herself falling in love with? But if she doesn’t go through with the tasks, how will she manage to save her dear ones?

When all you ever wanted is a normal life with your family, what would you be willing to do to get it? What if you just wanted it all to end?

Fenella was cursed. There was no way around it. She was taken into Faerie and has lived there for hundreds of years as a captive to the “Mud creature” Padraig. Essentially a slave, she demands her right to die and her freedom from the Faerie Queen. One thing about faeries…nothing comes without a price and that is one thing Fenella should have learned. When she is told that to die she must perform three acts of destruction, she agrees blindly. Not until it is too late is she informed that the very lives she sought to protect will be the ones in jeopardy. If she performs the tasks, she will be free to die. If she does not, she returns to Padraig, a slave once again. The Faery Queen councils her to live out her life and forget about her need to die but Fenella is set on her path, and it very well might cost her more than she ever thought possible.

This book is a continuation of Impossible. Coming into it not having read the first book, I was a bit lost at first. Who were these strange tree creatures and why was this odd girl trying to kill herself and not doing a very good job at it either? As I read, I realized that it was completely readable without the backstory and settled in for a ride through faery trickery and betrayals. I was not disappointed in that regard. Full of twists and turns I found myself wondering at the theme of destruction that permeated the book. There is an element of romance that got a little close to the scorching edge of what constitutes normal in young adult these days.

One of the hardest things for me about this book was the main character. Fairy tales, I love. Fenella I really did not like. Her reactions were a bit off for someone who had been alive for four hundred years or so. If the character is going to be a teen, then great. If they are mentally four hundred than you expect a level of maturity (or at least I did) that was not there. Some of the choices she made in the series of trials were questionable and that kind of soured my feeling about the book in general. My suspension of disbelief was not working in this particular case.

While I love a great faery story and appreciate the overall quest for the impossible that this book had going for it, when you can’t identify with the main character it makes the book a tough read. I wanted to like this girl who stood up to the Faery Queen and her captor but I just could not connect with her. The opening message with the goal being to kill one’s self as the goal of the story was a little off, too. The imagery and the author’s style of writing were thought-provoking, as was Ryland and his snarky cat comments. How interesting that destruction was used as a theme in this book, but in the end there were some good things that rose up from the ashes if you will.

Overall, if you enjoy a story about insurmountable odds and the things you are willing to do to set yourself free than this book may be for you.

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

AFFLICTION
Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery, Horror
Length: Full Length (562 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Fetish, Toys
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Some zombies are raised. Others must be put down. Just ask Anita Blake.

Before now, she would have considered them merely off-putting, never dangerous. Before now, she had never heard of any of them causing human beings to perish in agony. But that’s all changed.

Micah’s estranged father lies dying, rotting away inside from some strange ailment that has his doctors whispering about “zombie disease.”

Anita makes her living off of zombies—but these aren’t the kind she knows so well. These creatures hunt in daylight, and are as fast and strong as vampires. If they bite you, you become just like them. And round and round it goes…

Where will it stop?
Even Anita Blake doesn’t know.

Affliction left me breathless and feeling like I’d read the adventure of a lifetime. This book had it all. If I was an adrenaline junky, this book had enough tense moments with volumes of flat out action that kept me on the edge of my seat that I felt I had received a serious fix. If I was a die-hard romantic, then this book made me feel like I’d found and lost amazing treasures – I was shocked, I was saddened and I was feeling the warm and fuzzies from some parts that were sappy and full of romance. If I was into some kinky sex, I would have found some serious satisfaction in the story too. This novel put them all together making it simply incredible and the absolute best writing that Laurell K. Hamilton has done in a long while. I’m simply blown away by the powerhouse that is Affliction.

Longtime fans of the Anita Blake series should be pleased with this book. It really does tap into the original grittiness and realism that originally captured my attention with the first Anita Blake novel I’d read years ago. Yes, there are some erotic moments in this story, even a new twist with Nicky that I’d never seen or heard of before, but it has a purpose here. It serves to explore and validate the strength of the declaration she makes in the book. It’s a bit extreme but seeing what kind of wereanimal Nicky was, it made perfect sense. It works. And it leaves no doubt as to the truth. I admit that it might squick some people out but I took it in the manner and context it was written in. These people aren’t human, and our rules and social mores don’t have weight. It makes that ‘otherness’ more real.

