Thursday, October 27, 2011

review: Eve by Anna Carey

pub date: October 4, 2011
publisher: HarperTeen
pages: 336
source: NetGalley
format: ebook
appeals: dystopic, romance, adventure
content: a lot of good stuff

I kind of had mixed feelings about this book. Some things I loved, other things not so much.

This review has some spoilery bits, so beware.

The world Carey created was pretty creepy and scary. I could buy into a King of America, even his setting up schools for girls to be educated and getting work groups together to do manual labor to rebuild the city. Tyrants after disaster--good start.

However, I love dystopic world building that makes sense to me, and this one had some stuff that didn't make sense to me. First, why would the king educate these girls just...

HERE COMES THE SPOILERS lock them up and have them have baby after baby to populate his new world. Incubators do not need to be educated, but neither do they have to be 18. Maybe he has a soft spot for children and can only abuse people once they're adults.

Also, there are really young boys found wandering around (which makes my above hypothesis completely off), why are those children unacceptable to the king to raise in his city? What makes the student's babies so much better?

Another issue I had was with Eve. She was destruction personified. Because of her decisions, so many other people suffered. I could see why she did what she did--she was a rather naive girl--but I was still angry with her. Especially at the end. I found that aspect of the novel frustrating and hard to deal with.  

That is the end of the Spoilers

Besides the above, I did enjoy this book. As Eve goes about her journey, the landscape and people she meets really brought this waste of a world alive for me. I enjoyed the characters. Eve meets a lot of different characters and I felt they were well flushed out. I loved the little boys she meets and her semi-friend, Arden, who she travels with.

I loved the romance. Eve was raised to see all men as evil. Her relationship with Caleb is so well developed that I could see her perceptions of men (or at least some men) change. It wasn't sudden and it wasn't unrealistic. It was perfect. And the sacrifices Eve and Caleb make for each other are really great.

Enjoyable read, but not a must have.

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

pub date: October 18, 2011
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
pages: 341
appeals: adoption, teen pregnancy, realistic fiction
content: swearing, sex though not descriptive, abuse

I love me this book. Love, love, love! Passionately.

The characters in this novel are so real and flawed and believable and whole and awesome. I loved them all.

I loved Jill and Mandy. Their perceptions of the world and how they dealt with crap was so believable. Their struggles and how they dealt with horrible stuff and how they grew. Their insights into their world were so great. They're like real people to me now. I was really pleased with where they ended up, too. I usually find Sara Zarr's endings a little...unsettling, but this one was fantastic. It was actually happy. All the secondary characters were just as amazing. All the little details and peronality quirks were so tangable. Jill's father was dead, and he was a solid character in this book as if he was sitting in the leather chair in their family room.

I feel like I'm just blabbering and not saying anything (but I guess that is what I do when I review). It's an amazing story of growth and love and acceptance and moving on. It's beautifully written. Once I started it I didn't want to put it down. I was at work and all I was thinking about was lunch so I could read more, and after lunch I was counting down the hours till I could go home and read more. And then when I did go home and finish the book, I just hugged it to my chest because I was sad it was over. (not really, but you know what I mean)
This is a must read book. Please read! You are totally missing out if you don't pick it up.

Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

review: Gypsy Knights by Two Brothers Metz

pub date: May 19, 2011
publisher: LoudCloud Publishing
source: author
format: ebook
appeals: Gypsies, magic, historical fiction, mystery, adventure
content: clean

This was a fun book. It has a lot of mystery, history, some Gypsy magic, and a little bit of romance. I thought it was very well written and had great descriptions. The writing flowed well. As someone who knows nothing about the game (all I know comes from the musical Chess), I loved the roll chess played in this novel and how it became so important to the developing plot.
In the beginning I did have a hard time getting into the story. There was a lot of jumping around in time between 1960 and 1065, and then a lot of flashbacks to other times. It made the story somewhat choppy and confusing. But once I got past that aspect of the novel, I finished the book rather quickly and really enjoyed it.

Also, I thought the clues that Durriken received from his mother seemed rather contrived, but it set Durriken and Dilia on a fun adventure, so I guess it's all good.

Fourteen-year-old Durriken Brishen has lost his parents, his grandfather, and though he doesn't know it, his Gypsy culture's dangerous gift.

Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs from the hammer loop of his overalls.

The last gift he received from his grandfather, the box contains the world's first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen. According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of Tărie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.

When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken's escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there's no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it's not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.

