ARC Review: A Bold and Dangerous Family – Spoiler Free 🇮🇹 🔫 👩

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss for allowing me to review.

A bold and dangerous familyA Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism

Expected Publication October 3, 2017
Non-Fiction, 20th Century History
Nominated for The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Longlist
“The acclaimed author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets delivers the next chapter in “The Resistance Quartet”: the astonishing story of the aristocratic Italian family who stood up to Mussolini’s fascism, and whose efforts helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars—a profile in courage that remains relevant today.”
Caroline Moorehead uses letters, family interviews, and photographs to tell the story of the Rosselli family and their courageous actions during the first three decades of the 20th Century. Amelia, a girl who grew up in Venice, triumphed through many hardships to raise her three sons who grew up to become extremely involved in Italian politics. They refused to allow Mussolini and his squaddristi to deter them from standing up to fascism, which ultimately had an enormous impact on Italian history.
Amelia was born in Venice January 1870. She had an extremely lonely and tough childhood. After her father’s death Amelia moved to Rome with her mother when she was 15. She met her future husband Giuseppe Rosselli in Rome when she was 19. She gave birth to her son Aldo in 1895, Carlo in 1899, and her third son Sabatino (Nello) in 1900. In 1903 Amelia moved to Florence with her sons after Giuseppe and Amelia separated. She spent her time writing poems, short stories, and articles for magazines. As an extremely vigilant mother she was sometimes perceived as harsh. In 1911 Giuseppe fell ill, Amelia went to look after him until his death later that year.
There was incredible political tension in Florence at this time. Amelia became extremely involved with fighting for women’s rights, in particular education. In May 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, and Amelia’s son Aldo left to join the war. Sadly he died and she opened a home for children of soldiers who had no mothers and named it after her son, La Casina di Aldo. Her other sons Carlo and Nello went to war, thankfully both returned safely in 1920.
Benito Mussolini took advantage of a broken Italy, created the Fascist Party in 1919, and a military unit called “The Black Shirts” to silence anti-fascists like the Rosselli brothers. Moorehead provides a detailed account of the action-reaction relationship between Mussolini and the Rosselli family over the next two decades. I had never heard of the Rosselli family before reading this book, and am grateful to have gained that knowledge.
My favourite part of the book was reading about Amelia. The book started with her being the star of the story, but as her sons become more involved with politics her thoughts and actions become less visible. This book is obviously well-researched, and it should have interested someone with a minor in history, but I was often bored and feel like it would have been better if useless information was omitted. I debated not finishing this book, which is something I don’t do very often (there are only maybe 2 or 3 books that I started and haven’t finished). It was the title that drew my attention and made me think this would be an exciting historical account of a “dangerous” family, but in actuality it’s extremely dry and academic.
That being said, I do feel like there are many readers who would love to learn more about the Rosselli family and their impact on Italian history. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy WWI and WWII history, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Italian political history during that time period.

 

Caroline Moorehead.JPG
“Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of Village of Secrets, A Train in Winter, and Human Cargo: A Journey Among the Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer, Moorehead has also written for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The Times, and The Independent. She lives in London and Italy.”
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The Dream Thieves: Book Review ~ Spoiler-Free

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater is the second book of The Raven Cycle series. After reading The Raven Boys in August I immediately put a hold on the second book at the library. This is a fantastically written young adult fantasy series featuring a group of friends trying to find the Glendower, learning more about themselves and each other in the process.

Hardcover 439 pages

Published: September 2013 by Scholastic Press

If you have not read The Raven Boys DO NOT READ this review – consider yourself warned – there may be spoilers!

At the very beginning of The Dream Thieves we learn Ronan Lynch has a secret. He’s a dream thief. He can dream of an object and bring it back to real life when he wakes.

Ronan’s friend Adam has a secret too. It’s been one month since Adam sacrificed himself to Cabeswater in an attempt to wake the ley line which would lead them to the Glendower. Ever since that sacrifice he’s been feeling strange, and seeing weird images. “He had a strange, disconcerting feeling that he couldn’t trust his senses. Like he was tasting an image or smelling a feeling or touching a sound.” (p.67) Adam desperately wants to be the one to wake Glendower so he can ask the King to fix his life.

