Paranormal


Alpha GeneAlpha Gene
Angel M. Huerta
White Goblin

After being unjustly accused of murdering his friend and partner, Dr. Lucas McKenna relocates to a small town in Maine to live a quiet life pursuing his passion: genetics. When he is mistaken for an obstetrics physician and delivers a child who mysteriously flickers in and out of his visibility, the doctor believes he may have stumbled onto the next great evolutionary leap in humanity. He follows the girl’s progression and soon discovers several more children who seem to possess extraordinary gifts. While the doctor’s actions may seem creepy, he assures the reader he is only pursuing the science and intends no harm to the kids.

Years later, when Peter, a new, strangely gifted teenaged boy arrives in town with his family, he meets up with the other teens with special abilities. As he emerges as the leader of the group, he begins to try to convince the others to challenge local bullies and stand up for themselves. His efforts go awry, and the bullies are quick to take advantage, but Peter is not giving up so easily. He will need all his tenacity, too, when a bigger, darker threat emerges and threatens the life of the only person who truly understands the abilities the kids possess. It will take the whole team of kids working together to save the doctor before it’s too late.

The story begins with an interesting, birds-eye perspective from the elderly genetics doctor, the man who later discovers the emergence of new abilities in humans. As he tells his tale, he often pauses to relate other stories, from his marriage to his late wife to his coffee pot, to how Peter’s family dog came to live with them. While at times charming, sometimes this chops into the forward motion of the story, creating a little bit of confusion. When Peter’s point-of-view is introduced, the narrative evens out a little more. Prickly at first, Peter soon grows into the leader of the group of misfit teens and begins to inspire them to be more than they currently are. Readers who enjoyed Unleashed by Jennifer L. Hartz may also enjoy this story.

Language Content
Moderate.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
Some brief physical confrontations. No graphic details or violence.

Drug Content
None.

 

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Of PoseidonOf Poseidon

Anna Banks

After surviving a devastating shark attack, the last person Emma wants to see haunting the halls of her high school is the mysterious boy she met on her beach vacation. But try as she might, Emma can’t seem to escape Galen, nor can she find an explanation for the powerful connection she feels when she’s around him.

When Galen finally explains his reasons for following Emma across the country, she can’t – or doesn’t want to – believe him. But neither can she deny the inexplicable gift she possesses, a gift Galen says holds the key to saving his people from war. If Emma accepts Galen’s story, it will change everything and put everything she wanted and almost had squarely out of reach.

Despite the heaviness of the opening scenes, this is a fun, often humorous story about forbidden love with a bit of a new spin on mermaid – or Syrena – myths. Emma, a pure soul with a tragic past, and Galen, a duty-bound prince of a hidden realm, make perfect star-crossed lovers. Of Poseidon has recently been nominated for the 2013 YALSA Top Ten award.

Language Content
Mild.

Sexual Content
Emma worries that her mother will assume she and Galen are having sex, though they aren’t sharing more than secrets and a few super-charged kisses.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
A bull shark attacks a young girl as she swims at the beach. Details are a bit gruesome. Two girls with super-strength tackle each other in a beach house, destroying furniture, but causing only minor damage to each other.

Drug Content
None.

Visited by Janine CaldwellVisited

Janine Caldwell

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Seventeen-year-old Joanna Murphy is all set to being a glorious senior year, one that will climax with the realization of her dream vacation: a backpacking trip through Europe with her mom. That is, until Mom and step-dad Stan drop the baby bombshell. Joanna rages at her mother’s starry-eyed ignorance, crushed that the trip is now canceled and her senior year will now be all about the new baby. Stan has already crowded the quiet home, and once the new baby arrives, how much time will Mom have left for Joanna?

Retreating to her special place, Joanna climbs out to the rooftop of the two-story desert home, wishing her life were different. When a falling star changes course and bolts directly toward her, Joanna loses her balance and tumbles down the rooftop. She wakes in the hospital, miraculously alive and unhurt, but her life doesn’t seem spared any damage. Mom greets her, but there’s no Stan, no pregnancy, and never was as far as Joanna can tell. What does this mean?

