Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

  If you were to ask me why I love the Wayward Pines trilogy as much as I do, I honestly wouldn't know how to answer. It's not my preferred reading genre. I doubt I would have picked it up without my mom's persistent and never-ending nagging recommendation. I don't think I could honestly put into words what makes this series so magical, and so downright addicting.
  I don't think I can put into words what makes this series so irresistible.
  Ethan Burke has woken up with no identity and limited memory. He doesn't know where his family is, he cannot remember anything that happened to him before he woke up, he cannot remember why he is so banged up and in so much pain, and most of all, he has no idea where he is.
  But he is in Wayward Pines.
  After an excruciating walk around town trying to find anything or anyone familiar, Ethan soon realizes that he is in a lot of trouble. Not only is he in a strange town that he's never been to before, with his family missing in action, he is in a strange town with even stranger people.
  Everyone is acting like they're brainwashed automatons, and Ethan wants to know why...but the secret of Wayward Pines may be more than Ethan can handle.
  Above is the plot for the first book. I have to refrain from divulging what occurs in books two and three, because those, my friends, would be what we call major spoilers.
  When I first read Pines, book one in the Wayward Pines trilogy, I could honestly say that the book was interesting, but most definitely not OMG worthy. Intriguing, fast-paced, and certainly interesting enough to keep me reading, but I was obviously missing what my mother had gained from the story.
  Even after I finished the book, I just didn't get it. I was interested enough to read on in the series, but I wasn't as excited with moving on as I can be with certain favorite series of mine. (This is of no fault of Blake Crouch's...the series just didn't hook me as much as I wanted it to.)
  Book two was even more interesting. Pines (book one) held a certain magic that can only grow from meeting new characters, and having said characters being thrown into puzzling situations, but Wayward (book two) held a combination that was even more powerful. Blake Crouch strengthened somehow.
  Usually, if I've started a series, and even book one hasn't captivated me, the rest of the books following book one would only go downhill from there.
  But Wayward...Wayward was different. Blake Crouch's characters and story line gained speed and sustenance in Wayward's plot, somehow making Pines even more powerful. Of course this is just my opinion, but that's what you came here for, right? To hear my opinion? Yeah, exactly.
  Book two made me appreciate book one, and the series overall, which I never would have thought was possible. I was one book away from leaving this reading experience more disappointed than I could ever imagine, but after Wayward, I gained a little bit of hope.
  And that hope was all I needed.
  Book three sold me. Pines was good, Wayward was better, but The Last Town...The Last Town captured my heart and made me fall in love.
  I don't think I've ever (in my entire life) had a reading experience like this one. It's scenarios like this that make me thankful that I never give up on books, because if I did, I really would have missed out on some once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing reading material. I'm even dong a reread of the trilogy as we speak. You all know that the ONLY books I reread are the Harry Potter books, so this is serious.
  Somehow...somehow Blake Crouch put some unknown, rare magic into his books that had such a powerful effect on me, I feel like I need to take a break from reality to question reality.
  What is real? Are these just books, or are these a part of my soul? Can dogs really look up?
  Maybe not the last one, but you get the gist.
  I can honestly say, after reading roughly almost a thousand books in my lifetime, none have ever been like the Wayward Pines trilogy.
  So, if you're reading this, read Wayward Pines. I don't care if you hate book one, or even if you hate book one and book two, read all three and then come to me. I implore you.
  These books stray outside the world of literature, and make a grand entrance into the world we know as reality. I guarantee these books will stick with you forever.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

MUST READ: Pines by Blake Crouch

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Stand by Stephen King

  After heavy analysis, many painstakingly terrifying chapters, a week and a half of reading, an apocalypse, the perishing of millions upon millions of living beings, many close calls of death with my favorite characters, and 1439 pages of genu-ine, uncut, bloody, and violent Stephen King product, I have finished The Stand.
  Yes, The Stand. One of the most talked about Stephen King books ever. The Stand which, in many conversations, has come up as a reader's all time favorite novel by the master of horror himself.
  I can now die saying that I finally finished THE Stand.
  I'm sure you all know of the plot by now, but if not, I'll run it by you real quick...
  A super flu has wiped out almost all of humanity. At first you think "it's just a cold." Perhaps you drink only tea and soup for a day or so, hoping you'll get better soon. Maybe you will get better...for a little while. Then it comes back full force, and before you can even pick up the phone to call the doctor, your neck swells, you throat has closed up, and part of your skin has turned black. You are a victim of this unknown super flu, which has killed every other single living person in the world.
  Well...almost everyone.
  Only a small percentage of the human race is still alive, and soon they start to find each other. They seek each other out, because not only do they have survival in common, but they all have something else in common as well. They all dream of an elderly woman who brings them comfort...and a dark man who brings them pain.
  Half of the survivors seek sanctuary, and the others...they are recruited into the Dark One's army.
  Most of my reading experience of The Stand consisted of seeking out which characters I loved the most, praying that they (or at least most of them) live until the end, and trying to calm down my heart and slow its heavy beating against my chest.
  Every Stephen King book needs to come with a warning that says, "May cause heart attacks. Seriously."
  I still stand by the fact that a) I really love Stephen King's newer work the most (with some exceptions). b) Stephen King really knows how to write female characters that make me want to light my book on fire (which I would never do...but I came close, the only exception is Abra from Doctor Sleep). And c) Stephen King can be horrifically violent, almost to the point of making me lose my lunch.
  But...Dear God, is this man a genius. I can't say The Stand is my favorite Stephen King book ever, and I can't say that I prefer his older work over his newer work (as I said, there are exceptions to that opinion of mine), but I will say that The Stand is my FAVORITE of his older work. Compared to It, The Shining, and Carrie...well, I really can't compare them, because The Stand was pretty exceptional.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Devil's Daughter by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez, and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

