Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Goddess of Death, My Anna Dressed in Blood

I recognize that my book review from last week was a bit short. Unless I have an extremely strong opinion I promise to keep it short. Not everyone likes a 5 paragraph essay encouraging people to read the book. I am simply giving you a brief summary and my opinion on whether it should be read or not. Take it, leave it, my concern is small. I love book blogging because it makes me feel like in some distant universe I am helping someone. Some librarian is thanking me for my tags and my thoughtful insight. We can all dream.
Cas is a ghost killer. That's right, he kills the dead. Those urban legends that hunt and kill humans are his business. Armed with only his father's knife, Cas feels this is his destiny. But deep down he's just like every other teenage boy: moves states/countries frequently, has a witch for a mother, and his father was killed by a man eating demon. Typical teenage stuff. Cas and his mother come to a new town in Canada, where the ghost of Anna Dressed in Blood awaits. Cas knows upon first arrival at the house that she will not be an easy kill. She has dismembered all who enter the house and shows no mercy to any. However, she spares his life. Cas must figure out the puzzle tying Anna to the house before more people lose their lives. Can he avenge the dead and put one more notch in his belt? Or will she destroy his destiny forever?
The concept for the book was compelling. A teenage boy killing off the dangerous urban legends is really interesting, new, and exciting. The author puts in scenarios that are so different and fresh that I couldn't help but love this book. Ghosts, demons, and witches always make for a creepy story line. It was spooky, it was romantic, it was just the book I needed. Call me bah humbug scrooge, but the cutesy romantic, wedding, damsel stories are not exactly on my favorite things lists near the holidays. I was in Zales the other day with the boy and I almost started crying looking at engagement rings. I'll stick with Buffy on this one.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is a must read. It's a spooky story with a twist that can make your spine cold. And, next year this time Blake will release the second, Girl of Nightmares. Something amazing to look forward to next Christmas. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...

Emily Winters was always the good friend. Loyal, cautious, and willing to please her best friend, Gabby. She never anticipated falling for Zack, Gabby's boyfriend. But she feels a connection, and she knows he feels it too. Gabby goes away for a week during the Christmas Break, and while she's away Emily can't help but get closer to Zach.
On the other side of town, Chase Singer has issues of his own. Growing up poor, he was always seen as a charity case, until he became the football star. Now he masks his misfortune. But he has a very dark secret only one person knows, and she's in a coma.
Coincidentally, three cousins: Ty, Ali, and Meg: have stumbled into town and captured Em and Chase's attention. The girls know the secrets and betrayals these two have committed. Em and Chase have been chosen to pay for their actions. An eye for an eye.
I picked up Fury by Elizabeth Miles purely on cover design. The book is great! I thought it was neat how Miles made references to Macbeth. The three girls are similar to the three furies. They seek out people who have committed unspeakable crimes, and they make them pay. I loved the similarities and the subtle references. The ending was not what I expected at all, which is always a nice surprise. The writing was beautiful, the cover is pretty, and the plot forces readers to stay hooked. I am anxious for the next two in the series, though it will be a while. Great read!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do not go gentle into the night...

In a place where the Society chooses everything for you- where you work, what you eat, who you love- Cassia managed to find a different love.
The Matching Banquet is a ceremony where every seventeen year old's name is dropped into a database in order to select who their life mate will be. The computer decides who will be placed together to be married later on, and this is the person they will create a family with. Cassia is pleased to discover she will be placed with her long time friend, Xander.  However, the microchip she was given does not show Xander's information; it shows Ky's.
Ky is an Aberration, an outcast to the Society who is forced to live alone and cannot be matched. So how did he end up on her screen? There's something about him that is so different and so dangerous that Cassia cannot help but investigate.
Although this information is baffling, Cassia also receives a poem from her grandfather before he passes on. It is not one of the 100 the Society has cleared. Her grandfather tells her she is stronger than the pills the Society delivers, and he informs her to not go gentle into the night. What does this mean? Matched by Ally Condie is a journey in which Cassia must discover the truths the Society is keeping, but also she must decide is her love for Ky worth the risk, or was it simply a mistake?
Haven't read it? GO READ IT! It was probably one of THE BEST books I read last year. Truly amazing. Condie's writing is a dream so you float right through. Plus it is an incredible dystopic society. Everything is thought out, and the secrets just get deeper and deeper.
Crossed is the second in the trilogy. And unlike some authors who decide they want to drag out their series, Condie is pretty confident this is a trilogy. Crossed gives Ky a voice as well as Cassia, and the two are on a mission to find each other again and break free of their chains. It begins a couple months after the last one leaves off. It was an amazing read, although my five stars went to the first book. The writing was more amazing, the adventure was just as heart wrenching, but for some reason my heart just wasn't in it as much as in the first one. The characters really discover who they are, what their purpose is, and what they want for their future in the second book. Of course, it needed to be written in order to explain how each character ends up in their state of mind. I'm not saying it's bad, I just liked the first one better. The Hunger Games is a perfect example of a series where the second book is the weakest. I am even more anxious for the finale.
Condie does a really neat thing with these books. On her blog, which yes I am a dork so I visited the site, she has a play list for each book. That's why it takes her so long to finish her series, she puts so much love and effort into it that it makes readers believe it. I love her use of poetry, paintings, music, and voice. It is truly an amazing series by a very talented author. Do yourselves a favor and read this series. It won't disappoint.
Plus the site for the books is really fun. It has bios, the book trailers, and a mock matching. I entertained myself for about forty-five minutes just matching myself. So have fun, and don't go gentle into the night.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Scariest Apocalypse is One That Could Really Happen"

Everyone has heard of the idea that there is a volcano under Yellowstone Park. If you haven't, well now you have. People wonder what if that volcano were to erupt? What would happen to the world? In this novel, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, readers are given a first glance at the possibility of this natural disaster.
Alex is almost 16 years old. He argues with his mother, can't stand his younger sister, and sure as hell is not going to visit his Uncle this weekend. His parents don't put up a fight and leave him home alone. During his first night of freedom is when the volcano erupts. Ash covers the entire town, but Alex manages to get out of his house to the safety of his neighbors. Unfortunately, he discovers quickly that many people are so desperate they turn violent. Alex plans to leave his town in search of his family, so the journey begins. Long days of being on the road with no food, water, and no chance of survival leave him expecting the worst. Luckily, Alex encounters Darla, who accompanies him on his journey. The two encounter dangerous people, loss of food, and a few brushes with death. They have only each other and the determination to survive this apocalypse.
I found this book very real. The situation the young travelers are in seems as though it could happen in today's society. Even though the whole hurricane and blizzard scene appears scary and chaotic to us, I always wonder what would happen in a real natural disaster; one similar to the situation Alex finds himself in. Of course there are those people who buy tons of water and canned goods because they believe the world will end, but in reality, we haven't come close to anything like Mullin explains. Alex and Darla are both young, and to witness so much violence, death, and starvation really does break your heart. I found myself seeing Alex grow with each step of the trip, and I was terrified for him throughout his journey. Of course this is book one, so I knew Alex wouldn't end up dead, but the question is who will? Will he make it? This story was so believable, and even though you don't want to think about an apocalypse, the whole scenario of violence, the government taking over, and people with shot guns everywhere was something I could see happening. No one knows how to deal with a real disaster, so when it comes unexpectedly, the worst is brought out in people. They try to protect their own, and when it can't be done, no one knows how to react. Really creepy.
This story was a lot like Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It was a real disaster and real emotions. Miranda is young, but I found myself in her story relating more to the other brother. He was constantly trying to protect his siblings and make things easier for their mother. That story was so real and believable I have not read the second or third ones yet. I can't bring myself to do it. It's just scary. Knowing that chaos is easily brought out among the human race almost makes you feel embarrassed. How can we just panic so easily? It also makes you wonder if something happened how you would react. Would you have the will to survive? Could you kill if it meant you'd live?
These books are great topics for authors to write about. It's even better for readers because we become painfully aware that we know nothing about survival. All we know is what we're told. Sometimes that may not be enough.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fallen and Please....don't get up

