The Cop and the Blue-Haired Chick

Going Too Far by Jennifer EcholsGoing Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Number of pages:  245
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

How far would you go?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far… and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge – and over…

* * *

I’ve read glowing reviews about this book from different book blogs I frequent. Again, I’m sort of kind of hesitant with getting impulse buy books because I’ve had a bit of bad experiences with them. But when I saw this book, I decided to get it. I thought, “Why not?”

I’m just really glad the impulse buy was worth it. :)

Going Too Far is about Meg the rebel and John the cop, who get to spend time together as a punishment to Meg for going to the forbidden railroad tracks. Meg just wants to have fun, and to make the last of her weeks in the small town go by fast, while John is serious about his responsibilities as a cop and has a huge fixation on the railroad tracks. As the two of them spend time together, they get to know more about each other, and yeah, eventually fall in love.

But it’s not a typical boy-meets-girl, Stockholm Syndrome type of story. I’d have to agree with the other reviews I read about this book: it’s a novel full of issues. It’s not really dark/deep issues — they’re real life issues that could happen to anyone, and that explains why Meg and John are doing what they were doing. These issues were slowly fleshed out, in a way that I didn’t see them coming. I had to back up a few lines to make sure I read them right, and then went back to the story, wanting to know more.

While I didn’t stay up late to finish this book in one sitting, I was hooked in the story. I wanted to know what happened, I want to know how they’d end up together, and how they would settle the leaving thing. The ending was satisfying, and hopeful, and you know things will somehow work out for the both of them.

Oh, and even if this is an “issue book”, it was refreshing to read that it didn’t have too dark/issue-dwelling tones. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the storytelling did not depress me even as I found out the characters’ issues.  There were certain dialogues in the novel that reminded me that it’s a young adult novel, and it somehow lightened the overall mood.

Going Too Far is a good book — it’s not exactly a favorite, but I do recommend this book for those who want good, realistic teen fiction.

Rating:

Wedding Bells in Vegas

Vince's Life: The Wedding by Vince TevesVince’s Life: The Wedding by Vince Teves

Vince thinks his life is over when he loses Cat – the girl who turned his life around after Andrea broke his heart. Then his friend Connie drops the bomb on him telling him she’s pregnant and that she wants him to come to her wedding in America – where Andrea is. His first love. Does this mean Vince and Andrea finally get another chance? Or does Vince land an ending that he never expected?

I never really caught Vince’s Life in Cosmo when it was first published there because I never read Cosmo. Or wait, was it Seventeen? I can’t remember. But I do remember contemplating if I will get the first book of the series a few years back. Back then it was a curious thing for me to read a story with a guy narrator, when almost all the books I read have female narrators.

When a friend told me that the first book was good, I picked it up and read it and liked it. I liked it because Vince was such a character. I don’t know if this is a true story, but I thought Vince was once of the most sensitive guys I’ve ever read about. A sequel came out and I read it immediately, too, and was satisfied with who Vince ended up with (even if I kind of wished otherwise).

I’m the type of person who reads through an entire series, so when a third book came out, I knew I had to read it. It was a quick read — I was done in a couple of hours (and I read it at work, too). Did I squeal in delight in the ending? Did I feel tingles inside me as Vince pursued his girl — again?

Sadly…no.

I don’t really have any expectations for this book, except for a possible surprise in the end as was stated in the blurb. I guess I was hoping for some kind of a twist, something that would not necessarily make me feel excited, but be surprised at the end and say, “Okay, I didn’t see that coming.”

But I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a good story, yes, but I felt like it was a typical story — almost like I was reading a teleserye script. I don’t really know what kind of twist I was looking for, but I didn’t exactly jump for joy when I finished reading. Do you get what I mean?

Maybe I had too high expectations with the “ending he never expected”. I still had to hand it to Vince — he really is a sensitive guy. I mean, just read this part:

When it’s right, love isn’t difficult. It’s the easiest thing in the world. All the differences and hardships don’t matter, and there’s only one answer to every question. (p 90-91)

Or how about:

But there was also something else, something so beautiful and so fragile that I almost didn’t dare think about it. (p 129)

Yep, super sensitive guy right there. I think.

But you know what? High expectations aside, this book shows some kind of reality in live overall — life isn’t always exciting, and there aren’t always unexpected endings. Most of the time, life can be boring, and things don’t always happen the way we want them to. We can dream of surprises and twists and turns and stuff, but in the end, life will just give us what is best for us, and we wouldn’t ask for any other ending other than what we have. :)

I guess this is the end of Vince’s Life for us readers, unless a new book comes out with their kids who need to drink their vitamins? I don’t know…but I don’t think that would sell anymore. ;)

Rating:
→ Slightly disappointing, but then again I wasn’t really the biggest fan anyway. Personally, I liked the first two books better.

2010 Challenge Status:

* Book # 12 out of 100 for 2010

* Book # 2 out of 20 for Project 20:10

Graced

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Graceling Realm # 1
Publisher: Harcourt

Number of pages:  471
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Deadly Grace

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

* * *

I am in awe of authors like Kristin Cashore who could think of things like this. I am sorely deficient (at least, I think I am) in the supernatural/fantasy realm, so I am always in awe of people who can think of awesome story concepts like these. Don’t you think?

To those unfamiliar, here’s the basic premise of Graceling: Gracelings are humans who are born with an extraordinary skill. These skills don’t manifest until sometime later in the human’s life, and the clue to see if a human is a Graced is if they have two different colored eyes. Graces can range from the most useless — like reciting things backward or staying underwater for a long time — or useful, like sensing storms or like Katsa’s Grace, killing.

