Category Archives: Love Stories/Romantic

Son of the Shadows

Juliet Marillier

Very good.  A great fantasy read.

{LitLiv Summary: Sorcha and Iubdan, protagonists of Daughter of the Forest, have built up a lovely life and brought stability and prosperity to Sevenwaters.  Their three children, Sean (a born leader learning from his father and uncle Liam), Niamh (very much a Briton, fiery and willful), and Liadan (unforeseen, a healer, and inwardly strong) grow and experience the events of this novel.  Ripples of problems begin when Niamh falls in love with a man she should not, the adults keep a lie which starts to erode the family, and Liadan’s suitor is consumed by the pursuit of her.  Liadan is the protagonist and must navigate the dangerous times while everyone attempts to influence her decisions.  She realizes her important role in the prophecy (that a child of Sevenwaters with the mark of the raven will gain back the three sacred islands from the Britons), but she is not sure of the great danger that is awakening.  As events unfold she manages to stay true to herself and follow her own heart, Fair Folk and prophecy be damned.}

I really liked the character of Liadan and learning about her world and her brother and sister.  She grew as a character, and she matched very well with Bran, even though their relationship frustrated me at first: they wouldn’t admit that they loved each other.  Bran as a character was also very cool, with his raven persona and complicated past and emotions.  The climatic conflict that stemmed from Eamonn was unexpected.  At first I didn’t quite like the idea of Liadan having a baby everywhere with her, it was definitely different, but Marillier made it work well for the story.  The historical aspect of mercenaries and maneuverings of the feudal system in ancient Ireland/Britain is very interesting and makes a great premise for Son of the Shadows.

+ Her website has the cover images of the book from different countries and a map of the places in the book.

Rose in Bloom

Louisa May Alcott, 1876

In this sequel to Eight Cousins, Rose has just come back from a two-year tour through Europe with Uncle Alec and Phebe. Eight Cousins left off when she was 14, she left for Europe when she was 18, and now she is 20. She has grown wiser and even more beautiful, and will inherit her parent’s fortune in a year.  The chemistry between the young people has changed too, which becomes evident to them, “No sooner were they shut up in a carriage, however, than a new and curious constraint seemed to fall upon the young people, for they realized, all at once, that their former playmates were men and women now.” (pg. 3)  There are many who seek her hand, especially when she tries “coming out in society” for a few months, some who are desperate, some who are foolish, and some who genuinely feel affection for her.  But it becomes evident (without even looking at the cover) that the two greatest contenders are Mac, the bookworm, and Charlie, the Prince.

It feels like the writing style changed a bit from the first book.  As if we, the reader, are growing with Rose, the writing changes focus and contains more human emotion and intrigue.

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Rapture of the Deep

Cover image courtesy of Goshen Public Library

Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy

L.A. Meyer

{Just minutes away from walking down the aisle to finally be united with her Jaimy, Jacky is snatched up again by that despicable British Intelligence.  In her wedding dress she hears the terms of her new mission: diving for the treasure of a Spanish ship that sunk in the Caribbean (because King George’s coffers are getting empty from fighting Napoleon).  The tricky part is that she must do it without the Spanish finding out, and she must dive farther than anyone has before by using a new apparatus from Boston.  In return she will receive a full pardon.

So the Nancy B. Alsop (with two new young crew members) and the HMS Dolphin (with Jaimy on-board) sail down to the West Indies to find the Santa Magdalena, where they will have happy reunions with old faces and make new friends and new enemies.}

Very good, very fun.  The seventh book in the Bloody Jack Adventures, L.A. Meyer is still delivering the same quality, novelty, and excitement.  The book before this– My Bonny Light Horseman– was very heart wrenching whereas this book sees more going right for Jacky Faber.  But the book does seem to be a little more racy, with dirtier jokes, and I would like to see more character development concerning Jaimy.  Rollicking around Havana, Cuba, the reader picks up some interesting info about her history and culture in 1807.  Upon finishing I cannot wait for the next book to come out!

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Troy

Adele Geras

{Summary found on Wikipedia.com} :  The plot focuses on several women of Troy, ranging from powerful rich maidens to the servant girls who live in the town. The women all suffer in emotional ways with the decade long war at the center of their pain. Orphan sisters Xanthe and Marpessa live in Priam’s palace as maids and surrogate daughters to Andromache and Helen, respectively.  Andromache is Hector’s wife and mother to Astynax, whom Xanthe cares for like her own child. Marpessa sees the gods but keeps to herself because she knows that people will label her “disturbed” like Hector’s sister Cassandra.

