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The Year of the Flood
The Year of the Flood
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $26.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Yet So Terribly Frightening, August 18, 2014
"What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question."

The Year of the Flood is a companion novel to Oryx and Crake (however O&C fills in much of the necessary back story so make sure not to skip it).The discussion (or argument) continues with The Year of the Flood regarding the ability to alter humans in order to achieve perfection and whether it's an ability that should be used. This time, we get to see the world through the eyes of Gods Gardner's (and also those of whom live in the pleeblands). The God's Gardner's are an extremely eco-conscious group of people that have been prophesying for years of the `Waterless Flood' that is impending. Because these people have anticipated this event for so long they're more prepared than anyone else, or at least the ones that survived the initial pandemic are. This group of people has created their own ideology which melds science and nature into the fabric of religion and was really quite fascinating. The most fascinating aspect of Oryx and Crake was learning about the pandemic and how it came to be but with The Year of the Flood it was the focus on this extremely adaptive group and how they managed to survive in a world where no one else could.

The highly creative world Atwood has created is not without flaws. It is imperfect and blemished, however for me that was what appealed the most. I expect if we ever find ourselves in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world it would be much the same lacking a perfectly wrapped up ending. Atwood has been clear to designate this trilogy as "speculative fiction" and not "science fiction". Science fiction tends to be so outlandish that its very unlikely it will ever occur whereas speculative fiction may be outlandish at first glance yet its still dreadfully possible. That's exactly what these stories exude: the actual possibility of these events transpiring. It's what makes these books fantastic yet so terribly frightening.


Lolita
Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $20.60
74 used & new from $5.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking yet Truly Remarkable, August 18, 2014
This review is from: Lolita (Audio CD)
‘It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.’

Lolita is likely one of the most controversial stories in 20th century literature to date. Lolita has been coined as a ‘love story’ and even ‘erotic’. In all honesty, this was simply Humbert attempting to convince himself (and others) that his actions were normal and completely justified. By the end pages, I could honestly say that Humbert believed wholeheartedly he truly loved Lolita, that he always had the best of intentions for her and that he was a good father to her. His version of love was of course far from normal and was quite sick and twisted indeed but because we’re only seeing this story from his point of view it’s obviously a biased and glamorized interpretation.

‘We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.’

But to me that was the most amazing part of this story. When you really think about this story as a whole, you know what he did was wrong, you know that he changed that 12 year-old girl irrevocably and you can almost despise him for the fact that he blamed her for seducing him initially. However, despite all that, I know I’m not the only reader that struggled to not feel at least a slight bit of sympathy for him. And that’s the true brilliance of it.

‘And the rest is rust and stardust.’

Lolita is a truly remarkably written story that was undoubtedly shocking after its initial publication in 1955. I can’t help but find it severely unlikely though that it would have ever been published during this day and age.


The Panopticon: A Novel
The Panopticon: A Novel
by Jenni Fagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.86
63 used & new from $6.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Wild Ride of Pure Insanity, August 16, 2014
‘The experiment are watching.
You can feel them, ay. In the quiet. In the room. Wherever you are-they’re there. That’s a given. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes a wee bit further away; when I want to hurt myself but I dinnae, I can always feel them then. They want me to hurt myself. They’re sick like that. What they really want is me dead.’

Anais, 15 years old, is suspected of assaulting a police officer and while the police complete their investigation she’s taken to The Panopticon for close monitoring. For being so young, Anais has led a shockingly violent life. She never met her birth mother and has been in the foster care system since she was born. Her foster mother was brutally murdered and Anais was the one to find her body. Drugs and alcohol has become par for the course with her and is the reason she can’t remember if she actually did assault that police officer. All she knows is, the tower in The Panopticon watches over everyone, always. Whether that’s simply a paranoid delusion or not remains to be seen.

‘The watchtower windows reflect the sun, and the big bug-eyes stare, and it’s totally obvious that watchtower doesnae even need staff in it; it just watches – all on its own.’

