Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test
Aimee Carter
2011, 293 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads

EVERY GIRL WHO HAS TAKEN THE TEST HAS DIED.

NOW IT'S KATE'S TURN.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride and a goddess.

IF SHE FAILS...

My Summary

Predictable. That word encapsulates this book for me. I don’t know if the author expected the ending to surprise me as much as it surprised Kate, but it definitely did not.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it. This was an easy, enjoyable read. Not my favorite of the YA books that are retellings of the Hades/Persephone greek myth, but still enjoyable with it’s own spin. I would warn you though – if you are a huge fan of Greek mythology, the authors takes some large liberties with the traditional telling of these stories. I felt she gave herself a good “out” for taking those liberties, but I think that depends on the reader.

That’s really all I have to say about this one. None of the characters annoyed me, but no one really impressed me or was very memorable either.

My Rating
5 out of 10 stars

Other Reviews
Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy
Books and Sensibility
Mostly Reading YA

Monday, June 25, 2012

April Fool's Day by Bryce Courtenay

April Fool’s DayBryce Courtenay
1993, 450
Library

Summary from Goodreads

Bryce Courtney's beloved son Damon, a haemophiliac, died from medically-acquired AIDS on Aprils Fool's day 1991, at the age of 24. In this book, he celebrates his life, but he condemns the medical approach taken towards AIDS, and how he and his family coped with Damon's haemophlia and early death.

My summary

I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite novels is The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.  After reading it I searched for other Courtenay novels with little luck because none of them are in print in the U.S.  I did luck into a copy of Tandia, the sequel to The Power of One in a used bookstore a couple years ago, but that was it.  So I was thrilled to find April Fool’s Day at the public library.

“April Fool’s Day” is not fiction.  It’s the true story of Bryce’s son Damon, a haemophiliac, who dies from medically-acquired AIDS.  For those who don’t know (cause I didn’t) haemophilia is a blot clotting disorder.  Basically the blood is missing a clotting factor so any bruise has the potential to result in severe internal bleeding.  This requires frequent blood transfusions with Factor VIII (the missing clotting factor).

Damon struggles with haemophilia and the staid medical community as a child.  Due to laws in Australia anytime he has a bleed that requires transfusion, they must take him to the hospital to have the transfusion done.  The result is that the average time from discovery of a painful bleed, and completion of transfusion was 7-8 hours and this happened three times per week.  It wasn’t until Damon was 9 that this law changed allowing him to be transfused a home cutting treatment time in half.  The longer a bleed lasts the more damage it does to the joint (haemophiliacs' suffer from crippling arthritis due to bleed damage at very young ages).  Damon never feels sorry for himself and is a remarkable little boy and young man.

At seventeen, Damon and his family are informed of his positive HIV status, but so little was known about the disease that it was downplayed.  It definitely took a backseat to haemophilia.   About the same time, Damon met Celeste, an amazing woman who I could not have been more impressed with.  Using the word girlfriend to describe Celeste does not do justice to the impact she has on Damon's (and really the whole family's) life.  The devotion that Celeste and Damon have for each other is truly inspirational.

This novel had three different aspects that affected me, first the information on the disease and the Australian healthcare system at the time were gripping, if hard to stomach.  The arrogance of the doctors involved in Damon’s care caused unnecessary damage to his already fragile joints.  The information on the early years of HIV/AIDs and how little was known was also revealing and disturbing.  It made me question my own views on the disease and realize I was still holding on to some judgement of those with the disease, I think left over from middle/high school health class.  This passage from the book sums up what we need to continue changing in how we react to HIV/AIDS: 
No disease is so vilified.  A terminally ill cancer patient is given love, compassion and caring by a generous society, no such blessing is afforded the victim of AIDS, who often suffers rejection and loathing all the way to the grave.  AIDS is the first disease in modern times which society has pronounced unclean, as though a sin agains God, and the journey to its end has become long and lonely and dreadful.

This was written in the early 1990's so our attitudes have enlighten since then, but I still think this attitude exists.

Another factor that made this novel really interesting for me, but possibly not for everyone else, were the elements that reminded me of The Power of One.  Bryce Courtenay grew up in South Africa, had experience with boxing, and had worked in the mines – all elements in The Power of One.  You find out midway through April Fool’s Day that he started writing The Power of One while Damon was sick and continued to write the sequel, Tandia.

Courtenay’s portrayal of  himself is not very sympathetic in the story of his son’s life and death.  He’s a workaholic, probably alcoholic, who doesn’t devote the time to his family that he should even in a situation without a chronically ill son.  He doesn’t show his wife any respect and in general seems misogynistic.   As much as I love The Power of One this did make me recognize that there’s only one woman portrayed in a very positive light in the novel and she’s not that large of a character.  And then in Tandia the main character is a very strong woman and it made me wonder if Courtenay’s attitude towards woman changed after seeing the positive impact that Celeste had on his son’s life. 

Celeste and Damon's relationship was the third aspect that kept me reading.  Honestly I struggled at the beginning to read from Courtenay's POV because he wasn't sympathetic.  About a third of the way into the book Celeste is introduced and several chapters are from her perspective and those chapters kept me reading.  Celeste and Damon were magic together. 

How do I assign a star rating to someone's life story?  The writing is excellent - Courtenay's prose is elegant but understated.    On a purely enjoyment level it would rate sort of average - there are sections that I found frustrating and had to put it down.  BUT it was also extraordinarily moving and I'm so glad I read it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy
Kiersten White
2010, 335 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

My Summary
I’ll admit it, I read this one cause the cover is Oh So Pretty.


