Books: A true story

I like to read young adult and classic literature and think about them too much and look up random tidbits on google.

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The Hourglass Door (The Hourglass Door Trilogy) - Lisa Mangum

I'm still getting used to this site. If I want to update my status do I just make a post text and add the book??? It seems kind of tedious but I really need to talk about this horrid brown dress her boyfriend bought her.  Men - you are not allowed to buy women clothes. Especially in the color brown. FOR A DANCE. The end.

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"We gather our arms full of guilt as though it were precious stuff."
East of Eden - John Steinbeck

pg 266

After Hello

After Hello - Lisa Mangum This book gave me a respect for contemporary romance.  After Hello is one of the first newish contemporary romances that I've read.  It takes better writing to keep your interest since the author has to keep the plot and characters grounded in reality.  I really liked the writing.  I thought it was beautiful and the conversations were interesting.  New York was very much a part of the story without there being tons of over-description.  I just felt immersed in the city the whole time.  The way the setting was written was very well done.I really enjoyed watching the romance slowly build.  I can see the appeal of contemporary romances now.  The characters have rich and distinct personalities.  Sam and Sara were so easy to visualize in my head and I could see why they were drawn to each other. They have time to actually build an interesting connection with each other.  The story was very much character driven instead of plot driven.That also brings me to my complaint: the plot felt slow to me.  This story happens in one day, but it felt like hardly anything happened.  They go on a quest together (if you will) for the brattiest celebrity ever, but they take their sweet time going about it.  Sometimes I wondered if they just plain forgot about it.  It was a little aggravating to me.  You can take this criticism with a grain of salt since I'm a fantasy lovin' gal and I prefer plot driven stories.   So I can't really tell you if the plot is slow for a contemporary novel - just that it felt slow to me compared to what I usually read.The conflict was interesting - maybe mildly far-fetched but still possible and a lot of fun.  I thought the resolution to their quest was a bit of a let down, but the open ending to the rest of the story was enjoyable.  I liked the feeling of hope and wondering of what would happen next.Overall, it was a charming romance with a fun setting and great characters, but the plot felt slow and anti-climactic to me.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Night Circus

The Night Circus - This is storytelling at it's best.  Right from page one, the circus is brought to life by talking to you, the reader, as if you were actually there."What kind of circus is only open at night?" people ask. ... You are amongst them, of course.  Your curiosity got the better of you....-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus pg 3Nothing in this story was random - not even the objects on the desk.  Everything meant something in this complex story and it was a joy to watch it all come together in such great ways.  The dialogue is funny and witty which reminded me of Downton Abbey since they are set in similar time periods.  I absolutely loved the writing.  There is such gorgeous and vivid imagery.  And I found this character description particularly charming:August turns out to be a pleasant, heavyset fellow and Bailey's first impression is that he resembles his house: a squat sort of building with a porch wrapping around the front, warm and welcoming.-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus pg 332The romance in this book was exquisite.  The girl is abused. The boy is neglected.  One is taught by experience and the other by books.  I loved watching how they connect.  They balance each other in a way that makes them be so much more when they are together than when they are apart. This is a story about how love is more powerful than fighting.  The circus becomes an amazing symbol of their love.  The ending was so perfect.  There was love and loss - anything else would have been a crime against the story.I loved the twist on magic.  It was mystical, dreamlike, and mysterious but at the same time there was a feeling that magic could be learned by everyone if you could really see the world without judgement.  And the reason that magic has slowly disappeared is because there are no more secrets anymore.  The idea of the magic contained in secrets made me think about if The Night Circus had a modern setting, it wouldn't have had the same mystery and thrill to it.  The existence of twitter alone would have completely ruined the excitement and magic of the circus.  It made me realize that there really is magic in secrets.The characters were a delight.  I loved the stage magician that could do real magic. There's a boy that runs away to the circus and somehow it's not cliche.  And that same boy dreams of being a princess in a fairy tale that gets whisked away from his problems.  I found that so completely endearing.  I wanted to be one of the reveurs that follow the circus like addicted fangirls.Overall, this was a magical and unique love story that delighted me from start to finish.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone  - Shannon Hale The story was more grown up in this second installment of the Princess Academy.  Palace of Stone deals with more issues that usually involve adults like marriage and revolution.  What made this revolution story unique was that it was started by a girl who could see both sides.  Most of the revolution stories I've read have been about the little guys trying to overthrow those in power like Les Miserables and The Hunger Games. It was interesting to wonder how she was going to work this revolution out with one foot in each world.I loved getting to see all of these wonderful characters again.  Miri is very easy to relate to.  I liked Peder, but I would have smacked him over the head if he had been in the same room as me at the end.I loved learning more about the history of Mount Eskel.  The world of the lowlands was fun to explore.  It seemed colorful and a little magical and it reminded me of the world from the Disney movie, Tangled.I liked how the magic was expanded on in this book.  It answered a few questions I had about the importance of linder, the stone that is quarried on Mount Eskel, and if there was more to it.  There is and it was fun to discover!Princess Academy could easily stand on it's own, yet you can see how the happy ending from the first book might not work out and last.  That made it even more fun to read this sequel.Overall, it was a unique view on revolution that expands on the magic and the world that kids and adults would love.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Princess Academy

