Retro Friday: Clockwork Heart

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I already posted about how I was able to get a copy of Clockwork Heart but in case you didn’t see it, Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog generously sent me a copy when she found out that I was interested in reading this book.

Here’s the summary from Dru Pagliassotti’s website:

Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus — a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on the governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharp-tongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in Ondinium’s lowest sector. Both hide dangerous secrets, in this city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart…

I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuilding and to understand the terms that go with it. This steampunk novel is set in a fictional country where there’s a strict caste system. Only the icarii, couriers who can fly using metal wings, can move freely across all castes. It’s funny because I’m afraid of heights but I would love to try flying using those icarus wings. Taya is an icarus who suddenly gets involved in Ondinium’s politics when she rescues the wife and son of one of the country’s most powerful leaders. Taya was an easy character to like, she’s a no-nonsense type of person who strives to be the best that she can be in her job. She loves to travel, which is fitting since she’s an icarus, and longs to be assigned as an envoy in other countries. Another character that I liked right from the start is grouchy, sarcastic Cristof who’s the exact opposite of his handsome and charming brother Alister. Cristof is a member of the highest caste in the country but he chose to turn his back on his prestigious lifestyle. He works as a clockwright instead because he’s fascinated with the inner workings of clocks and other mechanical devices. I think he’s the steampunk equivalent of a nerd and I found him endearing. Cristof’s geeky charm trumps Alister’s suave moves. Another intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship between these two brothers and how they do what they can for the other person even though they have such different views in life.

There were some parts of the novel that went way over my head like the mechanics of the icarii’s metal wings and the discussions about programming and subroutines. Programs what? But those things didn’t pull me out of the story so I didn’t really mind them. There’s a lot of action, some mystery and political intrigue in Clockwork Heart, which made it such a fun book to read. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed reading this because I’m a fan of political intrigue in fiction. You really don’t have to be into steampunk to like this novel and I have a feeling most fantasy fans would take pleasure in reading Clockwork Heart. I was able to predict one of the plot points and had an “I knew it!” moment but all of the other events were a surprise. It’s only the middle of the year but I have a feeling that this book will make it to my best of 2011 list. I really don’t understand why it’s out of print. I heard that there’s a second book in the works and I’d love to read that as soon as it becomes available. Read this if you get the chance, it deserves to get more attention!

Other reviews:
Janicu’s Book Blog
See Michelle Read
The Book Smugglers

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for this year. I always thought I was more into epic fantasy than anything else but Ilona Andrews changed my mind and this series has become my favorite when it comes to urban fantasy. This review will contain spoilers for the previous books so don’t proceed unless you’ve read the others. Even the book’s summary is spoiler so pick up the other books in the series first before you read this one, I promise, you won’t regret it. Reading order of the books: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be — now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price…

I devoured the first four books in this series last year and proceeded to read everything that Ilona Andrews has written. I read Magic Slays as soon as I can because it feels good to be back in Kate Daniels’ world. Everything that I loved in the other books is present in this one: the detailed worldbuilding with a different set of villains and mythology in each book (in this one, it’s Russian mythology), the characters who change and develop throughout the course of the series and the witty banter that had me laughing out loud. There’s also the magic vs. technology situation that’s always interesting.

What I really liked about Magic Slays is how the authors keep building on the world that they created, slowly revealing information to move the story along. We get to know more about Kate’s past but there’s still enough mystery to make readers speculate. I’m sure there will be more (and probably bigger) revelations in the next book. I also really enjoyed seeing the development in Kate and Curran’s relationship. Yes, it’s been established that they’re mated and we all know that they’re meant to be together but I loved seeing them work through the problems that rise up because they’re both complicated people with a lot of issues. Just when you think you couldn’t love Curran more, he goes off to do and say things that are unexpectedly sweet. Kate’s tendency to be a lone wolf makes it difficult for her to connect with anyone – her mate, her best friend, her ward and friends from the pack – and even though she’s mellowed out in this installment, it’s still not easy for her. Add to all that the usual amount of butt-kicking action than can be expected from someone like Kate Daniels and her circle of friends and you’re in for a book that you wouldn’t be able to put down.

