Book Review – A Hundred Summers

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Source: Amazon

As soon as I finished Tiny Little Thing, I jumped right into A Hundred Summers, also by Beatriz Williams. This has also been on my TBR list for a long time, and on the same shopping spree where I bought Tiny Little Thing, I bought A Hundred Summers. This one solidified Williams as a new favorite author.

A Hundred Summers takes place in the beach town of Seaview, Rhode Island, in 1938. Lily Dane has summered at Seaview for her entire life, and most of those summers were spent with her best friend growing up, Budgie Byrne. This friendship lasts through their senior year of college, until Budgie betrays Lily and Lily stops contact with her. It has been six years since Budgie and Lily’s friendship ended, and Lily is settling in for another summer at Seaview, when Budgie returns to her family’s beach cottage. She is not alone, though; she is with her new husband, and Lily’s former fiancé, Nick. As the summer goes by, Lily begins to form a new friendship with Budgie and to move on from Nick. It isn’t until the summer begins to draw to a close and the Great New England Hurricane approaches, that Lily learns that things were maybe not quite as they seemed six years ago.

I am so glad that I waited to read this book until I was at the beach! With the setting a small beach town, it was the perfect read as I listened to the waves crash – either in my beach chair in the sand, or an Adirondack chair on the porch of the house my family rents! I felt like I was in Seaview with Lily, and even more fun, like I was back in time, living in the 1930s. One thing my mom commented on as she read it (at my suggestion as soon as I finished it!), was how she wanted to have the same drinks the characters were drinking throughout the books. The details and descriptions drew me in so completely, so I knew exactly what she meant. Just like Tiny in Tiny Little Thing, I found Lily very easy to relate to and sympathize with. I also was a huge fan of the incorporation of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 into the storyline, and the historical note included at the end. This is something I would never have known about if I hadn’t read the book, and I was interested to learn more. I always love learning a thing or two while I’m reading a great story! A Hundred Summers was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. But if you’re anything like me and would be depressed reading about the beach while you’re land-locked, then definitely save it until you’re on a beach trip!

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Book Review – Garden Spells

 

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Source: Goodreads

I continued my Sarah Addison Allen binge with Garden Spells, which is her first novel, and the prequel to First Frost, my first taste of Allen. Garden Spells did not disappoint, and was a perfect start to my beach reading!

Garden Spells tells the story of two sisters from a small town called Bascom, North Carolina. They come from a family known for its mystery, mainly thanks to the apple tree growing in the family garden. Legend has it that a bite of an apple off the tree will show the person the biggest event of their life.

Sydney Waverley left Bascom after graduation, wanting to get away from her family name and its stigma, and her first love who broke her heart. She ran from town to town, stealing, changing her name – living the life her mother had – until she wound up stuck in an abusive relationship. When she finally found the courage to take her daughter home to Bascom, she moved in with her sister Claire, whom she hadn’t seen in ten years.

Claire never left Bascom, but embraced her Waverley name and magic, living in her grandmother’s old house. Claire runs a successful catering business out of the house that specializes in edible flowers. People come to Claire for food that will help them to remember a favorite time, or to forget a feeling, anything they need. When Sydney returns to town and moves in, both sisters work to rebuild their broken relationship, as well as their own lives.

As I said, this book was another great read by Sarah Addison Allen. I liked the switch between Claire and Sydney, and I was glad to get more background on the two after reading First Frost. Of course, I wish I had known in the first place that this book came first, but both books were enjoyable regardless. I definitely consider this a good summer read – not too heavy, but still a good story that sucks you in. If you’re interested in reading Sarah Addison Allen, this would be a good place to start. Just make sure you read this one before you read First Frost!

Book Review – Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver Source: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com

If you haven’t read Delirium yet, wait to read this post. This is the sequel, and it’s impossible to write about it without spoilers.

Pandemonium picks up where Delirium left off. Lena has escaped Portland into the Wilds, and is trying to heal – physically and emotionally – and find her place among a group of “Invalids” who have taken her in. Eventually Lena is given an important role in the resistance; she is assigned to watch Julian Fineman, son of the president of the DFA (Delirium-Free America, a group whose purpose is to promote the Cure). This assignment takes Lena, as well as a number of her friends from the Wilds, into the middle of a DFA rally in Times Square. When an attack happens at the rally, Julian is taken into an old subway tunnel. Lena follows, and soon finds herself fighting for her life.

This book was written differently than Delirium, with each chapter alternating between “Then” and “Now” – Lena’s adjustment into the Wilds, and her role in the resistance. At first I wasn’t too fond of this layout, but as the story went on, I appreciated it much more, and I can’t imagine it written differently. I wasn’t as compelled to read the first few chapters as I had been in Delirium, maybe because of the alternating settings, but there came a point where I found myself thinking, “Ok, just read this next chapter so you can get back to ‘now’ to see what happens!”

I didn’t like this book better than Delirium, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, period. This was more of an adventure, and very action-packed compared to Delirium. Lena’s narration was perfect again. Lauren Oliver has a way of describing things and telling a story in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, but it’s exactly right; I feel like her writing is poetic but simple. This had another one of those cliffhanger endings, and I couldn’t resist a trip to Barnes and Noble the day after I finished, to get the third book. Which I just finished… 🙂

Overall, if you loved Delirium, it’s a good idea to read Pandemonium. And pick up Requiem while you’re at it, trust me.

Book Review – Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium is a book that I’ve always looked at, but for one reason or another, never decided to read. It was one of those that was always in the back of my head – “I’ll have to read that one day,” until finally, after seeing a number of my students with it, I decided to go for it (I had also just finished creating a summer reading list for myself, made up entirely of YA books, and was eager to start).

Delirium takes place in the present-day United States, with a couple of major differences. The most important is that the government and society believe love to be a disease which must be cured. Without love, the society is safe. As a person approaches their eighteenth birthday and nears high school graduation, they undergo a number of tests and evaluations. Some are meant to determine whether or not they will attend college after high school, or be placed in a basic job; another test helps determine which job the person will be placed into, and the final tests are to find suitable matches for each person. Once a person receives their approved matches, they choose one from the list and that becomes their life partner, but only after they have both undergone the procedure to be “cured” – to no longer feel love.

Lena is approaching her eighteenth birthday and looking forward to her procedure, and starting her new life of normalcy and safety. She and her best friend Hana begin their summer after graduation just like every other summer, until Lena meets Alex, a security guard at the labs where her procedure will take place. This sets into motion a series of events which help her to realize that Hana isn’t quite the person she’s always known, and that maybe love isn’t worth curing.

While some aspects of this book are somewhat predictable because of the dystopian setting (and very similar to aspects of other dystopian novels), the story is original enough that it made me want to keep reading. Lena as the narrator was very easy to connect with, and I’m sure teenage girls will feel the same. I liked how real the society felt, and how similar to our own it was. It didn’t take a lot of imagination (which isn’t always a bad thing) to visualize the town, the school, Lena’s neighborhood, etc., and I found myself more able to focus on what was going on rather than trying to keep minor details straight. I also thought that Lena’s inner conflicts were very relatable – growing up learning and believing a way of life, only to find through different experiences that maybe you don’t agree with those beliefs – but what is right?

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this book and have since flown through the sequel, Pandemonium (review coming soon). It’s a great choice for anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction as well as romance. If you liked Matched, you’ll definitely like Delirium!