Okay, so that may be a little harsh. Because the district I am working in does not believe in giving visitors a user password for the computers, it appears I have been getting a lot of reading done. This one, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate, quickly because a gym read. The writing was like Halloween chocolate, addicting to the point where you have to have more. But, also like Halloween chocolate, it's completely unnecessary and cavity prone. 
Natalie Hargrove is top of the heap at Palmetto High School. She and boyfriend, Mike, should be a shoo-in for Prince and Princess of the school dance. However, Mike doesn't seem as enthusiastic as Nat, and she's afraid he'll lose to her enemy, Justin. Apparently, Justin and Nat have history that she doesn't want aired, and winning that crown with Mike would put all her worry aside. The two play a senseless prank on Justin, which leads to an accidental death. Black mail, guilt, and Natalie's dark past begin to become more exposed. Can she still be on top when madness is unraveling her good name?
I just didn't like it. It is typical teenage girl over obsessed with prom. Her every move is dictated by becoming princess and making other people see her as head bitch. I got so tired of her constantly ordering her boyfriend around and making him care about this dance that means nothing. Mike is such a push-over. I mean grow a pair, dude. Every little thing she says he starts to object, then because he has no backbone, he gives in. The prank with Justin was one instance. Throughout the book she convinces him to blackmail and lie to everyone because she is so worried about their reputation. Whenever he does make a decision on his own, she gets upset and pouts because it's not her decision. The characters all seem like self centered typical rich kids who are used to getting their way. They are used to having huge parties with tons of alcohol and under age drinking, getting endless amounts of drugs, having sex, and being the popular kids in school. The story line just seemed so shallow that I never really ended up liking it. I felt like I needed to finish it just because.
I think what interested me about the book was the back cover; it said based on themes from Macbeth. I can definitely see Natalie as Lady Macbeth, but it was so loose that I am upset they even made reference to the classic play. I feel if the author had worked the idea of Macbeth into the story more it would have been more entertaining. Sure the characters resembled those from the play, but it was a stretch. It's difficult to get past the shallow plot in order to even consider the Macbeth reference. The one thing I did like about the book was Natalie's past and the history she had with Justin is revealed during the last chapter of the book. It made sense why she hated him so much, but it also showed readers how drawn to him she was. I can't even say I wished the author had revealed this earlier because it wouldn't have made a difference, really. This book has three freakin' covers! Why? All pretty, but I mean come on.
I read Kate's Fallen a few months back too. It was so similar to Halo that I just couldn't find any reason to read more. Don't get me wrong, it was okay, but I feel like the heroine was so wimpy. A fallen angel falls for her, rescues her, and tries to protect her from the evil doers. I feel like we've read it before. I haven't read the other two in the saga because I just don't care enough. The covers are very pretty, yes, but I just didn't care enough about the main character or the story. Even though Halo came out a year after Fallen, I just think I liked the idea of the story better. They're pretty much the same, I guess you just have to take your pick.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told Was A Lie...

Remakes of Shakespearean classics are always a hit with me. This one, Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay, earned 5 stars because I absolutely fell in love.
After being murdered by her husband and soul mate, Romeo, Juliet is now working for the Ambassadors of Light. Her job is to help protect and bring together soul mates. She is transported into other girls' bodies and strives to create lives filled with the promise of love. Romeo works for the Mercenaries, who are the opposite. Romeo's spirit takes over helpless teenagers in attempts that one of these soul mates Juliet protects will kill themselves or their partner. Juliet finds herself in the body of Ariel, a broken young high school girl who needs all the love she can find. Romeo is not far behind, and he tries to convince Juliet that loving him again would set them both free. However, Juliet is in a pickle as Ben, new guy to the high school and the complete white knight of the modern age,  steps in to steal her heart. With time running out, no way of contacting the Ambassadors's, and Ariel's life unwinding in completely unexpected ways, Juliet must choose. Is this forbidden love meant to be, or is Romeo truthful in his vows? 
The writing is what wrapped me up instantly. Jay's writing winds ribbons of description and beautiful dialogue that it is hard to stop reading. I couldn't stay away for long. The great thing was all the possibilities I expected for the plot were wrong and new turns happened constantly. The ending was a surprise, but it was unexpected and refreshing. The characters, the concept, the description; I just fell in love with this book. Plus it really does give readers a whole new perspective on the classic star crossed lovers angle. Romeo's a jerk, but he appears to want things to work out for the two of them. It is unclear if his motives are selfish or if he truly cares for Juliet. On the other hand, Juliet is beginning to have a strong connection to Ben. So what's a girl to do?
Loved this book! It is a must read. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trust No One

After reading a lot of paranormal and paranormal romance, I felt I should break free from the pack. I happened to be looking at new releases on good reads, which to be honest is the only time I use that site, and I came across Variant by Robinson Wells. The book caught my eye, so I decided to check it out. And yes, it is always nice to have something different than a good vs. evil cutsy love theme.
Benson Fisher has bounced around foster homes and schools his entire seventeen year existence. He finds Maxfield Academy and hopes that this boarding school will be different from the rest. He didn't expect it to be this different. Upon walking in, Benson discovers the school contains no adults and no authoritative powers. The daily schedule for the day all depends on the video monitor, whom the students call Iceman. Benson is told there is a huge stone wall trapping the students, and no one ever leaves. When his questions aren't answered by the bright, peppy tour guide, Becky, Benson seeks the truth from the rest of the student body. He finds that the students have split themselves into three gangs: Society who enforce and follow every rule, Havoc who are extremely violent and like nothing more than testing the rules, and Variant who are in-between. Upon joining his gang, Benson's urge to escape is heightened, but other members assure him that there is no way out, and people who have tried to escape never return. A few weeks in and Benson discovers the secret hidden at the school's core. Perhaps surviving and escaping are both impossible feats.
I loved it! The twist was interesting, and it kept me craving more. I can see teenagers connecting with Benson because although he is the typical troubled tough guy, his will to survive and escape are so overwhelmingly real. The writing captivated me, and I couldn't stop reading. The concept of the three gangs is great because it pins students against each other. Every gang takes care of their own, and each gang is in charge of some civic duty around campus, which gives access to certain doors and locks.The members of all three groups have distinct characteristics to the point where the reader knows which group people are in without mention. Very cool concept and it played very nicely with the "no way out" image of the school.
I know the book just came out, but I have high expectations for the second. For his first book, Wells hit a real hop topic with this one. If you're looking for a book to break away from the usual Twilighty love stories, pick this book up. Definitely worth a look.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Keep it Hush Hush.