  I was given a copy of Devil's Daughter in exchange for an honest review, and that's exactly what I'm going to give you.
  Lucinda is the one and only daughter of the Prince of Darkness, Lucifer, and the first woman on earth, Eve. She is a mix between a fallen angel and a human, and she is eternal. She is power and darkness itself, and she has no weaknesses.
  Lucinda runs a pawnshop for her father, helping to sell and disperse cursed objects. In doing this, Lucifer hopes that with enough objects sold, and sold to the right people, chaos will ensue just as he likes...in total Armageddon. But what will happen when a human male shows up in Lucinda's eternal life, and distracts her from her father's master plan? Only readers of Devil's Daughter will know.
  Now for my honesty. I am not a particularly huge fan of paranormal romances. When I first started this book, I thought, "Well, at least when it's over, it'll be over and I can move on." I'm incredibly sorry for admitting that I jump to reading conclusions that quickly, but it's true. Paranormal romances, fantasy, and sci-fi books are not my forte.
  I picked up Devil's Daughter, got about 50 pages into it, and put it down to go to sleep. I wasn't sold with the story, and I was actually disappointed that the book wasn't about Brittany, the woman whose perspective it is in chapter one. When the book switched to Lucinda's perspective, I was a bit turned off, and not enthusiastic about reading on.
  That being said... The next day, I picked up the book again (as I said, around page 50), and I became hooked. Something happened in the book that caught my attention, and I was sold.
  I knew that it wasn't going to be an absolute favorite book of mine, but I knew that I was invested in the story enough to want to finish it ASAP, and not because I just wanted it over. I actually was interested in the story.
  I will read on in the series. I very much look forward to reading book two.
  Overall, this book is not a paranormal romance. It's...much more than that. It's political, it's historical, it's magical, it's sweet, and it's sad. I LOVE the different characters' stories and the different perspectives, the writing was fine (it took a bit of getting used to, but easy after that initial "dip in the water"). I actually liked the book's characters (which is rare for me), and most of all, this book is about a battle between good and evil.
  Between God's faithful servants and Lucifer's blood-thirsty followers, Devil's Daughter manifests a battleground that can either be resolved with true love...or worsened.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Are Stephen King's Books Getting Better?

   At first, this blog post was solely meant to be written about Joyland by Stephen King. With that in mind, it quickly turned into a blog post containing mostly Joyland thoughts and observations, but then soon after transformed into a passionate conversation in my head concerning Stephen King's newer books being compared to his older books.
  Thus making this new and improved topic (and my sole focus of this blog post), "Are Stephen King's Books Getting Better?"
  In my opinion, and after reading Doctor Sleep (dear God, was that an incredible book), 11/22/63 (ditto to my previous sentiments), Duma Key, and Joyland (which were all published during the 2000s to the mid 2010s), yes. Stephen King has gotten better. Now, I may be a bit biased having read these particular books before I read some of his classics like The Shining and It (minus Carrie, since that actually was the first book I had ever read by Stephen King), but am I really? Could my opinion be swayed by the order in which I read them? Or did Stephen King really get good over these past years. I mean REALLY good.
  This may be an unpopular opinion (but this is MY blog, so...), but I feel almost as if his older work is missing the magic his new books posses. The Shining captivated me, but Doctor Sleep had me in awe (and in tears). It (the book) was wonderful, but 11/22/63 was extraordinary. (As in, "OMG, *insert friend's name here* read these books right now or you will never know the true meaning of life," extraordinary.)
 I once heard an author say, "I don't want to hear that my newer books are nothing compared to my older books. I want to know that I'm getting better, not worse." I'm hoping Stephen King agrees with this. If not, I'm hoping I don't become a character that gets killed off in one of his upcoming novels.
  I read some of Stephen King's older books, his classics, and I'm just not as in awe as I should be. Of course his books are magnificent, because he wouldn't be a world famous master of horror if they weren't, but I feel as if they pale in comparison to his new work. (Which is actually good news, because the more books he comes out with, the more extraordinary stories we have to read--YAY!)
  This isn't saying that all of his new stuff is impeccable, nor is it saying that his older stuff is missing magic. I just read Bag Of Bones by the master of horror himself (which dates back to 1998), and I felt that it contained the same magic as Duma Key (which I LOVED). Plus, many readers may read Doctor Sleep, or 11/22/63, or Joyland, and dislike them. (This is where I shrug.) But to each his or her own.
  I may be completely out there with this entire post...I may be completely wrong. (Although, come to think of it, a bookworm is never wrong, it's just a matter of differing opinions in the end.) But if you want my opinion, here it is. These are the books that held onto me until the very end, and then some.
  From another angle of this ongoing ramble of thoughts inside the mind of Rebecca, The Literary Connoisseur, I'm currently reading The Stand (circa 1978), and I've heard that it holds that certain magic that I search for in Stephen King novels. So in the end, this whole debate may not center around when the book was published, but center around what was going on in Stephen King's life as he wrote the book, instead. Or perhaps it had to do with what he was eating at the time, or where he was writing, or what the weather was like, etc. We may never know.
  But I do know one thing...whether it's true that Stephen King DID get better with storytelling, or whether it's just these certain OMG books that stand out for me (and only me, as different books stand out to different readers), one thing's for sure, that most of you know already.
  Stephen King is a bloody genius.

My Favorite Stephen King books (so far) in order...


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