I still haven’t decided whether or not I like the latest series I’ve been reading.  The first book is titled Wake, and the second- which I just read- is titled Fade, and the third is titled Gone.  I read Wake quite a few months ago and when I started reading Fade I couldn’t really remember what had happened previously, but the book did provide enough details to recall the gist of it.  I actually started reading it about a week ago, and put it down on page 22 because it seemed…off.

There was something about it that made me not want to read it, but I picked it up today, found my place, and continued reading it straight through.  And now I desperately want to read Gone.  However, I’m not sure if I particularly like it, even though I’m entirely hooked.  Author Lisa McMann has a very interesting style of writing, though it’s good enough to work perfectly for the storyline.  More on that later, though.

The story takes place in Michigan, centered on the main character (who else?)- Janie Hanagan.  Janie is a dream catcher, falling into people’s dreams and nightmares every day.  When she falls into the dream of a fellow student, assumed to be a lazy drug dealer, she doesn’t know what to think of what she’s seen.  When she tumbles into his nightmare, Janie is driving outside of Cabel Strumholder’s house and doesn’t at first know whose twisted nightmare she gets an inside look of.

As she gets to know Cabel, she finds someone who can not only relate to her past, but also having their own ugly secrets.  She also finds herself a confidant, and begins to fall in love with Cabe.  Cue the reality check.

Both she and Cabe find comfort in one another, especially because of sharing so much in common.  While Cabe is not a dream catcher like she, both characters have pasts they are ashamed of- and parents they are even more ashamed of.  As the plot unwinds, we learn more about who we suspect Cabe to be, and who he really is.

Regarding the style of writing: the books are written in third-person and told in a unique way.  Sentences are short and choppy, but bring you closer to the characters- especially because of Janie living a minute-by-minute life, unsure of when she might next fall into the dream or nightmare of an unsuspecting napper.  It seems to me that you’ll either hate this book or love it.  It’s a very quick read, and despite taking a few pages to get used to the style, it really is an excellent book.

More twists in the plot appear in the second book, and I’m sure there are even more in the third.  Definitely check this book out if you’re into obscure topics, interesting writing styles, love that cannot be, or any of the above.
 
The Lovely Bones 01/15/2010
 
Though it had been released in 2002, The Lovely Bones wasn’t too popular.  When the trailer for the movie started popping up everywhere, I learned that it had been a book first and had to go read it.  Every book-based movie is ten times better when you’ve read the book.  At nearly 400 pages in the paperback edition, it was a fairly quick read and the pace of events in it was perfect.  There wasn’t a time I got bored and wanted to put it down, which many books often have.

The premise is a girl, Susie, who is raped and murdered in 1973 by a man who no one expects to have done it.  From her heaven, she watches her family as they grieve and attempt to move on, and the police as the get no closer to catching her killer.  She watches as her brother and sister grow up and mature faster than they should have, and her parents grow apart.  She sees her friends and classmates try to understand, and observes as some of them find each other within the tragedy of it all.

Her father suspects the killer to be their neighbor, George Harvey.  The police have no reason to suspect him, and turn up nothing when they question him.  He shares his suspicions with his other daughter, and Susie watches as her only sister risks everything to help and catch him.  

This book is full of an aspect from many genres- drama, suspense, a few laughs, tragedy, and an insight into the grievances of an entire family, and their community, when a piece of them is taken away.  It’s beautifully written and will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to each of Susie’s family members, and Susie herself.
 
Ellen Hopkins 01/07/2010
 
Some of the most realistic and honest books that you might ever read are ones written by Ellen Hopkins.  Born in Long Beach, California, Ellen Hopkins was raised by her adoptive parents Albert and Valeria Wagner and grew up in Palm Springs, California.  She found her biological mother in 2000, and discovered she is a writer and poet, too.  She attended high school near Santa Barbara, and was slightly active in some sports, but mainly in dance, theater, creative writing, and choir.  At UCSB she studied journalism, but left school to marry and start her family.  After her first marriage didn’t work out, she met her current husband John in 1984 and then began pursuing her dream of being an author.  She has four children, the oldest three being 28, 30, and 32, and the youngest being adopted and now 12.  

