“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

HateUGive

asteriaiconStarr Carter is a 16 year old girl who is caught between two lives: the life she lives while going to her mostly white prep school, and the life she lives when she goes home to her poor, black neighbourhood. One night Starr is driving home with her childhood friend Khalil, when they are stopped by the police, and Khalil ends up being shot and killed in front of her. This is nothing new for Starr, she has seen another friend get shot in a drive by, but this time it was by a white police officer, someone who is supposed to protect them. The death of her friend is the tipping point for her neighbourhood; starting riots and protests for justice, making national headlines. Starr will have to testify in front of a grand jury of what happened that night, and she is caught between speaking up and staying silent. She faces pressure from both the police and the local drug lord, and what she does could have deep consequences for her community, as well as her life and the lives of her family.

I have really been struggling with this review, mainly because nothing I can say will ever do the book justice. I started hearing about this book on a weekly podcast I listen to about books, and it sounded interesting. Soon the book starting popping up on a number of must-read lists and was touted as one of the best books of the year, so I knew it was something that I had to read. It is such a wonderfully written book, so powerful and moving. I can honestly say I sobbed twice within the first 100 pages. There is no way to really discuss this book without spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

I live in a small city in northern Ontario. Where and when I was growing up you didn’t have to lock your doors. To step in the shoes of a 16 year old black girl who lives in a neighbourhood that frequently sees drive-by’s, and is constantly bombarded with drugs and gangs, was a real challenge for me, and very eye opening. I went to visit my mom in Toronto a few years ago, and at a small indie book store there was a jar collecting money for Black Lives Matter. I asked the cashier what that was about, and she looked at me in horror. My mom even looked somewhat embarrassed that I asked. But where I live, we didn’t have those jars, we hadn’t heard about the Black Lives Matter movement. It wasn’t a question out of arrogance or racism; it was a question out of ignorance to the cause. It was something that existed outside of my world completely, something I knew nothing of. Once I clarified that to the cashier, she visibly relaxed and explained politely. But for the first time, I now understand that hesitation, that concern over what I thought was an innocent question.

Starr is brought in to give a statement to the police about what happened that night as part of their investigation. Two officers walk in to question her; one Latina and one white male. At first the questions are simple and straight forward, and then they turn towards justifying the officer’s actions rather than about what happened. The questions start to be about Khalil; was he a drug dealer, was he drinking that night, was he a part of the local gang scene. It took about ¾ of the book before it came out that the police officer held a gun to her until back up showed up, all while she cradled her friend’s body and posed little threat. The entire time she was interrogated, she is acutely aware of her actions and words. She has learned a sad reality, that she needs to choose her words carefully so as not be thought of as “ghetto”. She has to keep her hands visible at all times, make no sudden movements, and only speak when someone talks to her. She has to make sure to look them in the eye, so the cops have no reason to doubt what she is saying. The media make it out to be Khalil’s fault. There are reports there was a gun in the car, which there wasn’t, and reports that he was in a gang selling drugs, which is not entirely accurate. It paints the picture we see all too often that the victim was at fault.

Starr cannot live the life of a typical teenager. She tried to have her white friends over for a sleepover once. One friend was not allowed to come over because her family didn’t want their daughter in the ghetto. Another friend came over, and called her parents to come get her shortly after getting there because of a drive-by around the corner that scared her. She is very aware of the fact she lives in a small house, while her friends live in huge mansions and have multiple fancy cars. She is “cool by default because I’m one of the only black kids” at school. The black kids in her community barely even know who she is. She is known as the girl that works at Big Mav’s store, not by name.

Starr soon realizes that the wall she has so carefully constructed between her two worlds is starting to collide. Students at her school start protesting for justice for Khalil, not because of the cause, not because they knew him or cared what happened to a black kid, but because it would get them out of school. One of her friends doesn’t understand why they were protesting the life of a drug dealer, insinuating that he deserved it. Her friends do not know she was friends with Khalil, and do not know she was a witness to his death. She finds herself saying she didn’t know him, lying to her friends and her boyfriend, trying so hard to keep both halves of her life separate, and trying so hard to not have her white friends think less of her. Her boyfriend, by the way, is a white boy from school, a relationship she is hiding from her father because he would be upset his black daughter is dating a white kid.