The story picks up steam when Eros hits Xanthe with a silver-blue arrow, while she is working in the Blood room (where the fallen soldiers are taken to be nursed back to health). Xanthe falls in love with Alastor, who then impregnates Marpessa, a triangle brought about because Aphrodite longs for any entertainment other than the war. Polyxena, a friend of the two sisters, is hopelessly in love with Iason, who loves Xanthe.

Geras fills in the holes between each of the subplots with gossip from the servants of Priam’s palace. They serve as the Greek chorus and converse among themselves with how lazy Helen is or how estranged from her family Andromache is. Eventually the story winds down with the inevitable wooden horse and the sacking of Troy.

Geras shines as a storyteller and multi-subplot manager. She carefully scripts each plot to tell the inner feelings of the Trojan woman. The reader knows how the story ends (the rape and pillage of Troy) but what keeps them reading is the interest in the characters’ dreams and ultimate futures.

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Healer’s Keep

by Victoria Hanley

A big thank you to Reading Rocks for this book!!  You guys rock :)  Click to see an interview they did with the author, Victoria Hanley.

This book is excellent!  I haven’t read a fantasy this good for a long time.  Why, I believe that if parts of it were longer with more description and emotional depth it could brush the title of epic.  I would definitely recommend this book.

{From Victoria Hanley’s website: Two new students arrive at the Keep. One is Dorjan, a mysterious young man and heir to the family of Dreamwens-people who can walk in dreams. The other is the Princess Saravelda, daughter of King Landen and Queen Torina. Both Dorjan and Saravelda are hiding secrets of the past, but they must trust each other before they can act to overcome the darkness threatening the Healer’s Keep.

Across the ocean in Sliviia a talented slave girl named Maeve is running from Lord Morlen, a man who inspires terror in all who meet him.  Maeve learns that she, too, is part of the Dreamwen line.  She meets Jasper, a freeman of Sliviia who has survived on his wits and courage, who must decide how much he will risk for love.  The destiny of these four people are intertwined.  Together they confront the powers that prey upon their world. }
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Queen of Babble

by Meg Cabot

From Booklist: “Lizzie Nichols, a fashion-history major, wants nothing more than to graduate college and then fly off to London to be with her boyfriend, Andy. But at her graduation party, Lizzie finds out that she can’t graduate until she writes a senior thesis. And when she lands in London, Andy turns out to be a liar, gambler, and a fashion disaster. Lizzie, stuck in London with an unchangeable ticket home, escapes Andy via the Chunnel in hopes that her friend Shari, who is catering weddings for the summer at a French château, can help. On the train, Lizzie meets a stranger, Jean-Luc, and spills everything that has happened, only to find out that he is the son of the château’s owner. At the château, Lizzie continues to babble when she shouldn’t, ticking off Jean-Luc, shocking his mother, and upsetting a bride. Will she ever learn to keep her mouth shut?”

Warning, this book lives up to its name.  At times Lizzie’s internal babbling was so distracting I would lose the real conversation.  But I’m sure this was intended, just like in real life when we talk to ourselves and get lost in our own thoughts sometimes we look up and the scenery has changed.  One place though that irked me was when she was illusioning that Luke was a kidnapper/murder preying on innocent travelers.  It’s like, come on, even YOU should be able to see that you will end up together! Continue reading

Red Glass

by Laura Resau

I really, really liked this book.  Reading this book is biting into a big, juicy guava.  It tastes amazing and is the most wonderful thing ever, the sticky juice starts trickling down your chin,  and you realize that it’s better that way.

The characters are wonderful in their flaws, their acceptance, their bravery, their open-hearts, and their laughter.  The quotes from The Little Prince were so poignant to me because I just finished reading that novelette en français.

Red Glass is a multi-faceted view of Mexico and the lives that people lead around the world.  It shows how a little bit of discomfort won’t kill you.

{From Minnie at Athena’s YA Book Reviews: “It is a beautiful book about a girl whose life is changed on a journey through Mexico…there’s beautiful imagery, great love stories, and lots of familiar places, food, and music styles that anybody living in a border town or who has knowledge of Mexican culture will easily recognize. I loved it! I’ll be posting a full review soon!” click here to see info from a chat with the author!}

Thanks for that interview, Minnie.  Resau is an amazing person and a talented author.  I hope to read more books by her in the future, especially The Indigo Notebook.