I don't know what I expected, but I can honestly say this book wasn't it. In fact, I feel like it under achieved. I definitely read the reviews elsewhere about how whiny the main character was, how ridiculous the plot was, and how unreal the entire thing felt. I ignored them because I fell in love with Hush, Hush. Crescendo was a great follow up, but it wasn't better than the first. I can honestly say Silence went down another star for me.
The main heroine, Nora, has resurfaced after being M.I.A for three months. She was kidnapped after reuniting with Patch, a former fallen angel and her guardian angel. Her biological father, Hank, turns out to be the leader of the powerful Nephilium army ready to overthrow the fallen angels. He kidnapped Nora in order to get Patch to spy on his enemies. Because Patch is so in love with Nora, he makes a deal with Hank and agrees to be his spy as long as Nora is left alone. However, making a deal with the enemy never goes as planned. Fast forward to Nora's reappearance. It appears that she's lost her memory, so Nora is unable to remember anything from the past five months, including Patch. Weird things begin happening and parts of her memory start to come back. She meets Jev, who she swears she's met before. Nora finds herself drawn to him. She also begins to find out answers from the past that were covered up, and some things may have been better buried.
I find Fitzpatrick's writing intoxicating. I needed to read this book quickly whenever I had the opportunity because I couldn't stay away. It's like a bad habit. I fell in love with Patch during the first book. Who doesn't want a tall, dark, and sexy guy in their corner? Especially one who isn't afraid to get a little hot and heavy. I guess that's why I kept reading.
Nora's naivety gets old. But suddenly in book three, she goes from helpless victim to warrior princess. Sorry honey, not buying it. She wants readers to believe she’s a fighter rather than the damsel in distress, so she starts to make decisions involving trying to overthrown an entire team of evil beings on her own. She even attempts to get the “I’m tough, fear me” dialogue in the plot. Yea, ok. It didn’t work for Daphne in Scooby Doo, and it certainly will not work for Nora. Not quite sure what Patch sees in her considering he is the modern day equivalent to Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And as I recall, Angel had a thing for strong, independent females. Nora doesn’t fit that mold.  
I picked up the book from the library and read the cover. The word "saga" caught my eye. How do you start off writing a trilogy, and then decide to make it a saga? You trolled all of us. 
After reading halfway through, I decided I was not happy with knowing there would be a fourth book. It seems Fitzpatrick's story has been going downward. I am very skeptical about this coming book. I wish she had wrapped up the story in a little bow and just been done with it. Now it looks like I will have to finish the saga simply because I need to see how awful it will turn out. It's really too bad because Fitzpatrick really does have a beautiful writing style. And the covers are really pretty! How on earth can a book be horrible with pretty covers?!?! Her main character is becoming more annoying with each page flip, and I think that is her Achilles’ heel.
I complain, but reading her fourth book won't be a complete waste. One word that makes me want to keep going; Patch. I can't help it, he is extremely sexy. It’s my cross to bare. ;p

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer

The only thought one can possibly have when looking at the title of this book! Music, books, and I should form our own little club and just elope together. We'd make a very good threesome ;).
Onto the pressing issue: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride was a truly fun read. You know you are in for ride when the author titles their book after a Elton John song.
Sam is content with his life. Sure he doesn't have the best job, he doesn't have a girlfriend, and he dropped out of college, but he's got his mediocre life. He's satisfied with his minimum wage fry cook job, and he has friends who make it all worth while. But after a prank catches the eye of Douglas Montgomery things start to turn for the worst. Turns out, Douglas is a cash collecting necromancer who notices Sam's ability. Sam discovers he is a necromancer too, and Douglas asks him to join him in doing evil. Even though he is reluctant, Sam knows how violent Douglas is and the high ranking necromancer doesn't seem to care who he hurts to get what he wants. Sam is soon thrown into, literally, a decision that could take his life and those who he cares about. He meets an interesting cast of characters, who all have something different and paranormal about them. This includes Brid, a hybrid werewolf/hound, whom Sam notices immediately because of her lack of clothing and good looks. Sam also discovers a power inside himself that no one could have imaged.
There are many things I absolutely loved about this book. One thing that's great is there are many points of view. Sam's story is told from first person, but the rest is in third person. I find it really interesting when stories change perspective because sometimes I just don't want to hear a whiny teenage brat for 350 pages. However, Sam is anything but the typical "oh no I just was told I have magical powers, now I hate everything" character.
Second thing great about this book:  The main character is actually really funny. He is the wise-cracking skater boy who could care less. I was laughing out loud during many parts of this book. Yes, this did result in a few "weirdo" stares from co-workers in the lunch room. The banter between Sam and Brid is really fun to read, plus Sam's best friend, Ramon, is quick witted and just as wise-cracking as Sam. Altogether, the characters fit very well together. McBride managed to create a humorous paranormal novel rather than a paranormal romance, which was nice to read.
The third thing I really liked was the chapters were all titles of songs. It made sense that the title of the book was an Elton John song because the entire book played with the idea of song titles that directed the chapter's activity. And you know, it worked very well. I admit I had to look up a few just to make sure I was right on my theory, but it is a very clever way of writing. And it was neat because, like I said, the title highlighted what the chapter would be about. I was looking forward to reaching the end of every chapter because I wasn't sure what would come next.
Overall it was a great read. It was refreshing because the book did not center around a paranormal romance, or a fairy tale ending. The ending leaves readers stranded with a few unanswered questions, but it worked. McBride says she will be writing a sequel. It would be kinda neat to see the story continued, but I can honestly say that if she doesn't I wouldn't be disappointed. Unless another character takes the lead I cannot see a sequel going too well. This is only because it seems Sam's journey is over. Sure he still has some loose ends to tie up, but I can't see that taking another 350 pages and being entertaining the entire time. Maybe I'll just look like a giant cynic when her book comes out and is amazing. I can hope for that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Help

I read The Help a few days ago, but I wanted to see the movie before I posted in order to compare and contrast. However, I don't know when I'm going to be able to see the movie, and I thought I should post before I forget all the details from the book.
I wanted to read this book long before the movie, but as with everything, movies always seem to deepen the urge to actually read it. And I am one of those people who likes to read the book first then see the movie simply because I am a hard critic. Oh yes, I am that annoying person sitting in the theater going "nope, that is NOT what he looks like", "Oh my god they are changing her personality", and my favorite: "they skipped an entire scene! Those assholes!" Ok, I completely understand that Hollywood needs to spruce things up, change a few scenes, and possibly cut characters or themes as they see fit. I am not knocking Hollywood, I just always tend to like the books better, so I put up a fit. Is that such a bad thing? :)
The Help is centered around Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s. Eugenia Phelan (Skeeter) has recently graduated from Ole Miss. As her friends have found solitude in their bridge clubs, benefit dinners, and spending their husbands' money, Skeeter hopes that one day she will become a journalist. She wishes to write something that people will want to read. And watching the discrimination throughout town does not leave a good feeling in Skeeter's mind. People are people, so why treat black maids like garbage? That is when Skeeter discovers what she will write about. With the help of two very brave black maids, Aibileen and Minny, Skeeter starts to write a novel about the good, the bad, and the ugly encounters of being a black maid in Mississippi. The book could prove to be the best piece of controversial literature of the time, but if the three women are discovered, it could bring very serious consequences.
It was very refreshing. It was great to have a book to challenge the norms of society. Plus it was really nice to have three people's perspectives. Some say To Kill a Mockingbird is only from a white point of view, so how accurate of the times can it be? The fact that Kathryn Stockett put in three different perspectives, two if which were black, made the reader able to see the town from all sides. Plus the two black maids have such different personalities and their lifestyles are opposite, so it was nice to hear each of the characters come to life. I would rule this a completely feel good book. I laughed out loud during certain chapters, I was almost in tears along with the characters, and I found myself jumping into the main characters' minds and thinking as they would. I was always rooting for the change, and I thought how brave it was for these three to step up and start this form of unity.
I loved this book because it also taught about change. Good or bad change is always going to come, but you move forward no matter the situation. You can't turn back. All three of these characters are very strong women, and even though all three have their hardships, all of them move on. Because I have been going through a rough patch in my life, it was nice to have a book show me that life doesn't always have a happy cloud hovering. Sometimes you need to seek out that silver lining. These three women in the story all had to physically and emotionally discover the good beneath a heap of bad. It was reassuring to recognize that although bad change may be happening, as long as you move forward only good can happen from there.
It was a wonderful book that I highly recommend. And for once, it's not a young adult book! Yay for me. Read this book. It helped me get a little of myself back, perhaps it can be that way for others too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heaven and Hell

