The Shadow of Seth by Tom Llewellyn

 

The Shadow of Seth 

author : tom llewellyn

pages : [paperback] 174

summary :

Sixteen-year-old Seth Anomundy is a product of his environment: in this case, Tacoma, Washington. What L.A. was to Chandler, Tacoma―a working-class port city now undergoing urban renewal―is to author Tom Llewellyn. Seth has grown up in Tacoma’s tough neighborhoods, where he’s perfectly at home in Choo-Choo’s boxing gym and Miss Irene’s soul food palace, the Shotgun Shack. With his mom working nights as a cleaner, Seth goes to high school, gets decent grades, and makes money where he can: filling in as cook at the Shotgun Shack, working as a sparring partner, and running errands for Nadel, the clock repairman. Life is hand-to-mouth, but okay―until he gets the news that his mother has been killed. The police don’t care about the death of just another drug addict, so a bewildered Seth takes it upon himself to find the killer. On a clock delivery run, he meets a beautiful rich girl named Azura Lear, who encourages Seth and tries to help track down the killer. But instead of finding answers, Seth finds only trouble. He faces down a gang of baseball-bat-wielding high school jocks and deals with the contempt of Azura’s suspicious father. And then there’s King George―a teenage thug Seth has previously managed to avoid―who has for some reason let it be known that he wants Seth dead. Right now.

review :

I’m not much of a reader of mysteries but do love YA novels and think that there should definitely be more of a mixture with those genres. Unfortunately, The Shadow of Seth didn’t quite hit a homerun for me.

Seth has led a rough life. Growing up on the poor side of town, he hasn’t always had what he’s needed much less wanted. But he’s always had his mom there, looking after him, and Miss Irene as a second mother. Good people who want the best for him. That all changes when one night his mother is found dead and the police aren’t interested in investigating what seems like an accident or even suicide. Seth knows that something is wrong and takes it upon himself to investigate.

The characters in this book were interesting, diverse, but somehow fell flat for me. I wanted to feel emotional alongside Seth when he realized that he’s lost his mother, but I just couldn’t connect with him. Azura Lear, love interest, was just . . . infuriating. Nothing she did ever made sense–like traveling to the bad side of town to let herself into the apartment of a guy who only stopped by her house on a job he had to do. Basically, stalking Seth to his home, and then not giving a second thought to the danger she was putting herself in by walking around alone with all of her privileged belongings. It made no sense and she contributed nothing to the plot aside from giving Seth someone to pine after.

The mystery was kind of flat, too. There weren’t many twists and turns; it wasn’t hard to figure out. It seems like there are going to be more of these mysteries, so I’m curious to see if maybe this case wasn’t as clean-cut as suspected (though there wasn’t a hint in the ending that that could be so) or if Seth is going to find more cases the police aren’t interested in to solve himself. Whatever the case, I think I’m going to end up skipping those books.

2/5 stars

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal

author : courtney c. stevens

pages :[hardcover] 336

memorable quote Right now we’re both yard sales of emotions.

favorite character : bodee

summary :

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

review :

This book was much more intense and heart-wrenching than I’d ever anticipated it being.

I had the pleasure of meeting the author in the week that Faking Normal was released. Hearing her talk made me eager to read this for myself so I purchased a copy, had it signed . . and then forgot about it. I know–please, berate me about it, because I should have read this one ages ago. It’s one of the best I’ve read so far this year.

Faking Normal has great characters, a moving message, and a plot that will leave you laughing and crying. Bodee was such a sweet character, though at times he was so gentle when he needed his own help that he had me crying for him, too. Alexi has been through too much and works to keep her secrets away from everyone, especially the people she’s close to, though this is pushing her away from friends and family and she’s likely to implode from the coping mechanisms she’s come up with to keep herself safe.

Although abuse is terrible in ANY situation, I love how it was handled in this book. Characters might take a very long time to come to terms with what happened to them, yet it’s never implied that they should have done something sooner or that any of it could have been prevented by them. Faking Normal blames the abusers–and points out that sometimes, those closest to you could need help and be harmed by even the nicest of people.

Even though this is such an emotional read, I know that I’m going to go back to it again someday as well as pick up whatever Courtney writes next. The writing, the characters, they were all so beautiful and vivid. I could imagine it happening in my school, in my town, and that made it all too real. Because anyone could be faking normal.

5/5 stars

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

author : patrick ness

pages : [hardcover] 352

memorable quote I hope you get to choose your family and I hope it means as much to you as mine does to me.

favorite character : jared

summary :

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

review :

I love, love, love everything Patrick Ness writes and The Rest of Us Just Live Here is one of my new favorite books.

Ness takes a concept that I’ve vaguely thought about but never truly considered until this novel–what if you aren’t the chosen one, but one of the extras in the background? Not the person destined to save the world but the one who might get into a car accident because someone else is realizing their destiny. There are all of these people out there who just want normalcy in their lives while others are battling for the fate of the world. This book was so well-written on top of the fun concept and I know I’ll be reading it over and over again.

