Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review - The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

1885. Anne Stanbury - Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury - the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage - the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne's future wholly in his hands.

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses' were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.
I will admit, I've always been kind of fascinated by Victorian Era asylums. I don't know why. With that in mind, I was super excited to read The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts.

Lady Anne Stanbury has been committed to Bethlem Asylum following the murder of her newborn son by her own hands. She neither remembers her son or her husband. She believes she's been kidnapped and that her kidnappers just have yet to receive the ransom for her from her father. Doctor Savage has diagnosed her with something I can only assume (without doing research) is akin to Post-Partum Depression and believes her 100% curable with some work. Her husband both loves and hates her... both misses her and hopes she dies at the same time.

This book was interesting. It intrigued me to get an "inside look" in to an asylum in the 19th century. If I hadn't been so fascinated by it already, it would have surprised me how easily it is to be committed or deemed "insane" in that time period. It also would have surprised me how easily it is to diagnose incorrectly. Lets face it, while medical technology is always advancing and there is room for improvement in many areas, 19th century medicine just seems primeval compared to now. However, it also seems better in some aspects. But that's a different story and not one I'll bore you with now.

It also angered me just how horrible women were treated back then. Reading too much could get you committed, because women shouldn't read. They were supposed to cook and clean and run the house. What did they need reading for? You couldn't have an over-active imagination or you were declared insane. Patients were nothing short of tortured in these asylums and it was called treatment and deemed acceptable.

But back to the story.

So it was interesting. And I liked it for the most part. I'd read some reviews about editing errors (or lack of editing altogether) and grammatical mistakes and what not, but for the majority of the book it did not bother me. Nothing really jumped out at me as horribly wrong. Toward the end, however, I did notice where names were in incorrect places (i.e. Anne was called Grace and so was the nurse... all on the same page).

What really got to me was the attempt at writing in the dialect or accent of the person speaking. It was inconsistent and a lot of times made no sense. Mainly with the little maid Betty(?). It was just a little difficult to read her parts so I skimmed through them but made sure I at least got the general idea of what she was trying to say.

The story itself (grammar and editing aside) was actually quite good up until Lady Anne disappeared. I can't imagine being in her position, locked in an asylum but not really understanding what for... or rather... not believing that's where you were. Not knowing anyone or really being able to see the people you DID know and who loved you.

I can't, however, imagine having her husbands reaction. If my husband killed my newborn there would be no love left in me. None whatsoever. Take him away and let him rot, ya know? But Edgar has conflicting emotions, due in part I'm assuming, because of Anne's diagnosis. She couldn't possibly have been in her right mind could she? How can you blame someone for doing something if they don't even know that they're doing it, right?

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter to me.  Regardless.


After Lady Anne disappeared, things kind of got muddled for me (mostly because it was so hard for me to NOT skip the parts where anyone with an accent was talking). Who was the lady chasing the carriage that Beatrix was in? I can assume, again, that I know who she is. But I don't recall if it's ever really said for certain. And what in the world was Beatrix talking about while she was yelling at her?

I also don't recall if, at any time at the end of the story (or anywhere else in the book), the title of the book is explained. I would have expected that perhaps the good Doctor would have mentioned it, but I don't believe he did. I had to go and look it up when I was finished reading. That kind of bothered me.

I did enjoy, however, that the story was based on actual events and people. Even if there were some parts that were poorly written or poorly explained, it was an interesting read. And a quick one. Once you get to a certain point you kind of expect the ending so it doesn't disappoint in that aspect. I would recommend it if you're interested in lunatic asylums or Victorian era or both. If you can get past the grammatical errors and some of the mistakes, it's a pretty decent read.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review - The Death Cure by James Dashner

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone survive the Death Cure?
I'm sure The Death Cure by James Dashner picks up right where The Scorch Trials leaves off, but I read these books all so fast and in succession that they kind of run together for me.

Again... I found myself trying to predict what was going to happen but falling utterly short. MAYBE Rat Man just told them some of these things to see what their reaction would be. NOT because they were actually true. Right?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

That was the author laughing at me. Again.

Thomas and company have escaped from WICKED's facilities only to find themselves in worse shape than when they left. They're in a city where everyone has the Flare. And if you don't, if you're immune like Thomas and his friends are, there are bounty hunters out looking for you. Not to mention WICKED is still on their tails trying to complete their "blueprint" so they can finally find a cure for The Flare.

I've browsed through reviews on Goodreads and it seems that there is no middle ground when it comes to this book. Either you REALLY liked it or you hated it completely. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

This one was definitely sad. We lose Newt to the Flare and Teresa because she saved Thomas. I have to be honest, after Teresa betrayed Thomas I harbored no love for her, but she redeemed herself there in the end. But what a horrible way to go. Newt, was the one I was hoping was not REALLY going to die, but was just told he had The Flare to see how he reacted to it. Like I said, I fail miserably at trying to predict ANYTHING in this book.

Gally makes another appearance here. Surprise surprise. I'm not really sure what purpose he played other than to guide Thomas, Minho etc, to the resistance who were trying to take over WICKED.

Ah, a resistance. I was hoping for righteous anger. For people who were going to take over WICKED and use the knowledge that WICKED had gained (however horribly) to FINALLY develop some kind of vaccine or treatment for this killer disease. But NO. Dangit. It was revenge they were after really, and rightly so. But disappointing still.

