life after jane…

Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: November 1st 2011
Pages: 338
Genre: YA- Dystopian/Paranormal Fantasy

I’ve heard from various sources that the main complaint they’ve had with this story was its being essentially 338 pages of set-up for the next book. We get introduced and well acquainted with some very strong and captivating characters but very little insight into what was actually going on. And yeah, that assessment is pretty much dead on, but it doesn’t mean that the story is short on awesome.

When we begin Juliette believes herself to be a patient in an insane asylum. In her post apocalyptic world, resources, wildlife, safety and humanity amongst humans is growing increasingly rare. The remaining people are subject to a rigid military rule that leaves little tolerance for the unexplained and no one can explain Juliette. It is a complete mystery why the simple touch of her hand on another person can result in excruciating pain, so the world locks her away and forgets about her. Months later, Juliette is given a roommate, a young man named Adam with blue eyes that are unmistakably familiar to her. Adam is her first human contact in a long time and with him she tentatively begins to build a friendship that has her toying with the idea that she might not be crazy. And she’s right, she’s not in an asylum and she’s far from crazy- she’s a military experiment.

Something happened with this book that hasn’t happened for several books now- it’s filled with dogeared pages marking some exemplary passages. Mafi’s writing is tinged throughout with moments of OMG, some had me pausing to reread, or take in what she was describing. There’s nothing I love more than having pages that I simply HAVE to go back and revisit. I felt Mafi’s writing was far superior to the actual story and she could have been telling me anything and I would have bought it.

Killing time isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

     I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off the clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.

Juliette’s story is a scary one, and she’s not only scared for herself, she’s scared of herself. Where so many authors would take this opportunity to have their MC miraculously and heroically discover an untapped source of bravery and brawn, Mafi lets Juliette experience the terror of her situation just as she should. Not everyone with super powers is a hero. Not yet anyway. I prefer to think that in future installments, Juliette will come into her own gradually, as befits her personality.

I’m still not sure what to make of Adam, our captor/hero/love interest. I’m not sold on him completely as he falls into the group of heroes particular to YA fiction in which he lets his love suffer “for her own good.” And he isn’t broody enough- you know how I like them.

Final thoughts? We need more authors like Mafi in YA. You know, ones who can actually write. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m really interested to see where Warner’s story goes. Underneath he’s desperately afraid of appearing weak and I almost think he feels he needs someone as powerful as Juliette to love him in order to validate his position- which could make a man very, very desperate.

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Every Other Day

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Date: December 27 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: YA- Paranormal Fantasy

In a world where paranormal creatures are viewed in the same light as exotic pets it’s easy to forget how quickly their true natures can turn humans into prey. For twenty-four hours Kali is human- fragile, weak, vulnerable and hunted. But in the next twenty-four hours Kali will become something else entirely- something inhumanly strong, bloodthirsty and insatiable. Every other day Kali is defenseless against creatures that should only exist in nightmares, but for the next twenty-four hours- she’s going to kill them.

With nearly every other book in the YA section being of the paranormal persuasion, it’s getting a little difficult to continuously revamp the same old subject matter (vampires and werewolves and angels oh my) into something that’s still new and appealing. You don’t want to stray too far from the norm for fear of loosing those mainstream followers but you won’t gain much street cred if you’re an unoriginal sellout (you know who are.) So what’s a storyteller to do when you’re left walking such a fine line- you cross that sucker and drive backwards in the other lane.

Barnes took a big gamble with Every Other Day- she threw in a bit of everything you’ve read in recent YA, put in a blender and set it on high. Ruthless in her plot twists and torrents, Barnes doesn’t allow her readers a lot of time to focus on just what type of story they’re reading. She throws demons, psychics, vampires, mythical creatures, possessions and zombies (you know you love zombies) at you so fast there’s nothing to do but roll with it and brace yourself for whatever comes next. Totally unpredictable with a pace set at warp speed, the story never settles before she picks it back up and off she goes again. Reserve a couple of uninterrupted hours for this quick read because you can’t stop once you get started.

