Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Available January 5th

So, if you haven't heard anything about this one be warned, it is not an easy read. It's a very intimate story of a school massacre, it is not a shooting. There are several narrators in the story and each one added something complex and valuable to the story except one, Claire. Every time I read her narrative she took me out of the story so that I ended up skipping her parts eventually. They added nothing to the story to me and actually made me think of her as a very self absorbed person.

I enjoyed the different perspectives. It kept the story interesting although honestly I don't know how you couldn't be interested in this story once you commit to reading about something like this. It's a hard decision to make. I have kids in school and I am a substitute teacher. There is an elementary school next door to me. This stuff scares the shit out of me. But I can't pretend it doesn't happen.  So I took a chance on this one. And I think I picked the right book to take a chance on. It took me five hours to read this book without stopping for a sip of water or dinner or even to go to the bathroom. It was that good. The author does a great job of putting you right in that auditorium, but more importantly, in the heads of the narrators and what they are feeling. (except Claire, I just didn't connect with her).

The writing isn't cluttered by too many messy emotions. There are a few story lines going on but they don't tangle the main thread, there is a shooter in the auditorium, the entire school is in there and the doors are chained from the outside. Flashbacks show us what has happened to the various narrators to form their relationships and how they are connected to the shooter. There isn't a lot of focus on the aftermath or healing. This is strictly the terror of being in that auditorium, of being hunted down by the shooter. If you want police tactics and psychology and all that, this is not the book for you. 

*****Spoilers below this line*****
Now, a little more on Claire, she can't take a certain car because she can't deal with the fact of who used to own that car. So instead of taking the car to call for help she and a fellow runner take off running down the road to the nearest gas station. (Drama Queen) Claire gets a boyfriend during all of this while she is waiting to see if her brother is dead or alive. Just don't feel like that's appropriate during this situation. Claire also dated the shooter but broke up with him when he assaulted another girl at prom. Ding, ding, ding. She also knew he was getting beaten by his father. And then he quit school right after the prom. HELLO?????? Can you connect the dots? He quit school as a junior. They dated two years and she didn't think there might be something wrong??? This is where I think maybe some self reflection should have come in and she might have said, "Oh, maybe that out of character assault and the abuse and his sudden quitting of school are all connected." People always say there were no signs, there were signs. This part irks me, there were signs.

I will say that I read the e-galley and perhaps a few details have been cleaned up since then. I certainly hope so because Claire just doesn't stand up to the rest of the characters or the rest of the book. It is a finely written book and one that I would highly recommend on this subject. Just skip the Claire parts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Unforgiven by Lauren Kate


Unforgiven by Lauren Kate
A Fallen Novel
Available Now

Let's just start with the fact that I cut my YA teeth on Fallen by Lauren Kate. I was a newbie to this genre and I was browsing the very lean shelves when I saw that gorgeous cover of Luce. How could I pass that up? I was so tired of reading the same tired mysteries and I wasn't interested in other adult genres or Oprah's latest pick. I devoured that book and fell for the storyline instantly. But almost six years is a newbie story to my tastes now. I will always have a special place in my heart for Daniel and Luce's story, but let's face it, I didn't even read the last book, just the last few pages to see if I got my HEA. 

Cam was never ever a factor for me but I was hoping to recapture some of that newbie magic. It didn't happen. Lauren Kate doesn't seem to have developed much as a writer from Daniel and Luce's story. Maybe she intended it to be very much like their story. The story though is weak and sappy. Bad boy Cam is so against his nature in this book, it's really hard to buy. And then, there is my biggest problem ***spoiler alert**** a rumor is spread that Cam's last girlfriend killed herself when she and Cam broke up. The kids at school and Lucille, the girl he is trying to win over, all shun him and blame him for this. This is an extreme no-no in my opinion. NEVER, EVER should a writer use this tactic to shun a character. If you have read my reviews in the past you know I get upset about the way mental illness is shown in books, but in YA? It's the worst! To blame someone for another person taking their life because they broke up? It wasn't a case of bullying or something like that. It was heartbreak and I don't believe we should start blaming people who become depressed and commit suicide.**** End of spoiler.

So, yes, I had a huge problem with that part of the book. However, Kate shows that appearance doesn't matter when it comes to love in the same book. Lucille never notices changes in Cam's appearance that others are grossed out by. So on one hand she's teaching the lesson that love is more than looks but on the other that it's okay to blame another person when a couple breaks up and one who needs help doesn't get it and commits suicide. There's a lot more to who it is that commits suicide but suffice it to say that this will not be on a favorite or even on my keep shelf.

Authors, please, I beg you, think about what you write. No you don't have to teach a lesson in your book but every time you perpetuate a misrepresentation or a lie about mental illness, you are contributing to the problem. And it sticks with your young and old readers. Stop it please! If you can't find something better to use than a tired misconception than blame the boyfriend for a girl's suicide then you need to go back to the well.

I gave this two stars on Goodreads. It is okay. But not really. I finished it because it was a mindless read for me and I could get through it. I did not have to think at all reading this it. Usually I want to be carried to another world when I read but this one didn't take me anywhere but out of my reluctance to write a review because I was so riled about the spoiler thing I wrote about. I think Lauren Kate is an okay writer, much better than this book. 

