Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando [thoughts]

roomies coverRoomies by Sara Zarr @|www and Tara Altebrando @|www
Goodreads
Release Date: December 24th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: none

Goodreads description: It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

I decided to read Roomies because I saw some tweets about it, I mainly remember Estelle tweeting about it, and I saw it one day at the library and it called to me (as books do).

Roomies is about college roommates EB/Elizabeth and Lauren who are paired together potluck and get in contact with each other. They email and get to know one another, while not always understanding each other. They deal with big things going on in their lives. They learn things.

I really liked this book! I want to buy it and have it available to read again. It’s been a little while since I’ve read it but it deserves a post, so this review will probably be slightly vague. EB and Lauren are very different and coming from different places and situations. While EB is excited about her room assignment, Lauren wanted a single. She’s the oldest of several kids living in a cramped apartment and she wanted some space of her own. EB wants a friend, she’s moving across the country and won’t know anyone. They start emailing each other and it’s a rough, awkward start. But then they start to share pieces of their lives and little details, then bigger details and some pretty intense and huge details and things get sort of messy.

EB and Lauren were both really likable for me. At first I liked EB a lot more because Lauren seemed pretty snotty, but she grew on me! You get a good look at the family and background of both girls: EB lives alone with her serial-dater mom and feels alone, Lauren is close to her family, sometimes too close. Both girls deal with friendships and boy issues: I was a big fan of all the flirty buildup involved with both girls. I liked both boys a lot. Both girls have serious problems to deal with. Some of the details might seem unrealistic on the overview, but the book felt real and the characters felt real. I think both girls learned a lot about friendship and themselves. I wanted to hug them and help them, and I was slightly frustrated by how short it was and the ending because I wanted to see so much more of their friendship!

4 star rating

Roomies is on my “to buy” list! I wanted more of the story and characters, I was sad to see the end. I think it was fun and worth a read! I haven’t read anything else by either author but I’ve been wanting to read The Lucy Variations for a while and now I’m more interested in reading more from both authors!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab [book review]

Vicious coverVicious by V.E. Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date:  September 24th 2013
Publisher: Tor
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

Villains! I had heard a few things about this book before it came out and was vaguely excited that someone was writing about the bad guys because bad guys are interesting! When it came out, I am pretty sure I only saw positive things about it. I know Eve at Paper Grey loved it, though I haven’t read her review (I can’t do that with highly anticipated books because I’m weird). All the glowing made me even more excited for it!

Victor has always been a bit of an outsider. When he meets Eli in college, he sees everything he wishes her could be. They become friends, but Victor is jealous. As Eli begins to research extra-ordinary abilities that appear in traumatized individuals, both friends get deeply invested, and things end badly. Ten years later, Victor has escaped from prison and is out for revenge.

Victor is such a compelling character. He’s got issues, but he knows he has issues. He isn’t worried about societal views of right and wrong, but he has his own code. He wasn’t exactly someone I sympathized with, but I understood his motivation. It was kind of a nice change as a reader not having to rundown if something is right or wrong, knowing that the character wasn’t aiming to be a good person anyway. His drive and the characterization of his malevolence is rather thrilling. Eli, his nemesis, is a contrast because he’s messed up and has his own issues, but he believes he is doing the right thing. Aren’t bad guys that believe wholeheartedly that they are doing the right thing extremely terrifying? Surprisingly, one of my favorite characters is 12-year-old Sydney, a girl Victor happens upon and recruits for his cause. She is dealing with her own demons while she joins two escaped prisoners. She’s smart and easy to sympathize with, and even though there were reasons to give her sympathy, she wasn’t a depressing character. She’s just awesome.

The story jumps in time, but I never felt lost or confused. The labeling helped with that, but I think the narration did, too. Everything felt like it was in place and timed just right. There were also some characters that were a part of the story early on, but didn’t actually get a point of view until later in the book, and usually I am kind of annoyed by that tactic because it tends to feel sloppy, but it felt so natural and right for the this story. The story is also centered around things that require suspension of belief, but unlike some books, it isn’t exhausting because the characters are realistic. Their actions and reactions feel like things that could actually happen when faced with abnormal situations, which really makes all the difference in stories with any sort of paranormal aspect. Plus, there was at least one time when a character brought up something like “why not just do this?” and it was so clever and the answer supplied was clever and fitting. There was one thing that was king of easy to predict early on, but for the rest of the story I figuring everything out, which is important for me.

