Sometimes Realistic makes a book Better (Allegiant Review)

***First of all, I’m going to try my best to not put any spoilers in this review but if you’ve been around the internet over the past couple of days you may already know how the trilogy ends

When I finished “Allegiant” I knew right away that the shocking ending was going to get the Divergent universe worked up. I knew fans were going to be angry and not like the ending. I don’t like that fans are actually physically threatening Veronica Roth. She is an author. Her job is to write an entertaining story and it is her prerogative to end her series however she wants.

Now, let me tell you why I like the way the Divergent series ended:

First of all, whether in books or in movies, I like it when things happen that I don’t see coming. I already knew there was a shocking ending to “Allegiant” but wasn’t sure exactly what that would be. I like the surprise of something happening that makes me take a break in my reading and think it through.

Also, let’s be realistic, if any of us lived the life of Tris, we wouldn’t have made it halfway through book one, right? The ending is reality. There are consequences to the choices we make. Sometimes we have to bear those consequences but very often, those we love have to bear them too.

And finally, I think it was a very bold and gutsy move on the author’s part to end her series this way. I’m sure she knew that readers were not going to be happy but she stuck with what she felt was right and wrote a story that was true to her vision.

Thank you, Veronica Roth, for an engaging and entertaining story about a girl who made hard choices and inspired a group of friends to do the same.

My 2013 Top 10 Books

I know there are still a couple of months left in 2013 but since I’ve already reached my goal of reading 100 books in 2013, I figured I’d go ahead and post my top 10. A little disclaimer here, I’m posting any YA series I’ve read as “one book”. They are quick reads and all go together pretty well.

10. where'd you go

This quirky, light-hearted book is about a girl trying to piece together what happened to her mother, Bernadette, through emails, letters and text messages. Bernadette is quite the character and you are sure to get a laugh or two out of the book.

9. pride and prejudice and cheese grits

This is an updated retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Shelby Roswell is a history professor whose first book has been poorly received by Ransom Fielding, a renowned historian. When he comes to her college as a visiting professor, the sparks fly.

8. mirror images

This was one of my review books that took me by surprise. There were so many twists and turns in the book that I kept doubting what the truth was. When Maddy attends the funeral of a former love who had swindled her, she is shocked to see him standing at his grave before she learns he had a twin brother that she had never heard about. There is a lot going on in the small town of Churchill, Wisconsin and Maddy is in danger.

7. unenchanted (and the rest of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series

This was a pleasant surprise for a fee eBook I picked up. Mina Grime is an awkward teenager, prone to accidents. One day while on a field trip, she saves the boy she’s had a crush on and things start to change. When she learns what her mother has been running away from, that they are direct descendants of the Brothers Grimm of fairy tale fame and there was a curse passed through the generations that can only be broken if a member lives through every fairy tale, her life really becomes complicated.

6. ender's game

I know, I know this book has been around and loved for years. I finally read it when I heard the movie was being made (by the way, can’t wait until Nov. 1). In a world that lives in constant fear of another alien attack, society is looking for the child that can save them. Enter Ender Wiggins. He has grown up with a sadistic older brother and a loving sister. He has been picked on but he is the boy the government has their eye on. When he is sent to Battle School, he quickly becomes the one everyone is watching as he continuously succeeds in the zero gravity battle room

5. governess of highland hall

Another review book that I loved. Missionary Julie Foster has returned to England after years of living in India due to her dad’s poor health. Determined to help her family, she finds a position as a governess at a nearby manor. Sir William Ramsey has just inherited Highland Hall and is tasked with the unenviable job of figuring out how to pay the exorbitant death tax left on the property. Can Julia’s faith bring healing to the residents of Highland Hall?

4. hourglass cover

This is the first in a YA trilogy by Myra McEntire but was different enough from all of the dystopian YA series out there I really enjoyed it. Emerson Cole sees people from the past. She knows they aren’t ghosts but doesn’t really know exactly what they are. Her brother hires someone from The Hourglass to help her understand what is going on with her. Michael Weaver explains that these are time ripples (or rips) and Emerson has a time travel gene.

