Book Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title: Awaken (GoodReads)
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Page Count: 309
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopian

Goodreads Summary:
Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Opinion:
This book is set in the year 2060, and it follows a pretty natural progression from our current world. All schools are online. People rarely leave their houses, choosing instead to chat with people online and join online groups. Maddie plays soccer in person, but that’s about the only time she leaves her house. People’s food – or the processed crap they say is food – is sent to them, so they don’t have to leave their house for that reason, either.

The scariest thing about this book is that so much of it sounds exactly like life is today, or else it sounds exactly like what we’re heading toward. I can see much of this happening, and that fact is the main reason I kept reading this book. I wanted to see how much of this world was like ours. I was hoping for more explanations for how certain things got to this point – not that it needed much explanation as, like I said, so much of this is already happening now. This book has such a great premise, and the relatability of the concept is such that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this book reviewed more places.

And then I read it, and I’m sad to say that this book did not live up to it’s potential. The world building was a big part of the problem. I wouldn’t have thought she would need to do much world building here, as it’s basically our world fifty years from now, but it turns out it needed more information. It’s almost as if the author couldn’t tell whether she wanted to make it exactly like now or try to change to have it be “futuristic,” and so she ends up with this weird mix of present and future that doesn’t really make sense. It’s illegal to chop down real trees, but her mother gives her a paper journal. How did she get it? If the trees aren’t real, where do we get our oxygen? If they don’t leave the house for anything, why would they have a soccer teams? Why wouldn’t they just play virtual soccer?

My main problem, though, was that there was a lot more “telling” than “showing.” This is a problem that I have with my own writing, so I’m sympathetic, but I still found that weakened the story. There were a lot of info dumps, and we get to hear the message on practically every other page. While I get that it’s probably really hard to write a book like this without talking about the evils of technology, it would have been nice to see that worked in a bit more and not just front and center the entire book. There were also even times when instead of showing Maddie talking, we would see her speak, and then she would say something like “I said x” where “x” was literally what she would have said. It doesn’t save time, so all it did was take me out of the novel.

I also didn’t like the love interest, which brought the whole book down. For a “selfless” person, Justin spends an incredibly large amount of time talking about himself and his commitments and how valuable his time is. He always knows the right thing to say to Maddie, but we don’t really see much of why he knows her so well, so it comes off as creepy. Or at least it did to me. I didn’t trust him. He and Maddie have a lot of deep, intense, and/or personal conversations that don’t really seem to fit the situation.

I did like, though, that Maddie didn’t just immediately betray her family for the boy she supposedly loves. You see that all the time in young adult books, and I appreciated that that didn’t happen here.

Overall, this was a great concept for a book, but it just didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it. I kept reading because I was hoping it would get better, but that never happened. I found Maddie’s emotions to be all over the place (and not in a way that would make sense), and the end just sort of falls together, and that just made things worse. Apparently this is the first book in a trilogy (or at least a series), but I will not be reading the rest of them.

1.5 stars

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits (GoodReads)
Author: Katie McGarry
Page Count: 392
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary YA

Goodreads Summary:
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Opinion:
I’ve been hearing about this book forever, but it took me a while to get around to it. Now that I’ve finally read it, I understand why everyone loves this book.

Echo and Noah are interesting characters. They boy used to be part of the popular crowd, but then real life intervened. Noah’s parents died, leaving him to bounce between different foster homes trying to find comfort in drugs and sex while he struggles to gain custody of his younger brothers. Echo’s mother tried to kill her, but she can’t remember what happened – all she knows is that she has “freaky” scars on her arms that she constantly tries to hide.

I’ve read a lot of “good girl meets bad boy” stories, but this one seemed different. There were actual reasons behind all of their actions. They were complex characters that had relationships with other people. I liked reading both points of view, and I was actively cheering for this couple. They got involved a bit sooner than I thought, but this book also showed that just because you fall in love doesn’t mean you don’t still have to struggle to make the relationship work. I appreciated that a lot.

I also appreciated Echo’s relationship with her parents. At times I wanted to hit her for not hating her parents as much as I did, but of course they’re her parents, and it’s not always easy to hate people – especially when you’re still hoping for their love. Echo’s struggle to be good enough for her parents’ love was very relatable and heartbreaking.