As Joanna flounders, trying desperately to understand why things are suddenly different than she remembers before the fall, a mysterious boy approaches her with an important clue: he rescued her after the fall and healed her body.

To sci-fi geek Joanna, this is the best news ever! It wasn’t a shooting star she saw, but instead an alien. How awesome is that? Her very own visitor from outer space. Her new friend, who calls himself James, warns Joanna that he has been sent to earth on an important mission, one which will be opposed by a dangerous enemy. Joanna promises to keep James’s mission and his true nature a secret, but she can scarcely contain her excitement.

As senior year begins, Joanna continues to find pieces of her life missing or out of place. No more volleyball? Ouch. And she has the boyfriend of her dreams?! Awesome! Only, why is that not as easy as it once seemed it would be?

A determined Joanna wrestles to understand and accept this new life, but the changes continue to spiral around her. Her mother plunges into depression borne out of her loneliness, and Joanna realizes maybe she’d been selfish to resent Stan’s presence in her life so much. But how can she return her life to the state it was before?

Finally, Joanna confesses her feelings to James and he reveals the truth of his mission to her. It is a truth Joanna never expected to encounter, and one which changes everything.

Language Content
Mild and infrequent.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content (Spoiler Alert)
James has a mission to save Joanna. A sci-fi fan and subscriber to the hope that life exists on other planets, Joanna believes he is an alien who has come to visit earth. She discovers he has been sent not by aliens but by God to inform her of his existence and convince her of the benevolence of his plan for her life.

Violence
James and his enemy engage in some sort of battle which mostly happens off-scene. No graphic details.

Drug Content
Joanna discovers several empty wine bottles and a bottle of pills left behind by her mother. Mom appears intoxicated and in need of medical attention.

UnleashedUnleashed (Heroes of the Horde #1)
Jennifer Hartz
Desert Breeze Publishing

After hearing a legend about a man who conquers demons and receives great power, six teens return to the site of the story and poke around. They flee following an accident, but over the next several hours, each begins to manifest a special ability.

Though the group is at first undecided on what to do with their new gifts, the team quickly realizes having these abilities makes them a target for a host of demons. They work together, using seeing gifts to sense demons and attack abilities to defeat them.

The fighting only gets harder as with each battle the demons seem to learn new ways to attack. Where are they coming from? The team must find out and must stop these demons before they are completely overrun.

Unleashed is a fun superhero team story in which each member takes turns narrating. While the opportunity to be inside each character’s head is great, some of the characters’ emotional landscapes leave few surprises. One fills readers in right away about his anger toward his dad and its sources. The peripheral characters are often one-dimensional as well. Despite this, young readers may find the intense battles against demonic hosts and romantic entanglements between the characters to be enjoyable and entertaining.

Language Content
Mild. Contains some crude language but not profanity.

Sexual Content
One boy fondles a girl he’s dating. References to the fact that characters are having sex without descriptive details.

Spiritual Content
While there are some references to Christian theology on demons and one character uses scripture to fight them, much of the battle strategy is physical, and only one character is described as having a relationship with God. The others do not even seem to question the spiritual implications of demons’ existence or how that might affect personal beliefs.

Violence
Character use superpowers to physically battle demons. Demons defend themselves by biting. Few graphic details.

Drug Content
None.

SPECIAL NOTE
Jennifer Hartz has chosen to donate a portion of her royalties for this novel to The A21 Campaign, a group which fights human trafficking and the sex-slave industry. Visit the author’s web site for additional information.

PerversePerverse by Larry Rodness
ITOH Press

As a second generation Goth, even Gothic life for Emylene is weird. Not weird. Perverse! While she enjoys her position in her community as a Goth princess, she doesn’t always see her spoiled and self-centered behavior and how it impacts others. When she inadvertently frees a mysterious girl from a charcoal sketch found in a dismal antique shop, Emylene’s world begins to shift. Her parents are barely recognizable and what’s the deal with her friends at her nightly club hangout?

Too late, Emylene realizes her new friend is not what she seems. As events spiral out of control, Emylene finds new allies to face the terror she is partly responsible for releasing. It will take all their strength and cunning to stop the creatures controlling her hometown.

