Friday, April 27, 2012

The Post In Which I Spread The Love For Team Amity

“It’s not just about banjos and apple-picking. It’s about cultivating strong relationships and trying to understand each other. Oh, Amity.” -Veronica Roth

She couldn’t understand how the Dauntless always rough-housed with each other, how the Erudite always competed with each other, how the Candor always had heated arguments and how the Abnegation could let their tormentors continue making fun of them.  To her, being peaceful was easy.  Happiness was just a hug away, just a smile away.
Peacefulness and happiness were everything.

There are only five days left until Insurgent comes out(!) and in celebration of the release date, Veronica Roth and Harper Teen have assigned a faction for each of the five days left. For anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, Divergent is a teen dystopian novel based in a futuristic Chicago that has been broken up into five factions: each representing what they feel could have helped the downfall of the last civilization. Abnegation: the selfless, Dauntless: the brave, Candor: the honest, Erudite: the knowledgable and Amity: the peaceful. Our main character, Tris, is Divergent, a dangerous thing that means she belongs in more than one faction. It could be her downfall, but she is using it to bring the world back to its utopian beginning.

Now, I believe that I would be Divergent, feeling as though I belong in a few of these factions, but above all I feel like I belong in Amity. The Amity look at life through rose coloured glasses. They believe that love, happiness and being kind to others will make the world a better place. I couldn't agree more. I don't like fighting, arguing, or not living in peace. I feel the most peaceful when I am writing or reading, as some might feel peaceful in a garden or art studio. We are creative and spread love through our words, art and actions. Kindness will always come back to you if you put it out there. Amity teaches us to forgive, pick people over possessions, and to know ourselves not based on what others think. It is important to me to keep a peaceful mind, to try and overcome the feelings of rage I may feel or the stress that may come with life. A hug never hurt anyone.

Veronica Roth

23. The Body Finder

Book #23: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Published: March 26, 2010
327 Pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

Mixing romance and paranormal aspects is a good way to get me to read a book. The fact that Violet can sense dead bodies is unique and strange enough to make me pick up this book. Her ability is one of kind, nothing like anything I've read before, and creepy enough to make it seem real. She can sense the imprints of murders on the murderers' bodies based on the imprint coming from the dead body. Trust me, it makes sense in the book. Violet is loveable, as she is suddenly attracted her best friend but not sure how to go about doing anything about it. This is something a normal teenage girl would feel, but it's harder for Violet since she is also dealing with her ability and the fact that there is a serial killer killing young girls in her hometown. She has her faults, trying to find the killer on her own and getting into trouble with it, but it's also heroic of her. She just wants to be able these girls any way she can, and that means finding who did this to them. I would hope if I were in her position, I would do the same. 

I was a fan of the story, but the writing was slightly off for me. Like I've said before, I'm a big fan of first person narratives, especially when we only see the world from one person's perspective anyway. There was only one part in the book that switched view points and I feel like it would have been more powerful if Violet told it. It would have been nice to see her power from her eyes, how it makes her feel and how different she feels from the rest of the world. In a story like this, I think how Violet feels is really important, especially since she is struggling with so much throughout the novel. The surrounding characters weren't strong enough for me. Jay didn't seem to have any flaws and he always seemed to be there whenever Violet needed him. I almost hoped that he was the killer just to make things more interesting.

I think the parts of the book that really kept me reading were the chapters told from the killer's viewpoint. We get to see how his mind works and how he comes about finding out about Violet and what she can do. This added suspense to the story for me, making me want to turn the page and keep reading, since the chapters as individuals weren't very strong to me. I'll still be picking up the next one, just to see what more I can find out about Violet's morbid ability and her relationship with Jay. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

22. City Of Bones

Book #22: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: March 27, 2007
496 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . 

I was a little worried going into this book. I had read some reviews and most of them were either really good or really bad. There were a lot of comparisons to other young adult novels out there, a lot of accusations that Clare didn't really have any original ideas, but I for one have been waiting to finally plunge into this series, so I jumped in anyway, regardless of what I'd read. The problem with reading bad reviews is that they stick with me. As I started reading, I couldn't help but see what they had been talking about. There are a lot of similarities to other fantasy novels. I can tell that Clare has read Harry Potter and Twilight, but what I love about her writing is that she took these inspirations and took them in a totally different direction. Let's face it, there are hundreds of books about vampires out right now and magic has become a delectable taboo for most of us, and Clare has added a great addition to the genres.