I sort of wish the ending had been a bit longer. Things come together a bit quicker than I would have liked. There were also some parts in the middle where I felt the story dragged a bit. I started wondering what all we still had left to find out – or at least how what we had left to find out could possibly take up that many pages.

Still, this was a great book, one that I’m very glad I finally read.

4.5 stars

Book Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Perfect You (GoodReads) 
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Page Count: 282
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary

Goodreads Summary:
Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate’s invisible.

And then there’s Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can’t stand even though she can’t stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she’s sure she’s just his latest conquest.

Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn’t realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen — but only if she lets them…

Opinion:
I probably shouldn’t have read this book right after I read Something, Maybe, as the same sorts of problems I encountered with that one showed up in this one. The dad was the same as in that one – a grown man who refuses to deal with negative emotions, who thinks only of himself, and who has practically zero redeeming qualities. There’s also a main character who’s so oblivious to the world around her that I have a hard time finding the plot believable at times.

I did like this book more than the previous one. I found myself relating to Kate more than I would care to admit. I wanted to hate her for jumping to (obviously false) conclusions and cutting Will off before he even got to finish a sentence, but that still sounds like something I would do: be so afraid of rejection and humiliation that you hurry to reject the other person first. It’s stupid, but I can definitely look back and see when I did that, so I guess it’s realistic.

I didn’t find Kate’s father all that realistic, but maybe I’m just lucky and haven’t come across someone like that. I just found him so infuriating, and I ended up hating everyone else in the family for not yelling at him, for continuing to make excuses for him as he throws their savings down the drain so he can follow his “dream” of selling vitamins, even though he was constantly leaving the kiosk to go to the movies or get food or buy video games. He was just so selfish and irresponsible, and it takes forever until someone besides their grandmother finally noticed.

Really, the only character I really liked (besides Will) was the grandmother, whom everyone else seemed to hate. I get that she can be a bit judgmental at times, but she obviously cares about them, and she’s right about most everything (except for the bright purple shoes), and it was annoying to watch everyone else side with the father when she would put him down, when clearly she was the one who was right.

It sounds like I hated this book, but I didn’t. I found Kate rather immature at times, and she was kind of annoying, but I could still mostly understand her, and I was looking forward to the moment when she would finally stop getting in her own way and just be able to get along with Will. He was cute and amusing. I don’t really understand why he put up with her, but my boyfriend puts up with me, so I guess it’s at least realistic. I loved their “10 second rule,” which is pretty much how my boyfriend and I correspond most of the time.

Overall, this book was rather infuriating, but it wasn’t horrible. And I got the ending I was hoping for, so it was mostly worth it in the end.

2 stars

Resolutions – Looking back and ahead

It’s that time of year again. The time when you look back at what you’ve accomplished over the past year and set goals for yourself for the following year. Or at least it’s a time when many people do that, and I generally try to do it, too. I don’t always do what I say I’m going to do, but having goals still helps me feel like I’m working toward something, and it’s fun to be able to look back and see that I’ve actually done something over the past year, even if it wasn’t exactly what I meant to do.

So, first, the resolutions for 2013, and a look at how I did:

1: Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks – and update on the site.
I actually read 77 books this year (2 of which were textbooks, which totally count!), but I rarely ever linked my reviews to the “52 Books in 52 Weeks” website. So – partial success.

2. Read at least 10 New Adult books.
I read 12 that fall into that age group, so I’m counting them all. Success.

3. Finish editing the following novels:
For Real This Time // Tilt Your Head and Smile // Degeneration // Alone // Choices

Well, I finished editing TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE. And I wrote draft two of DEGENERATION. Didn’t do anything with the rest of them, though. So this one was mostly a fail.

4. Finish writing the following novels:
God’s Love // The Story of Em // Together // Better

Another mostly failed goal. I finally finished THE STORY OF EM, but I didn’t do anything with the rest of them. I did, however, write several different novels. So I was productive, but not in the way I intended.

5. Do something to advance my writing every day.
I spent a lot of time reading blogs that had to do with writing, which technically counts as part of my goal. Overall, though, this wasn’t the best year for my writing. So I’ll count this as a fail.

6. Participate in more challenges like Pitch Wars.
I participated in The Writer’s Voice. I wasn’t picked by a judge, and I never heard back from the agent who requested my manuscript, but it still counts! So – success!

7. Become more social…on the Internet.
I’m not sure if this counts as a win or not. I met a whole bunch of new people during NaNo that I chatted with. I’ve found more Twitter followers. So I didn’t become as social as I was probably hoping, but I’ve made progress since 2012, so I’ll count that as a win.

