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Book Review: SHADE

From the back cover:

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

I'll admit, I don't tend to gravitate to paranormal YA in my reading (not that I outright avoid them -- I've actually read quite a few), so when the book fairy* dropped this one in my mailbox, I did . . . lift an eyebrow. Just a teeny, tiny bit. Teeny.

And then I started reading.

And didn't stop until I'd read the very last word.

SHADE is the YA debut for adult paranormal author Jeri Smith-Ready and the smooth, easy-to-read writing is a testament to her experience. This first book of a series offers readers three great characters and a lot of set-up to a mystery that has me on the edge of my seat, wondering at the answers to the event that has SHADE's world on alert: What caused the Shift?

Aura, SHADE's MC, is a great character. She was born after the Shift -- at a particularly special time after the Shift, the reader learns -- and has the ability see and speak with ghosts. She even works for her Aunt's law firm, translating the ghosts' grievances to the adults who were born before the Shift and can't see the ghosts. The talent drives her a little crazy, until the day her boyfriend, Logan, dies.

Logan's a great love interest. A guitar-weilding, tattoo-sporting, tender-at-heart kind of love interest. And when he dies, it sends Aura into a spiral of grief and anger, even as she clutches at his violent-hued ghost-presence. Until, consumed by frustration, Logan begins flirting with a darker side to ghost-ism: the Shades.

Enter Zachary. Good-looking Scottish transplant (I heard his sexy brogue in my head every time he spoke -- yum), Zachary's got some questions for Aura -- and some answers regarding the Shift. He's also more than willing to help her move on from her dead-but-still-around boyfriend. The love triangle in this book is a good one -- so good that I'm still not able to decide who I like best.

Talking to ghosts isn't new. Even talking to ghostly boyfriends isn't new (it was the central conflict in Meg Cabot's MEDIATOR series). But what sets this book apart (besides the very modern flair and the better than average characters) is the delicious mystery surrounding the Shift. There's a wonderful element of mysticism and astronomy as Aura and Zachary study ancient monuments to solstices and equinoxes for a school project, using that knowledge to inch their way toward an understanding of how and why the Shift occurred. Even with the help of British and American secret agencies, those questions keep Aura and Zachary -- and readers -- guessing. Unfortunately, this is the first book of a series and ends on a serious cliff-hanger, so the answers are kept under wraps for now.

I was definitely impressed with this book. It was a fun read, steeped in mystery and a great mix of ancient lore and modern sensibilities. I'm eager to learn more about the Shift in the next installment, as well as see what happens in Aura's complex love life.

SHADE will be available wherever YA books are sold on May 4th. You can learn more on Jeri Smith-Ready's website (including access to the first chapter of SHADE):

*thanks, book fairy, aka agent of awesome.
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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  1. I met Jeri Smith Ready Sat and we talked about this book and I'll admit it sounds like an awesome story!! :D The cover art is amazing and caught my eye! Can't wait to dig into this one!!

  2. This one sounds wonderful. Will have to go order it right now. Thanks for doing such a thorough review!

  3. B&N shipped early and I got it last week! I'm soo excited to read it!

  4. Okay, I've definitely added this to my list now! Great review. Thanks. The cover is really great.

  5. Sounds awesome, but aaack! Cliffhanger!

  6. My TBR list gets longer every day. Don't know if I should laugh or cry!

  7. as I value your bookish opinion above almost any other, I will take your word for it & check this book out.

  8. Thanks, all!

    Claire, I completely understand that feeling. :)

    Kirsten, you know I adore you.


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Item Reviewed: Book Review: SHADE Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook