Posts Categorized: Read in 2013

Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

October 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 4 Comments

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.

Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3rd 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

"You have to kill him."

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.”

Em and Finn are the only two that can stop the creation of a time machine; a machine that will destroy the world. They’ve succeeded in traveling back in time fourteen times but those trips have only resulted in failure. This is their fifteenth trip and Em has finally realized exactly what is required to stop it for good. The note she finds written in her own handwriting tells her: “You have to kill him.”

This was a breathless thrill-ride with a few twists I didn’t see coming. The alternating points of view between the present-day Em and her past self, Marina, was my favorite part of this novel and I loved being able to see the vast differences between the two and how the harsh realities of the world transformed her and those close to her. The two storylines were slightly hard to follow until they came together in the end but was still a delight.

The characters themselves felt like cardboard cutouts at times and I thought it was a bit far-fetched the things they were capable of (geniuses creating time machines and all that). My main gripe is Em though. She wakes up in a prison and is tortured for information each and every day. She finds the note that she wrote herself the last time she traveled back in time and knows what she has to do to right all the wrongs and to keep her and Finn both from winding back up in a prison cell. She has to kill him. But she wastes several opportunities she had to kill him and I realize that she cares about this person she’s supposed to kill but it just seemed reckless. Obviously if she’s gone back in time 14 times and hasn’t been able to change things any of the other times, she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

The time travel concept was definitely interesting and seemed to be fairly unique however I couldn’t help but have issue with a few possible holes in the concept. Foremost is that Em and Finn continued to go back in time yet it never seemed that their actions were having any sort of impact on the past (and at the same time the future). When they kept going back in time trying to correct past wrongs and they failed to succeed they inevitably seemed to go back to the same future as if everything they had done was etch-a-sketched out. That seemed entirely implausible especially considering the note. In each instance that Em went back in time she would write herself an update letting her know what she had planned to do so that she would know what not to do the next time in case she failed. I understand that time travel isn’t a concrete science but the concept did provoke a bit of disbelief.

I really loved the idea of the concept but there were a few holes that I couldn’t overlook. If you’re able to read this without over-analyzing things I can imagine this would be vastly more enjoyable. Setting all issues aside, this was a fun read and was definitely thrilling. I have absolutely no idea how a sequel will work considering how things ended but I’m still interested enough to read and see.

Divider

Book Review – Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

October 10, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 5 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.

Book Review – Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnisNot a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 24th 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: A Madness So Discreet

three-half-stars

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Seeing that my one of my favorite genres is dystopian/post-apocalyptic, this was high on my expectations list. Post-apocalyptic became super popular in recent years and practically all the ways the world could possibly come to an end have been covered. A world where the water has been contaminated and clean water is a precious commodity? I had yet to read a book covering that so I eagerly awaited this one.

The story starts off strong, introducing Lynn and her mother, a duo that has learned to survive on their own in the harsh world. For years it’s just been the two of them protecting the pond that gives them the only hope of living to see another day. The day to day accounting of the daily tasks they performed in order to survive were detailed and authentic. As the book progresses, we’re given vague details regarding how the world came to be and while it was enough to paint an adequate picture it wasn’t sufficient enough to appease my curiosity of this harsh world.

The writing is bleak and subtle, but albeit fitting. It properly depicts a world that we could only dream of; a world where turning on your faucet to get water is no longer a reality. Lynn is the definition of strength and is willing and able to do whatever needs to be done to protect the pond. She reminded me of the character Ree from Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, another literary figure that was burdened with great responsibility at a young age. Lynn grew up solely with her mother, only seeing glimpses of a single neighbor, and seeing any others through the cross-hairs of her rifle before she took them down. There was no guilt or remorse for those acts, she was simply doing what needed to be done to secure her own personal survival. She was a solid character during the first 1/3 or so of the novel but I had issue with how she changed as the book progressed.

Without giving too many details as most are potential spoilers, more characters are introduced and a romance even develops. Considering the ways that Lynn was raised, being completely unaccustomed to social skills or people in general, the fact that a romance was introduced seemed too far fetched. Personally I felt that her willingness to let people into her life and building trust was difficult enough to incorporate into what we already knew of her as a character, but a romance was simply unnecessary.

