Sunday, June 30, 2013

ALA Conference

My slightly modified badge.
Right now, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States of America is the ALA conference!

I was lucky enough to attend the conference on Saturday, June 29, 2013 for the day and meet many authors, receive many advanced readers copies, and spend the day with my best book buddies!

I was able to tour the exhibits with the wonderful Lynn Rutan and amazing Cindy Dobrez of the Bookends blog on Booklist. They also happen to be my librarians from when I went through school. They also run a book club right now which they still refer to as BBYA (Best Books for Young Adults) for their students at West Ottawa which they graciously allow me to attend as an Alumni of the club. They're very wonderful people and they also mentioned me in a blog post on their blog which you can find here. For the record, sometimes the books need to be about thirty pages less. Haha!

Now you know where most of my books come from and where my love of books was nurtured.

BOOK LIFE.
At the conference, I was probably lugging around close to forty books that I managed to pick up and my shoulders suffered a bit for it. I discovered that a bag had actually left it's mark on my shoulder, pictured below. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

For most of the convention I was excited, met a bunch of authors, and maybe I met some of my viewers (hi!). I had a BLAST!!!

I've mentioned it to a few people who have asked, "Don't you have to be a librarian to attend?"

NOPE! Although I would incredibly love to be a librarian, but I am not right now! I was welcomed into the fold!

I purchased an exhibits only pass on the ALA website which let me tour the exhibits of the convention center. There are also presentations you can attend and a lot of other neat, field related events that take place. I was there for the exhibits because books, authors, publishers, and and, well if I did much more my shoulders probably would have committed mutiny on me.


A snapshot of the conference. :)
I currently have some family from across state visiting so I'm going to be a little slower in blogging this week, but I look forward to finish my current stack from the library and then embarking on all my goodies from ALA! As I process everything I got from ALA, I'm thinking of posting pictures of it as I start to conquer books from the conference. Be warned, I have at least seven books I'd like to read before beginning the conference books (potentially ten, but I might have grabbed a few unreadable books).

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

I have another disclaimer! This is kind of fun.

Back in my K-12 days of school, I played the Clarinet in Band from grades 6-12. This book's narrations centers on Lucy who grew up with piano in her life since age 3 pretty much. As having some music background, I don't think I understood the story any better than anyone else. There are very few moments where she actually speaks of something that is technically a music term, but the context let's the understanding of the term be known. By few moments, I'm pretty sure there is roughly around three. It's a sentence. Not even.

So don't worry about it.

An amazon summary, "Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.


Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?


National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. To find joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


One, the timeline in that summary makes no sense. At all.

Lucy is sixteen when the book begins, and the book begins eight months after she's walked away from the music world. So at the youngest, she would be fifteen when the book began.

But other than that, I guess it was alright for a summary.

So the book begins with the shock of Madame Temnikova's death. In the first chapter Lucy tries to do CPR for Madame as her brother dials 911 to get an ambulance. We get a shattered glass image of who Lucy is as she compares the death to different aspects of her life that are still scrambling to get in the proper places.

The story switches to eight months ago, to show us just how much her life is different. Lucy is at Prague to perform in a very acclaimed festival of sorts and is very worried to leave her sick grandmother behind who she loves dearly. She's already out of sorts with coming while her grandmother is sick, but the show must go on.

The story switches gears on us again as it comes back to present day where Gus (her brother) has come to wake her and she's late for school. We're introduced to Mr. Charles at school; the English teacher that she has a crush on. She imagines herself to be friends with him and she is, sort of. She's notoriously late to his class as she is still adjusting to the notion of going to school every day (she's been out of school for a year or so to concentrate on the piano). It's at the point where she needs to be on time. She idolizes him and makes a point to pay attention to his class. The other classes she's enrolled in, she only makes passing mentions of them from time to time, it's the English class she describes the most. I'm mostly talking about this because Lucy reminds me of a butterfly; she kind of flutters from place to place trying to figure out how she fits in where since she's very out of her element (the piano circuit being the element she's been in for the past thirteen years or so).

The story does a lot of switching between moments, but not in a disorienting way; it's illustrating her life in a way as she thinks about it almost. Every time there is a flashback it's because she's been thinking about the past and what not. It makes sense. It's quite enjoyable.

Anyways, so we see some more of the family dynamic and the scramble to replace Madame Temnikova; enter Will. Will is taking over as Gus' teacher.

Everything begins to change as Will has a more interesting take on Gus' tutelage. We see a lot of Lucy's life get a little more flavor and run into her friends Reyna and Carson while she tries to make sense of what her life has become.

She's been striving to get the normal life, but is normal what makes her happy? Can she be happy without the piano?

I found the story to be riveting in the refreshing way. Lucy tries so hard to find love without punishment (the grueling work it takes to be in the piano circuit), can she play to just play?

There are a lot of different interesting relationship dynamics that take place.

I don't really know what else to say because I'm savoring this book a bit. It's really moving to find such a young voiced story that struggles with letting yourself love something without letting it become mortifying work; without letting it rule your life.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Furious

Furious by Jill Wolfson

So I've long been a fan of books who take Greek myths and modernize them in a believable way while sticking close to the myth itself.

This book takes the Greek myth of the Furies and gets a little creative with them. I'm not 100% familiar with the Greek myth of the Furies, I know the basics from the classical plays they've appeared in and their mention in The Iliad, but everything else is from tidbits mentioned in other books.

This is what I know of the Furies prior to reading this book. They are usually depicted as three women who have twisted features; tails for torsos, claws instead of fingers, kind of like a gorgon but no writhing mass of snake hair or turning people into stone powers. The Furies seek revenge for those who have been wronged and never received any sort of apology. The Furies are not inherently 'bad', they point out the flaws with what has been done and demand that it be righted.

Something else about the Furies; they were usually depicted in plays, and plays are works of fiction. The Furies don't seem to hold to one 'true' myth, but it is generally agreed upon that they are some form of minor goddesses that seek revenge.

I didn't blather on for no reason, this will come into play in a moment. So an Amazon summary, "We were only three angry high school girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.
We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.
Yes, that’s us. The three Greek Furies, come to life, ready to take our revenge on everyone who deserves it. And who doesn’t deserve it, really? We’re done with chances. We are angry. The Furies have come to town." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So the book begins with an oddball prologue spoken by 'Ambrosia' who sets the tone to be all about revenge and how we're supposed to believe that the book is all about her, because she's Ambrosia and everything should always be about her and her revenge. ...yeah that happens. But it only lasts for two pages so that's nice.

