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Apples and Oranges

Have you ever felt your day couldn’t possibly get any worse?  Every minute seems to be worse than the last.  As soon as you start to feel things are on the upswing, something else happens to knock you down.

This is exactly how the main character in Rebecca Callow’s debut novel, Apples and Oranges, feels every day.  Charlotte “Charlie” Crawford is determined to make the most of her senior year of high school.  This is her year to shine.  Charlie has amazing friends and super supportive family members.  But Charlie is still struggling to stand on her own two feet.  She is terrified of Clarissa, the meanest girl in school.  She is in love with the hottest jock in town, and can’t figure out why Lucas keeps trying to talk to her.

Throughout the year Charlie misses out on a lot of fun due to some of her insecurities.  Is it worse to go to the Homecoming dance alone or to not go at all and miss everything?  While Charlie is figuring out how to stand up for herself, she learns the true meaning of family and friends.  When Charlie is trying to be someone she is not, her life gets worse and worse.  Once she realizes her true feelings, and finds out what is really important in life, she begins to relax.  Things begin to fall into place once Charlie is able to just be herself.

Charlie uses her blog, Apples and Oranges, as a way to vent and to escape from the day.  She spills her most intimate secrets on to the internet.  Through this reflection she often discovers she has what it takes all along.  Charlie, at times, desperately seeks advice from her online followers.  But once she is able to sleep and ponder the situation for herself she realizes she knows what has to be done.

Rebecca Callow’s, Apples and Oranges, takes you through the paces of an ordinary day of a high school student.  From waking up and having to share a bathroom with her sister, to work and dance classes after school.  It is a challenge to schedule everything; maintaining a balance between work and hanging out with friends and family.  Apples and Oranges give you a clear picture of the inner working of the teenage mind.  Rebecca is able to write about the angst, anxiety, frustrations, and heartaches of a high school senior since she wrote this while in her senior year of high school.

A round of applause should be given to Rebecca for her thoughtful awareness as well as the dedication and guts it took to write such a novel.  It has been a while since I was in high school, but this book took me back.  Yes, back through it all; the good, the bad and the ugly.  In the beginning, I felt sorry for Charlie, and wished for her the insight that only years can bring.  But then Charlie turned it around.  She figured it out just in the nick of time.  This story doesn’t end at graduation.  But Charlie’s future is bright, now that she is able to see anything worth having is not worth a compromise to the wonderful woman inside.

Oh the wonderful, exciting, euphoric feelings of being in love.  Who doesn’t love love?

However, remember the flip side.  The magnificent feelings of being in love also bring anxiety, fear, and insecurity.  Are the glorious feelings of being in love worth the heartache?

The delirious feelings of being in love make us forget the insecure feelings of falling in love.  Over time the anxiety fades, and trust sets in.  And so begins Lauren Oliver’s new trilogy, Delirium.

The Delirium Trilogy begin with Delirium.  Magdalena (Lena) Ella Haloway, will never experience falling in love.  Lena lives in a futuristic society that looks like modern day, but with no love.  At the age of 18 each member of society undergoes the process of being cured.  The government has proven that love is a disease, amor deliria nervosa, and it must be abolished.  The government has control over everything, deeming certain types of music and movies inappropriate for their society.

Lena is about to turn 18 and cannot wait to be cured.  She has seen the effects of the disease, and does not want it to take over her life.  She willingly goes along with the process of being matched and evaluate.  Lena knows the most important day of her life is her evaluation day.  Once Lena has her results she will know who she will marry, where they will live, and how much money they will make a year.  She will even know how many children she will have.  Love will not be a factor.  She does not have to love her husband or her children.  She will be obligated to fulfill certain duties and that is that.

That is until Lena completely bombs her evaluation and delivery truck confusion allow her to take her evaluations again.  Also, her friend Hana, dares her to join her at an illegal party.  Boys and girls will be hanging out together listening to banded music after curfew.  To Lena this all spells disaster. Lena’s curiosity and desire to prove Hana wrong win.  She sneaks out of her house, and what she sees and feels at the party change her forever.

