Thursday, September 26, 2013

Unravel Me: A Review

it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.


AARGH! Is it February 2014 yet?!?!?!

***Forwarning: Spoilers will ensue for Shatter Me. If you have not read it, I urge you *not* to read on. Feel free to check out my review of Shatter Me if you're so inclined... :) ***

Okay. Quick recap from Shatter Me: Juliette is imprisoned for nearly a year in an insane asylum because nobody wanted her and she was deemed unsafe for society after she accidentally killed a little toddler boy by trying to help him stand up. She is joined by Adam in her cell who we find out is working with The Reestablishment, namely Warner. Warner wants to use Juliette as a weapon of torture, seeing as how she can maim and kill with just a touch. Within the rest of the story, we discover Juliette also has another power: she can break the unbreakable with her bare hands. She and Adam escape the headquarters of Sector 45 and go on the run. We leave off with Juliette and Adam escaping with Kenji, nearly getting caught, and Juliette shooting Warner with his own gun. The four (including James, Adam's brother) end up at Omega Point, which is headquarters for a resistance to the Reestablishment. Woo-hoo! They're safe!

Or are they? It turns out that within Omega there are other people like Juliette, those who have special gifts and can do inhuman things. Heal, turn invisible, stretch arms, etc. Juliette is happy to know that she's not alone, but Adam is withdrawing from her and she tries to keep to herself because she is so used to people hating her or thinking she is a monster that she's really just afraid to give people a chance. We meet Castle, the head of Omega, who wants to help Juliette hone her abilities, and also decides to test Adam to see if there's any 'special' reason he is able to touch her.

She and Adam do spend some time arguing, but it's mostly due to her reluctance to be with him given certain discoveries and him being adamant that they can deal with it all. We do meet up with Warner again, and suffice it to say I do sort of get where the switch is coming from. Believe it or not, he's not all bad. We get to see some sides of him that I didn't think were there... color me impressed. I think there's a lot more good to him than even he realizes, but I'm still not sure I want her with him. Really, after this book, I think she should be alone since she can't seem to keep herself straight anyway. ;) 

Really, though, for her to be with Warner, for me, he would need to have some more redeeming qualities show up in Ignite Me (seriously, is it Feb 4 yet????).

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story develops regarding The Reestablishment and the Resistance. The Resistance is extremely outnumbered, or so it seems, and The Reestablishment has years of training and heartless people on their side. They don't care who they kill or what lives they ruin, they just want to be in control. And by 'they' I really mean Anderson. I'm anxious to see how it all comes to a head and explodes and how the Resistance is going to win (because, c'mon, they have to win).

I'm really excited to read Destroy Me now and get more of Warner's story. And then I want the one out with Adam's story. More importantly, I want Ignite Me and I want it now! (Cue Oompa Loompas)  Seriously, though, I am loving the world that Mafi has seduced me with and I can't wait to read more of it! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

May Be Second, but Not Second Best

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 Best Sequels Ever

There are SO many series that I haven't gotten a chance to get to or continue, but based on what I *have* read, here's what I've come up with (and there's only seven). :)

  • Unravel Me - Loved, loved, loved the continuance of Shatter Me. I can't wait for Ignite Me.
  • The Dream Thieves - Ah! Ronan, Gansey, Adam, Blue, Noah... all together again! This was a great follow up to The Raven Boys and I loved learning more about Ronan.
  • Days of Blood & Starlight - More blood than starlight, this was an amazing follow up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone.
  • Insurgent - I know not everyone liked this as much as Divergent, but I loved it and am impatiently awaiting October 22 for Allegiant.
  • Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver knows how to break my heart, that's for sure. Her follow up to Delirium was no exception.
  • Catching Fire - The Hunger Games is probably one of my favorite trilogies of all time (thank you, Malissa, for forcing me to read it!!!!). Even though Catching Fire may not be my favorite of the three, I had to include it... because, well... I wanted to! It still has one of the best endings ever.
  • Harry Potter - ALL OF THEM. The series only got better as it went on. I chose Order of the Phoenix simply because it has special meaning to me (my aunt bought it for me the day it released simply because I told her I didn't have the money for it... :) ).

What sequels have you read and loved? Oooh, or any that left you disappointed?

Monday, September 23, 2013

CELEBRATE! ♥ Banned Books Week 2013



Hello! Welcome to Banned Books Week! This special week of the year is near to my and Malissa's heart. Not only because we are avid and voracious readers, but because we are librarians, mothers. We need to celebrate the freedom to read, not only this week, but every day of the year. While I think it's important for parents to know what their children are reading and to possibly set limits (if they want to, as parents), I think it's equally important for society as a whole to not monitor what the public at large is reading. While one parent may not want their child to read, say, Harry Potter, I can guarantee you I will be elated when my child shows interest in reading it. As parents, it's our job to raise our children as we see fit, but it's not okay for other people to tell me what my child can and cannot read. I'm not okay with that - as a mother or a librarian. 

