Review: Undeadly (Book #1: The Reaper Diaries) by Michele Vail: Review

undeadly

Undeadly (Book #1: The Reaper Diaries) by Michele Vail.  Paperback, 272 pages, published November 20, 2012 by Harlequin Teen. ISBN: 0373210469

22451-goodreads-badge-add-plus

Synopsis from Goodreads: The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird…
Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.
Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another…except, there’s something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly’s got an undeadly knack for finding trouble….

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review: The first book in a series is often the hardest to write (and read!) because the author so much to accomplish in a relatively small amount of time and space.  As a reader, I need the first-in-a-series book to:

  1. introduce me to an interesting cast of characters with backstory and an explanation for how these characters have come to be in the pickle they’re in
  2. establish both a short- and long-term plot line
  3. create enough interest through the characters, plot, and unanswered questions to make me want more

If an author can accomplish all of these things they are virtually assured a successful series and will have readers not only wanting more of their work but begging for more.  Sadly, for myself, Vail’s Undeadly has missed the mark and I likely won’t be coming back for more.  Here’s the trouble:

*The first part of the book is exceedingly slow and filled with what you later find out is a lot of extraneous detail which doesn’t really inform or enhance the overall plot.  To be fair, this part of the book also introduces Undeadly’s primary character, Molly and offers a small bit of insight into her particular talents and skills.

*I fully appreciate Undeadly is a paranormal read and weird situations are going to occur.  However, the situations Molly finds herself in and allows herself to be pulled into are often inexplicable and unbelievable even in a paranormal novel.  While these scenes are unusual, they do offer further insight about Molly and the full range and extent of her powers.

*Molly’s powers are another source of frustration.  It is clear Molly is special and in possession of powers only spoken about in myth and legend.  The problem?  Molly has no idea who she is and what she is capable of because it has all been kept from her for her entire life.  Additionally, no one in Molly’s life seems willing to cough up any information about her powers or her destiny unless forced to do so and even then, the information is limited at best.  The end result of this lack of information is a very powerful and naïve kid fumbling around in dangerous situations.

*The abundance of unanswered questions.  Of course any first-in-a-series book should have unanswered questions but Undeadly has far, far too many.  For example: why hasn’t anyone ever told Molly about her powers or her destiny?  Why is the topic of Molly’s mom completely off limits?  Why has Molly been kept from her grandparents her entire life?  If her Aunt Leila is so super-awesome and well-liked how did she become both a shadow and a minion of Set?  Why does Molly meet with so much resistance from other students and some of the faculty/administration at her new school?

The Bottom Line: There are some good moments and elements in Undeadly including Molly’s suck it up and drive on attitude (she doesn’t do angst!), her ghoul servant, Henry, Rath, the surly reaper with a good heart and good intentions, and the use of Egyptian history, religion, and mythology.  Unfortunately, these good elements are just not enough to balance out the frustrating elements and leave me begging for more.

Totally Fishy by Gale Borger: Review

Title: Totally Fishy Series: Book #2: Miller Sisters Mysteries Author: Gale Borger Published: July 6, 2011 by Echelon Press LLC  ISBN:  001140535X (ISBN13: 2940011405358)
Title: Totally Fishy
Series: Book #2: Miller Sisters Mysteries
Author: Gale Borger
Published: July 6, 2011 by Echelon Press LLC
ISBN: 001140535X (ISBN13: 2940011405358)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12099235-totally-fishy

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4367540.Gale_Borger

Synopsis from Goodreads: Buzz Miller is up to her hip waders in trouble…again.
Two South American scientists swim in dangerous waters while assassins stalk them. A world-famous tropical fish collector is on a mountaintop involved in something very shady and totally fishy.
In White Bass Lake, two bargain basement hit men keep knocking off the wrong guys, and Buzz and her sister Fred find it more and more difficult to separate their criminal cases from the basket cases as 80-year-old Mary Cromwell is pole dancing on a parking meter in a blue go-go dress and orthopedic shoes!
Eventually, Buzz and Fred, along with the two scientists and a limo driver from Queens, try to reel in the bad guys while dodging bullets in the Venezuelan jungle. They dig up more than dirt when people and fish are dropping dead all around them, and they find themselves in danger of swimming with the fishes–permanently!
Can the Miller Sisters snag the bad guys hook, line, and sinker, or are they just cutting bait?
Welcome back to the zany world of the Miller Sisters where the brats are on the grill, the bait is on the hook and the Miller Sisters reel in another bad guy while leaving you up to your gills in laughter!

