Monday, May 30, 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Good Reads Summary

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.
 
My Thoughts

Frankie’s life should be perfect: she’s smart, goes to a top school and has finally overcome her awkward stage. But her life is far from perfect. She feels boxed in by the simple, sweet, unambitious labels put on her. She hates being second best. And she’s hungry and angry (although with a pet name like Bunny Rabbit, I do get why she felt that way.) All this hunger and anger leads her to infiltrate her boyfriend’s secret all boys’ club. So begins Frankie’s (mis)adventures.

I found myself divided. There’s no denying that what Frankie did and how she did those things were clever; she just came across as annoying at times. Initially I just could not see from whence the conflict came. Her life was perfect! Perfect school, affluent family, affectionate boyfriend. Except, she does make rah rather intelligent observations and a lot of valid points. Why be a follower when you can lead? Why seat meekly, quietly, when you can break through doors? Why close them when you can open them? To say that I found her a tad whiny is an understatement; I found her a lot whiny. Moments, no whole stretches of it, are her thinking about how unfairly she and other’s are treated, but then there are those portions of her wondering if her boyfriend loves her and still finds her pretty, and later still, her wanting him to consider her his equal and/or superior. BUT she did make a lot of valid points.

One thing though: she should have taken her big sister’s advice from the get: letting Matthew alone in his club to start her own.

4/5

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
 Good Reads Summary

It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .


Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes? If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

My Thoughts

Funny!

Two things I found hilarious: her family’s Krispy Kreme anecdote. Ick. And the trepidation she felt in her probable entry into nerd-dom. That she makes a pro’s and con’s list as to said debut should have been a major clue as to said entry. And then there's the fact that she sews her own skirts, has "A+" days when she gets tons of those, and uses flash cards for pre-calc class. Without D&D, she's basically in anyway. The differences between dork and nerd still eludes me, but either way, Jessie is hilarious. And her family? They sound almost too good to be true. Her dad and mom are not pushy nor nosy, but present. And her brother? He starts out as punk rock popular then transforms himself into someone still cool, just not as out there. I think him very sweet.

Oh, I will never think of I’m a Little Tea Pot in the same way ever again.


3.5/5

Friday, May 27, 2011

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Past Perfect

Good Reads Summary

A summer job is exactly the distraction that Chelsea needs in order to finally get over Ezra, the boy who dumped her and broke her heart to pieces just a few weeks before. So when Chelsea's best friend, Fiona, signs them up for roles at Essex Historical Colonial Village, Chelsea doesn't protest too hard, even though it means spending the summer surrounded by drama geeks and history nerds. Chelsea will do anything to forget Ezra.

But when Chelsea and Fiona show up for their new jobs, they find out Ezra's working there too. Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. ...or will this turn out to be exactly the summer that Chelsea needed, after all?


My Thoughts

Past Perfect = Fun!

For a novel peopled with re-enactors, it reads surprisingly authentic: fun characters, believable relationships, and a sweet love connection. Have I mentioned how easy to like the characters are? Comparable to Anna and the French Kiss, had Chelsea and Dan not veered off into their conversations of love and history. I want my fluff fluffy less sappy deep conversations. (I'm in a very give-me-something-easy mood.) And yes, Past Perfect supplies that and more. It is a feel good book made to make one enjoy.

A number of really good parts: Fiona, honest… and harsh when needs be, but there. I loved her. The jokes. Seriously, left me feeling like I did when I was reading Anna and Ettiene. The War. The rivalry between Chelsea’s and Dan’s camps is reminiscent of the one in Jellicoe Road. And mentions of ice cream? The pros and cons and rating the same. What fun they had! Seriously? This was one hilarious read.

So, snark? Humor? Likeable characters who screw up and read real?

Check. Check. Check.

*I hope they rethink the cover before the book's release. It makes no sense to me AT ALL.
**Thanks to Simon & Schuster.

3.5/5

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)

Good Reads Summary

She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale's likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm.

