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Zombies + Pizza = A pretty decent weekend!

So this weekend I found myself with a little down time in the evening.  The other half was wrapped up in course work, so of course I had to be super studious by his side!  And by super studious I mean reading a whole bunch of amazing and incredible books.  Mine have fewer diagrams of human bodies, but they have way more magic and unexplained phenomena.  All the hard work of reading led to a brief pizza break, a viewing of a truly epic horror film, and then more reading!  All in all, a truly satisfying October weekend.

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield had me at zombies.  Though in all honesty it was not the zombies that kept me reading.  Instead, it was the amazing characters and the awesome adventure they went through.  Which more than made up for the fact that the zombies in this book are very much in the background.  Hailey is a sixteen year old girl with the amazing ability to heal.  This power is hers because she descends from the Banished, who came to America from Ireland centuries ago.  Healing, however, is not her only power, that would be too simple.  Hailey can also create zombies, but only if she tries to heal someone when it is too late.  She is finally getting a chance at a normal life, after surviving some unimaginable hardships she finally has a home with her Aunt Prairie and little brother Chubs.  That is all shattered after a secret call to her secret boyfriend Kaz.  Someone tapped the line.  Someone knows where she is living.  And that someone just kidnaped her aunt and brother.  Hailey and Kaz go on a cross-country journey to save their loved ones and protect the Banished from mysterious forces who would exploit them.  They can only hope they’re not too late.

Fantastic plot, wonderful concept and some beautifully created characters.  Littlefield gives herself a solid base on which to make crazy things happen in Unforsaken, and I loved every minute of it.  The powers that Hailey and her family have are understated in the best way.  They never discover an ability that can magically save the day, they have to rely on their wits and the power they already have and have mastered.  The action was superb.  All too often a girl can be overshadowed in a story like this by her oh so hunky boyfriend.  While Kaz does sound oh so hunky, he never becomes the main action guy.  He and Hailey are truly equals in all of the action scenes and plotting and that makes it wonderful to read.  They work so well as a team that I had no trouble believing that two sixteen year olds could take down this mysterious and evil corporation.  The back story is given to the reader in wonderful little hints and subtle remembering of the past.  Never feels out of place, never feels forced and it always is relevant to what is going on at that point in the story.  Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on its companion title!

I’m forgetful, but not to this extent!

So I picked up a book I would have never in a million years chosen to read, and decided to give it a shot.  I went through a few basic stages that one goes through when reading a new book they are not sure about.  First there was disgust; I could not believe I was reading this book that was written in such a convoluted way.  The second was despair, this book would never end!  After disgust came grudging respect, the plot was picking up and things were coming together, I hated life a little bit less.  Lastly was acceptance and love.  While I may have wanted to throw the book across the room when I started, by the end I was so involved in reading it I would not have heard if someone had thrown my entire book collection across the room.

The book that had me so emotionally confused was As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott.  Poor Ava wakes up in a room she doesn’t recognize, surrounded by people she doesn’t recognize, being told who she is and that everything will be okay.  She just has a minor case of memory loss.  Ava is convinced that something isn’t right; she remembers nothing about the world she lives in, but keeps having flashbacks to a world she feels is where she belongs.  A world filled with a nasty government, secret agencies that spy on you, and Morgan.  All of these memories jumble together with impressions of people she vaguely remembers, she knows her friends, but in a very different world then the one she lives in.  Is she really the Ava that everyone says she is?  Or is there another world out there, one in which she truly belongs?

This book did not impress me at first.  The book is written from Ava’s point of view, so for the first few chapters as she is struggling with what is happening to her, you are struggling right alongside her.  You keep waiting for the explanation that will make everything clear, that will let you truly grasp what is going on in this book.  Fortunately, as Ava figures things out, what has happened to her becomes clearer, the writing style fleshes itself out, and just like Ava is gaining balance in her world, the writing of the book gains balance as well.  Elizabeth Scott does a good job of separating what is happening in the world where Ava is and the world where she remembers being.  The characterization of the people in the different worlds is done wonderfully and helps to add to Ava’s confusion, as well as helping her solve some problems she is facing.  This is a book that I feel I am going to have to revisit, just because there is so much happening under the surface that I feel like things were explained to me and I completely missed them when I was caught up in the action of the book.  Overall, As I Wake is a wonderful work and I hope you come to the Tucker Free Library to check it out for yourself!

Seven and Sweets all around!

This was a weekend of epic reading.  I wish I had been reading these books while punching a shark.  Or jumping out of a flaming dirigible.  Or building a log cabin out of toothpicks and unicorn tears.  But alas, I read these books on my couch, which is epically awesome in its own way, but nowhere near as cool as a couch made out of live badgers.  Then again, I cannot imagine a live badger couch would be very comfortable.  Or conducive to reading.  Thankfully my couch is, and I therefore spent some quality time reading The Power of Six and the haunting Sweetly.