Based on other reviews I didn’t have super high hopes – I was mostly hoping it didn’t annoy me as bad as Uglies and Pretties by Scott Westerfield. The extent of the paranormal content was also off putting for me: Mermaids, Vampires, Faeries, shape-shifters, etc all in the same book? I was really afraid there would be no space for plot. Paranormalcy was a pleasant surprise.

No wilting flower heroine here. Evie isn’t Katniss Everdeen badass, but she takes care of herself. She craves normalcy – loves a trashy teen drama TV show (Easton Heights), loves clothes and shoes, and desperately wants to drive a car and have a locker, not necessarily in that order. She doesn’t enjoy her combat lessons cause she is perfectly content to use her taser (that she named Tasey).

I read a review that mentioned Tasey and it’s one of the reason’s I was afraid I wouldn’t like the book. I feared she would talk like a stereotypical teenager. I don’t care how real it is – I CAN NOT read a book where teens use the word “like” all the time, and I was afraid the author was going to go that route (one of the reasons I wanted to hurl Pretties against a wall). She did not. Tasey was the only instance I noticed of cutesy language. I take that back, all cussing is replaced with “bleep”, but that is explained and I kind of enjoyed it.

“What do you have planned for today?” (Lend) “I’m going to make you realize that Easton Heights, while popular with viewers, is severely underrated by critics.” (Evie) "So Raquel’s resorted to torture.” (Lend) “I’ve picked out three episodes that not only showcase superb acting, but also have unparalleled writing. And you are going to love them.” (Evie)

Believable teenage conversation without clichéd slang. That said there’s nothing special about the writing. There are cute lines here and there, but the writing didn’t wow me.

I’d be hesitant to call Evies’ relationships with Reth (faerie) and Lend (shape-shifter) a love triangle. Evie feels drawn to Reth, but it’s a faerie magic thing (I think), she doesn’t trust him and just wants him to stay away. Her relationship with Lend is allowed to develop over time. They don’t fall in love instantly and even once Evie realizes how much she likes him she acknowledges that it’s better to take things slow.

"I wouldn’t have minded spending the night in there, but I wanted to take it slow and figured sleeping in the same bed wasn’t a really smart idea. After all, I’d seen it time and time again on Easton Heights– when the couples hooked up too soon it never ended well."

The existence of other paranormal creatures was so much of a back story that it didn’t interfere with the plot. At times it almost felt like the author was poking fun at the genre (in a good natured way).

And my favorite thing about the book………It did not end in a cliffhanger. Seriously, at this point any book that ends in a cliffhanger loses at least 2 probably 3 stars. If the author doesn’t trust that their writing is good enough to bring me back for the sequel, I’m not going to trust the author to write a sequel I’ll enjoy. I will make an exception for this rule sometimes in book two of trilogies, but the first book better be stand alone. And Paranormalcy definitely ends in an acceptable place, it wraps up the main storyline, but leaves mysteries to be solved and more information I want to know, but it has an ending and that makes me excited to read Supernaturally.

My Rating
7 out of 10 stars

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Top 10 books on my Summer TBR list



Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

I just checked my Spring TBR list and I didn’t do to bad – I read 7 out of 10. One of
those still made this list. The others have gotten pushed back for the time being.

Library Wait Listed

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I've been on the waiting list for this one for awhile and should get it really soon!


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - This one is waiting for me at the library right now!

Purchased on Kindle (awhile ago)


Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - The only holdover from my Spring TBR list.  I bought it on Kindle and quite a few of my purchased books have gotten pushed back for library books.

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella - Another victim of the purchased curse.  Definitely have to read this over the summer.  Kinsella books are great for Summer.

Have currently from the Library (so must be finished soon)



Supernaturally by Kiersten White - I really enjoyed Paranormalcy so I'm looking forward to continuing in Evie's world.

April Fool's Day by Bryce Courtenay - My favorite book is "The Power of One" but Courtenay's other books aren't in print in the US.  I was pretty excited to discover this one at the library!

I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits - Just picked this one up and it seems like a great change of pace from what I typically read.

Anxiously awaiting Summer release


Defiance by C.J. Redwine - This will be released in August.  Love the cover and the plot sounds great!

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang - I've been waiting for this one since I first saw the cover this spring.  The cover is gorgeous and fits the plot description perfectly.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin - I was let down by her last book, but I'm still looking forward to this one.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
2012, 336 pgs
Purchased Amazon UK

Book Summary from Goodreads
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused," then dead.
"I love you, Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

My Summary
This won’t be published in the US until early 2013, but I decided I couldn’t wait and had it shipped from Amazon UK– TOTALLY worth it. I’ve been antsy for Rowell’s second book since finishing Attachments.

First off I want to make sure fans of Attachments know – this isn’t the same kind of book. Eleanor & Park still has amazingly realistic / entertaining conversations and well developed characters that make you love them and feel for them, but their lives are much harder than those in Attachments – my heart hurt for both of them at times.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus. Eleanor is the weird new girl dressed in ripped jeans with safety pins, or scarves and ties. She’s stocky/chubby with RED hair. Park is the short half Korean boy who lets her sit next to him when no one else will, but resents the intrusion. Over time they end up bonding over comics and music.