I cannot love this book enough. I loved how the author illustrated that the world is not black and white, but rather very grey. Sure Khalil may have sold drugs, but it wasn’t for a glamorous life, it was to help his mom pay back a debt, to save her life. Starr’s uncle is a police officer, he knows the cop that shot her friend, and he too is stuck between understanding the officer’s actions, and seeking justice for the loss of another young black kid. Even her father is an ex-con who used to sell drugs, and now is struggling with how to better his community and protect his family. He wants to stay in Garden Heights and help kids succeed and help them to not make the mistakes he made, while his wife wants them to move out of the Garden to a safe neighbourhood, a move he feels is selling out his community.

To me, I found that both the police officer and Khalil stepped right into their stereotyped roles. The police officer immediately thought a black boy was up to no good, selling drugs, potentially in possession of weapons, when all he was doing was making sure his friend was okay, attempting to get her home safely. Khalil, in turn, started being a little more hostile than necessary towards the cop when they were pulled over, saying  everything with a disrespectful tone, which further antagonized the officer. The whole thing could have been avoided had the officer came to the window and explained a tail light was out, and Khalil said “okay officer, I understand, thank you for telling me, I will get that fixed right away”, and the officer walk away rather than demand ID and attempt to do a background check because Khalil was black. But, had that happened, this important story would not have been told.

I did a little bit of googling after reading this book in prep to write this review, and found out some amazing things, which makes me love this book just that much more. Most recently, the book has been banned in a school district in Texas. To me, this is terribly sad. I hate the idea of books being banned period, but to have a book which has touched me so deeply, and something that was written to enlighten people about the harsh realities that black people face every day, to me is appalling. I have seen that it was banned due to “inappropriate” language, and indeed there are swears in the book, but I feel that is the farthest thing from the reason why they are banning it as some classics that are taught in high school contain curse words, such as The Catcher in the Rye. I have also read that the book is being adapted into a movie, which I am super excited to see (I will have to remember to bring some tissues!).  I loved learning that Angie Thomas based the main character loosely on herself. She herself grew up in a rough neighbourhood, and read Harry Potter to help distract herself from the sounds of gunshots near her home, according to a website I found. I super love that she took a shining to HP, as I too am a fan, though I was sad to read people compare Hogwarts houses to gangs. Thomas herself also went to a mostly white college, so she understands the feelings that brings, living within both worlds. It was very clear to me that Thomas used the book to bring to light the Black Lives Matter movement, to help people understand the racism and police brutality that occurs all too frequently in today’s society.

While the book is geared more towards teenagers, I think it is a book that is so important for everyone to read, regardless of age, or really even race. I am a white woman who lives in a predominant white community, and I found it so moving and so enlightening. Tupac was a little before my time, or at least had little relevance for me, but the author uses his message as the title for her story. The Hate U Give= THUG. Thug life= the hate you give little infants f*cks everybody; meaning what we as a society teach kids effects everyone. We need to stop fearing each other, stop fearing our differences and learn to embrace them. Learn from each other. Stop looking down at those that have less, or more for that matter. I am fortunate that I was raised by a very strong, independent woman, who taught me that race doesn’t exist, that it is a term used to differentiate what doesn’t need to be differentiated. That we are all the same, regardless of skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, financial stature. We all deserve to be treated equally, we all deserve respect, we all deserve love, we all deserve to be here.

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“Ronaldo: The Reindeer flying Academy” by Maxine Sylvester

Ronaldo

artemisiconThis was another book review by request, which makes me incredibly excited. Especially since this was the first children’s book we’ve been asked to review. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the book, I was just happy she thought of our little page! It is a larger chapter book, with a small picture every page or so. It was an ebook, Kobo said it was about 80-some odd pages, and I’m heartbroken that my Kobo is only black and white because apparently this was a full colour version. The book was written AND illustrated by Maxine Sylvester, which is a feat! And according to the back page, there are several in the series!