It leaps into a quirky description of our main character Meg; a girl who is very clumsy and tends to make a fool of herself although her intentions always tend to be good. Meg is also sixteen and been through the foster system for her whole life. This clashed with me for a bit because she has a friendship with the very quirky Raymond, yet she's only lived in her current foster home for six months. She has her whole life in this town and has for a long time, yet she seems upset about how often she's been shuffled through different foster homes and maintains the concern that her next placement will be in a different city. She never made a remark that it was lucky she was able to remain in the same town or anything of that nature so I'm perplexed by that dilemma.

Anyways.

Meg tends to make a fool of herself and as she's stewing over her current embarrassment of trying to give Brendon (the crush) coupons to a mini golf date but gets flustered after the fact, she ends up hearing an odd melody and standing up in her classroom saying, "I hate everyone" but doesn't realize what she's doing until someone snaps her out of it.

Thus begins the snowball effect.

Two other girls stand out as having a lot of anguish in their life for various reasons and Ambrosia brings them together.

Raymond is Meg's best friend and acts as the hesitant witness to the unfolding of their fury while trying to establish some form of rules for them to follow when they enact their revenge.

It's an interesting delving into the Greek myth, and because the knowledge of the Furies seems to be limited at best, I didn't mind where the story went with it as there were no 'true' guidelines to follow.

However, this is going into SPOILER LAND.

There is a teacher whose name is Ms. Pallas (for those who are familiar with Greek mythology, it is Pallas Athena) and to me, that screamed very blatantly who she was and what her purpose was in the story. It kind of ruined it for me. While reading the story, there are a lot of strong hints that Pallas is very opposed to Ambrosia and at the end it's revealed that she is Athena and the story wraps up.

But really? The teacher's name could have been Smith for all that it mattered to the story. There should have been more of Athena's demeanor in the character rather than just her name. There were hints of it, but there didn't seem to be an outstanding resonance with the goddess.

So the story kind of petered out for me in the end, and I was a little uncomfortable with how much contempt that the book held for high school society. I understand what it was trying to do, but I think the point got swallowed up in trying to maintain the myth, the high school voice, and pushing it towards the conclusion.

Yet, at the end of the book I was left with a content feeling although I can't exactly put my finger on why.

I did like how we saw why the girls were able to have so much anger in their lives to begin with, but Meg's demeanor did not portray her anger where the other two girls held the anger on their sleeves.

I don't know.

I'm on the fence on this one.

Happy reading!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara

I have an upfront disclaimer for this one; this story is the telling of a young woman's grief and how it has shaped her life. It's not going to be for everyone, but if the reader has experienced grief before, they're most likely going to connect to the narrator, Wren, on a very personal level.

Now, an amazon summary: "A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

As someone who has grieved before for the loss of loved ones, this book caught me right in my heart. I didn't spend any tears crying on it, but I feel very moved and even more at peace with situations. Maybe it can do the same for you, I don't know.

The book itself is slow moving in pace yet a roller coaster of emotion. Wren, our narrator, has been through a harrowing accident; one that killed her boyfriend and left her confused beyond words.

The story begins sometime after the accident, when she took a desperate leap to get out of the town it all happened in and moves in with her Father. Her Father lives in the outskirts of a small city where he spends most of his days happily in his studio working on art. He has a reputation in the town (a good natured one) and so when his daughter comes to town, they're a little more eager to know what she's up to.

Wren however, chooses to spend most of her time in bed and waiting for the days to trickle by. Her Mother is overwhelmed with concern and calls her often during the day but her Father leaves her alone and kind of checks in on her.

So one day Wren is out riding her bicycle, trying to escape her emotions, her past, her vivid memories, and to escape from the desolation that's trapped inside of her when she almost gets taken out by a truck. The driver of the truck is Cal Owen and he has a mini panic attack as he checks to make sure she's alright. She's very insistent that she's fine, leaves her mangled bike there, and he gives her a ride home. He still feels all bent out of shape over nearly killing her and wrecking her bike and offers numerous ways to make amends. Wren retreats from him to the safety of her house.

Cal isn't done with her yet.

Cal takes it upon himself to get into contact with her Father and offer to buy her a new bike to replace the old. Her Father takes it upon himself to get Wren hired by Cal to help him out when he needs it (he's got MS). With her Mother's insistence, her Father sets up a library job for her to go to as well so she can start to pick up the shards of her life and get moving again.

All Wren wants to do is to be left alone.

This story takes us through every minor victory, through every harrowing step back, and to every little glimmer of hope that passes before Wren.

It was a lovely book.

It did take me a little longer to get through but simply because I wanted to take my time to get through it, to make sure I understood each moment. Part of it was the content was so heavy hearted that I needed a little breather now and again.

It was a great book, but again not for everyone.

It covers a lot of sensitive subjects like loss, relationships, coming into yourself, understanding the direction you might be going in, etc through the eyes of someone who never wants pity, but doesn't quite understand herself. 

Heart wrenching (and heart heavy) for me to read.

But the book did get quite a few small smiles from me as there parts that were absolutely delightful. I think they were so delightful because we (the reader) were able to see exactly where she was coming from and exactly where it could lead her to go.

Beautiful.

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Requiem

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I reviewed the second book in this series, PANDEMONIUM, but read Delirium before I started this blog.

This is the third book in the series. I also have read the advanced reader's copy and am noting that RIGHT HERE.

With that, an amazon summary, "This exciting finale to Lauren Oliver's New York Times bestselling Delirium trilogy is a riveting blend of nonstop action and forbidden romance in a dystopian United States.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.
After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven.
 Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana's points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

With lyrical writing, Lauren Oliver seamlessly interweaves the peril that Lena faces with the inner tumult she experiences after the reappearance of her first love, Alex, the boy she thought was dead. Sophisticated and wide-ranging, Requiembrings the Delirium trilogy to a thrilling conclusion." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So right off the bat, this is going to contain a lot of spoilers for book one and two, and towards the end I'll warn about the true spoiler land because I HAVE NEEDS and NEED to talk about the ending.

