May 29, 2016
Picture a 62 year old man just finishing The Storyteller and unable to control his tears. The ending was satisfying, not particularly sad, why the tears?
First, a brilliantly written trilogy was coming to an end. Words, carefully chosen, provided me with many quotes worth saving. The last one I saved; "Because whether inspiration comes from an actual place or not doesn't matter if you don't choose to do something with it. And if you do choose to do something with it, the stories you create don't matter unless they make ripples in the world."
Second, a trilogy that was brilliantly conceived was coming to an end. It was a story so imaginative, so other worldly, I was constantly in amazement that a singular person brought this story from his mind to paper. Not for one moment did I have any idea where this story was going, or how it would conclude. And if I was asked what the trilogy was about? Well its about storytelling, about imagination, but this passage really sums up its deeper meaning;
"...But when you're a kid, It's different. You lose something and then there's this hole inside of you and you want to fill that hole, but you don't have the experience or wisdom to do it. So you ask for answers. From the air, from the clouds, from the stars, from anyone who might listen. And when voices finally respond and promise that there's a place where you can get what you want, where your wishes can come true, then you go. You go to that magical place and you stay and you create and you try to heal. You fill that hole. Which can be brave. Which is important. But while you're there, you realize that what you want and what you need are two different things. And that's when you're done with the place, and you leave for good. But leaving for good means you forget the place even existed at all."
Third, I had the satisfaction of the end of a trilogy that answers questions but leaves others unanswered. That leaves characters in a satisfactory place, but not necessarily ideal. That left me exhausted because of the mental exercise such a convoluted plot put me through.
Thank you Aaron Starmer for writing a trilogy for the reader, that exercises the reader, that doesn't pander to convention or what is currently in vogue and for understanding the YA/middle audience and knowing how smart they really are.
Reed Reads Score: 5
March 15, 2015
Sixteen year old Travis Coates has been battling cancer but through a supportive family, good friends and a loving girl friend he has been able to emotionally pull through. Now, the cancer is ravaging his body, and he will die. Learning that a new medical technology is being explored that will allow the transplantation of human heads, he applies and is accepted. He will have his head severed from the diseased body, and cryogenically frozen until the technology is ready, and the right donor comes along.
Fast forward five years, Travis Coates wakes up with a new body. He is now a nationwide celebrity...known as "the head kid." Adjustment isn't easy. His girlfriend, Cate, is now 21, and engaged to be married. His best friend Kyle is in college, all his clothes and belongings are gone, and the worst part is, is that he must go to high school as a sophomore. All of these situations will create challenges for Travis, some of which he can stand up to, but others will prove to be difficult.
When I first read the inside flap of the dust cover. I laughed with hilarity, thinking that this was the most ridiculous premise for a book. I had no intention in reading it. I then heard that the book was a finalist for the National Book Award. I read the reviews, and decided to give it a try. What I found was a book that explores the emotional and physical ramifications of what this procedure could bring. It is done with sensitivity and good writing. As I was finishing, news reports were coming out, discussing this very issue. Check out the article in New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530103.700-first-human-head-transplant-could-happen-in-two-years.html#.VQYkI0JJWGQ
While not a fantastic read, its very good, and certainly worth your time. For more mature readers, containing some strong language.
Reed Reads Score: 4
November 9, 2014
UnDivided is one of the best written, best conceived, and most satisfying final book of a series that I have read (including Potter). The way Shusterman weaves the story, manipulating the reader, without ever giving a clue as to where the story is going is masterful. The ending is quite satisfying, but probably not what you'd expect. There are small tidbits from past books woven into the story that remind the reader what the entire journey has been (seven years is a looooong time).
I am not going to go into the storyline, just read the book. All the characters will be back, with a few new ones that are quite sinister. Sit back, and enjoy a truly outstanding ending to a fantastic science fiction series that leaves much to ponder and discuss.
Reed Reads Score: 5
October 10, 2014
As with most books centered around sports, the real issues, resolutions, and character growth go deeper than the sport. Charlie has a very supportive mother, but misses having a father around. His relationship with Anna grows to be something more than a football buddy. The relationship that grows between Charlie and Mr. Warren becomes one where each fills a void in their lives. The writing is simple and straightforward, the football segments are detailed and at times exciting, perfect for the target audience; middle school boys. While somewhat predictable, and a rather contrived plot (Charlie just happens to have a friend whose millionaire grandfather owns a sports franchise), it was an enjoyable read.