As the title suggests, it’s a Christmas themed story. She has built a world around the mythology of Santa’s Reindeer, but taken it several steps further than the “Rudolph” movie we all grew up with. Instead of living in caves, everyone lives in houses, and hold steady jobs outside of being Santa’s Reindeer. These kinds adaptations always make me happy because I think it is easier for the younger generations to relate to, and make the message she’s trying to get across easier to understand.

All the Reindeer in their town are named after the famous Reindeer, even the name “Cupid” was making a comeback. But our main character was named after someone else completely (I’m pretty sure it’s after a soccer player, but she said football, but I read her Bio and she’s from London England). Due to this, poor Ronaldo gets teased about his name, (as a kid who grew up with a strange name, my heart goes out to him) but in this book, it doesn’t slow him down. Bullies will be bullies; which is another thing I really liked about the book – Ronaldo gets bullied, but he remembers being taught to believe in himself, and through that he manages the biggest and scariest grunt he’s ever done, and scares off the bullies. Non-violent. I believe a well timed punch isn’t to be reprimanded, but if there is a non-violent way to deal with a bad situation, to take that. Ronaldo’s grunt sends the bullies scurrying, and sometimes, that’s all it takes.

This story, as it says in the title, is about the Flying Academy, where all Reindeer learn how to fly! It’s absolutely adorable, and I was actually impressed that she went through the mechanics of how they flew. It wasn’t just, “he jumped up and started to fly”, Ronaldo mentally goes through the steps, lifting his nose, running as fast as he can, tucking in his front legs to make sure he gets better height, and using his tail like a plane rudder/ailerons.

This day in ‘flying school’ is the great endurance competition, one only the great Vixen holds the record for! Not to ruin any of the story, Ronaldo uses what his Grandfather taught him, to imagine, to see it, to feel it, and to believe in himself, to power through the tough endurance race!

This is a children’s book through and through, and even though I wasn’t the target audience, I still found myself laughing at some of the antics. I really do think this is a wonderful book, and I hope she gets the recognition she deserves for it! I would love to get these books for a couple kids in my life.

 

 

 

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“Origin” by Dan Brown

Origin

asteriaiconThere’s a new Dan Brown!!!

Robert Langdon is back! Langdon has been invited to the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain by his dear friend and former student Edmund Kirsch. Kirsch, a very rich and tech savvy genius who uses computer programs to make predictions (that so far have all come true), has discovered the answers to man kind’s most fundamental questions: Where did we come from and where are we going?  As Kirsch is announcing his discovery to his prestigious guests, and to the world, he is brutally shot and killed. How will we ever know the answers? Robert Langdon to the rescue! Langdon vows to find out what Kirsch discovered, and honor his friend by revealing it to the world. There is just one problem: Someone does not want that information revealed. Could it be the church? What about the King of Spain? Only Langdon can find out! He sets out on his quest with the beautiful Guggenheim museum director Ambra Vidal, who just so happens to also be the future Princess of Spain, and races around the country in an attempt to reveal everything!

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE me some Dan Brown! The problem with Brown’s books is we get them so rarely! It should be a holiday when a new Langdon book is released. To me it is like Christmas morning! I am always torn between wanting to burn through his books right away, but also wanting to take my time and savor every moment!

Brown definitely has a formula to his Langdon books. It is one that has served him well for the last four novels, and this book is no exception. Langdon finds himself in a foreign city, someone dies, he has to find out answers and follow clues and solve puzzles, all with the help of a beautiful woman, and in the end, all little loose ends are tied, the ending is satisfying, and Langdon goes home…alone. And all told in short chapters, making it a very fast paced, easy and enjoyable read!

Dan Brown’s Langdon books always scratch all of my nerd itches at once. I love reading about a nerdy character with its own eccentricities’ like someone who can spout off random nerdy facts all while wearing a Mickey Mouse watch! I love that Langdon has to solve some kind of puzzle or code. I love reading about places all over the world, and learning about cities with rich history. I love that Brown does so much research to bring history alive and relevant to today.  And, while I believe in the advancement of science, and am not a religious person, I appreciate the fact that many people are. Brown seems to be similar, and I love that he always tries to incorporate into his books that science and religion are not enemies, but merely trying to tell the same story, just in a different way.

