Crossed by Allie Condie

Man I hate it when I forget to post a review for a book I’ve read. I had a couple months where I went without any posts and this trilogy was something I started back then. I loved Matched by Allie Condie and had been trying to get the time to read Crossed in. Well I finished this book sometime last week and yet alas no review.

One reason I desperately need these reviews is with so much personal and school reading done I tend to forget the details of the books I’ve read. Things have a tendency to blur together. Keeping track is a good way to keep things sorted, refresh your memory, and a great aid for Readers Advisory work in the future.

So I’m going to try and rehash my thoughts on this book despite it being a little old. I finished another book tonight that I’ll subsequently review after this.

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Rating:

Summary: In the sequel to Matched, Cassia is on the hunt for Ky. She has to struggle with her emotions of leaving her family, leaving Xander, and fighting against the society. In this novel she manages to find her way to the Outer Provinces and has a long hard journey to meet up with Ky once again. 

Review: Hmmm, well I don’t know what to say about this book after a week+ away from it. I may have had more interesting opinions back then, but though I can still remember the plot of course the book is kind of forgettable  I didn’t care for this book as much as I did Matched. But I didn’t hate it either. As GoodReads tells me “It was OK” by my 2 star rating.

The book had a frontier-esque style that was fun, but I kept wondering when the book would be over. I ceased caring about the characters as much and the fight against Society just wasn’t as interesting a phenomena. In a way this books seems like a much rehashed plot. Bad dystopian society with a rebellion on the outskirts and yet the rebellion may not be one to be trusted. For one thing this rings of the Hunger Games trilogy, though I wouldn’t be one to even say that Collins’ books are very original either… I think kids may enjoy it though. I almost want to label is as a juvenile book instead of YA as it is in my library. It just feels a bit juvenile. With that said I’ll be reading book 3 when it comes out. I still think Ky is a cool character, though I’ve lost interest in Cassia. Oh well, let’s hope onwards and forward for this plot line. 

I do want to note that I really like Book 1: Matched. I thought it was interesting, the characters relatable and likable, as well as some interesting twists on the dystopian society. I love the aging ideas as well as how the Society plays God when it comes to all aspects of their life (life, death, love, etc.)

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Well I was strolling through the library’s ebook collection on OverDrive, and I’m running out of things I want to read on there I think. I have yet to read a Nicholas Sparks book because I have to be in the mood for something that sappy I think. So alas the time came when I thought I’d give it a try.

Rating:

Summary: This story centers around Ronnie, a teenager (who in all summaries they call rebellious— I wouldn’t call her that, I’d say she’s pretty normal for a teen that’s just mad at her family), who has to stay for the summer with her father on the beach in North Carolina. Most kids may like this kind of a getaway. Who doesn’t want to spend the summer right on the beach? Except Ronnie is horribly mad at her father for leaving them and splitting up the family. The story moves through her time on this summer getaway and follows her as she gets in trouble with the law, monitors sea turtles, falls in love, and grows closer and closer with her father.

Review: I think reading this book came at a good time for me—- or at a bad time, whichever way you look at it. I had a lot going on in my personal life and was pretty emotional. Needless to say, as I’ve heard of most Nicholas Sparks books, this was a tearjerker. The entire last quarter of the book I was on and off in tears. It was really a good book. When I mentioned I was reading this book to friends, they all said “Ooh a sappy romance!” Yes, the book is about a teenage romance, and we all can relate to that in one way or another. But it was the family dynamics and the home life that really got to me and made me really like this book. Steve is a wonderful father, a kind of father I definitely wish I had (no I’m not dissing my father, I grew up sans one is all). He makes the most of this summer with the kids, and it’s a wonderful journey.

Unlike the last book I read I really believed all these characters. Each chapter was from a different perspective and Sparks does a good job in changing the voice of each of the characters, I believed them all— even the psychopath Marcus. I do think I’ll check out more Sparks books now— only if I’m in the mood to cry though!

Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls: Book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Well following my YA trend recently I decided to check out this well rated series. This was my first audiobook ever! I actually enjoyed it I have to admit. I began listening to this book while undergoing a root canal— it definitely was nice to distract me from the 1.5 hours I was in that chair! Overall I’d say the book was alright. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I will be reading or listening (whichever copies become available first!) to the next book in the series at the very least.

Rating:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, courtesy of Scholastic

Summary: Grace, a 17 year old girl with a neglected home-life, is entranced by the wolves that live in the woods behind her house. The story begins when Grace was attacked by these wolves, but was saved by a yellow-eyed wolf she immediately is taken with. Years go by and this wolf and her remain interested in one another, this is putting it lightly. Little does Grace know, these wolves are actually werewolves. After a series of events Grace and the yellow-eyed wolf, Sam, meet and fall deeply in love. This is the story of their fight to keep their life together as long as possible.

Review: I think my biggest issue with the book is the overuse of purple prose. It was very flowery and a lot of the dialog did not seem fitting for either Grace nor Sam. When I’m reading a book with a lot of dialog or internal narration I want to believe these characters are actually saying/thinking these things, not an outside writer. Other than that I did enjoy the overall story. I admit, I’m a bit of a sap lately. But goodness gracious Sam’s song and bits and pieces of lyrics were horrible. Keep you day job kiddo, you’re no musician haha. Anyways, like I said I did like the book alright. This is a good book for mature teens (as their is quite a bit of sexual tension in the book— but nothing too outright), and fans of this type of fantasy romance genre.

My Oh My— A Trip the the Dentist

Ok so this is totally unrelated to any books or schooling but I thought I’d share. So I’m one of those typical young adults who refuses to go in for medical/dental because of lack of insurance. My latest excuse is hopefully sometime soon I’ll be getting a full-time position with a library where I’ll finally get insurance— but that’s still a ways off I guess. 

In the past couple weeks I’ve had some facial pain followed by a sharp tooth sensitivity to cold. Finally I bit the bullet (my boss says it’s probably not so good to go around biting bullets when your teeth hurt :-p) and went in the dentist. Well I guess it’s a good thing, my pain would only get worse. I have to have a root canal tomorrow, followed by a tooth build up & crown. $2400 later… *sigh* why oh why couldn’t I be working for a library (in more than my on call position) yet? Oh well, life happens! 

Going in at 8am for this root canal… wish me luck. On the flip side I think I’m finally going to check out an audiobook. I’m not the biggest fan of the idea because my brain is really hard to keep focused unless I can be reading something along side it. I get highly distracted. I think I’m going to try and listen to the audiobook throughout the procedure and force myself to focus on the book, as I’d rather not focus on anything else! I’ll share my experiences on that at least—- see I connected it back around to books. Yay. 

-Danielle

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I’m not sure where I first heard about this book, but I saw it on the ebooks list through my library and immediately knew I had to put this on hold. I then, while doing a bit of work in the YA section at my library, stumbled upon the hardback copy at the library and skimmed through. You can’t help but notice the photographs while flipping through the pages. Boy oh boy were these photos creepy. It intrigued me more.

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So my time came when my hold was available and I began to read the book. I was hooked. If it weren’t for being busy with grad school, I would’ve had this book done in a day. I finished the book last night and I loved it. 5 star book I say. 

First note, when reading the book really look at those photos. The shame of the ebook version was the poor quality of the photos. I’m going to get the physical version just to look at those again. The photos are real! I didn’t realize this at the time, but the end of the book gives thanks to the collectors who lent these photos for use in the book. Really cool.

Anyways it’s hard to review this book without giving away any spoilers, but I’ll do my best. The book is very eerie and intriguing. It follows the main character, Jacob, and his relationship with his grandfather— and beyond. Abe, Jacob’s grandfather, was one of those grand old storytellers. He filled Jacob’s head with all sorts of stories of children with many oddities. To top it off he had photographs to show Jacob.

The premise was that Abe lived with these children after escaping Nazis (he was a Jewish boy and his family sent him away to an orphanage). Abe also explained the horrible monsters he was always afraid of. Jacob soon began to dismiss these fairy tales— but after some horrible turn events Jacob is on a mission to understand these stories his grandfather told. It brings him back to the origin, the house for the children that Abe grew up in. That’s all I’ll say about the plot. But it’s terribly exciting and keeps readers on the edge of their seats. I can’t wait for more. 