Reed Reads Score: 3
September 5, 2014
The Whisper is an incredible ride. The writing is typical Starmer; lyrical and poetic. The story is unusual, like nothing else. Alistair's adventures will remind you of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Only, these are even more fantastic. The environments and characters from the tribal bush to underground caves and astronauts to the Riverman (who calls himself the Whisper), challenge Alistair and force him to think and evaluate himself in his search for Fiona. The issues that Alistair is dealing with are dark and adult. The many references to trust and good vs. evil, are a reflection of the torment Alistair is dealing with. The ending is a powerful lead-in to the next book. My problem is, is how long must I wait? This review is from an ARC, and the Whisper is not being released until March 2015. I have a year and a half to ponder and anticipate...
Reed Reads Score: 4.5
July 25, 2014
Quinn writes a column about music in his school newspaper, and has recently formed a band. He meets Caroline who is new to L.A. and is fascinated by the culture and lifestyle. Playing on his Ouija board, he starts getting cryptic messages from the 27 Club...musicians such as Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison that died too early at the age of 27... which Caroline suggests they turn into a money making venture. Add to this, a draft dodger friend of his sister whom he is secretly assisting, his first relationship with a girl, and the deteriorating marriage of his parents, and you have a story that tries to do too much.
Despite the weak story, I enjoyed the book. Growing up in this era, the book brought me back to my teen age years. The book is filled with music trivia, each chapter beginning and ending with a list, such as best album covers, or facts that quite honestly had me going to iTunes or putting on an old album to listen to music I haven't heard in years. My question was, how would young readers relate to this, with no real knowledge or experience in the time period? To my surprise, those that read it enjoyed it, but not for the story... they too had their headphones on, searching and listening to the music!
Reed Reads Score: 3.5
June 6, 2014
A young gorilla, Ruby, is brought in to replace Stella. Ruby is unhappy, longing for the freedom of the wild. Ivan makes a promise to Ruby; to get her her freedom...
I need to be up front here. I don't like animal novels that are told from the POV of the animal. For me, it seems very contrived to hear the thoughts of an animal in the first person. I felt the same way with Michael Morpugo's War Horse. Not that they are both well written, well received books, they are just not my cup of tea. If you enjoy a warmly told tale with a lot of heart, then The One and Only Ivan is a read you might want to pick up. For me, classic stories about animals, such as Wilson's Where the Red Fern Grows, grab my heart and soul. I scored Ivan a bit higher because of my own personal bias.
Reed Reads Score: 3
May 23, 2014
The Liars; Cadence, the eldest grandchild and heiress to the Sinclair fortune, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and Johnny's friend, Gat, met every summer on Beechwood...until Cadence's accident. An accident so horrific that she has no memory of it, and her family won't speak of it. She has terrible headaches and fits of depression. Her mother is overly protective of her. She has missed her sixteenth summer on the island, and misses the Liars. She can't understand why they haven't written or called. Her mother relents, and allows Cadence to go back to Beechwood for her seventeenth summer. Cadence hopes that she will rekindle her relationship with the Liars and help her remember what happened that fifteenth summer.
"Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." (from the publisher) is an apropos quote here. Lockhart has built a suspense tale that is well written and unfolds slowly. But have patience. The ending is well worth it. For mature readers.
Reed Reads Score: 4
April 30, 2014
Nathan is 16, he needs to receive 3 gifts from a blood relative so he can realize his powers as a witch. If the gifts are not received by his 17th birthday, he will die. His mother, a white witch has died. His father, Marcus, is the most feared, evil black witch. Raised by his grandmother with his siblings, each from a different father, Nathan has been scorned and despised. His close relationship with Gran, his younger brother, Arran, and the girl he fancies, Annalise, has kept him going. White witches fear Nathan because of his father, and the possibility that he is a black witch. He is taken from his home, caged, and closely monitored so that he cannot receive his 3 gifts, especially from his father. Nathan escapes and begins the search for his father, from whom he wishes to get his 3 gifts.
Sally Green creates a world where witches live alongside "fains" or mortals, places it in modern Great Britain, and gives us a fantasy world that makes it easy to suspend your disbelief to immerse yourself in a tale that is both a coming of age story and a look at racism in today's society. A pretty good read, but is the typical YA first book of a trilogy. Yawn. I have to wait two more years to finish this one.
Reed Reads Score: 3.5
April 24, 2014
If you have read my other reviews, you know that I'm a fan of dystopian novels - but not this one. The writing is just okay, but I couldn't help but constantly feel that I was being manipulated by something extremely commercial, attempting to be the next Hunger Games. Rather than writing a story that the author needed to tell, this seems more a case of creating a story that will pull together elements that will sell books, become a movie, and make the author tons of money. Many of you will enjoy this, but I have to give this one a score of two for being so commercial and manipulative.
