Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Reviews: "Riser" and "Reaper" by Becca C. Smith

Shelley called us up to tell us she had just finished reading the first two books of a new science fiction/horror series and wanted to share her thoughts about them with the blog. Not being the kind to stand in her way when she wants to do something, we handed her the keys to the blog…as it were.

* * *

Hi blog reader people! Shelley here. I work over at Osno’s. You should come by and visit me when you come to town…if you come to town. Or you can email me if you like. I like getting messages from time to time. A few weeks ago, I got a note from a friend I made on this Antonio Banderas fan group I’m a part of (Don’t judge me! I love him. He’s adorable, especially when he’s doing Puss in Boots) and she told me if I wanted to read a really good book, I should check out Riser by Becca C. Smith. As this friend has made some good recommendations in the past, I thought I would check the book out.

So, being me, I read some stuff about it and while I’ve had some bad run-ins with YA stuff (Hello, Twilight? I’m looking at you), I thought I would give this one a spin because I loved the cover (yeah, I know) and I liked the idea of a girl who could control dead things. So I downloaded onto the Kindle and took it for a test read.

A few hours later and fortunately no customers came into the store to disturb me because, wow! I don’t remember the last time I read a book cover to cover (can you still say that when it’s on a Kindle?). I seriously could not put my little device down except to answer the phone once and tell Cathy Hodges that I’ll have to call her back later because I’m busy restocking and she was totally cool with that because she was just calling to invite me over for coffee later and I told her I was too busy for coffee today but we would totally get coffee tomorrow. And then back to the book.

Quickly (because you can read the cover stuff without me), the book is about a girl in Future Los Angeles named Chelsan who can control dead things…any dead things. Also, people can take a drug that will allow them to stop aging and be immortal so long as they don’t go and get themselves killed. Chelsan is in high school and has to deal with high school issues as well as the conflicts the novel presents. The book never lags. Ms. Smith does an amazing job of balancing the details of the girl’s life with the events of the book. I never felt like I was getting too much information, but I always knew what I needed to know.

The fact is, the book is exciting, tense and involving and I couldn’t stop reading it and when it was done, the only thing that kept me from being too upset was the fact that there was already ANOTHER book in the series done, called Reaper. So I downloaded it right away and cancelled my plans with Gil that night (which meant that I called him and told him I wasn’t coming over and he shrugged through the phone…how does he do that?...and told me it was cool, whatever) and went home and read that one in one sitting.

Do you know how you can eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting and not even think about it except that it is so good and you just want to eat it all and the when it’s done, you’re sorry because you wish you had kept just a little for later, but you are still totally satisfied because it was awesome anyway?

That’s how I feel about Reaper. I loved this even more than the first one because I didn’t know how Ms. Smith was going to top the first one and she showed me in her text that she could be even more inventive. It’s all just so very unexpected and original. And you might say the romance parts are typical of YA, but they are important to the plot and I was actually really invested in Chelsan’s relationship with Ryan in a way I didn’t think I would be. And as much as I liked Bill in the first book, I was kind of pissed at him in this one, which again surprised me because I normally don’t get involved with characters romances. But it all made sense and was so important to the story that I know the whole thing would be diminished if not for this not so triangular love triangle (trust me, when you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). The fact is, the book is exceptionally well constructed and so very hard to put down.

I’m supposed to give the books a star rating out of five because that’s how book reviews do things. So I give Riser 5 stars because it is a perfect first book. It introduces the characters and universe while never sacrificing exposition for story, which is engrossing and wonderful. I give Reaper 5 stars as well, but a better kind of star, a super star, than I gave Riser because it is a better book. Ms. Smith writes confidently and knows how to grab you and not let go. 

So that’s my first review. I hope they let me do more. That was fun! Oh, and read these books. And tell me what you thought of them, because I want to know if you love them as much as I do. 

Oh, and here's some information I found about the author:

Becca C Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life. Becca wrote and illustrated Little Family Secrets, a graphic novel based on the true story of her great aunt who was famous for murdering her husband. Becca is also the author of the teen fiction novel, Riser and is the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and two cats Jack and Duke.

And you can buy Riser here and it's available on Kindle, too and over at B&N on Nook. So is Reaper which is available here.

Oh, and just so you know, disclosures and all, the books were provided by the author for review.


  1. I definitely think they'll let you do more reviews after that! Have you read Little Family Secrets? That one sounds really interesting to me!

  2. I have read Little Family Secrets and it's a very good, disturbing read. Disturbing because it is well told and true.