Their relationship doesn’t start overnight, but once it does it has intensity of first love. And it pulls the reader into it so you’re feeling all the same yearning and hope and sorrow that Eleanor and Park do. I’ve rarely felt as invested in a fictional relationship as this one, but the whole time had a sense of foreboding because of their age and family situations (and the Romeo and Juliet reference). It just didn’t feel like there was a way for it to work out. But I’ll also say I did not see the ending coming and it really was perfect for the story.

This next part is on the edge of spoiler so you'll have to highlight if you want to read it.
One of my favorite life lesson’s I learned on an airplane – “Secure your oxygen mask, before assisting others”. You can’t help others out of a bad situation if you are still in that situation and I feel like a lot of books/movies have characters who do just that. It’s a dangerous message that leads to people staying in bad situations because of sibling or friend. This book doesn’t do that and I think so people will criticize the character for it, but it’s the right thing to do IMO.

Couple random points that I loved.

I love that Rowell puts her books (so far) at least a decade back. It a great way to be able to include pop culture without worrying about a book being dated. Once you're a decade out you know which references will still resonate vs those that no one will remember.

Like Attachments, it takes place in Omaha, NE (where I live) so there are local references that were fun for me to remember. There's a mention of Sweet 98 the Top 40 station in Omaha when I was in high school. They've since changed formats, but it was a fun quick flashback for me. Plus I recognize a lot of the places mentioned in the book. Although I definitely grew up in the more affluent "West Omaha" area. It was a good reminder for me that not everyone in my town is comfortable.

My Rating
9 out of 10 stars

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Like Her by Liza Palmer

More Like Her
Liza Palmer
2012, 309 pgs
Purchased

Book Summary from Goodreads

What really goes on behind those perfect white picket fences?

InFrances's mind, beautiful, successful, ecstatically married Emma Dunham is the height of female perfection.Frances, recently dumped with spectacular drama by her boyfriend, aspires to be just like Emma. So do her close friends and fellow teachers, Lisa and Jill. But Lisa's too career-focused to find time for a family. And Jill's recent unexpected pregnancy could have devastating consequences for her less-than-perfect marriage.

Yet sometimes the golden dream you fervently wish for turns out to be not at all what it seems--like Emma's enviable suburban postcard life, which is about to be brutally cut short by a perfect husband turned killer. And in the shocking aftermath, three devastated friends are going to have to come to terms with their own secrets . . . and somehow learn to move forward after their dream is exposed as a lie.

My Summary

This book was a disappointment for me. I’m going to start with the couple things I did like – the male romantic lead was Sam, and he was adorable, great Southern manners, tall, and just a great guy. There were also a few great insights about how Frannie always assumes that how a relationship heads is a guys choice. When Lisa tells Frannie “You choose where this goes” – I really liked that quote.

I don’t like the term “chick-lit” for quite a few reason, but the biggest one is that it’s used to describe to broad a range of books. Here are some fairly prolific “chick-lit” authors (all of whom I like/love) and where they fall on the scale from super light reading to fairly heavy, tears will be involved, but will still end happy (I think there are three general criteria for something being labeled as chick lit –female author/protagonist, some romance, and a happy ending).

Very Light and Enjoyable
Sophia Kinsella
Meg Cabot

I love both of these authors, but these books rarely cause me to stop and think. They are just fun, usually quick reads with likeable characters.

Still light, but with some insight and more depth
Liza Palmer (current review)
Lauren Weisenberger

Enjoyable, but with heavier themes, characters have more depth
Claire Lazebnik
Barbara O’Neal

So Palmer’s novels usually fit into the middle for me. This book felt like she was trying to move into the more serious category, but didn’t make it.

The prologue starts with a 911 call (I’m not going to say what it was about) so you start chapter one knowing something bad is coming. Then in the first chapter you’re introduce to the main character Frannie. The book is written in first person and all the main characters, except Frannie, have four letter, very common first names – Jill, Lisa, and Emma. I was at least 40 pages into the book before I was able to truly distinguish which character was which when they entered a scene.

About the time I was actually starting to get into the book and enjoy it, the event that caused the 911 call happens, and it was just WAY too heavy for the tone of the book. It was jarring and abrupt and since the rest of the book was Frannie dealing with the fallout from that event I never really got back into it.

Next, while I loved Lisa’s advice to Frannie, I felt like Frannie incorporated it into her life/actions too quickly. When your natural reaction to a situation has been to do things a certain way for a decade, one piece of advice doesn’t change that in a week.

My Rating
5 out of 10 stars

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck

Leaving the Saints
Martha Beck
2006, 352 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads
As “Mormon royalty” within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church’s high elders in an existence framed by the strictest code of conduct. As an adult, she moved to the east coast, outside of her Mormon enclave for the first time in her life. When her son was born with Down syndrome, Martha and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace them.

But when she was hired to teach at Brigham Young University, Martha was troubled by the way the Church’s elders silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church’s most prominent authorities. The New York Times bestseller Leaving the Saints chronicles Martha’s decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply.

Leaving the Saints offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world’s most secretive religions while telling a profoundly moving story of personal courage, survival, and the transformative power of spirituality.

My Summary
Leaving the Saints isn’t about Beck’s anger with the Mormon church. It’s about her person journey to discover what she truly believes and not what has been dictated she believe since childhood. While quite a bit of what she uncovers during her research is not complimentary to the Church she didn’t set out on this journey for that purpose.

