Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Review: Mercy by Rebecca LimMercy by Rebecca Lim
Series: Mercy #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 288
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: Exile

Mercy ‘wakes’ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business… or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ‘persona’ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings. The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity.

Thoughts: Mercy was rather stunning.  Honestly, it took me quite a while to get past the first 50 pages. I just really wasn’t in love with the main character, as she seemed rather – well – evil. Not outright, “I kill puppies” sort of evil, but certainly not nice.  But I kept going, and I am so very glad I did!

There was a point, about 100 pages through the novel, when I knew I was going to love this book: it’s when Mercy – as Carmen – sings her heart out. It was a show stopper, and it practically stopped mine.  It was just glorious- I could almost hear the music through the pages – and rather indicative of the ethereal quality of the entire novel. If I had known Mercy had this musical element, I would have made my way through those first 50 pages a lot sooner!

Although Mercy begins as a rather apathetic character, as she becomes more involved in her human’s life, I really started to like her.  She is really difficult to describe… partly because I don’t think she used to be a good “person”. She’s a self-aware adult in one way, but her lack of memory has given her room to change for the better. As she grows into her new body – Carmen – she really starts to develop into someone new.

In fact, even though this book has about 5 mysteries going on at once and a few romances that leave you begging for more action, Mercy is really all about Mercy. The singing, the murder, the hot-human!boy, and the bizarre supernatural powers are all just tangential to Mercy’s development.

I’ve read Fallen and Hush, Hush (oh, if only I were ethically capable of burning a book). Although both were Angel YA, they both lacked that otherworldly quality of angels – staring random “insert paranormal creature here” heros. I don’t mean a religious quality – I am the biggest atheist in town – but that feeling of something powerful that you can’t begin to imagine.  Mercy had that quality in spades – there was no doubt in my mind that she’s an angel. Powerful and inhuman and, often, cruel.

So, I really can’t wait for the rest of the books in this series – the nature of Mercy’s condition will make the next book very interesting.

Bottom line?  I really enjoyed Mercy for it’s tough amnesiac of a main character, it’s show-stopping choir performances, and it’s rather subtle-yet-star-crossed romance.  I’d recommend this book to fans of the Wicked Lovely series, as they both have that somewhat ethereal quality about them.

Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth ScottStealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Dani has been trained as a thief by the best--her mother. Together, they move from town to town, targeting wealthy homes and making a living by stealing antique silver. They never stay in one place long enough to make real connections, real friends--a real life

In the beach town of Heaven, though, everything changes. For the first time, Dani starts to feel at home. She's making friends and has even met a guy. But these people can never know the real Dani--because of who she is. When it turns out that her new friend lives in the house they've targeted for their next job and the cute guy is a cop, Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she's always known--or the one she's always wanted.

Thoughts: I was surprised by Stealing Heaven. I picked it up expecting a cheery, chick-lit read – Ocean’s Eleven a-la-Sophie-Kinsella. That would have been great, but what Scott delivers is about 20x better. Stealing Heaven is a serious book. Dani grows up with a mother who has indoctrinated her into a life of crime – a life that Dani is just not meant for. She’s never been to school, never been able to tell anyone her real name, never had any friends – and, on top of that, there’s her absent father and her mother’s manic relationship with thievery. Less than ideal is putting it mildly.

But even as Dani’s mom behaves in ways unbefitting a mother, Dani is able to recognise why her mother her is behaving so thoughtlessly. It’s really easy for a teen to just turn around and hate their parents – but Dani doesn’t because, even as a teen, she can see her mother with the eyes of an adult. I read this book wishing I could hate her mom – but I just couldn’t. It is fantastic, and adds a whole new level to what could have been a simple break-away-from-your-family book.

Stealing Heaven is about a girl working out who she is, and what that means for her family. About a girl who has to wake up, take her head out of the sand, and truly examine her life. She doesn’t do it for a boy – although she does have an extremely influential romance with, get this, a cop – and she doesn’t do it for a friend – although she makes pals with a lovely girl along the way. Dani changes her life for herself, and it is wonderful to read.

Bottom line?  A fantastic contemporary read for young adults. This book is sweet, sad, and thoughtful – you’ll love it.  I can’t wait to read more by Elizabeth Scott!

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn ChildsForgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Series: Fins #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 293
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Thoughts: Wow, is that summary ever… perky! Let me confirm – the writing in Forgive My Fins is about as cheesy and pun-ridden as its summary. Very cute, and very simple to read. If you know a Middle Grader who wishes she were a teen, well, she’d love this book.

Forgive my Fins was really quite cute. It was as Technicolor as its cover and was set in a fishy world that was extremely unique. Think The Little Mermaid, but in jeans and wearing lip gloss. Fun Fun Fun!  I really enjoyed the adorable verse and could have swum right into it, had the pages allowed!

But, God, were the characters – and plot – ever simple: X loves Y who is in love with Z (who is kinda annoying). But wait! Y sees the error of her ways after spending time with X. And they all swim off happily ever after.  The End!

Admittedly, this could be done brilliantly, but in Forgive My Fins it was just done… simply. Nothing truly bad ever happens to any of the characters, and reaching the final happy ending simply took patience. No baddies running in to ruin the day, just a girl who needed time to to come to her senses. This – along with the writing – is what made it a Middle Grade book for me.

On the other hand, Lily is actually a pretty fair (albeit fishy) representation of a typical teenager. She thinks she knows what she wants – she even claims to be in love – but she hasn’t a clue. Even though this ended with an OTP, it does remind you that not all teen love is meant to last – half the time it only exists in your head!

Bottom line? Very fun, light-hearted read.  If you are looking for something to perk you up, look no further!  Just don’t expect a serious discussion about the complete and utter decimation of the world’s fisheries… or a serious discussion about anything, really.

To those of you who have already read it: What was with that last chapter??? Bizarre.

Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Review: Boy Meets Boy by David LevithanBoy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Published by HarperCollins on 2009-02-19
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Thoughts: This was a lovely book.  Short, sweet and, well, lovely.

When I bought Boy Meets Boy I was somewhat skeptical.  I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a book where the world was happy! with sunshine!and flowers! But, luckily, Levithan must have had the same thought.  Because although Paul’s high school is a gay kid’s dream come true – the rest of the world in the book is certainly not like that.  What Paul considers “normal” is a luxury to everyone else – including his new boyfriend Noah.  I think this scene between Noah and Paul kinda sums it up:

“Have you always known?” he asks.  I know immediately what he’s talking about.
“Pretty much so, yeah,” I answer.  “You?”
He nods, […].
“Has it been easy for you?”
“Yes,” I tell him, because it’s the truth.
“It hasn’t always been easy for me,” he says, then says no more.
– Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, pg. 49

So while watching Paul come to the realisation that dude, did he ever luck out – there is also plenty of drama without all that pesky coming-out business.  Guys can be idiots, even when they are dating other guys.  And just because you don’t have to worry about getting bashed doesn’t mean you can’t royally screw up.  Which Paul does.  Very successfully.

I was also very impressed by Levithan’s writing style.  This is a short novel, filled with a rich and diverse cast of characters – Levithan made each of them shine bright.  Not to mention his writing style is elegant as hell and some of his ideas are out of another world.  The book opens with the boys dancing on a night out – in a bookstore.  Honestly, how brilliant is that?

Bottom line? This is a lovely, elegant tale.  Short and sweet, I was loath to put it down.

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. Jenkins

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. JenkinsBeating Heart by A. M. Jenkins
Published by HarperTeen on 2009-08-25
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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She is a ghost: a figure glimpsed from the corner of your eye, a momentary chill, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is 17 years old: Evan Calhoun, warm and alive, and ever since moving to this big abandoned house, he has dreamt of her. Ghost and boy fascinate each other–until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both.

Combining verse fragments with chiseled prose, A. M. Jenkins captures the compelling voice of a long–dead ghost and the perspective of a modern teen, twining mystery and romance in this evocative, sensual, and unrelentingly engrossing novel.

Thoughts: Beating Heart is a short, haunting novel with left me equal parts disturbed and impressed. This is not your average YA novel: there is no garunteed happily ever after, and no love-conquers-all message. This might look like a book about love, but it is not.

Beating Heart is all about sex. The lies we tell to have it, the lies we tell ourselves to keep having it, and the serious damage it can do to a person’s life. Not pregnancy or STDs, but the psycological consequences of sex. And it is not a pretty picture.

Honestly, although I was vaguely disturbed by this book – I’d give it to a teen in a heartbeat. Because, honestly, life is not simple and love doesn’t last forever. It is far too easy to hurt people you’ve cared for, especially the ones you are sleeping with.

Even if this somewhat ominous review has turned you off, give this book a shot. It will take a regular reader only an hour or so to finish, and will put the other novels on your shelves into perspective.

Bottom line? A unique twist on the YA fantasy on the market, Beating Heart is a haunting novel which will change how you read YA.

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