Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Shade
Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is one of my autobuy authors, so this is a book that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I picked up an autographed copy at this year’s BEA.

The Premise: Everyone born after what is now called The Shift (which happened sixteen years ago, December 21st, 1:08 Universal Time), can see and hear ghosts. For this generation, the ghosts are annoying and sometimes scary – trying to communicate with the kids and not moving on to the other world. Aura Salvatore was one of the many teenagers dealing with this ability and and it’s downfalls, when her boyfriend Logan dies suddenly and becomes a ghost himself. Now Aura and Logan’s family are left reeling from his death, and it may not be a good thing that Logan’s ghost is still around, because can they move forward when he can’t? And what should Aura do when another boy, Zachary, who is alive and interested in her, when she’s still involved with a ghost? Things are further complicated by Aura’s research into the Shift and her mother’s past, and Zachary reveals a secret which ties them together.

Read an excerpt of the first chapter of Shade

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: there is something in Jeri Smith-Ready’s writing that appeals to me. Maybe it’s because it strikes me as being carefully thought out. The prose is clear and simple yet the story and the world building reaches beyond the easy and superficial.  I liked that there are realistic problems for people with the ability to see ghosts, and that the phenomenon has influenced clothing colors, technology and other facets of society. Even laws have been affected by The Shift. It’s common for kids that work as interpreters for ghosts on the witness stand for example. The government’s reaction is yet another interesting aspect.

What I really love is how this phenomenon is made personal and poignant because of the first person point of view of the narrator, Aura. We see her relationship with Logan through her eyes. They’ve known each other since they were six. His big brother and sister, Siobhan and Mickey, and his younger brother Dylan are used to her presence at their house all the time.  They fight, they make up. They share a love of music. What they have is tumultuous yet lovely, but Smith-Ready doesn’t pull any punches, and when Logan dies, on his seventeenth birthday, in a stupid, senseless way, Aura’s loss is palpable. Her grief felt real. It was not a dramatic dark depression (a la catatonic Bella in New Moon), but there are ups and downs and raw emotion. The process is slowed down considerably when Logan’s ghost is still there.

While Aura tries to keep going, grieving for Logan yet holding on to his ghost (despite her best friend Megan and her aunt Gina’s advice not to), Aura also develops a budding relationship with Zachary Moore, a new student from Scotland. Zachary understands that Aura is still dealing with Logan’s death and he’s there for her, but he makes it obvious that he likes her. He’s extremely patient, something which endeared him to me, although sometimes I wondered, could someone his age really be that together? His confidence definitely made him attractive though. This is a love triangle where both guys are equally likable, but because Logan was dead, I didn’t think that it was a healthy relationship to be in the long run (and that’s heartbreaking, but Aura needs to live her life). We shall see where that goes. I like that Aura is still figuring it out.

Another facet of the story was the mystery that Aura is trying to solve  – who her father is and what really happened when her mother took a trip to Ireland, over sixteen years ago. She wants to research the monuments at Newgrange for her school project because her mother mentions them in her diaries, but doesn’t want anyone to know what she’s up to. Zachary becomes involved in this research when he’s assigned as her project partner, but he proves to be a little secretive himself. This was a secondary storyline introduced later in the book which left a lot of questions which I’m sure will be further developed in the next book, Shift, which comes out May 2011.

Also – Shade has been optioned by the ABC Family network (doesn’t mean it will be a TV show, but it could be)!

Overall: I do recommend Shade. It’s a young adult story that’s as thoughtfully written as other Jeri Smith-Ready books, so it was as excellent as I was expecting, but perhaps tinged with more sadness. When the story is about ghosts and the death of a seventeen year-old, I would be dismayed if it wasn’t so.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
Presenting Lenore – positive review
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm – positive but wanted more
Steph Su Reads – 4.5 out of 5

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Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready

Bad to the Bone
Jeri Smith-Ready
This is the second book in the WVMP series by Jeri Smith-Ready. The main character is college student and reformed con-artist, Ciara Griffen, who finds out that the DJs at the radio station she’s doing PR for are all real vampires. Ciara, being the enterprising marketing student that she is, uses the truth to sell the station – no one believes it anyway and think its a great gimmick – all the DJs are vampires, trapped in the time period they died so that’s the music they specialize in! Of course while this solves the problem of losing the station, it seems to paint a big target at WVMP. Unhappy campers range from local vampires afraid of their secret becoming public, to fundamental christian groups who are convinced that eliminating the vampires will save humanity.

