Monday, March 29, 2010

Reading Experiment

Last year I started reading books 6 at a time. I would divide each book by 6 and section out the pages, then read 1/6 of the first book and make my way through the stack. I felt like I was reading faster, but I wasn't sure. It would generally take me about 5 days to finish the six books.

Looking for ways to make reading more interesting I decided I would try something different for the month of March. I read only one book at a time. NO GOOD! I read 12 books in March as opposed to 20 books in February! Don't ask me why, it just happened!

So I'm going back to my multiple book reading, but I've decided that for the month of April I will only read books off my Nook. Which means a lot of Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton and I'll probably finally read 'The Help'. This month I'll still check out eBooks from the library, but for May I'm going to try to read only books that I already have, but haven't read. I've got about 90+ books sitting on my bookshelf that are part of various series that I've yet to pick up! I get too distracted by what's currently out and available at the library. We'll see how my willpower holds up in May since I'll still be taking Emma to the library to pick up her books!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zombie Love (Part Two)

The Dead-Tossed Waves
Written by: Carrie Ryan
Hardcover: 404
Publisher: Delacourte Press
Genre: Young Adult/Romance & Love

The publisher's description: Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

The Dead-Tossed Waves takes place at least 10 years after the events of The Forest of Hands and Teeth in the ocean town that Mary finds herself washed up on all those years ago. Gabry is the opposite type of girl that Mary was. Gabry is a rule follower seemingly happy to live her life the way the Protectorate (the loose governmental agency ruling from the Dark City) deem life should be lived. In love with a boy she's known her whole life, the desire for him is what drives her to go along with him and their friends over the barrier into an old abandoned amusement park that lays just beyond their village. It is there that Gabry cements her love for Catcher and makes a decision that changes everyone's lives....and not in a good way.

Gabry is weak where Mary was strong, but I found Gabry to be a much more redeemable character. She grew in strength and courage as the story goes on, facing her fears in her quest to find herself & save the people she loves. This is the second book in what is supposed to be a trilogy (the third and final book is slated to come out in the Spring of 2011) and my husband compared it to the Matrix trilogy in way of endings. Where TFOH&T leaves you with an ending you could walk away from, The Dead-Tossed Waves leaves you knowing there has to be more. Gabry's story is definitely not finished and I can't wait to see if she and her allies can (yes, it sounds corny) save the world.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Zombie Love (Part One)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Written by: Carrie Ryan
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacourte Press
Genre: Young Adult/Romance & Love

The publisher's description: In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated with never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future--between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?

On the day that Mary must decide whether to let her infected mother be killed by the Guardians or set out into the Forest of Hands & Teeth her life is forever changed. Not called on by any of the boys in town and turned away by her brother she is forced to join the Sisterhood. There she begins to question everything she has been taught her entire life. After seeing a girl her age from outside their village hidden away by the Sisterhood she knows the Sisterhood has been lying to the villagers all along & she's determined to leave the village and find the ocean. She believes there must be a place somewhere where you can see something other than forest.

Mary is single minded in her determination to find the ocean that no one else believes exists. She's a selfish character that's not easy to like. You admire her desire to find the truth, but there's little else likable about Mary.

However, I LOVED this book. It reminded me a lot of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. This self dependent village cut off from the rest of the world with a huge secret.....add zombies. The action was there, the suspense and mystery. Despite not really liking Mary I still rooted for her to find the ocean, to find love, to find the truth.

Monday, March 15, 2010



Written by: Amy Efaw
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Viking Books
Genre: Young Adult/Law & Crime

The publisher's description: An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant. . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made, Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there's only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible as she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon's unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

There is no doubt that Amy Efaw is a talented writer. I couldn't put the book down, although I wanted to. Being a mother I had a hard time 'rooting' for Devon. I couldn't imagine wrapping my baby up in towels and throwing her away with the trash. But as the story unfolds, I don't come to like Devon, but I do come to understand her. And maybe, I come to respect her.

The characters are rich and colorful, from the thumb-sucking poet Destiny to Devon's ambitious and tough public defender. Even the guards and employees at the detention center are fully visible by Efaw's pen. She writes them as no nonsense prison guards, but not without empathy and kindness.

******SPOILER ALERT********
The story basically comes down to a terrible lapse in judgment for a girl who always made the 'right' decisions. Such a trivial way to put the attempted murder of a baby, but true and throughout Devon's self realization journey she sees how she went wrong. During the declination process she starts to see the baby as a baby and not IT. She understands how her mother had her when she was only 16 years old. That just as easily, her mother could have left her in a trash can, but she didn't. She acknowledges her role, what she did and how she must take responsibility for her actions.

