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November 23, 2013

A Shot of YA: Dead Dreams by Emma Right

Series: Dead Dreams 1
Format: PDF
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams--of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

Dead Dreams, Book 1, a young adult psychological thriller and contemporary mystery.

Back to back YA! Something unheard of for me in a loong time but I'm on a roll and I've read winners so far! DEAD DREAMS by Emma Right IMO is tittering on the edges of YA because the characters are older and the situation they got themselves into are very serious and deadly. 

DEAD DREAMS as mentioned is a contemporary mystery thriller with a plot which I call reverse Single White Female. Instead of the roommate, Sarah McIntyre, obsessing and emulating her roomie, Brianna O'Mara, she managed to coerce the latter to copy her. Here's why: Sarah's got rich girl problems, she's on the verge of collecting a huge inheritance but there are certain stipulations on the will that complicated matters for Sarah. She suspects that her Uncle and/brother are after her so they can get their hands on the big bucks. Fearing for her life, Sarah planned a huge and complicated con involving Brie to fool her relatives and the bank, among others. And just when they almost pulled it off, things turned deadly and Brie finds herself in the middle of a huge fraud and a person of interest in a possible murder.

I love the plot and how it was executed by ERight. As this is book 1 of the series, all I can say at this point is everything is timed and calculated to the last point. From what was told, Sarah is the ultimate manipulator and mastermind and I love it! You gotta love Sarah's "puppy dog"/victim drama which Brie fell for. She had Brie wrapped around her finger with promises of big bucks and a means to fulfill the latter's big dreams of independence and then some. Sarah's plotting was slow, deliberate and calculated, I don't think Brie really stood a chance because I'm convinced Sarah will keep on finding ways to hound and torment here until Brie relents. By the end of DEAD DREAMS, I'm convinced that Sarah hand "selected" Brie carefully placing her in a very difficult situation, a hefty collateral for a convenient and expensive end worth $99M.

As for Brie, right now I'm not impressed because of her foolhardiness which makes her the perfect "victim" due to her gullibility. As a reader, we can smell the deceit a mile away and til now, I can't justify why Brie said yes to Sarah's plan. All I can think of is that (1) Sarah knows Brie more than she let on, (2) Brie seeing how Sarah is so paranoid and in so much fear for her life she felt protective of her new roommate, and (3) Brie is really desperate and needed Sarah's gratuity for her own purposes. However these two didn't really demonstrate a convincing friendship for me to justify how on Earth can Brie subject herself to such a complicated fraud! A convenient plot choreography from ERight if you ask me. 

Now even if Brie irritated me a bit, I have to admire Sarah's genius at this point. And when the conflict finally unfolded, my jaw dropped to the floor. There's more to the story than meets the eye and Brie is now in a very compromising situation with no one to turn to. DEAD DREAMS is gripping and very engaging, it's one of those books that will make you desperate for book 2 right away because you can't stand the suspense any longer. ERight has a vicious mind I want more!



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Book Trailer




Prologue



They say each dead body, a human corpse, has a scent all of its own, a sweet-sour smell. A cadaver dog picks up the odor as clearly as a mother recognizes a photo of her child. Of course, I wouldn’t know, for I am no dog. I might as well have been, the way I’d stooped to yield to my basic instincts. My mind wandered to her, what her unique smell would be when, and if, they ever were to find her.


  
After what happened, I decided to write out the events that led to that day and details in case Id missed something, or might need it for defense, or in case they found me dead. My relatives might need to piece together the things that had spiraled out of control, if they wanted to put me to rest, to forget me altogether. That would bleast painful for them. I nodded to myself as I sat in the car. I thought of my most favorite girl in the world: Lilly. At least Lillyd have my dog, Holly, to remember me by

My friends used to call me Brie, short for Brianna. But, I could hardly count anyone a friend any more. Id have to resort to back-watching if I wanted to survive.




 Chapter One


It started on a warm April afternoon. Gusts of wind blew against the oak tree right outside my kitchen balcony, in my tiny apartment in Atherton, California. Sometimes the branches that touched the side of the building made scraping noises. The yellow huckleberry flowers twining their way across my apartment balcony infused the air with sweetness.

My mother had insisted, as  was her tendency on most things, I take the pot of wild huckleberry, her housewarming gift, to my new two-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t really new, just new to me, as was the entire experience of living separately, away from my  family, and the prospect of having a roommate, someone who could be a best friend, something I’d dreamed of since I finished high school and debuted into adulthood.

“Wait for me by the curb,” my mother said, her voice blaring from the phone even though I didn’t set her on speaker. You need to eat better. Her usual punctuation at the end of her orders.


So, I skipped down three flights of steps and headed toward the side of the apartment building to await my mothers gift of the evening, salad in an รก la chicken style, her insistent recipe to cure me of bad eating habits. At least it wasn’t chicken soup double-boiled till the bones melted, I consoled myself.

I hadn’t waited long when a vehicle careened round the corner. I heard it first, that high-pitched screech of brakes wearing thin when the driver rammed his foot against it. From the corner of my eye, even before I turned to face it, I saw the blue truck. It rounded the bend where Emerson Street met Ravenswood, tottered before it righted itself and headed straight at me.

I took three steps back, fell and scrambled to get back up as the vehicle like a giant bullet struck the sidewalk I had only  seconds ago stood on. The driver must have lost control, but when he hit the sidewalk it slowed the vehicle enough so he could bridle his speed and manage the truck as he continued to careen down the street.

My mother arrived a half minute later but she had seen it all. Like superwoman, she leaped out of her twenty-year-old Mercedes and rushed toward me, all breathless and blonde hair disheveled.

Are you all right? She reached out to help me up.

Yes, yes,” I said, brushing the dirt off my yoga pants.