For me, the supporting characters, whose identities and purposes once revealed, totally sold the story. The main character, Kali and I didn’t mesh as much as I would have liked simply because I couldn’t take her as seriously as she took herself. I’m all for a bit of brooding when it can be readily agreed upon that YOUR life sucks but I tend to start tuning out an inner monologue that only focuses on the “poor me.” Kali’s got a lot to carry, bless her, but she’s also a lot stronger than even she knows. I’m looking forward to the next book where hopefully Kali will embrace her inner badass. A great cast of characters, nonstop action, and a love interest with a very, very unexpected twist- yeah, you have to read it.

Does it warrant a sequel? Absolutely. Barnes set the story up nicely for a second book and I feel there is enough solid material and a strong enough world to carry another book.

Review copy from Amazon Vine

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12. 24. 2011


“You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”

Everything in the human world has at one point or another, run on pure belief. Once we questioned if the sun would come up again tomorrow as it did today so we decided to believe that it would. We believed in it and into existence popped the spirit of the rising sun, one of many small gods that wait just on the edge of realization for enough belief to give them a purpose.

Many, many years go by and we learn, and we change and we no longer believe that it’s our prayers that give us daylight and one small sun god is suddenly without a purpose. So we start to believe in something else. We decide to believe that once a year, a jolly man in a red suit comes down the chimney and gives children toys, and our belief gives that small god a new job. The Hogfather, in his red sleigh, drawn by a team of hogs, visits each house on the Discworld, bringing presents, spreading Hogswatch cheer and bellowing many a “Ho Ho Ho.” But one Hogwatch’s Eve, there’s another change, and people no longer believe there’s a Hogfather. The belief isn’t replaced, it’s just lost and tomorrow, with no Hogfather, no small god, the sun may not rise.

In his great hall of time, Death monitors the hourglasses of each and every life on the Disc. Every living thing has a life that can be measured in grains of sand, even that of immortals. When it becomes apparent that the life of the Hogfather is all but out, Death, false beard on his bare skull, and sack in hand, sets out to visit each and every house in the Discworld in an attempt to drum up enough belief to keep the Hogfather alive. He will break many rules, touch many lives (in a good way) and maybe, just maybe ensure that the sun rises.

———————

It’s absolutely no secret that my favorite author is Terry Pratchett. He writes what on the surface appears to be fantasy fiction but carefully interwoven into each story is a very important life lesson, a different way to look at the world and the permission that most of us seek that says it is OK to question what we’ve always been TOLD we believe. Pratchett always wants you thinking. He wants you to remember to feel everything. But above all, he wants you to be fascinated by the things that make us human because we really are, however you believe, quite miraculous.
“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

It is Death of course, that speaks in ALL CAPS. It’s fitting as his word would be, well, final.

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I Am Number Four

Author: Pittacus Lore (James Frey and Jobie Hughes)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: August 3rd 2010
Pages: 440
Genre: YA- Paranormal Fantasy, Science Fiction
Source: I purchased with my own hard earned money.

I was scanning through the movies on Vudu the other night and I ran across a preview for I Am Number Four. There wasn’t a trailer available on Vudu (which is a horrid fail, btw) so I googled it, watched it and yeah, it looked pretty good. I was going to rent the movie but it turns out you can’t. You can only buy it and even if it was good, it wouldn’t be the kind of movie I’d spend twenty bucks on. You can already sense the negativity, can’t you?

So I bought the book.

In hindsight it wasn’t worth those ten bucks either.

Daniel John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith, is hot footing it out of town. About ever six months or so, he and his pseudo-father “Henri” load up the truck and move to a new town and change identities. It’s necessary, seriously necessary in fact because there’s an entire race of killer aliens after them. John is one of nine Super High-speed 4G Bluetooth hero children that escaped from the planet of Lorien in the midst of an attack by said killer aliens. As the last of his race, it’s crucial to his people’s survival that he and his kind stay hidden on earth until it’s safe to return to their home planet. The Mogadorians (killer aliens), having raped Loric for all its resources, have set their sights on the planet Earth and must destroy the nine super kids in order to carry out their evil, villainous plans. *Cue music*

The nine can only be killed in sequential order. Meaning, you can’t kill three before killing one or it JUST WILL NOT WORK. See instructions below:

(Sorry. This is just how my brain works.)

