Will You Give In To "A Temptation of Angels"?

 Title: A Temptation of Angels
Author: Michelle Zink
Format:  Kindle
Length:  448 pages
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
Rating:  5 stars

Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...
When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal

Look Ma...No Wings! 
I am tickled pink to report that though this is "angelic themed YA," there is nary a feather to be had throughout the entire read.
This means that you will not find any of the following in this book:
1.  Shedding, molting, preening, or flying.
2.  No references to wingspan, color, or feather size.
3.  No mysterious photo-shoot breezes that only effect the wings and the hair of the angel in question.
4. No stroking, fondling, or wing molestation of ANY sort.
5. No wrapping, covering, or shielding, of ANYONE at ANYTIME with afore mentioned plumage.

...and my personal favorite.
6.  No forbidden wing reveal to the poor mortal slob that can do nothing more than gawk and stare at the miraculous sight, as said angel both declares his/her undying love and swears his/her mortal love to secrecy; only to later blow his/her own cover while trying to save his/her mortal love.
If you must have must have feathers, I know a couple of places that sell feather dusters 'real cheap.'
Not to worry...dear reader.

The fact that there is no "winged" travel, does not mean that there is not travel befitting our angelic emissaries.  This is far form the case.  The way that these angels get around is so fitting and so ingenious that you will want to "jump" for joy.  (If you want to know what that means, you're gonna have to read the book.)

Starting Over
Helen had a life, a home, a family...until they came.
Now she has to start over with nothing but a pendant, a note, and everything that she ever learned.
This is where things really start to get interesting.
It turns out that the note leads her to two brothers named Darius and Griffin,
The pendant is the key that unlocks mysteries that she could never have fathomed; let alone imagined herself the center of.
As for what she knows...(you're going to have to read the book.)

Griffin is the boy that every girl dreams of.  He is the sexy, understanding, hero who "saves stray kittens."
"Really girls, I'm not kidding here.  He actually saves a stray kitten."
He is the person that teaches Helen how and what it means to be a "Keeper".
He is the person that she comes to lean on, and in a short time to love.

Darius, on the other hand...
Darius spends most of his time condescending to and distrusting Helen.  He is all about the mission at all costs.  Even when it becomes clear that Helen is a critical part of that mission.  Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater however, there are reasons for the ice that runs through Darius' veins.  (If you want to know what they are...you're going to have to read the book.)

This is the true enigma of the story.  When first we meet, Raum seems to be the bad guy.  A hot bad guy, but a bad guy nonetheless.  As time and the story progress, we find that like Shrek's onion, our boy has layers.  One of which just happens to cover details of a past relationship with Helen.
It is this past that will ultimately save not only Helen's life, but the world.  

A Brave New World
The world that is England in the early 1900's is one of progress and inventive creativity.  This fact is one that lends itself completely to the cloak and dagger James Bond-esque tone of the novel.  It also allows for the steampunk element of the story that Michelle so masterfully included.   In a strange way, this foray into the past does a lot to explain the paradox that is Helen.  She is the first to admit that she is not the most "physical" of creatures, but given the fact that she lives in the time of the "horseless carriage" and corset; we have to give her much respect.

 Famous Last Words.
I could sit here forever telling you all the things that I hope that you will take away from the literary treasure trove that is "A Temptation of Angels," but I think that task is one best left to the authoress herself.  When I asked her what she hoped that readers would take away from her work?
Her reply was...

"Just that I hope they'll find Helen's journey not only one that tests the bounds of physical strength, but her capacity for love and forgiveness, too, as all of our capacity is tested in this mysterious journey we call life."   - Michelle Zink

It Would Be a Crime...To Miss "Illicit Magic"

 Title:  Illicit Magic
Author:  Camilla Chafer
Format:  Ebook
Length:  211 pages
Publisher:  Camilla Chafer for Smashwords
Rating: 4 stars 
More than three hundred years after the most terrifying witch hunts the world has ever known, it's happening again.

Young witch, Stella, has to put her faith in strangers just to stay alive but she might not be any safer in their midst than from the danger she is running from.

There is more than one dark secret in her new family: √Čtoile’s sister is spoken of in fear and sadness; Marc is supposed to be a powerful witch but is missing his magic; where does the owner of their safe house vanish to every day and why does Evan have the eyes of someone not quite human? There is only one secret that someone will do anything to keep quiet, but whose secret is it and will Stella have to pay the price for silence?

