Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review of The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert



"If science is right, then I am crazy. And crazy is dangerous." 


      In a world where nothing supernatural exists, Tess Eckhart is positive she’s going crazy. After her complete freakout at a high school party, her family is too. So much that they pack their bags and move across the country, next to a nationally-renowned facility for the mentally ill. 

      Tess is determined to fit in at her new school, despite the whispers and stares. But when it comes to Luka Williams, a reluctantly popular boy in her class, she’s unused to a stare that intense. Then the headaches start, and the seemingly prophetic dreams that haunt her at night. As Tess tries harder to hide them, she becomes increasingly convinced that Luka knows something—that he might somehow be responsible. 

      But what if she’s wrong? What if Luka Williams is the only thing separating her from a madness too terrifying to fathom?





     I used to say I didn’t read much YA. I can’t say that anymore. I have discovered that I’m not too old to enjoy a youthful story. This particular book also fits well on the psychological thriller shelf, which is really my cup of tea. Although not as terrorizing as many PTs, the reader has to decide between what is reality and what is mental illness. The real draw for me is the twisted mind stuff—not necessarily the thriller part—so this book was right up my alley. (Think Secret Window or A Beautiful Mind.)

     For much of the beginning, I did think that the story would really appeal more to teens and twenty-somethings (my grandgirls) than my peers (a.k.a. old lady friends)—there’s a lot of high school social life stuff going on. But I was still entertained. Very entertained. 

     The main character, Tess, appeals to me from the beginning. Empathy pours out for this poor girl who is ostracized from the crowd, with her sanity hanging by a thread. Her world is one in which mental illness is shunned to a much greater degree than even in today’s world. It is considered a defect—even a danger—not worthy of being allowed to exist in society. Stack that kind of pressure on a mixed-up outcast teen! You. Will. Care. About. Tess.

     The story moves along at a good pace. I like Ganshert’s writing style—revealing Tess’s thoughts throughout the dialog. There are plot twists right up to the last page. And speaking of the last page…

     This book is the first in a three-part series. They are not ‘stand alone’ stories, but a continuing chronicle of the main characters’ experiences. Though this book is a good read without the other installments ***TINY SPOILER ALERT***—it has a cliff-hanger ending.  END OF SPOILER You will want to read the next.

     I have to be honest—I downloaded this eBook only because I am familiar with the author Katie Ganshert and it was free. The YA genre was a new branch for Ganshert, who has written many novels in the inspirational contemporary romance genre. I’ve had this eBook since last year, and finally decided to read it.

     I loved this story so much I am buying the other two books of the series! WARNING: Do NOT read the summary of parts two and three if you don’t want any spoilers. I just did and I was so… Nope. Not gonna tell. But the description does let you know what happens after the first book--something I didn’t want to know yet.

     If you can’t fathom reading about high school crushes and popular kids, don’t read this book. But if you want a thoroughly enjoyable story with mystery and a lovable underdog, I highly recommend this one. I’m giving it five stars! And I just now bought book two, The Awakening. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!



 *UPDATE: I finished The Awakening and immediately purchased The Gathering. Loved book two even more than the first! I couldn't put it down. I went on to finish book three in a couple of days. I made excuses to sneak away and read. I highly recommend these three books.


This series is one of those where you don't want it to be over. It was amazing! There are lots of surprises in the plot. The characters were great. The pace was excellent. The only negative is there is no fourth book in the series!
 
Do read them in order as they are not stand-alone
stories, but a three-part tale.

This story would make an awesome movie!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Review of The Guardian by Dee Henderson

A judge on the short list for an appointment to the Supreme Court had been ruthlessly murdered, and there is only one witness—Shari Hanford. 

U.S. Marshall Marcus O’Malley is intrigued by the woman he just met and makes a coffee date with her for the next morning. A short time later, he is helping to save the life of her brother and her father, after they are shot following the murder of Judge Carl Whitmore.

Henderson wrote a series of books about the O’Malley family. Marcus, the oldest, along with six other orphans have adopted each other, chosen their surname, and formed a family bond tighter than many biological families. 

I’ll start with the cons. First of all, the family—the cast reads like that of a soap opera.  Sister Kate is a hostage negotiator, Lisa a forensic pathologist. Both have major roles to play, along with Kate’s boyfriend—FBI Agent Dave Richman, and Marcus’s partner Quinn, who happens to fancy sister Lisa. It was all a bit too convenient for me. I prefer the characters to be pulled together by the story, rather than have the story built around existing relationships.

There were a few little things that didn’t add up. For instance, the timeline when they flew from Kentucky to Montana. They were in flight and it was just after midnight. Then, they’re flying over the ranch and it’s daytime.  That’s one slow private jet! Little things like that jump out at me, but none were big enough to detract from the story.

The dialog wasn't exactly award winning. Not bad. Not great.Which is funny, because this book won The Christy Award.

There are many pros. The main character is a swoon-worthy, honest-to-goodness hero who puts his life on the line for those he cares about. The witness isn’t a helpless damsel in distress; she is intelligent, driven, strong, and quite likable. 

The tension is as high as the stakes as they try to protect their only witness to the murder. There were many high-action scenes to keep the situation urgent. The settings are detailed and varied, from a large hotel, to a lake-view cabin, to an isolated ranch in Montana. The plot details were well thought out, and the pace was steady throughout. 

I wish Henderson would have let the ending evolve a little more slowly, but it satisfied. There was no resolution to a side story about Marcus’s sister Jennifer, but it didn’t require one. Perhaps that storyline carries into another book in the series.

The O’Malley family is worthy of a series; they are a fun and interestingly eclectic group of people. I enjoyed this book and would read another in this series.