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Archive for January, 2011

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson

Posted by Caitie F on January 31, 2011

Title: The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time
Authors: Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson
Hardcover:  288 pages
Publisher: Harmony (Random House)
Year Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780307591074
Rating: +++

Summary (From goodreads)

The world needed a hero, but how would an editor with no off-switch answer the call? For Jeff Deck, the writing was literally on the wall: “NO TRESSPASSING.” In that moment, his greater purpose became clear.  Dark hordes of typos had descended upon civilization… and only he could wield the marker to defeat them.

Recruiting his friend Benjamin and other valiant companions, he created the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). Armed with markers, chalk, and correction fluid, they circumnavigated America, righting the glaring errors displayed in grocery stores, museums, malls, restaurants, mini-golf courses, beaches, and even a national park. Jeff and Benjamin championed the cause of clear communication, blogging about their adventures transforming horor into horrorit’s into its, andcoconunut into coconut.

But at the Grand Canyon, they took one correction too far: fixing the bad grammar in a fake Native American watchtower.  The government charged them with defacing federal property  and summoned them to court—with a typo-ridden complaint that claimed that they had violated “criminal statues.” Now the press turned these paragons of punctuation into “grammar vigilantes,” airing errors about their errant errand..

The radiant dream of TEAL would not fade, though.   Beneath all those misspelled words and mislaid apostrophes, Jeff and Benjamin unearthed deeper dilemmas about education, race, history, and how we communicate. Ultimately their typo-hunting journey tells a larger story not just of proper punctuation but of the power of language and literacy—and the importance of always taking a second look.

Review:

I have very mixed feelings on this book. It took me about four weeks to read, and it was under 300 pages. It wasn’t that it was bad or not interesting, it was just that the writing style was not really for me. There were several times in the book where I felt like they were talking down to me like I was stupid. It felt a little pretentious, which always bothers me in writing, but even more in memoirs. It was more of a problem at the beginning of the book, which is why I read the last 70 pages pretty quickly last night.

Writing style to the side, I really liked the idea of their hunt and of the book about their hunt. It became so much more than just what they did, and turned into how it affected them and the people they talked to. They got into so many conversations and discussions, some good and some bad. Some things people said made me want to smack them. At an educational toy store where they would rather have an incorrect sign than one that has been fixed. And the woman though indoors should be in doors and thought the dictionary backed her up since there was a dot between the syllables. *head desk* Or the bookstore that had a Comtemporary section and didn’t care to fix it.

Luckily, for every person who didn’t care how their mistakes or typos made them look, there were people who were truly grateful for the advice and changes. It was also fascinating to read the political ramifications they received, like Keith Olbermann calling them two of the “Worst In the World” because of one article. Seriously? He made them sound evil, when they had been kind and respectful to all the people they encountered.

My other issue is at the end they get into looking at a method of teaching that has a lot of positives and negatives, but they don’t talk about ANY of the negatives and make it sound like the best thing ever…even thought it definitely is not. I wish it had stayed away from that side of the issue.

If you are interested in language and how it evolves and changes how we perceive things, you would be interested in the overall premise of the book and I know I am going to go check out their site because I would be interested in the basic cause.

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Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Caitie F on January 28, 2011

Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Simon pulse
Year Published: 2006
ISBN: 9781416947950
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

“Special Circumstances”:

The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

Review:

First of all, this review will contain spoilers, so don’t read the review unless you have read the book or don’t plan on reading the book.

I thought this might have been the best book of the series, which is quite an accomplishment because I adored all three books. I felt like all of the characters really grew and figured out for themselves what was right. Even Shay, who I hated in the previous book and for most of this book.

But this is mainly Tally’s story, so I want to focus on her first. I hated the sense of superiority she felt to everyone else because it just wasn’t her. That they wired her in a way that was meant to take away her compassion broke my heart. She was able to fight it, but those moments where she was laughing at others or disgusted at  them because they weren’t her made me so sad, especially with her negative attitudes towards Zane at times.

Zane wasn’t my favorite character, but I thought that the scenes with him struggling were absolutely heartbreaking, even more than his death. He was so strong and vibrant, but he lost that and it was so sad. In the end, he still chose freedom, even if it was risky. This book made me like him a lot more than Pretties.