Three are dead. John is number four. Get it?

OK, now to get to the root of my pissiness. I liked this story. It was incredibly entertaining in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way. The plot was great. The action was intense. All the super hero badassedness was badass. All that. I read it in two sittings because I really did care about what happened and I was into it. I was into it despite the fact that the writing was unforgivably atrocious and seemed, for lack of a better way to put it, to be written by a child…in crayon.

It read about like this:

I woke up. I walked to the refrigerator. I opened the refrigerator door. I took a moment to brood about how much it sucked that I might get killed by aliens. I really want to just be human and eat fruit loops. I can’t be human because I’m so badass. MAN AM I BADASS! I’m still going to eat fruit loops.

That was the reenactment. Here’s an actual quote:

“I go to the bathroom, enter an empty stall, and latch the door behind me. I open my hands. A slight glow in the right one. I close my eyes and sigh, focus on breathing slowly. A minute later the glow is still there. I shake my head. I didn’t think the Legacy would be that sensitive. I stay in the stall.”

It brought to mind a traffic jam, with cars lined up for miles and miles behind each other, moving at the speed of one bumper length every fifteen minutes. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Short, clipped little sentences written for the ADD afflicted in mind.

Still, all in all, it’s a great story, and I hope it made a better movie. If “Pittacus Lore” would like to send my back my ten bucks, I’ll throw in the other ten and watch it.

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Personal Demons

Author:Lisa Desrochers
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: September 14, 2010
Pages: 365
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: ALA

This one was a little tough for me. I was completely into this story up until the point where I wasn’t. Right out of the box, it’s fast, suspenseful and oh so sexy. Then it’s kind of like, if you divide the book exactly in half, the first half was totally captivating and the last half was, eh, well- it just wasn’t.

Riddled with YA cliche, (In insta-love with the new boy who is now her class partner, new boy is smoldering hot, girl is clueless as to why all the guys want her, enter the love triangle, yada yada) this story could have very easily been a disaster. Surprisingly, the aforementioned elements worked in this scenario, again, up until the point where they didn’t.

Frannie is a normal high school girl, with average everything- including an average soul. It seems that Heaven and Hell have been playing a rather nasty game of dodge ball, and each side is trying to claim the best players before the other team lands them. Frannie’s soul has been firmly on the fence for years. Having lost a brother at a young age, she has some serious issues with the guys upstairs. Her strong Catholic upbringing has kept her on the straight and narrow but with her doubts and one really dark, painful secret she could just as easily tip towards the other side. Heaven and Hell each send their individual ambassadors to entice Frannie toward their side. And of course, Hell sends Luc- that smoldering, wicked looking new guy who just exudes dark hotness. Heaven counters by sending Gabe, a tall handsome blonde who threatens to make Frannie feel the one thing she has sworn off since her brother died- love. The battle over Frannie’s soul begins and quickly turns dangerous, and neither side is playing fair.

Let me point out, that even with all the heaven and hell goings on, this is not some underhanded attempt by an author to sneak a little God into your reading. In fact, given the elements, it was delightfully surprising to find not one ounce of religion in this book. So don’t run screaming.

My issues where never with the plot, because well, a demon and an angel fighting over your soul- that’s just hot. Where Desrochers drops the ball is in her attempt to balance the players in her love triangle. Gabe seems to have been randomly thrown in without ceremony and almost written as an after thought. He has very little dialogue or presence and Frannie’s feelings for him just have to be assumed because Frannie said so. Her constant struggle against her feelings for Luc was where the real action was. The front cover asks the question:

“If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be? Are you sure about that?

which would lead you to believe that you’re in for some serious friction. Nope. Frannie never even made it a choice- Luc does, because he’s awesome like that. So I got a bit turned off in the second half of the book when the only chemistry was between Frannie and Luc but Gabe was still considered to be a contender and we’re suppose to believe that Frannie still doesn’t know which one to choose. Why didn’t Gabe get any chapters from his point of view? That would have made me feel a bit more connected to him.