8. Find CPs/beta readers.
Did not happen.

9. Exercise regularly.
Also did not happen. I mean, I exercised, and I did so regularly for a little while, but then I would stop again. Although technically starting and stopping is still a pattern, so does that count as exercising regularly?

10. Continue to eat better.
I will consider this a mostly win. I’ve had some days (most of which have been in the last week or two) where I haven’t been eating like I know I should, but overall I’m still eating way better than I used to.

 

And now for my goals for 2014. I was originally going to do this as a separate post, but I waited too long to write this. I seem to be doing that a lot lately.

1. Learn Dvorak.
I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for years, but I only seem to remember right before NaNo, when it’s too late to change.

2. Read 50 books, including the following: 10 classics, 10 New Adult, 10 nonfiction.
I’ll be student teaching in the spring and (hopefully) starting my first year of teaching in the fall, so I won’t have as much time to read as I did this year, but I’m hoping I can still do this. And if I’m going to be an English teacher, I should probably start reading all of the books that people normally read in English classes that for some reason I never had to read.

3. Write 500 for WriYe.
I signed up for National Novel Writing Year again, even though I’m not completely certain I can write that much this year. Of course, I wrote that much in a month this year, so I’m hoping it’s not too ridiculous this year.

4. Edit/rewrite Degeneration, For Real This Time, Alone, and Choices.
These are the novels I was supposed to edit this year and didn’t.

5. Rewrite Trail Magic and The Story of Em.
I wrote both of these for NaNo this year. I don’t know that I’ll necessarily have to rewrite them completely, but I generally have to do that, so I’m assuming I will for these. If I don’t have to rewrite them, I should at least edit them.

6. Find a critique partner (or more).
TILT is the only novel that I have that’s ready for this stage. I’m really happy with it, actually. I just haven’t shared it with anyone yet, and if I’m serious about publication (which I am), I need help.

7. Win NaNo.
Since I’ve been writing way over 50k the past few years, this shouldn’t be difficult. However, this will be my first year doing NaNo as a teacher (hopefully, assuming I get a job), so it will be much harder to find time to write. I’m hoping I can still hit at least 100k while teaching, but we’ll see.

8. Lose 50 pounds.
I don’t really like my generic “eat better and exercise more” goals of last year. I like to see numbers. Obviously this has nothing to do with writing, but I figured I’d mention it anyway.

9. Graduate and get my teaching certification.
Again, not writing related, and I’m pretty much guaranteed to do this unless something goes horribly wrong, but still. I like goals that I’m pretty much guaranteed to accomplish.

10. Find a job.
This one is way less certain. Still, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a teaching job once I graduate.

So there are my goals. How’d you do on yours? Do you have any for the upcoming year?

Book Review: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the series. You can check out my reviews for those books here:
Book 1 (Across the Universe)
Book 2 (A Million Suns)

Title: (GoodReads) 
Author: Shades of Earth
Page Count: 369
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Goodreads Summary:
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

Opinion:
First off, I have to complain about the cover. The first two book in the series had absolutely gorgeous covers. Why they decided to change everything for the last book, I have no idea. The current cover isn’t horrible, but it’s nowhere near as awesome as the covers for the first two. This has nothing really to do with the actual book, but it still bothered me.

Although, in hindsight, I guess the different cover of the book was sort of an omen that things were about to change. This whole book felt so different from the first two. And, really, it is different. They’re no longer in space. The frozens are about to wake up. They have this whole new planet to deal with. Everything is different. So I guess it makes sense for the cover to be different, too. And the fact that this cover is worse than the others sort of hints at something, too.

I don’t want this review to sound as though I hated this book. Because I didn’t. I quite enjoyed it for the most part. Or, rather, most of what I didn’t like wasn’t really a flaw. I don’t deal well with change. I don’t like to see people take over who I don’t feel deserve to be in charge. I don’t like feeling that Orion was right to kill off the frozens. But that’s how I felt for most of the book. I hated most of the frozens, and the other people on the ship already annoyed me from the second book, and Amy was acting strangely for part of it, and I just spent most of this book hating everyone.