Adam’s girlfriend Blue also has a few secrets. Blue hasn’t told Adam the real reason why she won’t kiss him. It has been predicted that if she kisses her true love then her true love will die. She also hasn’t told their friend Gansey that the ghosts seen on St. Mark’s Eve will die within the next 12 months. Gansey’s spirit was seen that evening – it was the first and only time she’s ever seen a spirit. She wants to help Gansey find the Glendower in hopes that the King will save him.

Blue’s mother Maura has secrets too. She won’t tell Blue who her father is. She tells Blue she has potential, but never what that potential could mean.

Ronan, Adam, Blue, Gansey, and their dead friend Noah, team up with Blue’s mother Maura, Blue’s older cousin Orla, and Maura’s psychic best friends Persephone and Calla to try to find the ley lines so they can wake Glendower. They aren’t the only ones looking for magic in Henrietta, Virginia.

The Gray Man is a hitman hired by Dr. Colin Greenmantle to find the Greywaren, a relic that allows the owner to take objects out of dreams. “For quite a long time now, the Gray Man has been hunting for things that couldn’t be found, couldn’t be bought, couldn’t be acquired, and his instincts were telling him that the Greywaren was not a piece that was going to come quickly.”

Joseph Kavinsky is a fellow student with a horrible attitude problem. He loves to push Ronan’s buttons and is constantly harassing Ronan and his crew, flaunting his money and drag racing his seemingly never-ending identical Mitsubishi cars. What is his problem? Why is he obsessed with Ronan?

My favorite character is Persephone…she was also my fav in the first book The Raven Boys. I would love to read more about her past, her childhood, her future. I think she’s fascinating.

I love the chapter length and flow from one chapter to the next. The character development is outstanding. I’m emotionally attached to many of the main characters, and if anything happens to them I WILL CRY. The pace is perfect, naturally speeding up as we go along, helping to build up to the climax. There were times I had to remind myself to breathe.

Let’s talk about prologues. Sometimes prologues are great, and necessary. Sometimes prologues are not necessary. I feel like the prologue in The Dream Thieves falls into the second group. It didn’t supply anything important that the reader needed to know upfront. It could have easily been included within the story and not have interrupted the flow.

There are some scenes, and even characters, in this story which could have been completely left out. I won’t name anything in particular – Spoilers – just throwing it out there to explain why I didn’t give this read five stars.

For me The Dream Thieves is almost the perfect YA novel. It’s so very, very, very close. I’m looking forward to reading the third book Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

My Rating 4.5/5

 

 

About the Author

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads Photo)

“New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.”

 

Check out the Author’s Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glow by Megan E. Bryant Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Glow.jpg

Glow is a young adult novel by Megan E. Bryant that sheds light on a dark time in American history. Julie (Jubilee) Chase, a high school graduate who was looking forward to attending College only to have it postponed due to her mother’s debt issues. When the bank was about to foreclose on their mortgage, Julie cashed out her college fund to buy the house. She harbors resentment towards her mother for having to lose her college fund, putting her dreams on hold, while her mom seems to not be bothering to find a job. Julie’s friend Lauren is from a well-to-do family and is off to college leaving Julie behind. This creates a rift between the two, bringing the worst out of the both of them. Attempting to salvage their friendship they head off for a fun day of shopping (Lauren’s idea), and Julie buys a painting at Lost and Found consignment store. When darkness blankets Julie’s room the painting reveals a glowing secret artwork that ignites her curiosity. She becomes obsessed with finding more paintings by the same artist, and attempts to re-create the technique. Julie has no idea that the technique involves the “radium girls” who unknowingly poisoned themselves while painting numbers on watch dials used to help soldiers see the time more accurately during WWI.

Bryant uses fictional characters inspired by real history to tell the story of the “radium girls.” The perspective shifts back and forth from Lydia in 1917-1918 to Julie in modern time. We hear Lydia’s story from letters she writes to her beloved Walter who has gone off to war. Lydia has an incredible weight upon her shoulders at 16 years old. Her older sister Liza helps Lydia get a job at ARC painting watch dials with a magical glowing substance. The same magical powder used to make the paint is also sold as a cure for practically all ailments.