So in book one there was an elaborate foundation for this world that is so similar to ours but has one basic foundation shift; they believe love is a disease that needs to be cured. They cure people through some brain operation (which I can only assumes removes a part of the brain) and have built their society around this notion.

In the trilogy this cured society is portrayed as heartless, ruthless, and almost aggressively evil; at least those who control it. Those who are cured within the society, are more ordinary citizens, are mostly on the alert for emotions and being too emotional; yet they live in a constant state of fear. Last time I check that was an emotion, but whatever, carry on.

Book three picks up kind of where book two left off. There's an interesting aspect to this book as every other chapter is Hana's point of view, and the other chapters are from Lena's point of view.

I like this switch up, HOWEVER, it seems to me that with the vigilance that was given to Lena's character up to book three, I wonder if the author herself got bored writing Lena's character because she is BORING AS ALL GET OUT.

Everything seems to happen around Lena; there's also a misshapen love triangle that she's the beginning of. She believed Alex was dead, got trapped in a room with Julian, scared out of her mind, falls in love with Julian (at the end of book two it's revealed that Alex is alive). SO GUESS WHAT SHE SPENDS BOOK THREE DOING?

I love Alex! NO! I LOVE JULIAN. But maybe I like Alex....NO I'M WITH JULIAN NOW, ALEX TOLD ME HE DOESN'T LOVE ME BLOO HOO HOO. I'm totally in love with Julian! Just kidding! I love Alex! No wait, Julian is the one for me! OH NO, THE TURMOIL. BLAHHHH.

But how it seems is that Alex and Julian are in love with Lena and are just waiting for her to make her mind up. Julian is led to believe that she's all in to be with him at one point, but gets increasingly unsure as the book goes on (with good reason). ALSO, I HATE, ABSOLUTELY LOATHE, how Lena and Julian would kiss, but that would be it. No real emotions or feelings behind it, just Lena thinking, "He's always so warm, so gentle, so caring....I love Alex. WAIT, I LOVE JULIAN." ...the book.

So ignoring Lena's whole I'M THE CENTER OF ATTENTION LOVE TRIANGLE MEEEE crying, Hana tells a much more interesting story.

Probably because she's not Lena. But you know.

So Hana has been cured, paired with Fred (who is going to become the mayor of Portland) and is struggling with what being cured feels like. At one point she admits it's muffled, but at the same time the tone implies that since she is so removed from the situations she's in, that when she does feel she almost doesn't know what to do with it. It was pretty interesting.

From Hana's perspective, the only thing she can think about is Fred and what he's going to do with the invalids (the uncured) or how the sympathizers will be treated, and the rest of the population in Portland.

Meanwhile, Lena is in some woods somewhere, almost getting killed because rebel life, and still moping/crying over her Alex and Julian dilemma. Yes, she does address the rebellion from her side sometimes, but it doesn't seem overly important besides where her next inner conflict will happen in terms of setting. Seriously.

Alright, maybe I'm being a little hard. Lena does pay attention to the rebellion as she's just wants her freedom and stop having to fight all the time, she's looking for an end. Blah.

I don't really care BECAUSE I AM SO MAD AT THE END OF THE BOOK.

THIS IS SPOILER LANDDDDDDDDDDDDD.

THE VERY LAST PAGE OF THE BOOK.

I am so mad. SO SO MAD.

Basically, there's two thirds of the LAST PAGE trying to act like a plea to the people.

To take down the wall.

Considering where this plea is placed, right after they take down a literal boundary in the book, I could not help thinking about my own fenced in backyard. And also that if I took down that wall, my dog would not have the freedom to roam the backyard without a leash. SO LEAVE MY WALL ALONE.

It also seems to serve as a half warning about 'big brother'. I'm going to quote this FREAKING BOOK, "Take down the walls. Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness," (Oliver, Requiem, page 391).

...seriously?

SERIOUSLY?

The book was leading up to this big moment, like RAHHHH WE ARE THE VICTORS (they're totally not in terms of the whole world being affected, and the other cities, etc etc but one victory can go to ANYONE'S head), then it has that page. That page where it's like I'M MAKING A PROMISE TO TEAR DOWN WALLS. BLAHHHH.

Alright, let me calm down a moment to say I get it.

The author is trying to convey to not let barricades of fear stand in the way of creating an understanding for any person, people, place etc. Don't let fear, don't let pressure, don't let anyone force you into doing something you know is inherently wrong.

I know.

That's what has been beaten to death over the course of all three of these books.

I freaking get it.

I was looking forward to the growth in characters, seeing how the WORLD would change shape because of this notion.

I didn't want to spend so much time on seeing the horrors that both sides of the war can inflict upon each other. I thought that was well established in the first two books.

In book one it was established pretty rigorously that the society itself was a prison.

In book two it was established that the society which imprisoned it's people, breed people who are not afraid to commit horrors onto it's own people.

In book three it was established through Hana how horrible the society is to it's own citizens, and that Lena doesn't understand who she loves or what love is even though she gave up a terrible society to try and figure it out.

...seriously?

That's all that the author is leaving the readers with?

WHAT.

...WHAT.

...maybe I'll reflect more on this book later and follow up with some sort of after thoughts, but for now I'm just mad. This book. UGH. This book!

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed reading most of it (except for the Lena chronicles of love, bleh), until the very end. Then I had all THE PROBLEMS. WHAT.

I just don't know what to say. It seems like it all became drivel. Blah. Really, if it had ended before it's little speech of promise about walls, I probably would have been okay. Really okay with the book (besides Lena not knowing who she is in love with the majority of the time). With that little speech, it changes the entire tone of the story I just read.

I hope, since I read the advance reader's copy of the book, that someone in the land of this book becoming more processed and published, they removed that last two thirds of a page of weird dumb speech. I really hope they did.

It would have been a lot better.

Happy reading!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Midwinterblood

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

This book was a complete mystery to me before reading it since I didn't read the summary at all. I regret nothing. I found it very mysterious the whole way through.

An amazon summary, "Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love." AMAZON LINK OF I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE READ THIS BEFORE I READ THE BOOK MAYBE

I'm going to give a different summary. That one summarizes the entire general story of the book, but not what you will really encounter in the first part of the book.

So I'll help!

The book is separated into different parts, each part showcasing a different time. I'll give a bit of part one of the book as the story is so interwoven onto itself between the different parts that it would be a little terrible to give too many of the threads to you before you can encounter the text. That will make sense if you read the book.

