Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave, #1)

5th Wave - Yancey

The 5th Wave

By Rick Yancey

Series: The 5th Wave, Book 1

My Rating: 4 Stars

This book has been on my “to read” list ever since it was published in 2013.  I even managed to get my hands on a printed ARC and I still didn’t read it.  I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner because it was high on my list and it certainly interested me.   I suppose something just kept popping up to make me not pick it up.  Since the movie was about to come out, I knew it was time.  I simply couldn’t wait any longer.  I wanted to see the movie so I could compare and contrast and give people advice on whether they needed to read the book first or if it was ok if they saw the movie before reading the book.   So, I had to make it a top priority.  It was now or never.  No more excuses.  We were going to do this.  And all I can say is, “Why did I wait so long to read this book?!?!?”  It’s a good question that will likely never be answered, but now that I’ve read it, I’m excited to move on to The Infinite Sea, the second book in this completely engrossing series.

Synopsis

The Others came prepared.  They knew humans better than humans knew themselves.  Their attack was strategic and precise.  The 1st Wave plunged the world into total darkness.  The 2nd Wave was thorough in its drowning endeavor.  In the 3rd Wave, those that remained could not hide from the deadly pestilence released on humanity.  In the 4th Wave  the Others were among you; there was no one you could trust and isolation was the only sure way to survive.  Trust no one became the way of life.

Humanity knows there will be a 5th Wave but what form it will take is anyones guess.  For Cassie, surviving long enough to rescue her six year old brother Sam, is her only goal.  Having lost every one she’s ever known or cared about, Cassie must find a way to  get her brother back.  The odds are against her and she knows she’s being hunted but she has to try.  When she encounters Evan Walker, a mysterious, charismatic stranger who saves her life, she has to decide if she’s going to trust him.  To trust is to die, but he saved her and that has to mean something.  Human nature is to be together but being together can be the death of you.  What do you do when the only way to win is to trust but to trust is to risk death.  For Cassie, the decision may mean the end of her life, the end of her world and the end of her heart but the risk may give her something greater.  Something that has been lost, freedom.

My Thoughts

Read the book!!!!!  Don’t see the movie first.  I saw the movie.  It sucked.  Ok, it didn’t completely suck.  Casting Alex Roe as Evan Walker was a good decision.  He has the most amazing blue eyes and that young man can rock a beard!  But I digress, this is a review of the book, not the movie.  Let me continue…

This book is written in very distinct parts.  Each part is narrated by a different person.  It’s important because the world these characters are living in is at war.  They are isolated and broken down, some might say that these characters are broken beyond repair.  They are alone.  Very alone.  They have only themselves to care for, interact with and count on.  This means that there is a whole lot of inner monologue going on throughout the book.  It’s vital to the development of the story.  It’s essential in understanding The Others.  This is the reason this book didn’t translate well into a movie.  You lose all of this and it’s the very thing that makes the book.  This book is more psychological than action.  Yes there is action, but it’s second to the psychology of the story, to the psychology of The Others strategic invasion, second to the psychological damage to the characters within the story.  It’s nearly impossible to translate onto the big screen without having a significant amount of voice over narrating.

The characters in this book were deeply troubled and struggled with just surviving.  They were pained and isolated.  The type of devastation they have suffered is astounding.  They are exactly where The Others want them, it’s all part of the plan.  And their struggles are only just beginning.  They are going to have to make choices that go against their very nature, because its the only way to get ahead. Rick Yancey, did an amazing job of developing Cassie, Evan and Ben.  They are highly complex characters with more depth and dimension than you often see in adult books.  That’s why this is a great crossover book for adults.  Some of the less plausible plot devices are more believable when you have complicated characters like this to carry the story.

