Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Who Do You Love? "Phoenix of the Opera" by Sadie Montgomery

Having read and reviewed a number of Phantom fictions, I've enjoyed a variety of variations on the Erik, Christine and Raoul canon, and also a number of books that bring in a new love for Erik, someone to ease the heartbreak as he longs for Christine. Those are really good, too! But Sadie Montgomery's Phoenix of the Opera does something entirely new, it seems. Because, as Christine is torn between the safety of Raoul and the magnetism of Erik, and as Erik lets her go... there is someone waiting in the wings watching it all.
Meg! And of course Meg would be wondering what the heck is going on! Her Mother, Madame Giry, has been protecting and delivering notes and whatnot for some mystery Opera Ghost for YEARS! Her best friend, Christine, went from a member of the ballet corps as a girl to being tutored by someone she referred to as her Angel of Music... and as she gets older, she is on the verge of becoming a major Opera Star and then, she also has Raoul hanging around the stage door. Meg isn't jealous, though. She's a great friend and happy Christine is doing so well. She, after all, is becoming a prima ballerina! But... she has always been aware of a presence in the Opera House. Shadows, voices, odd laughter. Is there really an Opera Ghost? A Phantom of the Opera? It seems terribly romantic.
It all becomes clear when Christine leaves with Raoul after her mysterious disappearance. This is where our story really begins and this is also the beginning of a Phantom series by Ms. Montgomery.
Meg has followed the mob out for Erik's blood, in the aftermath of Christine's kidnapping and release, to try and warn him. Becoming lost in the tunnels she becomes trapped in one of his snares and screams. Thinking Christine has come back he rescues her from the watery trap only to find, to his horror, it is Little Meg, his old friend Madame Giry's daughter! He turns to leave her there, when she calls him back and pleads with him, telling him she knows how her mother helped him and she wanted to help him. He ignores her and she, cold and wet, unsteadily follows him back through the passages. Finally he sweeps her up in his arms and carries her.
Back in his lair, Erik falls ill to a fever and dreams of Christine. Meg cares for him through his illness. This act leads to others and eventually, Erik comes to realize the shoe is on the other foot, while he longs for Christine, Meg has become infatuated with HIM!
There are many complications, among them an ongoing manhunt led by the horrid Inspector Leroux (!). There are moments of heart-stopping suspense, moments so disturbing you wonder how there will be a sequel! If you enjoy the Phantom and are looking for an intriguing read...then download or buy the "Phoenix of the Opera"! A perfect title... as we watch Erik rise from the ashes of the Opera House and his past!
(This is the first in Ms. Montgomery's Phantom series. The other titles are: Out of the Darkness: The Phantom's Journey / The Phantom's Opera / Phantom Death / Phantom Madness / Phantom Murder )

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Snowblind" by Christopher Golden

There is something about a snowstorm that makes you want to curl up inside by a warm fire with a good book, especially after shoveling out your truck for the 87th time this winter and what better book to read then  "Snowblind" by Christopher Golden.  It's snowing and the townsfolk of Coventry, a small New England town, are used to dealing with snow. They are equipped to handle this kind of weather event. No problem. That is...until an especially unusual snowstorm. A blizzard arrives and the citizens of Coventry are battening the hatches. Ella Santos is waiting it out in her restaurant, the Vault, along with TJ the restaurant's entertainer. He was supposed to go home and help his mother deal with the storm, but TJ and Ella have a mutual attraction and sticking around might bring them closer to acting on it. Elsewhere, Allie Shapiro, a local school teacher and her sons Jake and Isaac are spending an evening watching DVDs with her new boyfriend, Niko, and his daughter, Miri. The storm puts an end to those plans. In fact, all over town, people are having trouble making it home, back to family or friends. The police are experiencing some pretty odd occurrences one of which leads to a horrible tragedy. This isn't just any snowstorm it seems. It's the snowstorm from hell! And what is it that makes some people walk out into the snow? Are voices calling to them out there? And what does Isaac see outside the window of the room he and his brother Jake share? Something spinning and dancing and magical... something that seems able to reach out and slither in through the window screen. Big brother Jake doesn't believe Isaac. He's always making things up... or is he? This storm will change the lives of many people that night. And 12 years later... another storm is on the way.
This is as creepy and sinister a book as I've read in a while. You get caught up in the lives of the characters and how they go from dealing with the Christmas card/ snowman making kind of snow that gets kids a snow day off from school to the Moby Dick of  horrible, cold, white evil.
 This is a really good story! It's one you'll remember, and think about as it is also oddly thought-provoking. Good old NetGalley approved the galley for the Recommender and the book comes out this week right on the heels of another snowstorm, here in NH. If you do one thing this week... get a copy of Snowblind, and be prepared. You never know what's out there!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Phantom's Opera: "Phantom of Valletta" by Vicki Hopkins

Christine is gone. Erik has freed her to marry Raoul. Now, alone in his lair, he despairs, feeling he must be dying of love, or the loss of it anyway. Then... an opportunity presents itself. The Royal Opera House of Valletta in Malta has been destroyed by fire and Erik decides to purchase it and give it, and himself, a new lease on life. Together with the Persian's servant, Darius, and Madame Andrea Giry, his long time friend, they will raise it from the ashes and he, Erik, the Phantom... will now have his very own Opera House to command!
This is a wonderfully original premise and very believable as you can imagine Erik's excitement at such a task no matter how daunting the destruction facing him. He has the knowledge as a world class architect to, eventually, bring his vision to life! Though it seems this jewel has been damaged almost beyond repair. Erik decides to do some fundraising and find investors to bring in the funds to make the hugely expensive reconstruction.
How he and his friends go about this makes for engaging reading. Will Erik forget Christine and move on with his life in this new place? Will anyone else ever take her place in his heart? Desiree', an opera house employee with an interest in learning the violin, perhaps?  There are other surprises in store for the reading audience so get a copy of Vicki Hopkins' "Phantom of Valletta"  and enjoy the pleasures of the Phantom's opera!

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Above" by Isla Morley

There is this girl. Blythe. She was going home from the Horse Thieves Picnic on a lovely July afternoon, not mentioning to anyone she was leaving early because her boyfriend stood her up, when she accepts a ride from Dobbs Hordin, the librarian at her school, who says her brother's been in a terrible car accident and he was to take her to the hospital. Instead, he takes her someplace else. She slowly realizes, as he keeps driving, away, away from home, from family, from her life, that her brother is not the victim of a terrible calamity. She was. She was the victim of a kidnapping! The someplace he takes her is a someplace she may never leave. He has brought her to a concrete space that turns out to be an abandoned missile silo.
Apparently, you can own a missile silo, and hide girls down there and no on will be the wiser. But, surely her parents will stop at nothing to find her. This gripping story takes twists and turns you don't expect, as Blythe tries to survive in her new "home", a home filled with a whole library's worth of survival information and supplies. Dobbs is a doomsday prepper and had targeted Blythe. He had chosen her as a smart girl, a pretty girl and one who would survive the end days with him as the end days were on their way. Blythe begins to understand that she is trapped with a crazy man.
Giving away too much information will spoil the surprises the author has in store for you, the reader, so let the Recommender just say you don't want to miss this one. Ms. Morley makes Blythe's dilemma all too real and draws you in to the claustrophobia of her existence and the choices she faces. It will keep you up reading and will make you go...Huh! What the heck? What just happened?" ...and keep reading. Because this is a brilliant and unexpected tale of survival. Whose survival is the question.
This title will be released in March so be on the lookout at your library or book store!
(Thanks to NetGalley for the review galley!)