I'm taking a page out of Malissa's book and decided to read a banned book from the list of Frequently Challenged/Banned Books. I decided to go with The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I've never read it but always wanted to. And because I have the FREEDOM to, I'm going to do it. :)

Let's all take a moment and be grateful - grateful for the right to choose what we read, grateful for the freedom we are allowed.


So …. IT’S BANNED BOOKS WEEK!!! I, personally, love Banned Books Week. And I know I’m an unusually book nerdy person. At the very least above average in the book nerdiness department. And a librarian on top of that. But still I found myself wondering, as I made my list of possible Banned Books Week reading selections for this year (yeah, I do that …), just why I like it so much. Maybe it’s because I hate being told what to do. I’m incredibly stubborn and hard-headed for some reason +shrug+ and will often do things (within reason) just because I’m told I can’t. And the challenging and removing of books in libraries, especially public libraries, smacks of someone else telling me what I can and can’t/should and shouldn’t do. A slight aside, the thing I loved about the whole 50 Shades phenomenon wasn’t the book itself (I never actually got around to reading it) but the fact that it stretched our comfort levels and preconceived notions of what we should be reading and shelving in the library. The answer being whatever our patrons need and want us to be shelving whether everyone likes or enjoys or agrees with it or not. Or maybe I love Banned Books Week because so many personal favorites find themselves on those the frequently banned and challenged lists. Books that I’ve loved that I think others deserve a chance to love too. Books from Harry Potter to To Kill a Mockingbird that I think have the potential to change the world in one way or another. But I don’t think even that’s the whole story. Last year as I put up a poster from a Banned Books Week past at my “new” library I was struck by its wording. It wasn’t an “I’m with the banned” poster or "read freely" or any of the cool and clever slogans I’ve seen more recently, but simply said “celebrate your freedom to read” and featured and American flag motif. And it occurred to me that maybe that’s a large part of what Banned Books Week is about. Not just making people aware that challenges to books in libraries and schools happen (though that’s a worthy cause) but also making us aware and thankful for the fact that a book hasn’t been truly banned (to my knowledge) in this country since Ulysses by James Joyce in the 1920s. We have the right in this country to read what we like. Inspirational, controversial, literary, trashy, deep, fluffy, hyped, unknown and any other descriptors we can think of (those should probably all be in quotes, but that seemed like a lot of work). How amazing is that? I’ll answer for you. Pretty amazing! So let’s be grateful. Go grab a frequently banned or challenged book (you can find one here: this week and see what it’s about. Stretch yourself. Be a rebel. Maybe just because you can be ;)
My Banned Books Week 2013 selection: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
What about you? Will you be celebrating Banned Books Week with us?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shatter Me: A Review

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


Typically when I go to my shelves to find a book to read, I'll read the first page of a few books and take the one that grabs me the most. I had probably read the first page of this one five times before it won out. And thank goodness. Now I'm dying to read Unravel Me (which, unfortunately, I left at home this morning, so I can't start it until later... boo-hoo!!!!).

I love the way this starts out. At first I really thought the scratching out of things was going to really bother me, but it turns out I actually really liked it. It really helped see into Juliette's head - the things she was thinking that she didn't want to think, the things she wanted to say but didn't. It definitely helped develop her character for me and see the kind of state she was in.

The world that Mafi created is a bleak one. I love that she starts out small; we're only introduced to the cell in which Juliette lives. Slowly we branch out - other parts of the asylum, into Sector 45's headquarters, and slowly beyond. We get introduced to this world as Juliette is being introduced to it and it is beautifully done.

When we're introduced to Adam we don't know anything about him, except that he seems to be more stable than Juliette. We see the slow but obvious connection between the two of them being built. I truly fell in love with him as the story went on... he was such a strong and gentle character. The chemistry between the two leaped off the page and into my heart. I couldn't wait for them to figure things out. The downside is that there doesn't seem to *be* a downside yet. Yes, he has an abusive past, but he's worked to overcome it. There has to be some conflict in there somewhere. Hopefully we'll get the novella soon and be satisfied on that front. Get more insight into the inner workings of Adam.