Books that I feel are most similar are: Ashfall, The Road, and Orleans so if you’re fans of those you should consider checking this out. If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure, this isn’t it. Not a Drop to Drink is a story that slowly builds with intensity and is predominantly a story of surviving in a harsh and grim world.

Divider

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

October 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2008
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

‘Another spectacular afternoon. This weather is unbelievable. Of course, that probably means summer is going to be vicious again, but I’m not worried about that now. I was never big on the future. I admire people who are, but it just never was my thing.’

Sutter is spontaneous with a luring personality who lives life solely in the moment. Aimee is plagued by insecurity but has a mind that is saturated with dreams of the future. The two are an unlikely combination but Aimee is mesmerized by the lifestyle Sutter leads and Sutter is convinced he can do Aimee good by giving her the confidence she needs so badly.

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters but the Spectacular Now.”

Oh, Sutter. His character is not portrayed solely as an addict or an alcoholic, instead he’s this extremely fun and charismatic person that everyone really can’t help but love… he just has a serious problem with alcohol. But that’s not his defining feature. There was a complete lack of character development in regards to Sutter; he simply maintained as he was first introduced. I definitely wished I had seen some alteration, even slight, especially since this is highly considered to be a coming of age tale and I require character development in order for that label to be fitting.

Considering this story is told from the point of view of Sutter, everything is glorified because that’s the mentality he projects on the world. Unfortunately, the same goes for his alcoholic tendencies. It’s reflected in such a glamorized and non-gritty light and I can’t help but take issue with that since this book is targeted towards children. Taken at face value I think it would be difficult for children to see past the facade and realize that Sutter has a serious issue. The ending sheds some light on the seriousness but not enough in my opinion. Sutter’s story is truly a tragedy, I can only hope that for those children that do read this have parents that are willing to sit down and discuss with them the ravaging effects of alcohol.

Despite his good intentions towards Aimee, their relationship is truly toxic. The effect Sutter had on her was initially beneficial, however, she ended up turning down the exact road as him as her grades began to slip and she began drinking (almost) as much as him. What astonished me most was the family members of both main characters and their complete absence in their lives. I understand being a parent myself and not being able to see issues all the time before they rear their ugly head but Sutter made the fact that he was on a downward spiral loud and clear.

My opinion is quite the unpopular one regarding this book. This was well written and an honest depiction of alcoholism, I just didn’t agree with the glamorized feel the book lent it, especially when you consider the target audience.

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

Book Tour Review + Giveaway! The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries #5) by Meg Cabot

October 3, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

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

Book Tour Review + Giveaway! The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries #5) by Meg CabotThe Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
Series: Heather Wells Mysteries #5
Published by William Morrow on September 24th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Chick-Lit, Cozy, Mystery, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.

Heather Wells is set to marry Cooper Cartwright in a matter of weeks but is finding it next to impossible to plan when her life is no less hectic than normal. With freshmen orientation going on Heather has to deal with overly concerned parents and a new “Very Important Resident” that has moved in making things impossibly more chaotic. And then one of the buildings RA’s is found dead in her bed. As if things weren’t bad enough, Heather’s mom makes her first appearance ever since she stole her entire savings and fled the country.

What’s really funny about how much I loved this book was the other installments were only ‘meh’ for me. I received this for a book tour but because my brain refuses to comply when I start a series and the book is not #1 I figured it was best to go back and read them all in order. There’s always this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I’m missing out on important shit and I’m doing it all wrong. But books 1-4 failed to impress if and if I didn’t already sign up to read #5 I doubt I ever would have got there. I know tons of you have loved this series through and through but in my opinion? This installment is the best yet.

So what did I love so much about this one compared to the others? It’s possible that by book 5 all of the characters kookiness had finally grown on me because at first I found the vast majority of them to be slightly annoying. I also think it could be because I opted to listen to the first 4 installments on audio and I found the narrators voice to be no bueno. It’s also possible that this is simply a better written installment in general. Either way, I loved it.

