Monday, February 15, 2016

Atlantia by Ally Condie book review

17731926 Atlantia

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

My Review: 6/10

I had such high expectations for this book. The beginning really draws you in. And it was such a cool idea- mixing mythology with dystopian challenges. There was some mystery, but I had trouble really envisioning the setting, and therefore losing myself in the story. Some things were never really explained (like the connection between the sirens and the bats, etc.) so I was left with a lot of questions and skepticism.

The relationships were a little off for me, too. I didn't understand why Bay (and her mother, and later her aunt, for that matter) didn't just explain the circumstances, instead of keeping Rio in the dark and making decisions without her. But then, if anyone had communicated with her, there wouldn't have been much of a story. But, that kind of set up really falls flat for me. I'm not into books that are built up around The Big Misunderstanding or The Lie by Omission or similar veins, if that's the only thing holding the storyline together.

I didn't believe the romance(s) and felt like the story would have been a bit stronger without going there.

I'm just glad it wasn't made into a trilogy.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It Happened at the Fair (It Happened at the Fair #1) by Deeanne Gist book review

It Happened at the Fair

It Happened at the Fair (It Happened at the Fair #1)

Gambling everything—including the family farm—Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the fair’s Machinery Hall makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

My Review: 10/10

Excellent book. Not only was this another 1893 World Fair novel jam packed with history (which I LOVE), but it featured two exceptional main characters: a woman who had good reason to be filled with mistrust, suspicion, and secrecy, who second guessed herself when appropriate, protected herself, apologized when she should, and was capable of changing her mind. And a man who was sincere in both word and deed, and respected himself and others (particularly women). A man who stays faithful to the one he's commited to, even when his interest starts to fade and shift. A man who works very hard to keep his distance from temptation. I respected them both so much.

Seriously, as a reader, I have so much appreciation for an author who gives me characters that I don't have to make excuses for or turn a blind eye to some uncharacteristic or questionable choices.

The story was believable and the characters lovable, with humor and history scattered liberally throughout the pages. My favorite kind of novel.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver book review

Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

My Review: 10/10

Lauren Oliver is a genius. A genius. This book is a masterpiece. It is a work of art. It is so... AHHHH you just never see it coming. She is the rare type of author that, after not being able to put this book down, I immediately had to reread it when I finished. And it was entirely different the second time. Every time you read this book, you will go deeper, uncovering more layers and a new appreciation for Ms. Oliver's brilliance.

I don't know how she does it. Everything was so well done that I never suspected a thing; it all just fit perfectly.

That being said, I couldn't love it. This book deals with some seriously heavy issues and it doesn't leave you feeling good which is the only kind of book I can truly love. Lauren Oliver, I implore you, use your powers for good! Give me another Delirium, another good conquering evil, another innocent love. Give me triumph, give me weightless, give me unbroken. I beg of you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen book review

Lady Maybe

Lady Maybe

In the new novel by the three-time Christy Award-winning author of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, a woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England… 
One final cry…“God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…

Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamiliar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.

But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.

My review: 10/10

This book was excellent! I already can't wait to read it again!

Some of the plot lines were clear to me a little sooner than intended, but that didn't ruin anything. And others... I did not see coming at all. This is the kind of story that is so riveting and changing, that it's all you can do to hold on til the end.

For me, I would have liked to have had God more involved in the story, not just the end. It would have been great to have Hannah lean on Him when she was in up to her neck and had no idea what to do. And then to have her just sit back and watch Him work. But then, how true it often is in our own lives. How often do we put the pressure on ourselves to know the best choices, to make the right decisions and have everything planned out, to fix the messes we make for ourselves... and only turn to him when we've tried to handle it ourselves and are now out of options? As it was, I felt the message was strong and true.

There will be readers who will not like this book because of the immorality it addresses. But then, those are likely the same people that think to be Christian is to be above sin. This was the best kind of Christian story: one full of forgiveness and being made new in Christ. It did not flaunt sin, but showed a realistic and often painful portrait of how we invite it into our lives, with the ultimate message being that God redeems. Beautiful.