Frannie annoyed the hell out of me. If she said “Whatever” one more time, we were going to have words. I can think of a lot of people more deserving of a hot demon lurver (pick me! pick me). But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this book, the actual story was amazing and I was hooked on the heat from page one, she just lost me in the second half when everyone was so decidedly vague- which should be near impossible to pull off.

Will I read the sequel? Yeah. I will.

Thoughts?

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White Cat

Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date: May 4th 2010
Pages: 310
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now but for some reason I had yet to pick it up. Maybe it’s the seriously creepy cover. Those gloves alone are enough to send me running. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve gotten in to darker YA so I guess it was just time to read this one. I’m so glad I did because it’s positively fabulous!

This is my first Holly Black book and I had no idea how awesome she is. White Cat was fierce. Even with its dark, nasty magic performed by wicked evil doers I was immediately rooting for the bad guys. Curse workers have formed a sort of magical mafia where they’re still busting knee caps in an old school way only in Black’s world they do it with their minds. I loved Cassel from page one. Believing that he lacks the powers that the rest of his family has, he still engages in the same manipulation and subterfuge that his twisted kinsmen do but with his wits alone. Oh and then, THEN there’s the part where he turns out to be the biggest badass.

I’m liking YA books from male points of view. They’re rare enough to make them a real treat whenever they’re stumbled upon. The sequel, Red Glove, was released this past April and I need to get my grubby little hands on it.

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Explosive Eighteen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Bantam
Date: November 22nd 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction- Mystery
Source: Purchased and I want my effing money back

**This rant (this is in no way a review) contains spoilers, pissiness and general hate and discontent.**

Stephanie, Janet, and I have been friends for eighteen books now so I’ve earned the right to say whatever the hell I want to about this series. I have YEARS vested with the Plum company and well, frankly I’m pissed that its stock value has plummeted most drastically

Stephanie Plum, laid-off lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter has a habit of getting herself caught in the stickiest situations. She’s been threatened, kidnapped, assaulted, and car bombed more times than she can count and usually in the most humiliating of ways. She’s well, not very good at her job and relies heavily on luck to catch her skips and make the rent money. While her job has frequently placed her in a less than ideal position (usually the dangerous kind) it’s her personal life that really scares the hell out of her. Stephanie is in love (or lust) with two men- two men that can be equally as difficult to deal with as the bad guys she plays at tracking down. Joe and Ranger have an unspoken pact to not acknowledge Stephanie’s romantic attachment to the both of them, but they readily agree that it takes two of them to keep her safe. But when the time comes for Stephanie to finally decide if she’s playing for Team Cupcake or Team Babe, Joe and Ranger may have both decided to give their bounty hunter the slip.

When I first heard that we were getting another Plum novel right on the heels of Smokin’ Seventeen I was a little perplexed. We get one Plum book a year right? THAT IS THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS. So why is Janet throwing a curve ball and giving us Explosive Eighteen a few short months later? When we left Stephanie in June she was boarding a plan for Hawaii and she knew exactly who she was going to take with her. Did she take Joe? Did she take Ranger? So maybe we’re getting Eighteen so soon afterwards because SOMETHING HAPPENED IN HAWAII!

Wrong. I don’t know what their reason was for pushing Eighteen so soon after the last one but it wasn’t to showcase what happened in Hawaii. It wasn’t so that Stephanie could finally choose between Joe or Ranger. It wasn’t so that after 17 books of her screwing both of them she could finally commit to only screwing one of them. It wasn’t to finally show Stephanie as adept at her job. It was published so soon so that:

  1. Something could get blown up.
  2. Someone could break into Stephanie’s apartment
  3. Stephanie could take Grandma Mazur to a viewing at the funeral home.
  4. Stephanie’s parents could hang their heads in shame and embarrassment at the dinner table and Stephanie could brown bag leftovers.
  5. Stephanie and Lula could eat at Cluck-in-a-Bucket.
  6. Stephanie and Lula could make several unsuccessful attempts to capture a skip and be thwarted over and over again in the most humiliating ways.
  7. Stephanie could toss Rex a few hamster crunchies and have him scurry out, shove them in his cheeks and go back into his soup can.
  8. Stephanie can shamelessly sleep with both Joe AND Ranger all the while saying that she’s not going to sleep with either of them.

You know, the same thing that happened in Seventeen….and Sixteen…and Fifteen….and Fourteen…shall I keep going or do you get the picture? Here’s what happened in Eighteen: NOTHING. NOTHING NEW HAPPENED. No decisions were made, no changes in plot line or formatting, it was just copy/paste the last seventeen books and changing the type of excrement that Stephanie gets covered in. She doesn’t “pick” anyone and the ending was left just as ambiguous as it has been for 17 books. I could possibly, if I wanted to, draw some inkling that a point was scored for Team “_____” but it would be mostly wishful thinking.

Where Sizzlin’ Seventeen was hysterically funny to the point of convulsions, Eighteen was dry, dry. I actually marked the three (only three) pages that made me laugh, and only one of those was loud enough to draw attention- of course that one came from Grandma Mazur.

     “It got better after you left,” she said. “Melvin Shupe came through the line and cut the cheese right when he got up to the casket. He said he was sorry, but the widow made a big fuss over it. And then the funeral director came with air freshener, and when he sprayed it around, Louisa Belman got a asthma attack and they had to cart her out the back door to get some air. Earl Krizinski was sitting behind me, and he said he saw Louisa’s underpants when they picked her up, and he said he got a stiffy.”
     “Louisa Belman is ninety-three years old.”
     “Well, I guess to Earl underpants are underpants.”

So what the hell Janet? Seriously? If you want to continue to rake in the dough with your cash cow by reproducing the same book over and over again, I AM OK WITH THAT. I DO LOVE THE SERIES. But come on! Nothing? Nothing!? Sorry if that’s a spoiler but truth is truth.

Janet Evanovich, author of eighteen Stephanie Plum novels who I still love with all my heart but currently want to throw things at:

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The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Date: November 15th 2011

From Goodreads:

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped – and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Want, want, want, want…..going to get it this morning and will have, have, have, have. So excited you’re finally here! I loved her writing in The Replacement and this book will undoubtedly contain equal amounts of awesome.

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Today we’re chatting (and doodling) with Anna Carey, author of the new YA dystopian novel Eve. Anna was nice enough to answer a few questions about her novel, share a bit of gossip (pssst, it’s about the sequel) and donate a priceless work of art.

     Some of the events in your book touch on some really scary subjects, particularly what happens to the girls after they graduate. Did you find some of the more extreme aspects of their society difficult to write?

Parts of the book are very sad, and I found myself tearing up while writing those moments. It was hard to write the scene where Eve leaves the dugout, or the times when she’s thinking about her mother’s death. I was really on edge while writing many of the scenes that happen while she’s being chased on the road (and the one you mention–where she sees the graduates). In some ways, writing in first person made the whole experience more intense.

     I can see the influence of The Handmaid’s Tale in your story, but there’s also a little loooooove happening in the book as well. Is there a romance novel or a novel with a little romance in it that inspired you?

I haven’t read many romance novels, but I’m a lover of love stories. Anna Karenina and Romeo and Juliet both captured me (they’re actually part of the curriculum at Eve’s School). Love in the Time of Cholera and The History of Love are two of my other favorites.

     Can you tell us a bit about the sequel? That information won’t leave this blog. Promise.

The sequel is primarily set in the City of Sand–a restored city in the middle of the desert. Soon after Eve is brought there she meets the King and discovers her role in the New America. I better leave it at that–I’ve already said too much!

     I hear there’s talk of a T.V. show based on Eve. I’m sure you were ecstatic when you heard the news. Now be honest. When no one was looking…you did a really ridiculously embarrassing happy dance, didn’t you? By all means, feel free to recreate it in a stick figure drawing.

I did indeed! See stick figure reenactment below (I’m known for my very long arms).

     A large chunk of YA readers are not actually young adults. We fibbed a little bit, flashed a fake id and now we get to hang out in the teen section of the bookstore. What do you think makes YA books so appealing to ahem…those of us who are a bit more advanced in years than the age group these books are actually aimed at? I’m not referring to myself, mind you because I’m only 21. The same age I was last year.

There’s something inherently compelling about “firsts”. First love, the first time you get into a fight with a friend, the first time you experience rejection or recognize just how cruel people can be. The first time someone close to you dies. These things can feel like the end of the world. It can feel like you can’t possibly survive beyond that moment. Though I no desire to return to high school, I sometimes miss the excitement and terror of it, and I wonder if other adults do too. The character’s in YA fiction are in the throes of their ‘firsts’, oftentimes with life or death consequences. We all remember what that feels like–how can you forget?. Maybe some of us want to go back.

     Finally (because it really is the most important thing), what is your favorite Jane Austen novel?

I wish I was more out of the box on this one, but I have to go with Pride and Prejudice (Fitzwilliam Darcy, be still my heart).

You can follow Anna on Twitter, like Eve on Facebook or visit her blog!

Eve by Anna Carey

Eighteen-year-old Eve has grown up isolated from boys, and has been taught to fear them. It isn’t until the night before the graduation from her all-girls school that she discovers what really happens to new graduates. To avoid the terrifying fate that awaits her, Eve flees the only home she’s ever known, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rebellious young man living in the wild. Eve knows she shouldn’t trust him, but Caleb slowly wins her confidence and heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between life and love.

Contest Rules

*Special thanks to Alloy Entertainment for providing the prize!

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Miss Suzy

Author: Miriam Young
Publisher: Parent Magazine Press
Date: June 1964
Pages: 44
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Source: Muh heart

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about this book a lot lately. Maybe it’s because it’s almost the end of the year or Christmas is around the corner and I’m getting nostalgic or maybe I’ve just gotten old. This was -MY- children’s book when I was a wee one and I’ve never forgotten it.

It’s the story of a little squirrel who lives a very simple, happy life in the top of an oak tree. She takes care of her house, all content and satisfied in her domestication and leads what is almost an ideal little life.

“I love my house, oh, yes-sir-ee,
My own little house in my own oak tree.”

One day Miss Suzy is driven from her oak tree by a group of troublesome red squirrels. They smash her acorn cups and break her little twig broom and cause general hate and discontent. Miss Suzy runs away and seeks shelter in the attic of an old house, where she finds a beautiful dollhouse. This dollhouse is very dirty so what does our very domestic minded house-squirrel do? She cleans it!

“My, what a lovely house!” thought Miss Suzy. “It is fit for a queen. But it needs a good housekeeper, so it is just the place for me.”

The next day, Miss Suzy is exploring her new domicile when she comes across a box of toy soldiers. Lonely in her big new house, Miss Suzy invites the soldiers to stay with her. Our little Donna Reed squirrel was all too happy to cook and clean for the soldiers and care for them like a good little mother squirrel. But though her new house was very beautiful and her new friends very good company, Miss Suzy missed her little house in her oak tree. So that night, the soldiers set out to reclaim Miss Suzy’s tree.

Late that night the captain woke his men and gave them their orders. There were only five of them, but the were very brave, and their hearts were full of love.

The soldiers find the red squirrels still in residence at Miss Suzy’s house, fighting and breaking things as troublesome red squirrels are wont to do. The soldiers wave their swords and vow vengeance for Miss Suzy and the squirrels go a runnin’. Miss Suzy is able to return to her little tree house, which is understandably a mess, and she cleans it! Of course she does! And she makes the soldiers promise to come to dinner once a week. All is blissful once again at the top of the oak tree. She makes a new twig broom and new acorn cups, all the while singing as she works.

At night Miss Suzy climbed into her bed and looked through the topmost branches at the sky. She saw a million stars. And the wind blew gently and rocked her to sleep. It was very peaceful.

Now I’m older and in a house of my own. On particularly bad days I say to myself “This will be over soon, and then I can go home to Tara.” in an exaggerated southern accent (not difficult for this southerner at all) but most days, just the normal, tired ones, I go home to “my own little house in my own oak tree.”

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