The first part of the book is actually in the future, in 2073, where Eric Seven is visiting the Blessed Island to write an article. There are a handful of myths surrounding the island about it's inhabitants having very long lives, and the flowers that may exist. There's an interesting app for his phone that enables him to connect to others who have the app around him. Say a friend of a friend, or someone's cousin, etc. The six degrees of separation taken literally into app form. He's always had a connection on a flight before, but not on the one to Blessed Island. He starts off his journey a little unnerved.

Once on the island, he discovers that his phone doesn't have reception which is completely alienating; he's heard of it but he's never experienced it first hand. There are no cars or public transportation, the island is small enough to be able to walk everywhere on it. If there is a need for speed, a neighbor is usually willing to lend a bicycle.

Once on the island, Eric is greeted by a group of locals as it's very seldom they get visitors. He's put up in Tor's house (think of him like the mayor of the island), and given his own house to stay in the next day. Eric begins to explore the island in the hopes of getting information for his article, but is quite distracted by a local girl by the name of Merle. She haunts his mind.

As he begins to explore the island, something about it seems off. All of the islanders are happy and friendly, but they do not seem to have a need for money. The sun doesn't quite set due to how far north they are, and he seems to only be able to find the eastern half of the island.

Eric also can't really get an answer from anyone, just misdirection. He also begins to forget why he's there.

It's not amnesia, it's not being all weird like that. The narration makes it seem like a very natural way of almost falling in love with the island itself.

That's all I'm going to say because I want the book to be a mystery for everyone! Yay mysteries!

I will say that sometimes the book got a bit graphic but it was necessary due to the nature of the situation.

I'm a little on the fence on my personal reaction to the book. It's one of those books where I finish and I just kind of go, "Huh," and smile a bit.

It was an interesting little trip.

I will say that the writing was well done as every character that was shown seem unique in it's own way which I found a little startling given how many were introduced in the span of 262 pages. Each different time period was well grounded in it's place in time and the nature of the people who lived in that time.

I think the aspect I enjoy most is that there are many questions left unanswered, yet I don't need to know the answer. The story is guided by the essence of two people. We have some answers before we have even asked the questions. It was just really neat.

So I'm settling on neat.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Period 8

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher

I need to admit a couple things. One, I would LOVE to meet Chris Crutcher and have coffee or margaritas or whatever that man drinks.

Two, I have read a handful of his books before; Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Deadline, The King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill Advised Autobiography, and The Sledding Hill (although I will wonder on a deeper level why he wrote himself into The Sledding Hill, I will always wonder but never want the answer). I tend to like his stories as the characters have a very realistic quality to them.

All of that being said, I desperately want someone else to read this and converse with about it. SO BAD.

An amazon summary to hook your interest if you aren't interested already, "Period 8. An hour a day. You can hang out. You can eat your lunch. You can talk. Or listen. Or neither. Or both. Nothing is off-limits. The only rule is that you keep it real; that you tell the truth.


Heller High senior Paul Baum—aka Paulie Bomb—tells the truth. Not the "Wow, that's an ugly sweater" variety of truth, but the other kind. The truth that matters. It might be hard. It often hurts. But Paulie doesn't know how not to tell it. When he tells his girlfriend Hannah the life-altering, messed-up, awful truth, his life falls apart. The truth can get complicated, fast.

But someone in Period 8 is lying. And Paulie, Hannah, and just about everyone else who stops by the safe haven of the P-8 room daily are deceived. And when a classmate goes missing and the mystery of her disappearance seeps beyond P-8 and into every hour of the day, all hell breaks loose." AMAZON LINK OF THEY COULD HAVE DONE WORSE

Other things I need to get off my chest. I fell for the red herring; I would like to say that I suspected the truth, but I didn't expect the deepness of the truth. I knew something was up, BUT WHOA. I didn't quite expect it to go so entirely where it did. I am moved by this.

If I had read this in high school (the subject matter, gravity of the situations, etc, would lead me to believe this a high school level book, but with TV the way it is and ten year olds watching HBO's Game of Thrones series, what do I know), I probably would have been trying to talk to every single person I had ever met in that building to just see if they were okay. I also would have been strangely suspicious of the student body council.

Now to the book itself.

Everyone seemed to swear a lot. I got used to it and desensitized to it very quickly. It became either less noticeable or less prevalent as the story went on.

There's a little foreword from Chris Crutcher in the beginning of the copy that I read where he kind of explains that there are characters from his other stories present. I don't remember which characters came from which books or who was who. I took it as it's own stand alone novel because it's been probably hundreds of books between since I read The Sledding Hill and now. My bad. However, I don't think that detracted from the book's own merit. If I didn't know they were characters from other books, I probably would assume they were all new characters and what not. So there's that.

In the same foreword, Chris Crutcher admits he threw in a psychopath and kind of amped the story up on steroids. It was a very intense ride.

That being said, the book begins with a startling scene of some sort of teenage prostitution scene. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THERE ARE GRAPHIC SEX SCENES EVERYWHERE. The tone, diction, and what is depicted in the scene implies three things; the girl is a teenager who most likely had sex with the man, the man is most likely older in age, and the girl is on some form of drug (whether it be birth control or something more mind altering, you don't know). That's basically two pages.

Then begins chapter 1 where Paulie explains to Hannah (boyfriend/girlfriend) that he cheated on her. The story throws us into Paulie's life and explains what he screwed up, what his folks are like, and breaks down who Paulie is while delicately portraying who Hannah is. It's all quite touching. Also, that jump from hotel room scene to Paulie/Hannah does not mean, by any means, that Paulie was the man in the hotel room. The hotel room scene seemed to serve as the launch board for the story; of the horror behind the scenes.

We're then shown Paulie's life surrounding his time at school and what Period 8 means to him. We meet a teacher who is referred to as 'Mr. Logs' or 'Logs' who is very down to Earth and understands on a fundamental level that young adults go through very deep, heart-wrenching problems - the same as the adults they will soon be. Logs treats all of his students with confidentiality and care; he's also not afraid of their swearing. It also happens to be his last year of teaching at the school. Anyways.

During all of this, the ripple effect of Paulie and Hannah's break up is starting to make small waves in their immediate social circle, until everyone becomes distracted by Mary's lack of attendance.