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore is the long awaited sequel to the thrilling I Am Number Four.  This is a continuation of Four, Sam and Six’s adventures, with the added bonus of number Seven!  While at times I found I Am Number Four to be slow and tedious, I never felt that way with the sequel.  Talk about fast paced and riveting.  The constant switch between Four and Seven, noted by slight but noticeable text changes, was well executed. We go easily from chapter to chapter alternating between Four and Seven, following two stories at once.  You never feel lost or out of place, and everything flows together very naturally.  When it comes time for the separate stories to merge, it is such an awesome back and forth that you just do not want to put the book down.  I loved all the action in the sequel, most of the set up was taken care of in the first book, so we can really get into the alien slaying action.  Now questions are answered in this book, and in a very satisfying manor.  Things that could be ridiculous are handled in a wonderfully believable way as well, not once was I left feeling like the author pulled an answer out of thin air just to appease me.  While the first book left me a little wanting, the sequel has only left me wanting more.  You can trust that this librarian will be on the edge of her seat until Mr. Lore deems it time to release the next book.

I love fairy tales.  I love fairy tale retellings.  I have never had a retelling haunt my dreams quite like Sweetly by Jackson Pearce.  Seriously, this book made me wake up in the middle of the night panicking, and I don’t even have a ton of woods around me.  The writing is wonderful and descriptive, and I love the heroine.  You all know how rare it is for me to love a heroine.  They really need to be awesome to win my respect and Jackson Pearce has written an extremely awesome heroine.   Sweetly is the story of Ansel and Gretchen, a brother and sister who lost Gretchen’s twin one fateful day in the woods.  After their mother died and father remarried, they knew their step mother held no love for them.  This was confirmed when she kicked them out of the house the moment that Gretchen turned 18.  Glad to be able to get away from the forests of Washington which haunted them, the siblings drove as far away as humanly possible.  All the way to South Carolina in fact.  It may have been bad luck, or fate, that made their car break down in the middle of a washed up town.  Things look up when the pretty woman who runs the local candy shop lets them stay with her in exchange for doing some work around the house.  While Ansel is trying to impress the pretty Sophia, Gretchen is being draw to Samuel, a loner who seems to know more about what is happening in the woods around town that anyone cares to know.  What is going bump in the woods at night?  And does Gretchen really want to find out?

 

No one finds it weird when a stranger kisses you awake? Really?

As a fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty always weirded me out.  A strange guy climbs into my bedroom and wakes me up with a kiss?  After which I decide to run away with him and live happily ever after?  No way.  I would have some questions for this guy.  How long exactly have you been watching me sleep?  Who told you about me?  Did you know the kiss was going to wake me up, or are you just a perv?  Why did you kiss a girl who hasn’t brushed her teeth or bathed in 100 years?  Just basic things I would need to know before running off with my supposed hero to his castle.  When it came to my attention that there was a modern retelling of the story, I was of course skeptical.  I really could not see how you could modernize a tale that felt so thoroughly stuck in the past.  Lo and behold it is possible, but with a spin that one would never expect.

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is the modern retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale with a wonderful twist.  Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep of sixty-two years, locked away in a chemically induced slumber in a stasis tube.  Talk about an awesome premise for a fairy tale retelling.  She slept through events that killed millions and radically altered the world in which she now lives.  In this strange new world, she is the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire.  Because in this brave new world, we have gone and colonized other planets and now freely roam all over the galaxy.  Most people in this new world don’t know what to do with Rosalinda, and some heads of the corporation would rather she disappear.  Now Rosalinda has to navigate this new world with the help of her savior, Bren, and a unique individual by the name of Otto.  Will she ever figure out how to fit in, or will the forces that kept her in stasis stop at nothing to have her back?

Goths and Magicians took over my weekend

Yay!  A new book review!  I have been anxiously waiting for a new shipment of YA books to come in, so when they finally did I tried hard not to just pounce on them and scurry away to read them.  Instead, I elegantly walked down to my bat cave and then devoured them like a madwoman.  Double lucky for me, one of the books is by one of my all-time favorite authors.  The other one I have chosen to review was picked at random when I closed my eyes and grabbed.  Enjoy!

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin was the biggest surprise of the summer for me.  I have never been so taken by surprise as I was by this book.  Aggie Winchester is a junior in high school, the principal’s daughter, and is very much a gothic outsider.  Ever since she was bullied her freshman year, she has depended on her goth friend Sylvia to protect her from the nasty cheerleaders.  But now Sylvia is pregnant and the father is one of the most popular boys in school.  Not that anyone else knows that he is the father.  With Sylvia becoming more and more withdrawn, Aggie is wondering who she really is, and if she is really happy.  Add in a dash of bass fishing, some suspicious ballot box action, and a sexually demanding ex-boyfriend, and life as Aggie knows it is falling down around her.