I think this book can appeal to all: the mystery and fantasy of the book is fascinating, and the suspense can be exciting for adults, teens or children. I can see kids or teens relating to the feeling of being singled out and not belonging. The need for a “community” of their own— friends & family is important. It’s also just plain ol’ fun!

MIA status

Wow. I can’t believe I had neglected my review for so long. Life catches up with us sometimes. I enjoyed the rest of my summer off (other than work of course) then hit the books (textbooks that is) and ran with the new semester. In the middle of all this I’ve been nursing my puppy, Sophia, back to health after getting her hip surgery. It’s been 4 weeks now and she thinks she’s back to normal— which makes it supremely tough because she’s just not there yet. Vet appointment tomorrow for an X-ray of her hip. *crosses fingers* I sure hope the bones are healing well! That brat has done just about everything she wasn’t supposed to be doing: jumping, running, escaping from kennel and pen whenever possible, etc.

I thought about this blog just recently because I wanted to take a Readers’ Advisory course next semester and part of the class would be creating a database of nearly 40 books in the semester. As much as I’d like to take the class I think I need to take something else to better serve my Core Competencies. Boo! But I’ll be buying some (more—as I own the historical fiction one already) of the Genreflecting books and some others the Prof. has assigned for “textbooks.” I love teaching myself anyways. Besides, the basis relies on creating and keeping up with good reviews of books so that we can look back and access these.

So here I am. I need to go back and look at the books I’ve read in the past few months. I don’t think I’ll be reviewing them all. But I will make a conscious effort to keep this up better.

-Danielle

Catching Up: An overview of the last month and half of books read!

First off, it’s been way too long. I took a vacation for a couple weeks, but that is no excuse because I finished 9 books now since I finished my last review. A couple of those were dog training books: My Smart Puppy by Brian Kilcommons (which I give 5 out of 5 stars), and What is My Dog Thinking? by Gwen Bailey (only 3 out of 5 stars). But there’s been some books I needed to have reviewed for MIA challenge, and others that I found by chance that I read for pleasure. There’s been some good books in the mix. Let’s review:

I read the House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe which I really enjoyed. The book revolves around only a handful of characters and follows them threw life essentially. The lead character has narcolepsy and another of the main characters has severe insomnia. So the book delves heavily on sleep disorders as the title suggests. I feel like I use the word quirky too often, but this book definitely fits along those lines. These characters stay intertwined though life spreads them far apart. Details are very important in this book and really nothing should be overlooked. In the end all the stories come together, and some of it is outright hilarious. I don’t want to say too much without giving the twists away, but it’s a definite good read.

Next I tackled The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by M.A. Harper. This book was about a woman who takes care of her mother as she battles Alzheimer’s. This book was a page turner, and I fairly enjoyed it. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The book is set in a smalltown in Louisiana and we follow a lot of the main characters past before she takes care of her mother as well. The book is at times hilarious, at time depressing, at time annoying and frustrating. I liked all of these things because I really felt a lot of swings in the emotions this lady. It all feels true in that sense, her feeling towards her mother, her hatred of the town, her relations with her husband (who cheats on her and leaves her) and all of that. The ending is haunting to me, I wont give it away but it shows the mother in another light—-after her Alzheimer’s is at an horrible downturn. Its almost as if the lucid soul is still inside but the ability to share that lucidity is gone. It’s very interesting. 

The next book was a book I struggled to get through, When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton. There’s a very odd plotline for this book, and that was why I wanted to read it. A young man married this Madeline but Madeline soon got into a bicycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Madeline essentially reverts back to a young child and never progresses past that mental stage. Long story short, the man marries another lady, Madeline’s old nurse, and they keep Madeline as their own child. It’s odd having this family grow up with their own kids and yet this grown adult is their “sister” a forever young girl. I think my problem with this book is that nothing really happens. We hear about some “interesting” encounters, as told by the eldest son Mac. I find it slightly unsettling that Madeline is so sexual despite the mental capacity of a young girl. That disturbed me. The family fights regarding politics were interesting, as was the racial issues encountered when the mom takes in these siblings from the city “showing them their life” essentially. Overall I really didn’t like it. I got through it but that was because I hate not finishing books—- otherwise this one would’ve been put down.

