Title: The Registry
Author: Shannon Stoker
Who Should Read It? Like chick lit? Into dystopian fiction? Ever thought you might want a mix of both? Then this book is DEFINITELY for you!
What I Have to Say:
The Registry is a cute story about a dystopian future in the United States. To call it cute is perhaps somewhat weird, as it takes place in a future where women are groomed uniquely to be married, then sold off to their husbands, who are allowed to do with them what they please, via a registry; where boys are given to the government as soon as they're born, then thrown out, with nothing, when they're teenagers, to try to survive a heartless world until their military service. So cute? It doesn't really sound appropriate, and yet, that's what it felt like to me. Because of Mia. A completely innocent, somewhat refreshing girl who spent her entire life dreaming of marriage, until. . .
Mia, just like nearly every other girl, was groomed to be a "perfect fit" for any husband - brainless and entirely concerned with her looks, makeup, fashion. The story is told from her point of view, and so even though it takes place in a dystopian future, and even if their are quite a few deep political undertones, everything just seems innocent and simplistic. At first, this is great, but I would have liked her, along with the other characters, to develop a little bit more as the story develops. She doesn't, and neither does Andrew, her love interest. As such, it becomes hard to believe why she thinks some of the things she supposedly thinks, why they do some of the things they supposedly do.
As characters, though, they were far-more developed than any of the others, who remained somewhat 2-dimensional (or even 1-dimensionl) throughout. While this was frustrating, it was also, in a weird way, refreshing. For one thing because it made it very clear that it doesn't take a genius to see that change needs to happen, but also because it made a somewhat intense story seem somewhat fluffy while still managing to hold tight to the message.
Overall, I liked it. It was fluffy but intense, deeply political yet innocent. Even though it takes place in the future in the United States, I sort-of felt like I was reading about North Korea, and it seems more likely that something like this story happen there than here. Though I'm not sure the author meant for it to, reading it I felt the need to become more aware of the plight of North Koreans. It was a whirlwind of excitement and action. And while there were definitely some negatives about this book, I definitely enjoyed it. And I'm definitely looking forward to the next one to come!
Summary:The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.
Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.
All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.
Cover Story: I'm going to be honest - I don't get it. That's all.
Note: I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Registry
So, I mentioned a while ago (I know, I haven't been as great at updating as I would like to be/as I promised I would be. I'm aiming for once a week, but I figure, as long as I manage at least twice a month, I'm good) that I'd joined a book club. We had our first meeting last week, and we talked about the book Naked Lunch. Amazingly, all of the girls in the club seemed to feel the EXACT same way about this book.
Title: Naked Lunch
Author:William S. Burroughs
Who Should Read This?
Honestly, no one. I genuinely can't think of a single person to whom I would recommend this. Not one. And yet, obviously there are people that enjoyed it. I don't know them, and, honestly, I can't even imagine them. If you're one of them, please tell me, WHAT about this book appealed to you?
What I Have to Say:
I can think of no way to describe this book other than "piece of trash." Normally, I would feel AWFUL about calling any book, no matter how terrible, a piece of trash. No matter what I think of it, a book is the author's life blood, their baby. And yet I have no qualms whatsoever saying just that about Naked Lunch. It's a piece of trash. And the fact that the author claims he doesn't actually even REMEMBER writing it makes me feel even less guilty about calling it such.
And honestly, all of the other girls in the book club thought so, too.
Naked Lunch SEEMS to be about a spy, though it's really hard to say, as the moments of coherency are few and far between. Written while he was on heroin, as well as a slew of other drugs, and it seems to be him TRYING to tell a story but actually spending more time describing the ludicrous and ludicrously trashy life of a drug addict who just may also be a sex addict. Sometimes, it felt like his entire purpose in writing was to shock, whether it be with the extreme descriptions of extreme sexual acts, or with what came out just by being lost on drugs. And then, every time he wrote something that actually did manage to shock, it felt like he loved himself a little bit more for it. Honestly, it felt very self-congratulatory. Like "oh, check out how AWESOME I am, I do lots of drugs and know all about the drug world!" or "Yo, check out how TOTALLY RAD I am! I have lots and lots of gay sex in ways and positions that you never even daydream about."
