Author: Ellen Hopkins

Early Review – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

December 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016, YA 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen HopkinsThe You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 608
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?

Not one person
on this planet cares about you.

No one but Daddy, who loves you
more than anything in the whole wide
world, and would lay down his life
for you. You remember that, hear me?

I heard those words too often
in any number of combinations
Almost always they came floating
in a fog of alcohol and tobacco.

Arielle has only ever known her dad from an early age. Dependable yet temperamental, he’s taken care of her for years on his own. Bounced from house to house and different woman to woman, Arielle and her father have finally settled down long enough in a town for her to begin to get comfortable. She’s joined the girls basketball team, she’s made friends, and she’s discovered a side of her sexuality that she fears. She’s never had a mom because according to her dad, she left both of them for her lesbian lover. Coming out to her father as the same would be beyond reckless.

Maya has a difficult relationship with her mother. She ran her father out of the house and joined Scientology, expecting Maya to do the same. When her mother tells her they’ll be moving from Texas to Sea Org in Los Angeles, a Scientology organization, she concocts a way to avoid having to go: she gets pregnant. The father, Sergeant Jason Ritter, proposes to her and she feels relief at finally escaping her mother but she’s traded one bad situation for another.

Funny How the Brain
Manages damage control,
conveniently curtaining
windows that overlook
certain footpaths into the past.

I try to keep the shades drawn.

Anything by Ellen Hopkins is bound to pack a punch with the types of subjects she tackles and The You I’ve Never Known is no different. This time she deals with abandonment, sexuality, and abuse, but it felt much more passive than some of her past stories. I’m always incredibly fond of her dual storylines and trying to determine the connection before the big reveal. While her stories are always lengthy in page count, the time it took for that big reveal to happen seemed to be dragged out for longer than was necessary. Often with Hopkins’ writing style, you find yourself getting lost in the beauty of her words. She still used verse as her main writing style and her typical formatting is there but it was much less lyrical and much more dense with a lot of backstory that lacked the passion her stories usually have. The main issue was with how the parents are portrayed. Her villains come in many forms, but in this story, they were the parents of both Maya and Arielle. They were both written as manic and often terrifying people, with little to no redeeming qualities. It was all black, no white, and definitely no gray area, and this lack of complexity caused them to come off as caricatures and nothing more.

Hopkins has long been a favorite of mine and while I felt this one was lacking, her stories still manage to linger in my head long after finishing. She tackles the subjects that most often need to be brought to light, I only wish that she would also focus more on the poetic aspects that make these ugly subjects beautiful.

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

August 10, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 0 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen HopkinsThe You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 592
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?

About Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

border24

A mixture of verse and prose… well, if anyone can pull it off, Ellen can.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

border24

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen Hopkins

November 21, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen HopkinsTraffick by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Tricks #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

three-stars

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out?How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

‘How am I supposed to stay clean
when the truth of what I’ve done
closes in around me, squeezing
hideous memories from the deep
recesses of my brain […]’

Tricks is a novel that leaves you haunted for a group of incredibly real individuals that wound up in unimaginable situations. It told the story of five individuals: Seth is kicked out of his home after his father finds out he’s gay. Ginger is forced to run away after she’s raped and finds out that her mother collected cash from the experience. Eden is sent to a religious reform camp after her parents discover she has a boyfriend. Cody and his family find themselves in a financial hole after the death of his stepfather and he begins collecting money anyway he can. And Whitney who ends up with an older man simply because he gives her the attention she craves. What’s most shocking is how vastly different their stories are yet how they all seem to wind up in the same situations: selling their bodies in order to survive.

Traffick is their follow-up story that once again forces these same characters to face their demons while giving them the opportunity to find some semblance of a future that none of them ever thought they would live to witness. It’s no doubt a bleak tale but it effectively brings to life the harsh realities of sex trafficking and child prostitution and what many are forced to undergo. It also productively breaks many of the stereotypes surrounding the beliefs regarding how individuals find themselves in these situations. They aren’t all doing this work of their own free will, some are forced into it by intimidation, some do it out of a misguided act of love, and some do it out of sheer desperateness and being unable to do anything else with their lives.

Ellen has said that she worked with rescue groups and survivors of sex trafficking to make this story as honest as possible, and it’s obvious. While Traffick doesn’t give these victims a complete happily ever after, I appreciated it more because it didn’t. What these individuals endured is something that will stay with them eternally and forever change who they are. What this story did do was give these characters, and any individuals that find themselves in similar circumstances, the possibility of hope. Hope that there is a future for them, no matter what, despite their experiences.

