Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is so expertly crafted, spiraled and woven together like a glittering tapestry of words. It was truly an unputdownable read, one I will cherish and think back on for a LONG time. The concept is brilliant, but I can't tell you why, it would ruin it. Just read it. Just trust. I can't believe I waited to read this until after reading DELIRIUM.

The MC, Sam(antha) is popular, snarky, and a follower of the worst kind of stuck up girls in school. Through a twist of fate, she's forced to relive the same day for seven straight days, each day a new layer of onion skin peeled back and revealing how changes and perspectives missed can lead you to see what you've been missing all along, even things that have been right in front of your nose. I appreciate how the MC realizes the rut she's in and desires to be a better person. It took a few days (of the seven) to really get pulled into the story, but once I was in, I was in all the way.

So, so, so, very amazing. I feel like I've launched up, up, up from the pages and taken flight. Thank you, Lauren, for making me soar.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review: PERFECT by Natasha Friend

PerfectPerfect by Natasha Friend

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a great quick read, and likely a beginning YA book. I'd place it along the edge of MG/YA (Mid Grade/Young Adult). It's at the top of MG, and at the beginning of YA. The issues dealt with are solid and real, ones I found particularly compelling to want to keep reading to find out what happens.

The story centers around Isabelle Lee and her unlikely BFF, Ashley Barnum, the perfect popular girl at school. When both girls end up in a group for girls with particular disorders, Isabelle can't believe little miss perfect is in the same group.

As the story unravels, it becomes clearer how much both girls have in common and how a friendship sparked in group can help both girls find their way on the pathway to healing and wholeness again. Each girl has unique family issues that warrant their acting out, and I found the writing tight and well focused.

It was an enjoyable read for me, and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this for a 7th or 8th grade class. I'd like to read more books by Natasha Friend, too.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Read 25 Books in 2012!

In order to be a writer, let alone a better writer, you have got to read books. Period. It's like breathing. It stirs creative floodwaters, and urges the tsunami of a new book idea into existence.

Without it, desert. Tumbleweeds. Pocket lint. Stagnation.

So, for this year, I am increasing the number of books I read last year and will continue to do so until I am reading to a much more respectable level (52 books a year!). Baby steps.

So far, 2012 has started out great! I read an amazing book I got for Christmas, and devoured it hungrily. I'm finishing a book tonight (50 pp to go!) and reading another eBook, at the same time. I'll post a separate blog review here.

Man, am I hungry! Give me pages with words on them! NomNomNomNom.

If you'd like to take this challenge and join me, go here and sign up. Select your goal for the year and start reading. Feel free to check in here for great suggestions along the way. I'll review the books as I read them. Who knows? Maybe we have similar taste in books. Check out my TBR pile for suggestions.

If you read a book I've reviewed, I'd love to see your thoughts in the comments section of my blog post. And, as I get word of giveaways, and such, I'll post those, such as the great one on the side bar right now.

We've got a lot of reading to do, so let's get to it! I'm sure I'll be a better writer for it, so this is a resolution I am 100% on board with. Will you join me? I hope so! Share your thoughts below.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
Also see my review of Unravel Me and Ignite Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing way to start off 2012! This book surpassed every expectation I had. I was completely and utterly shattered by everything about this book. I cannot recommend this book higher, because, unfortunately, my superpower is not in raising the maximum number of stars to at least one million. Best. Book. Ever.


I am not just gushing here. Okay, I am gushing a little, but just a miniscule amount compared to the amaZING awesomeness that is SHATTER ME. Stop reading this review and RUN to the nearest bookstore and buy it. You won't regret it. This book is among my favorite Christmas gifts. And, believe me, I received autographed books. An autographed copy of this book (or an autographed bookplate to stick in my copy) would put it even higher on my list!

Now onto the description.

It is a bleak future, devoid of life as we know it. Plants and animals have died out. The environment is irrevocably damaged. It is our fault. We let this happen.

Even worse, this inextricable change has caused Juliette to have a terrible power. Her touch is lethal. Her parents don't want to deal with her, and when the truth of her powers becomes all too clear, Juliette is locked up in an asylum for a death she never intended to happen.

She counts the days minutes hours seconds and writes about it in her journal.

But when she's faced with a cellmate, things become even worse. Her cellmate is a boy. A boy she knows from her past. And she's not sure if he's there to help her or hurt her.

I would love to give you more, but you won't need it. Honestly, I was completely captivated by the end of chapter one. The ratio of questions to answers moves progressively forward, but elusively never enough.

The author expertly drives the story forward on the razor sharp edge of a knife. With it, she (gently) twists the blade in the reader's side and keeps twisting this way and that all the way through the book to the amaZING ending that is as mindblowing as the end of CATCHING FIRE from the HUNGER GAMES trilogy. I am not even kidding. The tension is palpable and kept me turning pages as fast as my fingers could find them as fast as my eyes my eyes my eyes scrambled down the pages devouring gorging reading every word and every lined out word I could find.

Juliette becomes torn between a boy she loves and a boy who thinks he loves her, in his own warped and twisted way. Namely, if love were equal to power. Without giving anything away, Juliette must decide whether to become a weapon of the evil dystopian government, or whether to risk everything for love and take matters into her own deadly hands.

I guarantee you won't be able to put this book down once you start. My wife and I even raced through the book to the end it was so good. I won, of course, but you can have your own wrestling match and get this book. Just don't tell your spouse you have it, or she'll try to steal it from you before you're done.

Oh, and this book has already been optioned for a movie. And, books 2 and 3 are on their way. Join the ranks of those who are gushing about this book, and salivating for book 2. You'll love me for it. You'll hate me for it. I'm okay with that.

Trust me.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Review: Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig

Summer On FireSummer On Fire by Kevin Craig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lying is a slippery slope. Once you take a step and start downward, it's hard to stop yourself, regain your footing and find a way back to normalcy. This is what Zach Carson, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson must face as three friends who just want school to end and summer to begin, if only it were that easy.

Summer on Fire is a slow burn, a story that takes the time to develop character, to flesh out three very unique personalities in the trio of friends, and the secrets and lies they agree to bury in the ashes of the fire they start in the old dry Henderson barn on the edge of town. They're doing what boys do, they go off and explore, they find somewhere to go and hide, and "hang out."

I liked how the families interacted with one another, surprising me time and again with humor and wit, laughter and tears, and a whole lot of Ms. Halverton, self-proclaimed town eccentric. When the town realizes the barn is burned down, another apparent crime is uncovered. A dead body is found. Suddenly, the looming consequence is too big for the three boys, so they make a pact not to tell, and this secret tests the boundaries of all of their friendships.

SUMMER ON FIRE touches on friendship, loyalty, lying and honesty, owning up to personal responsibility, facing your problems/fears instead of running from them, and not giving up on the seemingly hopeless cause.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars, and that was before I learned it was a product of National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo (held every November). SUMMER ON FIRE reminds me of a more innocent (and not so innocent) time when life seemed simpler and less complicated, and boys were boys. It smacks of Stand By Me and The Outsiders. You'll be glad you read this book. I highly recommend it!

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