Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Break It

Jane Green's latest, Another Piece of My Heart, is the story of a dysfunctional family at it's finest.  Andi, who in her late 30's feels like she's finally met "the one" gets married to Ethan.  Ethan has two daughters, Emily and Sophia, from a previous marriage.  Of course it wouldn't be a good story without conflict so inevitably one of the girls dislikes Andi, the stepmom.  The story is told from Andi's perspective (at least initially) and we really feel for her.  She's wanted a child forever but she's been terribly unsuccessful.  She's sweet and kind to her step daughters but Emily takes advantage of Andi and Ethan over and over again.  Combine Emily's horrible behavior with the fact that Ethan constantly sticks up for Emily and makes excuses for her, and it pushes Andi to the brink...until something happens.

Although I'm a fan of Green's work, I can't 
say that this was my favorite book of hers. I found it simply pleasant and enjoyable.  It was a quick read and I wanted to find out what was going to happen but there wasn't necessarily that urgency that made me not want to put it down.  

I liked the plot of the story and the idea 
behind it.  I think overall Green did a solid job with creating the family dynamic.  The arguing, the crying, the resentment, the anger, and frustration were all very realistic.  I think the character development was alright, but could've gone a bit deeper.  We hear over and over that Andi can't have children of her own but we never know why that is the case.  Emily is a bit too wishy-washy in my opinion too; she's a brooding angry teen one moment and then the next she's wanting bedtime stories and comfort.  I would've liked to understand more about Ethan and more about Michael, who is the love interest in Emily's life.  

I liked that the conflict in this story is real.  I liked that the emotions and language of the characters felt real too.  They spoke from their hearts about their pain and hurt.  The situation surrounding them is one which many women can relate and therefore makes for a successful story.

As I said, it's a sold story and enjoyable.  It's not Miss Green's best work, however.  If you've got an afternoon free and looking for a story with a little heart, but doesn't cause you to think too much, this is the one for you!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wake Me Up When It's Over

My most recent read is from one of my new 
favorite authors, Amanda Hocking, author of the best selling Trylle Trilogy and other self published novels.  She is, in my opinion, one of the best up and coming YA novelist out there.  With that being said, I was obviously really geeked out when I heard she would be releasing the first in a new trilogy in August.  I purchased it the day it came out but had to wait (oh, the agony!) to read it because I was in the middle of another series.  

The newest release is called Wake and is the first in what is being called the Watersong Series.  The cover art alone is fantastic, as is the cool videos  that Hocking likes to have produced for her novels.  After reading the Trylle Trilogy, along with the My Blood Approves series, and The Hollows books by Hocking, I was exceedingly excited for this release.  Maybe I put it up too high on a pedestal.  Unfortunately, it just didn't grab me like her other novels have.

Wake is basically the story of two sisters, 
Harper and Gemma.  Gemma is a phenomenal swimmer who both swims for her school's team and takes night swims alone in the Maryland bay area where she lives.  Suddenly there are stories of other teens that leave to meet with friends and never return.  Then, there is a group of new group of girls in town.  The new girls are beautiful, beyond what most girls that age look like.  They seem different too, but nobody can quite figure out why.  Gemma even thinks there's something mysterious about them but can't quite put her finger on it.

Gemma falls for the boys next door, literally.  
Alex has been Harper's friend growing up but now, the summer before leaving for college, he finds he's attracted to Gemma.  Gemma in turn is flattered and finds herself attracted to Alex.  A budding romance ensues.  On the other side, Harper is so transparent with her "dislike" of the local boat boarder, Daniel.  She's run into him on several occasions and immediately puts up a wall, but it's so obvious that she likes him.  Can you say lame?

Gemma is soon drawn into the new girls' circle and suddenly she finds herself as even a stronger, faster swimmer and able to heal quicker than imaginable.  She can stay under water longer than ever before.  She's even found a couple of greenish iridescent scales in her house.  What's going on?  Well, *SPOILER ALERT* it's not too hard to figure out that Gemma has been turned into the same thing the other girls are:  Sirens.  Hocking makes a clear distinction between sirens and mermaids here though, and I'm not quite sure why, maybe only to make the reader understand that sirens are quite a bit more ruthless and uncaring than a mermaid might be.  We learn about the Greek curse put on sirens and how they will never have love.

What will Gemma do when she finds out that a mortal man, a man like Alex, can never love her?  How will Harper figure this all out and save her sister?  And what the heck is Daniel going to do to help Helper?  Well, that's what she leaves us wondering at the end of Wake.  