After visiting the Air and Space museum in 1998, she was inspired to write her first two nonfiction titles, geared towards children, and has written 20 more nonfiction titles for children since.  For fiction, she has published picture books and short stories, and has written 6 novels (5 of which I have read) that are geared more towards young adults and are centered on rather tragic, but very realistic, stories.  

The 5 stories which I own and enjoy bear the following titles: Burned, Crank, Glass, Impulse, and Identical.  Glass is the sequel to Crank, and she has another sequel, Fallout, coming out this year.  Her novel titled Tricks appeared on bookshelves in August of 2009, and now that I’ve found it on Amazon.com, I’m going to be ordering it very soon, along with Fallout when it is released.  The stories are centered on young adults who have troubled lives due to childhood abuse, addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, and the many other things that affect much of the youth today.

Each story is written in an interesting format, not only the actual content of it, but the way the words are printed on the page itself.  The one I remember most distinctly was the one that was shaped like a bottle of alcohol; I believe it may have been in Crank or Glass.  My favorite of all the books is Impulse, which I have read on more than one occasion.  I definitely recommend any of these books, especially to young adults, but really anyone with the maturity to handle the content of them.
 
 
I know that I previously mentioned this series in prior posts, but I didn’t elaborate on it too much.  The In Death series by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) is one of a kind.  Nora Roberts is known for her romantic novels, with over 100 written.  The pseudonym J.D. Robb was adopted because she and her publishers didn’t want readers to know that the author was already so well-known and popular.  J.D. is from the first initials of her two sons, and Robb is a shortened version of Roberts.

The In Death series is printed in both paperback and hardback, and the first was released in 1995.  Robb continues her romanticism in this series, but with a twist: the setting is 2058, a futuristic world we can only imagine right now, but so much has already started to come true.  The main character?  Eve Dallas, a New York City Police Department detective with a horrific past.  Got your attention yet?

It is not necessary to read these books in order; however it does provide a better reading experience because you can get to know the secondary characters in the order that they were introduced.  There will be 30 In Death novels published by March of next year, though other books have been written under the pseudonym of J.D. Robb.  Now that it’s been almost 15 years since that first book of the series hit shelves, fans are made aware that it is Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb; many of the more recent books have it written right on the front.  I’ve read quite a few in this series, and own quite a few which I need to read.  Definitely check them out if you enjoy a good romantic/suspense novel, and even if that’s not your forte, check ’em out anyway.  You might just find a new genre that interests you.
 
 
I haven’t read many Stephen King books, but I own a lot.  And one of them that I read over the summer freaked me out, a lot.  The one I was reading is called Cell.  Basically, everyone with a cell phone go crazy-animalistic on everyone in their paths.  But Clay Riddell is one of the few who are unaffected.  The novel tells his story as he progresses with a few others who help him, but he learns that no one is the same anymore.  He sets his mind to doing anything he can to get his wife and son back to him, despite the fact that they (like just about everyone else) are practically walking zombies.  This story became so realistic to me that I was afraid of my cell phone for awhile.  It really takes a new look at how dependent we have become on technology.  Definitely a good read, and will capture your attention and take you into a whole new world that you have probably never imagined existing.
 
 
This is a very unique book that brings supernatural fiction to a whole new level.  Ever Bloom had a near-perfect life before the accident.  She was popular, gorgeous, had a boyfriend, and got whatever she wanted when she wanted it.  But when she, her parents, her sister Riley, and their dog Buttercup were driving down the road late one night, a deer ran into the road, and their father tried to swerve and miss it, but drove into a ravine.  The whole family ended up dead, except Ever.

She was the only one who lived through the accident, and continuously blamed herself for it.  When she wakes up in the hospital, everybody has an aura surrounding them.  When she firsts mentions it to one of the nurses, she is put through eye exams and psych evaluations, until she realized to keep her newfound ability to herself.

That wasn’t all, though.  Every day she was being visited by Riley, who had died in the accident.  At first, Riley wouldn’t speak at all, and only communicate with hand gestures and expressions.  Soon, Ever found out that Riley really could speak to her, and it wasn’t long until she realized that Riley was trying to live out her ideal 13 year old life through Ever, because Riley had been in the accident before she turned 13.