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely cover, UK version

Melissa Marr

Aislinn is a junior  in Huntsdale, south of Pittsburgh.  She is friends with Seth, an independent guy who lives in a train car made of steel.  That fact is important because they, the fey, don’t like iron or steel.  Aislinn is extremely rare in that she can see the faeries that are so used to being invisible to mortals.  Problems arise when the Summer King, Keenan, inadvertently picks Aislinn to be the next Summer Queen, a choice that cannot be escaped and equals immortality or living death.  The story unravels and Aislinn learns the depth of her love, the futility of cowardice, and that she has the power to make better options for herself.

I really like Seth.  He is almost an Edward Cullen type–perfect lover, always loyal.  He now has the sight, but the issue of his immortality remains.  Perhaps it will be answered in the next two books, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity.  I’m glad Donia didn’t die either.  I liked her and felt really bad about her circumstances.

Worthwhile read.

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Excellent!  I first heard of this book from The Bookshelf Collection, and knew I had to get my hands on it.

From discussion on Nerdfighters: “The whole concept of a Hunger Games is exciting. Absolutely terrible and awful but I love it… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… lolcat blurb: Im in ur gamez messin wit ur kapital”

{Summary from Scholastic, where you can hear an excerpt read by Suzanne Collins herself!:  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.}

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Just Ella

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Pretty good, but not my favorite.  Enjoyable, but not satisfying.

A good plot summary and character write-ups from Wikipedia:  “This story is a retelling of Cinderella with a feminist twist and is a different version of happily ever after.”

Haddix has a lot of good ideas and topics in the story, like her new conjectures about the myth, Ella’s time in the dungeon, and statements about happiness:  “Happiness was like beauty–in the eye of the beholder.”  I also liked how Ella had a can-do attitude and did not limit herself in her options.  When she was still at her stepmother’s house she planned to run away and become a tutor, a smart solution.

But I found some parts of the book underdeveloped, such as the relationships between the characters, the conflicts in and outside of the castle, and the day-to-day actions of life for Ella.  It didn’t seem like a true portrayal of castle life.  Maybe I’m being too harsh, it is after all a fairy tale and thus the details are up to interpretation. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was lovely; I really enjoyed it.  One thing though, reading this book was like living in a haze.  Maybe Fitzgerald was trying to capture the ambience of the flapper 20’s, or maybe that was how these silly characters’ minds worked.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness…” (pg. 114) These people live the decadent life of the roaring twenties. The mindless, indulgent, irresponsible life style where consequence is just an afterthought.” homework-online.com.

I encountered this story when I saw the movie last year.  Looking back I would say that the film, I saw the version starring Robert Redford, was a wonderful rendition of this book.  And I think seeing the movie first made the book better; it was easier to visualize the period clothing, parties, and attitudes, and to understand the plot to be able to look for important clues and symbolism.

> You can read the whole book online thanks to eBooks@Adelaide.

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The Time Traveler’s Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

I love this book.  Clare and Henry’s love is so awesome, it helps them surmount the meaninglessness and cynicism that could take over their lives.  The settings, beautiful Michigan and diverse Chicago, voice, originality, character development and pacing are excellent.  It does seem a little slow and meander-some at first with no clear problem/solution scheme, but you can look past that and enjoy the sights.

Yes I loved it, but I’d also caution that this book for more mature readers.  Clare and Henry are a very happy couple.  As characters, their emotional depth was magnificent.  I like how Henry grew up and became a much better person.

I hated it when Henry lost his feet.  That was devastating.  Did it have to happen?  I think not.  Neither did I like the inevitability, such as when Henry is 15 and his dad walks in on him and himself, he says that he was powerless to do anything.  I prefer a view of time travel along the lines of Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter III.

Recently I heard that my cousin’s wife had a miscarriage.  Before reading this book I never grasped how devastating and actually dangerous a miscarriage can be, now I am equipped with a new sense of empathy for women who experience one.  Clare had six.

And bonus, after reading it and loving it, I went to a library book sale and got The Time Traveler’s Wife on cassette for 10¢.  Ten cents!!  My car doesn’t have a CD player so this will be perfect for long car trips across Iowa.

