Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan


Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan
(A Forest of Hands and Teeth)
(4 out of 5 stars)
Goodreads Synopsis:
Tabitha can’t shake the feeling that something exists beyond the fences of her village. And when she sneaks out, past the gates and down the path into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, she meets a boy who teaches her heart things she never knew. But love in a world surrounded by so much death doesn’t come without its sacrifices, and Tabitha gradually realizes just how much she’ll have to give up to live among the Unconsecrated.
My Thoughts:
First of all, if you are reading this and haven't read 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' Trilogy, I suggest you do! Especially if you are a fan of young adult literature, lightly romantic reads, or zombies. It's been a while since I read them but I remember that they were a refreshing twist on zombies and young adult literature.
As for 'Hare Moon', I was actually surprised by this short prequel. It is told from Sister Tabitha's point of view (whom we become acquainted with in 'The Forest Of Hands And Teeth') as a young teenage girl. In all of these books, the characters live in a small fenced in village blocking off the infected and it has been that way for as long as anyone can remember. Already that is a far cry from your typical zombie story or movie. It really makes you think about living in a world where you knew nothing of the outside world when there was no infection. These characters grew up with the moans of the dead. One can only imagine living in a place that you could not leave. But Tabitha has a free spirit and is a dreamer and does just that. And then everything changes.
I would definently suggest reading the trilogy first, as it would introduce you to Tabitha as a completely different person from what she is in 'Hare Moon' and why that is so. I'll try not to go to in depth with this since it is a short story and if I did it would surely spoil it for you. I loved the story though and couldn't help but feel many emotions while I read it. Ryan has a way with words and can reach into your soul and pluck at your heartstrings. You will feel for her characters and come to love or hate them.  

A Collection of Reviews

Once again I have forgotten to update and have gotten through a few more books that I now have to try to remember so I can write my thoughts on them here. Thank goodness I write some of my reviews on Goodreads or I'd be working on this all day. In any case, it's probably going to take an hour or so anyways. But I have the time.

Since my last post I have finished reading five full novels and two or three short stories and sequels. I won't list them all here, though. Three shall suffice. The first is:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Goodreads synopsis:
Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.
Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel - known as Pi - has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions - Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen, his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest oftravelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal.
As Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.” And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. “God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material - any greater pattern of meaning.” In Life of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and center from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.
My Thoughts:
I just want to first comment on how thorough the above synopsis is. It leaves little to wonder about and I am very glad that it is as such. I, for one, started out knowing nothing about the book I planned on reading except for what I concluded from the cover; that a boy is stranded on a boat with a tiger. Knowing that tigers could kill a man with one swat, this cover literally made me want to read this book. I mean, it's beautiful, isn't it? This cover tells a small portion of the story and urges you to pick the book up and learn more. I think every book cover should do as much.
And then you read the synopsis and feel as if you already know everything about the book. But you don't, really. There is so much more than the few facts that are given. Sure, the first 'part' of the book is full of facts about animals and such, but Pi Patel grew up in a zoo and animals are very much a part of this story so why not have a few facts about them? They might help you understand more later on. 
Another wonderful thing about 'Life Of Pi' is that it is possibly based on a real story. I personally didn't do any research to find out if that is true or not or if it was just part of the narrative, but the 'Author's Note' makes it seem as much and therefore I will believe it is but mostly because there is no consequence to my doing so.  If someone were to read this and say to themselves, "Haha. You thought that really happened," I wouldn't think much of it because, fiction or not, it happened in my head as I read and that counts as well as anything. But knowing that it might possibly be true makes it all the better. (Except when you get to the end and wonder if the story really had animals or not.)
In any case, 'Life Of Pi' is a beautiful story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and gave five stars on Goodreads. I would definently recommend it.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
****+ (4 & 1/2 stars)
Goodreads Synopsis:
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.
My Thoughts:
I've always been intrigued by 'wood-cuts' so this books cover stands out to me but it was the synopsis that really got my attention. Dragons that can transform into humans? Yes, thank you. What a concept!
Truly it is one of the most unique and interesting fantasies I have ever read and definently one of the best fantasy novels I have read so far this year. I was intrigued by all the characters, especially the 'unique' ones. I've read a few young adult novels this year that left me absolutely horrified for the future of young adult literature, in which I wanted to throttle the author, editor, and publisher, but Seraphina was not like those other novels. Seraphina's author, editor, and publisher deserve praise and multiple hugs for sharing this incredible fantasy with the world. I'll admit that there were some not so well rated reviews that I read and agreed with on the fact that there was not a ton of action in this novel, but the worldbuilding and attention to detail are so very worth the read. I haven't read of such well described co-existing species since maybe Lord Of The Rings. Hartman did an amazing job of bringing us humans in a medieval world, dragons that can transform into human form, and the product of both in such a unique and well thought out way.
Knowing that this is the first in a trilogy has just peaked my interest even more. I am highly anticipating the next installment, 'Drachomachia', and even took a few minutes to read the short prequel, ' The Audition', which can be found free to read online through Goodreads.