Overall I really enjoyed the story. The element of the book that has come under the most criticism are Beck’s repressed memories of sexual abuse. I generally take repressed memories with a grain of salt, especially when they arrive with psychological coaching – I’ve heard of many instances where the coaching led to false memories. In Beck’s case I do believe her. She has scars that back up her uncovered memories and her memories came after private meditation – no coaching. But as I said above, the abuse is only a part of the book as its part of her journey to discovering herself and faith. I don't think you have to believe her to find value in her journey.

The history in the book is fascinating. I’ve read other books about the LDS (I’d recommend Jon Kraukauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven), but there were still a few things I was unaware of. I’ll admit that I got the giggles when she’s explaining about the Egyptian papyri and several times when she quotes text from LDS doctrine. I have no problem with people believing anything that they want to, especially if it brings them comfort, but it does make me laugh.

Beck does have a tendency to start a story and then decide she needs to give the reader more background so at times the story felt choppy and it was hard to determine where you were at in the time line. Also, I have a pretty big vocabulary, but I wished I was reading this on my Kindle so I’d have access to the “touch a word, get the definition” awesomeness. I’m too lazy to get a dictionary so I had to revert to best guess based on context quite a few times.

Overall a solid book. The choppiness lost a few stars but definitely worth a read.

My Rating
7 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten Beach reads

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme. This week's topic is Top 10 books I'd recommend to read at the beach. I'll read just about anything anywhere, but these seemed most beach appropriate to me - even if some do provoke tears. With one exception I picked all books that I've read this year (the exception I read last year).
 

The first four book are light easy reads - perfect for the beach.
Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins
Welcome to Temptation – Jennifer Crusie
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell

 

These four are still easy to read, but slighly heavier. If it bothers you to possibly cry a little at the beach these aren't for you. It doesn't bother me.
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
The Garden of Happy Endings – Barbara O’Neal
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
On the Island- Tracey Garvis-Graves

 

And these two I haven't read yet. They are being released this summer so hopefully I'll get to read them by the pool (there's a scarcity of beaches in Nebraska)
Where We Belong – Emily Giffin
Defiance– C.J. Redwine

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky
Veronica Rossi
2012, 376 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

My Summary
Under the dome of Reverie, most of life experiences take place in the Relms – a virtual reality. They live under the dome because of the Aether – which is never explained. Aria’s mother is a scientist, living in a different Dome then Aria. After a week of no communication with her mother, Aria does something that results in her being dropped into the outer wasteland where she believes she will die due to the Aether – again very minimal explanation.

In the Outer wasteland people live in tribes. Some of them also have super senses – hearing (Aud), sight (Seer), or smell (Scire). They allude that these heightened senses are from selective breeding before the Aethers and that the Aethers accelerated the anomalies, but it’s never fully explained either.

When Aria is dropped in the outer wasteland she meets Perry. They dislike each other on site, Aria because Perry is a “savage” and Perry because Aria is a “dweller”, but need each other to get what they both want. Aria wants to get back into the Dome and Perry wants to get his nephew, who was kidnapped, out.

I was really frustrated by this book the first third or so because so much of the world building was really vague. What is the Aether, what caused the Aether, what exactly does the Aether do…. So much is unexplained that I found annoying. 

But there are so many elements of the book I enjoyed. I liked Aria and Perry. Aria handles her change in circumstances with an appropriate level of fear, but she has the courage to forge on. Perry is tough, protective of those around him, but has a level of sensitivity that I appreciated. I liked that Perry and Aria’s relationship wasn’t YA instalove. Even once they got over their mutual dislike they didn’t immediate jump into togetherness – the relationship grew.

I also really liked the element of some of the Outsiders having enhanced senses – I just wish it had been more fully explained.

Overall when I finished this book my frustration with the lack of explanation was my main focus. It’s been about 3 weeks now since I finished it and I’m appreciating it more in hindsight – thinking about the parts of the story I do know and how much I liked Aria and Perry. I will definitely continue reading this series.

Other Reviews
All the Books I Can Read
The Broke and The Bookish

My Summary
7 out of 10 stars

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

You Against Me
Jenny Downham
2010, 413 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads
If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another

My Summary
I read this a couple weeks ago and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

The story is told a few chapters at a time from Mikey’s perspective and then from Ellie’s. I spent the first couple perspective changes trying to keep an open mind and not choose sides and realized that was never going to work. I just wasn’t going to be able to commit to the book unless I committed to thinking Tom was innocent or guilty.

So I picked a side and was able to get into the book and it wasn’t too long after choosing that the author started to give clues that I picked the right one.

I like books with flawed main characters – they are more relate-able. Both Mikey and Ellie are flawed, but everything they do that’s wrong is an effort to try to defend family.

Mikey feels like he failed to protect his sister so decides on revenge instead and that’s how he meets Ellie. They connect somewhat quickly even with all the baggage between them and their relationship was believable.

The things I didn’t like about this book (in list form):

  • Karyn – Mikey’s sister and Tom’s accuser is barely in the book and that felt wrong. And her switch from depressed to recovered felt WAY too quick.
  • Ellie’s father is a total caricature. Totally one dimensional.
  • Now that I think about it – there weren’t any secondary characters that I liked. Ellie’s mom improved a little at the end, but for the most part everyone really bugged me.
Spoilerish (highlight to read) - I’m not going to say which, but at the end of the book, either Mikey or Ellie has to stop protecting the lying sibling. And if I were in that position I don’t think I could do it. Ever.

