Hi, my name is Kim and I am addicted to books. See? I can admit it!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Defensive Zone is the 10th full-length novel in the Portland Storm series, a series that has created an immense fan base of romance lovers and hockey fans!
This book focuses on Cody "Harry" Williams, a defenseman for the Portland Storm, and Dani Weber, the impetuous daughter of one of the coaches. Dani has harbored a not so secret and not so subtle crush on Cody for a long time, much to the chagrin of her father. After an incident last season, Coach Weber knows more about Cody than he wants to and has ordered Cody to stay away from his daughter. But Dani isn't taking no for an answer. She knows that there is more to Cody than his buttoned-up, bowtied facade and she is determined to find out what it is. She calls him Dirty Harry, after all...!
One of my favorite things about this series, besides the hockey, is that they each have a very serious focus beyond the romance. But this novel takes a bit of a different direction than most of the other books in the series. Cody has a secret, one that he is not all comfortable sharing. And that secret makes the theme of this novel acceptance without judgment. At first, Dani's quest to find out what he's hiding is just about having fun, but then she realizes that there is a lot more to the ginger-haired hockey player than she realized and she jumps in head first. And once she has decided that she wants something, she will not be stopped.
Through the first third to half of the book, I really just wanted to slap Dani. She's young and she acted it. She was extremely narrow in her vision, wanting what she wanted and to hell with anything that didn't further that goal. She was dismissive of Cody's protests, almost scornful of his reasons for pushing her away. Her attitude was beyond selfish and she annoyed me to no end. But then things began to change when she finds out more about Cody and his family. Then she grew up and became the woman she needed to be.
As I said, this book was very different from the others. Less actual romance and a lot less hockey, but no less full of emotion and thought-provoking situations. I love Catherine Gayle and I love that she keeps her readers guessing.
The Bone Witch is a beautiful book, telling the story of Tea as she discovers that she is an asha, one with very rare abilities. The writing is lyrical and descriptive, allowing you to see the world through Tea's eyes. It is written in two alternating points of view and the voices are very different. The first voice is that of Tea, telling her own story in a voice that, while a bit haunting, feels somehow lighter and more hopeful. The second voice is set at some point in the future, as Tea tells her story to a Bard who has sought her out. The tone of that voice was much heavier, much more bitter.
The mythology of this story was so beautiful, a world where, instead of on their sleeves, people wear their hearts around their necks in heartsglass. The color of your heart sometimes determines your entire future, as it did for the main character Tea. After accidentally raising her brother from the dead, Tea's life changes dramatically. She's an asha, a Dark asha. The Dark asha are the strongest of their kind, but also the most feared and usually the most reviled. It is not an easy road that Tea finds herself on.
The worldbuilding was the most stunning aspect to the book, in my opinion, along with the mythology that surrounded it. The mythology is influenced by geisha culture, Zoroastrianism, and Persian culture, woven together a complex world. Despite the fantasy elements, the world felt very authentic with its threads of social classism, politics, sexism, and racism. Those elements exist in all societies and their inclusion, while not positive, helped to create a world that was believable for the reader.
This is a book that I truly loved. A sequel is coming and I am waiting breathlessly for it!
The Country of Ice Cream Star came to me almost by accident. The library on post hosted an event around Valentine's Day called Blind Date with a Book. I chose one based on nothing more than a genre and a vague blurb. And it was unlike anything I've ever read.
It is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, young adult novel set in the future. It takes place in the remains of what was once the United States. But disease and war has left the country decimated. The overwhelming population is black or Hispanic, and even this population is left with a crippling disease that leaves what's left of the country run by children.
The story was fantastic, filled with sometimes subtle messages about society and values. Faith, or the lack of it, plays a huge role in how new micro-societies have been formed and how they are run. There are shreds of recognizable faith from our own reality, but it has been changed by the experiences these children have gone through and by time. Race, too, plays a pivotal role. It highlights how assumptions about race can evolve into entire belief systems.
But the most distinctive aspect of this book is the patois. This is what made the book almost magical to me. The book was written in an evolved version of street language, peppered liberally with Russian and French derivations. Not just the dialogue, but the entire book. From a technical standpoint, this awes me because of the sheer creativity it takes to undertake such a thing, and to do it successfully. And this is not a short book. As a linguist, this got my juices flowing.
Is it difficult to read? Yes, it can be. Having the language background that I do probably helped a little because I recognized a lot of the root words as French and Russian and could translate those easily. Sometimes it was the evolved English that gave me the most trouble, words that had developed over fictional time to be used in different ways, in different forms and contexts. Nouns that are now verbs. Verbs that have become nouns. Even familiar places are made unfamiliar with the new language.
This patois is something that I've seen turn many readers away, but I urge you to give this a shot. It probably does take a great deal more concentration to read it, but the story is well worth it. And the concept is just so unique that the experience is fantastic.
Half the reason I requested this galley was because of the pirates. Even better was the fact that the lead pirate in the novel is a girl. There are not enough pirates of any gender in YA literature!
Alosa is the daughter of the new pirate king and the captain of her own ship. But she is more than a pirate. She has abilities that make her powerful, abilities that she hates. But she uses them in order to please her father, who is a tyrant at best. And he has sent her on a mission... to find a third of a fabled map that leads to impossible treasure.
Alosa is a strong, confident girl who doesn't hesitate to go after what she wants. She knows that there are very few that could match her skills. I love that attitude! But she isn't all hardened edges. She desperately wants to please her father, even after the ways in which he's treated her. And she just might have a soft spot for a certain fellow pirate.
I really enjoyed this story. Alosa's character was fantastic. Strong and powerful, but with an edgy sense of humor. Her interactions with the men on the ship are sometimes serious, but most of them time she is pushing them just for the fun of it. There were times, though, when the plot dragged a little bit for me. A little repetitious, but not enough to ruin it for me. All in all, it was a fun read!
When I was offered the chance to read the ARC of this by Entangled Publishing, I jumped at it! I'm all about any book that features hockey at any level of the game. And it is a book that yanked me in from the very first page.
There is a lot to love about the story in Off the Ice. The characters are well-developed and feel like real people. Tate is a goalie on his high school team, thrust into the limelight when the star goalie is suddenly ostracized by most of the town. He loves the game, but it comes with baggage for him and he just isn't sure where he fits anymore. Claire is a year older than Tate, taking a break from college to put her family first during a crisis. She has baggage of her own and there are days when she just doesn't know which end is up.
These are characters that are thrust into adulthood too soon, dealing with issues that they shouldn't have to. And while my heart bleeds for their characters, I can't help but appreciate that they are characters that act with maturity and strength. Their stories aren't all light and happy, but they are real, with all of the emotions that go along with real life. They were both characters that I understood and related to. And most of all, I loved that their romance wasn't the stuff of fairy tales. It had more than its fair share of angst and issues. In other words, it was real
Overall: I didn't want this book to end. I loved it. I loved the story. I loved the romance. I loved the issues and conflicts and that they had the undeniable ring of truth. This was my first book by author Julie Cross, but it won't be my last