Princess Academy - Shannon Hale Princess Academy is just plain beautiful writing.  The tone was bittersweet and slightly formal, which I loved.  At the same time, it felt very much like a young girl narrating.  I can see why this was a Newbery Honor book.  I really don't know how she managed to do that. The descriptions of the characters immediately created an image in my head and aren't just a list of facts about them."Enrik!" Miri jogged to the trader she had dealt with for the past two years.  He was lank and pale, and the way he looked down his thin nose at her reminded Miri of a bird that had gone too long without a grub.-Shannon Hale, Princess Academy pg 24.There are a lot of characters in this book.  There were so many that I had to write a list of them to keep track!  Each character comes with a distinct and interesting personality.  Not all the girls at the Academy are nice.  And their teacher, Olana, is like the offspring of Effie Trinket and Severus Snape.  She was very entertaining and one of my favorite characters.There is the barest hint of magic that shows the power of memories.  I was not expecting magic in this book, and although there isn't much of it, it is delightful and fascinating.The ending is quite the intense.  I was glued to the book as these young girls showed true bravery.Shannon Hale continues to amaze me at her ability to have a different style in each of her books.  I was pleasantly surprised by this book - it was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be, but I could still see it appealing to kids.Overall, it was a beautifully written book about bravery and friendship with the lightest touch of magic that kids will love (and adults probably will, too).This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith Sadly I'm going to have to shelve this one. The f word was just too frequent for my comfort. I will say that the characters were amazing and I was really invested in the mystery. I'm sad that I won't know who did it and why. I'm really glad I gave this one a try. Rowling managed to make a modern version of those classic black and white detective movies about a private detective struggling to make it. If I had finished I bet she would have brought up some great thoughts about the famous and how we view them.