My Summary
7 out of 10

Updating a Dated Desk

I purchased this desk used about 8 years ago and it's super functional.



I had been using my dining room as an office, but recent purchased a dining room table so the desk was moved to the former craft room that will now double as an office. The desk has always looked ok, I don't love the style, it's a cherry wood laminate and I feel like cherry fights with quite a bit. And when we moved the desk into the gray craft room HOLY COW does it clash.

After doing a bit of research on painting laminate furniture, I decided to give it a try. For how to's visit these sites:

DIY Kinda Girl
The Thrify House
Centsational Girl

I will say I did 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint and the Zinser Cover Stain Primer is AMAZING! I didn't have to sand at all. And here it is now.



I'm so excited about how it turned out. How awesome do the pulls look - those are the same ones they just pop against the white! Next up I'm going to stencil the wall behind the desk. I'm anticipating that to be a 10-15 hour project. Wish me well.

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.
This weeks free week on the Top Ten meme from the Broke and the Bookish came at the perfect time. I’ve been working on this list of Literary pet peeves for a couple weeks now because I’ve started to feel like I’m repeating myself in my reviews. Now instead of re-explaining why books lose stars for cliffhangers I’ll just link to this post.
  1. Cliffhangers – In my opinion book 1 should never end in a cliffhanger. I don’t mind loose ends or not knowing all the details, but if book one ends with a major cliff hanger I feel like the author doesn’t trust their own writing to be compelling enough for me to continue reading then I don’t trust them to continue writing a story I care about. When I think of the most successful series, the first book can stand alone if it needs too: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight. Examples of books where a cliffhanger made me not want to read the sequel(s): Uglies/Pretties, Pure
  2. Absentee Parents/Demonizing parents – Ugh. This is worse than the YA trend of absentee parents. I’m aware that parents aren’t always right and teenagers are figuring out who they are separate from their parents. But I find it incredibly frustrating when books portray all the parents as selfish and uncaring.
  3. Wilting flower heroines / controlling male love interests – Twilight, the gift that keeps on giving.
  4. Language that tries too hard
    1. Overly flowery (Purple Prose)
    2. Attempts to create futuristic teen slang
  5. Under explained dystopia – I am totally ok with leaving some elements of “how they got here” to sequels, but if the author leaves too many holes to be filled in during subsequent books I fear they won’t fill them all in and I’ll be left with questions once the series is over or that they’ll don’t know how to fill those holes and will haphazardly fill them in the final book in a way that doesn’t make sense.
  6. The Neverending Series (here’s looking at you Gallagher Girls). – I don’t mind this in contemporary fiction when an author has a certain protagonist that they revisit because every book has an ending. You pick up the next book to read about the next chapter in their lives. But in the case of the Gallagher Girls I thought the first couple books were really cute and now I’m just bummed cause I read book three and was bored (been there done that) and it doesn’t seem like there’s any indication the series will ever end (or really go anywhere).
  7. Lack of punctuation – I don’t care that they did it on purpose and that there’s a reason for it. “Evening” and “The Road” were just hard to read because of it. I won’t read another book that does this regardless of how well reviewed it is.
  8. Paperback book size variations – This drives me crazy everytime I organize my books. I have to choose between organizing in alphabetical order (what I would like to do) and organizing by size so my bookshelves look nice. Why are there so many different sizes of paperback?
  9. Books written in the first person especially if they alternate perspectives – Yeah I don’t noticewhen you put the chapter narrorator’s name at the top of the chapter, so I’ll start the chapter in the mindset of the previous narrator and get confused a couple pages in and have to go back.
  10. Movie covers on books – I think these always look really cheesy and never live up to the original cover.

The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O'Neal

The Garden of Happy Endings
Barbara O’Neal
2012, 416 pgs
Purchased

Book Summary from Goodreads
After tragedy shatters her small community in Seattle, the Reverend Elsa Montgomery has a crisis of faith. Returning to her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, she seeks work in a local soup kitchen. Preparing nourishing meals for folks in need, she keeps her hands busy while her heart searches for understanding.

Meanwhile, her sister, Tamsin, as pretty and colorful as Elsa is unadorned and steadfast, finds her perfect life shattered when she learns that her financier husband is a criminal. Enduring shock and humiliation as her beautiful house and possessions are seized, the woman who had everything now has nothing but the clothes on her back.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get growing. A community garden in the poorest, roughest part of town becomes a lifeline. Creating a place of hope and sustenance opens Elsa and Tamsin to the renewing power of rich earth, sunshine, and the warm cleansing rain of tears. While Elsa finds her heart blooming in the care of a rugged landscaper, Tamsin discovers the joy of losing herself in the act of giving—and both women discover that with time and care, happy endings flourish.

My Summary
All of the things that usually make me love Barbara O’Neal books were present in this one too: a strong, self aware, female protagonist, loyal canine companions, comfort food and an appreciation for everyday, outdoor exercise like hiking and gardening.

I think one of my favorite things about Elsa (and all of O’Neal’s protagonists) is that she owns her own sexuality. She’s not promiscuous; she just doesn’t judge herself over sex or second guess her decisions. It wasn’t until reading this book that I realized how much I appreciated this characteristic. It’s refreshing because male characters don’t do that.

