Guest Post -- Author Caitlin Kittredge --

Friday April 29, 2011

Guest post by author Caitlin Kittredge, author of The Iron Thorn...

5 Horror Movies That Made Me a Better Writer

            I love horror movies.  Love them.  Unreservedly, unconditionally.  They can be brilliant, or terrible.  Slashers, ghosts, demons, hockey-masked killers.  Love 'em.  Can't get enough.

            Movies can teach you to be a pretty good writer, believe it or not.  They're ace for teaching story structure, and there's nothing like a horror movie for well-done tension.  Below, a few that taught me how to be a better novelist:

1.      The Exorcist
Cute little girl Reagan is possessed by the devil, and two priests battle him for her immortal soul.  Features pea soup vomit, creepy backwards walking, and one of the best climaxes between villain and doomed hero (Max Von Sydow) ever put on film. 

            What you can learn: The Exorcist is the master of slow-building tension.  Nothing blows up, but every moment of the film is geared toward the confrontation between the devil and Von Sydow.  Just like this film, a novel should ratchet the narrative tension in every scene, until the climax occurs.  I learned most of what I know about pacing from this movie, and others like it.

2.  Aliens
After surviving the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley returns to LV-426 to confront the xenomorph aliens once again, this time with a crop of plucky marines and a scheming corporate executive who wants to weaponize the alien.  This all works out about as well as you might expect.

            What you can learn: Alien, the first film, is actually the basis of a famous screenwriting book called Save the Cat!, which I recommend even if you're not a screenwriter, as it has valuable advice about storytelling (including why it is necessary to have your heroine, as Ripley does, save the cat.)  Aliens has lessons on a couple of levels—first, it's a masterful building off of the first film, much the same way that modern fantasy writers often expand, change and flesh out traditional folklore.  Second, it teaches that it's okay for the female heroine to give romance a back seat (the romance between Ripley and Corporal Hicks is touched on, but it's far from the focus of the story) and go ahead and kick ass.  Ripley isn't as tough as the Marines, but she's the woman for the job as they're picked off one by one.  Your protagonist doesn't always need to be the smartest, toughest person in the room—they just need to be the right one for the story.

3.  Below
An American submarine during WWII picks up the survivors of a British hospital ship purportedly torpedoed by Germans—and promptly finds that they've brought more on board than wounded soldiers.
            What you can learn: Below is a ghost story, but it's also a historical drama dealing unflinchingly with the very real horrors of war.  Don't be afraid to mash paranormal and real-world elements in your story—often the combination can elevate both elements.

4.  Dawn of the Dead (George Romero's original)
A group of regular folks wake up to find that the zombie apocalypse is happening, and take refuge in a mall.  Their plan slowly unravels as tensions rise and zombies find a way in, infecting one of the group.

            What you can learn: People matter.  Creatures are scary, sure.  Hordes of zombies are terrifying.  They're even more terrifying when used as a metaphor for mindless consumerism, and you're forced to watch the few human beings left slowly succumb.  Your characters are going to be the spine of your paranormal story, and without strong characters, all you've got is a mindless, shambling mess.

5. Let the Right One In (Swedish original)
Lonely middle-schooler Oskar befriends Eli, a girl his age—or is she?  Eli isn't normal, and she may not even be a girl--Eli is a vampire, and while she teaches Oskar to stand up to bullies and find joy in life by living for the moment, she may also be grooming him to become her new assistant—procuring her blood and brutally murdering anyone who gets too close to her secret.

            What you can learn: Based on the equally brilliant book by Swedish novelist John Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is as good an examination of the friendship between human and monster as you're going to find on film.  Monsters can often be more human than their human counterparts—and when their true nature shows, it can be a devastating blow for your characters, and your readers.  Don't be afraid to let the monsters get close.  The emotional punch is well worth it.

Thanks Caitlin for the awesome post! I'm a huge horror movie fan too :)

Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the FANTASTIC new book The Iron Thorn! I loved this read and totally recommend it! Its been described as a fantasy/steampunk/dystopian combo and I totally agree. Great for ages 12 and up, this story is an awesome adventure with a sequel to come!
The Iron Thorn
February 22, 2011
Goodreads summary: In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

     Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

Find more info here

Four Seasons: A Novel in Four Movements by Jane Breskin Zalben

Wednesday April 27, 2011

Four Seasons: A Novel in Four Movements 
by Jane Breskin Zalben
February 8, 2011
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Goodreads summary: Allegra Katz has been playing piano since she was four. But these aren't just any piano lessons. She studies at the Julliard School in New York, where careers are being formed—or not.