3. finding colin firth

Recommended to me by a friend because of the Jane Austen references, I was surprised to like this book for other reasons, mainly the relationships between the three women the book centers around. Gemma Hendricks is determined to get her job back by scoring an interview with Colin Firth while he’s in a small town in Maine filming a movie but it’s another story that ends up capturing her. Bea Crane finds out she was adopted at age twenty-two, she decides to go to main to find her real mother. Veronica Russo has come home to face her path.

2. book thief cover

I had seen this book mentioned a few times over the past few months but once I saw the movie trailer, I knew I had to read it. Set in WW2 Germany and narrated by death, Leisel Meminger steals her first book at her brother’s grave while on her way to her new foster home. Her foster mother is gruff but loves in her own way, her new foster father is the encouragement she needs to teach herself to read the book she stole. When the family takes in and hides a Jewish man, things really get interesting for Leisel and her foster family. ***Read this book with tissues

1. divergent cover

If we are friends on Facebook or have talked to me about books over the last several months, it will be no surprise to you that the Divergent series ranks number one on the list of books I’ve read. Set in a Dystopian Chicago, society has been divided into five factions based on bravery, honesty, knowledge, serving and kindness. Students reach a certain age and take a test to determine which faction they will go into. Beatrice (later known as Tris) takes the test and can’t be lumped into one group, she is what they call divergent and being divergent is not a good thing, it’s something that must be kept secret. Follow Tris as she decides which faction she will join and her experience joining that faction.

How about you? What are the best books you’ve read this year?

Uplifting but Predictable

Christian fiction is a nice change from a lot of the mainstream works out there. It seems to be becoming more and more acceptable for sex and foul language to be added to books (I am even amazed at the content of some young adult books out there). So it is nice to read a good, wholesome story. But, as is often the case with Christian fiction, the plot lines are very predictable and formulaic. What Once was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer was just that–predictable.

Christina Willems loves her life running a poor farm in Kansas but when a fire uproots her and all of the residents of the farm, things get challenging. Christina quickly finds a place for everyone except for the young bling boy, Tommy. In a last ditch effort, Christina takes Tommy to the home of the reclusive mill owner, Levi Jonnson. While Levi agrees with reluctance, he is taken by surprise by how quickly he becomes attached to Tommy. When a former poor farm resident with a grudge returns to town, he is determined to undermine Christina. With all of the trials will Christina still cling to her God? Will Levi let go of the hurts of his past and open up to the others?

Now, I said this book was predictable but it was not a bad. I’m all for the Hallmark movie endings where everyone has gotten what they deserve in the end. There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book but once you get to know the poor farm residents, it’s not too confusing.

I would say this book was pretty average and give it three out of five stars.

*****Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was not compensated in any way for either a negative or a positive review.

A Mystery that Will Keep You Turning Pages

mirror images cover

I’m tired this morning. “Why?” you might ask. Well, you see, yesterday afternoon I started reading this book and I couldn’t put it down. Finally, at 2:00 am, I closed the book because I knew I needed to get some sleep since I had to come in to work today. Mirror Images by Laurel Norlander definitely drew my attention. I kept reading because I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on in this strange small town.

Madison James Kawolski has left her home in Chicago to attend the funeral of a man she once loved, Ross Bauer. This man had hurt her deeply when he took all of her savings and left her without a backward glance. Madison is shocked to see the man she believed was dead standing at the graveside. When one of the locals sees her reaction, she learns the man she knew had a twin and she began to realize that maybe she didn’t know Ross Bauer at all. The small town seems to have its share of gossips and soon Madison finds it’s also got its share of secrets. What happened to Ross Bauer? Will Madison ever get the money that was stolen from her back? Will she ever fill the hole in her life?

Norlander does a wonderful job of keeping you guessing throughout this book. Just when you think you might have something figured out, another twist is thrown at you and you are as confused and frustrated as the main character is in her search for the truth. But through it all, there is the underlying theme of letting go of the past and looking forward to a future.

I give this book four and a half out of five stars

*****Booksneeze and West Bow Press provided me with a free eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was not compensated in any way for either a negative or a positive review.