The other day, I was telling friends who are also fans of the series that maybe it would have been a good idea to wait for all of the books to be out before I started reading them. But then I realized that I wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun and I enjoy discussing these books too much not to read them as they’re released. I just need to learn to be patient and wait for the next installment after reading this. At this point, if you’re an Ilona Andrews fan then there’s nothing more that I can say because you probably have this book in your TBR pile already. If you’ve never heard of the series or you’re thinking of reading it (boo, you’ve seen the spoilers!), I hope you get to do so soon because the Kate Daniels books are awesome. I gobbled up Magic Slays and it still left me hungry for more. I think the stage is nicely set for the next two books in the series and as always, I can’t wait to read them.

Other reviews:
Lurv a la Mode

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I think I’ve mentioned in the blog before that I’m not a big fan of dystopian books but since so many blogging buddies loved the Chaos Walking trilogy, I decided to give it a try. I received all three books for my birthday this year.

Here’s the summary from Patrick Ness’ website:

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

I think the UK editions are so pretty, look:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a very absorbing read. Each chapter end was written in such a way that it encourages you to keep on reading and I think that’s the mark of an excellent writer. Other people warned me that the language might take some getting used to. Todd’s lack of education is clearly reflected in the way he narrates but that didn’t bother me at all. Patrick Ness created a very intriguing world with this trilogy and it reminded me somewhat of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria. Todd was believable as a boy on the cusp of manhood, as innocent as his foster fathers can keep him and clueless about his town’s past. He has no idea of what’s real and what’s not in his world. When he discovers something unexpected, he has no choice but to run, together with his accidental friend, Viola. My favorite character in the entire book is Manchee, Todd’s dog. I feel like if dogs could communicate with their masters, they’d act exactly like Manchee. At first I found him hilarious because he acted the same way as Dug, the talking dog in the Pixar film Up with his constant shouts of “Squirrel!” before running after the smaller animal. Manchee is a steadfast companion and the best friend any boy could ever have.

To be honest, I was hoping I’d love this just as much as my blogging friends did but that didn’t happen (please don’t hate me!). I really liked it but it didn’t make me emotional, which is what other readers experienced. Others had really violent reactions to this book: they cried, they wanted to throw it against a wall, they had to pause before they could continue reading. I feel like I was more of a casual observer and I was kind of detached from the characters instead of being fully engrossed. And I can’t even explain why. There wasn’t anything specific that pulled me out of the story, I just wasn’t sucked in. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m missing the dystopian gene? Why do I end up just liking the post-apocalyptic books that others love? But then again, I loved The Hunger Games and The Giver so maybe it really is just a matter of taste. Like I said, this is a really good book with excellent writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dystopian lit, I just wanted to explain why I didn’t love it. I’m still looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy since I already have copies and I am curious about what will happen to Todd and the rest of the characters. I just don’t think I will be as enthusiastic about this series as the rest of the fans are.

Other reviews:
See Michelle Read
One More Page
Good Books and Good Wine
The Crooked Shelf

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

I don’t know why I waited so long to read Heart’s Blood because I’ve been a fan of Juliet Marillier ever since I read her Sevenwaters series. Also, this one is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite fairy tale and I always enjoy reading retellings of it.

Here’s the summary from Juliet Marillier’s website:

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; the woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

And yet the derelict fortress is a safe haven for Caitrin, the troubled young scribe who is fleeing her own demons. Despite Anluan’s tempers and the mysterious secrets housed in the dark corridors, this long-feared place provides the refuge she so desperately needs.

As time passes, Caitrin learns there is more to the broken young man and his unusual household than she realised. It may be only through her love and determination that the curse can be lifted and Anluan and his people set free…

Let me just say that I love the cover above showing a girl standing in front of a mirror in a library. The library and mirrors play major roles in the story so it’s an appropriate cover design. Heart’s Blood is a haunting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I was surprised by how different the whole atmosphere in this one was compared to the Sevenwaters series. This one is much darker with a mysterious curse surrounding the chieftain of Whistling Tor, Anluan. Caitrin discovers the place while she’s running away from her own problems. Desperate to be employed as a scribe, she willingly works for Anluan transcribing family documents. This is a perfect professional set-up for both – Caitrin knows not a lot of people will employ a female scribe and most people are afraid to visit Whistling Tor, let alone live and work there. As she learns the secrets of the area, Caitrin becomes determined to find a way to break the curse. I liked that Caitrin is a scribe, she was trained by her father who had the same profession, which is unusual in a world where women focus on domestic duties. I also liked that Caitrin has a complicated past and in the course of getting to know Anluan, she learns how to deal with her own troubles. This is retelling where Beauty does not just help the Beast but has to overcome other difficulties in her own life. The secondary characters were also well-developed and I liked how they had their own stories but they’re united by their loyalty to Anluan.