Between strict practice schedules, music classes, and regular school, Ally doesn't have time for much else. Sometimes she wishes she could break free, but she's never known any other way. Her parents—a professional violinist and a singer—would kill her if they knew she was thinking about quitting piano, especially her mother.

So she keeps on going, but as the months go by, she begins to ask herself, does she even love the piano? Why does she play? And how much longer can she stand the pressure before she breaks?

Pontifications... If you haven't seen it by now you must Google Emily Bear on the Ellen show right now. This tiny, little, cute-as-a-button six-year-old is a crazy, insane, Mozart-like piano prodigy! I can't imagine having that kind of talent and I also can't imagine the kind of pressure that undoubtedly goes along with it.  

Ally must practice four hours a day as instructed by her hardcore piano teacher Miss Pringle if she is to ever live up to the standards of the infamous Julliard School. Miss Pringle isn't what one would call "compassionate" and compliments aren't really her thing. Ally's parents are loving but goal-oriented. Being musicians themselves Ally has never known anything different. When the pangs and cravings of living a more "normal" teenage life start to make way into Ally's thoughts she starts to lose the zest she once had for playing the piano.

I think this story is a realistic depiction of what life must be like for gifted students like Ally. The grueling practice and expectations are not glossed over and Ally really shows the stress of all the pressure she is under. The fact that she wants to hang out with her friends more and experience her first crush on boy just makes her more real and likable. 

I really enjoyed this book and Ally is a great character. Overall the story is about a girl who has everything going for her including the sense enough to know that following your heart is always the right decision.

Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Tuesday April 26, 2011

Like Mandarin 
by Kirsten Hubbard
March 8th 2011
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers 
Goodreads summary: It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. 

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

Pontifications... Every awkward teenage girl knows another girl at their high school who they wish they could be more like....popular, outgoing, a wild streak that makes them exciting and a reputation for always having fun.  From the outside this girl's life looks perfect...but what happens when we look behind the scenes and glimpse the reality of whats really going on???

Grace can't believe her good luck when she is paired up with Mandarin. She has always felt overshadowed by her younger sister largely due to the fact that her mother showers her sibling with attention  and obsesses about her child beauty pageants. As their friendship blossoms Mandarin encourages Grace to do things she has never been brave enough to do before...skinny dip, dressing differently and even making plans to run away together. 

The closer they get the more Grace starts to see another side of Mandarin...a scary side that involves drinking, lying and careless, often dangerous, decision making. Grace feels like Mandarin is constantly testing their friendship to see how far Grace will go...but when one of those tests put Grace in a terrifying situation, she finally blows up and confronts Mandarin.

This is a great story and so relevant for today's teens. In a world of peer pressure especially for girls who have all that self-doubt (which is most), being led around by a peer they admire isn't much of a stretch. This is both a coming-of-age and cautionary tale about what can happen when we don't stand up for ourselves and our own values. Teens will totally identify with all the complexities of friendship and peer pressure.

Recommended for ages 14 and up due to drinking, cussing and sexual situations. Nothing is overly graphic but the topics themselves seem best suited for this age and older.  

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Monday April 25, 2011

A Time of Miracles 
by Anne-Laure Bondoux
November 2010
Delacorte Press
Goodreads summary: Blaise Fortune, also known as Kouma├»l, loves hearing the story of how he came to live with Gloria in the Republic of Georgia: Gloria was picking peaches in her father’s orchard when she heard a train derail. After running to the site of the accident, she found an injured woman who asked Gloria to take her baby. The woman, Gloria claims, was French, and the baby was Blaise.

When Blaise turns seven years old, the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides that she and Blaise must flee the political troubles and civil unrest in Georgia. The two make their way westward on foot, heading toward France, where Gloria says they will find safe haven. But what exactly is the truth about Blaise’s past?

Bits and pieces are revealed as he and Gloria endure a five-year journey across the Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life. During this time Blaise grows from a boy into an adolescent; but only later, as a young man, can he finally attempt to untangle his identity.

Bondoux’s heartbreaking tale of exile, sacrifice, hope, and survival is a story of ultimate love.