Some interesting facts: According to The Straits Times, Audrey Niffenegger dyed her hair red to say “goodbye” to the novel after she had finished writing it.  From The Independent, Niffenegger based Clare and Henry’s romance on the “cerebral coupling” of Dorothy Sayer’s characters Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

She said about the prospect of her book becoming a film, “I’ve got my little movie that runs in my head. And I’m kind of afraid that will be changed or wiped out by what somebody else might do with it. And it is sort of thrilling and creepy, because now the characters have an existence apart from me.” (James Cowan, “Niffenegger’s first book, and it’s about time,” National Post)  Filming began in September 2007 and the movie is scheduled to be released by Warner Brothers on 14 August 2009.  Personally I hope to never see it because I feel exactly like Niffenegger about books turned into movies.

I can’t wait to read what comes next from the great Audrey Niffenegger!  Her second novel, the forthcoming Her Fearful Symmetry, has been called “one of the most eagerly sought-after works in recent publishing history”. (The New Zealand Herald)

Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

Another classic to cross-off of the NEA’s Big Read: Top 100 list!  I liked this book, especially when I got farther into the story.  The novel is framed by the premise of a new tenant learning the turbulent history of two families on the moors, the Earnshaws and Lintons.  It covers three generations, so it is helpful to have a family tree for reference.  Some books include a family tree or you can find one on the internet.  This timeline is also very helpful.

The love between Cathy and Hareton at the end was so wonderful.  When the love was realized, they were so happy together and made their surroundings blossom again.  And probably my favorite part was when Nelly confronted Heathcliff about his new mood, and he explained how he had the means right before him to completely destroy the two families forever, but couldn’t.  He looked into the young lovers’ faces and just let them be happy.  He still looked like a demon when he died but that choice to not wreck the two young people redeems him a lot in my eyes.

Critics of the time thought this to be a horrible book, and one even said, “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights…” (Reader’s Guide to WH).  I am inclined to believe quite the opposite; I’ve never read Jane Eyre but from movies and my sister’s interpretation I think Wuthering Heights is far more interesting, less depressing, and more thrilling.

This is my favorite book from AP Lit & Comp this year.  Some study questions that could be turned into essays:

  • What role does Joseph play in the novel?
  • Compare the marriages of Catherine (senior) and Isabella.
  • How did Nelly alter the image of Heathcliff through her narration?

Read poignant observations and comments about this book on Only a Novel, also where the cover image comes from.

And if you’ve read this story, you must watch the Kate Bush interpretation.  It’s good for a laugh but also somehow appealing.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

The ladies have their bows and their game-faces on.

The ladies have their bows and their game-faces on.

by William Shakespeare

After reading Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night in English class, I can say that I truly enjoy Shakespeare.  I always loved attending the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, a masterful production of two Shakespeare plays every summer, but until reading enough Shakespeare to get used to the prose did the words jump off the page and into imagination.  I could understand the lines in a faster manner and consequently get in to the story and experience  plot flow.  When understanding happened, I could also appreciate the word play more fully. Of which no play has more than Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“Love’s Labour’s is often thought of as Shakespeare’s most flamboyantly intellectual play. It abounds in sophisticated wordplay, puns, and literary allusions and is filled with clever pastiches of contemporary poetic forms. It is often assumed that it was written for performance at the Inns of Court, whose students would have been most likely to appreciate its style. This style is the principal reason why it has never been among Shakespeare’s most popular plays; the pedantic humour makes it extremely inaccessible to contemporary theatregoers.”

When reading one can revel in the lyrical quality of this play.  Sometimes the individual characters start talking and I forget what their prose means in context; that the things they’re saying are actually quite silly in the real world, and that the characters are delusional fools.

I did a research paper on this play and proposed that Love’s Labour’s Lost is a parody on courtly love.  Next on my Shakespeare list is definitely Taming of the Shrew, which I hear is quite good.

The Juliet Club

by Suzanne Harper

Ah I loved it!  So fun, so fresh, so interesting!  When Kate wins a scholastic trip to study Shakespeare in Verona, the site of Romeo & Juliet, she sees it as a way to earn college credit, not the romantic adventure her friends Sarah and Annie are sure it will be.  When she arrives in gorgeous Italy she meets good-hearted, bubbly Lucy, out-of-place Tom, and the locals, Benno, Giacomo, and Silvia.  The seminar takes place in an ideal Italian villa, but it is not all dry verse and precise meter.  No, this summer the students learn about love from the expert himself.

