“Nantucket Blue”—A Book Review

9781423160519_p0_v2_s260x420

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland is the most absolute perfect beach read if you are looking for something a little thought provoking. Fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I turned Pretty trilogy are sure to love this title.

Cricket Thompson is ready to have the summer of her life in Nantucket, staying with her best friend in the world, Jules. But right before the trip, Jules’ family suffers a tragedy and Cricket finds herself uninvited to stay with them.

But Cricket is determined—determined that Jules needs her this summer more than ever, and determined that this is the summer she will make her long-time crush, Jay, hers. Thus, Cricket gets a job as a maid at an inn on the island…not quite what she had in mind, but better than stuck at home all summer babysitting a snotty kid.

The thing is, life doesn’t always go how you planned it. Jules is dealing with her own sadness and decides not to be Cricket’s friend and is pissed that Cricket showed up in Nantucket.

“It didn’t matter how good my grades were or that I’d made varsity as a freshman; it didn’t matter how carefully, how perfectly, I’d managed my popularity; it didn’t matter that I’d measured an doled out my flirtations like teaspoons of sugar—never too much to be a tease, always enough to be sweet. Jules was able to take my happiness away from me with one swift betrayal. My social life had slid from good to bad like a hockey puck across a rink. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to take her to friend court.”

Now Cricket finds herself stuck on this island for the summer, scrubbing toilets and making beds, and without a best friend. While surrounded by rich hoity-toity islanders, Cricket must learn to lead her own life and stop wishing for things that are outside of her current grasp.

 “I was wishing I were that kind of rich, the kind where people have to respect you, because that’s what money does. It makes people shut up. It means you live in the big house, throw the cool birthday parties, belong to the country club that has its own jokes, its own dances; take awesome vacations, go skiing enough to get really good at it, own the best clothes, get the green dress.”

Ultimately, this is a summer for Cricket to find herself and to find love in the most unexpected place.

“The only opinion that should matter to me was that of the girl in the mirror. For the first time it felt true. It didn’t matter what other people thought of me; it mattered what I thought of me. I’m not sure why it was at that moment that it finally sank in, except that maybe this is how wisdom works sometimes. You hear it, and some extra-smart part of your brain that you don’t even realize you have grabs it. It stays there, hidden away, until it’s needed.”

This novel kept me turning pages from the very start. I simply couldn’t put it down. Five out of five stars for this brilliant debut!

Advertisements

“By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead”—A Book Rant

9781423130215_p0_v2_s260x420

By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters just didn’t quite hit the mark. I feel like it could have been a meaningful and deep story, but the main character was too damn annoying for me to feel sorry for her.

Daelyn has been bullied at her old school and tried to take her life by drinking bleach. It didn’t work. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital. Now she can’t speak because her throat is still in recovery and she is starting at a new Catholic school.

When she starts this new school, Daelyn decides that she will not make any friends. She will not look at or talk to anyone…because what’s the point in trying to make friends when she plans to kill herself—and actually succeed this time.

Daelyn stumbles upon a website that starts a countdown timer for 23 days. During this time period, it essentially guides her through the steps of purging her life of nonessential things and cleansing everything so that she will be ready to end her life when the timer runs out. Every day she logs into this site and blogs about her life, and reads other blogs about people who are getting ready to commit suicide as well. It gets pretty heavy, as some bloggers talk about being raped and abused.

Then there is this kid who starts sitting with Daelyn every afternoon at the bench outside of her school, where she waits for her mother to pick her up. His name is Santana, and he absolutely will not give up, refusing to leave her alone like she asks. He even ends up getting her to relent and come over to his house one afternoon.

Daelyn resists Santana as much as she can, because it’s too late to let people into her life, right? Throughout the entire book, even as she starts directly interacting with Santana, she still logs onto the suicide site everyday and continues with her preparations to kill herself.

I’m sorry; I just could not get into this book. In my opinion it was entirely ineffective. The main character actually has parents who are trying to be there for her and she is completely stubborn and won’t let them help her. And she likes this Santana kid, but is too f*cking obsessed with her suicidal plans to let him be the friend he wants to be. So she has all of these people (who are not the people from her other school who bullied her) trying to befriend her and help her, but she is too stuck her own pathetic head and feeling sorry for herself to even try to put forth any effort at life. Thus, in my opinion the main character was just whiny and lazy, and by the end of the book, I just kept thinking to myself, “Oh my God, just do it already so I can stop reading about it.”

I feel that books such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Hold Still by Nina LaCour were much more affective in their delivery on the issue of teen bullying and suicide.

I give this book two out of five stars.

“Before You Go” –A Book Review

before you go

Before You Go by James Preller, is a quick, but profound read. At 208 pages, I made it through this book in a few hours, but don’t let the size fool you about its might (pun not intended).

The summer before Jude’s senior year in high school, he takes a crappy summer job on the boardwalk flipping burgers. But anything is better than being stuck inside the house all day with an emotionally unavailable, pill-popping mother.

His little sister drowned in the backyard swimming pool seven years ago, when Jude was supposed to be watching her, and he has never been able to let go of the guilt. But the thing is, Jude was just a kid himself. Ever since that catastrophic summer, the only person Jude has ever really opened up to is his best friend, Corey.

When Becka starts working at the beachside concession stand with him, he is immediately enthralled by her. Because of how closed off Jude is, he keeps Becka at a safe distance, while somehow managing to pull her in at the same time. With the encouragement of his best friend and co-worker, Jude finally decides to go for it with Becka, and learning that they both play guitar and are passionate about the same music, it doesn’t take long for these two teens to hit it off.

But as it often does with life, just when things begin to look up, tragedy strikes again. As Jude struggles to stay afloat, he must decide if letting yourself love someone is worth the risk of a broken heart.

All in all I would have to give this book 3 ½ out of 5 stars. The narration was a bit weak at times, but I believe this book is worth the read. It doesn’t take long to finish, and the overall messages you take away will resonate within your heart. James Preller had me analyzing the important things in my life and asking myself, “Is it worth the risks?”

 

”Jude couldn’t locate the name for this feeling, the string of a child’s helium balloon slipping through his fingers, this sense of floating skyward, knew only a boy’s confusion and thrill and desire, the heart’s thrup and thrum. Kiss me again and again until all the stars crowd the sky like scattered salt on black rock. He pressed into her again, his heart on her lips.”

“Vampire Academy”—A Book RAVE *Movie Announced

Image

 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Vampire Academy series, by Richelle Mead! I absolutely cannot say enough good things about it. It is simply phenomenal and everything that Twilight isn’t. Great plots, strong characters, steamy romance that holds nothing back…need I say more? Yes? Okay, fine…here it goes.

In the wonderful world Richelle Mead has created, there are 3 different types of vampires:

 1)Strigoi – You’re typical evil “dead” vampires, who drain the blood of their victims and have no conscience. Sunlight kills them. They can turn any vampire or human into a Strigoi by draining the blood.

2) Moroi – Vampires who need blood to survive, but only take it from willing feeders, and never enough to kill. They make up the royal vampire families and have an elemental magic of earth, wind, fire, or water. Sunlight is uncomfortable and will physically drain them, but won’t immediately kill them. They tend to have tall, slim frames.

3) Dhampir – The result of a Moroi mating with either a human or another Dhampir. They do not need blood to survive, nor are they affected by the sunlight. They have no elemental powers, but are physically stronger than an average human. They tend to have a shorter, sturdier frame than Moroi vampires.

Strigoi are bad. They wish to either kill or turn others into one of them…especially Moroi vampires. Because the Moroi contain elemental magic, and many make up the royal court, Dhampirs are trained to be Guardians for the Moroi, following them around continuously, keeping vigilant to prevent harm from befalling them.

 

Logistics out of the way…the story:

Vasilisa “Lissa” Dragomir is a Moroi vampire and the last of the royal Dragomirs. Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway is a Dhampir and Lissa’s best friend since childhood. Rose takes it as her personal mission to keep Lissa safe at all costs—being that Lissa is the last heir in a royal family, there are many who wouldn’t mind seeing her dead. And just to paint you a picture of the awesome snark in this series, here is a quote from Rose on how the two became friends:

“Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target. Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.”

Rose and Lissa had run away from St. Vladimir’s Academy and were finally caught and dragged back to the institution, whose sole purpose is to teach Moroi how to be functioning members of the vampire society, and Dhampirs how to be Guardians. Due to a near death accident, Lissa and Rose are linked, allowing Rose to sense Lissa’s feelings, hear her thoughts, and occasionally see the world through Lissa’s eyes. Again…an awesome bit of snark from when the girls were captured and returned to St. Vladimir’s and Rose argues to be Lissa’s Guardian after learning that a mysterious, giant, twenty-something Russian guy has been assigned the task instead:

Dimitri: “She might be wild and disrespectful, but if she has potential—”
Rose: “Wild and disrespectful? Who the hell are you anyway? Outsourced help?”
Kirova (Principle): “Guardian Belikov is the Princess’s guardian now, her sanctioned guardian.”
Rose: “You got cheap foreign labor to protect Lissa?”

And here is my perfect segue for the introduction of Dimitri Belikov –girls (and guys), here is your cue to start swooning.

Dimitri is a Guardian in his early twenties, who came over from Russia. He has not only been assigned the duty of being Lissa’s guardian, but has accepted the challenge of training Rose to someday be an official Guardian to Lissa as well. Just to get your blood pumping, here is a description of our sexy Russian beast: 6’7”, long brown hair (often pulled back into a low pony tail), a body roped with lean muscle, crazy awesome combat skills (not to mention a ridiculously high stamina; wink, wink) seductive brown eyes, has the heart of a gentle giant, wears a long cowboy duster, and can usually be found reading a paperback western novel in his free time.

Dimitri pushes Rose hard during their training sessions, refusing to let her slack off. He takes her snarky remarks and attitude with ease, letting them roll off of him, but is often caught staring at her as if she were a priceless French painting. But of course he would never allow himself to admit it. Dimitri quickly becomes fiercely protective over not only his charge, Lissa, but Rose as well. When Rose injures her ankle, Dimitri flies to her side at the nurse’s office (and of course, Rose dishes out a hearty serving of sarcasm):

Rose: The only thing better than imagining Dimitri carrying me in his arms was imagining him shirtless while carrying me in his arms.

Dimirti: “I’m glad you’re better,” he said. His mouth sounded like it was almost in my hair, just above my my ear. “When I saw you fall…”
Rose: “You thought, ‘Wow, she’s a loser.’”

But naturally, because of his position as Lissa’s Guardian, Dimitri cannot allow himself to fall for Rose, because a)It would be unethical as her instructor and b)If he cared more for Rose, Lissa’s safety could be compromised:

Dimitri: “No. If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.”

Okay, peeps, if these little snippets aren’t enough to make you immediately pick up the nearest copy of Vampire Academy and devour it, your must have suffered head trauma of some kind. This entire series is a nonstop adrenaline rush…and just wait until you are introduced to the cocky, green-eyed, Moroi Royal, Adrian Ivoshkav!

Much to my delight, the series is being made into a movie! *insert happy dance* Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters is set to be release on February 14, 2014. I know what I’m doing next Valentine’s Day, for sure 😉 And they got an actual Russian actor to play the part of Dimitri…hopefully Danila Kozlovsky can live up to our expectations!

“Beautiful Creatures” –A Book/Movie Rant

beautiful creatures

“Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia is a paranormal teen book that has gotten RAVE reviews…and I just don’t get it. While I did actually somewhat enjoy reading this book, it was a bit tedious. This entire series has great potential to be a phenomenal supernatural story, but due to the over explaining of EVERYTHING, it misses the mark. Each book could be summed up in about 300 pages verses the 600+.

Ethan Wate lives in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. And he hates every minute of it. With his mother’s recent death, and his father’s evasion of life since the accident, Ethan’s only companions are his best friend Link, and his superstitious nanny, Amma—a “Seer” who can see the future and contact the spirits of her deceased family.

When Lena Duchannes arrives in Gatlin to live with her eccentric uncle, Macon Ravenwood (the notorious recluse), the town gets a little shaken up. Of course, the snooty debutant-type girls at school automatically hate this not-so-prissy-prim-and-proper new comer and label her a freak, doing everything in their power to make her life a living hell. Little do they know, they weren’t that far off the mark—Lena and her family are Castors (universally known as witches).

For months before Lena actually arrived in Gatlin, Ethan had been dreaming about her—literally. So naturally, he’s immediately obsessed with the girl and learns all about her not-so-normal life. In the Castor world of Kami Garcia’s books, Castors’ powers are claimed by the moon for either the light or the dark upon your Sixteenth birthday, and Lena is terrified of going dark, like her mother.

