Extreem Makeover

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Dan Well’s told me EXTREME MAKEOVER was his darkest book yet. Well duh, if that’s the case, I had to buy it. He’s right, it’s dark but not in the way I expected. Knowing what I know about his John Carver series, I thought it was going to be bloodier, twistier, or just plain cruel. But it wasn’t. Well, that’s not entirely true either, it was dark and twisty, just not in the way I expected it to be.

The satirical new suspense about a health and beauty company that accidentally develops a hand lotion that can overwrite your DNA.

Lyle Fontanelle is the chief scientist for NewYew, a health and beauty company experimenting with a new, anti-aging hand lotion. As more and more anomalies crop up in testing, Lyle realizes that the lotion’s formula has somehow gone horribly wrong. It is actively overwriting the DNA of anyone who uses it, turning them into physical clones of someone else. Lyle wants to destroy the formula, but NewYew thinks it might be the greatest beauty product ever designed–and the world’s governments think it’s the greatest weapon.

New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells brings us a gripping corporate satire about a health and beauty company that could destroy the world.

The more I read, the more I tried to guess where it was going and when I was wrong, *boom* my head exploded. Dude… Wells takes this book to a new level. It makes me look at cosmetics diffrently. Oh, I had a dream! I just remembered I had a dream after reading part of this book earlier this week. Someone squirted lotion into my eye and it started to eat away at my eyeball, then the side of my face.

Yep, this one is worth reading. Well done Mr. Wells, well done.

Down Among The Sticks and Bones

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I’ve already pre-ordered book three – which comes out in January 2018. I couldn’t put DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES down. I’m not even sure how to start this review, but I’ll say this: I’m stuck among the moors and by Jack’s side. I’ve been gifted into McGuire’s world and I don’t want to leave yet. EVERY HEART A DOORWAY was a portal to many worlds and DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES was but one.

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

What McGuire has written is, in its own way, a doorway for the rest of us. For those of us who weren’t chosen as children to find the world in which we truly belong. She’s gifted us with such atmosphere, such beauty, it will be as if for these brief pages, you too have found a door to another world.

There is a discussion of gender roles and the impact that they have on children and society as a whole. Sometimes these forced roles are done so knowingly and worse, unknowingly.

“She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid”

What I loved about this book, was it took on that discussion and did so with grace. Far more grace then I’ll have trying to explain it to you. It’s okay to be a girly-girl and it’s okay to be a tomboy and it’s okay to be both or neither. Defining anyone by gender stereotypes does the world a disservice. McGuire never shies from diversity in her books. Without having to explain to readers what Mysophobia is, McGuire paints a picture so vividly, the reader never has to ask because it’s clear what it must feel like to suffer from Mysophobia. Toss in a pinch of first love and a sister bond in a gothic and dark place, who can resist such a book? I think these two books have just risen into my true favorites list.

Every Heart a Doorway

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What I would give to spend an hour inside of Seanan McGuire’s head. Every time I turn around I seem to be surprised by her. I wanted to read something short, something to wet my whistle yesterday and I stumbled upon EVERY HEART A DOORWAY. Little did i know that McGuire’s book won the 2017 Alex Award, the 2017 Locus Award, and the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Novella, is a finalist for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, made the 2016 Tiptree Honor List, and that NPR called a “mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy — a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll’s and C. S. Lewis’ classics”

I don’t know that I would have read it had I know all of the above. It’s the rebble in me. Everyone loves something and so I turn from it. But I am so glad I didn’t. EVERY HEART A DOORWAY, or the Wayword Children series (as I’ve recently learned there are more then one), is pure magic.

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

To explain EVERY HEART A DOORWAY in a succinct way is hard. Beyond hard. It’s as much a dark and creepy story as it is a magical one filled with rainbows. It’s Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland meets Marry Shelly Frankenstein only better than both with a gothic edge.

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is where parents send troubled kids, the one’s who have been through such trama they believe they’ve gone to another world. Only they really have been to another world. Eleanor West helps these children to both copes with the loss of their lives in other worlds and gives them hope that one day they might find a doorway back. She provides children with a safe place where they can be themselves but more than that, where people believe them.

There isn’t much about this story to criticize. I only want more. It’s both funny and witty, building a world in such a short amount of time I didn’t want to leave. There’s a diverse cast of characters including an asexual protagonist and a transgender boy. It is dark and beautiful and unlike anything, I’ve read before.

Nancy, our main character asks at one point why there are more girls than boys at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. The response she get’s is an insightful, yet subtle nod toward gender issues:

“Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”

I loved that this was an omnipresent narrative. It’s rare to find them these days and I thought it was executed well. I love a well written omnipresent narrative and I don’t care what anyone says about it.

The other thing that really stood out for me, the characters aren’t morally ambiguous. Each character uses a different set of values or scales to determine what is good and what is bad. They each have a different definition of good and evil. It brought so much depth to a world in so few pages.

I just want to gush and gush but instead, I’m going to start reading DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES (Wayward Children #2)


Universal Studios Hollywood

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I’ve been a little absentee lately and that’s because I’ve been on vacation up and down the west coast. Started by going down the Oregon coast. Snuck a peek at the Goonie’s house every and other ridiculous reason to stop and gawk at the sites. Made my way to Reno for a couple of days and then down to California. While there have been many, many reasons to be excited on this trip (Random Arcades, Winchester Mansion,  National History Museum, The Endeavor, just to name a few) one of my personal favorites has been visiting Universal Studio’s Hollywood.

