The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Genre:: Historical Fiction
Pages: 451
Publisher: February 10th 2009 by Putnam Adult

From Goodreads:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

I want to first apologize for the use of the book's own synopsis as the summary for my book thoughts. It's a personal no-no and I hope this is the first and last time I commit such a sin. In my defense, I have rarely seen a synopsis that so accurately condenses what is really a quite expansive story, into a nice neat summarization. I tried to write my own but I have such equal relationships with the myriad of personalities in this book that I would have included them all and my summary would surpass the number of pages in the book.

Now, I have read all 451 pages of this book but I am far from finished with it. I may not ever be. My favorite subject matter in a book is the power of stories. A story about stories and this book is about many many stories.

It is the story of black maids in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, written from their collective memories of the families they have served, loved and suffered over the years.

It is the story of a young woman who takes a look at her world, finds it wanting and defies the rather harsh and rigid rules of her society to alter it.

It is the story of women who struggled under the ridiculous rules of their society at the time and the fear and ignorance that kept their thoughts simple. There once was a time when women who thought for themselves were shunned.
It is the story of a period in our history that didn't make a lick of sense and a reflection of a present time that still doesn't.

It is a story about love and a story about hate. People loving the hate that dominates their time and people who hate a time that frowns on who they choose to love.

This book took me through so many emotions. At one point or another I whole heartedly hated and loved every person in it. Part of me wants to bond solely with Skeeter but I would never let anyone walk on me, nor could I keep my mouth shut and take it. She did it for the right reasons though, which make me question my own selfishness. I adored Minny but then couldn't connect fully with someone who had such a passive few of domestic violence. But then I've never been helpless and I've never had someone beat me, which made me question my own narrow view point of things. I saw nothing of myself in Celia, and you would think that would be a good thing but it made me question my own lack of innocence. Mostly my heart stayed with Aibileen, who raised another woman's child but never once made the distinction between a stranger's daughter and hers. And I miss the hell out of Constantine, even though in the story we never actually met.

It's important to me for the "bad guy" in a story to have enough substance and strength of character to remain a bad guy. I lose interest in the redemption of the bad guy. It's bullshit because essentially people don't change, they evolve and I never would have believed it if our antagonist had suddenly seen the error of her ways.

Very brave use of language, even the author acknowledges this. I'm about an hour south of Jackson and we both know that if she had spoken out loud in the voice used in the book it would have been ill received- to put it lightly. On page it is poetry, heart felt and most importantly essential to the telling of the story.

I loved this book. I feel different after reading it- like it's changed the world, or at least mine.
     "Baby Girl," I say. "I need you to remember everthing I told you. do you remember what I told you?"
     She still crying steady, but the hiccups is gone. "To wipe my bottom good when I'm done?"
     "No, baby, the other. About what you are."
     I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine. Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years. And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be. A flash from the future. She is tall and straight. She is proud. She got a better haircut. And she is remembering the words I put in her head. Remembering as a full grown woman.
     And the she say it, just like I need her to. "You is kind," she say, "you is smart. You is important."

Booking It- New Orleans

Two very tired, overworked nurses went to New Orleans this Sunday. I had to find something to wear to a wedding and wanted a bit more varied shopping and boyfriend wanted to drink margaritas at Superior Grill on St. Charles. Both of these things were agreeable to me.

Boyfriend is not a reader. In fact he admits he goes to "The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too," but he's really very supportive about the book blogging thing. He never minds when I blog at odd hours and cheers me on when I say "Baby, I got this many visits on my blog today!" Anyway, I'm gushing. But I asked him if he'd take me to Octavia and of course he says no, because that's what he always says- I know he's saying yes. He just grabs the GPS, sighs and programs.

I got to thinking the Saturday morning before about how I wanted to go and visit Octavia Books. I didn't get to go for the Carrie Ryan book signing there last weekend but I thought that maybe, just maybe she'd still be there in spirit.

It's in an area called The Garden District and the name totally fits. The houses range from giant sprawling mansions to whimsical multicolored eclectic houses built out of every material imaginable. Wrought iron fences and flowers and odd little spits of green yard caked with fountains, birdcages, stones, statues. The streets are very narrow. There's no parking and driving is almost impossible. So we parallel parked (-I- personally did not perform this feat) and walked. We found Octavia and I just adored it on sight. It's this nothing little store, would have missed it if I wasn't looking for it but it has the most amazing window and the books are all stacked in nice shiny neat piles. Made my OCD happy. They had a decent selection and it wasn't overrun with local authors and coffee table books- which in my experience you have to be wary of in small stores.

