Friday, August 31, 2012

Review - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives--and the way they understand each other so completely--has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.
I wasn't sure what to make of this novel when I first picked it up. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma sat on my shelves for a LONG time before I ever even decided to open the cover. I knew what the book was about and that very subject matter was what made me severely dislike The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I am aware that turns out not to be the case in that particular series, but the way the author goes about the relationship made me nauseous in that story.

I'm not sure why this book was so different for me. In the back of my mind I'm agreeing with Lochan every time he says "This is sick, disgusting..." But then there's another part of my brain that is heartbroken for him and Maya and their younger siblings. Even Kit, the overbearing, know-it-all, jerk of a teenager.

I think that the author has definitely accomplished what she's set out for. Reading through the story you can't help but loathe the mother who is a drunk and just absolutely horrible, feel angry with the absent father who's got a nice new family in some other country far away, and be so overwhelmed with sadness for two people struggling to take care of responsibilities they should never have had to take on.

I found myself wishing that things could be different for them. All of them. But Lochan and Maya most of all. Abused and neglected they really didn't feel they had anyone else they could count on but each other. I felt sad for them because the whole situation was completely out of their control. And the ones responsible couldn't have cared less. Shame on them for ruining these kids.

This book... I don't know who I'd recommend it to. Honestly I believe it's subject matter too mature for the typical teenager. I wouldn't say you'd have to come at this book with an open mind... more like an expectant one. Know the book you're reading, and that probably a lot of what you read is going to make you balk at the rest of the book.

Like I said, it is heartbreaking. The ending was a gut wrenching and awful surprise. It was a story that I didn't want to put down, but one that I'm sad I had to read.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review - Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.
It took me a long time to make it through Changeling by Philippa Gregory. Not because it was a bad book or a poor story or anything like that. It wasn't. It just didn't hold my interest as much as I'd hoped it would.

The beginning of the story made me angry. Isolde's father died and though she KNEW that he'd loved her and cared for her during his life, she did not fight when her brother told her (told, did not show her the "new" will) that her lot in life was reduced to either marrying someone she did not love and who did not love her or being sentenced to life in the nunnery. I understand though, after reading the rest of the book, that females in those particular times were nothing more than property. They did what they were told and were not allowed to question decisions made by those "in charge".

I wasn't sure what to make of Luca. He seemed like he wanted to do the right thing, and generally tried to do so... but it also seemed at times that he was more influenced by those around him. Those who were also in authority positions of different sorts.

Frieze and Ishraq were my favorite characters. Frieze for his unwavering faith and devotion to Luca, and eventually to their extra passengers. And Ishraq for her strength, loyalty, compassion, and brains. Because of her upbringing (thanks to Isolde's father) and her heritage she's not bound by the same "morality" and teachings that the rest of them are and is able to see things more clearly and in better perspective.

There were two wonderful parts to this story. The first came more than halfway through the book. The second came right at the end. That was what bothered me the most. The first half of the book was kind of slow and dragged on and then all of the sudden there was this flurry of excitement and action in a scene that would be fit for a horror story put to film.

The last 50 or so pages of the book were my favorite part. Luca & Co. travel through a village with a werewolf problem and he's taken it upon himself to judge and decide the fate of said werewolf. I wish that particular section had been given more time in the story, but what can you do. It ALSO would have been wonderful on screen, too, but in a different way. It was suspenseful and heartwarming. It redeemed the book for me honestly.

Like I said, the book was slow. The title doesn't suit the story at all and unfortunately the story itself failed to hold my interest save for the two parts I spoke about. This is the first Philippa Gregory novel that I've read. It's also the first book in the Order of Darkness series. Based on the last bit of the book I probably will at least read book two. I hope with all my heart that it's more interesting than the first book. At least more interesting more often.

I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a quick read (it took me a long time because I wasn't really interested, but it would have been a quick read had I felt more entertained). And anyone interested in somewhat historical religious fiction.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Library

So I thought I would show you all my wonderful library. The place I spent much of my time this past school year while I was homeschooling my oldest. They offered Alphabet Soup (story/song time) for my youngest before she started preschool. And PAWS for Reading (reading to therapy dogs) for my oldest. It's got a wonderful childrens' section and it's just awesome.

I wish I had more pictures, but these are all that I could find on Google. Unfortunately I deleted the photos I had on my phone or else I would have put those up as well. (photos courtesy of Google and Fredericksblogger).

What's your Library like?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting: Lord of the Rings Edition

So last week marked my last week in babysitting.

I think.

And I'd completely run out of ideas as to what I should do with the girls to keep them busy.

Again, leave it to my fantastic boyfriend to supply funness.

We did a Lord of the Rings themed night. The girls each made their own "One Ring" out of clay.

They decorated their own Hobbit swords to defend against the Nazgul and the Orcs while we listened to music from the soundtrack.

I looked up a recipe for "Lembas Bread" (homemade sugar cookies) and made some for my little Hobbitses.

Once their rings baked and dried they painted them in golds and coppers and glittery colors.

With the paint drying on their rings of power I made them some Mead (cream soda and vanilla ice cream) to drink while they watched The Fellowship of the Ring.

The movie was a little bit scary for them. And it was too long to actually watch the whole thing before my sister got home from work. But they had fun. And it kept them busy and entertained.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mark Twain

Friend of mine posted this on Facebook.

Pretty cool huh?


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