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review 2016-12-30 01:59
Legend - Marie Lu

I remember when Legend came out and people were raving about how awesome it was. The hype was so much that when Marie Lu went to the LA Festival of Books to sell signed copies, I stopped by her booth just so I could read it and see what the raving was all about. Of course, I’m terrible at reading books right away since my to-read list is ridiculously long, so now, years later, I am finally getting to see what the hype is all about.


Legend is yet another YA dystopia, this time in a world with a militaristic/war focus rather than an we-are-a-perfect-society focus. People who are born into wealthy families are groomed for the military so they can help in the Republic’s fight against the Colonies. June is a military prodigy — she’s smart, athletic, and can think outside the box, and is being groomed for a distinguished military career. She goes on the hunt for Day — who is also smart, athletic, and can think outside the box — the Republic’s most wanted criminal who grew up in a poor district in the Republic.


When Day allegedly commits a crime that hits home for June, she goes on the hunt for him to bring him to justice. What ends up happening is that they both learn a little bit more about what’s really going on behind the closed doors of the Republic.


This book is just straight enjoyable. I love that Lu kept it simple in terms of creating her world: no factions or groups for people to be sorted into, just poor and rich; military and civilian. Because of this, I think this book gives quite an amazing commentary on society in general in terms of how poverty is viewed and taken advantage of, and how people suffer under such strict hierarchical structures.


The conflicts within this world are revealed slowly — no information dumps!!! I enjoyed that I slowly got introduced to the complexities of the government and of what went on behind closed doors. I feel like this is the main reason why I enjoyed Legend. There’s an inherent conflict and pull in trying to figure out what exactly is going on with this dystopia — when the plot needed to stop for character development, I was pulled forward by what I wanted to know about this new world.


However, this book is fairly predictable — I don’t think there was one twist that I didn’t see coming. Also, I have a pet peeve about people being in a life-or-death situation, yet romance seems to be a priority. I get the whole young adult romance angle, but it bothers me, especially from characters who are supposed to be super intelligent, even if they are young.


With that said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the narrative of the book. It’s perfect amounts of tragic and heartwarming and I am very much looking forward to reading the sequels to see what exactly is going on with all the war stuff. I’d recommend this book for any dystopia lover. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s certainly better than many other dystopias out there.

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review 2016-05-25 15:26
Where is Stacie?
Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee - Mary G. Thompson

Amy, Chelsea, Stacie, Dee is an outstanding book! For being a YA book, it is sort of dark, so if you do not want little ones knowing about rape or brainwashing, then don't let them read it. Otherwise, it is a great book- very well written. I could not put the book down all weekend and wanted to know everything that happened to Amy and Dee after they were kidnapped. Me being the true crime/forensics fanatic, I found myself comparing the story to many high profile cases that we have all seen on the news. 


Amy was kidnapped, along with her cousin Dee, 6 years previously. She was never meant to be taken, but she wound up back on her parents doorstep with no harm done to her. The next events include confusion, therapy, and Dee's mother wanting answers from Amy to the point of her screaming and throwing items around. Amy tries to be a normal girl and get back into her old routines when she was 10, but flashbacks haunt her and cause her to lose time throughout the day. She has to go back and make everything right with her kidnapper and for Dee. 


Check out the book by Mary G. Thompson on Amazon!






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review 2015-08-24 21:37
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
The Gates of Evangeline - Hester Young
Read from August 13 to 21, 2015


Another five star read, in my opinion. Loved the gothic southern plantation setting! As a native of Louisiana, and a fan of touring these gorgeous homes, it was easy for me to imagine the scenes Young describes so well. Great story! Flowing storyline with a protagonist that I identified with right away. Charlie and I both lost a young child. I could feel her emotions and I easily understood how Charlie's mind was open to dark, brooding thoughts and dreams. The loss of a child can leave one open to the darker side of the soul. It wasn't totally unbelievable to me that Charlie would begin to suffer from nightmares and visions that have the uncanny ability to coincide with life. Thankfully, my resemblance to Charlie ended when her dreams turned into calls for help from the recently departed or those very near to death. Thinking she's losing her mind, Charlie learns that her grandmother also had similar dreams, dreams that become reality, right down to the exact second. Then, Charlie gets a call to write a book that will blow open a 30-year old cold case in Chicory, Louisiana. Coincidentally, Charlie has been having lifelike, vivid dreams about the missing toddler at the center of this investigation. Charlie will find herself behind The Gates of Evangeline and will soon be standing in the middle of a crime zone. Will she remain standing or fall prey to a murderer who lurks around the mucky swamps and beautiful grounds of Evangeline? I'LL NEVER TELL. (doing my best sing-song Brittany Murphy imitation.)

If you like mystery with southern flavor, I highly recommend this book. The plot is perfect and stumped me until the end. The. Very. End. Hester Young, consider me a fan that will return for second helpings. 

*I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. (Still haven't received!) Because I was anxious to read and I lack patience, I also reserved a DRC through Penguin's First to Read program. Thanks to both Goodreads & Putnam and Penguin's FTR for the generous ARC (hoping to find in my mailbox!) and the DRC. Opinions are my own. 
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review 2015-05-11 05:00
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

e-ARC, 408 pages

Release Date: May 12, 2015

Published by: Putnam Juvenile

The Wrath and the Dawn, #1

Source: Penguin Teen First Reads (I received this e-ARC from the publisher. This in no way shaped my opinion on the book. All thoughts of this are my own.) 

For fans of: High Fantasy, Romance, Diversity, Magic, Series, YA


     A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
     Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
     She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.


     We all know I'm a re-telling fanatic, so when I heard about this Thousand and One Nights re-telling, I knew I had to add it to my TBR pile. I almost read the original one in school (I used Spark Notes *cringes*) so I had kind of an over view of how the story was supposed to go and this was pretty spot on.

"Why did you volunteer, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran?' She did not answer. He continued, "What compelled you to do something so foolish?" ' Excuse me?" Perhaps it was the lure of marrying a king. Or the vain hope you might be the one to stay the course and win the heart of a monster."

pg. 23 (e-ARC)

     A prince marries every night. And by dawn, that very bride is dead at the hands of the prince. Out of nowhere, comes Shahrzad who volunteers to become the prince's next wife. Unbeknownst to him, she's there to take revenge on the countless lives he's taken. Including that of her best friend. As it just so happens, she breaks the cycle and finds that he's not as cold-blooded as everyone thought.

"Perhaps you should spend less time despising the game and more time building the patience necessary to win.'"

pg.  31 (e-ARC)

     Everyone has raved on and on about this book and I liked it, I admit, but it just wasn't "OMG" worthy. Starting with the romance, I wasn't completely sold on it. In one instant she was scared of him and hated him and in the next she loved him. I get where he fell for her, but when she fell for him, it just felt all of a sudden. It kind of felt weird. But let me tell you this... Once he got swoony, HE WAS SUPER SWOONY.

"For the wonder of a first love can never be matched.'"

pg. 62 (e-ARC)

     Also, I wasn't sold on the action in this one. For it to be a fantasy, it seemed like for the first half of the book, not much was happening. I was intrigued, but I still felt that there was nothing happened. For instance, where was the sword fighting and the magic and everything? Well I ended up finding it all the way at the end. And when it finally got to it, it got really good. Like so good I didn't want it to be over.

"Love is a force unto itself, sayyidi, For love, people consider the unthinkable... and often achieve the impossible.'"

pg. 77 (e-ARC)

     On the other hand, I did like the re-telling. It went right along with the original story. It actually made me want to go back and read the other one since I didn't before. It had so many of the same elements (like the carpet and Jasmine) and I thought it was so cool. It took me back to my old Disney days. This was the best part of the story that kept me intrigued. Add that to the cast of diverse characters, and those are the reasons I fell in love with this story.

"In my life, the one thing I have learned above all is that no individual can reach the height of their potential without the love of others. We are not meant to be alone."

pg. 137 (e-ARC)

     The main thing that made me grab up this book as soon as it was available, was the diversity in it. I love learning about new people and new cultures and this one is filled with facts and awesome I didn't know about. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign will be thrilled to add this to their list of books. It will definitely be one that I recommend to anyone looking for a diverse book.

"We women are a sad lot aren't we?" "What do you mean?" "Strong enough to take on the world with out bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us."

pg. 208 (e-ARC)

     I also liked the ending. It was what I wished the entire book had been like. It is super suspenseful and I am pining away like the rest of the world for Book 2. I need to know what happens!!!! Although the first half of the book wasn't what I expected, the build up to the end was well worth it.

"A shared history does not entitle you to a future, my friend."

pg. 295 (e-ARC)

     I'm not sure if I'm considered the black sheep in this one since I still liked it, just not as much as everyone else. It was still a great story. 


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review 2014-11-17 15:05
Wrong Ways Down
Wrong Ways Down - Stacia Kane

Cross-posted on Soapboxing


Writing fictions from a dude's point of view after a long series of books written from the woman's is a very difficult thing to pull off. The most famous example is probably Midnight Sun, which was to be Stephenie Meyer's Twilight written from the point of view of vampire love interest Edward Cullen. Twelve chapters in, someone leaked the manuscript, and Meyer quit writing it, saying, "If I tried to write Midnight Sun now, in my current frame of mind, James would probably win and all the Cullens would die, which wouldn't dovetail too well with the original story." (Honestly, I think this alt-history Twilight sounds amazing, but ymmv.) Like when writing a sequel, the writer is constrained by a timeline of events that are inviolate (or fucking should be, George Lucas), and cannot strike out in new territory (such as murdering all the Cullens, or having Anakin meet his step-brother Owen for like 15 minutes even though Owen said out loud that he's had a much longer and more fractious relationship than talking to Anakin once after Anakin committed genocide). (Not that I'm bitter.)


So it was something of a surprise to me that I enjoyed Wrong Ways Down as much as did. Wrong Ways Down is from the point of view of Terrible, sometimes partner and sometimes love interest of Chess Putnam, who is the principle of five (and counting) books in the Downside Ghost series. The series takes place in an alt-history where murderous ghosts rose up and killed roughly half the population of the planet in 1997. I could get into the exact backstory, but it's not necessary, given that the books themselves aren't too fussed about history. Chess is a junkie with a respectable job; Terrible works for her dealer as a knee-breaker; they both inhabit the wrong side of town called Downside. 


Wrong Ways Down occurs somewhen between the first book in the second, and is written mostly in the Downside patois Kane invented for the neighborhood. Being the other reasons this book could fail, or could fail to hook readers. I myself like the street lingo of Downside because it manages to run a local idiom without being racist or relying too heavily on eye dialect. But I know this kind of stylistic choice can be difficult for people. I was just recently reading a book that spelled the word blood "blud", which made me snort a little. Like spelling magic "magick" or fairy "fairie" (with apologies to Spenser), these are stylistic choices that can rankle readers inordinately. The occasional snort aside, I do not think these choices are errors. I, personally, think flipping out about punctuation choices in, say, The Road, is pedantry, but then I also know that the heart wants what it wants. Sometimes it wants capital letters, I guess.  


But all this sort of positioning shit aside, the real reason I liked Wrong Ways Down was that it didn't diminish Terrible, relegating him to a bit player or an appendage in his own story, nor did it put all kinds of psychosis in his head, because sociopaths are rrrrrromantic. There are a lot of dude-perspective fictions -- like Midnight Sun, or that short story by Moning from Barrons' point of view, or Walking Disaster -- which run the thought processes of their heroes like serial killers. Admittedly, a lot of these dudes looked like serial killers from the woman's point of view, but as the old saw goes, better to remain silent and be thought a serial killer than to speak out and remove all doubt.


We know Terrible is a leg-breaker and enforcer -- this is not a surprise -- just like we know Chess is a fuckup and a junkie. How does he rationalize his own cruelty? What does he get out of violence? What does he think about Chess's addictions? What does he do when he's alone? Wrong Ways Down addresses these sorts of questions, which I find incredibly satisfying. Much more satisfying than serial killer sociopaths growling about how the love interest lady is MINE ALL MINE and obsessing in the most rote way possible. I do not want hair-smelling scenes; gross. Sure, there's something inert about fictions between this thing and that, which are constrained and cannot truly surprise. But sometimes the interstitial can be an exploration, a character study, a story from someone you thought you knew but didn't. I thought Wrong Ways Down was pretty fucking deft, true thing. 

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