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The Caffeinated Diva reads...

Hi, my name is Kim and I am addicted to books. See? I can admit it!! 

Currently reading

Magic Slays
Ilona Andrews
Progress: 50/308 pages
The Serial Killer Letters: A Penetrating Look Inside the Minds of Murderers
Jennifer Furio
Progress: 25/320 pages
Wild Seed
Octavia E. Butler
Progress: 96/320 pages

Links

Links - Lisa Becker

I love everything Lisa Becker has ever written!  Her Click series was one of the most original and creative series I've ever read. And now I am equally in love with Links!

 

This is the story of Charlotte Windham who spent most of her school years as a smart, nerdy girl who tutored her classmates for extra money.  One of the students she tutored was a guy named Garrett Stephens, a gorgeous hunk of athletic loveliness that made her heart race. And now, some 15 years later, their paths unexpectedly cross and sparks fly, not that either of them wants to admit it.

 

This is a fabulous story that explores the trials and tribulations of moving beyond the stigma of one's past, of seeing someone for who they are now than who they once were. It explores how hard it can be to even see yourself as you are now and to really see how much time has changed you. This is a story about life-changing moments and the paths those moments open up. Lisa tells this story with humor, without losing the darkness that life can sometimes hold. Charlotte and Garrett both are the kinds of characters that I love to read about. They are real people, with real problems that I can relate to and understand. They aren't perfect; instead, they make mistakes and are just as flawed as the rest of us!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=13024

Power Play

Power Play - Catherine Gayle

Power Play is the latest in Cattherine Gayles's Portland Storm series. I can't say enough good things about this series. The stories are always full of raw emotions and deeply intense situations. The characters are real and smudged with the often harsh realities of life, not sugar coated to become some kind of plastic "ideal." Her characters are real, flawed and damaged just like we all are in some way.

 

This novel centers on Riley, a center for the Portland Storm. He is on his honeymoon... alone and without a wife.He's hurt and angry and definitely not in a great place in his personal life. And then he meets Mackenzie. Everything she thought she was about to have in her life has just been dashed into a thousand, heartbreaking pieces. She's lost and alone, figuratively AND literally.

 

Two damaged people in Cabo, both with more baggage than any single person should have to carry. But sometimes those moments are the ones that change everything. It is when we feel lost and shut off from the world that sometimes we find the one thing that can make all the difference.

 

Catherine writes some of the most beautiful characters I've ever read. They are beautiful because of their flaws, not despite of them. They are people that feel real, that pull at your heart as you read their stories. They are people that you can understand and fall in love with.  This book is one of my favorites of the story. The depth of pain within Mackenzie pulled at my soul, tore at it.  She made me feel so much and I loved that!

 

Such a fantastically emotional read!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=13019

A Million Worlds WIth You

A Million Worlds with You - Claudia Gray

I have recently discovered that I have a thing for books about the multiverse.  Something about the unknown, about the possibilities... that excites me.  This book, this series, did exactly that.  I loved the world that the author built and how she changed it between the various multiverses.  I also loved the mechanism she used to tie the worlds together.  By mechanism, I don't mean the actual Firebird, but how she makes those worlds accessible.

 

There is a lot of science involved in this series, but it is presented in such a way that it explains what it needs to without being anything like a lecture.  It also is the perfect tool to create villains and heroes.  The science behind travel between the multiverses is something that has lots of implications and applications, some with less positive ramifications.

 

This has been such a fantastic series, so beautiful.  And I am so sad that the ride is over!  This is a series I highly recommend for anyone who loves a thought-provoking, exciting read!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=13001

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters - Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is the last of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy and I am so sad to see it end. This has been a wild ride with a beautiful cast of characters and a thought-provoking story that held me from beginning to end. Despite the length of these books, they were all fairly quick reads because I just couldn't put them down.

 

This book was full of adventure and intrigue, suspense and twists, and I loved it! The mythology of this series takes humans, demons, and angels and changes your perception of them. What does it mean to be good or evil? How does one person or thing become evil? Are those thought to be evil truly bad, or is it just one's perspective? These are all questions that this book, and the series, makes you ask yourself.