Except that was also realistic. Because if you’re the head of the military personnel on a ship, and you find out that some sixteen year old is in charge of everyone, you would start to question things. I probably wouldn’t trust Elder, either, if I hadn’t already known what happened. So all of their reactions make sense, and I’m glad Revis wrote it like that because she didn’t take the easy way out. There was a real power struggle, and I liked that. It was realistic.

I also liked that there was some mystery. We don’t really know what’s with the aliens or whatever it is that’s trying to kill them. There’s more secrets about the ship that we don’t know. In a way, it was much more dramatic than the first two (or at least than the second one) because there’s more stuff going on. And more people keep dying. And you want to know why, and you keep thinking you have some idea, but there’s always more that you don’t quite know.

I could have dealt with that. And there was a lot that surprised me, and a lot of it was handled quite well. I still really enjoyed this book. But I couldn’t help feeling, once I got to the end, that so much of what happened could have been avoided very easily – so easily, in fact, that it sort of feels like that all happened for nothing, and it makes me question the whole book. There were so many great layers to this story, and I thought it would keep getting better, but it didn’t. It’s like she wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen, or she had a great start to an idea but needed to make it more dramatic so it would last for a whole book. I’m not sure.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe the events were realistic and I’m the unrealistic one to think that it could have happened a different way. I just found much of this book to be a bit, well, anticlimactic for me. I felt like there were so many more things to wrap up in the end, and maybe instead of writing a bunch of stuff that didn’t really need to happen, she could have focused on a different aspect of the new world instead. But that’s just me.

Overall, this was still a great book. I’m glad I read it, and this is still one of my favorite series that I’ve read this year. I still highly recommend this series to everyone. It’s not nearly as big of a letdown as the last Hunger Games book was. This book just wasn’t quite as good as the first two.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Okay, only one more book review after this one! Promise!

Title: Stolen (GoodReads) 
Author: Lucy Christopher
Page Count: 301
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Literary YA

Goodreads Summary:
Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.

Opinion:
I really wanted to like this book. The summary sounded really interesting – in a sick sort of way – and I wanted to read it immediately. I wanted to see if she would end up falling in love with her captor. I mean, I’ve read enough YA and NA with unhealthy relationships that I figured it might be interesting to read one that was supposed to be an unhealthy relationship.

Except, this book really wasn’t all that interesting. Maybe I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading more lit fic-y type books. I don’t need car chases or anything, but I need something more than “I lay in bed. He tries to talk to me. I yell at him. He goes away.” A lot of people have commented on the beautiful descriptions of Australia, but since I hate scenery descriptions, all of that did nothing for me except drag the book out even more. I think I was expecting more suspense. There were some moments when I was scared for her, of course, but I ended up believing that Ty wouldn’t hurt her pretty early on, so it was just sort of annoying and boring to watch.

I’m not really sure what to make of the characters. On the one hand, I’m glad that Gemma didn’t just immediately give in to this guy. She notices that he’s attractive, and she hates herself for it, but she doesn’t let his good looks or the fact that he keeps talking about how he’s “saving” her make her forget that he also kidnapped her. She fought back. She didn’t fight back particularly well or anything, but she tried, so I’ll give her credit for that. But then there’s also a moment where she stops trying, and there’s a sudden character shift about halfway through the novel (maybe more), and it was just sort of sudden and unexpected. I was expecting a more gradual change.

I also don’t know what to make of Ty, her kidnapper. I don’t know if I find him believable. He has no family and spent some time living on the street, but he has enough money to build this house in the middle of nowhere and fill it with enough supplies to last them years. And he has expensive medical supplies. And he’s really strong and good looking and kidnaps a girl that he’s been stalking for quite some time, but he’s also really patient with her and never tries to hurt her. But he does put wire around the land so she can’t escape, and he lies to her. So he’s nice to her but also kidnaps her. But maybe that is realistic. People do horrible things because they get it in their mind that it’s the right thing to do.

Really, this book left me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I felt sorry for Ty, and I hated when Gemma was mean to him. On the other hand, he freaking kidnapped her, so of course she was mean to him. But we also never really saw any reason for Gemma to want to go back other than that’s where she was used to being. It seems as though she never really got along with her parents, and she doesn’t really like her friends, and her ex-boyfriend was a jerk. So I guess I could sort of understand why Ty thought he was saving her from all of that, even though he still had no right to do that.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to rate this one because I’ve been left with so many confliction emotions. I know I should hate Ty because he kidnapped Gemma and that is wrong, wrong, wrong – but I also feel a bit sorry for him, and part of me was hoping that she would end up feeling the same way. But then I hated myself for feeling that way because, again, he’s a creepy stalker/kidnapper.