The emerging fade of angels on earth seemly has run its course. Or has it? Halo was introduced last spring after fellow super heroes stumbled upon the young author's signing table. Alexandra Adornetto was seventeen when she published Halo last fall. Her book seemed to have begun the angel craze for me. I hadn't realized Fallen by Lauren Kate was out for a year prior to Adornetto's first book. I guess one can say she stole the idea, but I believe Adornetto's story was the more enjoyable one. I found Kate was falling, no pun intended, into an idea of past centuries and constant lost loves. Plus when picking up the sequel I was immediately confused, bored, and I had no desire to read any further. Not worth my time, and definitely not worth an entire post to explain how I didn't care for it. Halo, however, intrigued me because of how playful it was.
Bethany Church is an angel, along with her older siblings, Gabriel and Ivy. All three are sent on a mission from the ruler above to bring peace and hope to the community of Venus Cove. It appears evil is lingering and these three need to keep their focus in order to help restore faith. Bethany's immaturity and her compassion for human life puts her right in front of Xavier, gorgeous boy in her class who all the girls want, but can't reach. After his girlfriend was killed in a fire, Xavier's faith is nonexistent, until he begins to see Beth. Their love appears magical. So much, in fact, that Beth decides to reveal herself to Xavier in her true angel form, wings and all. Now that a mortal is aware of their secret, Gabriel and Ivy must figure out their next step and fast because evil appears to be approaching faster than they we anticipating.
The sequel, Hades, picked up a few months later. This one took you to the depths of Hell where Beth is held captive. Not only are her family despretely trying to find a way to get her out, but one of the original eight fallen angels is intent on keeping her in. The more she stays the more Beth misses home, but will they find a way to her before it's too late?
The books include an incredible romance between Xavier and Beth, which never ceased to take the reader's breath away. But the romance had a very sweet way of restoring lost faith. There are definitely times in the writing when you can tell the author is a young teenager. Some things happen a little too conveniently, and the romance is the focal point of the story. However, the concept of a good vs. evil was very fun to follow. And I could tell the author is extremely religious. But not in a Touched by an Angel lame way. She references characters from the bible, makes them real and almost human. It was definitely a journey that had a great built up to the end of the novel. It was a shame that the battle scenes weren't longer. I am hoping the last book has an epic battle scene because the books have been leading up to some sort of uprising.
People can say the books are too teenager, but they are books that have a feel good theme. Yes, I agree Bethany can be a whiny brat who gives into peer pressure too easily, but I feel her character is supposed to be naive and wimpy for lack of a better word. Call me a push over, but I tend to always fall more deeply into a romance when the guys are so devoted to the girl. I am a sucker for fairy tales, and the love Beth and Xavier share is simply that. Too good to be true. But it is always nice to have that protective boy character. In my opinion anyway. :)
Obviously, the endings to both novels are pretty predictable, but it was still a nice romance that had an interesting theme. Good vs evil is always a great battle, especially when angels are involved; both fallen and those still following the good word. I don't have extremely high expectations for the third and final book, but I am expecting an apocalyptic showdown between the two sides. Hopefully Adornetto focuses more on the battle and less on the romance. It would make for a better ending. Maybe a death? Who are we kidding, the ending's going to bust out. But we can hope right? And look! The covers are sooooooo pretty! ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And she does it again!

My friends know that I was high on Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series. It was a great paranormal series about a group of kids who found out they were apart of an experiment giving them paranormal powers. However, their powers were mutated and these four have powers beyond what the experimenters, including Dr. Davidoff, could imagine. Chloe, Simon, Tori, and Derek discover the truth, escape from captive, and go on a search for Simon and Derek's father. I absolutely loved this series. It did not have a teeny bopper feel to it, and the powers they had were different. Chloe's a necromancer, which was such a different idea that I was intrigued. The adventures, the friendships, and the trouble they encounter forced me to continue reading. I picked up this series after I finished Mockingjay. Yea, The Hunger Games is a hard series to follow, especially because of how exhausted I was at the end of the journey, but luckily Armstrong's series was not a let down. I had bought the first book months before because I thought it would be a nice filler, but after reading the first half I became obsessed. I immediately bough the second, and I ordered the third in paperback. I am looking forward to revisiting these book.
Armstrong's spin off series: Darkness Rising begins with The Gathering. Maya is Native American and adopted by her animal loving parents. All is quiet in Salmon Creek, Canada where the closest mall is an hour drive from the town. Quiet it may be, the town still has many mysterious, including the one about why Dr. Davidoff appears every few months to test the teenagers on their health. When Maya's best friend, Serena, drowns in the lake, most rule it out as an accident. But there is something suspicious about a first class swimmer mysteriously drowning. There's also something different about Maya and how she can mysteriously heal and "feel" animals. Maybe it has something to do with her paw print birthmark. As the story goes on Maya encounter Rafe, the new kid in town, who seems to have an interesting background himself. Although Maya doesn't trust him at first, he helps her to discover something about her past she wished she never knew. Along with her best friend, Daniel, Maya begins to unravel missing information about the town that could be linked to Serena's death.
I read this book extremely quickly because I do love Armstrong's writing. I really liked how she tied the doctor into this book. Even though Davidoff never shows up, he is mentioned enough that you find commonalities between the four characters in the previous series. It almost makes you wonder if the characters will find each other. The mystery behind the drowning plays a big role towards the end of the novel. I found myself going on the hunt with Daniel and Maya and wanting so badly to figure out who the hell is behind the lies and cover up. The second one...as per usual, is out in April. :p. I am really hoping Maya and Daniel become an item...they've been friends forever, and come on, what's a bigger turn on than a guy who is constantly looking to protect you and keep you happy? Hello!?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Werewolves of Mercy Falls

