Thursday, January 23, 2014

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan


Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)

"Surgeon General releases new report on HTS.  More than 19,000 registered carriers.
A new report on Homicidal Tendency Syndrome shows that cases are more dangerous and widespread than originally thought.  The data illustrates a predisposition for extreme violence in HTS carriers and a clear correlation between the HTS gene and convicted murderers.  This information, coupled with the rise in capital crime, calls for increased testing protocols and more severe measures to protect our citizens against HTS carriers..."


In Uninvited by Sophie Jordan the reader enters the world, in the not so distant future, where a new gene has been discovered in order to predict who would commit violent acts.  Initially this plot reminded me of The Forsaken trilogy by Lisa M. Stasse; however, detecting the HTS is still new to this world, so they don't have a secluded island where these teenagers are dropped off on to die.  In Jordan's world policies are still being written. 
Davy has been known through her life by many things, including musical prodigy; however, she never expected to be labeled a killer.  When her test results come back positive for HTS, her life falls apart.  Her wonderful boyfriend who loved her the day before, now only wants her for sex, she can no longer attend her old school, her friends have turned on her, and she must attend public school with other HTS students in a caged in classroom.  She is not safe, because if you have the HTS no one will treat you as a human being.  You can be rapped (if you are a girl, since there seems to be fewer girls than boys that are diagnosed with HTS) and no one would care or believe you, even if it was a teacher.  Her only saving grace in her new life is an inexplicable connection to Sean O'Rourke, a fellow HTS.  Life seems a little less than bearable, but Davy is trying to pull herself together and discover who she is, now that all her hopes and dreams have been dashed.  One fateful day a few labeled as HTS decide to show the world that they are all right and those that are labeled as HTS are all killers, basically if they treat us like killers than let's be killers mentality.  After killing 150 people at a mall, the government decides to take action and put those with HTS in internment camps that mirror the horrors of the Holocaust.  Davy, Sean, and others with HTS that have “special talents” (aka: multi-lingual, prodigies, computer programmers, etc.) are placed into a special program, one that sounds like a ticket out of being put into the camps; however, what they don’t realize is that they will be walking into a fate far much worse than they could have ever imagined. 

This book was highly original and at times very graphic.  I found myself asking and saying things like, “Why would you make teenagers do that!?!”  “Is it necessary for that guy to force…” “Oh. My. God.  She just did that.  There’s no going back.  She really did that.”  Considering that this will be a two part series, I am highly anticipating the next book.  I want to find out what happens with Davy and crew.  Does each character’s actions in this book snowball out of proportion in the next?
4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss!

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Sheperd

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)

Her Dark Curiosity is the second book in Megan Sheperd's The Madman's Daughter series.  In the first book the author takes a crack at The Island of Doctor Moreau, creating a spin off that displayed his daughter as the main character in his world of atrocities.  After defeating her father and escaping his island of horrors Juliet is still reeling from Montgomery's betrayal.  Back in London, Juliet is suffering even more from her father's experiments on her, the dark acts she has committed making her feel like she is more of her father's daughter than she would like to be, and there are also mysterious deaths occuring that have a certain flair to them that make Juliet wonder if some of the horrors she left behind have in fact followed her.  Among all of this there is also a conspiracy afoot that Juliet will have to uncover.  Just because she left the island, doesn't mean that Juliet has escaped anything yet!  With undertones of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, readers will find that this dark madness is extremely curious. 

3 out of 5 stars!

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)

Into the Still Blue is the third and final installment to Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky trilogy.  I think it was a great conclusion to this awesome series.  Many characters grow out of their preordained roles, and some not so much.  The ending resolves most things; however, it leaves enough undone that one can surmise countless of outcomes for our main characters.  Under the Never Sky will take you for a ride in a world that is controlled by lightening, where blood lords exist, hightened senses are explored, and virtual reality is a constant.  Fall into Aria, Perry, Roar, and Soren's stories and be swept away by Rossi's imaginative and intricate world. 

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

"Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and glady die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is the tale of Franny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson.  For those that did not know, Franny was an American divorcee that married RLS (her junior of more than a decade), who is well known for books such as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  This book dealt with Franny and RLS's love affair and marriage. 

Franny Osbourne is an American woman, who has had enough of her whore mongering husband in San Francisco.  Trying to get her three children and herself away from the negative life style in America and trying to get her daughter to become a well rounded artist, Fanny ships out to Paris.  Paris proves to be a dangerously amazing adventure, especially when Fanny meets a young Scottish novice writer along with a band of artists, who shape her future into what we know now.

RLS is a struggling writer.  He is struggling against what his father wants him to do, what society wants him to do, and ultimately what he will do.  What he doesn't realize is that Fanny will be walking into his life and changing everything he knew. 