Divider

Book Review – Love Lies Beneath: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins

August 6, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 6 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Love Lies Beneath: A Novel by Ellen HopkinsLove Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Atria Books on July 21st 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

one-star

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collateral comes a gripping novel about a woman caught in a love affair that could be her salvation…or her undoing.

Tara is gorgeous, affluent, and forty. She lives in an impeccably restored Russian Hill mansion in San Francisco. Once a widow, twice divorced, she’s a woman with a past she prefers keeping to herself.

Enter Cavin Lattimore. He’s handsome, kind, charming, and the surgeon assigned to Tara following a ski accident in Lake Tahoe. In the weeks it takes her to recover, Cavin sweeps her off her feet and their relationship blossoms into something Tara had never imagined possible. But then she begins to notice some strange things: a van parked outside her home at odd times, a break-in, threatening text messages and emails. She also starts to notice cracks in Cavin’s seemingly perfect personality, like the suppressed rage his conniving teenage son brings out in him, and the discovery that Cavin hired a detective to investigate her immediately after they met.

Now on crutches and housebound, Tara finds herself dependent on the new man in her life—perhaps too much so. She’s handling rocky relationships with her sister and best friend, who are envious of her glamour and freedom; her prickly brother-in-law, who is intimidated by her wealth and power; and her estranged mother. However perfect Tara’s life appears, things are beginning to get messy.

Writing in beautiful prose, Ellen Hopkins unveils a new style while evoking her signature poetic form that readers fell in love with in Collateral and Triangles.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

I don’t even know where to begin with this epic disaster. I’m just as shocked as you are… Ellen Hopkins! One of my all-time favorites! The one I’ve always been able to rely on for a beautifully written story with a moving plot. Love Lies Beneath was nothing like I’ve come to expect from Hopkins and while change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in this case, she strayed from her verse style and opted for a typical style of writing and it was a major fail. I can’t even soften this (or shorten my rant) so I don’t come off as a complete asshole because I am completely shocked at how straight up horrible this was. Me. Rating an Ellen Hopkins 1 star. Hell hath frozen over.

First off, I need to mention that I read the short story that is listed as a prequel story called On the Rocks. I’m all for anything that adds a new level of understanding and from what other reviewers said, reading it before Love helped you to understand Tara and Graham’s relationship better. (cue insane laughter) I have to basically spoil the short story in order to properly explain the beginning of my aggravations, so you’ve been warned.

Tara is introduced as a powerful, self-sufficient woman who is also a recent widow. She takes what she wants, in life and in the bedroom, and has no qualms about doing so. Graham meets twenty-three-year-old Tara for the first time in a local pawnshop, which she’s owner. He’s been seeing this other girl recently, but he thinks Tara is really something so he calls her a few days later to ask her out on a date. They hit it off, end up in bed together, and in the morning he leaves to go meet his girlfriend for lunch. Yeah, he’s a real charmer. Long story short, his girlfriend’s sister is meeting them and go figure, Tara is the sister that shows up. Talk about awkward. The aggravations began when I picked up Love and noted some SERIOUS inconsistencies.

When Love opens, there’s a serious jump in time. Tara is now forty and is now a three-time divorceé who spends her time in the gym or working on fundraising. One of her exes is a politician who takes care of all her expenses still so she doesn’t have to do any real work. Graham ended up married to her sister and they have three children together. Tara and Graham hate each other and the short story was supposed to be the key to explaining it all. But that’s where I ran into a major snag:

‘…would it have been better to confide the fact that Graham had tried to sleep with me?’

Wait. TRIED to sleep with her? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought it was pretty clear in the short story they slept together.

‘They fuck for hours, until there’s nothing left to fuck away-no loneliness, no frustration, no pain, no thirst.’

Uh, yeah. I don’t think that could be any more clear. Yet I believe I counted at least three instances which mentioned how he hates her because she “turned him down”… TWENTY YEARS AGO. Because that makes complete sense for him to hate her after that long and after marrying her sister and having kids together for him to still hold a grudge for all that. Even if the story upheld the short stories claim that they slept together, it still wouldn’t be realistic for him to hate her after all that time.

Alright, so on to my next issue. Tara. Tara is not a character you will grow fond of. I’ve read my fair share of unlikeable characters and this alone won’t bring a story down for me. What brought it down is Tara is a total cliché and could not be more of a cardboard cutout. Her narrative is ridiculous and uninspiring and the motivations behind her mannerisms are chalked up to an absent mother that slept around with a bunch of men. But the things that would come out of her mouth were straight-up cringe worthy. Here are a few treasures I saved:

“No. You broke even, minus the three hundred you gave away. You could have lost the whole thing! Who does that? Who takes that kind of risk?
She is seriously clueless. “It’s only money, Mel.”