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm - The action starts right from the beginning. There is no time wasted to get straight to this plot full of twists and turns that kept me surprised. I like to try and predict what is going to happen, but in this book I honestly had no clue. It was so much fun!The story from Shadow and Bone was much more complex than I remember. There were a lot of layers, events, and characters that were referred to in Siege and Storm that were a little fuzzy to me. It wasn’t so bad that I was lost, but I definitely want to read all three in a row when the last book comes out. There is so much detail and layers going on that I want to get it all!I love Alina and Mal. They tease each other like best friends but it’s easy to see how their relationship has grown into more. Mal is a lovely gentleman. But their relationship goes through quite the wringer in this book. There are outside forces trying to tear them apart. There are secrets between each other that they might not be able to recover from. Usually, one person hiding something really bugs me because it’s so obvious and easy to fix. But this time I kind of got it. The good and bad that happened to their relationship was so touching to me.The new characters were so interesting. They come to life so fast and easily. Alina is spunky and daring. She cares about other people. My favorite thing about her character and her quest is that there are no easy answers. There’s not a clear path to what is right or wrong. A lot of the things she does are not completely good but it’s hard to say that they were completely evil. Part of the reason I am dying to read book 3 is because I want to see if she really is on the right path even though she had to do things that felt wrong to her.I got a few Harry Potter vibes from some details in the book. There’s an old, common book with clues and myths that seem to come to life. The Darkling turns into a seductive kind of Voldemort. I mean, if Voldemort was in any way sexy he would be the Darkling.There are pirates. I love pirates.One of my favorite things about the first book was the beautiful imagery. And we get more of it in this book. A dragon in the cold sea. A sailing ship that flies. I love this unique world and how alive it is. I want to save it just as much as Alina.I liked picking out the little things that remind me of Russian culture – the samovar clattering on the floor, the divide between peasants and aristocrats, and the saints as an important part of their religion. The guns in the story give it this modern twist to a world that feels epic and mythical.Overall, it was epic, tragic, full of love and sacrifice, power and death set in a mythical world that you won’t forget.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged - The thing that really got me to read this book was a) I thought Rory Gilmore read it (she actually read The Fountainhead though) and b) the back of the book says "This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did."   How cool does that sound?  Take all the elements you know of in good YA dystopian, and it's grown up in Atlas Shrugged.  Plus there's some beautiful romance and a little mystery, too.The writing is more accessible than I thought it would be.  I was expecting it to be a very long, philosophical lecture but it turned out to be an interesting narrative with a strong plot and well-rounded characters that almost jump off the page with life.  In the afterward of the book, Ayn believed in sharing her ideas through fiction so people could really see it in action.  She uses a lot of irony to show her ideas that was fun to read.  Ayn seriously writes the best ironic statements.  I also like how she describes people talking.  She always gives it an interesting tone and a feeling.The scary thing about this dystopian book was how close we could be to living in a world like this.  There are a few characters that still believe in capitalism, but the rest of the world has moved to extreme socialism.  And the arguments of the characters that believe in socialism are things I hear all the time."We can't help it if we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us."-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged pg.10Dagny is Rand's vision of capitalism personified.  She's tough, doesn't take anyone's crap, she makes decisions based on facts and not feelings and she finds joy in her work.  Dagny is a strong heroine who literally stands up to the rest of the world.  She doesn't cave to peer pressure and she is never ashamed of what she believes.  Her brother Jim is the ultimate cess-pool of humanity. He cares too much about what others think and wants to sacrifice the public good for "the little guys."  The socialist characters are often referred to as "looters."  Their way of life is dependent on making the strong feel guilty and responsible for the weak.  No character embodies this quite like the capitalist Rearden's passive-aggressive wife.  The book is constantly contrasting the capitalist and the socialist characters.  The capitalists are proactive while the socialists are reactive.  The socialists insist on limiting oil production (to help the "little guys"), for example, and then complain that there is a shortage.  Sometimes I just wanted to strangle all of them.  Finally, the character that I really loved was the yummy and handsome anti-hero, Francisco.The best part of Ayn's irony is the language she uses.  She constantly uses words like love, charity and helping others to describe socialism.  The words that she uses to describe capitalism are "selfish, unfeeling, and dog-eat-dog."  The capitalist characters are unapologetic about wanting to make money and work.  And yet with her use of irony, you start to like the capitalist characters though they are blunt and the socialist characters after a while seem like lazy jerks despite constantly talking about their caring and love for others (which they seem rather prideful about).  No matter what language she uses to dress them up, you eventually see them for what they are. After a while you start to realize that communism is nothing more than feeling entitled to what others earn and that's a disturbing thought.The pace really takes a nose-dive in part 3.  Parts 1 and 2 moved along at a good pace, but part 3 was so hard to get through.  Usually the end of the book is the most interesting, but for some reason Ayn decides to almost completely remove any conflict at the beginning of Part 3 which made the story drag and then move into an extremely long philosophical lecture before the end of the book.  By the end of that long lecture, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with her beliefs.  I get it Ayn. I really get it. I'm ready for the story to more on now.  Also, the controversy comes into this book towards the end where she insists that you can't be a rational person and believe in God which I don't think is true.  After reading her biography, I can see why she believes the things she does and I don't judge her for it, I just don't agree with everything she says.I'm inclined to think that people who practice self-interest to the extreme are more likely to become Scrooges than like the heroes in her book.  While the looters can easily sacrifice the strongest among them, a person only interested in himself can just as easily sacrifice those below him to get what he wants.  This is something that she doesn't bring up and kind of skims over.  What I got from her philosophy was the value of being more objective in our lives, but I don't think it's a balanced way of life to be objective 100% of the time.  Overall, I liked this book for the plot, characters, and story but I wasn't sold on her philosophy which I disagreed with.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife - Shannon Hale This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true storyThe Actor and the Housewife was an emotional journey full of Shannon’s usual charm and wit. It explored really well the idea of whether a men and a women can be “just friends.” I got to live out the fantasy vicarioulsy of “What if you met your ultimate Hollywood crush” and it was a lot of fun. I loved this witty and sweet story that had some heartbreak in it, too. And ahhhh the culture of the ’90s.Becky, the housewife was very relatable to me. Yes, I am a Mormon housewife and her life sounds a lot like mine (except I don’t make pies), but it was more than that. She’s not ashamed to be a little cliche and she never apologizes for who she is which made her very likable. Becky is able to build a relationship with the actor, Felix, even though they are almost complete opposites. The real chemistry of the relationship between the actor and the housewife comes from the fact that they don’t try to change each other and they respect each other. Their banter is so funny. Honestly, the relationship felt awkward sometimes, but I could really see it happening. It did make me wonder if actors do have “real” friends. One of my favorite scenes was Becky struggling to deal with her crazy kids and the actor just being in awe. It was nice to see her life through his eyes.Now to what I didn’t like. Basically, the ending.The Spoiler-Free VersionI really wanted it to end differently. Though I can appreciate the fact that the way it did end was very non-cliche and supported the point that the story was trying to make, it left me feeling let down to the point that I kind of wondered what the point of the whole story was. My disappointment is more than just not getting my way. I felt like it hadn’t really gone anywhere. Neither of the characters had changed or progressed very much.The Spoiler VersionClick the spoiler tag below.I really, really wanted them to get together at the end. The fact that they didn’t meant that their relationship stayed the same through the whole story leaving me to wonder what the point was. My disappointment is more than just not getting my way. They are friends through the whole novel and the fact that they remained that way makes a statement that you can be just friends but at the same time neither of them really changed or progressed at all. It made me fee like the story didn’t go anywhere. Overall, it was an entertaining, witty story and the perfect beach read while I was on vacation. It was pure escapist fun even if I was disappointed with the ending.