She listens to forbidden music, is shocked by boys and girls dancing together, and meets Alex… again. Lena thought Alex was just another security guard.  That night she learns Alex has something to hide.  Agreeing to meet Alex the next day, start Lena’s suspicions about the disease.

Needless to say Alex has a lot to tell Lena.  Through Alex, Lena learns that her world has never been what she has imagined.

Delirium will take you from the anxious first meeting of Alex and Lena to their love creating a trust stronger than any government’s rules or regulations.  Delirium will have you questioning the realistic qualities of love, while rejuvenating your passion for everything you love.  The process of being cured, removes the opportunity to love anything.  Lena has been going through her life blind.  Not allowing herself to fully enjoy anything.  Why love running, sunsets, or Hana if one day it won’t even matter?  Lena decides it matters and it matters a lot.  While loving another person requires a lot of trust, Lena discovers she would rather take a chance on love, than live blind for another day.

Lauren Oliver does an amazing job creating this alternate, but realistic society.  The thoughts and feelings of Lena are so relatable, but yet unimaginable. However, Lauren Oliver will leave you wondering if love really is a disease.  Was Lena really wise to subject herself to the tortures of living with love?

We will find out in the second book of the Delirium Trilogy, Pandemonium.

Between the next in the Lunar Chronicles, the Survivor Trilogy, and the Hunger Games Trilogy, I know what I will be reading for the next two years.  Add in the new Weirdsville series and I won’t have to ponder what book to read for two and half years.  And to be honest, I’m not so sure I’m happy about it.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with series.  I love series.  Series allow the characters to grow over time.  I become invested in the characters and want to know how each story will affect the overall tale and the characters individually.   I hate series.  Once I start a series I want to complete the entire series, which is fine if it is a trilogy. Beyond a trilogy… now I’m annoyed.  Pushing the boundaries of my investment to the stories are series with four or five novels.  Yes, I did read the entire Twilight Saga, which we all know contains four entire novels.  But by the end of the third I was asleep.  The characters and plot had exhausted my desire to know more.   I steer completely clear of series containing five or more.  Yes, that means I stopped at number two Harry Potter.   But series keep me coming back.  My love over takes the hate.  I am drawn to series.

So, Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings is the first in a new series about the supernatural and the life ever after.  Five individuals were assigned to work on a school project together. All unwilling to work together, they decide to make the most of it.  Little did they know they were destined to work together on everything, but the school assignment.  Emily, Bethan, Kelly, Hashim, and Jay all have something to gain by working together.  For some it is support.  For others it is popularity.  For one it is their life.

Emily lets the group in on a little secret.  She hears, but doesn’t really hear, ghosts in her house.  Destined to work together, they agree to go on a ghost hunt at Emily’s house.   As the night goes on strange things start happening.  After further review of the evidence their suspicions were confirmed.  Emily’s house contains a ghost.  But now what?

Strange things happen all over Woodsville, enough for the town’s members to nickname it Weirdsville.  The sky is constantly grey, and the sun never shines.  They start to think the ghost is just part of living in Woodsville.  It comes with the territory.  Having been built on an ancient rainforest the town’s people grow accustom to blaming the weirdness on the town’s dark past.  Despite this belief, Bethan, Kelly, Hashim, and Jay set out to help Emily.  Through the experiences and excitement they form a friendship, and end up helping more than Emily.  Each find out what they need was different than what they wanted.  Through helping Emily they realize the town is in need of the positive energy found in their new friendship.

I am already wondering how the next in the series will be able to continue the suspense and determination of Nearly Departed.   I love being able to pick up a new novel, already having pieces of the characters’ background.  With that knowledge I am instantly part of that series’ club.  I belong to the series until the end… unless it goes over four novels.  I have to draw the line somewhere.