Warner. Seriously, dude, could tone down the inhumanity a notch? He wants Juliette all to himself, to use as he see fits. He seems to be nothing but a heartless murderer who gets pleasure from torturing others. I hated being trapped there with Juliette and wanted to escape his presence just as badly as she did.

Can't wait to see what happens in Unravel Me. I'm trying to decide how in the world other readers have taken such a leap to be "team Warner." Hmm... 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Follow Friday ♥

8474595901 873f4993f4 Feature & Follow #138
Hosted by Parajunkee's View & Alison Can Read, the goal is to gain new followers and to follow new people yourself! :)

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
(Taken straight from the hosts)
    • (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
    • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
    • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
    • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
    • If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
    • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
    • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers.
    • If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
Happy Follow Friday!

This week's question/activity:

What were some of your favorite picture books as a kid? If you have children, what are some of your favorites to read to them?

Oh man. This is a toughy for me because I'm surrounded by picture books at home and at work! :) As a kid some of my favorites were Corduroy by Don Freeman and The Poky Little Puppy. I had tons of Little Golden Books, but the Poky Little Puppy was my fave of those.

As far as now goes, between what I love to read to my own kids and the kids at work (I do storytime for babies through school age (5th grade) children), I love:
  • Edward the Emu by Shena Knowles - the illustrations are awesome and it's a great story about being proud of who you are
  • Wild About Books by Judy Sierra - it's a fun story about Molly the Librarian who drives her bookmobile into a zoo... why wouldn't I love it?
  • Duck on a Bike by David Shannon - a fun story with great illustrations (I love the horse the best with his condescending look)
  • A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon - a crazy story about a girl who comes down with a bad case of the stripes because she is afraid to admit she likes lima beans; it's a great story about self acceptance and not changing yourself for anyone
  • Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss - I'm actually not a *huge* Dr. Seuss fan, but I absolutely love to read this story out loud. There's something so fun about it.
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen - I *love* the illustrations and the story is just awesome... it's a great read aloud for any age!
  • I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt - a wonderfully sweet story about a mother's love for her son
  • Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd - a great story to introduce and reinforce colors and counting
  • Owen by Kevin Henkes - a story about a little mouse who is getting ready to start school and doesn't want to leave his blankie behind
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by John Scieszka - I love takes like this on old fairy tales. :)
Okay, I'll stop inundating you with titles. :)  I could go on but I'm sure we all have better things to do with our time. lol

What picture books do you adore?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Review: The Infinite Moment of Us

***Thanks to NetGalley & Amulet Books for an eArc***

For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.


Although I really enjoyed the writing in this book, something was lacking for me to really love it. I liked the storyline, I liked the characters, but I just didn't fall in love with it the way I wanted to.

We meet Wren and Charlie just as school is ending and they are graduating. Wren has been suffocated by her parents and doing what they want that she has decided to approach things differently after she graduates. Charlie has been crushing on Wren since he met her and when she waves back at him by chance, he decides he is going to take the plunge.

So we embark on the journey of Wren and Charlie's relationship. We experience the ups and the downs, the truths and the lies, the trust and the doubts. Like I said, I did enjoy the story itself, and the characters, but I didn't connect as much as I wanted to. I wanted to see Wren and Charlie grow more than they did, and I just didn't get that. However, I did like that their relationship dynamics were more realistic than some - it wasn't all sunshine, roses, and happiness. And some of the scenes were specifically funny to me in their resemblance of some of the thoughts I had when I experienced something similar.

All in all it was an enjoyable read and not loving will not deter me from reading more of Lauren Myracle's stories in the future. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays was started by MizB over at Should Be Reading,

To play along, simply answer the following three (3) Questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you'll read next?

Currently Reading

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1) 
I just started this one last nite and I'm definitely intrigued. :)

What I Recently Finished

Meant to Be  Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1) 
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)  The Infinite Moment of Us 
Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5) 
Some hits, some misses. Reviews to come soon. :) 

What I Might Read Next

I really don't know. I'm slowly picking my way through my shelves, but I also requested Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins from my library. So maybe that? We'll see what mood I'm in when I finish Mara.

What have you been reading?

The Dream Thieves: A Review

The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after....


What feels like many moons ago, the lovely Maggie Stiefvater posted that you could pre-order a copy from The Fountain Bookstore (and it would come signed). So I did. Then I heard NetGalley had a copy, so I had to go request one. I may or may not have squealed and jumped up and down when I got the email I was approved (totally did). I nearly dropped everything to read it, but then I figured feeding my children *might* be a little more important. Might be. ;)

Giving up sleep, though, I plunged in and swam through amazing writing and interesting plot twists that I have come to associate with Stiefvater. Needless to say I'm screwed, though - I ended this one already wanting the third (and the fourth) book. But I can't rush dear Maggie, so I'll just have to (im)patiently wait. In other words, it was a great follow up to The Raven Boys (review).