Wicked Game, the first book in the series was one of my favorites of last year. My review of book 1 is here: vox / livejournal

Insert whine:

You know, I’m re-reading my review of Wicked Game and maybe it’s just the time of the year, but I keep getting interrupted when I read this series. It has been driving me UP THE WALL! I need to hole up and turn off all phones for the next book. I’d read and then Life would interrupt and then it would take me days to be able to get back into it, so the reading experience became disjointed 😦

/end whine

*** minor spoilers for the first book from this point ***

Bad to the Bone starts out not too far off from the events ended in Wicked Game. Ciara has managed to stop the radio station from being sold to a media conglomerate and thus all the vampires in it (including her now boyfriend Shane) are safe for now. Not is resolved however – her con-artist father has disappeared, and Ciara’s relationship with Shane is the longest and most serious she’s ever had, so while Ciara and Shane are happy, the idea of commitment frightens her. These become minor issues however when at the station’s Halloween bash, their signal is suddenly hijacked by a fundamental christian radio station, and a reporter from Rolling Stone who happens to be doing a piece on WVMP becomes a bit too nosey about the vampires.

Excerpt of Chapter 1

My thoughts: There is something about Jeri Smith-Ready’s writing that just works for me. It’s simple, not flowery, but it flows well from one scene to the next. You would think that the first person *present* tense would be odd, but I didn’t have a problem with it. When I think about what happened in this book – it seems like a lot, but I never felt overwhelmed with the information or that the pacing was too fast. It’s just that the relationships evolve along with the story at an appropriate pace: so while Ciara is dealing with figuring out who it was who took over their airwaves and what is the meaning of the ominous “YOUR GOING TO HELL” sign at the Smoking Pig, she’s also dealing with her own personal issues. That means – going to school and writing papers, deciding if she wants to make the next step with Shane, and worrying about her best friend Lori’s taste in men.

Ciara’s big flaw seems to be more about trusting people and making commitments because of this fear than anything else. Despite this fear she also has a huge amount of loyalty and common sense. So I knew she was sometimes a little overwhelmed by committing to Shane but I was a little surprised at how this manifested as in this book! I can’t really go into it because it would be a spoiler, but whoa, it’s interesting! I’m not sure I quite *liked* it, but Ciara really never betrays anyone, I think her panicked brain was considering escape plans, so that’s why I could accept it. Also whoa is Ciara and Shane’s sex scenes. This book is urban fantasy so romance is not a focus, the sex seemed more of a fact of being a “normal couple”, but I think Katiebabs should peer at them to consider them for her sex positions post. They are evolving as a couple and I’m very interested in seeing how it goes. Shane is still a bit mysterious though – he seems quite perfect, but we’re only seeing him through Ciara. I wonder how he really feels sometimes because with Ciara he seems very sure about the two of them – he has to have worries that he has to work through too.

Again I am going to say that if you like Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, you will like this one. Not because it combines supernatural plus radio (and they both do this in very different ways), but because the main character is a woman who isn’t particularly badass or a hunter/killer, they are women who use their own wits to solve problems and help others. Things have a feeling of “realness” to them because of the characters and relationships, and also the world is ours – the same time, the same geography, just with a supernatural element.

Random bullet time:

  • Every chapter is named after a song. I would see the song name and immediately this song would be in my head. Sigh, I wish my brain wouldn’t do that!
  • There is a dog in this story which I think you may have guessed from the cover. I love this dog, he is cute and he advances the plot. I am apparently a sucker for this type of thing.
  • As with Wicked Game, Ciara is quick to think on her feet and uses her talents as a grifter to get inside information about the people who have been targeting the station. She also brings in her best friend Lori. I like their relationship and what happens when they team up. There’s a scene after Lori and Ciara infiltrate a support group for people who have been bitten by vampires, which had me cracking up out loud.
  • The older a vampire is, the more they lose their humanity and become more “stuck” in their own era and more obsessive compulsive traits pop up. Knowing people with OCD myself, this is particularly tragic to me, and a reason for Ciara to worry about Shane and her future. There is also something monstrous in all of them which shows up from time to time, in some vampires more than others. It’s interesting to see how this is dealt with and I am wondering how Ciara and Shane will fare later on. I’m also wondering what Ciara is going to do when she and Shane can no longer rein in a certain vampire DJ’s baser instincts. I sense it could be a problem later.
  • We do get some back story on Shane and Regina which explains some of Regina’s over protectiveness.
  • There are I think 6 vampire DJs in WVMP, but probably 4 of them have more face time than others, so sometimes I get a bit confused about who certain people are because they aren’t mentioned as much and my brain is a little fuzzy on the details of book 1. I think my memory is getting bad. I should probably have read the free short stories about each one of the vampires and how they were turned that Jeri Smith-Ready put up online (4 of the 6 are up):