Next we went down the street to The Garden District Book Shop which is upstairs in an odd little mall of sorts. It's different. It didn't have a ceiling, just walled off from the rest of the shops and it was PACKED with stacks and stacks of books. They had hundreds of signed copies. How does that happen? It's a book hunting bookstore in that you have to dig to find anything but I was pleased with some of the titles I ran across.

I'd been to the Borders on St. Charles on a previous trip and while it's aesthetically gorgeous it's still a chain store and what you find in one you'll find in another. I wanted to visit little shops. They feel different when you walk into them, the air is different, like it's been shipped in from some place else.

So it was a great trip. I found a dress and drank margaritas.

I was bummed about missing meeting Carrie Ryan at Octavia the week before, but visiting the store yielded a treasure and answered my question. Yes, she was still there in spirit:

This Book Blogger Behaves Badly...Sometimes (and so should you)

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

This post has been nagging at me for awhile now, and it wasn't until yesterday that everything settled, and all my thoughts stopped moving just enough for me to grab on to the one that's been buzzing around inside of me for weeks. Oddly enough, this moment of clarity came after a retweet someone posted on twitter. I forget who retweeted it but the original author of the post was Trish at Hey Lady and it said:

"Reviewers are writing for the reader, not the author. NEVER LIE"

This post may not reflect the tone she intended when she wrote that tweet but it has really meant a lot to me today.

Every other day I see a post about book blogging etiquette, a post that tells me how I'm suppose to blog. This book blogger etiquette, basically boils down to a set of rules that polite book bloggers feel other book bloggers should subscribe to if they are to be seen as...polite. And as this book blogger is NOT polite, I'll tell you. It's really making my ass twitch.

This is my blog. I write it for me. These are my book thoughts- the thoughts that, I, Me, think about a book. I love that had a few megabytes left for me, Me, to have a little nook to write, collect and maybe even share my book thoughts. I can't tell you what an amazing feeling it has been to share my opinions with some of you, to connect with other people who love literature, deep down in their bones the way I do. I was raised on it, it's a part of me. It helps define who I am. I know non readers, and I truthfully don't know how they go through life without experiencing other stories and other places. I secretly think they're missing pieces of their soul and they'll never have them because they don't go looking for them- in books. I can't express adequately what reading means to me. We'll just have to move on from here.

That said- all that, I respect authors and their gifts.* I can't write a book. I don't have a story to tell. It won't ever happen and I don't want it to. I just want to be a part of the stories, not the one that creates them. Some stories are so beautiful- think about your favorite book and how you would feel, knowing what you know now, if it had never been written. It would be OK to cry then. I would hope you would.

But there are bad stories. There are bad books and oh there are bad writers. Not every bad story is a bad book. And not every bad book is written by a bad author. Even bad authors can write good books, just as good authors can sometimes write bad ones. Do you catch my drift?

I have every right to openly proclaim my love for an author's work.
I have every right to openly FLAME WITH THE FIRES FROM THE DEEPEST REACHES OF HELL my abhorrence of a book when it moves me to feel that it is shit. -SHIT- ladies and gentlemen. Shit. It's a cuss word and polite bloggers aren't suppose to cuss.

This book blogger is not polite.

This book blogger can, however, separate the author from their book. I can hate a book, openly, expressively, loudly, and in all caps if I want to and still have respect for the writer.** Or I can hate a book, openly, expressively, loudly, and in all caps if I want to and have no respect for the author. That's the way of personal opinions. They're personal and pertain only to me.

There are a plethora of book blogs out there. Some follow a cookie cutter format that is designed to only showcase the more popular, positive specimens of the written word. They give you a base emotional response to a work and promote it based solely on their assurance that "it moved" without ever really telling you what it moved them to, or how. Did you know that there are book bloggers who tailor make their reviews in order to please an author/publisher/book supplier? Did you know that's....those....are lies? And they are rewarded for them? Isn't that...wrong?