The Bride Wore Size 12 chock-full of mystery and involves several storylines that may or may not all be linked. It could be said that there was possibly a bit ‘too much’ going on but I understand the purpose in giving that illusion of an easy answer to the chaos. I’d much rather have that than a mystery I guess from the very beginning. Existing storylines are also dredged up in order to be given proper closure, most significant of those is the re-emergence of her long lost mother. This isn’t given a picture perfect ending but it was sufficient enough to give satisfying conclusion.

This series possesses a cast of characters similar to what you would find in a cozy mystery and they’re the type that don’t always do things rationally but are always hilarious and entertaining nonetheless. Heather is a a fantastically imperfect leading character and despite being a teen pop-star, is now leading a somewhat normal yet happy life. She’s engaged to marry Cooper Cartwright who she pined for over the course of the first 3 installments only to realize he’s been doing the same. The two are a perfect pair and completely adorable and seeing them finally get their happy ending was the very best of endings. Despite the title though, the romance and wedding planning manages to not overwhelm the story at all and feels more like an anecdote than anything.

I’m extremely pleased at this series ending installment. A delightful and entertaining story with the perfect balance of mystery and romance.

Capture
This post was a part of the The Bride Wore Size 12 blog tour.

Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

Thanks to William Morrow I have a copy of The Bride Wore Size 12 to giveaway to one lucky winner. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Sorry international followers!

Giveaway ends October 17th,2013
 
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below.
Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!
 
Divider

Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

October 1, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret AtwoodMaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne, Bob Walter, Robbie Daymond
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #3
Published by Random House Audio on September 3rd 2013
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid's Tale

three-half-stars

A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.

MaddAddam Trilogy

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2)

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1)
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2)

MaddAddam is the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy which began with Oryx and Crake. It’s the story of Crake, a man who played God and developed a plague to wipe out the human race in order to usher forth a new, more advanced species called the Crakers. The MaddAddam introduction shows the few surviving humans converging with the Crakers in hopes that their combined efforts can ensure their survival in the harsh and ravaged world they are left with after the plague. In MaddAddam, it’s slow going but the Earth is on point to regenerate itself with an increase in thunderstorms and the growth of plants to help sustain their diets. Animals are even adapting to life among their genetically modified cousins, the rakunks, liobams, wolvogs and pigoons. The surviving humans are a combination of geneticists and environmentalists and we’re given several, separate stories that end up all integrating and explaining their roles from the beginning of the plague.

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

MaddAddam is primarily told from the point of view of Toby, as it was in The Year of the Flood, however we receive much back-story about Zeb. Toby spends much time telling the story of Zeb to the Crakers, who have developed a strange fascination with Zeb. Much is left out and is transformed into a myth of sorts for them, just like the stories that Jimmy used to tell them.

Considering this is the final installment in a trilogy, I was personally expecting more of an engaging ending. It’s a slow-build of an ending and doesn’t exactly amount to much, but I believe that to be due to the way it was written. Most of the current happenings are told after the fact or retold in the form of a story rather than a step-by-step accounting of occurrences. We finally get all of our lingering questions answered regarding what led up to the plague being released on the world and how each character came to be where they are now in the story. While this managed to make it slightly less satisfying it was no less compelling. The MaddAddam trilogy is a unique interpretation of a dystopian world that is not only brilliantly imaginative but is shockingly possible.

Divider

Banned Books Week – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

September 28, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 2 Comments

Banned Books Week – The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Narrator: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Published by HarperCollins on 1963
Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Classics, Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

‘Sylvia Plath’s only novel, The Bell Jar, has, on several occasions, been on banned book lists. […] Well, the first reason is due to the suicidal tendencies and attempted suicide scene. It has been said that some find it inappropriate to read about for it may entice readers to do the same. A few other reasons that Plath’s book has been subjected to being banned is, according to the University of Virginia’s Censored Exhibit online, is that “in the late 1970s, The Bell Jar was suppressed for not only its profanity and sexuality but for its overt rejection of the woman’s role as wife and mother.'”‘

‘The silence drew off, baring the pebbles and shells and all the tatty wreckage of my life. Then, at the rim of vision, it gathered itself, and in one sweeping tide, rushed me to sleep.’