I admit, it did take me a while to sit down and read this trilogy, but not because it was not truly an amazing story. None of my co-workers had read the series, so I guess you can say I was unaware that it even existed. I actually discovered it on a friend's blog because she listed it as a favorite teen read. I did a little reading up on the novels and discovered they were, apparently, the new emerging teen craze. As mentioned in an earlier post, and as I am sure those following can tell, I am not a fan of this whole Twilight, sparkly vampire craze. I work in a middle school and because I basically live at the library, I know that these books were not spoken about much among teen girls. You know what's new? Pretty Little Prostitutes...or Liars, same difference. I feel like the Mercy Falls Trilogy is forgotten, or simply a diamond in the rough. Here is why it is a must read even for adults who enjoy teen reads:
Shiver centers around Grace, who is seventeen, and lives with parents who are more like roommates to her. She is obsessed with the wolves who are outside her window in the woods, and she feels a connection to them. Sam shows up on her doorstep with the same eyes 'her wolf' has. She soon discovers they are the same. Sam shifts into a wolf in the winter because of the cold, but his natural form, the one he prefers, is human. Throughout the novel, Grace and Sam develop a love people can only dream about. This is the story of Sam's life as a wolf and his fight to pick up the pieces of his broken past to hopefully have a chance at a normal human life. It is also about Grace's struggle to keep this secret, discover more about the lives of the werewolves, and her fight to keep the one thing she truly loves close.
Linger picks up a few months later. Sam has family issues that he is dealing with, but his adoptive father, Beck, is not like most parents. Beck is a wolf too, but now he is unable to transform back to human. Before he changed, Beck was able to find new individuals that agreed to be wolves. The only way to chose this way of life is to be bitten and infected with the wolf. Without Beck's guidance, Sam is left on his own to take on these responsibilities. In addition, Grace has been falling ill, but no one seems to understand why, and Isabel's father has determined that he is going to destroy the wolves that destroyed his son.  Forever takes place two months later answering the questions readers are dying to know. What is wrong with Grace? Will Isabel's dad prevail in his plan of destruction? Can Sam take on the responsibilities to lead the pack and keep Grace safe at the same time?
What I liked the most about the series is that the characters and their emotions were so real, it made the story feel real. The love Grace and Sam share is so pure and passionate that everyone wishes they had it. Sam is always willing to express his love and affection for Grace, and even though she feels the same as him, she is more reserved with her words. That is how love works. It was great to have an author so aware that even though their love is so pure and unbreakable, the two do have different ways of portraying it. It was also nice to have different points of view besides Grace and Sam.
In Linger we are introduced to Isabel and Cole as narrators. Isabel is so cynical and sarcastic. She is quite a firecracker, and it almost seems like Grace and her don't fit together as friends. However, Grace seems to be Isabel's balance. The third book revealed how trapped Isabel feels beneath her "hot blond" exterior. She's alone, and she is forced to keep the secret of what actually caused her brother's death. Her family is far from perfect, but constantly battling her father's obsession takes its toll on her emotionally. She wants to be loved, but refuses to take down the wall keeping everyone out.
Cole turned out to be my favorite character. He is battling his inner demons, but he's so casual and humorous on the outside. Inside he feels as though he is already dead. He chose this path because he couldn't follow in his father's footsteps, he was addicted to drugs, and the thought of suicide was never far behind. The problem is: shifting doesn't happen for long, and he isn't sure why. All he wants is to be a wolf and leave his human life behind, but it seems that is going to be harder than expected.
Just as Grace balances Isabel, Cole's chaotic personality seems to balance Sam. As the novels go on, readers discover Cole's past, and you also see that Cole has hidden talents that prove to be helpful in the most horrible situations. I feel I saw Cole grow and come into his own in the last book. Plus, how can you not root for the badly bruised guy to get the girl and come out on top?
This series is a must read. The three books compliment each other, and I really did not feel a moment of down time. I think having the book from four people's perspectives helps get all the different stories across. The personalities of all four compromise each other. They are all broken somehow, and these novels show growth in each of them. The trilogy intertwines these four stories and make it impossible to not grow some attachment to at least one of the characters.

Shorty I can take you there

Maybe it's just me, but every time I see this book title I immediately think of Sean Kingston's Take You There. Again, could be just a me thing. :p
Finished Take Me There by Carolee Dean and felt it was worthy of a blog post. The book was published last year, but because I was browsing shelfari randomly (insert nerd joke here) I stumbled upon this book by accident. By the description on the back I assumed it was one of those dark and mysterious wannabe books about a kid who is messed up, finds a girl, falls in love, and drastically changes everything to be with her. Although there is some truth in that, the book is definitely worth a second glance.

Dylan has a broken family. His father is on death row in Texas for murder, his mother is an alcoholic who constantly plays the helpless victim, and Dylan just can't stay out of trouble. He failed to finish high school and spent some time in juvie. Juvie was an experience Dylan would rather not repeat, considering he and his best friend, Wade, were almost killed. He decided he needed to get his life on track and try to start over.
After leaving Texas, Dylan never expected to see Jess again. But when she comes into the mechanic shop, he can't help feeling he's in a dream. Jess is too good for him, he knows that, but there is something about her that is intoxicating. He would give anything to be with her and be apart of her future.
However, a 'bad boy' can never really stay out of trouble for long. Dylan is forced to hit the road and leave everything he dreams of behind. On this journey out of California, Dylan decides now is the time for unfinished business to be handled and questions to be answered. Once faced with his past, he realizes that perhaps the questions he was asking were the wrong ones. Maybe it was better to leave the past behind.
This story is a great coming of age journey. The reader is taken through the main character's thoughts, but it almost seemed like everything around me melted away and I was in Dylan's world. I could feel his struggle with staying sober and remaining on good terms with his parole officer, and I felt the way his heart was breaking when he decided he had no choice but to abandon his dream filled future. Dylan eventually visits his father in prison, which begins to stir old memories, but also brings about more problems. This story really was able to show Dylan's growth from the beginning of the novel. The decisions he made forced different outcomes; some outcomes brought tear jerking results. The ending was a surprise; it was not at all what you would expect. But, I feel it does fit. Even though a lot of things happened a little too coincidentally, the ending did not reflect a typical happy go lucky teen romance novel. Not all stories can have happily ever afters, and this novel was definitely a good dose of reality.
Take Me There is definitely a novel for mature audiences. Had I known about this book before I would have easily recommended this to some of my eighth grade boys who were in a constant struggle with themselves. Dylan is a character teenage boys can relate to easily, but also the novel gives a little peek at what prison life is.
It is a quick read, but enjoyable if you have a moment. In short, the story is about a young boy who is struggling to find himself, which most of us can relate to. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is love worth the risk?

Wolves appear to be the new craze, BUT the stories are more clever than our friends who are into sparkly vampires.
I read the first of the Nightshade series before the book even surfaced thanks to a few superheroes who attended the book expo in New York. The story stars Calla, who is the Alpha Guardian of her pack. Her and the rest of the Guardians have the ability to shape shift into wolves. It's not a werewolf, silver bullet, full moon wolf at all. These wolves are made to serve the Keepers, who control everything. Calla is to be married to the Bane Alpha, Ren, on her eighteenth birthday and begin a new pack. Up to this point, she has accepted everything. Ren and his pack are slowly beginning to mingle with hers, so why should she be worried? Then there was Shay. Shay is bleeding to death on a mountain as Calla comes across him on her patrol. Calla saves him. Each time she encounters Shay he seems to take the breath out of her. What is it about this human boy that is causing her to question her beliefs? As her story continues, Calla discover many secrets hidden beneath her pack's past. She eventually has to make a choice that could put herself, Shay, and her entire pack in harm's way.
This book was ridiculously good! The writing was very clever, and each turn of the page was something new. The shape shifting idea gave way to a fantastic story about a group of different individuals with different abilities. The story is not a new Twilight, but an emerging story about a society where expectations are made in order to appease the Keepers. It is a story of forbidden love and the risks one individual goes through in order to discover the past and save her pack. Loved this book.
I finished the sequel: Wolfsbane yesterday. This time, I had to wait to read it. :( But it proved to be a great journey as well. This story picks up where it left us. The interesting thing is this book takes place in three days. It sounds like it would be drawn out, but the amount of detail, character development, and action crammed into these three days makes it appear longer. New characters emerge, old ones resurface, and new challenges are met. Calla must, once again, make choices, rediscover the history behind this war, and reunite with her pack. But, did she make the right decision? The thing I liked about this book was it gave you a recap of the first without making it long and boring. I had read Nightshade in September, so I didn't remember details, but Cremer did a nice job of retelling so you were aware of your surroundings. But she didn't drag on for chapters about how the other book ended, the characters, etc.
The final in the series: Bloodrose comes out in February. Not quite as long as the sequel took, but still long enough to annoy me. I finished Wolfsbane then immediately checked her website to see when the final book would be out. Why can't authors just know that I will immediately want to read the next book in the series? Therefore, they should STOP tweeting about their cats and CONTINUE writing their books?! OR release the gosh darn book already!!! Ugh.
And how could I forget the covers? I am such a cover nerd, but these are pretty. I have to say I liked the hardcover to Nightshade better than the paperback. Pretty, with just a little sparkle. No, not like Edward. That would be nauseating. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Fever Has Arrived!!

