Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Darkest Minds- Review

A heart wrenching story that reminds us that the people fear what they don't understand. Sad, but a fact that's been proven throughout history time and time again. This is another Dystopian type book where children have developed these unexplainable abilities. Abilities that can be dangerous and hard to control, abilities that some will take advantage of. This book tore my heart to piece from the very beginning when we experienced locked away in Thurmond, a place that had a frightening similarity to concentration camps. The children were kept separated, color coded, and locked in fear by the those who patrolled them. Ruby, our main character, can control others minds, she can see memories, and she can also erase them. In addition to all of this, she has no control over any of it. She finds she self on the run and connects with three other kids like her, "freaks". There on the run to find the one person who maybe be able to help them all accomplish their various goals.

*****Big spoilers*****

Off the bat, I love Dystopian books, the genre seems to get a lot of bad press because some readers feel like the books are always about a grim future and a corrupt government. It's never bothered me because I feel that one turns to a certain genre because they know to expect certain things in the material. You don't read a romance novel for death, destruction, and despair, you read it for mushy love. That being said, this book did have a grim future and a corrupt government, however most of the feud here, was amongst the people who should have been on the same side. The Children's League in theory was a great idea, but it was really just a group of people taking advantage of these kids and their abilities. East River is run by someone who's worse than the Children's League because he slips into their minds and forces them to obey him. Lets not even start with the huge amount of debt, corruption, and ruin that the country as fallen into. It's a small, yet interesting change.

"Use the damn map," Chubs groused behind him.
"I can figure it out without it," Liam insisted. He kept swiveling his head back and forth, like he expected someone to appear and guide him in the right direction with road flares and fanfare.
Five minutes later, the map was spread over the steering wheel, and Chubs was gloating in the backseat."
(direct quote from Bracken's Darkest Minds).

Need I say more about Bracken's writing. I was amused.

Last we address our characters. Ruby, the girl who can't control her abilities. I liked her, I truly did but it was kind of hard to connect with her. I'm not sure if it was because of me, or what. I most enjoy reading about the strong, fearless, and rebellious female characters. I'm not the type of person who submits and gives in easily, so I gravitate toward characters who are similar to me. Ruby was not that person for a large part of the book, so that lack of connect may be my fault. I loved Zu, she was adorable and he story touched my heart. I can't wait to read her novella In Time. Chubs is the kid that a lot of large groups of friends have within their midst, smart, opinionated, and sadly, someone who is constantly overlooked. I thought he was a great character, and a male character that we don't see in a lot of book. With male characters such as Chubs, there is always some type of dramatic change, and he obtains lot of friends, and people magically begin to respect him, and he's almost a totally different character but manages to obtain "the same great qualities that make him, him" I hate when that happens.  Finally, Liam. The romantic girly girl in me loves him. He's the typical wounded soul who only wants to save an protect people. The difference is, he knows it and I think that makes all the difference. Plus he says things like "Did you know ... you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forgot to breathe?" It was hard for me to love Ruby at first, but I had no problems with Liam. 

Because these characters sort of grew on me, I look forward to book 2. 

As a whole I think I would give this book a 3.5,  I can feel a 5 brewing in Never Fade though,

Monday, August 26, 2013


I missed ALA, and Book expo, I even missed CLA (Connecticut Library Association) meeting, but I already have my room and keynote tickets ready for YALL Fest. I don't even care that I have to drive to South Carolina to make all of this happen. YALL Fest is a young adult book festival that's held in Charleston.