The villain was a huge surprise. He broke all the rules and threw Anita and the gang for a serious loop into the bizarre. The evil dude was bad to the bone and enjoyed every miserable moment he could inflict on everybody. I didn’t figure out that there was an actual agenda until the very end. Astounding! The conflict truly was like a roller coaster. There were sharp twists and turns, very low lows that made my stomach drop and highs that were a breath of fresh air, until the plot took that drastic plunge into more revelations, despair and sheer brutality that left me stunned. At one point, with one character, I had to walk away from the book. I was so upset. I felt nauseas because I was hyperventilating. I couldn’t believe what was happening and that Anita couldn’t save the day. I wanted her to save the day, needed her to, but the author knew what had to be done. The only reason I was affected so profoundly is a clear testament to Ms. Hamilton’s skill as a writer. In Affliction the writing is honed to such a sharp, thin edge; my feelings were cut and sliced, leaving my emotions flayed and frayed. It was master craftsmanship.

I was thrilled with seeing Jean-Claude away from home. I was sad for Micah because he was home. I got to see another side to Nathaniel I never suspected he had. I got to see how the Harlequin were integrating…or not. I learned something worrisome yet, when I thought about it, logical. When Anita found out she wasn’t too happy but then again, neither was I. Probably for the same reason. Men always think we need protecting and for most civilians, we do. But the heroine isn’t like me or other women I know – the guys forget that sometimes. Makes for interesting dialogue exchanges.

That’s another strong aspect – dialogue. Awesome to see Ed/Ted verbally sparring with Anita and showcasing just how unique their relationship is, and I enjoyed how the heroine deals with bigots and morons – especially when she plays them. One in particular deserved it. Name calling and verbal barbs are some of the things that made this tale seem real because it touched on how some guys, even professional and well trained, break down under stress. Believe me, there is a ton of stress for the police and SWAT in this story. I liked how the author showed the evolving of the working relationship between all the people who will eventually make a difference in the outcome.

This novel is filled to the brim with juicy information that I cannot mention. Of course that annoys me. This is the kind of book that I want to share, to discuss and ask if certain parts meant as much to someone else as it did to me. I want to share what I thought was funny, and there were moments that made me smile. A few had me laughing out loud, like the John Wayne references. It was so … personable and again, reinforced the feeling that these people could be real, somewhere. I just don’t want the zombies to be real. No. I hate zombies. Even though I don’t read books about zombies, the very unique and fascinating twist that Ms. Hamilton spins throughout Affliction made it utterly mesmerizing. The best zombie is a dead, dead zombie.

I rated this tale as a best book simply because it’s that awe-inspiring. A book has to take me to another place so completely, I lose track of time and myself. It has to make me want to shout at it -in a good way, because I can’t keep my emotions quietly inside; they have to burst forth, I have to share it with someone, anyone. It has to haunt me, making me sad that I’ve reached the end even though it was an emotionally exhausting journey to reach that final page. It’s the kind of book that made me stare at it and think, “This can’t be the end, there has to be more because so much has taken place and I can sense the ripple effects it’s left in my imagination”. One thing I can guarantee. This novel is going to hold a proud place on my keeper shelf. I’ve fallen in love with the series all over again. There’s no better kudos than that.

Dark Eyes by William Richter

DARK
Dark Eyes by William Richter
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, YA
Length: Full Length (373 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she’s just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She’ll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko – her darkeyed father – finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally’s had her own killer training, and she’s hungry for justice.

Wallis has few memories of the life she left in Russia as a small child but she’s determined to follow the trail to find the mother who left her in the orphanage so many years ago. Unfortunately, as determined as she is to solve the mystery there’s someone equally determined that she never know the truth.

As far as Young Adult geared books goes, Dark Eyes has all the right elements: a gutsy if not snarky lead with motivation to follow an obscure trail, a crew of witty sidekicks who lend assistance at the right moments as well as comic relief, a sadistic long-lost parent who isn’t afraid to kill to keep his secrets and finally a clean ending but with enough possibilities that this reader is looking forward to reading the next book.

Mr. Richter has a background in screenwriting that lent believability to the setting, action and dialogue. I enjoyed the rollercoaster of events as I followed Wally on her journey to discover the whereabouts of her birth mother. The story is complex with lots of twists that were as exciting as they were unexpected. The setup was a little convenient in parts but there’s so much going on I could see why it was necessary to move the story along.