Esther Greenwood is a promising young editorial intern at a popular women’s magazine in New York City. Despite the potential of a bright life ahead of her, Esther remains discouraged and almost intimidated by the future. She’s a very independent and strong-minded woman in a time where social expectations for a woman of her age are vastly different than her mindset. This expectancy that is placed on her only increases her discouragement in life and a deep depression begins to shape.

‘I felt myself melting into the shadows like the negative of a person I’d never seen before in my life.’

The bell jar is an object used in physics experiments in order to preserve something as it creates a vacuum effect and things inside become hermetically sealed. The metaphor here is that everything placed inside becomes unaffected by anything that occurs on the outside, much as Esther’s feelings form a sort of trap that contain her. Her feelings of doubt and discouragement overtake her and she’s unable to see reason and no amount of outside influence can change that. This would typically make for an extremely depressing tone however Esther is a surprisingly humorous, albeit dark, character. The Bell Jar is actually a retelling of events after they have already occurred so in essence Esther is looking back over her life and is realizing the naivety of her actions.

Sylvia Plath skillfully incorporates her gorgeous prose into her first and only novel. The writing style itself is extremely clever and seamless with a somewhat unreliable narrator. The story is not told in chronological order so the story is often hard to extrapolate but must be reminisced on after it’s all said and done. Esther Greenwood is meant to be the semi-autobiographical of Sylvia Plath herself and if you know anything about her actual biography that may explain the cryptic ending we’re given.

The narration by Maggie Gyllenhaal is superb and emulates the words of Esther Greenwood flawlessly. I had actually attempted reading this one in a physical copy and couldn’t get hooked on it but the audio was such a treat.

The reasons why this eye-opening novel has been banned span from ‘it encourages suicide’ and ‘it encourages a non-traditional way of life (mainly for women)’. As far as this novel ‘encouraging’ suicide that’s positively absurd. The Bell Jar does not encourage suicide it simply showcases how deep depression can be, how strong a hold it can have on you and gives you a firsthand view of what it means to unravel. I see nothing wrong with the subject matter and I personally find it to be more educational than anything.

Divider

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Narrator: Hope Davis
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Listening Library on January 1st 1962
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source

‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’

A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.

The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.

While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.

Divider

Banned Books Week – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

September 26, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Middle Grade, Read in 2013 4 Comments

Banned Books Week – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Narrator: Robert Sean Leonard
on 1977
Length: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Classics, Contemporary, Middle Grade
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together, they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

Performed by Robert Sean Leonard

“At issue with censors are death being part of the plot, Jess’ use of the word ‘lord’ outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church.”
-Source

[Warning: This review contains spoilers. Sorry! It’s incredibly difficult to discuss this story without including them.]

‘He thought later how peculiar it was that here was probably the biggest thing in his life, and he had shrugged it off as nothing.’

Jess Aarons lives in the small town of Lark Creek. He’s spent his summer leading up to the fifth grade practicing on being the fastest runner in the school. With shock and amazement he’s beaten in the first race by the new girl, Leslie Burke. Their friendship happens suddenly and becomes as comforting to each other as if they had been friends for years. In order to escape the normality of the world, they create an imaginary place in the woods called Terabithia.

‘For the first time in his life he got up every morning with something to look forward to. Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self – his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.’

Jess was a quiet introspective child and Leslie’s introduction into his life not only gave him the courage to do what he loves (drawing, despite his fathers disapproval) but she opened his eyes to the world and changed his outlook on life completely. His world is turned upside down when he comes home after an outing only to be told that Leslie is gone. Jess refused to believe this and he simply couldn’t comprehend with what he was being told. He withdrew from reality and remained convinced that all he had to do was go to Leslie’s house and knock on her door and she would be there, as she always is. This was a moment of pure heartbreak. His bravery in the subsequent days and how he chooses to honor Leslie’s memory was truly admirable.