While running an errand at the local college Julie meets Luke (Lucien), a chemistry student  working at the college over the summer. Their friendship evolves as he helps her figure out how to create the glow-in-the-dark paint.

Through Julie’s research and Lydia’s letters we learn the heart-wrenching story of the Grayson sisters. There are parts of the story which are descriptive and vivid. I will admit that I cried twice while reading this page-turner.

I do have a couple of complaints. For one, why is Julie friends with Lauren? Lauren is selfish, stubborn, and rude. I feel like the tension between Lauren and Julie was unnecessary to the plot.

I also find it strange that Julie didn’t suspect the glow-in-the-dark paint used on the vintage artwork. She researched how to create the paint, yet somehow didn’t stumble across the possibility of radioactive ingredients.

There were a couple of times where the dialogue felt a bit clunky, and I also think Lydia’s letters are a little unbelievable. I don’t know anyone who writes complete back-and-forth dialogue while recounting an event in a letter.

Even though a couple small areas were bothersome, this is an extremely important story to write, to read, and to share. Glow is an incredible story that sheds light on the hideous greed of some companies who put profit above health, giving opportunity for brave people to sacrifice, and fight for what’s right.

Expected Publication: September 1st, 2017

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you Brandi from Flutter Communications, the publisher, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

The Goblin Market poem is mentioned in the story, so of course I had to find it and read it 🙂

Goblin Market Poem

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Radium_Corporation
“The United States Radium Corporation was a company, most notorious for its operations between the years 1917 to 1926 in Orange, New Jersey, in the United States that led to stronger worker protection laws. After initial success in developing a glow-in-the-dark radioactive paint, the company was subject to several lawsuits in the late 1920s in the wake of severe illnesses and deaths of workers (the Radium Girls) who had ingested radioactive material. The workers had been told that the paint was harmless.[1] During World War I and World War II, the company produced luminous watches and gauges for the United States Army for use by soldiers.

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower Book #2) By Stephen King #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Drawing of the ThreeWhile pursuing his quest for the Dark Tower through a world that is a nightmarishly distorted mirror image of our own, Roland is drawn through a mysterious door that brings him into contemporary America.

Here he links forces with the defiant young Eddie Dean, and with the beautiful, brilliant, and brave Odetta Holmes, in a savage struggle against underworld evil and otherworldly enemies.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5094.The_Drawing_of_the_Three

Fiction: Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi

First Published May 1987

A newer edition was published August 2003

Stephen King

 

If you haven’t heard of Stephen King yet then you must have been living under a rock.

http://www.stephenking.com

 

 

 

 

The Drawing of the Three begins with Roland, the Gunslinger, on a beach not long after the man in black had predicted Roland’s future with tarot cards. The cards showed a man called The Prisoner, a woman called The Lady of Shadows, and Death. A 4-foot-long lobster-like creature with eyes on stalks attacks Roland. Roland’s bullets were soaked by the tide as he was sleeping and he’s unable to defend himself against the attack. The lobster creature bit off Roland’s first and second fingers, then took a chunk out of his calf and his toe. Roland’s injuries are severe and infection is spreading. He decides to walk North, and after three hours comes across a door, made of ironwood, with two words written on it “The Prisoner”. He looks through the door and finds himself looking through the window of a plane. It takes Roland awhile to figure it out, but he finally realizes he’s looking through the eyes of The Prisoner, Eddie Dean. Eddie is an addict attempting to smuggle cocaine into America.

The flight attendant, Jane, brings Eddie a “tooter-fish” (tuna) sandwich and notices that his eye color has changed. Her training taught her to pay attention to strange things, no matter how small they may seem. She decides to keep a close eye on Eddie. Roland manages to bring the sandwich back through the door to his body lying on the beach.