The book also gives a great background to the adventures both had in the Pacific.  Through the ups and downs of their life, which included severe health issues for both, there was a love story worth writing about.  Who would have married a divorcee with children so eagerly at that time?  Who would have married a starving artist, with children to feed during that time?  Both were pioneers in both social and cultural aspects.  Their love story is tender, rocky, and real.

I gave the book 3.5 stars, because in the middle of the book there were moments of lull when describing the new settings; however, this book was an amazing adult read.

Thank You Edelweiss and NetGalley.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publication Date: 1/28/2014
3.5 stars out of 5 stars




“I was raised to marry a monster.”

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge demonstrates the cruelty in beauty and the beauty in the cruel, but also that there is far more truth than the eye can see when it comes to evil.  Eighteen years ago a young man was in love with a young woman.  They loved each other with a great passion and married.  Like all really love stories, their sweet story was laced with bitterness for the wife could not produce children, and therefore could not produce heirs.  Her husband was not worried about this, but the woman could not accept to live with this incompetency.  Not wanting to lose his love, the young husband went to the Gentle Lord, the lord of bargains, and he bargained like most humans do for something that he thought he deserved.  Like all humans do, this husband bargained with the Lord, only to realize that no matter what the Lord and the Kindly Ones always win in the end.  His bargain was a fool’s bargain at best, and therein lays the beginning of Nyx and Ignifex’s story. 

Nyx was born out of a bargain along with her sister Astraia.  In this bargain one of the daughters must be chosen as the wife of the Gentle Lord, the demon that runs their country and lives.  Nyx, being the one that does not favor her deceased mother, has been chosen and trained since a little child on how to defeat her future husband.  The future of her country and her family are now in her hands.  What Nyx doesn’t expect is to find a kindred spirit within Ignifex, the Gentle Lord.  Nor does she understand where this attraction for the demon she’s hated all her life has spawn from.  Along with figuring out her feelings, Nyx stubbles upon some secrets hidden in plain sight about her world, who the Gentle Lord really is, and where the lost prince of Arcadia has been all this time.  Can Nyx destroy her husband, the one who has accepted her with all her faults, the person who never asked anything from her?  Who will Nyx betray? 

This was a solid book, with great characters.  As someone who tends to walk on the darker path when it comes to good and evil stories, I really liked Ignifex.  He was funny, dark, and somewhat very honest depiction of reality.  The story also gave a glimpse into the human soul and to human desires, along with the morality of our choices spawn from desire.  Cruel Beauty is decadent tale old as time but fresh and with new players. 
Thank You Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for an honest review/reaction.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

The Crane Wife


The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Publication Date: 1/23/2014

 

“There were as many truths—overlapping, stewed together—as there were tellers.  The truth mattered less than the story’s life.  A story forgotten died.  A story remembered not only lived, but grew.” 


Since reading the Chaos Walking series, Patrick Ness has been my “It” author for the past year.  After reading A Monster Calls, I fell even harder for his masterful literary logic.  It almost seems as if everything Patrick Ness writes turns to gold; alas, this is not a Greek myth and Ness is not King Midas.  The Crane Wife did not fill me with hope, anger, and understanding for my fellow human beings; well, not completely.  I understood the themes, the story and most of the characters, but what was lacking was the ability to completely translate all those emotions, themes, and actions into this book.  At times the two stories (one story is about our Protagonist, the other story is a myth of The Lady and The Volcano) seemed to be spliced inadequately.

I don’t want to muck the book’s reputation; it indeed did deliver a sort of Ness-ness that you would expect.  I enjoyed the breakdown of love, and how it is equated with forgiveness.  My favorite message is that one cannot be forgiven by someone, unless they ask to be forgiven (or are ready to receive forgiveness).    The feelings of love (of, or lack thereof), anger, and forgiveness were a repetitive theme that stayed constant.  I did like this book in the way people like Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, it is a glimpse in a very normal life and how our choices and our acceptance of ourselves shape our life experiences.  This book just happen to be wrapped with a myth as well.  I do not want to sit here and explain the story, because I feel like it wouldn’t make sense.  This is a story someone should read in order to understand what the book is about.  It is a story that will have different meanings for me, than Patrick Ness, than Goodreads’ members, or anyone else.  It’s a personal message, that doesn’t make sense unless it is speaking to you directly.   Trying not to compare this book with other Ness’ work, I would tell others to give it a chance.  The story might not mean anything to you, but you will find similarities of your own feelings and experiences streaking through the words in the book. 

 

Thank you Edelweiss for the ARC.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fake ID by Lamar Giles

Fake ID

Fake ID by Lamar Giles
Expected Publication Date: January 21st, 2014
2 out of 5 stars


Fake ID by Lamar Giles is the story of Nick Pearson.  Nick has been in witness protection for 4 years, ever since his father decided to rat out his gangster boss, this move affected his family (Nick and his mom).  For the past 4 years Nick and his family have and to learn cover stories, use new names and move to various cities in the US.  Because Nick’s father cannot shake the crime life, Nick and his family have had to relocate various times, much to the federal government’s chagrin.  This last placement in Stepton, Virginia is Nick’s family’s final chance, or else they will be let off the witness protection program. 

