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Book Review: Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

I tapped the page with my fingertips. “And this is the page Mr. Davis was looking at. I remember. he’d circled a face with a -“

“Lorelei,” Brooklyn interrupted in a hushed whisper. Her finger slipped up to one of the photos bordering the main picture. In it, a crowd of students stood around the flagpole of the old high school. They were laughing  as though in disbelief, and I realized it was a shot of Mr. Davis’s brother. In what must have been some kind of prank, he and some friends had chained themselves to the pole and were holding a sign I couldn’t quite make out.

But they were laughing  too. Every student in the photo was laughing, except one. A boy. He was standing closer to the camera yet apart from the rest, his stance guarded, his expression void, and then I saw the unmistakable face of our newest student.

Jared Kovach.

I felt the world tip beneath me, my head spin as I stared unblinking.
“It can’t be him,” she said.

But there was no mistaking the wide shoulders, the solid build, the dark glint in Jared’s eyes.

“It can’t be him,” she repeated. 

He had the same mussed hair, the same T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the same arms, long and sculpted like swimmer’s  The only difference I could see in this picture was the tattoo. Two, actually. Wide bands of what looked like a row of ancient symbols encircled each of his biceps.

“It just can’t be, right, Lorelei?”

He was just as breathtaking  just as surreal. And somehow, it made perfect sense. I swallowed hard and asked, “What if it is him?”

“Lor,” Glitch said, shaking his head, “that’s impossible.”

“Maybe it’s his father, or even his grandfather.” Brooklyn glanced up. “Lots of kids look like their grandparents.”

“Think about it,” I said. “Think about all the things he can do.” I studied the photo again. The caption below it read, Taken the day we lost our beloved brother and friend.

“Wheat if it is him and hew as there the day Mr. Davis’s brother died.” I thought back to what Cameron’s father had said. “Cameron called him the reaper. Maybe he really is.”

“Is what?” Brooklyn asked, pulling away from me.


In hesitation, I pursed my lips. Then I said it, what we were all thinking. “What if he really is the grim reaper?”

Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace, and she can’t remember anything about that day. She’s got her grandparents, her friend Brooklyn and Glitch, and starting sophomore year of high school, so things should be OK, right? Not when the school’s loner, Cameron, decides to start stalking her, and the new boy in school, Jared, seems to be instantly attracted to her of all people. When Jared changes the course of Lorelei’s fate, and with it his own, things start spiraling out of control fast. Can Cameron and Jared keep from killing each other long enough to protect Lorelei from an even bigger threat? And why is Lorelei the focus of it all?

Darynda Jones, bestselling author of the Charley Davidson series (First Grave on the Right, etc.) keeps to her paranormal roots in Death and the Girl Next Door.  Sixteen year old Lorelei has visions that she can’t control and keeps hidden from everyone- they aren’t all hearts and puppies, and the less strange she seems the better life is.  After all, she already lost her parents when she was 6, and that’s enough for anyone. All she wants is for high school to be semi-normal, and things to be OK. However, when super-tall Cameron starts stalking her day and night, and the unbelievably gorgeous Jared shows up at school interested in her, things start loosing their normalcy   And when Jared saves Lorelei’s life, he changes not only her destiny but his. Can Lorelei and her friends (both old and new) figure out who’s trying to kill her before it comes to pass?  Definitely alive with humor and wit, and readers of Jones’ adult series will recognize Lorelei’s banter and outlook. Sets up nicely for the next book, and keeps readers interested, although the instant attraction of Lorelei and Jared can turn some readers off. I’d pair it with books like the Hush, Hush series or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series (Once Dead, Twice Shy). 3.25 out of 5 stars.  As of March 22, Goodreads has Death and the Girl Next Door rated as 3.64 stars.