The last time I was at Universal Studios, 1920x821_Secondary_Carousel_ffsc_v2-1169x500King Kong nearly scared the piss out of me despite the banana’s in the air, I cried at Jaws, and basically had a miserable time. Fast forward more than twenty-five years. Universal Studios is a completely different place. While the studio tour is still there, it too has been overhauled. As many of you know, I’m obsessed with Fast and the Furious. So much to my surprise, the Studio Tour has the two largest 4D interactive screens in the world. One of them is raceharrypotterupdated-es_0.jpg against time with Vin. I’m just saying, I may have road the entire hour plus long Studio Tour three times, just so I could race again and again.

Of course whatever else I did in Universal, (sorry Jurassic and Springfeild, you we’re cool, just not as cool) nothing would compare to Hogwarts. Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade, Honeydukes, Olivander’s, the Three Broomsticks, the Hogshead, or the Lights of Hogwarts. Magic. I was sitting in the Three Broomsticks nearly in tears the first time. I was sitting inside of of my favorite books. Magic. Pure and utter magic. I know that the Hollywood version of Hogwarts is half the size… a quarter of the size of Orlando’s but I still loved it. I loved every minute there. Plus, has anyone had Butterbeer??!! OMG. Frozen Butterbeer is a godsend. Pumpkin Juice both carbonated and original is a bit on the sweet side for me, but man… frozen butterbeer is where it’s at every time.

Anyway, this is my long winded way of saying, I’m still around, I’ve just been on vacation for about five weeks. I’m headed home at the end of the week. Making a pit stop at the Jelly Belly factory and I’m going to try and avoid the crazy and get through Oregon before the ellipse Monday. When I get a little more time, I’ll try to share some more stories and some of my own pictures from this trip.

It’s been a blast.

Alex & Eliza

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I have been obsessed with the Hamelton soundtrack. There I said it. My student’s swayed me at the end of the school year and I’ve been enamored ever since.

Alex & Eliza seemed like a perfect opportunity to live in my Hamelton bubble a little longer. While much more innocent, a bit slower, and wrought with against, I enjoyed this book a lot. It takes its own liberties with Hamelton’s story (as does the Hamelton play) and I think they enhance the story De La Cruz tells. What I can appreciate more than anything, De La Cruz is telling a different story. One all her own. Eliza is a main Character in this book, half the story told through her eyes, the other half through Alexander’s. This is a story about love above all other things. While Hamelton, the musical, was about so much more than just their love.

I’m confident the characters are not teenagers (historically speaking they were not around this time) the book feels like a YA. I believe it is a YA but more than whether or not it is, it feels like one. Some books don’t. That being said, it’s a surface story. A bit lighter than I wanted. I wanted more. I wanted more detail, more history, just more.

I have a love for Melissa De La Cruz and it has not changed. This book wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but I struggled to put it down all the same.

 

 

 

FEED

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We cured everything, cancer, common cold, and well…. we caused the Zombie Apocalypse. Twenty years after the rising life has moved on. Not to say it’s any better, but it’s continued. The landscape of America has drastically changed from politics to lawn parties. It’s a different America then the one we were raised in. Georgia and Shaun Mason are on following a story so big, it might explain why the rising happened and who’s prevented a cure. When the dead begin to uprise, so did the art of news. Hollywood was no longer the center of attention and large news sources couldn’t be trusted to be honest. When the dead started to rise, so did the likes of young bloggers who had a sense of what journalism needed, a healthy dose of integrity.

When Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) wrote FEED, I don’t know think she knew how politically poignant it would be a few short years later. Or maybe she did. Admittedly, Grant is pretty bad ass. In the truest of Grant/McGuire fashion, there is incredible world building and realness to her novels. Feed has clearly been researched and then when you think it’s been researched enough, it’s researched some more.

While at times, info-dumping occurs, (Always intelligent and they feel necessary to the story) and I would have been more surprised if the antagonist of the story had been a different character, I still enjoyed this book an insane amount. There are zombies, political undercurrents (something I normally don’t care for but it’s written so well I can’t help but love it), and unique relationships which aren’t common. I was griped from page one to page six-hundred-and-one.

I haven’t had much luck on book twos lately, so I’ll hold off for now on reading it. Not because it won’t be great, but because I want to enjoy this feeling some more before I chance loosing it. Mark my words, I will read book two and I am excited at the prospect of greatness.

 

#GirlBoss

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I am a girl boss and if we’re all being perfectly honest, you can be too.

I started watching the new Netflix original #GirlBoss a couple of weeks ago and damn if I wasn’t pulled in right away. It’s smart, funny, and…wait for it… Loosely based on true events. That was enough for me to go digging for the book. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal, was a quick click away. While the audiobook was not read by Amoruso, it was still a good read.

Was the book as good as good as the show? Shockingly no. I really expected that the book would rise above the show but it did not. This was one of those rare moment when Netflix outshines everyone and made #GIRLBOSS just slightly flater than I’d hoped for. It did have some fun moments, and some good advice about being your own girl boss,  but all in all, I think this was one of those situations, where the Netflix has the magical ability of turning an okay book into A+ tv.

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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.