Source: purchased

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Banned Book Week Giveaway + Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

September 16, 2013 Book Review, reviews 19

Banned Book Week Giveaway + Review: Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill on October 18, 2007
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

You don’t know what went on in the rest of my life. At home. Even at school. You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.

 

I’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher a few times now, and each time I am moved to tears and then anger when I hear of libraries banning the novel.  This novel about teen suicide ~ what leads up to high school freshman, Hannah, committing suicide and how her suicide affects fellow freshman, Clay Jensen.

The story begins with Clay opening a package sent to him from Hannah who very recently killed herself.  Inside the package are several cassette tapes and when Clay puts the first one into the cassette player it is Hannah’s voice he hears.  Hannah telling him about the people she believes helped lead her to the decision to take her own life.  There’s Justin who started rumors of how a kiss was much more than a kiss; Tyler, a peeping tom who took pictures of Hannah in her own bedroom; and Courtney who helped Hannah identify Tyler but then took advantage of Hannah’s friendship.  On and on and on Hannah goes through a list of thirteen reasons why. . .Clay is to listen to the tapes and then mail to the next person on the list.

When she gets home tomorrow, or the next day, she’ll find a package on her doorstep. Or if her mom or dad or someone else gets there first, maybe she’ll find it on her bed. And she’ll be excited. I was excited. A package with no return address? Did they forget, or was it intentional? Maybe from a secret admirer?

Clay knew Hannah from their job over the summer at a movie theater when he first developed a crush on her.  Several times throughout the tapes and the novel we are told of instances where Clay tried to help Hannah only to fall short or be too late.  As Clay listens to each tape and hears the downward spiral and the consequences of each person’s actions, his character grows in only the way that someone who has survived a tragedy can exhibit ~ it’s either accept responsibility, grow and change the world with your newfound knowledge. . .or wallow in self-pity and guilt, wasting a life.  The mystery of the novel comes from why Hannah chose the way out that she did and how Clay chooses to deal with her death. . .and the reasons why.

This novel targets so many challenges faced by high schoolers today ~ drinking, sex, friendship, suicide, responsibility and how we never truly know someone else’s life.  Unfortunately, it has been on the frequently banned books list since its publication in 2007.  And why? For confronting the very subjects our teenagers are handling ~ alcohol, drugs, suicide, sex.  Asher does an amazing job of grabbing the reader from the opening line and not letting go ~ ever.  I highly recommend this novel to every teenager, parent, teacher, or anyone else who works with teens.

[Tweet “@jayasher knows the heart of teens as revealed in #thirteenreasonswhy”]

To bring awareness to the too many books on the banned book lists I am giving away a book from the Banned Book Lists at the American Library Association website.  To enter please leave a comment about your favorite banned book.  The winner will be selected on September 21st.  The contest ends on Friday, September 20th at 11:59 pm.  This contest is open to all ~ international friends included.  The winner will be able to choose a book up to $15 from either amazon or the book depository.

This post is in participation with Book Journey’s “Reading to Beat the Banned.”  To read additional posts on banned books this week please visit Book Journey.  And be sure to check back here during the official Banned Book Week, September 22-29 when I will be giving away several special prizes!

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R.I.P. Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2)

September 3, 2013 Book Review, reviews 2

R.I.P. Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2)Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor on August 7th, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Source: purchased
Goodreads

 

9378297

316 pages | Publisher: Tor Teen | Published: 9/2011

 

 

I decided to kick off my reading selections for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril by selecting the book with the creepiest, bestest cover.   I read Anna Dressed in Blood during last year’s R.I.P. Event and added the 2nd book in this 2-part series to this year’s R.I.P. list.  The art team for both Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) and Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) did a phenomenal job.  Which one of these two covers would have you grabbing the book, flashlight and hiding under the covers to read all night?

In the sixth row of the theater, in the third chair in, Anna winks at me. Or maybe she just blinks. I can’t tell. She’s missing half of her face.

I listened to the audio version, beginning the novel just before bed with the lights off. . .Not my best idea I must admit!  After the first hour I had to turn the audio off, turn on a comedy show and wait until daylight to begin again!  Girl of Nightmares picks up about six months after Anna Korlov, cursed, murderous ghost, disappears into Hell with the Obeahman {a demonous entity if there ever was one that literally “ate” his victims, including Cas’ father} in order to save Cas and his scooby-gang of ghostbusters.  The trio of friends included Cas, the ghost-killer, Thomas, a budding witch whose grandfather is a voodoo master, and Carmel the popular “it” girl in the high school and gangly Thomas’ girlfriend.  Although Cas continues to kill ghosts with the help of his friends, he can’t seem to get over Anna.  He compares every girl to Anna and if being in love with a dead murderous ghost is not enough, Cas keeps seeing Anna in his nightmares.  To him it seems that Anna is in pain, that she’s being tortured, and for her to sacrifice her ghostly self for him and the rest of the town, Cas just doesn’t think its fitting for her to be tortured endlessly, kind of like Prometheus on the rock.   As Cas has more and more sightings of Anna, he draws into himself to the point of almost getting his friends killed by the very ghost they were charged with sending on to the other side.  Cas realizes he has to find out what is happening to Anna and bring her back from hell if he can.

