Friday, July 26, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

After spending time in a neural rehab facility, 34 year old Pat Peoples returns home with hopes of getting his life back together.  Pat is convinced that if he works out enough and reads enough classic literature, his wife will return to him.  Pat refers to their separation as "apart time" and is thoroughly convinced that it will soon come to an end.  Now living with his parents, things don't turn out quite like Pat planned. His family refuses to talk about his wife and he doesn't understand how so many things (i.e. the Eagles' football stadium being blown up) could have happened in the few short months he was away.  Pat eventually meets Tiffany, an eccentric woman who has experienced her own share of pain and sadness.  Tiffany convinces Pat that entering a dance competition with her will surely cause his wife to return to him.  

My Thoughts: 
Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent novel.  I actually saw the movie before I knew anything about the book and was so intrigued by it that I had to read the book as well. The book was even better than the movie, mostly because, as the reader, I was allowed inside Pat's head.  Pat's brain injury causes him to have many issues and reading the story from his perspective allowed me to understand him so much more.  While this book deals with a very serious subject, it is also hilarious.  The people in Pat's life are often difficult and their lives messy, but they are also what pulls him through in the end.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is set in a futuristic world where cyborgs, androids, and visitors from the moon (Luna) are all part of every day life.  Sixteen year old Cinder is a cyborg who lives in New Beijing with her wicked stepmother.  She remembers little to nothing about her life before age eleven when she was adopted by a scientist who soon dies and leaves her with his wife and two daughters.  While cyborgs are are considered a mistake of society, Cinder has many helpful capabilities:  Her brain interface allows her to be extremely adept at fixing things mechanical in nature and her portscreen is installed inside her brain allowing her to retrieve needed information quickly. Her mechanic's reputation brings the prince of New Beijing, Prince Kai, to her booth seeking assistance with his malfunctioning android.  Cinder is eager to be of assistance to the prince, but is soon distracted when her younger step-sister (and friend) is diagnosed with the plague that has been killing the citizens of Earth for over a decade.  Cinder's step-mother blames Cinder for her daughter's illness and volunteers her for plague research.  Cinder is poked and prodded and then injected with the plague virus.  What the royal scientists discover is utterly surprising and Cinder's status quickly changes from guinea pig to a commodity.  

My Thoughts: 
While I wasn't sure about the sci-fi parts of this novel when I first picked it up, I was quickly drawn in by the well developed characters and fairy tale elements.  Cinder is the first in the four book Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  This fractured fairy tale series is excellent.  I read Cinder in just a couple of days and quickly moved on to the second in the series, Scarlet. I have also had the privilege to read an advanced copy of the third book, Cress, due to release in February 2014.   While Cinder was an amazing book all on its own, what I love most about this series is the way Marissa Meyer weaves the characters together in the subsequent books.  Fans of dystopia... this is a must read! 

Note:  Check Marissa Meyer's website to find out more about the series.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where vampires are a real threat to society.  After years of living in hiding, they have made their presence known among the living.  To deal with the problem, Coldtowns (walled cities where vampires and humans coexist) were created.  The only problem is that once you enter a Coldtown you are not permitted to leave. 

One morning after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up to find a house full of corpses.  The only survivors are her arrogant ex-boyfriend and a boy with red eyes and pale skin. She finds that Aiden, her ex, has been bitten by a vampire and is beginning to go cold.  Gavriel, a vampire, is tied up and weakened by the sun coming in through the cracks in the blinds. Tana is determined to save them both and plans to take them to the nearest Coldtown.  The rescue mission goes as planned until the sun begins to set and the killer vampires emerge from the basement.  Tana attempts to follow Gavriel and Aiden out the window to her car, and is almost free, when vampire teeth make contact with her skin. Once they finally begin their journey, tensions rise as Aiden's blood thirst increases and Tana faces the possibility that she, too, could go cold.  

My Thoughts:
I know, I know... You are probably thinking: "Not another book about vampires."  Please believe me when I tell you that this is nothing like any other vampire book you have read. The slightly futuristic world that Tana lives in is not a pretty one. While most live in fear of being infected, some also desire to become immortal vampires.  Live feeds broadcast the happenings in Coldtowns and this depiction makes the quarantined areas look like exciting, non-stop parties. Once actually inside, humans discover that reality in a Coldtown is very different from how it is shown to be on television.  What I like most about this novel is that the vampires are not romanticized; they are depicted as blood thirsty predators who wreak havoc.  Interestingly enough, some still desire to become a part of the vampire world.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story that will leave you thinking about its plot and characters for days after you have read the last pages.  

Note:  I received an advance copy of this book to review.  It is scheduled for release on September 3, 2013.  You can read the first 8 chapters via Amazon and also watch the book trailer (below) in the meantime!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Fifteen year old Clary Fray expects nothing other than a normal night when she heads to a local New York City club with her friend Simon.  She definitely doesn't expect to see someone murdered by three tattooed teenagers in the club's store room.  And she is even more surprised when the body disappears into thin air.

This is Clary's first encounter with Shadowhunters.  Their job is to make sure downworlders (demons, vampires, etc.) don't get out of control.  Usually mundanes, ordinary people, can't see them and they are as equally surprised as Clary when they discover that she can see their dealings with the demon.

Clary is quickly thrown into the world of Shadowhunters when her mother is attacked and kidnapped by a demon. Determined to find her mother and to find out why she can suddenly see this whole new world, Clary embarks on a mission to discover the truth.

My Thoughts:
The Mortal Instruments series has been in my "to read" pile for a while.  I kept hearing how great the series was, but I just wasn't very interested.  I picked up this first book because I wanted to have at least read the first in the series before the movie comes out in August.  Maybe the story gets better as the books progress, but I had a very hard time getting into it.  To be fair, there are four more books in the series and the story definitely has potential to improve.  While the book wasn't my favorite, I am very eager to see it on the big screen.  I have a feeling that this is one of those rare books that I will like better as a movie.