Like a Thorn

Author: Claire Vidal
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Year Published: 2002
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 119 heart-wrenching pages

Synopsis:
Melie is a strange child with an interesting relationship with her mother. Her mother goes from “Rosey Mother” to “Dark Mother” in a blink of an eye. Melie begins to invent rituals she believes will counter her mother’s erratic behavior. This slowly, but surely spirals out of Melie’s control.

My Perspective:
I got this book for free a few months ago for volunteering at a book sale on my college campus. The cover is beautiful and the blurb intrigued me. When I decided to start this whole read my book shelf in a year thing, I figured this was a good place to start. It’s tiny, only 119 pages, and the print is pretty big. But, oh man, does this book pack a punch. I don’t think I have ever felt so many conflicting and confusing emotions before in one little book. I couldn’t decide if I was on Melie’s side or I thought she was over-reacting. I couldn’t decide where exactly to place her mom in the middle of all this. I also feel as though I was missing so much of the story. It was so small and simple that I felt like I needed more information to decide what my emotions were.

That being said, I did think that even though it seemed simply written it was beautifully written. It probably sounds even more beautiful in French. Like a Throne is a simple, yet complicated story of a young girl spiraling into mental illness and how those in her life react to them. This quick, but heart wrenching read will keep you thinking for days.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 antique gifts
You’ll this book if: You like thinkers. If you like dark books and psychologically challenging reads.
You’ll dislike this book if: Happy reads where everything turns out ok in the end.

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An Atrocious Number

The other day I decided to partake in one of my favorite, nerdy activities. Reorganizing my bookshelf.

Really I was just trying to avoid doing the insurmountable pile of homework I should have been working on.

Anyways, as I was strategically mapping out how I wanted my bookshelf to look I came to realize a tragic thing. The majority of the books that I own I have never even opened! And even more of them I have never read all the way through. Of the 160 books currently living on my shelf I have not read 109 of them. What an atrocious number!

And so I came up with a challenge for myself. I’m pretty sure it is crazy and I don’t how it is going to happen, but it seemed like a fun idea.

Over the next year I want to read every book that currently sits on my shelf. By April 20, 2016 I will be able to boldly proclaim I do not own a book I have not read cover to cover. And I’m taking you along for the ride!

Like I said, this is probably crazy. I am still a full time student with a part time job and somewhat of a social life. But, I’ll never know if I don’t try right? So for the next year. No buying books, unless they’re for school. No going to the library. Just reading what is already in my possession.

It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year people.

Happy Reading,
Sam

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

*Disclaimer: We can thank my Young Adult Lit professor for the format of this review.  I actually wrote this for an assignment, but I really  like the format of it so here it goes!*

Author: M. T Anderson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Year Published: 2008
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 353 pages that should be accompanied by a dictionary
 

Synopsis:
Octavian, a boy raised amongst hordes of academicians in Boston, is given an education to rival that of European Princes all in the name of science. Octavian and his mother are given the riches of the world and adored by all the scholars that ever visit, all while every detail of their being is monitored and recorded. After forming a friendship with a servant named Bono, Octavian dares to step through the one door in the house he is forbidden to enter, thus finding the true nature of the experiment where he himself is the subject. Finally discovering the complicated, slightly horrifying truth, Octavian’s life is shifted forever. Never will her return to the blissfully ignorant life of simply academia.

Set in the backdrop of the American Revolution, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is an intelligently written exploration of the battle between science and humanity and the true nature of liberty.

My Perspective:
First off, holy moly did this book stretch my vocabulary to the moon and back. I read this book with the dictionary app on my phone open and at the ready. Not that this is a bad thing, just made it a little more challenging to get through. In fact, the language used in this book helped set the stage for Octavian’s life. This book is set in a) the late 1700s and b) a house full of scientists, philosophers, and academics. It wouldn’t be believable if it had been written in the language that I am accustomed too, that of a twenty year-old college kid in the twenty-first century.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing took me through a whole roller coaster of emotions. I began to feel attached to Octavian very early on therefore I was definitely rooting for him throughout the entire book. I also found many of the other characters in this book incredibly odd. As Octavian grew older and began to face more hardships, I was sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense. I wanted so badly for Octavian’s life to turn out ok, but I really doubted that this book would have a decent outcome. It was, however, fairly comforting that I knew a sequel existed so I knew the end couldn’t be that bad.

