Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Where Left to Hide

Dawn Montgomery has lost every inch of safety she and the city of Denver believe they have. Once Sin, the Daywalker, showed the city that Vampires can now walk in the daylight, no one seems safe.
To make matters worse, Dawn has lost her title as the city delegate. Her relationship with Victor puts him and her at risk in this position, but also there was the whole blood transfer; Victor took Dawn's blood so he could survive, leaving her all but drained.
Ever since Dawn left the hospital, she's been having weird dreams about a vampire symbol. Desperately seeking answers, no one, not even the Old Family vampires seems to know what this means. She's also been having dreams with Victor: they are just dreams, but it seems so real.

To make matters even more crazy, Dawn has been sent to California on the Night train to track the Thirst that is so vast in the vampire population. On her journey, she meets Ian, famous vampire hunter who, along with her Nightwatchmen and ex boyfriend, Michael, have vowed to keep her safe. What Dawn discovers on this trip is the both the most amazing, yet horrifying conclusion. No one expected the Thirst and the Daywalkers to be a threat, but now there really is no where to hide.

Blood-Kissed Sky by J.A London is the second in the Darkness Before Dawn trilogy. Like the first, the story is an interesting take on a dystopic society where vampires and humans coexist. In the first novel, Dawn has the power of the delegate where she speaks to the Vampire lord. However, things have changed. Victor overthrew his father, Dawn discovered her brother was infected with the Thirst, and Sin is a new breed of vampire that can risk the safety and security the world had tried so long to rebuild.
As I said with the first one, very different from the whole romantic, teen drama. The plot holes, however, do continue a bit. There are certain areas where you as a reader go, "Really? How does that work", but it is a good overall story.
Like the first one, the ending was unexpected, yet it made sense.
I have to say this novel did make me feel more indifferent towards Victor. Yea, I get that he's the new overlord of his family, but something seems off. He actually is only really present in this book a handful of times, so I really think London did a great job of showing not too much romance, but just enough to remind the reader it exists. The concept is nice and different, so when the end of the book came, I realized this was not the type of book I could simply put down and not continue it. Like a handful in the past...
It's a quick read, an easy read, but the concept is definitely enough to keep an interest. Sure, you are annoyed with the main character at times, but she has proven she can manage to think for herself and be strong when the situation requires.
Also, the covers and titles are so intriguing. I definitely feel like London overshadows his few moments of plot holes once you see the title. Very clever, very pretty.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Only Sunlight Can Save Us

In a distant future, Vampires roam the United States and coexist. The war has ended between both species, but a wall separates the potential danger. Even though both sides have a mutual agreement on blood supply, less humans want to donate, so more vampires become desperate to feed. Dawn's parents were the official delegates for Lord Valentine, and they were killed doing a standard visit. As a result, Dawn was named the youngest, new delegate. Visits to Valentine Manor are typical and expected from her job description, but that doesn't mean she is unable to handle the pressure.
Her last night with no worries and partying turns into an almost fatal run in with vampires, until Victor saves her and her best friend, Tegan. Dawn never expects to see him again, let alone find out he is Valentine's son.
Desperately trying to increase the blood supply, Dawn is pressed for time, but unwilling to be intimidated by an old family Vamp...or his son. As time goes on, Victor begins to show a softer side; one that Dawn never expected from a vampire. Now, her thoughts are filled with Victor, her soon to be Night Watchmen boyfriend, Michael, and her recent stalker (who may just be one of Valentine's lackeys willing to strike at any time).
The world continues to spin out of control when her mentor is attacked, Victor expressed his need to over throw his father, and even though Tegan seems happy with the new guy, Sin, there is definitely something different about him. Can Dawn handle the pressure, and will she give in to what her heart's ultimate desire is?

Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London begins with a typical Vampire vs Humans story line. Yes, it has a little True Blood vibe to it. To be honest, I wanted to read it so bad because Barnes and Nobles did not have it in stock, and the cover to the third one, which WAS in stock, was pretty and interesting. The minute I started reading I went in neutral; not knowing what to expect. However, it is QUITE different from Twilight, so please don't let the vampire/human thing scare you off.
The characters are very one dimension; there isn't much to them other than typical high school issues. Dawn is a strong female character, but only because the job forced her to be. She wants to prove she is a force to be reckoned with, but readers get a little confused when they realize...this 18 year old is the only communication between the Vampire race and the humans? It seems odd and even odder that the government trusts a teenager in charge of such affairs.
Get past the immediate confusing plot holes, and it reads just like a typical teen drama. Dawn has the good looking, protective boyfriend, her best friend is boy obsessed, and aside from the drama in school, all teenagers are armed with stakes and some background in self-defense. Victor shows up, and he is just different; not in a sparkle sparkle kind of way. He rescues the girls from a vampire attack, but suddenly Dawn discovers he is one. Victor's heart is gentle, and he begins to show Dawn the other parts of the city she is not so aware of. He shows her a different side to the vampire race and explains to her why he must dethrone his father, so her hate for the race begins to dissolve. 
As much as I seem off about this book, I did, actually, enjoy it. The plot was not so romance related to be nauseating, and the end of the book did actually come as a surprise to me. The more the story continued, I was siding with Victor and wanting for the two worlds to reunite and for everyone to live in harmony. Fat chance, as with all "too good to be true" moments, but it was a good thought.
It is a trilogy, so I grabbed the second one to continue to story. The author did a nice job of making me care because the amount of plot holes in the beginning may have been enough to deter a lot of people.
Don't expect too much from it, but it's a good read. It's quick, a little different, and far from the whole sparkle vampire, sexy werewolf, and desperate, uninteresting main heroine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There Are Chords in the Hearts of the Most Reckless Which Cannot be Touched...

Araby's journey has only just begun. Her father created the masks to keep the contagion out, but he also was responsible for releasing the Red Death, Will, the boy who made her feel again, betrayed her, her mother has been kidnapped by the Prince, and her best friend, April, is dying. But, Araby has discovered this life is worth living, as long as there is something to fight for.
On their journey back to the city, Araby, Elliot, and Will begin searching for her father in hopes that he can reverse the contagion for April and the city. Throughout their journey, Elliot begins to put together troops of his own in order to overthrow the Prince and save the city. Though these boys have both left scars on her heart, Araby is drawn to them both in such different ways.
Their journey brings them through tunnels filled with death, streets where contagion, the Red Death, and murders lurk, and finally, to a masquerade ball where Araby must make a decision that could result in a horrible death. Throughout the journey, Araby uses her anger, her bravery, and the love for her family to push forward, but is she ready to unleash something inside herself that could distort the image she's grown used to for so long?
Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin is the sequel to Masque of the Red Death. This novel, much like the first, did not leave readers with hopes of a better story. This was the better story. Picking up where Griffin left off, we are reunited with Araby, our heroine. These two novels show a drastic change in the main character: In Masque..., Araby needs to find a reason to breath, but in Dance..., she is determined to fight the disease and the Prince.
The reader can truly see a character who has hit rock bottom, but her climb to the top is the reason we read on. She has taken herself from a character who was continually drugged at the Debauchery Club in order to forget her past, to a female lead who doesn't need the boys to save her. And who doesn't like that?
Griffin's writing is the other part of the story that is just so delicious. Each word, each sentence, is so carefully constructed, and the writing just adds to the depth of the story. The story doesn't just revolve around the Araby, Elliot, Will love triangle; the story focuses on a time where people are dying from the contagion and the Red Death and no one has the power to stop it, but it will be these three that are forced to work together in order to bring the city back to life. Elliot's goal: to overthrow the Prince so he can pay for his crimes, but this means forming an army of men who would be willing to go against the city's control. Araby's mission: to find her father so he can reverse the contagion for her friend, but also to find her mother and bring her home safe. And Will, he's along to provide assistance to both with his array of skills, but also, he wants to keep Araby safe.

What I enjoyed the most was Araby's development. Although some things were a little too convenient, Araby's strength was not one of them. I could feel her turmoil, her anxiety, and her hesitation with certain tasks. She didn't become a strong heroine overnight, but each chapter brings her closer to finding how strong she truly is. And, because of her past, readers have an easier time relating to her emotions.