Before landing Jane notices Eddie’s eyes had changed back to hazel. She fills a thermos with hot coffee, alerts her coworker Suzy that there may be a problem, then sits down to watch Eddie. If he whips out a gun or a bomb she’ll throw the hot coffee on him. Suzy catches a glimpse of Eddie’s cocaine packaged taped around his ribs when he bends over to pick up a paper. The Gunslinger sees Suzy’s face and knows what she’s discovered. Roland is hoping Eddie will be able to get medicine for Roland’s infection, but the only way to do that is if Eddie can get through customs without being caught with drugs. Roland needs to make this happen so he can continue his journey to The Dark Tower.

I admire how King writes characters in such a realistic way. The setting and descriptions make you feel like you are right there with them. Holding your breath when things get intense, laughing when something funny happens, crying when there is sadness. The Drawing of the Three is a roller-coaster ride of emotions. My favorite character is most definitely Odetta, The Lady of the Shadows. I don’t want to say too much about her because it will be better for you to learn about her through the story. At 463 pages it seems like a hefty read, but the short sections within chapter inspire you to keep reading – just one more, just one more. I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this story.

I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16 (profanity, graphic descriptions, violence, sex) who are fans of stories about hope, fighting inner demons, unlikely friendships, trust, and justice.

 

 

The Raven Boys By Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review #SpoilerFree

The Raven Boys

Published 2012 by Scholastic Press (Goodreads Photo)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a unique, hard-to-put-down young adult fiction novel. It’s not your typical fantasy romance story. A few of the characters have some real shit going on their life. When I say hard-to-put-down I mean it. I picked this up when I could fit in a page or two here and there throughout my day. If I wasn’t a mom with “adulting” responsibilities I could have devoured the entire book in one sitting. I want to put aside the rest of my August TBR and see if the library has the second book of The Raven Cycle series…Okay, I checked. The library does have it. The next book is The Dream Thieves. I put it on hold LOL (P.S. if you didn’t know you can put a hold on a book, so when it is available they call you for pick up).

 

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads Photo)

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.” (Goodreads Blurb: Author Page)

The Raven Boys main character is Blue Sargent, the teenage-daughter of a medium, Maura Sargent. They live with Maura’s psychic best friends, Persephone and Calla, in a house at 300 Fox Way, Henrietta, Virginia. Maura and other mediums have told Blue that she will cause her true love to die. Unlike her family and house-mates Blue is not psychic, but when she is near she’s like an amplifier, helping Maura, Persephone, and Calla make predictions and read tarot cards.

On April 24, St. Mark’s Eve, Blue accompanies her mother’s half-sister, Neeve, on the church watch. This is the night where mediums can see the souls of the people who will die within the next 12 months. Blue jots down notes as Neeve asks each spirit their name. Neeve, Maura and their psychic friends will use this information to let clients know their fate. For the first time Blue can see one of the ghosts making his way to the church doors. He wouldn’t tell Neeve his name, hence Neeve asks Blue to get his name. Blue has to ask a few times before he finally tells her that his name is Gansey.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue. Either you’re his true love,” Neeve said, “or you killed him.”

Richard Campbell Gansey III is an “all-American” rich boy who attends Aglionby Academy, a private all boys school. The Aglionby uniform includes a raven emblem, and therefore students have the nickname “the raven boys”. Gansey’s friends are Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Adam is an incredibly polite boy who attends Aglionby Academy thanks to a partial scholarship. Ronan likes to make people feel uncomfortable. He’s a bad-boy struggling with his father’s death. Noah is extremely shy, with pale skin and combed-back fair hair. Gansey, Ronan and Noah live in an old abandoned manufacturing building once called Monmouth Manufacturing.

On St. Mark’s Eve, Gansey had also been sitting at the old church with his recorder, hoping to hear the dead. He’s attempting to find a ley line which will lead him to the tomb of Owain Glyndwr (Glendower), the Raven King. Legend says the one who wakes the Glendower will receive a favor.

Gansey longed for him like Arthur longed for the grail, drawn by a desperate but nebulous need to be useful to the world, to make sure his life meant something beyond champagne parties and white collars, by some complicated longing to settle an argument that waged deep inside himself.

Adam, on the other hand, needed that royal favor.

And that meant they needed to be the ones to wake Glendower. They needed to be the ones to find him first.”

