Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rematch (Vortex Book 1) by Janine Caldwell ~ Review and Excerpt

Rematch (Vortex #1)
by Janine Caldwell
Genre: YA Paranormal/Sci-Fi Romance (Time-Travel)
Published March 11th 2012

Trent Astor is many things—orphan, runaway, musician. But what’s most extraordinary about Trent is that he’s a time traveler. His supernatural gift sends him on missions to the past to save unsuspecting victims from harm. However, when he fails to save the life of a young girl, his life changes in ways he could never have dreamed.

At eleven-years-old, Cassie Moore suffered through a horrific shooting. Tragically scarred from the ordeal, the once promising tennis prodigy was forced to throw away all hope of a future in tennis. Now, as she begins her senior year of high school, the past continues to haunt her. She struggles to find herself, her self-esteem at an all time low. If only she could resolve the past, she might be able to move on with her life. She never imagined that could be possible until she meets the gorgeous new student in her PE class.

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Let me start of by saying that this is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. Not to say I haven’t liked the books I have been reading, but this one just really, really hooked me, and just made me fall in love with Trent/Jeremy (his alias is Jeremy) Anyway, I was enthralled right from the start with the first chapter and reading from Trent’s point of view. The emotions and feelings portrayed makes you just feel it and choke up with them at times.  We get alternating point of views between Trent and Cassie, and I love that.

Trent is the perfect guy, and Cassie is a great girl too. I really felt for her and what she went through. Now Jeff , her boyfriend at the start is an ass. He basically gives an unspoken ultimatum to either give in and have sex, or it’s over. Not that he exactly says this, but it’s obvious. So, of course that relationship doesn’t make it. (this happens in beginning of book) but he sure is a typical guy, wanting her after someone else is interested, just how egotistical guys can be.

Her best friend Kelli is a good supportive friend, and I liked her too. I really liked Trents sister, Lorelei (Lucy is her alias) she is quite mature having to deal with a disappearing time traveling brother she has to cover for.

This story reminded me of a movie I seen that I actually liked, called The Time Travelers Wife. But in that you can’t change the future or anything, just the disappearing and all that.

I love the idea of this story, how Trent is given this power from a vortex when he was younger, and how he has to struggle along the way trusting his instincts to save who he is sent back to save. I think it was genius how he took advantage of the time travel back when it was only a decade or 2, and manipulated his families money to invest it better, so in his own timeline money would not be an issue. That was pretty cool.

This kept me on the edge of my seat most the time, wondering if and when the evil doctor will find him, so he can dissect his brain. That’s just horrid, and believable.  There were some great twist and turns that I never saw coming that I really enjoyed.

I just loved how in the first chapter Trent is saving 11 year old Cassie from being killed (though he thought he failed) and then a few days later for him, he sees her at school as a 17 year old senior.

Over all its just a great idea and the writing was great. I was really glad to have book 2, Double Fault already, as I just didn’t want to leave this world.

If you like paranormal\supernatural books, or sci-fi books, you will enjoy this too. It’s like a touch of both, as we really do not know why he gets his ability, and that’s still a mystery we are yet to uncover.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cover review - 4 out of 5 stars: I like the cover, it’s simple yet attractive. Not my favorite, but 100 times better than the old cover I seen just recently, that one would not have had me stop to take a look to see if I would like the book. It was not a good one for sure. So this one is much better.

I highly recommend this series. This is book one, Double Fault is Book 2, and Deuce is Book 3 in this Vortex Series.

I was provided this book by the author for my honest review.

This Review is also posted at Amazon and Goodreads.