Pontifications... Seven year old Koumail (Blaise) has always enjoyed the story of how his guardian Gloria saved him from an uncertain future when his dying mother handed him over to Gloria after she came upon the poor woman in the aftermath of a horrible train derailment.  Knowing that his mother was French and that his birth name is Blaise, Koumail hopes to one day find his birth family to fully understand his past.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gloria and Koumail set out to France in hopes of finding the family he has no memory of and the possibility of a better life. On their journey they meet many other refugees and people who are struggling just like them. The encounters are memorable and heartwarming and balance out their times of struggle and sickness throughout their five year journey to Koumail's homeland.

The underlying story during the story of their travels are the tales that Gloria tells Koumail about his past. It seems that Gloria has a talent for embellishing stories. Her motivations behind it are loving but ultimately confusing to Koumail. A reunion at the end of the story brings to light the real truth of the boys past. 

I loved this book. A beautiful story set against war-torn Europe that follows our narrator, Koumail from a seven year old boy to a twenty year old young man. Originally written in French, the translation is flawless and the writing is I said, LOVED IT!

Best suited for grades 7 and up

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian

Thursday April 21, 2011

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best 
by Maria Padian
March 8, 2011
Knopf for Young Readers
Goodreads summary: This is a hilarious and heartbreaking story of two teen girls and the summer when everything changes for them. Both Henry and Eva are New Jersey natives and excellent athletes: Henry's a master on the tennis court and Eva is a graceful ballerina. 

When opportunity knocks for both of them the summer before their junior year in high school they throw open the door: Henry sees freedom from her overbearing father and a chance to build her talents on the court. Eva sees the chance to be the best as well as even more pressure to be graceful, lighter, more perfect on the dancefloor. 

Soon, Eva's obsession with physical perfection leads her down the path to anorexia, and her health issues overwhelm everything else. But through it all these two best friends know that Jersey Tomatoes are the Best, and nothing will come between them no matter the distance.

Pontifications...In a day and age where the term "Jersey girl" brings to mind all sorts of drunk and disorderly connotations, its refreshing to read about two Jersey girls who are anything but those two things. In fact, don't call them Jersey girls....they are Jersey tomatoes!

When the two best friends are separated for the first time in their lives and go off to their respective dream summer camps things are looking good...Henry is loving her new found attitude away from her pushy, overbearing tennis-dad and Eva succeeds and gets through a super tough audition. Unfortunately, while Henry blossoms in her new found freedom Eva starts to let the pressure get to her and inside her own negativity begins to develop an eating disorder.

When Henry hears about Eva's health problems her first instinct is to run to her side. Realizing this decision could cost her spot at the tennis academy Henry must make a tough decision.

The heart of this story is about two girls who cherish their friendship through thick and thin and loyalty to a friend  in the face of losing your own dreams. I loved this aspect of the book because its such a great example of what friendship is really all about.

There is a lot to like here. A peek into the world of high pressure sports and the infamous parents behind the kids who are rising to the top. Friendship, a little romance and  how teens deal with the body image and the pressure to be successful make this an insightful read. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Best suited for ages 13 and up.

Wish by Joseph Monninger

Wednesday April 20, 2011

by Joseph Monninger
November 2010
Delacorte Press
Goodreads summary: Bee’s brother, Tommy, knows everything there is to know about sharks. He also knows that his life will be cut short by cystic fibrosis. And so does Bee.

That’s why she wants to make his wish-foundation-sponsored trip to swim with a great white shark an unforgettable memory.

But wishes don’t always come true. At least, not as expected. Only when Bee takes Tommy to meet a famous shark attack survivor and hard-core surfer does Tommy have the chance to live one day to the fullest.

And in the sun-kissed ocean off a California beach, Bee discovers that she has a few secret wishes of her own. . . 

Pontifications...With the recent release of the Movie Soul Surfer which is about surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack, but was determined to keep surfing. I remember a book in my review pile that sounded something like it.  While the main character in this novel isn't a shark attack victim herself, the story is still just as touching and inspirational.

Tommy doesn't live his life like a cystic fibrosis victim and Bee is determined to see that he has every option to fulfill his shark-obsessed dreams. When the trip Tommy wins to see sharks in their own habitat goes bust and their mom is sidetracked by a new man in her life, Bee knows its up to her to find a way for Tommy to live out his dream. 

With a mother who isn't exactly nurturing its obvious that Tommy and Bee rely on each other for emotional support which results in a bond that is clear and true. They have no doubt of each others intentions and on the quest to fulfill Tommy's wish their respect and love for each other is clearly visible.

