Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'll Be The First To Admit it.

Hey guys,
What am i the first to admit? That i'm a slacker, i sign up to do somthing then i just forget about it, truth us, i didnt forget about The Book Bundle, I am just a very slow read with alot on my mind.
But behold, I have a few books to review on my night stand, including, but not limited too:
Speak: Laurie Halse Anderson (old book admited but i think its worth a mention,)
The rest of the Evermore Series By Alyson Noel.
The first Vampire Academy book,
The Carrie Diaries,
and a few others,
Thanks for being so patient,

Monique, xx

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, who also is the author of the acclaimed novel--Speak, wrote this very illuminating tale of a girl who is going through a very very very incredibly rough patch in her life.

Here is what inside the cover says,

"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls.

"Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies.  But now Cassie is dead.  Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives.  Her father is away on business.  Her stepmother is clueless.  And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less.  If she keeps on going this way--thin, thinner, thinnest--maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist, Speak, bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

Now if the blurb from the cover didn't give you enough chills to go read this.  Just go read it.

The author carved a beautiful girl into a disastrous mess very well in this story.  Lia, our main character, doesn't feel loved, doesn't feel beautiful, and doesn't feel wanted by anyone or anything.  She's just the space between everything else in everyone else's life.  At first it makes you want to cry while reading it.  Why would anyone put themselves through this kind of misery?  But as Laurie Halse Anderson keeps the story moving forward, and slightly making the reader hope that Lia will live through this agony, you get a sense of what it may be like for these girls (in this case, teenage girls) who go through anorexia, bulimia, and cutting.  It makes you itch and crawl and your stomach churn with the numbers that are put on the page for how much one half a banana equals to in calorie, or what it feels like to sweat every night in secret to lose those extra five pounds in just a couple days.  I can tell you that my mouth watered for food and water on every single page of this book.

Lia is a very well thought out, mapped out character in this story.  As the story is in first person, you can get a real sense of what it is to be Lia.  To feel how she may feel.  The way her thoughts are written are truly magnificent.  There is no other author--I feel--that could capture such anguish and misery into one character.  As you read and watch Lia turn this way and that way and really try to win at anorexia without dying and cutting away her life through razors and knives, you really feel for her and I know I wanted to hug her every time she would swallow that bite of banana or bagel and cheer for just that small amount.  As the reader though, it's impossible to do that to a character.  But also the way that Lia's thoughts are written out are truly reeling.  You'll read through a lot--and I mean A LOT--of strike through words, sentences, and phrases even of all the good that does enter Lia's mind at times.  But also those are the strikeouts.  The bad thoughts are stronger, more domineering, and more in control that Lia cannot refuse what they tell her.  That's what makes you cry as a reader.  I don't think I'd really understood what went through the minds of those who suffer with anorexia or bulimia before I had read this book.  Now I do.  I feel as if I have suffered with Lia through this and now want to make it better.

I don't want to give much away about the story.  But like the blurb says up above, Lia and Cassie were best friends.  Then Cassie dies.  That's the way the story begins.  Cassie is dead and Lia can't seem to face the truth of it.  She had been getting better a bit slowly from earlier on before the story began, but as the story goes on, you read that she never left her winterland.  Just stepped across the border into spring to make people happy and since Cassie's death, winterland is her own.  It all goes downhill from there like Lia is riding a sled down a very tall snow-covered mountain.

Even though this story is depressing, and the first book I've read by Laurie Halse Anderson, I would like to call her the Jodi Picoult for teenagers.  And although this story has elements in it that no one should ever read this kind of in-depth material, I have made a decision that will hopefully never bite me in the behind ever for it.  It is a decision that my children will read this when they are ready for it.  I would like them to know that (like Lia's family tries to show her but she always puts away) no matter what, their family is there for them for anything.  It doesn't have to be a battle between disease, disorder and family.  It can be a winning goal though for person suffering the disorder or disease because they looked to their family for support and love and didn't try to wash it all away.  I know that things this bad, as in Lia's case, are never that easy to deal with, even with family at your side.  But it's something we all should know, anorexic, bulimic or not.

This book truly touched my heart and it goes out there for all the girls, young women and women and even some boys and men that go through eating disorders.  It also goes out to the author, Laurie Halse Anderson, for taking on such a strong subject that truly affects many many people in our world today and will always affect us in one way or another.  Bravo for taking such a strong subject and showing us the world that not many people--like myself--really understand.

I highly recommend this book to everyone aged thirteen and older.  (If this book needed a rating, I'd rate it PG-13).  Maybe you can see yourself in Lia somehow and overcome whatever it is you need to overcome like she needs.  And even though the story has the family hiding in the shadows mostly in the background, family is life.  Family is our truest support in this world of hardship and trials.  And I'll get off my soapbox now because this is supposed to be a book review, not a counseling session.

Truly though, this was a fantastic book.  Magnificently written.  Excellent story, excellently told.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cut Short - Leigh Russell

I don't usually read crime fiction, but I was delighted to receive a review copy of Leigh Russell's deput novel, Cut Short.