Yes, yes. It has been a while since I have posted. It's been a slow moving summer. :/ Soon, I promise. ;) But for all you book cover nerds like me...the cover to Lauren DeStefano's Fever has finally been revealed! The book won't surface until February, but we can all admire the cover until then! See? Stalking people via twitter isn't all bad... :) For a peek at the summary, click on the Fever link above. Enjoy <3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fat Girl? Says Who?

I wander the hallways of the middle school I work at and I remember how out of place I felt when I was twelve. I was shy because I didn't want to draw attention to myself. I was overweight and so self-conscious. On top of that, I hated being told I was fat. I hated going to the doctor, I hated gym class, I hated everything about middle school. It brought out my weight issues because all the other girls looked the same. They were skinny and perfect. I was fat, so what boy would want to look my way? I couldn't get a date, heck I couldn't even get a compliment. Middle school was the worst time of my life because I just didn't fit in, literally. Going to the richer middle school had its disadvantages because no one was very accepting of differences. Being overweight meant you were a target for bullying and jokes. After reading Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne, I realized if these books were around when I was in middle school perhaps I wouldn't have been so self-loathing.
This books begins with Celeste, who is overweight. She comes home from school, eats her chocolate cookies, and is completely content with this routine. She is always made fun of by the popular crowd, but she has a best friend, Sandy, who always stands up for her. Her parents don't press the weight issue, but Celeste knows everyone views her as the "fat" girl. When her Aunt signs her up for a  plus size model competition, Celeste is horrified. There is no way she is going to try to draw more attention to herself and her weight issues. Then she comes up with an idea: she can't win the Husky Peach competition if she's not fat. So Celeste's weight loss journey begins. She encounters lost friendship, struggles with eating, and she begins to develop the confidence she never knew she had. This story was very sweet and inspiring because shy fat girl turns out to have some confidence in herself. Enough so that in the end, she discovers who her real friends are, and she is not afraid to tell people exactly what she's thinking.
Another book I just finished literally five minutes ago, Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee, dwells on similar issues. Rosie is overweight. Her mother and aunt buy her gifts like weight loss books, treadmills, and work out clothes in order for Rosie to get the hint and drop the pounds. The more she is pushed, the more frustrated she gets. It appears nothing is going to make her food obsession cease, until she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She tries a few of her own weight loss experiments, then slowly begins to see a change in herself. Plus, she has her eye on Kyle, who is a jock and is gorgeous. After seeing a therapist for her weight, her issues become more evident. It appears weight gain and food aren't the only thing Rosie is dealing with. This book is about discovering yourself and realizing that although you may not be a skinny, inside is what matters most. I fell in love with this book! I have been in Rosie's shoes, and I have come out on the other end. I enjoyed her journey, and it is an inspirational story that many overweight girls can relate to.
I liked Artichoke better that Chocolate Cookies because Rosie is a teenage girl who needs to discover herself. Celeste is a young girl who starts losing weight because she didn't want to be in a beauty pageant. Also, Rosie's story was more believable. It was easier to see her ups and downs, and it was easier to understand her frustration and hurt because if you were an overweight girl you could easily relate.
Both of these books were easy to read. Ironically enough, they were my gym reads; just something simple to read that was interesting and kept my mind off the treadmill. These books were published a few years ago, but it means there is hope for the future that authors may begin writing their novels with overweight, curvy, heroines in mind. In addition, it's always nice to read a book about someone who was in, or is in, your position with weight loss. As an adult, I realized in middle school/high school, all I needed was someone to tell me they understood my problem. I needed to hear an inspirational story because maybe I would have pushed myself too. Believe it or not, ever since I started reading those books I have a new outlook on my being overweight. I have begun to see the beautiful things about me rather than the pieces of fat that make me cringe. I have even, gasp, worn shorts twice this year. :) For those of you who know me, you KNOW pigs have officially flown. It sometimes just takes a little inspiration, or a cutely worded novel, to dig you out of a hole.
Another thing I like is these books are giving girls a clear picture that perhaps the size zeros of the world aren't always that well off. T.V  always paints a wonderful picture of fat people becoming thin like magic because that is what is expected and 'right'. The media thinks 'perfect' is a small, delicate girl, with long hair and bright brown eyes. I was so glad that these books were more down to earth and gave a real life picture of what it's like to be struggling with weight loss. Neither of these girls became bean pole thin, but they both felt good about themselves. And it shows young women today that size zero isn't always what is desired, and sometimes it isn't always the healthy route to shoot for. It's really about loving the person you are, and I think that point is frequently missed among the youth today.
Plus by Veronica Chambers is on my list to read soon. It sounds like a Cinderella story of weight loss and yes more self-discovery.We shall see. Check my shelfari update on that one. :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dealing with School, Life, the Usual

Books are always meant to be enjoyed and shared, but there are those that help young adults, and in some cases even adults, learn about the lessons in life. I have a select few that I have come across throughout my high school, college, and teaching career that I felt needed to be passed on.
Laurie Halse Anderson has always proven to be an author that excels at capturing the voice of young adults. I read Speak when I was a sophomore for a independent reading project. It was one of those books that truly caught my attention, especially because I went through a reading drought about that age. I was trying to figure out the secret at the end, but at the same time I was enjoying how pure and emotional Melinda felt. She was so honest and trustworthy, yet she was alone. I myself went through a period where I felt I had no friends, and I felt constantly isolated. At that time, knowing I wasn't the only one gave me such hope and comfort. The group discussions we had revolved around how bad we felt for her, but at the same time it was easy for all of us to relate to her in some way.  Plus, as the old saying goes, you never really know who your true friends are until something bad happens. The book is a great one, especially for young teenagers who are looking for a quick read.
Twisted is a book from a male perspective. Interesting enough right? He's a high school senior, so what do you think is really on his mind? Tyler is a screw-up. He was invisible, but decided he needed to stand out and make sure people remembered him. After he was arrested for graffiti, Tyler was sentenced to a summer full of unpaid manual labor with the school custodians. He returns to school for his senior year ready to be done with everything. Only, Tyler looks different and has definitely caught the eye of his dream girl, Bethany. The problem is: Bethany's twin brother, Chip, has been tormenting Tyler for years. Tyler is invited to a party, and things start to get hot and heavy with Bethany. Instead of giving into his desire, Tyler walks away because Bethany has had a few too many. The next day at school, pictures of Bethany are posted all over the internet. The cops get involved and immediately peg Tyler for the crime because of his record. This is a story of self discovery, being a teenager, and constantly being the "bad" child. Although Tyler's voice was at times very raunchy, readers were able to get a feel for how he was feeling. Plus, if you looked at the surrounding cast, Tyler had a lot of issues he needed to figure out. My 8th grade boys loved it. That could also be because the underlying talks of sex were very clear. Either way, boys will get sucked in because it is finally a 'boy' book.
These are two excellent reads that any young adult could get into. Plus they are quick reads, so it is possible for students to do an independent book project on them in a short time. Great books. I definitely recommend them to adults as well. Who doesn't want to know what a 16 year old is thinking?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