As you can see, this is another read specifically done for Banned Books Week and yet another one that I fail to agree with. Bridge to Terabithia touches on grief and death and the loss of vital people in your life. Unfortunately it is to be expected that we will all have to deal with this at one point in time, some earlier than others. Considering this is a middle grade novel and is a beautifully written depiction of grief, I see no reason why a child could not read this for better understanding on eventual sadness. Katherine Paterson actually wrote this story after her son lost a childhood friend and she struggled to come up with the proper way of explaining it to him. It teaches them that it’s normal to be sad when you lose someone, that it’s okay to wallow in grief and mostly of the importance of honoring that persons memory.

Divider

Banned Books Week – Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

September 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Banned Books Week – Child of God by Cormac McCarthyChild of God by Cormac McCarthy
on January 1st 1973
Pages: 208
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard--a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape--haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.  While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.


“In October 2007, Child of God was removed from Tuscola, Texas’ Jim Ned High School and canceled from the school library’s order list after one student’s parents challenged the book’s inclusion and even registered an official complaint with the sheriff’s office charging the teacher who included the book on an optional reading list with providing material “harmful to minors” to their daughter. The parents objected to violence, sexual themes, and profanity in the book.”

‘Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed he’d never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins like slender bones where the sun shone through them.’

Lester Ballard is a man born into hardship and is seemingly cursed with tragedy. His mother leaves him and his father when he was young and he is the first to find his father’s body hanging from the rafters when he is just ten years old forcing him to seek help from the townsfolk to get his body down. This requires a quick advancement in maturity considering he’s all by himself and there’s no one left to care for him and the small town he resides in has no intention of doing him any favors.

Lester being made an outcast in his own community is one of the major themes of the novel. He’s constantly rejected by everyone for being strange and different yet he never fails to continue trying to find his place in the town. Their rejection and judgment becomes borderline cruel when he isn’t even accepted within the walls of the church. In addition to the desire for a place in the community, what he desires more is a connection with a woman and he receives nothing but disgust from the female gender. This ongoing rejection can easily be blamed for the reason he took the path he did because he grew up isolated and lacks any sort of moral compass or understanding of right and wrong. His first crime occurs when he stumbles upon the car of a man and a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the midst of having sex. He decides to not only have sex with the woman but he takes her body back to his house. While it’s easy to be immediately repulsed, it’s actually quite rueful if you consider that this was the first woman he encountered in his life that didn’t immediately run from him in disgust. It’s deplorable, yes, but it’s also pitiable.

What’s most impressive is the fact that McCarthy is able to portray Lester as a morally perplexed human being rather than the quick to judge “psychopath” description that is equally fitting. It’s surprisingly difficult not to feel as least a modicum of pity for the man who was left to raise himself at the age of ten, was later tossed out of his own house and left with no where else to go and forced to live in an abandoned house that just barely protects him from the elements. While this obviously doesn’t excuse him from his horrible crimes (I don’t believe that was ever McCarthy’s intention anyways) it does depict him as an actual person, a child of God, and not a monster and that’s quite possibly even scarier.

McCarthy abandons literary standards by flipping between different writing styles seemingly at random and fails to utilize quotation marks which never fails to infuriate me. Trying to decipher who is talking and when they’re actually talking and not just thinking… that should never be an issue. The various use of prose strewn throughout the novel was definitely a break from the truly ugly story this was and was most welcome.

This book came under fire when a teacher in Tuscola, Illinois asked his Freshman aged pre-Advanced Placement students to choose the book they wish to read for a book report. The parents of a young girl were so offended by the material that the teacher provided their 14 year-old child that they filed an official complaint with the sheriff’s office. From what I can find, no charges stuck with the teacher but this is still appalling. While I can agree this book covers material that may not be suitable for a 14 year old (The main character kills several people and rapes the corpses of women. Another character rapes his daughter.) however I think in this case monitoring of reading material should be handled by the parents. They could have easily had their child pick another book from the list. Charges against the teacher? That’s ludicrous. In addition to that, the banning of this book (or any book) only limits how a person is informed and prevents sheltering an individual from the harsh realities of the world. This story is inspired by actual events in Sevier County, Tennessee so while I don’t believe it’s the best book for a young person, I do not believe it should be banned because I’d rather have a child that’s informed and aware about the world rather than one that walks this Earth oblivious.

Divider