The Panopticon is a wild ride of pure insanity. A crazy combination of A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Scottish style. The Scottish terms will seek to overwhelm you but Google is useful; use it. This story was shocking and heartbreaking, even more so when you find out it’s loosely based on the authors own personal experiences with the foster care system in Scotland. Anais may be a juvenile delinquent but she’s still got morals and that’s what makes her case so heartbreaking. She’s smart, full of wit and has hopes and dreams of living in Paris above a bakery where she’d wake up to the smell of fresh croissants. But since she doesn’t live above a bakery in Paris, she passes the time by playing the ‘Birthday Game’ where she uses her imagination to make up a different life than the one she’s currently leading.

Anais is a prime example of juvenile delinquency but she’s not the only misfit being kept at The Panopticon. There’s the girls she befriends: Isla, the HIV-positive mother of twins that cuts herself to try to rid herself of the virus and Tash, her lover who works as a prostitute in order to save up for their own flat. There are less sad-cases as well such as the boy who is bullied by everyone including the staff after he is caught raping a dog and another who burned down a special-needs school. Bottom line, this is not a pretty story, but despite its ugliness it tells the honest story of young people that are beaten down by the system that is intended to keep them safe.


Dangerous Boys
Dangerous Boys
Price: $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One Twisted (and Enthralling) Tale, August 14, 2014
This review is from: Dangerous Boys (Kindle Edition)
‘A heartbeat, a split-second’s whim, that’s all it takes to change your life forever.
But what happens when you get it wrong?’

Abigail Haas has done it again. Dangerous Boys is one seriously twisted and convoluted tale that will have you completely enthralled. Her stories will put you under a spell, desperate for answers to eagerly sought questions. In Dangerous Boys, there is Chloe, and the brothers Ethan and Oliver. The three become complexly intertwined, irrevocably changing the makeup of each others lives. A terrible accident occurs involving the brothers and only one makes it out alive. But who survived? And what were the sequence of events that led up to that moment? These questions will exasperate you, forcing you to willingly glue yourself to the pages. The one thing you should come to expect with an Abigail Haas book though is nothing is ever as it seems.

Dangerous Boys is a deceptively simple tale of a young girl freshly out of high school who has big dreams of leaving the small town behind and experiencing life. Her life is upended when her father divorces her mother and her mother is thrown into a deep depression, leaving Chloe to take care of her and thus forcing her to put her future on hold. The story alternates between the past, before Chloe meets Ethan and Oliver, and the present, after the devastating fire. Piece by piece the story begins to form. Chloe and Ethan’s relationship, Oliver’s involvement, the jealousy and turmoil that takes place… all leading up to the accident that took the life of one of the boys.

What truly made this story shine for me was Chloe’s character. At first glance she’s just a small town girl with big city dreams but her complexity was kept hidden and begins to blossom as the story progresses. Here’s a girl that has always done what’s right, has kept her grades up in hopes of achieving her dreams. As her life begins to crumble around her and her hopes become dashed, the regret and anger over her circumstances builds. The introduction of the two boys into her life changes everything for her and breaks the mask she’s been hiding behind. We’ve all hidden behind a facade of sorts at one time or another and discovering that person that sees through all the bulls*** to the very heart of you can be an enlightening and transforming experience.

Abigail Haas is a writer of mesmerizing mysteries that always keeps me second-guessing. A truly talented writer that I eagerly await more from.


The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $20.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Day Lizzie Bennett, August 7, 2014
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that transports the characters from the early 1800s England to 2014 America. Lizzie Bennet is a college grad student that has begun vlogging about her daily life as a study of social media for her thesis. What started out as a simple school project though becomes so much more.

Okay, confession time: I have never read the original Pride and Prejudice. YES, I plan on correcting this, hopefully soon. I have read the movies though (and LOVE them) so I’m at least aware of the storyline. TLBD was constantly popping up on my Twitter feed and when I finally asked I was directed to the youtube page. WARNING: If you have not yet watched TLBD please make sure you have several hours of time on your hands before going there. I’m serious. It is so addicting. And SO fun.

If you’re a fan of TLBD on YouTube, you will adore this book. Yes, it’s the same story for the most part but there are small additions to the story that would have happened off camera that we get an interesting in depth look into. Plus, if you’re suffering through withdrawals of TLBD then you’re likely willing to take anything you can get.