Anyway the overall crux of this book is Elsa’s crisis of faith – it’s the third time she’s had one. The first two times she recovered her faith and moved forward. This time it’s really left her shaken and since she’s a Reverend it interferes with her life.

The struggle with faith hit home for me. I think every member of my immediate family has struggled to varying degrees over the last decade. Almost every question she’s had I recognized. Elsa grew up Catholic, but wanted to be a priest. As that option was not available to her (her first crisis), she changed denominations and became a Reverend. I’m not Catholic – one step removed – but I could recognize several the things she missed about Catholism. She missed the ritual; it’s peaceful and balancing.

The other characters are diverse and interesting. I liked Tamsin (Elsa’s sister) quite a bit at the beginning and felt really bad for her situation well into the book, but she did something that kinda ticked me off towards the end. Elsa kind of has two romantic interests; a former fiancé who is now a close friend and confidant and a new man who has entered her life recently. Seeing the contrast between these two relationships is enlightening (there are a few flashbacks though her life a critical junctures). But the romantic aspect of the book takes a backseat to self discovery and stewardship.

My Rating
8 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten Books Written in the Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading in 30 Years

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This week's topic is about books written recently that I hope people are still reading in 30 years.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - There are so many social undertones to this book that are relevant and I can't see those not being relevant in the future.

2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I'm sure these will still be read, but I hope they are able to pull as many kids into reading since kids growing up today will have access to the movies instead.

3. The Help - Kathryn Stockett

4. Exile by Richard North Patterson - I'm fairly certain this won't be widely read in 30 years as it's not all that highly read right now, but it's a fascinating book about terrorism and the historical conflicts that block peace in the middle east.

5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - As awesome as I think this book is, the reason it made my list is that Rainbow is awesome and I want her to be read and heard for a long time. (My copy of Eleanor and Park shipped today!)

6. The Passage by Justin Cronin - I put this on here because if people are still reading it in 30 years it will mean the sequels live up to the first book.

7. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Kraukhauer - Jon Kraukhauer is an amazing non-fiction author. This is a look at a religion that's history is based entirely in the US.

8. Bad Girls by Laura Ruby - Or something similar. I think this is a great book for teen girls to read so they can be aware of the effect of gossip and try not to judge each other based on sex. They also need to be aware of the dangers of cell cameras and that digital pictures never go away.

9 & 10. The Kite Runner / 1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Jess Rothenberg
2012, 400 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads


Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.


BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.


But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.


With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?


My Summary



Emotionally, Brie was a totally believable teenager. Everything is life or death – I think that’s what drew me to this premise so much – obviously having your first love break up with you is not fatal, but everything feels so much worse as a teenager.
“Love is no game. People cut their ears off over this stuff. People jump off the Eiffel Tower and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help. That’s right. Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear.”
I loved how much Brie worried/cared about her younger brother. They had the exact same age difference as I do with my brother so I could identify. The scenes where Brie got to get a little payback were funny and I know that I would have enjoyed that opportunity (especially in high school).

Patrick (her guide) is the right mix of mystery and supportive. He’s almost a combined good boy and bad boy all rolled into one. Brie also had some cute one-liners (usually when talking to Patrick)

“There’s no such thing as too much Disney.” 
“News flash, Bozo. Don't ever tell a girl to relax. It only makes us madder.”
I can’t really put my finger on what was missing in this one for me, but I just thought it was cute. I read it in two sittings (started at 9:00 PM read for 2 hours, slept, and then picked it up again) so I really wanted to know what happen. And it did manage to surprise me – one of the twists I did see coming, but the other caught me off guard, but I thought it was cool.

Basically a cute novel that felt like it didn’t quite live up to the potential of it’s premise.


My Rating

7 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten blogs/sites I visit that aren't about books.

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

I've broken these out into categories. I've gone months without checking some of these and then I'll start checking them 2-3 times a day.

Diet/Fitness I lost 28lbs last year and it’s 90% due to discovering Intermittent Fasting and 10% due to running. These are my two favorite fitness sites.
  1. http://www.fitnessblackbook.com/
  2. www.leangains.com
Sports
  1. http://www.huskermax.com/ – They comb through the universe for Husker news so I don’t have too.
  2. http://www.espn.go.com/
General News
  1. http://www.nytimes.com/ – I don’t get on here as much as I used to since they are limiting the amount of articles you can view without paying so much now.
  2. www.omaha.com
Pop culture
  1. http://www.rainbowrowell.com/ – Sometimes this is about books (she is an author, but most the time it’s just about whatever is on Rainbow’s mind). If you are a fan of Rainbow’s first novel, Attachments, you should head over to her blog. There are three deleted scenes from the book.
Home Improvement
  1. http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/
  2. http://www.younghouselove.com/ - Lately I’ve been on a DIY kick and this if my number 1 over the past month.
  3. http://www.craigslist.com/ – Not exactly a home improvement site, but that’s why I’m on there. I got a chandelier on craigslist this weekend for $20!

