Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman – Illustrated by Cathy Brigg.

856969Cathy Vickers Trilogy, Book One

143 pages

Published October 3rd 2006 by Running Press Kids

Cathy is an artistic teenager living in San Francisco. When her boyfriend Victor dumps her, leaving her with a muggy memory and a needle mark in her arm (not as shady as it sounds, I promise), she starts to realise that there were a lot of things about him that don’t quite add up. She starts to investigate him, sometimes with the help of her best friend Emma.

 

Cathy’s Book is an interactive feast. It comes with a packet filled with all of Cathy’s evidence – like menus, business cards, photos, inked sketches, official documents, and more. There is also an online element to her evidence. You can listen to messages and look up the places that she has been. It. Is. Awesome.

I first read this book back in 2006. I was enticed by the treasure trove of clues and papers. I love papers so much. I even used to get excited for career expos and stuff like that at school, because I just love receiving all those pamphlets (never mind that I hardly got anything out of them!). I didn’t do any of the online stuff when I first read Cathy’s Book. I don’t think I realised there was so much of it. But I’ve been checking it out this time around. You still need to figure out the access codes for some things, so it’s like you’re a sleuth as well. I also love sleuthing. Woo!

Another visually amazing thing about Cathy’s Book is that all of the pages have little doodles and handwritten notes on them. Very cool.

The story itself is very interesting and different (especially for 2006!). There’s a lot of Asian themed elements, plus a mystery, plus the ______ stuff (don’t want to say that one because it may give some things away). It is written like a journal, but not in a ‘dear diary’ kind of way. It’s Cathy recounting everything that’s happened.

It sounds short, and at 143 pages, I guess it is. But so much happens, and at a pretty fast pace. The fact that we meet Cathy after her relationship with Victor has finished, rather than from before it even starts definitely cuts down on the number of pages. There are still flashbacks of their meeting and their first date and stuff, so you don’t miss out on anything. My only slightly negative thing to say about this book is that a lot of things were left unanswered. Still, this is a trilogy – so there’s time for that. Also, if I scoured over the documents then I could probably answer a few of those things myself.

If you enjoy mysteries and teenage sleuths, as well as art, then you should definitely read this!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.56/5

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Vampire Shift by Tim O’Rourke.

11824848Kiera Hudson Series One, Book One

Kindle Edition

Published June 6th 2011 by Ravenwoodgreys

Kiera is a twenty year old constable, literally just out of the academy. She’s just been offered a position in The Ragged Cove, with an extra yearly bonus and free lodging. Cops don’t seem to last very long at The Ragged Cove, but Kiera isn’t deterred. She’s a talented young constable with a talent for ‘seeing’ things – clues and stuff that other police officers usually don’t notice straight away.

Once at The Cove, Kiera learns about a string of horrific murders – twenty over the past three years – and even investigates one on her very first night. Her fellow workers seem callous and mocking, all except for the good looking Luke Bishop – who is the closest thing that Kiera has to a friend, even if he isn’t always reliable.

Everywhere Kiera goes in The Ragged Cove, there are strange references to vampires. The bar/hotel where she’s staying has garlic strung up everywhere and bottles of holy water and crucifixes for sale.  She doesn’t think much of it, but as weird things keep happening to her, she forced to start believing.

Vampire Shift is a nice quick read that is very fast paced. The plot has more twists than you can poke a stick at and there is a great, creepy atmosphere. The town seems to be cut off completely from the outside world.

The ‘romance’ is nothing to write home about, but there’s plenty of other stuff to make up for it. The characters are all very quirky and/or creepy and mysterious – everyone seems off at one point or another.

As for Kiera’s gift of ‘seeing’ things – it’s kind of like in Psych, the way Shaun Spencer notices everything and puts clues together really well. Only Kiera does it all at once without really noticing and isn’t dramatic about it like Shaun (how great is Psych, by the way? It’s one of my favourite shows). It’s sort of a supernatural power, really.

I will definitely continue reading this series.

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank.

UnknownBook One in the Rose Gardner Mysteries.

ebook, 395 pages

Published June 30th 2011 by Denise Grover Swank

Rose Gardner sticks out like a sore thumb in her small Southern town. Her mother tells her that she is demon possessed because she has visions, and doesn’t seem to love her a whole lot. Rather, she just bosses her around and forces her strict religious views upon her. Rose’s visions are always pointless and beyond her control. Like the neighbours dog getting loose, or the fact that a stranger’s daughter is sneaking out at night to see her boyfriend. What’s more, Rose cannot help but blurt out the contents of her visions once she’s had one – everyone in town thinks that she is weird.

One day while working at the DMV, Rose has a new sort of vision when encountering a strange customer. She sees herself on her couch – dead. Freaked out, she promptly faints. The next day at home, she snaps and has a very public fight with her mother before going for a long afternoon out at the library. Inspired by her sudden courage in standing up to Momma (not to mention the possibility of her death happening sooner rather than later), Rose writes out a list of twenty eight things that she wants to do – she’s twenty four years old and has hardly done any living, after all! When she finally returns home, she is shocked to find Momma lying on the couch, dead. And now Rose is the police’s main suspect.

Her next door neighbour, Joe, is also a bit of an outcast. He’s new to the town, with no deep family roots, which makes him an outcast. He and Rose only speak for the first time on the night that she discovers her mother’s body. But afterwards, he keeps hanging around – he puts a deadlock on her door among other things – and even offers to help Rose with her list. But the attraction between them is growing, and for some reason Joe insists that they can’t do anything about it – yet. Why is he acting so strange? Plus, Momma’s killer is still out there, and Rose keeps finding herself deeper in trouble – it’s only a matter of time before the police arrest her, or someone murders her.

I really enjoyed this book, probably for the same reason I enjoyed all the Sookie Stackhouse books – there’s a good Southern atmosphere. Also, I really like humorous mysteries – a year or so ago I went on a real bender with them. I must have bought the first book to about eight series, but I still haven’t read them all!

Rose is great – you can’t help but like her. She’s twenty four and, in a lot of ways, still a child. She’s just beginning to break out and become her own woman. It doesn’t look good for her innocence – being a prime murder suspect and suddenly changing everything about herself – and that’s partly the reason that she keeps getting in more trouble.

The romance aspect was really good to begin with and then cooled off a little bit for me. But there were other aspects to consider by that point, so that’s fine. The mystery was good, I think. Because it wasn’t too much in focus all the time, I wasn’t actively trying to figure it all out, hence when it came together I hadn’t already guessed it all. Some of it was perhaps a bit obvious, but there you go.

All in all, I quite liked this one. If you enjoy humorous mysteries, books set in the South, and the new adult genre, then you’ll probably like it too.

My rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Kill the Music by Nansi Kunze.

18072883Paperback, 288 pages

Published July 1st 2013 by Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Lorna is the sister of Flint Powell, lead guitarist of Turmoil – the world’s most famous band. Their parents died some years ago and once Flint turned eighteen, he became Lorna’s legal guardian. She travels the world with his band and does all her school work long distance. But then the guys manager suggested they settle down a little bit to reduce stress – so they buy a house together in Australia, where Lorna starts attending a normal high school.

She makes a good friend in Gen, and popular guy Rueben keeps hitting on her. Lorna still gets to travel with the  band when they go on short weekend trips to other countries for filming videos and doing shows.

One day at a band practice, Lorna goes into a crowed storage room for some peace and overhears someone making a threatening phone call that sounds as if someone is planning to kill Turmoil. Lorna reports the incident to the police and is soon helping them try to uncover the main instigator. She’s the perfect plant, because she is so close to the guys and goes everywhere with them.

There are suspicious characters everywhere, and Lorna is bogged down trying to solve the mystery before something horrible happens.  Meanwhile, Marius – lead singer and notorious ladies man – starts showing an interest in Lorna …

If everyone loves the world’s most famous band, who is trying to kill them?

Kill the Music was good, but not fabulous. I loved the premise, and there were some parts that were really cool, but I felt like maybe something was missing. I don’t know. It’s one of those books that sort of goes smudgy in your mind afterwards, only letting the good parts be remembered. But I know that when I finished it, I definitely thought that it needed something a little more.

I guess how you react to a book also depends on what else you’ve been reading, like if you read something crap before it you might think “oh wow, this is awesome!” or if you read something amazing before it you’d probably be seriously disenchanted. For me, I have been reading more new adult stuff lately, so to go back to a younger main character again might have something to do with my experience.

Anyway, if you like young adult books about kids who lead a charmed life, or teenage sleuths, then check out Kill the Music.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.50/5

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

9802372372 pages

Published September 29th 2011 by Putnam Juvenile

The Name of the Star is about Rory Deveaux – a colourful teenager from Louisiana. Her parents have just moved to Bristol to teach for a year. Rather than stay with them, Rory decides to go to Wexford – a London boarding school. As well as having to deal with culture shock, there’s also a Jack the Ripper copycat murdering people around the city. His victims are attacked at the same time, at similar places and on the same dates as the original murders. But the police are clueless as to who the killer is.

On the night before a murdered woman is found on Wexford school property, Rory sees a man – she even speaks to him – but her friend Jazza didn’t see or hear him. That’s how Rory discovers that she has a very rare, very special ability – she can see ghosts.

Maureen  Johnson is a really great author, in my opinion. She’s funny, but her writing is also very emotive. It makes me feel, you know?