Changeling by Philippa Gregory
** (2 out of 5 stars)
Goodreads Synopsis:
Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl. Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
     Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
     Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
     The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

My Thoughts:
As a longstanding lover of historical fiction, I felt the need to read this novel despite not having read any other Philippa Gregory novels beforehand (I just recently found a copy of 'The Other Boleyn Girl' but hadn't started it yet.) But I was very disappointed. First I'll give a short summary of the book and then my feelings on why it wasn't worth my time.
Luca Vera is sent by the 'Order Of Darkness' (or better known as the Order Of Dragons') to investigate and inquire into what is happening at a nunnery on the lands of the Lord Lucretili. There he finds the beautiful Isolde Lucretili, whom has been named Lady Abess, but also finds a place of chaos, madness, and (what is assumed to be) evil.

That is about as interesting as a summary I can give. The actual Goodreads synopsis is a bit misleading. I'm guessing all that they mentioned in it covers the entire series and not just this book. The characters were very dull and I felt like I was reading the same thing worded differently over and over in each paragraph of dialogue. Moreover, there was no direction of plot and it ended in the middle of a bigger story without leaving you satisfied. As a series, I could understand that there is more to the story, but I for one won't even be bothering with the rest. I gave this 2 out of 5 stars because it was simply 'ok' and nothing more.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Double Review Day #2


'IF I STAY' by Gayle Forman

Goodreads synopsis:
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

My thoughts:
Have you ever started reading a novel but decided you no longer wanted to only a few pages in? Like you just weren't in the mood for that type of story? Well that is how this book was for me.I really wasn't sure if I wanted to read it at all so I posed a question to some of my extremely bookish internet acquaintances and received several answers urging me to give it a another try; so I did. I'm not going to lie and say that I am thrilled that I did, but I don't regret reading it either. I thought it was going to be one of those 'perfect family' scenarios, and in a way it was (who wouldn't want Mia's life, minus the tragedy?) but not quite how I thought it was at first. Eventually I really loved Mia's family and how much their lives revolved around music. In a way, I can relate to that, since both of my parents were musically inclined and my mother and stepdad both played in a band together for years. The other band members were like family and their were lots of 'accidental Labor Day BBQ parties' where they all got together and played. Though I was never priviliged enough to learn or be taught any instruments, my life was heavily influenced by music. I played the keyboard as a kid and attempted to play the acoustic guitar as I got older.
I really enjoyed the musical parts of the story, even if the rest was quite sad (no, not enough to even illicit a tear, but I can understand why others told me it made them cry.) There seemed to be an overall deeper message about life to the story, though, which made it worth while.