My friends did not lie when they said I would be constantly singing Scarborough Fair before, during, and after this book.
The book's plot focuses around this ballad and pays particular attention to the lyrics. Nancy Werlin wrote that she found this ballad terribly romantic as a teenager. "Listening to the lyrics as an adult, though, I was take aback. The man demands one impossible task after another for the woman; and if she doesn't deliver, then she's no "true love" of his. I thought: There's no way that woman can prove herself to that man; he's already made up his mind. Did she do him wrong? What's the story?" After reading the lyrics myself, I realized Werlin was correct. Seamless shirts? An acre of land between salt water and sea strand? Sowing the land with one grain of corn using a goat's horn? Who thinks of this? And Werlin also has a point: It seems this man already made up his mind. It's funny how a very sweet sounding ballad can prove to be a disheartening song about love.
Impossible is the story of Lucy Scarborough. Lucy's birth mother, Miranda, is mentally unbalanced. She is the bag lady of the town, but none of her friends know this about her. Miranda wanders the town singing this ballad and claiming Lucy is "cursed" and "damned". Up until the night of the prom, Lucy assumes her birth mother is just insane and pays her no mind. However, when her date rapes her that night, which leads to her pregnancy, Lucy, the parents who raised her, and her love interest, Zach, begin to listen more closely to the warning.
 Lucy discovers all the Scarborough girls were cursed. In order to lift the curse, the girls must complete all the tasks in the ballad before the birth of their daughters. What seems impossible leads Lucy and her family on a wild journey and race against the clock. Will she succeed in time? Or is she too to suffer the same fate as her mother and ancestors before her?
The author did a fantastic job of spinning this ballad into a challenge. I loved the twists and turns, the attempts and mishaps Lucy suffers through, and of course who doesn't love a great romantic story. Zach is pretty much the ideal man. He stays with Lucy during her rough times and proves to be a friend when she seems to be running out of options. And because I am a hopeless romantic myself, his thoughts, love, and affection towards Lucy is overwhelming. It makes you wish all guys were like that. :p
I enjoyed the book, but I felt the ending was just too convenient. The entire book builds up to the last events, but it almost turns into a mock fairy tale at the end; sort of overdone. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but after reading I felt it was just something I had heard before. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars because I did enjoy the journey, but I just felt the book was so built up that it deserved another ending. I do recommend this book because the concept of taking this ballad and creating a story to go along with it is incredible. It's a really cool idea, plus it was interesting to watch the family figure out the puzzle logically. This truly is a book of togetherness and proving just what true love it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wither: to become wrinkled of age or diease

Lauren DeStefano is an emerging author. I found out she resided in Connecticut and was excited because she was in close range. Of course I will more than likely never come in contact with the woman, but that is besides the point. Wither is her first novel, which is to be the first of a trilogy.
Based on ideas from The Handmaiden's Tale, Wither takes place in the not so distant future. There is a disease that shortens the expected lifespan of men and women. Women are expected to live until they are 20, and men are supposed to live until 25. Once the individual becomes of age, they will begin contracting this disease and slowly die within the year.
Rhine lived with her twin brother, Rowan, until she was captured by the Gatherers. These are a group of people who kidnap women and sell them into prostitution or murder them. Rhine is one of the lucky three who is hand picked by the Housemaster, who is a scientist desperately trying to find the cure for this illness. She, along with the other two chosen, are to become wives of his son, Linden. She will be expected to cater to his every desire, bring him children, and stay enclosed in this mansion for the remainder of her live.
Once the sedation wears thin, Rhine is introduced to her sister wives, Jenna and Cecily. Jenna, 19, is beautiful in every way, but very closed off because her sisters were killed in the same night she was chosen to live. Cecily, 13, is young and naive to this world. She is eager to please her new husband and doesn't quite understand why her sister wives seem to be fighting this new chance at life.
Weeks turn into months, and each day brings a new surprise, a new secret, and a new reason for Rhine to escape. She begins to discover that her new husband is clueless to all the horror around him, and perhaps the Housemaster's chilling appearance may bring danger to all of them.
Love, Love, LOVED this book. The concept for this trilogy is very cool. Plus, it was nice to read an emerging teen read that isn't mature enough for middle school. Each chapter held a new secret, a new discovery for Rhine, and it was a great adventure to go on. Enter Gabriel, one of the kitchen staff, and things get more complicated, but the reader discovers her hidden affection for him. He shows her different aspects of history, when the rest of the continents used to exist, but he also keeps her focused on the one thing she truly desires, which is her freedom. In order to receive the potential keys to her escape, Rhine must rely on the help from Jenna and attempt to gain enough of Linden's trust in order to secure her position as First Wife.
I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the mystery, and the writing. All three girls have such different pasts that it was very interesting to see how they would mesh together. I bought this book before I finished reading it because I knew it was one I needed on my shelf, but it was one I could read again and get the same feelings as I did when I first read it. DeStefano's first book really does leave you craving more.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love: It will kill and save you, both

This quote completely sets the tone of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The more I read, the more I believed in the words.
In Lena's society, which is the Portland, Oregon years in the future, Love is a disease. Those in charge have developed a 'cure', which is given to all citizens on their eighteenth birthdays. Having the surgery for the cure means a peaceful life where people are happy and set forever. Their marriages, jobs, and even how many children they have are matched for them. The only thing people need to worry about are the stresses of the everyday. Love, whether it be from a significant other or from family, is non existent. Lena has always went with the norm, assumed she was plain, and that things would be different after she was cured. Her mother committed suicide when Lena was 6 because she could not be cured. After 3 procedures, society could not cure her. So Lena's mother would rather die than go through another procedure. After desperately trying to get rid of the reputation her mother created, Lena looks forward to her procedure and accepts her place in society.
Then she meets Alex. Alex begins to open her eyes to the lies the community has been feeding her. She soon realizes that her family has been keeping a few secrets as well. Towards the end, Lena decides that the pain love causes is worth the risk.
This book reminded me a lot of Matched because of the dystopic society and the matching of people. In addition, the main characters in both discover the truth and try to break free of the norms. Delrium brought in the deep concept of friendship. Lena and Hana's friendship is so simple, yet so pure. They both risked their own lives in order to help each other. Her emotions, her questioning of authority, her love for Alex are so real.
I felt myself constantly being swept up in their sweet romantic outings. I have to say once I finished the book I was almost in tears because of the tragic situation her society traps her in. I believe this is a trilogy, which I am looking forward to. Unfortunately, because this book just came out, it will be a while until we get the sequel. I loved this book, quite the roller coaster ride.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Judy Blundell: Strings and Lies