Of the many things I enjoyed about this 2-part series is that there are no zombies and no angels ~ only terrifying ghosts, voodoo and witchcraft, and a bit of “Ghost Whisperer” without the whispering.  Blake has a way of describing horror that is in-your-face straight-up, yet gets under the skin.  Along the journey for information, Cas and friends must walk through The Suicide Forest, a place known for poor souls to go to commit suicide….and now their ghosts protect (hide) the Order from whom Cas must go through to get to Anna.  Creepy! and has me wondering if there is such a place in the world ~ I sure hope not!  From coming up with the ghostly inhabitants of The Suicide Forest to creating a bad guy straight from nightmares, Blake surpasses even herself and Anna Dressed in Blood.  Girl of Nightmares is a bit grittier, edgier yet still has Blake’s trademark humor in darkness.  There’s a tone of seriousness about book #2 with Cas and friends growing up, making adult choices with a strength even many adults don’t have.  Cas describes his confrontation with the Obeahman {really bad, bad guy/ghost/entity}:

His skin is black as a struck match, cracked and oozing liquid metal heat, like he’s covered by a cooling layer of lava. The eyes stand out bright white. I can’t make out from this distance if they have corneas. God I hope they have corneas. I hate that creepy weird-eye shit. 

The audio version was narrated by August Ross and for the most part I enjoyed his reading.  His timing and spacing were impeccable and the dry sense of humor Blake uses throughout the novel shines in August’s capable hands.  The only section that bothered me was toward the end when Cas and friends meet up with Cas’ mentor, Gideon.  August used a breathy kind-of European accent for Gideon and a breathy more American accent for Thomas.  Gideon is a much-older man and Thomas is a teen yet the voices were almost identical.  I liked the way Blake wrapped the story up in the end; however, there’s still a small opening for more sequels if she so desires.   Between the novel and the listening, this one was high on the creep factor!  Audio length 10 hours 3 minutes.  I do recommend reading Anna Dressed in Blood prior to reading Girl of Nightmares.  According to everything I’ve read, there will only be these 2 in the Anna series AND the movie rights have been purchased by Stephanie Meyer’s company Fickle Fish Films ~ pretty cool, huh?!?

Scream Factor: 4 Gurlish Screeches!

To participate in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril or to find more spooky reads, please visit Stainless Steel Droppings.

I purchased this book for my purposes of reading and review.

 

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Book Review: Me Before You

August 21, 2013 Book Review, reviews 9

Book Review: Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Imprint on December 31, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 369
Source: purchased
Goodreads

You only get one life.  It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.

If you’ve spent much time around here you’ll recall I’m in a book club with both of my daughters and a few other lovely ladies.  Although we missed having a June meeting, July found our merry band of sisterhood together discussing Jojo Moyes runaway bestseller, Me Before You.  It’s difficult to visit any type of bookish site and not see the cheery red cover, although cheery and the contents do not quite mesh! Louisa Clark loses her job at a cafe precipitating her to seek employment through the local job-search office.  After a few false starts and practically being arm-wrestled into accepting the position, Louisa agrees to become caretaker to cantankerous quadriplegic, Will Traynor. As the novel unfolds, layers are peeled back on most every character from Louisa’s chosen (or more like, non-chosen) life’s path, Will’s will (and non-will) to live as a quadriplegic, Will’s wealthy parents and their motivations along with Louisa’s common-class parent’s motivations.  No one is spared including Louisa’s personal trainer boyfriend and college dropout sister.  The nucleus; however, is always Will and Louisa. Told mainly from the viewpoint of Louisa, or “Clark” as Will calls her, the novel appears more balanced ~ it’s when Moyes throws in a chapter from Will’s mother’s perspective or that of Louisa’s sister that the novel becomes a bit fragmented.  Typically, I enjoy reading a novel from differing viewpoints but as it was not done in a consistent manner throughout Me Before You I felt a bit disjointed. A story of many subtleties that comes down to the choices we make and the effect those choices have on those we love.  Although there were no real surprises in Me Before You, the novel does lend itself to much discussion in a book club.  The writing tended to be a bit predictable but the plot-line and the lessons each character learns in order to grow and move on is truly what makes the novel memorable.  Recommend, especially for book clubs and Nicholas Sparks fans. probably my favorite quote and personal motto~

I needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow, or fail, but that life did go on.  That we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only God’s purpose to understand. . . . .A silent promise, if you like, that there was a bigger picture, a brighter future.

 

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Book Club Read: Calling Me Home

May 17, 2013 Book Review, reviews 5

Book Club Read: Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home by Julie Kibler
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 12th, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 338
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Have I shared with you the wonderful book club I am in?  It’s small ~ we only have 6-8 members and generally only six show up; but both my girls are in it and my best friend and two other ladies who bring lots of laughter (and food) to the table!  A most glorious group of women!