My Thoughts

… And they lived happily ever after...

*sigh.*

Reading Goose Girl is a breath of fresh air especially after the types of books I’ve been reading lately. It did take me a while to warm up to Ani. She was an absofreakinglute doormat…even the geese bruised her up! I could not get my mind around how pitifully she was treated. Despite that, I still enjoyed this. It’s a sweet fairytale.

Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? A princess, a prince, and a betrothal. Except it wasn’t that simple as that. The beginning in particular had me very curious about her family. Yeesh, cut throat, weren’t they? But Ani, being the graceful princess that she was, accepts the lot she was dealt with. Again, it was this meek acquiescence that had me iffy about her, (that’s even with her initial protests… because she still did as told!) Then there’s the fact that it is immediately apparent who will cause all her problems. But her complacence makes her blind… another reason for me to gnash my teeth. BUT, it’s a fairytale fantasy… so I went on.. And on and on… and finished it with a smile on my face and little sigh. So even all those misgivings, Ani’s story still drew me in.

Too sweet to pass up! Read!

3.5/ 5

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bumped (Bumped #1) by Megan McCafferty

Bumped (Bumped, #1)
 Good Reads Summary

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common

My Thoughts

I take it back.

I take my words of surrender back.

My flag-waving at page thirty was knee jerk. I went back to have another go, was about to give up yet again, but decided to plod on. Then the plodding stopped somewhere right before Part Two, and the Melody/Harmony’s world started making sense and a little more curious.

What made me give up to begin with? Mainly, it was the words. I had a Very Difficult time with the language… it just all seemed trying a little too hard. And when Harmony commented that only every fifth word or so made sense to her, I wanted to say, “I’m right there with you, Sister.” Not only that, the first time I had a go at it, I saw nothing in either Melody and Harmony to like.

So I stopped reading… thinking I wouldn’t bother with it anymore, but a few hours later, there I was starting it a new. And now that I’m done, I’m feeling what I felt after giving Leviathan it’s second chance: Impressed with the book, and a bit ashamed for jumping the gun by judging it not worth my time. But why the about face?

The change in my reception of the book was very slow. Honestly, part one annoyed me a great deal, and part two was no better… but part three, had me curious and reading on. So, I’m sorry for having given up on it early on, but I’m glad I gave it another go…because I appreciate it all the more now.

While it isn’t a five star read, Bumped offers a different world, that is quite relevant now especially the current debate over a certain Bill. That Bumped is relevant in that way is just one thing; there were other plus points. An easy one would be Zen and Melody’s relationship; it felt true to me. Yes, best friend loves the other is typical, but it was the easiest aspect of the story to get into. Beyond that were the things it  briefly touched. What am I referring to? It’s that while the MC’s were young, said fact did/does not necessarily make it the best book for young adult readers. Why? There were the “deeper” issues that it dealt with; issues relating to matters of choice, what shapes them, what shapes ones perception of the same and their eventual consequences.

Thank gosh I gave this another chance.

3.5/5

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger
 Good Reads Summary

Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . .

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.

My Thoughts

The gushing starts here:

I first came across Zusak in The Book Thief. In that one, I knew I had come across another favorite~ book or author, take your pick. And while I am the Messenger is not the same genre as the former, it is just as good as (and at certain points better than) the former. Each word, each line in it carefully chosen to paint Ed Kennedy’s world as clearly as possible. And what a world it was: one peopled with ordinary, sometimes mediocre individuals, all hilarious and quirky in their own right. And then there’s the intrigue and romance thrown in.

Like I said every word, every line was used for some impact. But the thing is I am the Messenger isn’t a just the mystery that I fear I am making it out to be. While it starts off as that, it’s simply too beautifully written, to just be called just a mystery or just a romance or just a young adult contemporary fiction. Even if it is all of the above.