M.T. Anderson not only pulled me into the age of the Revolution, but also weaved a narrative that made me laugh at the ridiculous moments, my heart break with injustice, and rejoice at the idea that there is still some hope in the darkest places.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cups of tea!
You’ll like this book if: You enjoy emotional, yet highly intellectual narratives that complicate views on well-known histories or if you find conversations about what is just and ethical interesting.
You’ll dislike this book if: You enjoy easy, light-hearted reads that wrap up nicely at the end.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

I am typically not a huge fan of science fiction books. I’m definitely more of a contemporary kind of girl when it comes to my reading habits. However, when I read the blurb for The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness I was instantly intrigued. This book had been on my want to read list for a while, so the other day when I saw it at the library I just had to check it out. And I loved it.

Young Todd Hewitt, who is on the brink of manhood, is suddenly forced to flee his home of Prentisstown with just a rucksack full of supplies and his dog. That is, until he meets Viola, a girl from a settler ship sent on a scouting mission. Viola is the only girl Todd has ever met due to the Noise, the disease that causes every man’s thoughts to be heard at all times and kills women. At least that’s what Todd’s small amount of schooling taught him. Viola and Todd partner up and flee from danger together. Along the way Todd finds out a lot truth about the life he thought he lived.

First I have to mention the relationships in this book. They were so wonderfully authentic. Before Viola Todd had never even seen a girl before. At first their friendship was awkward and quiet and sort of weird, but that is totally normal. Ness didn’t feel the need to make this an instant friendship or rush it along. They way it progressed was perfect. As time went on and they continued to journey together you could see them getting closer and caring about each other more and more. One of my favorite parts is when Todd realizes that he can read Viola, even though she doesn’t have noise. I love when he jumps up with the realization that he knows her well enough to know how she is feeling. Or when he is with Doctor Snow and Viola refuses to leave his side. Oh, I just love them together. I am excited to see their friendship grow even more as I read the next two books.

Also, Todd’s relationship with Ben and Cillian is so tragically beautiful. In the beginning Todd and Cillian’s relationship seems kind of rocky, but as soon as Todd has to flee you see the love they have for each other. Ness did a great job portraying that familial connection. I was so happy when Ben and Todd were reunited that I started crying. I could practically feel the love radiating off the page.

Don’t even get me started on Manchee. I am not ok with his ending.

Not only were the relationships in this book portrayed so wonderfully, but so were the antagonists. Every time Aaron popped up again I was so angry! He was the last thing Todd and Viola needed in their lives. And yet every few chapters there he was. Seriously Aaron, no wants you here. And then there’s Mayor Prentiss up on his horse getting everyone else to do his dirty work. I dislike him strongly.

The Knife of Never Letting Go was so action packed and fast paced. It definitely kept me intrigued. I kept having to cover the next page so I didn’t read ahead! This book might just change my opinion on sci-fi. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel.

Happy Reading,
Sam

I Have a Problem

Hi book lovers,

So, I have this problem. I really like to buy new books. But I also really like going to the library. This results in a dangerous mixture of purchasing books all the time only to have them sit on my shelf unread. I own books that I bought up to five years ago that I still haven’t read. That means I bought them when I was fifteen. Five years is a long time for a teenager! Naturally, the books I check out from the library take precedence because I have to return them whereas the books I own will always be there for me.There is just something so magical about a library full of endless possibilities.

Which is why it pains me to say this. I am banning myself from the library.

GASP! Sam, how could you do that to yourself? This is a truly atrocious crime!

I know, I don’t like it anymore than you do, but it must be done. I currently have a stack of books checked out that I am still working my way through, but once I’m through it is that last I will be seeing of the library for a while. At least until I make my way through my own bookshelf.

Do any of you have this problem? 

Happy Reading,
Sam

We Were Liars

Hi Book Lovers,

It was near impossible to escape the hype around We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Although I knew near nothing about the plot I found myself drawn in by the excitement that surrounded it. So when I somehow ended up in the book section of Fred Meyer while running errands it jumped into my cart and I  just had to bring it home with me.

Disclaimer: if you have not read We Were Liars and are planning to I suggest you turn back now. I completely believe it is best to go into this book as blind as possible. Also, it is really hard to review this book without spoilers, so there are going to be some of those suckers in here. Don’t ruin it for yourself!

We Were Liars centers around Cadence and her very rich, very dramatic family and the summers they spend on their private island. Cadence cherishes the time she gets to spend with The Liars.  “The Liars”, as they deemed themselves, consist of Cadence, her cousins John and Mirren, and her kind of step-cousin / secret boyfriend sort of Gat. They spend their summers wreaking havoc on the island.

The summer of her fifteenth year Cadence wakes up in the ocean with no memory of how she ended up there. After spending a summer away from the island she returns the summer she is seventeen and starts to recover her memory and figure out what the heck happened the year she was fifteen.

Ok, This is where the real spoilers start. Just a warning.