One of the inspiring things for me to see is how my daughters interact with the other women AND the particular roles they’ve taken on in the group.  For example, Gabrielle keeps us on task ensuring we discuss the book thoroughly while Erica has such an intuitive insight to add I’m constantly in awe.  (can you tell I’m proud of my girls? or that they’re the world to me?)

April’s book was Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  A complicated, yet tender, novel of falling in love with the “wrong” person, the trials of family, and an endearing friendship that brings it all together.

Dorrie Curtis has been Miss Isabelle’s hairdresser for ten years ~ so long that the women have moved into an easy friendship.  They’ve even become so close that it’s Dorrie whom Miss Isabelle asks to accompany her to a funeral from their respective homes in Texas to Cincinnati.  Along the way, eighty-nine year old Miss Isabelle recounts the story of her first true love to her family’s black housekeeper’s son in 1940’s small-town Kentucky.  Each mile brings the women closer to Cincinnati and closer to the truth of what happened to Miss Isabelle’s love.

Some men are just plain bad news. Then there are good men.  They’ll do.  Then there are good men you love.  If you find one of the last kind, you’d better hang on to him with everything you have.  ~Miss Isabelle to Dorrie

We discussed this one quite thoroughly, beginning with a lengthy debate about young Isabelle falling in love with Robert, the housekeeper’s son. Did we believe the love was genuine or just a way Isabelle could oppose her mother and society?  This question led us into the deep topic of whether one of us has ever fallen in love with the ‘wrong’ man…..Thankfully there was wine, food and chocolate! All necessary items for deep discussions!

[Tweet “Great book for book clubs about falling in love with the ‘wrong’ guy”]

Calling Me Home was told in the alternating voices of Miss Isabelle and Dorrie.  The author did an excellent job of distinguishing the two characters “voices.”  Personally, I enjoy novels with dual narrators, as long as there is a clear distinction as to who is who.  Julie Kibler was able to portray the racial tensions from 1930’s in a manner both dignified, yet horrifying.

On the flip side, the modern-day tensions that still linger in some minds ~ along with the idea of how far we have come in overcoming racial issues to how much further we still need to go.

Kibler tackled a mighty issue as a debut novelist but, in my book club’s opinion, she’s got an equally mighty writing career ahead.  Definitely recommended for book clubs and those who enjoy characters who overcome family and society in order to survive and thrive.

the reader’s guide our book club used ~ full of great conversation starters!
Julie Kibler on the Web | Twitter | Facebook
 
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Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for All: An Audio Review

February 25, 2013 Book Review, reviews 12

Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for All: An Audio ReviewRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Random House on October 12th, 2010
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 472
Format: Audiobook
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

I’m never quite with the program when it comes to reading the latest and greatest just when the latest and greatest has been determined such…..usually, when I hear there’s a lot of hype about a book, I’ll avoid it like the plague until I break down and begin the first sentence ~ then if I’m hooked by that sentence, I’m usually lost to everyone til I’m done.  Such was the case with Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  I remember my girls telling me to read A Northern Light and I simply never got around to it.  Then I had an extra Audible credit I needed to use up, came across Revolution, the cover intrigued  me, the war was unknown to me and the rest is now history.

[Tweet “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality for All in @jenniferdonnelly French novel #revolution”]

Narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering, Revolution is a production to savor.  The novel takes us into the heart of the French Revolution through the eyes of a young peasant, Alexandrine, while modern-day Andi shares the struggles of a gifted teenager weighed down by grief and guilt.  The teenage angst expressed and exhibited by Andi in the beginning felt incredibly overwhelming, but in Emily’s gifted voice, I could sense the overwhelming guilt and feel the tragedy of Andi’s situation.  Emma, as Alexandrine, takes us into the heart of Paris and the palace, Versaille, all the while stressing the powerlessness of Alexandrine’s position – her starving family needing her to bring an income and food into the home; a young prince requiring her services; and a revolution closing in on her.  Emma flawlessly delivers a slight French accent and superbly voices over the complicated French pronunciations.

The novel was fascinated me with the details of the end of the monarchy in France and beginning of the Reign of Terror.  As a music lover (of most any kind) I found the references to everyone from John Lee Hooker to Bach, Debussy, Lizst then Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers to enhance the story-line. Music is such a wonderful vehicle to express and relieve emotion that perfectly aligned with Andi’s grief.  {Jennifer Donnelly has graciously shared her playlist here.}

My one complaint with the novel is a time travel aspect that seemed out of place and out of sorts with the progression.  It felt contrived and “made up” when the story was moving along perfectly wonderfully without the jump through time.  With that said, my overall experience with this book was positive and I can’t wait to begin A Northern Light….only a few several years after both of my daughters recommended it to me! If you have the time to listen to Revolution rather than read the novel, I would definitely recommend it ~ especially when it comes to the French pronunciations!

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer Donnelly, connect with the author’s website, Facebook, or Twitter account.

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