Judy Blundell is one of those emerging authors that writes towards an older, mature audience. Her writing weaves a story filled with betrayal, lies, and blooming romance.
After reading What I Saw and How I Lied upon a recommendation, I realized that her writing is more sophisticated. Although her books are meant for young adults, they are targeted towards young girls whose minds are mature enough to handle the concepts. It took a while for me to read both books: What I Saw and How I Lied and Strings Attached because the writing wasn't meant to be chunk read. It wasn't meant to be skimmed. Each sentence, each word she wrote is meant to captivate readers and show them this world. You are thrown into the lives of these young naive girls and expected to figure out the puzzle pieces as they are left for you.
What I Saw... takes place in the 40's after the war. The main character, Evie's,  family appears perfect. Her father, the war hero, her mother, the perfect example of a woman, and Evie, young but getting used to being in her own skin. Their family trip to Florida slowly begins to unravel secrets of Evie's father's time during the war, and it begins to make Evie wonder who she can trust and who is betraying her.
Strings Attached takes place in the 50's, and it focuses on the battle of ethnic upbringing. In particular, the Irish and the Italians. Kit is Irish, and has a love for the theater, so one day she packs her stuff and runs to Manhattan to find a job as an actress. Kit's ex-boyfriend's father finds her and makes her a deal she can't refuse. You can immediately see Nate Benedict's ties to the Italian mafia, and one can assume Kit sees it too. Kit's story takes a longer time to read because she flashes back often so readers can get the whole story. Her flashbacks give clues about the future and the more you read the more secrets are revealed. Once her ex-boyfriend returns from the war, more lies send Kit's life into a tornado of confusion, and it is no coincidence that Nate continues to appear at her shows and her apartment. So she took the offer she couldn't refuse, but what favors need to be returned before Nate and his mysterious work efforts are out of her life?
I liked Strings Attached better than What I Saw... because I could relate more to Kit's character. Evie is young and naive, whereas Kit is strong and catches on to the lies faster. She believes so much in this dream that the reader wants her to come out on top. You want to believe she'll make it, you want to believe things will work out. Evie's story focuses on her coming of age, but Kit's character is more sure of herself and her dreams.
I also found it was extremely interesting how Blundell added the aspect of the Italian mafia into her novel. No, it's not a major part, but during this time mysterious deaths, mobster hits, and well dressed men in clubs was emerging. Kit is not directly apart of that reality, but as the novel goes on readers can see how she is indirectly an accessory. I think this made the book more interesting to me because there aren't a lot of books that focus on the mafia. It's a very 'hush hush' topic, but Blundell did a really nice job of including it. For some reason, I am drawn to the idea of the mafia. Maybe it's because I am Italian, I don't know.
Blundell paints a great picture of each time period, so the reader is fully aware the stories did not take place in 2011. She describes the economic difficulties of families, the women during the war, how men were portrayed after they returned home. The books were beautifully written to the point where I needed to take my time and not try to finish quickly because I didn't want to miss the elegant sentence structure and word choice. Both female characters share many qualities, however each have their own voice. As I said before, these books were written for young adults, but meant for mature audiences, so it makes adults feel better about reading them. The books are great too because it gives a little romance, but the entire book does not revolve around that concept. It's a nice break from the typical love story. Plus, the covers are enchanting and pretty, so that's always something that grabs people's attention.
I sincerely hope we see more of Blundell's writing, and I hope she continues to focus on particular time periods because it would be really neat to see what she does with the 60s and 70s era.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Series

Just finished the last of the series: The Dark and Hollow Places. My opinion of the books was always very high. I fell in love with this series when they were recommended to me. I finally added them as a favorite on Shelfari because as I was reading the 3rd book, I remembered how fantastic the writing was.
I have always been drawn to books with dystopic societies, and this series was no exception. Mary, the main heroine from the 1st novel: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, lives in a village that is surrounded by fence keeping the unconsecrated, zombies, out. The sisterhood is in charge, and their rules are the ones everyone abides by. When an invasion breaks loose in the village, Mary, her lover, her fiance, and her best friend fight desperately to find this ocean Mary always longed for. The only thing they have to hold each other together is hope. Although decisions the group makes are, at times, questionable, Mary's hope never dies. The author leaves the reader with a very cryptic ending; because truly how can one be happy in a world where people are constantly in fear?
Book two: The Dead Tossed Waves takes on the point of view of another strong heroine: Gabry. Gabry is Mary's daughter, and the two of them are continuing to fight the good fight against the unconsecrated (Mudo, zombies). Once an invasion of unconsecrated leaves the ones she loves infected, she must find a way to get past the Recruiters, who control everything. Some of their rules and regulations don't make sense, so she grasps to find another way. Gabry breaks the rules, and in doing so meets Elias, who claims to know her past. Not only is Gabry trying to survive, but she begins to unravel the stories of her mother's pasts and the secrets she's been keeping. Another strong female lead. You can feel both female character's curiosity and pain. Both lost people close to them, and both discovered that there was something more than the fence closing them in. They reached and hoped for other answers, which they soon discovered and craved.
To finish out the series, The Dark and Hollow Places is narrated by Gabry's twin sister, Annah. Personally, I feel Annah is the strongest of the 3 women. She is jaded and broken herself. After being left behind by Elias, she has been on her own surviving in the Dark City, a place that is uninfected at the moment. Her shattered past and dying hope seem to only drive her towards one thing, surviving. Feeling neglected and lost, Annah feels her only hope for surviving is finding a way out of the city. She is confronted by Catcher, a friend of Gabry's from her old village. As Annah begins to accept her past, she realizes that something about Catcher is familiar. Both of them are broken in different ways. Annah must continue to survive, but at the same time she must discover what is it is like to live.

The writing was absolutely fantastic. I found myself bookmarking pages just so I could remember the lines. Carrie Ryan's writing weaves through and gives the reader so much detail it swallows you whole. I found, after finishing, there were many sequences where there is no dialogue. Annah struggles against the night, the wind, the darkness, but she is alone. I was so drawn up in it that I didn't ache for the human interaction, which is something I usually do. I typically will skip ahead just to see the dialogue, but in this last book it was amazing how her writing was enough for me to see everything. I could see the tunnels, I could feel the shiver and cold, and it was incredible. I think the third was my favorite also because I was able to relate to the scenery. Annah's story takes place in a city, which gives the readers the idea that this story could take place during a recent time. Mary's story is in a forest, Gabry's near an ocean, so readers may not be able to image the time period because it could be any time. They aren't around civilization, whereas Annah is. The fact that people can better relate to the city atmosphere gives a different feel to the story, and also makes it more powerful.
I absolutely love this series. You have a dystopic society where everything seems hopeless, but these three characters find the courage to push on and continue fighting. No matter how jaded and how scared they are, each one has something different to drive them further. The romance was a nice pinch of happiness to make you smile. Love these books. I am so glad I own them because reading them again would not be a chore. I recommend them; they are three of my favorites. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Red Riding Hood: Book and Movie

I really like when authors do re-telling of fairy tales. It creates a really cool modern twist on a classic. So, Red Riding Hood intrigued me.
On days where I find myself sobbing uncontrollably over things I can't change, my beau knows taking me to Barnes and Noble will lessen the emotional anxiety. Isn't he the greatest? ;) I found Red Riding Hood on one of these adventures. After reading the cover I realized it was based on the screenplay. So basically, the book was written for the movie. It made me sad, until I picked up the book and started reading it.  
Sarah Blakley-Cartwright, the author of the novel, uses fantastic description to take the reader on this journey. Valerie is a main character people can relate to because of her strong emotions throughout the story. She is in love with Peter, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but is engaged to Henry, who has potential to be an exceptional match. She's tangled in this triangle, but throw in the aspect of this mysterious wolf, and you have yourself a crazy ride. The wolf is human and wants Valerie; it even speaks and tries to encourage her to come to the dark side with it. Yes, 'the dark side' was my added commentary. Cartwright sends the reader in all different directions, giving different clues, different suspicions, and different possibilities to who this wolf is. It brings in aspects of the original fairy tale that we all grew up with, but provides a fresh concept that is 'wicked awesome, for lack of a better phrase.
I read the book in a day because I was so engrossed with it. The writing was beautiful. As much as it irked me that it was a screenplay first, I have to say the author did a beautiful job of keeping me engaged. I loved the romance, craved the action, and was constantly curious about the end result, which you don't find out in the book.
After seeing the movie, I discovered there are things that are quite different about both. It does give you the ending the book didn't deliver, which was a relief. As much as the Twilight craze left my head spinning, the movie director did an awesome job. Heck, even my boyfriend liked the movie. So that counts for something. 
Overall, a great read and an awesome movie to follow. I would recommend both. And no, you don't have to read the book first to enjoy the movie.