Buy Links

Excerpt (Chapter One, from Trent’s Point of View)
I can’t remember how many missions I’ve been on now. Too many to count. I would like to say that they’re a complete nuisance, interrupting a packed social life, but that would be a lie. My missions have become the main event in my life. For a teenage guy, I guess that sounds pretty pathetic. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change who I am.
“Hey, you there! Young man!”
I squint in the direction of a light brown-skinned man in work gloves and a belt full of crusty gardening tools heading straight for me.
“You can’t be here. Didn’t you see the signs?”
“Sorry no,” I say groggily, slowly pushing myself up to a sitting position.
“This part of the campus is closed for maintenance. Take your nap somewhere else,” he barks.
“No problem. I was just leaving,” I tell Mr. Angry Green Thumb when applause and cheering erupt from somewhere close by us.
“Any clue what that’s all about?” I dare to ask him.
“Ah, some sort of tennis event,” he grumbles before hurrying off with such determination, his tools swing and clink together with each step.
I limp along, wincing at my throbbing head. I cross a grassy field and up a hill in the direction of the clapping, passing a sign for Saint Mary’s College at the edge of a parking lot. I don’t remember the sign from my flashes and wonder how far off I am from where I need to be. Distracted, I almost bump right into a frenzied mom zigzagging through the parking lot while tugging on her daughter’s arm.
“Come on! We’ll miss your match!” she screams at the girl who looks weighed down by a backpack the size of New Jersey with tennis rackets poking out the top.
As I get closer to the action, I see people perusing a few vendor stands, their arms full of the freebies being handed out. Next to them is a Channel 3 TV van parked in such an inconvenient spot that everyone has to walk out of their way to get around it. I tail a family that appears to be on a mission of their own down a narrow path to a stadium that overlooks an impressive tennis court. Not that I know a whole lot about tennis, but the court seems special like it’s the Grand Poobah of all courts. I try following the family into the stadium, but am stopped at the entrance.
“Whoa! Not so fast there. You need a ticket to get in,” a freckly, junior high-aged boy warns me, clearly enjoying his role of gatekeeper. “Five bucks to enter,” he says while eyeballing my black jeans and black T-shirt. They’re normal clothes for me, but probably look strange to him with all the other spectators dressed in preppy outfits and light colors.
I rummage through my pockets, but score only a few quarters, a guitar pick, and a couple of ancient gum wrappers. Scowling, I surrender to the peeping Tom technique. Through the chain-link fence, looking now like a cheapskate, I study the stadium’s interior. A snap of a banner flapping against the perimeter fence catches my attention. It reads that this is the “JR. GIRLS NORTH COAST TENNIS CLASSIC,” while the scoreboard beside it lists this particular match is between Moore and Chen.
Irritated by my limited view, I move further down the fence to get a better line on the players and to avoid any further curious glances. It’s then that my heart jolts—one of the competitors mirrors the girl from my flashes. She’s wearing the same white visor and tennis dress from my visions, the same high ponytail whipping her neck. A familiar tingling sensation spreads through my body as I realize she’s the one, the one I came here to protect.
I guess the girl and her Asian opponent to be no older than ten or eleven. Even so, they are playing with a fierce intensity that seems to go beyond their age. Nonetheless, the Asian girl is starting to fall apart. Being down a set, she’s turned to huffing and stomping into position and slamming her racket down like a poor sport.
I can’t tear my eyes away from them, but without shade or a hat, the heat of the day begins to take its toll. Wherever I am, it’s hot and the sun is directly overhead, beaming down on me in my black clothes. I use the stretched out band of my T-shirt for a mop, all the while sensing a nagging feeling that leaves me edgy. I know I’m missing something, but what critical clue from my flashes am I not remembering?
It suddenly hits me—a flood of disturbing images relating to a man. He’s of Asian descent with thinning black hair and a slight build, but it wasn’t until my most recent flash that I saw a horrible vision that gave me chills. It was of him pointing a silver pistol and shooting it at children.
Ignoring a lump the size of a tennis ball now lodged in my throat, I stride over to the kid working the entrance.
“Hey, little dude,” I begin as if we’ve become the best of buds.
He looks up at me skeptically. “Yeah?”
“The match is just about over; can’t you let me in without a ticket now?”
He runs a finger under his nose and sniffs. “My mom said I’m not supposed to let anyone in unless they pay first.”
“Ah, come on. Be cool. You’re mom won’t find out.”
He shakes his head, determined to be a stickler to the rules. “Sorry, can’t.”
Frustrated, I withdraw from the table to avoid causing a scene and hurry back to my place at the fence. I’m so intent on my visual hunt for the Asian man of my flashes that when a round of clapping breaks out, I nearly collapse into cardiac arrest. Checking the scoreboard again, I see that Moore has just won another game. It’s in that moment, out of the corner of my eye, that I notice a man rising from the stands. I can’t see his face, but instinctively watch him, paranoid and antsy to find anything out of the ordinary. His body resembles the physique of the man from my visions, but from this angle I can’t tell for sure if it’s him. Deciding not to panic yet, I wait to see what he does.
After the man meanders his way to the court, he hunkers down near the chairs that are set up on the sidelines. His hands are hidden in the pockets of his yellow windbreaker, darker in the center of his back from sweat. No one pays him attention, but he makes me nervous all the same. It doesn’t seem right that anyone can just wander onto the court like that in the middle of a match. I freeze when at last he pulls his hand out from his pocket to reveal a gun.
It takes me a second to get over my shock, wondering why in the world someone would be packing a weapon at a children’s tennis tournament. My fingers strangle the fence, helplessly trapped behind it, watching the man’s shaky hand clutching the gun. I almost swallow my tongue when he shifts to aim it at the girl with the visor, my girl!
