Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Thou Shalt Kill."
I love a good dystopian read, and this book did not disappoint. Set in a chilling, futuristic time period where humans have cured all illnesses and have found the key to immortality, Scythe looks at the problems with doing just that.
In this world, all diseases and injuries have been cured. Humans are now immortal. However, every civilization has its limitations--with out-of-control population concerns, the Scythes became an instrumental group in society. Charged with the task of killing humans to keep the population down, they mimic death in our current world. Filling their quotas and carrying out "gleanings," the term for murder in their society, Scythes are seen as figures to be revered. To be a scythe is the highest honor.
Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who, thanks to certain circumstances, are chosen to be apprentices for this position. Those trained to be scythes must meet one major stipulation--they can't want to be a scythe. Citra and Rowan certainly fit the bill. Assigned to the same Scythe, Faraday, both begin a journey to a life they never imagined for themselves.
Things get complicated as emotions bubble between them. In addition, as Citra and Rowan enter the secret world of the scythes, they learn that like in so many societies, not all is what it seems. As they uncover major issues and corruption within the scythes' secret society, they must question what is right and what is wrong--and how they will play a role in the path they choose.
I adored this book because it was such a unique concept. Nonetheless, it made so much sense. We always seek immortality but never really think about the consequences of achieving it. I also love the characters in this book. Shusterman has a wide range of characters, allowing the book to feel dynamic and engaging. All aspects of this society are really well thought out, leaving no plot holes. I also loved the format, with a diary entry from a scythe coming between every chapter or so.
I already bought book two in the series and am starting it immediately. If you like dystopian literature, this book is definitely for you. Even though it is young adult, it definitely is engaging for all ages as it raises interesting, ethical questions.
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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I have spent so long running from the memories, pushing them away, drowning them in drink and routine and everyday life."
Ruth Ware's The Lying Game is a psychological journey through secrets, lies, and relationships.
The book follows Isa and her former classmates through a journey of horrible memories, lies, and secrets. As they uncover truths they'd tried to overlook, they will learn that sometimes the lying game comes back to haunt you.
I loved that this book truly kept me on the edge of my seat. Just when I felt confident I had figured it out, I changed my mind. The suspense is well-built and keeps you on edge. I also liked Isa's character's imperfections and struggles. She felt very realistic and was easy to like. I found myself rooting for her.
The ending was very well done. The last page, especially, really brought everything full circle.
Overall, this book had a feel of In a dark, dark wood. The concepts were somewhat similar, and Ruth Ware's detailed style didn't disappoint. Overall, this was an engaging story about how dangerous lies can be and how they can haunt us well beyond what we ever thought possible.
I highly recommend this book and will definitely be reading the next Ruth Ware book released.
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Everything, Everything Movie Review: Sweet Love Story For Teens
As a high school English teacher and romance writer, I rarely commit the "sin" of watching a movie before reading the book. This weekend, however, I couldn't help myself when I was scrolling through HBO and found Everything, Everything.
I've seen reviews of the young adult novel all over bookstagram and have had it on my tbr list. I've also been wanting to see the movie, so I jumped in over the weekend. I wasn't disappointed.
The story follows Maddy, a teenager diagnosed with a rare illness that won't let her leave the house. Essentially, any virus or bacteria can kill her, so she's spent her entire life under the careful watch of her mother and nurse. Locked in a house where everything is sanitized, Maddy feels isolated and like she's missing out on life. When Olly moves in next door, though, her world opens up. Even though they are physically separated, their relationship grows as the somewhat wild neighbor boy steals Maddy's heart. Will she be willing to risk it all for just one real life moment with him?
Overall, the premise of the movie was very intriguing. I empathized with Maddy and couldn't help but feel sorry for her situation. The isolation and loneliness created a real problem, and the added romantic interest certainly pulled on the heart strings. I also loved how Olly brought an edge to Maddy's life. He was the typical "bad boy" who showed his sweet side for Maddy, and an endearing relationship developed. I loved how the two show the true emotional side of romance. The love story was sweet and well-developed.
Overall, the movie was a sweet watch perfect for anyone looking for a sweet romance or any teens looking for a cute love story.
