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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

"Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world."-GoodReads.

Hardcover417 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers 

  I had not seen much on The Emerald Atlas so it was not really on my radar of books to pick up. It was really only by chance that I got it. A bookstore in a small town not far from where I live was going out of business and running some sales so while I was there with my mom we decided to go in and take a look. There was not a lot to choose from anymore, so it stood out on the table from the rest of the books. When I picked it up and started reading the synopsis I remembered one rave review for it. For the life of me I cannot remember who wrote the review, I just know that it said the book was great.
 So after reading the first couple of pages in the store I knew I had to read the rest. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of reading another book at the time and could not start this one right away. Which was bad for the other book I was reading because I could barely pay attention to it anymore. I wanted more of the world that I was introduced to on the first pages of The Emerald Atlas. When I finally did get to start reading it again, I was nervous, it being a middle grade book and me not having read a middle grade in years. I was a bit worried that it was going to read like a little kids book. It did no such thing.

The whole time I was reading I kept thinking how much I loved the writing. It just flowed so perfectly and the characters and world building were fantastic. What I loved most about the characters is you could really get a sense of how different they were from each other. Even the siblings. A lot of books I have read with siblings tell you they are complete opposites but you never really get to see their differences. This book does not just tell you, it shows you. Which, the three of them are very different and that brought such life to the pages.
After reading one of the chapters I flipped to the back of the book to read the blurb about the author. His writing was too good and I wanted to know if he had any other books out. That is when I found out why I loved the writing so much. John Stephens was a writer for Gilmore Girls! Which happens to be one of my favorite shows. 

The book opens up right at the beginning of the action and it doesn't stop until the end. Something is always going on and it kept me in the story until I turned the last page.
While I enjoyed the entire book and all of the story lines, I was definitely partial to Emma and Gabriel's story. It was just so sweet, and Emma is a little firecracker.
There are a couple places where you need to make sure you are paying attention to what is happening or you will get lost in the next few pages and have to go back and re-read them.

Again, this book did not read like a child's book. It spared no detail of the tragedies of life that even young children can go through. Some of the scenes could be considered a little gruesome, but for me, it added realism to the story. That just because they were kids did not mean they were not going to see or be exposed to bad things happening.

Do not, I repeat, do NOT let the fact that this is a middle grade title steer you away from reading it. Even though this was the first book that I read this year and I know there are going to be many more books read in 2012, I feel it is safe to say that it is already one of my favorites and will be on the top of my list when this year comes to an end. If you love fantasy and worlds within our world you should pick The Emerald Atlas up. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Born Wicked Trailer.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, which releases Feb. 7th, is a historical fantasy about a girl and her sisters, who all happen to be witches. This is a book I am dying to get my hands on. 
When I first saw the beyond beautiful cover it had me drooling and then after reading the synopsis it had me craving to know more.
And then the book trailer was released. Let me tell you, it is great.
I could not find it on youtube, so I will just link it.

Now I am even more eager for February to get here!

Check it out and then let me know what you think of it!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dark Parties by Sara Grant

"Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...
Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most."-GoodReads.
Hardcover320 pages
Published August 3rd 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley

I have always had a bit of a fear or being stuck in one place forever, never being able to see anything other than one place for my entire life. Reading Dark Parties gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to be forced to stay in one place. To be stuck under a dome, never knowing what was on the other side. Honestly, the whole book made me feel claustrophobic. But I'm lucky because I have the choice to leave though, to go new places. Neva doesn't. She is stuck under the Protectosphere with the need to be free and an incredible case of wanderlust, but not being able to satiate it. So she does what pretty much every teenager has done, she rebels a little bit.
Well, she thinks it is just a little thing. But that little thing, that little spark, ignites into a wildfire that changes Neva's life forever. 

Instead of the world growing, it feels like it keeps getting smaller as the story progresses...and I mean this in a good way. It made the story feel very intricate and definitely more intense at times. Things that may not have seemed like they would connect would in fact be connected to each other, making it a 'smaller world'. 

Neva was a great character. The book starts with a makeout scene, which I will admit, I rolled my eyes at. I did not care enough about the characters at that point to want to 'see' them making out...but, for me, it ended up being a really good opening to the story. It really puts you in Neva's mind right away. What she thinks, who she is, what she's scared of. The beginning grew on me as the story went on.

I really had no idea what to expect when I decided to read Dark Parties. I certainly did not expect it to be so...dark (though the title should have really given me a clue, right?). It was though. Dark and gritty.
Some of the scenes felt a bit choppy, but over all it was a great read.
After getting attached to characters just to have them be ripped away or betray Neva (which left me feeling betrayed), I was emotionally drained. Seriously, I walked around in a weird mood mumbling to myself that I couldn't believe how the book had ended and that there better be a sequel so that all the wrongs could be set right. That I could not be left with an ending like that.

Dark Parties is more than just a fantastic dystopian, it is also a great thriller and chock full of suspense. So if you like any of those three things, pick up a copy for yourself.