Monday, February 28, 2011

What's on the Cover?


Nickel Plated

It's Monday, it's time to discuss the covers of new books I'm reading. I'm still engrossed in Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt and Home to Woefield by Susan Juby. But my reading obsessed brain couldn't resist starting some new books. The first one is Nickel Plated by Aric Davis. Fifty-plus pages in I'm intrigued. A young boy named Nickel has learned to survive on his own as a private investigator, drug dealer and scam artist. If that cover is any indication, Nickel is in for a wild ride. A young kid riding past a target sheet filled with bullet holes. Is that a fairy story? No, it's a departure for the usual YA books out there. I like the writing, but I'm finding it hard to believe a 12-year-old could be so resourceful. I there are some really tough kids out there, but some things are a stretch of the imagination. Or maybe, I just grew up differently, so it's hard for me to fathom certain things. Stay tuned!!

The Tapestry of Love

I've also started The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton. I'm on a bit of a romance kick. Some of next month's review will lean on the romantic side. This one is about a London woman who moves to the French countryside. It turns out her new life isn't what she hoped for. The cover looks like a beautiful painting. An idyllic setting for a quieter life. A place where one can relax and forget about life in the city. I'm only up to chapter three, so it's a little early for me to form an opinion. But I'm intrigued.


Notes: I'm looking for takers for March's edition of What's Up Tweeps?! Here is the question: With so many blogs out there, do you feel pressure to pick a genre/niche? Ever wonder how you can stand out among the masses? E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until March 18. Happy reading everyone!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In my mailbox: The eclectic edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Anyone can participate in IMM, and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library. I'm not going to do In My Mailbox every week, but I had another good week.

Last week, I went to my local Borders, which sadly is on the list for closure. I'm so used to going there and browsing the shelves. For me, it was a treat to do that. I can get books from Walmart or Target, and there is a smaller Borders nearby, but I'm going to miss the feel of going through a big bookstore. I did find a local indie that I can go to, but I'm on a little book buying ban (I need to save some money).

On to the business at hand...



Bought:
Delirium (signed) by Lauren Oliver
Veganist by Kathy Freston
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
A blue so dark by Holly Schindler
A drink before war by Dennis Lehane
Where the truth lies by Jessica Warman

For review from Little Bird Publicity:
My One and Only by Kristan Higgans

For review from Planned Television Arts:
The Bonus by Georgia Lowe

For review from Algonquin:
When Tito Loved Clara by Jon Michaud
Something for Nothing by David Anthony
What you see in the Dark by Manuel Munoz
West of Here by Jonathan Evison

Note: I'm looking for takers for next month's edition of What's Up Tweeps?! Here is the question: With so many blogs out there, do you feel pressure to pick a genre/niche? Ever wonder how you can stand out among the masses? E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until March 18. Happy reading everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hop, hop, hop!!

Book Blogger HopEvery week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different? I don't think so. Originally, I thought about naming my blog, "My life according to books." But then I changed my mind. I think that title would have required me to talk about myself too much. At times, I am very opinionated and vocal. But most of the times I'm very boring. It was just easier to focus on the books and occasionally talk about myself. Then I decided to come up with a different name. I wanted a play on words. I was going to call my blog, "As the Pages turn," but that was already taken. By default I came up with, "As I Turn the Pages." No regrets on that one.
Here are some blogs I came across:
http://animegirlsbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://hopelovehappyendings.blogspot.com/
http://www.bewitchedbookworms.com/

Notes: Come back on Sunday. I'm posting another In My Mailbox vlog. I had a really good week. Plus, I'm looking for takers for next month's edition of What's Up Tweeps?! Here is the question: With so many blogs out there, do you feel pressure to pick a genre/niche? Ever wonder how you can stand out among the masses? E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until March 18. Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My take on: Passport Through Darkness


"I thought a purpose would make the suffering so much more bearable. But there was no purpose. Pure evil lacks any intent, except utter destruction; and utter destruction makes no sense at all." Pg. 145

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second ChancesSeveral times while reading Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith I had to stop. Not because the writing was bad, it is quite good, but because the details in the writing were a little bit too much to take in. Smith spent five years back forth to her home in Alabama and missionary work in Darfur, Sudan. Reading that quote above, it made me wonder why she did this? 

