Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ruby Red

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 10, 2011

Gwyneth has been living in the shadow of her cousin, Charlotte, most of her life. Charlotte is the pretty one, the smart one, the talented one, and the one who has the gene. That is, the time traveling gene that has run in their family for hundreds of years. Charlotte has spent her life being trained for when she is sixteen and she makes her first journey back. Except for when the time comes, it is Gwen who ends up going back instead. When she comes back from her time jump, her life has changed. Her worries about school, homework and clothes have been replaced by worrying about what century she might end up in and when it will happen. The only other person in her time who can go back is Gideon, who is great-looking but doesn’t seem to think much of her and isn’t afraid to show it. Can she and Gideon work together to complete their secret mission in the past or will whoever is out to stop them succeed?

Ruby Red takes a bit of time to get into, but once you do you won’t want to stop. It is the first book in a bestselling German trilogy that is now being translated into English. It left me waiting to learn to read German to read the next one early. The story takes place in London so it has a nice European feel to it with things like the mysterious butler and the old house with hidden doors that they live in. It’s fun to hear about the clothes and customs of the past as Gwyneth goes back. Gwyneth and Gideon are likeable characters who you will be cheering for.

The Bottom Line: This book has ghosts, time travel, secret societies, mystery, action and romance. Once the story gets going it’s a quick read. My main complaint is that I don’t want to wait until the next two books come out to see what happens which is pretty much the best complaint a book can have.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Ruby Red has an expected release date of May 10, 2011.

Putting Makeup on Dead People

Title: Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jennifer Violi
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Donna comes to a startling revelation at the funeral of a classmate. She wants to be a mortician. She hasn’t cared about much since her father died four years ago but she can feel that this is something she really wants. She has just been going through the motions with her friend and family but with this decision, everything in her life starts to change. There is a quote from Rumi in the book that says, “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Donna decides to try to find her way to do that, whether it is spending time with her new Wiccan best friend, learning to “love the whole person” in mortuary school, being with her new artist boyfriend, or just finding out who she is.

Right after reading this book, the grandmother of someone close to me died. I was always horrified by the idea of looking at dead bodies and had always managed to avoid it in the past. I’m so glad I read it because it really helped me understand that the funeral, the makeup, the viewing, they were all for us, the people who were still living. And the people who do the work behind it are giving dignity to our loved one and the chance to mourn and say goodbye for us. This was the perfect book at the right time for me. Even without this, it is an excellent story.

The Bottom Line: Putting Makeup on Dead People is an excellent book about finding yourself in the face of what other people think is right for you. And you can find out a little bit about being a mortician along the way.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader’s copy of the book for this review. Putting Makeup on Dead People has an expected release date of July 26, 2011.


Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 1, 2011

Cat and Patrick had been inseparable best friends when they were young until Cat had a run in with Tommy, a boy in her school. After that, she withdrew from everyone including her friends, her brother who was once her hero, and Patrick. When she hears the news of Patrick’s attack that left him in a coma, she knows that it is time for her to stop ignoring the world around her and figure out who did it. Patrick was always open about being gay and his attack is viewed as a hate crime but the sheriff of their small North Carolina town blames it on people just passing through. When Cat starts investigating, she finds out secrets she couldn’t have imagined about the people she’s known all her life.

Shine has a very atmospheric feel of a small town Southern community which is at turns charming and repellent. This is a very real-feeling mystery. You can imagine that in Cat’s place you would want to do the same thing to help figure out who would do such a thing. The crime is horrific and might be hard for sensitive readers to handle, but it is sadly not that far off from what you might read in the papers. The mystery will keep you guessing, but the book is just as much about Cat and the choices she makes about how she wants to live her life.

The Bottom Line: Shine is a great book whose characters and story stick with you long after you finish it. It’s a mystery but it’s also a book about saying “yes” to life, even when it’s hard.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader’s copy of the book for this review. Shine has an expected release date of May 1, 2011.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Title: Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 17, 2011

Mercy wakes up in the body of a young girl as she has many times before. She can remember little bits of the last couple of times she has “soul jacked” people. The only thing that is constant is her dreams of Luc, the boy who is her touchstone, and his warnings of the deadly intentions of his eight brothers. This time she finds herself in the body of Carmen, a high school girl on a school bus to Paradise, population 1503. She knows nothing about Carmen or what she should be doing while she is stuck in her body. Mercy finds out that Carmen and her class are in Paradise to join with the local choir in a concert. Her host family is still trying to recover from a tragedy almost two years before. Their daughter, Lauren, was taken from their house. Everyone has given up hope except for Lauren’s cute twin brother, Ryan. Should she use her time stuck in Paradise to help find Lauren or should she worry about herself and Luc’s dire warnings?

Bottom Line:
If you like supernatural fiction but are tired of vampires or weak willed heroines, this is a good book for you. It is the first book in a series, so there are lots of unanswered questions but that is to be expected.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Mercy has an expected release date of May 17, 2011.