If a Grace is found useful, the Graceling will be acquired by the King to serve his court. This is what Katsa grew up in ever since she accidentally killed her cousin who tried to touch her during a party when she was young. Convinced that her Grace was killing, Katsa was trained to be a killer so she can serve her uncle, King Randa’s court. Simply put, Katsa was a thug, who threatens and kills people who the King of Middluns feel like punishing.

But Katsa soon grew tired of this life, and she secretly started a Council. Together with some of her closest companions — they weren’t friends because Katsa never considered them friends — they helped other people secretly. They arrested bandits, protected people and saved Prince Tealiff of Lienid, who was kidnapped and hidden in Murgon.

On the rescue mission, Katsa meets Po, another seemingly Graced fighter. Pretty soon, Po becomes a part of Katsa’s life, and thus started Katsa’s personal struggles. She soon learns to face her rage, stand up for herself, find love and realize an important thing about her Grace that she never thought was even possible.

If you think the summary I posted there was already good, well I tell you, the book is really way better than that. I loved every bit of the book. I thought I’d find some parts of it slow, like what a friend told me, but I never thought it was slow at any part. I was surprised with the discoveries that Katsa made about Po and herself. I felt that I was really in the story, like I was with Katsa and Po in their travels and fights to find out who was behind Po’s grandfather’s kidnapping.

Now, I don’t know if I would have had an entirely different reading experience with Graceling if I didn’t read Fire first. I was slightly spoiled about who King Leck really was and what he can do because of what I read in Fire. There were no other mentions of Gracelings in Fire so I don’t think it’s a really big effect in my reading experience, but I wonder if I would have been more surprised with what Leck could do in the novel.

Oh, but just thinking of Leck makes me think of a creepy man. Ugh.

Kristin Cashore is writing a third book, which is Bitterblue, who also appeared in this novel. I wonder if Kristin will somehow bring back the monsters from The Dells in this third book — that would be really interesting, I think.

Graceling is definitely one of the best YA fantasy books that I read this year. Awesome story, strong characters and a very satisfying ending. :)

Rating:

Teaser Tuesday: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I finished Graceling (Kristin Cashore) yesterday and I was blown away (review to follow soon!). I usually take a break from reading whenever I finish reading a really good book, but my TBR stack kind of intimidates me so I just have to pick another one again.

So here’s this week’s Teaser Tuesday (I’m on time now, see :p): Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols.

 

Going Too Far by Jennifer EcholsHow far would you go?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far… and almost doesn’t make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge – and over…

I got this book after a lot of recommendations from book bloggers I follow, plus it has very nice ratings in Goodreads. I’m kind of wary about reading books from MTV, and impulse buys because I had bad experiences. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? It’s not like I bought Black Diamond Poles which I will never be able to use here, anyway.

And here’s the teaser!

But he was a frightened horse about to bolt. He wore that expression he tended to wear when I get too close to him, the oh-my-God-she’s-trying-to-seduce-me-and-I-don’t-like-it look. (p. 70)

That doesn’t really tell me what’s in the book…but I’m going to trust all the reviews and hope this is a really good book. :D

Okay, off to lunch!

Here comes the Unconsecrated

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie RyanThe Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth # 1
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 308
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

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 about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, 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 in so much death?

* * *

Altogether now: FINALLY. I finally got to read this book.

I’ve been trying to think of how I should dive into reviewing The Forest of Hands and Teeth, because I really have no idea how. I guess I’ll jump into it?

I’ve read a lot of reviews about this book and all of them told me to waste no time and read it. I was curious because I’ve never really read a book with zombies in it. Zombies are kind of a joke to us, you see, for several reasons: friends from NaNoWriMo use zombies (together with ninjas) to propel our plot forward when we have run out of things to write for our 50,000 word novels, and Plants vs. Zombies. I’ve never really thought that there’s a zombie book out there, and YA, no less. I’m curious.

Interestingly, the word “zombie” was never used in this book. In Mary’s world, the zombies are known as the Unconsecrated. There was little explanation on how their world became that, so the reader would just have to accept the truths that was presented in the context of the book. You can’t go near the fence. The Unconsecrated thirst for blood. The Sisterhood protects the village. You have to follow or else you’re dead.

But after Mary’s mom falls to the hands of the Unconsecrated and everyone leaves her behind, Mary starts questioning these “truths”. She wonders of the outside world, if there was an outside world at all. When things fall, she and her friends had no choice but to get out of the village and try to see if they can survive outside.

This book had a generally depressing mood, so it’s not a  book I’d recommend to be read when you’re already down. There’s a feeling of doom in the story, and you just know that not all of them will make it out alive. Even so, I couldn’t help but be sucked into the story and hope for more revelations about why the world came to that, and hope for the best for the main characters.

I had mixed feelings after I finished reading this — it was really good, but it was also very depressing that I don’t really know if I really like it — after all, I choose fluff over anything. :P But it is one of the best books I’ve read this year for sure. I’m not sure if I’d like to re-read it as often as I do for the other books I like. Did that make sense?

Oh, and the sequel to this book, entitled Dead Tossed Waves is coming on March 9, and I can’t wait to get to read that, too. I hope it sheds more light on the other unanswered questions in the first book. In the meantime, stay within the fences. :P

Rating: