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The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

May 19, 2013 Leave a comment

The Lost Girl
by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl

By: Sangu Mandanna

Release Date: Augustus 28, 2012

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself..




Review:

Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident. It is as common as life.

– Henry David Thoreau

I have to admit, I was not hooked from page one. I even put the book aside for a few days. Yeah I know, unimaginable. I don’t know if it was me or the book though, so in this case I’m going to use the line “it wasn’t you, it was me”. When I picked it up again, some days later, the story had me entirely captivated. I swear, if anyone would’ve come near me and my E-reader I think I would’ve growl, maybe even bitten.

I still don’t know how to categorize this book because apparently it’s not really dystopian (sorry not a pro). But to be frank I don’t care. This book is so much more! Indirectly, Mandanna  kept throwing questions to my head. Mainly questions about life and death, which -even now, days after I finished the book-keep haunting my thoughts.

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”

– Grace Hansen

Eva, Amarra’s echo, was created -“stitched” by a weaver- so she can replace Amarra if one day something happens to the latter, something life-ending. Can you imagine yourself living your life waiting until someone dies? And when you get the change to replace that person, it’s just that, a replacement. Living the life of someone else. Pretending you are someone else. Or will the pretending stop after a while? Will it become your own life?

While the weavers are searching for a way to refine echo’s,  Eva is still an “imperfect” version. She has her own feelings, opinions, thoughts, her own dreams and desires. She proofs she’s an individual by giving herself a name. In my opinion that is Eva’s way to stand up for herself, to go in against the ridiculous laws and to give the middle finger to the Loom.

I admired how Eva tries to search her own identity but also accepts her place in life without complaining. And although she accepts her fate, living the life of someone else, she fights for her own life the moment it is threatened. What made me sad is that although Eva spends years to prepare herself to take over Amarra’s life, it doesn’t feel good when it eventually happens. It is said that the life of an echo starts when the “other” dies, but I believe Eva already had a life. It is obvious that her guardians genuinely love her. My heart went out to all of them when Eva had to leave to start her life in India.

Once in India, although the start was not easy, everything is not that bad. I liked Neil. He is down to earth, sober, and tries in his own time to get to know Eva. Sasha and Nikhil stole my heart right away. I was touched by how they accepted Eva so easily and gave her the chance to be herself around them. I believe all of them, even the mom who so desperately wants that Eva really is Amarra, are capable of giving Eva a place in their family. And with that it might even be possible that there is a life for Eva in India after all.

“How terrible it is to love something that death can touch”

– Unknown

I guess you can say that Alisha and Neil turned to extreme measures out of fear to lose their children one day. At first I didn’t really care for Amarra, but I think that’s normal considering I lived the story through Eva’s eyes. But while reading, questions slowly started to make an entrance inside my head: what would I do if someone is waiting for me to die? Waiting to take over my life, my family, stealing my boyfriend and friends. Would I just accept that? Writing in my diary like a good girl, tell my copy everything? And that’s when I started to understand Amarra and her repulsion for Eva. Cause although my heart hurt for Eva when I read about the sleeping order, I understood Amarra’s reasoning behind it. The only thing that I might blame Amarra is that she never tried to talk with Eva, try to see past the monster, just like Nikhil does with his echo. And this is exactly what makes Mandanna’s writing style stand out. The author is capable to let you feel so many things at the same time and to sympathize with all sides and not just Eva’s. Let’s take Ray for example. When he snitched to the hunter about Eva, I was furious. I thought that Eva started to grow on him, that they were finally becoming friends. Maybe I even saw a tiny chance for more. So how the hell could he do that?! Then realization, and with that understanding, sunk in. Knowing that Ray did it because he loved Amarra so deeply and he was convinced he could get Amarra back that way, how could he refrain from trying? Wouldn’t you try to defeat death to get your loved one back?

To be honest, the world Mandanna created frightens me. The idea that there is somewhere walking an exact copy of myself doesn’t make me feel comfortable (and I’m sure I can easily find some other people who don’t like the idea of a second me either…).