Clare has brought to life a haunting world seeping up from beneath our feet. Demons, angels, vampires and werewolves all mingle through the streets of New York with citizens being non the wiser to their precence. I'm a sucker for books like this, with fey and the glamour keeping them out of sight. Clare's taken this one step further by giving the Shadowhunters this power as well, in addition to them already having some kick ass abilities. Shadowhunters are part angel and use runes as weapons and magical help. Clary lands into this world like Alice in Wonderland, with no idea how she got there and no way out in sight.

Clary is a very believable protagonist. I would have loved to see this book written in first person from her view point, as most of it is through her eyes anyway. But I'm sure there's a reason why Clare has written it the way she did, and I'm sure I'll discover this after reading the rest of the series. It all seems to fall into place around Clary as she discovers that she may know more about this other world than she once thought. Her friend Simon comes along for the ride, trying to keep her feet planted on the ground as Jace tries to sweep them off of it. Jace, well, what can I say about Jace? Everything about him screams "Gorgeous" and you'd be crazy not to fan girl over him. He's snarky and cocky, but from the moment he speaks to Clary, I knew he'd be a good guy. I mea, who can say no to a bad boy with weapons?

The plot kept me on my toes as Clary tries to find her mother and the missing Mortal Instrument, a cup that can creat more Shadowhunters. Enter the villian: Valentine, assumed to be dead and possibly the most powerful Shadowhunter alive. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of him and hating every minute of it. This was the perfect starter to the series. It introduced the characters, the world and the war brewing beneath the surface, preparing us for what to come. I have no doubt that I'll enjoy the sequels as I'm eager to find out more about this world and all the madness in it.

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?'
Jace said, "Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

21. The Catastrophic History Of You And Me

Book #21: The Catastrophic History Of You And Me
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Published: February 21, 2012
400 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. 

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after. 

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

After reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, I decided it was time to give books about dead girls another chance. Awhile ago I read The Lovely Bones and it was lovely but too sad for me. But Oliver's take on death seemed less sad and more touching. So I took another shot and ended up feeling almost as happy as when I had finished Before I Fall. Rothenberg captured the spirit of a 15-year-old girl perfectly. Where the world revolves around boys, friends, Disney and nothing else. When you're 15, it's the end of the world when a boy doesn't love you, and for Brie, it actually was. She dies of a actual broken heart after her boyfriend breaks up with her and we find ourselves in limbo with her as she goes through the five stages of grief. 

With the help of a very cute dead boy from the '80s, Brie navigates through her afterlife, trying to figure out why she died and how her friends and family are getting along without her. She discovers things she didn't want to know and some things that make her look at the world differently. Her emotions are real. Her grief is real. Her voice sings across the pages and leaves a hole where your heart used to be just so you can feel how she feels. The way she deals with death is as realistic as you could imagine it to be. And Patrick is the perfect companion to her grieving. He's been through it all before and he just wants to help her realize that there's no going back, but that there is a new life for her in Heaven. 

Rothenberg paints a world much like ours, only it's not. Brie's vision of limbo is a mirror of her real life. As she comes to terms with her situation, her world changes with her. It gets ugly when she's mad and depressing when she's sad. Her take on death is refreshing: they can go into the real world but can't touch anything unless they concentrate very hard. They can also do this to make themselves known to the people around them and Brie uses this to her advantage when she's in the Anger stage. 

Brie discovers things about her family, her friends, and even herself. In the confusing world of the afterlife, her adventures are just the beginning. There's something to be said about knowing what would happen after death, and this book is a welcome addition to the ideas of it.

“No matter how much you think you know a person - no matter how pretty they act, or how popular they seem, you can never know what their lives are really like.” 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

20. The Fault In Our Stars

Book #20: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: January 10, 2012
313 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

John Green is flawless. He takes you in and never lets you go. He pulls at your heartstrings, makes you fall in love with all of his characters, and them clips their wings and you have no way to fly away. Yet, you love it. You laugh and cry and when you  close the book, you feel enlightened and emotional and ready to devour his next one. The first time I felt this strong of a connection with an author was with Nicholas Sparks, who broke my heart yet healed it all at the same time. Once you start, there's no turning back. 