I wasn’t hooked from the very beginning. I was interested, but I wasn’t in love. It took me a bit longer than I expected to read it, which was probably more my fault than anything else. Once I got into it, I started liking it more and more. I was pretty sure it would be a solid 4 stars, but the last 100 pages or so really jumped out and grabbed me.

4.5 star rating

Vicious is a wickedly delicious view into the lives of the not-so-virtuous. It’s intense and complex but easy to follow. The characters are realistic and easy to care about. I read and reviewed The Archived and I really enjoyed it, and this book is fantastic, so I will be interested in anything Schwab writes from now on! I recommend Vicious if you like lovely writing, great characters, questionable morals, and powers/abilities!

V.E. Schwab‘s website and twitter

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater [book review]

The Dream ThievesThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads | Book Depository| Amazon
Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #2

Goodreads description: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

The first Maggie Stiefvater book I read was The Scorpio Races, and I really loved it. When The Raven Boys came out, it sounded like something I would love, and I already loved her writing, so I picked it up and devoured it (and rambled about it here). I had been waiting patiently (ha!) for The Dream Thieves to come out. It did not disappoint me. Probably small spoilers for The Raven Boys.

The Dream Thieves is insane, but in only the best way. It is packed with emotion, so much emotion that it’s hard to get the book shut. It made me giddy to read it, I actually did silent screams of joy when I read something really great. It took me a bit longer to read than it normally would have because I didn’t want to let go. And when I was finished, I still wasn’t ready to let go. I just wanted to start over again. I read it when it came out, then I read it again last week, and it’s my favorite read of 2013 so far, and I think it will take a lot to top it.

“Why is the tea so good here?” “I spit in it.”

The characters feel like real people. The relationships between the characters seem true. The friendship between four prep school boys from different backgrounds work so well. The arguments and the feelings all seem real. Blue’s interactions with all of them feel real, too. Her feelings and confusion feel real and lovely and painful. Things like Adam’s past with his family, how Ronan interacts with his brothers and thinks about his parents, Gansey’s family in general, and Blue’s extended family, especially talking to her mom about life stuff, really make this book stand out in YA. These kids still do their own thing, but they also have families that (mostly) care about them. I also really love that it’s not in first person, and you get to sample different characters’ thoughts and feelings. I think it might be uncommon for YA readers (from what I see people mention on blogs), but I don’t particularly like first person. I am greedy and want to know everything.

“There might be girls in Henrietta who’ll let you talk them like that, but I’m not one of them.”

And the romance, ahhh the romance. The romance isn’t the central focus of the story. Blue and the boys have other things to worry about. It is always in the background, and when it’s brought to the front, it’s slow and confusing. There’s a bit of a triangle, but I think it’s done well. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, yearning, and it all feels genuine. I don’t want to say too much, but I really loved everything that happened it in the romance department and I’m excited to see what else happens with it in the series! Plus, there’s a small added element of maybe for something else, and it makes me even more excited. So. Much. Excitement.

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged to, Gansey clearly wished he had one.

The story is intense. They’re still looking for a lost king. Things go wrong. Ronan’s reveal at the end of the first book comes into key play. They find out that they’re not the only ones looking, and the search seems more complicated. They face new problems and enemies. They search, they sort of fight, they have psychic readings. It’s a good ride.

“Guys,” Matthew pleaded. “Be holy.”

I had small problems, but I love the book enough that things that bother me in other books don’t matter as much. Some of the Gray Man stuff was a little weird. Some of the dream stuff and Kavinsky was almost too much, but I think it the rest of everything made up for it. There was one part where Blue talks about college and I don’t feel like it would be as impossible for her as she thinks it would be.

 5 stars

I love The Dream Thieves, and I’m really excited for the rest of the series. This review probably doesn’t do it justice, but at least my love is stated! I will probably reread this at least once, but probably more, just in the time before the next one comes out. Some books are almost better on the reread, because you know what is coming, and you understand things better while you’re reading it. I’m not sure about the new Sinner book, but other than Shiver related things, I am pretty sure I’ll read almost anything Maggie Stiefvater writes. I’m trying to make my sister read these, and I will gladly recommend them to anyone that wants to talk books. I can’t imagine anyone actually not liking this book (although I’m sure there are some that don’t), but if you like snark, great friendships, realistic families, dreams, mysteries, magic type stuff, tarot, you might enjoy The Dream Thieves!

