All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

September 24, 2013

all the truthAt a recent book discussion I attended, one of the members was raving about this book, though it is unusual and quite different from what she regularly reads.  I received an advance reading copy of the book and decided to give it a try.  The book is written as if it is the journal of the main character.  We get to know her thoughts and her perspective on what is happening around her.  She writes it as if writing a letter to the boy she pines after.  The story starts off to be almost a little confusing.  You don’t know exactly what happened to her, or where the story is set or even the time period it is set in.  Though you do eventually find out what happened to her, you never really do find out the where or when of the story.  It could be in the past, possibly in colonial times in America, or it could be some type of alternate reality or post-apocalyptic time.   Not knowing doesn’t really hurt the story.  The book is a very compelling read, hard to put down once you have begun, as you really want to know what happened to Judith and if she will ever get together with Lucas.  I don’t really want to give away much of the plot, so I will just say that she got abducted and mutilated, is now assumed to be mute, she is looked upon with much suspicion, and eventually needs to find her “voice” to save herself and the one she loves.  This book is a must-read that I would recommend for both YA and adult readers.  There is a small element of romance to it, but I would not categorize it as a romance; it is actually hard to categorize.  There is also a good dose of mystery to it to.  If you are looking for something a little “different”, make sure you give this one a try.


The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

April 22, 2013

the sweetest darkI received a free Advance Readers Edition of this book.  I never read her Drakon series before this book, but from what I understand, this series exists in the same “world” as those, but this one is written for young adults.  I don’t think I have read a book with characters who could change to dragons before except for a novella in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Were-Hunter series, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As it turns out, this book is sort-of alternative historical fiction, set in England during the first World War, and is not set on another planet somewhere in the author’s imagination, and for me this makes the book much better as I am not a big sci-fi fantasy reader.

The book follows Lora Jones, a seventeen-year-old orphan who seems like everyone else, but hears music from metals and gemstones, and an occasional voice who speaks to her.  When she had spoken of this as a child, they put her through some brutal “cures” for her mental problems at the orphanage, so she had learned to not mention it to anyone.  Lora receives a scholarship to an elite boarding school called Iverson as their charity case for the year, and so is able to leave the London orphanage for the southern coast of England.  As the only poor student there, Lora is ridiculed by some and left somewhat on her own overall.  She meets and befriends two boys, one the groundskeeper Jesse, and the other Armand, the son of the duke who finances the whole school and her scholarship.  Once she meets them, her life will never be the same as she learns and begins to embrace what she truly is.  And, as has become common in many adult novels after the success of the Twilight series, both boys want her heart; a plot device which I find I am growing a bit tired of.  While they are not vampire and werewolf, neither of these boys is entirely human either.

Overall I found myself totally immersed in the story of these characters.  I read the book in about two days, and will probably pick up the next book in the series.  If you are looking for a new YA series and don’t mind if the characters aren’t totally human, give this one a try.


Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

April 5, 2013

beautiful creaturesI don’t go to see very many movies, but I saw a preview for Beautiful Creatures at one and was intrigued.  It was one of those books that I had had on my to-be-read list and just never got around to.  I started it not exactly sure I was going to enjoy it, but I was hooked almost from the start.  Ethan Wate believes his hometown of Gatlin never changes.  That is until Lena Duchannes comes to town and things begin to happen that can’t be explained.  Ethan feels drawn to Lena.  They start off as unlikely friends and then a relationship begins to develop.  But these two have some huge, and unusual, obstacles to overcome, the biggest of which will be taking place on Lena’s 16th birthday.  Without trying to give away too much of the plot, Lena’s family has a supernatural side and Lena will be claimed for the good or the dark side on her birthday.  The book ends after her 16th birthday, but the resolution is not clear, and makes you want to read the next book.  Now it’s on my to-be-read pile.


Somber Island by T. Lynne Tolles

June 29, 2011

While this is by no means a long novel (I finished it over the course of about a day), it is well worth the price. The writing style of Somber Island is very moody and atmospheric. The book opens describing Phoebe’s life in Scotland which is not one anyone would like to have. She reminded me of Cinderella as she was a virtual house slave to her family. Her sisters got the piano lessons, beautiful dresses and elegant parties while her father did none of these things for her. Since her father believes she will never marry, he sends her to Newfoundland to be a servant for an aristocrat while he collects her wages. The descriptive passages which relate her transatlantic crossing in steerage made me wonder how anyone survived those conditions. Once in Newfoundland Phoebe enters an empty mansion and doesn’t meet her new employer at first as they communicate by handwritten notes. I loved the gradual progression of the relationship between Phoebe and Nathaniel. This book at times reminded me of Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and Beauty & the Beast. It is a great read for vampire book lovers like me (and the first I’ve read in a long time where the vampire can turn into a bat), but it also features other supernatural elements like witches and werewolves. It has more horror elements to it than most vampire romances out there and is a great read. I was hooked from the very beginning and really enjoyed it. It did feel like it ended a little abruptly but I am hoping there will be a sequel telling Liam’s story. I received this ebook as a complimentary copy to review, but I plan to purchase more of Tolles’s books as I really enjoyed the author’s descriptive writing style.


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

September 22, 2010

This is a review of the ARC of A Long Walk to Water which will be published in November of 2010. I was drawn to the book by the title, as the school where I work has made H2O For Life our service project for the year.  We are all learning what a difference water, both wells and sanitation can make in the lives of poor people in some of the countries of Africa, especially in the lives of young girls and their chances for education. 

The book follows the stories of two young people in Sudan, and their eventual intersection.  Nya, a young girl who must fetch her family’s water every day, often multiple times; and Salva, one of the Lost Boys, whose life is drastically changed by war.  They are both survivors and their stories are inspiring.  The book is based on a true story.


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

September 21, 2010

I’m a little behind on my book reviews, so I’m going to try to catch up. 

I read Catching Fire as soon as it came in at the library.  I finished it in a couple of days, but I do think the first book was better.  This one continues the story where the first book left off.  It begins with Katniss and Peeta back in District 12, getting ready for their Victory Tour.  She meets with President Snow and realizes the depth of his hatred of her; the districts see her as a symbol of rebellion, inspired by what she did at the end of the Hunger Games.  She and Peeta end up in another Hunger Games, a special edition of them to celebrate their 75th anniversary.  Over the course of the book, Katniss is at first uncomfortable with the attention that is paid to her in the districts, but later comes to embrace her role as symbol of the rebellion.  The book leaves off with some rumors about the “destroyed” District 13 and hints of the widespread rebellion to come in book three.  I am still awaiting the third book; when I checked when I finished this book I was about 75th on a list of 175 holds!


Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

August 30, 2010

I remember my daughter and her friends being really into this book back when they were in junior high (she’s headed off to college on Saturday).  I had always intended to take a look at it, but never did until I recently saw a poster advertising the movie based on the book.

Flipped is the story of two neighbors, Bryce and Julianna, who meet when Bryce moves into the neighborhood when they are in second grade.  The book is told in a he-said, she-said alternating format as they mature on their way to becoming 8th graders.  It starts out with Julianna having an immediate crush on Bryce and he running scared from her.  Eventually everything flips and he begins to like her just as she begins to decide she’s just not that into him.

The novel is cute and humorous, but does touch on some serious subjects along the way.  Van Draanen’s characters are well-rounded, even the secondary characters of the story.  It is a quick enjoyable read that should make a great family movie.