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Book Review: Devil’s Breath

Evil. Danger. Adventure. Friends you can trust. Friends you can’t. This is what 15-year-old Max Gordon has to face in David Gilman’s Devil’s Breath. But if there’s anyone who can stay alive when the evilest, most powerful man alive wants him dead, it’s Max. From the rigorous Dartmoor High, a school designed to turn out quick-witted, fleet-footed men, Max is strong, smart, and knows how to conquer his fear. More than that, he is Tom Gordon’s son. Tom, a man respected by all for his intelligence, bravery, and fairness, will face down blood-thirsty pirates to save his son. But now it’s his turn to be saved.

We meet Max’s assassin first. Turns out bumping off a kid wasn’t such an easy job after all. But it won’t be the last time Max only just escapes with his life. Reporting the attack to the school officials, he learns the horrifying news: His father has disappeared. Coincidence? Hardly. Despite the risks, Max is the only one with the courage and insight to save him. Instead of flying safely to Canada the way his headmaster wanted, Max slips onto a plane to South Africa. He thinks he’s escaped, but he no sooner gets off his connection to Namibia than he’s fighting off hired thugs, only two of many determined to destroy him before he learns the ugly secret that may have cost his father’s life.

Max has good people on his side: Sayid, Max’s computer wizard friend back at Dartmoor who can crack the toughest computer code. Kallie, the gorgeous 17-year-old pilot who happens to be as brilliant and indestructable as Max himself. And !Koga, the indispensable Bushman with unusual motives for saving Max’s life again and again.

But can everyone be trusted? Are the so-called friends and enemies who they seem? When every minute brings a new danger to be fought off with brawn and brains, there’s no time to ask who the true friends are. It’s all up to Max.

Max barely has time to wipe the blood from his eyes before the next attack is upon him. But with luck, a few good friends, and most of all his own strength, Max survives struggle after struggle. If action-packed isn’t enough to keep you reading, Devil’s Breath offers suspense, forces for good and evil, and a glimpse into the harsh world of one African country.

Book Review: Before I Fall

Are you a person, like me, who supremely enjoyed Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why? Have you been looking for a book which captures the same feeling of loss, redemption, understanding, and attempts to explain the complicated web of actions and relationships which exist? Well. I’ve found it. The worthy successor of Thirteen Reasons Why is Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. Like Thirteen Reasons Why, Before I Fall is a book written in retrospective of a life, in this case, narrated by a girl who is probably, maybe, possibly, should be dead.

Samantha Kingston is one of those shiny golden girls who seems to have it all. She wears designer jeans, has a crushworthy boyfriend, a tight-knit group of best friends, and is among the most popular girls at her high school. It’s Friday, February 12th, which promises to be just another charmed day in the life of Sam Kingston, however, it turns out to be her last. In a second of icy roads, bright light and crushed metal she’s dead. Until she wakes up the next morning to her alarm clock and begins the same day all over again. Reliving that day over seven times allows Sam a chance to understand how her actions affect those around her; and she’s not happy about what she finds. Vicious rumors, cruel pranks, a distant boyfriend, an inability to be herself, a distancing from her caring family.  Sam is given a miraculous chance to come back and untangle the messy web she’s woven for herself, and discover the true value in life which she has lost as she grew older. Kind of like A Christmas Carol, only Sam can actively participate in her life and make new choices.

It does sound depressing I know. And I’ll admit that I was rooting for Sam and hoping, hoping, hoping that somehow by making the right choices, doing the thing, and saving those around her (because this book is as much about Sam’s friends and classmates as it is about her), she would be able to change her own fate. I am not going to spoil you, but I will say that I felt the ending was, in its own way, optimistic.