Readers who enjoy non-stop action and fast paced writing will be easily drawn into Wally’s plight and root for her success. The last couple of chapters were very exciting and not to be missed. Dark Eyes is gritty and thrilling. I think that both young readers and adults who follow the genre will enjoy the time spent on this exciting ride.

Sylo by D.J. MacHale

SYLO
Sylo by D.J. MacHale
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Group)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (407 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late.

Sylo is a heart-thumping adrenaline rush that totally overwhelms a reader with its scope, suspense and its amazing storytelling voice. I was left wide-eyed and boggled at the end.

I’m not sure where to start. Sylo started off small and innocuous. It was the things the young hero paid attention to that led to his questioning the things around him. It slowly built as things started happening and one piece of the puzzle snapped together with another piece. The whole picture doesn’t become clear until almost the very last page but along the way the author kept me engaged, energized and connected to his characters. There is a definite connection between Tucker, Quinn and Tori; so much so that what happens to them had me gasping, choking up, smiling or worrying on their behalf.

There is death. Sometimes grisly, sometimes mysteriously but no one remains untouched by loss in this story. It’s that grittiness of reality that kept me glued to the book’s pages. Once the book gets started with Tucker and friends having to make some big decisions, I think about the fifth chapter or so, make sure you leave plenty of time for reading. I am glad I did because I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t. The writing is that intense, focused, clear and very effective. Dialogue was key – nothing was out of place or extraneous. I learned what Tucker learned when he learned it. It gave me that helpless feeling as much as he must have felt helpless at times. There was nothing anyone could do to avert what eventually happened. And to think, someone close to the hero couldn’t be trusted. That hurt. I was so sad for him on his behalf.

I think Tori sort of likes Tucker and that bit of hopefulness is what I hope the author will eventually expand upon. I understand this is the first book in a trilogy and for an opening salvo, Sylo was extremely effective. It ends with the first step accomplished and more questions being raised. The author’s writing is powerful enough to make me, without a doubt, want to find out what happens next, how far the evil plot goes and who truly are the good guys and bad guys. Are they really UFO’s? Where did the technology come from? The mysteries alluded to in this first book are intriguing and a great hook.

The hero is committed to finding out the truth, and I’m committed to reading about his journey. Sylo is a novel filled with incredible storytelling that should not be missed. If a reader is looking for something that reminds them of the old T.V. series, The X-Files, this book will please. If a reader enjoys a book about a teenager that shows promise for the kind of man he’ll become because of what he survives, and I’m not talking acne and bad dates, then this book will amaze. I’m so glad I read it. It blew me away.

White Lines by Jennifer Banash

WHITE
White Lines by Jennifer Banash
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Genre: Recent Historical (1980’s), YA
Length: Full Length (288)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream: she has her own apartment on the Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But when someone comes along who makes her want to truly live, she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control.

Cat’s story was riveting. It was filled with such suspense, it had me on the edge of my seat. I do not know which was worse, Cat’s social life or her family life. It was clear from the beginning she was willing to fill the holes left by her parents with anything available including a risky environment and drug usage.

Cat is a character I wanted to hug at times to tell her life can be different and at others shake her until she realized the error of her ways. She was unfortunately dealt a bad hand in life when it came to her parents. It is clear that this is a major force in what has made her act and think the way she does. Unfortunately, it also created a teen who looked for attention and release from the wrong places. Her story brought out a multitude of feelings from me because it was so accurate to how life was during this age for some, as well as reminded me of some people I know that fell victim to this type of outcome or behavior. It definitely left me raw with emotion on multiple occasions, which is a testament of the author’s ability to create mental images with the words.

I found parts of this story tough to read, because of the subject matter. There is vast amounts of reckless behavior including various types of drug usage, underage drinking, underground clubs, and sketchy situations that could have deadly results. While this type of behavior is accurate of the underground club seen in the 80’s, it just felt a little too real at times.

This is a story that will stick with me for a while. I cannot help but wonder who Cat really was, and what happens to her in life. I would not be surprised if this character was based on a real person, because it was clear in the author’s writing that Cat’s story touched her and in turn touched me as well. I would love to read a sequel about Cat’s life and whether or not she was able to truly escape the lifestyle she so naively entered, or if she found a way to lift herself above and become a productive citizen in the world.