I loved how the whole book resembles a Shakespeare concoction (organized into Acts and Scenes to boot!).  And also resembling the bard, Harper disregards conventions.  She does not bow to the lowly habits of following to the letter what characters would do.  She throws that to the wind and writes what she wants the author to do!  It is so much more satisfying when a character does what makes a good story, what the onlooker is screaming at them to do (i.e. Don’t go through that door!  or  Tell him the truth you dimwit!!)  Like in Much Ado About Nothing, you don’t have to tell the audience why Don John is evil, we just accept that he is!  We don’t care how unrealistic it seems that anyone would believe that Hero died of shame, it makes a better story!  Authors do not need to bow to an audience nor reason.

So, as with any good book, my only complaint is that it is not longer.

p.s. There is a real club called ‘The Juliet Club’ which answers letters that desperate lovers send to Juliet asking for advice.  You can visit their website here:
www.julietclub.com

p.p.s And thanks Book Shelves of Doom for the picture!

“It reminded me less of Romeo & Juliet and more of The Taming of the Shrew and some of the other comedies (lots of secret plans, spying, rivalry, extreme drama (especially from Kate’s father, who I got a huge kick out of) and even some swordplay, though there was sadly no cross-dressing).  Knowledge of Shakespeare isn’t at all necessary.  The characters don’t have much depth, and they sometimes seem to experience jarringly rapid changes in emotion/personality/objects of affection, but overall, The Juliet Club is quite fun.”
~ Book Shelves of Doom

* New movie coming out, Letters To Juliet (2010), might interest you if you like this book.  It has a similar subject, the letters written to the tragic amorous heroine, but I don’t believe it is based off of the book.  Still, looks like a fun movie!

Freaks: Alive on the Inside

Annette Curtis Klause

An intriguing tale of circus life with some ancient Egyptian mystique as a sub plot, I very much enjoyed this narrative.  The protagonist, Abel Dandy, starts out at an idyllic resort type circus where he lives with his parents.  There he wonders if he has anything to contribute to the show, because he isn’t “different” like everybody else.  Then he heads out on his own and meets the shocking realization that not only are “freaks” ostracized, but that he is also shunned for being in contact with them!

Though he tried to evade it, responsibility finds him as he trips along a path to a mysterious secret and helps right wrongs along the way.  Full of vibrant characters, this book not only makes you smile but makes you think.

Watch out for the word “caution.”  It is used about 4 times in a different (more dated) way than usual, instead meaning “an amusing or surprising person” (Oxford American Dictionary).  Good to know.

Beheaded, Survived

(1987) by Barbara Williams

More of a pre-teen read, but I definitely liked it.  The main character, Jane, is pulled along on a tour of England by her older sister Courtney, and is inhibited by fear of others finding out about her diabetes.  It is interesting to read it now in 2008 and see what advances they’ve made in diabetes care.  In this book the characters speak of hope of a cure within 4 years, too bad that did not come true.

The narrative of their tour also gives a list of interesting books and authors from England.  (For example, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Murder in the Cathedral, about the assassination of Thomas Becket).  The descriptions of the landscape left me wanting, but that’s not really what the book is about. As Kay E. Vandergrift, Rutgers University, states on Amazon.com: “The title, the maps, and the references to historic works lead readers to believe that the setting will be far more important to this story than it is.  It fails to integrate completely contemporary problems with the background of historic sites of Old England as promised.

Jane’s relationship with troubled Lowell happens very fast without much development but is still nice.  The voices of the characters belied their ages sometimes, but that is easy to ignore to enjoy the story.

Twilight in Theaters

     The Twilight movie will be in theaters on the 21st, next Friday, and I’m thinking of going to the midnight showing.  One might wonder, why would I not see it?  Well, I’ve told everyone since the prospect of a Twilight film was ever mentioned that I would not under any circumstance see it.  I hate the idea of the movie characters overriding my mental images of the characters and otherwise forever altering my memories of a beloved book.  In the same way I make an effort to read the book before seeing the movie.
       Some examples of this are the Harry Potter movies, Eragon, and the Golden Compass.  The making of Harry Potter was a special case where the film company was held accountable by millions of ardent fans and the author J.K. Rowling worked closely with writers, directors and actors throughout production.  Those movies were so very magical and the characters precise that it synced perfectly with what my imagination had come up with.
       On the other hand, I heard from friends how unlike the book and poor quality the movie Eragon was.  I’d rather not sully my impressions with a half-rate film, so I don’t plan on ever seeing it, and I don’t think I’ll be scarred for life.  The movie The Golden Compass was also very different from the book.  I saw that movie last New Years Eve, and I had read the book about four years before that.  I was able to separate the two into completely separate stories in my mind and could then enjoy the rich graphics and vibrant characters.
       So, the question in my mind remains, can I keep the movie and the book as two individual experiences?  This is all probably bordering on fanatical book loyalty, do other book fans feel the same way?  Feel free to weigh in on the discussion.

