Sunday, December 28, 2014

Down The Rabbit Hole...Again

Unhinged by A.G Howard is a continuation of the Splintered trilogy. I have to be honest, I read this one fairly quickly and not because it was a "I can't put this book down" kind of thing. If I put the book down, I was afraid I wouldn't want to get back into it.

Let me explain...The book was not horrible, in fact I did like it. However, it has so many complex things happening that it's easy to forget what the heck is going on. Yes, Wonderland is one of those things that is supposed to be crazy and confusing, but it's difficult to keep up. I read the first book last year, and I never returned to it before picking up this one. So there were some things I forgot, and apparently these things resurface in the second one.

Alyssa has been crowned Queen Of Wonderland, which has suppressed the Red Queen's (Red's) power for now. The problem is Jeb, Alyssa's boyfriend, does not remember his courageous actions, or anything for that matter, from their last trip to Wonderland. Almost a year has passed and Alyssa doesn't want to bring back those memories, afraid he won't accept her and the world she came from.

But Morpheus, Alyssa's long time friend from Wonderland, reappears with startling news: Red has found a way into the human realm, and she plans to destroy those dear to Alyssa. She is back for her crown, and only Alyssa, the true Queen of Wonderland can fight back. But Morpheus's constant treats make it clear that this fight is not easily won, and it could be life or death. Alyssa must make the choice she dreaded: take her place and fight back in Wonderland, or stay with Jeb, her parents, and push her netherling past away.

My one suggestion for this book is to read the first one right before it. A lot of plot points can be better explained. The love triangle between Morpheus Alyssa and Jeb is so powerful. Jeb is the white knight that vows to stay by Alyssa despite the tension, and Morpheus is the mythological creature that foresees a future with her and he doesn't always play fair.
 The book left us with a great cliff hanger in hopes for a happy, or somewhat happy, ending. You root for Jeb because he is the wounded bad boy who would do anything for her, yet Alyssa has a netherling magic inside her that she can't escape.
I look forward to the 3rd one, I just have to recap before I start reading it...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Never Forget the Potential One Solitary Pawn Has to Change The Entire Game

Kitty Doe's fate lies in the hands of the test. In this futuristic world, young men and women at 16 take a test to determine their intelligence. Once the results are found, these children have their marks engraved on the back of their necks. A mark of a IV or V prove a normal life with acceptable jobs, VI or above show great intelligence and therefore receive jobs that are more aligned with the Prime Minister and the high ranked family of Harts.

However, marks of III or lower only lead to meaningless work that no one wishes to complete. Often times in order to make enough money, these people sell themselves to brothels in hopes of a more enriching life.
Then there are those people who disobey and are taken into Elsewhere, which is just as mysterious as it sounds. No one knows what is beyond Elsewhere, but everyone knows this is no place to travel.

Kitty's test results land her a III. The government wishes to send her to Denver to complete her work of sweeping sewers, but Kitty's one choice this night changes the course of events. Her attempts to sell herself at a brothel land her a proposition from the Prime Minister himself: He will change her marking to a VII, she just has to leave her life behind. When she agrees, Kitty does not realize what this VII could mean, or what dangers it presents.
In Aimee Carter's Pawn, Kitty finds herself masked, a plastic surgery procedure where the individual is transformed into another person. In Kitty's case, Lila Hart; the Prime Minister's niece and one of the most powerful people in the world.
Kitty soon realizes this VII meant changing her identity, her world, and becoming Lila, who was killed because her actions were not well liked by the Prime Minister. She begins to uncover secrets, shocking revelations, and she realizes the Harts have no intention to let her go. But she fears for Benji, the boyfriend she left behind. How will she ever be able to make it back to him and explain this? But what scares her the most; the Hart family have all sorts of different agendas. The day Kitty does not serve her purpose, not only will they kill Benji, but what is to stop them from killing her?

I picked this novel up out of curiosity. The idea of marking children for their potential jobs is one that has been seen before, however the government involvement has dark plans. The dark plans aren't for their seems to be a family affair. Each one is against the other, blackmail is common, and it is never clear whose side anyone is on. Knox, Lila's real life fiance, and Greyson, Lila's cousin, seem to be the only two who are 100% truthful. Kitty is no fool, but with each chapter and each new plan, it begins to get harder and harder for her to fight for her control. She is Lila, and it seems as though her hope in ever finding a life with Benji where they can be free is far from her grasp.

I really liked this concept, the family dynamic was very interesting, and the ending does come as a shock. It was so incredible how these people had no regard for human life. The amount of "accidents" and blatant killings was disgusting. But it proved to show there is a rebellion trying to squeeze through. And despite her troubles, Kitty does not plan to sit back and let anyone tell her what to do.
Overall great book, and seems like it will be a great trilogy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Secrets Refuse to Stay Buried...

I wish I can say the book was as good as the tag line, but alas not so much.
Dan Crawford finds himself going to a summer program at a college that was an old asylum at one point. This asylum was said to have housed many dangerous criminals and those in need of psychiatric care. This is a typical old asylum: electric shock, lobotomies, and dusty old rooms filled with files on those patients that could not be saved.
I had high hopes for this novel because I read the description, and the pictures inside are actual photos of abandoned old asylums. So I thought it was a pretty cool concept. However, Asylum by Madeleine Roux was a waste and a disappointment.

The very first thing you notice is how completely clueless and awkward the main character is. Sometimes that is a good thing, but Dan just has something about him that makes you want to hug him, pat him gently on the shoulder, or just completely shake your head. You're not really sure what to do with him. Enter his two friends, Jordan: a gay rebel who hasn't told his parents he's even at this program, and Abby: typical artsy girl and (of course) Dan's love interest.
One of the things that confused me the most was the mood swings Abby and Jordan had. Halfway through the book the two of them just get angry and take turns huffing and puffing while leaving Dan in the dark. To say Dan is the most normal character in the book, or the most likeable anyway, is really something. Not a good something. The more characters enter, the more weird things get. And I don't think this "weird" was what the author was going for.
Abby, Jordan, and Dan have an obsession with going into the closed off corridor where the creepy psych patient's files are. So they meander in there a few things, each time Dan gets creeped out by notes left for him, pictures, his name even pops up on a few of the files.
Turns out, Dan is adopted (who knew) and he's a relative of the old warden of the asylum...shocker I know. So OF COURSE he's getting creepy flashbacks, weird messages, etc. But it's really hard to follow and not because the writing is complicated, just simply because I was unclear what the hell was going on. One minutes Dan receives a note that has a cryptic message on it, the next he has a weird flashback where he's on a gurney waiting to be operated on, and then he starts to see weird shadows. What. The. Hell.
People start to die, get injured, and panic. The cops all start to question Dan because he seems to always be in the area when these things happen. Abby finds out her Aunt was a patient in this old asylum, Jordan has his gay freak out about disappointing his get the picture.