"Looking for Alaska" and "Paper Towns" by John Green

Paper Towns                                                    Looking for Alaska
John Green                                                       John Green
2008, 305 pgs                                                  2006, 221 pgs
Library Purchase                                              Kindle

"Looking for Alaska" Book Summary from Goodreads
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction

"Paper Towns" Book Summary from Goodreads
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night - dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows her. Margo's always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she's always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they're for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

My Summary

Parallels abound in these two books. I wish I had read them at least a few months apart – I still would have noticed, but I don’t think it would have been quite as distracting.  I read “Looking forAlaska” a few weeks ago on a Saturday and really enjoyed it. I read “Paper Towns” a few days later and it felt like I was reading the same characters. Miles=Quentin, Alaska=Margo, Colonel=Ben, etc. I also wish I had written my review for “Looking for Alaska” before reading “Paper Towns” because now it’s impossible to separate them in my mind. So here are just a few bullet points of what I liked
  • John Green’s characters have dimension – hobbies that are interesting and not typical, real conversations, and annoying habits.
    • Miles in “Looking for Alaska” memorized famous people’s last words.
    • Alaska/Margo/Colonel planned elaborate pranks that required planning and were really funny.
  • Both books made me laugh out loud. I want to put quotes in here, but I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for anyone else.
  • The boys (not the main character) fixation with Prom in “Paper Towns”. It was funny to think guys really cared.
  • “Paper Towns” made me think about how much of what I see in other people is just a reflection of myself. “Looking for Alaska” make me think about life/death – which seems cliché to write that in print, but didn’t feel that way to read it
  • The chants/cheers the Colonel led at the Basketball games in “Looking for Alaska”. AWESOME!
  • Both books have moments that point out where girls are being objectified.
My Rating

So how to rate these books? I think I would have given “Looking forAlaska” a 7 or 8 on Saturday. But I think if I had read “Paper Towns” first I’d have given it an 8 or 9, but since I read it second and it was SO similar to “Looking for Alaska” my enjoyment was probably closer to a 6-7.

First of these two that you read – 8.5 out of 10 stars
Second that you read - 7 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten Books from my Childhood

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme. This week the theme is "Top 10 authors I'd like to see on a Reality TV Show". I don't watch enough reality TV to participate. Seriously all of my authors would have to be on either House Hunters or Moving Up (okay, okay - I do watch "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding) but still not enough variety. So I'm going back and doing one of the Top 10 lists from before I started blogging.

 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
I love this book. I remember "reading" it to my parents when I was four. I was not an early reader - just a really good memorizer.
The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I had a lot of these books. I remember laughing hysterically at the one about Nightmares.
The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
I've mentioned Ramona before, but she's just that cool. Also one of the movie adaptations of books that I thought was awesome. They totally captured the spirit of Ramona.
Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal (who know who really wrote them)
It's almost embarrassing now, but I DEVOURED these when I was 8-10. Looking at the synopses I think I read thru book 74. If you gave me a number, I could tell you the book title. In case anyone is interested they stopped at 118.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I still reread this one. It's the perfect mix of sad with a happy ending. I really wanted to be like Sara - kind to everyone regardless of my personal circumstances.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This book felt almost magical to me.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Oh Anne. I still love Anne. Seriously wonderful literary character. The perfect example of someone with flaws, but who you just love inspite/because of them.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Fun, fun, fun!
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I can't find my old copies of these and I have been yearning to reread them lately. Half price book store here I come!

Bonus 2 - These were my favorite books to read to my brother when he was little

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr
This is just fun to read. It's sing-songy (and I love that)
Superfudge by Judy Blume
I enjoyed reading the Fudge books to myself when I was younger, but my biggest association with them is hearing my brother giggle when I read them aloud. Might be my favorite sound in the world.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Updating My Kitchen

In case anyone else remembered I'm in the long process of updating my kitchen (as DIY as possible). Well I have a mini update. As I said in the previous kitchen post I don't have a picture of the original fabulous fluorescent, but it looked similar to this:



I had an electrician out to take out the fluorescents and run wires to where I need them now and my kitchen ceiling looking something like this.



After tearing down wood surround and flourescent fixtures



I got my drywall on and spent the better part of two weeks covered in dust. Then repainted the ceiling (I never realized it wasn't white!).



And then called my electrician back out to install the lights.



I rented a compound miter saw and attempted to cut the crown molding and failed miserably. I'm going to ask a friend of my brother's to help me with that once school's out (college). But even with the LED lights and wire still showing, I like this better than the fluorescent! So here's my full list of what I want to do in the kitchen. It will probably take me the better part of a year to finish it all but here's to one step at a time. I crossed out three and added one - at least I'm still moving forward!
  • Buy a hutch/additional cabinets (found one on craigslist FREE!)
  • Eliminate the nasty light fixture and do something like this but the center fixture will be a semi flush mount. 
  • Change out the light fixture over the eat-in area.
  • Refinish kitchen table and chairs - from craigslist.
  • Refinish the cabinets in a dark brown. I haven't decided whether to sand them down and commit to painting them or trying Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformations. I think paint might be slightly less expensive, but Cabinet Tranformations seems a little less labor intensive and is water based. Oil based paint and my dog makes me nervous!
  • Paint the walls a neutral color - probably a creamy white. I like color and have it in most rooms in my house but the kitchen has been dark for so long I want something bright.
  • Find new window coverings - vertical blinds are ugly and a pain!
  • Replace the countertops. I'll probably price a white Corian, but end up just getting new laminate.
  • Put in a glass tile backspash - I'm hoping to find a mix of red, white, and clear tiles.
  • New sink
  • Run a gas line to the kitchen, I hope. It will depend on price because this is not something I'm comfortable DIYing.
  • Buy new appliances. If I can't do it all at once this is the order they'll happen.
    • Oven/Microwave
    • Refrigerator
    • Dishwasher - This may be a ways down the line. This one works great and dishwashers have such a short life span I don't want to waste a min of one.
  • Learn to cook ; )