“Crazy driver. Brie, I just dont know about this business of you staying alone here like this.” She walked back to her white Mercedes, leaned in the open window, and brought out a casserole dish piled high with something green. Make that several shades of green.

I followed her, admittedly winded.Seriously, Mom. It’s just one of those things. Mad drivers could happen anywhere I live.”

She gave me no end of grief as to what a bad idea it was for me to live alone like this even though she knew I was going to get a roommate.

“Mom, stop worrying,” I said.

Youre asking me to stop being your mother, I hope you realize this.”

“I’ll find someone dependable by the end of the week, I promise.” No way I was going back to live at home. Not that I came from a bad home environment. But I had my reasons.

I had advertised on Craigs List, despite my mothers protests that only scum would answer “those kinds of ads.

Perhaps there was some truth to Mothers biases, but I wouldnt exactly call Sarah McIntyre scum. If she was, what would that make me?

Sarah’s father had inherited the family coalmoney. Their ancestors had emigrated from Scotland (where else, with a name like McIntyre, right?) in the early 1800s and bought an entire mountain (I kid you not) in West Virginia. It was a one-hit wonder in that the mountain hid a coal fortune under it, and hence the McIntyre Coal Rights Company was born. This was the

McIntyre claim to wealth, and also a source of remorse and guilt for Sarah, for supposedly dozens of miners working for them had lost their lives due to the business, most to lung cancer or black lung, as it was commonly called. Hazards of the occupation.

And then there were cave-ins, which presented another set of drama altogether, Sarah said.

I sat across from her, the coffee table between us, in the small living room during our first meeting. So, that’s why youre not on talking terms with your family? Because of abuses of the coal company? I asked.

We sipped hot cocoa and sat cross-legged in the crammed living room, which also doubled as the dining space. I’d never interviewed anyone before, although Id read tips on the Internet.

“I just dont want to be reminded anymore,” she said, twirling her dark ringlets round and round on her pointer finger.

“But, its not entirely your dads fault those people died of lung problems.

“I guess, but I just want to get away, you understand? Anyway, I’m almost twenty-one now. Thats three years too late for moving out and establishing my own space.” She took tiny sips of the cocoa, both hands cupping the mug as if she were cold.

I walked to the thermostat and upped the temperature. A slight draft still stole in from a gap in the balcony sliding door I always kept open a crack to let the air circulate.

“So, your family’s okay with you living here? In California? In this apartment that’s probably smaller than your bathroom?  With a stranger?”

First off, its none of their business. Secondly, you and I won’t stay strangers. Sarah flashed me a grin. “Besides, I’m tired of big houses with too many rooms to get lost in. And, have you lived in West Virginia?

I shook my head. The farthest I’d been was Nevada when we went for our family annual ski vacation. I heard its pretty.

“If you like hot, humid summers and bitter cold winters. So, do I pass? As a roommate?

She looked about at the ceiling. I wondered if she noticed the dark web in the corner and the lack of cornices and crown moldings. I was sure I smelled mold in the living room, too. But I wasn’t in a position to choose. Sarah was.

As long as youre not a psychopath and can pay rent.” I returned her smile.

I dont know about the psychopath part. She shrugged and displayed her white, evenly-spaced teeth. But here’s my bank account.” She tossed me a navy blue booklet with gilded edges and with golden words “Bank of America” on the cover.

I fumbled as I caught it and was unsure what to do. Should I peek?

“Go on. She gestured, flicking her fingers at me as if I were a stray cat afraid to take a morsel of her offering.

No secrets. I can well afford to pay rent. And, I’m a stable individual.

I flipped the first few pages and saw the numerous transactions in lumps my parents, who were by no means poor, would have gasped at. The last page registered the numbers: under deposits, $38,000. My eyes scanned the row of numbers and realized that the sum $38,000 came up every sixth of the month.

My mouth must have been open for she said, You can stop gawking. Its only my trust fund. It comes to me regardless of where I am, or where I stay. So, do I make the cut?”

I handed the bank book back. We discussed the house rules: no smoking; no drugs, and that included pot; no boyfriend sleepovers or wild parties, which was a clause in my landlords lease; and Sarah was to hand me her share of the rent, a mere $800 a month, on the twenty-eighth of every month, since I was the main renter and she the sub-letter.

She didn’t want anything down on paperno checks, no contracts, and no way of tracing things back to her, shed stressed a few times.

She fished in her Louis Vuitton and handed me a brown paper bag, the kind kids carry their school lunches in. I peeked inside and took out a stash of what looked like a wad of papers bundled together with a rubber band. Her three-month share of the deposit, a total of twenty-four crisp hundred-dollar bills. They had that distinct new-bank-notes-smell that spoke of luxury.

I gulped down my hot chocolate. Why all the secrecy? I hope your parents will at least know your address. I said as I wrapped up the interview. I could understand not wanting parents breathing down her neck, but as long as they didn’t insist on posting a guard at the door, what was the harm of them knowing where she lived?

Sarah glanced about the room as if afraid the neighbors might have their ears pinned to the walls, listening.

She leaned forward and, her face expressionless, said softly, “My parents are dead.


Emma Right is a happy wife and home school mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. When she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling  her kids to get theirs in one.

Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.


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5 comments:

  1. Great cover! And reverse Single White Female? How cool! This seems like an excellent YA. Great review, Braine!

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  2. I am so glad you enjoyed this, I struggled with it but I am glad despite Bri you found the mystery engaging. Wonderful review!

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  3. Happy to hear you're on a good streak with the YA books! This sounds really intriguing and different from other YA contemporary; going to add it to my TBR.

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  4. This book sounds really good, but I don't think it's for me.
    Love the cover by the way.

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  5. oh i love a good mystery thriller that leaves you on edge and needing more. adding this to my tbr. great review Braine!

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