Review: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Book: Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Published: June 7, 2011/ HarperCollins
Genre: YA/ Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416 pages
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.

My thoughts: I've always had a thing for ghost stories but as I get older I feel like it's getting more difficult to impress me. Hereafter is a captivating story told from the point of view of young Amelia, who is a ghost. I really like books where the narrator is not your typical protagonist and this was no exception. It reminded me of The Book Thief in certain aspects, which is one of my favorite books. Part love story, part ghost story; this paranormal romance novel is a spooky and exciting debut effort from author Tara Hudson.

After her death, Amelia spent her days trying to get the living to see or hear her again. She was unsuccessful for a very long time, until Joshua came along and almost died at the very same bridge and river that took Amelia's life many years before. Joshua comes from a family of "see-ers", or people who have the ability to interact with ghosts once they've had some sort of triggering event. When Joshua's heart stopped briefly in the river, he was then able to see and hear Amelia as if she was a regular human girl. Of course, the two of them fall in love and Joshua sets out to help Amelia discover who she was. Throughout the novel, Hudson slowly reveals the details behind Amelia's death and the person she was before she died in the river. She had me on the edge of my seat as I waited to learn more about the sweet and modest girl.

In addition to the mystery of Amelia's life, the couple was faced with other obstacles along the way. There was Eli, the "bad" ghost, who was trying to recruit Amelia to the dark side, so to speak. As the only other ghost Amelia had ever come in contact with, he had a lot of answers for her about what she was going through. I enjoyed reading about the internal struggle she had in needing him for answers despite knowing his evil intentions. It presented an interesting dilemma for Amelia and helped demonstrate the age old question of what happens when good and evil face off. There was also Joshua's grandmother, Ruth, another see-er who was NOT a fan of Amelia. She made it very clear that she did not approve of the two as a couple, or of any ghostly beings.

There were a lot of entertaining qualities in Hereafter. The only real issue I had with it was how much it seemed to focus on the developing relationship between Amelia and Joshua and maybe not quite enough focus on Amelia's backstory. It was also a little bit weird to me how okay Joshua was with the fact that he was dating a ghost. I did not realize that it's the first in a series when I was reading it, so I was happy to see that I'll be able to read more about Amelia in the future.

My rating: 3.5 stars 


Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Book: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Published: April 2011, Balzer & Bray
Genre: YA
Pages: 323 pages
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food. 

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

My thoughts: I heard a lot of the buzz and controversy about Bumped when it was first released and then I kind of forgot about it until now. I'm not sure what I was expecting since I've never read McCafferty before but this was definitely a shocking read. I would not consider myself to be a prude by any means, but this book was chock full of sex and lude language. The thing that shocked me the most while reading Bumped was that it is set in the not so distant future of 2035, yet life is so dramatically different. A virus has made it impossible for anyone over the age of 18 to procreate, so the world has adapted to the idea that teens should be "bumping" to avoid extinction. Many of the girls will go pro in bumping, which means they need to pop out as many babies as possible during their teenage years. They continue to go to school but their full times jobs become being surrogates for the older couples who can no longer have children of their own.

Twin sisters Melody and Harmony meet for the first time after being separated at birth and discover that they could not be more different despite being mirror images of one another. Melody and her friends spend their time trying to get matched up with hot guys to bump with and attending masSex parties, which are pretty much just orgies. Harmony is from Goodside, where she was raised to be deeply religious. When Harmony ventures to her sister's world in hopes of bringing her back to Goodside and "saving" her, she gets more than she bargained for after pulling the classic twin switcharoo (although unbeknownst to Melody). The sisters soon realize that they have more in common than they originally thought.

There was a lot of goofy, made up language in Bumped that reminded me of what it was like to read A Clockwork Orange for the first time. I felt like I needed a dictionary for McCafferty's jibber jabber just to keep up sometimes. I did find a lot of the words funny, but I'm not sure if that was just me being immature or if it was from the fun McCafferty was poking at society and how young girls are growing up too fast these days. Not only was the language weird, McCafferty also used a lot of slang that got pretty annoying. I felt like I was at the mall listening to a group of the most idiotic girls talking.

I didn't think that religion was portrayed in a very good light in Bumped. I felt like Harmony and the rest of Goodside were depicted as the extremes. I have no idea what McCafferty's stance is on religion but I got the feeling that there were bad vibes underlying in this book. One thing I thought was done really well here was the way in which it was unheard of for the teenagers to have sex for pleasure or to fall in love with someone. Condoms were considered contraband in Melody's world. Everything was so carefully calculated based on a matched couple's looks, talents and family history. I think that the idea behind Bumped was a good one and McCafferty obviously has a lot to say about where today's society is headed, but for me a lot of that was lost in the complicated language and sometimes overwhelming story lines. With that said, this would be a great discussion book for a book club because it's so different from most of the other books out there right now.

My rating: 2 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten "Awww" Moments In Books

It's been awhile since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday. Actually, it's been awhile since I've posted much of anything. I sincerely apologize for the lack of content lately. It's not much of an excuse since so many of you other wonderful bloggers work full time, but work really sucks up most of my time these days. I'm trying to get back into blogging and reading more because I really do enjoy it. So, without further ado, here are my top ten favorite "awww" moments in books (in no particular order).

1. Bridge To Terabithia- when Jess and Leslie first create Terabithia. This was one of my favorite books as a kid and I was so happy that those 2 became friends.
2. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close- pretty much every time Oskar opened his mouth I found myself awwwwing. Such a precious little boy!
3. Romeo & Juliet- this one must be obvious! When the two die for one another I almost can't handle it. Especially in the movie version with Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. I would have died for Leo DiCaprio for most of my teenage years.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows- the epilogue made me so happy. I won't spoil it for the few of you who haven't read HP yet but I was very pleased with how Rowling wrapped everything up.
5. The Time Traveler's Wife- the way Clair waits for Henry and the pain she goes through to be with him gets me everytime.
6. Love Is A Mixtape- the way Rob Sheffield writes about his late wife if so touching. He made me feel like I knew them as a couple because I could feel the love eminating off the pages.
7. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares- when the two of them are shut inside the closet at The Strand... ooh I would have loved to be stuck in a giant bookstore with a boy I was crushing on when I was a teenager.
8. Along For the Ride- I think this is my favorite Sarah Dessen book. Auden & Eli's nighttime adventures had my heart melting.
9. Gone- Cabel's willingness to stick by Janie when he finds out her fate is majorly aw worthy. He has to be one of the most upstanding characters in any book I've read thus far.
10. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour- after Roger realized he was into Amy, every moment they shared was adorable. I particularly loved the moments they were driving and listening to the mix cds. So simple yet I totally know how much lust was probably in the air at those moments.

This was actually very difficult! I guess that's the problem when I don't really read many sappy romance novels.