Ed is ordinary. He has a job he hates, a dog that stinks but loves nonetheless, some friends he hangs out with, and a best friend whom he loves but doesn’t reciprocate. He is the epitome of ordinariness, that is, until they get held up. Thereafter, he finds himself tasked to accomplish some small and big things for people unknown to him. The ‘why’ is unknown. The ‘by whom’ is likewise a unknown.

I hope it doesn’t just come across as just a mystery because it's so much more. There are a lot of memorable moments in it. The romantic sap in me was blinking back tears when his friends got his moment! The happy daughter that I am had a lump in her throat for Ed and his mother. The happily-ever-after addict that I am was was knitting her brows trying to figure out what the ending was about, praying it wasn’t another one of those Stranger Than Fiction moments or Nicole Kidman in The Others.

Mostly, it was the simple tasks that he had to accomplish that touched me: an ice cream, some companionship and honesty. And it’s funny. He and his friends, the way they talked to each other, how they mocked each other, and simply hung out… had me laughing a lot. Yes, they were annoying at times, But I really enjoyed hangning out with the bunch of them.

Beautiful.

4.5/5

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eona: The Last Dragoneye (Eon #2) by Alison Goodman

Eona: The Last Dragoneye (Eon, #2)
 Good Reads Summary

In this standalone sequel to Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, Australian author Alison Goodman (Singing the Dogstar Blues) tracks the perilous adventures of Eona, the first female Dragoneye in many centuries. Unfortunately, our heroine finds no time to rest on her laurels: She and her fellow rebels are racing frantically to find a potent black folio while they also attempt to elude High Lord Sethon's pursuing army. Eona: The Last Dragoneye brims with romance, suspense, and surprises. Definitely worth recommending.

My Thoughts

I apologize in advance: the romantic sap I me is showing in this one (or maybe it's just the sap that's showing.) Don’t judge me after all my admissions, I do so freely but still cringe at what I have to say: Yes, I was sheep-like in my reading choices when I first with YA. Yes, my fan girlyness was easily roused. And YES, my love for YA all started with a certain sparkly vamp. But I have changed, my tastes, I hope, have evolved, so my love for Eona and the triangle in it could be characterized as mere a relapse. Because right now? I'm feeling very much like a fan girl over the conflict brought about by the triangle in Eona (triangles, btw, are things I normally cannot abide in YA,) and I'm also all fan girly over the possibilities or the could-have-been’s over Eona's baddy.

My head is spinning! One, I was not expecting this! It went faster than Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon #1) AND there was an emphasis on romance. Two, I enjoyed said emphasis- more than I expected. Completely honestly? I gobbled Eona up! After reading a couple of lukewarm reviews, I expected it to be another one of those not so stellar sophomore attempts, but apparently I’m of a different opinion: It was emphasis on the romance that did it. I do love a good romance. And it might even have been the triangle that came out of nowhere (for me at least.)

Please don’t judge me, but the first time I read Patch in Hush hush, I was all starry eyed and drooly (In my defense, I was new to the YA world at the time, and having just read Twilight was in search of another cute depressed hottie. Patch met all those requirements.) I think it's the same me then that's popping out now because I enjoyed EONA for the very same reasons. Wait! What’s the connection, you ask? Why, Ido! The definition of bad ass, the older guy who I had to figure out as either very into power or very into the girl. So here’s a confession from the romantic sap, (OK, just the sap,) that is Isa: I loved the idea that love would conquer all enough so that he would choose her over ambition. I'm cringing a little as I type this, but I was expecting her draw to him to have been strong enough to get him to change. I'm embarassed to admit all that, but I was/am thrilled by how the story went off in a more romantic tangent. I’m just in one of those moods, I suppose. Normally, I’d be “Blegh! Stop with the triangles and love can conquer all trope… Stop with the he loves me, but he really doesn’t but anyway there’s this other guy who loves me who might not really be in love me.” But right now? I’m OK with Eona, In fact, I’m more than OK with it… I loved it

5/5

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

Beatle Meets Destiny

Good Reads Summary

A boy recovering from a stroke falls in love with a new girl . . .
while dating his sisters best friend.