There was so much action in this book that it felt a little rushed. Yet somehow, even with all the action, this was still a character-driven story which I loved. I almost always understood exactly why each character did what they did, even Shay.

These books are so full of issues and make me think more than most young adult books. I found myself a little disgusted when the city was expanding. They knew what effects ruining the wild had and they could have easily fallen into the trap the Rusties had faced. It was like they were not even thinking. I was proud of Tally when she stopped making herself feel pain so she could feel more clearly and that she found other ways. I could write paragraphs about all the issues that are addressed, which is one reason these books are so strong.

I have seen a lot of different opinions on how Tally’s story ended and I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, I love that she ended up with David. She was better when he was with her, and he was too. I like that they ended up in the wild and warned everyone that they would be watching. I thought it was very appropriate for their journey. She never wanted fame or attention, and I am glad that she didn’t completely change in the end. I sort of wish she had reversed the Special operation and went back to being Tally. I know she beat it and all, but Why have all the enhancements when she is great how she is? It was a little disappointing, but maybe she just didn’t want anyone else to mess with her, who knows what they could do.

I loved this book and Tally’s story.

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Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Caitie F on January 26, 2011

Title: Pretties
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Paperback:  370 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Year Published: 2005
ISBN: 9780689865398
Rating: ++++

Summary (from goodreads):

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive

Review:

This book increased my love for Tally, but also increased my annoyance and suspicion of Shay. Seriously, Shay is a little crazy. Tally goes for thrills to keep her head, but Shay goes somewhere darker and more scary. Her development in this book is the most disturbing thing in the entire series.

**serious sidebar**It is the kind of thing that parents should talk to their teens about once they finish reading this book. It can be a short talk but make sure the message “cutting is bad” gets out there. It is an opportunity to have a great discussion and I hope that it has started some conversations.**Sidebar over**

Tally has a new group and some new friends…and a new guy, Zane. Zane is cool and daring. He seems to get that being aware is much better than being a bubblehead and is able to help Tally keep her head. He is sweet, smart, and dedicated to the cause, but he is not perfect. Sometimes he does things that are really dangerous of stupid, which makes him a more likable character. I don’t like them as a couple though. They feel fake, like they are only a product of the society and the relationship never has the rael feeling that I got from Tally and David (who should have been in the book more).

the one thing that I found irritating was all of the pretty-speak. It fits the book completely and needs to be there, but it drove me crazy! I would love to know how many times the word bubbly is used…because it is too many. Again, it fits the book and is not a flaw in the writing, it is just an irritant.

Another thing I really enjoyed was another point of why the society makes everyone the same. Tally ends up in the wild again, and sees a village of people who have never been outside of their reservation. She sees violence for no reason and a side of human nature that she has never seen before. It really make her start wondering if some things society has done to change humans might be okay. It really made me think. If we could get rid of the part of our nature that starts war or school shootings, or all of the other terrible things, would we? We could prevent so much, but I don’t think it can be done without also losing what makes each of us special. this series has made me think about a lot of different issues, which is one reason I love it so much!

This was a solid sequel and made me very excited to read the next book!

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Forever Princess by Meg Cabot

Posted by Caitie F on January 25, 2011

Title: Forever Princess
Author: Meg Cabot
Hardcover: 383 pages
Publisher: Harper Teen
Year Released: 2009
ISBN: 9780061232923
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

What’s a Princess to do?

It’s Mia’s senior year, and things seem great. She aced her senior project, got accepted to her dream college(s), and has her birthday gala coming up . . . not to mention prom, graduation, and Genovia’s first-ever elections.

What’s not to love about her life? Well . . .

Her senior project? It’s a romance novel she secretly wrote, and no one wants to publish it.
Prince Phillipe’s campaign in the Genovian elections isn’t going well, thanks to her totally loathsome cousin René, who decided to run against him.
Her boyfriend, J.P., is so sweet and seemingly perfect. But is he the one?
And her first love, Michael, is back from Japan . . . and back in her life.

With Genovia’s and her own future hanging in the balance, Mia’s got some decisions to make: Which college? Which guy? How can she choose? Especially when what she decides might determine not just the next four years, but . . . forever!

Review:

This book was the best in the series, maybe excluding the first one. Mia finally grew up and started acting like a 17 year old. It helps that it jumped in the future almost two years, so the transition was not gradual, but the reasoning for the jump made a lot of sense.