 

I felt like this book was the most emotional of the series. It tore my heart to shreds more than once, and built it right back up. The imagery and the characters are so vivid that it was impossible not to put myself in the middle of the story with them, feeling their pain, their angst, their joy, their sadness. So delicious!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12995

Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor

I truly love this series!  The characters are fantastic and the story is thoroughly engrossing.  The world of this series is a wonderful blend of the real and the imagined and they fit together seamlessly.

 

The cast of characters expands in this series and they are all beautifully developed.  But Akiva and Karou were completely at odds with one another in this book and that was hard as a shipper of that relationship.  But that only made the story that much more of an engrossing read.

 

I love that this series takes the commonly held ideas of religious mythology and what it means to be good or evil and then turns them around.  Karou and her people are chimera, what most would consider to be demons.  Akiva is an angel, but many of his kind are far from the peace-loving angels that most of us imagine.  The story is told primarily from the point of view of Karou, making you really look at how perspective changes perception.

 

At it's heart, the story is about two enemies coming together for a common goal, a common mission, a common future.  It is imaginative, exciting, and beautifully written!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12987

Carve the Mark

Carve the Mark - Veronica Roth

I honestly don't know how to feel about this book.  I wanted to like it, but I couldn't help but notice the vaguely racist tone to it.  And that turned me off the entire story.

 

The story revolves around Akos and Cyra, two people from different tribes.  They share a planet, but share no peace.  Akos is from the Thuvhe nation, the son of one of the three Oracles.  This places him in the equivalent of the upper middle class.  And he is white.  Normally, I could care less about race and rarely find a need to even mention it, but it is important here.  Cyra is from the Shotet nation, the sister of the tyrannical leader of their people.  And she is black.

 

Why is race important?  Because the Thuvheits are portrayed as peaceful and civilized, while the Shotet are brutal savages.  Yes, the race lines are blurred between the two main characters, but the characterization still exists.  Even the languages of the two tribes is described in privileged ways.  The Thuvhe language is described as beautiful and lyrical, while the Shotet language is called harsh with its stops and hard sounds.

 

There were moments where the brutality displayed by the Shotet ruler were essentially rape.  True, it wasn't sexual, but it involved forcible entry and theft into another's mind.  It makes sense within the book, but I don't want to give it away.

 

It was because of this brutality that Cyra's gift manifested, the trigger being pain.  When medical advice is sought, she is told that the pain she feels comes from herself, is her choice, and is her fault.  Later, she makes the comment that she deserves it.  The pain was caused by what amounts to rape, but her character feels she deserves the pain?  That idea is very reminiscent of the rape culture.

 

And lastly, the religion of the Shotet seemed to be based at least in part on the Muslim faith.  There was a lot of negativity in its portrayal and that just seemed to perpetuate stereotypes.

 

Even aside from all of that, I just couldn't connect to the characters.  The story was slow and even when it did pick up, it was too late for me.  All in all, I think I will pass on the rest of the series.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12943

Someone Else's Summer

Someone Else's Summer - Rachel Bateman

This book... I had a bit of a book hangover after finishing it.  It is a beautifully written story with amazing characters and all the feels.  

 

Anna's older sister Storm is killed on the night of her high school graduation.  Their parents fall apart, turning to each other in their grief.  Anna is left to work through her pain on her own.  Until she discovers her sister's bucket list.  That list becomes both a gift and a curse as she works her way through it in honor of her sister.  But she doesn't do it alone.  She does it with Storm's best friend Cameron, the boy who lives next door that she's known for most of her life.

 

The story is emotionally charged as it explores the journey of grief, self-discovery, change, friendship, acceptance, and secrets that can be devastating to learn.  This is a story that will, at times, leave your heart shredded.  But before your tears dry, there will be a funny moment that will bring a smile to your face.

 

At first, her mother's total lack of compassion for Anna's grief was horrifying to me.  I just didn't understand how a mother could be that blind to the grief of her child that she would go so far as to send her to her room for expressing it.  But as we learn more, it becomes easier to understand.  Her mother is broken, shut down.  She has nothing to give her daughter in the way of support.  Everyone reacts differently to grief... that is a reality.  And what was initially hard for me to accept became something I truly applaud.  The author showed grief in its raw reality... messy, painful, hurtful, and impossible to navigate cleanly.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12275

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

I closed the book after the final page and wondered to myself... why did I wait so long to read this book?  The story, the characters, the writing... all of them were so enchanting and engrossing.  Everything about this book was magical!