Overall: I really like this author, and this is my favorite series of hers so I think I’m already predisposed to like this book (um, full disclosure: I may have hugged my ARC when it arrived). Compared to book 1, I prefered Wicked Game slightly more because of the sweet romance in it that begins there, and it worked for me almost like a stand-alone, but it would be impossible to replicate that in the second book, so other than that, both books are equally well-written for the reasons I described in “my thoughts” above. Bad to the Bone ends in a good place but it more strings are left untied which make me want to read book 3 (Ciara’s uniquiness, the Control, Ciara’s family). I also am most curious to see what is going to happen with Ciara and Shane. Is Ciara just going to have to accept that she will lose Shane to time (which will bring her aging and his fading?) or is there some other solution for them? I am dying to know.

Bad to the Bone is out in stores May19th

Reviews elsewhere:

Tez Says (as a music aficionado, Tez would like to have words with Shane! :D)
Brooke reviews (I think her opinion matches mine)
Scooper Speaks (points out a bittersweet aspect I didn’t cover)
Angieville (also a good review)

Other links:

Jeri Smith-Ready has a Spread the Word contest going on NOW (prizes are gift cards and goodies from the WVMP store)
Jeri Smith-Ready has a feature at Bitten by Books also going on now (with a contest for books)

Best of 2008 and New Year’s Resolution for 2009

A lot of people are posting a year end post for 2008. It's nice to see people looking back at the books they read for the year and picking out their favorite reads, and it's interesting to see what they picked. I thought it would be a good thing to try myself because with it recorded, I can look back in later years and see what my tastes were like.

Out of a total of 77 books read this year, very few got into my best list, but book ratings are highly subjective.  I just went with my gut and rated them according to how I felt about the book as soon as I finished reading them. These lists are compiled from ratings I put down in my private notes.

All the links to my reviews here are to my Livejournal.

The Books that Blew Me Away  – These books are those I gave top marks to when I first read them. It's a very hard list to get onto because I have to feel like I'm falling in love and cannot be parted from the book for it to get on this list. Only three got on it this year.

Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away – These came very close to getting top marks from me. This is a personal thing, but the books above I would put down and then obssessively think about when I could pick them up again. The books below, I didn't feel as consumed by the book, but still felt really impressed by them.

  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready (my review)
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I need to review this when I have the book in my hands)
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (review coming soon)

Books I Really Liked/ Keepers. These each had several moments where I loved the book and overall I think these are books that deserve to be loved and read by others, but for some reason or other these didn't get into the top 7. I still consider these keepers, and all these authors are pretty much autobuys/ must read backlist authors. There are 19 of these books this year (Linnea Sinclair's name comes up a lot here, I was reading her backlist in 2008):

  • The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong (my review)
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (my review)
  • Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (my review)
  • Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Bk 1) by Patricia Briggs (my review)
  • Easy Freedom by Liz Berry (my review)
  • Jinx by Jennifer Estep (my review)
  • Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (my review pt 1, pt 2)
  • The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (my review)
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan (my review)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my review)
  • Burndive by Karin Lowachee (my review)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly, Bk 3) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • The Decoy Princess and Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook (my review)

 

And for my New Year's Resolution – it's the same resolution as last year , to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 - 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – let's get it back up to 100!!

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Contests up the Wazoo

EVERYONE seems to be giving away things this week! If you surf around, most of the group blogs seem to have something for the holiday season. Here are some of the ones I thought were interesting:

1) Books on Board is giving away a red Sony eReader.. Man, I would love to have an eReader but the price seems way too much for me right now to justify it or even ask for it as a gift. Especially since I don't read many ebooks right now. If I won one, that wouldn't be too bad. To enter you have to write a short essay about why you like reading ebooks and books on board, or you can link about the contest. Details here.