My Thoughts

Something must be in the water over there because so far every YA Aussie book I’ve read has left me wanting more. I haven’t laughed this hard and this long in quiet some time. Beatle meets Destiny has not one but two characters who are smart but don’t act like it. Beatle is an asshole.. but an asshole who makes me laugh. Destiny too makes me laugh but not quite for the same reasons.

It starts on a Friday, not on any ordinary Friday, but on one of those infamous Friday the thirteenth’s. One would think that its being a thirteenth wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is and was to Beatle, who is very superstitious. He meets Destiny, who according to him could be the yin to his yang. Except he happens to be dating his twin sister’s best friend. It would be quiet unfair of me to cut things there but to go on would spoil the fun that is Beatle and Destiny. But I reiterate: they are smart but don’t act like it. A series of events, a lot of misinterpretation and jumping the gun on both sides equals me laughing out aloud at the oddest of moments.

4/5

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid #1) by Richelle Mead

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)
 Good Reads Summary

Succubus. An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men. Pathetic. A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.


When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid's life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven't stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can't have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy's life. At least there's her day job at a local bookstore--free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can't.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle's demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because Georgina's about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

My Thoughts
 
What a fun read! As such allow me to keep this short:
 
Yay! My love for PNR is back! There are a lot of men in this one. I could tell who the bad guy was right off the bat, and yet, I was still hoping it wouldn’t be who I thought It was. I know, I know I a little pathetic. All of them were just so adorable. “Adorable” is not the best way to describe these men but… they really were: Seth and his sweet writer-self. Roman, even his name is sexy/suave. And all her none-love interests: vampires, imps, angels and demons all sounded so cute. Jerome in particular because I have a minor crush on John Cusack.
 
The number of men around her should not be much of a shock since Georgie is a succubus, but must they all sound so attractive?!

I’m so glad I picked this one up... next one please... :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gone, gone, gone by Hannah Moskowitz

Gone, Gone, Gone
Good Reads Summary:

It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge, trying to make sense of the random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig's crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he'll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable, and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

My Thoughts:

Five cups of coffee and six hours later, I can safely say that I am a fan of Hannah Moskowitz'. The first book of hers I read was Invincible Summer. That I was a blubbering mess after is a tiny understatement. Gone, Gone, Gone leaves me feeling a little of the same:

Lio and Craig, two characters who leave me really happy with their story… simple though it was. Craig and his thoughts on invincibility. Lio and his worries. YET they match even if both of them had to stomp on the other every so often. And I enjoyed them. Meeting them, getting into the heads of two boys falling in love, despite not wanting to; their peculiar takes on family, death… and love. And I loved them for how different they were, but in the end it wasn’t how peculiar they were, not Lio’s not talking and not Craiger’s Cody, but how like everyone else they really were. That no matter how special (or non special) they thought themselves or where they came from, there was that want to be someone for someone else.

Solid story with not so solid people… except they were (solid) weren’t they, in the end? Read it!

*Yet another reason to thank Simon & Schuster!

5/5

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Good Reads Summary:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

My Thoughts

How long has it been since I read Collins’ Hunger Games? I say it's been Too. Freaking. Long. Divergent came just at the right moment to fulfill my need for a good meaty story. I’d been wanting something good. Something entertaining. Something beyond a little teenage romance. I’d been wanting a young adult novel with a story that did not revolve around the hotness of its protagonists, and one not based on I love you’s and moony-cow eyes.

Divergent delivered. So pardon me if I’m all holy s@*# that was good because it really was! My introduction notwithstanding, I can not say it is as good as THG (I mean, what is?) but it tries its darndest to meet the standard the former set. Tris is just as likeable as Katniss; I could not help but root for her (both of them.) Divergent’s story is just as action packed, full of twists (and while some of those were obvious miles away; others took me totally by surprise.) Yes, moments of it, stretches of it in fact were that good.