This is Green's first book from the perspective of a girl. It's a lovely  change, even though I adore all his male characters, and I'm glad he took that risk. I know how hard it is to write from the perspective of the opposite sex, but Green nailed it. He wrote Hazel in a heartbreakingly beautiful way. She's had cancer for four years, yet her strength and humour is more present than a healthy person's. She is caring, loves to read, and knows that she's living on borrowed time and is eager not to waste it. When Augustus Waters walks into her support group, she's hit by everything about him and falls head over heels. She tries to keep her distance, knowing that she is a ticking time bomb, but Augustus always finds a way to win her over. The love story is beautiful and real, like a regular teen romance with the poignant smell of death looming over their kisses. And yet, you keep reading and you keep hoping because Green won't let you leave. And it's beautiful and haunting, and you don't want to let go.

Hazel steals the show as she fights to both live and survive. She tries to stay strong as everyone around her crumples. Her parents can't hide their fear of her dying and her friends treat her differently now that she has cancer. The only people she can truly be herself around are Augustus and Isaac because they have been though all the same hardships as her. They can laugh about cancer and joke about dying together without worrying whether it will make others sad. 

Like Looking For Alaska, Green shows every layer of the human soul, how fragile we all are and how not everyone knows it. We all have our flaws, our secrets, and it's a part of who we are even if we never share them with others. And everything we do affects those around us whether we know it or not. Green captures pain, death, life and living fluently and masterfully and reminds us that we may only have today, we may only have now, and we should do great things with the time we have. 

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

19. Before I Fall

Book #19: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 2, 2010
470 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
This book broke my heart. Lauren Oliver captured redemption and love and loss perfectly. Yes all of this could have happened to the character while she was alive, but instead she finds her peace through death after reliving the final day of her life over seven times. Samantha Kingston is your average mean girl: she has her popular clique of friends, has ditched anyone from her past that wasn't cool enough, and is too cool to hang out with her family. Friday should just be another day in her wonderful life but it turns out to be her last, well not really. Samantha gets the chance to do something that we all wish we could do - a do-over. 
Failure, mischief, and complete lack of caring ensue as Samantha goes through that Friday over and over, trying to discover the mystery behind her death. It's exactly the same way anyone who could have the chance to do this would do. You live it up, but still end up alone at the end because you are dead. She hurts some people, gets to know some people better, and in the process learns who she really is and tries to change herself. It's brutal and heart wrenching, watching Samantha become a better person when it's not going to change anything really. And yet, it captured my heart and torn at its strings and I never wanted it to let go.
Each character has a unique story and even they change over the course of the novel even though they aren't the ones going through what Samantha is. There are her best friends, Lindsey, Ally and Elody, who we find out secrets, hopes, dreams and mistakes that change how Samantha sees everything. Kent, Samantha's old friend from grade school whom she ditched once she got popular, becomes a bigger part in her life than her boyfriend. He is caring and has never stopped thinking about Samantha even after she chose to pretend he didn't exist. And of course Juliet, a hauntingly beautiful girl who they make fun of so much without realizing what effect it was actually having on her. 
Oliver's prose flowed from page to page, leaving me breathless. She captured death, life, and pain so perfectly that I believed everything Samantha went through and felt, everything that she faced was real and felt like it w as happening to me. I'm not normally a fan of books about death, since I don't handle it very well, but after reading this, I may just pick up some other ones. It reminds us that this could be our last day on earth and we should live it to its full potential. 
“Here's another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you're dead, it's the only thing that keeps you alive.” 

18. Summer And The City

Book #18: Summer And The City
Author: Candace Bushnell
Published: April 26, 2011
409 pages
4 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Summer is a magical time in New York City and Carrie is in love with all of it—the crazy characters in her neighborhood, the vintage-clothing boutiques, the wild parties, and the glamorous man who has swept her off her feet. Best of all, she's finally in a real writing class, taking her first steps toward fulfilling her dream. 

This sequel to The Carrie Diaries brings surprising revelations as Carrie learns to navigate her way around the Big Apple, going from being a country "sparrow"—as Samantha Jones dubs her—to the person she always wanted to be. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile her past with her future, Carrie realizes that making it in New York is much more complicated than she ever imagined. 