Kicking myself for wavering, I barrel toward the ticket table. There are people on either side of the table blocking my way, but it doesn’t stop me. Just as the freckly, snot-nosed kid glances up from his handheld computer game, I leap up on the table and soar right over his head.
“Hey! You can’t do that. Security!”
A couple of chubby dudes in uniform I spotted skulking around earlier respond to the boy’s protests. I hear them struggling to chase after me, but I tune them out and channel in on my mission. By the time I reach the perimeter railing, no one else has noticed the Asian man on the court. I hesitate then, evaluating the quickest route that would draw the least amount of attention, but sense time is running out. If I have any chance of stopping him, it’s now or never.
I swing my legs over the railing and drop to the court. Just before I lunge to tackle the creep, he fires. I want to look around and see if the shot hit anyone, but I’m busy trying to wrestle the gun away from him. Fighting for control, I flinch when a second shot is fired.
“Let us help you, son!” an older man yells urgently. He rushes over and it takes both of us, plus a couple of others, to finally pin down the Asian man and secure the weapon.
When I look up, mass pandemonium has taken over the match. People are screaming their heads off, pouring out of the stands and rushing over to Moore, the girl from my visions. It takes my breath away when I realize she’s lying on the ground.
I’m freaking out about the girl when the rent-a-cops catch up to the scene, panting and looking scared out of their wits. Their eyes bug out, fumbling with their handcuffs as if stunned their services are needed for once. When they start to drag the Asian man away, I can’t help but notice the wild look in his black eyes. It’s like staring into the eyes of a madman.
Leery of an audience, I clamber up trying to figure out what people saw. I can’t afford to be in the spotlight anymore than I already was, but I also want to know if the girl is okay. Battling through the crowd, I force my way through the shield of people to kneel by her side. She looks traumatized, but at least she’s alive. I watch her grasp at her left side, the crimson stain seeping through her tennis dress expanding by the second. She blinks up at me then, her expression filled with alarm.
I gasp at the direct view of her eyes. They’re a mixture between green and blue; a rare color that’s as close to aqua as I’ve ever seen. More than just their interesting color, though, is the soul I found behind them.
Although I’m mesmerized by her gaze, the girl releases her superhuman stare to close her eyes while she clutches her side again and groans in pain. A cold sweat floods my body then when I notice a black blob pooled up underneath her. So much blood! Recklessly, I grab hold of her hand, willing my strength into her small frame. At first she grips my hand back, but before long she seems to lose her ability to fight, the blood loss draining her of life. Eventually she turns perfectly still, her lips a watery blue and her hand now limp in mine. I hear sirens approaching, but I fear any help is too late.
The girl’s parents rush onto the court with the paramedics not far behind them. I’m quickly swept out of the way, but I hardly notice. I’m too shocked to move on my own. Before I’m able to pull myself together, a microphone is thrust into my face. My eyes flicker up to a female reporter looking at me expectantly. Her narrow face is flushed, eager for the opportunity of a big scoop. Her camera operator is close behind focusing his equipment on me.
“That was a truly brave move on your part. How’d you know that man had a gun?”
I blink back at the reporter, weighing out my options.
She gives me a quizzical look. “Hello? Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” I rake a trembling hand through my sweaty hair.
“Well?” she blinks at me.
“I-I don’t know how I knew. I guess I just noticed how close he was to the players and thinking that was odd. That’s when I saw the gun. Who is that man anyway?”
“We don’t know yet, but we’ll get the full story soon. The police are on their way now. I hope you aren’t planning on going anywhere.”
The police! They’re the last thing I need, especially since I don’t know how I can lie myself out of this one. I’ve got to get out of here, but I can’t stop staring at the girl.
The girl is surrounded by a team of paramedics who are shouting orders in a frenzied but efficient blur, and I wish I could understand what the orders all mean.
“What?” I ask when a persistent buzz draws away my focus.
“I said, ‘What is your name?’” the reporter repeats impatiently.
“Uh...” I stall, scanning around me. I spot the girl’s discarded Head tennis racket and spurt out the first name that comes to mind. “Ed,” I tell her. She scribbles on her pad of paper while it dawns on me that this interview is being filmed. I stiffen.
The reporter turns to wave over the uniformed city cops who have just arrived. While she’s distracted, I take the opening to sneak away. Swarms of people are still jamming up the court, so it should be easy to hide in the confusion, but when I peek back at the reporter she’s signaling frantically to the cops in the direction I’ve gone.
While my heart hammers at my chest I bust into a full on sprint. I don’t know where I’m heading; I only know that I can’t deal with being interrogated by the police, or with having this nightmare to continue being filmed and then stored in the vaults of TV history. I dash across the parking lot into a dense section of trees, hoping it will discourage the cops from pursuing me. Sharp branches slice through my bare arms while I navigate blindly through the forest, but I’m grateful for the physical pain. It’s helping to bury the horrible images clogging up my mind—the girl’s haunting eyes, her lifeless body saturated in blood. The images that I have no doubt will burn in my mind for the rest of my life.

About the Author

Janine Caldwell is the YA fantasy author of the romantic yet action-filled trilogy, The Vortex Series. She lives in the desert town of Anthem, AZ with her husband and two sons. When she's not trying to cool off, she's playing tennis, practicing yoga, banging on the drums, or reading.

Books published by Janine include Visited, a YA coming-of-age fantasy, Rematch, Double Fault, and Deuce.

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