One of the critiques that I have read by people is that Brown’s stories always take place in a famous old city, of course at tourist attractions no less. To me, that is what makes them brilliant. I can go and google a place I have never been, and know that it exists. I can pull up pictures and see what Brown is talking about, and get the feel of really being there. On a recent trip to Rome, I was able to see some of the places mentioned in Angels and Demons, they even have tours dedicated to taking tourists to the famous attractions. In Rome, tourism is their primary industry, and Dan Brown certainly helps them attract tourists. Plus, some of the major places mentioned in the book were not the huge churches you see very easily in Rome, such as the Vatican and the Pantheon. Many of them were little churches, full of famous artist’s work that would otherwise go unnoticed, churches that sort of blend in with their surroundings.

In Brown’s latest novel, technology is a character itself. Literally. We have a character named Winston, who is an automated docent in the museum, and who helps Langdon along the way. He is a computer program designed by Kirsch, one who knows everything about his creators life, including schedule, research notes, phone call and email history, banking information, and even his medical records. Winston was designed to observe human behaviour, and to learn how to mimic it, and even encouraged to develop a sense of humour.

The technology mentioned in the book is absolutely mind boggling. I am torn between being encouraged by some of the advances, and being terrified by them. The headset technology used by the guests at the Guggenheim museum is brilliant. Each headset is placed on the face, rather than in the ears, which utilizes bone conduction technology to interact with Winston, freeing up the guest’s ears in order to have in-person conversations. I thought it was very impressive that each guest could have a personalized guided tour through the museum, and be able to discuss the artwork with the automated docent, even ask questions! In Rome, we went to a few museums, and while we were able to rent headsets that connected to pre-recorded information, it would have been nice to have someone to talk to and ask questions.

Edmund Kirsch himself utilizes the most spectacular technology. He has a personalized oversized smart phone that he designed himself to meet his needs. It connects to Winston, (which, as mentioned had access to every aspect of his life), it had the program that was to be launched to announce his discovery, and it acted as a key to his apartment. Kirsch designed a computer with excessive processing speeds that would allow science and technology to further advance at an unprecedented rate, which he called E-Wave. He drove a Tesla car with an E-Wave vanity plate, that could self-drive…not just park but drive! It could follow a pre-programmed route that he programmed from his front door to his parking space, and could sense obstacles in its path such as people and cars!

While our unknown killer may have silenced Kirsch’s discovery, his very death further heightened it. The world over witnessed his murder, and now everyone wants to know what he discovered. It opened up communication with religious, scientists and atheists alike. His death probably garnered more curiosity than had Kirsch been able to announce his discovery. To further compound it all, the media was constantly updated with information being fed to a website called Conspiracynet.com, which stirred up interest and conspiracy theories even further.

Finally…the discovery. Kirsch used his computer program to find that we did not come from an all-encompassing creator, but from the primordial ooze created by the big bang. He was able to show how we developed, how long it took, and how we formed to the fabulous beings we are today. As to where we are going, that was far more predictable…sort of. The prediction was that by 2050 homo sapiens would no longer exist, but rather a new species would take our place, a species that would still be humanoid, but one that would not be able to exist without technology. Technology would absorb us, and we would have a symbiotic relationship with it; one could not live without the other. While the discovery would be crushing to those that are religious, and cause terror in anyone, Kirsch wanted to remain hopeful. He believed that the technology discussed would be able to eliminate the gap between the haves and the have nots. Technology would help grow food, and provide clean drinking water to everyone. It would allow access to clean energy, further protecting our environment. It would help eradicate disease the world over. It would create new jobs, jobs we have not even thought of yet. Overall, a very hopeful and encouraging picture!

I will leave you with a quote from the novel, one that I found very fitting.

“May our philosophers keep pace with our technologies. May our compassion keep pace with our powers. And may love, not fear, be the engine of change.”

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“John dies at the end” by David Wong

JohnDies

artemisiconThe review on the cover of the book by Fangoria says that this books is “a case of the author trying to depict actual soul-sucking lunacy, and succeeding with flying colours.”

They’re not wrong.