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: Welcome back Miller sisters!  Totally Fishy is the second installment in Gale Borger’s hilarious Miller Sisters Mysteries series. (Say that five times real fast, I dare you)  As with the first book in this series, Totally Buzzed, Totally Fishy opens up funny, reads smoothly, keeps the reader totally engaged, and ends perfectly.

Totally Fishy opens in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle with the completely scrumptious Dr. Evo Castillo trekking through the mud, bugs, and unexpected torrential rain with is assistant Luis.  We learn quickly that Evo is a brilliant scientist with a very short temper and a passion for protecting the environment.  (FYI: Evo’s little tantrums are one of the highlights of this novel. Never underestimate the value of a good hissy fit!)  The two men have been sent on a simple and routine assignment: go to the company’s oil well site and ensure that all environmental policies and procedures are being followed.  This routine assignment quickly turns into anything but routine when the men discover a small yet remote lagoon that is absolutely covered in mostly dead fish.  Evo’s mood continues to deteriorate when he and Luis are shot at while trying to collect samples of the water and the fish.  Huh?  Apparently the environmental codes aren’t being followed and someone desperately wants to cover up this fact.

Halfway across the world in southeastern Wisconsin is Dr. Sam Fernandini one of the world’s leading ichthyologists or as Evo prefers to think of her the Bitch-thyologist who is happily on vacation and visiting her good friend and old college roommate Fred Miller.  Evo knows that the only way to really find out if his employer is to blame for the dead fish is to meet with Sam and work together; a prospect that leaves him both cranky and a bit horny J  Evo enlists the help of his younger brother Tony (coincidentally Sam’s assistant), his own assistant Luis and Luis’s brother, Alfredo to get the water and fish samples to the States.  The four men arrive in Wisconsin in short order and are immediately welcomed into the Miller sister’s world.  Unfortunately, right behind the weary travellers are two completely inept assassins tasked with killing all four men and Dr. Sam.

It may seem odd that this large group of people, many of which are strangers to one another should mesh so seamlessly and so quickly but Borger makes it work.  Fred and Buzz are the most personable of the Miller sisters and have no problem jumping right in to help solve the dead fish mystery.  Luis and Alfredo, although minor characters in the grand scheme of things are delightful and immediately loveable, and then there is the rest of the cast and crew including the Miller sister’s mom and her geriatric circle of gossip mongers, Buzz’s love interest, sheriff J.J. Green, and the dogs, Hilary (who still has gas issues) and Wes.  It is the character interaction and witty dialogue that really drives the plot forward.  All of the cast and crew are involved in what becomes a much larger problem than a few dead fish. In fact, the problem becomes so large that Buzz, Fred, Sam, and Evo must travel back to South America, dodge numerous life-threatening moments, and patch one another up as they work to clear an oil company’s name, discover why there is an undocumented mining project near the dead lagoon, save the remaining fish from extinction, and bring down two assassins.  Holy hell that’s a lot of drama!

While it sounds like Totally Fishy has a lot to deal with, it really all gets dealt with in a most satisfactory and amusing way.  Borger simply doesn’t leave any loose ends.  In dealing with all the drama and the various issues, Borger creates some truly magical and often hilarious moments.  There is the swimming pool incident, the shopping trip to Gander Mountain, the car bomb, the kind of dead cat, the big reveal, the crazy old lady who pole dances for the entire town, and the movie scene at the end with Buzz, J.J. and the dogs.  All of these moments are woven almost perfectly into the major plot line; they are not tangents by any means.

The Bottom Line: to be completely punny, I’m totally hooked on this book!  I love the Miller sisters, I adore the humor, and find the mystery/crime portion of the plot to be a nice balance of believable and crazy.  As with the first book in this series, Totally Buzzed, Totally Fishy will appeal to a wide range of reader’s and provide you with a hard to put down distraction.  Happy reading!