But in the end, I don’t know what scares me most: being an echo and have to wait until your “other” dies to fulfil your only truly task in life: take over their life. Or being born as a “normal” person but to be afraid your whole life that something bad might happen to you because there’s an exact copy of yourself lurking somewhere, waiting to take everything that’s yours.

To conclude there is the ultimate question : sequel or no sequel? The main reason why I would say definitely! is because I loved this book so so much. The writing Mandanna does is so beautiful and captivating that I just want more. And there are still some unanswered questions and things that can be explored. The ending gives room to use your own fantasy and in general I don’t like open endings. The reason is simple: it can drive me entirely mad not knowing what will happen. For me, when it isn’t written then it isn’t there. My own fantasy isn’t good enough. BUT in this case I’m in doubt. I will definitely get more closure if a sequel gives me a “real” ending. However, I’m quite sure that one of the reasons why this book keeps haunting me is the open ending, the not knowing for sure. I keep speculating what will happen now. Will Amarra’s parents accept Eva for who she really is? Will Eva and Ray try to have a relationship? And if so, will it work? Will Eva stay with Ray because she wants to and not because it is expected from her? Can Ray love Eva for Eva and not because she’s all he has left of Amarra? Or is a relationship between those two bound to fail and will Sean and Eva find a way to be together?

Because of all those questions I still have, this book keeps invading my thoughts, and isn’t that exactly what makes a book so exceptional and memorable?

Go to Lis’ review on Goodreads.

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The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

May 16, 2013 Leave a comment

The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden
by Jessica Sorensen

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence #1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

Release Date: December 12, 2012

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary: There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.


Review:

I guess I got punished for reading the last page of this book, something I often do. I was so mad when I read the last paragraphs! But then I arrived at the ending (for real), and it wasn’t the ending I expected after sneak peeking.. And I discovered there’s a sequel. Yeah I know, it serves me right.

“Seize the day, take hold of it, and make it whatever you want.”

This book didn’t rock my world or anything like that, but I am sure that I’m still going to remember it in let’s say a year. Hence my rating 4. There were little things that maybe annoyed me, like Kayden bumping into Callie and not recognizing her while they know each other for years and even had family dinners together. But those little things didn’t annoy me enough to like the book less. I guess I was just too carried away with the story.

Both Callie and Kayden have their secrets and although Sorensen dragged the revelation of Callie’s secret a bit, it didn’t bother me. Also, it was pretty obvious what happened.
Her past made me sad. Kayden’s situation made me mad. And while both are so afraid and insecure to take a leap they do their very best to overcome their fears. Told from two perspectives, I noticed a (positive) change in both of them. Callie learns to trust again, Kayden finally defends himself.

I also want to say that I adored Seth! The way he’s there for Callie, takes care of her and is simply just a sweetheart.. Everyone should have a friend like him.

“In the existence of our lives, there is a single coincidence that brings us together and for a moment, our hearts beat as one.”

Although I craved for a happy ending, I’m left with a big question mark. How I hate open endings! So I hope Sorensen is already making work of that sequel because I really want to know what happens now! Sometimes people speak of “fixing” one another. To be honest, I don’t think Callie and Kayden can fix each other. They are too scarred for that. But I do believe that they -brought together by a single coincidence– can help each other and at least make life worthwhile again.

And on a side note: don’t you just love that cover?! 

Go to Lis’ review on Goodreads.

First look at the ‘Maze’ and movie update!

May 11, 2013 Leave a comment
Concept art for "The Maze Runner" movie

Concept art for “The Maze Runner” movie

Entertainment Weekly revealed the first concept image from “The Maze Runner” movie, which will begin filming on May 13!

The big-screen adaptation of James Dashner’s best-selling novel  is set to release in February 14, 2014 (what a great Valentine’s Day outing).

The image of the ever-changing maze is pretty impressive. It’s much larger than I imagined, mostly because I now know what goes in there and this photo makes it seem impossible.

And there’s more exciting news! We know the main cast! After looking up everyone on IMDB.com, I must say the cast looks good. Except for Newt, they are really close to the descriptions I had in mind (even if these kids make me feel old). 

Lead character Thomas will be played by Dylan O’Brien of MTV’s “Teen Wolf”, while Alby will be portrayed by Aml Ameen.