There will probably be a mix of reviews, and gripes about school because my classes start today (enter scary music here), and I have a ton of reading to do to prep for meeting the authors who are going to be a YALL Fest. Some of the authors who will be there Veronica Roth, David Levithan, Ellen Hopkins, Marie Lu, Alyson Noel and more. The best part about all of this, is that the event itself is free! For more info, click here. Salvation awaits.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Charm and Strange- Review

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

***Spoilers Ahead***

Well, I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book. It had some interesting elements but I have to say that it wasn't one of my favorites. The book is about a boy named Win/Drew who has been sent away to boarding school. Win is an increadible aloof character. We are never told why he was sent away to the boarding school, but we're lead to believe that it has something to do with a fight that he got into after a lost tennis match (he cracked the kids skull). Win is secretive, unemotional, and the book almost works too hard to create all of these questions that the reader wants answered. I prefer books that don't force it so much.

The chapters alternate between present Win, and Drew (Win as a ten year old boy his full name is Andrew Winston). I found myself more interested in Drew he was a kid who cracked under pressure of a tennis match and started down a road of anger and violence the sporadically appeared throughout his time as a child. Adult Win, while he's being secretive, clearly alludes to the fact that he's a werewolf awaiting the change. Knowing this, we watch Drew as a child and pick up clues to his impending change as well. There are nightmare, he's drawn to the moon, he's incredibly clingy and always wants to be near his older brother Kieth. The random bursts of range also seem to support he idea that this kid is destined to turn into a werewolf.

While we're dealing with this mystery we also know from thew chapters with Win that his siblings are dead (and actually I thought his whole family was gone).

I guess at the end of the day it was a good story with a nice twist at the end (although I did kind of guess it, but this I forgot with all of the werewolf business).

****BIG SPOILER*****

So I had my suspicions that the father was sexually abusing Drew and Keith. There was a scene where Drew had a flash back to saying this like "no" and being told not to tell something. Then there was the scene where his dad takes off his clothes. The book kind of covers it with more the werewolf thoughts, but I had my feelings. The abuse apparently lead to a suicide pact between the three siblings  and Drew was the only one who didn't jump. In the end of the book Win snaps and we learn about his past. We also learn that there were never werewolves. It was a thought and idea that Drew made up to escape his fathers abuse. He then ran with it after changing his mind during the suicide pact that he made with his older brother and younger sister (I also have a hard time with the fact that a 7 year old was able to enter a suicide pact).

The ending was a surprise, but it took me three times as long to read this book because it just didn't hold my attention. I would give it a 2.5 to 3 out of 5.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Campfire Nights

Fall is almost here, huzzah!! One of the best aspects of Fall is Halloween, there are more built in program to that holiday than any one person can manage. I may have mentioned it before, but my direct wants to begin something annual for the holiday (much like our Holiday/Christmas party). This year we're experimenting with Campfire nights and I finally know what I want to incorporate into the event.

Because we're holding the event on a weekday afternoon, we'll begin the afternoon with roasting hotdogs, and making smores over the fire pit that we'll have. I also want to have a table set up with hot cider, and coco, as well as other easy to eat food such as sandwiches, and chips. We want to have bobbing for apples as well as and general socializing. All of that will go on for about a half hour to an hour, the thought process is to allow and stragglers to arrive before the main event.

To incorporate creativity, imagination, we're going to have a good old fashioned ghost story. I want to let as many kids participate as possible so before hand I'm going to print out a list of Halloween words and phrases such as "Abandoned house" "cemetery" "witch" "it grabbed my leg" and more. The words and phrases will all be dropped into a jar and passed around to the circle to everyone can pick from the jar. The first person begins the story, making sure to find a way to incorporate what you have on the paper in your hand into the story. I've done exercises like this before and I have really high hopes for it this year too.

Halloween can't get here fast enough.

Side note- We're looking at ages 12 and up for this program.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Program- Review

The Program (The Program, #1)
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

I'm not sure what to say about this book. I loved it, hands down, I read the book in one day. I was engrossed, I was frustrated, I was heartbroken, I was confused, and a million other feelings that I can't even think of right now.

I have to take this book in steps so lets talk about what he program is, apparently the program is a treatment facility that erases all memories that lead to your depression, basically all your left with are happy childhood memories of riding on daddy's shoulders to get ice cream and other childhood randomness, everything after puberty is pretty much gone.

