Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Sitting down to blog this book, I don't quite know where to start. I truly enjoyed reading this book. 
While in his home town for a funeral, a middle aged man drives to the site of his parents' former home and  visits the farm at the end of the road, where he remembers some curious events from when he was seven... He remembers being caught up in the aftermath of a houseguest's death, a doorway is opened to another world--a world of nightmares and fairytale monsters, of magical kittens and brave eleven-year old girls who are older and wise r than creation. And it's there his adventure starts and, just as abruptly, ends.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane deals with dreams, the effect of belief on reality, and forgotten things, like things that every kid knows and every adult has forgotten.

There's not a lot I can say without giving away the best bits. A haunting novel about sacrifice, boundaries, and things remembered. So many twisted and tattered new characters to get into our heads and under our skin.
That's about all I can say. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a really quick read but full of interesting ideas and great moments.

RPA 2/26/14

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Extra - Kathryn Lasky

Jewish people along with the Gypsies were persecuted by the Nazi's during World War Two.  On an Autumn night in 1940 Lilo, her father, and her mother are taken from their home and transported to a holding area.  Five nights later the three of them, along with many other Gypsies, are taken to Buchenwald.  Lilo and her mother are separated from Lilo's father at the camp.  After two days of asking where her father is a boy asks her what she's looking for.  Lilo describes her father to him and the boy, Django, says he will try and find him.  Django does find him and he's on a transport leaving the camp.  The next day there is roll call for the girls and women to be medical pioneers.  This is the polite way of saying the doctors are sterilizing the women so they can't have children.  Lilo is spared thanks to the Good Matron hiding her.  Two weeks later they are transported to Maxglan.  Shortly after arriving Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's favorite filmmaker, picks twenty-three of the prisoners including Lilo, her mother, and Django to be extras in a movie.  They are transported to Krün, hosed down and given new clothes.  They are reminded that they are still prisoners and the same rules apply as they did at Maxglan.  The next day some of them, including Lilo and Django, are driven to the film set.  They are in awe of how realistic the set looks.  The extras are cast as street urchins in the movie.  If some of them aren't needed for a scene they are kept in a cell until needed.  When they are off set the Gypsies are housed in a barn, which is a little better than Maxglan, but not by much.  Lilo wants her mother with her while she's on set and Django gets her on the bus going to the movie set.  Lilo is assigned to be a stand in for some of the wide shot scenes of the main characters entering and leaving the town on horseback.  Lilo sees this as a chance to be noticed by Leni and possibly keeping her and her mother alive after the film is complete.  Filming heads to Babelsberg in the winter of 1940-1941.  To keep everyone alive the Gypsies are given warmer blankets and a bit more food.  Shooting continues for the next few months at Babelsberg and by the second week of May 1941 filming is completed there.  It is announced that everyone would be returning to Krün, with a few going to Sarentino in Italy for further shooting.  Lilo and Django are among the few who get to go.  While in Sarentino Lilo has a strange waking dream about wanting to free herself from everything.  She dismisses it as just a dream.  The filming finishes up in Sarentino and everyone heads back to Krün.  On June 22nd, 1941 word is spreading that Hitler has invaded Russian and everyone is celebrating.  While all of this celebrating is going on Lilo sees her chance to escape.  She escapes and doesn't look back.

I enjoyed this book.  I'm not one for historical fiction, but this book kept my interest all the way through.  It was a good story about survival during one of the most horrific periods in human history.  I also liked the fact Lilo always had hope.  Even when everything looked really grim, she believed one day things would get better.

T.B. 2/10/14

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Flawed by Kate Avelynn

Flawed is a dark but moving book. It doesn't shy away from the scary reality of abuse and possessiveness under the guise of protection. It's gritty and for every moment of hope, there's a moment of despair that keeps you going to the end.

Sarah O'Brien has always depended on her brother James to save her from her abusive father. He would always step in and protect her with the promise that he'd keep her safe as long as she'd never leave him. She's always been able to keep that secret, but things are starting to change in her world. The summer before senior year, she finally has a chance with her long-time crush, Sam, who just happens to be James's best friend. She thought that since they were friends, James would approve, but his possessiveness pushes forward as he forbids her to see Sam. She struggles with what to do because she knows that if James finds out she's with Sam, he'll kill him, but she can't deny how safe and wonderful she feels when she's with Sam. He gives her hope for a future and an escape from this horrible world she's lived most of her life. Any hope for the future, however, means hurting James and breaking her promise. Her choice gets even more difficult as James starts to spiral out of control and nothing seems safe anymore. 

This is a powerful book that reminds people that bad things happen and there isn't always a happy ending. No matter what Sarah chooses to do, someone is going to get hurt, a fact that constantly pulls her in different directions. You can't help but want to see Sarah come out on top, but you understand the struggles that keep weighing her down. You feel for James who is facing his own demons. He understands his role as Sarah's protector, but since that has been his whole life, his role as her brother starts to blur. On top of that, there's the reality that maybe people aren't as different as their enemy as they would hope. Either way, you want to see these characters overcome their struggles, but the reality is that it's not as easy as one would hope.

I really enjoyed this novel. It draws you in emotionally and then shocks you at the end. This book is real and doesn't sugar coat anything. It was a great read.

Fugitive X - Gregg Rosenblum

Nick, Kevin, and Cass have escaped a City where they tried to rescue their biological parents.  They head into the woods where they are barely surviving.  As Kevin goes in search of water he encounters bots and is captured. Cass and Nick hear his cry for help and try and find him.  Cass is severely injured, and the only way for her to survive is to be taken by the bots.  After Cass is taken Nick continues searching for Kevin.  Nick encounters Erica in the woods and she agrees to help him look for Kevin.  On an island sanctuary run by The Governor, Kevin is interrogated and then joins in the workforce of the island.  Nick and Erica find the Freepost where they got word of two brothers and a sister would be coming.  Cass has been healed, re-educated, and will be placed with her biological parents and her sister.  The bots attack and the Freepost is destroyed.  Nick and Erica continue through the woods till they encounter rebels and join them to fight the bots.  Back on the island Kevin is first put on wall duty to help construct the wall around the island.  When he shows his engineering background The Governor puts him to work on fixing things.  Back in the rebel camp Nick and Erica are washing dishes when Nick hears about half the camp heading north to get refugees.  Nick insists on going hoping Kevin might be among them.  When they encounter the refugees Lexi and Farryn recognize Nick and ask where Kevin and Cass are.  In the city Cass is taken away from her parents and younger sister by order of the Senior Advisor.  She is left outside the city in the woods, and told to wait until she is collected.  On the island Kevin feels something isn't right there and makes an unscheduled visit to The Governor.  The Governor reveals he is Dr. Winston, the creator of the robots who rebelled against the humans.  Back in the rebel camp Nick, Erica, Lexi, and Farryn escape to search for Cass after seeing a bot vid that was broadcast earlier in the day.  They find Cass in the woods, but she has no clue who they are.  Back on the island Kevin tries to escape but is unsuccessful.  The Governor is not happy with Kevin, but he will let the escape attempt slide for now.  With Cass and Nick somewhat reunited will they be able to find Kevin, and rescue their parents while trying to survive against the bots?

The sequel to Revolution 19 was a good continuation of the story.  I liked how each chapter was focused on either Nick, Kevin, or Cass after they got separated in the woods.  I also liked how Rosenblum brought everything together in the end.  There is still that air of mystery surrounding the Senior Advisor and it's hand in all of this.  This is book two of the trilogy and I'll be waiting for the third book to come out to see how the story ends.

T.B. 2/5/14