Totally Buzzed by Gale Borger: Review

Title: Totally Buzzed Series: Book #1: The Miller Sisters Mysteries Author: Gale Borger Format: Paperback, 268 pages Published: August 1, 2010 by Echelon Press Publishing  ISBN:  1590807901 (ISBN13: 9781590807903)
Title: Totally Buzzed
Series: Book #1: The Miller Sisters Mysteries
Author: Gale Borger
Format: Paperback, 268 pages
Published: August 1, 2010 by Echelon Press Publishing
ISBN: 1590807901 (ISBN13: 9781590807903)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9352983-totally-buzzed

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4367540.Gale_Borger

Synopsis from Goodreads: Trouble seems to follow Buzz Miller, and this time it finds her outside the town of White Bass Lake, Wisconsin, where the dead body of a neighbor woman turns up stashed under her mother’s house! The retired detective is reluctantly roped into finding out “who dunnit.”
In order to snag the bad guy, Buzz, along with her Biology teacher sister Mag, “The Maggot” Miller, have only to find the murderer by following the trail of a dead horse, uncovering the illegal importation of rare plants, breaking up an international drug trafficking ring, uncovering a designer drug lab, and avoid being bumped off by the bad guys.
Simple enough, right? That is, until her mom’s wacky “Geriatric S.W.A.T. Team” cronies turn the crime scene into a neighborhood barbeque and Buzz’s 160 pound Newfoundland chews up most of her initial investigation!
After a shoot out at the Not-So-OK-Corral, Buzz has to explain to Sheriff Green why his only solid suspect was now pushing up daisies while lying dead in the petunias!

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: Let’s just call a spade a spade: I’m a funny person and I know funny when I see, hear, or read it. I also hate being told something is funny and/or good and it turns out not to be. I was told Gale Borger’s Totally Buzzed was quite funny and no one lied to me about this! The first Miller Sister’s Mystery, Totally Buzzed is an excellent read that is both funny and very cleverly written.

As a reader I’m generally looking for solid and interesting characters, witty in a book, right? Borger delivers on all fronts! Totally Buzzed opens with two chapters of introduction: the introduction of the Miller clan and the introduction of the dead body that sets up the entire novel. There were several moments in these first two chapters that I laughed out loud. In many ways, these two inspired introductory chapters set the tone for the entire novel. Here’s the skinny: news travels fast in a small town and before the Miller sister’s know it, the entire town is gathered (with food) at the Miller’s to check out the dead lady. From this point forward, Borger weaves a fascinating tale of murder, champion horses, exotic plants, drug running, and a little romance on the side. All of which features two of the four Miller sisters, Buzz (DUH) and Maggie.

While it may seem like none of these elements really go together, Borger makes them work in an interesting and convincing fashion; nothing feels forced or out of place. It helps immensely that Borger knows how to write good dialogue: the story moves forward through the dialogue and the interaction between the characters rather than the author simply explaining everything. Each and every character, both major and minor, has distinct characteristics and personalities that the reader can really grab on too. With the exception of the bad guys, there is really not a character in the book that is not likable or the very least interesting. Again, to beat a dead horse, this is accomplished through the author’s ability to write good dialogue.

Where Borger really grabbed my attention was in her attention to detail and how she presents that detail. Very often authors fail to realize that their readers are not experts in every field imaginable; their failure lies in the fact that they try to inundate the reader with details that are complicated and, to be frank, boring. Borger does not fall into this trap! She easily and simply explains the details of the case so that the reader is intrigued rather than put off. By novel’s end, the reader has learned a little something about police work and forensic botany – both of which are punctuated by scenes of humor and budding (HA!) romance.

The Bottom LineTotally Buzzed is a very entertaining and satisfying read. None of my questions about the characters or the plot were left unanswered and the ending was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t a rush to the end to tie everything up in four pages. In fact, Borger took her time with a wonderfully paced unraveling of events that explained everything.