Enough of those comparisons: What got me hooked? At the risk of sounding like a fan girl and superficial: It was Four. Some may be put off by a rough-tough exterior contrasted against his being a bit of a softy inside, I was. AT FIRST. But one specific moment in the book convinced me otherwise: he wasn’t a total the manly-man expected out of a Dauntless. Then there’s Tris, Katniss comparisons being inevitable, I shall strive to stop with what I’ve done so far. Let me just say that she is a girl aware of what she is and what she can do. I really liked that. Then there’s the way their society is set up. While the world building left a lot to be desired what was there seemed so new/different to me. Segregating people according to what core value/trait they felt would most likely prevent dissent was different.

After all that, what’s keeping me from rating a five? It isn’t as good as THG (but attempts to give the latter a run for its money,) and as a thrill filled story, I am left with little to complain about. But really, my biggest and only question is, is this a dystopian dystopian or an action thriller masking as one?

3.5/5

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eon:Dragon Eye Reborn (Eon #1) by Alison Goodman

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)

Good Reads Summary

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and if discovered Eon faces a terrible death.

My Thoughts

This book deserves a better review, and not just a “Yeah, the first half sucked but second half compensated,” which was how my initial review went. Reading the second book, has convinced me that I AM A FAN of Eon/Eona and Goodman. She/the books give me more reasons to move to Australia. So darned good, that’s what I felt after Eona. But before Eona there was Eon:

On GR, three stars means “I liked it,” so a three-star rating does not normally get readers to read books, but here's my two cents and a rating clarification: 3.5. Why not a 4.5 or at least a 4 if I’m the fan I profess myself to be? Well, shifting gears from YA contemps to YA epic fantasy might have had something to do with my reception of Eon, and the're the info dump that was the first half of Eon to take into account as well.

Reasons to read EON with words of caution thrown in: The second book makes me really happy to have read book 1 (that's for sure.) Reading the first half of Eon was a chore. It had me piecing and bridging concepts, characters and histories together. I had to go back every so often just to make sure I got it right the first time. So, info-dump on account of heavy world building was the biggest drawback in this one.

Not to say it was bad, I mean a three point five, right? Why?

It brought me back to why I love(d) Edding’s Belgariad series: epic fantasy steeped in adventure rooted on friendship and the necessity of survival. What’s more, or what makes Eon better, is it’s written around a strong female character, granted she disguises herself as a boy, but she still is strong. So strong female lead, check.

And once all the who’s and what’s had settled, the story simply flowed: A girl hiding as a boy attempting to become the Dragon eye- a position of power, a position much sought after. On her quest, and her story is a quest in the epic sense, she meets and befriends a number of people whom I found unique. Foremost among them, Lady Dela- the Contraire. Then, Ryko, Dela’s eunuch bodyguard. And later Prince Kygo: loyal, powerful and attractive.

Then there’s the world in which we find Eon. Different, certainly. Complicated, most definitely. I’ve never read an epic fantasy set similarly. I suppose another thing that sets this book apart is the mythology upon which it is based; consequently, the world building that followed while necessary was but a bit long. Eon’s world is one with twelve powerful lords linked to Dragons are tasked to protect the land. Lords who are almost as important as the royal family, and treated as such. No wonder Eon wanted to be one! I found myself confused at first, but later drawn in. I simply had know more. I kid not when I say things get complicated. By the book’s end, however, I was looking forward to what the author had planned, how would she put everything together?
3.5/5

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale
Good Reads Summary

It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

My Thoughts

I was actually quite hesitant to take it on. Yes, sadly, I only became aware of this because of allusions made to it in a couple of Wither reviews. So I was really hesitant to read on two counts. First, would it be accessible? Would I ‘get’ it? Second, would it live up to snuff especially since Wither was just not so good. My worries were unfounded because I truly did get caught up in how her story, her world. From the start, it was so easy to imagine (making it all the more scary.) As to allusions to it made in various Wither reviews, those comparisons do THT a disservice. I do get the connection though, a world where a woman's value is based on her ability bear child. But that's it. Offred's world is scary and realistic… and not a simple love story.

