Hanging By A Thread – Sophie Littlefield

Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year’s Fourth of July festival won’t see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects.

The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing’s wrong.  And they’re not the only ones hiding something. 

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people’s pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year’s Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.  In a town where appearance means everything, how deep beneath the surface will Clare dig to uncover a murderer?

When I read the above blurb for Hanging By A Thread, I thought it sounded like it could be my cup of tea – I really enjoyed Littlefield’s Aftertime series, and while I didn’t realize that this one was YA, that didn’t put me off. Littlefield has an engaging style of writing that transcends age or genre, so I thought I could probably trust her on this one.

It’s very much a YA novel though, and those aren’t exactly my cup of tea. There is a lot of inner chatter, and the main character is a talented and creative seamstress who spends vast amounts of time thinking about clothes and working with them. Some of this was really interesting, but for a woman lacking in style like me, it probably wasn’t the best match up.

That said, I actually enjoyed the book. It was a fun, lightweight read that I burned through very quickly. I really liked Clare, and I loved the idea of psychometry that was linked only to clothing. The fact that she is willing to risk learning things she doesn’t want to, shows just how important this passion for clothes of hers is. I enjoyed reading about her conflict between wanting to fit into this small town, as well as her desire to stay true to who she is. The cast of characters were your typical tight knit community and I wasn’t sure who the killer it was revealed near the end.

So in summary, this book is a nice blend of cozy mystery and paranormal YA romance, which isn’t something I have seen much of, but definitely think there is a market for. Worth a read, in any event 🙂

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The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse – review

What happens when we die? 

This has been the third question on mankind’s FAQ list since the dawn of time (numbers one and two being: Is this edible? and Excuse me, would you care to breed?). 

I know what happens. Believe me, I’d rather not. But I do. 

There is a lighthouse, and it guides our souls along the narrow path to being reborn as humans. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, as my undead granddad and the Tibetan special mission monk in my kitchen have kindly told me, there’s a problem with the lighthouse. And if the world is to be saved, someone needs to fix it.  Which is where I come in: George Larson, eighteen years old. Who could possibly be better suited to save the world? 

Well, almost anyone. Especially as being a teenage guy is nothing at all about question three but all about questions one and two.  And really, that’s complicated enough as it is.

This is the first release from new publisher on the block Steam Press, by Swedish author, Fredrik Brounéus. Firmly set in the landscape of the South Island of New Zealand, it brings together fantasy elements with science fiction, and perhaps what some might consider horror elements – I mean, it has a zombie, though he only seems to be worried about his next coffee fix. Your brains are safe.

From the get-go, this book was making me smile. The main character, George, is very likable, and Brounéus has nailed the late teen, kiwi male perspective. He made for an amusing protagonist, and one that I could get behind. I wanted him to ‘win’ though I wasn’t sure what that might entail, being that there is a great deal of mystery surrounding what it is he’s meant to be doing.

I was drawn right into that mystery, and had to read on to find out what on earth was going on. Eventually all the clues, hints and suggestions become clear in a grand reveal that blew my mind. LOVE the concepts in this book, though I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to ruin it for you. If you like your humor mixed with some action, some mysticism, philosophy and science, then I think you might really enjoy this book. I adored the footnotes (a really nice change from reading footnotes in research articles!), the drawings and the easy to engage with style that this book is written in.

If you are keen to check it out, head over to Steam Press and read a sample!

Pure Blood – Melissa Pearl

It is only a matter of time before Gemma’s parents find out she traveled through time to bring Harrison back into existence. The fear of being found out is a heavy weight on her shoulders, but she refuses to give up on everything she’s fought for. Harrison is worth the risk. 

The couple draws closer together as they battle opposing forces from all sides. They stay strong until Gemma’s parents welcome an exchange student into their home. Simeon, a gorgeous Californian, is as smooth as coffee and, supposedly, a fellow time spirit. Gemma’s parents expect her to take him everywhere and, of course, fall in love with him. After all, he is the boy they have chosen for her. 

No longer able to sneak off alone, Gemma must watch every step as she waits for the inevitable nightmare to catch up to her. Her parents ultimate goal is to get that last necklace and open the box hidden in their safe. If they do, Gemma knows her entire world will unravel. 

As the danger mounts, Gemma must decide if she has the courage to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the ones she loves and stop to her parents’ destructive plans.

Pure Blood (Time Spirit Trilogy) is the third and final (for now) book in the series, which finally answers the question that has been threaded throughout books one and two – what are Gemma’s parents up to?

I have to say that I was surprised! I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this – it’s fabulous when an author can surprise the reader, and I felt like Melissa did. The escalation of violence and erratic behaviour from her parents, and the exchange student they planted into Gemma’s life made things very difficult for her, but those were not the only challenges faced in this book, because Harrison’s mother suddenly goes cold on Gemma, and neither her, or Harrison, can figure out why. The two struggle to figure out who they really are, and what that means for themselves as individuals, as well as a couple.

There were a lot of threads to be tied up in the book, and while some of them were obvious, there were plenty of surprises – not everything is as you might suspect. I don’t really want to say too much, because I would hate to give the ending away, but this is a great finale to the series, and I was really satisfied with how it was wrapped up. Gemma is an amazing girl, and my heart broke for her several times during this book. Still, she stayed true to herself, and pushed on despite the odds. If you’ve read the first two books in this series, then you NEED to read this one. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Melissa Pearl puts out next, and you can be sure I’ll be grabbing a copy, whatever it turns out to be.

Black Blood – by Melissa Pearl

Synopsis:

Gemma’s parents have put enough rules around her relationship with Harrison that she feels like she’s living on parole. But she wins one battle—a summer job working for Harrison’s step-father. It is the perfect chance to spend the steamy, hot Florida days with her boyfriend. It’s also a great distraction from the cell phone hiding in her underwear drawer—her only contact with Gabe, the mystery man who’s stalking her.

When she confronts Gabe, he tells her that her parents are not who she thinks they are, and Harrison has the gall to believe him. Surrounded by conflict, Gemma doesn’t know what to believe, and it takes a trip back in time for her to glimpse the sickening truth.

Thanks to her parents, she returns to the present to find the love of her life no longer exists. His family line was broken and now, so is she.

This betrayal forces her to seek out Gabe. Setting aside her fear of the truth, she must trust this man and learn what he can teach her… otherwise, she’ll never get her boyfriend back.

My thoughts:

Betrayal by those you love is something that hurts the most. That is what Gemma experiences when her parents intervene in something close to Gemma, because they have her best interests at heart. What Gemma doesn’t realise is that it is all for their own gain. They want their daughter to be solely focussed of them, and their needs of her.

I just love the way that Gemma and Gabe’s relationship forms. There are snippets in there that can be confusing to Gemma, but that are so sentimental to Gabe. You, as the reader, wonder what on earth he has been doing all of her life… Yes, Harrison is trusting of him, and that seriously upsets Gemma, but without that trust, she never would have had the guts to go against her own family code and trust a stranger.

Melissa Pearl has done an amazing job with the second book of the Time Spirit Trilogy. Personally, I feel that this book is even better than the first, but without the first, the story would be incomplete. (Don’t get me wrong – I really LOVED the first book as well!) I can’t wait to read the final instalment! I simply have to know what on earth is going on with certain character motivations.

Heist Society – Ally Carter

Synopsis: 

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My thoughts: 

I loved this book, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.
Actually… what I loved most about this book was the main character – Kat, and the web of lies and deception that she is caught in with her friends and family.

Kat is a thief. Her whole family are thieves, and they are also thick as thieves. Kat has tried to leave the family and their little projects though, and has started boarding school.
Little does she know, but her father is in some serious trouble when a very bad man has his art collection stolen out from under him, and blames Kat’s father. Now Kat is the only one who is talented enough to prove his innocence.
Her… and the rest of the heist society that she puts together to pull the job off.

This is a definite must read for anyone who enjoys a bit of a thrill, a good laugh, great young women with attitude, and a bit of adventure.

Enjoy!

To see other reviews of this book – here are a couple that I have found:

Golden Blood – Melissa Pearl

Gemma Hart never knows when her father is going to whisk her back in time. Her toes start tingling and she has a few minutes to find a secret haven where she can disintegrate and appear in another time and place. While “across the line,” her training and skills are put to the test as she completes a mission that will change history for the lucky few her father has selected.

Gemma’s parents are adamant that secrecy is paramount to her family’s safety. If people knew what they were capable of, they could be “used and abused”, as her mother always says. Afraid she might accidentally utter the truth and break the ancient oath of her people, Gemma spends her school days as a loner. Only one thing can throw her sheltered life askew… Harrison Granger.

Meet Gemma, a teenager who really is different from all of the others around her. So much so, she secludes herself. Gemma can travel through time – in fact – her whole family can. This is a secret that has been passed through generations and centuries, and something that they all keep very quiet about.

But when Harrison finds himself running from a spot of trouble, and ends up hiding in the same spot as Gemma, something engages between them, and he just can’t stop thinking about her. This attraction to her becomes almost obsessive, and as Harrison chases her, Gemma runs. Reluctanctly.

She knows that she is not allowed to enter into a relationship with a normal human, but for some reason, she just can’t resist Harrison’s charm and wit. And neither can the reader.

None of this bodes too well for either character. As their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them, until it’s almost too late.

I suggest picking up this book for a good read. It’s entertaining, engaging, and has some great characters. You can feel these characters growing with strength as you turn each page. But you also fear for them as you see the dark underbelly of the past looming before them.

A fabulous first book in the trilogy, that sets up the rest of the Time Spirit Trilogy nicely. I rate this novel as 4 stars.

Well done Ms. Pearl – you are on your way to a 5 star debut trilogy. I’ll be a fan for life 🙂

Golden Blood – Melissa Pearl

This book is better than Twilight. I can say that honestly because I read both books in the same week and I found this one both better written, and more engaging – not to mention the fact that the characters are easier to like.

Gemma Hart never knows when her father is going to whisk her back in time. Her toes start tingling and she has a few minutes to find a secret haven where she can disintegrate and appear in another time and place. While “across the line,” her training and skills are put to the test as she completes a mission that will change history for the lucky few her father has selected. 

Gemma’s parents are adamant that secrecy is paramount to her family’s safety. If people knew what they were capable of, they could be “used and abused”, as her mother always says. Afraid she might accidentally utter the truth and break the ancient oath of her people, Gemma spends her school days as a loner. Only one thing can throw her sheltered life askew… Harrison Granger.

Harrison never expected to talk to the strange Hart girl, but after a brief encounter he can’t stop thinking about her. He begins a campaign to chisel away her icy veneer and is met with unexpected consequences. As he slowly wins this girl over, he enters a surreal world that has him fighting to keep his newfound love and his life.

This is one of those instances where I am forever grateful for my wonderful writer friends, because if it wasn’t for Leigh, I may never have known about this book. It’s a very easy read, and I quickly got captured by the characters and their story.

Gemma is an awkward teenager, very aware of her weaknesses. It is only at the prompting of her family, and an encounter with Harrison, that gets her to come out of her shell a little bit – she sees that her older brother and sister are living and enjoying life, so why shouldn’t she? The problem is that she can’t help but be honest, and finds balancing her secret life with her regular life very difficult – it’s not long before Harrison has literally fallen in too deep, and Gemma finds the foundations of her world shaken.

I really enjoyed the relationships in this book – it was great to see a main character whose family unit is in tact and fairly functional as well. They are a regular family, apart from the whole disappearing in a shower of gold and going back in time bizzo. I also liked that Gemma has more skills when it comes to the fighting side of life than Harrison, who is a little in awe of her – but not so much that he feels unworthy of her attentions. There is a nice balance between them.

This is a very easy read. If you like fast paced YA urban fantasy with a strong set of characters and want to explore a new writer, then I thoroughly recommend that you check this one out – it’s the perfect time, because Book Two in the series is out in just a few days now, and I hear that Book Three will be released early next year. I know I’ll be checking them out.