Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #21: Top Ten Authors We Own the Most Books Of

     Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which allows bloggers to share lists of some of our favorite (and not-so favorite) things.  This week we'll be highlighting the top ten authors whose books we own the most of!

     I just purged my bookshelves recently, so this list will be a little different then it would have been a mere week or two ago.  Also, I don't necessarily have an author I love enough to want to collect every single book they've ever written.  If I know I won't be re-reading something often, I'm in a place now where I don't have room to buy and keep a book simply to have it.  They have to be important to me!  So here is my attempt at finding ten decently high counts on my bookshelves.

*Quick Note:*  Disregard everything I said above!  I own 42 V.C. Andrews

Top Ten Authors Whose Books I Own the Most Of

  1. V.C. Andrews - 42 Books (I own all her books from Flowers In The Attic, up through the first two in the Willow series which in my opinion is when they started to really suck.  I used to be so obsessed with her books!)
  2. L.J. Smith - 16 Books (This is mainly because I own LOTS of her trilogies/series from the 90s!  I.E. Forbidden Game, Night World, the original Vampire Diaries books, etc.)
  3. Meg Cabot - 16 Books (So, all the Princess Diaries books and her All-American Girl series, plus her teen historical romance...so, yeah.)
  4. Charlaine Harris - 15 Books (Only explanation needed: Southern Vampire Mysteries aka Sookie Stackhouse.  I rest my case.)
  5. L.M. Montgomery - 13 Books (All of her Anne of Green Gables books and her Emily of New Moon series as well.  Actually, doubles of the first two books in the Anne series.  So the basics, really!)
  6. Christopher Pike - 9 Books (All of his Last Vampire series [6 books] and his Remember Me series, which is one of the best about re-incarnation I've ever read!)
  7. Rick Riordan - 8 Books (I'm one short of owning all the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series' books.  All I need is Mark of Athena!)
  8. J.K. Rowling - 7 Books (Do I even have to explain this one? :p)
  9. Jane Austen - 6 Books (Everything written by the master.  Ever.)
  10. William Shakespeare - 5 Books (Hamlet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew & Romeo + Juliet - all my favorites by him!  I'm especially a fan of TotS.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Immutable (Ripple #5) by Cidney Swanson

Published:  July 22nd, 2014
Immutable (Ripple #5)
By: Cidney Swanson
Williams Press

Purchase Links:  Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Kobo // 

Seventeen year old Martina, raised as part of Helmann's elite Angel Corps, wants nothing more than to rebuild the life she lost because of Helmann's lies.  In a single afternoon, she discovers the truth about the woman who raised her and the boyfriend she thought she'd never see again.  Meanwhile, her Uncle Fritz Gottlieb has his eye on the Angel Corps, and he has no qualms sacrificing Martina's dreams to make his own come true.


     Immutable is one of those books that gets you involved and smashes you to pieces in the process.  After reading the other books in the Ripple series (Rippler, Chameleon, Unfurl, & Visible).  But there is still a side of the story that hasn't been told - that of the children that Helmann engineered for his nefarious purposes.  We do get to see how Sam, Will, Gwyn, Sir Walter, Chretien and the others are doing in brief scenes, along with glimpses at the evil of Fritz from inside his own mind.  But the majority of this book is about Martina, one of Helmann's daughters, and an ex-member of his "Angel Corps."  When we first meet Martina, she's living in France, in the city of Nice, feeling absolutely alone and forgotten.  Two of her brothers have chosen to take a drug called Immutin from Dr. Pfeffer, who has been monitoring all of them.  It will take away their ability to Ripple permanently and they can live a normal life.  Martina herself is taking a supressant to curtail her abilties, while working in a clinic to help others.  Her other two brothers, Hansel and Georg, have refused to take the supressant and have taken off with their evil half-brother Fritz.  Martina thinks she is doing some good, using her abilties to steal from the corrupt and help her poor, underpriveleged patients in the small time frame between injections when her medicine wears off.
     But Martina is so low and depressed, all she wants is to see her beloved adoptive mother, Mutti.  When Pfeffer puts her on a plane to the Caribbean, Martina thinks that she'll be happy again soon.  But upon arriving there she discovers secrets that have been kept from her, and learns of a recent tragedy.  This sends events spiralling out of control, until a life or death situation results.  Martina is forced to seek out Pfeffer in Las Abuelitas, California.  She's thrown into the paths of Sam, Will and their friends and family, while trying to find a way to save her own loved ones.  Can they all find a way to stop Fritz from gaining information that could destroy all their lives?  Or will Martina be forced to make an impossible choice between her beliefs of what's right, and saving her loved ones?  I absolutely loved getting into Martina's head and watching her form opinions of the world around her, without Helmann's twisted philosophies to guide her.  She's very smart, but emotionally damaged and trying to cling onto the remnants of a life she doesn't have anymore.  There was some great action in this book, but I felt like it was building more towards another one than giving a resolution.  The whole thing with Fritz and the Immutin makes sense, but I did feel like it was on the backburner for a good majority of the book.  I really enjoyed seeing old friends again and making new ones.  Another favorite book from Cidney Swanson, in one of my favorite series! :D

