Sunday, November 6, 2011

Remember Me 2: The Return by Christopher Pike

This is book two in the Remember Me trilogy.

I found this to be a decent follow up to the first one. Despite it's dense format, I found it to be a page turner. While I didn't appreciate the organization of the story (alternated between the characters of Shari Cooper and Jean Rodrigues), I did enjoy watching the story unfold.

Again, this story is poorly categorized as Horror/Thriller, so please don't start reading these books expecting to find these elements because I believe you'll be disappointed.

Horror/Thriller rating: 2/5 stars - sure there's a twist you weren't expecting, but it just wasn't enough to call this a thriller or a horror novel

Mystery rating: 2/5 stars - while this was a strong element in book one, it's a weak element with this book.

Paranormal rating: 4/5 stars - again, the main character is a ghost

Spiritual rating: 5/5 stars - you'll just have to read the book to find the spiritual element! :)

Again, I felt this a decent read. The more I think about it, the more I feel this trilogy is a great way to help a teen coping with the loss of someone close to them or struggling with their own pain, and can be a great tool to open the lines of dialogue about life, death, souls and the afterlife. While these topics can be considered taboo, for the teen struggling with the death of someone they know or the worth of their own life, these topics need to be discussed to help them get through the problems and succeed in life. The author does a great job of covering these aspects without really bringing specific religion into it. Pike merely uses basic spiritual concepts which can be religious or not, it all depends on how broadly you consider each topic.

Remember Me by Christopher Pike

This is book one in a trilogy.

I've had this book for years and just never read it even though the premise intrigued me enough to buy it from a library resale fundraiser. Years later, I picked up Remember Me 2: The Return - probably from the same library - and it ended up in a stack of books next to my bed. I haven't touched this stack in quite some time. I kept looking at the books, but every time I did, I either had a migraine or the topics just didn't capture my fancy.

Finally, on October 31st of this year, this book caught my attention, and not just because of the topic, but because it dawned on me that I had the first book in the series. I figured that since they were considered horror/thrillers, they would feed my need for scare this year, so I went through my bookshelves and located Remember Me and started reading.

I'll admit, while this book didn't give me the horror or thrills I expected, the story itself wasn't bad. The fact that I went on to read book two (Remember Me 2: The Return) and am contemplating borrowing book 3 (Remember Me 3: The Last Story) from the library, is testament that I found these books enjoyable.

Horror/Thriller rating: 3/5 stars - in this sense, this trilogy just doesn't deliver.

Mystery rating: 5/5 stars - it's quite interesting to follow Shari as tries to uncover who killed her and why!

Paranormal rating: 4/5 stars - the main character is a ghost that has to learn how to be a ghost, and you can't get more paranormal than that!

Spiritual rating: 4/5 stars - you'll have to read the book to discover how it fits into this category! :)

Anyone looking for a spiritual paranormal mystery YA story will find this book a great read!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Brazen by Carly Phillips

First published in 1999, but don't let that fool you. Just because it was her first release with Harlquin, don't think for one minute this book is missing anything that makes Carly the terrific best-selling author she is!

After I plowed through Under the Boardwalk, I felt compelled to read this one. While it didn't offer me a crime story and even though I really did feel romanced-out, I found I could not put this book down either.

Honestly, I really sat down and thought about what it was about this one and Under the Boardwalk that made them enjoyable despite the fact that they were both romances.

Well, the crime element in Under the Boardwalk makes that a no-brainer for me. The romance feels in the background to the crime element woven around the main characters.

However, finding a reason for Brazen to be enjoyable even though I feel saturated by romance seemed first. After giving it some more thought, I realized that the same reason applies here.

If you've read the book's blurb, you might be scratching your head and asking, "Huh?"

Honestly, it's true. The romance itself isn't really the driving force of the story, but a consequence or happenstance of it. Plus, there are characters like the three old men in here that just crack me up! Bear's father - can't remember his name at the moment - has to be the best.

I know some readers felt these characters were flat and unbelievable, I didn't feel that and I'm certainly no pushover when it comes to characters. You knew what the characters looked like, and you knew what drove them.