I would give this movie a four out of five. The star deduction is mostly for the ending (SPOILERS BELOW: STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON"T WANT TO SEE SPOILERS)
Okay, so here is where my issue with the movie comes in.
The entire movie, I was really curious as to how the author would wrap up this love story. Could Olly sacrifice his whole life to be with Maddy? Would she be okay with it? How can you be in a relationship with someone who has such a limited opportunity to see the world, especially when your'e a bit of a wild child?
I also couldn't bear the thought of Olly and Maddy going their separate ways, especially after how much Olly brought to Maddy's world. I realized early on this presented a difficult problem for the writer and was curious as to how it would end.
But then.... I felt like there was an easy way out. Suddenly, Maddy's mom lied about the whole disease (for 17 years!). I understand the reason was plausible and did appreciate the twist. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that the author wrote herself into a corner with the love story and, to give a satisfying ending, had to "heal" Maddy.
Don't get me wrong... the happy ending was endearing and left you in a feel-good place. I would, however, have appreciated a less-than-cheerful ending if it meant the author had tackled the really tough situation head-on.
What did you think? Did you read the book? Is it different? Let me know in the comments!
Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See Offers Deep, Introspective Value
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"It was enough when Werner was a boy, wasn't it? A world of wildflowers blooming up and carrot peels and Frau Elena's fairy tales. Of the sharp smell of tar, and trains passing, and bees humming in the window boxes. String and spit and wire and a voice on the radio offering a loom on which to spin his dreams."
All the Light We Cannot See is an emotional novel that looks at war, survival, and the interesting ways that fate and choices bring us together. The novel drips with depth and gorgeous imagery.
The story follows Marie-Laure Leblanc, a girl who is blind during WWII, as she struggles with the loss of her father and the dangers of trying to do the right thing. Werner Pfennig, an orphan, is the other major protagonist of the novel. Through a twisting plot line, their stories become clearly connected as they fight for survival and to overcome lives that suddenly don't feel like their own.
Doerr's style is truly poetic. From page one of the novel, it is clear that he isn't just an excellent storyteller but a word master:
"At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country."
Throughout the entire novel, the reader roots for both characters despite their very different circumstances. The novel reminded me that there truly are no winners or losers in war--just people desperate to survive, to protect their dreams, and to hang on to the ones who matter to them while maintaining a sense of dignity and humanity.
The middle of this book was a bit slow-moving for me. I felt that the pace could have been a bit faster. Nonetheless, Doerr's skill at bringing the entire story together underscored the depth and meaning of this work.
This book reminded me of one of my favorites, The Book Thief, because of its focus and style. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a book with deep meaning and purpose.
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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Who can I trust, if I can't even trust myself?"
In a Dark, Dark Wood is the second book I've read by Ruth Ware; I read The Woman in Cabin 10 first. It definitely has her signature, psychological thriller kind of feel and reminded me of The Woman in Cabin 10 in reference to mood and feel. Overall, it was an engaging read about secrets, lies, and friendship.
Leonora is a reclusive writer who finds herself on the invite list for a bachelorette party for an old friend. Against her gut reaction, she decides to accompany another friend, Nina, to the weekend held in a glass house in the middle of a desolate wood. As she tries to reconnect with Claire, her best friend of a different time, things start to get very spooky in the wilderness.
This book is told with an interesting chronology, flipping between present and past. I enjoyed the suspense that was truly built throughout the entire novel. It is more of a psychological read with questions of sanity and trusting one's own mind, which I enjoyed. I also found Leonora's character to be very easy to like and relate to.
I did not find the story predictable, which was a great aspect of this book. It kept me wanting to read up until the very end. My only knock on the book is that I didn't find the motives believable in this book at all times--I won't say anything else because I don't want to spoil it.
Overall, if you like a psychological thriller about secrets and lies, this book is for you. Ruth Ware is a master of weaving an engaging tale without giving too much away or being too preposterous in her plot lines. I recommend this book if you enjoy books like Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, or any other psychological reads.
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Inked Hearts releases October 21, 2017, with Hot Tree Publishing. This contemporary romance is set in Ocean City, Maryland.
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“Six years, a complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom. Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner, the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
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