Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter

I'm not gonna lie, I was disappointed when I learned that the book was told from Frosty and Milla's point of view. It really got my hopes up since the letter in the beginning was from Ali. But I knew that Frosty was going to be a depressed asshole, and despite Milla's betrayal, she didn't play a big enough role for me to care what was going on with her. So kudos to Gena Showalter for making me fall in love with characters I couldn't care less about! A Mad Zombie Party definitely holds its own with the other books and it was a wonderful finish, although there is totally an opening for another book and if Gena wants to continue the series, I back her 100%!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

More Than One Exit Door

It's been a little bit since Kat's tragic death and Frosty isn't handling it well. He spends his evenings drinking and then seducing the girl who looks the most like Kat, and bails when the deed is done. Milla has spent the time hunting zombies on her own because that's all she knows how to do, and she hopes that she can somehow make her way back into River's good graces. But their paths are forced to align when Kat, now a witness, tells Frosty that if he helps his friends in the race to cure zombies and keep Milla with him at all times, she will visit him one hour a day. This is no easy feat, as Frosty considers Milla Kat's killer.

(Source: Giphy)
However, over the weeks, the two form a routine that becomes natural, even though it's not the most talkative of relationships. Kat visits Frosty every day and encourages him to find someone new; Milla is perfectly fine with the strained relationship because she hopes that she will be able to begin to atone for her misgivings; and Frosty begins to find himself wanting Kat less and Milla more.

"I nod a greeting at Kat, like I do with all my friends, and for once, there's no desire to do more. No desire to close the distance and draw her into my arms. No desire to hug and kiss her or whisper inappropriate things in her ear." (p. 267)

"I drop the clothes as my gaze slides down...down, my mind willing the curtain to fall. I want to see more of her. Want to see all of her." (p. 271)

(Source: Giphy)
Through a series of events, including nightmares, visions, and Anima attacks, the two learn each others deep dark secrets, and begin to soften towards the other, leading to a sexual tension that makes Ali and Cole's sexual tension pale in comparison. But nothing is ever easy in Zombieland. Kat and Ali are clearly hiding something from Frosty and Milla, and when they learn that Rebecca Smith, the lead woman of Anima, has her memories back and is gunning for the slayers again.

Off With Their Heads!
  • I love that we learn more about witnesses and what happens after we die. A witness can date, get married, have a life, check in on loved ones, and when they're ready, they can pass to the great beyond. Their pain and suffering has been removed. But they're called witnesses for a reason. The go to trial, they petition the court, all that legal stuff. I still wish I knew more about it, but you learn a great deal about it in Zombie Party and that is something I've wanted since Emma told Ali she was a witness in Zombieland
  • Frosty is going to break your heart. He misses Kat and he is not coping well with her death.
"After a few shots of whiskey, I'm able to pretend the firl I'm with is my sweet little Kitty Kat, and I'm touching her again and she's loving it, begging me for more, and everything will be okay, because we'll be together forever...The morning will actually arrive, and I'll realize she won't be doing any of those things because she's dead, and I'm the puss who couldn't save her. A fact that still haunts me. But I deserve to be haunted. I deserve to be punished." (p. 18)
  • Milla's back story is also going to break your heart. Get ready for the most heart wrenching childhood story since Oliver Twist.
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  • Frosty and Milla trying to pretend they don't care about each other is adorable. Everyone can see the chemistry, even Kat, but they pretend to be blind to it because there is no way the other one has the same feelings.
  • I feel like everyone was kinda an idiot for letting Rebecca go at the end of Zombie Hearts. Ali got her memory back, what would stop her from getting her memories back. And her father was the original man in control of Anima, so she's going to have people and she's going to have resources. They were being naive, no matter what they say about killing her last time would have been just as bad as Anima.
"Rebecca Smith. A woman I hate with every fiber of my being. The former leader of Anima, and a bitch of the highest order.
Four months ago, we had her in our possession. Had I made the call, she would have left us in a body bag...
She's the one who orchestrated Kat's death.
Ali used her slayer ability to conceal Ms. Smith's memory, essentially making the woman's mind a blank slate...Someone much have helped Ms. Smith. And she mush have hidden some resources we know nothing about." (p. 266)
  • It was nice seeing Ali and Cole from another point of view.
  • Everything is tied up in a nice, pretty bow in the end! Kind of.
"Anyway. I"ll get to spend real time with River soon enough. I'll get to spend time with all the slayers. You know they won't live forever, right? You heard what Frosty once said: death is hereditary. An-e-way. I know my friends will be surprised to find out what, exactly, happens up here. Like, we seriously have our own war going on. I've had to learn to fight, and yeah, you guessed it, I'm pretty amazing at it. Probably the best ever. If probably is the new word for definitely. When you got it, you got it. Now use denying it. An-n-nd speak of the war, I'm being summoned for a court appearance. Time for another battle (for me to win)! (p. 424)

