Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Dec
20
7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: 4 stars

Book: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Borrowed ARC from Gone with the Words
Series: Tempest #1
Summary from Goodreads: The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy. . . heâ??s in college, has a girlfriend. . . and he can travel back through time. But itâ??s not like the movies â?? nothing changes in the present after his jumps, thereâ??s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors â?? itâ??s just harmless fun.

That is. . . until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now heâ??s stuck in 2007 and canâ??t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But itâ??s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these â??Enemies of Timeâ? will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit. . . or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far heâ??s willing to go to save Holly. . . and possibly the entire world.

First impressions: I completely fell in love with Jackson. His voice is strong, sweet, and funny. You can’t help but root for him as he jumps to save his girlfriend and reconnect with his dead sister.

Lasting impressions: This is a book about second chances, and Jackson’s journey is a heart-wrenching one full of mystery, loss, and love. It definitely brought a few tears to my eye.

Conflicting impressions: I wasn’t totally feeling the connection with Holly. Because we see her in two different times, and most of that time is in the past, I wasn’t able to piece together exactly who she was or why she was so perfect for Jackson. Since their love story is what drives the plot, at times I felt a bit distant while reading.

Overall impressions: I do love a good time travel story, and this one has the interesting perspective of being about small jumps. No centuries here – we’re talking minutes, hours, and in a sudden twist, a few years. Jackson has never been able to travel far, so when he witnesses Holly’s shooting and winds up stuck two years in the past, he’s stumped.

The book follows Jackson as he tries to explain his presence in New York when his two-years-ago self is supposed to be studying abroad in Spain. He sets out to find 2007 Holly (“007 Holly” as he calls her) and through her meet Adam, who becomes their mutual friend in the future and has been helping Jackson study his time traveling. He needs Adam’s help if he’s going to jump back to 2009 and save Holly, and he uses the new time with 007 Holly to get to know more about her. In the midst of his travels, he also gets the chance to see his twin sister, who died from leukemia, as her younger self. Those scenes are beautiful and touching, sorrowful and sweet, and were some of my favorite moments in the book.

The story gets a little convoluted with the dual Adams, Hollys, and bad guys. Jackson’s dad, Kevin, has a role to play in this mystery, and he comes with a cadre of other gun-wielding people that Jackson isn’t so quick to trust. Around this point is where I started to see this book sort of similar to The Adjustment Bureau, with lots of guys in fancy hats running around and trying to stop Jackson and Holly from being together.

The book is very cinematic, so it’s no surprise to learn that it’s been snapped up by Summit Entertainment. As the trilogy continues, I hope we find out a lot more about Kevin’s involvement in his son’s time travel, and what consequences result from him traveling into the past. This is an exciting and fresh new story in young adult fiction and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



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Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Sep
01
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: 5 stars

Book: Torrent
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Release date: September 1, 2011
Source: Received from publicist for review
Series: River of Time #3

NOTE: THE SUMMARY AND REVIEW BELOW CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS FOR THE TRILOGY! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Summary: (from Goodreads) When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series.

Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever â?? even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life . . . and death.

First impressions: We’re back! After jumping through some serious hoops with major consequences, the Bettarini girls are back in Marcello’s time, and the action picks up immediately. At this point, reading this series feels like meeting old friends for coffee. No need for pleasantries, we can jump right into the heart of things.

Lasting impressions: But…but…I want moooooooore!

Conflicting impressions: There wasn’t nearly enough resolution for me. I wanted to know the fate of Paratore. And what happened to Giacinta? I felt like the book rushed through all of the events without taking the time to fully explore them in a way I’d have more enjoyed.

Overall impressions: It’s impossible to sum up my feelings on this book without a few spoilers, so if you’ve made it this far by ignoring my above disclaimer, then I wash my hands of responsibility for spoiling the party.

I want to start first with what annoyed me. Ben had it far too easy working his way into this new century. He’s thrust into battle right off the bat, and then they have to run for their lives without any time to stop and consider what just happened. When they do, I found it to be desiring. Much like others’ complaints that Marcello and Luca don’t seem curious enough about the future, Dad seemed a little too accepting. For all the trouble they went to to bring him back, Dad gets the short stick in this tale, which was a bit disappointing.

The ending was also a bit cliffhanger-y. There’s a huge battle (which Lisa Bergren continues to write with exquisite pacing and detail), but the story ends just after it. I wanted some more clues on where their lives were headed and just how much the events of the three books have impacted them. I felt I was denied a complete resolution for these characters.

Okay, but there was way more good stuff than bad stuff. All of my whiny complaints aside, Bergren has given us a solid third book in the River of Time trilogy. As in Cascade, the action drives the story at a brisk pace. The war between Firenze and Siena is threatening to boil over, and Firenze wants nothing more than to get their greedy paws on the She-Wolves of Siena. Gabi faces the pressure of marriage in order to save the dying and tortured Fortino. Can she thrust aside her feelings for Marcello and save Siena by marrying the alluring and attractive Lord Greco?

