Friday, October 19, 2012

Forever...

by Judy Blume

Dedication: "For Randy as promised ... with love"

First paragraph: "Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys. She told me herself, the last time she was visiting her cousin, Erica, who is my good friend. Erica says this is because of Sybil's fat problem and her need to feel loved---the getting laid part, that is. The genius I.Q. is just luck or genes or something. I"m not sure that either explanation is 100 percent right but generally Erica is very good at analyzing people."

Review: Plot of the book is pretty simple: Katherine, Kath for short, loves Michael. Michael loves Kath. There is the looming future, i.e. graduation, that could rip them apart or maybe bring them together.

... ... ... I have never seen so many ellipses in one book. (I would have said, "I've never seen so many ellipses in my life but, thanks to my favorite people on Twitter, that's not exactly true.) The ellipses were overwhelming and the dialogue was so dry.

When I say the dialogue was dry I mean, I was two chapters in and cringing every time someone spoke. I would have stopped reading then and there but it had taken me a whole minute and a half to get through chapter one so I figured I'd finish the book pretty quickly--luckily, I was right.

So supposedly Michael and Kath are super in love. What they have is something special. But, I didn't buy it. At all. Their conversations were not special. To me, it felt like guy wanted sex. Girl didn't. Eventually girl did so guy got what he wanted. Somewhere in the mix "I love you"'s were thrown in to make it sound more meaningful. It felt like Blume just wrote "and then they fell in love through a series of meaningful conversations that I'm too lazy, or incapable of typing out." Maybe that was Blume's point the whole time? That an 18 year old can't actually be in love? I don't think that was her point but if it was, she definitely came close to proving it.

Other than that, the only reason I finished the book was because it was short and easy. If I'd gone to bed with a chapter unfinished I probably wouldn't have picked it up again.

In a way it's just an interesting sex ed book. I guess if you want your kid to figure out how the birds and the bees work and where to go to get sex ed information so you don't have to have "The Talk" then you should have them read this.

Eh.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Savage Grace, (A Dark Divine Novel, Book Three) [ebook]

by Bree Despain

Dedication: "For Brick-- Because we both know that you practically deserve a byline in this book. Thank you for always inspiring me. Always, Bree"

First paragraph: "He knew me too well. Read the writing on my heart. He knew exactly what it would take--For me to embrace this savagery." 

Review:  As always, since this is the third book in the trilogy, I'd suggest reading The Dark Divine first, quickly followed by The Lost Saint before reading any more of this review. Spoilers for the first two books lie below.

Grace, Grace, Grace. She's had quite a year--much more than any high school student should have to deal with, really. She finally cured Daniel just to lose him to the White Wolf. She's desperate for a cure and she's constantly battling with her inner wolf to stay the kind, good-hearted person she's always been. This book takes you through that journey and what a journey it is.

Oh, Grace. She's come a long way. Even still, first-half-of-the-book-Grace was driving me crazy; although, I think that was sort of the point. Luckily, she became a bit more tolerable and things went up from there. There were a few times I cringed at her behavior but, all in all, I can't say I'd react any differently if I'd been in her shoes.

Hands down, the worst thing about this book was the editing. Maybe it was just the ebook version (not sure how/if it differs from the print version) but it was awful. I would understand a few misplaced commas or a periods, that's fine. But this was beyond that--to the point where it hindered my immersion in the story. Someone really needed to do a better job. I guess that's a good thing for Despain though--the worst part of the book wasn't her doing.

On the opposite spectrum, in my opinion, the best part of this book was probably the character growth. Like I said before, Grace was driving me crazy for half the book but she finally came around and was able to make some changes. She became a better person, and in turn, a much more likeable character. Her growth throughout the series is easily seen and she makes a great female protagonist.

As I'd stated in my review of The Dark Divine, the story did still had a few minor parallels to the Twilight Series but it's separated itself enough at this point that I can say Despain really did go her own way and make it her own and, unlike the final battle in Breaking Dawn, [SPOILER .. sort of] ...... there was actually a battle. A fairly big one.

Finally, I just wanted to talk about about my love for the importance that Grace places in religion and how it tethers her to her reality. It's important to her and she never wavers from that. It's nice to have someone firm in their beliefs despite the things that are thrown at her--and there is a lot that's thrown at her throughout the series.

If you've read books one and two, you definitely need to go pick up The Savage Grace. If you haven't read those, get on it. Now that the trilogy is complete there shouldn't be anything holding you back!

Click here for Bree Despain's OFFICIAL The Dark Divine Trilogy website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon

Dedication: "To the Memory of My Mother, Who Taught Me to Read--- Jacqueline Sykes Gabaldon"

First paragraph: "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird's was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and papers with which he always traveled."