Everyone has an aura, and each aura differs from person to person, and it depends on their moods.  Damen, a mysterious person who seems to have a special interest for Ever, shows up at the school to attend.  Bad things start happening to her best friend, Haven, who is becoming more and more obsessed with the goth look.

When Ever finds out that Damen is an Immortal, what will she do?  And how will she react to the other things he has been keeping from her?
 
 
From the moment I started reading this book last night, I could not put it down.  It quickly became my number 3 favorite book, and I wasn’t even halfway through it.  By the time I finished the last page and had put it down, it became tied for my number 2 favorite.  The setting is 1987, and centers around the life of a 14 year old girl, Ellie, and how she is forced to grow up quicker than what she would have liked.

Her father left the family when she was younger, and her mother changed entirely after that.  Her sister Gwen is popular, well-liked, while Ellie doesn’t really have any friends, and doesn’t think too highly of herself.  When their mother gets abusive- verbally and physically- the two sisters each cope with it their own ways.

Ellie keeps everything bottled up inside, lies, and pretends that everything is fine, finding peace watching the fireflies outside her house.  Gwen, on the other hand, turns to alcohol, drugs, and partying.  Ellie tries her best to keep the peace between their dysfunctional family, while Gwen and their mother are often antagonizing one another.  When a good-looking musician moves in next door, Ellie feels like she is in love with him, and does everything she can to be with him- despite their 6 year age difference, while she continues to do her best to save the family she dearly misses.

This story is full of humor, heartbreak, despair, loneliness, and brings into light the abuse that is so real in this world.
 
 
Darkly Dreaming Dexter.  A serial killer, who kills the bad people.  But he doesn’t just kill them; he confronts them, and makes them suffer.  And his way of killing is just as unique as he is.  It all started when he was just a boy, as we see in flashbacks throughout the book.  He would kill small animals such as squirrels, and once, his neighbor’s dog.  His adoptive father, Harry, worked for the police department at that time, and had found Dexter at the scene of a crime, and proceeded to adopting him. 

It wasn’t long before Harry realized what Dexter had gotten himself
into, and what he was becoming.  The only thing he could do was intervene, and teach Dexter how to control himself.  Control himself enough so that he could fight off the urge to kill something, and only kill the people who deserved death (rapists, killers, etc).  Dexter fine-tuned his style from the beginning, carefully and dutifully working. 

Harry helped him, and helped him to find and know who the bad people were.  Dexter makes sure he has proof of the wrongdoings of the people he kills.  He works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami police department, which also helps him during his moonlighting job.  However, when a string of murders display a resemblance to his own style of killing, he is both flattered and frightened- of himself and this mysterious murderer. 
This book series by Jeff Lindsay has inspired the Showtime series, Dexter.
 
 
Another book I had to read recently for school was John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Peace.  The setting is a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II.  It tells the tale of two boys who become friends, and ultimately strive to be like the other one, though neither realizes this fact.  Complete opposites from one another, Gene keeps to himself constantly, and is very intellectual, while Phineas is good-looking, an athlete, and a risk-taker. 

The story centers on their becoming friends, and the trials and errors their friendship goes through.  This is also another book which provides an insight into what things were like during World War II: while it is about a strong friendship, one of the minor characters, Leper Lepellier, is the first of their extended group of friends to enlist.  The war really begins to hit home and they begin to realize the seriousness of what is going on outside the walls of their school.  Also might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely a worthwhile read.
 
 
It’s been awhile since my last book review, and I honestly cannot remember the books I’ve read recently.  However, that might be because I haven’t done a lot of reading lately.  One book I did read lately was Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms.  It is the story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front, who falls in love with an English nurse during World War I.  The gruesome descriptions of the horrible events that were happening all over really bring a sense of reality to the story.  The romanticism that Hemingway brings to life brings a new realization of relationships between people way back when.  We had to read it for school, and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  However, the frank portrayal of the characters and what was endured during World War I provides us a timeless look into the past.