Then Before I Wake (Book 6 of the Soul Screamers series) by Rachel Vincent came out. I just love Rachel Vincent. Another page turner, but I hate to say anything about the book due to the big spoiler from book 5 still. But this book was good like always. I really hate that this series is about to end soon.

For the MIA challenge I read a book about Tourette’s syndrom. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. I liked the book— but it’s very odd. I still have a hard time understanding what the book was talking about with some of the little girls tics. Needless to say I had some very bad imagery in my head when they were talking about eyes popping out of her head. She croaks like a frog and has fits of flailing arms too. The book is set in rural Kentucky in the 1950s which is important to note because they didn’t have a clue what was going on with Icy. She becomes an outcast and is put in a mental institution. I actually had to look up more information on Tourette’s at this point, I was surprised they did not diagnos her on spot or at least after her first episode at the institution. Either way, the book is rather amusing because of Icy’s narration, but very bittersweet. I was not crazy about the ending either which is why it got bumped down to 3 stars. 

Next I read One Day by David Nicholls with a lot of misgivings going into it at first. I needed another book to read and didn’t have an opportunity to head into the library. So I went browsing OverDrive and there was hardly anything available. Grabbed this one and went with it. A romance? Oh great not my favorite genre— I’ll read it now and then but I often feel like I’m reading erotica most of the time when I read book categorized as a romance novel. Well this book is amazing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It follows the life of two characters but only on one day throughout the years. They graduated from the same college and on graduation day they had their own little fling— lots of kissing but nothing else though. Though they only spent the night and the next day together they kept in touch and became best friends. What I love most about this book is how real it is. It’s never the right time. Timing is of course everything. ———– SPOILER: Yes they do end up together at some point, it was meant to be of course. There’s a lot of trials and tribulations they go through but it makes everything that much more interesting. I wont go any further because this author does a wonderful job at throwing in things you just don’t expect and I can’t spoil that. I however, was spoiled partway through I looked through some reviews— it was still just as good. 

Lastly, tonight I finished another lucky find on OverDrive: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Well I finished reading this here at work and burst into tears. So I don’t recommend reading it at work! The book is written from the dog’s perspective and it’s a wonderful look at family life. The family goes through hard trials—- disease, death, legal issues, etc. The dog, Enzo, understands it all and truly is another family member. He says it himself, it’s as if he’s a human soul stuck in the dog body. Enzo truly believes in a National Geographic special he watched about Mongolia— where they believe dogs are reincarnated to a human in a latter life. The racing part is because the master/dad is a race car driver. I’m not a Nascar or anything fan but I was definitely interested in the descriptions of everything the dog gave. This dog loves his racing. The book spans Enzo’s entire life and is touching and sad at the end. I don’t know how else to describe the book. I really enjoyed it. At time I really thought it was silly with the dog narrating, but it worked at other points. I can say I do talk to my dog differently now. My little 6 month old pup is no where near as wise as Enzo (as a border collie she should be though!!) but I’d like to think somewhere within her she understands.

On somewhat of a side note, I also had the book hit close to home for me because Sophia, my puppy, has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia already— or rather the pre condition before any arthritis sets in. She’s not in any pain yet but we noticed her joints popping. Enzo at an older age develops hip dysplasia and talks about his experience and mentions how he knew his hips were different even at a young age. My poor little girl is all I could think. We plan on going through with surgery on Sophia at some point here soon. Here in Northern California they’re talking $3000 per side for a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy. The surgery sounds nasty, cutting her pelvis in three areas to reshape the hip joint. But it’s our best option.

Well I’m caught up now. I sure hope to be more on top of my book reviews from now on. Maybe sometime here soon I’ll update with info and maybe photos from my Idaho/Yellowstone vacation!