When I first started reading about this book and talking to people about it, it was compared to The Maze Runner.  And while it has some similarities, I found it to be more closely related to The Host.  And before  you say, “Bleh, Stephanie Meyer! Twilight! Bleh!” just hear me out.  This book is psychological.  So much of the struggle for these characters is inside their minds, not out in the world.  This is exactly like The Host.  There is more than one enemy in both of these books.  Yes, the obvious enemy exists in the aliens, but the more deceptive and damaging enemy lies within.  This is the quiet enemy that we always forget about.  It can make the character win or lose while the exterior enemy sits back and waits.  It’s fascinating to read books like this and why I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Overall, an excellent start to what I’m sure is going to a terrific and memorable series.  I can’t wait to get started on The Infinite Sea.  And, book three, The Last Star has an expected publication date of May 24, 2016.  That’s not that far away .  Certainly not long enough for me to forget the complexities of this story.  Maybe this is why I waited so long to read this book, I knew waiting for the next books to come out was going to be painful and I just couldn’t deal with that.  That’s what I’m going to believe anyways.  So go out and checkout this epic read.  You won’t regret it.

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Book Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday (The Hollow, #1)

Hollow - Verday

The Hollow

By Jessica Verday

Series: The Hollow, Book 1

My Rating: 2 Stars

This is one of those series that’s been on my “To Read” list for quite some time.  I finally decided I was going to hit a bunch of the series that have been sitting on my list waiting to be read.  Lucky for me, most of the books have been released which means that while I’ll have to devote some time to get through all the books, I’ll also have the pleasure of having that sense of fulfillment you only get when you don’t have to wait for the next book to be published.  In addition, I hope I’ll get my sense of closure so I can move on from one series to the next.

When I set out to read this book, I discovered that my library doesn’t actually own the first book in the series so I had to request it through Interlibrary Loan.   It seemed strange that we didn’t own it but when it arrived I figured out why we didn’t own it by just seeing the cover.   Not that there is anything wrong with the cover but it’s clear that this book was released just before the YA genre took off.  When that happened, much more attention was paid to the covers because, just admit it, beautiful covers sell more books.  It’s a proven fact.  The second and third books in this series were definitely released after the YA craze took over the publishing world.  The covers on these books were clearly created with a more focused goal in mind and with a lot of competition to contend with.

Before I get into the synopsis and my thoughts on the book, I should give you some background information that might be useful if you are considering reading these books.  The story in this series is centered around and tied very closely to Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” story and having read it before hand will be very helpful.  I lucked out because I spent the year listening to classics on audio and I had just finished listening to Irving’s most popular work.  It was pure luck.  I didn’t plan it but I’m glad that it worked out that way because it definitely made the story that much more engrossing for me.  I was able to make connections and interpret in ways that I never would have been able to had I not read Irving first.  When I discovered this series was going to be centered around the famous ghost story, I was thrilled.  I love books like this.  If you’ve read my reviews of  Kelly Creagh’s Nevermore series, you’ll understand.  Stories like this generally have more weight to them and they have the ability to pack more punch because they use the power of the classic work to build their story and add to the tone of the book.  If the classic work has a sense of foreboding, tension or mystery it always carries well into the new work.  To say I was excited, is an understatement.

Synopsis

When Abbey’s best friend, Kristen, suffers a sudden and tragic death, Abbey is left trying to accept that she is gone.  Sent into a state of shock that prevents her from fully accepting that Kristen is truly gone since they never found her body, Abbey tries to just get through her days.  When she meets a mysterious boy at Kristen’s funeral, she is intrigued and for the first time, she can see a future for herself again.  But Caspian is mysterious and elusive and appears to be hiding things from Abbey.

When Abbey, uncovers a secret her best friend was keeping from her, she struggles with the reality that they might not have been as close as she assumed.  And she can’t help but wonder if the secret she was keeping is connected, in some way, to her disappearance and death.  As Abbey searches for answers to the questions about her best friend, she uncovers truths about her town and Caspian.  Truths that will make her question her sanity and everything she’s ever believed in.

My Thoughts

This book had everything that makes a great story.  A sudden, mysterious death, ghosts, a loner heart-throb, angsty teens, a town with a past and a connection to the most famous ghost story in history.   I was looking forward to reading this series.  I thought for sure it was going to impress and excite me to no end.  Unfortunately, while the story was good, it wasn’t spectacular.  There were major holes in the narrative and it left me significantly wanting.

More than once in just the first book, plot devices were introduced with the implication that they would be important later but then they just petered out and weren’t anything to begin with.  This was frustrating.   There was just, so much happening in the book that it was hard to keep it all straight and the aspects of the story were held together with weak connections at best.

Then the climactic ending wasn’t very climactic.  Even though it was only a first book and I knew there was going to be more explained in the second and third books, I felt like the book ended rather abruptly and what happened didn’t make much sense to me.

Overall, this book left me wanting more than I was given at the end of this part of the story.  I did enjoy the story for the most part and it was enough to make me want to continue on to books two and three, but I felt there could have been stronger connections in the story.  The link to the headless horseman story was weak and didn’t contribute to the story in the way I had hoped.  Maybe the next books in the series will tie it all together.  Here’s hoping.

 

Book Review: Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (Necromancer, #2)

Necromancing - McBride

Necromancing the Stone

By Lish McBride

Series: Necromancer, Book #2

My Rating: 3 Stars

Necromancing the Stone is the follow-up book in Lish McBride’s Necromancer series.  All of your favorite characters have returned for this high intensity, action packed sequel to her smash hit, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

Synopsis

Sam LaCroix’s life is getting back to normal, well sort of, now that he’s defeated the evil necromancer Douglas.  If normal includes being a powerful necromancer, sort of dating a werewolf, having a best friend who is a werebear and being on the local magical council, the Sam has it in spades.  But if all of that isn’t enough, Sam has to deal with being assaulted everywhere he turns, and his new house seems to really have it out for him.   It’s enough to make Sam just want to give up but he knows he can’t do that.  When strange things start happening again that have so explanation, Sam can’t help but wonder if Douglas is really dead and he’s going to have to get to the bottom of it.

My Thoughts

This book was highly anticipated after reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the follow-up book.  The first book was so unique and satisfying in a way that few books are.  Unfortunately, Necromancing the Stone was a bit of a let down.  Not because the story itself wasn’t great because it was, but because it felt like there should have been more.   Not to this book exactly, but rather a third book in the series to bring it all together.  It felt like there were alot of loose ends when Necromancing the Stone came to and end.  This really saddens me because the first book ended on such a positive note.  Having been published in 2012, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t going to be a third book in this series.  Because of that, I couldn’t rate this book very high.  Too many points and aspects of the storyline were left unresolved or felt like they were tied up far to quickly to be completely fulfilling.

If you want more from the world that Lish McBride has created in her Necromancer story, you can read two novellas she has written.  The first (#.1) is titled “Heads will Roll” and the second (#.5) is “Necromancer.”  And while I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending of this series, I would still recommend it because it’s one of the most original series I’ve seen in a long time.  I believe it would still entertain a great number of readers.

Book Review: Beautiful Souls by Eyal Press

Beautiful Souls - Press

Beautiful Souls

By Eyal Press

My Rating: 3 Stars

The full title of this book is “Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times.”  It’s a fascinating look at why people go against the norm to stand up for something that directly contradicts the group as a whole and which could ultimately cause great harm and/or suffering for doing so.

Press uses multiple examples to explore the reason people do this and attempts to use these examples to come up with an explanation for their actions.  The first is a police captain who, in 1938, while working at the Swiss border allows Jewish refugees to enter the country despite rules against it.  The second is a Serb who, almost a half a century later,  defies his superiors to save the lives of Croats.  The third, is the story of a member of the Israeli elite military unit who informs his superiors that he does not wish to serve.  And the final example is of a whistle-blower who loses her job after standing up and refusing to sell something to her clients that seems to be sketchy.

Through numerous interviews, combined with research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, Beautiful Souls, is a fascinating piece of narrative journalism about the dilemmas we face when presented with rules, policies and practices that contradict the moral principles by which we chose to live.  It examines how loyalty is questioned and confronted as we try to balance our morality with our sense of duty and patriotism for our country and it’s citizens.