It literally manages to glorify something that should NOT be glorified while at the same time remaining COMPLETELY repulsive (and that's why it gets 1 1/2 stars from me and not just 1 star, because that's pretty impressive)!
Somewhere along the way, it also manages to STOP shocking. It gets to the point when you just expect next-to-non-stop "I love myself and am amazing for being able to write something that will shock you like this" "shocking" scenes about sex and drugs. And then, you're not shocked. You're just annoyed that there's still no coherency and that you can tell he's being totally self-indulgent.
Anyhow, so that's what I thought of Naked Lunch. I guess there's one thing, though - if I EVER had any thoughts of doing drugs (which I didn't), this book would have managed to turn me off. Maybe it should be mandatory reading for high schoolers. Right, well, I could go on about how much I DIDN'T like this book, but I imagine you get the point. In the mean time, if you read this book, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Summary (that I totally disagree with) (taken from Goodreads):Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.
Cover Story: I can't actually find the cover of the version I read, but it doesn't matter. Kind of like the book, I find the majority of the covers for this book totally devoid of interest.
If you've been following me for a while, you might remember Franklin's review of "Death of Kings" by Bernard Cornwell. Well, today I'm excited to be hosting Franklin as a guest blogger once again! Lyndsey from Hodder and Soughton was so kind as to send us a copy of it, and it seems like Franklin loved it, so enjoy!
Title: The Heretics
Author: Rory Clements
Who Should Read It?
This book should be read by anyone that is interested in Elizabethan politics and religious intrigue of 16th century England. Any fan of C. J. Sansom, the author of the “Shardlake” series, or Rory Clements would thoroughly enjoy the 5th installment of the Shakespeare series.
What I (Franklin) Have to Say:
“The Heretics” is the fifth book in the series by Rory Clements. The series is centered around John Shakespeare, an intelligencer in the employ of the Queen’s secret service that was established by Sir Francis Walsingham and passed to Sir Robert Cecil, and he is the brother of the famous William Shakespeare. Not only is England at war with Spain, the Protestant Church is continuing to struggle with, and attempt to extinguish the Catholic Church in England. Consequently, The Queen has to fear both an invasion from the Spanish and the constant threats against her life from staunch ardents of the Catholic faith. John Shakespeare is asked by Queen Elizabeth to find a young lady that has suffered the ritual of exorcism by priests. At the same time he has to investigate a possible threat to the Queen that is revealed in a letter that is discovered on a deceased merchant seaman. He will soon discover that the two cases are related via the Catholic Church. Throughout the book, and the series, the reader will get a glimpse at the great animosity that took place between the Protestants and the Catholics in 16th century England, very often leading to the loss of life.
In “The Heretics”, as well as in the prior four books in the Shakespeare series, Rory Clements brings to life the world of Queen Elizabeth’s 16th century England. He describes in detail the misery of being placed in jail at Newgate prison. The reader will understand the threat of being tortured in order to extract information from a suspect and then being brought to Tyburn to be hanged. Furthermore, he describes the effects that the plague had on everyone that resided in London. Not only where there constant political struggles for the throne and who will be the successor to Queen Elizabeth, but there were passionate struggles between the Protestants and Catholics.
“The Heretics” is easy to read, and the use of old English terms in the dialog and descriptions of the locations in 16th century London are interesting and piqué an interest in wanting to understand more about this time in history. This is another well done book by Rory Clements.
The Spanish make a quick raid in Cronwall, England. Are the Spanish planning an invation of England or is something else taking place? Sir Robert Cecil wants answers for the Queen. John Shakespeare is tasked with finding the answers, but his network of spies is murdered. Will he find the answers in Wisbech Castle? The playhouses of London? Newgate prison? Will Shakespeare be able to solve the mystery in time to save the Queen?
“The Heretics” – are they the Catholics or are they the Protestants? Thanks so much, Franklin! And thanks so much to Lyndsey as well, for sending the book this way! :-)
Title:A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Who Should Read it? Like books about magic? Quirky, adorable witches? Vampires and Demons? Then this book is for you; especially if you are tired of the nonstop romance that most vampire books seem to be. Don't get me wrong, this book has romance, but it's also got something that makes it feel a little more literary. It's important, though, that you don't a book with a lot of detail that takes a while to get to the point.
What I Have To Say:
Diana Bishop is not your typical witch. Born to a long line of witches, she decided to give up witchcraft at a young age, in an attempt to live a normal, magic-free life. But I guess normal is all relative, and witchcraft may be more impossible, and more dangerous, to give up than she ever thought.
I loved this book. It was like historical fiction meets magic, thus combining two of my favorite genres. The history comes from Diana herself - she is a quirky, independent, strong-willed and totally lovable character (who seems way more like a high-schooler than a full grown historian), and she has given up the life of magic to lead a totally ordinary life in academia, where she studies, of all things, alchemy. I immediately connected to her.
The book starts when Diana uncovers a book, Ashmole 782, that just so happens to be a book all the witches, demons, and vampires have been searching for for ages. How did she get her hands on it? Will she do it again? Suddenly, the library where she is working is FILLED with all sorts of magical creatures trying to figure out the answers to these questions. And of course, one of the creatures to show up is, naturally, a REALLY HOT vampire by the name of Matthew Clairmont. And, as must happen, because he is a vampire and a creature of lust, and despite Diana's natural and understandable fear of vampires, they fall immediately in love and, within 3 weeks, are wondering how they could ever be separated.
I understand that vampires supposedly have that effect on people, but I'll admit it - I'm sort of tired of reading about it. Diana is witty and charming and, most of all, INTELLIGENT, and I just can't believe that she would allow herself to be enamored so quickly. By a vampire. I know, I said I loved it, and now I'm ranting - this bit really did bother me, and I wish Harkness had managed to make this book happen WITHOUT vampires and love-at-almost-first-sight, but I also understand that it was necessary to set things up for the rest of the book.
Which was AMAZING!
Harkness uses lavish descriptions, painstaking and well-researched details, and witty conversation to move the plot along. And even though it was only her first novel, she masterfully weaved the world and idea of magic together with the world of academia and logic. It's beautiful, historical paranormal fiction, and I loved it. I'd read a lot of reviews that said some of the research and detail was overdone, but in the end, I totally disagree. I had a great time imagining all of the beautiful places, the intricate architecture she described. And I was presented with just enough information on the history of alchemy that I found myself wanting to actually research it myself.
So, the verdict - this book was amazing; I loved the detail, I loved the information on alchemy, and the only things I would change are the love story and the vampires. And I will definitely be reading the sequel just as soon as I manage to catch up on all the other books I have to read.
Summary: A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
Cover Story: Totally love it! Just looking at it makes me want to study witchcraft. :-)
So, it may SEEM like I have abandoned Brizmus Blogs Books once again, as I haven't written in an extraordinarily long time, but I am here to let you know that I have not. I've just been preparing for and then ON VACATION!
This is where I've been hanging out for the last weekish!
And while on vacation, I did LOTS of reading, so I've got some great reviews coming up for you! Reviews to expect in the weeks to come:
A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) by Debora Harkness
The Registry by Shannon Stoker
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs
Three whole books about vampires in there - I don't know how that happened. I do know, though, that I am TOTALLY vampired out. :-) The Dark Heroine, which I have ALMOST finished, might have to fight for stars, just because it was last.
In other news, I have also joined a book club, which I am SUPER excited about! I voted on the booklist for the next year today, and we should know by next week, so I'll definitely be posting about that! Yay!
Title: Something About Sophie
Author: Mary Kay McComas
Who Should Read It? Into romantic thrillers? Want a book that will keep you on edge and guessing till the end (just don't try too hard to figure things out, otherwise, you might)? This book is for you!