2) AustenBlog has a signed copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. I've reviewed this book here (LJ) and here (vox) and I do recommend it for Austen fans. Info on that contest is here.

3) Ann Aguirre (one of my favorite authors right now) is giving away a few books on her blog. They all run until this Sunday at midnight. I've entered a couple:

4) Linnea Sinclair (another fav) has Hope's Folly swag over at The Book Smuggler's blog. I am looking forward to Hope's Folly coming out soon. Information on the book and the contests are over on the blog – link is here.

5) Jeri Smith Ready is over at Harlequin's Paranormal Romance blog and giving away the winner's choice of an Aspect of Crow book. This is a good series I'm in the middle of right now. My review of Eyes of Crow is here (LJ) and here (vox)

6) Finally Paperback writer is still giving away prizes every day on her blog. Prizes vary. She put up a free ebook on there for everyone today.

 

OK I'm tired now. 🙂

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More book giveaways in the blogosphere

1) Ok if you didn't win the Jinx contest I posted about a couple of entries ago, never fear there is more.

Yankee Romance Reviews has an interview with author Jennifer Estep and a contest for her new release Jinx, here . All you have to do is comment, but do it soon, the deadline to enter is end of day today.

 

2) In the same vein, there is another Jennifer Estep novel up for grabs at "The Good, The Bad and the Unread" over here. That link is for an except of Hot Mama with what to do to win a copy along with a t-shirt, or a copy of Karma Girl and a t-shirt. Deadline for that one is Sunday Sept 14th.

 

3) Jeri Smith-Ready has an interview at "Patricia's Vampire Notes" with a contest to win her book Wicked Games. Contest details are here.  Deadline is tomorrow night (midnight Sept 11th).

What I thought was pretty interesting from this interview was that for those of us who already read this book – there are some short stories online to tide us over until the second book of this series (Bad to the Bone) comes out. Oh and newsletter subscribers get these a week early :

Monroe’s story, “Crossroads

Spencer’s story, “Rave On

 

4) Jeri Smith-Ready again – you can win an advanced reader copy of her new book The Reawakened here. You just have to send her an email with your guess as to who the Raven character is. Which means you have to be a reader of her series. Hurry on this one, it also ends tonight. I may enter this myself!

 

MY REVIEWS:

Jennifer Estep

Karma Girllivejournal | vox

Hot Mamalivejournal | vox

Jinxlivejournal | vox

Jeri Smith-Ready

Wicked Gamelivejournal | vox

Eyes of Crowlivejournal | vox

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Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Wicked Game
Jeri Smith-Ready

I snagged the last copy of this book at my Borders a couple of weeks ago. Wicked Game was released recently in trade paperback format. It centers on the life of Ciara Griffin, an older (26) college student who is majoring in marketing and has just found herself a job at a local radio station.

Excerpt of Wicked Game

Being an urban fantasy, nothing is as it first seems – the DJs at the radio station are all vampires, and Ciara is a reformed (sort of) grifter. The author puts a nice spin on the conventional vampire myth - each of the vampires is stuck in the timeperiod they were turned, unable to move forward with the rest of the world into the present time. this means they all play music from their era only and develop a half-amusing, half-tragic case of OCD.  This is the least of their problems. The radio station is threatened to be swallowed up by a huge media conglomerate, which would mean all the DJs would have to play what the Man tell them to, which is just not possible because of their natures. Ciara decides to help out by marketing the radio station as it is: run by vampires. This doesn't sit well with everyone, including other vampires in the area.

I really enjoyed this one and I read it everywhere I went. My week has been full with work followed by one appointment after another and I was seriously irritated that I didn't have much time to read it and irritated every time someone talked to me and made me put it down. I think that it's been a long time where I've had that problem. Usually even when I'm enjoying a book I can put it down, but this book made me want to just immerse and enjoy and I didn't feel like there were any places where I wanted to put it down or check how many pages there were till the end – it just flowed well. I was always curious what was going to happen next.