My Thoughts

I found this book to be fascinating.  Though it’s merely touches on the subject and can not be considered an all encompassing discussion and analysis of the subject, it is still an interesting walk down the beginning of this road.  Coming in at a mere 183 pages it barely scratches the surface but it is enough to make you sit and think about the subject and issues brought up in it, long after you’ve closed the book.  Overall, I felt the arguments were sound and adequately supported by the examples used in the book.

It’s important to note that this book is considered narrative journalism and focuses more on feeling than the basic facts like mainstream journalism.  But it’s an important aspect to evaluate.  How does one justify certain acts when they go against our very morals?  Should people feel a moral obligation to go against policies and procedures that cause harm?  Why are some people nonconformists and others aren’t?  Why do some have the moral courage to stand up against wrong?  Is there a difference between courage and moral courage?  All interesting questions presented by this book.  And it’s definitely something I’d be interested in learning more about in the future.  Overall, a fascinating read and worth checking out.

Book Review: Ripped by Katy Evans (Real, #5)

Ripped - Evans

Ripped

By Katy Evans

Series: Real, Book #5

My Rating: 5 Stars

Wow!!!  Best book of the Real series thus far!  Three cheers for Katy Evans for bringing me some of the most swoon-worthy and complicated male characters that I’ve ever encountered. This book was every single thing you hope for in a romance book.  Katy Evans has broken the mold with this steamy story.  Mackenna and Pandora sizzle in every way imaginable.  I liked all the other books.  I’d even go so far as saying I more than liked Real and  Mine but Ripped absolutely blew me away.  I practically inhaled this book.  I simply couldn’t put it down.  If you are a big romance fan and haven’t checked out this series yet, I highly recommend it.  These are now simple love stories.  They are full of complicated characters with pasts that haunt and torment, who struggle for peace when everything seems to be working against them.

Synopsis

Pandora had her heart broken once by her ex, Mackenna Jones.  But never again.  He’s been gone from her life for six years.  In those six years she hasn’t been able to find the closure she desperately needs.  Now that he’s back she’s going to get that closure if it’s the last thing she does.  She’s going to let him know exactly what he did to her when he left.  It’s time for her to exact some revenge for all the pain he caused.

Mackenna Jones was once just a boy from the wrong side of the tracks.  Someone, people thought, who was destined to follow in his father’s drug dealing footsteps.  But Mackenna was determined to prove them all wrong and nothing was going to stop him.  Six years have gone by and now he’s back in Seattle, the city he grew up in, and he’s not just a bad-boy from the wrong side of the tracks anymore.  He’s the lead singer in the wildly popular band Crack Bikini.  To give him a chance of making something of himself, he walked away from the girl that he loved and now that she’s thrown herself back into his life he’s determined to never let her go.  But his determination to make her stay may not be as strong as her determination to never let him close to her again.  Convincing Pandora to give their love another chance will be the biggest battle of his life.

My Thoughts

This was the best book of this series so far.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Remy and Greyson but there is something about Mackenna Jones that made my toes curl.  Can you say HOT with a capital H?  Because that’s the only way to describe him.  At first when he appears in the book I wasn’t sure if I was going to like him.  He seemed to be full of so much anger but as the book went on, I came to see that he just really loved pushing Pandora’s buttons.  And she made it so easy for him.  Their chemistry is undeniable.  Pandora isn’t your normal lead female character.  She’s never had a good role model on how to love.  And you can’t help but feel for her because it’s caused so much pain in her life.  Learning to forgive and being able to openly express her love are her biggest challenges.  I loved watching her overcome them and find true happiness.

As Pandora and Mackenna are forced back together and they begin to work through their issues you can’t help but get swept up in the emotion.  But it’s also hilariously funny as they dig at each other over and over.  They know how to push each other’s buttons and punish like no one else.  The saying, “you always hurt the ones you love the most” definitely applies to them.  It’s obvious from the start that their pasts hold secrets that will eventually be revealed.   The buildup to the release of those secrets is subtle but palpable and definitely keeps the reader engaged.