I was able to predict part of the outcome of the story and as a result, I wasn’t wowed by this story like I was expecting. I’m a fan of unexpected events that blow me away. I also would have loved the interactions between Caitrin and Anluan to have more depth – I felt like the two of them didn’t have enough scenes together and I wasn’t as invested in their love story as I would’ve liked. Though darker than her other books, Juliet Marillier’s writing in Heart’s Blood retains its standard beautiful and lyrical flow. While this book didn’t displace my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling from its position (the title belongs to Beauty by Robin McKinley), I still enjoyed reading this and I hope that Juliet Marillier will continue to write retellings for other fairy tales. She already has retellings for The Six Swans (Daughter of the Forest) and Twelve Dancing Princesses (Wildwood Dancing) but I’d love to read more. I guess I’m just glad that I still have a couple of books from her backlist to go through. I fell in love with her writing in the Sevenwaters series and I can’t get enough of it, even if I don’t end up loving her other books. Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings or readers of dark, haunting fantasy.

PS: I loved that The Book Smugglers has a quote on the back cover. Yay Ana and Thea! Here’s a picture:

Other reviews:
The Eager Readers
See Michelle Read
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Chime by Franny Billingsley

I’ve never read a book by Franny Billingsley before and I’ve been hearing good things about Chime so when I saw a copy available at a local bookstore, I decided to grab it. I just wanted to say that I don’t think the cover goes with the story – the girl doesn’t look like the Briony in my mind even though she does have blonde hair and dark eyes. For some reason, the cover suggests a paranormal YA book to me rather than historical fantasy. Just wanted to bring that up in case some of you are hesitant to pick up the book because of the cover.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

The writing in this one takes some getting used to and I’m not sure how to describe it exactly but let me just say that Briony’s voice is unique. It took me a couple of chapters before I was fully immersed in the story and I didn’t have a hard time finishing the book when I got to that point. Briony is such an interesting character! She hates herself because she believes she’s done wicked things. She’s very matter of fact about not liking herself and even people around her like her twin sister Rose and her father. Briony also knows that she’s smarter than a lot of people and that a wicked girl like her can get away with sarcastic remarks all the time. Along comes Eldric, a young man from the city, and everything changes when he fits into their lives so effortlessly. I really liked this novel because of the characters, I thought that Briony hating herself would get on my nerves eventually but that never happened. I still liked her. I also found Rose charming and some of her comments and actions even made me smile. While I didn’t develop a fictional crush on Eldric, I did like how his friendship with Briony developed through secret bad boy meetings and wanderings in the swamp.

The swamp setting is also refreshingly different. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where a swamp plays a major role in the story. And swamps are generally described as disgusting, not beautiful like it was in this book. All sorts of interesting creatures called the Old Ones live in the swamp. It’s a dangerous place and people need to carry Bible Balls for protection when they venture to this place. Briony loves it though because she’s friends with the Old Ones and she becomes wolfgirl when she’s in the swamp, exploring everything in a stealthy way. I was expecting to fall in love with Chime and even though that didn’t happen, I still enjoyed reading it and it has made me curious about Franny Billingsley’s other novels. I feel like Chime would grow on me and I’d like it a lot better as a reread because I wouldn’t have to adjust to the writing when I pick it up again. Although with a mountain of a TBR pile, I have no idea when I’ll get around to rereading this. Recommended for fans of YA fantasy, especially those who prefer a historical setting.

Because I can’t adequately describe the writing style, here’s a non-spoilery sample from the prologue:

I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.

I don’t mean to be difficult, but I can’t bear to tell my story. I can’t relive those memories — the touch of the Dead Hand, the smell of eel, the gulp and swallow of the swamp. How can you possibly think me innocent? Don’t let my face fool you; it tells the worst lies. A girl can have the face of an angel but have a horrid sort of heart.

I know you believe you’re giving me a chance — or, rather, it’s the Chime Child giving me the chance. She’s desperate, of course, not to hang an innocent girl again, but please believe me: Nothing in my story will absolve me of guilt. It will only prove what I’ve already told you, which is that I’m wicked. Can’t the Chime Child take my word for it?