Better Off Alone...
In "Illicit magic readers will find an older heroine.  Stella is 24, and while this book is still considered YA, the fact that Stella is older allows her a great deal more freedom of movement and does much to give credibility to her "loner" persona.  Although, one comes to see that the "loner" label is somewhat of a misnomer as applied to Stella.
She is not shying away from people because she has some sort of Greta Garbo complex.  She is doing it to stay alive. 
It seems that our little English girl is quite the "witchy woman" and has somehow come to the attention of The Brotherhood, an organization of people who feel it their mission to destroy witchcraft at all costs. (Get out the torches and pitchforks boys...we gonna have us a fire ta-nite.) 

Coming To America
Not to worry folks...she is saved, but her white knight just happens to be a girl.  That's right, her friend Etolie spirits her away to the US. (I forgot mention that the first part of this story takes place in England-BAD REVIEWER-BAD!!!)
But I digress...

Once she reaches America, Stella meets "The Council," the governing body for witches.
Safety right?
After she is attacked yet again, she is sent to a safe-house to hone her skills while protected.
The story takes a decidedly quiet turn during this time and focuses on her love life, introducing readers to a host of supporting characters in the process.  Be not fooled by the seeming lull, the stillest waters sometimes hold the deepest secrets.

My Two Cents
There is so much to be said about this roller-coaster of a book, but I am just going to have to let you, my dear readers take this ride for yourselves.
If you like a well written tale, full to the brim with British wit, murder, mayhem, love, and a surprise ending...this is the read for you.
There is even better news for fans of this bespelling  read.  There is ANOTHER book.
UNRULY  MAGIC is on sale NOW!

This review  was brought to you in cooperation 

The Hollow Tours Presents: Candlewax

by C. Bailey Sims
Title: Candlewax
About The Book: 384 pages
Expected publication: April 3rd 2012 
Published by: Terabyte Press
A medieval masterpiece of adventure, romance and horror, younger readers of Paolini and Cashore will gobble up this award-winning debut.
About The Book: An Ancient Prophecy. A Powerful Relic. An Insatiable Evil. When all three converge, the fate of every living thing will be in peril. All her life Catherine had hoped to see a fairrier cat. No book, no scroll provided to her by her tutors had ever mentioned this legend, much to her frustration, and now-at the worse possible time-she was getting her wish. Only, in her wish the cat wasn't about to kill her. A 732-year-old fairrier cat the size of a horse has killed his fair share of hunters. Driven to the brink of extinction for the supernatural powers of his coat, is he indeed the last of his kind? Sheltered, 16-year-old Catherine is about to find out. Unwitting heir to the Ancient Onyxes, she flees an arranged marriage only to stumble upon the cat's secrets, the force of the ancient relic she wears, and the dangerous mission they must undertake. Hidden under a desert that was once a fertile land, millions of predators are waiting to feast again. Catherine must discover the secret of the Ancient Onyxes and stop the creatures known as trodliks before they consume everything in their path. A whispered prophecy becomes her only guide and a rejected suitor just might be the one warrior she desperately needs.  Join The Hollow Tours for a MONTH LONG TOUR! On April 3th The Hollow Tours will be doing a REVEAL of the art on the BACK COVER of Candlewax which no one has seen unless they have a trade paperback of the ARC.

C. Bailey Sims' "Candlewax" is not a book that one can simply read and return to the shelf.
In order to fully experience the depth and breath of the characters, worlds and story that has been so artfully set before you; you must open all of your senses to the tastes, smells, sights, sounds, and tactile sensations that a literary excursion such as this will afford you.

Travel with Princess Catherine, The King of Candlewax, Bessie, Menard, and Pokos as they take up the mantle of a prophecy and a quest that will not only pit them against the evils of tyrannical rulers, magical beasts, bandits and all manner of treachery. They must also fight the more personal demons of insecurity, fear, loss, and anger in order to save the lands that they call home.

Though it is quite clear that Princess Catherine is meant to be the main character and focus of the story; the author does such a wonderful job of balancing the back-story, interplay, and relevance of all players within the saga that everyone gets time in the spotlight.
The relationships between characters are so seamless that it is often as if they function as parts of the same body, making it impossible to declare one person's more important to the story than that of another.

The lands of the world created within the pages of this book are simply breathtaking. Whether they be desert, verdant forest or snowbound mountain ranges. They are places that are sure to live on in the hearts and minds of children and adults alike long after the story has ended.