I really enjoyed this book, but I can see how some readers would be turned off within the first 50 pages (which is my threshold for staying with a book I’m not enjoying). Lorelei has definitely just turned sixteen, and her rambling viewpoint and conversations with Brooklyn fit right in with my sense of humor, but could be irritating to others (just as to me it’s irritating that the 9th Doctor gets no love what-so-ever, BTW). 

The instant attraction with Jared is something that is completely in character with a sixteen-year-old girl (hello, new hot boy in a small town), and unlike some other series that shall not be named *cough* sparkly vampires *cough* there is an actual relationship that seems to build. Jared learns that his actions have consequences that he didn’t think of, and learning to deal with the mortal realm takes time as well, while Lorelei is definitely standing up for herself, while trying to discover why she’s at the focal point of everything. Learning that Cameron is not entirely human only adds to the mix, and the surprises that her grandparents and others int he community have in store build up the importance of what Lorelei is, and the conflict that is coming. It sets up the next book and the series quite nicely.

I’m definitely interested to see where Jones is taking Lorelei and her crew.

Book Review: Death, Doom, and Detention by Darynda Jones

With new purpose, I worked the back of the frame off and took the picture into my hands. I was going to lean back against my headboard, take deep breaths, and concentrate. But the moment my fingers touched the picture, I tumbled inside. The sheer curtain drifted apart and I found myself standing in the hospital room while Mom and Dad studied the infant me.

I was sound asleep, probably due to lack of oxygen from being cocooned, as Dad wiggled my chin with a fingertip. “Just like my father’s,” he said, and I couldn’t have explained the pride that welled inside me if I tried a thousand years. My incorporeal chest welled in emotion.


My parents were right there. Right in front of me. So close, I could almost touch them. I wanted so much to run to them, to thanks them for everything. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but could I breathe here at all? In this place of void?


I wanted to stand there forever and bask in their presence. It was like they were back. They were with me. But I had no way to pause the moment, and it slid forward despite my every desire to the contrary.


Mom stopped her cooing and looked over at Dad. “We should tell her when she’s older.”


I stepped closer. Tell me what?


Dad gave her a sad look. “It’s not our secret to tell,” he said, shaking his head. “Besides, what good would it do her to know the truth? To know that he’s alive?”


What? Who’s alive? What truth?


“I think I have this thing figured out,” a man said, and just as Mom and Dad looked up, the bright light flashed and I was back on my bed, the picture in my hands, Brooke mumbling something about duty and how spying was a noble tradition. Just look at James Bond.



In the second book in the Darklight series, Death, Doom, and Detention picks up where Death and the Girl Next Door picks up. Lorelei knows that she’s the Prophet and with her friend Brooklyn is trying to focus and harness her abilities in order to protect those that she loves and save the world. Meanwhile, Satan’s second in command took over her body when she was six, and living with that fact is a little daunting.  And she’s got a huge crush on the Angel of Death. But what is that when forces are still trying to kill her, and somehow they turn the most powerful being on earth against her?

Finally working on her abilities instead of ignoring them, Lorelei is working on expanding her abilities from passive visions to visions from photographs. With Brooklyn pushing her, she discovers that her parents were hiding secrets from the time she was born- but were they right to hide those secrets? And while Cameron and Jared seem to have solved their differences, the mysterious conflict between Cameron and Glitch continues to make things difficult. However, when Jared disappears then comes back turned, and their enemies draw closer and Lorelei’s visions grow darker, everyone must draw together in order to survive.  Definitely for those who have read Death and the Girl Next Door (you’ll be lost without it). 3.5 out of 5 starts. As of March 22, Goodreads rates Death, Doom, and Detention as 4.18 stars.


I had fun with Death, Doom, and Detention. Lorelei really grows within her character, and has struggles and hard choices that she must make: how far to take her powers, what to do with the visions she gets and how she can change them, and should she remove herself from Riley’s Switch to protect everyone? Extremely hard decisions for a sixteen year old to make, especially as she’s supposedly the only one who can save the world.