When D.I. Geraldine Steel relocates to the quiet rural town of Woolsmarsh, she expects to find her new home to be somewhere where nothing much ever happens; a space where she can battle her demons in private. But when she finds herself pitted against a twisted killer preying on local young women she quickly discovers how wrong she is...

By day, the park is a place for children's games, for people walking their dogs or taking a short cut to avoid the streets. But in the shadows a predator prowls, hunting for a fresh victim. When an unwitting bystander comes forward as a witness she quickly becomes the next object of his murderous obsessions - someone whom the killer must stop at all costs.

D.I. Geraldine Steel is locked into a race against time, determined to find the killer before they discover yet another naked corpse . But can she save the lives of the town's young women - or will Geraldine herself become the killer's ultimate trophy?

As I said, I'm not a reader of crime fiction but I have to say I found Cut Short a quick read. The novel has a 'law and order' feel to it, as we see the steps, dead ends and eventually success of the detectives in their pursuit of a serial killer. I really enjoyed being able to see things from different perspectives and really enjoyed some of Leigh's characters, namely D.S. Peterson and can't wait to see how their stories develop further as the series progresses.

In regards to the crime side of the story (which obviously is the main part), Leigh doesn't hold back and gives us a very gritty view of the characters' (both victims and minor characters) lives. That being said, I enjoyed the fact that through the bantering relationship of Geraldine and Peterson, and the focus on Geraldine and her sister Celia, or Craig, there was a lightening of the plot.

Overall, I think crime readers will really enjoy this book, and I look forward to reading more about Geraldine Steel and the other characters in Cut Short

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Death of the Necromancer

I've been neglecting this blog for too long, but things have been really chaotic with moving, my husbands deployment, and raising my son. But alas I've come to review a book I've been wanting to share here, Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells.

The synopsis on "Nicholas Valiarde is both a nobleman and a thief, perhaps the greatest thief in the kingdom of Ile-Rien, where magic is a part of everyday life. Around him he has gathered an unparalleled band of criminals, including a well-known actress, an ex-military officer, a hardened killer, and a sorcerer with a bad drug habit. Valiarde, in the guise of criminal overlord Donatien, is amassing a small fortune in gold and jewels with one purpose in mind: to take his revenge on Count Montesq, the man who leveled false charges of necromancy against Nicholas's beloved godfather Edouard, leading to Edouard's execution. But Nicholas's band of ne'er-do-wells isn't the only force stalking the dark streets of Vienne, and Nicholas is about to face a real necromancer in a battle whose outcome will affect all of Ile-Rien. Wells has created a fast-paced action-adventure story with a wonderful cast of characters and a twisting, turning plot that will keep you flipping pages well into the evening hours."

This book was incredibly good, but when people ask me to explain it I'm at a loss for words because so much is packed into this book. Much like the review stated, it really did keep me up reading until late hours at night, especially when certain intense chapters came and I couldn't put the book down because I had to know what happens.

This book takes place in the 18th or 19th century Italy in a place called Ile-Rein. It has a very Gothic undertone and is filled with Fantasy and Magic. Nicholas is not the only start character in the book. There is Madeline who helps him out and forms the disguises. It is also suggested that they are in a relationship. There is Crack, the very loyal assistant to Nicholas. There are also several others, but at the moment I am unable to recall them all. However, I must say that the downside of having so many well written characters is that I ultimately got a few of them confused towards the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and hated having to put it down. I found a couple of the scenes a bit disturbing, but it fit the tone of the book and didn't stop me from reading on. I found the ending to be quite clever and well done as well. All in all, I'm going to give this book 9 stars! A few of the characters could have done better with more explanation or filling in. However, it was still an excellent read and I suggest it to anyone who likes a good Gothic adventure and mystery.

Books to review, and books to give away

Hey! Ailsa here again, and once again I'm having to apologise for not being here much. I'm sorry. I'm now going to attempt to post at least once a week, and hopefully being able to auto-post will help a little bit with that.

So, I'm home for a wee while, and I've been looking through my bookshelves, trying to organise them and see if there's anything that I can put out. This is a horrible job, I'm pretty useless at putting books out.
I did, however, organise a big pile of books that I need to write reviews for, and I have a lot of books to offer to you guys as give aways. Yes, these books will be ones that I've owned and read, but I'm a careful reader - I'm only going to offer things that are still in perfect condition.

I'm going to kick off my new 'post at least once a week' goal with a give-away, then - my 'Sorry I haven't been posting' giveaway!
Winner gets the book of their choice from either 'Ill Wind' by Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampire novels), 'Night Life' by Caitlin Kittredge, or 'Kiss of Midnight' by Lara Adrian. Each of these is the first book in a series, so great if you are looking for something new to read.

So, what do you have to do to enter? Easy - just leave a comment telling me something interesting you've been up to in the last couple of months, or something you're looking forward to, or both! It can be book related or personal, anything really!
Closing date is a week today, Sunday 9th May, and winner will be chosen at random and announced as soon as I get internet access after that.