I was actually introduced to this book backwards. When I still worked at the book store, a book called “this book is full of spiders” came in, and since everyone knew of my fear of spiders, they thought it was hilarious. I read the back and decided I was going to read it (much to everyone’s shock) and that book was absolute insanity. It was immediately after that that I learned ‘This book is fill of spiders’, was a book two. It was actually the successor to a book called “John dies at the end”. Unfortunately, it was years later that I actually read the book. When I realized a movie had been made, I vowed that I WOULD read the book, and it was actually the co-writer of this blog who gave me the book!

Because I read them out of order I had a SLIGHT idea of what I was getting into. Slight. David Wong is one of those writers that you don’t see too often. He’s up there with Douglas Coupland, and some-what Christopher Moore. In that sarcastic narrator that kind of sounds like they took all the drugs before telling you the story. But David Wong takes what the other authors had established and dials it to 11.

The majority of the story is told by our main character David Wong, as he narrates what has happened to him to a reporter. David sees ghosts, and spirits, and any number of wacky things. And him and his friend John help others deal with strange occurrences.

The story is heavily influenced by a drug called “soy sauce” (which I learned of through ‘This book is full of spiders’ so I wasn’t too surprised with what it does), it’s not a drug in the conventional sense. On top of feeling high, it gives the person unpredictable supernatural abilities.

I don’t want to give away too much of the book, because in all honestly, what I tell you won’t make any sense. The book is a ride that needs 100% of your focus, so you don’t miss anything. Time travel, floating people, alien drugs, murder, ghosts, this book covers it all.

The movie that was done doesn’t even dip a toe into the insanity that is this book.

I love books that grab hold of you and don’t let you go, for whatever reason. And this book was one of those. Not for it’s dramatics or its love story, the way other books grab you, but for the sheer sake of “what the HELL did I just read!?”. It is incredibly fast paced and nearly impossible to predict. Even all the way to the very end it keeps throwing curve balls and fake-outs.

It is narrated by the character so the story is told from his point of view, which also includes what he is thinking at the time (even when his mind wanders). This is not an uncommon method of story telling, but Wong has so much going on in his head and an off sense of humor that it gives the familiar method an unfamiliar voice.

Most people probably won’t like this book. I’m not going to lie about that. It takes a weird sense of humor to get into these books. But they are amazing and unbelievably imaginative, and a shame not to read.

 

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Anita Blake versus Lestat de Lioncourt.

AnitavsLestat

artemisiconAnother series that was compared to me long, long ago, were Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

I started reading Anne Rice back in High School, I think somewhere around the time the ‘Queen of the Damned’ movie came out. I found out they were based on books (Interview with the Vampire was one of my favorite movies) so I started reading the books right away! In college, (I don’t remember exactly how it happened) another person in my class and I got talking about Anne Rice, and she told me if I like Anne Rice, I’ll like Anita Blake. If you’ve read my reviews, you’ll know it was YEARS later that I finally picked up a Laurell K Hamilton book.

Once again, I saw no similarities, even less than Harry Dresden and Harry Potter. Both books contain Vampires. That’s about where the similarities end.

Laurell K. Hamilton’s series is about Anita Blake, a necromancer turned Vampire Hunter for the State. She does get entangled with the local Vampire coven and romantically involved with the leader.

Anne Rice’s series follows, for the most part, a French Noble turned Vampire. His trials and tribulations as he grows both as a Vampire, and as a personality, and eventually to a leader of his kind. Lestat does share some similar traits with Anita, both are sarcastic and a little bit childish, but where Anita’s personality is within normal limits, Lestat breaks any boundaries and creates a level all his own – even earning the title the Brat Prince.

On top of the main characters being really nothing alike, the stories are drastically different. Anita’s story takes place in current times as she battles supernatural creatures of all kinds and tries to find her place in the Vampire community. Lestat’s story, known as the Vampire Chronicles, actually bounces between other Vampires, like Louis and Armand, to tell a fuller, wider story. It starts way back in Lestat’s childhood (around the 1800s), and details his entire life as a teen, up until he attracted the attention of an Ancient Vampire, through his learning how to be a Vampire and gaining a following of both humans and Vampires. Because of their long life, the stories eventually catch up to current times (the times when the books were written since the series is very old: Interview was first publish in 1976). Both stories are very much a coming-to-age style, only Anne Rice does hers on a much larger scale.