So thank you, for telling me that it is impolite to have an opinion that doesn't involve visions of sugar plums, sugar and spice. For a moment I felt bad about my negative responses to some of the awful books I've read and posted about. For a minute I even stopped to worry that I might have hurt an author's feelings. I almost took them down. But then I remembered that I, personally would spurn any such book blog that subscribed to that mentality and it would crush me to know that anyone thought that I could ever possess such a vapid, censored, preprogrammed view of a book.

"I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere." - Pride and Prejudice

There will be negative, hateful book thoughts on this book blog, just as there will be book thoughts made entirely of love, awe, wonderment and devotion. I will continue to read books and share my book thoughts here. I would love to discuss them with you, honestly. There really isn't much that's better to talk about than a good story and there really isn't any better gossip than yapping about a bad one. I also give any author leave to tell me I'm an ungrateful wicked girl when I blog that their book is shit.

I am not yelling at -you- personally. If anyone takes this personally I advise them to handle such an emotion, internally, within their own person.
"Modesty, ... and all that, is very well in its way, but really a little common honesty is sometimes quite as becoming.- Northanger Abbey"

And here's a better one:
""Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Suess"

*As always, any proclamation of love for an author or books excludes Stephanie Meyer for her unforgivable act of afflicting Breaking Dawn on unsuspecting, decent, book reading people. I will hold a grudge life long.
**See above.

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Light Beneath Ferns by Anne Spollen
From Goodreads: Elizah Rayne is nothing like other fourteen-year-old girls. More interested in bird bones than people, she wraps herself in silence. Trying to escape the shadow of her gambler father, Elizah and her mother move into an old house that borders a cemetery. All her mother wants is for them to have "normal" lives. But that becomes impossible for Elizah when she finds a human jawbone by the river and meets Nathaniel, a strangely hypnotic and mysterious boy who draws Elizah into his world.

Only by forgetting everything she knows can Elizah understand the truth about Nathaniel—and discover an unimaginable secret.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
From Goodreads: A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

What goodies found their way to you this week?

"Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?"

I got my nifty little blog button slide show working over yonder ------>

I'm on call today. Which means I sit here and fret until they call me in for a surgery. So I can't really get into reading because I'm just to on edge on call days. Instead, this morning I'll be making blog rounds to grab your blog button! In case I miss one or if I haven't added yours yet leave me a comment so I'll know to go look for it.

And while you're at it, **shameless self-promotion** grab mine too! :D

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Happy Saturday!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reading Level:: Young Adult
Pages: 198
Publisher: April 20th 2006 by Puffin (first published 1999)

"I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I just stopped talking."

Melinda never said a word about what happened that night at the party. She never said anything when she was accused of calling the cops, getting a lot of people in major trouble. She never spoke up against her classmates when they pushed and bullied and belittled her for it. She never told her bestfriend Rachel why she called them or how it feels to have your bestfriend say she hates you. She never said anything to her teachers who scolded her for going from a good student to a failure. She never told her parents who just can't understand what their child has become.

She never said anything, to anyone, at all.

Sometimes what you have to say is so horrible, it's unspeakable.

"I have no friends. I have nothing. I say nothing. I am nothing."

This book is the very reason I am so enamoured of the YA genre. Books like this, and Thirteen Reasons Why and I'm sure countless others I've yet to encounter are on a playing field all their own. They are written not only so that everyone can understand, but in a voice that reflects the conflict of emotions that happens in the heart of every teenager. "Like OMG, SHUT UP" that's the surface and the majority of YA books and those happy go lucky books, while entertaining really don't give you any insight into humanity, which more than anything right now our impressionable youth needs. Books like this that deal with actions and consequences and force you to think on it's terms teach you so much more than you could ever imagine you'd learn from a young adult book.

EVERYONE should read this book. I'm glad it's required reading material for some programs. It should be required reading material for life.

The usual words that spring to mind to describe this book are "haunting", "beautiful", "dark" but those are so generic. The language of this book doesn't paint pretty pictures, it paints black holes. The story doesn't haunt you, it stays with you, right there, always, not like a ghost- like a heavy rock you can't move, and you'll stumble on it again and again. I can tell you this if you read it- you will never forget it, even if you want to.

The edition I have is the Platinum Edition, excellently packaged (covers/jackets as bookmarks=bonus) and includes a discussion with the author, Laurie Halse Anderson.

The YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle

I so heart this idea. Click the pic above to visit The Shady Glade for full info, updates and to see a list of the books nominated.

There is even a Goodreads Group you can join for updates.

I adore any event that involves the use of goodreads. I could not function as well without it.

I know who I'm cheering for! Do you?

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
From Goodreads: Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
From Goodreads: Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
From Goodreads: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Reading Level:: Young Adult
Pages: 407
Publisher: March 9th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

     "It makes me think of a picture that the teacher who taught us about gravity once showed me. It was a photograph taken from space, probably from one of the satellites that Elias pointed out to me. The teacher told us it was the pre-Return world at night and all I remember is a sea of darkness with more lights than stars in the sky. All of them cities and towns and villages and houses.
     I wonder what would happen if you took that picture now, how the darkness would have grown. And I think about what all those satellites have seen: villages like this one winking out one by one until there’s nothing left.
     I wrap my arms around my chest as the sunlight leaches from the sky. Is that all we have left? Is that all we are? Lights on a map that are slowly dying, hanging on for nothing?"

Since the Return, the catastrophic infection that rendered most of the human civilization Unconsecrated- undead, villages like Vista have formed from the remnants of the population that managed to escape the onslaught of infection. Safe behind an elaborate system of fences that loosely tie one village to the next, the seaside city of Vista has lived in relative safety since its foundation. Confident that their defenses will hold, but still ever mindful of the throngs of Unconsecrated that endlessly beat against it's barriers, the citizens have established a harsh system of justice to deal with those who would dare go beyond the fences, those who would risk the safety of the village.

Gabrielle has accepted the rules established by Vista, and lived within the safety they give for as long as she can remember. From her home in the lighthouse on the beach she has watched as her mother has protected the shores from the Unconsecrated, the Mudo who's lifeless forms wash up with the incoming tide and reanimate when they sense the living. She has seen the incessant hunger for human life and blood that drives the Unconsecrated who wash up onto the shore and she has never once dared place herself beyond the protection of the walls, or her mother's scythe.

But funny what a girl will do for a handsome face with an inviting smile. One night Catcher holds out his hand to help Gabry climb over the barriers to explore the abandoned amusement park that lies in ruins just beyond the village's walls and a night of careless abandon becomes one of death and regret that turns the life of safety Gabry has known into a rapidly fading memory. An attack by a Breaker, an Unconsecrated of incredible drive and speed, will set forth a series of events that will drive Gabry from her home, into the Forest of Hands and Teeth and into a past she didn't know she possessed.
"I remember my mother telling me earlier that we are nothing more than our stories. I look at the masses of dead flesh, at all the stories that are now forever silenced."

As with The Forest of Hands and Teeth this book scared me silly. I'm so glad I live in my world and that I'm only reading about zombies in a work of fiction, on my kindle and not as a newsflash in the paper. Their mouths, ooooh I don't want to think about their mouths.

You're sick Ryan.

And incredibly talented because this book, with it's gore and death and disgust is so beautifully written that I DEAL WITH ZOMBIES just to experience it and I LOOK FORWARD TO MORE ZOMBIES in the future. The world created here is so vivid and excellently crafted it's almost like the book is in 3-D. I loved it.

Guess I'm sick too.

The one negative in this book for me was the character of Gabry. I couldn't stand her. She was such a flat, whiny, wussy little thing and she never developed beyond that. 400 cries of "You can do it Catcher," or "It'll be OK Catcher" does not a heroine make. She never atoned for her own neediness and she never once contributed to the group's escape. I would have had to smack her. But I loved who it turned out Gabrielle was- when I first saw her name I thought she was someone else and the tie in with Mary's story from The Forest of Hands and Teeth made for a great sequel.

Contest @ Cleverly Inked

Miz Liz at Cleverly Inked is celebrating her birthday with a great big giveaway and hopefully cake. Please take a moment to visit Cleverly Inked. It's a fabulous blog with great content and reviews! Sign up!

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Ash by Malinda Lo
From Goodreads:

Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
From Goodreads: In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestelling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world…no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever. In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.