Here’s the rest of the cast:

Gally — played by Will Poulter

Newt – who I think looks too young, will be played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Chuck – played by Blake Cooper

Minho – played by Ki Hong Lee

Teresa – played by Kaya Scodelario

One more fun fact: The movie is being filmed in my home state of Louisiana!

Divergent #3 Titled Revealed!

April 19, 2013 1 comment

And the title is… Allegiant? Didn’t expect that, although of the available ‘gent’ titles, only Detergent made much sense…

Categories: X Guest Columns X

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

If You Find Me
by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me

By: Emily Murdoch

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: There are some things you can’t leave behind…A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.


First of all:
MIIIIIIITCH!!!! I FINISHED A BOOK! A BOOK!
*jumps up and down excitedly*

Review:

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
—WINNIE-THE-POOH, FROM POOH’S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK’

Hmm. Difficult to write a review for this book. Or maybe I got a bit rusty.. Anyways, first of all it wasn’t what I expected. I really was expecting a bit more thriller, suspense and mystery. But that is not really what this book is about.

The book starts right away with the girls being found in their hidden place in the woods after being abandoned by their mom. So the whole point of the book is merely to see how the girls have to adjust theirselves in the modern world. Cause even basic things like toothpaste are unknown for Carey and Nessa.

The story is touchy of course, to see how Carey -being the oldest so she has been through the most- struggles to find her place in her new family with her dad. And with flashbacks the reader gets to know in what miserable conditions the girls really lived for years. Carey playing mother of her little sister, mom often gone, and beans with only thing to eat. But still, although this is all so awful, I didn’t really felt a connection to the girls. I felt bad for them but wasn’t overwhelmed by emotions, if that makes sense.

It’s obvious some really bad stuff happened in the camper, especially with Carey. But I figured out the big secret she is carrying rather quickly (view spoiler). I don’t know if that was the intention of the author, but when the moment arrived that Carey finally tells her dad about it I wasn’t shocked.

Also, we never know what happened to the mom after she wrote a letter that she can’t take care of the girls anymore and where they can be found. After hiding the girls for so many years, why now? That’s a thing that I really want to know. The woman is bipolar and on med, so when she kidnapped Carey it’s obvious she wasn’t sane. Did she had a moment of sanity when she wrote that letter? I wish I got some kind of clue about that in the book.

It’s definitely not a bad read, just not entirely what I expected. And it’s also not that long so perfect to read as a quickie 😉

Go to Lis’ review on Goodreads.

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Heartbreaking Divergent casting news!

March 13, 2013 1 comment

We already know that Shailene Woodley of Secret Life of the American Teenager has been cast as Beatrice “Tris” Prior in the film adaptation of the novel Divergent and that Kate Winslet has signed on (possibly as Jeanine Matthews, leader of the Erudites), but there have been some new casting announcements.

Word is Nikita actress Maggie Q will play Tori, Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz) will take on the role of Christina, and Ansel Elgort has been cast as Tris’ brother Caleb.

Maggie QZoe KravitzAnsel Elgort

(From left, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz and Ansel Elgort)
Alexander Ludwig

Alexander Ludwig

 

Sadly, rumors that Hunger Games cutie Alexander Ludwig aka Cato would join the cast as Four were not true. 

He previously tweeted that he was screen testing for the movie. But later, in his tweet to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, Ludwig said: @PerezHilton i will not be. Too similar to the hunger games but i hope the fans are happy with how the rest of the casting goes! #muchlove

Cue breaking hearts everywhere.

Valentine… Love is in the air

February 14, 2013 12 comments

Personally I think Valentine’s day is just one big commercial rip-off. But still, there is something cute and sweet about it right? And when you read Mitch’s review of The Indigo Spell, you can’t miss the fact that love is in the air. He will persistently deny it [WHAT??? I DO NOT FANGIRL. NO WAY.] but while reading the review I just knew for sure he was looking like this when he was reading the book:


Although, doing some research and reading the definition of fangirling I must confess that I’m a bit worried:
“the reaction a fangirl has to any mention or sighting of the object of her “affection”. These reactions include shortness of breath, fainting, highpitched noises, shaking, fierce head shaking as if in the midst of a seizure, wet panties, endless blog posts, etc”