Jumping box cars, escaping riverboats, deciphering clues, crossing swords with the brilliant madman Radu Pinch – with great American cities as its backdrop – Gypsy Knights is the page-turning saga of Durriken Brishen and his quest to rediscover his past.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

author events

I know I've been really behind in updating author events in the SLC, Utah area, but I'm recommitting to doing better starting today. Though better than what I'm doing right now gives me a lot of wiggle room:) 

To do this I have the tab at the top and I will diligent in using it to keep up with all the author-goodness.

FYI--Tonight Sara Zarr is going to be at the King's English in SLC. She's a fantastic author and I wish I could go.

review: Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

pub date: August 4, 2009
publisher: Atheneum
pages: 553
source: my bookshelf
series: A Resurrection of Magic #2
appeals: dark fantasy, mystery, magic,
content: violence, swearing (about 10 f-bombs which I did not think were needed in the context of the story and didn't fit into the world created--really irritated me)

I have a split opinion on this book.

On the one hand--
I enjoyed the mystery. This is a long book and I was interested in it enough to finish it in just a few days. I wanted to know what was going on, who was really who, and what the heck was going to happen before the end.

There are two stories being told, one of Hapt and his experiences in magic school, and the other of Sadima, who lives hundreds of years before Hapt and is there at the beginning of the resurrection of magic, long before the magic school is founded and back when magic was feared and magicians were put to death. The intersecting of the two stories is so awesome. I am impatient for the last of the trilogy to come out so I can see how they will finally come together. Much to my frustration, there is no pub date for A Resurrection of Magic #3. Which means it will be a long wait.  

On the second hand--
This book is slooooow. It takes FOREVER for anything concrete to happen. Hapt spends most of his time trying to build relations with the other boys in the school, which is practically impossible and is mostly internal with tiny interludes with the other boys. The other part of his time is spent trying to figure out magic, which is not a fast process. It takes him an eternity to figure things out. At times it was down right boring. But when his story was going so slow, Sadima's really picked up, and vice versa--when Sadima's was slow, then Hapts would get interesting.

I ended up skimming large chunks.

In conclusion--
Interesting, but way too long. I do want the conclusion of their stories--the ending was rather surprising and I'm left hanging

Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying.

Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Neal Shusterman Tomorrow Night!!!

So this is a really late reminder, but better now then not ever.

Neal Shusterman
Sandy Library
(10100 South Petunia Way Sandy, Utah 84092)
Thursday Oct 6 (tomorrow)

It is going to be awesome.

review: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

pub date: April 5, 2011
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
pages: 368
format: audio
appeals: historical fiction, realistic fiction, family, art
content: clean

Schmidt has a gift of writing real, fully developed characters, including those on the edges of the story.

In the beginning of the novel, there are some really jerky people in Doug's life. His brother and the gym coach at his new school being two examples. Yet Schmidt has a way of showing why a character is the way they are, and with that new insight, no matter how jerky they are, it's hard to hate them. Which is AMAZING storytelling. The only character that I never really understood, especially at the end, was Doug's father. I didn't feel forgiveness towards him. But all the rest...POW! What GREAT characterization.

He is also amazing at playing my heart strings. One chapter I was so happy because things were FINALLY going well with Doug. But by the next chapter, something would happen that made me cry, literally cry. Twice I had tears running down my cheeks, I was so involved with Doug and his story, I had to keep listening long after I arrived home (I listened to it in my car and the narrator was wonderful).

I was very happy in the way the book ended--very hopeful. There was a while there where I was wondering if that would be possible. But it was. Yay!

The organization of the novel was also AMAZING. I loved how Auduban's artwork tied in so well with the story and the lessons Doug learns throughout the year of the novel. And since I listened to the book, it was rather nice how well Schmidt described the bird paintings because I didn't have the book to seem the birds myself.

So, if you haven't figured out how I feel about this book, let me tell you right out. I LOVED it. LOVED it.

And I'm not lying.

Midwesterner Gary D. Schmidt won Newbery Honor awards for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys and The Wednesday Wars, two coming-of-age novels about unlikely friends finding a bond. Okay For Now, his latest novel, explores another seemingly improbable alliance, this one between new outsider in town Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer, the savvy spitfire daughter of his deli owner boss. With her challenging assistance, Doug discovers new sides of himself. Along the way, he also readjusts his relationship with his abusive father, his school peers, and his older brother, a newly returned war victim of Vietnam.