(Source: Giphy)

I was really happy with this book, despite originally not wanting to hear about Frosty and Milla. After finishing it, I don't think I would have wanted another book from Ali's POV; it was time for a change.

I know there is a digital novella that tells the 4 books from Kat's POV, however, I want new story, not a repeat, and I think the ending definitely set up more books if Showalter wanted, and I would read them the second they became available to me.

(Source: Giphy)
Overall, the White Rabbit Chronicles was a brilliant series, and with its variety of genres, it's great for people who like the supernatural, retellings, zombies, and a little bit of romance.

Rating: 9/10
Genres: Young Adult, Zombie, Retelling, Supernatural, Fantasy

Oh, and if you noticed the Matthew Gray Gubler theme, bonus points for you. The first two were just happenstance, but by the 4th one, I decided to just lean into it.

(Source: Giphy)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

Ugh, I don't know how much longer I can stand the emotional turmoil! I think this one is the worst! But of course, the book is still magnificent, even though Gena Showalter had my heart in a vice grip until the last page. From the beginning, there is nothing but action, which was a nice change of pace from the last one; way less couple drama. Seriously, y'all need to read this series. You'll thank me later.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
What a Tangled Web We Weave

So, it's a month after the events of Zombie Glass and everything has returned to normal. Ali is finishing up a night of protecting the town and decides to sneak over to Cole's because they have had absolutely zero alone time together. While things are getting hot and heavy, they hear gunfire right outside of Cole's house. Cole is shot in the chest, but the gunfire continues as Ali, Cole, and Mr. Holand try to make it to safety. Anima has attacked the homes of all of the slayers, leaving 3 dead, 2 MIA, and several others injured. The news is saying that the attacks were the result of gang violence between Cole Holland and River Marks, another slayer group that doesn't work for Anima, but also doesn't play by the same rules as Cole's slayers.

(Source: Giphy)
With Cole out of commission due to injuries, Ali goes on a mission to find as many other slayers as possible. Slowly but surely, the team is slowly found, most alive, but some dead. As they all try to gather their bearings through recovery, Ali learns that she can use her fire to heal the slayers more quickly. While they were hesitant at first, they soon accept it, not just to heal cuts and bruises, but to heal zombie bites as well. Ali and Cole meet up River and his team to discuss a potential camaraderie to attack Anima, who has badly damaged each group. The partnership is essential, however Milla, River's sister, seems to hate Ali for no reason.

But the part that is most troubling is that a witness named Helen keeps appearing to Ali and feeding her information about Anima and about Ali's gifts, and when Cole learns of this, he forbids Ali to speak to her again, and other slayers seem to agree with Cole. What Ali ends up discovering is not only going to change the future, but it will alter the past in a way no one can predict; however, these secrets help Ali take down Anima once and for all, as long as there isn't a traitor in their midst.