“Kayla’s been heading in the wrong direction for a while now. I’m afraid she’s lost all sense of reason.”
I’ve heard marijuana can do that to a person, and what if it’s become a gateway to harder stuff?

‘I’ve relied on condoms for intermittent liaisons, and remained herpes and fetus-free. Should I worry now? At my age, is what’s left of my egg stash even viable?
Oh well, if things go wrong, there’s always abortion.’

And my favorite:

‘The burgers, at least, don’t disappoint, and the fries are worth every fat-soaked bite. Good thing I didn’t eat earlier.’

Yeah, she’s a fabulous person. But she’s just so terribly written that she comes off as laughable and I’m not sure that’s what was intended. Speaking of the writing, compared to her more lush verse stories, this reads like somebody completely different wrote it. It’s oversimplified and the supposed “mystery” is something that’s thrown in for a half-assed twist at the end which made it all the more ludicrous. In addition to changing her writing style, she added in a whole lot more sex scenes than I had seen before from her, even in her other adult novels. Suffice it to say that I found them laughable as well and I’m certain that’s definitely not what she intended.

But personally, I want to lick him, forehead to foreskin. Hmm. Does he have foreskin? Damn, now I’m wondering.

Then I unhinge my jaw, which is what it takes for my mouth to accept the whole thing, and I teach him the meaning of head, Tara-style […]

I’m not sure when but she apparently transformed into a snake at some point. I missed that scene.

And this completely creepy mental image:

Completely engorged, his cock crawls up the backs of my legs.

Um. Cocks don’t do that. Maybe he should have that looked at.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, towards the end she has this medical crisis and was a complete idiot about it. She had a reaction to something she ate and had to use her epi pen and considering I personally have to carry an epi-pen and know exactly how all that shit goes, the scene was completely enraging. She describes injecting herself and how the swelling in her eyes and face, as well as the hives, began to immediately shrink. And how she went to the bathroom to look at herself in the mirror, noted that her skin was slack from being all stretched out so she applied some tightening lotion. Uh, that’s not how that works, at fucking all. Your swelling doesn’t go away that quickly. But the icing on the fucking cake:

‘All the literature says to call 911 or go into the ER after an episode capped with epinephrine. But I want to go to the beach.’

And I’m done. I’m baffled. So completely shocked. I can’t even comprehend.

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen Hopkins

April 1, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen HopkinsTraffick by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Tricks #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 608
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

About Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

Remember this one?

5510384

Well, here’s the follow-up we never knew was coming! I’m always ready to dive back into some heart-wrenching story of Hopkins and this one I anticipate being no different.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

March 26, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Rumble by Ellen HopkinsRumble by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 26, 2014
Pages: 560
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

About Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

Divider

Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen Hopkins

October 4, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen HopkinsSmoke by Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Candace Thaxton, January LaVoy
Series: Burned #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 10th 2013
Length: 8 hours and 13 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Burned.

Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?
Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.

 

Burned series

Burned (Burned, #1)
Burned (Burned #1) {Review}

‘How many people live unafraid? To truly embrace courage, I think, requires one of two things–unshakable faith that death is no more than a portal to some Shangri-la reunion. Or zero belief at all.’

Smoke is the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 release, Burned. It’s a dual-narrative story told from the point of view of Pattyn who is currently on the run after her father is shot and killed and of Jackie, Pattyn’s sister, who has remained behind and is suffering through the aftermath.

While Burned did admittedly leave off with a major cliffhanger of an ending, I can’t help but think it would have been better off left as is. Smoke’s plot felt stretched and thin and unnecessary story lines were added that detracted from the heart of the story. There was the radical militia movement, the slaughter of wild mustangs, the mistreatment of migrant workers and while these are all important topics I felt that not only was there too much going on but it never felt like it fit with the main story which centers around the Mormon community the family is a part of. I think the bigger issue with Smoke though is the absence of Ellen’s signature writing style. Yes, this is written in verse and yes her prose is beautiful… but only in certain sections. It wasn’t consistent and read far too much like a typical novel for my liking.

In addition, the wrap-up was far too flawless. Too picture perfect. And storylines were left unresolved, like the lack of resolution of Pattyn’s previous life she had while on the run. Burned is one of my favorite by Hopkins and while Smoke didn’t live up to that, it did give us a resolution (whether it was ultimately necessary is definitely debatable).

Smoke is a story of survival, of learning to cope following the aftermath of abuse and starting anew.

