Second Look: BE NOT AFRAID by Cecilia Galante

Anyone who knows me, knows how much love I have for Cecilia.  Not only is she an amazing writer, but she’s the kindest, most kind-hearted person ever.  Just being around her makes you happy.

OK, enough mush.  Onto the review!

Be Not Afraid


Title: Be Not Afraid
Author: Cecilia Galante
Published: April 2015, Random House
Genre: Teen Horror, Slight Romance

What It’s About:  Marin can see people’s pain.  She sees them in the forms of colors and shapes.  She couldn’t always see pain, though.  This sight started a year previously, after her mother committed suicide.

After her mother’s death, Marin and her father move in with his mother in a small town in Connecticut, where she’s the New Girl at her school, a catholic high school.  Marin keeps to herself, afraid to let people get too close for fear of losing them.

During a school assembly, one of the most popular girls in school — Cassie — has a seizure.  At least, that’s what everyone’s calling it.  But it was more of a demonic possession that exploded when the priest was saying prayers on the stage.  Cassie looks directly at Marin during this fit and screams at her.

Cassie’s brother comes to Marin for help, believing she has the key to saving his younger sister.

Thoughts:  (I’ll try to be spoiler free!)

I’ve been waiting for this book since I first heard it as a WIP at a Wilkes U Residency.  Let me just say, it did not disappoint.  There’s a few reasons for this, so I’ll point out the most obvious:  It’s about good vs. evil, religion, and demon possession.  What else could I possibly want in a book?

The plot line is smoothly written.  I didn’t notice any holes in it.  Galante also does a great job of building up the tension and suspense toward the end of the story when it comes down to trying to save Cassie’s life as the demon possession is taking control of her body more and more.  In fact, the last few pages had me a little scared — like, putting the book in the freezer scared.  (Friends reference, anyone?  Anyone?)

Marin’s extremely well developed, and realistic.  (Beside the “seeing pain” aspect, of course.)  She suffered a great tragedy that she blames herself for, and because of that she doesn’t want to get close to anyone.  She even her “best friend” at her new school at arm’s length.  (Which brings in tension later, and that’s resolved, too.)  When she’s approached by Big Brother Jackson (Forgive me, I cannot remember his name.), she wants nothing to do with “saving” Cassie, and the reader finds out exactly why.  (And really, who can blame her once they find out?)

There’s a strained Father-Daughter relationship throughout, with only Nan (Marin’s grandmother) being the connection between the two.  This is classic of teen relationships, but also is resolved.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend this to anyone who likes paranormal of the demon persuasion.  (Fan of Ghost Adventures?  Supernatural?  You may want to check this out.)  There’s a little bit of everything in here.  There’s definitely a love story, but I didn’t think it was at the forefront of it, as Barnes & Noble seems to want to place it in “Teen Romance.”

Rating: 10/10 stars.  (Definitely worth the wait.)

Second Look: THE FEVER by Megan Abbott


Title: The Fever

Author: Megan Abbott

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Adult Fiction

What It’s About:  Told in alternating points-of-view of one family, THE FEVER explores what happens when a high school is overrun by a mysterious, undiagnosable illness after one girl has an intense seizure during class.  The plot focuses on how the victim’s best friend (Deenie, one of the POV characters) reacts and tries to understand what’s happening; Deenie’s brother, Eli (another POV character) tries to understand why the girls in school are suddenly acting strangely; and Deenie’s father, Tom (another POV character), a single-father and Biology teacher at the school, tries to keep his daughter safe, while trying to understand what exactly is going wrong.

Based on true events from Le Roy NY, Abbott interjects current issues in the United States, such as cliques and the anti-vaccination debate.

Thoughts:  I couldn’t put it down, let me just start by saying that.  Abbott, who’s an Edgar Award winning author, tells a great story.  The characters are sympathetic, and she doesn’t give anything away.  I had NO idea what was really happening to these girls.  With the idea in mind that it was all fabricated, I couldn’t piece it together.  The ending, then, shocked me.

Throughout the story, I really felt for Deenie.  She’s a teenager who’s trying to navigate high school without a mother figure.  (The mother left the family a few years previously and Deenie hasn’t forgiven her.)  She’s trying to figure out where she stands in the small circle of friends she has, and her jealousy flairs when she feels someone intruding on her “territory”.  Abbott uses Deenie to show the confusion, not only of high school life, but of life itself and the tragedies that sometimes befall us.

On the other end, Tom (Deenie’s father) is trying extremely hard to raise his daughter the right way without his wife’s help.  He’s worried about keeping her safe and protecting her from the harms of the outside world, but realizes that she’s not a baby anymore and has to do things her own way.  I liked that Abbott added this POV character, because it allows the reader to see both ends of the spectrum — the child’s reactions, and the parent’s.

Aside from the flow of the storytelling and the extremely well-developed characters, the story is so realistic.  With all the current debate between anti-vaccination protestors and the HPV vaccine that was released a few years ago, Abbott keeps the reader interested if only because they want to know if the vaccine was really the cause.  (Spoiler alert: It’s not.)  Or, if the toxic lake (from fracking?  Pollution?) is the culprit.

A Note on Age:  While this book is written for adults, and takes place in a high school, teenagers would enjoy it just as much.  There’s a little bit of sex, but nothing overwhelming or that they aren’t already familiar with.  I think they’d connect with Deenie AND Eli, who are both in high school.  I’d recommend this to teens 15+, as well as adults.

Rating: 9/10 stars.

For those in the area…

Megan Abbott will be at the Easton Area Public Library’s Palmer Branch on May 21, 7pm, to talk about this novel, as well as sign copies.

Second Look: THE SCARLETS (An Asylum Novella) by Madeline Roux


Title: The Scarlets

Series: Asylum, 1.5

Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: Horror, Teen Fiction

Synopsis: Taking place sometime before Sanctum, this novella focuses on Cal and how he became part of the Scarlets (appearing in Sanctum).  Told from Cal’s point-of-view, the reader gets to see how he experiences college and his relationship with his father, the Dean of the College.  It also gives the reader some background as to the Scarlets, the secret society that centers around Brookline, the ex-asylum.

Thoughts: I really liked it.  I’m obsessed with this series, so of course the e-book had to be read.  I liked that it wasn’t from Dan’s perspective, but Cal’s.  And it helped make Sanctum make more sense.  It’s a quick read, too.  I’d definitely recommend reading this before you read Sanctum (if you can).

And if you haven’t read Asylum yet, you better go pick it up RIGHT NOW.

Rating… 8/10 stars.

Cover Reveal: Laura Lascarso’s RACING HEARTS BK2.

How awesome is this cover?

Racing Hearts 2 Final

Title: Racing Hearts 2

Author: Laura Lascarso

Publisher: Shine Books

Release Date: June 30, 2015

Description: See you at the finish line…

With the big race weeks away, eighteen-year-old Jesse Copeland struggles to keep his head in the game and his hands off his smoking hot competition. But when Brooke reveals a secret that could destroy Jesse’s family, it sends him into a tailspin of self-doubt.

Jesse must pull himself together if he hopes to have a shot at the prize money, save his home, and win the heart of the girl he loves.

Can these two competitors overcome the sins of their fathers or will a shadowed history destroy their dreams forever?

Author Bio: Laura Lascarso strives to craft stories that are honest and real with characters who must overcome great odds. Her debut novel Counting Backwards (Atheneum 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for YA literature. RACING HEARTS is Laura’s first e-series with Leap Books. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children and a menagerie of animals.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Check out Racing Hearts 1

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Read my review of Racing Hearts 1.