(Source: Giphy)
When Everyone Deceives

  • An alternative title for this book could have also been "Ali, Everyone Has Lied to You Your Entire Life but You'll Just Have to Deal with It," but that is a little long. So pretty much, Ali's mom isn't her mom; her parents knew a lot more about the slayer world than they ever let on; and when the new girl doesn't like you for no reason, it's okay to assume somethings up because she's probably just trying to use you as bait and hand you over to the bad guys to save her brother. Lots of lying, few good reason too. 
    • I kinda assumed early on the Helen was something more to Ali; you know, context clues, pale blonde hair and striking blue eyes that match yours exactly is kind of a giveaway that there's definitely more of a connection.
"There! A fall of wheat-colored hair surrounded a pale face. For a second, only a second, light blue eyes met mine, before the woman-somehow familiar, though I was certain I'd never met her-turned away from me and disappeared into the foliage." (p. 109)
    • I didn't know that Milla was going to betray the group, but I never liked her, and I hadn't spent multiple books falling in love with a character, so it was all good when River banned her from the group and his life. 
  • Spoiler: Kat dies and it's not because of her kidney's and your heart is going to break millions of times for Frosty. Making it all worse is the fact that she didn't have to die; Anima was coming for Ali and yet they bombed the whole house and then gunned everyone down. Have a few tissues handy.
"But I was too late. The bullets too fast.
"One embedded in Frosty's thigh-the other in Kat's shoulder.
"He fell, twisting midway to take the brunt of impact. Kat rolled from his arm. She stopped several yards away from me. He stood, desperate to reach her, but he took a bullet to the chest and flew backwards.
"On my hands and knees, I scrambled to my best friend. Her eyes were closed. Dirt smeared her cheeks. 'Come on. Come on! Mad Dog, you have to listen to me.' I tore off my shirt, didn't care that I was left in my bra, and wrapped her bleeding shoulder. I trembled as I felt for a pulse.
"The injured Frosty batted his hands away and crawled to Kat. My Kat, who still stared at nothing. He gently lifted her into his arms and settled her on his lap.
"He croaked, 'Kitten. Talk to me.' He kissed her forehead, his tears dripping onto her face. If this had been a fairy tale, she would have healed then and there, true love awakening her. But it wasn't, and she didn't." (pp. 385-386)

(Source: Giphy)
  • The action starts pretty much right away and thank goodness! After all the Ali/Cole drama from the last book, I needed some action to get out all of my pent up aggression. And Gena Showalter does not disappoint!
  • Cole and Ali finally have sex! The sexual tension has literally been there since they first laid eyes on each other. It was decent. Ali seemed pleased. 
(Source: Giphy)

So I've decided: I want to be a slayer. I've always loved Hogwarts, but pushing my spirit out of my body and conjuring fire and being able to wipe people's memories without worrying that I got the spell wrong is pretty awesome! I mean, I would take either, but if given the choice, slayer.

A lot happens in the book and at points, it felt like there were too many things going on, but overall, I really enjoyed the book; not as much as the first, but more than the second. I'm still really glad I discovered this series and I'm mentally scolding myself for the millions of times I picked it up at a store and decided against it.

Rating: 9/10
Genres: Young Adult, Zombies, Paranormal, Fantasy, Retellings

Monday, December 12, 2016

Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter

The sequel to Alice in Zombieland had me a little frustrated, I'm not going to lie. The plot was really good...when it wasn't being drown out by the Ali-Cole drama. It felt a little New Moon-ish to me. And the sexual tension in this book, ugh, just shoot me now. But when you get past that, it really was a good book and I'm excited to see what happens next.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
Falling Through the Zombie Hole

Through the Zombie Glass starts out with Ali recovering from Cole accidentally slashing through her, and despite Cole's attention, something is off with him. We meet two new Slayers, Gavin and Veronica, and their presence automatically causes issues between Ali and Cole, especially after Ali learns that Ronny is Cole's "favorite ex," or at least that's what she's dubbed herself.

"A muscle ticked in Cole's jaw. 'Veronica, meet Ali. Ali, Veronica. She's one of the slayers from Atlanta...'
'Veronica is another of Cole's exes,' Mackenzie piped up.
Oh, good flory, no!
'Not just any ex,' Veronica added, offering me a grin as sweet as her voice. 'I'm his favorite.'" (p. 45)

During a zombie attack, Justin is bitten by a zombie and is overcome with the urge to bite Ali. While Justin recovers from this, Ali isn't so lucky. She is now two people: Normal Ali and Zombie Ali, and it will be a war that will tear Cole and Ali apart for good. Or at least, it should. They get into a huge fight, say hurtful things, "break up," but never really stop wanting the other. It doesn't help that Gavin and Ali have visions of making out and Ali and Cole haven't had a vision in quite some time. While all of this is going on, Anima is still looking for Ali.