Haven't done this in a while. Bullet time:

  • I liked that the vampires were scary sometimes and yet approachable at other times. There were personalities that came out with each of them along with feeling of "other", not human being, that came across in this book better than some other vamp books I've read.
  • What happens after you stick a stake in a vampire is explained in disturbing detail. New one for me.
  • Ciara has a budding relationship with a younger vampire in this book. THANK GOD there is only a 10 year age difference because I swear, I do sometimes have a hard time with the – "he's 50+ years her senior, what do they have in common?" suspension of disbelief thing.
  • Sometimes the radio station was WMMP, sometimes WVMP. I guess I missed the part where they decide to change the name? and then call it by it's old name again? I was a bit confused.
  • The book has a definite ending and I felt pleased with it, but there are some loose ties. I think there is the opening for a continuation and a series if they are explored.  I'm happy with it as a standalone though.
  • I like that this is not just about vampires. There is also a lot of music, Ciara's personal problems and her past, and a sweet romance. It reminded me of that time period between college and "the real world" quite a bit. And Ciara seems real. She really has gone through some tough patches in life and it shows. Plus she reacts more like a real person when a vampire tries to bite her: I won't ruin it for you except to say she did NOT swoon. Also I liked that that Ciara uses her experience grifting to get her through tough situations. Her run ins with her nemisis from school were highly amusing.  
  • Oh! Almost forgot – the book is in first person present. Don't see that often. Sometimes it was strange, but often I managed to get too into the book to notice.

If you liked the references to music in War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, I think you would like this one too.

My past Jeri Smith-Ready posts

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Cool giveaways from Jeri Smith-Ready

I got a newsletter from Jeri Smith Ready a couple of days ago and if anyone is interested in her books (I liked Eyes of Crow – it has a coming of age feel, and Voice of Crow should have a mature Rhia), they should sign up. She's giving away goodies to fans. And she randomly draws a name from ppl signed up on the newsletter to win a cool prize. Here are the highlights with offers she has:

"–FREE BOOK DRAWING

Read an excerpt of VOICE OF CROW at
www.jerismithready.com/books/voice-of-crow/excerpt.htm

and reply to this e-mail with the answer to this question:

***Which Ilion battalion attacked Kalindos?***

and -bam!- you’re entered in the drawing.

Prize: autographed copy of VOICE OF CROW, a few weeks before its
release
Deadline: Friday, August 24
Winner will be notified Saturday, August 25

–ANOTHER FREE BOOK DRAWING

Reply to this e-mail and tell me how you heard of EYES OF CROW. 

A bookseller or librarian?  Friend?  Website?  Review?  MySpace?  An
ad?  This newsletter?  You met me at a convention?  You were that guy in
the fender-bender at the intersection of Route One and Fairmount Street
(sorry!)?  Be as specific as your memory allows, and I’ll love ya
for it, plus enter you in the second drawing.

Prize: autographed copy of VOICE OF CROW, a few weeks before its
release
Deadline: Friday, August 24
Winner will be notified Saturday, August 25

–REVIEWER CONTEST

Okay, this isn’t so much a contest as it is a pact.  Everyone who
reviews VOICE OF CROW by October 31 gets an autographed ARC of my May 2008
vampire novel WICKED GAME.  Blog about it, post it on an online
bookseller site, send it to your local newspaper, talk about it on your
podcast, whatever.  Just do it by Halloween and let me know about it.

Again, this is not a drawing.  Everyone–that’s EV-REE-WON–who does
this will get an ARC.  Even if it’s a bad review, though in that case
“ARC” might stand for Angry Red Cobra.  Kidding, of course!  I
love animals.

–ANIMAL OF THE MONTH CONTEST

***Discover Your Spirit Animal!***

Take an interactive personality quiz at www.jerismithready.com/quiz/ to
find out which of twelve Animals from the book you would be.  E-mail
me your quiz results for automatic entry in a prize drawing during your
Animal’s month.  Prizes include totem stones, jewelry and artwork
featuring your Animal.

Monthly prize drawings have been extended for two years, through
October 2009.  So no matter which Animal you are, you still have at least two
more chances to win, and no need to enter more than once.

 

SNEAK PREVIEW OF VOICE OF CROW

Want your very own piece of VOICE OF CROW in your hands in less than a      <—– going fast. She had 10-15 left last night
week?  The first 40 people who send me their mailing address will
receive a limited edition sneak preview, featuring two excerpted chapters
and a full-color cover.  Autographed and everything.