What Nick was not counting on was being relocated to a town full of criminal activity; enter Eli Cruz editor of the high school newspaper.  Eli has caught the scent of a really big conspiracy going on in Stepton, and it seems like those running the town are in on it.  In a town where the law is bent more times than not, will Nick and his family be able to stay out of the crime-lime-light?

This book had some potential and it kept me interested, until about right around the time Eli was murdered.  It seemed choppy and forced towards the end, as if the author was just trying to wrap everything up, but nothing was wrapped up.  I had more questions at the end than I did in the beginning.  I am not sure if this will be a series, since I really feel like the story is not finished, I mean nothing was resolved.

Thank You Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.






The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos


The Scar Boys
 
The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Expected publication: January 21st 2014 by Egmont USA

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

“I’m ugly and shy and my face, head, and neck are covered with hideous scars.  I was almost struck by lightning.  I wish I had been struck by lightning.  I was a methadone addict before the age of 10.  It’s my fault that my best friend almost got killed.  I played guitar in the greatest punk rock band you’ve never heard of.  And that was all before my 19th birthday, which isn’t for another five months.”
 
Harry was tied up to a tree by some bullies and left there.  The only problem was that a lightning storm had just started.  At age 8, Harry was struck by lightning and was burned severely.  Since that moment he has been the resident freak at school, lonely, and uninspired by life… that is until he meets Johnny.  Johnny is a popular boy in their middle school, who one day stands up for him and takes him under his wing.  Together they start up a band, The Scar Boys, in high school and slowly Harry realizes that he is holding himself back from living.  Harry also realizes that Johnny might not have his best interest at heart. 

I really liked the story and the direction it took towards the end… sorry Johnny, I guess you will see how life has been for Harry all this time.  I wish there was more time with Harry, but seeing how he was able to process that changes within him in this short read, it is okay that there wasn’t more to the story (the story is short due to the fact that this is Harry reflecting on his life for a college essay.)  I found this to be a complex, compelling, and bittersweet.  If you are looking for a real-fic book with social issues and a main character that is easy to feel for, this is the book for you.

Thank You Edelweiss and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy (Defy, #1)


Normally I start off my reviews with a little snipet of the book, a snipet that speaks for the book.  I cannot do that with Defy by Sara B. Larson.  Defy is suppose to be a book about a young girl who's family has been killed and in order to save herself from the awful breeding houses (a nod to A Handmaiden's Tale) she must disguise herself as a boy, just like her twin brother Marcel.  Her whole purpose for the past few years has been to hide, remain alive, and serve her kingdom.


Alexa/Alex is not this character, this is not the book it promises.  Is it terrible, not really, it's just very all about girl figuring out that she has hormones... which is  not really as adventurous or action packed as you might think.  I think it is safe to say that if you are looking for the story promised of a bad ass girl fighter, just skip this book and pick something up like Eon by Alison Goodman, The Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa, or The Lotus War series by Jay Kristoff.  Now those are soem books with kick ass girls (some of which have to do the whole gender role switch).  Do not pick up this book, unless you really loved Twilight because it was a love story, not because of the fantasy promise of Vampires, Werewolves, and wars (which had nothing to do with Twilight no matter how hard she wanted to try. 

There was not enough world building, our strong main character is fickle at best and too entertained by half naked torsos than by the impending war and her duty, and unfortunately every supporitng character along with her Prince were flat.  It felt as if the author was trying to be amazing and intertwine about 10 books she has read together to make this book.  I am not saying it isn't possible to accomplish this; however, it would have been more valuable if she hadn't have tried to ring in so many different ideas into one book, or series.  I did read the whole book, word for word, heart beat by heart beat, and I have no ill feelings about this debut author, I just think that perhaps this book was falsely advertised... in a bad way.

At the end I felt like this:



THANKS NETGALLEY, 2/5 stars


And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard


“THE SAFE WAY
Never relinquish your childhood,
Your devotion to dolls,
to dressing them, pouring their tea,
bathing them, combing their hair,
tucking them into a nursery.
 
For they will teach you their way:
And We Stay
that there’s safety in numbers,
in tasks with beginnings and ends;
they will make you believe
in the tightness of sleep.
 
You are not too old,
you are never too old
to unpack them from boxes,
lift them up, one by one,
catching each moment
when eyes blink open, blink wide,
lining them up on your unmade bed—
a chorus of wonder
at your return.
Emily Beam, March 15, 1995”

 

 

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard is the story of Paul and Emily.  On December 12th, 1994, Paul walked in to the library at school looking for his girlfriend Emily Beam.  What they said to each other, only Emily will ever know, because Paul fired 3 shots that day and one landed true in him.  Now Emily will tell us her story and what became of Paul before the tragic event of his suicide. 

