Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hex Hall series

Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound
Author: Rachel HawkinsRating: 4 stars average
Contains Spoilers

School Spirits

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Rating: 4 stars
Like everyone else, I'm a huge Hex Hall fan. I found it really fascinating how the series now focuses on Izzy Brannick,  Sophie's cousin. The Brannicks have been monster hunters for generations, hence why Izzy never had a normal upbringing. Her homework and reading assignments covered how to kill and hunt vampires, witches and other creatures. She knows nothing about dating or friendships. In this spin-off series, we see her tackle a new identity. 
Izzy's older sister goes MIA on a hunt and her mom decides to take a break from their lifestyle to attempt so Izzy can have a normal life. Her mom solely focuses on finding her sister. Izzy hates the transformation until she makes a new best friend and *gasp* falls for a cute guy. She befriends members of a ghost hunters society at her high school and soon figures out an evil ghost or demon might be lurking at school. Not to mention one of her friends, and another possible love interest might not be exactly teenager can escape angst can they?
I thought there was too many plots going on at once at times. Some characters could have been cut out. I loved the idea of a supernatural character going to a "normal" high school. That was never explored in the Hex Hall series although I'm well aware it's in countless other series. And don't think Hex Hall characters are completely MIA either. This series has its own charm. It's not as good as Hex Hall but I'll continue reading.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Hurricane

Author: Hugh Howey
Rating: 4 Stars

Hugh Howey, an self-published author on Kindle, is well known for his sci-fi novels and series. In this standalone book, Howey tackles completely different topics: technology, teens and nature. With smartphones, the web and video games, technology has shaped and completely changed the way people learn, communicate and insult each other. Daniel Stillman, a high-school senior, is not someone glued to his game console or phone. He's ignored by girls on video chats and ridiculed by his classmates. Not to mention his family ignores each other at meals and his best friend just got a girlfriend.

So by most terms, Daniel feels like a loser. Until a hurricane hits. Set in South Carolina, Daniel's community is used to the threat of hurricanes but has never experienced one full on. So when Mother Nature arrives she takes on the digital age and wins. All it takes is for the lights to go out.

 I won't spoil everything but a few important topics arise:
1. Family- Daniel's family has the capability to communicate but are extremely isolated from each other. They spend breakfasts and dinners watching TV or on their iPads. Daniel's stephfather becomes an important focus when the hurricane hits and especially when Daniel's estranged dad comes back in the storm's aftermath.
2.  Relationships-No cell phone reception or electricity means Daniel, his teen sister and classmates have WAY more time on their hands. Daniel meets a girl in his neighborhood who has impressive survival skills and needless to say, a somewhat cliche but special relationship begins. Reading about a new crush/romance set under special circumstances was nice but predictable. 

This book definitely holds a few obvious important lessons. I wish readers knew the aftermath of these characters but let's hope Daniel teaches readers how people can communicate with each other outside of the tech savvy world.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn
Rating: 5 Stars

Bottom line: Some families are very, VERY screwed up.

So this is the first Gillian Flynn book I read. I heard all about Gone Girl but this book's journalism plot got my attention. A reporter returns to her hometown to report on a possible serial killer to keep her newspaper readership afloat. The possible serial killer is murdering little girls. The struggling reporter,Camille Preaker, has some serious skeletons in the closet. I mean actual skeletons. She also self harms and drinks to forget her troubled past.

I became hooked from page one. Most the story takes place in her Southern hometown. We meet her eccentric rich family. I loved reading about how Camille struggled to find sources and interviewed them. Although her ethics can definitely be questioned when she gets involved with not one but two men connected to the investigation. Camille can thank her past for her instability because like I opened with, her family is beyond screwed up.

Readers find out her mother is not only a huge pill popper but she purposely drugged her children, resulting in serious illness and death. Camille escaped her mother's clutches but her younger sister was not so lucky. Camille starts to see scary similarities between her sister's death and the murders. This does not include her other half-sister, who is very much alive, but stuck with her crazy mother.
I won't spoil the twist or ending, but the deeper Camille investigates her hometown's murder the deeper we see her go off the deep end. The ending quickly wraps up too quickly but seemed realistic considering everything Camille goes through. I know everyone is too busy panting over Gone Girl but read this one first if you can! It's still trippy and disturbing I promise.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver
Rating: 4 Stars
Spoilers in Review

This book portrayed the delicate and destructive relationship between a mother and her son. We start with Kevin's life from birth to current day. I like to think Kevin's parents (Eva and Franklin) were both wealthy adults who grew bored with life and made dumb decisions but it's so much more than that. Especially since Kevin goes to jail for killing several classmates and a teacher. With most school shootings there's always someone or something to blame for the kid becoming a murderer. In this book 
Kevin grew as a bully and simply hated everyone. Everyone but his mother.

The reader is often faced with the question: is Kevin truly evil? As a baby, he's shown to be indifferent towards displays of affection. As a child he's shown to be the devil, causing the nanny to quit after ripping out her hair. When he grows to be a teenager he remains sullen and placid.
The author seems to focus heavily on how a mother's bond can make or break her son, causing him to grow up and be a serial killer. This book drifts away from Columbine and climaxes with a creepy Hunger Games scene, except Kevin is no likable Katniss. We find out Eva summarized the entire story in letters to her husband Franklin and we later find out Kevin also killed Franklin and his younger sister. Eva was the only major character spared.

Although I enjoyed most of the book I didn't feel impacted until the end. It was fascinating to read how a child can trick their parents so well starting at an early age. However, Kevin's killing scene didn't really get to me. It was moments like the last day his family spent together, and when Eva visits him in jail and resolves to give him her support, which hooked me. In the end it truly seems like Eva realizes she loves her son. Too little, too late. But she goes with the flow and I like that. By the end even Kevin is freaking out after being Mr.I Don't Care for the majority of the book, mainly because he's going to be transferred to a more notorious jail. I like how everyone decides they are only human at the end, albeit really shitty ones. Eva has to take on the public image as the Shooter's Mother which is really heartbreaking but she ends the book waiting for her son to get out of jail. You can't get what you want, but you deal with what you get.