Pandemonium

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Book two from Lauren Oliver, in the DELERIUM series, PANDEMONIUM. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. When I read DELERIUM, I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t stop listening. But book two… meh. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as page turny as the first. Well, up until the last page. That last page forces me to read book three. But overall, my book two theory takes hold for another crushing win.

Lena is back and the world is as dangerous as ever. In the second installment, Lena is in the Wilds and a part of the growing resistance. She’s left her old self behind in Portland, with Alex, the boy who she fell in love with, who was shot down, murdered in front of her. Grief sucks her and almost swallows her whole. Surviving in the unregulated Wilds is hard and the leader, Raven, is not about to let her slack off.

Lana is sent on a mission that takes her to observe 18-year-old Julian Fineman, the prominent son of a cured in New York. He hasn’t undergone the cure yet because of previous surgeries due to a brain tumor. On the day of Julian’s cure, Lena and Julian end up imprisoned together. A bond forms and although I personally don’t know how I feel about it, it’s sweet.

PANDEMONIUM alternates between “Then” and “Now” chapters taking place roughly six months apart. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first but Oliver does a seamless job and I don’t think it would have had the same impact had the story been told from beginning to end.

I think I’ll have a final decision on the Lena front after I read book three. I will have to know how this ends. Considering what’s happened in books two, book three will be a storm.

 

Delirium

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What if Love was outlawed? In Lauren Oliver’s book DELIRIUM, Love is a disease and there is a cure. All citizens of the United States must take the cure at age eighteen and be rid of the disease once and f28664211896or all. City’s are fenced in to protect the citizens from the Wilds where love sympathizers lurk. Lena is less than three months away from her cure date. She’s counting down the days until she’s matched with her future husband and is ready to be out from under her aunt’s thumb. Everything changes when she meets Alex. He’s a guard with secrets. Secrets and a wild past. What would you do for love?

I enjoyed DELIRIUM so much. I went in hesitantly. Unbelieving that O266964fe496904d37f5340c14a35a689.jpegliver could write yet another mind blowing book. Can she continue to produce amazing books? Is she flawed? Maybe but I didn’t see it in in this book. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian book. And the premise of LOVE being outlawed = Mind Blown. I loved how she managed to keep a lot of the book grounded around a semi-normal society. It wasn’t like THE GIVER or MATCHED or even DIVERGENT. It takes place in Portland and could easily be mistaken for a normal city. Minus the regulators, fences, and every person over the age of eighteen walking around like happy zombies.

I’m excited to take on book two. I don’t even feel the need for a break between books, like I often do in series. I’m ready to delve feet first and find out what happens to Lena and Alex. The cliffhanger ending is impossible to walk away from. 9f5a03023528442320b1ce8605b3d8f6.jpeg

Before I fall

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If there is one story I can read, reimagined time and time again, it’s the groundhog day – 12 days of chirstmas – butterfly effect – repete this day until you finally get it right – story. BEFORE I FALL was the perfect reimagined version of this. I was a fan of Lauren Oliver when I read PANIC, but I’m in love with her after BEFORE I FALL.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

From the first pages, Oliver grips you and drags you into the depths of her story. Wave of emotions pound at you until the very last page. I worried that living the same seven days would fall flat on paper but Oliver manages to raise questions about love, life, death, and how we are all interconnected. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. It explores some of those same themes, what you do in life effects those around you. Living seven days through Sam’s eyes, was heart breaking, exilerating, and shatering all in the same breath.

Growing up, I was Juliet Skyes. I had my own version of Sam’s group. I never went so far as to consider suicide over their mean and hateful pranks, but I was lucky. I knew that after high school, none of it would mater anymore. I’d get a fresh start and they’d still be the shity person they were. Sometimes all of that’s hard to admit. No one wants to admit that they were bullied in school. Or that they were a bully.

I loved the transformation we see Sam go through. From mean girl to a girl who cares. She makes personal amends in every aspect of her life. With her parrents, sister, friends, people she doesn’t know, and ultimetly with the one person who needs it the most.

BEFORE I FALL was thoughtfully writen and it will go down as one of my favorites for years to come.