I can say the ending came as a surprise, but I pretty much rushed through it because I just wanted it to end. Even with the ending I didn't feel any real closure to the book. There's a cliff hanger, but to be honest, I didn't really give a crap enough to even read the first page of the second book.  I think the author had a great idea and a really neat concept...but nothing is really explained. Plot points are unaddressed, characters enter and leave so quickly you are unsure who the hell they are, and the main theme itself is not something that keeps my attention. Roux could have done so much with the concept of the abandoned asylum turned college; she could have amplified her characters so they had more important roles and were easier to relate to; and for the love of God she could have explained key things that would have been VERY HELPFUL to have knowledge about.
Not a great read on this one. I am not deterring people from reading this, but I strongly recommend going in with the idea that you will be disappointed. It's too bad because the covers are cool and the overall idea behind the pictures and the plot were interesting. It's just disappointing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ironically, Since the Attacks, The Sunsets Have Been Glorious

Six weeks ago, the angels took over the earth. They aren't even the fallen... these are regular "heavenly" angels. Since the apocalypse, the humans have been scavenging. Everything is a wasteland, and everyone was affected by this travesty. Penryn, her schizophrenic mother, and her wheelchair bound sister find themselves in the middle of a fight where an angel's wings are cut off, and Paige, her sister, is captured.
Penryn then makes it her mission to find these angels, rescue her sister, and maybe get some revenge. However, this clipped angel could be her only clue to getting to her end goal. Once the angel, Raffe, heals enough to move forward, Penryn finds herself on a journey where she must rely on her enemy in order to reach her sister. And Raffe must trust Penryn's guidance and strength in order to find a way to get his wings back. Although the two are an unlikely pair, both must be able to get past their pride, anger, and weaknesses to use each other. How will it be possible to surmount these obstacles when both of their worlds are so incredibly different?

The first book in the series, Angelfall by Susan Ee, focuses on a post apocalyptic world where it's not zombies but angels that cause destruction and death. The reader is immediately introduced to Penryn's strength. With her mother's illness and her sister's disability, she has been the mother like figure, the anchor, and the only constant. She is quick witted, and she is able to fight her way out of most obstacles she does face.
Raffe, on the other hand, is a mystery, which is what he is meant to be. He's strong, sexy, but broken without his wings. Penryn tries to keep him under her thumb, however you can see times of weakness. She feels sorry for him, and readers do too. But he has such a hard exterior, that you aren't sure what to think. I mean at times he is a jerk! However, there are often signs of a soft heart.
I liked this novel because it shows a different post apocalyptic world where our saving grace is now destroying the earth. As the story goes on, there are battles, dark findings, and a suggestion of deeper feelings between Penryn and Raffe. The angels are truly demonic and create a new world of fear and evil, which makes readers wonder what side is "good", and what exactly is this war meant for.
Something to keep in mind: the narrator isn't even MOVING in the last few chapters. She is paralyzed and seeing all the events happening, yet the intensity of the scene really does keep readers engaged. I mean you have to be skilled if your narrator can just be laying there while a huge battle is happening. Pretty intense.
Very neat concept. I heard the second one takes a few chapters to truly get into, but this is always true with the second in the series. Worth a read if you are looking for a dystopia where it's not a zombie, vampire, or government controlled world, and no love triangle.
 Definitely a refreshing "re-look" at angels...especially after the disaster that was Hush Hush. Do not even get me started. At least this one reintroduces the angel story with a STRONG heroine, actual fighting and disturbing concepts, and next to no underlying love interests. Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We Can Be Mended. We Mend Each Other

I just finished the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I am processing the ending, the events, and the trilogy as a whole.

As I expected...Roth did not disappoint. In this novel the reader sees outside of the fence, the new "government" that controls all the cities and their living situation. They watch them, they created the factions and their forms of living, and if they think the city is doomed- they can erase and begin again. This whole concept drove me nuts throughout the novel. It completely makes sense- yet it's completely messed up. They choose not to protect the cities, just replace their memories and move on. The fact that you can also see such parallels to the government we trust is uncanny. I think that is what drew me into this trilogy- the corruption of the government. People explained "damaged genes" were the reason for the destruction, yet there is always going to be a group who want to overthrow what is clearly unjust. The idea behind people with the "pure genes' and how they were somehow superior to the rest of the population was interesting, yet disgusting. It's easy to explain away the reason for war when you have a convenient scape goat.

Roth gives Tobias, Four, a voice, and the story comes to a close with a lot of sorrow, death, and destruction, but it shows the fight, the struggle, and the bravery. Love is a common theme, not just the love between Tobias and Tris. Love between friends, family, and companions is.

I have come to the conclusion that I like this series a little better than The Hunger Games. Roth pushes the boundaries, and she creates a whole conspiracy behind what the main characters see as their world. She was not afraid to go against what readers would expect, or like, and it seemed that she took more of a risk with the complete ending. I think it is also always great to add a new character's point of view to the story. Collins kind of stifled herself by only using Katniss, and using her as the anchor for two male characters because it provides readers with a convenient love triangle that can be a sub plot. However, Roth managed to bring in the emotion of two characters- both broken, dealing with their own grief, but their different intentions and views to drive them both together. And the love and passion between them was not the center point- Tris and Tobias have problems within themselves, but they belong together because they each are the missing piece.

The last fifty pages were packed with so much emotion and energy- I was literally between crying and being unable to breath. This series will stick with me, and I am really interested to see what they do with the movies. Hopefully they won't disappoint. Although I was late to the party, Divergent will forever be a favorite journey I would like to revisit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It Is Impossible To Erase My Choices. Especially These

I read the second in the Divergent series, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, in three days. I am not some crazy reading machine, I promise. This series is just breathtaking. I am in middle of the third as we speak and sometimes it is impossible to put down.

The second novel relays a lot of moving around. Tris and Tobias discover the truth about the government and the reason for Erudite's hostile attempt to kill all the Divergents. The stakes get higher when Tris needs to trust the one person she hates most in order to uncover the truth. There is betrayal from unexpected sources, forgiveness, recovery, and as always survival.

Allegiant is the last in the series. After the truth is uncovered, some will go to great lengths to keep it the same, but there are a few who seek answers- not just the answers provided. The journey takes readers to familiar ground, but for Tris and the Allegiant group, it is hard to swallow the lies they were once fed, and it's even harder to adapt in a world where everything has changed.

