Chasing Tail Lights by Patrick Jones

Monday, May 31, 2010

author’s website: Patrick Jones
release date: July 27, 2007
appeals to: older Young Adult readers
genre: contemporary fiction
length: 304 pages
overall rating: 4.5 stars

*the inside flap*
Christy loves to stand on the highway overpass, watching the tail lights of traveling cars and imagining where they could take her. Her father used to tell her that whenever he got lost, he’d chase the lights of the car in front of him and they’d always lead him home. But since her father died, home is the last place Christy wants to be. Instead of providing a haven from a troubled city, her family suffers from its own form of urban decay, blighted by alcoholism, violence, and despair.

Christy’s always searching for someone – a guy, a friend, a stranger – to lead her anywhere, as long as it’s out of Flint, Michigan. But until she realizes she’s looking for that beacon of light in all the wrong places, she’s going to stay stuck on the bad side of the tracks in this dead-end town.

*my review*
This book truly captures the raw reality of Christy’s life, and while that life isn’t beautiful, the story is beautifully written!

Christy has lived her life on the wrong side of the tracks. She has one brother in jail, one on the way, and one (amazingly) trying to get out. Her mother seems pretty useless as a mom, except to Ryan (the favorite child, but least favorite sibling). Then, there is Anne – Christy’s best friend and total opposite. Anne is the rich girl rebelling against her parents, but she isn’t really as “bad” as she wants to appear.

Alternating current chapters with flashback chapters helps to paint a picture of Christy’s life and it really helps you to understand her past. The theme of “chasing tail lights” continues throughout the book as a metaphor for escaping reality, and once you realize what Christy’s reality contains, escaping it seems like quite a good idea. This book covers difficult topics in a way that doesn’t sugar coat them, but at the same time, nothing is too graphically described.

I’d recommend this in a minute, but with the warning that there is some content that is more appropriate for older audiences.

*short and snappy*
: raw – Jones captures the essence each character
plot: dark – Christy has to go through some dark times even when she’s experiencing good things
characters: deep – Jones really captures the essence of each character through descriptions, memories, and conversations
judging by the cover: an interesting cover - it ties directly to the title & that theme is woven throughout the story
miscellaneous: This website has information just about Chasing Tail Lights, and there is a great FAQ available here that answers questions specifically about Chasing Tail Lights and about writing in general.

In My Mailbox (#7)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that talks about books that have been bought, swapped, received for review, or borrowed from the library. It is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren.

It’s been forever since my last IMM post because things have been a little crazy. BUT I’ve still been reading (of course), so even though I didn’t get all of these books this week, I’ll be highlighting what is on my nightstand --- basically books I’ve picked up in the last few weeks.

From the Library:
Scones and Sensibility – Lindsay Eland
Stolen Cars – Patrick Jones
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder: My Life on the Dork Side – Julie Halpern
Prada and Prejudice – Mandy Hubbard
My So Called Death – Stacey Jay

I’ve also finished and reviewed these books (and 5 or 6 others):
The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
The Dead-Tossed Waves – Carrie Ryan
Some Girls Are – Courtney Summers
You Are So Undead to Me – Stacey Jay
Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver

And I’ve finished these, but my reviews are still a work in progress: (I'm hoping to get them done today or tomorrow)

The Cinderella Society – Kay Cassidy
Kiss in the Dark – Lauren Henderson
Chasing Tail Lights – Patrick Jones
Gone – Lisa McMann

But perhaps by biggest excitement this week is that I got a piano!!! My mom is moving and has decided that she doesn’t’ want her piano anymore, so I jumped at the opportunity to get a piano without actually buying one.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

author’s website: Courtney Summers
release date: January 5, 2010
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Contemporary Fiction
length: 256 pages
overall rating: 5 stars

*the back cover*
Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard – falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High...that is, until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend started going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past whom she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend...if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up to Be.

*my review*
WOW! This book is incredible. It is an emotional roller coaster that pulls you in and keeps you hanging on through all of the twists and turns to the very end. I picked it up this afternoon and didn’t put it down until I finished. The writing, the characters, and the plot work together to create an astoundingly vivid picture of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the clique that makes life hell for other people.

Regina is an interesting character for a number of reasons. Even before the freeze out, Regina seems to be caught. She seems to be over all of the partying and the craziness that happens at those parties (although it could be because she’s the designated driver). Then, her world is turned upside down when she is nearly raped at a party and her friends – instead of standing by her – decide to make her life miserable. (And all within the first 15 pages of the book!) As I read, I didn’t understand why everyone believed Anna, but as you continue reading, you figure out that Anna is the queen-bee and isn’t to be messed with, or she may turn on you. Regina continues to be intriguing because she seems to actually feel regret about the terrible things she did when she was part of the “Fearsome Fivesome.” Not only does she feel the remorse, but she seems to suffer from it in ways that the other girls never do.