ORIGINAL COVER FLAT
The original artwork for VOICE OF CROW’s cover is quite different
from the final version.  I liked the first one just fine, but the reaction
from book buyers (i.e., the people who place orders for the
bookstores) was, “Hmm.  Try again.” 

Curious?  I won’t be posting it on my website ever, but I have about
twenty cover flats with the original artwork.  If you’d like a copy
of this collector’s item, all you have to do is buy any of my books
from Mysterious Galaxy, the awesome independent bookstore:

http://mg.booksense.com/NASApp/store/Product?s=showproduct&affiliateId=JSR&isbn=9780373802906

Just send me your proof of purchase (receipt, shipping confirmation,
packing slip), either by e-mail to jeri@jerismithready.com or snail mail
to P.O. Box 66, Westminster, MD, 21158, and I’ll send you the cover,
autographed.  This is a one-time offer, while supplies last, as they
say.

PERPETUAL FREEBIES

Bookplates: full-color autographed, personalized labels you can stick
inside your very own copies of EYES OF CROW, VOICE OF CROW, or REQUIEM
FOR THE DEVIL, thus getting a signed book without either of us ever
having to leave the house. 

Mini-bookmarks: trading-card size–collect all two!

Simply send your mailing address to jeri@jerismithready.com and tell me
for which book(s) you’d like a bookplate and/or bookmark.  I won’t
even make you send me an SASE—that’s how much I care.  I care
$0.41 worth about you.  If you’re Australian, I care about you $0.90
worth, because you’re really special.  And far away.
"

email her at info@jerismithready.com for the contests.. Meanwhile, sign up on the newsletter for interesting information about upcoming books, appearances and info. I didn't know she's donating some of her author royalties to 
the Wounded Warrior Project, "to assist severely injured veterans in their transition to civilian life." Or that the third book in the Aspect of the Crow trilogy is going to be called The Reawakened. Plus she has a new vampire novel coming out next year (I know people on my friendslist like vampires) called Wicked Game. OOoOo! Neat stuff I say!

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Eyes of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready

Eyes Of Crow
Jeri Smith-Ready

I just finished Eyes of Crow a couple of days ago. The book was pretty long -  (473 pages? Something like that), but the writing was simple and the font wasn't tiny, so for me, I was reading a hundred and so pages in an hour (it was an absorbing read).

This is a story set in a world that could be ours in the future or maybe its set in a different world, I couldn't tell. The society depicted here is a tribal society where every person has a Spirit animal. I found this very interesting – these Spirit animals are not just symbols, they really exist for these people and each person has powers and a personality that fits their Spirit. For instance – Owls are wise and it is impossible to lie to one, Wasps are warriors and quick, Bears are strategists. As each person progresses through life they move from one phase to another and their abilities increase (Wolves can become invisible at Phase 2 for example).

The focus in this story is Rhia. As the book starts she is a young girl and it is becoming evident that she has the aspect of the Crow – bringer of death (here is a excerpt from Eyes of Crow showing this that made me want to read this book in the first place). What's interesting is that Rhia does not embrace this right away at all. She doesn't want to be able to tell who lives and who dies, and she doesn't want to be feared by the rest of the populace; but because she refuses to embrace her Crow Spirit and doesn't go on the trek she must take to become adult and a Crow woman, there are consequences.

This is a journey from childhood into adulthood story. This was done very well, Rhia doesn't want to grow up, and has to face becoming responsible for the consequences of her actions, and to think about the world outside of her own comfortable place. Its not always as simple she she would hope (there is a feeling of resentment between tribes because of the differences between them, and an even larger difference between her people and the "Descendents" - could mean war). Because of this, and because of the straightforward writing style, there are some elements that feel young adult, but there are adult situations. I enjoyed the way the story flowed and Rhia's journey, moving from young girl to embracing her Crow aspect (and the Spirit journey she takes to get there), moving past loss and heartbreak as well. The rest of the characters were also interesting – most of them had more than one dimension, flaws and heartache that defined them, which added more depth to the cast. I think the story could have become stereotypical but the author avoids making it predictible and stale. This is a Luna book as well which means there is some romance too.

I didn't really find much wrong with the book, unless you aren't into young adultish books - 8 or 8.5 out of 10.

Book two is Voice of Crow, out October 2007.

And there is a free online story set in the same world here (Wild's Call, supposed to be a distant prequel). I haven't read it yet though.

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