 

Set in the city of Prague, Karou lives alone in a flat and attends art school.  Her sketchbooks are filled with fantastical drawings that her best friend and fellow students yearn to see.  But she has secrets, secrets that not even her best friend knows.  And as many secrets as she herself keeps, there are secrets kept from her, too.  The kind of secrets that change everything.  These secrets also make the feelings she comes to have for Akiva even more tumultuous and chaotic.

 

The author's writing is beautiful, as is her world building.  It was like reading a fairy tale with its lyrical prose.  The mythos of the angels is very different from the traditional Christian conception that most of us are familiar with.  And even more interesting is that these angels are generally on the "evil" side of the "good versus evil" construct.  But the insights into the world of the angels through Akiva make one thing very clear... there are two perspectives to be had for each and every situation.

 

This is a story of love and coming together, but it is also a world about perceptions and fighting for what you believe in.  It's about the struggle that comes from within and without when your ideology bucks against that which is expected.  It is, simply put, beautiful.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12910

Everyone We've Been

Everyone We've Been - Sarah Everett

Everything We've Been is the debut novel from author Sarah Everett.  It is one of those books that gives all the feelings, but sorting them out is next to impossible.  Sadness, laughter, anger, disbelief, even horror of the emotional variety.

 

The story is told in two timelines, one from before Addison's accident and the other after.  The accident has caused memory lapses and hallucinations involving a boy no one else can see.   Because of that, she takes some aggressive steps to find out who he is and what is missing in her memory.  And that takes her down a path she never imagined.

 

The twists and turns... I loved them.  Combined with the two timelines, the story was thoroughly engrossing.  At times, it was like reading two different stories.  Pre-accident Addison and post-accident Addison were almost like two separate people.

 

I loved the story, and the premise behind it.  How far would you go to move forward beyond pain?  Should parents be allowed to make that choice for their child?  Does the loss of memories change who you are, who you become?  How much pain is too much?  Erasing memories... is that always the right choice, or is it sometimes just the easy way out?  These are the kinds of questions that this novel makes a reader consider for themselves.

 

My only issue with the book is hard to discuss without fear of spoilers.  It has nothing to do with the book itself, but choices that may or may not be made.  But that isn't a bad thing.  Instead, that is exactly why I enjoy the novel so much.  By disagreeing with a character's actions, or feeling disappointment at their thought processes, I've connected with the character.  On top of that, it makes you consider your own position with the issues at hand.

 

All in all, this was a thought-provoking read that I loved.  I love any novel that makes me think about my own beliefs and views!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12905

The Infinity of You & Me

The Infinity of You & Me: A Novel - John J. Coyle

The Infinty of You & Me, a collaboration between authors Julianna Baggott and Quinn Dalton, is a fascinating take on multiverse theory.  Every decision made creates a new parallel universe.  And for Alicia, every single decision is a paralyzing moment, no matter how seemingly insignificant the choice.  Her entire life has been plagued by disorders and medications, which are now escalation into hallucinations.  It has left her, at times, barely able to function in the world.  Without the help of her best friend, life would probably be unbearable.

 

Alicia lives alone with her mother, her father long gone.  But during her birthday party, he shows up and explains to her that she isn't crazy, that there is nothing wrong with her.  Her hallucinations are real, glimpses into other universes, a gift that not everyone has but that many want to use for their own purposes.

 

I love multiverse books, and this one was no different.  The multiverse theory, while theoretical at best, is thought-provoking.  Are the parallel universes as real is the original, the people as important?  This question is at the center of the novel.  Where is the line of ethics when it comes to the multiverse?  That, too, is at the center of the book, relying heavily on the answer to the first question.

 

It is interesting to read books like this and compare the ways in which they make the multiverse real and viable.  In one series, a device is used to take a traveler from universe to universe.  In another, the traveler slips between the threads of frequencies that make up the "walls" between universes.  In this book, it is physical triggers of pain applied in specific places that does the trick.

 

As a fan of the multiverse genre, I really enjoyed this book.  The authors added some unique twists to the theory.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12898

Don't Kiss the Messenger

Don't Kiss the Messenger - Katie Wood Ray

I loved everything about Don't Kiss the Messenger!  For me, this story was very much driven by the varied cast of characters.  I loved that they weren't cast as ideals, but with the flaws and hangups that we all can relate to.