Reed Reads Score: 2
April 13, 2014
This is one of those reads that stays with you long after the last word. If you are a teacher, or work with children, you know Willow. Gifted, autistic savant, whatever label the institution puts upon them, these kids are often ignored, and brushed aside by their peers as being "weird." In reality, they are complex people, who if you take the time to make a connection with them, can make a difference for both of you.
Reed Reads Score: 4.5
March 21, 2014
What I enjoy most about this series is how well each book is crafted and what it brings to the development of the plot. In the typical series, the first book is excellent, but those that follow fill in, with the last book often bringing an unsatisfying conclusion. Meyer, in her Lunar Chronicles, has made each book unique in the way it carries the story, and is excellent on its own. This is outstanding science fiction, and has appeal for all genders and ages. There are plenty of hints of what lies ahead in the fourth and final book, Winter (Snow White) in 2015!
Reed Reads Score: 4.5
February 22, 2014
David Levithan has taken an original premise and with thoughtful, finely crafted writing created a story that goes well beyond the romance. With 'A' being neither male or female, gay or straight, black or white, the character provides an unbiased platform to discover life as we all live it. Levithan has created a variety of characters that are real, varied, and sensitively drawn. Each becomes a short story tied together by the love of Rhiannon. Some are light hearted and some will tug at your heart. Some are short and simple, some more detailed. But, all will provide a lesson, or at least provide insight into how different people live their lives. This read is for more mature readers as the illuminating writing would be lost on those not ready and there are some mild sexual references.
Reed Reads Score: 5
January 27, 2014
After the failure of the assassination plot to kill the new Elector, Anden, Day is now even more beloved by the republic and provided a high level military assignment. June has integrated back into the politics of the nation, by serving as a nominee for the Princeps position. On the brink of a peace treaty with the Colonies, negotiations fall apart when the Colonies claim that the Republic has intentionally infected them with a plague. The Colonies have joined forces with Africa, and are breathing down the neck of the Republic, demanding a cure or face attack. The Republic needs to use Day's brother, Eden, to find a cure, but Day will not allow it. Anden brings a team to the technology rich Antarctica to appeal for their help in resisting a combined attack from the Colonies and Africa. Intertwined is the relationship between Day, June, and Anden. While the ending is satisfying with some surprises, for me, this was the least satisfying book of the trilogy. The writing at some points became trite for me. The voice given to Day became less believable for me. The narrative that internalizes June's love for Day, and Day's for June was a distraction. I enjoyed the sections that were science-fiction in nature, especially the sections taking place in the technologically superior Antarctica.
Reed Reads Score: 3
January 4, 2014
Well, I just read last year's "Best Books" and with disdain, did not meet my resolution of reading more. In fact, I read less. Where does the time go? Having read less, my list is shorter. Again, science fiction/dystopian dominate but there are two standouts one realistic, and the other so unique, it can't be categorized. I have fun with this end of the year exercise, and I'm sure you have your own opinion, which is what this is about; exchanging our thoughts, ideas and spreading the word about what we love!
Posted March 2, 2013
The second book in Marie Lu's Legend Trilogy doesn't disappoint. Plenty of action, some romance, plot twists and some surprising social commentary make this an unusually good middle book of a trilogy.
Posted April 18, 2013
The interweaving of fairy tales with science fiction is unique, but Marissa Meyer handles it deftly in her Lunar Chronicles series. Scarlet, Little Red Riding Hood reincarnated, is a head strong, saucy character that I loved reading.
Posted June 8, 2013
The best realistic fiction tackles a problem in a way that makes it real, but not preachy. Wonder takes the issue of disfigurement, and how people treat and deal with the issue from many different levels. It will tug at your heart, but will not manipulate you.
Posted August 3, 2013
While yet another dystopian novel, this one has a strong female protagonist, yet no romance. This one is purely about survival and will leave you wondering where it is going and could this happen?
Posted November 17, 2013
For years House of the Scorpion has been one of my go-to science fiction novels, with rarely a student disappointed. There must have been pressure for a sequel, and so we have Lord of the Opium. Even with many years between books, this picks up Matteo's story flawlessly and tells his story as only a master storyteller can.
Posted December 31, 2013
Saving the best for last, but unfortunately you can't read this until March 2014, when it is officially released. This story will slowly pull you in, and then with beautiful writing, takes you to places you never expect to go.