Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory {A Review}

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 2014
Source: PLA
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars


For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.


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Let me start by saying how I got the book. I honestly lucked into it. I was at the PLA (Public Library Association)  conference, in the exhibit hall. I knew Laurie Halse Anderson was going to be there between the brochure and the fact that she tweeted about it. I did not, however, know that the line to meet her and get a book signed included a book... free of charge. Plus, I got to meet her. And I love her books, so I was super excited. 

Anyway. All that aside. I was really looking forward to reading this one. And it didn't disappoint. I realize the lack of a fifth star might make it seem otherwise. But that has nothing to do with the writing or the characters. I think, mostly, I wasn't left as emotionally wrung out by it as I wanted to be. So I think it really boils down to my highest of high expectations. Not that I didn't like the way things went. And it's not like I *wanted* tragedy, etc etc... I just wanted more feels, I guess? Hard to explain.

But. I loved Hayley. I loved that she wasn't a reliable person;  you never knew how she was going to react to something. And we get so much information, in snippets, about her past, her father, her life. And her father. I'll admit, I've never had any experience in my life with PTSD, but from what I *do* know about it, it seems like Halse really did her research. And I felt like I was there, right alongside Hayley, for all the ups and downs of the entire story. I felt the struggle between love, fear, and caring that Hayley had within her. 

The supporting characters of Gracie and Topher nearly seemed unnecessary by the end of the story. I think, while it was good to see that Hayley could, in fact, be a fairly normal teenager with Gracie, they didn't really do much for the story. But Finn, on the other hand. He was pretty awesome in his own imperfect ways. And I think Trish served her purpose well as not only bringing background to the story, but giving light to a possible future as well. 

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of LHA, as well as anyone who likes contemporary fiction, especially with a side of heavy topics. Halse handles both superbly.

Want to read it? Have you read it? What'd you think?

Smiles,
B

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Random Reads

Random Reads 

I ran across this meme done by I'm Loving Books today and I absolutely love this idea. So I'm going to join in. :)

What it is:

Basically, we all have a mile-long (at least) to-read list, right? So what you do is go to random.org and use the True Random Number Generator. You put the min number as 1 the max as whatever the number of books is on your to-read list and click 'generate'. Then you go to your to-read list and scroll down to the corresponding number and voila! That's the book you read next. 

For more in-depth info, go to I'm Loving Books! :)

Now I decided I wanted it to be a book I owned. Instead of creating an entire new list on Goodreads of "to-be-read-already-owned" books, I just decided I would regenerate if I got the number for one I didn't own. Thankfully, I didn't have to do that. The first number I got was a winner! And I've been wanting to read this one for a while. Here's the random choice for this month:


You can see I put it on my to-read on goodreads in February of 2013. Yep. Been there a bit. But, I just traded for it on the YA Book Exchange site, so it's on my shelf now! :)

What random book might you try and read this month?

Smiles,
B


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Books & Authors Significant in My Reading Journey {A Top Ten Post}

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they provide a Top Ten topic for you to create your list, then you share it on their post so others can find you. :)

  ♥ Top Ten 'Gateway' Books/Authors In My Reading Journey

Ugh. I swear I'm trying to do this more. I really am. Maybe when I get internet at home? We'll see. As it is, I'll just come and go as I please. :)
 
I'm not really sure how to answer this one. I don't think there were really any (or at least many) books/authors that really got me into reading. I honestly don't recall a time I didn't enjoy reading. I was never a struggling reader and I always enjoyed getting lost in stories. 
 
Some of the ones I remember from grade school that kept me going:
 
 I know these are super sad stories, and I haven't read any as an adult (although I still have all the ones I owned from back then on my top shelf)... but, man, I devoured these. 
 
Creepy and exciting. Definitely kept me turning pages.
 

Sweet Pickles Series

These, I've discovered, are not widely remembered, but I loved collecting them.
 

The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla

I used to get in trouble for staying up and reading this one with a flashlight. Mysteriously, said flashlight disappeared from my room. Hmmm....
 
In high school, I couldn't get enough of:
 
I loved going on these thrilling and mysterious rides. I can never thank my friend, Rachel, enough for introducing him to me.
 
Before she became a phenomenon due to The Vampire Diaries, LJ Smith was already wooing me and many of my friends back in the day. I've never watched the show, but the original Vampire Diaries series is one of my faves of hers... along with The Secret Circle, The Forbidden Game, and Dark Visions. Somehow I always felt like part of a secret club when reading them. ;)
 
There was a time when I didn't read *as much* as I have in recent years. College, life, what-have-you. But one summer break from college, I really started compiling a heavy "read" list, which started with:
 
I loved this story. The way it was written, the characters. I loved it all. 
 