 

 

Fangirl

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FANGIRL is my third Rainbow Rowell book and so maybe my love of ELEANOR AND PARK and KINDRED SPIRITS should have been the clue that reading more of Rainbow’s stuff was a good idea. But if I’m being honest, I had this fear that I’d be let down. It happens sometimes. You build an author up in your head and then fall that much harder when they fail to meet such high expectations. Maybe ELANOR AND PARK was a fluke and when I read FANGIRL or any other book by Rainbow, I’d be disappointed. I couldn’t face being such a low after I’d fallen so hard for the other two books.

I wasn’t disappointed.

There are so many reasons to love FANGIRL. So many reasons to run screaming through the streets, praising this book. Beyond whatever I can say, what I love about this book is the way it stirs my heart and warms my soul. It’s like drinking a cup of something I didn’t know I was missing.

Cather is a Simon Snow fan. She’s also one of the most popular writers of Fanfiction online. Being a fan has been Cath’s whole life. It’s the one thing she’s really good at. She and her twin sister Wren have drifted apart. College has brought on some new challenges. Cath is on her own for the first time and far out of her comfort zone. Her English professor believes that fanfiction is the equivalent of plagiarism. Her roommate is moody with a charming boyfriend who is always around. Oh and the boy at the library who only wants to use her words. Does moving on mean she has to give up Simon too?

This was beautifully written. I’m liquid and in love. Watch me pretend like I wasn’t a big fan before… because yea, it’s official, I love Rainbow Rowell. Hard. I love her books so hard I want to force them down my friend’s throats until they have to like her too. That’s not weird is it?

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Charlie and The Chocolate Factory 


I Miranda Boyer have never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Well, I hadn’t until yesterday anyway. The thing is, unlike everyone around me, I was never a fan of the movie. Either of them. It just didn’t tickle my funny bone or make me dreamy. Roald Dahl’s book however, that’s another story. 

From the beginning it has that same Dahl voice I’ve come to love. It’s vibrent, it’s  engaging, it’s endearing and full of magic.  I love that a common them in Dahl’s books, involves some grown ups being bad and rightfully punished for their actions. No this case children as well. There are always strong good and bad themes. If you are good, good things happen to you. If you’re bad, bad things happen to you. 

I can officially check off Charlie pt. 1 and Matilda  from my Dahl collection. I’d like to make my way through them all this year. Wish me luck! 

Ronit & Jamil

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RONIT & JAMIL by Pamela L. Laskin is a Lyrical novel in verse. It’s a fresh retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the star-crossed lovers are in modern-day Israel and Palestine stuck in the middle of their countries conflict.

There were a lot of reasons I picked up this book: the cover art is beautiful, the idea of a modern Romeo & Juliet, and I’m a sucker for star-crossed love – end of story. While the poetry is beautiful at times, it does come across very middle grade. I’m not sure who the audience is supposed to be, but it feels young. Truth be told, wasn’t Juliet 12? So maybe that is the intent.

I thought it was interesting that the verses almost seemed to mirror on her side and his throughout the book. They each have individual lives, on either border of Israel and Palestine, but they are so similar. Even the day to day is similar. I could be off base here, but it felt like the author was trying to convey that despite their differences, these countries are more alike than they maybe would like to admit. So for that reason, I thought it was beautiful rendition. I don’t know that the audience as a whole would appreciate the themes in this book, and for that, I’m a little sad.

 

More Happy Than Not

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I think most readers of Adam Silvera’s MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, probably don’t remember Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I do. Silvera’s first novel brings this idea of erasing bad memories, to a new generation. A rollercoaster of emotions have wrecked havoc on my emotional state while reading this book. I kept hoping for a happy ending, for the book to go a certain way and it never did what I thought it might. It’s hard to surprise me in a book and so for that, I’m thankful.

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT is about a boy who is considering a memory altercation procedure to help him forget that he’s gay. He believes that living a life as a straight teenager would make him happier and ultimately be easier on himself and his friends. Silvera himself says this book is about, “…science versus nature, friendship, sexuality, and a quest for happiness.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve lost two people in my life to suicide, one of them just over a year ago. It breaks my heart that Homophobia still exists. That there are those who go out of their way to hurt another human over love. I’ll never wrap my head around that kind of hate. I teach at a middle school and I watch teenagers self-harm because they feel no one in the world understands what they’re going through. Books like these must continue to authored and must continue to be read. If all else, to give a ray of hope to those who are suffering, that they’re not alone.

Silvera’s book is unforgettable, painful, beautiful, and so many more words I can’t conjure at this moment.

