Friday, April 18, 2014

"Betwixt and Between" byJessica Stilling

One afternoon, ten year old Preston Tumbler, a nice little boy with loving parents, stops in a neighbor's driveway to admire his flowers on his way home to supper from playing with his friends. It should have been a normal day, but when the neighbor, an odd, single young man, comes out and invites Preston in for home-made cookies...  Preston is too polite and well-mannered to say no. The cookies were apparently made by the man's house keeper. They each have a cookie, and then Preston makes his excuses to leave. He never makes it home. The cookies have been poisoned. Preston dies, alone, in the woods that separate the neighbor from his own house.
This is the gripping and tragic beginning to this incredibly beautiful and poignant story. Preston awakes in the Here.  The Here is where boys who have died young from various causes, from the Holocaust to abuse victims, end up. At least for a time. Many do not remember the Before. When Preston is discovered, he is different from the others as he is alone and did not arrive in a group. The Here, or Neverland as it is also called,  is presided over by the charming Peter Pan. This Peter Pan retains much of the original character, he's smart, daring and possesses a sort of naivete and cheeriness that all will work out and happy thoughts will get you through.  He also has a darker knowledge of the boys lives Before and where they will go after the Here.
This Neverland  is also populated by ever warring cowboys and Indians, pirates, mermaids and fairies including Tinkerbell. Peter takes Preston under his wing. He tries to explain about how he should forget the Before and enjoy himself, but understanding that this may take time.
Meanwhile, there are alternating stories of Preston's bereaved parents, chapters sometimes almost too painful to read, but so true and heartfelt. And then there is Wendy.
The Recommender's co-worker at the library recommended this book as I was telling her about Second Star, another Peter Pan based work that was reviewed here recently. Jessica Stilling's Betwixt and Between is very different and one you will remember and think about as Peter and Preston and Preston's family stay with you and may make you want to reread it as it is such a haunting story. Highly recommended!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Twilight of the Gods: "Cobweb Forest" by Vera Nazarian

Vera Nazarian is an amazingly gifted writer and one who deserves to be widely known. In the Cobweb Bride series she will take you places you never imagined and bring even the Gods to life as she wraps up the final volume of this trilogy.
If you've read Cobweb Bride and Cobweb Empire you know that Death refuses to allow anyone (or anything!) to die as he is in despair over his missing Cobweb Bride. Word is out and families all over send forth their daughters to be potential Cobweb Brides, including Percy Ayren, a young peasant girl from a small village who has become Death's Champion, instead, and given the ability to put the undead to rest by reuniting them with their death shadows.  She was accompanied on her journey by several of the other cobweb bride girls and a dashing, brave and handsome Knight, Lord Beltain Chidair, who had sworn himself to Percy as her protector and then fallen for the girl as she had, for him. Cobweb Empire ended with Percy presenting Death with a woman she helped to rescue from a dark spell who appeared to be his bride but turns out to be something quite different. Cobweb Forest picks up right after that. Things will be explained. There will battles and land that vanishes into thin air and love stories for the ages. There are so many memorable characters in this series including a pair of bored young aristocrats and an undead Grand Princess and the man who murdered her who will stay with you, along with Percy and Beltain. I won't spoil this beautiful and poignant finale for you but encourage anyone who enjoys fantasy or just a splendid story to pick up this trilogy. Read this series now! The Recommender says so!

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Don't Look Back" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A girl stumbles out of the woods, scratched and bleeding and when the cops pick her up she can't even remember her own name. This is just the start of  Don't Look Back, by Jennifer L. Armentrout , a  suspenseful, creepy and sometimes pretty funny new book that takes amnesia, mean girls and hot guys to a whole new level.
Samantha, because that turns out to be the girl's name, is the daughter of very wealthy and somewhat dysfunctional parents and she even has a twin brother who, apparently, she wasn't all that nice to once she became best friends with Cassie, another rich, mean girl. They were the Queen Bees of their social set and school and bullied and made fun of pretty much every one else. Only now Cassie is missing. And maybe Samantha was the last one to see her and if her mind would only go back to normal maybe she could solve the mystery of Cassie's disappearance.
So, not remembering much of anything, Samantha tries to figure out what happened and why doesn't she feel as attracted to her OWN boyfriend, who she doesn't remember, as she is to her brother's best friend and the son of her parent's caretaker, Carson?
The Recommender does not give too much away, as you know by now, because I don't like anyone to spoil the fun of uncovering a mystery, so I'll just say that there are a lot of surprising twists and turns throughout this addictive story. If you're a fan of intriguing (and romantic!) mysteries then don't miss this one!