Looking back, I do find this one a little odd. But I did read nearly all of her books to-date (at that time, of course). Eventually I think they started to feel a little *too* heavy on the religious/preachy side for me and I moved on, but I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for books in the contemporary Christian fiction genre.
 
I discovered her by accident. I was going through my niece's shelves, looking for a book to read. I couldn't find one that caught my attention, but she was reading Vanishing Acts and loving it. So I got it from the library and LOVED it. I've read most, and own most, of her books to-date. :)

I stumbled upon her while I was working on the Mobile Library... and I kinda feel like she's the YA version of Jodi Picoult. Sure, she doesn't get as controversial or deliver some extreme plot twist at the end (at least not in most books), but she does deal with some serious/heavy topics. Anyway. I totally loved the story (Just Listen) and enjoyed her writing. And I continue to, as well. (And, if I really look back, this was probably my main 'gateway' into YA literature...)


Anyway. There's my picks for this week. :)

What's on your list? 

Happy Tuesday!

Smiles,
B


 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Twenty Boy Summer {A Review}

Twenty Boy Summer

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2009
Source: Own
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 stars


"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Okay."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"


According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.


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This one has been on my shelf for more than a year. I had read Fixing Delilah and enjoyed it, so I was pretty sure I was going to like this one. What I didn't expect was all the emotions I would feel!

We meet Anna and immediately find out about her and Matt, and the cake-induced romance. And then the unthinkable happens... Matt dies. From page one I was on the verge of tears. Losing someone is so hard, no matter your connection to that person. And to have to mask your pain from others because no one quite knows the depth of your relationship? That had to be so much harder on Anna. And then comes Zanzibar Bay, and her and Frankie's plan for twenty boys - one a day. How can Anna not feel guilty? Not feel like she is betraying Matt? Moving on, letting go... it's not an easy task. 

I really enjoyed reading this story. There were some downsides, though, which is why it wasn't a five star read for me. Mostly, that would be in some of the characters. Frankie seemed very much an one-dimensional character... where was her depth? It comes, eventually, but I would have loved to have seen more of it. I realize we meet her after Matt's death, and while Anna talks about the *before* Frankie vs the *after* Frankie, it's not really shown well. And then there's Jake. I couldn't really tell what his purpose was, other than someone for Frankie to make out with off and on (mostly on). And Sam. While I did like Sam, and I think he was a good guy and good for Anna, I didn't really feel like we got to know him like I would have liked.

All in all, I definitely think it was worth the read. And for it being her first novel (I didn't realize that going into it...) I think it was great.

Have you read it? What'd you think? Wanna read it? 

Smiles,
B

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ignite Me {A Review}

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)
Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #3
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 2014
Source: Bought
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4.5 stars

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew - about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam - was wrong.

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Yeah, I'm going four and a half stars here. I absolutely love this series, though. And I'm super sad it's over. For real.

Let's start off with something Mafi knows how to do: chemistry. If you've read any part of this series, you have to give that to her. My goodness. We'll start with a quick recap of the first two... so if you don't want that, skip two paragraphs. :)

Okay. So quick recap of Shatter Me: Juliette has been imprisoned in an asylum for nearly a year when she is joined by Adam. Who, we later find out, is working with the Reestablishment/Warner. Warner leads Juliette to believe he wants to use her as a weapon of torture. After a bunch of stuff happens, she and Adam escape the headquarters of Sector 45. It ends with Juliette and Adam (who apparently has been working against the Reestablishment and can touch Juliette, which is the first human contact she's ever had, given how she seems to kill/maim anyone she does touch) escaping with Kenji, nearly getting caught/killed, and Juliette shooting Warner with his own gun. Kenji takes them to Omega Point, headquarters for a resistance movement.

Quick recap of Unravel Me: Juliette discovers she's not alone in having supernatural powers and begins training on how to control them. Turns out Adam has a power as well. He can disable the power of others; that's why he can touch Juliette. But if he lets his guard down, he will be hurt... *dun-dun-dun* Some of Omega Point's men are taken captive and Juliette meets with Anderson, the Supreme Commander, to get them back. She shoots him, and they take Warner hostage. Juliette is supposed to interrogate him, but he has her journal from the time she was imprisoned, and they just end up talking about their feelings. Turns out, he has the power to borrow other's energy without getting hurt; so... he can touch Juliette, too! There's a bunch of kissing and whatnot to follow. And then, Warner escapes and the Resistance makes its move. Juliette is taken hostage, Anderson plans to kill her. He brings Warner in to watch (because he (Anderson) is a sick bastard), and then shoots Juliette in the chest. She is on the verge of death when Warner makes Sonja and Sarah (the healing twins) help him to save her. She wakes up in Warner's arms, ready to fight.

Whew. A lot more happened, obviously, but that's the gist of it. Overall I love love love love this series. I love characters, the chemistry. There were even quite a few times I was neither "team Warner" nor "team Adam." I was all "TEAM KENJI"! Seriously. That boy is pretty flippin' awesome. Smart-ass, funny, bad-ass, sensitive, great friend... I just assume he's good lookin' to boot. ;)  If you'd read my Shatter Me review, you'd know I despised Warner. Like, seriously hated the dude. I couldn't get past his seeming inhumanity, his cruelty. But then... then came Destroy Me. And my, oh my. And then Unravel Me. And I was leaning totally toward Warner. This broken, loving man... sheesh. I hated Mafi for making me love him. I wanted to continue hating him. I really really did. And then I read Fracture Me, and I wanted to kill Adam. On the one hand, his brother's safety is extremely important. I mean, James is only ten. But still. He just seemed so put-off by the idea of getting Juliette back.

All that being said, I did really like the way Mafi played out the relationships, and I'm completely on board with how they all came together in the end. I love these characters and her writing so so much. The reason, however, that I knocked the stars down a teeny bit, is that the ending fell a smidgen for me. It seemed a little lackluster for me... after all this buildup... it was a little anti-climactic. Like, oh... ok. That happened. All in all, though, a satisfying read.

I feel like I talked "around" the entire book. I can't say a lot without spoiling things. I want to talk about ALL the THINGS... and I CAN'T! At least, not openly here, due to spoilers and all. ;)

Have you read it? Did you feel strongly one way or the other about the ending?

Smiles,
B

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ignite Me ♥ A Memorable Monday Post


Memorable Monday is a meme hosted by Escape in a Good Book. I'm excited to join in on this one because I love quotes, which was the driving force behind the creation of Memorable Mondays. I thank the ladies at Escape in a Good Book.

So... how do you participate? It's simple ~

1) Share a quote that has captured your interest lately in a Memorable Monday post on your blog.

2) Come back here and leave the link to your post in the comment box below. If you don't have a blog, I'd still love to hear read your quote. Leave it in the comment box instead of a link to a non-existent blog. :)

3) Visit other participants if you have time. It's always nice to have visitors. There's no overstaying your welcome this way, and they don't have to offer the obligatory drinks. Or clean.

4) If you tweet your posts, feel free to use the hashtag #MemorableMonday.

This week's choice(s):

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) 
"Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures.
No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and flailing to rip their skeletons from our flesh."

~Ignite Me, Tahereh Mafi


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 TBR Challenge



I've been so out of it I missed this! I loved the challenge in 2013 (I didn't do much by way of reporting things, but I did update my post a few times). It was a good way to catch up on those books that I've been "meaning to get to." lol

What, exactly, is this, you ask? From the creator herself:

Welcome to 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge!

We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us.. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up..
Join us on a quest to dust off your TBR Pile and read all the books you've been telling yourself you'll read next time you'll get a chance.. This is your chance! And we've got PRIZES!!! :D

If you want more information, visit Evie's Site and see what the guidelines are, etc.

Okay, so there's levels to choose from based on how many books you plan to read:
  • 1-10 - A Firm Handshake
  • 11-20 - A Friendly Hug
  • 21-30 - First Kiss
  • 31-40 - Sweet Summer Fling
  • 41-50Could this be love?
  • 50+Married With Children
I think I'm going to go with a Sweet Summer Fling for this challenge. If I exceed it, great! Last year I exceeded early, so we'll see. :)

So, this year's book list... let's see... *puts thinking cap on*... Some of these are going to be repeats from last year's list that I never got to. *hangs head in shame* I imagine there will be others I read not from this list, but I'll add those when I do. :)

Ones I Own:
  1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  2. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  3. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
  4. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  5. Flutter by Gina Linko
  6. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  7. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  8. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  9. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
  10. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
  11. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  12. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  13. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
  14. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
  15. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  16. Between the Lines by Samantha van Leer and Jodi Picoult
  17. Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
  18. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  19. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  20. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
 Ones I Don't Own:
  1. Legend by Marie Lu
  2. Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins
  3. Naomi & Ely's First Kiss by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
  4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  5. Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
  6. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  7. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  9. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
  10. Alice in Zombieland by Gina Showalter
I'll update occasionally to see where I stand. :)

Hope you'll join us for the fun.

Smiles,
B