Divider

Early Review – Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

October 2, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Collateral by Ellen HopkinsCollateral by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Atria Books on November 6th 2012
Pages: 512
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Verse
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

four-stars

The gripping story of a woman torn between love for her boyfriend, a dedicated Marine deployed to Afghanistan, and the resentment she has for the war that is tearing their lives apart.

Written in Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.

Collateral captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. Those who remain at home may be far away from the relentless, sand-choked skies of the Middle East and the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, but just the same, all of them will sacrifice a part of themselves for their country and all will eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage caused by war is worth the fight.

‘Each returning soldier is an in-the-flesh memoir of war. Their chapters might vary, but similar imagery fills the pages, and the theme of every book is the same – profound change. The big question became, could I live with that kind of change?’

Alternating between the past and present, Collateral tells the story of Ashley and a marine named Cole. How they met. How they fell in love. How Ashley was transformed by Cole’s deployment and how she struggled to make it through by using pills and alcohol to quiet her constant fears. Collateral was a deeply moving story that tells the tale of the one left behind in time of war, and how life can be when you love a soldier.

Collateral is a realistic story in every sense because the war depicted within the pages is the exact war we’re all living with today. Just as dark, gritty, and emotional as her other works with just enough hint at reality to make you wonder just how fictional it really is. Collateral does showcase the ‘worst-case scenario’ of loving a soldier, but that certainly makes it no less tangible. My heart ached for Ashley, her pain being so evident. I loved the snippets of Cole’s poetry, being able to see his outlook on his life in contrast with Ashley’s. Ellen Hopkins is truly an amazing writer and I’m so thankful for her stories. She uses no different words than any normal person but the way she uses them ends up turning them into something truly profound.

‘Alone in this untamed
empty place, I free
a relentless volley
of words. They
rage
against the pages, a torrent
of what was, what is,
what yet may come.
And when at last the spirits
recede,
I find echoed
in their retreat, stories
I dare not give voice to –
nightmares set adrift
in my paper harbor.’

Divider

Book Review – Identical by Ellen Hopkins

January 17, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Identical by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 26th 2008
Pages: 576
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

four-stars

Do twins begin in the womb?
Or in a better place?

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

This is not my first Ellen Hopkins book so I know by now not to expect fluffy bunnies and happily ever after endings. I know to expect a vivid depiction of exactly how life can be and is for some… but boy oh boy, this one really takes the cake.

Identical is the story of Kaeleigh and Raeanne, 16 year-old identical twins. Their father is a district court judge and their mother is currently running for Congress. On the outside their family is picture perfect… but look closely and you’ll see the cracks in their veneer. Kaeleigh has been sexually abused by her father since she was nine years old. Raeanne drinks and uses drugs heavily because she feels she’s the lesser twin that isn’t loved like Kaeleigh. Their story is a stomach turning experience.

I’m not sure I would have actually finished this if I didn’t have faith in Ellen Hopkins to pull off one whopper of a story, and sure enough she did. The ending blew my mind and almost had me wanting to sit down and read it again because every notion or preconception I had was way off the mark. Brutal story but so incredibly well done it was shocking.

Divider

Book Review – Fallout (Crank, #3) by Ellen Hopkins

December 29, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Fallout (Crank, #3) by Ellen HopkinsFallout by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank #3
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 14th 2010
Pages: 665
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

four-stars

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.
Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there’s more of Kristina in her than she’d like to believe. Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother’s notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family’s story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person’s problem.

Crank series

Crank (Crank, #1)Glass (Crank, #2)

Crank (Crank #1) {Purchase}
Glass (Crank #2) {Purchase}

The final chapter in one of the most heart wrenching trilogies/series I’ve ever read. A truly emotional read and I believe a fabulous ‘ending’ although maybe ‘wrap-up’ would be a better description as the story is far from over.

In ‘Fallout’, Ellen Hopkins has switched up the point of view and timeline of the story. Set in the future, Kristina’s youngest son Hunter who was just a toddler in last book is now 19. The story is told from Hunter’s point of view, as well as Summer and Autumn’s: both Kristina’s children. By now Kristina has yet to fully get her life back on track and has 5 children all living with other family members or in foster care.

I was a bit skeptical at this change and how well I would enjoy it after reading through Kristina’s eyes for the past books, but I was pleased at how well written it was. The multiple POV reminded me very much of Triangles; however, I had difficulty in differentiating between Summer and Autumn for at least the first half of the book.

It was extremely intense ‘experiencing’ the impact Kristina had on each of her children. It was tragic, heartbreaking, and extremely painful to read about. Was it worth it? Yes. Ellen Hopkins has yet to disappoint and I continue to be amazed at how influential and powerful her books are.

Divider