Even in Paradise

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Goodreads Summary:

The Great Gatsby meets Looking for Alaska in this stunning debut novel.

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about her. Most people do . . . or think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she dives headfirst into the larger-than-life new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind Julia’s self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes, she is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden . . . until now.

With inspiration drawn from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Chelsey Philpot’s moving debut novel perfectly captures the intensity, the thrill, and the heartbreak of our too-brief friendships and loves.

This book really caught me off guard. It’s deep and touching and honest and maps out the challege of discovering who you are in an opulent world.

This is one of those books that I wouldn’t have picked up if I wasn’t doing the 365 Days of YA Challenge. It’s a Contemporary, not my usual genre. But the reference to The Great Gatsby definitely sparked my interest. As soon as I got into this by a couple chapters it was hard for me to put down. The characters are really interesting and different, maybe a little eccentric, but certainly have aspects of people we have all known. Immediately I related to the main character “Charlie” with her “speaks little observes much” attitude and morbid interest in Julia, who clearly is messed up.

While this story was focused on Julia and Charlie’s relationship, I think it was more of Charlie learning about herself and getting to experience the mythical American royalty. Julia is interesting, with her eccentricies and her darkness, and both of those bring out different sides of Charlie. Though I can see how some people would see Charlie as flat and the story a bit boring as there isn’t really a main plot element. I however, loved it, being able to experience the optimistic and life changing years that are those last years of high school and to see how so many different options are available to everyone, but sometimes feel out of reach.

I can definitely see how this has been compared to The Great Gatsby. The Buchanan’s though are Gatsby, clinging to this opptomistic facade but constantly being dragged back down by reality. A happy, unburdened life free of their eldest daughters haunting is their green light, and not matter what they can’t reach it. There are so many quotable lines, Philpot is lyrical but realistic and I can’t wait to see what else she comes out with.

I appreciate how the relationship between Sebastian and Charlie didn’t overshadow that of Julia and Charlie. I certainly thought it was needed though, Charlie needed someone she could rely on since so many people relied on her or made her responsible for Julia. I thought it was a healthy relationship as well and they were certainly cute together. I also love the hopeful note the book leaves on, one of fresh starts a and new possibilities. Charlie, Sebastian, and Julia have all grown in different ways. And for Charlie and Sebastian, maybe even enough to be part of something together again.

NaNo Summary

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There is only one day left of NaNo! But the most exciting thing is that I met my word count last night!  I struggled a bit the first two weeks, then hit a really great run for the following. Honestly last night was a hard start, I think I was nervous about finishing, but I got into a good flow and actually overshot! I’ve completed 30,205 of my 30,000 words! This time with NaNo was so much easier than my first try. I don’t know if it was because this is my second WiP, because the story is coming to me so much easier, or because I’m not in grad school anymore – probably a combination of everything, but it was great!

And in the little tradition that I seem to have started I’ll give you another segment. This is post the escape from the prison, lots of traveling has taken place, as well as some physical struggles. But here is the first tender moment that is shared between Brigid and Rhydian.

The chirping of birds and soft snuffles of the horses gently pulled me from sleep. For the first time since all of this started I felt a contentment I hadn’t realized I’d been missing. I fought consciousness for a moment, relishing the warmth and comfort enveloping me. Eventually, I peeled my eyelids back, and found my face pressed against a dark tan shirt, the spicy smell of man flooding my nostrils and a soft thumping beating against my ear. As awareness worked its way to the rest of my body I noticed that a chin lightly pressed against the top of my head, an arm wrapped around my shoulders, another draped across my waist, my legs intertwined with another’s. I heard a snort behind me and my muscles stiffened. Rhydian woke at my slight movement, pulling me closer to him for a moment before he stiffened too. He quickly peeled himself away from my body twisting his hips away from me. He cleared his throat and gave my shoulder a quick squeeze before releasing me completely.

Aren’t they just darling. Nothing like unconscious cuddles to let you know you’ve got the hots for someone else.

 

Shades of Earth

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Goodreads Summary:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship” Godspeed” behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? “Godspeed”‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES. RULED BY CHAOS. ALMOST HOME.

Though how this started had me worried we would continue to see a lack of growth from Amy, she quickly gets her act together. Immediately they are faced with maintaining control when Amy’s dad takes command, and it was really interesting watching Elder earn the respect of the COL and older soldiers.

And almost immediately there were even more questions. I can’t really say much because I’ll ruin it for anyone who hasn’t already read it, but the reaches of Phydus go way beyond what I had ever imagined, and what I did think turned out to be completely wrong – which hadn’t happened with the first two books so was a refreshing experience!

There was also a clear note of maturity that Revis got across in this book that I had been waiting for. Amy noticeably goes from calling her father Daddy to Dad, and she consciously chooses Elder as her person. Elder does well at balancing his recklessness with the responsibility of a leader, which he had been having trouble with.

The ending was a bit cheesy, but expected. Reminiscent of how Into the Still Blue ended. But I can’t say I wasn’t happy that there was a happy ending – a lot of people died in this book series, so someone needed to live.

I definitely think I will give Revis’ Body Electric a go now!

Coming This Week: April 27

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Well guys, last week ended on a decent note. I got a raise and a sort of promotion at work! So I guess I won’t quit quite as early as I had originally planed.

Anyway, for book discussions this week look for:

Even in Paradise is one of the 365DaysofYA books and I loved it. It was so surprising and I still find myself thinking about it’s characters and their struggles.