In a nutshell, Samantha Reed felt beholden to look after her father, and agreed to a marriage of convenience for the sake of money to save her father - just as many women were expect to do in Victorian London, and some women even in today's society will do. She's on her way to a resort thinking she'll hook-up with some guy for a last, "hurrah," before she gets married. On the way through the desert, her rental car breaks down. She happens to remember that she passed a local bar, so she decides to walk the highway the couple of miles to it. Like Joan Wilder in Jewel of the Nile, Samantha didn't pack clothing and footwear with the expectation of hiking, so she ended up walking barefoot on the stones rather than risk turning an ankle wearing her heels. She walks into the bar, and the bartender - Mac - takes one look at her disheveled appearance/clothing and realizes that she's not a townie. To create some distance between her "future" and her "now" Samantha tells Mac to call her Sam. However, he doesn't like that name and doesn't feel it fits her, but he ends up calling her Sammy Jo. As the story unfolds, Samantha begins to feel comfortable as Sammy Jo, and begins to cast off some of the inhibitions she has as Samantha.

Mac also happens to suffer from "white-knight" syndrome - meaning he can't turn his back on a woman in need. Instantly, he feels the physical chemistry and believes there could be more between them. His past heartache leads him to lie by omission as to who he really is. Yes, his name is "Mac", but there's much more to it than that. Of course, she's not so truthful either and neglects to mention that she has a fiance waiting for her at the resort. That plays a big part in their story...while lies can protect your heart, they don't make for a good relationship foundation.

Sure, it's a bit convenient Sam's rental car breaks down, but hey, maybe there were signs telling her to turn off her air or the car will over heat. Maybe someone shirked duties at the rental place and sent out a car that wasn't really road worthy. It surely wouldn't be the first time a rental broke down on someone. Hey, I suffered a high-grade ankle sprain, and even though I can walk normally and have rehabbed my ankle, it's not strong enough anymore to wear heels, so I say she was pretty smart not to risk it! Those who say Samantha and Mac are flat or unbelievable do not realize the strength a death promise can hold over you or how money changes your life and can bring out the "diggers". Tom Selleck is a rich man, but he lives on an avocado ranch and does quite a bit of the work himself when he's not making movies or tv shows. So, why is it so hard to accept the fact that a rich guy might pretend to be an average-Joe to weed out gold-diggers in order to find someone who can like him for he is not how much money he has?

Sorry, but I found the story credible enough, and I found the characters to be complex enough given that the story is shorter than most stand-alone novels. If you're a Carly Phillips fan, this one should be a must read! :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Under the Boardwalk by Carly Phillips

I've read a book or two by Carly before, and have interviewed her for Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem, so when I found this book as part of a library fundraiser, I had to buy it. However, I found myself romanced-out, so this book along with Brazen sat in a pile next to my bed for at least a year waiting to be read. As a reviewer, I receive many books to read, and I happen to have many books I haven't yet read. A couple of times, my husband made a crack about reading the books I already have before saying I'll review any more.

Well, this comment sat with probably because he said it more than once, and probably because after suffering with continuous migraines for almost a year - I still suffer them if I don't consume a certain amount of caffeine, and yes, I went caffeine free for that time - I found myself wanting to read the books that have been sitting there. Remembering Carly's talent for playful, realistic banter and really wanting to read a crime story, this story helped me accomplish all my goals in one:
1. read a book from my TBR mountain range
2. read a crime novel
3. read a Carly Phillips book :D

This book had plenty of laugh out loud moments! You know how things just seem funnier when you add a monkey? Well, Carly capitalized on that by adding Spank - that's right. This is the epitome of Carly's humor. How can you not laugh at Spank the monkey! - Hey! I can't help it if your mind wanders into the cutter! It's not my fault, I didn't name the monkey! The Costas family did.

Seriously, that's not all the Costas family has done, but I'm not telling! That would be cheating! *at this point, Spank just might lift up her dress and moon you, or blow raspberries at you. One never really knows what to expect from Spank!*

Oh, and Quinn isn't bad on the eyes either!

But Carly isn't all fun and games though. She can be downright serious, and the crime element is a great example of her talent. If you haven't read this book, I hope you will!