A coming of age story for both brother and sister as they both deal with Tommy's impending death and Bee falls in love for the first time. Despite what could be an overwhelmingly depressing the topic the story is actually uplifting and inspirational. Yes, I teared up a few times but I was smiling right up to the last page. 

Well written and full of interesting shark facts! Appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Tween Tuesdays (23)

Tuesday April 19, 2011

Tween Tuesdays is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

As a middle school librarian I must hear fifty times a day..."Are there any Diary of a Wimpy Kids books in?" More often than not I tell them no and instruct them to put the book on hold. In the meantime I recommend a few books they might like as well or even are just a few!

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
Big Nate Strikes Again
by Lincoln Peirce
Available Now

Transitioning from popular comic strip to chapter book, the author uses the popular style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, to debut its star, Big Nate. In the first book, Sixth grader Big Nate knows that he is destined for greatness especially after his fortune cookie declares "Today you will surpass all others,"….what he doesn’t know is that his best friend Teddy slipped him the fortune. Unfortunately, Nate seems to find himself in less than fabulous situations like being in detention. This is a funny book and kids will relate to the annoying older sister and prankster friend stories as well as the issues Nate has at school. Funny stories and hilarious comic illustrations will make this one a sure hit with The Wimpy Kid crowd. 

Here is an example of one of the comic strips:

The Loser List
by H.N. Kowitt
April 1, 2011
Scholastic Press
When Danny gets caught trying to cross his name off the "Geek" list in the girls' bathroom, he's sent to detention. Bullies torment him mercilessly -- until they discover that Danny can draw. He enjoys his new "bad boy" status, supplying tattoos and graffiti, until he's unknowingly drawn into a theft. Turns out the bullies took a comic book from Danny's favorite store. Can he steal it back before they get caught -- and break off with the bullies before he gets in too deep? 
With its Wimpy Kid design and set-up its sure to draw in that crowd and likeable Danny will keep them reading!

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Thursday April 14, 2011

Enclave (Razorland #1)
by Ann Aguirre
April 12, 2011
Feiwel and Friends
Goodreads summary: New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. 

As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Pontifications...I usually try to wait and read review books until around the time they are going to be released because that is when most publishers prefer that the review is posted. Well, when I received this review copy a few months back, I couldn't help myself! I was a little over-saturated by paranormal romance and was still on my Hunger Games finale high when I picked up this little gem. I have to say I wasn't disappointed one little bit. 

An interesting part of the book is that in Deuce's group each member is given a role depending on their we know Deuce is a hunter, but other group members have been designated as Breeders. Breeders are the only group members allowed to have sex and no one falls in love anymore. With love and sex forbidden you know its only a matter of time before Deuce and Fade start to feel the tension.

A mixture of Dystopian approaches like The Forests of Hands and Teeth and Hunger Games, I predict you'll love this one. There is definite chemistry between Deuce and Fade but romance is just a hint on the horizon. Gritty fight scenes and the doom and gloom, fight-to-stay-alive aspect of a post-apocalyptic world rule this read. 

Best suited for ages 14 and up

I can't post the trailer right now because I'm at school and the sight is blocked but google it on the web, its everywhere!

The authors website is here

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Wednesday April 13, 2011

Fury of the Phoenix
Kingdom of Xia Book #2
by Cindy Pon
March 29, 2011
Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Goodreads summary: The Gods have abandoned Ai Ling. 

Her mysterious power haunts her day and night, and she leaves home—with just the moon as her guide—overwhelmed by her memories and visions and an unbearable sense of dread. For Ai Ling knows that Chen Yong is vulnerable to corrupt enchantments from the under-world. How can she do nothing when she has the skill and power to fight at his side? A dream has told her where he is, the name of the ship he is traveling on, his destination. So she steals off and stows away on board.

The ocean voyage brings with it brutal danger, haunting revelations, and new friendships, but also the premonition of a very real and terrifying threat. Zhong Ye—the powerful sorcerer whom Ai Ling believed she had vanquished in the Palace of Fragrant Dreams—is trapped in Hell, neither alive nor dead. Can he reach from beyond the grave to reunite with Silver Phoenix and destroy Chen Yong? And destroy whatever chance Ai Ling has at happiness, at love?

In this sequel to the acclaimed novel Silver Phoenix, four lives are woven together and four destinies become one, now and forever.

Pontifications...Silver Phoenix is an awesome read so this sequel has been one that I have really been looking forward to and I was not disappointed!