It is this reviewer's hope that all who choose to read the words that grace the pages of this fantastic work walk away with a new love for the magic, thrill, and adventure this is "Candlewax."

Rating: 5 stars

About The Author
Photo Credit to Shannon Hicks
C. Bailey Sims was born in CA. and as a teenager moved to the Colorado Rockies where she attended a very small high school, learned how to ski race, ride a horse, mountain climb, and target shoot at tin cans.  She now lives with her family in the much tamer but equally beautiful hills of Connecticut in a very creative household of artists and musicians.  This book is a book that I had to write because Spelopokos wouldn't leave me alone. 
You can see the author via these links
If you are not a member of the Hollow Tours  You can join by clicking here

See the OTHER Stops on the tour! 
Giveaway is for those who are NOT apart of the tour!  All winners will be notified via email and their name will be posted here on this page.   8 Lucky winners will win Secret Prizes of Crystals from the book.   PICTURES COMING SOON SO INTICE YOU!
Candlewax Giveaway Located at Pages's End 

Check Out the Extraordinary Tidbits for "Extra Normal"

Suze Reese

A YA Paranormal Romance
Book One in the series.
Watch for it in 2012!
Find on GoodReads

New Cover Design by Eve Ventrue

I should have protested. Instead, I inhaled again, deeply.

He . . . he loved me. That was it. Warm and soothing love pulsed fiercely from his every pore. Not the kind of proud love my parents had for me. Nothing like the deep friendship Geery and I shared. And certainly nothing like the vile lust of other human males. This was something new. Something profound.

I closed my eyes and drank in his affection as if these were my very first breaths.
Mira Johns is pretty much like any other teenage girl.
Except that she knows how to do amazing things with harnessed electro-magnetic energy.
And she's really, really far from home.
Her assignment as an emissary to Earth sounds fairly simple: blend in, observe, and stay away from the planet’s primitive males. But she soon meets two very different boys who seem bent on getting close to her. One—a handsome rich kid with plenty of self-confidence—has the entire student body captivated, with the exception of Mira. While the other—a mysterious outcast who keeps to himself— has Mira unnervingly entranced.
She does her best to avoid them both, until the day she gets close enough to both of them to sense what they really think of her. From one she feels absolute and unexplained hatred. From the other, love that she'd never even imagined possible—and Mira soon realizes the real reason she is supposed to avoid males: linked mates from her planet undergo a molecular change that can lead to death if separated. Unsure whether she's even capable of linking, Mira only knows that being with a human male puts both their lives in danger, and leaving him means a life of misery.
But a series of serious accidents at her school make it clear that someone wants to force her return. Desperate to find a way to both stay on Earth and keep her friends safe, Mira decides her only hope is to uncover the truth to who her real enemies are, and why she— the most mediocre of candidates—was actually chosen for this assignment: before the agency discovers her secret and sends her back home. 

The "Extraordinary" Authoress

I'm told by my pre-teen son that I'm not the Coolest Mom. (Despite the fact that I'm a young adult fiction author! Can you imagine?)

Apparently spending your days in pajamas slumped over a computer does not score you points in the Cool Mom department. But I suspect Cool Mom in my son's world means someone who gives you everything you ask for. We Nerdy Moms are obviously the ones who know what we're doing. 

Besides, I get to play Cool Mom or Nerdy Dad or Tough Teen or Adorable Little Girl whenever I feel like it. It's a pretty sweet life.

Favorite things? Toddler hugs. Followed closely by chocolate. Plus keeping someone up all night reading one of my stories. Yeah, that's pretty awesome.

I've done all the things expected of a writer of my (a-hum) years: earned a bachelor's degree, published in a different genre, and worked in the real world in both marketing and journalism. This is my first venture into writing young adult fiction. My imaginary friends and I are very excited.

(You'll find all the characters listed above in my new paranormal romance Extra Normal, to be released early 2012.)

You can find me in these places:

Goodreads: https:www.goodreads.com/suzereese

Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/suzereese

Twitter: https:www.twitter/suze_reese

Email: extranormalbooks@suzereese.com

The Giveaway
In honor of the April 23rd release of
Extra Normal
 Suze Reese has
decided that YOU, the readers,
should get the goods! 
Coming Soon!!!!!!   

Teaser Tuesday #4...You Know You Want It!!!!

Welcome to my version of 
Teaser Tuesday
Miz. B
Should Be Reading

My Teaser
"We'd never get anywhere like this, and his howling could 
attract rabid animals at the least.  They might ignore me, but if they sensed
the child, we'd have a problem."