I went into this as a huge Hocking fan and I think for that reason I had very high expectations.  I felt a bit let down though.  I mean, as a story it's solid and I'm sure there are millions who will love it.  I just expected more.  I'm not sure if the let down is in the actual writing itself or if because it's not a self published novel, she had to change it so much that it's not even the same story she started with. That happens once an editor gets a hold of your work sometimes.  So I wonder Amanda Hocking, what happened?  The characters weren't developed, the story was rather short, and I was just left at the end thinking, "It's done?"  As a reader, I HATE feeling that way.  

Clearly it leaves the opening for the follow 
up novel, due out in November and titled, Lullaby, but still, it wasn't just like a normal cliffhanger.  I felt cheated a bit by the ending.  I literally turned the page and wondered where the rest was because it didn't seem like a natural stopping point to me.  Don't get me wrong, I will read the next one and the one after that too.  I can't just not finish a series unless I truly hated the first book, which I honestly didn't hate this.  In fact, I want to love it so badly but I just can't...and that makes me  mad!

Well, if you like stories about mythical creatures and teenage drama, then you might like this.  It's a nice change of pace from the typical vampires and werewolves that have become so increasingly popular, so it does have that going for it.  Who knows, maybe as the next two books come out to complete the trilogy, I'll fall in love with it as a completed work.  I can only hope so.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oh For the Love of...

I'm back and I've finally finished the series I 
mentioned to you previously, the Fallen series, by Lauren Kate.  This series is comprised of four titles including Fallen, Passion, Torment, and finally Rapture.  I'm just going to talk about them as a whole work instead of delving into each one.

I started this series very excited.  Honestly, the cover art is what got me; it's beautiful to say the least.  It made me want to read this story...well, that and the fact that I've seen the titles on the shelves for what feels like forever.  

The story starts out as many YA ones do, 
with a girl named Lucinda (Luce) who falls for a dark brooding guy, Daniel, at school.  Long story short, we realize this guy isn't quite what he seems and BOOM, insert Angels.  Yep, Daniel's an angel.

We find out that the main character, Luce,
has lived many lives before her present one and in each of them Daniel was present as well.  In each life she has died -actually sparked into flames- at the age of seventeen in Daniel's arms.  Now she's on a hunt to figure out why this has happened and why it didn't happen this time.

Up to this point the story wasn't too bad.  
I actually dare to say that I sort of enjoyed it.   Then it was on to the next three books, all of which about bored me out of my gourd.  I know they provided the back story for the characters and how they came to be but they felt so slow and I literally had to force myself to keep.  on.  reading.    I feel like the author could've condensed 2.5 books down into 1 and we all would've been a lot happier.

Then something happened.  Finally on
page 367 of the last book, my interest was sparked again.  There was a twist I didn't see coming.  Maybe other readers might have figured this out by now but not me!  It totally made me smile because it was what I least expected.  With this shift in the story, the end starts wrapping up quicker, at last.  Maybe that's why I smiled.  Anyhow, good defeats evil and the lovely couple end up together and happy, as we all knew they would.

Now, with all that being said, let me tell 
you what I didn't like about this series.

*The relationship between Luce & Daniel was so chaste that it barely qualifies as romantic.

*The story is based around angels who were made to decide between Heaven and Hell and those that couldn't or wouldn't decide were punished and turned into Fallen Angels.  Maybe it's just me, but I have a moral dilemma with this one.  The story portrays the heavenly figure, or God, as the Throne. He comes across very harsh and demanding.  He punishes and doesn't seem all that loving.  Lucifer, however, is portrayed as simply a very misunderstood angel who loves too deeply and cannot choose God because of his love.  You can make your own decisions on this one, folks, but for me, I had a problem with it.

*Though the angel Daniel didn't choose Lucifer's side, wasn't he still punished and ultimately sent through Hell?  I mean, he was made to live life over and over again and have the same heartbreaking thing happen before his eyes for 6 millenia.  If that's not Hell, I don't know what is.

*Daniel chose love.  Well, doesn't God=love?  So really Daniel did chose his side.  Why are we getting caught up in semantics here?

*I felt like the author tried too hard.  I don't exactly know how to describe that, I just feel it.  

This series has done well as a best 
seller and has really great reviews.  I had a friend tell me that she loved it even.  For me it was just alright.  I couldn't get past a lot of my feelings on the whole good vs. evil, Heaven vs. Hell, Lucifer vs. the Throne issue so it really tainted the entire series for me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


So it's been a while and I feel bad but I've been super duper busy being a mommy and time has just been completely sucked away from me.  At least my own time has been.  Hell, I just looked at my September and October calender and it's c-r-a-z-y as all get out!  Seriously, it's insane and I have no idea how I'm even going to get through it.

Despite the insanity of the past couple weeks, I have managed to read a new book.  I just finished Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, a young adult novel.  This is the first in a series by the author and although I kind of knew what I was getting into upon opening the book, I decided I HAD to read it since I've seen it on the bookshelves forever.

This series has widely been compared to 
Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and after reading the whole thing, I can definitely see where the mass of haters are coming from.  The plot is all very de ja vue if you've read both, I'll admit.  Both create a world in which things from dreams suddenly become a reality for a young girl.  In Twlight it's vampires and werewolves whereas in Hush Hush it's angels.  Both girls suddenly have baddies trying to hurt them and their other-worldly heroes rescue them time and time again.  But still...

Nora never wanted a boyfriend, despite the fact that her BFF is completely and utterly boy crazy.  Nora wanted to go to school and do homework and forget the fact that her father was killed in a freak accident.  Enter Patch, the dark, sexy, seductive boy in school who Nora can't seem to stop thinking about.  In fact, she's somehow drawn to him in a way that she can't even explain.

Long story short, after being rude to her, Nora decides that Patch and her will be boyfriend-girlfriend...because all good relationships are based on insults and mistrust, right?  Nora's life is in danger a number of times while Patch is vague about who he is and why things are happening.  Nora finally finds out that Patch is a fallen angels and is basically trying to find the light again.

Okay, so parts of this story did bother me. 
The relationship between the two main characters, Nora and Patch, kind of strike me both ways.  I hated the fact that he was downright rude to her and treated her poorly at times.  For a YA novel, I think this sets a bad precedent on what we think young girls should expect from the young men they date.  On the other hand, when Patch is loving, he's...well, pardon the pun, but he's an angel.  I got lost in moments of tenderness between the two.  Patch also had a great sense of humor, which lent itself to the story nicely.  It broke up some of the more intense parts.  Nora, I must say, was just a poor pathetic, naive girl who really was lucky to stay alive.  I have a hard time believing that with all of the adventures she encounters that she still is silent on the whole thing and never tells her mother or the police.  

One more thing I will say in regards to comparing Hush Hush with Twilight is that both authors did a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story.  I felt they both created characters that despite their many flaws, still really appealed to the reader.  I wanted to know more about the characters and find out why they behaved the way they did.  Even when I didn't like something or someone, I wanted to find out what made them that way or what caused them to behave in such a manner.  Now, whether those questions in my head were actually answered as I continued reading is another story entirely.

In the end, I can say that I liked the Hush Hush series.  All three books collectively created a full story with mystery, fantasy, and romance.  I would recommend them to readers who like fantasy fiction on the light side.  Don't go into it expecting an award winning series; you're not going to find it here.  You will find a couple of books to suck away hour after hour of your weekend easily though.

*Any links posted are not endorsements for that company or business, nor has that company or business payed me to use their name or likeness in any way.* 

Super Slackitty Slacker

Okay, so I have been the most super
slackitty slacker for more than a month now and I honestly don't even have a good excuse except to say that I have been concentrating on other things.  My kids went back to school, started soccer, dance, scouts, etc and then I agreed to lead my daughter's Daisy Scout troop as well.  Also, I sell Thirty-One but I've also signed on now to be a consultant for Close to My Heart, which in case you're not familiar with it is a scrapbooking/card making/paper crafting company.  They have FAB stuff too which is mainly why I'm doing it.  I want that discount!  Plus, I love scrapping so at least I'm enthusiastic about it already (even if I'm not that great at it).

So, with that in mind, I think I'm going to start a  new blog (I know, I mean how many can one girl have?) dedicated to my layouts and CTMH.  I figured that I'm creating my pages anyhow so I might as well display them and maybe they will give some other fellow scrappers some ideas to use.  I've got a name for it so I just need to create it and start taking some pictures to post.  I know...get on it already!

I really am going to start getting on here 
more often again and posting my book stuff.  I've read several recently, some of which I really enjoyed and others that I'm not quite sure of.  I'm finishing up a series right now that is in that "not quite sure" category actually but I'm determined to finish it out.  I can definitely see why some people would like it...but I'm just not so sure myself because of my own personal beliefs.  More on that to come soon though, I promise! :)

Until then keep living, keep loving, and keep reading!