Fury of the Phoenix picks up right where the last book left off and once again we find Ai Ling and Chen Yong on an exciting adventure as they seek out Chen Yong's real father to solve the mystery of his past.

In the first book we find out that Zhong Ye is the evil force behind Ai Ling's battles with various demons and monsters. In the sequel the chapters alternate between Ai Ling's present adventure and Zhong Ye's human beginnings nearly three centuries past. We find out about how he started in the kings court, how he met Silver Phoenix and what ultimately led him to the monster he became.

A well written, fast paced story with lots of adventure and romance, bloody battles and creepy immortality spells. The chemistry between Ai Ling and Chen Yong continues and the tragic romance between the books villan and his lost love may even have you shedding a tear or two. I also love Ai Ling as our kick-ass heroine!

Best suited for 8th grade and up

Visit the authors website

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Friday April 8, 2011

by Courtney Allison Moulton
February 15, 2011
by HarperCollins
Goodreads summary: This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Pontifications...Ellie has gone most of her life believing she is pretty much just your average American girl...but she was a big way! First she notices a cute guy who ALWAYS seems to be there when she turns around and the dreams...they are vivid and seem so real. 

Soon Ellie finds out that she is a Preliator, an ancient warrior created by Angelic origins and who basically lives forever. When she meets Will and turns seventeen she starts to remember her past lives and what her duties as a Preliator exactly entail. 

There is a lot of action as Ellie battles her foes and discovers more about her past. Will doesn't immediately reveal all the details about what has transpired between the two of them in the past and that just plays out on the anticipation of the reader finding out!

I've heard a lot of different things about this book but I'm telling you right now anyone who likes a good romance with lots of tension between the boy and girl in question, well then they will like this book. Of course there is the whole ancient warrior thing and the mystery of Ellie's past is intriguing but what it all comes down to is the chemistry between Ellie and Will and there is plenty of it!

There is some mention of drinking and partying and the fight scenes are a wee bit bloody so I'll have to say this book is best for 8th graders (14 yrs) and up!

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Tuesday April 5, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places
by Carrie Ryan
March 22, 2011
Delacorte Press
Goodreads summary: There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.  

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. 

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Pontifications...The Forest of Hands and Teeth is one of my very favorite books and I'm really sad to see this series end...but the finale in the series, The Dark and Hollow Places, ends without a feeling of certain finality so I'm going to secretly hope and wish there will be more stories about Mary, Abigail, Annah, Catcher and Elias! 

In the second book, The Dead Tossed Waves, the narrator is Gabry (who is really Abigail we find out later) and she lives with her mother Mary who is the narrator in book one. Now, in book three the narrator is Annah, Gabry's (Abigail) twin sister. Okay, got it? Annah is on her own in Dark City after Elias left her to join the Recruiters. Annah has not seen her sister since that fateful day in the woods and so much has happened since then...when she sees Gabry and Catcher one day while trying to leave Dark City, Annah's whole life changes.

I know it sounds complicated but the story flows nicely and you could even read this book as a stand-alone but to get the full impact of the story you should, of course, read all three! The story is dark and at times violent with glimpses of hope here and there as Annah dreams of leaving Dark City and The Horde behind. With Catcher's help and her sister and Elias by her side, it just might happen.

Like I stated before, I hate to see this series end! I look forward to other books by Carrie Ryan and this is a series I highly recommend. When telling students about this book I know that it will be appreciated by guys and girls alike!

Some violent situations make this book appropriate for ages 14 and up.

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Monday April 4, 2011

Wake Unto Me
by Lisa Cach
March 31, 2011
Goodreads Summary: A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Pontifications... There is nothing I like better than a good paranormal romance that includes a mystery...add to that some historical fiction and wham-bam you have the ultimate triple threat as far as I'm concerned!

I really liked this premise of this book and the connection that Caitlyn and Raphael have through her dreams. Their time together in the dreams seem so real to both of them....the twist is...which one of them is dreaming and seeing ghosts? 

The storyline revolving around Caitlyn's family history and Bianca de  Medici is interesting and is a mixture of fictional and real people and events. As Caitlyn learns more about Bianca's history she learns that the connection between her and Raphael is even more mysterious than she thought. 

Like I said, this book has a lot of great elements that readers will love....a mysterious who-done-it, a ghost story and of course the romance! There are parts of the story that I wish would have played out more but the rumor is that there is another book in the works titled Foxfire, so maybe my questions will be answered! Regardless, this will be a sure hit among paranormal romance lovers!

Appropriate for ages 12 and up!