There were slow points in the story, there were times when it was a little too confusing, and there were times when certain tasks tied together a little too well. However, you read this story for the characters and for the overall theme, which is survival. I favorited this series on my shelfari because it is something I would return to again. This is one of those great dystopian societies where the decisions people make can be just as ugly as the disease itself.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Death Was Expected. There Were No Exceptions

After a devastating World War 4, life appears to be at a stand still. Women are no longer able to give life, and death is always close by. The Council of Creators has determined that instead of making life, they will create it. They have created a master "race" of Chosen Ones; beautiful, strong, and deadly to all.
Tess and her family are the last of the Naturals, those who were naturally born and not created. When her older sister dies during childbirth, Tess is forced to spend ten years at Templeton, being a unpaid maid for the Chosen Ones to pay for her sister's disobedience. Tess is cold, alone, and unwilling to succumb to any help. She then meets James, a Chosen One who loves music, reading, and has a kindness in his soul that others do not share. Their attraction to each other is immediate, but it doesn't take away the danger and intensity it could lead them too.
As her time at Templeton continues, Tess discovers that rebellion is brewing, but not against the Chosen Ones; against the Council. She encounters situations that make her challenge her once black and white views. Slowly, she finds out that rebellion may be in her blood, and also she may carry something that everyone thought was lost. But, will she be able to help her people if it means giving up this one chance at happiness?

It is no surprise that dystopian societies are my forte. I actually bought this book for my kindle last year when it came out, but failed to return to it until last week. I am so glad I did. The Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt takes us to a future where all seems lost. Life can no longer be made, so the Council has decided to create a superior "race" to keep watch over the Naturals. The idea of the Council is so hauntingly real, and I think that's what really kept me craving more. There are the rules: Naturals all bunk together in horribly crowded living conditions, while the Chosen Ones have their own boarding house that provides them with food, education, and every luxury the Naturals are prevented from having. If a Natural is disobedient and deserves to be punished, they will be branded with marks on their neck signifying how "lucky" they are to receive 3 stikes.
Tess is so cold. After her sister's death, she is unable to forgive her brother in law, unable to get close to any of her remaining family members, and just closes herself off from the world. I found her character was so broken, and in desperate need of affection, but she refused it. She is not a typical heroine, and she is by no means "liked" by any of the other characters. As a reader, I felt bad for the characters she was rejecting because I knew how badly she need some kind of positive emotion in her life. She meets James, but she does everything in her power to fight the emotions she feels. She is so set on following the Council's rules that she ignores the fact that this boy is different than the other Chosen Ones; she still can't trust him.
Throughout the book I found myself highlighting a lot of the lines because there were so beautiful and telling about the character. The more I read, the more I wanted because I could see the uncertainty within Tess. She wanted to learn more, she wanted to prove herself, and you can tell something is stirring.
This book was a great read. I finished it within a week because I just couldn't stay away from it for too long. After I finished it, I immediately bought the second one in the series because I need to keep the story going.
People may be skeptical about the book because Tess's character can be seen as an ungrateful brat, but I truly believe inside she's an empty shell. James teaches her to be human, to feel something again, and I think that is the amazing thing. If you're into the dystopian society scene, this one is worth checking out!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Maybe Hope isn't the Most Dangerous Thing...Maybe Love is Worse

After being married off to Linden with two sister wives and experiencing the loss of her family, Rhine finally escapes her father in law's grasp, only to be pulled back in. It seems all of Rhine's journey has been for naught, until she realizes her twin brother, Rowan, is alive and getting much unwanted publicity. Her strength and determination return and, though against her father in law's will, she sets out to find her brother, and the boy she left behind.
Although heartbroken once before because of her absence, Linden agrees to send Rhine to stay with his uncle to get her strength up, then she will be off to search for Rowan and Gabriel alone. However, the trip doesn't leave Rhine so alone. Cecily, her once sister wife, Linden, and baby Bowen accompany her to Uncle Reed's, unsure of what they'll experience.
Reed seems odd, but the more Rhine stays, the more she discovers about this man. He has the ability to make things grow, whereas his brother, Vaughn does anything to prod, poke, and ultimately destroy. Throughout their journey, each of the character's are faced with despair, hardships, and courage. Trying to outrun Vaughn, while holding onto the only hope they all have, which is each other, and the determination to survive.
Is it possible, after all Rhine's been through, to completely leave the mansion, the ex husband, and the life she knew for a year behind in order to search after a brother and boy who could all be but forgotten and lost?