Mary is the straight A student with a bright future, seems to have a rigid father, and is often referred to as 'The Virgin Mary' as there's a belief that her father made her take a vow of celibacy and she'd probably be murdered if she broke it. Logs was concerned about Mary since she missed a week of school and that was very unlike her as she had a perfect attendance record up to that point.

Everything begins to unravel when her father files a missing person's report.

Hannah finds Mary by almost running her over with her car. Mary insists on going anywhere but home. Hannah took her back to her house, set her up in the guest room, and went to sleep herself. When Hannah got up, Mary was gone.

So where was Mary?

The whole book just raises so many questions of how people fundamentally look out for and care for one another. How do you survive high school? Is it with a supportive family? Is it with a group of classmates in period 8?

To take it farther, how do you handle your personal lives? How do you handle a nasty cycle of breaking up and getting back together that your parents do? How do you handle a controlling father? How do you handle parents that don't seem present in your life?

How do you handle a psychopath in all of that when you didn't even know they were there?

DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

But seriously, I think Crutcher took some very real problems that young adults struggle with and brought them to light; even if it was in a slightly unsettling way.

I enjoyed navigating my way through this book to weed out the 'true' story.

I also don't understand sports; there were a few segments with basketball where I just did not have a clue as to what was happening in terms of the game, but I understood the emotional undercurrents of conflict that took place amongst the bouncing orange ball.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

*Disclaimer: I have come across the advanced reader's copy of this novel. It's due to be released on August 15, 2013. There is a request in the front of the book that if I quote from this copy, I should indicate that my review is based on an uncorrected text.

On that note, an amazon summary, "You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand...

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy, seaside town...until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.


A gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set against a creepy summertime backdrop--a must-read for fans of Beautiful CreaturesThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Anna Dressed in Blood." AMAZON SUMMARY OF CLEARLY A ROMANCE NOVEL

I'm going to apologize in advance for everything I'm about to say. I couldn't stand this book. I simply could not stand it. I aggressively fell asleep on this a couple times, and would love to share the paragraph that drove me to quit trying to read it. "I glared at River. Tears were dripping out of my eyes, and I was pissed. 'River, that was cruel. I was over missing her, and then you brought her back and now I'm not over missing her anymore,'" (Tucholke, page 157). Again, I have the advanced reader's copy so that might not be in the published version, and if it is, it might not be on that page.

Out of context! Whee!

Also, when I was on google, searching for the image of the book cover, I came across a number of things that share this title. So in that case, there might be some cultural reference that this entire book is about, but as I tend to ignore a large majority of 'culture' I have missed this reference. I don't really mind. Maybe that would have made a difference in the long run though.

Alright, so for the context of how much of this book that I read, the book is 359 pages long and I made it to 157. That's about 43% of the book (see, I totally tried). Again, this is the advanced reader's copy so that might not be accurate once the book is published. Bleh.

So there's four main characters; Violet who is the twin sister of Luke, who are both Sunshine's neighbors, and who have rented out their guesthouse to River. That's how they're all connected on a base level.

More in depth characterization (they're all 17 by the way): Violet is the narrator who claims to be patient but has an almost non-existent attention span, wears her dead grandmother's old clothes, and seems to know everything about anything (although there are a couple instances where she clearly does not).

Luke is an aggressively male character; he lifts weights, chases after girls (who readily make out/flirt with him it seems), gets drunks, and seems to maintain the attitude of constantly trying to prove his manliness through very childish means.

Sunshine is an aggressive flirt who takes every movement, conversation, etc to her advantage to do EVERYTHING SHE POSSIBLY CAN TO SEEM SEXY. Seriously, Violet spent such an annoying amount of time commenting on how Violet turned just so or revealed just this much blah blah blah she's such a tease, that I wondered if Violet was attracted to women. Sunshine doesn't really seem to contribute any interesting conversation, just a diversion mechanism from the mysteries that seem to happen.

River is the devil. ...okay I'm not actually sure about that since I didn't finish reading the book. River has all the classic 'suave' devil signs and Violet spends time musing about her dead grandmother being obsessed with the devil in her later years.

Did you catch that I said that River rents out the guesthouse from Violet and Luke? So once upon a time the White family was very rich; so rich that they had a ridiculous mansion of sorts that also included a guesthouse. However, as the generations came and went, the newer generations didn't understand how to save or make money so they squandered their fortune. Violet and Luke's parents are in Europe for the book trying to find muses to paint; leaving Violet and Luke to scrounge up money for groceries and bills. They live in a giant mansion referred to as Citizen Kane (this could be a reference to something, again, ignorant of whatever culture here; I kept thinking about the Batman villain but what do I know). So there's that. There's also a lot of off-handed remarks about being from an 'eccentric rich family' and how the townsfolk might view them.

ALSO, SOMETHING THAT REALLY BOTHERS ME (AGGRESSIVE ENTHUSIASM). I could not go two or three pages without a mention of flirting, making out, kissing, or just something that had a lust nature to it. They hadn't gotten to the part where characters might have had sex, but the possibility for such a thing is VERY VERY high. I think I got whiplash from how much the author was like CLEARLY MY CHARACTERS ARE ALL GOING TO HAVE SEX AT SOME POINT, AREN'T YOU EXCITED?

...yeah. To say I was annoyed is an understatement.

To include making out/sex whatever in a novel should make sense for the character. It should be part of their development, growth, or nature to seek such relations. The problem I had with Violet was that she came off as very rigid about intimate relationships and was always condoning of Luke (who excessively made out with Sunshine and some girl in the proper town). Yet, within a day of River turning up she took a nap in his arms. Then snuck out of bed that night and slept with him (not sex, just sleeping). Um. What? Consistency is seriously awesome; OR a logical reaction to some crazy change. Not just, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy BUT WE'RE GOING TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW, TOGETHER, AWW YEAH". ....what.

I don't think I even got to the kind of plot of this book.

So when River comes to town there's suddenly some sort of supernatural weird stuff going on. He also is a constant liar. Violet is also very clearly in love with him but being like, "No, I'm not! Whatever! ...DON'T TOUCH HIM HE'S MINE." Yeah... Anyways, so Sunshine sees something weird in a tunnel that she visited with River and a little boy is convinced that the devil stole his sister.