Christian people and their beliefs are often under attack in Darfur. It isn't true of everyone in Darfur, but there are "soldiers" who take it upon themselves to force people into their religion or way of thinking. If you don't go with the program, rape, torture and other forms of violence can result. So why would a woman, a white woman, in a sea of black people go to a place where "pure evil" and "utter destruction" run rampant? Very simple. It was part of a plan God had for her.

Kimberly Smith and her husband Milton had reached a point in their lives where they were looking for a greater purpose. More meaning to life. Regardless of your religion, that feeling is a universal one. How do you leave your impact on this world? For the Smiths it was in missionary work, which took them to Spain initially and eventually Darfur. Health problems prevented Milton from making trips to Darfur. Kimberly made the long and emotionally-draining journeys alone.

The trips begin to take a toll on Kimberly herself and eventually her marriage. In the beginning, instead of sharing the feelings of hopelessness and despair with her husband, Kimberly kept them to herself. That can only work for so long. Some of the stories she describes were quite graphic, which caused me to put the book down. I had a vague idea of the subject matter when I read the e-mail pitch, but I don't think that really prepared me for reading it up close. Women lost their babies during childbirth, and in some cases died themselves because of inadequate medical care. Women and children burned alive. Women and children used as sex slaves. One burn victim didn't have full range of motion of her arms because the burns were so bad. Vivid descriptions of the smell. The list goes on and on. Ms. Smith must be a very strong person to have come out of that. Reading the book you will see how she was bruised but ultimately not broken.

Religious aspects aside, this book will definitely motivate you to do better in your life. It will remind you that there are always people who have it worse than you do.

Rating: O.M.G. !!!

Notes: I received a copy of the book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Kimberly L. Smith visit: http://www.makewaypartners.org/,  http://kimberlylsmithblog.blogspot.com/, or  http://www.kimberlylsmith.com/


Monday, February 21, 2011

My take on: Fallen Grace


Fallen GraceOne of the great things about book blogging is being exposed to new things. I don't think I would have picked up Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper without an e-mail pitch. Books set in Victorian London aren't usually my forte. I'm into more contemporary literature, but it's always good to step outside your comfort zone.

The cover of Fallen Grace is quite intriguing. I was wondering who is this Grace? Why can't we see her face? What has she done? Why did she do it? The answers to those questions become clear very early. Fifteen-year-old Grace Parkes has just given birth to a stillborn child out of wedlock, and in 1860s London she is considered a fallen woman. A woman you look down upon. A woman who isn't held in high regard in society. It's hard to read that with a modern-day attitude because it just sounds so backwards. Does she not deserve the same amount of respect as other women?

Rather than facing the shame of burying her child in her neighborhood, Grace takes a train to a far out cemetery. She buries her child in the coffin of a woman, whom she thought could look after him in the next life. It's on this journey that Grace meets two people who will impact the rest of her life. Mrs. Unwin, a crooked and mysterious woman, offers employment and James Solent, a kind gentleman, offers advice and encouragement. Both offers are initially ignored as Grace has a more important job, surviving life with her older and very gullible sister Lily.

Orphaned at a young age, Grace has to be the adult. She has to figure out how to make money, how to keep a roof over their heads and ensure that Lily doesn't wander off. Selling watercress provides some financial relief, but the girls are constantly struggling. Lily fantasizes of their long-lost father returning, while Grace has to remain practical. She loves her sister deeply, but Grace can't get caught up in fantasy, especially when the rug is pulled out from under them. Homeless, the girls are desperate for any type of employment. But not desperate enough to go back to a workhouse. It was there that their innocence was stolen. Desperation leads them back to Mrs. Unwin and her equally unscrupulous husband, working as funeral mutes and as domestic help. The Unwins hold the key to Grace and Lily's future in more ways than one. You'll just have to read the book to understand what I mean.

Right away you fall in love with Grace and Lily as characters. Neither one of them ever had a break. They try so hard to make a life for themselves. Just when you think life is getting better for them, it gets worse. Lily wants to make their life better, too. But Lily doesn't think things through, she can easily be swindled. I just wanted to take Lily and shake some sense into her. But Grace has the strength not blow up at her sister. Their love and devotion for each other is clear.