Harken (Harken, #1)

Harken (Harken, #1) - Kaleb Nation Harken was like X-men meets National Treasure. Very creative. I liked the suspenseful plot with a supernatural twist. The writing had a nice voice to it. It was funny and witty. I really enjoyed the quest that Michael goes on for the truth. The way Michael had to figure out and follow obscure clues all over the place is what reminded me of National Treasure and I thought it was a lot of fun. And the conflict was great. The author was not afraid to suggest the worst that could happen…and then make it happen. I liked how the conspiracy theory was unique and kind of epic.I thought all the characters had great, fleshed-out personalities but my favorite was Michael’s little sister Alli. Oh Alli, you are the cutest fake princess-eating zombie ever. Michael has a great relationship with her that was adorable to read.My only complaint about this book was that I felt like I was walking knee-deep through a lot of details and words that didn’t need to be there. For as much action and plot as this book had in it, I was surprised at how I felt bogged down while I was reading it sometimes. It got to the point that I dreaded going into a new room because that is when the author tended to info-dump the most. Does it really matter how many skylights there are in the big airplane hanger with 5 silver cars?Overall, I thought it had a really creative plot and wonderful characters, but it got slowed down by being over-detailed sometimes.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Monument 14: Sky on Fire

Sky on Fire - Emmy Laybourne Sky on Fire was definitely more intense than the first book in this series and there was a lot less humor. I mean, there was plenty of snark and bitterness coming from Alex that was kind of funny, but for the most part it was one non-stop nail-biter. It felt like I was really living through the end of the world because of the little practical details like how they could eat with gas masks on, how they would deal with the chemicals in the air etc. And as I’m living this experience with the characters, I’m crossing my fingers that the worst won’t happen. But of course it does like something from your nightmares.The writing felt like reading a movie script (which I think really worked for this story). The plot is driven a lot by the dialogue of the characters. I love the characters. They have very distinct personalities that makes this story all the more chilling because I really care about all of them – even that bratty girl. Part of what makes this book truly terrifying for me was the fact that the end of the world is being shown through the eyes of kids. Max (who is one of my favorite characters) is a young boy who brings toy cars with him on the road to probable death and is playing with them and making car noises. Like my boys do daily. That little detail brought the story very close to home for me. Don’t cry, don’t cry.The one thing that didn’t work for me was Josie’s story line. I found it to be too out-of-tune with the world that the author created for me to believe it. What happens to Josie just felt a little too convenient. It’s not a major part of the story line, so it didn’t bother me too much.The ending felt strange to me. The story felt like it could be finished after this book. There’s really only one storyline left open and I wonder if it’s enough to keep the whole next book going. I’m stil going to read the next one because I’m curious what could happen next. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Emmy!Overall, this was a book that I couldn’t put down ( I read it in one day). It was intense and chilling with characters that I loved.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true storyI received this book for review from the publisher, Macmillan, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own. I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review.

