Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I was not familiar with this series until I perused the entries in the 2012 YA Crush Tournament.  I was still trying to select our September book of the month, so I thought...what better place to look than a tournament promoting all of our favorite YA Males. 

Noah Shaw IMMEDIATELY caught my attention.  I am a sucker for an English boy.  Add in the fact that he is from a wealthy family, is very smart and well educated, witty, and a bit of a bad boy...I was sold.  I was certainly not disappointed.  Noah exceeded my expectations.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer begins with our protagonist Mara waking up in a hospital.  She was involved in an accident that left her best friend, boyfriend of only a couple of months, and his sister all dead.  She has no memory of the accident or the evening that led up to it.

She begins having nightmares about the accident and is starting to recall bits and pieces of that evening.  She then starts having perceived delusions and hallucinations.  Her family decides to move to Miami, Florida to give her a fresh start.  They enroll Mara and her older brother Daniel at Croyden, a private school, which is where she meets Noah.

I do not want to give away any spoilers, so I will simply say there are a series of unusual events that occur and Mara always seems to be involved.  She thinks she is going completely crazy.  She doesn't know what is Real or Not Real.  (For my fellow Hunger Games fans...I would suggest that she use Peeta's game, but I don't think even that will help.)  What any reasonable person would think is Not Real really is Real.

I have never read any book even remotely like this.  I was completely riveted and LOVE, LOVE, LOVED all of the characters.  Not just Mara and Noah, but her brothers Daniel and Joseph as well.  Her relationship with them and their willingness to go above and beyond to help each other was touching.  Mara's only other friend besides Noah is Jamie.  He was equally as captivating, but not in the hot English boy sort of way.  He is the nerdy guy who befriends her on her first day of school.  His insight on the happenings at the school and his opinions of their clasmates greatly added to the story.

There are some shocking twists that take place the last third of the book.  We learn more about Noah and can appreciate why he is drawn to Mara.  They appear to be soulmates and I can only hope that they will be able to bring a sense of normalcy and understanding into each other's lives.

I will be reading The Evolution of Mara Dyer as soon as it is released on October 23rd.  There is so much more for Mara and Noah to discover and I am dying to see what happens next.  It has been a few months since I have given a book 5* on Good Reads, but this one is more than deserving.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys a good paranormal story with a contemporary setting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Simple Genius by David Baldacci

Simple Genius is the third book in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, Sean and Michelle were both formerly members of the Secret Service.  At the end of the first book, Split Second, they decided to open their own firm and are working together to solve crimes.

The beginning of this book took a VERY different twist.  Michelle appears to have come unraveled, which results in an "incident".  This leads to her seeking treatment from a psychologist friend of Sean's by the name of Horatio Barnes.  This was a HUGE surprise to me.  Michelle is the ultimate overachiever and has a very strong head on her shoulders.  I could not understand why Baldacci took this angle with Michelle, but by the end of the book we have a much stronger understanding and appreciation of her character.

Sean is hired to investigate what was deemed to be a suicide by Monk Turing, a very respected scientist from Babbage Town.  Babbage Town is a residential research compound located across the river from Camp Peary, a top secret CIA facility.  Monk's body was found at Camp Peary.  The owners of Babbage Town did not believe Monk's death was a suicide and wanted to further investigate the situation. Shortly after Sean began working the case, another Babbage Town employee Sean had been questioning was murdered.  It became clear to Sean that someone was trying to eliminate all potential evidence before he could uncovering it and would stop at nothing short of murder.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of the King and Maxwell books I have read up to this point, but there is one thing that is driving me CRAZY.  These two are OBVIOUSLY attracted to each other.  They are both single, they are subtly dropping clues to each other about their interest, but NOTHING ever materializes.  Will these two ever develop more than a professional relationship?  Perhaps now that Horatio has discovered Michelle's past secrets, he will be able to help her get to a point in her life where a personal relationship will appeal to her.  I don't think she will have to look far to find a person of interest who will reciprocate her feelings.  I certainly hope this is one of the plot lines that will develop in First Family, which is the fourth of the five books currently available in this series.