Check out Maggie Stiefvater‘s websitetwitter, and tumblr!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson [book review]

Tiger Lily coverTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Tiger Lily was on my Summer TBR List, and I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. I love all things Peter Pan, even though I’ve never actually read the original, oops. I do own it and plan on reading it! I saw from a lot of people that it was good and sad, so it seemed like something I definitely needed to read. After not getting it from my library, I was extremely happy to win a copy from Emily at Reader Rising!

We all know about Peter Pan and Wendy, and that Tiger Lily is in the background somewhere. This book tells Tiger Lily’s side of the story, and it’s told through Tinker Bell’s perspective, which is weird and interesting at the same time. In this adaptation, Neverland is a new world, apart from civilization instead of two stars from the right. They have tribes and tribal hierarchies. They have an agreement with the pirates. They fear Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and they stay as far away as possible. In the tribe, Tiger Lily is an outsider, a wild and untamable girl. She’s the adopted daughter of Tik Tok, the town’s shaman/healer, who is also an outsider because he dresses and feels more like a woman than a man.

Tiger Lily is such an amazing character. She’s an outsider, and she’s drawn to other outsiders and they’re drawn to her. She’s fierce, but she’s also vulnerable, and the way this is portrayed felt so real to me. She struggled with the expectations for girls in her tribe, but it didn’t feel like she was anti-feminine. She is curious and wants to do things that aren’t normal for anyone in the tribe to do. She acts fearless, but you can see that she isn’t. She isn’t always good, and she makes mistakes.

“There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had bests in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

In the beginning, Tinker Bell warns that it’s a love story, “but not like any you’ve heard.” Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan, a villain and madman in the eyes of her tribe. He isn’t like they say at all, (but he isn’t exactly a harmless, innocent creature either) and she finds something in him she wants and doesn’t understand how to grasp and keep.  Peter and Tiger Lily’s relationship is intense. Of course, he’s forbidden, and tribe politics are making her life more difficult all the time. Plus, there are pirates who want to kill Peter and the Lost Boys, and eventually a ship of Englanders brings Wendy and other problems. The story is complex

There are important characters that are difficult for me to include in this review, but I loved so many of them. Pine Sap, Moon Eye, and Tik Tok were so important to Tiger Lily, and they were characters I wanted to keep. The villains of the story were creepy and worrisome. All the characters felt real to me.

Some pieces of the story were frustrating for me, and I think it’s a realistic look at how life can be. There were times when I wanted the characters to act a certain way, and it seemed like it would be easy for them to take certain steps to change situations, but in actuality it probably wouldn’t have been that easy. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and the circumstances, and you can’t always act exactly how you want to act. In some cases it would have upset the status quo, and the tribe was just a different machine dealing with situations that were completely abnormal for them. I wanted there to be easy outs, and maybe in a nicer, less realistic place, that could have worked. The way it happens in the book might hurt, but I think it’s important and written really well.

A lot of mistakes were made, and at the end of the story Tiger Lily has to face her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. “She kept trying, in her head, to make someone right.” This book told the story in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the ending was especially lovely to me. The writing was lovely, and there are so many quotes that made me love the book even more. It definitely made me cry, I closed the book and kept crying for a while.

I really liked seeing from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It was really different. It could be frustrating because sometimes I wanted to dig inside Tiger Lily’s mind, but overall I think the distance was perfect and a clever way to tell the story. Plus, it also opens up a wider scope because she can observe a lot more as a fairy, and you get her own feelings about Peter.

“As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

4 star rating

Tiger Lily is a lovely book that made me sad and happy at the same time. I loved Tiger Lily, I loved her flaws, her rage, and her unexpected softness. I loved the ending. I am so glad that I won it and have my own copy, because it is definitely a book I will want to read again! I plan on sharing it with some real life people so they will (hopefully) love it and discuss it with me. I will also look forward to more of the author’s work. I always feel bad at reviews because I never know how much to share or not, but I just loved this book. It’s probably not for everyone but I think Tiger Lily might work for you if you like retellings, honesty, hopefulness and a bit of heartbreak. 

