“It’s a wonderful death” Sarah J. Schmitt

Rated 4 stars **** 2015. Sky Pony Press. 306 p.

It'sAWonderfulDeathRJ, Queen Bee and Mean Girl at her high school, never expected life to end at the age of 17. However, the Grim Reaper accidentally takes her soul when a fortuneteller uses her as a shield against him. Highly upset at the consequences of his mistake, RJ refuses to be processed in the afterlife. Instead she insists her soul be returned to her body, and creates a stink about being wrongfully taken to anyone who’ll listen.

A Tribunal of angels is convened to rule on her case, and she is given a task to return to three important occasions in her life that could alter her destiny. IF she manages to change the course of her life, and influence others for the good, they will grant her request. If not, she will be shut away for years until her real death date occurs somewhere in the future.

RJ is determined to ace her tests though the Tribunal doesn’t seem to want her to succeed. Changing the pattern of the selfish life she’d led on Earth is not going to be easy, but if she wants to live in her own body again she’ll have to figure out a way.

Schmitt has a very active imagination, describing Saint Peter, life after death, heaven, hell, and even angels in ways that would never be found in any religious book. Though some conservative types might find her descriptions of RJ’s experiences in the afterlife to be sacrilegious, I found them to be original, highly imaginative and quite humorous.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.


“Secret of the Sevens” Lynn Lindquist

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. EBook. Flux. Published June 2015.

SecretOfTheSevensEighteen-year-old Talan Michaels is about to graduate from the Singer School for poor, unwanted and troubled children. Having been there since he was 7 years old, his housemates, house parents and friends are the only family he’s ever known. Upon graduation he will face a future of homelessness and uncertainty, which fills him with fear. Thus when an invitation comes to join the Sevens, a secret society at the school, Talan is ecstatic. He is sure the Sevens’ promise of riches will be his ticket to freedom after graduating.

Talan knew that William Singer’s wife, founder of the school, had died under mysterious circumstances. He also knew that William Singer and five of the original Sevens had also died, with the Sevens accused of his murder. He and his house sister Laney embark on a series of secret missions destined to save the school from someone who knows what really happened to William Singer, his wife and the original Sevens. Talan and Laney will have to be careful, or they will share the same fate. With time running out, the two will have to pull out all the stops to save their school before it’s too late for everyone.

The plot twists and mysteries hidden in “Secret of the Sevens” had me mesmerized. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next to the new group of Sevens. Lindquist will keep readers on the edges of their seats.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Radiant” Cynthia Hand

Rated 2 stars ** Unearthly, book #2.5. 2012. HarperCollins. ebook.

RadiantCarla and Angela are spending the summer in Rome, before they head off to college at Stanford. Carla remembers Angela had hinted once at a relationship with someone in Rome, but is mum about it until she and Carla run into Phen on the train. In alternate voices, Angela tells of how she met Phen, an ambivalent angel, and what led to her falling in love with him while Carla tries her best, rather unsuccessfully, to convince Angela to dump him.

At #2.5 in the series, “Radiant” should be read before “Boundless” even though, ideally, authors shouldn’t make novellas become mandatory reading in a series. I had read “Boundless,” before “Radiant,” and was quite puzzled in various places when Carla referred to meeting Phen over the summer and thought about various things that had happened in Rome. Rome? What happened in Rome?

It felt like I was missing something as I continued reading, and now I know I had been missing the events in “Radiant.” I take the author and the publisher to task for this, as novellas are supposed to be some sort of back story about some of the characters in a book, and should not contain important plot which would be missed in an actual sequel. That is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

I wish I could tell Hand’s 14 years old and older readers that it isn’t necessary to read this novella before reading  “Boundless,” but it wouldn’t be true. Even though I see it as a money making marketing ploy to get readers to spend more money, reading it helps clear up some of the deliberate fogginess about what happened in Rome when you’re reading “Boundless.”

“Boundless” Cynthia Hand

Rated 4 stars **** Unearthly, book #3. HarperTeen. 2013. ebook.

BoundlessAfraid of what might happen to Tucker if the Dark Wings find him, Clara breaks up with him and flees to Stanford. She tries to live her life as a normal college freshman, hoping to forget about Tucker, find her purpose with Christian and find Jeffrey. Her feelings for Christian and Tucker are like ocean waves, drawing her from one to the other, leaving her more confused than ever.

Everything is put on hold when Angela becomes pregnant from her secret angel boyfriend, and is forced to hide the baby when the leader of the Dark Wings decides he wants him. Dragged off to hell, it will take all of Clara and Christian’s power to rescue her and save the world as they know it.

Hand pulls out all the stops, calling on Christian and Clara to work together to solve the problems of the world. Fans of will be excited to have the series end on a high note.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“The Space Between” Brenna Yovanoff

2011. Razorbill (Penguin). 363 pp.

TheSpaceBetweenIn all books, angels are the good guys. They come to Earth to help all the helpless humans, and keep away all the bad demons who are trying to kill them. Angels fight against bad demons, angels win, and mankind is saved. The End. However, in “The Space Between,” Yovanoff takes a new look at this decidedly old tale.

