I am seriously getting addicted to Rachel Vincent's "Soul Screamers" series (this is book 2). The writing voice (and the reader's) work wonderfully to portray a teenager struggling with curfews, a new boyriend, bonding with her once absentee dad... and learning her abilities as a banshee. I especially appreciated all the little bits of "stage business" -- the color of some balloons, the cut of a new coat -- that helped me visualize the story all the better. A solid read!
"If I Die" is definitely a game changer in the Soul Screamer series, but what a ride! Normally I use my audio books on my commute to and from work, but this one had me so on the edge of my seat that I had to bring it inside and listen to the rest of the book, sitting at my computer desk! Rachel Vincent has such a solid handle on Kaylee and on the mythic world, which has never shone so well as in this installment, with its inclusion not just of bean sidhes and reapers but incubi and syphons. I particularly continue to love how the mythic elements exist in an otherwise completely realistic world of high-school, parents, best friends, and teen jobs. Her greatest strength remains the other characters we've come to know and love (or love to hate): Emma, Nash, Tod, Sabine, Alec, even Sophie. But this may be the first time (despite my love for all the books) that I've found myself talking to my radio as I drive: "No!" (there are a minimum of three amazing plot twists that drew that out), and "No no no," when I couldn't believe something was about to happen (at least twice), and even "Kiss her!" The plotting and pacing have gone past wonderful and hit stellar. I'm so relieved to know another installment (well, a novella) will be available in January 2012, and eagerly await it. Thank you, Rachel, for the excellent read!
Although it is abridged, the Burns/Reed version of this book is my absolute favorite. The characters sound uniquely like themselves, somehow--Clare sounds young and lively, and Henry sounds unassuming and wistful and so very funny. This book has haunted me, to the point that I went out and bought the unabridged silent (print) version, and imagine these voices speaking even the abridged parts. As for the book itself? WONDERFUL. Heartbreaking, but so very worthwhile (and the bad stuff is very much foreshadowed). I'm going to keep coming back to this one a LOT. Highly recommended.
If one isn't familiar with the "Amelia Peabody" stories, then some plot elements might (per another review) seem irrelevant. But to those of us who love repeating characters, that is the true treasure of these books. The fact that they are mysteries about Victorian characters set in Egypt is significant, of course--because they're always dashing good mysteries! But the mysteries are rarely any more important than the interactions of Amelia Peabody Emerson (a wonderful example of a strong but human woman), her gruff but adored husband, her amazingly resilient if quiet-natured son nicknamed Ramses, and her adopted daughter Nefret--not to mention all the other wonderful repeating characters who await their return to Egypt each year. My mother loved these books, and I resisted them for a long time, but now I am an absolute fan, and buy the new one the moment it comes out each spring. If you like the time period and setting, if you enjoy delightful narration (both from the author and from the reader, Barbara Rosenblat), or if you enjoy finding a fictional family whom you'll want to revisit again and again, don't just try this book--try this series.
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