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Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: The Guardians by Lily Raye

Elijah and Cassie aren’t your old-school angels chilling in the heavens and strumming harps. They’re members of the Guardians, an elite force of angels masquerading under the guise of high school teens.

Their newest mission is no walk in the clouds. In an effort to seek out troubled teens, they, along with fellow angels, Rafe, Sophie and Gabriel, will pose as a family of adopted brothers and sisters and enroll in high school. Along with their gift of “emotional divination”, which is to take on the pain of those who are suffering, they experience their own roller coaster rides of teenage emotions.

Accustomed to working with children, shy Elijah is overwhelmed when he is assigned to Abby, an honor roll cheerleader. When she discovers she is pregnant and her boyfriend abandons her, Abby turns to Elijah for support. As his feelings for Abby intensify, Elijah also struggles with the desire to be a guardian to Abby’s unborn baby. However, as Elijah is trying to do good, a dark force hovers over him in the form of Lucius—one of Satan’s demons. Things escalate when Elijah threatens Lucius. It will come to a fight to the finish with Elijah either being defeated or damning Lucius back to Hell.

Song bird Cassie sings her way into the lead of the school musical and into the life of Zach, a guitar-strumming lost soul. After constant beatings from his step-father drive Zach to a suicide attempt, Cassie must teach him about hope and faith. However, a dark force in the area leads Cassie to mistakenly interpret that Zach is her assignment. Instead she was meant for Lauren, her musical rival and the girl who has an intense crush on Zach. Cassie must somehow find a way to befriend Lauren, help her along and continue to help Zach without destroying Lauren in the process.

To fail means death for their assignments, and to fall in love ensures a fall from grace. No one ever said high school was easy.

First of all, gah gah gah, I LOVE that cover!! I can think of several other "angel" books that could learn something from that cover design, but I won't name names. Sooo pretty. The designer: Rachel Marks. Sooo talented. Check out her website

On to the book: For me The Guardians was like tucking into the couch on a Saturday night and watching Touched By An Angel.  Even if you're not extremely religious (and honestly I'm not), it still gives you that feel-good feeling of angels doing what angels do best - helping people. And like Touched By An Angel, the angels have a lot to learn in order to do their best - because humans are complex, and teenagers even more so. It was easy to relate to both Elijah's and Cassie's struggles. They both want so much to succeed, but in doing so they make mistakes which could ultimately do just the opposite. Um, I think that describes a lot of teenagers I know. 

I was particularly drawn to Elijah's side of the story. He's so sweet and caring and non-judgmental. The perfect guy really. And in the end I kind of liked how his desire to help Abby with the baby was linked to him wanting to be a father. Perhaps not the most typical teenage response, but then Elijah wasn't exactly a teen. In any case, it's nice to see a guy who thinks about family. I also really liked the set up with his struggle towards the end (no spoilers, I promise), but Elijah has to make a choice, and it wasn't really the one I thought he was going to make.

Cassie's story forms the other half of the book, and I really felt what she was going through. She's sort of the newbie to the whole guardian angel gig and she wants so bad to do well. And of course she keeps messing up. And then things kind of get out of her control and she messes up even more. I like a character who can make mistakes, but I like a character even more who has a dozen hurdles thrown in their way and finds it in themselves to deal. This was Cassie.

Underneath all of this "assignment" stuff, there's something more complex going on with Lucius and the higher angels- or at least it's hinted at. I would have liked to see a bit more plot development with this because throughout I was kind of expecting there to be a big reveal as to why this particular family was targeted and why we were hearing the story of these particular angels. I thought there would be a huge tie-in, but either that was just my misconception or maybe I'll learn more with the sequel.

One last thing: despite the analogy I made in the beginning to Touched By An Angel, there are no lectures here and no overarching 'accept God into your heart' message. I appreciated that because as I said, I'm not religious even though I love angel stories. If there was any message I'd take from this book, it's simply that angels are cool (and possibly addicted to honey).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Poetry Sunday

Well, yes, technically it's Monday, but if my little guy hadn't been hogging the computer last night to play Mario Brothers, this would have come on a Sunday. I kind of love this poem for the historical perspective it gives. It was written in 1972, but some of the thoughts and sentiments are still true today which is just pathetically sad.

 I'm Not a Man by Harold Norse

I'm not a man, I can't earn a living, buy new things for my family.
I have acne and a small peter.

I'm not a man. I don't like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend's shoulder.

I'm not a man. I won't play the role assigned to me- the role created
by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell,
Television does not dictate my behavior.

I'm not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would
never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick.
I like flowers.

I'm not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight
when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I'm not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don't hate blacks.
I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should
love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I'm not a man. I have never had the clap.

I'm not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I'm not a man. I cry when I'm unhappy.

I'm not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I'm not a man. I don't wear a jockstrap.

I'm not a man. I write poetry.

I'm not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I'm not a man. I don't want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Poetry Sunday??

Not sure if I'll be able to keep up with meme, but I've been reading The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry as research for a WIP and thought it'd be fun to share some. So, here's  a little Walt Witman to get us started:

Shut Not Your Doors

Shut not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet
needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Books of August

Hey all, August was a slow month for me reading-wise. I was on vacation for a while and trying to do some revisions, which I am still working on. Only 5 books! Well, that is actually not a bad number because I really ought to be writing more than reading in any case. Let me know if you loved any of these!

60. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein** This was a slow starter for me, but boy did I end up loving it. I thought the characters were just so strong and true to life. I loved the idea of these women flying into the danger of war and seeing all that they'd do for each other. Their friendship was exactly the kind that I like to read about and strive to write.

61. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo* A decent fantasy read, but I felt that the character cliche of "beautiful but doesn't know it" could have been abandoned. I was totally rooting for the wrong LI, mainly because we have to rely mainly on the MC's memories of what her "crush" love interest was like and I felt she was unreliable. In short, I wanted the MC to fall for the bad guy! All in all, it was good but not good enough to earn my top rating.

62. Life is But a Dream by Brian James* A contemporary novel that tackles schizophrenia mixed with a legitimate love story. I thought the overall premise was fantastic and I really loved the romance in it. At the same time, it didn't hit that weak spot that made me weep, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I knew how it was going to end? Also some of the prose in this was just gorgeous. Definitely worth checking out.

63. A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass* This was a lower YA read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's about a girl who feels she's different all her life because she associates colors with everything - letters, words, people. She eventually confides in her parents and finds out that she has synesthesia, or a crossing of the senses. After she meets others like her a whole new world opens up while at the same time she starts to ignore her old world. There was also a very touching theme of pet loss in this book. Overall, it  didn't hit me emotionally enough to earn five stars, but I enjoyed it enough to recommend particularly to a younger YA audience (10-13 yrs old).

64. Taken by Kelli Maine* Gasp! I foraged not just into adult territory, but erotic adult territory! This is the first erotic novel that I have read in years, probably since before the kids were born. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the characters were HOT!!!  Definitely worth the money, and if you're thinking of checking out 50 shades of Gray, do yourself a favor and buy this first. Also, I should disclose that this was written by a good writer friend, and I am so so happy for her success. Another friend did the cover - can I just say WOW! Check it out.



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