Tag Archive | 5 Stars

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

GreystatsThis is a story that is best left until you read it for yourself. I choose to review this book during winter because, well, that way you’ll have at least maybe an eighth of feeling of what it was like for Lina. This is a shocking story of the Stalinist repressions of Lithuanians. It’s a story that is written in fiction, but was born from fact and needs to be known.

Sepetys language is brilliant and heartbreaking and frighteningly real. You feel the emotions of the characters, you gasp in breathe at the destitution of their situation. You cry when their heart breaks because your heart is breaking too.

When I was home in America, I had become close to a Lithuanian family. The shocking reality of what these people attempted to survive is…there are no words for how they lived and were taught to never mention a word. This is history, although it’s written in fiction, it is still history that desperately needs to be known.

In a starkly honest view, Sepetys paints how life would have been life for a Lithuanian family that was highly educated with opinions. Their stories need to be heard, and this book is the one that tells it with grace and civility. Sepetys’ words are hollow, but strong and angering all at the same time. Her book is powerful and it needs to be read. This is a sliver of World War II that grossly goes under the radar.

For those that are sensitive, this might not be the best book, but I can’t back down in how I feel that this novel, although it is fiction, is a fantastic and a frightening depiction of what life was like for Lithuanians during WWII. It’s time their voices be heard. It’s time their stories be known. They are still afraid and that is the powerful message at the end of the story that proves true. For American’s, this is history relatively unknown or understood. That needs to change.

Between Shades of Gray opens up the world during a time when the world was a terrible place. Sepetys does an amazing job making it clear that once the war was over, not everyone won.

This book is not just for teens, but adults would do well to understand the difficulties of those not from this land. This is the eye-opener. This story makes you appreciate what you have. Stop ignoring the past. Between Shades of Gray gives evidence to our future. How will we roll the dice? Let’s be accepting of everyone this time.

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Book Review: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

FrozenRatingIt was supposed to be a harmless prank. Sophie and her best friend Jay were just having a little fun. When an Ouija board app on Jay’s phone predicts his death…which later occurs….Sophie is devastated and frightened.

The timing couldn’t be any worse—with her mother away on holiday, Sophie is sent to stay with her Uncle and cousins for a few weeks on the Isle of Skye. There’s a secret buried deep in the house on the hill they live. What used to be an old school house is haunted with memories of its former students…and then there are the frozen Charlottes.

Could there be a link between Sophie’s best friend’s death and the mysterious bumps in the night at her Uncle’s home? She just might have to risk her life to find out…

What I see: I LOVED THIS BOOK! What a fantastic spooky read for October! I read it during November and unfortunately Seattle got down to 18 degrees! That’s cold for us in the Pacific Northwest (well, those close to the city that is…). The funny thing was that the temperature was PERFECT for feeling the chill of the howling wind while reading this brilliant book.

Bell’s writing is strong, clear, creepy and engaging! Written with perfect hooks to keep to you turning pages and excellent redirection to delay the suspenseful ending. Relevant and mystical at the same time, Frozen Charlotte is a pleasantly paced and thrilling read for teens and adults alike. Ideal for October, this story is also great for when the deep winter cold has blanketed the land. If you’re looking for a story that is haunting with a hint of mystery, this is the book for you! Seriously, some of the imagery was truly terrifying. You’ll never look at dolls the same way again!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Stripes Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the lovely team at Stripes! I look forward to the next exciting titles from Red Eye!

Frozen Charlotte will be released in January 5th 2015!

Pre-order your copy now!

Book Review: The One by Keira Cass

The One

Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 21.34.53The wait is finally over. The Selection is coming to a close. America is sure who Maxon will choose as his bride.

Or does he? The Selection is down to four girls, and as tensions rise within this love competition, they’re just as high outside of the palace. The war is getting worse. The enemy keeps pushing for the end of the castes and the royal family. Maxon’s caught in the middle. Between choosing a bride and learning to lead his country, all eyes are on this pretty boy prince. Who will he choose? How will the country react?

I’ve absolutely adored The Selection series. I didn’t want to, but I gave up about two chapters into the first book. There is just magic within these stories. The idea is simple: the story of a girl that doesn’t actually want to be a princess, but she cares about her family. America comes from good stock. For a teenager it’s no wonder she can’t decide what her heart wants at seventeen. She doesn’t buy into the fantasy of the future, which makes her actions more understandable. 

Also, for those that have read this book. Celeste. If anything, finishing the series alone for Celeste. 

