Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Few Books By Lauren Oliver

Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted about anything I have read (and lately, I have been reading a lot).  Recently, I went through a phase where I was picking up anything by Lauren Oliver that was available on audible.com.  I really enjoyed her writing style and found myself getting lost in the worlds she created.  Here are some of my thoughts about her novels.  Have you read any of these books?

Before I Fall 
This is the first book I read by Lauren Oliver.  I wanted to dip my toe into the pool before I went swimming with her Delirium trilogy.  This book begins at the end, which captivated me right away.  It is about a girl named Samantha Kingston, who is a popular mean girl.  She seems to have it all, and then she dies.  She must go back and relive her final day over, until she finally gets it right (think Groundhog Day set in high school).  Each time she relives the day, she learns more about herself and the secrets of her classmates.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It was really well-written, and brought me back to my high school days.  Everyone knew a girl like Samantha, so completely oblivious as to how her actions affect the lives of others.  As she goes through this growing process, you keep hoping that her ending will change, that she can learn how to save herself.  As the story develops, it becomes clear that sacrifice is essential in order to right your past transgressions.  I definitely shed a tear or two at the end.

I am a big fan of young adult dystopian novels, and this trilogy kept popping up on my audible.com reading list.  The premise here is that in a not-so-distant future, love is declared a disease that must be eradicated.  A procedure is done to teenagers, once they hit 18, that "cures" them of ever feeling this emotion and contracting the disease known as amor deliria nervosa. Anyone who is of age and has not had this procedure is considered to be an invalid.

Lena, the main character, has been looking forward to her procedure since she was a child.  She was happy to let the government pick out her future mate and decide what is best for her.  Then she meets an invalid named Alex, and she becomes infected.  She must choose to do either what society expects, or what her heart is telling her is right.

I love the premise here. If you think about a world without love, the impact reaches far beyond two people falling for each other. For example, how does a parent feel about his/her children? For this reason, this book was my favorite of the trilogy. The ending of this book definitely leaves you wanting to start the next book immediately.   I give the whole series four and a half stars.

This was the second book in the Delirium trilogy.  I will try not to give away too many spoilers here, but it is a bit difficult if you haven't already read the first novel.  Here, we pick up with Lena immediately after the events in the first book.  She is half-dead and going it alone in the Wilds, without the help of her beloved Alex.  The book goes back and forth between her time immediately after running away, where she is learning how to survive with the help of other invalids, and her new life as part of the Resistance in New York City, where she is infiltrating a group called the DFA (Delirium Free America) in order to try to restore society back to its original state.

Midway through this book, Lena is kidnapped along with Julian Fineman, who is the face of the DFA's youth division.  Together, they must learn how to survive their captivity.  Lena infects Julian with the deliria, and she has to decide if she can forget about Alex, and return his feelings.  This novel ends with an exciting (and much anticipated) cliff-hanger that made me immediately pick up the third book in this series.

Requiem  (warning, possible spoilers ahead)

Requiem picks up where Pandemonium left off.  However, now Lena is in the Wilds with both Alex and Julian, who are all part of the Resistance, trying to restore America to its former state.  This book is much different from the first two in that it tells the story not only from Lena's point of view, but also from her best friend Hana's point of view, alternating by chapter.  We hadn't heard from Hana since Delirium, and it was interesting to learn what she had been up to since receiving the cure, including more about the man she is supposed to marry. Interestingly enough, she has a few secrets of her own and some reparations to make to Lena.

This was my second favorite book in the series, and wrapped up all of the plotlines in interesting ways.  Some characters die.  Some of the plotlines are left open ended.  We leave the story still in the midst of a revolution, and have to wish the characters the best for their future.  I don't see how this book could have ended any other way that would have been satisfying.  Sometimes not tying up everything is a tidy little package is the best way to leave things.

Lauren Oliver has a new book coming out in March called Panic, which I hope to pick up and review soon.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

So I Had A Birthday

It was on the first.  I turned 38.  It was a fun day (and I didn't have a chance to blog about it).  I decided to keep it low-key this year.  Not because I was getting older (I love my birthday), but life has been a little crazy lately.  I (mercifully) survived a few rounds of layoffs at work.  My father-in-law had (successful) open heart surgery.  I just wanted a cupcake and a movie.

Being the strategist that I am, I picked a movie theater in the same plaza as a cupcake bakery.  We saw American Hustle (it was really good). As you can see, my cupcake choices ranneth over.  If that wasn't a word before, it is now.

In the end, we left with a six-pack (because calories do not count on your birthday).  (And because my birthday will be on the same day as the Super Bowl next year, and nobody wants that.)  If you are wondering, I did leave with one of the chocolate Nutella cupcakes.  I will never turn my back on Nutella.

I decided to adopt an African Dwarf Frog and named him Irving. Jack wasn't a big fan, and I have since bought him his own tank and a girlfriend.

This was quite a surprise gift, from one of my best friends.  I can now make a mean espresso at home.  It is great for the days when I don't have time for a Starbucks run (and NEED my coffee)

My mother-in-law is a jewelry designer, and she made these for me.  If I was a better photographer, you would really appreciate this picture.

I am also really loving my gifts from a best friend across the pond.  My love affair with Soap and Glory continues, and could Harrod's do pugs any cuter?

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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