I'm not going to go near what that is all about because I didn't find out before I stopped reading.

I'm pretty sure that was the plot of the book.

There are a lot of other things that happen, but none of it seems relevant to the plot. Like Violet just gets upset with Luke and may or may not hear the voice of her dead grandmother in her head. Luke just makes out with anything that moves it seems. Sunshine is hell bent on being mysterious, sexual, and out of it. River likes to lie. We kind of see them go through some different situations. None of it truly seems to matter.

Also, the author seemed to get really hung up on making sure the reader was aware that not only was River a good cook, but that all of her characters were fed at appropriate times in too much detail. Too many details in the wrong places. Too little details in the proper places.

...

I think I'm all out of rant now.

I like to think I give the author the benefit of the doubt and chug through a third of their book and try to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story.

That is all.

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Broken Lands

The Broken Lands by Kate Milford

Alas, I did not manage to finish this book. I did figure out what bothered me so much about it though.

An amazon summary, "A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, stop them before it’s too late? Here is a richly textured, slow-burning thriller about friendship, courage, and the age-old fight between good and evil." AMAZON SUMMARY OF PROBABLE ACCURACY

I made it to page 148 before I had my "AHA!" moment of why I realized I didn't like this book. Then I promptly put it down and stewed on it.

The attitude of the characters, the style of writing, I would go so far as to say even the tone of the story went something like "Nah nah nah boo boo! I know something you don't!" while sticking it's tongue out and chortling as it driveled through some other irrelevant details that distracted from the big mystery.

Yeah. Actually that sums up how I feel about it.

So a summary of what I read.

Sam is a card sharp (I kept wanting to correct it to card shark, but that might not be period accurate), and Jin is a girl who is well trained in the art of fireworks.

Sam tries to get money by swindling money from folks as they visit Coney Island and lives with a colorful cast of characters. He seems to be a decent enough of a fellow, he just can't get a job and is an orphan. So he fends for himself by winning folks money off of them.

Jin has a lot of mysterious allusions to coming into the situation she is in (firework apprentice person, pyrotechnic apprentice for the technical terms) without ever really telling us why she's distraught or traumatized. Again, I only made it to page 148 before I was like, "NO" so maybe it comes up later as to why she is like that.

Whatever.

So the story reached a point where Jin found a body maliciously torn up and is so freaked out that she faints. When she wakes up, she's in a saloon of sorts where the folks are trying to figure out if she's alright. She freaks out some more before she seems to 'snap together' and get all rigid and Jin-like again. It seemed as if the author didn't know how the character should react so they kind of guessed and then rushed through the scene.

The mystery begins to unfold, whatever, and the fireworks display that Jin set up happens and afterwards Sam and Jin meet with some interesting characters that Sam has been talking to.

Then one of the interesting fellows told a story while all the characters had to chime in and sass at some point. They revealed an interesting world concept but sassed their way through it as every character had to assert that they were awesome in their own way. (This is when I got annoyed.)

Sigh.

This book sounds like something that should have been right up my alley, but I think I'm done with the characters that just seem to scream, "I'M TRAUMATIZED AND HAVE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WITHOUT TELLING THEM WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO ME SO THEY CAN'T HELP BECAUSE WHO WOULD I BE WITHOUT MY TRAUMA."

I understand that people have been through vast amounts of trauma, but in my personal experience, people who want to talk about it do so with the right people, or they don't talk about it at all. That's in my experience. Maybe there are a bunch of people running around like this that I've had the fortune of not dealing with.

I know this is a prequel to another book, but if it's a prequel, shouldn't that be the foundations of the sequel? I shudder to think what the sequel consisted of.

I couldn't get into any sort of caring for the characters because they all kind of flat lined for me.

Maybe if I had finished the book, something cool would have happened.

As it is, if I can't make it through the first third of the book, I let it go so I can move onto something that might actually hold my attention long enough for me to finish a chapter.

So here's hoping the next book will be readable.

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rupaulogize

So, I've been trying to read The Broken Lands by Kate Milford all week and I've been busier than usual, but the book is also easy for me to put down and walk away from.

It's actually a pretty interesting story, written pretty well, and seems to be the prequel to another book, but for some reason I've only made it to page 109 out of 452.

I'm going to try to finish it sometime this weekend, but I just don't know if that's going to happen.

So I didn't abandon this blog, I'm trying to read something, and this book might wind up as an unreadable simply because it can't hold my attention.

Current song that I've been listening to a lot to RUPAULOGIZE by Willam Belli. Also, the language of the song is a little PG13.

If you like Ru Paul's drag race, than you might have an inkling as to what's going on in the song.

Happy reading folks!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

I have a disclaimer, and a moment of shame for this one.

Disclaimer: Apparently Gail Carriger is an author of note on some level, but I haven't read anything else by them. For the entirety of the time I was reading it, I was unaware that there are other books that take place in this world. It does make me curious about the timeline flow of the books.

A moment of shame, after an amazon summary! "It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.


But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

My moment of shame. I believe by page 60 there had already been the acknowledgement that vampires existed in this world and I had already gotten a little terse with suspicion. When it was also mentioned that werewolves existed in the world, I got a little angry. Angry in the sense of I figured out where the one third mark of the book was so if need be I could abandon the book before finishing. I've come across too many books that want to be the next Twilight, Underworld, etc etc that use the plot of VAMPIRES VS WEREWOLVES as their driving plot point. I've had it with those books. Unless they bring something truly interesting to the story or tell it in a different manner or something, I just don't want to have anything to do with it.

So after werewolves were acknowledged I got a bit huffy with it, but I read on. I'm glad that I did because it turned into a splendid book (it remains to be seen whether or not there is just a vampire vs werewolf conflict). So shame on me for getting huffy and reluctant because of vampires and werewolves. Shame on me indeed. Honesty guys, sometimes I give too much, I know.

ANYWAYS.

Bear in mind that is all is set in some sort of steam-punk like 1850's. I'm not entirely sure if the year was mentioned in this at all. There are also a lot of mechanical servants of sorts (maids, butlers, etc) that operate on tracks and primarily serve in household settings it seems.

So the book begins with Sophronia tinkering with the dumbwaiter (a small, man powered elevator that is designed to carry small items such as food to different floors of a house). She ends up tumbling out of it, causing a ruckus, and meeting the Mademoiselle that had come to speak with her mother.

