Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Remember Me; The Return; The Last Story

Remember Me; The Return; The Last Story by Christopher Pike

Three books in one!  What more could a gal ask for?  I guess you'll soon find out!

Before I start, I want to point out two things.  One, this is 3 reviews in one, so it's gonna be lengthy, and two, this is a Young Adult Novel.  I like to know what my kids are reading, or what their friends are reading, I want to know what they are talking about.  Many times I will jump on a book that looks interesting, so I can recommend it to them or maybe hide it away to see if they will find it on their own ::: wink wink :::  plus, they are easy reads - I plowed through the 800+ pages in two days.

Remember Me  Shari Cooper is your stereo-typical 18 year old California girl.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, rich parents, big house by the beach, perfect family.  She has a drop dead gorgeous boyfriend, is popular, drives a red sports car, oh!  and did I mention she is dead?

Yep!  Two weeks from graduating high school, Shari is found dead under a balcony, 4 stories up, where she had been attending a birthday party.  The death is ruled a suicide, even though she showed no signs of being suicidal.  Looking on on the other side, she has no idea how she was killed, she only knows she never would have jumped.  Before she can "go into the light", she wants to know what happened.  Shari spies on her "friends" to see how they handle her death and she follows Detective Garrett as he pieces together the clues that unravel the mystery.

The Return  Shari Cooper's murder has been solved; she can finally rest on the other side.  Only she can't.  There was so much of her life left to live, and she is so much more aware now.

Shari is given an opportunity reserved only for rare souls.  She has the chance to be reborn, but not as an infant.  She will take the place of an 18 year old girl who has given up on life.  Shari will become a Wanderer and will turn this otherwise destined-for-nothing life into something others will look up to.

The Last Story  Shari Cooper/Jean Rodrigues, has overcome amazing challenges.  She has returned from the dead and has narrowly escaped another death.  She is now a famous author, traveling the world while changing it with her stories.  Her latest book is about her former life, or really, her death.  She writes as her previous identity, Shari Cooper, from beyond the grave.  She publicly details her involvement in the solving of her murder, even though it may hurt the people she wants most to help.

But has she lost sight of her purpose?  The reason for her re-birth?  Shari/Jean struggles to overcome the obstacles that fame and money throw in her face as she works to unravel a new story forming in her mind.  Will she understand the deep memories of the past before it's too late?

I read the publishers synopsis of the book and thought it sounded similar to The Lovely Bones, which is a book I love and have read a number of times.  I have always enjoyed books about the supernatural.  I didn't realize that it was actually a 3-book series.

I finished the first book (300 pages) in an afternoon and honestly I was impressed with it.  It didn't drag on with annoying details and it ended well.  I could have walked away from the story feeling satisfied that it was over - no loose ends, no what-ifs, no feeling of "it should have explained more ...".

and if you have read my last few reviews, you'd know this has been an issue with me

The second book was a total mess.  While I respect where the author was trying to go with it, I really felt it was thrown together to fulfill a contract deadline.  It was short, jumbled and confusing.  Characters were introduced, but never elaborated on, which alone was no big deal until they were reintroduced in the 3rd book, and well ... I had no idea who they were! Being a closet sci-fi junkie, I had no issues with Shari taking over Jean's body, or even the religious background to the story, I just felt it could have been done SO much better.

By the 3rd book I was honestly just looking forward to putting the series to rest.  It was better than the second, but it still felt rushed and incomplete.  The story line jumped around, characters that were meaningless in book 2 were reintroduced and remained, still, pretty meaningless.  The passion behind the story was gone and I felt kind of sorry for the author.

I really enjoyed Remember Me, I may even read it again sometime, but the sequels I could live without.

I have a 1.5 pound book to pass along if anyone is interested ;0)

Monday, December 6, 2010

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearle Cleage

Ava Johnson is a successful hairdresser in Atlanta.  She has her own shop, she surrounds herself with the finest clothes and the finest people, and she enjoys living her life to the fullest.  She has all she hoped for when she left Idlewild, Michigan 10 years ago

... and then some

It all begins to come to a screeching halt when a woman barges into her shop demanding that Ava "take it back!".  What she wants her to take back, is the letter that Ava had written to this woman's husband.  The letter that she'd sent out to every sexual partner she'd had in Atlanta.  The one explaining she was HIV positive.

Ava sells her shop and plans to head west to San Francisco, but first she wants to stop in Idlewild to visit her sister, Joyce.  What Ava thinks is a lazy summer visit, turns into a new challenge when she finds that the troubles of the big cities have invaded the lazy town she'd grown up in.  Her sister needs her help and Ava can't convince her to pick up and move with her, so she stays to help out and it turns out not to be a bad choice afterall.

This is one of those books I downloaded on a whim.  It has been sitting on my kindle for months, but aside from the interesting title, I knew nothing about the book.  I finally sat down to read it and finished it in just a couple of days.

The book was an easy read and fairly entertaining, despite the number of tragedies that seems to continuously attack these poor women.  There is quite a bit of information on HIV and AIDS and some colorful observations of African American life. The dialogue is straight forward and you definitely feel the change from one character to another ... the brutal teenage drug addicts and the quieter, prayerful sister.

The only complaint I had about the book was I felt it ended rather hastily (I think this is becoming a pattern for me?).  Now that I have opened up my reading genre, I am finding that some authors have a talent of leaving a book at the right time ... closing doors in a timely manner and leaving the reader satisfied.  Other authors tend to build up the action til the last couple of chapters and then slam the door  I was left feeling like I'd just watched an epsiode of The Cosby Show ... laughs, problems, laughs, the big problem comes to a head ... then let's wrap it all up in a big bow for the last 5 minutes.  It left me feeling cheated as a child and all these years later I am finding the same sentiment.

I would still recommend it, though.  I would love to pass along my copy, but it's on my kindle ♥