During their time apart, Cole suspects one of their own to be a spy, and he spends his time questioning, following, and being very rude to the other Slayers. The other Slayers plead with Ali to talk to Cole, but she is hesitant, partially because she can't control her wants around him, but also because Zombie Ali doesn't want to control her needs around him.

(Source: Giphy)
In a climatic battle, the Slayers battle Anima and zombies to make them pay for the torture and horror they have put their family through, and the spy was found out to be someone who didn't even know what they were doing. But the final battle is between Normal Ali and Zombie Ali, and the fight just might kill her.

A Very unMerry Read

  • The Ali-Cole drama was never ending. Not a chapter went by where they didn't fight, yell, say horrible things to each other, kiss, make out, almost go all the way, and then fight again. I'd say it's a really unhealthy relationship, except you know they're both acting the way they are because they are scared of permanently losing each other. Nonetheless though, it's annoying. I was constantly mentally yelling at them to just grow up and realize they're being idiots.
(Source: Giphy)
  • Normal Ali vs. Zombie Ali was interesting, but I wished it had been played up more. I feel like Ali was playing dumb with herself for a little bit. I mean, how many urges can someone have before they realize "Oh, the want to eat my friends isn't normal, I should do something about this." I will give her this though, she keeps stuff to herself a little bit, but she always fesses up pretty quickly about what is going on and realizes she needs help. 
  • The Dr. Bendari plot should have either been played out more, or not at all. It felt pointless. I get that he was hiding from Anima, but he was there, and then he wasn't and you'd forget about him, and then the first time he and Ali get together, he's killed. And why would his driver take him down an abandoned road if he knows there's a chance they'd be followed. 
  • Jaclyn's story felt added in at the last minute. She was only of use when trying to escape Anima, and then we're told she goes into a deep depression once they break free. Ali vows to draw her back into the world, so hopefully that'll play out more in the next books. 
  • My ability to deduce the bad guy came back for this book. The second Reeve mentioned she had a new boyfriend, my Spidey senses tingled. I mean, hot guys don't just fall from the sky and immediately fall in love with you and want to know everything about you and your friends. And I don't blame Cole, because he wasn't besties with Reeve, but Ali should have known. But she was too busy being jealous of the new/old girl to see what was right in front of her.
"Bronx growled low in his throat, a feral sound. He stalked forward, as if he planned to attack the guy, but crashed into a tree and ricocheted backward. He cam up sputtering.
'Blood Lines.' He looked left, right. 'The guy has Blood Lines.'
So...the guy knew about the zombies. And yet he couldn't see them. Otherwise he would have seen us. And if he'd seen us, he would have reacted. 
Ethan ushered Reeve into the house. Bronx trailed close to their heels, but the door closed before he could sweep inside, and once again ricocheted backward." (pp. 183-184)
  • I really love that there are a couple things going on throughout the story. Showalter doesn't spend the entire book trying to play out one plot, there's a couple going on, and when one is solved, another couple pop up to be solved. You have Ali vs Cole, Normal Ali vs Zombie Ali, Ali vs the Slayers, Kat vs. Frosty, Cole vs. the spy, Reeve and Ethan vs Bronx, the adults vs Ali, the Slayers vs Anima. I'm sure there are more. But there is always something to keep the story going.
It may sound like I didn't enjoy the book, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Zombieland, but it really was a wonderful book. It sets up a lot for the next two books. The relationship drama doesn't do much for me (I really don't need to be reminded of my teenage years), but there is enough going on that I can look past it to see the whole book. And what I really respect is that it isn't an abusive relationship. Like, not just physically, but emotionally. Ali and Cole don't guilt each other about walking away, seeing other people, etc. Neither of them likes it, but they acknowledge that they need this time apart, or at least once they realize that they didn't know each other well enough the first time. You watch them learn to completely trust the other, and anyone who has had a successful relationship knows that trust is the most important thing, because without it, you don't have anything else.
(Source: Giphy)
No Trust
(Source: Giphy)
I really love Nana. She is just the sweetest, most caring grandmother in literature history. She doesn't fully understand Ali's lifestyle, and she never really will, but she loves Ali. And Ali really loves her. They are the only family they have left, and although the Slayers and Co have completely embraced them, blood family is a little different, especially when you've lost the rest of the family in such horrific ways.

