Uglies

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Goodreads Summary:

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever…

I’ve had this series on my TBR list for a while, and I finally gave in, the result was kinda just. . .fc,550x550,white

The prose is super simple, but the overall message of the book, and the world it takes place in makes it stand out. There is a general disconnect from the characters though that never got me emotionally invested in Tally or her cohorts, and what kept me from really loving this book.

The message about physical appearance is really great and interesting, especially how it’s played against the world of the “rusties.” And I feel like the “lesions” could easily be equated to modern media obsession and how hard we are on our appearance, but there is enough unknown oppression that it doesnt come off as preachy.

It was entertaining, and a lot of my goodreads buddies gave these books 4+ star reviews, but there was just something lacking that kept me from being as excited about it as everyone else.

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Coming This Week: March 30

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It’s the last week of March! I don’t know about you guys but this years seems to be moving by pretty quickly. I won’t argue though, I am ready for my husband to be home, to go to New Zealand (Oh, have I not mentioned that, 2 week trip in June!!), and to move back to the mainland, even if it is to Lawton, OK.

Anyway, this week there will be three book reviews, the first 3 of the Uglies series so look for:

And on Wednesday I will do my 365DaysofYA link up and let you all know which books to look out for!

Band of Brothers: Episode 2, Chpt. 5

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Episode two is titled “Day of Days” and follows Easy Co. on D-Day.

Jumping on Normandy scattered the 101st and 82nd across the peninsula. Men formed piecemeal squads to reach objectives and find their outfits. Equipment was lost in the jump, leaving soldiers under-armed behind enemy lines. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, for most of the men this was their first experience in battle.

The episode follows Winters as he makes his way from where he landed (st. Mere-Eglise) to his objective (Le Grand-Chemain/causeway 2), gathering soldiers to him along the way and dealing with run-ins with enemy soldiers. The sentiment I get from this episode is the level of preparedness the soldiers had entering the war. They are scattered across France, disoriented, being shot at, lacking equipment – yet they all set out to achieve their objective of protecting the beach for the landing. You also see how the men react to war at first, many of them are almost giddy and make a series of silly mistakes that they are lucky didn’t lead to more detrimental results.

The book added more interaction with the French civilians than the show, and one of the things that stood out to me was the gratitude the French showed to the American soldiers. A Pvt. Burgess was shot the night of the invasion, and took refuge in a nearby barn. The French farmer whose barn it was came out and held his hand, gave him wine, comforted him, and the next day found some medics and gave them his cart to evacuate Burgess. Since the Civil War, Americans have never had to live in a war-zone. I can’t imagine how that French farmer felt when the American’s and their Commonwealth allies liberated Normandy, but the compassion that one farmer showed I think illustrates a level of gratitude that I doubt I’ll ever experience. (pages 73-4)

The morning after the invasion Easy was tasked with taking out an artillery battery shelling the beach during the landing.Now, the battalion, usually around 600 men, was only at about 100, and responsible for holding the area around a town called Le Grand-Chemin. Winters, now the company commander (the original was killed when his aircraft went down), led his present men to take out the guns. So, with twelve men, (and later another 5 with Lt. Speirs) Winters destroyed a battery of three guns that were firing on the second causeway on Utah beach.  It was a task normally done by at least a platoon, and was achieved by 17 men (about a squad), showing the high level of training, trust, and leadership of the soldiers. And it’s pretty incredible. (pages 78, 83)

Ambrose ends the chapter with a segment of Winters journal, which I feel the need to quote as well. It sums up I’m sure what most of the men were feeling that day: “I did not forget to get on my knees an thank God for helping me to live through this day and ask for his help on D plus one.”

Pinspiration!

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When I was having trouble with my first draft a lot of people mentioned their visual aids to help foster some inspiration. Now, one of the things I need to do – and plan to when we get to OK and I have nothing to do but write, is to make an actual board. Right now I just have a Pinterest board, that I reference when I feel myself getting to a stick point, or am having trouble visualizing things. Well, I thought I would share some of my favorite pins, maybe you can guess a bit about my story from them!

 

The Winner’s Crime

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Goodreads Summary:

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them

Oh, these two, they are going to break my heart. This book was a roller-coaster of emotions! The way Kestrel constantly has to deceive Arin to protect he and his country, the way Arin knows she’s hiding things from him and then eventually gives in to the belief that her deceptions are true – then has a change of heart but Kestrel can’t come clean to him like she wants to, the overall depths that the Emperor is taking to keep Kestrel in his grasp and destroy Herran, and ultimately the strained relationship between Kestrel and her father. There was just so much!

I honestly don’t know what to expect for the next book. There are so many things that need to be resolved, and I really hope that Arin and Kestrel achieve that quickly in the last book. I am slightly worried that Arin won’t be able to forgive Kestrel since he’s tried so hard to get her to admit her true feelings and she hasn’t given them to him, but given his character and how he’s always known her true self (not to mention her current situation) I think he’ll come to understand everything when she explains it. I can’t wait to see Herran and her ally move against Valoria, and what that means for Kestrel and her father. I’m also wondering what’s going to happen to Verex given the Emperors plan to silence Kestrel.

– My hope is that Verex and Risha will be the new Valorian rulers, and Kestrel and Arin go back to govern Herran, and everyone lives happily ever after, obviously.