I was so happy that she stopped being naïve about guys and true friendship. She finally realized that sometimes, a guy just says something and doesn’t have a secret motive. She also finally saw how mean and manipulative some of the other characters were. Even that took a while and had me yelling at her in my head, but she caught on a lot faster than she did in previous books!

And there was Michael. Adorable, romantic, and lovable Michael. I was so glad he was back. He and Mia really do go well together and complement each other incredibly well. They feel like such a realistic couple and they reminded me about all of the great things about Mia. It also shows how a guy should treat the girl he claims to love, which is something teenagers should get out of this book.

It was nice to see Mia making her own decisions and living her own life. Yes, she was lying to people, but it also means she wasn’t depending on others to do everything and is a big reason why she grew up. The book made me start cheering for Mia, instead of rolling my eyes at her annoying and naïve thoughts and actions.

It was just a feel good book, which I really needed this weekend!

The series as a whole was a fun, light read; which was exactly what I was expecting. The middle few books (probably 4-8) were a little irritating because Mia kept making the same mistakes and I just wanted her to grow up already. That said, it fit the series and it ended really well. Everything tied up a little too neatly, but I understand why!

I would love to have seen another movie made based solely on the last book, I think of all the books it would make the best one. Too bad it will never happen!

 

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TSS: A Tough Week

Posted by Caitie F on January 23, 2011

So this week sucked. I found out on Friday that as of February 1st, I no longer have a job. I had thought this job would last for two years, but the company isn’t doing as well as they were before, so I, the extra person, am no longer needed. I hate that I didn’t get much notice. I have two weeks until we are in trouble and finding a job in only two weeks is almost impossible. This weekend was spent relaxing, trying to keep from being super upset, and contacting several people about jobs. The main hunt will start tomorrow.

I am trying to stay positive though. I have read a few books and look forward to reviewing some of the books this week. I also got the chance to meet Mark Zuckerberg’s mom at a baby shower. I got up the nerve to talk to her and she was very sweet and kind. The baby shower was nice, but it was LONG. There were over 80 people there and a LOT of gifts. The couple has been trying to have children for ten years and finally have a surrogate that has worked out. I am VERY happy for them, they will be excellent parents.

Hope you had an excellent weekend.

Posted in Misc | 3 Comments »

10 Reasons to Go Read Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Posted by Caitie F on January 19, 2011

Title: Across the Universe 
Author: Beth Revis
Hardcover: 398 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Teen)
ISBN: 9781595143976
Year Released:
Rating: +++++

Summary (from me):

Earth is having problems. Major problems. Scientists have found that there is an inhabitable planet 300 years away and are sending the leading scientists, leaders, and strategists, frozen so when they reach the planet they can lead. Both of Amy’s parents are chosen, she can go with them, and they will all wake up in about three hundred years.

Except things don’t quite work out that way. Amy is woken up early and thrown into a society that she can’t understand, complete with a false history of the world. Elder is the next leader and has been with her from when she first woke up. Together, they try to find out who is trying to unfreeze the officials, what Eldest is trying to hide, and why no one else on the ship notices how wrong everything is.

Review:

I am doing this review differently –I am sure you have seen a ton of reviews. Here are the top 10 reasons you should read Across the Universe. *Any spoilers are from the first hundred pages, and don’t really spoil anything

1. Writing

When I first started my internship at Writer’s House, it was hard to tell what was good enough to show the agent. To help me see, the person I was working with email me the first 50 pages of this book. The writing was so far above anything I saw in my four months there. It is even better than it was then. It is one of the best-written young adult books I have ever read, it may be the actual best.

2. Amy’s struggle

Amy has decided to give up her life: friends, Earth, the rest of her family, just to be with her parents. Suddenly, she doesn’t even have them. If they arrive in 50 years, she will be an old woman and they will still be the same age as they were on Earth. It is always on her mind and is a great central, internal issue she must deal with.

3. Genre

This may be the most accessible science fiction book I have read. It is science fiction, there is no question, but it is written and crafted in a way that people who don’t enjoy the genre will enjoy this book. It is a science fiction book that is being marketed to young women! There is action, mystery, and romance. I would love to see the idea catch on, and this is a great place to start!