The moment Carrie Bradshaw steps foot into New York, everything changes. This is the moment she starts to become who we know her as today. And of course, because it's New York, she's robbed within minutes. This sends her straight into the arms of Samantha Jones, and we all know what happens next.

The big city could eat Carrie up, but with the help of Samantha, she gets invited to the best parties, gets to live in a swanky apartment and starts a relationship with a famous playwright. Bushnell captures the sparrow qualities of Carrie perfectly. She is desperate to make it in New York, but she doesn't understand that it's not as easy as she thinks it will be. She gets involved with the wrong people, compares herself to the more privileged in her writing class, and gets her heart broken all over again.

The point is she doesn't give up. Carrie is a strong character and she knows how to chase her dreams. Even when she thinks there is no hope of becoming a successful writing, she doesn't quit. New York tries to beat her but she fights against it, and that's what every good heroine needs to do. 

Once again Bushnell has impressed with her writing. I've fallen in love with this series, and the young lives of some of my most beloved characters. We meet Miranda in New York, the strong headed woman we know her as today, and we see hers and Carrie's relationship build from the beginning. Soon it's the three of them, Carrie, Samantha and Miranda, and we see the group slowly forming into what it will become in their 30s. I'm eager to read the next instalment, to see young naive Charlotte enter the world of New York and see it not break her either. The characters are just as loveable in their teens as they are later in life, and these books have become a welcome addition to my collection. Now excuse me while I re-watch the series over and over again.

“Like me, he has a searing belief that books are sacred. They might not be to other people, but when you have a passion, you hold on to it. You defend it. You dont pretend it isn't important at the risk of offending others." 

Friday, April 6, 2012

17. The Carrie Diaries

Book #17: The Carrie Diaries
Author: Candace Bushnell
Published: April 27, 2010
389 pages
4 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation? 

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted. 

I love Carrie. I love her quirky style, her smoking while writing her article and the fact that she owns more shoes than books. I avidly watched Sex and the City over the years just for Carrie. She was me, I was her, we were soulmates. So when I found The Carrie Diaries, I knew I had to read it. It took me quite awhile to finally pick it up, since I've always been sort of disappointed with Bushnell's writing, but once I did, I had to read it right away. The first time I picked it up, I only got through two chapters. It hadn't captured me yet. I couldn't see the Carrie that I knew and loved, but once I picked it up again, I found her.

Carrie's your average small town girl. She has big dreams of getting out of there and moving to the big city to follow them. Her dream is to write a novel. Her dream is to get into a summer writing program in New York and become a successful author. Carrie and I have a lot in common. After getting a rejection letter, she's not so sure she'll be able to keep chasing this dream. But as she paves her way through her senior year of high school, falls in love for the first time, gets betrayed for the first time, and really discovers who she is, she knows she still has to follow this dream.

Carrie's teenage years are real, heartbreaking, and shape who she will become in Sex and the City. She is the same Carrie we know and love today with her crazy fashion sense and her recklessness love for her friends and those she loves. She is stubborn and fierce and she makes mistakes and I love her for all of it. Bushnell did a wonderful job creating young Carrie and preparing her for her life in New York. There are a few details that don't quite match the show, but it works well with the story line. I tried not to think too much about comparing the two, since to me they are both completely differnt. Carrie is a different girl growing up, we all are, so you can't expect her to be the same woman she is now. 

Bushnell's adult novels haven't quite reached me. I read Sex and the City after watching the show, but it disappointed me. I tried again with a few of her other ones, but I just couldn't relate to them. She's redeemed herself in my eyes with her new young adult series, creating a new Carrie for me to root for. And I will always root for Carrie. 

“Whoever we are here, we might be princesses somewhere else. Or writers. Or scientists. Or presidents. Or whatever the hell we want to be that everyone else says we can't.” 

16. Fever

Book #16: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: February 21, 2012
341 pages
5 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

The Chemical Garden that DeStefano has created is among my favourite dystopian series. She's created a world that seems real in every sense, a world that could very well become our future. After trying to make a better human race, the world has become quite the opposite, where man only live until 25 and girls under 20. The world has become a death trap where girls are sold into slavery/prostitution or wives. Rhine, our heroine that has kept quiet throughout her years with her brother, became a wife in the first novel, Wither, but managed to escape the house and those who would hurt her. Now, on the run with her lover Gabriel, Rhine is on a mission to find her brother and return safely home. Seeing as this is only the second book in the trilogy, she doesn't make it home yet.