 

CeCe Edmonds was in a devasting crash that left her scarred in what was probably the worst place for a girl/woman... her face.  For her entire life, she had to endure the stares, the comments, even the outright cruel jeers.  Eventually, she learned to cope by accepting it and herself as she was, dealing with it with a combination of humor and outright badassery.

 

Emmett Brady is the new guy at school, popular and gorgeous.  But he also has his own story and his own baggage.  CeCe is instantly attracted to him, but does nothing about it because she knows there is no way someone like him would ever consider being more than friends with someone who looked like her.

 

And this belief is solidified when he meets Bryn DeNeuville, the new girl.  Bryn is CeCe's friend, but her polar opposite.  Where CeCe is into interesting music and thought-provoking literature, Bryn is all about everything that is popular.  And she has set her eyes on Emmett.  The only problem?  He seems to be the one guy she can't talk to OR relate to.  So, she turns to CeCe to help her.

 

It is Cyrano de Bergerac all over again, but modernized and set in the world of teenagers.  There are emotional ups and downs, funny moments and sad.  There were times when I wanted to jump into the book and talk some sense into one character or another.  It is a story that really makes you think about love, relationships, friendships, real beauty, and what it means to be true to yourself.  An amazing read!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12749

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

This book... there are no words for how much Atwood's words affected me.  The book was originally published when I was about 16, but I didn't read it.  In some ways, I regret that because I think it would have been interesting to compare the two experiences, 30 years apart.  Kim at 16 would have taken it in very different ways than Kim at 46.  But, on the other hand, I don't think at that age I would have been able to fully appreciate the themes and implications of this novel.

 

The novel takes place in a dystopian near future (roughly 2004-2005). after society has fallen to a religious new order.  The USA is no longer, now known as the Republic of Gilead.  Society is based on a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis, a rather chilling androcentric, misogynistic social order.  Birth rates have sharply reason, providing the justification for the new system.  Women have had virtually all of their rights taken away, reduced to categories like Jezebels (pleasure women), Marthas (cooks/housekeepers) and Handmaids (fertile breeding women).  Aunts are in charge of retraining the lesser women, indoctrinating them in the new world order.  Only the Commanders' Wives have even a touch of freedom, but that, too, is limited.  The Handmaids even lose their names, becoming "Of-" and whatever the Commander's first name is.

 

It is a disturbing look at sexual politics, particularly the ways in which sexuality is or isn't expressed based on gender.  It is a book about power and how what is seemingly utopian for some, it is clearly dystopian for others.

 

This is a book that is extremely thought-provoking, especially in this day and age.  Despite the fact that it was published 31 years ago, there are so many themes in it that are just as relevant in today's world.  There were times when I forgot I was reading a book that supposedly took place more than a decade ago.

 

The Handmaid's Tale is a part of me now, one of those books that I will read again and again.  It is the kind of book that will give you a new experience each time it is read.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12875

Jaybird

Jaybird - M.A. Foster

To say that Jaybird was an emotional read would be an understatement!  There were parts of it that just made me want to jump into my Kindle and slap the sense into some of the characters.  Other parts reduced me to ugly tears.  And there were some parts that had me laughing out loud and snorting coffee out of my nose.  There is a line that is rather R-rated that I still find a way to use in conversation because it cracks me up every single time!

 

Jayla has spent most of her life out of the limelight, sheltered from the world by her protective parents.  Her father is an insanely famous musician, her best friend a supermodel.  Her circle of friends includes other famous musicians and professional athletes.  On the surface, it seems like a world most of us just couldn't understand.  But despite the trappings of celebrity and wealth, they are real people with real problems.  Every one of them reminds the reader of someone they know.

 

While Jayla is at the center of this book, several other characters have stories of their own that weave in and out of the storyline.   The author's writing made the characters and their stories thoroughly engaging.  It was the kind of book that just drew me in and wouldn't let me go without a struggle.  It was beautifully written and I can't wait to read more from her!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12865

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird) - Claudia Gray

I absolutely loved the first novel in this series, A Thousand Pieces of You, and this book was just as good.  The story is woven throughout the multiverse as Marguerite fights to save both Paul and Theo.  And like the first book, this one makes you think about life, choices, and their unforeseen ramifications.