4. Elder

Elder also faces a great internal struggle. He needs to learn how to be a leader, while discovering what is really happening with the ship and the people. Every decision he makes impacts everyone. He is bright, curious, and strong, and watching him realize that is amazing.

5. Amy

Amy is a great character. She is so strong, but also vulnerable. Remember how in the last Harry Potter book Harry asks if death hurts and you were reminded that he is really just a kid? Revis never lets you forget that Amy is only a teenager going through something extremely difficult. But she is brave and caring. I love Amy

6. Frex

Are you sick of saying “Frak” like they do in Battlestar? Well you have a new word to use “Frex”. It is obviously a nod to Battlestar and it used the same way. Next time I am angry, I may just tell someone to go frex themselves.

7. Anger

If you have any pent-up anger, read this book and take it out on some of the characters! Eldest admires Hitler. Yes, you read that correctly. You will probably want to punch him (and a few others) for most of the book. But they are all great antagonists and you can see why they make some of the decisions they do.  

8. Mystery

The mystery element of the book is great. I figured it out earlier than they did, but watching them get to that point was exciting and had me guessing at parts. The clues are all there, but even as the reader, I had to dig and analyze to figure it out.

9. “Woah moments”

Do you know what I mean? It is those times you have to stop reading and you just go “Woah”. There were TONS of those moments in this book. I would say at least 10.

10. Wraps up well

Even though this is a series, the first book stands well on its own. There is no big cliffhanger or issue that the reader knows about but the characters don’t. There is a “to be continued” feel, but not a “screaming at your book” feel.

This is a fantastic debut from Revis and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. Books like this are why I want to work in publishing.

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TSS: Buying Books!

Posted by Caitie F on January 16, 2011

Hope you have had a good weekend so far! So happy it isn’t over yet in the US! I am really looking forward to relaxing on Monday — and I will probably get some reading done!  We have had a good weekend – did dinner and games with friends on Friday and finally met our niece today! She is adorable and so tiny (she is only 3 weeks old)!

Before we went to meet her, we headed to the local B&N. Two friend of ours gave us a gift card. Originally we thought we would use it for a new game, but once we looked there and didn’t see anything we wanted, we decided we would buy some books for the first time in a while.

It should not shock anyone that I got Across the Universe. I will probably start reading it this week since I don’t want to rush it, so look for that review later this week – i have been waiting to read past page 50 since February!

After I grabbed that, we spent another hour there. I found another book I wanted very quickly, but my husband took forever. We don’t buy books often since we have so many unread books on our shelves, but there was nothing he was itching to buy. Instead of grabbing the first thing that looked good, he picked up a LOT of books and thought about it. I went over to the YA fantasy section and picked out three I thought we both might like…but he said no to all of them. Sigh.

Finally he decided he wanted to try The Game of Thrones again and got that, and we bought a collection of short stories that we pick up every time we go there. I asked why he took so long since I could have found $200 worth of books in the time he took to find $40. He told me that he wanted to make sure it was something he wanted to on and be really careful about his decision.

When you go into a bookstore what do you do? Do you go in knowing what you want? Do you grab the first couple books you see that you want? Or do you spend time searching for just the right thing? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Caitie F on January 14, 2011

Title: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Paperback: 425 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Year Released: 2005
ISBN: 9780689865381
Rating: +++++

Summary (from back of book):

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friends Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. 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 a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever.

Review:

How did it take me so long to read this series??? I picked it up at our local Borders that is closing for $4 and cannot believe it took me so long. This book has everything I love in great books: complex characters, excited and surprising plot twists, and accessible writing. My husband teaches middle school and told me his students love the series, and I can completely see why!

The society is terrifying to me. There is no individuality. Yet, they aren’t completely terrible. The people take care of the environment, use only renewable resources, and have eliminated a lot of the major problems. The cost is a little too steep…unless you enjoy no choices (spoiler, highlight to read)and losing your personality and some brain function. Everyone spends the difficult teen years being called an Ugly and getting a nickname that points out their biggest flaw all so that they want to become a pretty and don’t rebel. It was effective though because they are not completely evil…just mostly.

Some see past the brainwashing and label of ugly to see that there needs to be another way. There are some people who get away before they become pretty. At the beginning of the book, I love Shay so much more than Tally. Tally just sees being pretty as the ideal and does not question society, while Shay questions everything. I am glad Tally starts at such an extreme because it makes her transformation so much more interesting to read.