Cass doesn’t hold back in this conclusion. I waited months before reading because I wasn’t ready for the series it end. But end it is and Cass does a wonderful job. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie

Screen shot 2014-10-13 at 21.01.13There’s a Carrie White in every high school. A girl born into the wrong class. The butt of everyone’s joke’s. The scapegoat to everyone’s problems. Poor Carrie White. She never had a chance. 

To get your first period at 17, showering after gym, has got to be the worst. Having an overly religious mother who borders on the brink of insanity? Carrie White had the recipe for disaster. 

But Carrie White was special. As she is welcomed into womanhood, so are her truth powers freed. Carrie White just wanted to be left alone, to live her life with her mother. What started as a gesture to counterbalance the guilt from fellow high school student, Sue Snell, turns into a night of terror their little town has never seen. Who is to blame? Carrie White? Or her tormentors? 

A tight engaging tale told from Carrie’s point of view and epistolary format, this is a perfect quick Halloween read. There’s a lot of background to Carrie, and I must say I loved the ending a lot more than the movie version. Yes, it’s a bit dated, but this story is simple and pure at the same time. Even though everyone knows how it ends, you’ll race to see just what kind of destruction Carrie wrecks, and dare I say it? Cheer her on. (Maybe not the whole time, but certainly for two teens that deserved to be reckoned with Carrie.)

I love King’s first published novel. I wish I had read it earlier. He writes women so well, and although it reeks of the 70s, the story is still timeless. Most girls look forward to their senior prom. Pray yours never ends up like Carrie White’s. 

Book Review: Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler

Loss cover

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Please note this is the third book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series and may contain spoilers.

For my review on the first book Hunger.

For my review on the second book Rage.

Billy Ballard is the one kid at school that everyone either picks on or ignores. You know the kind. He can’t stick up for himself and doesn’t stand out in a good way. Poor Billy. Even the teachers and adults prefer to turn a blind eye. With a mother trying to support him and a grandfather with Alzheimer’s, well, home is no better place than school.

My heart went out to Billy. It seems that everyone nowadays is wrapped up with his or her own troubles and people choose to look the other way than to offer help or assistance. Then the white rider appears and Billy is giving his chance to fight for a life he doesn’t want to continue on with. Pestilence has gone insane and Billy is quested with finding him or taking his place.

This beautiful blend of Billy’s adventure as Pestilence to find the real white rider is a grieving, frightening and heart-beating ride. You feel the anguish; you feel Billy’s despair.

Yet, you want Billy to succeed. For once in his life you want this character to stop hiding against the wall and stand his ground! The character’s evolution will bring you to tears.

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Maze runner cover

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‘”If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.’

I. Loved. This. BOOK. 

The language – fantastic. 

The setting – aMAZing (haha)

The characters – brilliant

The creatures – I seriously need a visual, but the sounds – oh how the described sounds makes me want to hide!

The fact that you never really understand what’s going on – GIVE ME MORE NOW. 

Written with a tone that shoves the reader head first into something I can’t really describe, this is YA writing at the best! The mystery that hangs in the air is intoxicating and the harsh realities of the characters and their fates is heartbreaking. How I haven’t read this sooner? Biggest mistake of my reading life. 

My only hope is that the rest of the books in this series hold up the same. I am very excited to keep reading Dashner! 

Book Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key cover

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“Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and—for the first time—feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s the adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.”

I don’t know why I was so hesitant to Dessen’s books. I guess I let the covers fool me? What I thought was going to be a traditional YA romance turned out to be full of heart and struggles. I fell into this book – as literarily as I could, and finished it in three days (if that gives any indication). 

Lock and Key is amazing for the fact that it covers abuse, many different kinds at that. Not enough YA books cover these true harsh realities that kids these day face and need resources to help them evolve through. It’s why YA is important. These are outlets for kids to learn (and adults too-YA doesn’t judge it’s just meant to be read), gather strength or take what can from something dark. The rest can go into any number of way, but it’s that beginning, that start that there can be hope and help – THAT is the important message. 

I also loved how Ruby was strong the entire time. Her personality wasn’t likeable in the beginning, but then she grows on you the more the reader learns about her. Dessen’s writing style is also strategic, making this book not only engaging but she left me wanting more. It’s not in a thriller kind of sense. There are secrets littered throughout the pages and Dessen patiently leaves breadcrumbs in order for us to keep reading chapter after chapter. It’s a standout skill and I’m impressed with her writing. 

I will no longer shy away from Dessen’s book. Now I have seen the light and felt the feels. I can’t wait to read more of her work!