“Reading is everything…”

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

— Nora Ephron

 

I don’t know about you, but reading is so incredibly important to me. It’s beautiful and, inevitably, it changes you. We often take books for granted. A quick trip to the bookstore, a click on a website, a library card, and the book (or, in my case, the stack of books) is ours. I took a moment today to think about how my life would look without the countless books I’ve read in my lifetime. I could tell you of the many ways this moment impacted me, but instead I ask that you take a moment and reflect for yourself. You will probably have a similar reaction to mine. It may seem trivial, but let’s appreciate the books in our life today.

 

Rant over! Any comments are welcomed 🙂

Book Review: Minutes Before Sunset – Shannon A. Thompson

Publisher: AEC Stellar
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Series: Timely Death #1
Pages: 294
Release Date: May 1, 2013 (via GoodReads)
Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:
She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.
_________________________
Wait…the Light is evil?

Characters—

Eric: What a breath of fresh air. The ability to come from a guy’s perspective and make it actually sound like a guy is one that I feel is pretty hard to come by nowadays. Thompson captures Eric’s voice so well! He’s not perfect—far from it—he’s full of churning emotions and teenage angst, which is only magnified by the fact that he has his whole world on his shoulders. How would you like to come home to “Son, are you ready to fight an epic battle to save all of your kind?” rather than a simple “How was your day?” Maybe all of that is why I love him. His attitude is a façade that conceals his caring and honorable side. Not to mention that he is not only HOT, but super sweet. Like, if I lived in Hayworth (the town in which the novel takes place), I would be sending him googly eyes all day, every day. Lastly and most importantly, he grows and transforms immensely as he finds out more about himself. That’s probably what I loved most about the entire novel. Eric at the end is a completely different person than Eric at the beginning. Well, that, and his hilarious sarcasm.

Jessica: I like her. I don’t love her and I don’t relate to her very much, but maybe that’s a personal problem. I snagged a few glimpses into her emotions and her life throughout the book, but I didn’t really hear her voice really speak out until the end. There were many moments in which I felt like she was two completely different people. Certain events in her life don’t seem to affect other parts of her life like they do Eric. I did, however, LOVE her backbone. When people are rude to her, she doesn’t take it. This girl has her self-respect and self-confidence in control! Many female protagonists nowadays, although beautiful, constantly bring up their insecurities. It’s good, because, let’s face it, high school/college girls can relate, but I loved seeing Jessica’s comfort in her own skin.
The World—

WHAT? The guys that come out at night are the good ones? Mind. Blown. I do hope she elaborates more on the Light/Dark history in Seconds Before Sunrise, as there are some unanswered questions on how the Lights/Darks came into being, why their clans hate one another, etc. I cannot express how much I love Thompson’s explanations as to how these supernatural creatures live side-by-side with humans. They shift into two different forms? You’ll have to read the book in order to find out more, but I will say that Thompson’s world of “shades,” “Lights,” powers, hierarchy, shape-shifting, and foretold epic battles has its coolness factor down.

Final Thoughts—(READ ME)

Housekeeping: multiple small grammar/spelling mistakes. While they bothered me, they didn’t take away from the story, so if you’re not a grammar Nazi like I am, you’re good!
Thompson’s reversal of the Light/Dark archetypes is really interesting and wonderfully unnerving and seeing the two extremes come face to face during intense battle scenes only highlighted the genius of this role reversal. HOLY DRAMATIC IRONY. For the majority of the novel, my mind was screaming “OMG listen to me! I know stuff you don’t!” and it was oh, so good. Thompson’s use of dramatic irony kept me on my toes, just waiting to see when the characters would figure out things. Also, Thompson sketches in her foreshadowing beautifully. I cannot wait to find out what’s in store for Eric and Jessica in Seconds Before Sunrise. The romance is genuine and did not have raging teenage hormones; instead, it shows that…(ahh, best part. You’ll have to read it!)

Memorable Quotes—

“You’re either very brave or very foolish.” “What’s the difference?”
“She reminded me of what it was like to believe in something.”
“He was beyond intimidating. He was overwhelming.”

The author provided me a free eBook in exchange for an honest review.

Excuse Me While I Go Cry In A Corner

I’ll be honest, I’ve always thought the concept was sketchy and even here, some moments strike me as cheesy, but this author has done it! So good!

Write It Down

Excuse Me While I Go Cry In A Corner

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“Date a Girl Who Reads”

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but…. she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype…….

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

                                      – Rosemarie Urquico

Book Review: Requiem – Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Series: Delirium #3

Pages: 432

Release Date: March 5, 2013

Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

__________

I AM A BASKET CASE OF EMOTION

As there are too many prominent characters within the Delirium series, I’ve decided to skip over my usual character analyses. Where do I start? I am sitting here at 1:30 am, completely unsure of how I feel about this book. I will say that this trilogy did not go out with a bang. Ninety percent of the book (from Lena’s perspective) consists of the resistance planning and attempting to stay alive while regulators and soldiers, who have teamed up with Scavengers, hunt them down mercilessly. I think that Oliver tried to cram a bunch of new characters into Requiem and couldn’t quite make me care about them. That said, the character development in Julian, Alex, and Lena is beautiful. I would say that Lena, who grows immensely in Pandemonium, solidifies her new self in this third book. The decisions and observations she makes while fighting jealousy and the toll of time within herself make me admire her so much. She’s real. She feels so deeply. Julian, oh Julian. He’s nearly perfect. The way he struggles—and succeeds—in proving himself to the group while having to work much harder than anyone, as he’s not used to the roughness of life in the Wilds…all without complaining…really touches my heart. Don’t throw up on me yet. What I mean is that he’s the light, the purity among all of the cynicism within the Wilds communities. Alex. Let’s just say that every time. Yes, every single time I read his name in the book, my heart skipped a few beats. I was completely in tune with Lena’s emotions. His character has done a 180 since Delirium, but who can blame him? While Julian is the “light,” I feel that Alex is the rock, for Lena at least. Lastly, let’s look at Hana. Oliver does an amazing job of getting the reader into the mind of a cured person and allows the reader to see all that’s happening in Portland, which increases the dramatic irony. I was completely surprised by Hana’s life and some of her secrets! In Requiem, she is far from the carefree teenage girl who helps Lena escape in Delirium. She has her own issues and ways of dealing with them.

If you’re looking for gushy romance and happiness and kissing scenes, don’t look here. All of that stuff takes a backseat to make room for Oliver’s deeper messages. Yes, Oliver does focus on relationships, but she focuses on their core, on what lies behind them. The Resistance takes center stage for much of the novel. I loved that, but I also hated it. I love the points that Oliver communicates to the reader, although the constant cycle of “run-plan-hide-get attacked” got old. I understand that this stuff is a daily part of the Wilds lifestyle but Oliver’s concentration upon it definitely overshadows other smaller aspects of Lena’s life. Moreover, there are certain places in the novel in which Lena blatantly speaks to the reader directly, which I thought was way less effective than building those points more into Lena’s thought process or plot line.

The World—

Love it! Oliver’s world in this series is so believable. She explains the purpose and reason behind the world’s constants so precisely and leaves no plot holes. Not once did I find myself asking, “Okay and how exactly did this happen?” The Wilds are cruel and unrelenting, exactly like the cities, yet completely opposite in every other way. The cities are filled with fear and need for order and conformity. Oliver describes everything from fallen trees, beautiful clearings, run down neighborhoods and slick labs.

The Themes—

Faith vs Sight

Fear of the unknown

Safety and Ignorance vs Freedom and Risk

Final Thoughts—

It’s worth the read. While it’s not action-packed, the emotions are RAW every step of the way. I’ve read reviews in which the reader thought Lena was whiny, but the fact that she overcomes her moments of selfishness and immaturity impresses me more than her simply not having to face them. These moments are what make her authentic as a character. I will tell you that Oliver does not spell out the ending of the novel. She leaves it open and solidifies just enough to get her point across. She leaves the reader with a ray of hope, the knowledge of what is to come. The ONE thing I absolutely hated was when, at one time, Oliver has Lena switch from her 1st person POV to speaking directly to the reader. I feel, honestly, like that route is taking the easy way out. Deep thematic elements impact the reader so much more when they come across as character realizations! If you already identify with the character, you also identify with their hopes, dreams, failures…and epiphanies. [End rant here]    

Memorable Quotes—

“He who jumps may fall, but he may also fly.”

“But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing. Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending: that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.”

“Who knows? Maybe they’re right. Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings. Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it. But we have chosen a different road. And in the end that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose. We are even free to choose the wrong thing.”

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