Thursday, December 13, 2012

**REVIEW** Dead Heat by Lisa Nowak

Alex is a machine whisperer. He can tell what’s wrong with a broken-down car with a touch. But his gift can’t save him from the brutality of his meth-addict father. For two years, Alex experienced kindness through Cole, his mentor. Now Cole’s dead, and the violence in Alex’s life is escalating.
When Cole reappears as a ghost, Alex clings to the tenuous link. Then he learns Cole might’ve sacrificed his chance to cross over. Jade, the first girl to look beyond Alex’s past, assures him Cole can reach the Other Side—if Alex escapes from his dad. But a previous terrifying attempt has convinced Alex it’s impossible. Unless he can find the courage to try, his friend may be earthbound forever.
Release Date:  October 2012
Published by: Webfoot Publishing
Review Copy: Kindle
(Review copy provided by Author)


  Lisa Nowak has made her talent clear once again in this novel.  I loved Running wide Open, Getting Sideways and Driven but this was something different.  Well it included racing like her others did but this was so much more than that.  What I have always loved about her books is that there is always something more.  Even when they are lighthearted, there is a more serious issue being dealt with somewhere in the book.  With Dead Heat it was much more intense than I had expected.  I mean the entire book was not what I had expected.  From the description I thought that there would be a paranormal feel to the book but really there was only an edge because of Cole's ghost.  Even then people communicate with the dead all the time so it's not that abnormal for a ghost to appear to someone that was important to them right?

  Alex has had a hard life.  His father is a Meth addict and abusive and his mother is in no position to help him.  School is a bust because of issues and his father taking him out at all hours to "help" him.  His escape is visiting the track to watch races and dream of working on the cars.  When his dream becomes a reality Alex is not sure if he can really count on it.  Cole the driver he helps however has other plans.  The two become close, like family but all good things end right?  Loosing Cole throws Alex into a quick downward spiral and things don't look good.  This is only the start of many things to come.  Meeting a girl that will look beyond his past, learning that some things are worth fighting for and there is always another choice.  Sometimes this even means turning to the people you least expect.

  As far as characters go Alex is very well written.  I often found myself feeling sorry for him, even though I know he would hate the pity.  Despite his hard life and horrid up bringing he is a nice and gentle person.  Not someone that would win a popularity contest but he keeps to himself and enjoys working on motors and anything electronic really.  This is a talent that he has had since he was young and I'm not sure talent can even really cover it.  The kid can touch anything and know almost right away what is wrong with something.  However this little talent doesn't give him much satisfaction when his father learns of it.  My heart broke several times but for the most part Alex pushed on.  Loosing Cole killed his positive attitude towards many things but there was always fight in him.

  There wasn't much for other characters in this book beyond Alex, Cole his dad and his mom for awhile but there is a few other characters that come in later that are seriously important.  Jade is the biggest one.  She really just wouldn't give up on him.   Despite the fact that she really doesn't know him she is determined to make him see her, give her a chance.  Even when she sees the type of world he has grown up in and still lives in she wants to be with him.  My heart practically melted when she continually showed her support for him.  She even believed him about seeing his friends ghost and wanted to help him get Cole to cross over.  Jade does have a past of her own and I think that maybe this is why she is so good for Alex and can look past where he is and see who he is.

  Where I was thrown was that this isn't about a boy and a ghost.  Heck it isn't even about a boy that is abused.  Well it's about that but it's more about someone that realizes there is other ways and there is help.  Alex grew and became more than just a boy, more than just some kid that lives every day holding his breath when his father is home.  Lisa created intense moments where the abuse was real and would bring tears to your eyes but she also created a realistic situation with this.  It's not an easy thing to write I imagine but think of how hard it would be to actually live it!  

  Dead Heat was an intense and heart breaking read but it had meaning and a good story.  I found myself heart broken, angry and smiling throughout.  Books that bring out emotions especially strong ones have always been a favourite of mine.  This is the kind of read that leaves an impression, leaves you thinking long after you are done.  I have had the luck of reviewing all of Lisa's books and hope to do so with any future books she releases as well.  Her talent is evident and I have been impressed every time but I think the moral and meaning that is put in this book touched me the most! 

I'm such a moron.  I got a couple of fingers that don't work too good ever since the old man slammed his trunk hood on 'em, and sometimes cramp up.  After three years, you'd think I'd learn to deal.

He tells me I'm smart and talented and got a great future ahead of me.  My life was never any prize, but now Cole's a part of it, I can see just how bad it used to be.

It's hard work, but after a while stuff starts making more sense, and I do better on my tests.  Cole's so proud you'd think he was making them grades himself.  I still can't see why it's such a big deal, but I get a kick out of doing something that makes him that happy.

"Don't lie to me!  I just saw it."  His image glows real bright, like he's about to nuke out on me.  For a second, I wonder is ghosts can explode.

About the Author

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. 

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.
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  1. Let me tell you a little story: one day, when I got tired of telling my husband to replace the belt on my vacuum cleaner, I went to Canadian Tire and picked up a $600 Dyson sucker. I got home, showed him the receipt and he flipped. Ten minutes later, he left and picked up a belt for the vacuum while returning the Dyson. Moral of the story? I NEED AN ALEX in my life. Word.


    I think I would enjoy this book, Tiff. Thanks for reviewing it.

  2. I have never heard of the book or the author. I am glad that has changed. How awesome of a power is that? Pretty great for me, because I love to work on cars. Besides that one part, the rest of it sounds really good too. And I really like the cover, as well!


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