Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Year: 2009

Mary lives in a world after The Return filled with the Unconsecrated. Her village has a fence around it to keep the Unconsecrated out and the villagers rely on The Sisterhood to guide them and the Guardians to protect them. But for Mary, there exists more. There's a world that her mother told her in stories passed down for generations of mothers. Stories that tell of a world before and of the ocean. A place with more water than she can imagine and more hope than she can dream of. And things in Mary's world are changing and she must decide whether she will accept the life she's been given or fight for the life she dreams of.

This book has been in my TBR pile for a while. I kept hearing great things about it and bought it on a whim at the bookstore one night but never could bring myself to actually read it. Now, I'm wondering what kept me from reading it for so long. It's awesome. The story is well written and very imaginative. Ryan makes the world of the Forest of Hands and Teeth so real that I could see and feel it. When Mary was attacked by the Unconsecrated, I felt like I was being attacked. The book was so engrossing that I found it more interesting than the theme park I was reading it at. I highly recommend this book.

The Reckoning

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2010

In the third book of Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy, Chloe Saunders and her friends, Simon (the sorcerer), Tori (the witch) and Derek (the werewolf) are still on the run from the Edison Group. They've taken refuge (at least temporarily) with another group whose purpose is to bring down the Edison Group. The teenagers are still learning about their powers and still trying to figure out where they fit into this world but they are quickly running out of time as the Edison Group closes in and they people that are helping them might just have ulterior motives. 

Like the other books in this series, I devoured The Reckoning. It's a fast paced book with lots of action and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to Chloe and how she was going to make her way to safety. Unfortunately, The Reckoning doesn't appear to be the end of Chloe's story and I'm going to have to wait for Armstrong to make her way back to Chloe. I just hope she hurries.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Curse of the Bane: The Last Apprentice: Book 2

Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Harper Trophy/Harper Collins Publishers
Date: 2005

Thomas Ward is the apprentice to the county Spook who teaches Thomas how to fight ghosts, witches and boggarts. Now the two must journey to Priestown to fight a creature so evil and so strong that even the Spook is terrified of it. On top of that The Quisitor has come to Priestown and he's intent on destroying all people who may or may not be witches or wizards. 

This second book is a good continuance in the series. Thomas has grown some since the first book but he's still got a lot to learn. Delaney does a good job of telling this story quickly with a fast pace and lots of drama. He also leaves some little questions in the air that he can build on answer in the books to come.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Vallley

Author: Georgiana C. Kotarski
Publisher: John F. Blair Publisher
Year: 2006

The title pretty much tells you exactly what this book is about - ghosts in the Southern Tennessee Valley area. What I particularly liked about this story is it's about the area that I live in. I know all these places and had heard the stories of some of these ghosts but there are so many more that I didn't know about. I think at least 1/3 of the ghosts described in this book are within ten miles of my house. (I'm getting ideas for a driving tour on Halloween weekend as I write.) I enjoyed reading this book. Ms. Kotarski does a good job of telling the stories, making them human and real. It's very easy to read. I went to the book reading with the author and she did an excellent job of telling the stories in person also.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Capture the Castle

Author: Dodie Smith
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Year: 1948

I Capture the Castle follows seventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain and her family in 1930s England. They live in a falling apart castle in the English countryside in complete poverty. They struggle to for food, clothes, and even warmth on winter nights. Cassandra's father had taken out a 40 year lease on the castle back when his one book was a success. If not for that, the family most likely would be homeless. The story is told in the form of journal entries by Cassandra. She longs to be a writer and practices by writing out the stories of her family's life in what she calls "speed writing" on journals given to her. At times the book reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice. The girls worried about finding husbands in the financial state (why they had no money to buy clothes, go to London or even go anywhere that they might meet a man). Then one day, the Cottons come back home with their eligible young sons - Simon and Neil - and everything changes. You know, that whole "a man in possession fortune" thing.

This book took me forever to read but it wasn't because it was a bad book; it was just a slow reader. It had the feel of an Austen or Bronte novel and it needed the time required to savor the art of the writing and to feel the English countryside and time that the characters lived in. Cassandra was such an easy character to fall in love with. She was bright, precocious, and humorous. I  have to admit I had never heard of Dodie Smith when I picked up this book but she was quite a writer. Then, I read in the author bio at the end of the book that she wrote The Hundred and One Dalmations - one of my favorite childhood stories.

In short, if you liked Pride and Prejudice, you'll like this novel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2010

So it seems like I'd been waiting forever for this book to be released; not quite as long as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but a really long time. In this final book of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Katniss has been rescued from the Games by the rebels and is tucked away safely in District 13; however, Peeta is being held prisoner by the Capitol and tortured. (Oh no!!) The rebellion has turned into an all out war between the Capitol and the rebels. Katniss must decide whether she will risk everything and everyone she loves and step up and be the face of the rebellion as the Mockingjay.

Mockingjay is just as intense and emotional as the previous two books and I was not disappointed in it. I began this book on audiobook (the narrator is very good). My commute was too short and it was taking too long to listen to the book so I broke down, bought the hardcover and devoured the final six hours in two hours. When I first finished the book, I had to think about the final chapters and decide exactly how I felt about them as I wiped away the tears from my eyes. Those tears in my eyes - that meant the book was good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to Breathe Underwater

Author: Julie Orringer
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: 2003


                                                                         Recently, I've heard a lot about Julie Orringer's 
latest book; so I decided to get it on interlibrary loan. Unfortunately, it wasn't available. But I did come across her first novel, How to Breathe Underwater. I saw it was a collection of short stories and decided to give it a shot because, as I've said in other posts, I love short stories. When a short story comes together and is written right, it is a true work of art. Julie Orringer's collection of stories in this book are a masterpiece. I was hooked after reading the first story entitled "Pilgrims" and completely reeled in by "The Isabel Fish." My mind is still processing some of the stories.

This collection focuses on girls and women struggling to deal with love and loss and religion. She reminded me of Flannery O'Conner (and that's high praise coming from me). Like O'Conner, a number of Orringer's protagonists struggled coming to grips with their sexuality and religion and finding that balance between the two. Some of the stories were harsh and brutal and reminiscent of "Good Country People" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find." There was one major difference between O'Conner and Orringer: O'Conner told her stories from a distance whereas Orringer invited her readers to step into her characters minds and hearts and feel their struggles, love and loss and maybe, just maybe, when you're thrown to the bottom of the lake, grasping for air, you'll remember her words and breathe.