The Anita Blake series is told from her point of view, so you see the story ONLY through Anita’s point of view. It does make the story interesting because you get to learn about Anita through her thoughts and reactions, and you learn about other characters through her impressions of them. The Vampire chronicles are told from that Vampires point of view, but in the sense they are literally writing their own books. Interview with the Vampire is written as Louis giving an interview, so you get conversation between him and Daniel, the boy interviewing him. All of the books in the series are done like the Vampire they are about are actually WRITING the book, so you always get their thoughts on the events, and only their point of view, but another book might come out written by another Vampire that overlaps and tells a slightly different version of the same event. The books are incredibly well written and interesting for that fact.

Certain topics come up in both books, and are dealt with beautifully, but those topics aren’t enough to call the books similar.

Both series are awesome, for entirely different reasons. Laurell K Hamiltons books are a quick fun read, where as Anne Rice’s are a bit deeper and dwell more on thought (their place in the world, religious ramifications, the need to kill to survive, etc), than actions. I loved both series and I’m first in line when new books come out (to the point I have all the new Anne Rice books in hardcover).

I don’t want a Vampire lover to miss a wonderful series because they are expecting one or the other. If you read my other Versus review, you’d know I likened Anita Blake to Harry Dresden, but Anne Rice is kind of in her own classification. If I had to compare her to ANYONE it might have to be Ken Follett. The heavily emotional stories that spans through generations.

I rather enjoy writing these Versus reviews, especially since people comparing one book to another shaped what kind of books I started reading. I wouldn’t have read Anita Blake, or Harry Dresden if it wasn’t for someone telling me it was similar to a series I had already read.

 

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“Rituals” by Kelley Armstrong

Rituals

asteriaiconI once had someone come up to me and ask if I have ever read Kelley Armstrong, and I told them that they were too old for her. I felt, after finishing the Women of the Underworld series, that her writing was a bit juvenile. It was good, but light, and it lacked real substance.  I have grown up  more myself a bit since then and I have realized that perhaps it isn’t so much a lack of substance, but rather a light, fun, no-thinky read, and sometimes that is exactly what you need. I find myself always drawn to Armstrong’s work, it is like reuniting with an old friend, and find myself always having fun when reading her books. I still find them light, but that makes for an easy and fast read, and sometimes that is exactly what I am looking for.

Rituals is the fifth book in the Cainsville series. This series was an interesting combination of mystery and paranormal/fantasy and romance. I believe I have done a review on previous books in this series, so some of this may seem familiar. Liv Jones is in the center of an age old love triangle. The three are continuously reincarnated, destined to find each other, and live out the lives and mistakes of their kind. Liv must choose between two men, and in doing so, determines the fates of not only themselves, but potentially the fates of each blood line. These men, you see, are fae, each coming from a different species so to speak. Ricky is Arawn, part of the Cwn Annwn, while Gabriel is Gwynn, king of the fae, the Tylwyth Teg. Whomever Liv chooses means survival of that particular fae species. And Armstrong makes sure that it is a tough choice, as each man has incredible qualities that would make anyone fall in love with them. Sure, there are a few character flaws, but that is part of the fun.

In this particular novel, Armstrong wraps up the love triangle, all while fighting a new big bad that also wants to be considered in Liv’s choice. Though, consider is really not the right word, more like ensure they are the only option. The story starts out with the arrival of a character that has already been established to be dead, someone who threatens all that Gabriel has worked for in his life, not just his money and reputation, but his security, his safety, and probably most importantly, his relationship with Liv. There are many twists and turns and surprises along the way to the ultimate conclusion of the series.