The Wild Ones by M. Leighton: Review

Format: Kindle Edition, 330 pagesPublished: August 1st 2012 by M. Leighton Books ASIN: B008QYHILGEdition language: EnglishSeries: The Wild Ones
Format: Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published: August 1st 2012 by M. Leighton Books
ASIN: B008QYHILG
Edition language: English
Series: The Wild Ones

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15761241-the-wild-ones

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1152263.M_Leighton

Synopsis from Goodreads:

**MATURE CONTENT ADVISORY: May not be suitable for younger readers**

Passion as hot as midnight in the South and love as wild as the horses they tame.
Camille “Cami” Hines is the darling daughter of the South’s champion thoroughbred breeder, Jack Hines.  She has a pedigree that rivals some of her father’s best horses.  Other than feeling a little suffocated at times, Cami thought she was pretty happy with her boyfriend, her life and her future.
But that was before she met Patrick Henley.
“Trick” blurs the lines between what Cami wants and what is expected of her.  He’s considered the “help,” which is forbidden fruit as far as her father is concerned, not to mention that Trick would be fired if he ever laid a hand on her.  And Trick needs his job.  Desperately.  His family depends on him.
The heart wants what the heart wants, though, and Trick and Cami are drawn to each other despite the obstacles.  At least the ones they know of.
When Trick stumbles upon a note from his father, it triggers a series of revelations that could ruin what he and Cami have worked so hard to overcome.  It turns out there’s more to Trick’s presence at the ranch than either of them knew, secrets that could tear them apart.

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: For no particular reason, I never use passages/lines from the books I read in my reviews.  Today, I am going to throw caution to the wind and lead with a super-awesome excerpt.  Hold on boys and girls, this one is kind of hot.

“Another of whatever Cami is having.”  He turns back to me, a wicked gleam in his smoky eyes.  “Sorry about your drink.  Not so much about your shirt, though,” he admits candidly.

Willing myself not to blush again, I tilt my head.  “So, do clumsy strangers have names in this place? Or are you just called ‘bull in china shop’?”

The lopsided grin comes back.  “Patrick, but my friends call me Trick.”

“Trick? As in trick or treat?  That kind of trick?”

He laughs and my stomach flutters.  It actually flutters.

“Yep.  That kind of trick.”  He sobers and leans in close to me.  “Cami, can I ask a favor?”

I’m breathless again.  He’s so close I can count every hair in the stubble that dusts his tan cheeks.  For just a second, his clean manly scent overrides the cigarette smoke and stale beer smell of the bar.

I lose my voice – again – so I nod.

“Pick ‘treat.’ Please, for the love of God, pick ‘treat’.”

Like an idiot, I say nothing.  I do nothing.  I simply stare.  Like a . . .a . . .well, like an idiot.

He makes a disappointed noise with his lips and then starts shaking his head.  “Too bad.  Woulda made my night.” (Kindle, 1%)

With that dear reader, I was totally and completely head over heels in lust with Trick!  Little did I know this naughty exchange was the first of many throughout The Wild Ones and set the tone for the entire book.  Trick is a bit down on his luck but is in no way giving up on his dream of becoming a veterinarian.  He has come home to help out his mom and little sister and until he can get back to school, he has taken a job as a stable hand at the local horse ranch which just happens to be owned by Cami’s dad.  Trick sure didn’t see that one coming and daddy has already warned ‘the help’ to stay the hell away from his daughter.

Here’s what I liked about The Wild Ones:

*Trick: absolutely, positively, and without doubt one of the best male leads I have come across in quite some time.  For me, the entire plot and novel is carried by this single character.  Trick is just good: he puts his own dreams and goals on hold for his family; he is gifted and passionate about horses – creatures he treats with the utmost care and respect; he is intelligent; he is confident and; he is smokin’ hot and knows how to turn a girl on.

*the almost naughty bits: I have to admit this is one of the hottest books I have ever read that has no actual sex scenes.  Yep, you read that correctly, there are no actual sex scenes but there are some mouthwatering flirtations that leave everyone all hot and bothered.  Trick and Cami do eventually do the big dirty but not before a lot of smoldering and frustratingly incomplete moments.  To be frank, there is a butt-ton of sexual frustration for Trick, Cami, and the reader 🙂

*the plot: this is a novel where the past and present come hurtling toward one another and crash violently in the present.  Cami and Trick’s respective parents absolutely forbid their children to see one another and neither has any idea why this would be so.  Once the past comes to light everything in Trick and Cami’s world comes apart and their tenuous relationship is threatened.  The secrets that come to light are as interesting as they are surprising and certainly enhance the plot.