Of course there is an entire past legend/mystery that unfolds, linking Ethan’s life and ancestors to Lena’s. A new drama develops every few chapters or so, such as Lena’s “dark” cousin Ridley (who is a Siren) showing up and seducing Ethan’s best friend Link, persuading him to do her bidding with each suck of her lollipop. No, really…a lollipop. It’s not a dirty metaphor for anything.

Again, I didn’t entirely hate this series. It has serious cool potential and characters…this quote is one of my favorite descriptions of Lena Duchannes: (She’s sounds like a badass chic that I could totally get along with.)

“She was wearing a purple T-shirt, with a skinny black dress over it that made you remember how much of a girl she was, and trashed black boots that made you forget.”

There is also a touch of snark and wit here and there in the novels, which I appreciated:

“If a girl says not to get her a birthday present that means get me a birthday present and make sure it’s jewelry.”

Thus, to end my rant, I will say that if you have HOURS of your life to waste, go ahead and pick up “Beautiful Creatures” and give it a whirl…it’s not completely terrible. But if you are like me, and have the attention span of a ferret, skip this one and read something a little more stimulating. (If you need recommendations, just ask! I have them coming out the wazoo!)

Alas, the movie was the same as the book…it took WAY too long to end! I was intrigued for about the first 30 minutes or so, but then I found myself becoming bored and restless. There just doesn’t need to be that much extra “stuff” to get the point of the story across.

*The horrible southern accents were quite entertaining, though 😛

“Under The Never Sky” – A Sizzling Dystopian Tale

the never sky
Imagine a world where the simple act of being outside can be lethal.

The setting = the future. Aether storms have become rampant, lighting up the sky with strange lightening that destroys all in its path.

The Solution = Pods; Dome houses built to be a self-contained way of community. Members of the Pods spread out across the world are known as Dwellers. How do Dwellers keep from going completely insane being sealed inside an indoor habitat? With a Smarteye; a small, flesh-colored, device that fits right over your eye, and places you in the virtual world of your choosing, known as Realms. Go for a stroll along the Thames River in London, meet your friends for gelato outside a café in Italy, go cliff diving off the cliffs of Mohr. And even better…you can feel all sensations while in the Realms, as if they were actually happening.

The downside to this way of living = people weren’t meant to be constrained and as a result, a few quite literally go “stir crazy” and lose their minds, along with all sense of reality. This is where the story begins…a young man (who just so happens to be the Consul’s son) leads Aria (a teenage girl, and a Dweller in the Pod named Reverie) into a restricted area of the Pod and starts a fire, burning the space down, and causing three human lives to be lost.

How does Aria escape death herself? A Savage (a being who lives outside of the Pods) just so happens to be snooping around Reverie, and saves her from the deranged Consul’s son, taking Aria’s Smarteye with him when he leaves. But of course, there are never any consequences for the authoritarian’s children, thus Aria is laden with the blame of the fire.

Aria’s punishment = Exile to The Death Shop (the wastelands outside of the Pods). Aria thinks she is simply being transferred to another Pod to be with her mother, but instead, she is kicked out of the Hover and dropped directly into the borderlands, where the Aether storms run unbridled and have no mercy.
And then there is Peregrine, known by most as Perry. He is a Savage, and the younger brother to the leader of a tribe known as The Tides. Where the Pods are 100% advanced, futuristic technology, The Death Shop is a leap in the opposite direction, resembling the days before such modern conveniences as electricity existed. The outside tribes battle against everything the Aether tries to destroy, hunting and fishing to stockpile goods for harsh winters.

On a hunting trip gone bad, a Dweller Hover appears by the shore and snatches up Perry’s young nephew Talon, and trying (but failing) to retrieve the pilfered Smarteye from Perry. Perry is racked with guilt over his nephew’s kidnapping (not the first kid to go missing among The Tides), and flees his tribe and compound out of shame, determined to rescue Talon.

Told in alternating points of view, Perry and Aria, two refugees, collide during an Aether storm and band together out of necessity—Aria has no knowledge of life outside the Pods and is desperate to find her mother, and Perry needs to get the Smarteye repaired so that Aria can use it to locate his stolen nephew.

