Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Riley Bloom Series

Alyson Noel's books about Riley Bloom are a spin-off from her popular Immortals series.  Riley is Ever's younger sister and she and her dog Buttercup died in the same car crash that changed Ever's life forever.  To read about Ever, check out the Immortals series, but if you're looking for a sweet middle grade series, Riley Bloom comes highly recommended.

I read the first book in the series, Radiance, about two years ago.  You can read my review of that book here, which I gave four stars.  I really enjoyed it and over the past two years (has it really been that long?) I acquired the other three novels in the series.  When Whisper arrived at my doorstep last week, I decided it was time to read on so over the past three days I read the three final books in the series.

The second book in the series, Shimmer, drew me in right away.  I quickly recalled how much I loved Riley's spunky personality and I was able to pick up on the plot lines easily after a two year break.  Shimmer may very well be my most favorite book in the series.  In it, Riley is on vacation with guide, Bodhi, when she comes across a ghost named Rebecca and her terrifying dog.  Even though Riley isn't supposed to be helping ghosts on vacation, she can't help herself.  Rebecca is so angry that she died in a slave revolt in 1733 that she shares her anger by making others relive humiliating moments from their past.  Riley was a true hero in this book.  I loved the way she looked at both sides of the story, both the way Rebecca was killed, but also what led the slaves who killed her to do so.  Because of that she was able to help several lost souls and showed a great amount of compassion.  Shimmer gets four stars from me!

The third book, Dreamland, was probably the most nail-biting and exciting book in the series.  Riley is starting to get lonely in the Here & Now and decides to find a way to contact her sister for advice.  Seemingly eternally stuck at the age of twelve, Riley wants nothing more to be thirteen and experience teenage things.  She decides to try dream jumping to contact Ever in her dreams, but things go seriously awry when she finds herself dream weaving instead.  The boy Riley finds herself dream weaving with is absolutely terrifying - he creates nightmares that gave me the chills and I wanted so badly to help Riley out of that situation, though Riley found a way to be compassionate towards him, as well.  This book gets three stars from me, but I really did enjoy it and the brief glimpse we get of Ever, as well.

Finally we have Whisper, the fourth and final book in the series.  The council has given Riley a more challenging case - The Pillar of Doom, a fierce Roman fighter who is stuck reliving his last fight over and over.  Several others have come before her, but all have failed.  Can Riley help this gladiator move on?  I really enjoyed the residual haunting aspect of this book, it really took Riley's talents to a new level and showed off how much she's grown since the first book.  I loved the way this book ended, but overall the ancient Roman setting didn't really do it for me, so the book gets three stars.  I'm a little sad this appears to be the end of the series.

Overall, I highly recommend this series for middle-grade lovers, but also for YA lovers who enjoyed Ever's story in The Immortals series.  The books are quick reads and you can easily digest one or two in a day.  Riley is a spunky yet compassionate young woman whom I loved to read about, and I think you will, too.

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