'WHERE SHE WENT' by Gayle Forman

Goodreads synopsis:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

My Thoughts:
I think I liked reading from Adam's perspective more than I did from Mia's, though for the first few pages I thought I was reading from Mia's point of view. Adam's narrative was more fast-paced and full of raw emotion which felt more real despite the obvious fact that Adam is a 'rock star'. I felt like Adam's story was actually happening instead of just seeing flashbacks of a coma patient's life. And it was. Where She Went is fast forwarded three years to a night in New York when Adam and Mia are brought together again (by fate?) and have to face each other and explain the decisions they made leading up to then.
Overall, this story is about love, the hardships of love, and how, with the right amount of persistence and acceptance, love can conquer anything.
It truly is a beautiful story, whether your a die hard fan of music or a hopeless romantic.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What I'm Reading & What I Plan To Read

I am currently reading 'I Am The Messenger' by Markus Zusak. I came across Zusak's most popular novel, 'The Book Thief' in hardcover at my local thriftstore for 50 cents without having heard of it or the author before (which is strange because I have a thousand titles and authors floating around in my head and am really good at remembering things like that) and it sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally just picked it up and started reading. That was last year, I think, so I can't remember if I read it all at once or how it affected me. All I can remember is that it was one of the best books I've ever read. I will truthfully say that I recommend The Book Thief more than any other book. If you are reading this and haven't read The Book Thief yet, I suggest you go out and find a copy. You won't regret it. As for 'I Am The Messenger', I am not thrilled by it. It doesn't come close to 'The Book Thief' but then again, he wrote it before he wrote 'The Book Thief' so maybe that has something to do with it. I'm not saying it's bad. It's not. It's quite good. It has an odd but interesting plot and endearing characters. But I definently recommend 'The Book Thief' more, and if you are like me and can't wait to read something else by him after reading it, maybe you should dwell on it, take some time off, and come back to it at a later date, or find something else entirely.

Since I am currently in the middle of a book but feel like writing anyways, I'll just tell you what I plan on reading in the near future. I have a huge to-read list but I'm trying to cut it short so I am not overwhelmed. I also don't really know what I will read next yet, but here they all are.

The books I need to read before the movie adaptations come out:
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Books I need to re-read before the movie adaptations come out:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The one and only book that I have on hold at the library:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Books I need to read and review for the authors:
Slow Boat to Purgatory by Vernon Baker
Fated by Benedict Jacka

Books that I just bought at the thriftstore and really want to read:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I tend to read whatever I want at the moment though so who knows if I'll even get through this list or start a new one. I will TRY to hold myself to this particular list though. I actually have a few more ARC's that I am behind on, but I don't want to burn myself out so I am keeping the list short. I feel guilty about it, but I just can't help it. I had too many things happen in the past 6 months and I just didn't have the time or willpower to read and review them all. Anyways, I hope to read all of these before the year is over. 

I'm Back!

Where was I?

Not here on blogger.

I guess I got caught up in so many other things since I was last on. I spent all of November writing 50,000 words of the novel I was writing for NaNoWriMo and after that I sort of stopped reading or writing so much. I actually can't believe how few books I've read in the past 6 months. What was I doing? I don't even know the answer to that!

But I'm back on track with my life now (well, in some aspects.) I have more time to read and write reviews now which is good because I have a lot of catching up to do.  I have been running another book blog on a completely different site, but I mostly just mention what I'm reading, ask for recommendations, and re-post awesome book related art and photography. I never really post reviews there so I decided to come back to Blogger and continue where I left off.

I have a stack of ARC's that need to be read and reviewed (Why did I take a break from that?! I am so behind now!) I also have a short list of books I need to read or re-read just because of the movie adaptations that are coming out soon (i.e. Life Of Pi, Les Miserables, Anna Karenina).