Daphne, Lucifer’s daughter, lives in Pandemonium with her mother and assorted half sisters. Souls regularly appear and are herded into their proper places in the Pit, where everything is predictable and orderly. Each demon has a job to do, and they do it well.

Her brother Obie’s job is to go to Earth to comfort children of fallen angels who have somehow managed to seriously hurt themselves in some way. Unfortunately while out caring for Truman, a tortured teen intent on finding ways to kill himself, Obie disappears. He is feared captured by the angel Azrael and his demon killer who are intent on ridding the Earth of all demons.

Without any knowledge of what she’ll find on Earth, or how to locate Obie, Daphne runs away to find him. Her only clue for his whereabouts is to locate Truman and see if he has any knowledge of Obie’s last moments. While caring for Truman, Daphne develops feelings of which she’d never thought herself capable. Running for her life from Azrael and his demon killer, while searching for Obie and loving Truman, changes her outlook on herself and life forever.

“The Space Between” is a good read, and is recommended for readers 14 and older. As recounted earlier, its premise is quite interesting and will be sure to generate conversation – especially the last few chapters.

“Hallowed” Cynthia Hand

Unearthly, book #2. HarperTeen. 2012. 403 pp.

HallowedClara was sick of being told what to do. In “Unearthly,” her Purpose was to rescue Christian from a raging forest fire but she decided to rescue Lucas, her boyfriend, instead of Christian. She couldn’t stand the thought of losing Lucas, so went against her mother and all her training. Thus, by deliberately going against fate, she ruined not only her Purpose but Christian’s Purpose too as she found out, too late, that he was also an angel.

Now that life has returned to normal, Clara is conflicted trying to figure out if she will get struck dead for disobeying or if she will get another Purpose. With her love for Tucker overriding all common sense, she continually ignores a gut feeling that she is meant to be with Christian. As if her emotions weren’t running ragged enough, a certain Black Wing’s continual sorrow overwhelms her at every turn while another vision warns that someone she loves will soon die.

Who is going to die? Why is the Black Wing targeting her? Why does her mother keep hiding secrets? What is her Purpose? Why does her gut tell her she belongs with Christian while her heart demand she stay with Tucker? Why is her brother Jeffrey acting so strangely? These questions and more will keep Hand’s young adult fans aged 14 and older eagerly turning the pages.

The final book “Boundless” should finally settle the most pressing question: Lucas or Christian? Hmmm. I’m now leaning towards Team Christian. Clara and I can be very fickle…

“Unearthly” Cynthia Hand

Unearthly, book #1. Harper Teen. 2011. 435 pp.

UnearthlyThose of you who have been following my blog for the past year and a half know how much I dislike series books. It seems like it’s impossible to find a stand alone book these days, with publishers pushing authors to come up with books that can get subdivided into parts 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 and more. It is definitely a money making scheme, resulting in many shoddily written books as authors strive to keep dragging out or inventing action that could have easily ended with book #1. I hate having to wait years and years for sequels, so have banned myself from reading series books unless they meet the criteria I’ll mention a little later in this post.

On the other hand, there are well written books readers love to see continued, as we get involved with the characters and want to read more about them. Those kinds of books are few and far between but when they come they are great reads. However, it still frustrates me when authors wait 2 or more years to write a sequel. If an author insists on writing a series, the least they could do is to publish a sequel every year and then end it in a reasonable time, rather than drag it on ad nauseam.

Thus, I reached a compromise on series books that works for me. I refuse to start reading a new series, for the reasons mentioned above, but can be convinced to read an older series as long as I have ALL the books in front of me. The “Unearthly” series blurb caught my eye when I was at the library the other day. With books #1 and #2 readily available, and book #3 coming on interlibrary loan, I decided to give “Unearthly” a whirl.

Sixteen-year-old Clara, her younger brother and mother relocate to Wyoming from California because of her visions. In them, she is saving someone from a forest fire. Since the vision keeps repeating itself, her mother is convinced it’s her Purpose in life to save this stranger, thence their relocation. Normal people wouldn’t relocate for such a strange reason, but Clara and her family aren’t normal. They’re angels. She’s just a quarter angel, still figuring out how to fly, but an angel nonetheless.

The person she’s supposed to be saving turns out to be Christian, one of the hottest guys at school. Clara is sure she’s found her place in life until she starts to fall for Tucker, her friend’s brother. Now she’s totally confused and not sure what her Purpose really means. Time is running out, and Clara will have to make a decision that will affect the rest of her life.

I loved the action in “Unearthly,” and felt Clara’s pain as she was torn between the two loves of her life. The angel feud between good and bad hinted at by the author shows there’s going to be lots afoot in the sequel besides the obvious love triangle. I am totally Team Tucker, and can’t wait to see what happens next in book #2 “Hallowed.”