The only thing I really didn’t care for with this novel is Cami.  I really wanted to like Cami but her fickleness and penchant for secrets in the beginning is as off-putting as her indecisiveness about her actual boyfriend and Trick.  I get it, Cami is young and doesn’t want to disappoint her daddy but her actions with regards to both her boyfriend and Trick are just wrong.  Cami leads both men on while waiting for the universe or someone to provide her with the one bit of evidence or truth that will allow her to make the “right” decision.  In the end, all Cami gets and causes is pain.

The Bottom Line: I really did enjoy The Wild Ones and think it would be a more than acceptable and certainly entertaining read for adults interested in both romance and a tiny bit of mystery.  For me, the entire novel was carried by a single character – Trick – and I am absolutely OK with it.  Trick is a character worth cheering for, the plot is fairly fast-paced, and the almost naughty bits are every bit as good as actual naughty bits.  Pick this one up and I swear you won’t be disappointed.

 

Suite Nineteen by Mel Bossa: Review

Format: Paperback, 264 pagesPublished: September 20th 2011 by Bold Strokes Books (first published September 12th 2011) ISBN:  1602825645 (ISBN13: 9781602825642)Edition language: EnglishURL:http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Suite-Nineteen-%252d-by-Mel-Bossa#
Format: Paperback, 264 pages
Published: September 20th 2011 by Bold Strokes Books (first published September 12th 2011)
ISBN: 1602825645 (ISBN13: 9781602825642)
Edition language: English
URL:http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Suite-Nineteen-%252d-by-Mel-Bossa

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10629217-suite-nineteen

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4626596.Mel_Bossa

Synopsis from Goodreads: Drawn by the promise of change, young medium Ben Lebeau, moves to the big city, into the Shilts Manor—an old textile factory turned trendy loft space. There he meets seductive Lennox Van Kemp and his clan of Métis—guardians of the oldest lie. Ben is pulled into Van Kemp’s emotional circle, finally sating his most secret desires.
Against Ven Kemp’s warnings, Ben befriends his neighbor Ezra Collins—a scarred man who has taken a vow of celibacy. As Ben tries to get closer to Ezra and earn his trust, he also struggles to escape Van Kemp’s psychological grip on him. The harder Ben falls for Ezra, the more he suffers from hallucinations and memory losses. Soon, the Manor’s walls begin to close in on him and Ben must rely on his psychic abilities to survive the assault on his mind.
As Ben and Ezra unravel Van Kemp’s plans, they expose a spiritual conspiracy dating back to Christ—a conspiracy that will shake their very world and restore their Faith in humanity.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: Three very distinct emotions occurred to me while reading Mel Bossa’s Suite Nineteen: total frustration, fascination, and complete satisfaction.  The novel opens in Montreal’s Shilts Manor where we meet Benjamin, a troubled young man who fled his small home town after a failed affair.  Adding to Benjamin’s troubles is his gift, the ability to psychically connect with those around him.

The first half of the book deals with Benjamin and his interaction with the various residents of Shilts Manor.  There is the absolutely unnerving Lennox Van Kemp, his two companions Eevie and Happy and Ezra, Benjamin’s tragic and disfigured next door neighbor.  Benjamin is at the heart of this group and becomes inextricably linked to each of the other main characters as they all intrigue him in a variety of ways.  Lennox is charismatic, Eevie is easy, Happy is scary yet alluring, and Ezra is seemingly unknowable.  These qualities are irresistible to Benjamin to the point that he begins to feel is sanity slipping away.  Each interaction and event in the first half of the book always seems unfinished and this became quite a source of frustration.  I always felt as if I was missing something, as if Bossa was failing to tell me everything I needed and/or wanted to know about these characters.

The second half of Suite Nineteen is everything I could have possibly hoped for it to be.  Bossa further develops all of the characters revealing their schemes and motivations some of which are a bit stunning.  The motivations of each and every character are bound up in their lives and their histories and understanding these characters and how they fit into the overall plot was one of the most fascinating parts of this book.  I daresay you will change your opinion about nearly every character in this book!

The Bottom Line: the frustration I felt is the result of good writing: that is, Bossa set up a very complicated plot in the first half of the book and then spends the rest of the book revealing just how complicated the plot truly is.  One of the strengths of Bossa’s writing is the ability to appropriately pace the release of information.  Never is the unfolding of the plot rushed, everything is adequately explained, and there is never a lull in the reading.  Add to this the fact that what is being explained is absolutely fascinating and you end up with a completely satisfying read.

I will however offer one warning to all potential readers: although this book is very well written and offers a plot that is fairly original it is not a book for everyone.  Suite Nineteen touches on some sensitive topics like alternative lifestyles and radically alternate views of religion.  For those who are not bothered by these topics, read on, this book is worth it!

 

Speechless by Hannah Harrington: Review

Format: Paperback, 288 pagesPublished: August 28th 2012 by HarlequinTeen ISBN:  0373210523 (ISBN13: 9780373210527)Edition language: EnglishOriginal title: Speechless
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Published: August 28th 2012 by HarlequinTeen
ISBN: 0373210523 (ISBN13: 9780373210527)
Edition language: English
Original title: Speechless

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13069681-speechless

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4086928.Hannah_Harrington

Synopsis from Goodreads: Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4½ stars/5 stars

My Review: When I found Hannah Harrington’s novel Speechless at NetGalley I actually wondered “How good can a book about a teenage girl who takes a vow of silence really be?”  The simple answer: extremely good!

Speechless is a cautionary tale of just how damaging words and gossip can be.  Chelsea Knot is the central character and she is, without doubt, a bitch.  Chelsea has gossiped her way to the top of her high school’s social ladder and she doesn’t care who she hurts or how she hurts them as long as she maintains her position.  Chelsea wields gossip like a weapon without ever stopping to think how her words, true or otherwise, can tear apart another person’s life.  And then one Friday night Chelsea discovers how her chosen weapon can not only backfire but have tragic consequences for others.  One student is in the hospital in a coma and two others are accused of beating that student into the coma.  Chelsea knows none of this would have ever happened if she just could have kept her big mouth shut!

To Chelsea’s credit, she does do the right thing and with the help of her parents she tells the police everything she knows about the beating, how it happened and who was involved.  Chelsea understands that by doing the right thing it will cost her everything she holds so dear: her friends, her social standing, and thanks to her vow of silence, her voice.  Yes, a teenage girl takes a vow of silence – hell hath frozen over!  I really wondered how Harrington could pull off a novel where the main character doesn’t actually speak.  Turns out, inner monologue can be quite fun and can very easily keep a character moving and developing.  Chelsea spends a little more than a month honoring her vow of silence and it is during this month that she discovers what she once held so dear was not ever really worth holding on to at all.  Her old “friends” lash out at Chelsea for ratting out two of their own: she is taunted, teased, her locker and car are vandalized, and she becomes a social pariah.

Initially, I found it very, very, very hard to feel any semblance of sympathy for Chelsea.  Her words and actions caused the mess she and others find themselves in and she should rightfully face the consequences of those actions.  I really didn’t want to like Chelsea but in the end, she surprised me!  I honestly don’t think I would have been able to change my opinion about Chelsea if she were using her actual voice and not her inner monologue.  In her own head Chelsea acknowledges and faces many hard facts and realities about herself and her actions.  She learns words mean something and once out there, they cannot be taken back.  Chelsea begins to consider her words more carefully and when she does need to communicate (using a dry erase board) she thinks before she “speaks”.

Chelsea soon discovers that her vow of silence has some pleasant consequences to go along with the bad.  She meets a few other social outcasts and while everyone is initially wary of one another the group finally comes together and Chelsea begins to understand what it is to have true friends.  Chelsea also begins to understand that, like everyone else, she is human, has flaws, and will make mistakes.  Once Chelsea understands and appreciates these revelations she is able to once again use her voice.

The Bottom Line:  Speechless is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time and I really had no trouble getting through this book in short order.  The plot is solid, the characters (both good and bad) show development and growth throughout, and the overall message that words matter is clear without being preachy.   I can absolutely see this book appealing to a wide range of readers including more mature young adults and adults alike.

Soul Magic by Jennifer Lyon: Review

Format: Paperback, 391 pagesPublished: October 27th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published October 7th 2009) ISBN:  0345506359 (ISBN13: 9780345506351)Edition language: EnglishOriginal title: Soul Magic (Wing Slayer Hunters, Book 2)Series: Wing Slayer Hunters #2
Format: Paperback, 391 pages
Published: October 27th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published October 7th 2009)
ISBN: 0345506359 (ISBN13: 9780345506351)
Edition language: English
Original title: Soul Magic (Wing Slayer Hunters, Book 2)
Series: Wing Slayer Hunters #2

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6390162-soul-magic

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2759175.Jennifer_Lyon

Synopsis from Goodreads: KISS OR KILL
When an ancient pact is broken, powerful witches who once used their magic to help humanity become the twisted playthings of demons, and the mortal men who once protected the sorceresses become witch hunters, cursed with the longing to spill the witches’ blood: an irresistible craving that will cost witches their lives and witch hunters their souls.
The Wing Slayer Hunters fight this curse, guarding innocent witches until the urge to harm them grows too strong–then they must kill their own. Wing Slayer Sutton West has always honored that vow. His own father killed himself rather than go rogue. But now Sutton is tempted as never before by Carla Fisk, a brilliant psychologist and dynamic witch whose twin sister, Keri, was murdered by rogues.
Bound by blood and passion, Carla and Sutton dare not succumb to their deadly attraction. Yet when a mysterious rogue named Styx joins forces with the demon Asmodeus, witch and hunter have no choice but to work together. For Keri’s immortal soul is at stake–and with it, balanced on a knife-edge, is the fate of humanity itself.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: Round two in Jennifer Lyon’s Wing Slayer Hunter series is the story of Dr. Carla Fisk, a psychologist and earth witch whose sole purpose in life is to help victims of brainwashing and cult activity.  As both a shrink and a practicing earth witch, Carla is uniquely qualified to help her patients deal with their trauma while simultaneously easing their pain.  Carla’s compassion and desire to help others was born out of her inability to help her twin sister Keri, a powerful earth witch who was killed by rogue Hunters.  Since Keri’s death, Carla has remained true to her life’s purpose but has, in all other areas of her life, closed herself off.

By all accounts Sutton West is a tried and true bad ass techno geek who fights valiantly alongside the Wing Slayer Hunters.  Sutton is so absolutely committed to his vow to Wing Slayer that he would, like his father before him, rather kill himself than go rogue.  Unfortunately for Sutton his day of reckoning is closer than he would like to admit; the urge to kill an earth witch and bathe in her blood is becoming harder and harder to resist.  Just to make things interesting, Sutton is thrown into the middle of a mess that involves Carla Fisk and her dead twin sister.

Now, both Carla and Sutton have a few problems: Carla’s dead twin is trapped in the world between life and death and calling out to Carla to help her; Sutton is beyond sure that Carla is his soul mirror but can’t convince Carla of this; a new powerful rogue by the name of Styx is inhibiting Carla’s ability to reach her sister and killing Carla in the process; and Sutton is coming dangerously close to violating his vows and going rogue himself.  It’s time to get serious about fixing these problems.  As with the first book in this series, once the plot really takes hold and is established, things begin to move quickly.  With the help of the rest of the Wing Slayers and a small circle of brave earth witches, Carla and Sutton are able to track down Styx, kick his ass, and save Keri in the process.  Of course, there’s also a little naughtiness thrown in for good measure 🙂

The Bottom Line: What I like about this series is the fact that Lyon isn’t willing to sacrifice the long term plot for the sake of the immediate story and vice versa.  Sutton and Carla’s story is played out to completion while still advancing the long-term plot line at the same time.  We find out, as we expected too, that Styx is simply another piece or pawn in a much larger, more far-reaching, and sinister game than we ever could have imagined.  While Carla, Sutton, the Wing Slayer Hunters, and the witches do their part to eliminate the immediate threat, they are all well aware that the fight has only truly just begun.