Top 10 Tuesday - Top Ten Quotes from Books

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.
I tend to remember things that made me laugh so I think these are more laugh inducing then thought producing. I started with 22 quotes and narrowed to 13 and I can't choose any more to delete. I love all of these - It's John Green's fault, no other author got more than 1 quote - I used three from "The Fault in Our Stars".
    1. “If God gave him a second brain it would die of loneliness”- Brenda in One False Move by Harlan Coben
    2. “But the plans were on display..." "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them." "That's the display department." "With a flashlight." "Ah, well, the lights had probably gone." "So had the stairs." "But, look, you found the notice, didn't you?" "Yes, yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    3. “Is that a bulletproof vest? See, now that's so insulting. That's like saying I'm not smart enough to shoot you in the head." - Eddie DeChooch, Stephanie Plum Series
    4. “I really am happy for Kiley. And for you and every other happily married lady. Except for that I'm not happy for you. I kind of want you all to drop dead.” – Beth in Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.
    5. “This Book is dedicated to the rule breakers, the troublemakers, and the revolutionaries. Sometimes the hand that feeds you needs a good bite.” – Dan Wells dedication in Partials
    6. “Your brain, Peekay, has two functions; it is a place for original thought, but also it is a reference library. Use it to tell you where to look, and then you will have for yourself all the brains that have ever been” - Doc in The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
    7. “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” - Veronica Roth, Divergent
    8. “Emma, I'm sorry, I can't help you. This is a disaster. You're completely vulnerable. It's like going into battle in a nightie.” Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret?
    9. “Don't be jealous of anyone. I guarantee you, if everyone walked into a room, and dumped their problems onto the floor, when they saw what everyone else's problems were, they'd be scrambling to get their own problems back before someone else got to them first.” ― Kim Gruenenfelder, A Total Waste of Makeup
    10. “I’ve had many enemies over the years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never engage in a fight you’re sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you’re in a position of strength—even if you no longer need to strike back.” ― Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    11. “We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literaly in the heart of Jesus." "Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart." "I would tell Him myself," Augustus said, "but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won't be able to hear me.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
    12. “To be fair to Monica," I said, "what you did to her wasn't very nice either." "What'd I do to her?" he asked, defensive. "You know, going blind and everything." "But that's not my fault," Isaac said. "I'm not saying it was your fault. I'm saying it wasn't nice.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
    13. “My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won't be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because-like all real love stories-it will die with us, as it should. I'd hoped that he'd be eulogizing me, because there's no one I'd rather have...I can't talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a Bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Partials by Dan Wells

Partials
Dan Wells
2012, 468 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.

My Summary
“This book is dedicated to the rule breakers, the troublemakers, and the revolutionaries. Sometimes the hand that feeds you needs a good bite.”

This dedication at the beginning of the book put me in the perfect mindset to read Partials. I almost want to get it tattooed somewhere.

Kira’s goal isn’t to be a troublemaker. She just wants to make things better. And sometimes to make things better you have to fight what’s established.

Due to the desperation at the time – since no baby has been born immune to the virus in over a decade – the Senate that presides over their small community has issued the Hope Act which requires all women originally over the age of 21 (but it keeps getting lowered until it is 16) to get pregnant as quickly and as often as possible to try to produce a baby that is immune. Kira as a medic sees the damage of this daily in the young mothers’ heartbreak over continually losing their children. When her best friend gets pregnant Kira becomes determined to find a cure for RM even if it means risking her own life and betraying the current government.

The world building is Partials is great – giving you all the information you NEED, while still leaving questions to be answered later. I was tense most of the book due to all the compounding forces that could cause something to go wrong – The Senate, the Voice, Partials. Essentially they are living in a powder keg.

I enjoyed the politics of the book. Maybe enjoyed is the wrong word, but you can see how so much is relate-able to things we see today just in a more extreme form and it makes you ask questions.

Partials story depends on a fair amount of science, but I’m not a huge science person and could generally follow along with Kira’s research discoveries.

Kira is an excellent heroine. My biggest complaint about her is that she’s too likeable – You heard me – too likeable. I was trying to avoid comparing to other YA Dystopian, but I’m going to fail right now. One of my favorite things about Katniss in the Hunger Games is that she isn’t always likeable. Sometimes she’s downright irritating. She’s not perfect, but you cheer for her anyway. Kira felt a little too perfect at times.

I didn’t like Kira’s boyfriend, Marcus, much at the beginning of the book. He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but overly protective and a bit stifling. He improved in my mind over the course of the book, but I’m fairly certain that I am going to be Team…

SAMM! Samm is the Partial that Kira comes into contact with. Nothing romantic happens in this book – I’m just assuming it will in book two, because, Hey it’s a YA novel. We don’t know a lot about Samm yet at the end of Partials because he doesn’t talk much, he lets his actions speak for him, but based on his actions he’s strong, loyal, and cares about Kira. He’s protective but doesn’t try to stop her from doing what she thinks is right.

I don’t have any distance on this one yet – I finished it a few hours ago – and sometimes I’ll notice holes in the story after the fact, but I don’t think that’s going to happen with Partials. It’s up there with The Hunger Games and Divergent as my favorite Dystopian. Definitely going to have to purchase for re-reading!

My Rating
8 out of 10 stars