But is it still a fairytale if there are no fairies?

Cinder.  Where to begin?  There are so many things I would like to say about this book.  For starters; fairytale re-tell, romance, and life in the future.  How does that sound?  Pretty darn good if you ask me.

Cinder is a fairytale re-tell of Cinderella, the first in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. There are step-sisters, a step-mother, a prince, and an evil queen.  Cinder even leaves something as she exits the ball in a hurry, but I won’t say what.  (Hint: It is more than just her shoe!)

There are no fairies, no talking mice, but she is required to clean everything and complete her chores.  Fairy godmothers and talking mice are replaced by helpful androids and distant communications with people living on the moon.

Cinder lives in the future, where the world is broken down into confederations.  Cinder lives in New Beijing.  Their king has contacted a deadly plague, and everyone is looking for a cure.  The main plot is focused around finding a cure.  All subplots eventually relate back to the deadly plague.  And that is where the twists begin.  Yes, twists.  The story is slightly predictable, (You know what is going to happen if you know he story of Cinderella) but that is okay.  Cinder has enough twist and turns, and what the…’s to keep it interesting.  The differences are what keep you involved.

Marissa Meyer writes a wonderful modern story from the structure of a classic.  That quote should be on the cover of the book! It is true!  Marissa Meyer creates a world with hover crafts and helpful androids, while reminding us why we love Cinderella in the first place… the romance!

Now the romance!  Cinder is a kind decent character who only wants to be shown a little respect.  When she meets the prince at the market, she is taken aback by how respectful he is to her.  But he doesn’t know the truth.  Cinder is convinced when he realizes the truth he will not be so respectful.  Maybe he won’t care, because he has fallen in love with her.  Cinder does not think she is worthy of anyone’s love.  By the time Cinder realizes her importance, it may be too late for her and the prince.  The evil queen may have gotten to her already.  Or can Cinder escape before anyone learns the truth?  Maybe, just maybe, Cinder doesn’t even know the truth!

At the very end of the book, the ends are tied together.  Well… Kinda.  This is just the beginning for Cinder.  There are three more novels yet to be released in the Lunar Chronicles.  I guess we will have to wait to find out if Cinder and the prince get their happy ending.

Instead of finishing the book for this week’s book review I decided to go see the Hunger Games movie.    And.  It.  Was.  Amazing!

But here’s the thing, I haven’t read the book…  I didn’t think I would like it.  Stupid, I know… What was I thinking?   Did I think everyone would love it but me?!?!

I didn’t even think I would like the movie, but went along with the crowd anyways.  And LOVED it!  I was skipping out of the theater.  I will definitely read the books now!  I want to know everything I can about the characters.  I am hooked.

It was absolutely amazing.  I loved every second of it.  I did not want it to end.

If you haven’t seen the movie (even if you haven’t read the book) you need to get off the computer and run to the theater to see The Hunger Games.  You will not be disappointed.

Last week I downloaded Arena One to my Android tablet.  Seriously?  That’s right; I read a book on my Android tablet.  Seriously. No need for a Kindle or a Nook.

Downloading an audio or EBook could not be easier.  The Tucker Free Library has just purchased a digital copy of Arena One as part of the Advantage Title program. It is only available at the Tucker Free Library as an EBook.  Advantage Titles means the EBooks has been purchased for only Tucker Free Library patrons.  Just for you!

As an Advantage Title, Arena One, can be downloaded to any devise.  Two formats are available; Kindle and EPub.  Some titles are only available in the EPub version, but do not worry.  Kindles are compatible with EPub formats.  If you have the newest Kindle, the Kindle Fire, you will have to download a special media player.  It will be worth it to then have your pick of free downloads.

Never downloaded a book before?  I swear to you it is easy.  This is my first EBook, and I will be downloading more.  Once you are signed on to NH Downloadable Books, with your library card number and your phone number as the password, you have your pick of free audio and EBooks.

http://nh.lib.overdrive.com/C19C58DC-1F38-4413-8565-E2084DA828F5/10/411/en/Default.htm

It is just like the library.  If a title is out, place the book on hold, and you will get an email once it has been returned.  At that time, a clock starts ticking.  The book will be available for you to download within 48 hours.  Once downloaded, it will stay on your device for two weeks. It will not take you two weeks to complete Arena One.

Arena One is a fast paced book, with action on every page.  The situations Brooke and Ben find themselves in are a little farfetched, but very exciting.  Their spirit and determination are what propel the story forward.

Since, Arena One is first book in the Survivor Trilogy it ends with quite the cliffhanger.  And seriously, I want to know what happens!?!?!

The year is 2112 and their world has ended.  There has been a nuclear war.  They have fled from New York City to the woods in upstate New York. Brooke, Bree, and Ben are Survivors.  Brooke is the older sister and is very protective of Bree.  Unknowingly, Ben and Brooke have been helping each other live in the hills.  Each survives due to their shared perseverance, and determination to live.

They live in the woods for years, until one day the Slaverunners capture Bree when Brooke is out hunting.  Brooke is determined to free Bree no matter what the cost.  Once captured, the survivors must fight in Arena One.  Arena One is a huge auditorium where captured individuals fight to the death.

Ben’s brother was also taken by the Slaverunners.  Now more than ever they must work together to reach their siblings in time.  Together, they learn about what is expected of the survivors at Arena One and what is really needed to save their siblings.  Once they think they have it all figured out, new rules and new obstacles are placed in their way.

I am looking forward to getting some answers and continuing the story in the next installment of the trilogy.  Until then, I will continue downloading EBooks, and wondering…

Seriously, What happens next?!?!

Over the past two days I have not been able to put down John Green’s new book The Fault in our Stars.  It was absolutely amazing.  Right from the first page I was hooked.  I wanted to know more about the characters immediately.  Hazel Grace Lancaster is the main character and narrator of the novel.  She is living with Thyroid cancer.  She meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group.  Augustus Waters “had a little touch of osteosarcoma.”  Instantly they have something in common.  With all that they have in common they are drastically different.  Through their differences, they learn not only about themselves but about life, the universe, and life ever after.

This small description does not due this book justice.  I will not be able to write an accurate summary of this novel.  It takes the reader to new depths.  It has everything you will ever need hidden inside its 313 pages.

It is a must read. 

Anything I write will sound cheesy, and cliché.  On the surface The Fault in our Stars is just that cliché and cheesy.  Augustus is overly in love with Hazel (“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you”) and she cannot imagine getting emotionally involved with anyone.  Hazel describes herself as a grenade.  She wants to wound as few as possible when her body decides to pull the pin.  This is a wonderful shift from the traditional ticking time bomb.  Each page contains fantastic metaphors.  If you are not careful you will miss their importance.  Their subtle meanings are what take The Fault in our Stars from great to amazing.

From the beginning the characters pull you in.  Every single character has a special moment and space within the book.  Each character is there for a specific reason, each share their own fears and desires.  Individually the characters are lacking, but together… Together they are wonderful.  The way they interact with each other; the devotion, commitment, and respect is astounding.

The plot is a little weak at times, and feels a little forced.  However, as soon as it starts to slow down it picks back up again with momentum.  The fantastic quotes and thought provoking metaphors wills you to keep reading.  As far as I’m concerned Augustus and Hazel could be anywhere doing anything and I would still love this book.  The character interactions and metaphors are the book.  The plot’s twists and turns are small bonuses.

Yes, this is a YA book, but everyone should read The Fault in our Stars.  This is not a cancer book.  It is about lives lived to the fullest. It is about not making excuses for the way you live or want to live your life.

The Fault in our Stars made me laugh.  It made me cry.  It made me think.   In a way it made me want to be a better person.   How often do you read a book that does that?!?!