The Passage [thoughts]

The Passage coverThe Passage by Justin Cronin
Goodreads
Release Date: June 8th 2010
Publisher: Ballantine Book
Series: The Passage #1

Goodreads description: An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Why I read this: I chose The Passage at complete random. I had been reading a lot of YA and I was just in a place where I needed something different. I’ve heard random good things about The Passage in the past and knew it was popular, saw it on Overdrive and took the plunge. It is a long book and a challenging journey, but one I’m glad I took. And shoutout again to Andi from Estella’s Revenge for encouraging me on the journey!

The Passage is sort of about vampires. It revolves around vampires and an apocalyptic end to society. But it’s about a lot more than that, too.  It’s about humanity, love, loyalty, loss, survival, etc etc. It’s a human story, at heart. I don’t think people that are off vampires or usually against them would have many issues with this book, because the vampire aspect is handled a bit differently. They aren’t your typical vampires and it’s very psychological and mental, it makes you think. The way the book is written put me in the mind of World War Z and the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger, and made me want to jump into the rest of the series (at the time of writing this, I still haven’t. Oops. Soon though. Soon.)

How I feel about it:

I have all the feelings for The Passage. I don’t even know how to convey them, so this might get a little bit messy. There was so much setup to this world that I was a little bit frustrated by all the details and all the things going on. And some of it felt fragmented to me, but now that I’ve read the whole thing, it makes more sense why certain aspects needed to be that way. I loved the feel of the story from the beginning, but my love of the atmosphere and feel grew as the story progressed. The book begins in modern times and goes through the vampire event, then you read about the time after, where there are survivors and vampires. You don’t get all the details, of why or how, but I suspect more will come in the second book.

This book made me surprisingly emotional and I cried several times for different reasons. Loss, separation, happiness. I was surprised by how much I grew to love the characters and how important they became to me. I was attached. I loved reading about how the problem got started and how humans reacted, but the after and survival aspects were so compelling. It’s interesting reading/watching different types of after-disaster scenarios and seeing how people think the world might react. It looks at human nature and the will to survive. It shows that even in the worst of situations, humans still want to live and love and make things better.

I feel like I could read The Passage again at some point, and it would be really enjoyable on the second/more read. It seems like a book that might be even better when you know what’s going on and can just watch it unfold, knowing which details are important. It’s not one I’m aching to buy, but I hope to pick it up at some point. I want to read The Twelve, I had downloaded it on Overdrive and read a few chapters but I think I might wait a while longer, but I definitely want to see more of these characters and learn more about the world. I recommend it to anyone who likes eerie/gritty, end of society/survival stories with realistic relationships and human experiences but some unrealistic and sort of weird stuff going on too, ha =) 

 

The Art of Book Wussing: The Book Thief

Book wussing: The act of leaving a book in the middle because something bad/sad/scary is going to happen, and you know it. Even if the book is enjoyable.

I am bad about book wussing. I have a habit of feeling something I won’t enjoy is coming in a book, so I’ll put it down. I put it down with every intention of picking it up, and soon. But sometimes, every time I look at the book, I quake. It will haunt me, I will think about the book all the time and how I should finish it. I think about how I should just get over it and finish the damn book. But sometimes, it’s almost impossible for me to pick the book up again.

Example: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack | goodreads

The Book Thief cover

What I remembered: Death, everything he says about Rudy, Liesel stealing books, Max

Why I wussed: Rudy, duh.

What I loved: Liesel and Hans reading and learning to read together! My heart. Max in general. Rosa going to the school to tell Liesel. All the love. And definitely Rudy.

I bought The Book Thief in 2010. I started reading and enjoyed it. I knew what was coming. The book tells you straight out, and then hints at various other things. At some point, I stopped reading it. I have two different post-it notes in the book, one at 274 and one at 370.

I will admit that 2010 was a really difficult year for me for so, so many reasons. But still, I’ve had 3 years to finish this book. Every time I saw the book I would think about it. I wanted to know how it ended. I wanted to love it as much as everyone else! But I knew sadness lurked in the pages.

Finally, in November (months ago, I’ve actually had this whole post drafted and kept changing my mind on when/if to post it), I decided to finish it. I actually read the whole book, which is good. I remembered a lot from the beginning, but there were a few things I had forgotten. And yes, I sobbed and sobbed. HOWEVER, I am glad I finally got the nerve to read it. I am generally a fan of sad stories, and crying in books doesn’t bother me. But wow, the pain.

This book isn’t a favorite, but I do think it was meaningful. It made me think and feel a lot of things. I felt a lot for the characters, and for multiple characters. I did feel like the end was way more abrupt than I expected it to be. It felt like so much was riding on this one event and then things just kind of ended. I think Liesel dealing with everything and a picture of what happened after might have been nice. The ending wasn’t bad, but I would have liked a little less blank feeling.

So, my book wussing was validated because of the pain but also silly because it was survivable.

Have you read The Book Thief? Was it an instant favorite for you or do you have more complicated feelings for it? Did you weep a river? Have you watched the movie? Should I? Let me know!

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 Book of Broken Hearts cover

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

The Book of Broken Hearts coverThe Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 21st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: n/a

Goodreads description:When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking

A few years ago I read Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer. I went into it thinking it sounded sweet or cute but it ended up wrecking me. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I don’t remember not being fond of it. I went into The Book of Broken Hearts expecting sadness and while I don’t feel as negative about it as I did TBS, I still didn’t love it.

Jude would ideally be spending her time rehearsing for a play and hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, her life has drastically changed because her father has early onset Alzheimer’s. She spends her days helping him and hoping he doesn’t get worse or have an outburst. He forgets more all the time, but he remembers his youth and riding his motorcycle through South America. It’s means a lot to him, so Jude wants to help him get the bike fixed.

They seek help and are directed to one Emilio Vargas. Emilio is a few years older than Jude, knows about bikes, and he’s very charming. But the Vargas family is off limits to Jude, she swore an oath with her three older sisters never to be involved with a Vargas because of the pain two of them caused two of her older sisters. She needs Emilio to help with the bike, but she doesn’t know if she can keep the oath and stay away.

The Alzheimer’s part of the story is intense and sad. Jude loves her father and it hurts her to know that he’s drifting away. Papi also knows what’s happening, he knows memories are slipping away and it’s frustrating and scary. Jude has to handle so many negative effects of the disease by herself while her mom is at work. It’s difficult to deal with a ranting man digging through the trash and making scenes in public, but there’s also such an emotional toll. Her father and her world is falling apart. She’s at a turning point in her own life but she needs to be so strong for Papi and the whole family. Things like the post-it notes to help him remember and Papi referring to the disease as “El Demonio” (or the Demon) and seeing glimpses of how he is normally against what he’s becoming is gripping and heartbreaking. I loved Papi and I think his story and the effects of the disease are written very well. This is the part of the story that will stick with me.

“How could someone so whole and alive be shriveling up inside? My brain hurt to contemplate it, and I forced myself to stop, lest the demon sense my thoughts and try to prove its mettle.”

Family is important in this story. I loved reading about Jude’s relationship with her father and her mom is very food oriented, she kinda cooks her love into dishes and wants to feed anyone and everyone. I liked that Jude has a big family and wants to be close to everyone in it. However, I wasn’t fond of her sisters or the obligation she felt to an oath she took when she was twelve. Jude even refers to her sisters as “The Holy Trinity” which annoys me to no end. The sisters don’t seem to understand the toll the disease is taking on Jude. They’re letting her be responsible and take care of him but they still treat her like a child. It’s obvious that they all care for each other and all families are annoying in ways, but for some reason the sisters bugged me.

Jude seemed kind of immature to me. I’m not sure if it i magnified by the difficulty of handling her father and his illness, maybe she just seemed smaller because of everything she had to handle. She is incredibly strong and admirable in helping her father, and not doing it because she has to but because she loves him. What I didn’t like were things like the angel vs. devil thing in her thoughts: “Devil-Jude was totally giving me the thumbs-up, her smile glinting mischievously. She had a gold tooth, that’s why,” cue so much eye rolling.  It also annoyed me how much she “thinks” for her dog, I’m not sure how many “BUNNY” moments there were but it was too many for me. She is also so obsessed with what her sisters thought and what her sisters would do if they found out about Emilio. There was development, but by the time it happened I wasn’t as invested. I liked her relationship with her father but I didn’t connect with her.

Emilio is straightforward with Jude and very understanding about her father’s illness. He is flirty but he is also supportive. He is also honest, even in situations where it would be easier to just agree with Jude. He is definitely attracted to her, but he listens to her and is there for her in ways her friends (don’t get me started on her friends) weren’t. I enjoyed him and there was swooning! It was kind of weird to me that he is a mechanic but couldn’t drive a stick, but I guess that could happen? 

Some things I liked:

  • Jude’s family is Argentinean and Emilo’s family is Puerto Rican. Diversity!
  • Papi’s love of Westerns and how he quotes them.
  • A baking scene with Emilio’s mom
  • Mari, one of Jude’s sister, is in publishing and they talk about reading manuscripts.

3 star rating

While I didn’t love The Book of Broken Hearts, I know a lot of people did and a lot of people will enjoy it. I think most people that love contemps with strong families and a good romance will probably enjoy it. I don’t plan on rereading it but I am glad I read it, mainly for Jude’s relationship with her father but also EMILIOOOOOOO (okay sorry, had to).  I might have to tell myself to stay away from any other Sarah Ockler books. Nothing personal, I just don’t think they are for me!

Check out Sarah Ockler’s website and twitter!