Saturday, October 17, 2015

Everything, Everything

A book published this year.

Madeline Whittier has SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) which means besically that she is allergic to the world. She lives with her mother, thankfully a doctor, inside a vacuum sealed home, only visited by her nurse and the occasional tutor willing to go through a thorough medical background check, physical, and an hour long decontamination before even stepping foot in the house. She has lived like this since she was diagnosed at five months old, only a month after her father and brother were killed by a truck driver. It's just her and her mom, studying through online tutors, and books. Lots of books.
The day Olly and his family move in next door is the beginning of the end for Madeline. Starting with a few long distance antics over a stone bundt cake, soon the new neighbors are emailing back and forth to get to know one another. It's enough. Until it isn't. Soon Madeline wants so much more from the world than she has been given. "Wanting just leads to more wanting. There is no end to desire."

I loved this book. I loved the way it was formatted, with little charts, drawings, inserts, one line chapters, all of it. It is the book of an eighteen year old, and the way Yoon decided to write it is wonderful. I enjoyed the characters even though Olly is just a little too perfect. I think I found Madeline a little more awesome than most. And I loved the story. There may have been a little cheesy, but there were perfects moments throughout that just made it wonderful.

I think this book was great. I recommend everyone give it a chance. And I am deffinetely going to be looking out for more of Nicola Yoon's books!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Bone Garden

A mystery or thriller.

The Bone Garden is both a mystery and thriller revolving around the West End Reaper of Boston in 1830 and a skeleton found in a woman's backyard in present day Boston. Most of the story takes place in 1830 Boston, at a time when women were dying in childbirth (or soon after) and a vicious killer was on the prowl in the West End. It follows young Rose Connelly as she struggles to keep her niece safe from numerous people trying to find her for various reasons, and Norris Marshall as he tries to rise above his farming background to become a doctor while most of Boston sees him as a killer. Their story is unraveled through the letters of Oliver Wendell Holmes to the original occupant of a house now owned by a very curious Julia Hamill looking for the truth behind the body she unearthed in her garden. While Julia may not have been my most favorite person, her determination to find out the story of the bones she discovered made her a little more interesting. Although I have to side with old Henry when he finally complements her in saying "Look who grew a spine." Young Rose on the other hand is an instant favorite as she struggles to do what is best for her niece after her sister's passing, even as she fells in love she keeps a level head when it comes to protecting young Meggie.

I must say, I don't think this book can really be considered a "Maura Isles" book since the ME makes only two, very brief appearances in the present day story, and even then it is to hand the scene off to someone else. And while her name is what drew me to the book int he first place, the story did not let me down in keeping me interested. I will simply have to look for another of Gerritsen's books while my favorite ME and Detective combo!

While I am not normally a fan of mystery, this book helped pull me a little deeper into the genre. The ups and down and twists and turns in this story are many. I had just as much trouble trying to figure out who to trust as young Rose with Gerritsen effectively throwing me for loops with each new chapter. But then that kept me turning the page, now didn't it. Such an incredibly well written tale about love and death that had me frustrated with so many people and rooting so hard for the few worthy ones. I will say that her portrayal of the medical scene in the US at the time is what will effectively give me more nightmares than the West End Reaper as Gerritsen did a great job of painting a portrait of the past to tell her story in. I think she did a lovely job of weaving in just enough history to make the story that much more believable. 

I really loo forward to reading more of Gerritsen's work and encourage everyone to pick up this book!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Treatment

A book with a love triangle.
I was so incredibly happy upon getting home from vacation, where I read The Program, to find that I had in fact bought The Treatment the weekend before leaving home; along with about 20 others so that's how I forgot.

I was so excited to pick it up and start immediately, even though I was scared it would have me crying and too eager to finish for my own good. I was so right. I finished the book in one day, but managed to contain most of the tears by frantically turning the pages.

This book begins almost immediately after the first one ends. We find Sloane and James in an abandoned parking lot just across the border and having been unable to meet up with their friends. We later find out what happened to those friends, along with the safe house they were originally heading for. The Program is closing in on them. What follows is a roller coaster of a chase where The Program gets a lot to close for comfort, Sloane and James are forced out of their comfort zones and thrown for trust loops, and of course Realm has to return just to through a psychopathic monkey wrench into everyone's plans. This last reason is why I choose this book to fill the "love triangle" list item, because at times that aspect seemed more important than the actual chase.

I did have a few issues with this book, parts that were disappointing after the almost flawless nature of the first book, but I was able to overlook them to keep reading the book, far too interested and invested in the story to slow down. However, I will say that the ending was a small bit of a let down after the crazy roller coaster that was Sloane's life before, during, and after The Program. And like I said, the focus at times seemed to be more on the relationships of the characters than on the drastic nature of what The Program wants to do to those characters if it gets its hands on them. This leads to the characters making some pretty stupid decisions that only luck gets them out of, but hey, it's fiction.

It doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it, because I so do! I believe firmly the book was worth it's flaws. I was, after all, impressed with James attitude change over the course of the novel. Although Sloane does nothing to help her boyfriend with his trust issues, she does see the error of her ways just in time for James to come back to make everything better. Sort of. And wow is Realm not the guy everyone thought, but then I must say, I never really liked him anyway.

I look forward to picking up the last book in the series, a prequel I am told, The Remedy, as soon as I can. I would love to find out how this all started, things so bad that parents would willingly let their children be "erased" to simply keep them alive. This series did bring up some very interesting questions. Would you be willing to have your child's memories, things that possibly make them who they are, to be taken from them just so they stay alive? At what point is it more humane to let them kill themselves over us killing their souls? How desperate would you be?

I would love your take on these books, if you have read them. I would really recommend that you give them a chance if you haven't! Young is one hell of a writer.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Spirit Animals Book #1: Wild Born

A book by an author you've never read before.

Jareth found this new book in the school library and got so excited by the fact that not only was it an AR book, but it also has a code to play an online game based on the story. So I decided to start reading it in the car on our way to Florida, got a little bit in here and there when his begging for a chapter at the end of a long day at Disney had finally worn on me, and we managed to finish the book just an hour from home on the return trip. The only thing was, he wasn't the only one begging me to keep reading. My husband also got caught up in the story and was eager to hear the story. Now we are all interested in picking up the next book in the series to find out where the story is going, what challenges will be thrown in front of the young characters, and what will happen to the world in which they live as the great beasts are pulled into the fray.

If you have children, I highly recommend that you take a chance with this book. Our school has it listed as almost a fifth grade reading level, but Jareth is having no trouble keeping up with it and he is only in the third grade, so I say take the challenge and read it with them to enjoy the story yourself!

The Program

A book that made you cry.
Wow, this book was something else.
When teenage suicide becomes so prevalent it is seen as an epidemic, The Program is developed to watch teens, flag them when they seem depressed, and take them in for treatment. The treatment is to erase the memories The Program deems dangerous to the teenager, things that may have led to their depression, people that may have made them sick. Sloane has front seat tickets to the illness infecting youths when her brother kills himself, her best friend is flagged and taken for six weeks only to return with no memory of Sloane or even her boyfriend, Miller, who is next to be infected. When James, Sloane's boyfriend, her brother's best friend, is flagged, Sloane begins falling as well and finds herself in The Program against her will.
Underneath the pain of not being able to show any emotion in fear of being perceived as ill, the characters in this world are trying to not only play at being seen as happy, but maybe even trying for a few moments of actual happiness. And Suzanne does an incredible job at capturing it all with characters just as jaded and complex as the youths of today. Her writing invoked every emotion on the scale as she told a painful love story through the eyes of a trouble teen. I found myself unable to put down the book, choosing to wear sunglasses as I read in public to hide the tears as James and Sloane, both with no idea who the other is, try to fight their way through the after effects of The Program side by side with very little memory of their past.
Suzanne also does an amazing job of showing the parents in this novel. When I was suffering through my first bouts of depression I remember my father's reluctance to even acknowledge a problem. Later when it became too hard to ignore, I listened to him argue for getting me help in whatever way he could and I worried what that meant for me, who was then trying to hold it together not only for myself but a dear friend of mine. We helped each other through the worst of it together and I could not even begin to imagine loosing her to something like The Program, erasing memories of me because I may have made her ill. Like Sloane I clung to my small circle of companions to help get us all through the toughest years. I can fully sympathize with Sloane as she looses her grip on her emotions while too many eyes waited for her to misstep.
This book was so close to home for me, and it made my heart ache at every turn as Sloane made her way through it all. Suzanne's wonderful writing made it amazing, made it a fantastic read that I didn't want to put down late into the night. The next book is already sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked up! And I recommend everyone give these books a chance!


A book with a one-word title.
I saw this book when I was younger, when I was struggling to come to terms with my own depression. I was visiting the notion of self-harm and the title caught my attention, and I steered clear. I think one of my sisters picked it up and read it, I never asked. This year I am writing a book in which the main character self harms for NaNoWriMo. I thought I would get my hands on some titles that deal with the same issues and found this one in a thrift store. I picked it up a few months back and have only now gotten myself to pick it up and get through it.

I am both angry that I took so long to read this one, and astonished by how much this short novel impacted me. Let me begin by saying that yes, the main character Callie cuts herself, but no, she has no idea what compels her to do it. There are only two instances in the book when she does any actual cutting, but I recommend people that can be triggered by such events approach this book with caution. Callie is the narrator of the story, so we see it all from her point of view, but she is so confused by why she is doing this to herself that the reader, in the position of therapist for young Callie, is left trying to make their way through her emotional distress with her. That is another aspect of the book that captivated and astounded me, the way Patricia weaves the reader into the story as well.

Patricia spent three years researching and writing this novel, and it shows in her incredible grasp of not only Callie and her struggle with cutting, but some of the other girls in the hospital with her as their stories are revealed through what Callie knows about them.

I recommend everyone give this book a try. Especially those that know people who are self-harming, the reasons may not be as simple and straight forward as one might think. Not everyone can control their emotions or keep themselves together. Patricia does a wonderful job of showing this to the reader.

Dismantling Evan

A book set in high school.
I got to meet Venessa Kimball at the Texas Teen Book Festival and got a moment to talk to her about her books. While I am interested in picking up them all, this one appealed to me at this time because of the subject matter.

Evan is a high school senior when her parents move her from California to Texas to try and give her a new start on life. This decision is spurned by her breakdown while trying to interview a bullying jock for the school newspaper, her one outlet. Even is diagnosed with bipolar, something she will deny to her dying day, and given medicine and encouraged to seek counseling int his new town. While trying to deal with the new stress this diagnoses brings into her house, Evan meets a circle of friends that she desperately wants to be a part of, one that closely protects one Gavin Ferguson, a boy bogged down by so many mental labels Evan wonders how his own brother Brody can keep up with them all, let alone with his brother int he absence of their father.

I must say that Venessa did not disappoint when it came to this story. I think she did a great job at writing high school students in all their drama as they try to make their way through life. Evan is a believable teen, even being a little annoying sometimes, and at times I saw some of myself and my own experiences in her. Most of all I liked how Venessa captured Evan's bouts of depression, insomnia, and almost manic episodes as she deals with her diagnosis and illness. 

This book did a wonderful job of setting up the stage as I work my way into the world of depression, self harm, and teenage angst for my NaNoWriMo novel in November. I am so glad I picked up this book and I look forward to reading her other ones and digging further into her writing style.

Bad Blood

A book written by someone under 30
Not only is Zoe Douglas under 30 years of age, but she is a friend of mine, a former college classmate whom I met in short story writing class! When she asked me to do a quick check of her book and give her a little feedback I may have been way too excited, I just love getting to read something someone I know has written. This book was not a disappointment.

Bad Blood is the story of angels, called kalendes, and demons, known as sinnach, as the the latter group fights to find a way to Earth and the unsuspecting humans living there. The story begins in middle of the war but the beginning of the battle for some new recruits as they struggle not only to fight the enemy but to discover the truth about everything that is going on int heir world as people lie, motives become muddied, and sides become unclear. So much more of the story must soon come as Zoe works to tell her version of events relative to forces people have talked about forever.

I will say this. The story does slow down a bit in some places as Zoe tries to give the reader so much more information than may seem necessary at the time being, but will soon become vital to the story unfolding. If the reader will only hang in just a little longer when this happens, I truly believe it is worth it. This book is something else! I eagerly await the next one to find out the grand tale Zoe is planning on telling us.

Give this book a try, I think Zoe has a new vision of how things are working out beyond our realm and a wonderful way of telling it.