Gansey captured the discussion between Blue and his ghost. The recording gets the boys, especially Gansey and Adam, excited that they are on the right track to finding the ley line. Gansey schedules a reading with Blue’s mom to hopefully gain information about hidden energy fields in Henrietta. This is when Blue and Gansey will meet, and the adventure begins…

My favorite character is a toss-up between Persephone and Adam. Persephone, one of Maura’s best friends, has wavy white-blond hair down to the back of her thighs, black eyes, and speaks in a very soft voice. In my mind she reminds me of Lady Amalthea in The Last Unicorn, which is my most favorite movie of all-time. Ronan blames his bad choices on his hard life, where Adam uses his dreary life as fuel to improve. Adam is mature well beyond his years and I just can’t help but want him to find happiness.

My one complaint is that I had a hard time connecting with Neeve. She was interesting, yet for some reason I just couldn’t picture her in my mind and didn’t understand her motivations.

The Raven Boys is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m anxious to pick up the next book to see what will happen next. I recommend this book to anyone who likes teenage friendship quest stories, with a little paranormal ghost stuff weaved in.

Maggie Stiefvater’s website: https://www.maggiestiefvater.com/

Remnant Population By Elizabeth Moon #SpoilerFree #BookReview

Remnant Population Sept 2003

September 2003, Paperback Edition

 

Remnant Population

By Elizabeth Moon

336 pages

Science Fiction, Fantasy

There are a few editions of this book with different covers. I read the hardcover edition published May 1st, 1996.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon, Goodreads

Elizabeth Moon Grew up in McAllen, Texas. “Her first novel, Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, sold in 1987 and came out in 1988; it won the Compton Crook Award in 1989. Remnant Population was a Hugo nominee in 1997, and The Speed of Dark was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and won the Nebula in 2004.” (Goodreads)

http://www.elizabethmoon.com/

 

Remnant Population May 1996

Remnant Population, May 1996 Hardcover Edition (Goodreads photo)

This is the cover of the edition I read. I borrowed Remnant Population from the library after a few people on the Reddit Fantasy group recommended it to satisfy the “Too Old for this Crap” square for the Fantasy Bingo Challenge 2017. That means I had to pick a fantasy book where the main character is over 50-years-old. When I picked up the book and saw the cover my heart sank. I thought this would be the corniest, cheesiest book I read in my life. I’m giving it two stars, but the story is okay. I had a really hard time routing for the main character, Ofelia. I’ll touch on that later.

Ofelia is an older woman who lives with her only living son Barto and his wife Rosara within a small colony owned by Sims Bancorp. Her late husband told her what to do (and I think was abusive), Barto and Rosara boss her around all of the time. Ofelia craves to just simply be left alone to do what she wants to do.

The Company, Sims Bancorp, has lost the franchise which means Ofelia and her people will have to leave the colony. Ofelia is the oldest of the originals who came to the colony many years ago. As others accept they will need to move within 30 days, Ofelia decides she is staying.

The company informs Barto that his mother will have to take one of the later shuttles and he will have to pay extra because of her age. After her son and daughter-in-law leave on their shuttle, Ofelia packs some food, and sleeps in the woods until everyone is gone. For the first time in her life she is FREE! It doesn’t take long for her to get rid of her clothes and enjoy walking around naked. Over the next month she keeps busy scavenging food and supplies from other houses, tending the gardens, checking on the machines, and ensuring the animals are safe.

During a terrible “sea-storm” Ofelia takes shelter in the control center and hears voices on the radio. It’s a shuttle coming to land somewhere else on the planet seeking a place to start a new colony. Creatures attack and only some of the humans manage to escape. Ofelia is left in shock and is now fearing the creatures will find her.

The story now flips to the alien perspective. They call the humans monsters. After the shuttles left, the aliens decide to go find the area where they had seen other shuttles land 40-years-ago.

I don’t want to say anything more, but I will say things get interesting and take a couple turns that I wasn’t expecting. I had a hard time relating to the characters. I felt they were a little flat, with no arc of any kind. Some parts of the story were a little suspenseful, but nothing scary. I did laugh a few times, mainly because Ofelia thinks and says some really weird stuff sometimes. She is incredibly selfish and stubborn. We aren’t given much information about the planet, or why they left “old earth”. We also don’t know much about the government or company that owns the colonies. It would have been great to have a bit more world-building and background info.