Next, in this book, suicide is some type of epidemic and apparently contagious, teens are literally taking their own lives left and right. When reading the back of the book I thought, why, one theory mentioned, was that it had to do with how many pills, and antidepressants were given to past generations, their children are suffering the consequences, then I though that it might be like the mob effect, it's easier to do something that everyone else is doing. Then I looked at the world these characters were living in. Siblings were dying, parents, were fighting, kids were dragged kicking and screaming from a room, then it's occupants were to carry on with life as if nothing happened. Any sign of emotions that stray to far from content with life could result in the loss of your memories. A world like that is enough to make anyone want to craw into a dark corner.

SPOILER (sort of)

I honestly didn't think that Sloane would be sent to the program when I read the synopsis of this book, but I'm glad that she was, and that we, as readers were able to learn how a facility made up of every day humans could strip someones memories. I honestly thought the pills were ingenious (in a scary kind of way). We were able to watch as Sloane's most precious memories were stripped from her slowly and almost without her noticing. I found myself thinking back to random points of my life to see if I could remember all of the details of moments and events, sometimes I couldn't.

The meeting of James and Sloane... I liked it, yes it would be easy to make jokes about star crossed lovers but what I saw in the two of them was enough to push me into reading this book until 3am. While Sloane was in the program we learned a lot about her and James, we learned that James was adamant to not fall for Sloane and sometimes treated her poorly to push her away, he would then find ways to be near her again driving her insane with his hot and cold actions. We learned how James came to give Sloane her cherished purple heart ring and we were able to watch their relationship grow as the program erased these memories from her mind. I liked how despite the fact their neither had memories of the other, they were able to almost repeat the relationship. James sent hot and cold text messages, and gave her another heart ring in the same fashion that he presented her with the first one. Cheesy, maybe, but I like it. A person who has amnesia may still be able to play an instrument or speak in another language, even though they don't know how they learned the skill, it just feels right, and they go with it. The same thing happened with James and Sloane, they don't remember that they loved each other at one point, but their drawn to each other anyway. This seems like a story of hope as much as government interference (because that's always a problem).

There are a million more things to say but I can't even get into it all right now. I had no idea that this would be a series until I got to the end, they might as well have printed TO BE CONTINUED in giant block letters, I was incredibly frustrated but I am also intrigued, is the plague spreading to adults, will the government step in, will Sloane get her memories back, Realm (need I say more).

At the end of the day, I like this book and I have high hopes from what comes after. I consider this book and opener, an outline of this world that Suzanne Young has created. I'll bet that in the next book things take an even bigger turn.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review- Scarlet

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner
. (

This book is a home run hands down. I can't say too much without ruining part of Cinder, but this book picks up right where Cinder left off alternating chapters between Cinder and her continuing story and the background, as well as introducing us to Scarlet (A.K.A. Little Red Riding hood).

In Scarlet's story her grandmother had gone missing from their farm, the police have closed the case but Scarlet is convinced that something bad has happened to her, which is confirmed when Scarlet's estranged father shows up saying that bother he ans Scarlet's grandmother were kidnapped by guys with letter and number tattoos on their arms and they they're looking for information. Scarlet meets a street fighter called Wolf (haha, I loved it), who agres to help Scarlet find her grandmother.

I can't give away too much detail but I loved this book, I loved the cross over between story we all heard as children along with the story that Marissa Meyer has created. Scarlet is a red headed 19 year old, often seen in a red hooded sweatshirt (get it!!), who meets a street fighter named Wolf. The first time Scarlet sees Wolf in action, he is fighting a terrifying looking guy nick named The Hunter. I found all of those parodies hilarious. Despite the small parodies the story was one of a kind seamlessly weaving together Cinder and Scarlet's stories setting up the next book in the Lunar Chronicles called Cress.

Three guesses from the cover which fairy tale character it's going to be about.

Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3)