Review: I thought about reviewing this book, I did. But it's not going to happen. I'm just happy to have finished it--not that it was a bad read, it just took forever since my life is a little more than crazy at the moment. And, even if I did review it, it wouldn't be a good review. I've been plucking my way through this book for seven months. I can barely remember last week, let alone details from a book I read seven months ago. Not Surprisingly, turns out having a baby is time consuming.

Anyway, I just wanted to post that I finished! And I'm still reading---even if it's at a lot slower pace these days.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3)

by James Dashner

Dedication: "This book is for my mom---the best human to ever live."

First paragraph: "It was the smell that began to drive Thomas slightly mad."

Review: After surviving The Maze Runner  and The Scorch Trials, the remaining Gladers find themselves in WICKED being told that the lies are over, the trials are through and the "subjects" can finally have their memories back. The only problem is, WICKED is still WICKED and some of the Gladers aren't so willing to let bygones be bygones. Is the cure really just days away? What will it take to end the spread of the Flare and how much further is WICKED willing to go to make it happen?

Make sure you've read The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials before starting this book because there is a lot that takes place in the first two books in this trilogy.

The Death Cure has action, suspense, death, plot twists and loss and finally a few answers to all those questions you probably have.

It's a complex plot that is carried out rather well. Unfortunately, the characters aren't as well developed in this book. I lost any emotional attachment I'd previously established with the characters so when one died I may have thought, "Oh. That's too bad" but it wasn't any more than that - even with more prominent characters. I wanted to feel what Thomas was feeling but it was impossible to feel the loss of his friends' because I just wasn't connected to them like I once was.

While the story wasn't everything I hoped it would be it was still quite the page turner. There were a few plot points that were never really explained but you have to choose your battles and Dashner did answer a lot of things that had been a mystery up until now.

I still have other things to say but all of these thoughts will spoil the plot so I'm just going to stop there and say that this is an enjoyable read and I'd definitely suggest this trilogy if you haven't read it yet.

Click here for James Dashner's website and information on The Kill Order, the PREQUEL to The Maze Runner which will be released in 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crossed

by Ally Condie

Dedication: "For Ian, who looked up, and started to climb"

First paragraph: "I'm standing in a river. It's blue. Dark blue. Reflecting the color of the evening sky."

Review:  This is the second book in the Matched series. However, before you read any more of my review, I'd highly suggest going out and getting a copy of that book and reading it since I can't really review this book without spoiling at least part of the plot of Matched and this is definitely a series worth reading.

---

Crossed picks up right where Matched left off. There is no extensive reintroducing of characters or reminding you of what is going on. I think that's a good thing (unless you had to wait a year for the second book to come out) because I hate reading a series where each book spends the first 50 pages retelling what you really should have already read.

Cassia has been sent to a work camp to help squelch her rebellious attitude that developed after her Match Banquet, or at least that's what The Society believes. Little do they know, Cassia wanted to be sent away - to be given a chance to find where Ky was sent and bring him home. Cassia is cunning, smart and knows it won't be easy so she leaves behind the safety of Xander and her future and teams up with a girl named Indie to set out on the adventure of her life. It doesn't take long to realize she's searching for more than her stolen love - she searching for a rebellion.

 I have an intense love for Utopian society stories. Of course they are never as perfect as they seem and it's always fun to see what the author's imagination can create for the futuristic perfect society. Condie creates the perfect image of this for me. I feel like each detail is carefully thought out and The Society is definitely trying to do good but has lost sight of some of the most important characteristics of a successful leadership. They've decided to bind their citizens to them through lies and deception rather than inspire loyalty through commitment to do good and make the world a better place.

The characters - Cassia, Ky, Xander - are further developed. We get a chance to get to know more about Ky's history. Something I've been dying to discover since I first read Matched back in May. Cassia's development was lacking but I feel like we spent so much time learning about her in the first book that it didn't detract from this story. As for Xander - I still don't know what to think about him. I'm confused. He's a mystery that I think will be discovered in the final book. Even Condie's less prominent characters were developed as much or as little as they needed to be to make this story great.

Finally, I love the strong female role Cassia plays. She relies on others and trusts them as much as someone with her upbringing would trust. She makes her decisions based on this upbringing but she pushes herself harder than normal citizens would and she is determined to right the wrongs she has committed. She's determined to give others the life they deserve and not the one they were assigned.

The only flaw: the final book in the series isn't released until Fall 2012 and this book does not have a satisfying ending! It leaves you with questions that need answering now - not in 8 months from now!