But now I’m thinking that that’s what I was supposed to be feeling. This book deals with Stockholm Syndrome, and I would say Christopher did a good job of making me understand more of what those people feel like. So, I’m going to say that all of those confused feelings that made me question whether or not I liked the book – I’m going to say that was the point. So the author was definitely successful in that respect – I just wish the rest of the book hadn’t been so boring.

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Again, sorry for the multiple book reviews in one day. But this is the last day to share my book reviews if I’m also going to post my goals and wrap-ups for the year, so I figured I should go ahead and post them all today. Only two more after this!

Title: A Million Suns (GoodReads) 
Author: Beth Revis
Page Count: 386
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Goodreads Summary:
It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Opinion:
I’m always a bit worried going into sequels when I’ve absolutely loved the first book. It’s really hard to live up to those sorts of expectations. This book, however, did a pretty decent job of that. I didn’t love this book as much as the first one, but I still really enjoyed it. I thought that we had gotten all of the lies out of the way in the first book, but it turns out Amy and Elder have a lot more to figure out before their story is done. They still have more lies to uncover, plus they have to deal with all the people on the ship.

I have to say that I really felt for Elder in this one. He has so much that he has to do, but he was never really prepared for any of it. He wants to be a good leader, but he doesn’t want to use Phydus. I can understand that, but I still spent most of this book shouting “Oh, just drug them all!” in my head. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not in charge of a large group of people.

A lot of people saw the ending in the first book coming, and I probably would have, too, had I not been hoping for something else. This book I found slightly more predictable. I nailed one aspect of it, but the I was still surprised by part of it, which is good. I did feel like a bunch of stuff got resolved a bit too quickly, but overall I still really enjoyed this book. I read it quickly, and I had to start reading the next book immediately after I finished this one, so I would say job well done.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: The Silent Takeover

Title: The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy (GoodReads)
Author: Noreena Hertz
Page Count: 304
F/NF: Nonfiction
Genre: Politics/economics

Goodreads Summary:
Of the world’s 100 largest economies, 51 are now corporations, only 49 are nation-states. The sales of General Motors and Ford are greater than the gross domestic product of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and Wal-Mart now has a turnover higher than the revenues of most of the states of Eastern Europe. Yet few of us understand fully the growing dominance of big business.

Widely acclaimed economist Noreena Hertz brilliantly reveals how corporations across the world manipulate and pressure governments by means both legal and illegal; how protest is becoming a more effective political weapon than the ballot-box; and how corporations are taking over from the state responsibility for everything from providing technology for schools to healthcare for the community.

The Silent Takeover asks us to recognize the growing contradictions of a world divided between haves and have-nots, of gated communities next to ghettos, of extreme poverty and unbelievable wealth. In the face of these unacceptable extremes, Noreena Hertz outlines a new agenda to revitalize politics and renew democracy.

Opinion:
I loved the idea behind this book. Given our current economic state and my distrust of corporations, I figured this book would be right up my alley. And it was, for the most part. It provided some great information about what got us here. It showed both the positive and negative aspects of business, which I wasn’t expecting but appreciated. This isn’t a book that just blindly attacks corporations. It definitely shares its reasons and lists examples of times when corporations actually do good things – even if those good things are usually in their own best interest.

I wish I had read this book when it first came out, though. This book came out in 2003, and a lot has changed in the past ten years. Ten years ago, we were still in first term of Bush’s presidency, and we were coming off of the surplus years of Clinton. The country (and probably the world) is in much worse shape now than it was ten years ago. We’ve had the Occupy Wall Street protests that have called our attention to the income disparity in this country. None of this is the fault of the book or the author, but it does mean that this book doesn’t do well with age.

This book was also a bit wordy at times. She could have gotten to her point a lot quicker than she did, and there were times when what she was arguing didn’t really seem to fit with her overall thesis. There was a lot of good information, but it wasn’t really presented in the best way all of the time. And as much as I liked that she showed both sides of corporations, the way she presented that information at first made it sound like she was changing her argument halfway through the book. Of course, it’s also possible that I just got distracted while reading and missed a transition or something.

Overall, this was a good book. It provided a lot of great information that is still relevant today. That said, this book is ten years old, and I spent half of the book wondering “I wonder how this is different today.”