The fights between Cameron and Jared that punctured the Death and the Girl Next Door calm down to glares and verbal spats, but the tension between Cameron and Glitch kick up a notch, especially as there are repeated references to an incident at camp in second grade, but nothing is every fully talked about. And when Jared disappears for days at a time and comes back with his evil side in possession, watch out!

The book definitely ends on a cliffhanger, and makes you wonder what will happen in the third. There are many references to the demon that possessed Lorelei when she was six, yet there were only little peaks within this book, so it’ll be interesting to see where Jones takes it. Lorelei still has her trademark humor and way of thinking, which makes the ride fun.


TPIB: Paranormal Romance – Angels

Without a doubt angels are hot right now in YA fiction (Paranormal Romance).  You have the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and now the Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington – just to name a few.  So I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with some angel crafts that weren’t incredibly hokey (angels out of paper plates – oh my!) and yet weren’t wicked expensive.  Sure, we could do variations of some of the same things we have done before; I mean, angel wings will work nicely in bottle cap jewelry or marble magnets or what have you.   But then a great idea was staring me right there in the face on the cover of Embrace . . . you could make 3 dimensional book covers with angel wings using your teens as models.

I don’t have all the right tools at home to make a great step by step photo montage of this craft for you, so bear with me.  But in the end, you will use a photograph of your teen (preferably with their back facing the camera) and nothing more than white paper, scissors, glue and photo shop to create your own book covers.  You will only need photoshop (or any software that lets you add text to a picture) if you want to add book “titles” and “authors” onto the photo, with the author being the teen’s name.

This is the book cover look that inspired this craft activity

Step 1: Creating the initial photograph

Take a picture of your teen, preferably with their back facing the camera

My initial photograph

After downloading the photos to your computer for printing, you can add any text at this time if you would like.  I think it would be fun to use their favorite angel book title – or have them make up one of their own – and put it on the page.  Think of those fake magazine covers they put you on the front of at amusement parks.  You can also put the teen’s name on the photograph to indicate that they are the author.  For the really creative, put together some fake cover blurbs.

After you have your photograph looking the way you would like, print.  Color is preferable (and teens are more liekly to have color pics) but black and white would still work.  Black and white book covers are cool, too.  Look no further then Lauren Kate and Becca Fitzpatrick to see how cool they can be.

 
If you wanted to skip all of the above you could just ask your teens to bring a 5×7 or 8×10 photograph of themselves to the event, but it would need to be a full body shot.

This is what your final tribute cover will look like, but with 3-d papercut wings as opposed to clip art

Step 2: Making your angel wings

Fold a plain white sheet of paper in half

Cut along the folded the basic shape of what you would like your angel wings to look like.  There are a lot of good examples if you just do a Google image search for angel wings.

Before unfolding, cut any addition flourish you want inside to make the wings look the same.  Pretend you are cutting out paper snow flakes

Unfold and then cut your angel wings down the center line making two distinct wings

 Then glue them with craft glue onto your picture to add a 3 dimensional affect

 To make your picture a more sturdy wall hanging, you may want to glue the photograph itself onto poster board, cork board, etc.

If you use a forward facing picture, you will need to cut small slits on the photograph and glue the wings on the underside of the photograph through those slits so it appears as if the angel wings are coming from behind the teen.  And as you can see, I cut various types of wings to test the waters.  The key is to get the right size/proportion for the photograph you are using and bigger is definitely better as it is easier to give it more detail.

If you need another activity to do at your event, I found this great wire jewelry craft at Imagination-Jewelry.

Image and instructions at
http://www.imaginations-jewelry.com/2011/11/02/faux-bow-angel-wings/

Let me know if you do this, I would love to see pics. And be sure and add any additional craft ideas you might have in the comments.  I am now off to practice my angel wing cutting.

Read my review of Embrace by Jessica Shirvington here
You can find much better examples of paper cutting at the All About Paper Cutting blog