The idea behind this novel gives more insight into the "corrupt" government, and I have to be honest the ending to the second book blew my mind. I didn't see it coming, but it makes complete sense. It breaks the mold of the typical dystopian society books because it gives the readers a sense of realism.
Tris is a great heroine- she gains strength, bravery, and most of all she starts to come into her own. And as a nice little *uncontrollable girl giggle* surprise, Tobias becomes a narrator in the 3rd book. Readers see past his stoic front and are introduced to an emotion filled character with more than just sexy tattoos. Tobias is a broken character who, like Tris, needs to begin to realize who they are without a label.
The factions have separated and defined people for so long, but losing that sense of comfort creates new feelings and strengthened senses of loss, betrayal, and fear.

I am obsessed. Great reads, and, although I have not finished the ending, I can guarantee this ending will not disappoint. I mean- you can't have a huge build up and then just let us down, right....RIGHT!?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Suppose Now, I Must Become More Than Either

I admit, I was late to the party on this one. Divergent by Veronica Roth was the next craze after The Hunger Games, and I did read a chapter before leaving it. Seriously- why does that always happen? I ended up seeing the movie first, too...MAJOR faux pas! It's like I fell asleep at the wheel for a second. But not to worry, I am back on track. I gave myself a stern talking to because this book should not have taken me this long to figure out.

Tris is an a futuristic society that is divided into five factions. These factions were created to maintain balance and give everyone a place and a set job in order to keep the peace and harmony. Once sixteen, all teenagers are given a test to determine what faction best suits them, then they can choose. Tris, born Abnegation (the selfless faction), is unsure of her future. But once her tests are inconclusive- her confusion is even more profound. These results, however prove that she is more than "normal"; she is divergent. Her and her brother, Caleb, both choose out of Abnegation, which stirs up the pot for the government officials in this faction.

Dauntless, the protector faction, sends Tris through training in fighting, facing fears, and bravery. However, the more Tris improves her rank, the more she begins to feel in danger because of her inconclusive tests results. She is warned by those who know about her this label is a curse and can prove to be her end. As the months go by, Tris begins to discover hidden plots by one of the factions to overthrow the government. She also begins to feel more at ease in her new home- especially once her trainer, Four, begins to enter her thoughts. Whatever happiness she finds, she is still drawn to her former faction, considering they are in such trouble now. But once the rebellion begins to break out, Tris realizes that her "divergent" status may be the only thing that can save them all.
I went to the book store last weekend because I was sad. Yes, book stores make me happy, judge me. So I bought Divergent and began reading. I finished the book in four days. I cannot express how incredible this book is. The book focuses on one faction's leader beginning a spark of rebellion. Tris, and the others labeled "Divergent" don't realize how much power they truly have in this war. You can see Tris becoming a strong woman throughout the training process, and she makes a lot of decisions readers are on board with.
The idea of the factions is much like the districts in The Hunger Games. But each one has their own goal to protect the balance. The romance, the training, and the power are all connected so well in this world, that it's impossible to read this book and not want to immediately finish the rest of the story.
I think readers can also relate to this dystopic society more than Katniss Everdeen's story, which is so not a popular statement. Both stories are so similar, but you can see the differences between each society, and you can see each of the heroines with difficult decisions in the end. Katniss is more emotionless; Tris has so much emotion, so it's easier to relate.
AND the movie wasn't so bad! I thought it worked really well along side the novel- plus holy crap can we just talk about Four for a second? The good looking bad boy? I mean DEFINITELY an upgrade from Peeta. And I am completely Team Peeta!

Worth it. Read it. End of story. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Had Every Intention Of Surviving. I Wasn't Going Out Of The World Like This

Tess's journey has come to a close in the last in the Lost Souls trilogy: Creators by Tiffany Truitt.  Throughout the three novels, the reader is introduced to a broken heroine named Tess.
She lives in a futuristic world where the Naturals are forced into ghettos, manual labor, and disregarded as human beings. Not only does growing up in these communities make it hard to exist, women are also unable to give birth. Women are feared- therefore their ability to live after giving birth was taken away. The Creators, or the government, punish the Naturals and force them to serve the Chosen Ones, the creation of the ideal "race".
Tess falls in love with the Chosen One, James, but each day for them is a struggle. Between being forced to separate, almost being killed, being neglected, and then suddenly finding herself thrown into a rebellion, Tess wants nothing more than to see James and start a life. Especially because she discovered she is one of a rare breed that can give birth without dying.

The rebellion has begun, and Tess is finally reunited with her father; however things don't result in such a happy reunion. Her father strives to kill, destroy, and take over the Creators, but he isn't concerned who he may lose along the way. Meanwhile, Tess finds herself struggling to stay strong for her pregnant sister, Louisa.
As the days turn into weeks, and James begin to fade away, Tess finds herself hoping and wanting this new world the rebellion promises. But is the fire for rebellion more strong than her deep love for James and freedom?
This was a really great series. It's a little unknown, which is why I am the only one who edited it on shelfari. However, it is one that truly needs more attention. You can see commonalities to The Hunger Games and other series where the government has complete control. But, Truitt shows a deeper parallel to our world's past history. Forcing people to live in poverty, trying to control how they live, and when they get out of order- enforcing punishment that forces them to serve the higher class. It was almost shocking how similar our two worlds were.
I fell in love with Tess's character because as a reader, you can see her pain. She is broken, with nothing left than to hope for a better future. James is her hope and the only piece that keeps her going.All around her Tess is surronded by people who would choose to fight, who have so much hate that it's hard to her to see the light.  The entire series showed her strength, her power, and her true desire; even if it wasn't the same among her companions.
This series was a set of great books that show although there is so much hate in the world, there are those who choose peace, love, and isolation. Tess discovers her own strength, at the same time, she fights for her freedom. Even if her freedom isn't the same as the rebellion, it's a choice she is willing to make for her.
In case you need more convincing- I cried during the last chapter of this one. Yea, I know! It was an ending no one could have predicted, but one that brings hope, and it shows strength. Each character found the path that best represented them- and overall, it was a journey worth taking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Lady Never Starts A Fight, But She'll Finish It

Harper Price has everything- she's super smart and the president of practically every club/ association, she's popular with a super hot boyfriend, and she is a shoo in for Homecoming Queen this year. Perfect. Except when the janitor dies and passes on his magic powers to her. And then she is forced to kill her history teacher with her brand new powers.
Harper soon discovers she has been given the powers of a Paladin, a guardian who must protect the Oracle at all cost. And her Oracle...her arch enemy since grade school- David. With the help of her Cotillion trainer and Mage (who maintains the balance between Oracle and Paladin), Saylor, Harper begins to realize the ancient ties that unite all three of these powers, and she might even be thinking about David a little too often. But there are people who want David dead, and worse. With the knowledge they all possess, Harper must find the the evil and protect David at all cost, even if it means risking her life.