Michael is another fascinating character. As the school misfit, you expect him to be brooding, but with some inner charm. But his past is what is intriguing about him. He was Regina’s victim, but is still the only person who accepts her during the freeze out. The story never really goes into what exactly happened in his bullying situation, but I’m impressed at the fact that he can be bigger than all of the pettiness and accept Regina. **SLIGHTLY SPOILERY – I think that Michael became my favorite character when Regina explains the attempted rape, and he says, “Nobody deserves that.” (p. 60) Just three little words convey a really supportive message that no one else is able to give her. END OF SPOILERY STUFF**

*short and snappy*
writing: straightforward, blunt, and honest, but it creates a strikingly clear story
plot: a roller coaster of emotions with twists and turns right until the end
characters: My first instinct is to say tragic – for as mean as some of the girls are, I kept thinking that there has to be something deeper making them that way. The characters are beautifully created even when they are brutally mean.
judging by the cover: a great cover that ties perfectly to the story

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
(Spoiler warning: Because this book is part of a series, this review may contain spoilers of earlier books. If you haven’t read the previous books, you may want to skip this review)

author’s website:
Carrie Ryan
release date: March 9, 2010
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Paranormal / Zombies
length: 416 pages
overall rating: 5 Stars

*the inside flap*
Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She’s content to let her friend dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her light house. Home is all she’s ever known, and all she needs for happiness.
But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can’t hold back.
Gabry’s mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don’t stay buried. And now, Gabry’s world is crumbling.
One night beyond the Barrier . . .
One boy Gabry’s known forever and one veiled in mystery . . .
One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, and the other half imprisoned.
Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother’s past.

*my review*
First, let me say that this book was absolutely fantastic. There is a ton of fast moving plot and I felt like I couldn’t put it down! I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but this book was faster moving and had even more twisting and turning in the plot.

I was struck right away by the contrast between Gabry and her mother, Mary (the main character from The Forest of Hands and Teeth). The story starts with Gabry describing how she feels like the boundaries of her village are safe and protecting. She even says that the boundaries “were what held me together, what kept me safe and protected and whole” (p. 4). That struck me because her mother felt just the opposite in the first book. The whole plot of the first story was about breaking through the boundaries, so to hear this protagonist talking about needing them was interesting.

So much happens in the first part of the book that you are drawn in to the story and it becomes difficult to put the book down. There is a love interest between Gabry and Catcher, but after the attack (within the first two chapters), Catcher becomes infected, which obviously puts a glitch in things. Then Gabry meets Elias, and he seems to have love-interest potential too! And through all of that, there is the constant contrast of do I stay inside the boundaries or push past them.

Gabry is a very multi-faceted character. She is much braver than she ever realizes. It is interesting – she’ll describe all of her fear and doubt and hesitation, and then she do incredibly brave things anyway. She seems to believe that having the doubts make her weak, but really, her actions speak mountains for her bravery.

Overall, this story was incredible. I was completely drawn in to the world that Carrie Ryan created. The characters are so thoroughly detailed that you feel like you

*short and snappy*
: captivating – there is a lot of detail, but it never felt overdone to me. I think that the details added to the story by making it so realistic (even in a fantasy world)
plot: quick-paced and suspenseful – it definitely holds your interest!
characters: thorough – the characters are so detailed that you feel like you know them.
judging by the cover: I think this cover is beautifully done. It’s probably half of the reason I picked up the book.
miscellaneous: On her website, Carrie Ryan shares that there will be a third book in this series. Right now, it’s due out in Spring 2011.

Linger Trailer

Monday, May 10, 2010

With only a few more weeks until Linger releases, Maggie Stiefvater has released a trailer for the book, and it is AMAZING!! (like I should expect anything less!) So, enjoy!

It is even more awesome after you see all of the work that goes into it! SO - if you're interested - there are "making of the trailer" entries on her blog here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

author’s website: Carrie Ryan
release date: March 10, 2009
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Paranormal / Zombies
length: 320 pages
overall rating: 5 Stars

*the inside flap*
In Mary’s world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?

*my review*
I saw this book and passed over it what feels like 100 times. I even read the cover a few times, but always put it back. Then, when The Dead-Tossed Waves came out last month, I loved the cover and read some good reviews, so I decided to start with the first book. And I am SO glad I did! This is an amazing story of adventure, romance, suspense, and difficult choices. Those ingredients and a fast paced plot kept me hooked! I read the last 250 pages in one sitting, and wasn’t ready for the story to end.

As this book started, there were a lot of things right away that didn’t really make sense. In the first 20 pages, you are introduced to the complicated romance situation between Mary, Harry, and Travis; Mary’s mother is infected; and you hear about the Guardians, the Sisters, and the Unconsecrated, but none of that is really explained.

The Sisters are very religious and nurse the sick, but when Mary is taken into their care, you also find that they are very strict and have a lot of rules and secrets within the walls of their Cathedral. Sister Tabitha, the “head” Sister is especially perplexing. I kept wondering if she was really as mean as she seemed, or if she was just testing Mary. It is within the Cathedral that two major characters are brought into the story: Gabrielle and Travis. While Travis is mentioned earlier, it isn’t until he comes to the Cathedral that you really understand Mary’s feelings for him. And Gabrielle – the outsider – is perhaps the ingredient that pushes Mary to question the outside more than anything else.

Mary isn’t content living within the city, and throughout the entire story, she seems to want more. But even when “more” comes, it isn’t enough. The other characters in this story aren’t completely developed with descriptions, but rather through Mary’s observations and interactions. You really get a sense of how her interactions with them has changed since childhood, and the characters even point out the fact that Mary always wants more. She is searching, but no one seems to know what she’s searching for.

Overall, this book was incredible. I’m not sure what exactly I expected when I started this book, but it far exceeded any expectation I could have had. There are a ton of ingredients that make this a great story. There is enough conclusion in this book for tie things up, but I’m excited to read the companion novel (The Dead-Tossed Waves) next!

*short and snappy*
: eloquent – Ryan describes everything so clearly that you are able to fall into the world she creates without realizing it.
plot: captivating – the suspense, adventure, and unexpected twists had me reading the last 250 pages in one sitting
characters: As the narrator, Mary is the easiest to understand, but her interactions with the others shows relationships that have grown and changed – even within this story
judging by the cover: The cover didn’t draw my in, but after reading the story, I get it.
miscellaneous: Amazon has a pretty great Q and A with Carrie Ryan here.
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