What I Have to Say:
Sophie is your typical small-town girl from your typical small-town. The only difference is, she's adopted. She's never really cared about her birth parents, though, so this doesn't really affect her. Until she is called to another small town by someone who claims to know something about her birth mother. But by the time she gets there, he's already dead. And that's when things get dirty...
This book was interesting in that all of the things that I liked about it were also things I didn't like. I find that often in books, characters are purposefully made to overreact to everything so that the drama can continue continue continue. And my reaction is often "NO ONE, not even a fake person, would EVER react that way." I don't like the overreactions, and I wish they would just react like a normal person. In Something About Sophie, it's almost as if the opposite is true - the drama is able to continue on in large part because the main character doesn't react. She seems perfectly at peace with herself about everything and yet bad things just keep happening. I liked this. But I also didn't like it. She was TOO at one with herself, TOO perfect, and it annoyed me sometime how she just didn't react or didn't care when it seemed like she should. It was SO the opposite of what I don't like that it ended up being equally bad.
Still, as a character, I liked her, along with all of the quirky people surrounding her. And even if SHE didn't care about her past and about why the things that were happening were happening, I cared for her.
I also enjoyed the way that the plot sometimes seemed to keep developing despite itself, if that makes sense. I had several ideas about who the culprit could be throughout (and in the end I was right), but I was never entirely sure and thus found myself dying to figure out what was going to happen! This thriller really had a thriller feel for me. Unfortunately, because of this, I was never really able to get in to the love story, which seemed totally forced and totally unreal (but then, I've never been one for books about love at first sight. I'm more into the love is a fight kind of books). It's fast and exciting with lots of twists and turns, but sometimes the twists and turns fell flat, because there seemed to be nothing provoking them.
Anyhow, all in all, I enjoyed the book, and if you're into romantic thrillers, I would definitely recommend this book. There are twists and turns all over the place, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Summary: Answering a call that summons her to a stranger's deathbed, a reluctant Sophie Shepard is too late to hear what he was so anxious to tell her. What was so important that a dying man would think of her in his final moments? With the help of Dr. Drew McCarren, Sophie begins to dig into her past, setting off a chain of events that chills the quiet town of Clearfield, Virginia to its roots. With part of her wanting nothing more than to put Clearfield behind her and run back home, Sophie knows she won't rest until she discovers the truth. But growing closer to the residents also means uncovering their dark secrets: about the woman who gave her up for adoption, the mysterious part these strangers played, and the life she never knew she nearly had. Something About Sophie is an unforgettable story about the power of love...and the things people will do, both right and wrong, to protect it
Cover Story: For a (granted very very short) little while, I was okay with books that had a headless person on the cover. Then, I became annoyed. While I do, overall, think this cover is quite lovely. . .I just wish the body had a head. I really do.
I'm so excited to be hosting an interview with Ophelia London in the blog today. I greatly enjoyed her book "Abby Road," and now I've got some super fun interview questions with some super cute answers to share with you guys. Enjoy!
Brizmus Blogs Books:Hi Ophelia! Thanks so much for joining us today here at Brizmus Blogs Books! Abby Road was a wonderful book, and I’m psyched to have had the opportunity to read it for the blog. Tell us, what gave you the idea to write about a superstar obsessed with the Beatles?
Ophelia London: Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here! I got the idea for Abby Road many years ago. I was literally sitting around one day and wondered what it would be like if I became famous overnight. Come on, we’ve all done it, right? The first thing I ever wrote for the story was a scene of Abby being “discovered” by the manager of the recording studio where she worked. It ended up getting cut, but that was the beginning of it all. And the Beatles, well, I kind of stole that from my own life. :-)
BBB: From reading Abby Road, I got the feeling that you must have had SOME kind of experience with the paparazzi yourself. Is it true or are you just an amazing writer who does her research?
Ophelia London: Well, this is kind of embarrassing, and I’m only telling you because your blog rocks! I did a little “method acting” as I wrote the book. I kind of put myself in Abby’s superstar shoes and would walk around the mall, bookstores, wherever, pretending I was a celebrity incognito. Silly, I know, but it got me into her head and what I thought she might be feeling when she would try to do something as simple as go shopping and then be pounced upon by the paparazzi.
