Oblivion

Last night, I finally finished reading another book that came to me through NetGalley. This book, Oblivion by Sasha Dawn, came out on May 27th, and I honestly should have finished reading it before the release date, but I just couldn’t do it. It took me three weeks to get through this book, and that is rare. The premise of the book was interesting, but the book itself just didn’t hold my interest. It was very easy to put down.

Callie has been plagued by graphomania (an extreme need to write) for the past year, ever since her father, Reverend Palmer Prescott of the Church of the Holy Promise (a very cult-like “church”), disappeared with Hannah, a young girl from the church. Authorities–and even Callie herself–think Callie knows more about the supposed abduction than she’s told them. Buried somewhere in her memories are clues to what really happened. All Callie really knows is that she was found after the disappearance with the words “I killed him” scrawled on the walls of a shabby apartment. What really happened that night? And does Callie hold the keys to unlocking the truth of a young girl’s whereabouts?

The anniversary of this terrible event is fast approaching, and Callie’s graphomania is taking on a life of its own. The words are pouring out of her, but what do they mean? Callie seeks answers from her mentally disturbed mother, but it’s often difficult to separate lucidity from insanity with her mom.

A guy at school, though, may be able to help Callie. John has followed this case–and another related one–and he seems to be triggering some latent memories in Callie’s fragile mind. He’s helping her make sense of the words plaguing her, and Callie is growing closer to the truth of what really happened.

Is Callie ready for what the truth will reveal? What will it mean for her life now? And what will happen when it becomes clear that someone is willing to do anything to keep some secrets buried forever?

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Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, I did like a couple of things about it. I found the entire concept of graphomania to be intriguing. It’s not a condition I’d ever heard of before, and I now find myself wanting to know more about it. Trying to decipher what Callie’s words really meant was both frustrating and engaging, and when things finally coalesced at the end, those words made a strange sort of sense.

Watching Callie and John work together to uncover the mystery surrounding Palmer and Hannah was interesting at times. They had a few setbacks, and Callie’s words led them on some wild chases for answers, but they persevered and eventually found the truth. Were they the answers the duo expected? Not always, but I think their relationship was strengthened by the journey together.

I think my biggest issues with this book had to do with pacing and characters. The story seemed to drag on and on until the big conclusion, when everything went at a frantic pace. The ending actually took me by surprise because it came on so suddenly. I was expecting a little more of a build-up, especially considering how slowly the rest of the book went. So, although I found the end to be exciting, disturbing, and fitting, I also found it to be rather abrupt.

As for the characters, I must say that I didn’t particularly like any of them. Even Callie, our protagonist, was kind of hard to like sometimes. Yes, I rooted for her and wanted her to uncover the truth, but I didn’t think she was very relatable, and she made some pretty bone-headed choices (which I know would be expected for someone in her situation, but a little common sense would have been nice). The character I disliked the most was probably Lindsay, Callie’s foster sister. That girl was horrible! I’m still trying to figure out why Callie put up with Lindsay’s wide array of crap (bullying, drug use, lying, etc.). There were a few other major characters in this book, and I’m sad to say that I found none of them–save maybe Hannah–to be especially sympathetic.

I read an uncorrected proof of Oblivion, so it’s possible that some changes were made to make the book a bit better before final publication. If you happen to read a final copy, please let me know what you think! I feel that this book had so much potential to be great, but, in my opinion, it just fell short.

Gone Girl

*Normally, I post on middle grade and YA lit on this blog. That is not the case today. Gone Girl is definitely intended for an adult audience. You’ve been warned!*

At about 1am this morning, I finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Like a couple of other books I read this year, Gone Girl was a bit of a departure for me. It definitely falls within the realm of an adult book. (By “adult,” I don’t mean, you know, pornographic or anything–although there is some use of graphic scenes and language. I simply mean that this book is written for adults to enjoy…and even “enjoy” may not be an adequate word here.) I picked up this book because so many people–people I trust to lead me to good books–said it was worth the read. They were not wrong.

I guess we can classify Gone Girl as a psychological thriller. I definitely kept me guessing and thinking “What the #$%&!” for much of the book. I’m used to books where there is definitely a good guy and a clear villian. Not so in this read. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that both main characters are fairly despicable. At the beginning of the book, I didn’t feel that way, but I was definitely swayed later on.

I think what is so entertaining–if that’s the right word–about Gone Girl is the glimpse into a truly psychotic, codependent relationship. It’s not like the give-and-take between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. No, Nick and Amy (the main characters in this book), make the Holmes-Watson relationship look positively healthy. Nick and Amy truly have a love-hate relationship…and their definitions of “love” kind of make me deliriously happy that I’m single.

Gone Girl is told from both Nick’s and Amy’s viewpoints, and the book centers around Amy going missing. Like most cases of missing wives, Nick, her husband, is almost immediately the prime suspect. In his story, we see a picture of a husband who has grown disinterested in his marriage, a man who lies freely, and someone who brings suspicion on himself.

In Amy’s story, at least in the beginning, readers get a glimpse into how she was led to the point of  being afraid of her seemingly perfect husband. Is that really the whole picture, though? As you may have guessed, it most definitely is not. In later chapters, Amy is revealed to be a conniving, manipulative–and altogether brilliant–psycho hose beast. (She makes James Moriarty look like a freakin’ teddy bear.) Seriously. This woman is batcrap crazy. And as more of Amy’s twisted mind is revealed to both Nick and readers, the clearer it becomes that Nick will never escape from this horror of a marriage…but does he really want to?

I don’t really know how I feel about the journey this book took me on. Part of me wanted at least one person to get a happy ending…but a bigger part realizes that there really wasn’t anyone in the book–apart from maybe Nick’s sister–who really deserved one. It’s rare that I read a book where I don’t like any of the characters but I still enjoy the book. That’s what happened in Gone Girl, though. It was a dizzying read at times, but the roller coaster–with all its twists and turns–was pretty thrilling.

Published in: on December 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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Leepike Ridge

It’s time for some brutal honesty. I did not want to read this book. The only reason I picked it up is because it’s one of the books for my school district’s Battle of the Books competition, and I knew I needed to be familiar with it. It’s not something I would normally read, and that may be why it took me nearly three weeks to finish Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson. After finishing the book, I can see why many of my students would enjoy it, but it definitely wasn’t the book for me.  (I’m not an outdoorsy person, so books about surviving in nature are not my cup of tea.)

It all started with a refrigerator box.  Eleven-year-old Tom Hammond probably never thought that kicking around a box and the foam inside would lead to such trouble…but it did. What starts out as a rather innocent evening playing with a piece of foam ends up with Tom trapped under his home on Leepike Ridge!

Tom uses all of his wits to survive in this frightening environment. He encounters more than he ever expected (including a corpse that–oddly enough–gives him some survival tools). He even meets up with a dog and another survivor, and these three will work together to finally find a way out of the mountain.

While Tom is fighting for his life, his mom is fighting a battle of her own. She knows her son is alive, but she’ll have to work to convince others…all while fending off treasure hunters who are out for their own interests.

Will Tom ever find his way home? Just what will he find within Leepike Ridge? And what will he learn about himself throughout this terrifying ordeal? Discover the truth when you read Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson.

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Fans of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, and even Indiana Jones may find something to enjoy in this book. I talked a little about it with my fourth graders the other day, and both the boys and girls seemed gung-ho to read it. I think this is a good book for upper elementary and middle grade readers who enjoy action-adventure stories…especially stories where the main characters are battling the elements.

For more information on Leepike Ridge and other books by N.D. Wilson, visit http://www.ndwilson.com/.

Published in: on November 8, 2013 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Night She Disappeared

Several days ago, I impulsively downloaded one of the Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon. Before that day, I honestly didn’t have this particular book on my radar. I had read a book by the author before–and enjoyed it–so I thought this one would be no different. I was right. (Happens all the time, really.)

The book was The Night She Disappeared by April Henry. As the title suggests, this book is a mystery centered around a teenage girl, Kayla, who has mysteriously disappeared. This is a super-fast read (only took me a few hours to finish) is told in different viewpoints and takes the reader through what happened from immediately before Kayla’s disappearance to the discovery of what really happened to her.

While Kayla is the central focus of the book–and there are chapters from her point of view as well as the bad guy’s–the major part of the The Night She Disappeared is told from the perspectives of two of her coworkers, Gabie and Drew. These two young people are closer to the investigation that almost anyone, and they may be the only people capable of really figuring out what happened to Kayla.

It seemed like a normal pizza delivery. A guy ordered three pizzas and gave his address. He asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper would be delivering his food. She wasn’t working that night, but Drew, who took the order at Pete’s Pizza, didn’t tell the caller that. Instead, he sent Kayla out on what should have been a normal delivery. If only. Hours later, when Kayla had not returned to work, Drew called the police to report her missing. He just knew something was wrong. How right he was…

When Gabie hears the news of Kayla’s disappearance, she’s immediately filled with guilt. She should have been the one working that night. And when Drew tells her that the caller specifically asked about the girl driving the Mini Cooper, she’s even more freaked out. The girl he asked for is Gabie herself. What if Kayla hadn’t asked her to switch workdays? Would she be the one missing…and presumed dead? Does this mystery caller still have his eyes on her?

As Gabie and Drew deal with their guilt over what has happened and a firm belief that Kayla’s alive somewhere–despite loads of evidence to the contrary–Kayla is facing a horror that she never expected. She’s quickly losing hope, and she wonders if she’ll ever see her friends and family again. Is there any way she can get out of this alive? Or is she destined to be the victim of a deranged man who is determined to eventually get his hands on his real target, Gabie?

Peppered with evidence reports, police interviews, and articles detailing the investigation into Kayla’s disappearance, readers learn what really happened to this girl and how this horrific event impacted those closest to her…and one young man who was thought to be behind it all. Will anyone find out how and why Kayla disappeared…before it’s too late? Uncover the disturbing truth when you read The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.

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If you enjoy a riveting–if at times predictable–mystery, I suggest you give The Night She Disappeared a try. It’s incredibly fast-paced and might be a good fit for reluctant readers who have an interest in crime dramas. Pair this book with Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles, or any of Alane Ferguson’s forensic mysteries, and you’ve got an awesome reading list for the YA mystery lover. If The Night She Disappeared strikes your fancy, Torched, another book by April Henry, may also appeal to you.

For more information on this book and other mysteries by April Henry, visit http://www.aprilhenrymysteries.com/. You can also like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Have fun!

Published in: on July 21, 2013 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Entice

Danger, danger!  Stop here if you haven’t read both Need and Captivate by Carrie Jones.  You simply must read these two books before reading this post about book three, Entice.  You’ve been warned!

Another day, another book finished.  I think Entice by Carrie Jones is the seventh book I’ve read in the past week.  I am made of awesome.  (Of course, it’s certainly helped that school has been cancelled all week because of snow…but I’m still pretty awesome…and humble.)  I think I may take a little break after this post, partly because I have to go back to work next week, and partly because, quite frankly, I’m kind of tired.  Not to fear, though, I will still do my best to bring you the best in young adult literature–just not as much of it in one week.  Sorry.  Now, on to Entice, the third installment in Carrie Jones’ Need series.  This book picks up mere minutes after Captivate leaves off, and things in Bedford, Maine, are about to get a lot more dangerous…

Zara never thought she would be a pixie, but it seems she’ll do anything to bring her boyfriend, Nick, back home and save the people that she loves.  So she’s now a pixie.  But she’s not just any pixie.  She’s a pixie queen.  Astley’s pixie queen.  Can she convince everyone she loves that not all pixies are evil (just like not all people are evil)?  Will they ever truly trust her again?  Will Nick if she ever finds him?

More and more people are dying and going missing in Bedford, and Zara, Astley, and all of Zara’s friends must put aside their differences and work together to stop this evil from spreading.  Who is behind it all?  Is the other pixie king, Frank?  Or is there a larger force behind it all, one who no one really suspects?  The answers, I’m afraid, are not easy.  It is not always apparent who can be trusted or when trusting the wrong person will lead to even more death and destruction.