Overall, an excellent read.  I always like it when I can’t seem to put a book down.  When I am so engrossed in it that I forget about life itself while I sprint for the end.  It’s been a while since a book has done that for me.  I’m just sorry I waited so long to read this book. While this is the fifth book in this series, I should say that it’s definitely readable on it’s own.  You won’t get the background story of the other characters that pop in and out of the story, but it will still make sense.  That said, I do highly recommend the other books in this series.   As with most books that I love, I wish and hope there will be more to Kenna and Pandora’s story but I don’t think there will be.  There is a sixth book coming out in this series called Legend.  It looks to be just as scorching as the previous five.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I’m sure I’ll live, eat, breath and sleep the book once I break open the cover.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle, #1)

Great and Terrible - Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty

By Libba Bray

Series: Gemma Doyle, Book 1

My Rating: 3 Stars

I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of Libba Bray’s work before though several of her books, including A Great and Terrible Beauty, have been on my to-read list for quite some time.  I have however, had the pleasure of seeing her in person at Ya’ll Fest, a young adult literature festival held each year in Charleston, SC.  She is an amazingly funny person and vastly different from everything I expected.  If you ever get the chance to meet her, you should do it.  You are sure to love her and it’s definitely going to make you want to read her books that much more.

I’ve been trying to complete a 2015 reading challenge we started back in January at the libraries where I work. Now that I think about it, we are really getting close to the end of the year so I really need to get cracking and finish off the last few items on this list.  It’s become clear to me that I’m not going to meet my reading goal for the year and come January 1st I’m going to be dwelling on the fact that I failed to meet this goal so, if I can at least say I finished my 2015 reading challenge , I’ll have met at least one reading goal for the year.   But I digress…One of the items on the reading challenge list was “a book with antonyms in the title.”  When I did a search for books that met this requirement, A Great and Terrible Beauty came up so I jumped at the chance to kill two birds with one stone.  Read my book with an antonym in the title and check off another book on my to-read list.  My evil plan to take over the world is finally coming together.  Ok maybe this isn’t really a step in that direction but it’s still an achievement and brings me one step closer to one of my goals.

Synopsis

Sixteen year old Gemma Doyle isn’t like other girls her age.  She refuses to be prim and proper, she doesn’t want to be molded into just a pretty face so she can be the wife of a rich man.  She wants to live and experience the world.  She longs to leave India behind.  She wants to see England but her family seems to have other plans for her.  When tragedy strikes her family, rocking it to the core, Gemma is suddenly shipped off to England where she has been enrolled at Spence Academy, a private school for girls.  Separated from her family when she desperately needs them, Gemma tries to make sense of the strange events that day in India when everything changed for her and her family.  But try as she might she can’t explain what happened.  What’s more, the strange occurrences seem to have followed her to London.   They only way she can describe them is to call them visions.  Strange visions that seem to come true soon after she has them.  Gemma isn’t sure what’s happening to her but she needs answers.  When a mysterious boy whom she recognizes from that dreaded day everything changed appears in England, Gemma knows he’s watching her.  What she doesn’t know is why.  When Gemma befriends two of Spense’s most powerful girls, they discover a secret group called The Order.  But this secret society isn’t everything they appear to be.  The Order wants Gemma and will do anything to get her.  Armed with only the stern warnings of her mysterious Indian boy, and a secret diary, Gemma must find a way to control her visions before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

I’ll admit I’m not generally attracted to books about magic.  But I am a huge fan of books set in the Victorian age.  That was the big pull of this book for me.  There is always something so romantic and mysterious about books set in Victorian times.  On the cusp of a technological revolution but still set in their ways, no era conflicts so much with the past, present and future.  This constant struggle to find balance makes for some great stories, highly fascinating characters and some of the best books out there .  A Great and Terrible Beauty did not disappoint.

I particularly liked the constant mystery in this book.  I never quite knew what was happening and it’s what kept me connected.  I found myself wanting to know more and more and more.  I didn’t get answers to all of my questions but I was given just enough to hold my attention.  I’m hoping the next two books will provide me all of the answers for which I long.