After an odd conversation with the Mademoiselle, it turns out that Sophronia is sent off with her immediately to a finishing school (a school that is designed to educate young females on the proper behaviors expected in polite company in many different aspects).

On the way to the finishing school, she meets Dimity and Pillover (siblings). Dimity is off to the same finishing school and Pillover is off to a nearby boy's academy of sorts. Based on the line of conversation that Dimity and Pillover (reluctantly) have, Sophronia begins to suspect that the finishing school is not quite what she had expected. As their riding in this carriage, the Mademoiselle is strangely silent until they seem to be under attack.

By flywaymen. These flywaymen are gents that travel by air balloons and seem to be of the unsavory variety. They stop their carriage and demand for a prototype. The new students all look at each other with disbelief while the Mademoiselle seems to go into fits as she's dragged from the carriage.

Sophronia leaps into action and manages to save everyone (with no help from the Mademoiselle) and they continue their course to the schools with a bit of fright under their petticoats.
A petticoat.

On a side note, it took me way too long to get a mental image of what a petticoat was. A petticoat in this story appears to be the layers of skirts worn under a proper dress for decency? I'm not entirely sure if it replaces underwear or acts as underwear but a lot of girls seem to be scandalized if a petticoat was lost or revealed or something. Also, exposed ankles was also scandalous. It seems to just be a separate skirt worn 'because reasons' and they tended to layer them in this book. If there is more of an explanation that I'm missing, I apologize, but I don't really tend to know how 'ye olde' dresses work. I understand that folks still wear them today, but I like pants.

BECAUSE PANTS. ಠ_ಠ 

Anyways.

So Sophronia has her first encounter with a werewolf as they try to get to the school. The school is floating and they are spirited up on the wolf's back to a glass container of sorts before being raised up into the school. The werewolf stays on the ground below as it cannot 'float' (which doesn't make any sense to me at all).

Sophronia is shown around the school as she is a covert recruit (which means the first in her family as most girls who enter the schools are legacies). As she is being shown around, an alert happens and the school has a confrontation with the flywaymen as they seek the prototype from the school.

There is a stand off of sorts and Sophronia meets her first vampire. (Vampires were acknowledged in the beginning of the book as one of Sophronia's sisters teases her that she'll be forced to be a Vampire's drone if she doesn't stop misbehaving.) The battle turns into a warning of sorts and the school is given three weeks to produce the prototype.

Thus begins Sophronia's life at 'finishing school'.

It was a fun, relatively fast (about 300 pages) read. There were many interesting characters, a lot of different contraptions, devices, manners to grapple with, and the world of the book would be something I'd like to see more of.

This is "Book the first" in the series so I wonder where it will go.

I wonder if the other books this 'Gail Carriger' have written are good. Anyone?

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stung

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

So when I was reading this book, I have a great dislike of both bees/wasps/hornets (things that fly and can sting me) and syringes. I had to cover the front of the book up while I was reading it.

Yeah...

An amazon summary, "Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered-her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist-a black oval with five marks on either side-that she doesn't remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she's right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem-the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone-and on the wrong side of the wall . . ." AMAZON LINK THAT REVEALS WAYYY TOO MUCH

...well that summary was disappointing as all get out.

Let me try.

So Fiona wakes up in her house in her bedroom where there's dust everywhere, everything is broken, and it looks as if the house hasn't been lived in for years.

Something is seriously wrong.

She manages to stumble around, get into the bathroom, but she remembers herself when she was 13. It now appears as if she's significantly older. (The best part for me was that she was believably disoriented, scared, confused, etc.) She hears someone on the stairs, peeks an eye out, closes & locks the bathroom door before trying to flee out the window. She manages to get out the window as her brother comes barreling in after her, grabs her hair but she slips free and lands on the balcony before getting to the trampoline below and bolting over a fence.

Her brother looks like a beast. Beast in the sense of his eyes are savage, he wanders on all fours, and doesn't seem capable of speaking.

The whole neighborhood looks broken and deserted but she runs into one house that her neighbors are at. They are all wielding guns, have dogs, and demand to see her tattooed hand; but luckily she covered the tattoo up with make-up. They give her some crackers and send her on her way.

The whole world is in chaos it seems.

As night begins, Fiona begins to fear for her life as every instinct is telling her to seek shelter. She runs into another person who directs her into the sewer. There she begins to find even more out about what the world has become.

This book comes off as complicated, but I found it a very pleasant (okay, chilling, thrilling, unnerving, with a few points of ACK! in the gross sense) read.

I found all the characters to be mostly thought out (one stands out as a 'Um, really?' kind of thing, but I think this is the first book in the series so there should be more on that character in the future).

The world was set up beautifully and everything unraveled well. I was caught up in the mystery of Fiona and how everything had come to be the way it was. I think just enough was revealed at a good pace and even as the book ended, it was still answering questions rather than bringing up more. There are still some big questions that I would like to see answered in a second book, but this was well done.

There was a lot of 'gross' elements to the story, but as the story progressed it was strangely desensitizing as the humans that came along were far more disgusting than what had become of the environment.

Good show.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty 
by Jane Yolen

In case it has escaped anyone's attention, the better the book is, the more apt I am to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to finish reading it. The more I enjoy reading it, the more likely I am to let it consume all of my time to finish reading it.

I enjoyed reading this a lot.

An amazon summary, "A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from a master storyteller 

Gorse is the thirteenth and youngest in a family of fairies tied to the evil king's land and made to do his bidding. Because of an oath made to the king's great-great-ever-so-many-times-great-grandfather, if they try to leave or disobey the royals, they will burst into a thousand stars. 


When accident-prone Gorse falls ill just as the family is bid to bless the new princess, a fairytale starts to unfold. Sick as she is, Gorse races to the castle with the last piece of magic the family has left--a piece of the Thread of Life. But that is when accident, mayhem, and magic combine to drive Gorse's story into the unthinkable, threatening the baby, the kingdom, and all. 


With her trademark depth, grace, and humor, Jane Yolen tells readers the "true" story of the fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


I'm going to say right now that I greatly dislike how much the book is 'hawked' as The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty. I spent the beginning of the book looking for Sleeping Beauty in any of the characters and to try and draw any similarities between the characters and settings that were presented.

I gave up by the end of chapter two and simply enjoyed reading the book.