I was going to summarize The Raven Boys for you, and actually I did. Then I deleted it. In her usual awesomeness, Maggie offered to do a recap for the Recaptains website. It can be found here. If you have read TRB and want to have a refresher before you read The Dream Thieves, or even if you have read both of them and want a refresher anyway, I strongly urge you to take a few minutes of your time and read the recap. She points out all the things you need to know before continuing on the journey.

If you don't want to go there, to quickly point out a few things: Adam and Blue have a "thing" going, Gansey is still on his search for Glendower - the lost Welsh King, Adam made a sacrifice to be Cabeswater's eyes and ears, and we discovered that Ronan takes things out of his dreams (such as his raven, Chainsaw).

All of that out of the way, on to the book at hand. :)

I was super excited to be around them all again - Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah... it was like being reunited with long lost friends. But, things are changing with Adam since the sacrifice he made at the end of book one. His friends are watching him carefully, noting the anger, the attitude differences. No one really knows what the sacrifice means, exactly, so they are left wondering, waiting to see what will happen to their Adam. He and Blue are teetering on the edge of something, and only time will tell which way their relationship will go.

Gansey... oh, Gansey. The focus isn't as much on him in this book, but he's definitely still the leader, the glue that holds the group together. He tries to save them all and it pains him when he can't, or they choose not to let him.

This book is mainly about Ronan, though. Ronan and his secrets, his family's secrets. We find out in TRB that he can take things out of dreams - such as Chainsaw. We get to experience some of those dreams, or nightmares, really, throughout the book. In doing so we learn so much about Ronan and we definitely get to see the Ronan that Gansey so desperately wants to save. 

I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in the Raven Cycle. :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Memorable Monday ♥ Unravel Me

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:

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)"We don't have to do anything at all to die. We can hide in a cupboard under the stairs our whole life and it'll still find us. Death will show up wearing an invisible cloak and it will wave a magic wand and whisk us away when we least expect it. It will erase every trace of our existence on this earth and it will do all this work for free. It will ask for nothing in return. it will take a bow at our funeral and accept the accolades for a job well done and then it will disappear.

Living is a little more complex. There's always one thing we have to do.


Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I realize this is a little longer than usual, but I really, really, really liked it. :) 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rose Under Fire: A Review

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.


I was super excited when my best friend decided to order this from the Book Depository because she wanted to read it sooner than the US pub date - and even more excited when she said I could borrow it. After reading Code Name Verity (you can see my review here if you're interested) I must admit I was little scared, in a good way, of Elizabeth Wein, being how she shattered my heart into a zillion pieces and proceeded to tap dance on said pieces.

Rose is an American pilot working with Allied forces during WWII. As we know from the description, she ends up captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp. The story that follows is one of heartbreak, unimaginable pain, friendship, and hope.

I know it's going to happen, but to compare Rose Under Fire to Code Name Verity is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are both war stories and feature strong women who are pilots. But that's where the similarities end, really. Rose has her own story to tell, her own horrors and suffering to convey.  And Wein does a great job of conveying them. Rose's desperation and fear leaped off the page and into my heart. I cried for her, I cheered for her, but most of all, I hoped for her.

Rose makes friends inside the walls of the concentration camp. They rally together to support and help one another in a time when all hope seems lost. The bond these women create are the types of bonds I strive to have with my closest friends. They are willing to die for one another, to give up food or shelter. They do everything they can to help one another survive.

Wein's writing is amazing. I had no trouble at all imagining the world she was creating within these pages. It was a bleak time, dark and dreary, and I felt all that while I was reading. She attacked all my senses as I flipped page by page, engulfing me in a horrible time of our history.

I very much look forward to reading more by Elizabeth Wein in the future.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dreaming of the Day...

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that highlights upcoming releases we're excited about.

There are, as you know, books coming out left and right that we all want to read. One I am looking most forward to is...

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)

So I'm currently reading Unravel Me (Book #2 in the Shatter Me series) and loving it. Although I haven't gotten to the end of it yet, I'm already looking forward to continuing the series when this one comes out (according to Goodreads that will be Feb 4, 2014).

What are you waiting on?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Memorable Monday ♥ Shatter Me

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:

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)"Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never ever sleeps, is what I don't tell him. I'll never be okay."

~Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi


Anything strike you lately?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Once Was Lost: A Review

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed---about God, about your family, about yourself---is transformed.


I have enjoyed Sara Zarr's writing and stories in the past (such as The Lucy Variations), so when I saw this in a used bookstore I was quick to snag it.

This isn't a very long book - 210 pages, I think - but there is a lot  going on within those 210 pages. Almost too much, I think. Sam is the daughter of a pastor and a mother who is an alcoholic. For years they've quietly coped with and hidden from the public the fact that her mother cannot function without a drink, but then her mother has an accident is strongly urged to enter rehab by the courts. With her mother gone and her father there for everyone but her, Sam feels her life is falling apart. Her dad hasn't made it publicly known about her mom, so she doesn't feel she can talk about it. Then, when a local thirteen year old goes missing, she feels even more abandoned by her father (who is helping out the family).

So there's the main plot, with Sam rediscovering herself and questioning her faith. Then there's the subplots - her mother being in rehab, her father coping with his own family disintegrating, and the missing girl, Josie. Sam is in youth group with Nick, Josie's older brother, and when the youth group gets together to bake brownies for Nick, she ends up making a connection with him and they become close friends.

I really feel as if the book needed to be longer, to give more time to develop the characters, the relationships between them, and to fully flesh out all the issues that are brought up in the book (alcoholic mother, absent/clueless father, kidnapping, etc). Everything was wrapped up nice and neat in the end, and there weren't any obvious strings left hanging. Some things were never fully addressed or explained (which I realize is slightly contradictory to my previous sentence). Some details were thrown in and we're left wondering what the repercussions were, if any.

I did like that the characters were not flawless. Even the pastor. That made them seem real and tangible, as if they were people I would have in my life and not just in a story. Zarr does a wonderful job at portraying how they feel and letting their actions speak for them. I just wanted a bit more time with them to fully understand them, know them.

Overall I would say it was a decent read, but it didn't grab me by the shirt tails and leave me an emotional mess. I wasn't as connected as I wanted to be. That being said, I would still recommend it as a quick, easy read.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Girl of Nightmares: A Review

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.


Having loved Anna Dressed in Blood (review), I was really looking forward to starting on the sequel. Although Girl of Nightmares is still an enjoyable read, full of Blake's wonderful writing and humor, I didn't feel it lived up to Anna. At the end of Anna Dressed in Blood, we're left wondering what happened to Anna when she saved Cas and crew from the Obeahman. This sets it up for book two, in which we find out that Cas, Thomas, and Carmel have been searching for Anna, looking for answers.

I feel like some of the strength that Cas possessed in ADiB has dissipated, as he's lost and wandering, searching for clues and answers. He starts to resemble a lost puppy rather than a renowned ghost hunter. While others are ready to move on, let Anna go, Cas is determined to find out what happened to her after she sacrificed everything to save him and his friends. In the process, he nearly gets his friends killed and turns people against him. Although I understood his behavior, I think it took away a little something from him. I could tell it was hard for him, losing the girl he loved, and he struggled with trying to retain himself while grieving for her.

Cas has one goal in mind, and he's going to continue to reach for that goal with, or without, the help of his friends and family. He knows he could die in the process and his friends know that they could as well. There's not as much intensity in this book as there was in ADiB, but there's still plenty of action, which also takes place abroad. We learn lots history - about the athame, Cas and his family, and how everything ties together. 

I didn't realize until I finished reading, but apparently there are some mixed feelings about the ending. I thought it was perfect. Although I want there to be more of Cas, Thomas, Carmel, and Anna, the story has to end sometime. And it made perfect sense the way Blake finished it. I also think part of the reason I was sad to come to the end is that I absolutely love Blake's writing. It's engrossing and the scenes just come to life. I feel like I'm friends with these people, and I want to spend more time with them.

Definitely a good follow up to Anna. I look forward to reading more by Kendare Blake. :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays was started by MizB over at Should Be Reading,

To play along, simply answer the following three (3) Questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you'll read next?

Currently Reading

I started this one at lunch and so far I think I'm going to really enjoy it. I love the writing and I'm feeling pretty attached to Juliette already.

Recently Finished

Once Was Lost  17 & Gone 
Another Little Piece  Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) 
Of the four pictured, I liked Girl of Nightmares best. :) Another Little Piece (review) was really disjointed to me and I'm still confused over things. 17 & Gone was mostly good. Once Was Lost was okay, but I wanted more. Reviews to come.

What I Might Read Next 

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)  The Moon and More  Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
So I'm really not sure what I'll be in the mood for next. Depending on the end of Shatter Me, I may move straight on to Unravel Me. Anna and the French Kiss and The Moon and More are both on my shelves as well. So we'll see what strikes me. :)

What have  you been reading?