"I stepped inside-only to gasp. She had decorated my room with everything she knew I'd love. The furnishing were a dark cherrywood and polished to a glossy shine. Wispy white curtains covered my window, and a framed picture of Emma and me hung on the wall. She was in front of me, wrapped in my arms, and we were both smiling our biggest smiles.
"There was a note taped to the border.

"Angels must have held this photo in their hands, because that's the only way it could have survived the bomb. I had it framed weeks ago, but want to wait to give it to  you at Christmas. This seemed like a better time.
Love, Nana" (p. 286)

I think what I really love about this series is that it really breaks down relationships and shows you the nitty gritty parts that aren't beautiful. And I don't just mean romantic relationships. Friendship and family bonds are just as prevalent in the story, just as they are in life, and you can see how each function, and how a persons actions have reactions, and that you need to carve out time for those who really matter to you and not take that time for granted. Living in the real world where zombies can't take out our loved ones on any given night, it's easy to forget how much someone means to us, but you need to know who your people are and treat them right.

(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 8/10
Genres: Paranormal, Zombies, Young Adult, Fantasy

Friday, December 9, 2016

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

So I was 97% sure that I wasn't going to like this series, but I'm on an Alice kick after reading Heartless, so I figured it would quench my needs. Zombies aren't really my thing. The only other zombie series I read was The Walking Dead graphic novels, and I only read like the first 5 or 6 before moving on. Don't get me wrong, I love the show, and I love zombie movies, but book wise, it's never been my cup of tea. And then there was Alice in Zombieland and everything changed! I am proud to say that I was wrong. I was so wrong, that when I finished the first book, I didn't stop and write this review and then start the second one, I just plowed right through. But I made myself stop before I got too far into it and started confusing details. But this is probably gonna be quick, so I can go back to it because I'm already having separation anxiety.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice Bell is your average 16 year old girl. She has two parents and a little sister, Emma, whom she loves more than anyone or thing else in the world. But for as average as Alice is, her life is not. Her dad is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crazy. He believes there are monsters that prowl the night and kill, so no one is allowed out of the house that he has reinforced once the sun has gone down. But tonight is Alice's birthday, and she wants nothing more than to go to Emma's ballet recital and watch her preform. So after guilting her mother in the worst way possible, and bending her fathers will, they leave the house despite the falling sun to go to the recital. It is the most magical night in the world. Until they're in a car accident that claims the lives of both her parents and sister. And as much as Alice tries to tell herself that it was rabid dogs she saw tearing into her parents, she knows in the back of her head that it was the monsters her dad always feared. 

(Source: Giphy)
Now refusing to go by Alice, Ali starts at a new school and is living with her grandparents. She immediately makes friends with Kat, and a group of her friends. But the person Ali can't ignore is bad boy Cole Holland; partially because every time they look at each other, they have extremely visions of passionately making out. Soon enough, she is under Cole's spell, and he hers, as she learns that her dad never really was crazy, but did in fact know of the monsters the creep in the shadows; and Cole and his band of misfits fight them. And Ali possesses the same fighting abilities. 

As Ali navigates life without her family, a new high school, a boy she just can't put her finger on, and the fact that her father had been right all along, she leans on Kat & Co. along with Cole to figure everything out, especially why it seems that the zombies are hunting her specifically and why Emma's ghost keeps appearing to her with warnings. And what's up with the rabbit shaped cloud she keeps spotting in the sky? The same rabbit cloud that was in the sky her family was tragically killed because she wanted to go out after dark.

