So, I know I just posted a review of another book last night, but this book was so AH-MAZING that I just couldn’t stand to think of waiting to review it. Let’s just look at this as preparation for Thanksgiving, since you’re getting an “extra helping” of YA awesomeness this morning. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge how insane I was for waiting so long to read this book. I was among the first people on the request list, but I ended up sending it back and re-adding my name to the list because it showed up when I was in the middle of another book and didn’t think I would have time to read it then. Well… Even though this book was rather large (599 pages), I ended up reading it in ONE WEEK! Considering the fact that I didn’t have any days off from work and/or caring for my kids, that’s crazy! But, this book is crazy good, so I went to extremes to stay up late reading. I’m talking, get up and walk around when I feel my eyelids start to droop or purposely playing Candy Crush before sitting down to read because I know the glow from electronics makes it harder for me to fall asleep. Yeah. I’m dedicated like that! ;-) Continue reading
If you’re a sucker for dystopias, like I am, you’re definitely going to want to check out this trilogy — especially since the third book just came out and you won’t get stuck waiting for more books to be published! In this world, most people are born with the power of an Element — earth, water, wind, or fire. They can both sense and control their Element. Someone who was a wind elemental, for example, could sense exactly how quickly a storm was blowing in and/or use the wind to fight off an enemy. This book reminded me of Avatar the Last Airbender, which means I’ll need to pass it along to my son when he gets just a little bit older!
I think I’ve mentioned on my blog that I no longer review all of the subsequent books in trilogies and series that I read because it’s often hard to summarize without spoiling the earlier books in the trilogy/series for people who haven’t read them yet. (If not, I have now!) Plus — let’s be honest — it also helps me not to fall behind so badly on my reviews if I don’t include every book I read on this blog. But, I just can’t let this book go without comment! Neal Shusterman has completely BLOWN. MY. MIND! If his story is not enough, in and of itself, to show you the insane path that humanity is blazing into the future, the included hyperlinks for stories which make the case for a future in which “unwinding” actually happens will scare the hell out of you. The thing I am most grateful about with UnDivided, nonetheless, is that the story is actually done. I have spent far too long wondering what happened to Connor, Risa, Lev, and the rest of the gang, so THANK YOU Neal for finally giving me closure!
I find it kinda funny that I was *so* sure I would love the Divergent series that I waited for the third book to be released and then read the books back-to-back-to-back. And after that, I *had* to read this collection of short stories as soon as it came out… Yet I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, and I even forgot about actually posting a review for this book for three months! I guess life just gets away from me sometimes, and taking a trip to the movies with a girlfriend isn’t always at the top of my list of priorities. Still, I should probably plan a girls’ night in to watch Divergent pretty soon, right? ;-)
Lucky Linderman’s father patently refuses to acknowledge the problems in his life. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is growing up fatherless (his father was a POW/MIA soldier in Vietnam), his failing marriage, or his son’s troubles with a bully named Nader McMillan. He pretty much walks away and tunes out from life when things start to get uncomfortable — often retreating to his job at what Lucky refers to as “Le Fancy-Schmancy Cafe.” Lucky’s mom is just as bad. She, too, refuses to acknowledge that her marriage is falling apart and ignores the bullying situation. (She just doesn’t have as hefty an excuse as her husband.) Even after Nader takes things too far and hurts Lucky pretty badly, his parents still choose to avoid confrontation and merely plan for Lucky and his mom to go away for the summer. Staying with relatives in Arizona doesn’t do anything for fixing the marriage or bullying problems, but Lucky does end up making some friends while he’s there. He also starts working out, under the tutelage of his uncle, and gains a little confidence in the process. The only question is whether that will do him any good when he returns home.
Though most of this story is fairly standard for YA contemporary realistic fiction, there’s one thing that pushes this book pretty far into the realm of magical realism. Lucky visits his [POW/MIA] grandfather in his dreams. For real. As in, he comes out of his dreams with physical tokens of where he has been. (It actually reminds me a bit of The Dream Thieves, which is the second book of The Raven Cycle.) Though I am sure none of the teens who read this book are actually traveling to visit long-lost relatives in their dreams, I am sure a great many of them can relate to the generalized family issues and bullying Lucky experiences. I only hope that Lucky’s realizations and growth will inspire readers to be more proactive in response to their own problems.
I don’t usually do “guest posts” or participate in blog tours because I often find it difficult enough to find the time to keep up with my blog. When I was contacted by BooksEndependent, though, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and help out a small press — especially considering the fact that I was being asked to participate during Banned Books Week. I don’t have a problem with any of the large publishing houses, per se, and I don’t think of them as censors, but something about an independent/small press publishing house just brings to mind a sense of freedom. If you are interested, you can check out the BooksEndependent website or their Rafflecopter giveaway… But, first, you should check out the excerpt [below] from Under the Shadow!
My son and I both love fantasy fiction, and we’re both suckers for ARCs from beloved authors… So, when I heard that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare were writing a middle-grade fantasy series together, I just knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this ARC. (The good news for anyone reading this review is that the book came out September 9th and you can read it without scheming to find an ARC!)
And do you know what was even better than opening a random, unexpected package to find a copy of this ARC? When it arrived in the mail on the very day that we were ready to start a new book. Awesomesauce! I knew these authors were awesome and that a collaboration between them was likely to be epic, but I also kinda expected that this book would be somewhat formulaic and predictable, like many of the other middle-grade fantasies I’ve read. Thankfully, I was wrong. Although there were some parallels to other books we’ve read, the story was fresh and there were a couple of plot twists that blew our minds!
Callum’s father has always taught him that magic is bad and that the Magisterium, a school that teaches adolescents how to hone their magical abilities, is evil. So, when Callum had to go in to test his magical acuity at the Magisterium, he did his best to fail. For some reason, nevertheless, Master Rufus chose Callum to be one of his apprentices. Even though neither he nor his father wanted him to attend, being selected meant that Callum had to go to the Magisterium… As soon as he started to learn how to use his magic and began to make friends, though, Callum started to wonder if maybe his dad was wrong after all…