Trying to adjust after this event, Emily finds herself alone (her parents made her move away) and guilt ridden.  It is hard to explain what happens in the book without explaining away the reason behind Paul’s misery, that the author did a good job of peeling away layer by layer.  What we find out as readers is that life is unexpected, growing up is scary and thrilling, and first love is never as clear as you think it would be.  The book is also littered with Emily’s new poems, this is one of her ways of coping with what happened, and also inviting people in to her closed of secretive world.  At first I thought this was going to be a high school shooting story with a twist, a haunting from Emily Dickenson—this of course sounded crazy, so I am glad it did not end up being like this.  It wasn’t really a high school shooting, and Emily Dickenson is present, but just as a poet who inspires Emily to get out all her feelings… one of her poems also hits close to home with Paul before he pulls the trigger.  I hated Emily’s parents, and I really can’t stand “because it the best decision for you…” explanations that parents give their children, when in reality it’s the least embarrassing option for the parent.  However, it’s reality and this story is just trying to show readers the reality of our choices, and that we cannot always predict or direct others to react in a particular way, in a way that benefits us. 
 
This story is about pain, grief, love, and the lies we tell ourselves.  I wish I could tell kids that they should slow down with their actions; they will have plenty of time to make mistakes and have to make big decisions, that being a teenager should be light and fun, but no one will listen and the mistakes will roll and the growing up fast will happen.  That is the reason I picked the particular poem from the book above, Emily is finally seeing that she’s a child with too many adult issues and decisions laid out on her. 

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

The Secret of Magic


“I would like you to come down to Revere, Mississippi, to investigate the death of Joe Howard Wilson, a veteran recently and honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant from the United States Army.  His family, and most especially his father, Willie Willie, has worked for my own family for years.  Willie Willie has expressed to me his wish to have this unfortunate incident investigated by a Negro.  I thought it best to choose a Negro from outside the state of Mississippi.  I imagine you are far too busy in New York to find time to attend to this matter, but should you choose to concern yourself, I will agree to pay all the attendant expenses.

Sincerely,

 Mary Pickett Calhoun (M.P. Calhoun)”

 

Joe Howard Wilson has just come back from the war.  It is October 1945, somewhere in Alabama.  Joe is on a bus, about 40 miles away from his home town of Revere, Mississippi.  While on the bus, the sheriff of Aliceville, Alabama tells the “Colored” bus riders to get up and allow for German POWs to sit in their seats.  Rightly so, Joe declines.  This one stand marks him as a dead man.  A couple of hours later, he is pulled out of the bus, tortured, and killed.

Regina Mary Robichard knows all about the differences of the color of your skin, she knows that her father was lynched by white men before she was born, and she knows that being a young woman lawyer is hard enough without adding the color of her skin as a setback.  Working for Thurgood Marshall on the NAACP LDF counsel for the past couple of years has proven to be both tricky and rewarding.  Since she is the youngest at the firm she has to deal with the soldiers’ cases from all over the country.  Soldiers like Joe Howard are still being discriminated based on their skin color, and it is her job to find them justice.  This seems simple, until M.P. Calhoun’s letter arrives.  Nothing is simple in this case, not to Regina, and she volunteers to go to Mississippi to investigate and represent Willie Willie.

In Mississippi Regina finds a world that is battling change and has the ability to slow down progress.  Regina quickly learns that New York can have its bigot moments, but nothing compares to the fashion of the south, with its oppressive heat and oppressive customs.  Not only will Regina have to navigate a world with a different set of rules than the law, but she will have to discover M.P. Calhoun’s secret, particular about the novel she once wrote called The Secret of Magic.    

The Secret of Magic, which is discussed in the book, is a book that Mary Pickett wrote about a young white girl, with two friends, a black boy and a white boy.  Together these three play in the magical forest of Magnolias, and listen to Daddy Lemon’s (a Negro “Nimrod”—apparently that means good hunter, learn something new every day) stories of magic and mayhem.  It was an innocent book, until there was a murder and it looked like Daddy Lemon could have done it.  Soon Regina realizes that there is more fact than fiction in the story, and characters begin to resemble the town folk of Revere, Mississippi.  M.P. Calhoun has created a story full of secrets and personal stories of the residents, including her.  It is up to Regina to unravel these stories and secrets, survive pre-civil rights racism, and find justice for Lt. Joe Howard Wilson. 

A great story with a bitter sweet ending, which will make you believe in the good of others and make you believe in the bad, as well.

 

Thank You Edelweiss and the publisher for this ARC.  4 out of 5 stars.