Anyway, I really like how we get to see Kestrel through Arin’s eyes, she shields herself so well that it’s hard for the reader to see her true self sometimes – but then again, I don’t think she knows her true self either until the very end. She’s pulled in too many directions from a deep rooted sense of loyalty to those she loves, and she doesn’t let them love her back in her fierceness to protect them or prove herself to them.

I also really appreciated that Kestrel and Verex have a tentative friendship. With these kinds of situations I think it’s really easy for authors to introduce a love triangle, and I was so happy that wasn’t the case! I think their friendship makes so much sense, as they have common beliefs. I also really liked that Verex so easily saw the real reason behind Kestrel’s actions (her love for Arin and Herran), allowing her to be honest with at least one person.

I simply can’t wait for the next one, it’s going to be a long year!

Coming This Week: March 23

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The last full week of March, and let me tell you I’m happy for it! Not that it’s been a terrible month (though certainly there have been some disheartening aspects – like finding out the exhibit I’ve been working on since October isn’t happening. I digress). But April puts us that much closer to May, when the husband returns and we can figure out when we can get off this rock! Especially since it’s getting hotter, I was not prepared to spend another summer here.

Anyway, this week keep a look out for these book discussions:

Friday will be the second installment of my Band of Brothers journey. And on Wednesday I am going to share a bit of my Pinterest inspiration for my WiP.

Happy Monday!

Band of Brothers: Episode 1, Chpts 1-4

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“Currahee!” is the title of the first episode, and covers all the training Easy Co. went through. It took them from Georgia, North Carolina, across the Atlantic to Aldbourne, Slapton Sands, and Uppottery England. Honestly, this is my least favorite episode, but it still covers so much good information and is an excellent introduction to the men and what their life preparing for war was. My favorite aspect of this series is that it has the real men of Easy providing mini-interviews before each episode, and the deep patriotism that is described by the men for this episode is astounding and inspirational.

One of the men notes how boys from his town were committing suicide because they were not able to enlist – that’s such a radically different reaction from any other call to arms I have studied (for modern warfare at least). And the most similar situation to compare I think would be OIF/OEF, another conflict resulting from the nation being attacked – we had a surge of enlistment/national patriotism, but it dwindled, and I don’t think it was ever to the level of people during WWII. I mean, if the country today, was asked to ration to aide the war effort, I think there would be another revolution.

Anyway, I think the first episode and the first 4 chapters match up pretty well. Here are the main points I took away from the book, and how I thought they were represented in the episode:

 First, Ambrose highlights how diverse Easy was (and arguably the entire military), its men came from the North, South, East, West, from college, from the coal mines and factories, the middle class, families scraping by for a living, and most interestingly almost none came from Old Army or the Guard or Reserves.

Another thing all the men had in common was their hatred for their Company Commander, Captain Herbert Sobel. Many of the men would later credit him for making E Co. what it was, with its unbreakable loyalty and complete trust between the soldiers – he united them from the beginning by providing them with a common enemy. Sobel pushed the men with extreme discipline (often finding one person to pick on for the day), vigorous PT (the paratroopers were known for their fitness, he took it a step further), and his lacking leadership in the field. This was definitely shown in the episode, and the accuracy was on point, choosing several incidences between Sobel and the men, and Sobel and LT Richard Winters (one of E Co. Platoon Leaders and Sobel’s self-proclaimed enemy because of the high level of respect Winters earned from the men).

So, the men trained in the U.S., earning their wings and proving themselves to be an elite group of the U. S. Army. With their wings pinned on, they headed across the Atlantic, to begin training exercises in preparation to enter the war in Europe and participate in the invasion of Normandy. The boat took them to England where Private Webster, a Harvard English major, stated how he “thought I’d passed out on a Hollywood movie set. All around the area were fairy-book cottages with thatched roofs and rose vines on their sides . . .” (43) The men learned English customs so as not to offend with our brash American ways, and set out to learn land maneuvers, practice jumps with full gear (adding up to 150lbs to a mans weight), and train with VII Corps for the invasion.(66)

Again, all of this, the spirit of the men, the newness of these experiences, and ultimately their preparedness to conduct the jumps and missions they would be charged with is palpable through the episode. I think it’s incredible the journey these men went through, over a year of training to become top of the line soldiers. I think a lot people fail to understand the relationships you forge in the military – obviously I am not a soldier, but I can honestly say from growing up an Army brat, and now being an Army spouse, that the family you forge through the military is often stronger than blood – you are living a life that no one can understand unless they too are going through it, and it’s bonds are almost unexplainable.

Now, one major fact pointed out by Ambrose that I found interesting has to do with the dress rehearsal for the D-Day invasion, which was not included in the episode. On the coast of England the invasion fleet practiced their movements for Normandy, but unknown to most of the men, and kept under wraps until the 1980s, German torpedo boats sank two LSTs (landing ships ferrying the invading force) killing more than 900 men. (58) The tragedy was covered up in fear of hurting morale so close to the invasion.

Now, I could go on, but I need to wrap this up. What I took away most from these chapters, and this episode, was the high level of camaraderie between the men, and the high level of preparedness for what they were being asked to do. It was terribly hard to become a paratrooper, and these men had all done it, they were ready to enter battle, fight for a nation they were all devoted to, and for the liberty they believed Europe deserved.