Check out Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s goodreads and twitter!

The Archived by Victoria Schwab [book review]

The Archived coverThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1, followed by The Unbound

Goodreads description: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption

I won my copy of The Archived from Liza Weimer at WhoRuBlog. She is really nice, so be sure to check her blog (and Twitter) out! I have been interested in The Archived for a while, but I wasn’t completely sure what it was about. I just knew it was paranormal-ish.

Mackenzie is a Keeper, which means she hunts Histories and puts them back in The Archive. She inherited the job from her grandfather. Histories are sort of like ghosts, but they’re technically a record or log of a person. When people die, they go to The Archive. The Archive is basically a library of the dead. Everyone is “recorded.” However, sometimes Histories get out into The Narrows, which is an in between world, and Keepers have to capture them and take them back.

I liked the world, but there was a lot I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t really sure why the dead were kept like logs. Do they just hang around, in case someone else that’s dead needs to see what happened? Like with any version of the afterlife, there are questions. I didn’t understand the why, but it didn’t bother me. This book was interesting and engaging, so while my brain was all “hold up, why are they doing this?” I was still able to enjoy the story!

I really liked Mackenzie. She has a really tough job, dealing with the dead isn’t exactly cheerful. She has to deal with disoriented Histories and try to calm them down and lead them to where they need to go. She also has to deal with the losses in her own life, the changes her family is going through, and just being a teenager. That is a lot to deal with! She doesn’t always have it all together, which makes her all the more interesting to me. She makes mistakes, and she does the wrong thing.

Mac and her family move to a new building. It’s an old building with a lot of character and a lot of stories. For some reason, there’s a lot of abnormal behavior with the Histories and she works with another keeper, Wes. She also discovers that there’s a story behind the building, and someone’s trying to keep it hidden. She has to take care of the extra histories and try to learn who is covering something up and why. The mystery kept me wanting more, and I was surprised when everything was revealed.

Mac seems to be on bad terms with the actual Archive. She does have a friend in Roland, a librarian there. I really liked Roland, he was entertaining. The Archive seems like a scary and interesting place. The end gives an idea of what Mac might deal with in the sequel, and shows that things aren’t neatly tied up.

4 star rating

I really enjoyed The Archived! I wasn’t completely sure what was going on all the time, it was unique, and I didn’t figure everything out! I think it’s a book I would like to read again at some point, and I definitely want to check out the sequel. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Near Witch, but I’ve heard so many great things about Vicious and I want to bump it higher on my TBR list! If you like a different take on ghosts and the afterlife, exciting writing, and

Check out Victoria Schwab‘s website (which is pretty cool) and twitter!

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen [book review]

Scarlet coverScarlet by A.C.Gaughen
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 14th 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Series: Scarlet #1

Goodreads description: Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

I have been wanting to read Scarlet since I heard about it. I’m not sure why I kept forgetting to pick it up. Lately, I’ve seen the sequel mentioned and that made me want to bump it up on my TBR list.

Scarlet is a female member of Robin Hood’s band of outlaws. Everyone outside of the group and not in the know calls her Will Scarlet and thinks she’s just another merry man. They know Scarlet is strong, fast, and capable. They know Scarlet steals from the rich to feed the poor and that Robin trusts Scarlet. They don’t know Scarlet wraps her chest, has long hair, and wears dresses to church each week.

The band is trying to save the over-taxed people of Nottingham from the Sheriff and Prince John’s evil schemes. Most of the details are the same: Robin is an earl, he went to the Middle East and fought in the Crusades with King Richard, and when he came home his lands and title were no longer his and the people that relied on him were being mistreated. He gathers a crew and they try to feed the people and fight the oppressors. In this story, Lord Guisborne is a thieftaker who has come to rid the Sheriff of his thief problem.

Scarlet is such a great character. She is smart and skilled. She has knives, she can climb, and she’s the most capable thief of the group. She’s also kind and she wants to help people. She pretends to be a male member of the gang, but she’s still feminine. I love that she liked having long hair. A lot of times when there’s a strong female warrior type, they seem to have to leave girlish aspects behing. I like that Scarlet got to keep hers.  She also had postive and understanding views of other women which is so nice to see. Especially in a historical fiction, and even more so because Scarlet goes to church. I also liked that she went to church, it felt realistic for her character.

“I suppose you want me to say what a tart she is. Or you are? But really, every time you climb in her window, you make her think that’s all she’s good for. Bess is a nice girl.”

Scarlet also has a secret past that nobody in the band knows. I feel likst I should have figured the twist out because when I read it I felt like it should have been really obvious. However, I think I was just enjoying the book so much I didn’t need to try to guess things, if that makes sense. I think it might be easy for most people to guess, but I don’t think it would be very disappointing if you figure it out before the reveal. I liked what it ended up being and it made a lot of sense for the story. Some of the reactions after certain characters found out all of it were annoying, but that’s another thing.

I had issues with the romance of the book. There’s a bit of a triangle and I thought it was unnecessary. Some of it was just awkward. I feel like one of the guys was just there to generate jealousy for the other one. I did like Scarlet’s sort of exploratory sense of dealing with the situation. I liked that she was never ashamed of her feelings and that she stood up for herself when the guys were trying to boss her around or be too protective. I really loved her views on so many things and I really just love her as a character. I actually did like the “real” romance a lot, too.

I was slightly disappointed by some of Robin’s behavior. He wasn’t completely awful, but he had some typical male views for the time period. It makes sense that someone from his background might feel that way, but he is an outlaw and he is usually portrayed as kind in modern tales. Sure, he has is issues and anger, but he’s trying to help his people, which is something he doesn’t have to do. I think his personal feelings cause him to say some things he might not actually mean, which everyone does, but it felt weak for him. I wish he would have used a different tactic, I guess. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was a deal, if you know what I mean!

4 star rating

Scarlet was lovely. I love the girl, I love the world. I want more! I had a few issues, but overall I loved it. I borrowed this from the library but I definitely want to buy a copy as soon as I can. I will definitely be reading Lady Thief and the rest of the series! I recommend it to everyone but especially if you love females kicking ass while maintaining feminity and putting up with a merry band of outlaws.

Check out A.C.Gaughen‘s website and twitter!

Do you have any Robin Hood recs? I heard from Christina at You Book Me All Night Long that Robin McKinley’s The Outlaws of Sherwood is amazing. I’ve watched a lot of Robin Hood movies and the BBC show (where Harry Lloyd, my pretty, plays Will Scarlet) but I haven’t actually read much. Scarlet did have a list in the back of it, but I forgot to note them and I’d like recs I know people have enjoyed! 

A book I love: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin

The Lathe of Heaven cover

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1971
“George Orr is a man who discovers he has the peculiar ability to dream things into being — for better or for worse. In desperation, he consults a psychotherapist who promises to help him — but who, it soon becomes clear, has his own plans for George and his dreams.

The Lathe of Heaven is a dark vision and a warning — a fable of power uncontrolled and uncontrollable. It is a truly prescient and startling view of humanity, and the consequences of playing God.” from Goodreads

I don’t really want this to be a review. I just want to talk about this book I love. I first read The Lathe of Heaven for a general lit class (that I hated) during my freshman year of college. I don’t actually remember any of the discussion of this book, but I remember falling in love. My copy had been in storage for a few years,and my mom brought it home recently, and I felt the need to revisit it!

So, the Goodreads summary is kind of misleading. I’m going to talk a little about what happens in the book.

George Orr is just an ordinary guy. He works at a simple job. He has no illusions of grandeur. What he does have are dreams. George’s dreams are not usual. George dreams and the world changes. They don’t spur him to action or anything, but his dreams somehow change the makeup of the world itself. They change the physical world. It’s almost like a parallel world or an alternate universe, but instead it’s an altered reality. George doesn’t want to dream and change things. He doesn’t believe anyone should have that ability. He takes a lot of drugs to keep him awake then he changes it up and takes some to knock him out where he doesn’t dream.  Then he takes too many, and he gets sent to therapy.

Dr. Haber seems well-meaning. Once he learns what George can do and experiences it for himself, Haber wants to use this power. He tries to improve the world and his own life. However, George’s mind doesn’t interpret instructions rationally. While trying to make the world perfect, Haber’s use of George’s dreams cause a lot of problems.

George dislikes what his doctor is doing and seeks help from a lawyer named Heather. She doesn’t necessarily believe what George tells her, but she believes the doctor might be doing something wrong. She sets up an observation session and experiences the dream event and Haber’s mistreatment for herself. The world changes around her and she has memories of two different lives. She knows she has to help George find a way out of Haber’s control. She also starts to like George as a person and they make a great connection. They work together to try to find a solution to the Haber problem.