Divide and Conquer (Infinity Ring Series #2)

Infinity Ring Book 2: Divide and Conquer - Carrie Ryan Divide and Conquer, book 2 in the Inifinity Ring series, starts off talking about Paris which was actually where the last game ended and not where book 1 ended. It was a cool way to tie the online games in with the books. You don’t have to play the games to understand the books, but I think they are fun and the maps that go with the games inside the books make it feel like you are a part of the quest.This particular period in Viking history was a perfect one to appeal to kids. There’s a king named Charles the Fat (seriously – that’s his REAL name!) and an epic battle rivaling Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings with the Vikings outnumbering the Parisians 30,000 to 200. It’s funny how real history can be more extreme than fiction (Helm’s Deep was 10,000 to 2,000).While I was reading, I looked up all this Viking history that I didn’t know before. I learned something new! The main characters “fix” history pretty fast so we get to read about what really happened instead of a fake past like the last book.The writing was pretty good and I thought it was a lot of fun. I did find it confusing that as the story goes on, they try to fix two breaks instead of just one. The events are related and it was cool to see where history went from that event, but I did feel lost for a little bit.Game ReviewThe game that comes after this is not terribly hard or challenging. There were two mini-games that involved pushing arrows on your computer at the right time. I hate those kind of games. The rest of the game went very fast, but it was pretty fun. There is a forum now so you can complete all the side quests and get all the points if you so desire.Overall, it was fun historical fiction about Vikings and epic battles that will teach you something you probably didn’t know about history in a way that will really appeal to kids, too.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Asunder

Asunder - I was not planning on reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series (Incarnate), but the ending had a lot of burning acid and death that left a lot of interesting questions so when I saw the second book staring at me at the library with it’s pretty flowers and rainbows, I decided to take it home.Another reason I decided to read this book was because I had a theory and I wanted to see if I was right. I was convinced that newsouls came from animals because that’s the first thing you think of when you think of reincarnation. Turns out I was wrong. Where newsouls really come from is even better. I love it when authors do that. I read this book in 2 days and I couldn’t put it down.Even though I read book 1 in January, I for the life of me couldn’t remember who Sarit was as well as some of the other minor characters. Sarit is a friend of Ana. She keeps bees. Wait is she a she in this lifetime? That is all I know about Sarit. I still think Sam is boring. I do not like that Sam-I-am. He’s unnaturally perfect and completely predictable. I mean when something completely devastating happens, he just lays in bed moping. Cris was much more interesting. He’s a new character in this book who is flawed, selfless, and has been trying to achieve a dream for lifetimes but he can’t quite get there. I just wanted to hug him.The plot is still pretty slow, but I liked the interesting questions that were brought up. Some of them were pretty deep that delve into life, death, fear, and immortality. Ana goes on a quest for answers that is sometimes metaphorical and sometimes more like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s very bittersweet because along this journey Ana starts to realize how different and truly alone she is. She has to deal with constant rejection and trying to build her self-esteem despite what others think about her.Also, I hope we get to see more of the creatures mentioned like trolls, centaures, phoenixes, and, of course, dragons.Overall, I thought this was much more addicting to read than the first book. It answered a lot of questions from the first book which, of course, just brought up tons more to be answered in the next book. And it delves into some interesting and deep topics that left me thinking long after I finished.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald I don't know how I made it through high school without reading this classic, but I'm so glad I get to come back to books like this and read them as an adult. I'm sure I would have learned stuff in high school, but I feel like I'm getting more appreciation out of books like this as I get older.The only thing I knew about this book before I started reading was that it was a shallow love story that ends with the girl dumping the poor, innocent guy....or something. And yes that is the plot, but I think the story can also be about the American dream and who it's really available to. What is the American dream? Is it just getting money and it doesn't matter how? Did we really get away from social inequality? I hadn't really thought about any of that before reading this book. It made me wonder what my American dream is. Do I just want to get lots of money, a big house, and tons of stuff? Or is there more to it than that? Without spoiling the end, I feel like Mr. Fitzgerald's opinion on the matter is that some people are born to live the American dream and some aren't - and there isn't much you can do to change it. The fate of Daisy and Gatsby really brings that tragic idea home.The parties were unreal. I was drooling over the mention of all the food. I couldn't help but imagine the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey coming to Gatsby's house and being appalled at what Americans called "a dinner party." My mind was buzzing with all the practical details and sheer amount of money that it would take to feed two dinners and tons of alcohol to that many people... But the parties and glamour are just covering up the fact that most of these people are shady, immoral, hypocritical and just plain unhappy. Especially Tom and his wife Daisy.I loved the writing. It was simple, charming, and witty - an interesting contrast to the much deeper story going on. The last line about how we can't escape from the past points out that even though as Americans we say that anyone can achieve wealth, happiness and equality, the truth is we keep getting sucked into the rules of the past.The only thing I thought was overdone was the symbolic Eye Doctor bilboard in the ash valley. Don't let the symbolic Eye Doctor Ad/God's Judgement fall on you on the way out.Overall, a novel that got me really thinking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the context of a beautiful, tragic, and romantic story.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

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