Tuesday, February 28, 2012


 Stars: 3.5/5
 Format: Paperback
 Read: February 28, 2012

Unfortunately, this is one of those books that you imagine is so much better than it actually is. Sadly, my imagination and reality weren't even on the same planet. That's not to say this isn't a good, solid book because it is. But it is just so... well bland.

It starts out a little shaky but solid, with Dez and her friends the triplets and everyone is about to have their world shatter with their enemies hunkering down in the same city, yadda yadda. But then it turns and becomes a sort of forbidden romance (very VERY watered down romance) and BAM there's the war tearing people apart, etc. It was so very much like reading a book made for elementary students in that there's main events but hardly anything linking the events together and plot twists are almost entirely missed because you're so confused on how the story had gotten to that certain part in the first place. I was being 'told' and not shown much of the time and it just felt so off.

Even the characters felt like they had a huge major chunk missing. It felt like it was more important to have a good solid page count rather than solid characters. I know I've said before in my prior reviews that characters are the most important part to me of a story and I felt like I got nothing from any of the characters than I did from their introduction in the beginning.

Plus the folklore of the guardians of Egyptian pharaohs or whatnot was nonexistent. There's a mention of the 'ancient ways' in passing maybe a handful of times throughout the book. I felt that it was odd to not have the premise of the book actually in the book. That may be part of what made the book very unbelievable to me, but it was unfortunate because so much could have been done with this idea.

I wouldn't recommend buying this book to anyone really just because I am more neutral to it than anything. I'd borrow it or buy it used simply because I was so indifferent I'm not sure if it was worth it for me to buy it full price. I love the cover though, it's very stunning.

Review: THE HELP

 Stars: 5/5
  Format: Used Hardcover
  Read: February 23, 2012

This book was a beautiful blend of narrative and introspection. Having grown up in the south in the '90s, I found that a lot hasn't changed much between the '60s and now. Stockett did a fantastic job portraying little southern nuances that might not make much sense to the rest of the United States. There is still female cruelness and hierarchy and it delighted me to read Skeeter's thoughts on the whole matter. It did have the Scarlet O'Hara pining and whining but included what I like to call the southern woman stubbornness of knowing who you are and not caring if that isn't accepted.

Though this book is primarily about racial segregation, it's also about family and loyalty and love and heartbreak and friendship and growing up and deciding things for yourself. Skeeter is naive and purposefully blind to the way the Help has always been treated and it's a beautiful thing to see her evolve and defy Hilly, her 'best friend' since childhood. Her adoration of the woman who raised her and her indifference to her own biological mother was so very indicative that you don't have to be related to someone to be family and the people you are related to aren't necessarily your family.

The voices were so lyrical and painfully real. Their story was heavy but filled with lightness where ever they could find it. I especially loved Aibileen and Mae Mobley because they are the perfect example of loving a child because of their differences and not despite of them. Minny's dedication to Celia even though she distrusted white women was just so honest.

If you've seen the movie, that's fine and dandy, but you have to read the book. The movie leaves out a couple of small but very key details that polish the entire story and make it bloom. There isn't a perfect happily ever after, but this is the closest book of fiction I've ever read that's come closest to that bittersweet feeling of living a hard life and moving past the bitterness and savoring the good. I do think that this will most likely become a classic because the 'realness' of it mirrors, to me, classics such as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and OF MICE AND MEN (though the Help has nothing in common aside from the presentation of the story). It is not a 'feel good' book nor is it a 'not-feel good' book. It makes you think and feel and in the end, I think that's all that a good book should do.

Monday, February 20, 2012


 Stars: 3.5/5
  Format: Audio book
  Read: February 18, 2012

I got this audio book mostly because it's read by Ellen DeGeneres. I love her, I think she's hilarious, and so I thought that she'd be great to listen to as if she were putting on a show on CD. This is not the case.

Unfortunately, as much as I love Ellen, her audio book sounds stilted like, well, she's READING it. The jokes are a little like jokes you plant in a speech that has a monotonous edge to it that totally ruins the entire thing.

The entire book wasn't like that, but the lead up to the punch line falls flat when she can't get that "I'm reading you a funny joke but I have to be careful I don't spit in the microphone so I'm going to read with one tone of voice for places I might spit whilst laughing" out of her voice! It's so frustrating!

The book itself was a compilation of seemingly random chapters, some very short and some long. There's a long period of silence for a 'meditation' period as well as one chapter she says 'hey, look in the printed copy because we're gonna skip reading them here' (this is the 'text lingo' chapter). Luckily, I had access to the book, but it's kind of a waste of your time to try and track it down. There's also a chapter that is all about sounds which is perfect for the audio book and not so much for the printed version.