I'm not sure that this story is necessarily a 'teen' book. Not because of any graphic nature or any such thing, but because I think adults need to read. I think teenagers understand the emotions much better than adults do. It's been such a long time since these sort of fears and denials have been a part of our lives. Efaw writes at the of the book about how she became interested in writing a novel like this. She mentions a case her husband worked on in which acquaintances of the pregnant woman suspected she was pregnant, but never approached her, never admitted to it until the baby was found, still alive, in a dumpster. If anything the novel reminds us to be vigilant with our children. Ask questions, be aware, be part of their lives, love them fiercely and truthfully.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Echo Cupcake Sprinkles Ramirez

This last weekend we picked up our new puppy. She's a black lab and she's the cutest.

We had a hard time coming up with a name for her. I was trying to think of a good name that had something to do with Kevin Smith or Joss Whedon. It's very difficult. My hamsters were Snootchies & Bootchies (Kevin Smith reference), but it's hard to think of Kevin Smith themed girl names. I initially thought of Buffy (of course), but Emma veto'd that one.

Because Emma wore a cupcake T-shirt & pants the day we picked up the puppy she wanted to name the puppy Cupcake. Ray didn't really care for that idea. Then we thought of Echo from Joss Whedon's 'The Dollhouse', Eliza Dushku's character. Emma latched onto that name right away, but it had to be Echo Cupcake.

We were still thinking of names, but Emma had pretty much decided it would be Echo Cupcake until today. Today she decided her name would be Echo Cupcake Sprinkles Ramirez. We decided to firm up the name Echo before Emma added another name.

So Echo it is!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry
Written by: Audrey Niffenegger
Hardcover: 406 pages
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Supernatural

The publisher's description: After they inherit a London flat near Highgate Cemetery from their aunt Elspeth Noblin, two American twin teenagers, Julia and Valentina, move in and get to know their quirky neighbors, but they soon discover that much is still alive at Highgate, including, perhaps, their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment or life behind. By the best-selling author of The Time Traveler's Wife.

I adored The Time Traveler's Wife. ADORED. I have to admit that I had high hopes for Niffenegger's second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. It's hard to determine where to start so I'm breaking it down into what I loved and what I didn't love. I'm also going to try to write this review without any spoilers. We'll see how that goes!

What I Loved: I loved the setting. The story mainly takes place within the walls of Elspeth's flat, but never far from the idea of the novel is Highgate Cemetery which the apartment building neighbors. After getting just a tad into the book I found myself obsessed with the cemetery. Taking a break from the book I looked up everything I could find on Highgate Cemetery and found that while Niffenegger's descriptions were poetic and accurate they certainly didn't do it justice. I want to travel to London just to visit the cemetery!

I loved Martin and Marijke, Elspeth's upstairs neighbors. Martin suffers from OCD and agoraphobia which finally drives his wife, Marijke away in a last ditch effort to 'cure' Martin of his ailments. While mostly background characters Martin & Marijke are alive within the pages, flawed but beautiful in their intentions and their heartbreaking emotions.

I loved the supernatural-ness of the story.
I loved the twists and turns and the intricacies of the plot.
I loved the 'British-ness.'

And here's what I didn't love: The main characters. None of them. It didn't start out that way, of course. I rooted for one twin over the other, sister over mother, twin over aunt, but in the end I found everyone to be horrid. Well, not everyone, but you know what I mean, right? See, I usually root for the underdog. Julia and Valentina have lived their entire lives doing almost everything together. At twenty years old the two women still share the same bed, sleeping side by side, hands held together. Of course, they are not equals. Julia, the stronger twin makes the decisions for both of them while Valentina goes along seemingly unperturbed. However, delving deeper into Valentina's you find there's a rebel begging to be released. As her resentment towards her sister grows, you realize there really can be no happy ending in all this.

The character relationships are difficult and in the end redeem almost no one. Roles are reversed and choices are made that shatter lives, yet little remorse is displayed. People who were fraught with good intentions become the villains.

But that is not to say that the book is not worth reading. If you compare the Time Traveler's Wife with Her Fearful Symmetry you will find two completely different books that share only the author's ability to describe emotion and fantasy perfectly. Where TTW was a love story, HFS to me was a story of envy.

Would I recommend this book to anyone? Yes.

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