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Distance Between Us

 

Sorry for posting multiple book reviews in one day. I just realized that I was running out of time to post them before the end of th year, so I figured I’d go ahead and do this now.

Title: The Distance Between Us (GoodReads)
Author: Kasie West
Page Count: 312
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Contemporary

Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Opinion:
I liked Caymen from the very beginning. She’s super sarcastic, so much so that most people don’t realize that she’s joking most of the time. She lives with her mom above their doll store, and she does what she has to do to help her mom – even though that’s not really what she wants to do with her life. But she knows that she has to be there for her mom, and it was interesting to read about their relationship. Usually in these situations we have a character who either loves doing whatever she can for her family or else we have a character who ends up resenting her family. I loved Caymen’s relationship with her mom, though, because it felt very real. She loves her mom and enjoys spending time with her, and she wants to do what she can for her mom – but she also wants a life of her own, and her struggle seemed very realistic.

I also liked her relationship with her friend. They clearly wanted the best for each other, and they could talk to each other about most of the things that were troubling them (well, that were troubling Caymen), which was nice. Hell, I even liked her friend’s boyfriend and the guy she tried to hook Caymen up with. Both had their flaws but were rather realistic and amusing.

Xander was a bit harder to figure out. Really, he’s realistic, too. He does and says stupid things, but he’s also kind of adorable at times. I could see why he and Caymen were so drawn to each other for the most part, though I didn’t trust him the whole time. I really wanted to like him, though, as it was clear how much Caymen liked him, even if she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Really, I couldn’t put the book down because I had to find out what was going to happen with these two. I was just going to read part of it, and I ended up reading all of it. I just could not put it down.

The only thing that kept me from loving this book completely – and what’s lowering the rating – was the ending. Everything happens too fast, and it all just gets sorted out a bit too neatly. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to give anything away, but it was not at all what I was expecting. It sort of makes sense, but I didn’t like it. I feel like I was cheated out of a real ending.

That said, it was still a highly enjoyable book overall, and the ending wasn’t bad enough to ruin the whole book.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

This book does not come out until February 2014. I won an advanced copy of this book in Marissa Meyer’s “Write Like Crazy” Challenge for NaNoWriMo. (You can also check out an interview by me and the other winners here.)

Warning: The summary and review that follow DO contain spoilers for books 1 and 2 of the series. You can find my reviews of the first two books here:
Cinder (Book #1)
Scarlet (Book #2)

Title: Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)  (GoodReads)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Page Count: 560
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Science fiction

Goodreads Summary:
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Opinion:
Words can’t even begin to explain how much I adored this book. I’ve been hooked on this series since I first picked up Cinder last summer, and each book in the series is so much better than the last, which I didn’t think was possible. Each novel is just so much more complex. We meet new characters and learn more information about old ones.

Cress was a great addition to the series. She’s so cute, but at the same time she slowly gains confidence in herself, which is really important. She reacts in believable ways to the situations she’s faced with. And I absolutely love her obsession with Thorne. Thorne was my favorite addition in book 2, and he just keeps getting better. I have a bit of a crush on him myself, so I could definitely relate to Cress in that sense.

Admittedly, not a ton happens in this book, at least looking back. If I remember correctly, Scarlet covered just a few days after the events of Cinder, and Cress doesn’t cover much more time. But it’s still amazing how much drama you can get out of just a couple of weeks. Plus, this book is a lot darker than previous books, or at least some scenes were. I’m curious to see what will happen next, though I’m also a bit afraid for the characters.

I enjoyed watching the characters grow in this novel. We learned more about all of them, and I have so much respect for Marissa Meyer. There are at seven different point of view characters, and she manages to keep all of the stories flowing. I read on her blog that the next book will have eleven point of view characters – that’s ridiculous, and yet I have full confidence that she will be able to handle it.

I could go on and on about how much I loved this book. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down – I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next. I meant to read just a few chapters at a time, as I had other things I was supposed to be doing, but I pretty much dropped everything else and focused solely on finishing this book. Who has time for editing when the characters are getting into all sorts of trouble?

If you haven’t started reading this series yet, you really should. I’ve never read such in original retelling before. She takes these characters and makes them her own, and I love them so much. These books are officially my second favorite series of all time – second only to Harry Potter. And, really, I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Rating: 10/10

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