Sever by Lauren DeStefano is absolutely the best end to this trilogy. Since I first picked up Wither when she first began the series, these books have held onto my heart and have not let go. The writing, you can tell, is so carefully done. Each idea, each sentence, each word is so well done. That was part of the fun of reading this.
Even better: the covers of all these books include so many different objects, but all of them relate to this story. All of these items contribute somehow to the journey, and they affect the story's theme. It is just attention to detail that really makes this a thoughtful piece as well as an entertaining one.
The other amazing part is the story itself. It is truly amazing how the idea of a disease taking the young 21 and 25 year olds can create such a dystopic society that is so enchanting and hauntingly real. Life is a race against time; a race to succeed and maybe have a shot to find this cure. What Rhine discovers about Vaughn, her parents, and her brother is truly remarkable, and it completely changes the reader's opinion of all these characters.
The really amazing thing about DeStefano is that she manages to incorporate all the character's into Rhine's world AND make them relevant. Cecily's character develops in a way where readers actually enjoy her wild emotions. Linden is determining whether he should disobey his father for the first time, or stay with what he has always considered safe. Even Vaughn becomes more than a monster, and maybe appears to be the only one who can really change the world.
I fell in love with all the characters, and towards the end it was really hard to to determine who I should "root" for. Rhine grew tremendously throughout the trilogy, and it was a journey that all readers will be happy to take with her.
Although there was a great deal of tragedy and sadness, I feel like the end was appropriate and not at all expected. All characters were able to find their place, even those who have been dead and buried. Because even the dead play a role...

Such an amazing trilogy, and it is DEFINITELY a must read!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Take Down The Walls

Lena has been on the run with her group. They are outrunning the resistance, surviving the Scavengers, and most of all trying to just live. In Lena's world, Love is the Disease. So many have been cured, but after the death of the governor of Portland, the world has broken out into an all out war. Her group and her have been searching for safety, praying for a chance to overcome the war and somehow come out on the other side. She has Julian, whom she saved from  the resistance, but things are more complicated now that Alex has joined her pack. Alex, who showed her the way of the uncured, Alex, who supposedly gave his life for her to escape, Alex...her first and true love. The book follows Lena and her group across the country through everything. The main goal, to return to Waterbury where there should be a group waiting for them with more people to create more of an impact. When plans change, Portland is where they decide to have their final stand off with the government, Lena's old home. The entire time she battles within herself...Is Alex gone and dead to her like he says, can Julian ever fill that void, will they all survive?
On the other side, Lena's old best friend, Hana as been cured. She lives a life anyone would want...she will soon be matched to the governor's son, Fred. But something isn't sitting right. She constantly things of Lena, her family, and the mess on the other side if town where all the uncured reside. Fred's previous wife is no where to track down, which makes the journey even more uneasy. The more Hana discovers about her husband to be, his plans for the town, and everything going on in this world, she starts to realize that survival is not only for the Wild, it is for the here and now.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver  is the final book in the series and represents a dystopic society where love is a disease and needs to be cured. However, the whole concepts spirals deeper as the books go on. Book one focuses on the outbreak: Love. Book two takes the reader into battle. You see the government trying to control this outbreak of uncured, throwing them to different parts of the city, opening fire without cause. Lena's strength gets her out of her town and forces her to reestablish herself as a new member of the Wild. Broken hearted, she fights, and throughout the journey discovers how the government is taking control of the issue.
I know a lot of my friends read book one and were turned off because it was too much love. Books 2 and 3 do not reflect her love interests, but the war. Honestly, you can see the similarities between the way this government chooses to react and the real world we live in. Reading the books, I was so taken in by the war, the survival, and the choices people had to make in order to keep going. Love is the main reason, but by book 3 it spirals so far out of control you aren't sure of the disease anymore. And I think that is the important thing to keep in mind. Sometimes you forget why you're even fighting a war in the first place.
Hana's point of view adds a whole other view because she's cured. She's on the inside. But the things around her start to unravel, and she has to make choices she could possibly die from. It makes the reader believe that maybe this whole cure they have in place does not work so well.
The characters are defined and strong, the concept is amazing, and the writing makes you want to read more. I truly believe Oliver did a great job with the build up to the "final stand", and she did an excellent job of keeping the reader interested. Trust me the romance isn't so profound that you want to throw up. It's done so perfectly that you don't even recognize it's there.
I strongly suggest this series. It's a great trilogy, and it truly does show the free world, the oppressed world, and how people represent each party.