39% Kindle Ed.  The Immortal Rules
Julie Kagawa
Release Date:
  April 24, 2012

Be Forever Graced by "Graceling"

Title:   Graceling
(Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #1)
Author:  Kristen Cashore
Format:  Audiobook
Length:  12hrs. 31mins.
Publisher:  Full Cast Audio
Rating:  5 Stars

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away... a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.   -Goodreads

Nobody likes having a loaded gun around.  While it is true that having that gun may make one feel safer, in the wrong hands or situation it can also prove lethal.  In the case of Katsa, this analogy has never been more true.  Her "grace" as an assassin has made her that loaded gun and her service to an unscrupulous and tyrannical king, has made her dangerous.

Katsa...Miss Missunderstood
It would be very easy for one to find fault with the character of Katsa.  At first glance, she is about as appealing as a sledgehammer to the head.  That is, until you learn a little of her background.  She has a very tight group of  "friends" because most people are afraid to come anywhere near her.  She serves as hired muscle to an unscrupulous tyrant of a king who she also has the misfortune of being related to, and she is afraid of herself.  
Wait...before you close the door on dear "killer Katsa," please note that she is at least trying to balance her "thuggish" (her word, not mine) ways by serving as a Robin Hood of sorts on her off hours.

It is in fact one of these "missions of mercy" that serves to set the story in motion by presenting Katsa, and by extension, readers with an ever increasing number of mysteries.

The Prince of Many Names...a.k.a The Littlest Telatubbie
Things really start to get good when Katsa meets Prince "whatever my name is...I have like 5, but you can just call me Po."  (Yes, I am aware that Po was the RED character on THAT show!)


Po is sooo everything that Katsa could want.  Sexy, "graced",  a fighter, and...a key to all the mysteries that I spoke of earlier.  Given all the things that Po has to offer, it is no wonder that Katsa spends a large part of the book proclaiming that she "will never marry" and "doesn't want children."  If  I had all of the emotional, and psychological baggage that she does, her "grace," and sexy Mc Sexy pants to contend with; I think that I would have to remind myself of that a couple hundred times too.  Especially after having lost my virginity to the man then realizing that there was a good chance that he would be killed while trying to protect me later.

But I digress...

The fact that Po is so self sacrificing would tend to grate on one's nerves.  If it were not for the fact that said sacrifices have some pretty mind blowing results.  Hold on to your hearts girls your gonna love it.
Lies, Lies, Lies...Yeah!
What would any great story be without the villains.  It did not skip my notice that all the "baddies" in this story were kings who had great power and were intent on keeping it.  First, there was Katsa's lying bully of an uncle, King Rand.
Worse still was the father of Po's cousin Bitterblue, King Leck.  King of Monsea and "graced" with the power to lie and make all believe his lies as truth.  This man has some tricks up his sleeve that would have Hannibal Lecter taking notes. 

I Say...
If you like a read in which the girl gets to save the prince, have issues, be a bit of a nut job, and still kick EVERYBODY's ass.  This is the read for you!  Please be warned, there is SEX in this book.  There is also BIRTH CONTROL!  Whoooooohoooooo! So I would recommend this as an older teen or parent/child read.

Audiobook Review
I was lucky enough to have gotten this book on audio via my library's digital collection.  I must say that I couldn't have been more impressed.  This production was a "full cast" audio, meaning that individual actors played individual roles.  It was a very welcome change from the usually single voice acting all parts.  The music that marked the transition from one scene to the next was very well place and not overdone.
The audiobook experience is one that I would recommend even to those who have read the book in print.
The amount of time spent is well worth the entertainment received.

Goddess Interrupted...A Praiseworthy Read

  Title:  Goddess Interrupted
(Goddess Test #2)
Author:  Amiee Carter
Format:  E-Galley
Length:  304 paged
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Rating:  4 stars

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry's first wife, Persephone   -Goodreads

 "Goddess Interrupted" was a wonderfully fresh approach to the stories that have circulated about the Olympian gods.
I came into this, the second book of the series without having read the first. Unlike a great many continuations that I have encountered, this book doesn't rely on the set up that is provided by the first book in order for the second to work.
There are references to occurrences from the first book, but they are only there to provide a cause for a happening this story.
I would not go so far as to say that this could be "stand alone" read; there are a few questions that I plan to go back and answers in "The Goddess Test.