I also very much enjoyed Gemma Doyle as a character.  She challenges the status quo and well, great things tend to happen when you challenge the status quo.  That’s what I’ve always believed at least.  Gemma is destroyed by what happens to her in India and she’s confused, but she doesn’t allow it to control her life.  She wants answers regarding what happened.  It’s unexplainable but that’s not acceptable.  She will find out the truth no matter what.  Throughout the book she persevered and sought out her answers despite warnings from those around her.  I’m excited to see how Gemma grows in the next two books in the series, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing.

Checkout this series.  It’s a great read for YA fans and adult readers who enjoy YA books.  Libba Bray is an amazing writer and her story is sure to entertain and appeal to many readers.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless, #1)

Hopeless - Hoover

Hopeless

By Colleen Hoover

Series: Hopeless, Book 1

My Rating: 4 Stars

Colleen Hoover continues to amaze my reading senses.  I’ve loved every single book that I’ve read of hers and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.  Every book gives me another amazing story with truly powerful and moving characters.  They suffer and struggle and ultimately find redemption.  Hoover’s books leave me breathless and I always require several days to recover from the drama and heartache her books inflict on me.  I always go through at least a half a box of tissues when reading them too.  I have learned that for the last 50 pages or so, I really need to be in the confines of my home and away from people because it’s only a matter of time before the waterworks start and we can’t be showing that off to all my fellow shoppers at Barnes and Noble or Starbucks, or my Dr.s office.  It’s best to do my bawling in the privacy of my own home with no one to witness the event except my cats.  They have grown accustomed to occasionally being used as a tissue so I’m safe with them.  All that said, if you haven’t read Hopeless, you need to.  This was one of those books that will grab you from the very first page.  It’s the first book in Hoover’s Hopeless series and well worth the read.

Synopsis

Sky Davis is starting her senior year in high school.  New to public school, Sky, hopes to make connections she’s never been able to make while being home schooled.  Unfortunately, Sky is on her own since her best friend Six has gone off to Europe for six months to study.  Sky knows that Six has a reputation for being “easy” and unfortunately for Sky that means guilty by association.  And while she’s not completely innocent, she’s not what everyone says about her.  Public school isn’t everything she thought it would be and now Sky just wants to get through the year so she can join the real world.  But when  she meets Dean Holder, a beautiful boy with irresistible dimples, who comes with a whole list of rumors attached to him of his own, Sky feels inexplicably drawn to him.  Holder is intense to the Nth degree.  He is a boy of few words, a violent temper, and who happens to harbor unwavering interest in knowing Sky.  As the intensity of their relationship grows, Holder stirs up memories of Sky’s past that she’s unknowingly kept hidden for years.  Then Sky realizes that Holder is keeping secrets.  Secrets about her past that will change her world forever.  Sky is torn between knowing her past and protecting herself from the pains she has carefully hidden away.  When Holder reveals his secrets, Sky may never be able to trust him or anyone close to her again.

My Thoughts

Whew!!!  This book was intense.  Every book I have ever read of Colleen Hoover’s has made me cry like a baby.  I thought I was going to finally get through one without the need for a box of tissues and privacy.  Nope, wrong on both accounts.  I made it to page 363 before the waterworks started.  It all went downhill from there.  By the time I hit the last pages, I could hardly see what I was trying to read.  My shirt sleeves were soaking wet, the cat had tears rubbed in his fur and I was a sniffling, blubbering mess.  Thanks a lot Colleen Hoover!

Seriously though, this was an amazing read.  I was able to figure out some of what was happening and make some connections before they were actually revealed but not everything.  The book still held some surprises for me and I like it when that happens.

The subjects covered in this book are intense and deeply painful so it’s important to be prepared.  Without revealing the secrets of this book, I’ll just say, that my heart ached no more than 100 different times for these characters and their circumstances.  I just couldn’t see how they could come through the events in their lives and be ok in the end.   But, true to form, Colleen Hoover successfully brings everything full circle and leaves her characters with hope for a better future, the possibility of love, friendship and happiness.

As always, Colleen Hoover’s books are highly recommended.  You can’t go wrong with her stories, her characters or her books in general.  As with her other books, Hopeless will take you on one crazy, emotional ride and will leave you breathless at the end.