I haven't been writing as much, online or in a notebook, so I really need to get back into that groove. I read some of my past posts and was a bit disappointed at the spelling and grammar errors. That's what I get for typing so fast and not bothering to edit. If you deem my writing style as horrendous, please just hang in there, I might get better with time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

Apologies for not keeping this blog as updated as I had planned! I have been on a hiatus thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you love to write and haven't heard of it or signed up yet, I suggest that you check it out! Basically, it's motivation to get your novel written! The goal is to write 50,000 words or more in the month of November. This will be my first year attempting it. I will occasionally be keeping up on my progress on my other blog, Slightly Strange Somethings.

This novel writing business will keep me pretty busy throughout the holidays. At the moment, I am reading Susannah Morrow by Megan Chance which I might have to put on hold since I FINALLY got a call from the library about The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore. I've been on the waiting list for a number of books for the past two months. I'm still 42nd in line for The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I only have a limited time to read it, though, and that might be difficult with all the time I am spending on planning my novel. On top of all the fiction I have in line to read, I am currently trying to make my way through four different non-fiction books on the 18th century for the novel that I plan to attempt to write. Anyways, things are and will be pretty hectic for the next two months, so please don't expect too much out of me!

Back to the topic at hand...


These are mostly ARC's, by the way, that I hopefully won't have to put off for too long.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan  &  The Lost Angel by Javier Sierra

Burnout by Adrienne Mario Vrettos 
London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd


I am looking forward to having the free time to read the first two.
The second two are still on their way to my mailbox. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review 3 & 4: Bright Young Things & Beautiful Days

                                                                 Double Review Day


Goodreads synopsis: The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Timesbestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

My Goodreads reviewSet in the 'Roaring 20's', two friends, Letty and Cordelia, both from a small town in Ohio, take a train and escape to New York City. Letty, who sings, wants to become famous. Cordelia wants to find the father she never knew, who just happens to be a wealthy bootlegger. The two friends go their own ways after a small argument. Cordelia goes off to find her father and is accepted graciously into his fold. Letty finds a job but soon learns that dreams are hard to achieve, no matter how much talent you possess. 

I very much enjoy historical fiction, but this is not the type of historical fiction that I usually read. My interests in history lean more into any era BEFORE the 1900's. The 1920's were a time of short dresses, shorter hair-do's, and tons of ciggarette smoking, which does not quite appeal to me. Despite that the 1920's are not in my particular interests, Anna Godbersen is a good writer and entirely capable of capturing this era in words. Her descriptions and use of dialogue were worth reading and actually gave a strong sense of how people (particularly the rich) lived in that time. In my opinion though, there wasn't much of a plot until the last couple of chapters when things started to roll down hill for all of the characters. If I hadn't of received an ARC of the sequel, I mostly likely wouldn't have finished this book, let alone begin the sequel, Beautiful Days.

BEAUTIFUL DAYS by Anna Godbersen

Goodreads synopsisFor the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.

After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.

Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.
Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the second book in an epic series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

My Goodreads review:  The well-dressed trio is back in Anna Godbersens 'Beautiful Days'. Cordelia becomes quite the business woman when she and her brother, Charlie, open their very own speakeasy (club). Letty takes a step towards stardom, and Astrids relationship with Charlie takes some wild rollercoaster dives before everything straightens itself out again. 

Anna Godbersen has captured my attention with her flawless writing. I may have thought that the last few chapters were a bit rushed but it was still delightful to read. When I finished the first book in the series, 'Bright Young Things', I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the second, but I did and now I can't wait for 'The Lucky Ones' (the third book in the Bright Young Things saga) to hit the shelves. In fact, I enjoyed her writing style so much that I just might read her previous series, The Luxe.


Final Thoughts: I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy either of these books, and I said as much in my reviews, but by the end of the second I found myself hooked on Anna Godbersens beautiful writing and the story of the three female characters. I wasn't thrilled by the books, of course, but I was thoroughly entertained and contented with the time I spent on them. I would recommend them if you enjoy Young Adult, historical fiction, romance, and lots of clothing descriptions.