Saturday, July 28, 2012

Provex City (The Lorne Family Vault Series, Book 1) by Michael Pierce

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars 

Title:  Provex City (The Lorne Family Vault Series, Book 1) 

Author:  Michael Pierce 

Cover Art: Ashley Stewart 

Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal  

Length: 312 Pages   


Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom. 


If you've read any of my previous reviews, you know that I love a good ghost story. Once I saw the offering of ghosts in the summary, I was sold. And Mr. Pierce didn't disappoint. Don't be fooled though - that is only a small part of this story. Provex City is so much more than that. There are so many layers to the story that it does make you stop and think here and there and when it comes to the YA genre, I think that is an excellent thing. Challenging young minds to think outside the box is always a good thing. Heck, it challenged my mind and I am most definitely not a young adult.

I'm not used to male leads. I honestly think I've only read two other books in this genre that had a male lead, so it took me a bit to sort of get in the mind set of how a teenage boy would think rather than a teenage girl. Once there, everything seemed to be exactly on target with how one would think, react, etc.

Oliver is a typical teenage boy. One that is, in my opinion, more realistic than the stereotypical football player that is always Mr. Popularity. Oliver gets bullied, looks up to his older brother while simultaneously always feeling like he's living in his shadow, he is artistic, confused by girls and hates gym class. When he meets Desiree, they just seem to click, much to her boyfriend's chagrin. Having several classes together, Desiree introduces him to some of her friends. Oh, and did I mention that he is living in the room of a boy that killed himself?

I actually love that Oliver is somewhat of an underdog, while his brother is the more likely hero. The converse situation that comes about in the end was unexpected. Mr. Gordon is an interesting character and a little mysterious. You know what he's about but at the same time you don't. It's a mystery hopefully to be solved in upcoming sequels. Throughout the course of the book, however, it is Mr. Gordon who teaches Oliver about the things he is capable of and gives him the confidence he needs to succeed. He explains the science behind Oliver's abilities in one of those "so simple it's confusing" sort of ways. Also, Desiree's boyfriend, Eli, is a mystery. Sometimes he is nice, other times not so nice and at times he seems to have ulterior motives that aren't revealed to us.

The world building was fascinating and makes you wish you could visit. It also raises some questions about things like parallel universes and dimensions. 

This is a well written, complex and intriguing first book from Mr. Pierce. I really enjoyed the plot and the characters, the suspense that kept me reading and the threads that were left dangling. I very much look forward to checking out future installments of this series. If you enjoy the YA genre, this is an author to check out, especially if you are looking for an original paranormal.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rating: 5 Stars 

Title:  Ghost Island

Author:  Bonnie Hearn Hill

Publisher: Black Opal Books 

     Cover Art: Black Opal Books

Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal

Length: 193 Pages 


Is Aaron a dream or something much more deadly?

Livia Hinson has just begun a Seminar at Sea when a storm hits their yacht. Now, she is stranded with the other students on an island off the coast of California. Far away from her foster home and her heartbreak, Livia finds Aaron, the perfect love. But the only way they can be together is in her dreams.

The other students are having tempting dreams of their own, and Livia begins to realize that the storm has blown in more than rain. Is Aaron flesh or spirit? Can he come to her world, or will he pull her into his? Together, they explore the blurred territory between love and illusion on a dangerous journey that will force Livia to make the most important decision of her life.


A great late night, spooky read - preferably with the lights out. Ghost Island starts out detailing a trip a bunch of students are about to embark on as they participate in a "Seminar at Sea" but end up on an island to wait out a storm. It reminds me a lot of the books I used to read as a teenager by Christopher Pike, where the lines of reality are blurred and you can never tell what is real and what isn't. 

Livia seems to be a pretty average teenage girl that has had a hard time recently. Her mom has disappeared, her dad has been accused of murdering her, she's been in foster care and her boyfriend has broken up with her. Not the easiest few months for a teenage girl. When a teacher offers her a chance to attend a "Seminar at Sea" for the summer, she sees her chance to escape her life for a few weeks.

Unfortunately, before they can begin their trip they get stranded on an island to wait out a storm, but strange things begin to happen. Nothing is what it seems, dreams are strangely real and some of the other kids are....different when they wake up.

I loved the mystery and suspense of this story. It's one of those delicious plots where nothing is what it seems and when you think you have figured out what or who is real, there is a twist that leaves you digging back in. The characters were typical teenagers and well portrayed. Livia was very likeable but most of the others left me realistically equally liking and disliking them.The only thing that left me a little perplexed, and was never really explained by the end, was the complete about face of one character's behavior.

The ending was left open enough with some of the characters that it leaves you with a few questions. A possible sequel? I'm not sure. There are enough questions left with the characters that it's possible, but I'm not sure where the plot would go. It would be fun to find out though. Definitely worth checking out.