"We give people the power to choose. They can even choose the wrong thing."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Winter Is Coming...

Let me start this entry by saying: I am not a typical fantasy reader. The dragons, knights, medieval appeal are amazing, but I don't find myself drawn to this genre as I used to be. However, Game of Thrones was said to be an amazing example of fantasy writing.  I also need to make a confession...I watched the HBO series BEFORE reading the book. I know, I know, lame, but I have to say it was the series that hooked me, and the books, at least the one I read so far, did not disappoint. It is definitely worth a look, especially if you have fallen in love with the series. HBO does a great job of sticking extremely close to the books, which is always a nice things as well.

After season 3 ended, which Holy Christ if you saw the season finale, how could you NOT be hooked, I decided I wanted to try to read the books up to that point.
I dove into book 1: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Although these fantasy books tend to be at least 600 pages long and a little intimidating, it was completely worth it.

This book takes you through a complete world of fantasy complete with different kingdoms, lands, and people. In my version, there was even a map of the entire realm so you can see the distance between kingdoms. Each chapter is a different character's perspective from Ned Stark (Lord of Winterfell), his wife (Catelyn Stark), his daughters (Arya and Sansa), his son (Bran) his bastard son (Jon), Lord Tyrion (a Lanniester and somewhat enemy of the Starks), and Danerys Targaryen (daughter of the "Mad King" who was killed).
All of these characters hold a different piece to this story, and all are needed in order to weave through.

The story begins when Robert Baratheon (King of all of the realms) comes to Winterfell to speak with Ned. The Hand of the King (John Arryn) has died, so Robert, a long time friend of Ned, wishes his friend to come to King's Landing where he will be the new Hand. Although against his beliefs, Ned agrees and takes his two daughters to accompany him with his duties.
From here, all the characters are separated with different beliefs, motives, and goals. The reader soon discovers not all men and women are trustworthy, some get what they deserve, some are caught in the cross fire, and some are just holding on to what they truly believe is right. You find yourself hating people, loving others, and wanting desperately for all to end well. However, the author himself said he doesn't want anything to be too predictable, so it will be interesting to see what he has in store for his characters in the next books.

A great piece of fantasy, and it truly does take you to a world where nothing is as it seems. There are so many characters, subplots, and destinations that it is difficult to become bored. It also can become confusing, which is why it helped I had the background knowledge of the series to assist with names. Confusion aside, the plot focuses on revenge, greed, desire, betrayal, love, and pride. It is a wonderful story to be apart of. This series will have you wanting more, seeking answers, and hoping your favorites survive the dangerous Game of Thrones.
As Cersei Lanniester stated, "In the game of thrones you win, or you die."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

They Were Just Science Experiments...Gone Wrong

It's been a while since the last post, but I have started revisiting old favorites. The reason...well my public library won't let me hold onto a best seller for more than 3 weeks, and with finals (because we all know high school students are extremely needy) I haven't had a chance to try something new. I need my brain to focus on new books, but past loves, I can easily get through quickly. Here's what I'm on:

Chloe Saunders is an average 15 year old, until she gets shipped off to the looney bin because she
was "seeing ghosts". Once there, she is thrust into the world of the Edison Group; lots of therapists 24/7, and a group of kids around her age who all seem to have something a little off. Chloe is slapped with a schizophrenic label and medicated, just like the others, so all seems natural. Until, Chloe begins to see things, hear things, and suspect that maybe the diagnosis at this hospital isn't truthful. Her roommate, Liz, is said to throw things across the room and make things move without anyone seeing her actually touch them. Now, after one outburst, she's gone; left to be rehabilitated, the nurses say. But why can Chloe see her days later, as a ghost? Derek and Simon, two step brothers with enough issues between the two, take notice of Chloe and her "abilities". She realizes she's a young necromancer, so she was seeing something; it wasn't a mental illness. 
Chloe begins to see that maybe these illnesses the group presents are just a front; so what's the hospital hiding? All they know is they are apart of some kind of experiment, so they need to get out, find Simon's father, and get some answers. But, can they all escape the Edison Group's clutches? Are the answers they seek even able to be found?

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong is the first in the Darkest Powers Trilogy. I absolutely fell in love with this series once I first read them. The writing is good, not the best I have ever read, but it flows nicely. Armstrong really does a nice job of capturing a fifteen year old's point of view. Plus, it's a new take on super powers. The kids all have something that is hidden, and it's not until they all recognize the lies that they realize they need to break out of this supposed hospital. The more things Chloe sees, the more the story unwinds and they realize this is no hospital, and they are not mental patients. Chloe's character changes dramatically throughout the novels, which is really amazing, so the reader knows she's actually growing up. All the characters, slowly but surely, do become more aware of their powers, stronger, and more attached to each other.
I will not say a bad thing about this series. This series centers around Chloe being a necromancer, which is an interesting power to take the spot light. I think that's why I was so drawn to the series, and I will always be. This is my second time around, and I am still enjoying the story, even though I already know the end. Definitely a must read! :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two Hearts, One Destiny

Scarlett and Rosie March are sisters, best friends, and hunters. They hunt Fenris, werewolves who stalk and kill young girls. Years ago, Scarlett saved Rosie's life from a Fenris; however, no act of courage goes without some tragedy. Ever since the day their grandmother was killed and Scarlett lost her eye, both girls have been hunting these werewolves, hoping to put an end to their existence.
Their long time friend, Silas, returns from his trip, only to realize that the Fenris population is gaining. Scarlett discovers in order for them to keep fighting, they need to go to Atlanta where the 3 packs ( Bell, Coin, and Arrow) are planning to hunt down their Potential. Once they find this specific wolf, they could gain power among the other packs, but it is up to the three friends to find the Potential first.
On their hunting spree,  Rosie discovers she may not have hunting in her soul as her sister does; also she thinks she may be falling in love with Silas. But what would a huntsman of 21 years old want with her? The more the trio encounters, the more danger they find themselves in. Finally, they see the end in sight, but are they willing to come face to face with the truth, or will it separate them and change their lives?

Sister Red by Jackson Pearce first caught my attention because of the Red Riding Hood angle. The story paints a different picture from the classic fairy tale, but it shows the true heart of both these sisters. Scarlett is fearless and married to the hunt, whereas Rosie is constantly repaying the service her sister did for her years before, but she has a different life path and different desires. Silas helps to convince Rosie of her abilities and experiences outside of hunting; he tries to help her free herself from the hunt and constant turmoil it causes.
Bottom line, there is not much to this book character wise. All three characters are clearly labeled, and they stay this way throughout the novel.
The one thing I really liked about this book was there were different twists that I did not expect. This may be a fluff read, but the sudden plot changes did impress me and cause me to react. Yes, I gasped a few times out loud, which did result in odd looks by my fellow gym members. Oh well.
The ending was not as expected, and Rosie does surprise readers with her abilities and strengths that we did not assume she possessed.
It's a quick read, there's not much to it, but it's worth it if you are interested in warped fairy tales. Definitely an interesting take on a classic. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's The Only Way I Can Stop the Whispers...