I really don't recommend this one. If you are a die hard fan of Cam, you won't see him in this book. If you really must read it, go ahead. I don't have a rating bar for this one. So I'm leaving it off.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

So That Happened...

Yes so other things happened and I just haven't felt like reading or blogging. Sorry for the premature announcement about coming back. It's difficult to get back into the swing of things when I've been gone for so long. I expect my reviews will be different.

I hope you all have safe and Happy Thanksgivings for those of you here in the U.S. If you're traveling be on your guard. If you are in need, you probably aren't reading this, but I pray that your needs are met. For Christians, this time of year is about love, not fear, not hate. Go about your day with love in your heart. It's the best way to make it to the end of the day happily.

One day at a time,

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hello Out There......

 You might have wondered where I am. Or you might not care. But then you wouldn't be here reading this post. As Hazel Grace would say from TFIOS (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green) we "had a touch of cancer" in my family. Funnily enough, not the ha-ha funny but the coincidentally funny, it was the same kind of cancer Hazel Grace started out with. Thankfully, the prognosis is good, curable, and we've been through the treatment. I say "We" because it is a family process. Though we don't have the treatment done to us, we are right there waiting in the waiting room, changing our diets, holding hands, talking about our fears (or not in the case of teenage boys) and visiting doctors. It is scary for everyone. But my husband seemed the least worried. Why is it that the person who is sick always seems to be the bravest? Maybe it's just in the movies and books.But it's also my husband.So anyway, from April until just a few days ago, that's what I've been doing. That's where I've been.

My head has not been here and my heart has not been here. I haven't read too much and I'm not going to review what I've read in great detail. But I will let you know what I think about what I've read or listened to and my reviews are going to be short and sweet from now on.

So hello! I missed you, book lovers! I missed all the BEA buzz and the books that are coming out. I haven't read any reviews. And I haven't been purchasing any books unless they were part of a series I absolutely loved. I have read a few of the books I purchased a long time ago and I have to say I'm glad I waited until the hype died down before I read them.

So, I hope you are all well and you are wearing your sunscreen if you are out in the sun!! I hope it is sunny where you are. Enjoy the warm weather, especially those of you that had so much snow last winter!! Anyone watching Shark Week?? Yeah, I'm not getting in the water ever again! Stay safe, stay well and tell me about the books you recommend. I'm not reading issue books right now. But you can still tell me about a good one you've read. I missed my book blogaversary so I'm going to have to come up with something good for later in the summer.

Who would believe it Me and the Terminator- we're back!

Happy Reading!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Conspiracy of Us by by Maggie Hall

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Available Now
YA Thriller
Putnam Juvenile
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio CD/ BN/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter
Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.


Okay, so I know this has been compared to the Da Vinci Code for YA and yes, it is complicated, maybe a little too complicated, but it has a few too many faults for me. Avery is okay, but after living a very sheltered life, moving from place to place for her mom's job and never having friends or a boyfriend, she all of the sudden starts noticing a boy who suddenly asks her to prom. After a week at school. After she has found him stalking her. And she goes. To prom, that is.  And then things get bad from there. She's a bit like a helpless bird who has crashed into a window and is stunned. Her wings are hurt and she spends most of the novel that way. Being rescued. Again and again and again. And while I don't mind the rescue thing, it does get old after a bit.

But the story line was very interesting. Twelve was the magic number- 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 ruling families who can shut down Prada as well as have private planes on standby in every major city in the world. One prophecy looking for the One with the violet eyes. Bet you can't guess who has violet eyes??? Though she wears contacts to make her eyes brown so she keeps her identity a secret for a bit, gathering information about the prophecy and who her family is among the twelve ruling families. I'm still not sure who she belongs to and I didn't realize this was a series. I have to say that Avery gets more gumption and depth towards the end of the book and the story is much more interesting in the later third of the book than in the first two thirds. It's the only reason I will probably borrow the next book from the library and read it.

However, more troubling to me, I couldn't keep straight who the good guys were and who the bad guys were- The Circle or The Order and maybe that was intentional, I'm not sure. You will also have to swallow a lot of disbelief in the romance department. I believe this is a world record in how fast a YA couple falls for each other. I think it's a day and a half. Now, it might have something to do with the prophecy or something else magical though there have been no signs of magic so far. And there is a second guy, but I believe Avery's preference is clear, so I don't think there is a love triangle. Time will tell.

There is a lot of violence on and off the page. Some of it is really violent and could be disturbing to younger YA readers. Talk about the violence is glib among most of the characters as they are used to it, though Avery is not. I think a lot of readers would find this very fun to read and would be able to swallow what I found troubling in the novel. It might have just been the wrong time for me to read this novel. Or maybe I was just expecting something a little more. If you go in with a lighthearted attitude I think you'll enjoy it. But the insta-love, rescue syndrome, and bad decisions as well as hazy prophecy and secret societies just made it too much for me to really love this one.


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