Sam’s old best friend/someone she never talks to now, Kent was very crushable and written in a mold that I find absolutely irresistable: quirky, shining knight in armor who has always been in love with Sam from afar since 2nd grade. I also appreciated that Oliver didn’t write Sam’s popular friends as one-dimensional shallow faceless characters. These girls were real friends, who cared about each other deeply and truly wanted the best for each other. Even Lindsey (who is, as much as anyone is, the villain of the story,) is an empathetic character and you understand what motivates her to act the way she does. In fact, Before I Fall is a really compassionate novel which explores what it means to grow up, and how hard it can be to find your true self in high school when it is so much about fitting in, “being cool”, and popular is the be all end all (even if it means giving up childhood friends and loves like horseback riding and hanging out with your family.) I urge anyone to check out this book, especially if you were fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

For Fans of Diary of Wimpy Kid

Are you a fan of Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Plowed through all four books and looking for something new to read? While Jeff Kinney is working on book #5 (scheduled to be released on November 1st), check out Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate: In a Class All By Himself. It’s a new book downstairs in the J room (currently on display with the new books). I found that Nate reminded me a lot of Greg Heffley; and both books are heavy on the humor and the comic illustrations.

Plus, it’s got an endorsement from Jeff Kinney himself, so you know it’s going to be funny.

Mortal Instruments Jewelry

Anyone fans of Cassandra Clare’s Moral Instruments series? 

I stumbled across this Mortal Instruments jewelry line (jewelry inspired by the book series) today…I actually think a lot of it is pretty cute.

The Dark Divine: Book Review

I finished The Dark Divine by Bree Despain last week…and absolutely loved it. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Twilight series or Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver or supernatural romances in general, be it vampires, warewolves, fairies, etc. What I appreciated about The Dark Divine was although it was definitely a supernatural romance it was more than that and the heroine was fully formed and relatable. Grace had a life outside her love interest, Daniel and cared about things besides being with him every second of the day (unlike cough Bella Swan cough).  She cared about her family, her friends, art and school. She also had a future planned that didn’t simply revolve being with Daniel, which was really  it was refreshing. I also liked that Grace and Daniel didn’t run into each other one day in school and fall in love at first sight. It was nice that they had a history and were childhood friends, it made the love story (and the story in general) matter more, because there was a foundation, a history, and something at stake. I also liked the mystery surrounding bad boy Daniel, his unexplained falling out with Grace’s father and brother, and his disappearance and subsequent return. It kept me guessing until the very last pages. Also, with Grace’s dad a minister, it was a unique family unit and religion served as an interesting backdrop for a supernatural story. I also liked the historical element that Despain wove into the story, and how religion served its part in moving the story along, so that Minister Divine didn’t seem just like a tacked on component of the story. All in all, it’s a great book, and I highly recommend it (it’s also got a really beautiful cover…and you know how much I love pretty covers.)

Percy Jackson: movie review, YA movie news

I finished The Last Olympian on Saturday, and was really excited to see the movie a few days later…I ended up seeing the  Percy Jackson movie on Monday; and honestly, I have to say I was rather disappointed. I hate when movies needlessly change plots and characters in beloved books. And in this case, the changes weren’t necessary and didn’t do anything to improve the story (or in this case, the movie). Like, for instance, they completely left Clarisse COMPLETELY. And any mention of Ares (one of my favorite gods in the book series). They also made Percy 16 in the first movie, instead of 12. Introduced a love interest in Annabeth almost immediately and threw out a lot of (usual) back story/mythology Riordan created about the gods (Poseidon in Bermuda shorts for instance)/their relationships with their children/the gods dropping in and “helping” Percy, Annabeth, and Grover along the way. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON LUKE. I thought one of the greatest strengths of the The Lightning Thief was the surprising reveal, near the very end of the book, that Luke was evil. The tarantula scene still haunts me, particularly because this was a boy who Percy trusted and who he considered a friend. None of that relationship was built up in the movie, and Luke ended up coming off like a spoiled pouty child having a temper tantrum.

Okay. End rant.

Have you guys had a chance to check out the new YA books? What have you been particularly enjoying? I started Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and have been really enjoying it. It’s nice to see a wolf not in competition with a vampire. I’ve been anxiously waiting for The Dark Divine to come back in, as I’m really excited to read that.

 Speaking of Shiver, the movie version now has a writer attached to pen the script. And in other movie news, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglie series is being made into movies too. New broke last summer that the series would be made into movies, but in the months following no progress was made. Now however, Screen Gems has fast tracked the a film version of the series. Anyone fans of the Uglies series? I tried to read Pretties but just couldn’t get into it.  Should I give the series another try?