Alyssa's grandmother, Alice, went insane after she "came back through the rabbit hole." These dream sequences were laughed off by all, but unfortunately landed her in the mental institution. Before she passed, Alice said that it was a family curse and all the women would succumb to this mental state. So it was really no surprise when Alyssa's mother, Allison, ended up mentally unstable. However, once Alyssa turns ten and she begins hearing bugs, she is terrified that this may be her curse as well.

Upon visiting her mother in the hospital years later, Alyssa is terrified when a dark force appears to be desperately trying to silence her mother, and she knows it has something to do with the curse surrounding her family. Her father is not buying into the curse angle, so he thinks it may be time to up Allison's medical attention and schedules her for electro-shock therapy. Despreate to try to get some answers and save her mother's mental state, Alyssa begins to dig deeper and try to solve this "wonderland" case.

As Alyssa sees into her past, she recognizes a dark figure that keeps pulling her back. In her memories, this feels familiar. It seems she has already been here; already been apart of the dream. Once she finds the portal to Wonderland, she knows this is her destiny. As she steps through, she knows she must save her mother and help to restore the wrongdoings in Wonderland. But, when Jeb, long time crush and best friend, leaps through the portal to help protect Alyssa, they both find themselves in a misguided world, with a possibility of never getting home.

Splintered by A.G Howard was really interesting. It did a great job of weaving in the Alice and Wonderland tale, and creating a whole gothic world surrounding it. It took me a while to read this one, not because it was bad, but because it was more complex than I expected. Being that the only free reading I do is at the gym, this one took some thinking. At times I felt it slipped a little too much into a typical romance; Jeb's love for her shines through and he is always acting as protector. There are points of the story that revolve too heavily on their suppressed romance for each other, and I think these were the points that were kind of off putting. I love a romance as much as anyone, but some parts seemed like it pulled back into the teenage "soft core porn" just for the sake of doing it. Plus, when the knight in shining armor seems too good to be true, it turns unrealistic.

However, Howard pulled me back in with the dark fantasy that is Wonderland. There are sexy, dark characters involved in this world, and Alyssa has to discover that she is part of this. There are parts of her that belong, and that is scary to her and to the existence of the this realm. The journey was not at all expected, but the end turned out somewhat how I imagined. The great part of this book was truly the whole back story of Wonderland. It adds in a new creepy factor to the whole Lewis Carrol story, and I think if you go in thinking and hoping for that, then you won't be disappointed. Look past the coincidences and easy escapes, and just take in the landscape and the darkness following.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Greatest Fear is Disappearing

Ally's life seemed perfect: star actress, popular, she's on the dance team with all the upperclassmen girls constantly watching her, and the senior football player says he loves her. But once a naked picture is streamlined throughout the school, her picture perfect life is suddenly shattered. Her friends ignore her, and the words "whore" and "slut" are tossed around frequently. Ally remembers the roof, wanting so badly to jump, but she doesn't remember what happened before or after. Now she finds herself in the hallway, the in-between.
Elijah has always been in love with Ally, but steered clear after his own brush with death. After his brother's suicide, Elijah's life has fallen apart, but he managed to surmount his pain and power through, only now he can see ghosts, and he knows he needs to try to help Ally find her way back.
Her pain is so strong, and as her memory comes back Ally sees that maybe she won't be able to come through on the other side. Can Elijah make Ally see that getting through the pain is worth it? Or will Ally succumb to the pain and stay at death's door forever?

Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean centers around the raw emotion of pain and uselessness. Feeling a sense of belonging is typical for high school, and once that comfort is taken away, there is no telling the emotional toll it can take. Ally was once on top, but only because she built herself that far. Her baggage started way before high school, but once you claw your way to the top, you tend to forget the people you step on. I really started to get aggravated with Ally on more than one occasion. She starts to give up and decide this pain she's going through is far too much to take, so she'd rather be dead.
Upon further thought, because I am a high school teacher, I realized that I can understand her emotions. High school girls think it's the end of the world when the cute guy doesn't like them, or the are embarrassed in front of everyone, or they are ditched by their superficial friends. Ally is no different.
The best character, by far, was Elijah. His older brother's death affected him deeply, especially because his parents said they wish it had been him and not Frank. His baggage is so deep, but he managed to struggle through. His fight and his desire to keep fighting are admirable. I found myself wanting to read his side of the story more, and I found him more interesting. He is comfortable with himself and he doesn't care what anyone thinks. Ally was more shallow, and even through this experience, I feel like a part of her will always be that way.
I liked this one. Not loved, not hated, but it was okay. Some times during reading I kept thinking it was getting a little ridiculous. The whole ghost angle, and her being invisible was just eh. I get it, she's in-between, but I feel like the author could have done it a better way.
The book was really quick because it was in journal format, so both Ally and Elijah's stories were short chapters and poetic. Quick and easy, and it does a nice job of portraying realistic emotion in a high school environment. It's not a must read, but if you happen to want a quick one this is it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Pilot, The Poet, The Physic

Throughout their journey, Cassia and Ky have been lost, found, and lost again. Now, Ky is a pilot who brings in cargo for The Pilot in charge of the Rising. Each day he desperately tries to get closer to Cassia, but it seems, for now, they are lost. Cassia is part of the Rising, but hidden within the Society's hold. She continues to trade artifacts (old poems, pills) for information regarding this new wave of change, while still staying in her sorting role. But she also longs to be reunited with her family, and with Ky. Xander is a medic for the Officials in the Society. Each day he gives newborns the cure for the plague and the red tablets, without the other medics knowing this is his plan. He vows to save those who are sick, although a part of him always thinks of Cassia. Would she have picked him if she had stayed?

The three are introduced to The Pilot leading the Rising, and a new wave of government can begin. However, people are getting sick. There is a new plague that no one knows how to cure. Hundreds are going still each day, and a number of those are dying. Just when hope seems lost, The Pilot recruits the three to help establish a cure in a village outside the Society's walls. The Pilot vows to return when they have a cure, so they may administer it to other villages. Is it possible that a cure can come from here? If it does, how many is The Rising willing to lose to prove they are the government to be trusted?

Reached by Ally Condie is the final in the Matched trilogy. Although Crossed was a little let down, Reached pulled the series back up and made me want to stand up and cheer. Condie's writing is so increidble that I found myself book marking multiple pages. The writing stuck with me, and it seemed so effortless. Truly remarkable how Condie has written three books, all of which have the same writing affect.
I liked Reached much more than Crossed(the second in the trilogy) because I felt there was more to it. We did a lot of traveling, lots of things were changing, but it just felt so long. I think it helped that Condie added Xander's point of view to this book. Giving Ky a voice was great, but I always loved Xander because you knew from the beginning there was something different about him. There is something he is hiding. In my opinion, Xander is the strongest of the three. He knows he has pretty much lost the fight for Cassia's heart, but there is a part of him that holds out hope. But, he is driven to other things. Watching him cure people, and seeing his effort makes readers realize he is more than a love sick puppy. He cares for Cassia, but he also cares for Ky. He doesn't hold jealousy, but rather sadness and longing for something more. And honestly, I would have chosen him. :)

Reached shows how one form of corrupt government can be taken over, but perhaps this new wave may not be the answer either. The emphasis on the disease and how much information The Pilot is withholding begins to confuse readers as well. Who can we trust? What are the secrets being kept, and which way should we go?
I labeled the book as "mature audience" simply because younger students may not grasp the concept of the government control; which is the same case with books like, The Hunger Games. The purpose that drives the book is not knowing who can be trusted. The three characters trust each other, and now must reach their own discovery on who is their "Pilot" and who should be followed. I feel this is a real complicated issue, and at times it does make you reconsider how much trust you hold in your government. What are they really keeping from you?
Although it took me a while to get through, lack of time on my part, it was well worth it and a definite great ending to the trilogy. Although we have not "reached" an outcome for the continuing government at the end of the novel, we can assume things will be better. Because they have to.

There is something extraordinary about the first time falling. But it feels even better to find myself standing on solid ground, with someone holding on to me, pulling me back, and know that I'm doing the same for her. ~Condie