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the author herself.  No money was exchanged for this review.*

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Selling Hell To a Bishop

Expected Publication:  September 16th, 2014
By: Kat Spears
St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-13:  9781250051431

In Kat Spears' hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he's known, could sell hell to a bishop.  He also specializes in getting things people want -- term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs.  He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way.  For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming King, and all-around jerk, and hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things.  While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the first time.  He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget's belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy.  Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him.  Could the tin man really have a heart after all?


     So, this book turned around my reading slump in the best of ways.  I feel like there has been very little amazing contemporary romance/whatever in my reading so far this year.  I actually picked this up expecting absolutely nothing, and the description of this as yet another Cyrano De Bergerac knock-off did nothing to interest me.  I got this through the tour site I'm part of on a fleeting whim.  Boy am I ever glad that I did!  This one is told in first-person, by the main character Jesse, whose sense of humor and choice of language leave a lot to be desired.  Not to mention the less than legal activities he is most well known for among the other kids at his school - even the adults come to him asking for favors!  The overall tone and balance of emotion and humor reminded me of two of my favorite contemporary reads of last year, Cherry Money Baby and Firecracker.
     Jesse "Sway" Alderson is the go-to guy for anything you want: drugs, exam papers, favors of an indeterminate nature and whatever else you want - for a price.  So when Ken Foster, the moronic asshole captain of the football team, comes to Jesse asking for help with getting the saintly Bridget Smalley as his girlfriend, Jesse agrees to do it.  But following Bridget around and getting to know her causes Jesse to grow a conscience and fall in love.  How can he let Bridget be with Ken, knowing the whole thing is a lie?  And what effect will all the deceit, growing feelings and new friendships out of random circumstance have on the rest of his life?  Can Sway make things right, or will Jesse be stuck cleaning up the biggest mess he's ever made?
     Jesse doesn't care to censor himself.  He just says whatever pops into his head first, consequences be damned, and I truly admire that!  There are a lot of people in his life: his gothy and sarcastic best friend Joey, his distant alcoholic father, Carter from the football team, a drug dealer named Digger, truly scary supplier Skinhead Rob, and his ex-girlfriend Heather.  But he never really connects to anyone until he meets cranky Mr. Dunkleman at the old folk's home and uses him as his pretend grandfather.  Another nail in the coffin was the shine he takes to Bridget's kid brother Pete, always calling him on his shit and never treating him as disabled because of his condition.  He calls Pete retarded to his face!  The romance in this was sweet, but this book was more about self-realization than anything.  What can we do to fix things, when we realize that our entire life is built around a philosophy that could cause us to lose the one thing we actually want?  Another big part of this book is Jesse coming to terms with living again after his mother's death by way of pill overdose.  He doesn't know whether to feel everything or nothing at all.  I loved that the ending isn't wrapped in a neat little bow, with every loose thread tied up.  We never do see whether Pete and Jesse get close again after their blowout.  Or the fallout of Skinhead Rob's ultimatum.  The open-endedness was nice for a change though.  A lot more like real life!  I absolutely love this book and if you want to be an emotional yo-yo, you should just pick it up already!

Favorite Quotes:

"Why do you call him that?" Pete asked.  "Sway?"
"Because he is sway," Carter said simply.  Pete looked at me but I just shook my head and turned to stare out the plate glass window at the deserted main street.
"But what does it mean?" Pete asked.
"You never heard of sway?" Carter asked, baffled by Pete's question.  "No."
Carter shrugged.  "Sway ain't somethin' you can define.  A brother who's got sway is the man -- don't have to try to be cool, just ...is.  Jesse's as cool as the underside of my pillow.  He's so slick, he could convince you that I'm white, have you believin' it like it's gospel."  
Carter turned his attention to me as he said, "I thought you were ed-you-catin' this boy."