Friday will be Episode 6 of Band of Brothers. And on Wednesday I will be giving a summary of my Camp NaNo time, I can’t believe the month is almost over already!

Band of Brothers: Episode 5, Chpts 9-10

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HBO Synopsis: Crossroads

Winters (Damian Lewis) leads a risky mission on a Dutch dike, resulting in a resounding victory, for which he is promoted to Battalion Executive Officer. Dissatisfied with his new, largely administrative job, Winters is concerned about the leadership of the three companies he now commands. After a weekend pass to Paris, news arrives of a massive Axis effort in the Ardennes Forest, threatening to break the Allied lines. Easy Co. races in to hold the line, ill-equipped for the bitterly cold weather and the entrenched battle ahead.

I think I need to preface this with the fact that this episode, is one of my favorite (the first of three). There is a lot going on, but it’s amazing. We see Winters really prove himself, yet again, as an outstanding leader and officer. We see Easy Co. fight to gain a good commander after Winters leaves for battalion. We see the company team up with the Brits in a rescue mission. And we watch the men settle into a reprieve from battle, only to be sent back out days before Christmas.

Now I could talk forever about this, so I think I am just going to point out the aspects in the book that made an impression. Also, I think you guys are getting bored by my historical ramblings so I am trying to reign it in.

First, the conflict the men in Easy were involved in showed just how much of an elite team they were. A platoon of 35 men were able to route two German companies – about 300 men – while incurring one KIA and 22 wounded, and inflicting 50 KIAs, 11 POWs, and about 100 wounded onto German forces. If nothing, those numbers show how skilled these guys were at their jobs and at working together, as well as the strong leadership of their officers and NCOs. (pg. 152)

Another point that I latched onto was the mention of African-American soldiers. The first so far in the book and another aspect of WWII history that I think there needs to be a movie on (a real one, not another “Red Tails,” which was so disappointing). They are mentioned with the role of the Transportation Corps, who were able to execute the largest movement of troops and material in the history of war (as of 1992 when this was published). That’s ridiculously impressive. (pg. 174)

A Million Suns

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Goodreads Summary:
GODSPEED WAS FUELED BY LIES. NOW IT IS RULED BY CHAOS.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship “Godspeed.” But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision–no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news, he and Amy must race to discover the truth behind life on “Godspeed,” all the while dealing with the love that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her “New York Times “bestselling debut, “Across the Universe.” In “A Million Suns, ” Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: THEY HAVE TO GET OFF THIS SHIP.

In a lot of aspects I liked this one better than is predecessor. We see how hard it is to change things, what the repercussions of Elder’s choices are, Amy’s continued desire to find a way off the ship and be reunited with her parents, and the general tole it’s taking on these two teenagers to have to deal with all of these decisions.

However, the growth of Elder seemed overshadowed by the lack of growth by Amy – she did get stronger on aspects, but I didn’t see her empathize or consciously challenge her preconceived notions at any point. I kind of hated her a bit actually. I feel like we are seeing so much more from Elder in this one than the first, he’s less of a lovesick teenage boy who has all these grand ideas that are overshadowed by his emotional outbursts. He’s becoming a leader, who’s doing the best he can in the ways he knows how. He’s still trying to find his own path in an environment constantly pressuring him to become a certain way, and it’s really interesting. He was definitely my favorite in this book and I’m interested to see how he handles all the changes to come in the next book.

Again, I predicted the twists, but it was still a fun read.

Book Courtship

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I saw this over at Callum McLaughlin’s blog and thought it was charming, and since I was having trouble finding something to do for today’s post – voila!

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?

I try to do my research before buying books, and I do most of it online through my Nook and Goodreads. But when I go to the bookstore, I have to admit that I always gravitate towards pretty covers – that’s the point of them right? I can’t say I have ever bought a book just because of the cover, but I will say that it has pushed me over the edge of uncertainty a couple times, the last time I think would be with Zodiac.

Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you bought because of the summary?

This is basically every book for me. If I don’t read the summary though it’s because I’m seeing a lot of traffic for a book that I have yet to look into by book people I trust. I’m pretty sure that’s why I finally bought Throne of Glass, and now I’m a total fangirl of that series.

Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing?

I still can’t get over Rick Yancey’s writing in The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea.

Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

I think this was my first post Harry Potter series, and it’s gotten me hooked on Libba Bray – A Great and Terrible Beauty, one of my favorite series of all times.

Phase 5 – Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?

Basically every book! I think the last one though that I stayed up ridiculously late to finish though was The Book of Ivyit caught me so off guard as to how awesome it would be.

Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

This is usually just whatever I am reading at the time. Currently it’s the Study series, by Maria Snyder, I’m on Magic Study!

Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book which you love the way it feels?

Any of those books with that matte cover, but it’s got that almost suede feel to it? I have no idea what it is but I love it.

Phase 8 – Meeting the parents: A book which you would recommend to your family and friends?

Practically any book that I loved that I just finished. Lately though, Even in Paradise has been a big one I keep pushing along. It is so unique and artful and amazing.

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

Oh goodness, only one? Well I have recently re-read Harry Potter and the Legend series. I keep thinking about doing a Percy Jackson re-read, and I know Throne of Glass is going to be one of those. I also like to re-read the Libba Bray series I mentioned above. I’m a big fan of re-reads.

Phase 10 – Share the love: Who do you tag?

Everyone and Anyone!