This was a love triangle that was really emotionally mature in that it was Hades/Henry that was conflicted over his feelings for Persephone, as his wife and his companion for decades and Kate, whom he loved but barely knew.
I loved the way that the situation played out, the emotions and reactions to all of the unresolved feelings were real.
I was on the edge of my seat...hoping for the best for all involved.

Persephone's Bad Rap
If you wanted to take Persephone at face value, it would be very easy to make her the villain in the situation. I see her as a woman who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to do what she had to to get it.
As far as her dealings with Kate. That was just a case of sibling rivalry. She has lived her life as Demeter's only daughter for the longest...and then boom a sister. There is bound to be some type of an adjustment period.
If you look at the characters of Kate and Persephone you will find that they are really the two sides of the same coin.
The only difference being that Kate sacrifices for what is best for the greater good and Persephone is a bit more self serving in her motives.

Kate is truly good, but some ways she is too good true. She spends a great deal of this book being outraged or hurt because she wants her happily ever after RIGHT NOW.
I wanted to jump into the book and scream at her JUST SLOW DOWN and fight the bad guys already!

A Woman Scorned
Calliope was such a pain! I hated the her from the start. She didn't really come into her badness until the end. Cronos was not half the threat that she was. he was just a good stooge for her. I spent the whole time going this is a bit much. Sounds like somebody need a shrink.

Thank you Amiee for a wonderful story! I loved the end and I can't wait for book 3

"Loss"...A Read Not To Be Missed!

 Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors...and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider—who is lost in his memories.

In his search, Billy travels through White Rider’s life: from ancient Phrygia, where the man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to Sherwood Forest, where Pestilence figures out how to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where cartons of infested grain are being packed onto a ship that will carry the plague, to the Children’s Crusade in France—all the way to what may be the end of the world. When Billy finally finds the White Rider, the teen convinces the man to return to the real world.

But now the insane White Rider plans to unleash something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Death look like a summer cold. Billy has a choice: he can live his life and pretend he doesn’t know what’s coming, or he can challenge the White Rider for his Crown. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world?

In this her third book of the Horsemen trilogy, Jackie Morse Kessler chooses to spotlight the social evil that is bullying.
Billy Ballard is the perfect punching bag for the school bullies, for his grandfather's Alzheimer's disease, and most importantly, for himself.
s not that he doesn't have the power to take control of his life.  In fact the opposite is true, he is so full of untapped power that he is chosen to ride as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse.
Ms. Kessler does things a bit differently in this book of the series.  First, the star of the show for this performance is male.  The first two books in the series were lead by ladies; so the fact that a male is the focus of this work will even the score a bit and break the gender barrier that having an all female series might cause with audiences.
Secondly, the first rider and the second spend most of the book in interaction with each other.  It is this interaction in fact that makes up the bulk of the story. 
This part of the story takes the element of fantasy to new heights as readers are allowed to experience life as lived by the White Rider as King Mita a.k.a. King Midas  traipsing through areas such the famed Sherwood Forest. 

Billy realizes that in excepting himself and his power, he is presented with choices that will change his life forever.
This book is a must read for anyone who has ever felt powerless or been bullied.
This is not to be missed

"Croak"...A Read To Die For

 Title:  Croak
Author:  Gina Damico
Format:  E-Gally
Length:  311 pages
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Rating: 4 stars
Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her Targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?   -Goodreads

My Thoughts
If I had to describe this story in one word...it would be SNARKY.  This is definitely not your 'warm and fuzzy trip into the white light' kind of read.
After the putting up with Lex's rage and atti-TUDE for the first third of the book, seeing her unable to find her feet for a while as she learns the ropes in the world of CROAK was a welcome change.  Where her wicked ways made her stand out in the world before; in CROAK she managed to be one of the good ones.
Lex manages for all of her bluster to have a really good heart and no matter how hard she tries to cover it; her nobility, strength, and need for justice shines through.

Driggs was the perfect match for Lex and it was good to see that she was going to have in him a counterpart who could give as well as he got in the SNARK department.  Though they did not start out liking each other,
it was more than clear that the attraction was there.  As much as the build up to a great romance makes the romance sweeter in most cases; what was supposed to be the culmination of their coming together was losst after the first kiss.

The setting as provided by the town of CROAK provided the perfect Tim Burtonesque darkness that a story like this calls for.  The not quite rightness of the bar and the non-drinking age sets the stage for the murder, mayhem, and mystery of the plot.  The bleakness of the background allows the gravity of some of the teen's issues to shine through.
This book is a wonderful first, and I can't wait for the next!