In the haze between consciousness and oblivion I mumbled crazy shit and started to shake with the cold.  Joey covered me with a blanket, then curled up on her narrow bed beside me and held me close as she stroked my hair.  Carter sat behind the bend in my legs and they warmed me with the heat from their bodies.
"I wanted to die," I said into my chest, my voice a grunt as I jerked with another shudder of cold.  "I want to die."
"I know," Joey said, and shushed me and kissed me on the forehead.  "I know.  But you can't die.  If you die, I'll be all alone."
"Shit," Carter said, and I felt him start to shake with quiet sobs as I drifted into the black.
Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" drifted through the air from Joey's iPod, and I remember thinking how appropriate it would be to die listening to that song.

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is September 16th, 2014.*

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am Yao, King of the Rock (Not Really, but Whatever)

Published:  February 9th, 2010
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)
By: Melina Marchetta
Candlewick Press
ISBN-13:  9780763643614

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom.  He stands on the rock of three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to save Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace.  An imposter seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock -- to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive.  This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the Prince.  Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home.  Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united?  Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.


     I have only read one of Marchetta's books before this, a contemporary called Looking for Alibrandi, and while I liked it, I was by no means in love with it.  I didn't really know what to expect from a high fantasy written by her.  But a good portion of my Goodreads friends and fellow groupmates in my one active corner of the internet were mentioning it a fair bit.  This made me curious and I really do love me some well-written, deeply developed fantasy.  If I step into a book and the world catches my attention, I like to stay and visit for awhile.  So I figured this might be the one to get me out of my reading slump.  I actually think I may have been right, if not for the reasons I originally thought.
     Finnikin is the son of Captain Trevannion of the Royal Guard and best friends with the royal children.  Making a blood pact with Prince Balthazar and his cousin, Lucian of the Mont people, the boys vow to protect Lumatere to the death.  Then five days of unspeakable horror come to Lumatere, during which the entire royal family is slaughtered, Finnikin's father is imprisoned, many of the people become exiles, and a curse is laid upon the land.  Ten years later, Finnikin along with his mentor Sir Topher follow a rumor to a sort of convent (can't remember the exact word they called it), looking for information about Prince Balthazar possibly being alive.  What they get instead is Evanjalin, a mysterious novice, who claims to walk the sleep of the people of Lumatere.  She claims she has been chosen for the King and will lead them to him.  Of course nothing is really that simple, and Evanjalin is hiding secrets of her own.  Can they unite the people of Lumatere, break the curse, and restore the rightful heir to the throne?  Or will they kingdom continue to lay in ruin, destroyed by the horrors of the past?
     I think my biggest problem with this book was that it had so much potential.  The characters were well developed, with Finnikin especially taking center stage and garnering the interest of me as a reader.  I didn't quite like him, but I could understand his motivations.  Evanjalin, is a girl who has a purpose.  She has suffered great horrors, but it willing to sacrifice everything to make Lumatere right again.  That said, the constant lying, manipulation and flat-out refusal to tell Sir Topher or Finnikin anything got on my everlasting nerve!  Not to mention, she treats them like dirt and speaks to them like they're idiots - when she even speaks to them.  More often than not she just does something seriously dangerous, just expecting to be excused for her reasons, which are always worthwile (*snorts in derision*).  I felt like everything was just a little too smooth.  Yes, there was some struggle along the way, such as breaking Trevannion out of the mines, and when they're attacked by a tribe in Yutland Sud.  But I never felt like anyone was ever really going to die in the process of reinstating the kingdom.  That's strike one.  
     Strike two happened to be that I had already figured out Evanjalin's identity by the time I was even halfway through the book.  A complete lack of the element of suprise in what should have been a major plot twist just had me speed-reading to see how things would end.  The side-story with Lady Beatriss and Trevannion, not to mention the witch Tesadora was probably one of the most interesting things in that interim.  The only things other than that really catching my interest was the growth of Froi, who starts his place in the story as a thief, slave and general scum of the Earth.  By the time the book ends, Froi is loyal to both Evanjalin (who he almost did serious harm to) and Finnikin, pledging himself to Lumatere and learning to better himself.  It was a very stark and realistic character development throughout the course of the book and the characters are definitely where Marchetta shined.  I might not have liked Finnikin (his density towards his destiny annoyed me greatly as it dragged on) or Evanjalin all that much, but they were well-written.  That said, this book is full of action, magic, curses and some serious court/political intrigues - I won't say anymore to try and avoid spoilers.  I recommend it if you're a fan of high fantasy and if you can make it through this one, you'll be after Froi's story next if only to find out what happens.  I got caught in that trap myself.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Monday, July 14, 2014

Witch Rhymes With.....

Published:  June 10th, 2014
Hexed (The Witch Hunter #1)
By: Michelle Krys
Delacorte Press
ISBN-13:  9780385743372

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made.  Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won't stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school.  Who wouldn't want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes.  And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen.  But it's when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie's world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties.  If she doesn't get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die.  And that's seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she's a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie's about to uncover the many dark truths about her life -- and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.


     This book started out weird, but it had some potential.  The main character, Indigo "Indie" Blackwood, is a beautiful, popular high school cheerleader.  Her biggest problem right now is her competitive frenemy Bianca, who may or may not be attempting to steal Indie's hot footballer boyfriend, Devon.  So when some guy seemingly kills himself and Indie witnesses it, things begin to fall out of wack.  He's holding a paper with the address of Indie's family occult shop on it.  But it doesn't mean anything, right?  Then the family Bible is stolen, and it's up to Indie to retrieve it before there are horrific consequences - like end of the world-type consequences!  It turns out that the Bible holds the key to killing witches, and the sorcerers they are at war with would like nothing more than to unlock the secrets.  Since Indie is apparently a witch, it could be her own life on the line.  With the help of Bishop, a hot and mysterious member of "the Family" (the main Witch community heads of power), and her nerdy neighbor Paige, it's up to Indie to save what's left of her family, her own life and the rest of her race.  Can the three of them do it before it's too late?
     Obvious issues with it, but it doesn't sound like it could be all that bad, right?  WRONG!!!  What starts out with the basic threads to lead into a coherent and more detailed plot, devolves into a complete and total train wreck.  Indie herself displays almost constant stupidity after finding out about the reality of magic, witches and the evil sorcerers after the family Bible and by association, her.  She keeps rushing headlong into dangerous and intense situations, under the guise of stubbornness when really she's just too dumb to reason out a better solution.  Both of the guys Indie is involved with are sexist, asshole pigs.  Devon cheats on her with her "best" friend Bianca, and then has the gall to ask her to go to Homecoming with him, just because they already had plans!  And Bishop, the "mysterious" bad-boy type, is a dickwad to Indie.  He basically talks circles around her, neglects to actually explain anything about being a witch and makes fun of her at every opportunity he gets (for being a cheerleader, her clothes, the way she talks, even the girl her boyfriend chooses over her).  And this d-bag is someone I'm supposed to like?  Not mention his tattoo of naked Betty Boop on his neck.  What a f**king pervert.  The love triangle later on with a girl named JEZEBEL (yes, you read that right! NO SUBTLETY!) just worsens my opinion of all these characters, if you can even call them that.
      The battles with the sorcerer henchmen are a pathetic cluster fuck, and even the scene when SPOILER Indie's mom is put into a movie screen and killed by a savage tiger SPOILER was more of a WTF confusion moment than anything else.  The mythology of the witches was convoluted and attempted some genealogical, DNA explanation that made about zero sense to me (not that I'm all that scientifically knowledgeable - but my 10th grade Bio education calls bullshit on this one).  Also, the revelations about her Mom's witch status and her irresponsible Aunt Penny's, made no sense in the context they were used.  The fact of what Aunt Penny was hiding made no sense - unless she's evil.  Probably what will happen in the next book.  Not to mention, "Hey guys, I know you've been looking for the SPESHUL BIBLE THINGY but it's an EFFING DECOY!!!  The only character I didn't want to drop kick in this book was Paige, who was way too nice to Indie, who was obviously using her for her own gain.  And also, a fucking Jay-Z concert?  Why not just a freaking dinner-movie date?  Or something that was, y'know, in the realm of actual believability?  I'm going to stop here, although the scenes with the magic and their pitiful plotting and description (i.e. next to none) take the cake.  I am only marking this as high as I am because of the fact that I finished it.  Won't be torturing myself further.