I felt Armstrong did a great job of wrapping up all of the loose ends during the series. She made sure to bring little tidbits from the beginning right through to the end. I really enjoyed the various omens that would pop up here and there, and the gargoyles that were mentioned within each book in the series. It brought the whole town of Cainsville alive, easy to picture in your mind, and I loved the mysteries that Cainsville hid within its borders. I did struggle a bit with the fae lore, but I think that is because I am just still not accustomed to reading fantasy. Still, I was able to enjoy it, I just needed to take a second to wrap my head around it all. Tylwyth Teg and Cwn Annwn are really a mouthful! I also had a hard time not mixing up Gabriel with Clay from the Underworld series, as they really have a lot in common, and are written very similar.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I have read a few reviews on this book, and some people felt the ending was a cop out. I however, found the ending to be very satisfying and rather perfect. To me it showed real character development. Each character grew through the whole series, which I love seeing, but each character also learned from their reincarnated self’s mistakes.  Liv’s final choice was…to not make a choice. To choose not to choose. In the past, Matilda was forced to choose one side indefinitely, cutting off all contact with the other side. In choosing Ricky or Gabriel, she would have to choose one side of herself over the other, when in reality, she was both. She was both Cwn Annwn and Tylwyth Teg. She wanted to be able to ride with Ricky, either on his motorcycle or a horse, and she wanted to be with Gabriel.  Yes, one of these men was chosen romantically, but there are many kinds of relationships, and Liv found a good balance with each of these men.  And personally, while I did like both men, I had a favorite in this love triangle, and my man won so I found that rather satisfying all on its own.

All in all, I loved the series. I can count on Armstrong to be a fast read, yet a read that satisfies an itch, one that she alone seems to scratch. I may not be amazing with fantasy and romance genres, but she seems to make it a little more effortless for me. I love her character building and how she carries them through the series she writes, having them develop and grow. I love her richly detailed scenery, how you can picture yourself in the surroundings the characters are in. I love the fact she is from rural Ontario, I like supporting good female writers from our region (well Ontario as a whole I suppose). I love catching up with this old friend, no matter the series, no matter the age.

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“Sleeping Giants” by Sylvain Neuvel

sleepingiants

asteriaiconI generally leave the science fiction reading to Artemis, as it is more up her alley, but this seemed really intriguing, and I just had to pick it up. I tend to shy away from sci-fi, I find it hard to believe, and harder to really wrap my head around, but this was just a perfect way to really get introduced to the genre. I kept hearing about this novel all over the place, seeing it in various articles around the internet, and hearing about it in a podcast, and I just found it too intriguing to not pick up.

The story starts out with Rose, a then eleven-year-old girl who gets a bike for her birthday. She sneaks out of the house to take her new ride for a spin, when she falls through a hole in the earth unexpectedly. She loses consciousness, and when she comes to it is now dark and there are firemen looking down on her with confused and terrified faces. The thing is, Rose awakens cradled in a giant metal hand, and the hole she fell in is really a square, held up by large metal walls that have glowing symbols carved in them. Flash forward seventeen years, and Rose is now head of the project to determine what this giant metal hand is and what its purpose is.

Through the progression of their research they determine that wherever the hand and walls came from, they are certainly not from Earth. The walls and hand are made of metallic material that does not exist on Earth in such large quantities. The giant hand is followed by the discovery of an arm, and a leg, and a torso, and other various body parts that have been scattered throughout the globe, and are joined together to make one giant female robot. Finding these body pieces have come at a price, with people from the general public dying during the process of discovery and excavation, not to mention the many laws and treaties broken internationally.

This is the first novel in the Themis Files series. The story is told almost entirely through interviews between an unknown, unnamed man, and various scientists, military personnel, and pilots. It is very reminiscent of World War Z in that respect. While this way of writing provides us with little in the way of action, we get to see the story progress in each characters own words, and even without action there is still quite a bit of suspense around what is happening. It also made for a quick read. I plowed through this book in a few days.

The interesting thing with this book is it looked at the concepts of morality vs mission, and the usage of technology as a whole. What are we as a society willing to pay as a price for technology? Is it okay to lose the lives of a few people? One hundred? What about one thousand? Are we using technology for the right reasons? What would happen if we did find alien technology? Would we use it for good? For evil? Who decides the use of such technology? Who even owns it; the specific country that started the search or the whole world?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and cannot wait to read the second one. This is also a book I think would make a very good transition to the big screen!

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