In the case of The Name of the Star, there is a mix of humour and seriousness (it’s about a serial killer, after all). The suspense is definitely there, the killer is so creepy. I loved the general atmosphere of the novel – the city is terrified, but also morbidly curious. And for all you romance-addicts, there’s a little something for you too.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.

16137923304 pages

Published January 1st 2013 by Simon & Schuster UK

Hannah’s best friend Lillian may have starved herself to death six months ago, but she never really left. Since her passing, she has been ‘haunting’ Hannah. But when preadolescent girls start getting murdered in their town during a stifling summer, Lillian and Hannah are determined to figure out who the killer is. Hannah has access to the police photos because she works at the photoshop where they are developed, so she knows a thing or two about the crime scenes, like the fact that the killer likes to leave behind homemade paper hearts. All the while, they are oblivious to the fact that Hannah is hurtling headlong into some serious danger.

Paper Valentine is a gritty, compelling and well written novel. Brenna Yovanoff comes up with this creepy imagery that is perfect for  a book about a serial killer. When she pressed against me, her bones felt sharp and spidery, like they might crawl inside me (*shiver*). The atmosphere of the entire novel is fantastic – it’s almost claustrophobic with it’s descriptions of the relentless summer heat wave and the growing feeling that the killer is getting closer and closer.

I absolutely love Hannah. I can’t put my finger on any specific reason why, but I just love her. She’s always wearing these crazy clothes, and she’s strong but sort of fragile and vulnerable at the same time.

There isn’t much focus on questioning why Lillian is a ghost or how she can move on. The ghost thing is just an undeniable fact about Hannah’s life. Paper Valentine is more about the murders.

Hannah is also starting to spend some time with Finny Boone – he was a ‘bad kid’ when they were younger, but now is a bad boy mostly just by reputation. She really likes him, but her friends and family are unsure about him because he’s massive and has bleached hair, a bad rap and only nine fingers. People treat him unjustly because of how he used to be. I’ve always hated seeing people get treated unfairly just because they’ve been ‘bad’ in the past, so obviously my heart went right out to this guy.

If you enjoyed The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, or Slide by Jill Hathaway, then you’ll like this. Personally, I like this one the best.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

 

ImagePaperback, 370 pages

Published September 3rd, 2009 by Gollancz

IBSN: 9780575085305

Katsa is a strong, independent woman, who kicks serious butt. She has a strange graceling – a gift – that enables her to kill people very well. Her uncle, King Randa, takes advantage of this, essentially using her as a trained attack dog – someone who travels around and threatens or kills his enemies. Katsa resents this, and has founded a secret council, who’s job it is to undermine and ruin her kings nasty plans.

It is during one of the councils missions to rescue Prince Tealiff – the father of the Lienid KIngdom’s King –  that Katsa meets Po, who is also graced, but with fighting (I’ll just tell you now – he is the love interest (and a good one, at that!)). But who kidnapped the elderly prince? and why? Katsa’s council work on unravelling the mystery, while Katsa plans of leaving her Uncle Randa’s court, and his power over her.

So, the gist of a graceling: it’s basically an ability that some people have. It can be anything: fighting, swinging from trees, baking, reading minds, etc. A graced person can be identified by their two different coloured eyes, which settle in months after birth (your baby’s born like any other baby, but watch those eyes – that baby may just turn out to be a graceling soon!). I love this premise, by the way. Kristin Cashore follows through with it fantastically.

There is such beautiful imagery in Graceling. An awesome kings and queens type backdrop. This is a lot of fun to read. I will go one step further and tell you that it’s a delight to read. I don’t think I could fault it if I tried – not that I would want to! The characters are great, the story (which expands and changes from what you gather from the blurb), the setting – everything is great! Listen to me: I’m gushing! See the exclamation marks?!

Wait, I do have one problem, and that lies in the quote on the front cover that mentions Twilight. Ugh. I like Twilight. I love The Hunger Games. But I have an issue with the way that critics always say: ‘read this if you liked [insert name of latest young adult book/series to hit the big time and get a movie deal here]’. I wouldn’t mind it if the two books are actually similar (I recommend books in this way as much as I can), but saying Graceling is for fans of Twilight is a joke, because they are so different. They are literally worlds apart. I suppose that these critics mean well – getting the non readers to read more books by mentioning the books that non readers happen to read (if that makes sense). Generally, I ignore quotes such as these, but it remains a pet peeve of mine.

So check out this amazing, rich, adventurous, fantasy. Especially if you enjoy books like the Narnia series, or P.C. Cast’s Goddess series (particularly the first book, Goddess by MIstake, and the two young adult companions, [who’s titles I seem to have forgotten]). Or if you enjoy fantasy in general, or even if you haven’t dabbled in fantasy much, read it anyway.