I can live with the fainting, highpitched noises, hell even the seizure, but I really hope we can scratch the wet panties…


Anyways, just to prove my point, I’m going to make a little comparison. This is Mitch NOT liking a book:

”There were actually tears in my eyes after I finished this, and not because Revolution 19 is particularly emotional or poignant. Nope, I couldn’t stop laughing at how awful this train wreck is”

Or:

“Obviously, there’s a lot I could talk about, like say, the complete lack of a plot in the first eighteen chapters, but I am so frustrated by how much I dislike Onyx that I have nothing nice to say, so I think I’m not going to say anything at all”

(this does follow a rant about how awful the book is btw)
And of course, #5 of worst books of 2012:

”Ugh. Here I was thinking, hey, Heaven can’t be so bad if I read it as a parody, right? Right? *Crickets* Who am I kidding, it’s still terrible. The only thing that’s remotely amazing is how I’ve now managed to finish this series even though I couldn’t get past chapter four of the eye gouging turd that was Fallen, but that’s neither here nor there. Only means this book isn’t the biggest pile of crap, but it’s still a pile of crap.”


Now, reading the review of The Indigo Spell, it’s obvious Mitch digs Mead’s books, the Bloodlines series in particular.

“I really mean it when I said in my review of The Golden Lily that Mead’s proven herself again and again and earned my trust because hers are books that just keep getting better and better.”

Nothing wrong with that of course. But it is important to know how difficult this very critical reader is to satisfy. And in general Mead succeeds in doing that. I think he even squealed [enter highpitched noises] at this part :

“especially in a particular scene in which the title of the next book is mentioned (yes the words ‘fiery heart’ appear in this!!)”

Lol imagine that!! A reference to the next book 😉 Who dares to say he is not easy to please?


And while it’s obvious he just can’t wait to read the sequel
[enter shaking]

“I’m still going to rush out (er go online) and preorder The Fiery Heart though because Mead absolutely knows exactly which buttons to press and which characters to introduce to leave me hanging and anxious to know what’ll happen next”

it’s not just the books and the whole storyline that are the source of his fangirlingboying. Cause plot alone isn’t everything…

“they certainly are the gold standard of the paranormal genre simply because Mead’s mastered the formula for writing the perfect balance of character and plot.”


Actually, one of the main reasons for Mitch’s swooning about these books is the richness of the characters presence of Sydney. This became already clear in his review of The Golden Lily:

”Absolutely love Sydney – she didn’t really make that much of an impression on me in the Vampire Academy sequels, but now I have a stupid grin plastered on my face while I’m working my way through her quirky narration. Yeah, she’s naive and sheltered, but in a way that’s cute and fun. Plus, she’s serious and responsible, totally different from the glut of sassy action girl heroines we have now.”

[enter shortness of breath]

Ow yeah. Our Mitch has his own fictional crush 😉 (don’t worry Mitch, it happens to the best of us).

“I for one love how Mead writes her character because it’s that combination of earnesty and quirkiness that makes Syndey so cute and fun to read about. But more than that, she’s complex and multifaceted”


And let’s be honest, what girl can deny a love declaration like the following?

” I think I love her a million times more – I certainly respect her a million times more”

[enter a Taylor Swift love song]
This just makes me go “oooh” and “aaah”.

But on a serious note, his praising remarks about Sydney really make me curious

“Sydney’s not the kind of person who second guesses the wisdom of her decisions from an emotional point of view, she’s way too practical for that”

Sweet isn’t it?
And especially this one:

“it’s one of the best lines I’ve ever read because it says everything about Syndey’s character in just two sentences:
In my chest, my own heart was breaking. On my cheek, the lily reminded me who I was.”

Am I the only one who wonders if he cried at the end (and not tears like he had after finishing Revolution 19 but because this book really was ‘particularly emotional or poignant’)?


So yeah, I’m eager to get to know this girl that makes his heart beat faster. Although I think my focus would still go to Adrian 😉 Hey, I’m a girl after all. Not that I would ever fangirl though… *ahum*


And Mitch, if there’s steam coming out of your ears after reading this:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Categories: X Guest Columns X
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