Panic

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PANIC: an uncontrollable fear or anxiety often brought on suddenly. But in Carp, Panic is a game played by graduating seniors in the middle of summer, when there was nothing else to do. “For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.”

This was the first Lauren Oliver book I’ve read. I couldn’t put it down. Hooked from the first pages. Fast paced and never stopping, each chapter left me hanging wondering what was going to happen next. And it only grew more intense as the book progressed.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more intense, it always did. Heather, Nat, Dodge, and Bishop have been on my mind for a couple of days now, the time it’s taken me to sit and write this. I’ve started to read Oliver’s book BEFORE I FALL. So far, it’s held up just as well.

Oliver’s characters are realistic, they feel like people I know. I love YA but often I feel like characters can be over the top. We read to escape so this should come as no surprise. But Oliver’s books feel incredibily real fret with heavy emotions, anger, despair, revenge. This book explores what it’s like growing up poor in a dysfunctional family. It explores what it’s like to feel like revenge is your only answer. And the most human exploration of all, what it’s like to fear a future you can’t even begin to conceive of.  This book is about more than the feeling of panic, it’s about love, friendships, loss, and shattered hearts.  Oliver has constructed a coming of age story about a literal rite of passage. I can’t begin to recommend this enough.

Waking Gods

 

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Dude… I can’t even begin to explain how epic this book was. Like, did you read SLEEPING GIANTS yet? Sleeping Giants was a Goodreads Choice nominee last year. Get on that first and foremost. Sylvain Neuvel creates an epic world of Giant Robots and aliens. The story is told through interviews and journal entries from a cast of unique characters. WAKING GODS is book two in this three book series.

I met Sylvain a couple of years ago and was excited to read his first book. It is still among my favorite books. I have this theory about second books generally sucking. Except that WAKING GODS just blew that theory out of the water. I really wasn’t sure how anything could top the first book and then… like magic, he managed to outdo himself.

Ten years after the end of book one, the world has moved on and Themis has become a worldwide sensation. Life has calmed down and there’s even a bit of routine in life. Until a Giant Robot apperates in the middle of London. They’re back and they’re taking no prisoners.

I basically don’t want to give anything away. Because I didn’t know where this could possibly go, and I enjoyed every surprise it brought.

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

Love Overboard Series

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I had the distinct pleasure of reading advanced copies of the first two Love Overboard books by Andrea K. Stein & Sawyer Stone. A serious score on my end. Both books are released this week and I’m over the moon about finally getting to tell you about them. Way Too Deep and Up Too Close were the two I read and I’ve already ordered book three.

By the time you read this, I will have delved elbows deep into the new book. I’m going to share a blurb about each book and then a short teaser of the first book. If this sounds like it’s up your ally, I hope you check out these books. Because honestly, I enjoyed them. I couldn’t put the second one down. I had to know what happened, even if it meant skipping work things to find out. Let’s just say that my bowling league has dubbed me the most socially inept teammate. I read between turns, and they must accept this about me.

These books were fun, light, and they made me want to travel port side (is that a boat term? LOL I’m learning). Cece’s grandma, in book two, is still my favorite character. Loved the sparks in book one. I love how the books tie together without needing to be read together. Completely stand alone. Reminds me of Lori Foster’s series in that way. The key to any good romance is chemistry between the characters. There is a lot of that to go around. All in all, I’ve enjoyed these. I really am looking forward to book three.

WAY TOO DEEP (The Love Overboard Series Book 1)

Captain Lindsay Fisher has committed the unthinkable in the tight little world of superyachting. She’s lost not one but two ships under her command. She takes chances, she’s a little too abrasive, and, oh yeah, she’s taken swearing like a sailor to a whole new level. Celebrity Chef Alton Maura earned the acclaimed “Kitchen God” title and basked in the international limelight for years until his affairs with his kitchen staff landed him twice in a poisonous stew. When Lindsay and Alton are thrown together on an uneasy cruise through the Grenadines, sparks fly. She doesn’t like his shoes or his attitude. He can’t believe a woman who looks that good in a captain’s uniform can be such a hard ass. This is their last chance to prove themselves, but the worst thing you can do when trying to save your career is to fall in love…WAY TOO DEEP.

UP TOO CLOSE (The Love Overboard Series Book 2)

CeCe Ahlstrom, massage therapist to the rich and famous, is done with men. Her last rich boyfriend tried to kill her on an ill-fated cruise through the Grenadines. Now she’s determined to get on with her life but can’t find the funds to get to her next spa gig in Portugal. Then along comes notorious womanizer Captain Rene Baudouin. He’s hell on the hearts of women, he can handle any storm at sea, yet he might have met his match in a leaky old boat. He needs a first mate crazy enough to help crew the wreck knows as the Tourbillon across the Atlantic. Destiny draws CeCe And Rene together, but things are not what they seem. Rene struggles with a family secret that could destroy his future and CeCe will have to face a truth not even she knows yet. Out on the open sea, Rene and CeCe soon find themselves…UP TOO CLOSE.

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Rania Elsaeid is the brilliant engineer aboard the 115-foot yacht, the Bonnie Blue. She’s also a deadly, well-trained security guard. She keeps her cool when everything around her heats up. Morris “Moj” Johnston, internationally famous music producer, is on a much-needed vacation cruise through the islands of the Indian Ocean. He’s not looking for love but trying to heal a broken heart. When Moj meets Rania, everything changes. Suddenly they find themselves on the run from pirates, lost on a deserted island, and dangerously close to going…OUT TOO FAR.

Andrea K. Stein’s daddy was a trucker, her momma was an artist, and she’s a scribbler. The stories just spilled out—the pony escaped, the window magically shattered. Not her fault. Twenty years as a journalist couldn’t stifle the yarns. Yacht delivery up and down the Caribbean only increased the flow. Now those tales celebrate romance on the high seas. As a sailing captain and instructor since 1996, she’s logged nearly 30,000 miles to destinations around the world. She now lives in the Rocky Mountains and is the author of four historical sailing romances available on Amazon.com.

Sawyer Stone grew up dreaming of far-off cities and far-flung continents even though those exotic locations seemed way out of reach. But the dreams of travel and love never left. It wasn’t long before Sawyer walked the alleys of Istanbul, watched the sunsets from the island of Santorini, trekked the Himalayas, and dove through shipwrecks in the Andaman Sea. Now, while still traveling, Sawyer writes all kinds of books under all kinds of names. The world needs more stories about quirky characters falling in love.

Panorama of tropical sunset on Maldives

 

Way Too Close (Love Overboard Series Book 1)

CHAPTER ONE

48°37’17”N, 20°12’20”W

Aboard the Boadicea

One Day Southwest of Falmouth

Captain Lindsay Fisher jolted awake to thundering pain centered over a golfball-sized knot on the right side of her forehead. Hot, sticky blood trickled from a gash on her scalp.

The cabin lights were out, but in the gloom she could hear the roar of seawater cascading along the floor of her starboard aft cabin. She’d fallen into her bunk a few hours before encased in foul weather gear — and a life jacket.

The ship was in a severe list. Dazed and still barefooted, she used handholds to make her way to the main saloon. The dim glow from the overhead deck bevels illuminated water pouring through the galley from the forward cabin. Shit. The custom glass top over the owner’s cabin had shattered.

The sixty-four-foot Hallberg-Rassy must have done a full roll. Lindsay had been asleep on the floor of her cabin and had probably smacked her head sometime during the spin.

They were sinking. Fast. And her first mate, her uncle Tommy, had been on watch at the helm.

She ignored the stuttering of her heart and snatched the ditch bag carabineer, clipped to the galley counter rail. She nearly collided with her second crewman in a race to the top deck.

“Jim, deploy the life raft. Now.” she shouted, shoving the bag at him.

“Got it,” he yelled, and pounded up the companionway ahead of her.

She hauled herself up, two steps at a time, and called out, “Tommy.” She didn’t wait for an answer but hit the top deck running.

The wreckage above sickened her. Anything not tied down was gone. The rigging still stood, but the sails were soaked, twisted and ripped. The top quarter of the mast had broken off.

A late, fierce storm, at least Force 11, was kicking up monster size waves, and sixty-knot winds whipped the surface water into a roiling mist. Airborne spray and foam narrowed visibility to nearly zero.

The earlier weather faxes she’d checked had shown the storm passing west of them. Mother Ocean must have changed her mind.

Tommy. I have to get to him.

Lindsay exhaled hard at the sight of the lifeboat valise still lashed to the safety rail. Her third crewman Jim worked at the straps to free the big rubber inflatable, the only thing between them and the frigid North Atlantic waters.