Oh well. Until then you can click here for Ally Condie's official Matched series website.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Book of Lost Things


By John Connolly

Dedication: "This book is dedicated to an adult, Jennifer Ridyard, and to Cameron and Alistair Ridyard, who will be adults all too soon.

"For in every adult dwells the child that was, and in every child lies the adult that will be."

First paragraph: "Once upon a time--for that is how all stories should begin--there was a boy who lost his mother."

Review: In the middle of WWII, David is struggling with the death of his mother and his father's remarriage. It isn't that Rose is unkind or that she's constantly forcing him to do things he'd rather not--it's just the dilemma many young children face when they feel their parent is being replaced by someone else. It doesn't help when Georgie, David's new half-brother, enters the picture.

Soon, David's precious books start whispering and before long he finds himself in a world where the fairytales he loves to read have come alive. Unfortunately, they all seem to have taken a dark twist from the "Happily Ever Afters" he's always known.

I love a twist on a fairy tale. I don't think there should be one way to tell them. Connolly definitely managed to re-write a few of the stories and I loved that aspect. However, before you go stick this book in front of your child, you should know that this was a dark book.

I started reading it thinking it might be for kids around 12-14+ but by the time I finished I'd upgraded the age to about 16 or 17. In fact, I might even say this is more of a "Adult Fiction with Teen Allure" than a YA Fiction book. My reasoning? This is a nightmare inducing story. It's disturbing and dark and cynical and it takes happily ever afters and says, "Happily ever after means getting eaten really fast". So, pretty much every story ends with someone being eaten. From the Louts (werewolves) to the 30 foot long slimy beast, this is not a childhood bedtime story. But it was a great story. Connolly managed to create a whole new world where every story was tied together into one land. And Rumple- I mean the "Crooked Man" has corrupted the land for his own pleasure and gain.

Excessively gory but well written. Connolly did what all authors should do; he created a world the reader could escape into. Unfortunately, this particular book has the side-effect where the stories may follow you back and become nightmares you'd rather not remember.

Click here for John Connolly's website for The Book of Lost Things.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Book of Three

By Lloyd Alexander

Dedication: "For the Children who listened, The grown-ups who were patient, and especially for Ann Durell"

First paragraph: "Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran's arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching him critically."

Review: This is the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain and we quickly learn of Taran and his dreams of heroes and adventuring instead of being just a simple Assistant Pig Keeper. What Taran forgets to realize is that heroics is more than slaying dragons and saving damsels in distress. His first realization that it may be less glamorous than expected starts with a bad nights sleep on the ground and quickly becomes a tale of follies and one misadventure after another. But he his nothing if not determined to finish his quest to the end to find Hen Wen, the pig left in his charge.

Along the way he picks up one interesting companion after another and soon the band of travelers prove invaluable to Taran and all the land of Prydain. (One of which pays a marking resemblance to a certain creepy crawly fellow from the Lord of the Rings series).


I was asked to read this book to determine if it was appropriate for a nine or ten year old. Some of the parts are intense, and there is one quick scene where there is mention of men being burned alive inside wicker baskets, but overall it's not too graphic and it avoids going into any great detail about the death that comes with battles. Even the wicker basket scene only got mentioned in half a paragraph or less. As such, this story was definitely written for a younger audience but it was still enjoyable for me. Every good book, according to my husband, starts off with a map. And this book started off with a map so it must be good.

It only took a few hours to read and it was full of action and adventure from start to finish. Taran may have frustrated me at times but I absolutely loved Eilonwy. She was a bit of comic relief and made Taran so much more bearable while, at the same time, absolutely refusing to be a damsel for Taran to rescue. I can't help but love her for that.

I did have a hard time getting past the fact that certain aspects felt like they were stolen right from Lord of the Rings then dumbed down a bit for younger kids. For example, a Gollum character, along with some other situations that I'll avoid mentioning in order to keep from spoiling any of the plot. But if you do decide to read the story I'm sure you'll catch them as well. 

The next book in the Chronicles of Prydain series is The Black Cauldron.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

First Paragraph: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Review: I'd give you a synopsis of the story but I think every person alive - or at least most - has to know what this book is about. It is, after all, one of the greatest love stories ever written. How Austen managed to do this in 1813 and still make her characters relate-able almost 200 years later is remarkable.

Other than that, I don't think there is much to be said about this book other than, "Why did it take me 26 years to read it?" I get that I had to learn how to read first so the first few years of life are excused. But I remember reading Sense and Sensibility in High School and loving  it. I should have known this book would be no different.

Now, the only thing left to do is go rent the BBC movie again from the library.