On their expedition through the wastelands, Perry begins to learn that his hasty judgment in labeling Dwellers as inept may not apply to all. Aria repeatedly proves herself, determined to make it through The Death Shop and fix her Smarteye to help locate Talon in exchange for an escort to her mother’s Pod. Along the way, she begins to see the ruggedly handsome Perry in a new, less callous, light. And the fact that Perry is Marked as being gifted with a dominant sense, not only as a Seer, but also as a Scire (one who can sense temperaments), makes his and Aria’s journey all the more interesting.

If you loved The Hunger Games and crave the next greatest adventure, look no further. “Under The Never Sky” is a heart pounding, gut clinching, thrill ride, soaked in romantic suspense! READ IT! READ IT NOW!

“She’d survived the outside. She’d survived the Aether and cannibals and wolves. She knew how to love now, and how to let go. Whatever came next, she would survive it, too.”

***

And also, the sequel (“Through The Ever Night”) is just as amazing! I hate it when you get psyched about a series and the sequel comes up flat; it’s the worst kind of dissapointment for a booknerd. Alas, I am pleased to say, this is definitely not one of those times!

“The Jungle hides a girl who cannot die.”

Image

 

If you’re a fan of dystopian tales, Jessica Khoury’s Origin is the book for you.

“You are immortal, Pia, and you are perfect.” This is what sixteen-year-old Pia has heard every day of her life.  

Pia is immortal, with impenetrable skin, amplified physical skills, and superior mental strength. She is the first and only of her kind, created by a group of scientists known as the Immortis team. The scientists and Pia reside in a high security, fenced in place called Little Cam that lies within the Amazon jungle. She is the youngest member of the compound and all her life Pia has only known science and her definitive goal of joining the Immortis team. The sole focus of the Immortis team is to use a compound dubbed “Immortis,” made from mixing the nectar of the rare elysia flower (deadly to any who ingest it) with a mysterious catalyst flower (making it safe to inject into humans) to create more “perfect” immortals like Pia. Ultimately, the Immortis team hopes to someday create enough immortals to rule the world and make up the perfect human race. Unfortunately, it takes 5 generations of injecting offspring with the Immortis serum to create an immortal. Pia has never questioned her way of life, wanting to create an immortal boy so as to not be alone forever, watching every mortal around her die.

But then, on her seventeenth birthday, Pia does the unthinkable—she discovers an opening at the bottom of the border fence and crawls underneath it, into the unknown territory of the jungle. Skittish in this unknown expanse, Pia literally smacks into a handsome young man with bronze skin, jet black hair, and the purest blue eyes, named Eio. This is the first boy Pia has ever seen, and she finds herself fascinated by this stranger.

Pia begins to make sneaking out of Little Cam a habitual act, meeting Eio within the depths of the Amazon, and even meeting the Amazonian tribe he belongs to—the Ai’oans. Pia starts to learn that there are other ways of life than that of scientists:

“We…do things a lot differently, yes, but in many ways we are just the same as you…We eat, we sleep, we breathe. We smile when we’re happy, and we cry when we’re sad. When we swim, we must come up for air. When we work all day, our backs get sore. When we get cut, we bleed.”

Eio shows Pia the ways of the jungle, opening her mind to other ways of living, and thinking. Helping her to understand that, just because something is different, doesn’t mean that it is wrong:

“He said that seeing and understanding are two different things. Our eyes show us one side of an object, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t five other sides we can’t see. So why trust your eyes? Why live your whole life thinking that just because you can’t see every side to something, those other sides don’t exist?”

After many visits to the Ai’oan village and spending time with Eio, for the first time in her life, Pia begins to question her way of life, her goals, and everything she’s ever been taught and believed to be the perfect truth:

 “No one should live forever,” I whisper. “Isn’t that how it goes? There must be a balance. No birth without death. No life without tears. What is taken from the world must be given back. No one should live forever, but should give his blood to the river when the time comes so that tomorrow another may live. And so it goes.”

Through her continual escapes into the Amazon, and treks with Eio, Pia slowly unveils horrible truths about her life and existence in Little Cam. Inevitably, she must make some difficult decisions about what is right and what is wrong.

Origin is an enthralling read. I couldn’t devour it quickly enough…and the ending is killer! This dystopian narrative certainly doesn’t disappoint.