January 12, 2013

Reaper Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Author: L.S. Murphy
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: January 7, 2013
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing


There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

A spitball stops in mid-air less than an inch from my nose.
It hangs there. I assume everyone else notices the wet wad of paper too, but when I turn to my bestie Jordan, her mouth is stuck open with her eyes half closed.
She was just laughing. Now she’s ... frozen?
The sudden silence is louder than a room full of gossiping teenagers.
Mini-quakes creep up my spine like a centipede hurrying toward my hair.
I’m not entirely sure my heart is beating. I wave my shaking hand in front of Jordan, hoping this will break her free of whatever happened.
No reaction.
Why am I moving?
So many times, I wished Jordan would stop talking. Now is the one time I need her high-pitched voice to pierce my ears.
Quin, relax. It’s okay. No way this is real. I pinch my arm hard, but it doesn’t change anything.
A loud pop makes me spin around in my seat. A man stands in front of the chalkboard in a bluish-white robe staring at me through blizzard white eyes. He holds a staff in front of him that looks like melting glass.
“Hello, Quincy,” he says in a deep velvet voice. “How would you like to see your future?”
I stand and stumble toward the back of the room. “Who are you supposed to be? Gandalf?” I’m unable to keep the tremor out of my voice.
“One person dresses up like me in a movie, and that’s all I hear.” He leans back on Mr. Spragg’s desk. “I’m far more attractive than him and so much more fun.” He winks and lifts his robe, revealing a pair of yellow and red striped Bermuda shorts and orange flip-flops.
My eyes pop wider at the mismatched mess, but I keep my thoughts about his sense of fashion to myself. “Who are you?”
His sigh echoes off the walls. “I’m Destiny.”
Rolling his eyes, he raises the staff high to his left. Like a swordsman, he stabs and swooshes it down in an arch. The air ripples as a dark slit opens. A man in a deep brown pinstripe suit steps through. His cheap sneakers don’t match the formality of the tan fedora and horn-rimmed glasses.
A pony-sized white German shepherd saunters in behind him, and I take an automatic step back. The dog turns his head, black orbs where its eyes should be. Pinstripe man glances my way before turning toward the person who calls himself Destiny. His features contort and a maroon tint creeps over his face.
“What the f—”
Destiny flips his finger and the new guy shuts up. After a moment, he does another finger move.
“We said when she was eighteen, Des.”
“I’m aware of that, Forsyth.”
“She’s not eighteen.”
“Really? I never would have guessed.” Sarcasm fills each word as Destiny raises his eyebrows like a flag on the Fourth of July.
Forsyth glares. “Then why am I here?”
“I let you pick the date, but I never agreed to honor it.” Destiny pats the dog on the head with sneer and wipes his hands on his robe. “Now is the time. Teach her.” 

Reaper is a young adult fantasy novel that follows future reaper Quincy Amarante as she learns about her fate and tries to deal with reaper training alongside her normal teenage life. After securing her spot in the popular crowd by saying the right things, being the right weight, wearing the right clothes - Quincy realizes that the person she's become isn't the real her. After her childhood best friend Ben moves back to town, Quincy finds herself at a crossroads - she must choose between her popular life or what her heart is telling her is what she really wants. She also has to deal with Destiny, Fate, and her reaper mentor popping in to show her the realities of life and death  - and the ropes of being a reaper.

This was a really interesting and moving story. The majority of the book deals with Quincy's normal life as a teen - cliques in school, family issues, boyfriends, fake friends, bullies, etc. as well as her trying to deal with the fact that she's going to become a reaper after she dies. The scenes when she is learning about reaping are very sobering for her and for the reader - it shows the harsh realities of life and just how short and unfair it can be. Problems in Quincy's normal life are realistic and easy to identify with - a pushy boyfriend, a back-stabbing best friend, feelings for the "wrong" guy, striving for popularity - and also deeper issues like family, friendship, and being true to oneself. I had a real issue with the ending of the book. I cried really hard. Twice. I didn't like how it ended, but I see how it fit with the book. It doesn't mean that I have to like it. That part of the book shows a lot as well - a whole new depth that I didn't know the book was going to take on. It was sad, sobering, and very emotional. I think it added a new layer to the story, which makes it all the more captivating. The characters - especially Quincy and Ben - were well done and realistic. I was easily identifying with Quincy from the beginning and definitely rooting her Ben and her throughout the novel. It's rare when I get crushes on guys from books, but all I can say is that it's impossible not to love Ben. *sigh*  The writing was very well done and had a great pace to it. It was light-hearted and fun but definitely talked about serious issues and had some really deep issues for the reader to think about even after they're done reading. Overall, this is a fantastic YA fantasy about reapers and a sarcastic main character - but it is so very much more than that if you look just a little bit closer. Highly recommended!

L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets. “A Reason to Stay”, a contemporary romance novella, is available as of November 2, 2012. Reaper is her debut young adult novel and will be released on January 7th, 2013.

She is a co-rep for the Southern Illinois region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.


 Giveaway: (1) ebook copy of Reaper - Open Internationally!

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