The setting of book, Victorian London, is full of details. The funeral industry at the time seems extremely wacky, but you feel as if you've been transported back in time. Grace is hired to stand at funerals and look grief-stricken. Did such a thing exist? I guess it did. The descriptions sounded so believable. The rules of etiquette and societal rules seem backward by today's standards. Fans of historical fiction will gobble this one up.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Bloomsbury) in exchange for an honest review. To learn more about author Mary Hooper, visit http://www.maryhooper.co.uk/


It's Monday, what's on the cover?


Pictures of You

Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt comes courtesy of the nice people at Algonquin books. Do you have the power within you to forgive? I don't know if I do, but I know that's at the heart of this book. The lives of two women running away from their marriages literally collide on a foggy road. If someone takes away what is most precious to you, could you forgive them? That cover gives the aura of a light read, but I think that's deceiving. The camera flying away makes me think memories are flying away. What can they do to recapture the memories? Can't wait to find out. In addition to a review of Pictures of You, I will be posting a blog Q&A (knock wood!) next month with Caroline Leavitt. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for Pictures of You....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Up Tweeps?! No. 5


Welcome to What's Up Tweeps?! This month's question is all about James Frey. Mr. Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind?

Imagine it, you're a budding college student with dreams of being a writer/novelist. It truly is a dream to have a successful writing career. So few make it. You struggle for years and years. Some might even be desperate enough to take the first opportunity that comes along. Enter James Frey and his Full Fathom Five company. Basically an assembly line publishing company with rates on par with a sweat shop. He's already succeeded with one project. Take a look at this trailer....



I am curious does anyone know what that movie is about? That was my first thought when I saw that trailer.

I say Mr. Frey is robbing students blind. The contract allows Frey to remove the co-author at any time and does not require him to give the co-author credit. With a lot of help from Jobie Hughes, I am Number Four was created. But surprise, surprise Hughes and Frey had a falling out. Now, Frey can get all the credit and money on future books and movies. Why should he stop when there is always cheap labor out there?


Next month's question: With so many blogs out there, do you feel pressure to pick a genre/niche? Ever wonder how you can stand out among the masses? E-mail entries to bookangel224@gmail.com. Entries are open until March 18. Happy reading!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's time to hop!

Book Blogger Hop
Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: What book(s) would you like to see turned into a movie?

 The Help

I have to say a The Help, and since it's still being filmed I know it will happen. I hope they remain faithful to the book. Viola Davis is one of the lead characters, and I have rarely seen her in a bad flick.

Here are some blogs I came across:

Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is February's question: James Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind? Email responses to bookangel224@gmail.com Today is the last day for entries. Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The fall of a giant


(Forgive me if I'm rambling!)
Upon hearing about Borders filing for bankruptcy, some numbers stuck out to me:

200 -- The approximate numbers of stores to be closed. There's a rumor that all of the superstores in Milwaukee will be closing. All stores in Austin, Texas will close. Several of the stores set for closure are in New York, including one that I frequent. Noooooooooooooo!!! This particular store I loved to visit often. Sometimes I didn't even buy anything. Like most book lovers, I can easily lose a few hours browsing the shelves. I plan to go there soon before it closes.

6,000 -- The approximate number of people who will lose their jobs because of this. It's already hard out there to find a job, and Borders isn't helping. Plus, with all of those stores closing, that's a lot of empty retail space. That's going to impact the owners of those spaces. What if they can't find another tenant? What about the adjacent stores next to these Borders? They will also lose customers. Borders filing for bankruptcy doesn't just impact the company and its employees. A lot more people could lose their livelihood.

$182 million -- The combined amount Borders owes to publishers, including $41. 1 million alone owed to Penguin. Borders stopped paying publishers in late 2010. It makes me wonder how this company will survive if they damage relationships with publishers?

I know some people don't care because they have e-readers, or they shop online or at indie stores. But I care. There aren't a lot of book stores in my neighborhood. Not a single one is in walking distance. In addition to my review books, Borders has been my source for books. I know some people don't have a lot of sympathy for big chain stores like Borders because they put so many mom and pop stores out of business. However, I think Borders filing for bankruptcy is sad. Not enough people are reading as it.

With their downfall it makes me wonder about the future of reading? Is reading dying down or is the culture of reading change? It's more that the culture is changing and Borders wasn't fully prepared. I know they tried to adapt by selling music and DVDS, and including cafes in their stores. But apparently that wasn't enough. With the ability to have thousands of books at the touch of your fingertips on your smartphone, Kindle, iPod, Kobo, or Nook, is it really necessary to have bookstores? To that I say yes!! There is something that an electronic device can't replace, the feel, touch and relaxing feeling that comes with browsing a bookstore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My take on: Mad Love


Mad LoveHappy Valentine's Day!! In the spirit of the occasion, I read Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors. Sixteen-year-old Alice Amorous has had a complicated childhood. She's the daughter of the Queen of Romance, Belinda Amorous, who has penned dozens of romance novels. Some might think being the daughter of the Queen of Romance is glamourous. For Alice it's anything but.

Alice has spent her life covering up her mother's mental illness. After all who would want to know that the Queen of Romance is bipolar? Instead Alice devotes her time and energy covering up her mother's wacky behavior. With Belinda holed up in a mental hospital, it is up to Alice to pick up the pieces, paying bills, signing fan letters, making appearances and some how coming up with another novel by the Queen of Romance. In essence, Belinda has become the child and Alice has become the adult. And to top it all off, a mysterious stranger is about throw Alice's life into a tailspin.

What image comes to mind when you think of Cupid? For me it's fat little baby with wings. Selfors changes that image. In this story, Cupid is a teenage boy named Errol. He seeks out Alice's help in writing the story of his life. The story of his love affair with Psyche. Can this be real? When Alice starts to believe in Errol, she questions her own sanity. Is she becoming like her mother? Is she breaking from reality?  Before Errol came into her life, the highlight of Alice's day was peeking out the window in her pajamas at the cute guy, Tony, on the skateboard and navigating life with eccentric neighbors, Mrs. Bobot, Realm, the reverend and his gay roommate Archibald. Errol comes to dominate her thoughts. Has Alice been hit by Cupid's arrow? That can't be true?

While Alice chooses not to believe in Errol, she does agree to write his story. After all, Errol says Alice can publish it under her mother's name. But unless Alice gives in and believes that he is Cupid, this collaboration will never work. Alice even doubts herself. If she has never experienced love, how can she write about it? Being the daughter of the Queen of Romance is not enough. She doesn't understand the emotions of love yet.

As a character, Alice is very relatable. Her confusion about life is a universal teenage emotion. Some of the strongest parts of the book are when Alice reflects on her relationship wiith her mother. While sometimes Alice might be embarassed by her, she loves her deeply and will do anything to protect her. She wants Tony to like her, but she doesn't want him to truly see her. What boy would want enter the wackiness that is her life.

Mad Love is a quirky story, with just the right amounts of romance and real-life problems. Lovers of mythology will also love the background information on Cupid. I definitely learned some things.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Bloomsbury) in exchange for an honest review. For more on author Suzanne Selfors visit http://www.suzanneselfors.com/index_flash.php

What's on the cover?

Fallen Grace

It's Monday, and it's time to talk about the covers of the books I'm reading. A couple of days ago, I started Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper. My first thought when I saw that cover was why can't we see her face? After a couple of chapters I realize why. Grace is an unwed teenager, who has just given birth to a stillborn baby. In her London community she is considered a "fallen" woman. Because of this I guess her face isn't worthy of showing. So far, I'm sure Grace is hiding a dark secret. Can't wait to find out.


Home to Woefield: A Novel

Ever dreamed of leaving the grind of the city and moving to a farm? Maybe you have, maybe you haven't. The main character in Home to Woefield by Susan Juby gets her wish and inherits a farm. She looks pretty happy feeding chickens on her farm. This title comes out in March, and I hope to have review up in the next 10 days or so. Stay tuned!!!


Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is February's question: James Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind? Email responses to bookangel224@gmail.com.  Entries are open until Feb. 18. Happy reading everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hop, Hop, Hop !!!

Book Blogger Hop

Girl, Stolen (Christy Ottaviano Books)Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise). My most recent post was a review of Girl Stolen by April Henry. It's a light read, so I highly recommend it. Here is the link: http://asiturnthepages.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-take-on-girl-stolen.html

Here are some blogs I came across:

Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is February's question: James Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind? Email responses to bookangel224@gmail.com Entries are open until Feb. 18. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My take on: Girl Stolen

Girl, Stolen (Christy Ottaviano Books)It took me awhile to finish Girl Stolen by April Henry, but not because it's a bad book. I'm just a slow reader. It's a very good book. Cheyenne Wilder is a 16-year-old still learning to adjust to a world she can no longer see. An accident years ago robbed Cheyenne of her sight and of her mother. Now, Cheyenne has been accidentally kidnapped by another impressionable teenager, Griffin.

Griffin has spent his life under the thumb of his father Roy, who runs the family business --- stealing cars. When his father doesn't get drunk and beat him is a good day. He has physical and emotional scars from his difficult childhood. An Escalade with the keys still in it is an invitation to Griffin, who thinks his dad will be proud of him for making such a find. But that all changes when he discovers Cheyenne in the backseat. Upon discovering that she is blind, Griffin plays on her fears. A cigarette lighter pressed against Cheyenne's temple made a handy weapon, scaring her into submission.

Roy uses Griffin's mistake to his advantage, demanding a ransom from Cheyenne's father, who is the fictitious president of Nike. Roy is angry and rough around the edges, something Cheyenne can sense despite being blind. Griffin, while complicit in his father's crimes, seems more sensitive and a product of his environment, which Cheyenne can also sense.

The chapters alternate between Griffin and Cheyenne's perspectives. You can feel Griffin's guilt and shame. Although Cheyenne can't see his home, Griffin is ashamed at how dirty and disheveled it is. He makes it his duty to protect Cheyenne from his Roy, and his father's friends who get roped into the crime. Griffin is a very a sympathetic character. Badly burned as a child, Griffin wishes people would see him and not the scars. If only his mother was still around, he would have been a better person. If only his father wasn't a criminal, Roy and Griffin would have been better people.

Like Griffin, Cheyenne wishes people could see her and not the disability. What's it like to be blind? I don't know, but this book gives a good insight into people who are. Cheyenne is more in tune with her other senses. Sounds, smells, and touches come through very vividly. Cheyenne is also a very bold and brave character. She is not afraid to take chances to save her life.

Despite the pace I took with it, Girl Stolen is a fast-paced, suspenseful read. Check it out.


Rating: Superb

Notes: I won an ARC via Goodreads. For more information on author April Henry, visit http://www.aprilhenrymysteries.com/index.php

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Monday, What's on the Cover?


Mad Love

I had to take a break from Life by Keith Richards. I still want to know about that wacky guy, but he's slowing me down. I will come back to him, I just don't know when. Instead, I'm focusing on some shorter books. I started reading Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors. Take a look at that cover. There's a message repeated over and over in the shape of a heart. The message says, "I don't believe in Cupid, I don't believe in Cupid...." If you try to follow the message all the way through to the center you'll get dizzy. Perhaps you'll even start to believe the message yourself. I know I don't believe in Cupid.

This title is from Bloomsbury, and it's just in time for Valentine's Day. Hopefully, I will be finished by then. So far, it's pretty good. In the meantime, check out the trailer for Mad Love.





Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Click the tab at the top of the page for details. Happy reading!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox: Harry Potter style


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Anyone can participate in IMM, and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library. I'm not going to do In My Mailbox every week, but I had another good week. I even did a video. I think the voice track is still off. Once I get some better equipment, my video quality will go up. So here is what I got in my mailbox....




Bought:
Harry Potter hardcover boxed set by J.K. Rowling --- I've been wanting this set for a long time. It was on sale at Barnes and Noble.com and I had a coupon. It was just in the cards for me this week.

For review from Algonquin books:
Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart --- I was browsing through the Algonquin catalog and this one grabbed me. It seemed like a fun way to learn about bugs.
Something for Nothing by David Anthony -- A suburban dad resorts to crime to preserve his family.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones --- Young girls from two families learn their father is a bigamist.