(Source: Giphy)
A Lot More Than Six Impossible Things were Thought
  • So the biggest praise I have is for Gena Showalter creating a zombie plot line that I haven't seen played out 68 million times before! Zombies in Alice are nothing like zombies in any hit TV show or popular movie. Zombies are in the spirit realm. People like Cole are called slayers, and they can separate their body and spirit and fight the zombies in the spirit realm, where Average Joe's can't see them. I love when a book surprises me, and this book did just that. I have read so many variations of the same plot that this book is a breath of fresh air.
(Source: Giphy)
  • When I finish this series, I'm going to need to find some book that doesn't tear my heart out into a million pieces, because the last million books I've read have done that. I relate Ali losing Emma to me losing my nieces. When Ali realized Emma was dead and refused to even think her name, I was a mess. When Emma reappears as a Witness, I cried with joy. When Ali had to kill her zombie dad in the end, oh Stars! I had to stop for a moment and get myself together again. I love when books pull the emotion out of me, but if I keep reading stuff like this, I'm not going to have any more emotion to give.
(Source: Giphy)
  • Bad boys is another theme lately. Every book I've read has had one, although I had no emotion for the one in The Female of the Species. But damn! Cole and his merry men would have definitely had my attention in high school. They're all 17 or older, so I'm allowed to say that. And to quote Gail from Pitch Perfect...
(Source: Google Images)
  • Ali's grandparents are the cutest people in the entire world. Firstly because of their attempt to use slang. I would watch a TV show of elderly using the slang of the 21st century. Secondly, they love Ali so much. In fact, they love her so much that the two boys Ali brings home is questioned to the nth degree about what their future plans are, drinking and driving, and my personal favorite "When a girl says no, she means...?" This is why I love that I have one niece of dating age so I can ask similar embarrassing questions. I could take notes from these people.
  • While the references aren't in your face, there are nods to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Most of them are in the chapter titles, but there are others. You have Kat who has a Cheshire-like grin; with all of the baseball caps Cole wears, he makes a fine Mad Hatter; there's the nightclub, Hearts; and the Principal, Dr. Wright, is definitely the Queen of Hearts.
(Source: Giphy)
Honestly, it's books like this that make me love reading. The mystery and adventure and ever guessing. It takes me back to being 10 and discovering that it was in fact Professor Quirell who was evil, and not Professor Snape. It's rare that I have that gut-wrenching betrayal when I read books now. I use my context clues and figure everything out a few chapters in. However, this book did not do that. Like JK Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer and Yelena Lugin, Gena Showalter has created a world that I want to know everything about and characters that I love, despite their fictional status.

Rating: 10/10
Genres: Young Adult, Zombies, Fantasy, Paranormal

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

So I have a lot of mixed feeling about this book. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and most of the themes were spot on. But one of the main characters, Alex, she just kinda scares me. And I feel like the ending doesn't do her justice. I wanted more for her, and I'm sad she didn't get it. There will be spoilers after this point, so read with caution.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
A Little Background

The Female of the Species focuses around three alternating points of view: Alex, Peekay, and Jack. Alex is the sister of the dead girl, Anna. That is how everyone refers to her in the beginning of the book. Peekay is the Preachers Kid, P K, ya get it? The kids that thought one up didn't stretch their imaginations too far for that one. And Jack is the guy every guy wants to be, and the guy every girl wants to be with. He's the star of every sport, attractive, smart, funny, what have you. Although Peekay and Jack were already in a similar group of friends, Alex wasn't friends with anyone; she went through her daily motions without talking to anyone, or doing anything special: school, shelter, home. That is until Alex and Jack learn that they are both neck in neck for Valedictorian and Peekay and Alex are both volunteering at the animal shelter for one of their classes. 

Relationships form between Alex and Jack, and you see a new Alex emerging, as well as a more mature Jack. And the friendship between Alex and Peekay becomes as strong as possible when Alex saves her from being date raped at a party. 

But Alex has a dark secret: she killed the man that raped and murdered her sister. She does not regret it either. Alex is the scariest form of a vigilante in that she does not think, she just reacts, and her reactions are deadly. And by the end of the book, that man is not her only victim. When Jack learns of Alex's threatening past, he cannot handle it and returns to the arms of Branley, his longtime on-again-off-again girlfriend/friend with benefits/best friend. 