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The Truth About Forever

by Sarah Dessen

{Summary from SarahDessen.com: Macy’s summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy’s plans don’t anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or … Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn’t fit Macy’s life at all–so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So … happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together. }

I love this book just as much as Dessen’s “This Lullaby,” and I really appreciate how she keeps everything fresh and lively. The message delivered throughout the narrative is one not understood by many but so important: order and perfection are not ways to live. We must embrace disorder and other human beings, we must learn to live our passions without fear.

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The Host

Stephenie Meyer

Eeep! Just finished it; the ending is like being hurled from a giant catapult, a crazily spinning carousel with the colors brightening each moment. Awesome. Basically, this book is a display of Stephenie Meyer’s love of the Arizona desert. Within this overarching love, the meat of the book is full of the character interactions that readers loved from the Twilight series.

My only, tiny, inconsequential, and petty qualms from the story: First, I liked Melanie’s body better.  Sorry, I can’t help it. I don’t think Meyer was totally enthused about it either; she pointed out quite a bit of difficulties.  But it wasn’t what I imagined in my head for the wonderful Wanderer.  Still, I find that character description intriguing. A small, very small 17-year-old with a silver-ish pallor to her skin, golden specks or freckles, and long golden hair? and I quote Meyer (should be doing this more often) page 603: “The skin on the face had the same silver undertone — silver like moonlight — as the hand did, with another handful of the golden freckles across the bridge of the nose. Wide gray eyes, the silver of the soul shimmering faintly behind the soft color, framed by tangled golden lashes.  Pale behind them.  A dimple in the chin.  And everywhere, everywhere, golden, waving hair that stood away from my face in a bright halo and fell below where the mirror showed.” also page 603, “this half-child with her moonlight face and sunlight hair.”

Some good reviews and other info can be seen on Stephenie’s site:
http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/thehost.html

Discussion of a sequel:
http://albanypubliclibrary.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/a-sequel-to-the-host/

This Lullaby

Sarah Dessen

Great! I heard that Dessen is a really good author, and I’ll have to agree.  I’ll definitely be reading the rest of her books.  The ending isn’t quite my style but it works.

“Raised by a mother who’s had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician.” Dessen’s publisher

I love the main character’s name, Remy. So cool. Maybe not cool to be named after an alcoholic beverage (namely rum), but cool-sounding and distinctive as a name.

from Dessen’s site: “you always have these dynamic friends in your books. Maybe you should write from that point of view, just for a change.” She [Remy] was kind of bitchy, kind of cold, and was sure she had everything figured out. I couldn’t wait to see her proved wrong.

Plus it’s a summer book: set in that wonderful stretch from June to August when it just seems like everything is possible. Dreamland, my last book, had been so heavy, so emotional. I was ready for something a little lighter, but that still had something to say.

Basically, this is a story about faith. Faith in love (bear with me here) and just faith in general. Remy’s tragic flaw, of sorts, is that she’s afraid to take a chance on something she can’t guarantee. She wants hard proof, facts, a mathematical equation where X equals Y, before she’ll even begin to think about taking any kind of risk. But what she learns—what we all learn, eventually—is that the living is in the leaping. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes, and jump.”

My all time favorite part: when Dexter finds the silverware in Remy’s car. That is the best.

The lullaby:

This lullaby is only a few words,
A simple run of chords
Quiet here in this spare room
But you can hear it, hear it
Wherever you may go
Even if I let you down
This lullaby plays on . . .

Catch


Catch
by Will Leitch

Well, I liked it. Can’t say I loved it, it’s too much like real life. I think it is a very good examination of the whole college conveyer belt (to quote Rori Gilmore). Tim is just going to college. It’s just a fact. But then he really starts to look at it, from the college visit to his plan with Helena to thinking that he might not go, it’s important to look something over like that from all angles before jumping in.

It almost killed me when Helena said she never cared about Tim. I’m glad she got a happy ending too. And that Doug will get better. That would be so hard to deal with, the disappointment, the loss, the frustration.

About that ‘small’ Illinois town Mattoon, I’ve never even seen that much beer in my life. P.S. to the author, Will Leitch, 10,000 people is moderately small, but barely. I live near a town of 100, a town of 300, a town of 3000, and another of 8000. Ten thousand seems pretty big to me. But totally kudos for writing about your homotown. That would take a lot of guts. I wonder what they thought, how they responded. I remember reading about the response James Herriot got from his books, his boss didn’t like how he was portrayed am I think it ruined their relationship.

Peaches

Jodi Lynn Anderson

I almost didn’t finish this one. I started reading it then actually got so sick of it I had to forget it for a week or two before I could stomach picking it up again. But then it got really good. Maybe it was me, maybe the beginning just has to be gotten through. A little part of the problem was that I was very confused, with the rapid flashbacks and no prior knowledge to support it, and then the descriptions of people without a background or a setting, my mind just didn’t know where to place the people and events, it really doesn’t like things floating around in ether. (And maybe it was just my speed reading getting away from me. Oftentimes it takes the reins and I fly through about 3 chapters in a beautiful whirlwind that leaves gaping holes in detail.)

After that though things were awesome. I loved the scenery, the camaraderie, the melody. The peach orchard was beautiful, the hot days relished by me reading this in a foot of snow, the coming together (however slowly) of the friends fulfilling.

But one other thing, the whole Rex issue, I never got it. How he meets Murphy and looks at her funny, his face moving weirdly like he can’t put his finger on it, what is that about? Murphy might’ve felt something stirring too, but it wasn’t mentioned in the text, so it was very confusing. Or maybe she was suppressing her feelings for her friend. And then at the end of the book he comes and talks to her, it is all ‘let me be your worshiper I’m blinded by love’ kind of. Eck. I don’t know.

I don’t know if I want to read the sequel or not. Who knows, maybe it will be even better.

Jinx

Meg Cabot

It’s quite fortuitous how Jinx gets to live with her Aunt and Uncle and start over fresh in their fairy tale New York world.

If I hadn’t read the Mediator series before picking up this book, I would have thought a whole different person was also writing under Meg Cabot’s name.  It is in a way like Princess Diaries and in a way like the Mediator books (the witch aspect especially).

I didn’t like how Jinx was shunning her witch side and how at the beginning there was only shoddy mention of the real reason (probably meant to keep the reader guessing) and the subject was turbid throughout the rest of the book.  I was glad of Zach’s response after the disaster at the Winter formal, and his jumping over the rose covered wall was marvelous.  Jinx’s cousin Torrance was scary, kind of overdone/fake, same with her friends.  The talk of Iowa and her other home and family greatly irked me.

Overall I very much liked the details, scenery, and characters, but the thought of the main character, dialogue, and especially development was lacking.

The Mediator Series


The Mediator
by Meg Cabot

Shadowland • Ninth Key • Reunion • Darkest Hour • Haunted • Twilight

Loved it. Book one was amazing, with the descriptions, her coming and settling in to California (it is the middle of winter and believe me I really wished I was on that beach with her! 70° there right now) That area, Carmel, sounds amazing. (And they have a really nice website.) On two of our family vacations to CA we came in to San Jose airport, it was like déja vu.

I loved Jesse. How amazing would that be, to have a totally hot guy with a Spanish accent as a friend and confidant? Oh my gosh and the ending! I’m so, so SO glad that he lived and they can go on together and she didn’t have to lose her true love like poor Father Dominic! That was neat the part about Susannah saying maybe it wasn’t his time to die, as is willing to give him up, but really it meant that he was meant for another time, to be with her! Kudos to Meg Cabot, I was panicking, I couldn’t see any good way for that to end up as I was reading it. That was an amazing solution.

My favorite book of the series was probably Twilight or Darkest Hour.

I didn’t like how frustratingly immature Suze was sometimes. Also, some parts of it were actually really scary! Like when she was supposedly ‘kicking ghost butt’ but really getting the crap beat out of her (especially books 1 and 3) and the parts with Paul and going up into the hallway, plus the nightmares afterwards.

One thing I still don’t get, how does the thing where Suze can ‘call’ people work?  Because if it happened every time she thought of someone, i.e. Jesse, they would be around a lot more.  Maybe Meg Cabot will resolve this in another book, I saw on her diary blog that she might not be done writing this series, but says that she and Suze need a break.  Yay!!