The world is scary in DeStefano's future. It's scary in most dystopian novels, but this one frightened me the most. To know you are going to die at the age of 20 is a horrible thought. Then on top of that, the chances of getting sold or having to sleep with men for money are much too high for my liking. Rhine's life is not easy and my heart beat quickly with hers as I read her story, hoping nothing too terrible would happen to her. Rhine has never done anything wrong, yet the world is against her, using her for its own cruel amusement.

Gabriel is her strength. He is kind and loving and trying very hard to be strong with her in a world that he has never known. Considering he grew up as a slave in a household, never seeing beyond the fence, he is doing well. We meet a few new characters at the Carnival of Horrors (a prostitution ring disguised as a carnival) like Maddie, a malformed child who will not talk to anyone. Rhine immediately relates with her, as she is malformed as well, and Maddie takes to Rhine like a mother, giving Rhine enough hope to keep going.

Rhine stays strong throughout the whole book even though terrible things are happening to her and around her. She is on the run, her freedom in her sights but knowing that she can't have it. She is technically still married to Linden and she knows his father is surely after her, trying to get her to come back to the mansion so he can experiment on her like he did the other wives. The novel is fast-paced, and kept me reading to the end, eager to see if Rhine would finally escape Vaughn's evil grasp. I can't wait for the final book in this series.

"Everything that happened before feels like a million years ago now. This is the freedom I craved throughout my marriage. To share a bed not because of a wedding ring or a one-sided promise that was made for me, but because of desire. Inexplicable yet undeniable. I have never craved closeness like this for anyone else."

15. Pandemonium

Book #15: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: February 28, 2012
375 pages
5 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

We first met Lena in Delirium, in a world where is a disease and at the age of 18, everyone gets the cure for it. Lena is on the edge of getting her cure when she meets Alex. Well, you can guess what happens. Pandemonium picks up right where Delirium left off. Lena has escaped the city and is now in the Wilds, running and trying to start a new life. There she meets other Uncured and learns to survive without her family and truly learns just how strong she really is.

Lena is the perfect herione. She picks herself up, after so much tragedy and pain, and starts a new. With the help of Raven, she becomes whole again and ready to fight back.

The novel takes place in two tenses: Before and After. It flips back and forth with each chapter, showing us who Lena was when she crossed the fence, and who she became. At first I thought this might be confusing, but Oliver skipped back and forth like a rock over water. The transitions were smooth and each chapter connected perfectly even though they took place months apart from each other. While one advanced, so did the other, and it just made me keep reading. Oliver has a way with words. Her prose and descriptions capture me and force me to re-read them over and over because they are just so beautiful. The way shows Lena's life is true and heartbreaking. We watch as Lena learns to love again, learns to open herself back up to life and living. This is what she has to do to keep going. That's the way of life, even if that's not what we want from this character, it's what she needs, it's what everyone needs.

Beautiful, heartbreaking and intriguing, Pandemonium is a great addition to the ever growing world of dystopian thrillers.

"I wonder if this is how people always get close: they heal each other's wounds; they repair the broken skin."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

14. Paper Towns

Book #14: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published: May 3, 2010
305 pages
5 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

I will forever only have kind, wonderful things to say about John Green's writing. I hope that one day, I will be able to write a story half as good as any of his where my readers are left feeling every emotion possible like I am when I'm finished one of his. I first fell in love with him when I read Looking For Alaska, which pulled me in and never let me go. In fact, it's still got a hold on me. This was the second of his that I read and I was just as yanked and beaten with emotion as I was from Alaska. In both, the main characters fall for emotionally unavailable girls and get sucked into a life that they never imagined they'd be a part of.