In any event, where does she expect me to begin? The story of a wicked girl has no true beginning. I’d have to begin with the day I was born.

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Book Aunt
ALPHA Reader
Once Upon a Faye

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier

The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier is a booked that I bought based on the joint recommendation of the Book Smugglers. The premise was interesting and based on the Smugglers’ review, it seemed like the kind of YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Plus, I heard from both Charlotte and Chelle that they also enjoyed reading this one so that sealed the deal.

Here’s the summary from Rachel Neumeier’s website:

The Kingdom’s Heart is the City. The City’s heart is the King. The King’s heart is the Prince. The Prince is missing.

Ever since the Prince disappeared, nothing has been right in the Kingdom. Something has disturbed the strange, old magic that whispers around its borders… something cunning and powerful. And the disturbance extends to the farthest reaches of the Kingdom, including the idyllic village where Timou is learning to be a mage under her father’s tutelage.

When Timou’s father journeys to the City to help look for the Prince, but never returns, Timou senses that the disturbance in the Kingdom is linked to her – and to the undiscovered heritage of the mother she never knew. She must leave her village, even if it means confronting powers greater than her own, even though what she finds may challenge everything she knows. Even if it means leaving love behind.

The City in the Lake is a quest-type YA fantasy novel. The whole kingdom starts to fall apart with the disappearance of the young Prince. Magic starts to go awry and mages have no idea why. Timou is a young woman raised by her mage father in an isolated village. When trouble reaches even their remote area, her father goes back to the city to investigate. When he doesn’t return, it’s up to Timou to discover what happened and she knows that her quest is tied with her search for the mother that she never knew. I’m going to start with the things that I liked in this book. It was easy to fall into the world created by Rachel Neumeier, I didn’t have a hard time reading this book. I liked both Timou and the Bastard as characters, which is a good thing since the point of view of the story changes from one character to another. Timou isn’t your typical YA fantasy heroine because her strength lies in her powers as a mage. I enjoyed being inside Timou’s head because I think the author did a good job of portraying how a mage’s mind works – how a mage sees his or her surroundings and how that is tied to the magic in the world. I also liked the Bastard because he was such a subtle character – he’s powerful in his own way and the people aren’t sure what to make of him, they don’t understand whether he’s good or evil and if he has anything to do with the disappearance of his half-brother.

However, I was already halfway through the book when I realized that it wasn’t as compelling as I would’ve liked. I kept waiting to be blown away but it just didn’t happen. It’s really a shame because when I think about it, there isn’t anything wrong with the book, it’s just that I didn’t feel like it was strong enough to pull me in and hold me, you know? I knew it wouldn’t have much staying power and I guess I was right because it’s been a few days since I’ve read this and I can’t recall all of the details anymore. I don’t know if it’s because my expectations were too high but I’m sad that I didn’t like it as much as I was hoping to. As always, I encourage the rest of you epic fantasy readers to give this one a try even if I had a lukewarm reaction to it because based on the other reviews that I linked below, I’m in the minority with how I felt.

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Charlotte’s Library
Tempting Persephone

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Once Upon a Time V Challenge

This year, I already signed up for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge and I told myself that I would only join one challenge this year so I won’t have a hard time finishing it. But then I saw Chelle’s starting line post for the Once Upon a Time V challenge and I was tempted. Once Upon a Time is a challenge hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. I did the challenge last year and I was able to accomplish what I originally signed up for. Since I read a lot of fantasy anyway, I think it would be a good idea to participate again this year.

Here are the rules:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: Have fun.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

Initially, I was only going to do The Journey, which only requires a person to read one book but then I decided to go with what I went for last year – Quest the First.

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

That looks like something I’ll be able to manage. Yay, I’m excited to read the books that will fall under this challenge. Reviews are posted here if you want to check them out. Some of my possibles for this challenge:

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

So the full title is Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception but I think it’s also widely known as Lament. I was looking forward to reading this because there’s a lot of buzz for Maggie Stiefvater’s books and I’m always ready to read more about faeries. But at the same time, I was also hesitant because this book was likened to Holly Black and Melissa Marr’s books and I wasn’t really enthralled by those books. When I saw that there was only one copy left in National Bookstore’s Trinoma branch, I thought I should just go ahead and grab it as well as the sequel, Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie.

Here’s the summary from Maggie Stiefvater’s website:

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. When a mysterious boy enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of nowhere, Deirdre finds herself infatuated. Trouble is, the enigmatic and conflicted Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin—and Deirdre is meant to be his next mark. Deirdre has to decide if Luke’s feelings towards her are real, or only a way to lure her deeper into the world of Faerie.

Isn’t the cover pretty? I love the simple black and green theme and of course the four-leaf clovers raining on the cover is entirely appropriate to the story. Oh Maggie Stiefvater (I saw on her website FAQs that it’s pronounced as Steve-otter), you’ve given me hope! I was starting to think that maybe I was lacking the gene that would enable me to appreciate urban fantasy novels. Stephenie Meyer, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Melissa Marr. I’ve given them all a try and I wanted to love their books but for some reason, they were just okay for me. But I really really liked Lament. I’m not sure though if I should list it in my Favorite Books, I’ll probably read Ballad first before I decide. I’m sorely tempted to buy Shiver now. I don’t know if I should wait for it to come out in paperback. The cover for the hardcover is so nice though plus the print is in dark blue! I haven’t heard of any other book with blue print.

Anyway, on to the review! I really liked Deirdre even though she’s an introvert and I’m definitely not. Deirdre, nicknamed Dee, is an amazing harp player. I know there aren’t a lot of harp players around so I’d love to hear the kind of music that she makes. The book is fast-paced. Dee meets Luke in the first few scenes of the book and she starts to notice strange happenings around her right after that. She clues in her best friend, James, on what’s going on and they puzzle over the meaning of these things together. Even at the start, she knows that Luke is more than what he seems and she accepts that fact. She knows it might not be good for her to pursue a relationship with Luke but she chooses to do so. It was easy to immerse myself in the world created by Maggie Stiefvater. I now understand why her work is being compared to Melissa Marr and Holly Black’s works. All of them portrayed faeries as capricious and playful but in a dark and cruel way. Not the typical happy-go-lucky, we’ll-grant-your-wishes, pink-and-glitters faeries of other stories. In Lament, people who are aware of faeries are warned to beware and stay away from them. Yes, faeries are out-of-this-world beautiful but they are scary and they can harm you. I think I like these dark faeries better than their brighter counterparts. I also liked how Dee and Luke’s relationship developed. It was done in just the right pace for me. I have a minor quibble about Luke because he doesn’t speak like his age although I can argue that away by saying that maybe he changed with the times.

If you’re an urban fantasy fan and you haven’t given any of Maggie Stiefvater books a try, I suggest that you check this out. I highly recommend it. I really enjoyed this book – beautiful writing, great characters and of course, amazing love story. I’m hoping to see more of Dee and Luke in the sequel, Ballad but from what I can see, it’s mostly about Dee’s quirky best friend James. I guess I’m fine with that because I liked the glimpses of James that I saw in this book. To those who’ve read Shiver, do you think I should go ahead and but it as well?

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Thanks to my friend Giya for giving me The Summoning for my birthday! I’ve been curious about this book for some time because I’ve seen lots of copies of it in the local bookstores. I moved it up in my reading list when one of my groups in Goodreads decided to pick this for our monthly read.

Here’s a summary from Kelley Armstrong’s website:
Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for ‘disturbed teens’. At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

Oh and according to the website, there are excerpts available online so you can check it out before deciding if you want to buy it or not.

I must say that this line “Chloe Saunders sees dead people.” strongly reminded me of the movie Sixth Sense. I’m a huge baby when it comes to horror movies (or horror stories for that matter) and I don’t watch/read them as much as possible. I was actually a bit scared when I read the prologue and the first few chapters of this book because it talked about ghosts but I got over it. I was really interested in the premise because I haven’t read a book with a main protagonist who can see ghosts but I didn’t really get into this book. I got put off by Chloe’s narration and the way she kept asking questions in her mind. I get that she’s confused by everything that’s happening but I felt like it felt too long for her to figure things out and I had to wait before things could be revealed. That said, the latter part of the book was faster-paced that the earlier part. When I got near the end, I stayed up reading because I wanted to finish the book.

Again, this is probably just a case of “this book wasn’t meant for me” because I’ve heard good things about it. I am curious as to what will happen next to Chloe because the book ended on a cliffhanger but it’s not like I want to rush out and buy The Awakening. *sigh* I’ve yet to find an urban fantasy series to love. Lament, I have high hopes for you!

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.