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Blog Tour: Review: Here + Giveaway

my thoughts in a few sentences: Despite the summary, I honestly didn't know what to expect with Here. The cover led me to believe that I'd be reading something horror or paranormal with ghosts and murder mysteries. The story I got instead was a surprise and, if I'm honest despite my crushed hopes, the unexpected turned out to be much more entertaining, fascinating, and likable. Death, strange and mysterious boys, and a sucker punch of a plot, Here by Denise Grover Swank delivers something astonishing and unforeseen that worked with the overall story, and gives it a nice punch of sci-fi thrills and adrenaline.

hooking first lines: "The wail of sirens pierced the air, jerking ten-year-old Tom Phillips from a deep sleep. He bolted upright, his heart racing."

Rating: Guilty Pleasure | Self-Published • Blog Tour • Sci-Fi • 11/11/11 • $2.99

Here by Denise Grover Swank

Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
What began with an interesting and alarming opening in which what, at first glance, appears to be an average citizen caught in the throes of panic produced by the Cuban Missile Crisis, Here by Denise Grover Swank drives a fist of fear into our guts as we wait for a sign that will help us understand what's happening even as we pray for a solution. Quickly following that, we are thrust back into the present and into the miserable mind of Julia Phillips, a teenage girl with no fight left after the tragic accident that killed her best friend even as she rode in the driver's seat. With no memory of the incident, and strange clues that strike us with little logic—like a bracelet engraved with her name and a symbol of someone else's deep love for the person it's meant for, Julia is in for a whirlwind of surprises that will defy normality and have her waver in her beliefs about the world and, what she soon discovers, it's many hidden pockets.

At first, sympathy seems like a small and inconsequential comfort to offer the poor girl weighed down by so much guilt and despair. The accident that's dug such a hole in her life happened not too long ago and yet the people around her insist she move on, try harder to let go and achieve better things. Her personality is buried deep, although her innate sarcasm remains and is only sharpened by her loss, and the disappointment from her parents and teachers she works to ignore are inflicting even more pain onto her. She wishes to throw the life she shouldn't have away, and that is deeply frightening and wrenching. Initially. But, when Evan Whittaker, the popular boy at school who suddenly captures her attention and appears captured by her, rolls into the picture, I couldn't help but lose a little respect for her.

The romance strikes as puzzling and, frankly, a little creepy. It begins with stares that don't coincide with Evan's usual behavior, and when he begins cropping up in random instances, seeming to know things about her, habits and thoughts that she's never shared, my first impression and initial suspicion was his being a stalker. And a clever one at that, to appear normal everywhere else besides his strange interest in Julia. Really, every moment they are together it's difficult not to be wary and cast suspicion onto this guy, who, although he has been in the background of Julia's life for so long, virtually appears out of nowhere. The mystery behind this unusual interest is explained and well-done later in the story, but it didn't relieve me of my lack of attraction to his character. And Julia's hastily given trust and swiftly growing feelings could be irritating for some. Their chemistry wasn't all that believable, and Evan never truly felt like real.

The most fascinating, and inventive, element of the Here is the plot and the developments that lead to a startling revelation that I would have never suspected. And the ensuing threat to Julia's way of life and her actual existence adds enough tension and fear and anticipation to give this story an edge, sucking us in further. Her fast friendship with Reece is well-welcomed as he is a character I could dig. Guarded and full of attitude, our connection with him is nearly as quick, as Reece seems to have much more personality than the other boy creeping into Julia's heart.

While I'm not sure I'd set out to read any sequels to this book, I wouldn't mind picking up another book written by Swank. Her writing is pleasantly simple and straightforward, her characters are likable enough, but it's the plot and whatever else she plans to do to expand and twist it that would draw me back for more. In Julia's relatively normal life, so much action and adrenaline dashes through the story line, and that was enough to hold my attention. A nice surprise, Here by Denise Grover Swank is mellow one moment and exciting the next, and I enjoyed the story for it.

Official Giveaway Info:
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  • giveaway deadline is April 18, 2012
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nea barabea said...

When I've found out I won't get a schoolarship for my studies this week, I wanted to cry my heart out. I listened to Pieces by Sum 41. This song is awesome for moments like this. ;) <3

Heidi said...

Oh man, I listen to depressing music when I'm depressed.  We're talking like The Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness by Smashing Pumpkins album on repeat. :P

Thanks for hosting, Asher!  I think Here sounds really kind of creepy/cool.  I'm kind of wary of the romance, but I'm willing to check it out!

Natalie @ Mindful Musings said...

I have a love for depressing music, even when I'm not sad! It's just so beautiful, and some of my favorite songs are the ones that can make me cry. One I love to listen to when I'm sad though is the version of "I Will Follow You  into the Dark" by Gavin Mikhail. The original is great too! 

Sophia said...

This book definitely sounds really great! I'm a bit wary of self-pubbed books, but since you liked this one, I might have to check it out. I'm a bit turned off the by the creepy and somewhat artificial romance, though. Nonetheless, fabulous review, Asher! Glad you liked this book! 

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Judging from the cover, I would too have expected maybe a paranormal book with ghosts or something similar. Even though it turned out to be a surprise, I'm glad to hear it was still likeable and entertaining. Great review! :)

Shiirleyy said...

This really sounds interesting! Im really intrigued by this plot and the unexpected revelation towards the end..( i absolutely love books when i cant guess what happens) Awesome review Asher! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Asher_Knight said...

 The romance became a bit more bearable later on, but I was rooting for the other guy the whole time because a lack of personality from the first. The sci-fi part is pretty cool, indeed! My first real dose in a long time ;)

Asher_Knight said...

 I don't like self-pubbed books all that much either, but I only make an exception for blog tours that interest me, and this one exceeded my expectations, for sure. Read it for the sci-fi-ness, which I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M SAYING, but it's true. That aspect was interesting :)

Asher_Knight said...

 Oh, I'm SORRY to hear that news myself! I hope you're okay now, especially after listening to a song you enjoy so much.

Asher_Knight said...

 You know, strangely enough, I'm forced to agree with you, Natalie, simply because the words DO THINGS TO YOUR HEART and shizz.

Asher_Knight said...

 THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT O_O Why you stealing thoughts from my brain, Sam?

After I came to grips that it WASN'T a paranormal book, I actually quite liked the sci-fi bit which was interesting in and of itself. Definitely likable and with potential :)

Asher_Knight said...

 Yeah, I was constantly thrown for a loop and that never got annoying, with surprises sweeping the plot to weird yet cool places. Check it out if you're interested in something likable and definitely different.

Sarah (saz101) said...

Ooooh, Asher, colour me intrigued. I'm sorry it wasn't quite as good as, well, it could have been, but it still sounds fascinating, and OH MY GOODNESS THAT IS THE MOST INSANELY CREEPY COVER O____O

Asher_Knight said...

Yeah, it wasn't earth-shaking but it was very cool and different, which was a plus. I didn't get WHY they did a creepy cover when it has no relation to the book at all. I was surprised, because I expected one thing and got another, and it turned out better than I'd thought.

Sarah (saz101) said...

 Oh, now THAT is dissapointing. It looks SO creepy and eerie... I'm totally thinking ghosts and posession, and BOO :(

Asher_Knight said...

Yes, it's not horror story or a paranormal one at all. It's mostly sci-fi. 

Martina Jolie84 said...

The man who goes
alone can start today; but he who travels with another
must wait till that other is ready.

Asher_Knight said...

 Ooh, are those lyrics? That is kind of... DEEP. :)