Rodness creates a complex and feisty young girl with smarts and spunk in spades. Emylene grapples with her newfound adulthood and its challenges in familiar and entertaining ways. Narrative and plot are not as well-constructed as the characters, however. The narrative wanders out of one point of view and into another without ceremony or pattern. Scattered rants about the misconceptions the mainstream population has about the gothic community were sometimes off-putting rather than insightful. One character hijacks the story and inserts a long (several chapters) narrative of his own. Still, Rodness uses some interesting bits of folklore and introduces readers to a strange magical picture, creating a story world worthy of the genre.

Language Content
Moderate profanity.

Sexual Content
References (without description) to some teen sexual experimentation girl-on-girl. In one scene, Emylene is incapacitated by a villain and made to experience sexual pleasure. She is later found by a young man who fantasizes about having sex with her, whether or not she is willing. Other brief references to aberrant sexual practices.

Spiritual Content
Brief mention of solstice celebrations and Wiccan traditions.

Violence
Some brief scenes of fatal violence.

Drug Content
References to bad parts of town including drug trafficking, but no drug use among characters.

 

maximumride1Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company

For fourteen year-old Max and the others in her care, life is anything but normal. How can it be even close when she has wings bursting out of her back? Max and the others spend their lives hiding from scientists who would put them back in cages and continue the genetic experiments which resulted in their avian mutations. Just when Max thinks the coast is clear, and she and her friends are safe, the Erasers, frighteningly strong boys who morph into wolves, close in on them. When one member of the flock is captured, Max and the others have only one choice: they must rescue her from the lab where they were once imprisoned.

Max finds more than her lost team member when she reaches her former home. A mentor who helped them escape seems now to have betrayed them. He warns Max that nothing is what it appears. Everything is a test. A strange voice in Max’s head echoes the strange idea and leads Max and her friends on an even more perilous journey to uncover a secret which they desperately want to know: who are their parents?

Maximum Ride is packed with action and teen angst, but the ending was a bit anti-climactic, almost as if the book ended partway through the story. Max is above all an empathetic leader committed to protecting the weak, no matter the cost. Her struggle to discover who she is makes for a powerful undercurrent to Patterson’s first book in the Maximum Ride Series.

Language Content
Mild. H*ll appears a couple of times.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
The central characters are part of genetic experiments and spent a great portion of their childhood locked in cages like animals. After their escape, their former captors pursue them, making for some moderately gory battle scenes.

Drug Content
None.

the_risingThe Rising by Kelley Armstrong / HarperCollins

Maya and her friends have been on the run since they discovered their roles as test subjects in an experiment to resurrect supernatural abilities. Worse than that, they’ve now become mixed up in a war between rival groups, both of whom want the supernatural teens for their own use. With nowhere to go and only one possible contact left, Maya seeks a meeting with someone who might help. Turns out his help means putting up with an awful lot of attitude and a part of Maya’s past she’s not ready to face. More than that, as Maya and her friend Corey’s abilities continue to develop, so do the frightening side effects. Experiment leaders, the St. Cloud and Nast Cabals may be able to counter the side effects with medication, but access to the treatment means surrender and a life in a gilded cage for Maya’s team. Protecting her freedom means Maya has to discover a way to negotiate with the Cabals.

Fraught with angst and romantic tension, The Rising delivers a story of desperate teens battling for independence, desperately trying to sort out who they can trust and addresses issues of adoption, abandonment and what it takes to make a family. While Armstrong nails some of the tense moments with keen dialogue, she often summarizes scenes which would have deepened the story and more fully developed its characters. Nonetheless, readers who enjoyed Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver will likely enjoy this paranormal novel as well.

Language Content
Moderate language.

Sexual Content
Kissing/ “making out.” When Maya shifts from her cougar form, she is naked, but the others are respectful and protect her privacy.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
An accident is referenced in which a character was hit by a car. One character is shot, but not fatally. Maya slashes an enemy with her claws. A girl attempts to suffocate Maya. No graphic details to any of these events.

Drug Content
Maya’s parents are very permissive about alcohol and allow underage drinking, though no one consumes alcohol during the story.

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