BBB:You can choose not to answer this question if you wish, but were any of the characters based on people from your life?
Ophelia London:Oh sure, I’ll answer it. My friends and family already know that I’m constantly stealing from them. Heh-heh. The character of Molly, Abby’s best friend/personal assistant, is bits and pieces of my closest friends. Lindsey, Abby’s older sister, is kind of a combo of my older and younger sisters. I wish I knew someone exactly like Todd, however. Still looking…
BBB: I haven’t read your Playing at Love series (though I’m definitely going to!), but it looks great! Can you tell us a little bit about how writing Abby Road was different from writing Playing at Love?
Ophelia London: Oh, thank you. I hope you enjoy it! Before Playing at Love, I wrote strictly women’s fiction, and had zero experience when it came to writing category romance. I hadn’t even read much of it. I loved the idea of writing a short, romance series, so I jumped in before I knew what I was doing. Woo-boy, there are so many rules when it comes to category, but my editor was very patient with me and I learned to love writing category.
BBB: Tell us a little bit about some of your works in progress.
Ophelia London:Right now I’m working on book three of my Perfect Kisses series (Playing at Love is book one). It’s been a blast. I’ve also got another women’s fiction going through submission and I’m even trying my hand at New Adult. I have a lot of irons in the fire!
BBB: Quick answers:
Favorite Band: The Beatles and McFly (I had to give you two, but they’re both British with 4 guys, so it’s okay!)
Literary Idol: Jane Austen
Favorite Music to Listen to while Writing: my book’s playlist or classical
Favorite place you’ve traveled: The Lake District in England
Favorite food to eat while writing: Trader Joe’s Powerberries
Favorite Book: “Pride and Prejudice”
BBB: I loved reading your “40 things to do before I turn 40” list on your blog. Can you tell us a bit more about that? It seems like you accomplished everything! Was there anything you were afraid you wouldn’t accomplish?
Ophelia London: About halfway through my 39th year, I decided that I wanted to really celebrate my 40th birthday—on a personal level. I started making a list on napkins and the backs of candy bar wrappers, but when the list started taking shape, I knew I needed to make it official, so I put it up on my blog and told everyone about it. I needed some serious accountability! “Teaching a class” was probably the one I dreaded the most. I mean, who LOVES to public speak? Not this girl! Funnily enough, I get the most comments about the “Letting my hairdresser to whatever she wants” one. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I have such trust in my hair lady that I just sat back, sipped my Diet Coke, and let her have at it.
BBB: To continue with questions about the list – why’d you cross out “Go out on a date with a 25 year old one last time”? That sounds like fun!
Ophelia London: It does sound fun, doesn’t it? One of the interesting things I learned about myself while working on this list is what things are really important. When I started working on my list, hardcore, I decided that I didn’t want to be all cougar-y—as fun as that does sound!—yet I’d been meaning to start a serious recycling program at home. So…there ya go! Priorities!
BBB: Have you ever thought about branching out and writing something other than chick lit?
Ophelia London:Absolutely! I would love to write YA, maybe even some suspense, and like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a little New Adult going on, too.
BBB: Now to finish – thank you SO much for joining us here today at Brizmus Blogs Books. It’s been a pleasure hosting you in the blog! To end, is there any question you’d like to be asked but never are?
Ophelia London: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a pleasure! And yes, I don’t understand why no one has asked me why—since I look so much like Jennifer Anniston—that Brad Pitt and I aren’t together. It’s a puzzlement, right?
Well, that was fun, and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did! Now, one question I wish I'd asked her that I didn't - what was her playlist for Abby Road? Was it entirely Beatles songs? I'd be curious to know! Another question I forgot to ask, she luckily answered in her own blog (check it out!) yesterday. When asked who she would get to play Abby, she picked Mandy Moore. I love it!
If you haven't already, don't forget to check out my review of Abby Road!