 

The events of the first novel changed Marguerite, changed her perspective on life and her beliefs about it.  Travelling through the multiverse and seeing the "what if's" has opened her eyes to how different choices can lead to vastly different lives.  But those beliefs get tested yet again as she travels through more dimensions and finds unexpected versions of the people she loves.  Those versions make her question everything.

 

And much like the first novel, the lines between good and evil are often blurred.  Whose intentions are good, causing them to do questionable things?  Whose intentions are just plain evil?  It is this kind of gray area that makes this such a thought-provoking series.  How far would you go to save the ones you love?  How far is too far?  Is there such a thing as too far?  These are just some of the questions that Marguerite has to answer.

 

The dimensions exist during the same period of time, but it is fascinating to see the different ways in which they have evolved.  To think about what that means, in terms of multiverse theory, is incredible.  The Russiaverse, a throwback in time.  The Home Office, a vision of the future.  The New York-verse, an alternate reality.  Each dimension has different versions of our characters, making them all ever more complex.

 

The story and its premise are, simply put, fascinating!  I couldn't recommend this more!

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12862

Atlantia

Atlantia - Ally Condie

Atlantia is a standalone novel by the author of the Matched series, which I loved.  This book, however, left me with mixed feelings.  The premise was amazing, but I just felt disconnected and I can't quite figure out why.

 

The novel takes place in a dystopian world split between the Above and the Below, the land and the sea.  Pollution has ruined the Above so most of humanity has moved into an enclosed, underwater world.  Those left Above suffered with the effects of pollution so that those they loved could live Below, thus saving humanity from extinction.  Each year, on the anniversary of the Divide, children of a certain age are given a choice... stay Below or go Above.

 

After their mother's death, Bay and Rio, twins, have promised each other they'd both stay Below.  Rio does this out of love because the only thing she's ever wanted was to go Above.  But then Bay chooses Above, leaving Rio alone in the Below.  Rio is desperate to know why Bay broke her promise and finds answers she never expected.  There is a lot going on beneath the surface (no pun intended) of life in Atlantia and Rio begins to learn these secrets.

 

I think part of my problem connecting with Rio was the fact that her character just seemed too one-tracked in her emotional life.  It was as if she expended all of her emotion on her sister, leaving very little left for other personal interactions.  No big highs, no big lows.  It left her feeling a little bland as a character.  The world-building also left me disconnected.  While the premise of the world was fantastic, I just had a really hard time envisioning it.  It almost felt like we should already know what a world like that would be like.

 

I liked the book; I just didn't love it.  And I really wanted to.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12858

Snowbirds

Snowbirds - Crissa-Jean Chappell

I grew up in Amish country in Northern New York, an area of both strict ordnungs more liberal Mennonites, so the topic of this book intrigued me the moment I read the back.  The story is mainly set in Pinecraft, a community in Florida that consists of both Amish and Mennonite residents.  "Snowbirds" are those Old Order Amish that come south for the winter, temporarily joining the Florida community.

 

The story is told by Lucy Zimmer, a young girl in the Mennonite community.  Unlike the Mennonite communities I am familiar with, her group embraces the long dresses and prayer caps of stricter groups.  But unlike the Amish, her dresses are pastel instead of dark blues and blacks.  Her community is allowed more mainstream living, including electricity, phones, cars, etc.  But unlike the Amish, they do not embrace rumspringa.

 

Lucy's best friend is Alice, a member of the Old Order community.  She is in the middle of her rumspringa and that puts a bit of chasm between the two girls.  Alice is embracing the freedom of rumspringa and Lucy is left trying to keep up.  But after an argument, Lucy finds herself with a boy she should never be with, an Old Order boy who was shunned by his community.  To make matters worse, while Lucy is with Faron, Alice disappears.

 

This is such an interesting story.  On one hand, it is a bit of a coming-of-age story as Lucy struggles with her own ideology and dreams.  She has been struggling for a long time, caught between wanting a life outside of Pinecraft and the beliefs she has grown up with.  Her quest to find Alice teaches her so much about the outside world and about herself.  In the end, it has been an eye-opening experience that Lucy probably needed in order to find her place in the world.  On the other hand, the story is a mystery... what happened to Alice?  No one else seems to care besides Lucy and she is loyal and brave, determined to find answers, even if those answers may change how she looks at the world.

Source: http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12855