Is there really a ghost dancing in her backyard? Can a cake really bring back a lost love?
In this town of lovable misfits, maybe the right answer is the one that just feels…different.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
From Goodreads: Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
From Goodreads: When the goddess Artemis goes missing, she is believed to have been kidnapped.And now it's up to Percy and his friends to find out what happened. Who is powerful enough to kidnap a goddess? They must find Artemis before the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the titans. Not only that, but first Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared -- a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
From Goodreads: Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Reading Level:: Young Adult
Pages: 308
Publisher: March 10th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

"We are our own memory-keepers and we have failed ourselves. It is like that game we played in school as children. Sitting in a circle, one student whispers a phrase into another student's ear and the phrase is passed around until the last student in the circle repeats what she hears, only to find out it is nothing like what it is supposed to be. That is our life now."

There was a time when there was an entire world outside the village. Cities, with buildings that scraped the sky, full of life and people, stretching all the way to the ocean. Before the Return, before the world became infected. Now there is only the village, protected by an elaborate system of fencing that keeps the infected, the Unconsecrated out. There is nothing outside the village- so the Sisters, the keepers of history, those that rule the village in the name of their god, say. You are born in the village, you live, you marry, you have children, you serve God, and pray every day that the fences hold. But you never, ever question what's beyond the fences, and you believe only what you're told to believe.

Mary's mother told her stories of the ocean, a seemingly endless body of water that stretches further than the imagination. Her whole life Mary has listened to these tales with a longing so intense that at times she can almost hear the waves and taste the salt. The ocean is her dream, the thing she secretly desires most, but as with most dreams, it is completely unattainable. Unattainable because the dream world that holds the ocean no longer exists, there is only her village and the masses of Unconsecrated that claw incessantly at the gates, hungering for the lives inside it.

The fences are made by man, and as such are fallible, and one day, they fail. The people of the village take to the trees, as swarms of Unconsecrated flood into the village, ending lives, ending futures, ending a history. With the village gone and only one path left out of it, a path protected and kept secret by the Sisterhood- Mary is faced with an impossible choice- stay and take whatever is left of her life in the village or leave, go beyond the fences, into the forest and perhaps, to a place she has only dreamed of.

This book scared the crap out of me. Not only was it a society ruled with an iron hand by the church that will not allow itself to be questioned, but it was a society, trapped inside a fence, endlessly fighting off ARMIES OF DEAD PEOPLE. That's right children. Zombies. Now when someone says "Zombie" to me I giggle, zombies aren't scary and the very idea is rather absurd- until I read this book.


Horrific, graphic and heartbreaking things happen in this book. I could give you more of a summary but the story's events were written to unfold systematically and I wouldn't want to upset the system. I was swept right along with the story and I couldn't put it down until it was over.

Mary is a very, very diverse character. We have a youth questioning the gospel preached by the church, not willing to live blindly believing lies. We have a young girl caught in an impossible love triangle that could very well rip apart the lives of so many people, families and friends. We have a human being that witnesses the horrible extent that people will go to in order to maintain control, and we have a very selfish little girl who puts her desires ahead of everything and everyone, even those closest to her. The subject of Mary's selfishness is the one thing I disagree on in other reviews I've read. Yes she was willing to sacrifice anything and anyone for her dream, but wouldn't you rather she did that than settle? Even if it protects others is that ultimate self-sacrifice, giving up the part of you that makes you You worth it? I'm proud of Mary and her realization that settling on something that can never be what you want, never complete you is far worse than what you may have to do to be who you are, or in this case, get to where you are meant to be.
"...I can feel how his body shakes and I know that he is crying. For me, for Beth. And I wonder if there was ever a crueler world than this one that forces us to kill the people we love most."

There are countless holes in this story. I won't lie to you, it is flawed but I loved it. I am completely enamoured of Ryan's prowess at storytelling. She had a lot of explaining that needed to be done that she didn't do, but even realizing that it never once distracted me from the story. How could I with such writing:

"Tonight my body pulses with awareness as I kneel by his bed, our fingers intertwined. We've been sharing each other's breath for what seems like weeks now even though it's only been a few moments. It's as if there is infinity between our lips and we will never actually touch. Like math, where dividing by half can last for eternity."