Plus, it's short. I mean, REALLY short. Like we're talking three hours short. And I honestly didn't like it enough to listen to it again. It is definitely a woman-empowering book and some of the chapters I laughed out loud but most I really wanted to skip.

I'd borrow it from the library before you decide to buy the audio book. But a decent read nonetheless.


 Stars: 4.5/5
Format: ARC from Random Buzzers
Read: February 20, 2012

First off, I hate the cover. Hate it. It has nothing to do with the actual content of the book and though it does catch your attention, it has no meaning. Second, I received this book through Random Buzzers to promote and review. I am not being paid except for the free copy I received.

I really liked this book. It's 4.5 stars for me, but rounded down to four simply because I didn't find it as amazing as some of my "most favorite read again and again" books. An average of one book out of every seven I await publication actually are as good as I think they will be. This book was delightfully so. I received it on Friday and tore through it. I would have read it in one sitting, but I had things I had to do over the weekend.

A lot of reviews are going around saying that they liked the idea but hated the execution and so on. I like to read a book at face value. I never expect anything to happen and let myself enjoy the ride. I think this contributed very highly to my perception of the story itself. There were good twists, a thrilling mystery, and enough action for me to have a hard time finding a stopping place to pause reading.

Callie was highly likable. I didn't adore her, but then do you adore every person you meet? She had pros and cons with more of an emphasis on the pros. Thinking back on my initial impression at the very beginning of the book (street rat, starving, wanting to protect her brother) to her becoming a "donor" she's very different. There's a bit of a void in the character development, but I think that is fairly consistent with the aspects of "donating" your body. Unfortunately, aside from the fellow "renters" Callie interacts with, little character development happens with the initial street rat possible love boy who takes care of her little brother alongside her. I do understand why her little brother and Michael would be lesser characters, but they felt a bit like a block of granite with half a face chiseled out. I hope they'll play a bigger role in the next book, ENDERS, whenever that comes out.

The execution of the plot idea was, in my opinion, handled very well. It was plausible (I hate those dystopians that are very vague about what happened to the population on Earth and why because the foundation crumbles under scrutiny) and was actually a piece of the story itself, not as a result of or in addition to. There were many roads this book could have traveled with many plot threads left hanging, but I felt a sense of satisfaction when I came to the end of the book that only comes from that creative balance of closure and no closure. Am I dying to get a hold of the next book right this moment? No, not really. But I do anticipate its publication and will read it when it comes out.

If you enjoy dystopians that aren't bogged down with too much emotional distraughtness or complicated jargon that flow fairly consistently, I think you ought to take this book for a spin. You might not be disappointed.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


  Stars: 4/5
 Format: Hardback 
 Read: February 9, 2012

I picked up ACROSS THE UNIVERSE at a Borders closing sale and thought 'Hey, why not? The cover is very pretty and it sounds like it's right up my alley.' I was fairly impressed, felt that it had a good premise but I wasn't in love. I bought its sequel and I really wasn't wowed anymore than the first time.
The characters are the same, no one of significance is added, so I had to rely on the first book to showcase the characters. I felt that this book was ABOUT the characters but the characters themselves were static and didn't move very much either in development or romance. I was indifferent to them, though I tried hard not to be. But fiery Amy felt dimmed and mischievous Elder, though he was supposed to evolve, really didn't. The story evolved without the characters, like a piece of tapestry caught on a sharp edge while the tapestry itself is yanked in the opposite direction. It was awkward, but didn't make the entire story crash down.

I highly enjoyed the mystery aspect of this book, how more of the ship is stumbled upon, a people without phydus, and a world more aware of Amy were dealt with by the people of Godspeed. There were enough pieces to keep me hooked despite the characters having trouble keeping up with the story.
Plus, the book is an entire crescendo and you want to ride the wave until the very end. Instead, it's more of a gentle wave pool than the crashing ocean. You bob to the top of a tiny wave expecting it to go somewhere and it slowly levels out again.

Despite the mystery I was very unimpressed by the cliff-hanger left for me. When I finish a book that I enjoyed more than average, generally I can see when the next one is coming out and get moderately excited to see where the author goes with this. Whether I adored it or not, I still want to see where these characters will end up. I got to the title of the last in this trilogy, SHADES OF EARTH (coming in 2013), and was neutral. I didn't much care either way whether or not I'd buy it, read it, or what could even happen with the story. I don't know if it's because the characters never connected with me or the pacing was strange or the fact that I never did have a connection with the story back in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I just didn't have any feelings evoked in me.
I decided on four stars because it was a good, consistent sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and because the author did a good job sequencing events with some thrill of puzzle mysteries amidst the action. It just continued to not click fully with me.