As Zara works to stop the violence from spreading in Bedford, she must also find a way to get to Valhalla to rescue Nick.  But how?  What will she have to do if she ever makes it there?  Will Nick want to come back with her once he realizes that she became a pixie just to rescue him?  Will he accept that she is Astley’s queen?  And how can Zara reconcile her love for Nick with her growing feelings for Astley?  There are no easy answers, but join Zara as she tries to discover who she truly is when you read Entice by Carrie Jones.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to be answered in the Need series.  I’ll go ahead and warn you that not all of them are answered in this book.  I have high hopes that the fourth book will clear things up a bit, but we’ll have to wait on that.  It’s not scheduled to be released until early 2012.  In the meantime, there are many, many more books to read, and I must get to them.  So long for now…

Published in: on January 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bewitching Season

Well, I’ve finally finished Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve been trying to finish this book for about two months.  It’s not a book I would generally pick up, so I wasn’t really motivated to finish it.  (I finally did because it’s nominated for my state’s young adult book award for next year.)  While it took an exceedingly long time to get interested in this book, once I got about halfway through, I couldn’t wait to finish it.  The action really picks up in the middle, and I could finally say that I was invested in the story.

Persephone and Penelope are about to be launched on London society.  The year is 1837, and the twin sisters are preparing for their first London season.  These aren’t two ordinary sisters, though.  They are witches.  For years, they’ve been training with their governess, Miss Allardyce, who not only teaches them writing and math but also how to use and control their magical gifts.

As the season is set to begin, however, Miss Allardyce goes missing.  Persy and Pen have no idea where to find her.  The two sisters must also deal with unbelievably tedious dress fittings (at least, I found them to be tedious), a nosy little brother, and the inevitable husband hunting of the season.  Persy wants little or nothing to do with the season and would love to devote all of her time to finding her missing governess, but her plans are complicated when she catches the eyes of two potential suitors.

As events unfold, Persy and Pen learn of a foul plot to control the Princess Victoria, heir to the throne, and their missing governess is somehow involved.  Can they thwart this evil plan while maintaining their decorum in London’s most prestigious ballrooms?  Is this even possible?  And how can Persy concentrate on rescuing Miss Allardyce when she’s trying to decide who she should marry or if she should wed at all?  Read Bewitching Season to learn how truly magical Victorian London can be.

While I admit that it took me forever to finally finish this book, I do plan to check out the sequel, Betraying Season, soon.  Now that I’ve read Persy’s story, I’m eager to see how things develop for her sister Pen.

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Paper Towns

Having read John Green’s previous two novels, Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, I was expecting another winner when I started reading Paper Towns.  At first, I thought my expectations would be met.  As I continued reading, however, I found myself getting bogged down in a story that was as unbelievable as it was wordy.  Now, I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of reality, but Paper Towns was a little too out there for me when it comes to a book that is supposed to be realistic fiction.  That being said, I’ll let you judge for yourselves as to whether or not this is a good book…

Quentin Jacobsen is a bit obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegleman.  She seems more than human to him, so when she basically orders him to accompany her on an all-night revenge-a-thon, he has little choice but to go along.  After this longest night of his life, however, Quentin discovers that Margo has gone missing.  No one knows where she’s gone, but she has seemingly left Quentin the clues to find her.  With the help of his friends, Quentin follows the clues that will hopefully lead him to Margo.  In the process, he learns more about himself and what it means to really know another person.  Will he find her?  Does Margo even want to be found?  Read Paper Towns by John Green to uncover the mystery.

Published in: on September 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Feathered

This was a weird one.  Laura Kasischke’s Feathered is the story of two girls going to Cancun for spring break.  Just by reading the book jacket, I knew things would not go well, but I wasn’t prepared for just how weird one of the main characters was.   Her voice didn’t seem to be that of a typical senior in high school.  It was waaaay too serious.  I just felt like there was something off about her (Michelle) through the entire story.

Of course, the two girls in the story do something they know is stupid, and it gets them into big trouble.  I’m not going to tell you what it was, but I will say that there are a couple of parallels to the Natalie Holloway case.

I don’t want to give the ending of the story away, so I’m not going to say much more.  One huge plus for this book is the author’s writing style.  It is very poetic and full of imagery (which makes sense when you find out that she has published seven collections of poetry).  That being said, I think this book is best reserved for more serious readers who like a very slow build up of drama.  Those who are just looking for a suspenseful book that gets to the mystery right away will be waiting a while.

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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