This is one of those moments I judged a book by its cover. But come on- it is pretty :). Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins takes place in the south, so one can get the whole feel of this overly dressed, overly polished, and overly polite world. I felt it was perfect because it added a little charm, which is always nice when reading high school realistic fiction. Harper is the typical popular girl, but she's not mean girls. Her sister was killed in a car accident, and Harper tries to overachieve in order to escape the hole she feels.
As the story goes on- the Paladin, Oracle, Mage paranormal creatures do seem interesting. It fits, no matter how crazy, and it doesn't feel forced. As the novel goes on you get a good balance of the life Harper desperately is trying to hold onto and the life she might have to give up to save David. Harper is not a push over, but she is typical Susie High School. It gets a little fluff-ish- but once the end comes it is unexpected and completely twisted.
The author did a nice job of connecting the two, but let's say what it really is- a quick fluff read with a
little splash of paranormal elements.
I thought it was entertaining; I will definitely read the next in the series, but it is not to be confused with  Infinite or Chemical Gardens Trilogy. Rebel Belle is cute, fun, and yes, a little risque. Worth a read if you need a filler between series, or you are just looking for a quick pick me up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Death Would Not Be Another Beginning

JUST finished Infinite by Jodi Meadows, the final book in the Newsoul trilogy. I am speechless, sad that it's over, and just so overwhelmed with the amount this book delievered.

I am, as we speak, eating my words regarding book two. The thing about this series is there is so much to digest that just picking up the novel and "rolling with it" will not be enough. You have to devote some time and thought to the whole aspect these novels are expressing. And, as with most cases in a trilogy, the 2nd one had a lot of dull points that lead up to the end of the action. So, ignore the whole "it takes a while" thing. Book Three is pure gold.

Ana is one in world where everyone is reincarnated- she discovers the truth about the God-Like figure, Janan- and now she leads the brigade to try to prevent Janan from rising. This journey involves a lot of emotion for Ana; new, real, and changes within herself. Her strength and courage really do cause the reader to rally around her, and even when all seems lost, you know she won't go down without a fight.

The love between Sam and Ana is so real- you can feel the surge of passion. I did cry, I felt pain for Ana and the decisions she was forced to make, but I never once tired of this journey. It was truly a story of surviving the unknown, courage to overcome the evil, and discovering in yourself that perhaps being the only one can be the best opportunity to succeed.

Ana is presenting these ideas of rebellion to a world of people who are insulted, intrigued, and afraid. Fear is the driving force for a lot of action, but overcoming that fear and breaking the cycle of the "cult" created is where the beauty truly comes in. Being the one to stand up for something takes on a whole new meaning- and Ana's end goal comes with knowing there is never a chance for her to be reincarnated like the rest. However, she knows that even if she dies- her journey should and will not be in vain.

 I fell in love with this series, this book....Sam. ;) The idea is new and fresh, plus there are lots of fantasy elements: dragons, centaurs, slyph (which end up being the lost souls who disobeyed Janan). I would relive this journey, and I know I would still feel the same emotions. This book showed the bravery of one person who chose to step up and fight the unknown, and that is such a powerful message. Read it, end of story. It is not a quick read by any means, but the theme and the overall emotion that you can walk away with is so worth the time.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Neither of Us Were Alone. Asunder

Ana is a new soul- one who is not reincarnated after death. She is the only new soul in the community and is not fully welcomed, even after saving many from the tragedy that was Temple Dark: many were killed never to be reincarnated all thanks to their once beloved God-like figure- Janan.
After some time away- Ana has pieced together the few notes, diary entries, and theories she has taken from the tragedy. Many of the pieces are still unclear, but Ana has discovered things, including how to deal with the Sylph- ghostlike creatures that burn. Ana chooses to hide these elements between her and Sam; no one else would understand, and she wants to make sure she has evidence on how to make sure this tragedy will never occur again.
Upon returning to the city of Heart, Ana faces a new challenge- more new souls are being born. She is not alone in this fight, although that's exactly what it turns out to be. Most of the city is outraged by this new "take over"; and some are even resorting to violence.
Ana realizes that she must try to make the city understand and protect the new-souls- but even with her friends and Sam's help, it appears as if this battle is far from over. In reality, you can't make people understand, and those who are against her "kind" seem to disregard the want and need for a change.

Asunder by Jodi Meadows is the sequel to Incarnate. Normally the second books in the series are always somewhat boring because they have to keep the story going. However, once the novel got started, I was able to stay active in this story without feeling as though this was just a bridge to a greater end. Similar to the first one, it was difficult for me to get into this novel because the first few chapters are almost tedious. But, I promised myself I would finish this series because the idea is truly too interesting and creative to throw away. After chapter 4, it gets quicker paced, so despite the unwritten rule to ditch the book after a chapter- WAIT until chapter 5.
Meadows creates complicated characters in an intricate world. Sam has been reincarnated for centuries- yet he has fallen in love with Ana, which is a conflict of interest. He is over 500 years old, yet she is just an 18 year old child; any kind of relationship or feelings seem "inappropriate", but Sam's heart and his good nature seem to overshadow this idea. Ana is a tragic hero in a lot of senses- she is not the whiny teenage brat with these typical ideas because she has suffered greatly throughout her childhood. You do see some emotions that are very natural of an eighteen year old, but Ana is strong. Her emotional stability gathers other individuals and gives strength to those people who seem lost and alone.

The city once worshiped Janan-who is their God like figure. Some still believe, others have left that behind years ago. But the more you find out about this city and this whole community- you see it began as almost a cult following. Ana begins to unravel the secrets everyone else seems to forget- and you as a reader realize that this community isn't just about being afraid of the new souls- it's about power, control, and making sure change does not occur. I can see a huge parallel to a lot of discrimination in our world, and the cult-like community really does bring a whole new aspect to this world Ana lives in.
 Meadows has a beautiful way of writing so that everything weaves together, and she creates a new twist on the regular dystopian societies. I am on my way to get the third book because this series is too good to not finish; and I figure with the story fresh in my mind- it'll be easier to follow. This novel was a step up from the first one- AND it really shows the differences between love and fear.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It Is So Hard To Leave-Until You Leave. And Then It Is The Easiest Goddammed Thing In The World

Quentin Jacobsen is 3 weeks away from graduating high school. He has dealt with the harassment from the popular crew, video gamed with his two best friends, and loved Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. On the night Margo climbs through his window with an all night adventure of revenge and thrills planned, Q begins to feel hopeful that maybe things can change. 
However, the next day he discovers Margo has run away, but she leaves a string of clues behind.  When no one goes looking, Q makes it his mission to read the clues carefully so he can be the one to bring her home. The clues include old records, graffiti walls, and Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself. Throughout the last weeks of school, Q accomplishes much more for himself, and others, than just figuring out the clues Margo has left. But does she want to be found, and can he accept what he might discover if he does find her again?