 

Switching from goths to magicians is no easy feat, and I have no clever segue.  Umm…both books have teenage girls!  Now that the clever segue is out of the way, I can continue telling you about the fabulous Across the Great Barrier by the wonderful Patricia C. Wrede.  Wrede is the woman who wrote the book that shaped a vast majority of my young life.  Many a day was spent trying to be more like Princess Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons and I am better for it.  I was overjoyed to see the Wrede has once again written a heroine that I can get behind, strong, with a good amount of humility, a little magic but not too super special and just the right hint of bravery.  Eff is the thirteenth daughter who is not sure just what she wants to do in life.  Her twin brother Lan, the seventh son of a seventh son, thinks she should be going off to college and honing her magical skills.  With Eff on the fence about what she wants to do with her life, she decides to take on more responsibilities at the college menagerie.  While working there, a Professor asks her to go a journey west, out into the settlements, where animals, both natural and wild, roam free.  When Eff makes a discovery that could shake the settlement of the unknown west to its core, what is the free world going to do?

Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing…

To state the obvious, it’s summer.  Time to don the shades, gas up the vehicle and drive off into the great wide open.  Or maybe not.  So you can’t road trip this summer, eh?  So you’re stuck at home, watching paint dry and grass grow?  And you’re bored you say?! Bored?!  How can you be bored?!  You have the LIBRARY at your disposal!  We are full of one thing and one thing only, entertainment!  So this summer, instead of just laying outside talking about all the things you could be doing but aren’t, grab a few tomes from the Tucker Free and read.  Read about murder and love and parties and road trips and fights and heartache and triumph and zombies.  Then plan.  And when the time comes and your adventure begins, you have some practical, or not so practical, bookish advice to follow!  While others complained, you sought to better yourself through books, and trust me, when someone says, “I know what to do, I read it in a book!”  others listen.  To start you off on your summer knowledge quest (doesn’t that sound fancy!?), I present for your reading enjoyment, Pretty Bad Things.

 

Pretty Bad Things is the debut book of one Ms. C.J. Skuse.  She loves Gummi Bears (does not specify whether candy or cartoon) and hates carnivals.  This puts her on pretty solid ground with me, though I wish she would clarify her stance on zombies.  She writes of the tale of Paisley and Beau, whose lives to this point have been filled with great woe (I promise the rest of this review will not rhyme.)  Their mom was an abusive alcoholic and their dad robbed a hotel at gunpoint and was put in jail.  The robbery happened around the time that their mom died of an overdose and they were wandering around the woods looking for him.  So their wicked, and I mean wicked, Grandmother takes them in and milks their fame for all its worth.  Paisley and Beau work the circuit of TV shows and endorsements until their Grandmother has a nice lump sum of money to spend on her Botox and Prada.  Paisley becomes temperamental and gets shipped from boarding school to boarding school.  Beau is wasting away in the prison of a house that is their Grandmother’s.  That is until Beau finds a letter one day.  A letter from their father, recently released and waiting in Nevada.  Now Paisley and Beau just need to be able to figure out exactly where he is and how to get to him.  It looks like their best option might just be getting back into the public eye, only this time in a less legal fashion.

Borrow it.  Read it.  Love it.  Borrow it again.  Just don’t go to Vegas and rob a store.  Really.  I’m not going to bail you out.  Again.

So not only can you see dead people, you can talk to them too? And bring them back to life!? I’m gonna go stand over here…

So it is new book time once again!  My weekend was a jumble of reading and breaking furniture and then more reading!  If I had the powers over furniture that Kate Winters has over the dead, you can bet that all my broken furniture would have been resurrected this weekend instead of being haphazardly piled in a corner.

Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw is the story of Kate Winters, a fifteen year old girl who just wants to work in her uncle’s bookstore and not get involved in war.  Her dreams are soon shattered when the wardens descended, taking all the people from her small town of Morvane.  But they are not just drafting people from towns at random, they are looking of someone.  Someone who can raise the dead. Someone like Kate, who just brought a blackbird back to life.  Now Kate is the prisoner of the toughest warden of all, Silas.  He has some sort of plan for her; Kate just is not sure what.  She is sure of two things: firstly, that she has to save her uncle from a life of slavery; and secondly, that her old friend Edgar is more than he seems.  Kate’s entire existence is coming apart before her eyes; can she build it back up and come to terms with her new powers before it is too late?

Shadowcry was an amazing first from Ms. Burtenshaw, I was duly impressed.  The relationship between Kate and Silas was one of the highlights of the book and was touchingly realistic.  In fact, Ms. Burtenshaw’s strength is in developing complex relationships between characters and making them all flow together.  There are many characters in this book, and they are all pretty much thrown at you, no time to get adjusted.  It is through dialogue and interaction that you really learn about them.  The scenes where Kate goes into other peoples’ memories is pretty impressive as well.  Normally I am very anti explanations via some sort of convenient ability to see the past, read minds, etc.  The way this book treats them, however, does not annoy me as much as I thought it would.  They are not leaned upon or used as a crutch; they are just part of the overall story.  Shadowcry is a book that I devoured quite quickly and I would love to visit Kate Winter’s world again.