It’s difficult to explain how George’s dreams work in a post, but it’s awesome, in a science fiction-y way, of course. It would be horrible to live with, and it is horrible for George. He’s so stressed out all the time because he has a ridiculous ability that he can’t control. He is guilty of the things his mind does. He has guilt from lives he’s changed that don’t exist anymore. He wants to find a way to stop the madness and drugs are the only way he’s found succesful.

He thinks Haber might be able to help him, but Haber is greedy. I think that Haber believes he wants what is best, but he doesn’t understand the limits and the consequences of what actually happens. He sees that when he makes one positive change several negative changes happen with it, but he keeps trying to make changes one person shouldn’t be allowed to make. He’s trying to be the authority of all existence and it just doesn’t work, even though he has good intentions. He also likes improving his own life in huge, selfish ways.

This book addresses race issues, war, overpopulation, climate issues and more. It was written in 71 and the story takes place around 2000, and a lot of the issues are relevant today and will probably always be relevant. Haber tries to find answers for situations that don’t have easy fixes. The situations take hard work and cooperation, not one man deciding what’s right. George understands that, and he’s never wanted to harness the dreams. He can see the adverse effects of Haber’s will, but it isn’t an easy thing to stop. He isn’t passive though, he definitely tries to find answers and help himself.

It’s not just an issue book though, it’s entertaining. George and Heather are both characters I found myself pulling for and wanting to know better. Heather has walls and walls. She’s the daughter of a white hippie and a “militant Black Power type.” She is angry and strong and this is how she thinks of George when she meets him: “A born victim. Hair like a little girl’s, brown and fine, little blond beard; soft white skin like a fish’s belly; meek, mild, stuttering. Shit! If she stepped on him he wouldn’t even crunch.” I love that, I love how harsh she is. She still believes in her job and wants to help people, but she is formidable. She thinks George is weak (at first), but he isn’t at all. He’s exhausted and has a huge burden. He’s weighed down by so much guilt and stress. I love George a lot, he wants to be happy. He doesn’t want to harm anyone and he wants to just not have to worry anymore.

Sometimes I have issues formatting quotes on WordPress, especially when line breaks and indentions are involved, so sorry if things look weird!

Le Guin’s writing is fantastic. I can’t really find words to write about her writing. It’s engaging and it’s lovely. She writes George’s distress and all of his emotion so well. There’s a scene dealing with Haber’s solution to race issues and it’s so beautiful and painful. I teared up and I wanted to hug George, but then again I wanted to hug him a lot, poor guy.

“Orr was where he had been for months—alone; knowing he was insane and knowing he was not insane, simultaneously and intensely. It was enough to drive him insane.”

This is Heather later in the book, about George again:

“It was more than dignity. Integrity? Wholeness? Like a block of wood not carved.

The infinite possibility, the unlimited and unqualified wholeness of being of the uncommitted, the nonacting, the uncarved: the being who, being nothing but himself, is everything.”

I love this quote so, so much. It was my favorite quote when I read it the first time and I extracted the bolded part and put it on my Facebook and other quote sections.

“In bed, they made love. Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new. When it was made, they lay in each other’s arms, holding love, asleep.”

I should have grabbed more quotes to share how lovely I think the writing is. I don’t have much more to say, but I just love this book. It’s just one of those books that makes me get that good hurt feeling in my chest (I hope other people know that feeling or that will sound stupid).

While it definitely has science fiction aspects, the base of it is something anyone can understand. The dreams, the emotions, the issues and the battle are all things I think anyone would be able to get. I’m sure the book isn’t for everyone and it might be dull to some people. But if it sounds like anything you might like, I really recommend giving it a try! You might just fall in love, like I did.

Ursula K. Le Guin  website

From Goodreads: As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc.

I’ve only read The Lathe of Heaven and The Telling by Le Guin, but I plan on reading a lot more! I know a lot of people love the Earthsea books and I definitely want to read them.

So, dear reader friends, have you read any of Le Guin’s work? Have you read The Lathe of Heaven? Thoughts? Feelings? Is there a book that gives you good hurt feelings that you want to tell me about? Go for it!