Quentin's girl is Margo Roth Spiegalman, his next door neighbour whom he's had a crush on for many years. After one wild night, his lie changes. Quentin is a believable teenager, falling head over heels for someone he'll never have, but believing still that there is a chance. Margo is quirky, eccentric and crazy, the kind of girl any guy would fall for. She has a dark side to her, a side she only lets Quentin see. When she disappears one day, he knows he has to find her. The clues start showing up and he knows that they are for him, that she wants him to find her. His journey begins on the first page, the moment Margo knocks on his window, but as everything is set into motion, he learns more about himself and Margo that he ever thought he'd know. And we fall in love: with him, with Margo and with the Paper Towns that she so desperately wants to become.

Green's writing style chokes me up with tears and laughter and everything in between. His prose captures me, making me dog ear the pages so that I can return to read it again at will. His heartbreaking love stories of two teenagers that find each other and never let go, is too real to think of as just a story. His characters are real. Quentin sits behind you in class. Margo floats down your road like a bird. The live on even after the last page, begging you to live your life the way that they have: without fear, without doubt, without future. Carpe diem.

"Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one."

13. The Way We Fall

Book #13: The Way We Fall
Author: Megan Crewe
Published: January 24, 2012
309 Pages
4 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

It starts with a itch. Then you start sneezing. Then you get super friendly with your neighbours but none of them want to go near you because you're sick. But how do you say no to someone that's smiling and saying everything you want to hear? Well if you're smart, you find a way. Megan Crewe has taken a small vacation island and turned it into the breeding ground for a new virus. Our heroine, Kaelyn, wants to help in anyway she can but it's not as easy as it seems. Told through a series of letters to her friend Leo, who is no longer living on the island, we follow Kaelyn's journey as she discovers the virus, sees the virus and feels the virus affect everyone around her.

She breaks my heart and I was rooting for her the entire time. The journal entry format made this book hard to put down. With its fast paced, action packed plot, with every turn of the page you wonder if she'll make it to the end. Her emotions are real and heartfelt and her reactions to the terrifying events taking place around her are believable. The minor characters react in every way you would think people might react in a situation like this. Some get angry and try to fight their way off the island. Some get even more angry and try to kill the virus through violence. Some hide, hoping to survive. Some help where they can to help others survive. Some die trying. A lot of the characters are too calm at points, points where I know if this was happening to me, I'd be screaming or too terrified to leave the house. But I'm not as brave as Kaelyn, I guess, who in the light of danger and death, keeps a cool head and continues to struggle to survive. She's not a quitter, that's for sure.

I'm excited to read the sequel, now that the virus is spreading it will be interesting to see what Crewe does to advance this new disease. Her voice, dialogue and descriptions put me right onto the island with Kaelyn, and wondering when or if I will ever make it to the other side.

"Most people think the scariest thing is knowing that you’re going to die. It’s not. It’s knowing you might have to watch every single person you’ve ever loved – or even liked – waste away while you just stand there."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

12. Dash And Lily's Book Of Dares

Book #12: Dash And Lily's Book Of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Published: October 26, 2010
272 pages
4 gold stars

(summary from Goodreads)

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Any fans of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist will enjoy this book. It's written in the same format, switching narrators with each chapter. Strewed around Christmastime in New York City, Dash and Lily find each other through her notebook, thus beginning a relationship that neither is sure could be real. Similar to meeting someone online, you don't know if the chemistry is going to be there in person.

Lily is eccentric, wearing clothes that seem way too weird to be true, and Dash is from a rich family that is certainly not as happy as one would think. Dash finds solace in the notebook, feeling like he can be true to himself with this girl he's never met. Throughout the novel, I was rooting for them to meet, to find out that they truly do have chemistry. I know it's never that simple, I know that's not how it works in real life, but I just kept hoping. Their adventures were fun, random dares taking them through New York City and meeting each other's friends and family before actually meeting each other. People get in the way, life gets in the way, but the notebook continues to get passed between them, continues to keep their connection together.

Nick and Norah are still my favourite, wishing I didn't have to compare them but the stories are quite similiar. I love the style of writing that Cohn and Levithan do, they work together quite well even though they don't actually work together. One will write a chapter and then send it to the other. These two writers understand each other quite well, forming relationships through characters as though they too are just meeting. It's a nice way of getting that awkward feeling that one gets when meeting a new love interest. They do a great job with this. The writing is written well, both characters have their own views of the story and this keeps the reader interested. It certainly kept me wanting more, waiting for that moment when the two of them meet. Well, I can't tell you what happens next.

"The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There's no getting over that."

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