Whenever I sit down to write a review I like to have the book I am reviewing in front of me. Most of the time I don’t even bother to pick it up, but having it there seems to make whatever writers block I am feeling disappear. So you can imagine my panic when I sat down at my desk at work to start writing and my copy of Sarah Mussi’s Angel Dust was gone! I knew I had brought it with me that morning and thought I was losing my mind when I couldn’t find it. I haven’t seen it since. Although, I do know where it went. One of my students confessed to swiping it from my desk and since then it has spread like wildfire throughout my classes. Angel Dust has officially been declared “THE BEST BOOK EVER!!” by the students who have read it.
Angel Dust is the first fallen angel type book that I have read despite the popularity of the Fallen and Hush,Hush series. I tend to prefer demons over angels and was skeptical that Angel Dust would hold my interest, but I absolutely love the cover which has a dark and gothic look. Luckily, the main character, Serafina is anything but a typical angel. Sent to “collect” the soul of 17 year-old Marcus on her third day as an angel of death Serafina makes a fatal mistake: rather than allow Marcus to die, she saves him. In order to correct her mistake and allow Marcus to continue to live she is forced to make a deal with the one person she should be staying the farthest away from.
I liked the gritty nature of this story. While Serafina is an agent of God, she is not all pure and holy. She is far more human than she is angelic. Once she descends upon earth the world she enters is filled with violence and sin. Serafina is shocked by the brutality of the humans she is sent to collect. She is also confused by the feelings she has for Marcus and allows herself to be blinded by love. Ultimately sacrificing everything she is in order to save the one she loves the most.
Although the story is complex and multi-layered I think what my students loved about it was the realistic portrayal of life on the dark-side. This is not a story where love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after. This is a story where love can turn as ugly as the world it desperately tries to overcome. The tone and mood of Angel Dust is dark and melancholy and reminded me another book I loved: Brenna Yovanoff’s Smoulder. Fans of dark romance and gothic love stories will absolutely not want to miss Angel Dust.
Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi. Publisher: Hot Key Books. Release date: August 2nd 2012. Ages: 12+. Jen's Rating: 4/5. Source: Received from publisher for review.
Laura Powell’s novel Burn Mark is an interesting blend of paranormal fantasy and dystopian fiction. Set in a world where witches are hunted by the government and burned alive at the stake this altered version of London explores the darkest depths of humanity.
Although being a witch can be deadly there is nothing Glory wants more than to receive her “fae,” which will solidify her position as the heir apparent to her coven and instill in her great power. Lucas, on the other hand, despises witches and relishes his role as a Witchfinder working for the Inquisition. Unfortunately, Lucas’ future is in jeopardy when he too receives a “fae” and suddenly the hunter becomes the hunted.
Burn Mark is not a fast paced read, but it certainly is an interesting one. The author does not shy away from the use of disturbing images and violence to make her world come alive for the reader. Just knowing what the consequences for Glory could be if she was caught using witchwork for evil purposes made me nervous as she sought to reinstate the reputation of the coven as one to be feared. I also found her relationship with Lucas to be one mired in tension as he struggles to come to grips with his new fate and is forced to place his trust into someone who represents the things he has been taught to hate. While Lucas can be a little difficult to warm up to I thought that Glory was very endearing and I wanted to know that she was not going to be burned alive.
Another aspect of the book I found interesting was the society itself. Although the book is fantasy it is not unlike the real world where people are persecuted every day for their race, religion, or beliefs. I liked the twist of using a minority population of witches to make a statement on government persecution of innocent civilians based on a trait that cannot be controlled. I also enjoyed the change in Lucas when begins to see Glory for the person she is and starts to realize that everything he has ever believed about his family is based on lies.
If you are looking for a book that is action packed and filled with forbidden love Burn Mark may prove to be a tedious read. It takes the story quite a bit of time to really get going, but in the end the wait was worth it.
Burn Mark by Laura Powell. Publisher: Bloomsbury. Release date: June 7th 2012. Ages: 14+. Jen's Rating: 4/5. Source: Received from publisher for review.
If you are looking for a fun read I would definitely recommend Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby. On the surface Shooting Stars seems like a typical fluffy teen romance: girls trips over boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl follows boy across the country to rehab in order to take pictures of him in compromising positions for a tabloid magazine. Pretty common plot devices, right? But trust me, Shooting Stars in not as typical as it seems!
Jo Foster is one of the world’s youngest, and smallest, paparazzas in Los Angeles. Although she is actually sixteen most people mistake her for about twelve, which is fine for Jo. Her diminutive size has allowed her to go where no photographer has gone before. The stories of her escapades have become legend throughout the paparazzi who circle like vultures around L.A.’s celebrity society. It is her age and size which allows Jo to be chosen for the job of a lifetime. All she has to do is travel to Boston to follow superstar Ned Hartnett (think Justin Beiber) into rehab. Unfortunately, Ned is the only celebrity that Jo has ever had any feelings for and taking a job that would betray his trust so fully is not sitting well with Jo. Ultimately Jo sells out when the price is too good to pass up, but how much will Jo’s job actually end up costing her?
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one after the first few pages. Although Jo is sixteen she comes off much younger in the first few chapters. I had a difficult time buying her as a character that was meant to be taken seriously. Also, her puppy love crush on Ned was portrayed as a bit ridiculous, which made it even harder to see her as a teen nearing adulthood. Things change though once the setting of the book shifts from L.A. to Boston. The more time Jo spends getting to know the other patients in the rehab center the more grown up she seems. Her crush on Ned evolves into a friendship that is much easier to relate too, although her feelings towards him remain romantic. The internal battle that Jo is having about her betrayal of Ned grows more intense and it finally appears that Jo has one thing her colleagues lack: a conscience.
Another aspect that I liked about this book was that just when you think you think you can predict what will happen next the author throws out a major plot twist. I love those, “didn’t see that coming” moments and this book actually has quite a few. Overall I thought that Shooting Stars was a fun read and sometimes that is all you need!
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby. Publisher: Walker Childrens. Release date: February 28th 2012. Ages: 12+. Jen's Rating: 3.5/5. Source: Received from author for review.
Read more of Jen's reviews at X-treme Readers