Marcello seemed miles away from Greco in this one. Rash, stubborn, and a bit immature, the luster of Marcello was wearing thin for me. Along comes dashing Rodolfo Greco and I’m all “Marry him Gabi!” I love books that can make you divide your allegiance between hot, strapping men. It gave Gabi some needed perspective and made her choice to get married at all more informed and adult instead of just a bit of teen love cementing her fate.

Obviously, this is a must-read for River of Time readers. It is full of excitement, love, doubt, sacrifice, and faith. Not just faith in God or destiny, but faith in ourselves and our choices. Gabi’s story is all about the decisions she makes and how she knows they are the right ones. Sometimes she does, and sometimes she has to take a leap of faith and do what she thinks is right. It’s a fantastic journey for her and for the readers, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Curious about my reviews for the first two books in the trilogy? Read my take on Waterfall and Cascade.



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Review: Between by Cyndi Tefft

Jul
18
13 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: 1 star

Book: Between
Author: Cyndi Tefft
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: June 1, 2011
Source: Ebook from author
Summary: (from Goodreads) It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water’s life isn’t alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven’s siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

First impressions: The book opens with Lindsey in a car, kissing her boyfriend and not really enjoying it all that much. Hilarious and sweet, and it made me like Lindsey a lot. Then the action picks up and before you know it, Lindsey is dead. It’s a great beginning that keeps you glued to the pages.

Lasting impressions: What will stick with me the most about this book, unfortunately, is how offensive I found its moralizing.

Conflicting impressions: This book was full of inconsistency in the characters and their choices. The decisions made stretched the bounds of plausibility for me, so I wasn’t able to fully invest in what was happening.

Overall impressions: I really, truly wanted to like this book. It’s a Scottish boy who falls in love with his very own Sassenach (Outlander) and sort of time travels with her! Plus, Lindsey is a college student, and I’m all about more YA fiction for the college set. It had everything going for it, but just couldn’t deliver.

My first problem with this story was the insta-love. MAJOR case of it going on here. Lindsey dies in a car wreck, is whisked away by Aiden to this “between” place on her way to heaven. At no time does she seem overly concerned about being dead. She’s sad, sure, but not sad enough to miss the fact that Aiden is smoking hot and she kind of wants his bod. This didn’t really ring true for me. If I found out I was dead, I would not automatically be concerned with the attractiveness of my reaper.

Lindsey decides that she’s really upset about going to heaven still a virgin. And Aiden gets all uppity about deflowering a maiden and it really wasn’t working for me. Aiden came off as more jerky than chivalrous or old timey. I get that he would find modern female behavior strange, but when he gets Lindsey make believe drunk and she starts flirting with him he basically calls her a whore. And she doesn’t immediately tell him to eff off and run away to heaven. Bad move, Lindsey!

It touched a nerve. On the one hand, Aiden is skinny dipping and lusting after her, but on the other he doesn’t want to take her maidenhead or have her acting too much like a floozy. I mean, what a turnoff, right? (Insert eyeroll sprain here.) Similarly, Lindsey is supposed to be a college aged nice girl virgin, but yet she jumps in naked in the lake with Aiden and sleeps with him, and later practically gives him a lap dance after some drinking. Where is the conflict here? She has no qualms about giving up her virginity in the afterlife? It seemed inconsistent with my idea of Lindsey and so I couldn’t figure out who these characters were supposed to be.

I admit that I had a very personal reaction early on that may have colored my perceptions a bit. Cyndi Tefft really lost me when describing Aiden’s story. Aiden explains that the reason he’s spent 300 years transporting souls to heaven while not going there himself is because he committed suicide and God was mad at him. Later in the book, there’s another discussion of suicide with similar blatant moralizing about how all suicide victims are selfish and cowardly.

I realize that this is almost always true, but I don’t need it flung in my face. The whole concept was handled in a clunky way at best, and in an offensive way at worst. I have been personally touched by suicide, and so having the basis of Aiden’s position be a punishment for his suicide just didn’t sit well with me. At all. But that’s just me, and it may not bother most readers.

The time travel elements were fun to read, though I had a hard time getting into them knowing they weren’t actually happening and were memories instead. I did like the idea of “casting,” where the characters in Between can make their own reality by just imagining what they want. It was a cool world and an interesting story of two people facing the ultimate obstacle. The story does take an interesting twist into new territory about halfway through, but a lot of the side characters and backstory didn’t add much to Lindsey and Aiden’s tale. If I had been able to get past the preaching and really believe in these characters and their love I may have enjoyed this book, but in the end I couldn’t and I didn’t.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Read this rave review by Steph: Short & Sweet.



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