It alternates between Offred reminiscing of her past and wanting it back~ even if “the way back when” wasn't perfect, and of her describing her present. On one end it’s all “Want, want, want,” on the other it's, “Shit. This is how things are.” A cycle of scary, I suppose. Why? Everything in it just seems so possible. Knowing it was published in the 80’s just gives it a tinge of prophetic. I’m coming off as an easily excitable reader, but the thing is, nothing in this sounds made up.

Offred is in turns scared, resigned, terrified and at the oddest of moments funny, (well at least her past self was.) But you’ve got to understand that she’s also broken and resigned to what she has to do to get by. Is she the heroine that I’ve been wanting to read of? Yes and no. She is honest; she doesn’t sugarcoat despite her segueing into her little fantasies of what she wishes would have happened. To reiterate she is far from perfect. The circumstances just shaped how she acted.

What’s worse is I knew precisely what she was like before the things were the way they were. It just made me sad, that she/they could be reduced to such a state. It was her memories of her old life as contrasted to her present that made the story seem very possible, and thus terrifying. And what’s in a name? Once I recognized the significance of their names, I felt as she did: was nothing sacred?

Then the men. There are two sides after all. Told from Offred’s point of view, his position in relation to her put a face on what/who was holding her in. At first I thought the story would end with the revelation that he too felt as she did: Trapped. They actually did feel the same way to an extent. The difference was in who could act on what they wanted. It didn’t play out that way though.

Out of everything, I think it was the cat that broke my heart a little more.

5/5

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1) by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)
 Good Reads Summary

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.
Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

My Thoughts
 
The Highlights: a kidnapping, cage fights to the death, a delusional psycho King and killer worms. Ha! Blood Red Road is chock full of adventure that I could not get enough of. So, yup, I loved almost every moment of it. There’s also the added bonus of a Jack and Saba~ their interaction was a cool (sweet?) break in between all the heart pumping action.

Saba is so strong. I won’t lie, she did have moments of “duh” but overall I found myself admiring her strength. With her father killed shortly after her twin is kidnapped, she’s left to rescue him and tend to a little sister she despises. Touching a little bit on that, the sibling’s relationship was another thing I found fascinating. There’s a lot of bias in her for Lugh and against Emmi; Emmi, IMO, reacted rather appropriately. But once their circumstances changed so did they

There’s a section in it that just made me want to read The Girl in the Arena. When Saba found herself in such a place, my first reaction was to wonder what a book focused solely on that hook would read like. If BRR was just about that, I’d probably be even more excited than I am now and start pushing it on my buddies. My point? Even if it was a just a short (but important) part of the whole story, I thought it was so convincing/effective despite the few number of chapters it dealt with. I may come across as blood thirsty, but I wanted more!

Their world is Cool. I love “dystopian” just as much as the next reader, and if it hasn’t slipped by yet, there have been a ton of “dystopians” dished out of late. A ton that haven’t been living up to my expectations given the focus on lurv. But BRR? didn’t disappoint. Point One, one aspect of the story that may or may not work for some readers is the eye dialect. I loved it, the same way I loved Todd’s voice in The Knife Of Never Letting Go. Her voice just (like his) so clearly demonstrates the state of things in their world. And Point two, there isn’t a big rebellion in it, although it could have worked out that way. At BRR’s core is Adventure.

The biggest negative for me had to do with Saba and Jack. Yes, their “connection” injected the necessary sweet, funny elements that would have made this book totally well rounded for me, but IMO it could have been dealt with a bit more fairly. What exactly am I saying? Why did the author have to take some of Saba’s awesomeness away by making her out to be the jealous shrew type? It’s a good thing those instances only happened a few times; if not for those few instances, I would have loved everything about the way things were developing for them.

So freaking good!

4.5/5