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. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kissed By an Angel Trilogy

Just finished the trilogy: Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler. My first thoughts when I began reading it were that it was a little too 'Touched by an Angel' and Disneyesque for me.
The main character, Ivy's, belief in angels made me want to gag quite a few times. Don't get me wrong, people can believe in what they want, but when it is mentioned practically every three pages about her  angel beliefs I just couldn't quite handle it. Her statues, her summoning them, her friends even mentioning them. At times I felt the belief was too vivid in the story, and perhaps this had something to do with why I never warmed up to her character.
So Ivy meets Tristan, captain of the swim team and total high school eye candy to everyone but her. Regardless of how much the name 'Tristan' has terrified me because of my teaching experience, I was able to complete the series developing a sincere liking for Tristan. He was funny, clumsy, sexy: pretty much the total package ALL girls want. He warms your heart because all the girls want him, but he only has eyes for Ivy. The car crash ending his life is not enough to stop loving her.
Tristan comes back as an angel with a mission he is unsure of. With the help of another angel, Lacey, he decides the car accident was intentional and someone is out to kill Ivy. His discovered powers come through a lot in the second book: "The Power of Love." He can get into people's minds if they are willing, and at times he can force them to relive events in their past. Lacy, being a pro, can manifest back into human form, throw her voice across the room, and create havoc, which is something she is quite good at doing. I wished Chandler gave us more information on Lacey's past and present emotions. She could have been such a strong character, however the author put her in the background and had her following Tristan constantly. Obviously she developed feelings for him, so she disappears, heartbroken, after the third book. Lame. I actually enjoyed her snarkiness.
As the three books go on, the reader senses Tristan's jealousy for the other boys Ivy comes in contact with, especially Will. Tristan uses Will to communicate with Ivy, which is easy considering both boys are in love with her. The journey continues and Tristan tries to hold onto Ivy and her love, but if he finishes his mission on earth, he will be forced to let her go forever.
 The ending was exactly what I expected it to be, but it worked. As obvious the plot was, it was right for the story. When I was in the middle of the first book, my first thought was that it was boring because of how discernible it was. There was a point when I questioned whether I had any desire to continue reading. I even went so far as to read the last few sentences in each book so I wouldn't have to. In the end, I stuck it out. The books were only 240 pages, and I managed to finish the series in a matter of five days. Yes, CMT testing definitely helped because I had the extra hour to read. I gave it a 3 out of 5 star rating on shelfari because in the end I did enjoy reading it. It was complete fluff, but it was nice to have a quick read.
I think the titles are so cheesy. Kissed by an Angel, The Power of Love, and Soulmates...really? And if you happen to see the covers to the separate books, it looks like it could be a trashy romance novel. So corny. They should have stuck with the rose theme. It would have been nicer to look at, and I wouldn't have wanted to puke from lack of creativity.
Chandler made a fourth one for the series. Not sure how that will work, but I may just pick it up to finish it off. I mean, how horrible could it be?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Firelight by Sophie Jordan intrigued me with the cover. Then when I asked what it was about, my friend explained, 'I imagine by the reviews it is like Nightshade, only with Dragons.' It's been a while since I read Nightshade, but it is one of my favorites to come out last year, so I decided to give Firelight a try.
Dragons. So simple, but no one has even considered using them as main elements in stories. With the vampire and werewolf craze, you would have assumed it would be up there with the shape shifting characters.
Jacinda is a draki. She can manifest into a dragon, and her power is one that her pride hasn't seen in years: fire breathing. After a day of almost being hunted, her mother uproots her and her twin sister away from the pride. Jacinda discovers the more she is away from the mists and mountains, the harder it is to manifest and keep the draki inside her. She stumbles upon Will. Will's family are draki hunters, but Will was also the boy who let her go. She and him develop a deep connection that seems to keep her draki alive. But how can she continue to have a normal human life when the pride is after her, and the one person she falls in love with is the same one hunting her? The reason why Will and Jacinda have a gravitational pull towards one another becomes apparent in the last chapters of the book. Unexpected, but the reader finally understands how both are able to "feel" each others presence. In addition, it leaves room for many interesting scenarios for the 2nd book.
The writing is beautiful. Great imagery, and each description left me with a distinct picture in my mind. Plus, who isn't drawn in with the pretty covers? The second book, Vanish, comes out in September. I'm super excited to see what happens. And yes, this cover is pretty as well. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The Wake trilogy by Lisa McMann began, for me, with a book talk. Yes our media specialist has a  special gift as a storyteller, so she sucked me in, and I started the series.

I honestly was about to give up on it simply because the writing was very choppy. However, after sticking it out, it was really interesting. The author doesn't put too much detail into setting or even appearance of characters. McMann's main concern is to give the reader enough information to draw their own conclusions because the dreams and their impact are the heart of the story.
It was refreshing to read a book that did not involve forbidden love and had a completely different concept. Janie's gift for falling into people's dreams turns out to be a nightmare. It affects her physically, and it begins to affect her personal relationships with people because these people see her in their dreams. She discovers a way to help people, and she discovers secrets into this paranormal power that could lead to a horrible future.
Janie's family life: her alcoholic mother, her socio-economic status, and her inability to fit in at school are all aspects that play perfectly into all three novels.
I have to say the third book was a little disappointing. The series is a trilogy, so (after reading The Hunger Games, the Darkest Powers trilogy, and others of the sort) I assumed the third would be the best. However, the ending left me flat. It didn't seem to add up with the intensity of the other two stories. I felt that this wasn't the ending the series deserved, and I also felt the author could have taken another route with this. No, I don't think her taking over the world with her new found power would have been entertaining or realistic, which is what the author was going for, but I felt the story could have been concluded in a better way. The author just tied up all the loose ends leaving it very 'happily ever after' and not in the cute fairy tale way. It seemed as if the author built up this intense story only to 'give up' at the end.
Did I like the series? Yea. Would I consider reading it again? Maybe the first two. The third one just fell apart for me.