If you’ve opted to read this via audiobook, it is quite frankly like listening to the YouTube videos with your screen minimized. The lack of actual facetime with the characters was sorely missed because they are all incredible in their roles, but Ashley Clements (the actor who played Lizzie in TLBD) did a superb job at narrating the assorted voices and made me glad I opted to go the audio route. For those of you that have not watched the YouTube videos, it is not necessary to fully appreciate the book but you’ll likely want to watch them after getting immersed in the world of modern Lizzie Bennet.


World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III
World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III
by Ben H. Winters
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.61
76 used & new from $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging End to a Thrilling Trilogy, July 15, 2014
‘...there are not jostling anxious crowds outside, no frightened people rushing and pushing past each other in the streets. No klaxon howl of car alarms, no distant gunfire. The people are hidden now, those that remain, hidden under blankets or in basements, encased in their dread.’

With mere weeks left before the impending asteroid makes impact with the earth, Detective Henry Palace is on a last minute mission to get to his sister Nico before it’s too late. Nico is convinced that the group she’s joined up with is going to be able to save the world with the help of a nuclear scientist by the name of Hans-Michael Parry but Palace is convinced that it’s nothing but a farce. One way or another, he intends to do anything and everything he can to ensure his sisters safety and solve his final case for the brief time that he may or may not have left.

‘They say that just before impact the sky will brighten ferociously, like the sun has burst from its own skin, and then we will feel it, even on the far of the earth we will feel it, the whole world will quaver from the blow.’

The journey to find his sister is a difficult one. The few clues he has takes him and his dog Houdini from New Hampshire to Ohio and upon reaching the abandoned police station in the small town of Rotary, the evidence he sees leaves the outlook bleak. His determination to find his sister despite the knowledge that in a few days it will no longer matter is heartrending but his resolve is truly admirable. Society is crumbling around him and the world is literally about to come to an end yet Detective Henry Palace is doing whatever he can to maintain his morality even in the face of mortality. World of Trouble is an engaging end to a thrilling trilogy that you will want to race through to determine the fate of the earth and its inhabitants. I’ve never been so pleased with a not so happy ending.


Etronic ® Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow ET-105 - 6 Massage Modes - Headrest Strap - CE Certified [3-Year Warranty]
Etronic ® Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow ET-105 - 6 Massage Modes - Headrest Strap - CE Certified [3-Year Warranty]
Offered by E Depot Express
Price: $19.99
3 used & new from $14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Best Thing To An Actual Massage, July 14, 2014
I never put much faith in neck massagers but was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of this model. It's powerful enough to really make a difference in tension in both my neck and shoulders. I've also used it as an actual back massager by sitting in a chair with it and is definitely relaxing.

It doubles as a perfect travel pillow: firm pillow with super soft material. The noise level is slightly loud so it may not do well using the massage feature while in flight. Only 2 AA batteries are required and they fit inside a zippered pouch inside the pillow that you can't feel when using.

I received this product free in exchange for an honest review.


One Plus One: A Novel
One Plus One: A Novel
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.77
89 used & new from $10.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing Page-Turner, July 1, 2014
This review is from: One Plus One: A Novel (Hardcover)
Jess is a resolutely optimistic single mother who struggles with two jobs and two kids after her husband, seemingly suffering from depression, leaves them to move back in with his mother. When her daughter Tanzie gets the opportunity of a lifetime at a prestigious school, the only way the tuition can get paid is if Jess gets her to a Math Olympiad in Scotland. Only problem is, they don't have a car nor the funds to get there. Ed, a tech millionaire who's house Jess cleans, has gotten into a world of trouble involving being accused of insider trading and he needs to get out of town in hopes that his troubles blow over. Ed ends up offering to drive Jess, her two kids and they're stinky dog Norman to Scotland in what ends up being one seriously stressful yet hilarious road trip.

In this hysterical and emotional tale of opposites attract, Jojo Moyes continues to solidify her spot as one of my favorite authors. Her portrayal of life as a single mom struggling to keep her kids fed was sobering but terribly relatable if anyone has ever struggled financially. Jojo Moyes also tackles the topic of economic differences, bullies and deadbeat dads with ease. Her characterization is unerring with each and every character being well-written and detailed without managing to tread too far into predictable territory. Her stories have always managed to throw me with their unexpected twists and One Plus One is no different. The two main characters both possess enough wittiness and differences which cause their attraction to not be immediate. The romance is a slow, subtle build that even though you're expecting you still won't really see it coming.

One Plus One's summary would suggest a typical, formulaic chick-lit story of opposites attract but culminates into a simple and pleasing page-turner that fans of the genre won't want to miss.


Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery by Rob Thomas: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery by Rob Thomas: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $23.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Realize Just How Much You Miss VMars, June 26, 2014
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

In The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, (almost) the whole gang is back together again. Veronica has left her high paying job as an attorney in New York City to return to Neptune, CA to help her dad out with his PI business. Mac Mackenzie has left her fancy job as well to assist in the computer aspects of the job but they’re struggling to make ends meet. A huge case finally lands in their laps when the incompetency of the local sheriff department requires the Chamber of Commerce to hire help to find a missing girl that was visiting Neptune on spring break.

Veronica Mars is one of my all-time favorite shows that was cancelled much too soon. When it was released that not only would there be a new movie to look forward but a book series as well I had a total fit. Finding out that Kristen Bell narrates the audio of the first book was even better news. Kristen Bell perfectly narrated each and every character we’ve grown to know and love. The audio is definitely the way to go with this one. The story itself was ALMOST as good as I had hoped it could be. It was a slow build in the mystery bits and Veronica doesn’t even make an immediate appearance but that’s temporary. The mystery is interesting and has a few twists I didn’t see coming but it did still feel like it possessed the typical framework of many already been done before VMars investigations. Regardless, just being back in Neptune was the best thing ever.The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is written in third person POV and for the most part it worked. Would first person have worked better? Most likely. But third person does allow the reader the opportunity of a different perspective on Veronica and the investigation in order to formulate their own thoughts and opinions rather than seeing it solely through her eyes.

One of the things I loved about the show was the skillful combination of the mystery and the romance. This wasn’t the case here though as Logan has a minuscule part in the story, however, I am okay with this as I find myself a bit over Logan. Gasp. I know. I just wanted to something fresh and different for her I think. Here we have Veronica in her late 20s and yet she’s doing the same things she did in high school. She left a well-paying job in New York to go back to Neptune just to go back to the same job that makes it a struggle to pay the bills. While I understand this is an introductory novel back into the life of Veronica, I can only hope that we can expect bigger and better things for her. The ending definitely left open the opportunity for future VMars stories and I for one cannot wait.


The Sea Garden
The Sea Garden
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $12.74

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entwined Novellas, June 24, 2014
This review is from: The Sea Garden (Kindle Edition)
‘In this present hour, there was time for anything to happen, endless time.’

The Sea Garden contains three separate novellas that slowly intertwine together. The first novella shares the name of the title and is set in present day. The second and third novellas are all centered around the WWII era.

I became an instant fan of Deborah Lawrenson’s after her debut novel, ‘The Lantern‘ completely mesmerized me with its Rebecca-esque gothic story. It was clear she had a talent for the written word and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a new book from her. The Sea Garden presents a somewhat full-length novel, broke up into seemingly separate stories but have more in common than assumed. The Sea Garden novella is the present day story which brings to life a young woman named Ellie who is hired to construct a new WWII Memorial Garden. Her short visit is a disturbing one after the mother of the man that hired her is unkindly to her and after she believes to have seen ghosts in the Garden. The real heart of the story comes in the WWII stories that have an unexpected impact on Ellie’s life even after all that time has passed.

‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my path.’

I recognized and enjoyed the authors skillful writing yet found this story lacking in comparison to its predecessor. I found The Sea Garden to be for the most part too convoluted and lacking a clear and concise ending that wrapped up all loose ends. The affinity between the three tales was a little too slack and wasn’t as solid of a connection as I would expect with a multi-narrative tale such as this. Also, the odd supernatural aspects felt superfluous and too extravagant of an addition to this basic tale of history and its effects on everyone it touches. The writing was most pleasing but I would have appreciated this story more if the three novellas had stood on their own without the compulsory connection between them.


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