The Smoke intrigued me and I wish I could see more of it. It was a functioning, working society out of anything that Tally could imagine. I liked seeing her aversion to cutting down a tree, even if they needed it to live. Shay’s transformation at The Smoke irritated me, but it was understandable and good story-telling.

I have to add that I love the world.  Anyone else want to go hoverboarding?

I am requesting the rest of the series at the library, I hope they are as fantastic as the first!

Did you love the book? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!

This counts for:

The Original TBR Challenge

TwentyEleven Challenge (TBR)

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Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley

Posted by Caitie F on January 13, 2011

Title: Little Green Men
Author: Christopher Buckley
Paperback:  320 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year Released: 1999
ISBN: 9780060955571
Rating: +++

Summary (from goodreads):

Washington, D.C., is naturally enough a place of sex, lies, and videotape. Unfortunately for John Oliver Banion, it is also the HQ of Majestic Twelve, a very, very covert government project. Since “that golden Cold War summer of 1947,” MJ-12 has had a single mission–to convince taxpayers that space invaders are constantly lurking below what’s left of the ozone layer.

One disgruntled operative wants out. Nathan Scrubbs is fed up to the back teeth with the art of alien abduction–not to mention his cover as a Social Security flunky–so when his request for a transfer is quashed, he drunkenly decides to take it out on ubiquitous ultra-prig Banion, who happens to be on TV at the time. As Banion comes to believe in Tall Nordics and Short Ugly Grays, he is quickly removed from every A-list in town. But oddly enough, social and political disaster turns out to be as liberating as the finest alien probe.

Review:

I usually love Christopher Buckley. He wrote Thank You for Smoking, which was turned into a fantastic movie. He also wrote No Way to Treat a First Lady, Boomsday, and Supreme Courtship, which were equally fantastic.

Sadly, this didn’t live up to his other books. I loved the others because they were based on situations you could actually see happening. They took a look at “what if” situations and made them into hilarious, exciting, and thought provoking reads. This was government-created aliens. Not really the same thing as a controversial Supreme Court nominee, the tobacco lobby, or taking on social security.

It was still a compelling story, but it didn’t really make me think, or laugh, very often. You should still check out Buckley if you haven’t, but I suggest reading Boomsday instead.

This counts for the following challenges:

What’s In a Name 4 (size)
The TwentyEleven Challenge (Adult)
The Original TBR Challenge

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Posted by Caitie F on January 12, 2011

Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Hardcover: 472 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Year released: 2010
ISBN: 9780385737630
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Review:

I adored this book. Donnelly did an incredible job of mixing past and present into one cohesive story that was captivating, exciting, and lovable in every way.

At first, I didn’t know if I would like it since Andi’s world is one of the rich, spoiled New York elite. Not exactly my favorite group. Luckily, Andi is bright and skeptical about her world and the people who are around her. She sees the hypocrisy, but she also sees some of their potential.  Her best friend does his senior thesis on a world issue and gets the world leader to comment on it. It is kind of amazing!

The other thing that worried me is that there is an emo tone. Usually, emo is bad because there is no pain or real struggles that go with it. However, Andi has real problems and issues that she needs to deal with and get through, even at her young age. I understand her pain and it isn’t exaggerated or fake. She is complex and brilliant herself. She is weak and strong at the same time. She is a bundle of contradictions, and she works.

The historical aspect was excellent. I love the French Revolution and this brought in ideas and views that i had never learned about in school or through other historical fiction works. I was hoping, just like Andi, that somehow the prince got away. I felt connected with characters.

There is some romance in it also, but my favorite thing about that romance is that it is built out of a relationship of trust and understanding. He is someone who really cares about Andi and it is a good and healthy relationship.

The thing that made this stand out above the rest of the young adult historical fiction books out there is the writing. I need to go check out A Northern Light because Donnelly is just brilliant. I never do this, but I flagged a passage because it was so well done,

“I don’t like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. It’s the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It’s bad news. The worst. It’s sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt”

What teenager doesn’t feel like that at some time? I know I did and Donnelly captured it very well!

If you like historical fiction, go check out this fantastic book!

If you have any favorite historical fictions books, let me know in the comments!

 

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