I don't normally read the next book in a series immediately after finishing the previous books. I usually like to just let it sit, let the story and my feelings for it marinate while I read other things. When this book was over it left me with a good book hangover so intense that only another drink from the story could revive me, so I picked up The Dead Tossed Waves and I'm reading it now.

I forgot my own blog birthday.

Happy Blog Birthday to meeeeeeee- yesterday!
Happy Blog Birthday to meeeeeeee- yesterday!
Happy Blog Birthday to meeeeeeeee eeeeee eeeeee eeeee- yesterday!

I have a beautiful type-singing voice.

A year ago yesterday, I made my first post, and my first book thoughts on Breaking Dawn, the second worst book I've ever read, declared my hatred for S. Meyer and joined a wonderful community of bloggers that I never really even knew existed.

So in a way, thank you Meyer for writing something I hated SO MUCH it moved me to become a book blogger.

Thank you to all my wonderful followers for the comments, the emails, the book chats and for your own blogs which make my morning coffee time extra special.

2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

Hosted by J. Kaye's/Home Girl's Book Blog

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.
2. There are four levels:
--The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.
--Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.
--Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.
--Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.
(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)
3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.
4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.
6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

I'm shooting for The Mini (25)-

1. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
2. Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
3. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Genre:: Paranormal Fantasy/Romance
Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers - October 2007

"The clock struck eleven and Cat the Vampire Huntress was on the loose, except my battle armor was a push-up bra, curled hair, and a short dress. Yeah, it was a dirty job, but I was going to do it. Come one, come all, bloodsuckers! Bar’s open!"

I've been reading so much normal straight forward fiction and YA lately that I've lost sight of the thing that matters most in a book to me:

Good ol' fashioned VAMPIRE PORN.

That's right children. We can swoon after the dashing hero, and our hearts can beat a little faster when he spews forth all that romantic drivel but what we really want is a sassy, strong female lead, a hot bad-ass, bad boy love interest and for both of them to get laid. I speak the truth.

While most girls spend their highschool careers chasing boys, shopping and trying to fit in with the crowd, Catherine "Cat" Crawfield spent it killing vampires. Always the odd one who never quite fit in, it wasn't hard for Cat to believe her mother when she told her that she was the product of a date rape by a vampire. It certainly explained alot. Like why Cat is stronger, faster and healthier than anyone she knows, why her eyes glow a piercing green when she's emotional and why she can sense things no one else can- things like vampires. Cat promised her mother she'd get even with the blood sucker who raped her and spent the next few years lurring unsuspecting vamps out of seedy night clubs and driving stakes into their hearts.

Young vampires, easily swayed by a pretty girl feigning intoxication. Babies. Those vampires, weren't masters.

A master vampire would see right through her, know every move she plans to make and make it before she does. Like tonight's catch- a rather attractive vampire with an English accent that seems to be playing right into her hands- up until the point where he knocks her out and she wakes up chained to a wall in a dark cave, in the middle of nowhere with a pair of fangs at her neck.

Bones is more than just a pair of fangs poised and ready to kill, his also a vampire bounty hunter. It would have never occurred to Cat to distinguish between good vampires and bad vampires, to her, all vampires need to be killed. So when Bones offers to spare her life in exchange for vampire slaying services, Cat must struggle with her own feelings towards the race she's hunted for so long. Can she work for a vampire? More importantly, can she trust one?

"If you run from me, I will chase you, and I'll find you...."

Unexpectedly funny and a great thrill ride. Cat kicks butt the way we all wish we could- in a pair of high heeled, thigh high leather boots. Bones is the perfect bad boy, any minute he might either kill her or kiss her- the epitome of bad romance.

This book is hot sex on a platter. I plan on eating the rest of the series with a chocolate-cherry covered spoon.

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Oh my it was such a busy week. I didn't even get a chance to enter a bookstore! Shocking, isn't it? But I did get one very special goodie:

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
From Goodreads: Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe, and now the leader of the werewolf pack - who's maybe-more-than-just-a-friend - has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they're all about to find out how implacable - and dangerous - the fae can be. OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday ...

Just the one this week- but you don't get ANY BETTER THAN MERCY!

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Laura @ A Jane of All Reads
I read excessively and hoard books like a greedy dragon. Theoretically, I also plan to use them to barricade myself against the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

I accept books for review as long as they're good ones. Review Policy
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