Remnant Population didn’t quite meet my expectations, but I would still recommend it to sci-fi fantasy fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Book I’ve read this year! Dress Codes For Small Towns by Courtney Stevens ] Spoiler-Free #BookReview

Dress Codes for Small Towns is an endearing young adult fictional romantic contemporary novel about a tomboy teenage girl finding herself among the rumor-mill of a small town. Courtney Stevens starts an interesting conversation about gender, sexuality, friendship, love, expectations, perceptions, identity, and family.

Dress Codes for Small Towns

 

Dress Codes For Small Towns

By: Courtney Stevens

On Sale: August 22nd, 2017

http://www.courtneycstevens.com/

 

Eight year old Elizabeth “Billie” McCaffrey is aware that she doesn’t fit in with most girls. She bonds with Woods Carrington, and over the next nine years they form a tight-knit group of misfit friends. They call themselves the hexagon; Billie, Janie Lee Miller (the pixie), Woods “Woods” Carrington (the president), Robert “Fifty” Tilghman (the douchebag), Kevin “Mash” Vilmer (the puker) and Mash’s cousin, David “Davey” Winters (the pretender).

Billie’s father, Scott McCaffrey, is the preacher of Otters Holt, a small town in western Kentucky. In an effort to keep teens on the “right track” Brother McCaffrey has set up a youth room in the church filled with fun things to keep the teens entertained and out of trouble. Ironically, the hexagon accidentally set the youth room on fire. While in the parking lot waiting for the fire to be put out the kids find out that Tyson “Big T” Vilmer, Davey and Mash’s grandfather, has died.

Big T was the financial backing for the Harvest Festival, and now that he has died there is talk around town that the festival will not be happening anymore. The Harvest Festival is when the mayor picks the winner of the corn dolly, awarded to the most “deserving” woman who will then be the first to dance at the Sadie Hawkins dance. Many women strive to win the corn dolly, many men are proud of their women who win, or even get nominated.

Due to the destruction the hexagon have done to the church with the fire they are given the punishment of construction – helping elderly people around town with odd jobs. Woods then gets the bright idea that the hexagon will help raise money to save the Harvest Festival.

While the hexagon attempt to save the Harvest Festival Billie is discovering the difference between friendship love, and love love. She feels incredibly confused about her gender and sexuality. Being the daughter of a preacher doesn’t make anything easier. I adore Billie’s character, even when she’s making bad decisions I’m always routing for her to prove that girls can do anything.

Janie is one of my favorite character’s. She’s not your typical “pixie” girl. Her father is in jail, her mom runs a laundromat but there are rumors she sells drugs. Janie is counting down to when she will leave Otters Holt.

Honestly, I loved every character. I can see pieces of me in each one. At first they appear to be a straight-forward stereotype, but with each chapter Stevens unveils how complicated the characters are. I would read a novel about each of their lives. For example, Fifty seems to be the stereotypical teenage boy attracted to danger – but then we find out he has four older brothers, so his idea of showing love is shoving, punching, wrestling. I can’t help but wonder what is going on in his mind? What is his life like?

I laughed, I cried, I held my breath in anticipation and pulled my hair in frustration. I think this is an important read for everyone over the age of fourteen, and highly recommend you check this one out!

I was kindly sent an advance reader’s e-proof courtesy of the publisher HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.” ~ Leland Val Van De Wall

July Wrap Up

The Books of Magic

The Books of Magic

By Neil Gaiman

Illustrated By: John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson

Published January 2013 (first published 1993)

Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Fiction, Fantasy

My Review: The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman #spoilerfree #bookreview #fantasybingo

 

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

By Emma Flint

Published January 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Historical, Thriller, Crime

My Review: Little Deaths: #SpoilerFree #BookReview

 

 

 

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

By Stephen King

Published October 2016 (First published June 1982)

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

The Gunslinger by Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

My Review: The Gunslinger Book One of #TheDarkTower by #StephenKing

 

 

 

 

 

The Edge of EverythingThe Edge of Everything

By Jeff Giles

Published February 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: The Edge of Everything By Jeff Giles #spoilerfree #bookreview

The Edge of Everything By Jeff Giles #spoilerfree #bookreview

The Edge of EverythingThe Edge of Everything

By: Jeff Giles

Published February 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Children Books

360 pages

ISBN: 9781619637535

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy (Paranormal), Romance, Adventure, Family Dynamics

“Holed up in their missing neighbors’ cabin in a Montana blizzard, seventeen-year-old Zoe and her little brother are rescued from an intruder by X, a bounty hunter sent from the Lowlands to claim the souls of evil men.”

Zoe and her family have had a horrible year. Her father died in an accident while exploring a dangerous cave. His body hasn’t been recovered and Zoe wants the cops to retrieve his remains in order to help her and her family have closure. Zoe’s neighbors, who were like family, were kidnapped by an intruder and never seen again.

Her eight-year-old brother Jonah has ADHD and reminded me of my own eight-year-old son. He’s funny, a little odd, but very smart in his own way. He quickly became my favorite character. Jonah was playing outside while Zoe was inside waiting for their mom to come home when the storm suddenly picked up. For some insane reason she didn’t ask Jonah to come inside, and instead went around the house taping the windows. If the storm was bad enough to feel the need to tape the windows why in the world did she not get Jonah and the dogs inside?

Zoe was written as a strong, independent, resourceful teenage girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but sadly she’s also incredibly selfish and uncaring towards others. I had a really hard time relating to her and found her unlikable. When she finally goes outside to get Jonah she finds he is missing, and follows his tracks into the woods towards Bert and Betty’s house. It’s getting colder and colder, and she’s searching for her brother for what seems like a long time, when she finally finds him laying underneath the dogs (who had saved his life by laying on top of him to keep him warm). She carries Jonah to their neighbors abandoned house for shelter to wait out the storm.

While at the house a truck arrives driven by Stan the Man, who claims to know Bert, Betty, the dogs, and Zoe – but she doesn’t know him. He attempts to drown the dogs, but they are saved by a mysterious stranger who is pale, with long messy hair, wearing a long dark blue coat. This stranger projects a movie of Stan’s sinful actions onto his back, and when Stan looks away the stranger moves the projection onto the house, and the snow.

Zoe realizes that she can talk to the stranger in his mind, and he in hers. They both feel an insta-bond. With her mind she tells him to have mercy and let Stan go free. The stranger tells Stan to flee, and Stan runs away into the woods. The stranger carries Zoe and Jonah home, then leaves.

Zoe decided to take a picture of the stranger projecting Stan’s sins on his skin and later when she’s at her house uploads the pic to Instagram? WHAT THE HELL?! She’s had an incredibly stressful evening where her brother was missing in a blizzard, they are attacked by Stan who attempts to kill their dogs, then a strange man did some crazy shit and she decides to go on Instagram! It’s like she has no emotion!

In the morning Zoe wakes to hear her mother downstairs talking to three cops, Chief Baldino (bad cop), Maerz (dopy cop), and Sergeant Vilkomerson (good cop). The cops attempt to question her because they had seen the picture she put on Instagram. Zoe’s mom shuts the conversation down pretty quickly and the cops leave.

Zoe, Jonah, and their mom hear loud noises coming from the shed and upon investigation find the stranger who’s in really bad shape, burning up with a fever. “The fever that racked his body was called the Trembling. It was his punishment for letting Stan go.”…..The Trembling wouldn’t leave until X resumed his search for Stan, somehow being near Zoe made the Trembling and pain decrease.

Zoe convinces her mom to let him stay with them and again I am confused because her mom lets this strange, ragged-looking man stay with them! I am a mom with two kids and there is no way on earth that I would allow some strange man to stay in my house! Call the cops, “Hey the guy in the pic he’s here man come get him.” Anyhow I could rant about that topic so let’s move on.