 While I was reading John Green's Paper Towns, I noted how familiar it was to his other coming of age story, Looking for Alaska. And although I have not jumped on the teen bandwagon yet,  I am going to go out on a limb and say that it has a similar feel to A Fault in Our Stars. It seems all of these stories have a similar theme, characters, and overall ending with a very familiar moral.
However similar it may be, I was able to connect to the characters in a way that made me want to keep the adventure going.
In Q's journey you want to smack him upside the head while screaming, "Just leave her be, you idiot!" However, after finishing and having a chance to digest the novel, it wasn't about getting the girl; it was about the journey. Q and his friends are at a golden age where there is a door closing, yet so many opportunities laid out for them. Margo rejects these opportunities and chooses her own path on her own terms. Q is almost unable to deal with this idea. He has this complete picture of "saving her", "being with her", and "fixing things", but as a reader you start to wonder if he will be disappointed by the end result. Q has to come to terms with his high school door closing, and he needs to accept the change going forward; perhaps Margo is not willing to accept the change in herself.
Green creates these male characters who have to come to life realizations on their own, but not until they deal with this strong female figure. I love this idea, and the story is more relate-able because the pull you feel to the characters is more genuine and real. Some aspects to the story are a little outlandish: Can readers really believe that two high school kids have the ability to break into SeaWorld at night, no. But Margo is an interesting character who shows strength in a different way, which leads to this obsession Q has for her, and later on, shows him the strength he has inside.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because when it comes down to it, I liked Looking for Alaska a little better. I liked the idea of finding your way out of your own labyrinth, and even though there is more adventure in this novel, there was just something about Alaska that I liked better than Margo. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely a feel good read as well; I read it quickly, and I was completely entertained with the high school antics going on throughout the pages. And yes, there are laugh out loud funny pieces of dialogue, so that is always a fun ride.
Green's writing also amazes me because there are so many thought provoking quotations that you can take away. His novels, at least the two I have read, are about real problems, real change, and dealing with real loss. His characters grow, and that is the most heart warming part, no matter what your view is of teen fiction.

~What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person~

Friday, July 25, 2014

There Is Nothing Perfect, There Is Only Life

Lily Owens grew up motherless. Her father resents her because it was Lily who was accidentally responsible for his wife's death. At least that's what she has been told. Lily finds herself drawn to her black housekeeper and mother figure, Rosaleen. After an incident in town, Rosaleen and Lily are arrested. It was later that night when Lily made the decision to break Rosaleen out of jail and search for answers about her mother. With $35, a week's worth of clothes, and the only pieces of her mother she has, Lily and Rosaleen are on the run as a young white girl and black housekeeper. Lily follows the only clue about her mother she has- a picture of a negro virgin Mary with the words "Tiburon" on the back. 
Following this picture leads her and Rosaleen to the doorstep of the "calendar sisters": August, June, and May. Desperately seeking answers but afraid of the outcome, Lily puts off asking the three sisters about knowing her mother or telling them the truth about where she and Rosaleen came from. August takes her in as one of their own and begins to teach her the ways of beekeeping and selling honey. Throughout the weeks Lily stays with the sisters, she begins to discover pieces of her past, her present, and herself that help to guide her. She discovers love, faith, finding herself in a world where she shouldn't belong, and how to forgive her mother, but more importantly herself.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a coming of age story that takes place right as the Civil Rights Movement was beginning. Lily is fourteen and makes a brave decision that kick starts the beginning of her life. This story is similar to The Help in the sense that it shows strong female presence in a world where black and white are supposed to be separate. Lily is young when she leaves home, and although the book only takes place within a few months, it appears she has grown a few years by the end.
One of the quotations from the book : "People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It's that hard. If God said in plain language, "I'm giving you a choice, forgive or die," a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin". This stuck with me because throughout the entire novel Lily struggles with forgiving her mother, father, and herself. Forgiveness is a hard concept, but it's something everyone struggles with. I have been struggling with forgiveness for a few months now, so I think that is why I fell in love with this book so much. It is important to take in the world that August and her sisters provide for Lily because each of us has had a similar situation where it seemed we would rather be angry than let go.
Lily's coming of age journey is definitely uplifting, spiritual, and puts into perspective the time period. Lily discovers who she is in a place where she shouldn't belong, she finds out the answers she has been craving, and she begins to let go and realize she is enough in this world.

I had to read this book because I am teaching it as a summer reading option come September, but I am so glad I did. It really was a quick read, but such a feel good one for the summer. I did purchase the movie through Amazon so I can show it in class, but if it's anything like The Help, I look forward to it. This book really does give perspective and shows you that you are worth it, and even in a world where you might not fully belong, it is possible to find yourself and move forward. Truly amazing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Secrets Can Be Dangerous and Destroy a Reputation

 The scene is Manhattan 1899; beautiful women in grand dresses, handsome men, and lots of wealth to go around. The Hollands are a prestigious family among the city, however they have their fair share of secrets to hide. Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, is prim and proper on the outside, however her love affair with the stable boy, Will, is something locked up tight that no one can know about. After all, she is their only hope for family stability, considering her younger sister, Diana, is a spit fire. Diana is sixteen, unable to listen to rules, however she has a certain charm to her. And she has caught the eye of eligible bachelor, Henry Schoonmaker. 

Henry's family is also well regarded, however he appears to be a bachelor who won't grow up. Until his father forces him into an engagement that would be best for both families involved.
Then there is Penelope Hayes who is the city's favorite lady to gossip about. With her risque choice of clothing and behavior, it is no wonder she has caught so much of the city's limelight. She and Elizabeth are depicted as complete opposites in the press, yet the two are the best of friends. However, Penelope's hopes and desires come to a screeching halt when Elizabeth is promised to Henry; Henry whom she adores, spends secret rendezvous with, and whom she expected to be married to. And we haven't even mentioned Lina, Elizabeth's maid who only has eyes for Will, but will soon discover a secret about the Hollands that will make her despise Elizabeth.
In this small city, the gossip wire runs pretty thick with scandals, secrets, and backstabbing. How fair are these women able to go in order to achieve their ultimate passions?

 The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen is a very dramatic series. The best way to describe this series is candy that can rot your teeth, but you eat it anyway. Readers do read on because we crave the scandal too. I think the author did a great job of making this gossipy between characters, but not creating a new "Gossip Girl" or "Pretty Little Liars", which are complete trash. The Luxe describes the Manhattan scene during the time period, and she does an awesome job of developing a good list of characters that readers can relate to. Everyone wants the good girls to win, but there is something so intriguing about the mean girls. The men are handsome and delicious, the women have lavish dresses and personalities, and the whole scene is overrun with an exquisite and juicy plot that envelopes all the characters into a world of betrayal.
I am rereading this series because it is truly amazing. It's a well written gossip column that makes readers laugh and cringe at the same time. You have your favorites, you see how the scene unfolds, and in the end, I felt all the characters got what they deserved. DEFINITELY worth a read; it's quick, it's easy, but it's truly something that is so fun you forget you're reading. Plus the covers are so pretty!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stay Gold

In this town there are The Greasers and the Socs. If you're a Greaser, you are lower income and the bottom of the barrel, however Socs have all the money, the expensive cars, and the higher class girls. Ponyboy and his older brothers, Sodapop and Darry, are Greasers. Their world is surrounded with heartache, money problems, and absentee parents. But, the boys are a family. Ponyboy lives with his brothers, but the rest of the gang runs deeper than blood. They look out for their own, and if that means rumbling with the Socs, then that's what they have to do.
The night Darry and Ponyboy get into a heated altercation is the night life begins to change. Now Johnny and Ponyboy are on the run, and what they discover together changes their visions on their gangs backgrounds, but also sends them spiraling into a fatal tragedy.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is a classic. It's one of those books you have to read, at least once. It had been a long time since I read this book, but upon rereading, I discovered new things that made me fall in love with it; so much so that I did favorite the book on shelfari.
This book has so many themes; friendship, family, and the war between socioeconomic groups. Ponyboy's journey has a deeper meaning than simply hiding from the cops, or growing up in the slums. It's his coming of age story when he truly discovers himself. At the end of the novel you realize this whole story was Pony's composition for English class. He wanted his story heard because he wanted others to learn from it. His dysfunctional family, which consists of his brothers and his gang brothers, prove to be important pieces in this world, and it's something that Pony keeps close. He discovers the anger behind Dallas, but also the reason he chose his path. He shows that a young teenager can overcome fears, death, anger, and the obstacles of being poor in a rich world.

It's also a chance for readers to discover the true meaning to "stay gold". Sure Frost's interpretation of the poem leaves readers with the metaphor of fall and how leaves change colors. When you go deeper, you realize "gold" is getting older, losing your sense of freedom and happiness. But this was not The Outsiders' message. "Stay Gold" implies being true to yourself; no matter what if you keep that in mind, no one can take that from you. And this is even more echoed in Johnny's parting words, "You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There's still lots of good in the
After rereading this book I have discovered a lot more as well. My "gold" is to stay true to myself and make sure I don't lose that part of me. Crazy that a simple young adult book could affect someone's view, but this one really makes you think. We all have a little bit of Ponyboy inside; we all have that love for a good sunset, or a new dawn. This fictional interpretation of gang life sheds new light and shows that everyone has problems, it just depends on where and what.
Read this book, or reread it. After revisiting it years later, it has become a new favorite in my collection. And...who wouldn't want to date Dallas or Soda? I mean cute guys that are rough around the edges? Hell yea!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sounds of the Great Depressions

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck tells the tale of two migrant workers during the Great Depression. Work was scarce, but Lennie and George traveled ranch to ranch in hopes of purchasing land. Their dream was to own their own land, live off it, and have animals (especially rabbits) for Lennie to tend to.
They arrived at Curly's father's ranch in hopes of getting work. Both men are in search of their American Dream, which appears only just out of reach. However, with Lennie's mental disability and the past not so far behind, the two men have a struggle; and it only takes one night for their lives to change.

I revisited this novel because I am teaching it for my Sophomore American Literature class. I am not a John Steinbeck fan. He has a lot of overly done description, in my opinion, and I just can't connect with the characters or the setting on any of his novels; then I reread this one.
Lennie is such a likeable character. You know off the bat he has a mental illness, but he is so loving, so caring, and all he wants is something soft to touch. He gets in his own way, and it is because of his past run in that he and George  continue to look for work. Lennie seems to not fit into this society, and it almost seems like he never will be able to blend in. In the end, George knows this in his heart, and he makes a decision that could be seen as questionable. It really does play with the reader because you wonder "should I be okay with this?", and "was there another way"?
This novel has so much emotion embedded in it that it's hard to read and not think about. It does a great job of showing readers the view of the Great Depression in the 30s; people were forced to work odd jobs in order to just make a few bucks. And it wasn't easy work. But you can see how the characters relate to each other; how the other migrant workers have their quirks, but they are, overall, a good bunch of people who look out for each other.
It really goes to show you the difference between now and the past. Nowadays odd jobs are known as minimum wage, and you can't trust a person father than you can throw them. 
After revisiting this novel I did change my mind. Instead of disliking it because it was a Steinbeck novel, I found myself actually enjoying it. I liked it because it made you feel emotions for the characters; it made you sad, or angry. Any book that gets an emotional reaction is usually a good one for me. It's a quick read, literally I finished the book in a day, and it is a thought provoking one. Chances are anyone who has read it has made their mind up about the content and the likeability of the novel, so reading this won't make or break anyone's opinion. But it is a book that shows friendship, companionship, and the overall moral that life is hard, but sometimes doing the "right thing" is harder.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oh, Lady Dear, Hast Thou No Fear?

With Varen trapped in the terrifying dreamworld surrounded by Edgar Allan Poe's most horrific stories, Isobel is determined to rescue him. Each night since his disappearance, Isobel has been visited by haunting and ghastly images of Varen's world. The more she sees, the more she is unsure of how to bring him back.
The "Poe Toaster", the one who visits Poe's grave on the early hours of his birthday, seems to hold the key Isobel is looking for. Unfortunately, her and her best friend, Gwen, find out that these dark dreams are dangerous and possibly fatal. But Isobel is relentless and pushes forward with any hopes of discovering where Varen is. Revisiting places present in her dreams, she slowly begins piecing the puzzle together.
Once in Baltimore, Isobel is prepared to take on any and all dangers in her way. But can she succeed in releasing Varen from this prison, or does he want to be saved at all? 

Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh was a book that took me a while to get through. It was not a bad book by any means, but because of the length and the subject manner, it does take more care.
Creagh's first novel, Nevermore, reflects the relationship between loner Varen and popular cheerleader Isobel. They were forced to work together on a project for English class, then suddenly they are sucked into an amusement park of Edgar Allan Poe's worst nightmares. After Varen does not return from the dreamworld, Isobel makes it her mission to get him out. This journey focuses on her determination and her transformation.
I adore Poe's writing, and these novels take all the most horrible aspects and combine it together to create a world of pain, despair, and fear. The second book expresses Isobel's desperation, and the reader can slowly see her slipping into Poe's "madness". These nightmares, illusions, and daydreams often deceive and take her to dark corners that hide reality and intertwine it with fiction.
This entire series has been great. The ride has been so full of passion and drive, yet the overwhelming theme of madness is present within.  The ending was unexpected, yet the entire concept of this story was unexpected. The lines between what Isobel sees as real and a dream are blurred, even for the reader.
The one tip I do have is that you need to take your time with this series. Because the dream world and the concept of Poe's stories are deeply embedded into the plot, it does take time to understand, comprehend, and move forward. And you truly want to savor it because the descriptions take center stage; not the dialogue between characters. The entire time reading I just kept thinking, "This would be a really cool movie" because I can see the scenes and I know this would be a great spooky concept for Hollywood to cash in on.
Also, Creagh made these stories long. You are not just getting a quick plot with a cliff hanger. Everything is carefully done, and it is so worth it. These novels definitely fall into the Gothic Romantic genre, and I am sure that Poe himself would applaud this writer's efforts. Well done, and I cannot wait to see how this one ends.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Only Love Sprung From My Only Hate

Romeo Montague; a name that has been remembered for his ruthless and evil ways. He has been cursed by the Mercenaries to spend eternity in his rotted corpse, until he was given a second chance by the Ambassadors. These two sides are at war, and neither side will stop until they achieve their final goal. Juliet's nurse, on the Ambassador side, gives Romeo the chance to redeem himself after his horrible acts of murder and deceit. She transports him back into the body of Dyan Stroud, the young boy who was deceiving Ariel Dragland. Romeo's task is to show Ariel that true love exists, and he takes this challenge.
Within days, Romeo has pulled out all the stops in order to win Ariel's heart. But this time, there is something different. Romeo's heart begins to succumb to Ariel's touch, her voice, her desperate love for him; He has fallen in love with her. However, just as Romeo's soul begins to change for the better, Ariel is falling deep into a pit of anger and vulnerability. The Mercenaries have been watching; and they have been manipulating Ariel's inner thoughts. Now, both Romeo and Ariel are in a fight for their lives and in the middle of a war. But the more the fight persists, the less anyone can tell which side is really telling the truth. 

Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay was the sequel to Juliet Immortal. Romeo and Juliet did not die in Verona, Italy as Shakespeare explained. They both were brought into a good vs. evil war, meanwhile fighting each other the entire time. This story tells of Romeo's second chance after his lying and cheating ways. Juliet's Nurse gives him the second chance he has been hoping for, and so his journey begins.
The reader cannot help but feel sorry for Romeo. He continues to express how he's only showing Ariel the way of love, but you can feel the love in his words. He begins to let himself be taken by Ariel's love, but it appears maybe this second chance was misguided. Perhaps Romeo was just a pawn and always destined to fail.
As I said with Jay's last novel, I really connected with her writing. It has a beautiful flow to it, and each scene could take you immediately there. The characters are so well developed you can feel their anger, especially when it comes to Ariel. She is such a broken character that it is no wonder the evil side has targeted her. Meanwhile, the reader can see a change in Romeo's arrogant "bad boy" exterior. Towards the end, I did really want him to succeed in his journey because he has truly changed. But the great surprise was the story behind the Ambassadors and the Mercenaries. The more the story continued the more you can tell something was not right and there was a different reason behind the war and the recruitment of these two star crossed lovers. 
I truly enjoyed this series. The two characters are reunited, the plot does come to a close, and in the end it seems everyone does finally get what the deserve. I do love how Jay incorporated the aspects of the play into her novels. It's a fresh new idea, and it is something that fits into the modern world. Definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What Is Your Cause For Hope?

Miles, "Pudge, has a thing for famous last words. In fact, he's memorized hundreds of people's last words. He is searching for his "Great Perhaps", which he knows cannot be found at his lifeless high school. Pudge dives into Culver Creek Boarding School in search of change, adventure, and the chance of his great perhaps. In walks Alaska Young; strong female presence and mood swings for days. But there is something about Alaska that drives Pudge into a head first journey that is his Junior Year. With the help of his friends, The Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and of course the beautiful Alaska, Pudge may be closer to finding his adventure. Through pranks, over night camp outs, smoke breaks, and irresponsible drinking, Pudge's feelings for Alaska strengthen, but he seems at home in this new world. Suddenly, their world turns upside down when tragedy strikes. With this missing piece, is it possible for the great perhaps to happen? Or will Pudge and his roommate, The Colonel, crumble under their own guilt and emptiness?

Looking for Alaska by John Green was a novel most of my freshmen girls were reading and loved. So, of course, I needed to check this out. Alaska Young is a strong female who won't let any male tell her her place. She is out of control, a compulsive drinker and smoker, and her mood swings are hard to handle. Yet, she takes a hold on Pudge the minute he sees her. Her individuality sucks him into a whirlwind. Each adventure the crew takes, each idea Alaska suggests, and each moment they are together, Pudge can't seem to loosen his grip on her. But, Alaska is a complicated character. She's got baggage, and her ambiguous one liners are enough to show her buried pain beneath her hard exterior. Alaska is the nucleus that holds the group together, and once she is gone there is so much hurt, guilt, and loneliness.
Pudge and The Colonel are also complicated characters in themselves. Both are very bright, both share great qualities, but they both have different reasons for being drawn to Alaska. The Colonel has his poor background, and he feels he needs to prove he's worth a damn in a world where the rich rule. Meanwhile, Pudge is just searching for change, and of course, his great perhaps. It's difficult for the reader to really know if both of these characters seek answers for their own selfishness, or for Alaska. But you can tell both of these characters needed her; each for a different purpose.
Green's use of last words and "the labyrinth" were purposeful. Alaska mentions the labyrinth and how we can escape it, meanwhile the great perhaps is something that Pudge looks forward to. Could this labyrinth be the end? Or the beginning? Or could it be the great perhaps? Once tragedy strikes, each member of the posse find themselves lost in their own worlds, yet they have a common goal: Alaska.

This book is truly worth the hype. It's not a hard read where you have to pay attention to every single detail, but it does have a lot of themes circulating:  strength of characters, the idea that one person can truly be the driving force, and discovering how pain can be overcome when you have allies. I loved the characters, as they all had their own strong personality. You can see each one of them develop and change from the beginning, and it is all in part thanks to Alaska.
Although the mystery of Alaska's downfall was never officially uncovered, all they needed was a push to show them that the world may be a labyrinth, but each person has their own way out.

Great book, amazing writing, and every other page I have marked with great quotations. Definitely worth it. It goes quick, but it does hit hard.