When the huge raft was prepped, he would splash the lifeboat into the savage waves battering the broken yacht. He’d already attached the raft’s painter to the ship to keep it from blowing overboard. When the ship sank, the emergency tether would break free.

The steep tilt of the deck meant she had only minutes to call for help and find her first mate before the yacht plummeted to the bottom of the sea.

She punched the DSC button on the waterproof radio strapped on her chest to broadcast their GPS coordinates. Then she pushed transmit and spoke calmly.

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. This is Captain Lindsay Fisher on the Boadicea, Boadicea, Boadicea. We’re a day southwest of Falmouth at 48°37’17”N, 20°12’20”W, and sinking. The ship has rolled with three passengers aboard. One crew member possibly overboard. We are deploying the lifeboat and EPIRB beacon.”

She waited a minute and repeated the plea while crossing to the wheel where Tommy should be.

They were still less than two hundred miles out of the English Channel. If she didn’t get a response soon from the Brits, she hoped another nearby ship listening to Channel 16 would relay her call for help.

When she reached the stern behind the wheel, the only sign of Tommy was a taut portion of his six-foot safety tether. Lindsay squinted through the spray peppering her face like needles. The strap wound down the backside of the wallowing yacht and disappeared into the black waves.

There was still tension on the line. She heaved up on the tether, but the weight on the other end wouldn’t budge. She didn’t dare divert Jim from getting the life raft ready.

Lindsay heaved again on the strap, this time using her whole body weight but lost her grip when her bare feet slipped on the wave-soaked deck. No dice.

She stood for a moment, scanned the waves around the ship, and then plunged into the cold seawater. The towering waves pounded her senseless like a mass of ice mallets pelting her back. Breathe. Focus.

The roll had knocked out their running lights, and the water below the surface was as black as an oil slick. She clutched her lifeline, still clipped to the ship’s jack line, with one hand while groping along the hull beneath the waves searching for Tommy. She swept a 180-degree arc before realizing his tether was stuck on a piece of the swim ladder twisted during the yacht’s violent revolution. Dammit.

The tension on the end of the line wasn’t Tommy.

She unclipped her safety line and left her life jacket on the ladder to begin a frantic free swim along the keel beneath the hull. The creaks and whines of the straining ship shrieked in her ears. Not much time left.

Lindsay resurfaced, gasped in a few breaths, and dived again to the bottom of the keel. Huge thrashing waves exacerbated the wallowing motion of the ship, and the black water threatened to suck her into the claustrophobic darkness.

Her hands and feet were numb, and she wanted nothing more than to close her eyes and let the frigid water take her.

No. She wouldn’t give in to the cold, but she was out of options. One more dive was all her body had left.

She was all in, no backup plan. In a flash, something brushed against her hand. A fish? Not bloody likely this close to the surface in a storm.

She made a wild grab and grasped a sleeve of her uncle’s foul weather gear. His life vest must have hooked onto a protruding piece of a sensor on the keel during the roll.

She pulled with her last surge of strength, and his body broke free. Kicking them both to the surface, she hung on to his life vest and gave silent thanks for her barefoot state. Sea boots would have filled and pulled her down.

The doomed yacht’s loud groans and creaks filled the air when she came up, gulping breaths. They were out of time.

But there, the big yellow raft bobbed in the water, surrounded by the wake of the sinking ship.

Jim’s face in the low light was grim, the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen. He’d found them with the battery-operated spotlight. The EPIRB’s beacon flashed behind him as he thrashed through the waves. He grasped Tommy by his jacket and pulled him aboard, then extended a hand to Lindsay. Once inside the small canopied raft, she rolled her uncle to his back and leaned over his chest, listening for breathing. The screaming winds and rain pelting the raft’s rubber top made hearing next to impossible.

Her frozen fingers were useless. She couldn’t use them to detect a pulse, so instead she looked for a rise in his chest. Nothing. She started compressions and after only two or three, Tommy jerked to life and slapped her hands away.

“You tryin’ to kill me or what?” He took the bucket Jim shoved toward him, and in a matter of seconds, puked up seawater. “Son of a–.”

“He’s back,” Lindsay said, her voice ragged with relief and exhaustion. Painful needles of feeling returned to her fingers and toes. She collapsed onto the inflated rubber floor and stared at the peaked roof.

Her career was over.