The stranger, who they decide to call X, claims he is from the Lowlands (Hell), and is a bounty hunter sent to take Stan’s soul as punishment for his sinful actions. The bounty hunters and other prisoners are ruled by the lords who are ferocious creatures. X tells them all bounty hunters are also prisoners who had their soul taken because they did something bad, but X claims he is innocent and hasn’t even been told the reason why he’s in the Lowlands. (and for some reason they believe him! Seriously!)

There’s some major insta-love happening in this story, which I’m not a fan of, especially in YA novels. I don’t think teens should read stories like this where characters claim they love each other after knowing each other for less than a day – and then risk their life trying to save the other. It just felt ludicrous to me and inauthentic.

I also had a problem with how Stan’s character was written. From the way Stan the Man speaks most of the time he seems uneducated but somehow used the words “contentious” and “acrimonious” in a sentence which I found unbelievable.

There wasn’t much world building about the Lowlands, which is a shame because that place sounds fascinating.

One thing I did like was the sense of humour, it reminded me of Rick Riordan’s writing style. I also think that many of the characters were extremely well-developed and interesting.

All in all, The Edge of Everything is a quick read, fast-paced, mysterious adventure. Even though it has some flaws, it is an easy read. As a series debut I feel like it can only get better from here and I will be checking out the next book of the series once it’s published.

Have you read The Edge of Everything? What did you think?

 

 

The Gunslinger Book One of #TheDarkTower by #StephenKing

The Gunslinger is an American wild-west, fantasy, horror, science fiction novel set in an alternate universe. I read the 1982 version of The Gunslinger as a teen, and didn’t like it, which was odd because Stephen King is my favorite author. When I heard that a movie was being made about The Dark Tower series I knew I would have to read the series, and re-read The Gunslinger. The edition I just read was published in 2003, and in the foreword King explains that in 2001 he decided to go back and revise the entire series so he could finish Roland’s story properly – adding about 9,000 words (35 pages) to The Gunslinger. This edition is leagues better than the 1982 publication. So – if you read the 1982 edition of The Gunslinger and didn’t like it, you may want to give this new 2003 edition a shot.

Want to read the first paragraph? The Gunslinger by Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

 

The Gunslinger is set in “Mid-World”, similar to “the Old West”, but it’s an alternate universe where “the world has moved on”. Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, is traveling across the Mohaine desert chasing the sorcerer called the man in black. “The gunslinger had followed the man in black across the desert for two months now, across the endless, screamingly monotonous purgatorial wastes, and had yet to find spoor other than the hygienic sterile ideographs of the man in black’s campfires.” (page 6)

Roland stumbles upon a dwelling, owned by a man named Brown who has a pet talking raven called Zoltan. Brown tells Roland that the man in black had passed through about six weeks before and stayed for supper.

The gunslinger had been going 16-18 hours a day since “the horror that had occurred in Tull”. Brown (is he the man in black in disguise?) doesn’t push it, but gently prods the gunslinger to tell the story. And so, Roland tells Brown the story of a woman he met in Tull who told him the story of when the man in black had come through town and brought a dead man to life. Sometimes I hate it when there is a story, within a story, within a story, but when King does it he weaves it in such a way that you are drawn down into the pits of the tale.

After Roland leaves Brown’s place he travels for an extremely long period, becomes severely dehydrated, then miraculously stumbles across an old way station where a young pre-teen named Jake Chambers provides him water, food, and shelter. Jake had somehow been transported to Mid-World after dying in an alternate universe that is similar to our own world. Roland tells Jake that he needs to find the man in black so he can make him take him to find the tower. Jake joins the gunslinger on his quest, and together they travel across the desert, chasing the man in black.

“The greatest mystery the universe offers is not life but size. Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses size…” “Size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness?” (page 313)

The Gunslinger is a slow-burning novel that will draw you into The Dark Tower story. You’ll be wanting to know more and more about each character, and King will give it to you in dribs and drabs. Who the hell is the man in black? Is the gunslinger really the good guy? Where is this tower, and why does the gunslinger need to find it so badly?

I can’t wait to read the next book, in fact I was perusing books at a second-hand store yesterday, and coincidentally out of the half a dozen Stephen King books there, The Drawing of the Three was one of them.