Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I'm not really sure how to start this review. One, because I'm not quite finished processing the information yet, and two, because it feels somehow strange to say that I "loved" this book. The subject matter shouldn't really be loved, and I don't think that's the right word for it. So here's the best I can come up with... this book is excellent.

I was in the eighth grade when the shootings happened at Columbine, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember watching the terrifying news footage (especially of the boy, whom I now know was Patrick Ireland, being pulled from the library window), I remember watching a hysterical Rosie O'Donnell on her show the following day, and I remember most the crazy theories and rumors the media was feeding the public in the weeks following. It's because I remember those things most that this book really shook me. It was an intense and sad read, but it was, most importantly, incredibly eye-opening.

So many myths and so much misinformation circle around the events of that day, the killers, the motives, the investigation and even some of the survivors. It was really astounding to take all this new information in. It's difficult for me not to sit here and write in detail about each and every misconception... but that's not the point of this review. Cullen does a great job of opening your eyes, without shoving his agenda or bias down your throat. I truly felt I was reading an honest, well-researched and well written account, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up.

Fair warning.- it's not an easy read. I had to alternate between Columbine and a much lighter "fluff" read, and I even left it behind when I went on vacation for the simple fact that I couldn't handle it all at once. The story of Eric and Dylan's evolution, and the level of anger, hatred and planning really got to me. It was terrifying and so incredibly sad.

I think this book needs more attention. I think that everyone involved deserves to have the true story told, and I think that one way we can prevent tragedies like this in the future, is so help people understand. As much as it can be understood.

I highly recommend this book... and I hope that Cullen has no cause to write a similar book in the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Brain candy.... that's exactly how I would describe these books. Oh, and hot.  These books are definitely hot. Elkeles sure knows how to write a sexy lead and an exciting story that sucks you in for an evening of guilty pleasure. I greedily lapped it up in a sitting last night.

This story follows the youngest Fuentes brother as the family returns to Illinois. I had a little trouble buying the idea that Mrs. Fuentes would return to this city while her youngest was still so susceptible to the gang violence that plagued her husband and two eldest sons, but it was what it was and I moved past it.

I really liked Nikki and I loved her attitude, especially when Luis re-enters the picture for the first time.  The beginning of their relationship seemed a little rushed, but the passion of the whole thing made that easy to overlook as well. 

I loved reading about these two and how Luis fit in with his family that we've already read about.  I really enjoyed the sneak peak we got into Alex and Britney, and  Carlos and Kiara's lives.  It made me happy that while the older boys have "settled down", they still have that bad boy (super sexy) instinct and attitude that makes them so yummy to read about.

My favorite part of these books is the inevitable "we can't be together" fight that is always part of forbidden love stories.  Elkeles writes these so well.  I literally ache with the characters and feel the pain in the dialogue. 

So yeah, the writing and plot are a little cheesy and the end is a little rushed, but it didn't stop me from enjoying every page of this book.  A steamy romance, an exciting conflict and a little action = an awesome escapist read for a warm summer night. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3) by Maggie Stiefvater

So I finally sat down to finish this book over the weekend and boy did I love it.  I think it may have been my favorite of the three (although as me again when I re-read # 2 and that answer may change). 

The pace of this story was really interesting.  It was slow, although very engaging for most of the book, but then in the last 60 or so pages... BAM! Heart stopping action.  When I settled in the backyard yesterday to finish up, I tweeted the following:

"Just settling in to read the last pages of Forever.  I have a feeling it will be intense."

15 minutes later...

"Oh my gosh this book is so not good for my blood pressure."

A few minutes later....

"@mstiefvater -  you. are. amazing.

I guessed it was going to be intense and I was right.

I think Cole really stole the show with this installment.  You really get to know him as a character is his own right and learn that his strengths fill in the gaps that Sam's weaknesses leave, and vice versa.  And, he's a perfect compliment to Isabel who was another spotlight stealer.  I loved the chapters from their POVs.

The relationship between Sam and Grace changed a little for me this book.  They were both somehow more cautious with each other.  I think they really felt the fragility of their relationship and time together, and it showed in the way they interacted with each other.  It was no less intense, just different. I loved it.

Maggie's writing is truly knock-your-socks-off good.  There were so many lines in the book that I found myself saying "THAT'S how you describe that feeling out loud" having never been able to put it into words before reading Maggie's.  Her writing is just so beautiful and poetic.  In my opinion, she's one of the best writers inYA right now.

This is a 5 star read for sure.  A great ending to a really enjoyable and unique series.

While I'm sad that there will be no new stories of Mercy Falls to look forward to, I'm very excited to read some new material from Maggie, and really look forward to the release of Scorpio Races in the fall.  In the meantime, if you haven't read Shiver, Linger and Forever, go do it now! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

First of all I have to say that the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. It's the type of book that I would buy just to display on my shelf. Unfortunately, that's about the only positive thing I have to say
 about it.

I tried... I really, really did... but this book was just not for me. Obviously, because I didn't finish it, I can't give a full and proper review, but I can, however, explain my reasons for not finishing it.

I read a lot of YA. In truth, the majority of what I read is probably YA, and I have a great appreciation for the talent of a lot of current YA authors. Their ability to write for those who are truly YA, while appealing to those of us who are not, speaks to their ability as writers. Unfortunately, Tris and Izzie did not have that same appeal. The writing was very choppy, with little flow, and the story felt like it was being made up as it went along. The characters and story-line were flat and a few of the plot points seemed to come out of nowhere. The writing seemed very amateur.... like the author was trying way too hard. It was as if I was a reading a 9th grade creative writing project, and in all honesty I didn't enjoy it at all.

Perhaps this was truly written with only a child reader in mind, and if that were the case I wouldn't discourage one of my nieces from picking it up, but I would not recommend this to a friend as a book with YA crossover appeal.