Enough About LoveFor review from Other Press:
Enough About Love by Herve Le Tellier --- It's not mentioned in the video because I forgot to include it. It's a French romance novel.


Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Click the tab at the top of the page for details. Happy reading!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hop, hop, hop!!!

Book Blogger Hop
Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: What are you reading now and why are you reading it? I shouldn't read so much at a time, but I'm reading four books right now.


Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second ChancesMad LoveLifeGirl, Stolen (Christy Ottaviano Books)

I'm reading Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors, Life by Keith Richards, Girl Stolen by April Henry and Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith. I'm reading Mad Love and Passport Through Darkness because the e-mail pitches sounded interesting. I've been reading about Keith Richards for several weeks now, it's just hard for me to get through a 600+ page book. I won Girl, Stolen on Goodreads.com. The cover of Girl, Stolen looked interested, so I was glad I won.

Here are some blogs I came across:

Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. Here is February's question:  James Frey is fleecing budding writers. Frey has created a publishing company, where students co-write novels with him for as little as $500, $250 or in some cases nothing. The bulk of the work is done by the students. Frey has "some" input. This is done on the premise that book will eventually become a bestseller, and then they reap the benefits. They've already achieved that with one book, "I am Number Four." Is Frey merely trying to help or is he robbing impressionable college students blind? Email responses to bookangel224@gmail.com Entries are open until Feb. 18. Happy reading everyone!  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My take on: Blue


Sci-fi/fantasy novels aren't usually my cup of tea. I used to think the plot would get bogged down with mythology and a whole bunch of things I don't understand. I'm glad to be wrong after reading Blue by Lou Aronica, a fantasy YA novel. If not for the e-mail pitch, it probably wasn't something I would have picked up on my own. The book is a heartwarming, emotional roller coaster.

Fourteen-year-old Becky shuffles back and forth between her divorced parents, Chris and Polly. Becky has strong emotional ties with her mother, but the relationship with her father is severely strained. Becky is in remission from leukemia, an illness that strained her parents relationship and ultimately led to their divorce. While in the throes of her disease, Becky and her father created a fantasy world, Tamarisk, as a distraction. It's a place with rich colors, specifically Blue, rich with animals and ruled by the beautiful queen Miea. It's a place where Chris and Becky can let their imaginations run wild. A world where Becky isn't sick.

Once Becky is in remission, what do they have left? Was Tamarisk their only connection? Can they coexist in reality? They drift apart and Becky's visits to Chris' apartment are always filled with silence. Fantasy worlds aside, those moments feel very real to me. A strained relationship with your parent is something everyone can relate to. Chris and Becky internalize their feelings rather than saying what is really wrong. It's like having a giant elephant in the room.

"Now, on the fourth anniversary of that terrible day, her father was still acting like everything was okay -- even though it was so obvious that he wasn't okay, that he hadn't really been okay since he left."

Tamarisk is what brings them back together. Becky believes it's real after meeting Miea. How is this even possible? Is it just imagination? Creating a fantasy world as a distraction from cancer sounds great to me, but when the person starts to believe it's real is a stretch of the imagination for me. Becky belief is so strong, she ignores the signs that her cancer is out of remission. She even gets her dad to believe in this place. They travel to Tamarisk together. But they created this world together, so of course they are willing to believe in it. Telling Polly doesn't help as she believes they are both delusional, and that Chris is using the delusion to get back in Becky's good graces.

Aronica weaves a fine tapestry between the two worlds. Becky's world is in turmoil as is Tamarisk. Miea is trying to save Tamarisk from destruction, while Becky is trying to save her own life.

The pace of book is a little slow, but it picks up in the last 120 pages. The fantasy elements are there, but this is more of a story about what it means to be a family and how to create lasting relationships. Polly like a lot of divorced parents has trouble letting go of Becky. Chris has trouble figuring out to repair his relationship with Becky. As a reader, I had trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy. Becky's belief in this world is so strong. The colors, surrounding and textures come through vividly. The ending is sad and happy at the same time. It can be interpreted many ways, so you will have to pick up a copy and decide for yourself.

Rating: Give it a try

Notes: I received a copy of the book from Pump Up Your Book (http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/) in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Lou Aronica, visit http://www.fictionstudio.com/Fiction_Studio_site/Home.html
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