As it should be.

The book did get around to the Sleeping Beauty portion of the tale in a very clever way. So if you're reading the book just for that, it's time will come. But you'll have to 'wait' a while, and by 'wait' I mean enjoy the rest of the story.

Anyways.

So the story begins with the birth of Gorse, the thirteenth daughter of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Gorse is believed to be 'the One' that will fulfill the prophecy. However, the book points out that rarely do prophecies make sense until after they have come true. I like that notion.

So Gorse is a part fey, part elf; but not just any kind of fey. She is part of the Shouting Fey family. There exists the two more well known fey courts; the Seelie court and the Unseelie court. The Shouting Fey came into existence once royalty from the courts were banished for their love and they were offered refuge by a king into his kind kingdom. The beginnings of the Shouting Fey were happy, kind of.

Just so you know, I'm glossing over a lot of the finer details of such a wondrous story for the sake of not rehashing the entire book. YAY!

Gorse grew up with expectations as she was the thirteenth daughter of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. As such, she learned to fly early (although she remained clumsy), spoke early, and seemed to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She is a delightful main character.

The beginnings of the book elaborate on the Shouting Feys' lifestyle, their history, their traditions, and their kinship. The story focuses a lot on relationships, what it means to trust someone rather than be tied to them by an Oath (Oaths are very serious for Fey), and what family means as well.

With the Shouting Fey, there comes into play the Bidding. The royal family may 'Bid' any of the Shouting Fey to do a task and the Shouting Fey must do it or else risk themselves turning into a thousand stars (think really pretty dust particles).

The King and Queen of the kingdom of their descendants of the first kingdom that let the Shouting Fey stay on their land under their protection so long ago. The descendants have gotten a little bit nastier with each generation though. The Queen has worried that she is barren after going on for a while without producing an heir, and bids an Aunt of the Shouting Fey to grant her wish of having a child. If the Aunt cannot fulfill the bid, she will risk exploding into a thousand stars. The Aunt gathers everything that she can to ensure the Queen produce an heir and after her return it is a waiting game to see if the bid was fulfilled.

A month and a half later, the queen is pregnant. Nine and a half months later, the Queen births a baby girl. The King bids all of the Shouting Fey to deliver blessings and gifts onto the baby girl.

It sounds like the perfect pitch for a Sleeping Beauty story, and it is in a way, just not the way I would expect.

I can't talk about the book much more without delving into spoiler land as the book was 290 pages in length (although it didn't seem like it with how quickly it read) and I'd rather like to leave it unspoiled.

I really enjoyed the concepts in which the Fey operated within and how the magick of the world worked.

I suspect there were a handful of allusions wound into the story that referenced other stories, but I was too eager to finish the story to properly sort out what alluded to what.

...

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Paladin Prophecy

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

This book was very trying for me. There's a lot of elements I loathe to it, but it's almost as if I mustered my way through till the bitter end (539 bitter, bitter pages) because the side characters were enjoyable.

An amazon summary, "Readers of I Am Number Four, The Maze Runner, and Legend will love this exciting new adventure series by the co-creator of the groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, with its unique combination of mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.
Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia." AMAZON SUMMARY OF MEH


So the book begins with this weird italicized nightmare deal from someone who I presume was not the main character (my assumption was correct; SPOILER LOL). This isn't really a theme, it just happens a handful of times where there's an implied 'other presence' in the story, then it's completely dropped. Almost as if the author grew bored of it and kind of went 'meh' about it.

Classy.

So the story begins with Will West, son of Jordan West and Belinda West. Jordan West has constructed a list of rules over the course of Will's life for Will to follow. He's never given him a concrete explanation as to why, but Will follows all the rules anyways.

On the surface, Will seems like an ordinary person. A little below the surface, we find that he is simply the almost unfeeling catalyst that survives through situations without bothering to really process them.

Doesn't this story just sound like fun?

So Will goes to school like he would on any other day only to get pulled out of class. He gets a little suspicious but he gets pulled into the principal's office and it's revealed that he answered every single question correctly on a standardized test. Then the real weirdness begins; his mother, Belinda, shows up but she doesn't quite seem to be herself.

Then the story quickly spirals into this weird, CREATURES EVERYWHERE TRYING TO KILL WILL.

There's a huge action upon action upon action sequence where a flurry of characters get introduced rapidly and a lot of concepts bloom into the world that demand acceptance.

Through all of this, Will kinds of pulls of 'whatever I need to do to survive' without really processing all of the weird creatures. He doesn't even stop to question their existence, he just keeps going.

There's even a moment where he's on a plane, this weird dude who finally reveals his name is 'Dave' gives him a pair of sunglasses to he can see all the creatures and then Dave appears out on the wing of the airplane unaffected by anything that would normally constrict such a feat (the airplane was moving) and kills a bunch more creatures.

Will still doesn't really bat an eye at it.

Then he gets to the school and normal school stuff, but then he runs into Lyle. Lyle has some sort of freaky deaky mind power, BUT SO DOES WILL! GASP. So as Lyle tries to do some psychic jujitsu on Will, Will is like LOL I CAN DO IT TOO, psychic jujitsu in return! Will thinks of like a paragraph of explanation, "Oh yeah, I grew up trying to project words or images to my parents, blah". Oh, actually to get on the plane in the first place he willed a bunch of images into other people's heads too so it came up once before, but not psychic battle once before.

....There's a lot of things in this book which were neat concepts, but the flow of the story was atrocious. There were a lot of plot holes that seemed to get a quick cover up by a sentence or two of explanation, and Will basically becomes a combination of Superman/Batman kind of character. He gets a lot of neat abilities that he doesn't know the full extent of yet (presumably as he's unsure if he's 'awake') but he also has a detective brain happening and strings things together without enough clues.

I rage slept on this book quite a lot, but definitely the thing that pulled me through were all the different characters we met at his school. They pulled me more into the story than Will ever had, and they appeared before page 162 (yes, I was paying careful attention to when I would allow myself to quit at the third of the book mark) so I just kept reading.

Mistake.

The end of the book is written much like the beginning of the book as it throws MORE mysteries into the already convoluted plot (which you really don't need if the rest of the book was set up well enough to continue it into a series) without letting anything really make sense.

They need a guide to understanding this book if they want any kind of readership to go with it.

What the heck.

....

Happy reading.