~Thomas Edison's last words were: "It's beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful. ~

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Dark Passenger Arises

Dexter is your typical guy; he lives in Miami, has a job for the Police Department as a blood splatter analyst...and he kills people. Dexter Morgan is a serial killer, but it's okay because he only kills the bad ones. For years, he has hid behind his "Dark Passenger"; the one who drives him to kill those who deserve to be punished. Dexter holds onto this secret, continues through his life with no emotions, and just tries to blend in.
When his foster sister, Deb, calls him about an undercover case she is working, Dexter is faced with a killer who does not leave blood on his victims. The bodies are drained clean. As he admires the killer's work, more bodies begin to surface; all without blood and all artistically arranged. Dexter is not even phased when the killer begins to send personal gifts to his apartment as if to say, "Want to play?" However, Dexter has been having weird dreams where he ends up washing blood off his hands...could he be the killer and not realize it? Has his "Dark Passenger" taken complete control?

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay makes the world rethink the mind of a serial killer. Maybe there is an acceptable time to kill, especially if the person has done more despicable things.
Just like with every movie/ t.v show scenario, I wish I had read the series BEFORE watching the show. Lindsay's writing is so funny; funny to the point where you begin to wonder why you are siding with a complete sociopath like Dexter. Dexter is so socially awkward, he is dripping with sarcasm, and yet there is something so loveable about him. Each page turn, you want him to overcome his troubles, you sympathize with him, and you even start to laugh and agree with him. The issue I continued to run into was I kept picturing the actors from the show. And because I knew what was going to happen, the surprise ending was not a huge surprise.
HOWEVER, the book is a lot different. The characters have more depth, the plot is a little tighter, and there is a huge twist in the ending of book one. The creators of the show branched off to do their own thing, which is great for readers, like me, who just saw the show before they caught on to the craze.

It was an enjoyable book. Will I read the rest, I don't know yet. I want to continue to see what else is different, and I do want to dive more into Dexter's world of madness, yet it isn't so pressing that I need to read it ASAP.
Definitely fun, and it really does give a whole different meaning to the idea of "bad guys".

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Now, We All Walk In The Sun

Dawn and Victor's fight for the city has not ended. Sin's wrath has left Dawn with answers she cannot understand and questions she cannot even begin to ask. Upon escaping Sin, Michael and her find themselves in a town where vampire and humans co-exist, but they protect each other; they need each other to survive. Is there a possibility that this can be a way of live for the future?
Her return home was short lived as Dawn realizes she must go with Victor to face the Old Family vampires. She must reveal Sin's plans for expanding his empire of "Chosen", infected vampires, and she must help Victor convince the rest of the families that the time for action is now. They have to take out Sin's plans for reproduction, and the Old Family vampires must find a way to attempt to bring order back to the scared, desolate world Sin has created. But will Dawn be able to understand and embrace this secret she has learned about herself and her family? Could this secret help protect
Denver, and, in the end, can this secret create a bond between two worlds?

After Daybreak by J.A London is the last in the Darkness Before Dawn trilogy. This novel is all about Dawn embracing her heritage and understanding how this gift could serve the city she once stood to protect. Just like with the others, the vampire aspect appears so realistic, that the reader almost feels there is a possibility this outbreak and fear could exist.
Dawn's feelings for Victor are stronger, and after expressing the truth of her heritage, it appears she can be of more help to the ultimate cause. And, with Sin's goals and followers rising, there is no choice but to go forward in hopes that this plan will bring a stop to the chaos.

The ending was nice, but I really feel like the whole "boss battle" at the end was too quick. The build up to finding Sin was great, but the ending just happened a little too fast for me. And, call me a cynic, but I was expecting at least ONE of the good guys to die. We know it can't be Victor because the love between Dawn and him is the piece that will create a better life for the citizens, but no one? Really? I went into the last chapter bracing myself for who would bite the dust because sometimes it is really hard to part with certain characters. It was a tad disappointing when I read to the end and not one person was mourned.
What I really DID like about the book was the overall concept, and Dawn discovers something about her family that is a really interesting twist. It reminded me a little of True Blood at first, but it was something that ended up being an important piece to the puzzle. And there were points in the book when she did perform like a strong female lead, which by now you know I am a sucker for.
The overall idea behind the book is a good one. It's a different twist on a vampire concept, and it's one that works. Dawn isn't a bratty female character, and she does strengthen as the trilogy progresses. Readers have to go into this trilogy expecting to just read and be entertained. There are no underlying symbols and there is no reason to make an assumption that this book will shake up your world. It is a young adult dystopia with a female lead who eventually comes into her own by the end. It was entertaining, and I did read the series fairly quickly because of that. Yes, there were things I was disappointed with, but the trilogy as a whole worked and served the purpose it was intended to serve.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some Family Drama Is Too Much

Jeannette Walls has two loving parents and three lovable siblings. She enjoys adventure, is accustomed to change, and is very independent. Sounds normal. However, this family drama is not to hard to see. Rex and Rose Mary Walls are very loving, however very impulsive. Rex is an alcoholic, Rose Mary a starving artist, and both seem to get "bored" with the common things in life; such as living in one place for more than a month's time. Because of their decision making, Jeannette and her siblings are used to traveling. They are used to not having food in the house and not being able to eat for days. They are used to being on their own and having to rely on each other.
Throughout this autobiography, Jeannette goes through her family turmoil. One cannot help but be heartbroken as Walls goes through her broken and impoverished childhood, however, at the end of the novel there is a warm feeling because however horrible her experiences were, they truly shaped her into the woman she soon became.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was one of the few non-fiction books I actually enjoyed. There were sections of this book that made me want to cry because of the blatant neglect of her parents. Growing up in a warm family environment where my parents would rather die than let my siblings and I go without food or shelter, it was often very disturbing to know that these experiences Walls discusses are real. Her father often disappeared for days, only to return drunk and unrealistic. He stole money from strangers, but also from his two daughters who were hoping to save up for a better life. There was even one section where Jeannette was in danger of being sexually assaulted while accompanying her father to a bar, but he disregarded her screams for his drink and gambling. Her mother's dreams of becoming an artist are completely far fetched, but often get in the way of her parenting. Painting overshadows putting food on the table  for her four kids, bathing and getting new clean clothes is secondary, and with every horrible experience, she always has a positive outlook, even if it is hopeless.
As ghastly as the stories were, the reader never gets a sense that Jeannette hated her parents. In fact, it seems she is thanking them with this novel. Without their inability to parent in a warm and responsible manner, Walls would never have had the courage to embark on her own journey after high school. There were many times when I was more angry for her, but after finishing the novel, I realized that her experiences truly did transform her. Although her siblings and her did not come out sparkly clean and completely changed, each had their own separate journey, their own mountain to climb, and it was thanks to their parents they had that opportunity.
I would recommend this story; as angry as you may get, the overall feeling this piece gives is great. There are some slower parts as the story continues, but the end result is always the same. At one point, your anger turns to heartbreak, then you just root for the kids to make it through. Everyone needs a story about overcoming obstacles, and this is it.