I have no idea how in any world it is a good idea to set fire to your grandfathers house just to teach the adults in your life a lessons. That is just an altogether terrible plan! I understand that the aunts were doing crazy things just to win their dads approval and it would suck to be in the position of the Liars. They were essential just pawns for their moms to use. I understand they wanted to do something to end all the manipulative, fake behavior that ran so deep in their family. But really, arson? What kind of fifteen year old thinks of that?

I was not impressed by this book. The writing style sort of drove me crazy. It was almost like it was trying a little too hard to be beautifully written. I think it might because it was written in first person. These were supposed to be Cadence’s thoughts, but they just seemed too poetic. Maybe I just think that because I am pretty simplistic thinker. It just didn’t feel genuine.

The characters annoyed me. Cadence was way more dramatic than necessary. Mirren was a diva. Surprisingly Gat was probably the most stuck up. Johnny was funny, I kind of liked him. The Aunts were so completely desperate. They just bothered me.

The worst part of this for me was the fact that I predicted the ending. I love a good plot twist. I had heard that this book had one. I was so upset when I predicted the plot twist!

I honestly think the only reason I  read this book so quickly was because I was on a three hour plane ride and had already finished the other book I brought. I don’t think this book deserves all the hype it got.

Happy Reading,

Sam

2013 End of Year Survey!

A week ago the world rang in a new year. And while I probably should have posted this closer to good old 2013 ended due to an unexpected trip to Idaho did not. Better late than never, right?
So here it goes. The wrap up of 2013 in the world of my reading life. This survey was originally created by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner (http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/12/4th-annual-end-of-year-book-survey-2013-edition.html). 

BEST BOOKS OF 2013
1) Best book you read in 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
YA: The Beckoners by Carrie Mac. I still can’t get over how insane this book was. 
Adult Fiction: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. All the tears!
2) Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. I am a die-hard Dessen fan, but I was disappointed in her newest release.
3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Not usually into paranormal stuff, but I loved this book!
4) Best series you discovered in 2013?
The Gemma Doyle Series by Libba Bray! Even though I have only actually read the first one so far..
5) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Again…Libba Bray
6) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Geez I need to get more variety in this sucker! Once again A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. This book was nothing like what I usually read, but oh so wonderful!
7) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Beckoners by Carrie Mac. 
8) Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz
10) Most memorable character in 2013? 
Liesel from The Book Thief. Or Beck from The Beckoners
11) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Hands down The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
12) Book the had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis. Really opened my eyes to middle school bullying and some really serious issues middle schools can go through.
13) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Once again, The Book Thief. Or Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, but that is because I just found out it existed!
14) Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013? 
“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” -The Book Thief
15) Shortest and Longest book you read in 2013?
Shortest: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 96 pages
Longest: Identical by Ellen Hopkins 565 pages
16) Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling abnd dying to talkk to somebody aboutit? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) 
The end of The Book Thief. I just wanted to run upstairs and tell my housemate all about it. But she was planning on reading it when I was done, so I didn’t. I just told her it was literally the saddest book I have ever read.
17) Favorite Relationship from a book you read in 2013?
Romance: Kaeleigh and Ian from Identical. And of course Hazel Grace and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars (which I read for the fourth time in 2013).
Friendship: Liesel and Rudy from The Book Thief.
Family: Tully and Marah from Fly Away
Bonus: Relationship I could not stand in a book I read in 2013? 
Rachel and Wyatt from Towering by Alex Flinn. Uggghhhhh
18) Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve previously read?
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
19) Genre you read most from in 2013?
YA Contemporary
20) Newest fictional crush from abook you read in 2013?
Kartik from A Great and Terrible Beauty
21) Best 2013 debut you read?
Gated by Amy Christine Parker
22) Most Vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
The Beckoners. The way she describes these girls and what they do is brillant.
23) Book that was most fun to read in 2013?
Hands down Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I just love those girls! And it took me back to my middle school days when I was first reading the series. 
24) Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
Geez, I feel like 2013 was the year of emotional books for me! Let’s See, The Book Thief, Fly Away, This is What I Did. 
25) Book you read in 2013 that yo thing got overlooked this year or when it came out?
I am going to go with Sisterhood Everlasting because it was published in 2011 and I had no clue it existed until this year. And I just happened to stumble across it. 

LOOKING AHEAD…
1) One book you didn’t get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?
S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. I just got this for Christmas and I am beyond excited to read it!
2) Book you are most anticipating for 2014?
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
3) One thing you hope to accomplish or do in you r reading/blogging in 2014?
-Blog more regularly
-Meet my Goodreads reading goal
-Read all those books I own, but have yet to open.