However, he cannot deny his feelings for Alex, even though there are parts of her that scare and worry him. The two reconcile and plan their lives together, until everything comes crashing down one final time.

A Little Sweet, a Little Salty, All Scary True

  • So the thing that really gets me with this book is how scary Alex is. I mean, I like her when she begins to open up, but I have a feeling that no matter what, I'd cross the street if our paths crossed. She is deadly, literally, and she does not hide it from the reader. Her first words to the reader are "This is how I kill someone." (p. 1) From there on, I was scared of a fictional character. There were points where I even questioned if I should keep reading; but I loved the parts told by PeeKay and Jack, so I pushed through.
(Source: Giphy)
  • As much as Alex scares me, she's real. She tells everyone exactly what she's thinking. She chooses words carefully, but does not cherry coat anything. There were many times where I thought "Man, this girl needs to write a philosophy book, she knows what's up." 
"Venting your primal self in an emotional moment can be more than your socially constructed self can handle after the fact..." (p. 99)

"Ray Parsons, you have no soul,' she says, her voice gaining volume as she speaks. 'You are a bag of skin. You are a pile of bones. Every cell that has ever split inside of you was a waste of energy. Where you walk you leave a vacuum. Your existence should cease." (p. 142)

"I didn't have anything for a long time,' she says. 'All I knew was my house and school. There was a path in between the two I never left, like a sleepwalker. You woke me up, Claire. Pushed me off it and made me see other paths, other people. Do you realize I wouldn't even be going to college if it wasn't for you?...College won't change anything between us, Claire,' she says. 'The kind of friendship we have doesn't just stop." (pp. 312-314)

  • I really loved Jack with Alex. How he realized that there is more to a relationship than just sex; that when a relationship becomes comfortable, it doesn't mean it's over, it's just beginning; that there is that one person that just lights up everything around you even though you didn't realize you were in the dark. And I love how he knows that when he is briefly with Branley again, he can tell the difference between their physical love and the internal love he had with Alex. And I love that the last thing he wanted to tell her was that he wasn't with Branley, that he couldn't do that to her, and she says she knows because he's a good guy.
(Source: Giphy)
  • This book is not for the faint of heart. This book is raw and unfiltered, and I don't just mean the language. Some of the big themes in this book are murder, rape, consent, and instinct. A police officer, during an assembly, tells the students that 1 of the 5 girls in the front row will be raped, and when a guy says that he hopes it's Branley, the cop responds that 1 in 6 of the guys will be the one to do it. He does not sugar coat a thing. Peekay is roofied and almost date raped. Alex's sister was raped, and not just with the usual thing, but with random objects when the guy got bored. Then she was murdered and found in pieces. The last few chapters are probably the most horrifying. Attempted rape, fights, a gun shot, and Alex ending up dead (and Mindy McGinnis does not skimp on the details). However, through all of these different terrifying acts, more and more people realize it's not okay to make rape jokes, or call someone a slut. Yes, it happened because something worse happened, but they learned.
I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this book. All I knew about it was that it was about a girl who's sister was killed. I figured it would be some happy fluff novel, sprinkled with feminism. Happy and fluff are two words I would never use to describe this book. Although there are happy fluffy moments, the knowledge the reader is given about Alex's past early on makes it hard to enjoy the happy moments. You know what's she's capable of, and she was only a freshman then. She had no problem ripping out Ray's earring, along with a chunk of his nose and ear, when he was attempting to rape Peekay. And although she felt remorse about killing Sarah's uncle, a child molester, she had not guilt in the fact that another horrible person was no longer around. 

I really wish she hadn't died though. She probably would have spent the rest of her life in prison, but now Jack is alone and brokenhearted; and Peekay is regretful; if she had reported Ray the first time, he would not have shown up the Church (an old stone church where high school kids hang out, drink, screw, etc) and attempted to rape Branley while Jack was being restrained and forced to watch, which would mean that Alex wouldn't have gone in there, grabbed Ray's shotgun and shot him, and then Ray's friend wouldn't have pummeled her into the rocks, killing her. Two recent high school graduates should not have to go through that. Alex should not have died.

In the end though, I don't know how I feel. This book has left me a mess of emotions: sadness, hatred, hope...and a little broken.

Rating: 7/10
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller

Because I don't want to end on a downer, here's a bunch of cute animals!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer did it again! Heartless is brilliant! I love how Meyer re-imagines these worlds I grew up loving and end up loving all over again. I definitely had a book hangover when I finished The Lunar Chronicles, and I wish there was going to be more to Heartless, but I'll take what I can get!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
A Brief Review

Heartless is the story of what happened before Alice fell through the rabbit hole. Lady Catherine Pinkerton, or Cath, is our leading lady who dreams of being a baker, but ends up in a courtship with the King, who is sort of a bumbling fool but loves the delicious treats Cath brings him. During the Black and White Ball, the kings new court joker, Jest, makes his debut appearance and awes the crowd and captures the attention of Cath. When Cath fears the King is about to announce their engagement, which she did not know of, Cath fleas the party and runs right into Jest. The chemistry between the two is electrifying. Cath leaves the ball feeling as if she if floating on air. However, after she has left, the rest of the party goers are attacked by the Jabberwock, a beast that hasn't been seen in many lifetimes.

(Source: Google Images)
Through different encounters, Jest and Cath fall for each other, however, he becomes very insistent that she must marry the King, even though he tells her how jealous he is when it comes to the courtship between Cath and the King. Throughout the story, we meet a lot of Wonderland's well known characters. The hookah-smoking Caterpillar is a cobbler; the White Rabbit is the trumpeter for the King; and the Mad Hatter, Hatta, isn't mad yet, but still loves his tea parties. Through their adventures, we learn about the Land of Hearts, the Land of Chess, and everything peculiar in between.

But of course, there is conflict. Cath's resistance to marry the King causes strain in the relationship with her parents; Cath feels that Jest is hiding more than he's letting on; the Jabberwock is attacking more and more people; and Cath's dreams of being a baker and living her life with Jest are becoming more and more unlikely.

We're All Mad Here, Myself Included

  • Alice in Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite books and movies. I probably quote it more than what is acceptable. But I love the detail and story and characters and stars, I would kill to go to Wonderland. Marissa Meyer does a brilliant job of bringing all of my loves into the before story. If it's possible, I might even love everything more now.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The Wonderland references are endless: six impossible things before breakfast; how is a raven like a writing desk; we're all mad here; who are you. And just the little details. 
"As it so happens, Mr. Jest, I've sometimes come to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (p. 59)
  • Can Jest be a real person? And Hatta. I kinda need them in my life...or bed; I'll take either. 

(Source: Giphy)
  • Another literary love of mine is referenced heavily through the book: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Meyer is a woman after my own heart.
"Good eve, fair lady, your forgiveness we implore, to come so brashly tapping, tapping at your chamber door." (p. 142)
  • The ending devastated me. I had completely forgotten that this is what happened before Alice and why the Queen loves saying "Off with their head!" I kept hoping against hope that everything would work out, that there would be some way to make it right. But I was wrong.
"It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.
'Off with his head.'" (p. 449)

This book and I are having a serious love/hate relationship. Meyer's writing skill is off the charts. I'm sure she could write a manual for a refrigerator and I'd devour every word and be left wanting more. But you see, that's the hate part; I am left wanting more.

(Source: Giphy)
I think The Lunar Chronicles spoiled me. Everyone I loved lived. Heartless is a different story. One might even think Marissa is a little heartless after what she puts the reader through: a whirlwind romance that is shattered as quickly as it fell together. And I saw it coming; the reader would have to be really bad at context clues to not see it coming. 

"One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred,
One to be a monarch, the other to go mad." (p.372)

But it's Wonderland, and I wanted to believe it would be different. Despite that, I would read it again and again; and I will continue to read the works of Marissa Meyer and fall in love with jokers and princes and convicts on the run.

Rating: 10/10
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling