Tag Archives: teen book review

Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Published: 20th March 2012 (paperback)
Format: E-reader
Pages: 320
RRP: £5.74
Rating: 13/14+

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

The premise of this book really caught me eye so I just had to join in the book tour! I was not let down. This book is very fun to read and provided me with a lot of enjoyment.

Uncle Mort was, at first, pretty scary but I think he was one of my favourite characters because he was both mysterious and hilarious. When I first read his name I thought of the French word mort which means death… the upcoming interview with Gina Damico shows it was unintentional, though!

The entire idea behind this new way of death and the subsequent afterlife is completely new and different from what has been portrayed in books and TV before… so at first it was all a bit confusing with new vocabulary but like in other fantasy books it becomes easy to pick up on.

Many other reviewers felt the same as me about Lex at the beginning. Being a juvenile delinquent means she is pretty hard to like but she grows and finds out answers throughout the book.

The book was written in third person so I felt that it was slightly more difficult to relate to Lex, since we did not get to delve completely into her mind. Other people’s opinions and thoughts were not usually looked at so a better choice would have been first person, so as to fully enjoy Lex’s character.

The overall writing quality however was really slick and I just plain enjoyed this book. I am glad this is a series because I would like some more answers!! I am sure there is more to some characters than meets the eye…

A fun, slightly mysterious and dark book with a good helping of comedic banter and romance. A great blend!

Plot: 8/10
There was a lot of action and events and that kept it thrilling.
Writing Quality: 9/10
Gina Damico has a lovely, in-depth writing style and the quality is great.
Originality: 9/10
Personally, I have not encountered a paranormal book about grim reapers…!
Characters: 6/10
The characters were developed and fun to read about.
Descriptions: 7/10
The descriptions provided were great.

39/50 = 80%


Thank you so much to Teen Book Scene/Netgalley for the copy of the book.


Author Interview with Lee Nichols

I am very pleased to welcome the wonderful author of the Haunting Emma trilogy, Lee Nichols! The first ghostly paranormal book I had read, the first Deception really took my breath away. It is fantastically written and rather unique in the paranormal genre, I think.

The last in the series, Surrender, is out in the USA on the 6th of December, and  in line with that is a blog tour. I asked Lee five questions in general about the trilogy (seeing as I have only read the first one);

1) Why did you choose to write in the paranormal genre, specifically ghosts? Were you inclined towards it because of an event or are you particularly interested in ghosts?

I had this idea for an adult novel that was this sort of contemporary gothic mystery and as I started working on it, I thought wouldn’t it be much cooler if she could actually talk to ghosts. I think I chose ghosts because I love history and old houses.

2) The concept of the ghosts and how Emma and other ghost keepers is a bit different than the majority of otherworldly novels – and especially the large number of powers Emma has compared to Bennett, for example – what inspired you to create this concept, and why?

I didn’t want it to be the stereotypical ghost-whisperer kind of theme, where she helps someone right a wrong and they’re able to move on. So the whole world of ghost keepers stemmed from trying to create something fresh. I liked the idea that she was pulled into this whole new plane of existence, and that her parents had been masquerading the truth to protect her. And the villain, Neos, came from the idea that some ghosts don’t want to move on, they just want to become more powerful ghosts.

3) Who is your favorite character to write about and why?

I love Emma. She’s the kind of girl I’d want as a best friend. But the most fun is probably writing the ghost jocks who mercilessly tease her.

4) In Book One, the strange “moments” Emma has to an older era as a different person is very intriguing – why did you choose to include these moments to be (around) the 19th century?

It just kind of fit into the Colonial history of Massachusetts where the book is set. Plus I wanted to create this idea that ghosts and ghostkeepers had been around for centuries.

5) The “will they or won’t they” relationship between Emma and Bennett is so intense to read in Book One! Do you like them as a couple, and was it fun to write their interactions with each other?

I very much do believe they belong together. They were tricky to write as a couple. In some ways, I think she’s a much better match with Coby, but one of the themes throughout the series is that you can’t always control who you’re attracted to, who you’re going to fall in love with. It’s part of what makes love so magical. I hope readers will be as happy with the conclusion in Surrender as I am.

Thanks Lee!

When Emma Vaile’s parents leave on a mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. But then her best friend stops talking to her, the police crash her party and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian, Bennett Stern, and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England. After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular crowd. She has memories of Thatcher she can’t explain and strange visions are haunting her. Emma doesn’t trust anyone any more – except maybe Bennett. But he’s about to reveal a ghostly secret to her. One that will explain the visions …and make Emma fear for her life.

Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she’s battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she’s flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and love interest) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that’s something Bennett is not willing to accept. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school. A new team of ghostkeepers has arrived – one a snarky teen boy, the other a visiting scholar – and Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

After a devastating battle at headquarters in New York, the ghostkeeping world is in shambles. When Emma and Bennett return home, they are determined to defeat the wraithmaster, Neos, forever. But it’s not going to be easy. Bennett’s parents kick him out when they realize he is still using drugs to enhance his powers. Emma is convinced her aunt has come back from the dead to warn her of a new threat. And worst of all, Neos is using wraiths to possess the students at Thatcher Academy. If the ghosts manage to take over the entire school, even Emma won’t be strong enough to stop them. But if either she or Bennett sacrifice his or her powers, they might be able to save the ghostkeeping world once and for all-and break the “ghostkeepers lose their powers when they fall in love” curse. The question is: who will be the one to surrender all power?

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Title: Undead
Author: Kirsty McKay
Published: 1st September 2011
Format : ARC
Pages: n/a
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13/14+

It was just another school trip – stuck on a bus with a bunch of freaks…

When their ski-coach pulls up at a roadside cafe, everyone gets off except for newbie Bobby and class rebel Smitty.

They’re hardly the best of friends, but that all changes when through the falling snow, they see the others coming back.

Something has happened to them. Something bad. Soon only a pair of double doors stand between those on the bus and the Undead outside.

The time has come to get a life.

Undead, I am ashamed to say, was my first ever zombie book. I thought the blurb was really intriguing so I said yes to an ARC copy from the lovely Chicken House. I was initially a little bit scared, I have to admit. I knew Undead was aimed at teens but that meant it could easily have been really scary.

Thankfully, it dealt just as many comedic cards as well as thrilling, horror and a touch of L-O-V-E, loooove. Being my first “zom-com” book, I didn’t have very high expectations pertaining the plot, specifically. I’ve watched plenty zombie based television programmes and films, but to be honest I have never understood how a book could chill you to the bone. Turns out, it’s actually quite possible!

Sarcastic (and slightly facetious) Bobby, Rebel Smitty, Alice “Malice” and Smart Inept Pete are the main cast, and written so that they actually swear, have interesting but realistic personalities.

The quick pace of the novel means you delve straight into the action, meaning there is not time to stop as the zombies appear straight away!

What I loved even more about Undead was that the characters were aware of popular culture. You know in media such as books, tv and films where teenagers don’t seem to watch TV? I am happy to say that in this book the characters watch TV and have seen plenty of zombie films, much like real life! Huzzah!

All in all, Kirsty McKay has written a fabulous book, finally creating a YA novel in which the characters are relatable, average and normal. What’s even better is that the zombie aspect is well done and not in a clichéd or overdone way, either. Great plot twists and a fantastic twist (or even… cliffhanger?) at the end leaves me gagging for more.

Plot: 8/10
Fast-paced and action packed. Perfect for a genre like this!
Writing Quality: 9/10
I really loved the quality and style of Kirsty McKay.
Originality: 8/10
OK so zombies aren’t original at all but elements and the writing were definitely different and it made it very enjoyable to read.
Characters: 9/10
The characters were loveable, well developed and most of all  realistic!
Descriptions: 8/10
I really loved the descriptions of the setting, characters and the zombies!

42/50 = 84%


Thank you so much to Chicken House for providing an ARC copy!

Undead will be published on the 1st of September (or thereabouts! :P)