I liked this book. I wasn't AS in to it as the other three, although it was still a good read. I was hoping for everything to kind of tie together there at the end, but, true to form (at least for this particular series), nothing is as it seems. Ever. Just because you get an answer doesn't mean it's the right one or the one that you were supposed to have. Just because it ends for you doesn't mean it's ending for anyone else. Just because it LOOKS like someone is going to help you, doesn't mean they really are.


If you've read through book two, you have to finish the series out. I mean, seriously. How can you just leave it at two? You've come this far. Go on.... read book three.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review - The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner picks up right where The Maze Runner left off.

The boys and Teresa have been rescued and taken to a place where, hopefully, they'll be able to prepare to live regular lives and try and find the loved ones they left behind and forgot. Thomas and Teresa can discover just exactly what part they played in all of this and everyone can go about their business.

But that's not what happens.

Their rescue was just another "variable" in WICKEDs quest to completely torture these poor guys (and Teresa). Shoot, life in the Glade was a piece of cake compared to what they're up against now. Bodies hanging from the ceiling, silver globs of gel that eat your face and decapitate you, the worst thunderstorms ever imaginable, air so hot and dry you can barely breathe.... and to put the icing on the cake, Cranks. People who once were normal, just like you and me, who have been taken over by The Flare and have forgotten themselves in their insanity and will now do whatever it takes to take from YOU whatever they want.

Body parts included.

Teresa is gone and the boys have found out that they aren't the ONLY group of people who were implanted in to a Maze. Only, the other group is all girls, save on boy. Who seems to have taken Teresa's place. And it seems their purpose is to kill Thomas.

You don't know who you can trust in this book. You don't know if they're saying the thing they say or doing the things they do because they want to, or because they're being forced to. Someone is lying, but you don't know if it's to you or to the others. There's no way to tell for sure. It's incredibly confusing and frustrating.

There are a few new characters introduced. Jorge and Brenda. Jorge got under my skin right at the beginning, but I believe that was his purpose. And Brenda seemed to be able to hold her own and seemed genuinely friendly and helpful for Thomas.

Some of the scenes in this book could have been straight out of a horror movie. The kind that haunts little kids in the middle of the night, ya know? It didn't take much to imagine things playing out in my head as I read them in the book.  Seriously disturbing the kind of imagery a story like this inspires.

Every time I thought I had this book figured out, it basically laughed in my face and told me I was wrong. After a while, I stopped trying. I stopped trying to predict what was going to happen at the end or guess what a character was really thinking because it always ended up being the complete opposite. Go figure.

If you read the first book, you have to read this one. I think I take back what I said about it being ok for younger readers... some of the things in this book are DEFINITELY not for younger readers. I mean, they were hard for ME to read. But if you got through book one, definitely grab book two. But be prepared to have more questions than answers at the end of it all!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
I went out and bought The Maze Runner by James Dashner on a recommendation from a couple of different friends. One, who urged me to read it a LONG time ago. And one just recently. I'd been looking for another series to jump in to so I thought why not.

I was definitely not disappointed with The Maze Runner.

Thomas is just kind of dumped (or lifted, as it were) in to this brand new life style where he remembers absolutely nothing but his name. No friends, but apparently already an enemy, though he can't figure out why.

He doesn't know what's going on or what he's supposed to do and no one is too keen to tell him.

He's forced to accept this new existence in a place completely alien to him while he deals with trying to fit in, trying NOT to get killed every time he sets foot in The Maze, and trying to figure out what he's forgetting... and who the girl is who came up after him. Something is knocking at the back door to his memories but he can't quite unlock it and open it to see what he's missing.

This is an interesting book. The language really stuck out to me from the get go. Cussing without cussing (ha!) so it's safe for young-ish readers as well. Words like klunk and shank are part of their normal vocabulary and klunk is really the only one explained so it's pretty much left up to your imagination what you think the others might be.

I was frustrated for Thomas. Brought up in to this new place with absolutely zero idea who he is and what's going on. And no one wants to clue him in. I mean, can you imagine how upsetting that would be? To be desperate for answers but not given any? Especially when Teresa comes up after him and all of the sudden he's in the spotlight because things are different now. So obviously he MUST know what's going on.

He showed his stuff pretty early on. Being terrified and yet still having the juevos to do some of the things that he'd done, despite the rules.

I liked Newt and Minho from the beginning. They were likeable and seemed pretty easy to get along with. It didn't matter that there were a few hiccups in their party, they did what needed to be done when it needed to be done and generally didn't let emotion or judgement rule their actions.

The grievers were disgusting. Mostly because I couldn't quite solidify a picture of them in my head, so the ones I came up with were just... globs of gross. The noises they made and the things that they did to those poor boys, though, was all too easy to picture thanks to the details given by the author.

Although far from a utopian society, the boys in the Glade and the Grievers kind of remind me of the Eloi and the Morlocks from The Time Machine. The boys each have a specific job that they work at to make sure the Glade runs smoothly, but just outside the walls of the Glade are creatures that will end their world just as quickly as it began.

After you get past the first couple of chapters, the book really picks up. It's full of action and suspense and it's a really good story to jump in to. There are some wicked plot twists at the end that will throw you for a loop but have no fear... it picks right back up in book 2!

Like I said before, because of the language in this book, I'd recommend this, really to anyone. It may take a bit to understand exactly what's going on, but young and old readers alike can enjoy this one!


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