Friday, June 20, 2014

Both Sides Now: "The Secret Door" by J. M. Smith

J.M. Smith's The Secret Door is one of the most charming, romantic, unusual and absolutely laugh out loud funny Phantom books the Recommender has read! That's saying a lot. I have read many wonderful and outstanding works of Phantom fiction, and if they are reviewed here, you know I loved them, because the Militant Recommender only posts reviews of books I can passionately recommend!
The story begins in 1884 with Erik discovering a young girl weeping who somehow  touches his heart. It is, of course, his first encounter with Christine.
Suddenly, we are in present day 2014. Jenna, a young nurse who works in a New York City hospital, goes home early with the flu and surprises her cad of a boyfriend in an act of indiscretion with another young lady! Devastated, she returns to her car and drives away from the shock and betrayal she has just experienced. The rain matches her emotional state as she drives along the Hudson, then, out of nowhere a horn blares and she swerves to avoid an accident and instead... plummets into the river.
How do these two stories align? Back to Erik's lair. He has just returned after the Christine incident to find the Daroga, Omid Javed, his dear and only true friend, though he never admits it even to himself, enjoying his hospitality. Ms. Smith has created a very entertaining love/hate relationship for Erik and Omid. Some of their repartee is deliciously funny! In the midst of Erik scolding Omid for raiding his larder  they hear a crash and a scream. Making their way to the underground lake they find a girl, filthy, injured and clutching her ankle. "Where am I " she asks.
Where, indeed!
Back to 2014 where Jenna is being wheeled into the emergency room after the accident. She is unresponsive. A young neurology Doctor who recognizes her cleans her head wound. "We're going to get you better" he promises her.
The action switches back to Erik and Omid wondering if a mental patient has just showed up on their doorstep, as she claims to have arrived via an invisible door.  This mysterious girl is none other than Jenna. Can she be in two places at once? And what about Christine? How did  these worlds collide and what can it mean for our favorite masked man? Ms. Smith has truly captured the soul and spirit of Erik as he tries to make sense of it all and find his heart being pulled in two directions. And Jenna is someone we care about right from the start. She's brave, sassy and smart and can stand up to Erik as no one else has been able to do before! This is a book that entrances you from start to finish and one you don't want to end.  If you are a Phantom Phan, be sure to get a copy, and if you're not...this book just might make you one!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walk on the Wild Side: "My Best friend, Maybe" by Caela Carter

Colette was once very best friends with Sadie. At one time, when they were little girls,  they were inseparable. They both loved to swim. They each had two brothers, though Sadie's were adopted from Haiti. There were other differences, too. Sadie's Mom was loving and laid back (and there's no Dad in the picture). While Colette's family is very religious, particularly her judgmental Mom. But both girls felt comfortable at each other's homes and go on vacations together and, somehow, Colette's Mom seems to share secrets and laughs with Sadie in ways she doesn't do with Colette.
Then, when they were in Middle School, suddenly their friendship falls apart. The closeness they once shared now Sadie is sharing and whispering and laughing with other girls. She has moved on and left Colette behind.
Flash forward three years, Colette and her boyfriend, Mark, are looking to spend the summer in Costa Rica with their church youth group. Mark is then heading off to college and Colette and her non-churchy best friend Louisa will be looking at starting their senior year. Her life is very normal and safe and... boring.
Boring, until Sadie whirls back into her life with an invitation to join her and her family in Greece for her cousin's wedding. In fact, Sadie has bought "Coley" as she has always called Colette, a plane ticket!
And, before she even has time to think it over, she's telling Sadie that she'll go. That she has missed her one time best friend and Sadie's warm and fun family and maybe it's time to find out who she really is, away from being the good, safe, sensible daughter, friend and girlfriend everyone wants her to be.
My Best Friend, Maybe is a realistic look at what it means to have had the closeness of a best friend and the pain of losing that friendship. Sadie and Colette are complex   characters. Both are angry and hurt and ready to blame the other for the past. What was the misunderstanding that caused the rift? Can they ever regain what was lost? And, Greece is another character in the story. Beautiful, exotic and filled with possibilities. This is a wonderful book to enjoy on a summer's day and perfect to bring along on vacation. It's not light reading. It's thoughtful and insightful but also completely addicting! Highly recommended!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Amazing Grace: "Grace and the Guiltless" by Erin Johnson

Having grown up in a time when westerns and cowboys ruled the airwaves, the Recommender was excited to read a new book about a cowgirl called Grace and the Guiltless by Erin Johnson. Grace is a tough, smart girl with a loving family who have moved to Arizona to try and make a living ranching and breaking and selling horses.
One evening Grace is trapped down in the cellar where she was sent to get vegetables for her Ma's dinner. The heavy door has slammed shut and she's left in the dark searching for the stick that propped the door open.
Suddenly, she hears horses and riders in the yard above her. Her Dad arguing with them. It's Elijah Hale and his posse, the Guiltless Gang. They have been after their property and even though her Dad has one more year to pay off and own the ranch outright, the gang have other ideas.
Shots are fired and screams and more yelling, she manages to get the door open enough to peek out and see her mother and brother lying on the ground. Her Dad catches her eye and lets her know to stay out of sight, but how can she when her family are being murdered right before her eyes. Before she knows it, her Dad is gone, and her little sister and, after the gang set fire to her house and ride away, she finds her baby brother dead, as well.
Swearing vengeance, Grace buries her whole family, searches out Bullet, the semi-wild horse that only she can ride, and sets off to right some wrongs.
Grace is not super girl. Mistakes are made along the road to learning how to survive and live alone. There are corrupt officials to deal with. There is also, a young man who may or may not be an Apache, who reaches out and helps her when others turn their backs. This mystery man will play a larger role as we follow Grace on her trail of retribution into what will become a series.
Well written with lots of action, some violence, and insights into Native American culture make this a great book for any fan of the genre.