VERDICT:  1/5  Stars

**I  received this book from Delacorte Books, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published June 10th, 2014.**

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The One Where I Lay Myself (and my self-respect) On The Line

        So, this picture definitely represents how I've been feeling lately - like I'm pushing against things that no one else can see, or things that are impossible to move.  I don't think I've ever actually told any of my internet friends any of the things I'm about to tell you guys.  But as readers of this blog, I feel like I can be safe enough to lay myself on the line with you and be straight - I am someone who struggles with a disease called FIBROMYALGIA. 
     For those who don't know what Fibromyalgia is, here is the basic definition, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic's website:

FIBROMYALGIA:  Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.  Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.


  1. Widespread pain.  The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often described as a constant, dull ache that has lasted for at least three months.  To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body, and above and below the waist.
  2. Fatigue.  People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time.  Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients have other sleep disorders, like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
  3. Cognitive Difficulties:  Often referred to as fibro-fog.  Impairs ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
  4. Other Symptoms:  Depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.


        Personally, I was diagnosed six years ago at the age of eighteen.  Usually, I have more episodes during the winter and have to go to the hospital at least once to get drugged up just to be able to even sleep (generally my ankles ache so bad I am on the verge of tears an unable to do anything, especially sleep).  Lately though, with my forty hours a week at a crappy retail job, where I am on my feet CONSTANTLY, I have been taking two painkillers every day (Gabapentin is what works for me) just to be able to stay standing up without being in hospital grade pain.  It makes me slightly high, unfocused, hyper and magnifies the fibro-fog.  Not to mention how depressed I have been lately, and my financial situation is definitely not making things better.  I have begun "Waldening" (otherwise known as downsizing) my stuff, to make money and gain space.  I am on the verge of losing the house I have spent my entire life in.  I don't know what's going to happen to myself, my family or my animals.
        Books and escaping into different worlds are really the only things that make me smile anymore, or keep me going.  And my fibromyalgia is taking that away, with my inability to focus.  These are the reasons my blog has been sporadically updated over the last few months, along with some personal crises involving a family member being in the hospital for over a month.  I have been trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  It's not always easy, but I have to believe that things will get better.  This is my daily struggle, but I am kicking it's butt just by getting out of bed, going into work and living my life.  This is just something that I wanted you to know, as people that have been involved in my book life for about three years now.  I am pretty private generally and don't usually do many personal posts.  But if someone else out there is dealing with this too, maybe this post will say the most important thing it even could: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  And you are a survivor!  Separately we're just a drop in the ocean, but together we are formidable.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Giver, or Another Foray Into Newbery Land

Published:  January 24th, 2006 (First published 1993)
The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1)
By: Lois Lowry
ISBN-13:  9780385732550
Jonas' world is perfect.  Everything is under control.  There is no war or fear or pain.  There are no choices.  Every person is assigned a role in the Community.  When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver.  The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life.  Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth.  There is no turning back.
     In the Community where Jonas lives, everyone has a routine.  Jobs, spouses and children are selected by qualified officials.  Emotions are discusses and analyzed, colors are non-existent and pills are taken to halt the "Stirrings" from taking hold.  Everything is controlled, peaceful, uniform and all people are treated the same.  When you become of a certain age you join the House of Old and are released as a "reward."  Jonas thinks that his society is the perfect place to live.  Then he goes through the ceremony of the twelves to get his life assignment.  Jonas is given an unusual task that he has never heard of before.  He's apprenticed to a man called The Giver and becomes The Receiver.  He is to take on all of the memories, emotions and experiences of what life used to be like, without total control.  Jonas begins to question the way the Community is run and his place in it's mindless conformity.  When Gabriel, an underdeveloped infant that has been staying with Jonas' family, is at risk due to the Community's rules, it's up to Jonas to make a decision.  Will he follow the community or give in to the lessons he's learned from the things he's taken from The Giver?
     I have read this book at least six or seven times, the first being around 2001 or 2002, when my sixth or seventh grade English teacher assigned it to my class.  I remember being shocked by the ideas and terrifying realities presented in this book.  A place that is controlled by the government, doesn't allow for any individuality, and has no romance or family bonding - a place with no color or emotion AT ALL!!!  It blew my pre-teen mind to imagine such a horrifying thing.  I definitely identified with Jonas, questioning the world around himself and trying to make life-changing decisions (mostly between action and in-action).  In light of the movie being released next month, I decided to re-read it again and see how well it held up after a decade of being in my thoughts.
     This novel is definitely more one of introspection than action.  The climax near the end of the story when Jonas *SPOILER* takes baby Gabriel and leaves *END SPOILER* is definitely the most actiony part of this book.  The majority of this book is Jonas' journey from conformity and belonging, to being on the outside of the Community and becoming isolated when his reality shifts.  By gaining the things that everyone else he knows have lost (color, emotion, individualistic though, etc.), Jonas becomes an unlikely rebel.  "Sameness" is a concept he no longer embraces and finds to be pretty horrifying.  Probably the most conflict in this book is caused by the concept of "release" for people who don't (or can't) conform for some reason, or are just too old to be of use to society.  This is what really causes Jonas to take action.  It really makes you wonder just what it would take to push our own world over the edge, into a false utopia.  A chilling, but ultimately hopeful portrayal of a world ruled by the loss of everything real.  I highly recommend this book (it won a Newbery Award for a reason!) as an introduction to the loosely defined "dystopian" genre.  It definitely makes you think.
VERDICT:  5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cozy Classics: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Published: May 23rd, 2014
Cozy Classics: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
By: Jack Wang & Holman Wang
Simply Read Books
ISBN-13:  9781927018385

Give a kid a classic!  Cozy Classics is the popular board book series that presents well-loved stories to children ages 0 + through twelve child-friendly words and needle-felted illustrations.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is Mark Twain's timeless tale of childhood about an imaginative boy who's always getting into trouble, and is one of the world's most beloved classics.  Now you can share this classic with children of any age.  www.mycozyclassics.com


     So, I have read a few of these before, most notably Emma and Jane Eyre.  I didn't realize how hard this particular book would be to translate to this narrative style, than say, Emma happened to be!  But considering that unless you have the room to be wordy, Twain's story definitely makes NO real sense whatsoever!  Just like in their previous books, Jack and Holman Wang use felt puppets staged in different scenes to tell a story, using only twelve words to describe exactly what's happening.  Knowing the story previously, I expected it to make better use of the adventure storyline that monopolizes the last half of the book, but the way it was worked in was very jagged and really had no narrative flow.
     The first word used in this book is HIDE and the page shows Tom with his hand in a jam-pot, hiding behind a re-creation of the first page of the original book.  It definitely represents Tom's mischievious nature to a tee, and is a good example.  The next picture is of Tom whitewashing the fence, with the word PAINT.  That doesn't translate quite as well, considering all we see is Tom doing the work.  Unless you already knew, it doesn't in any way hint that he's going to cause the other children to fight over doing the work for him, by fooling them into thinking it's fun.  Next, they show Tom kissing Becky (seemingly for no reason, at school I think?), with the caption KISS.  I guess it's an easy way to introduce Becky.  It ties in with the fourth page, where Tom is trying to comfort Becky as she cries (because he kissed her?), with the word CRY.  Huck is introduced next playing with some toy swords with Tom (PLAY), which I guess is as good a way as any of introducing him I suppose.
     The storyline begins to get coherent next, with Tom and Huck outside at night in front of a fire (CAMP).  Next, there's a STORM and the two of them are caught in it.  Randomly they're on the street in front of a house, in nice weather, with Becky looking all lovestruck and it says HOME.  Then Becky and Tom are together again in front of a CAVE, then they're LOST in the cave with a candle and bats overhead, Tom is helping Becky climb OUT and then Tom & Huck are randomly back in the cave together with a pick-axe - and treasure (GOLD).  As a whole, the photographs/staging are all very creative and visually appealing.  But I do think that the treasure storyline wasn't really used to the best of it's abilities.  Also, out of everything else that happens in the book, Becky is what gets the main focus?  Talk about odd narrative decisions...but like I said, I can definitely see this being a difficult one to translate.  All in all, an interesting attempt and not the worst I'll ever read (especially for a board book based on a classic), but not the best either.  I'd recommend it if you want to compare and contrast, or want a cute book to look at with a child.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**I received this book from Simply Read Books, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published May 23rd, 2014.**