Ness’ characters are awesome. My favorite had to be Jared. Not just because he was born to be a cat-whisperer. He was so kind to all of his friends–tough when he needed to be, but it was always with their best interests in mind. I loved reading about him and wanted the best for him because he definitely deserved to be happy!

Main character Mickey leads a complicated life even if he is just a normal guy. He suffers from OCD and sometimes gets caught in loops he just can’t break himself out of. The idea of it, to me, is completely terrifying. He always knows that he should stop and yet isn’t able to force himself to do so. That loss of control eats away at him and helps to shape the rest of his personality. Not only is he not the savior, he also feels like he’s the least wanted in his friend group. While that’s rough, I also kind of liked that Mickey had to deal with that because I know it’ll be so relatable. Everyone, at some point, doubts the people surrounding them. Mickey more than most. I think he’ll be able to help readers who are lonely and unsure about themselves.

I’m going to recommend this book to everyone. Not only were the characters amazing, the plot was so interesting. It was fun to piece together Mickey’s story and then, layered beneath that, the overall danger posed to the world as someone’s ‘chosen one’ prophecy is being fulfilled. The chapter titles are particularly funny because they each describe what’s happening to these people involved with a prophecy, all while Mickey’s living out his life as best he can.

If you haven’t thought of reading this book yet–you HAVE to. I’m sure this will be one of my all-time favorites.

5/5 stars

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3

author : laini taylor

pages : [hardcover] 613

memorable quote Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts

and started the apocalypse.

favorite characters : karou & akiva

summary :

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

review :

I finished this book a few weeks ago but I’ve had to sit on the review. That’s because for the past few years whenever someone asks me what my favorite book is (always an impossible question) I end up answering “Daughter of Smoke and Bone“. I ordered this book as soon as it was released, was dying to read it–and still couldn’t force myself to sit down with it because that meant the end of a trilogy I’ve been holding close to my heart. Something that influences my own writing, as well as showing me the kind of book that I’d die to work with as an editor. Eventually, lovingly, and fearful that I’d be spoiled (something I would never, ever recover from) I opened Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

It was perfect and yet nothing like I’d expected. Laini Taylor is always fantastic about crafting a story where the reader is certain they knew what will happen and then adding an extra twist, whether it be a setback or an entirely new villain. The books, for all their fantasy and chaos, are realistic in that most of these characters are not entirely good or evil, there is no single ‘bad guy’, and a lot of these people and chimera and angels just want the chance to live. This epic finale to a war that has raged for thousands of years will leave you crying.

I would have liked to have seen more of Karou and Akiva together . . . but, yes, they were in the middle of a war, and unlike most YA trilogies where protagonists find love in the midst of war, this angel and chimera actually pay more attention to saving thousands of lives than focusing on their relationship. But a few shared glances across a fire or secret invisible meetings can go a long way and get my heart beating a little faster over my favorite couple, ever. They’re just so sweet with each other, despite the past and occasional fighting.

There were some new characters, as well as old ones who were given more pages, that I came to adore. Like a new romantic pairing that was almost as heart-wrenchingly wonderful and sad and glorious as Karou and Akiva (possibly just as great and beautiful for me to love forever). Add on the characters I absolutely love to hate and this was a showdown that had me on the edge of my seat. I think I read through this in two days, hundreds of pages at a time because once I started I had to know what was going to happen. Had to know that everything would be alright.

The ending was perfect. Nothing like what I’d hoped for and yet it lends itself perfectly to me picturing how things might be for that universe a year or five or ten in the future, where the surviving characters might be and what new problems might arise. There was a little openness to the ending that had me hopeful that more would be announced, but I think that this is the end. As painful as that thought is, I’m okay with that. I can love and reread Karou and Akiva and all the rest. Whatever Laini Taylor reads next, I’m reading it. This author sets a bar that no other has passed for me.

5/5 stars

Career Talk Tuesday with Hannah from Freckles and Olives

career talk

Hello happy readers! Today I’m so excited to have Hannah on the blog because  not only is she a fellow college student, she majors in journalism! With how much the field is changing and how broad it is today, I think that’s so awesome and interesting.

~  ~  ~

Nowadays, teachers and guidance counselors start asking kids what they want to do for the rest of their lives in middle school. For 11 year old me, the idea that I had to have my future mapped out was anxiety inducing. 

     
Now that college application season is almost upon us, the time has come for me to make that decision.

     I’m not sure about you, but my problem is that one area of study has never stuck out to me: I’m decent at math and science, pretty terrible at art, mediocre at music, but I’ve always excelled in my History, English, and Latin classes. Even so, I can’t see myself majoring in any of those. I want to study something versatile so that I can get a job ASAP.

(Isn’t it funny how students these days are willing to trade doing what they want for practicality?)

      With those ruled out, my family scrambled to land on an area of study to tell tour guides on our upcoming college visits. We played around with medicine (except I can’t cut people open or stick needles in them which rules out surgery and anesthesia), toyed with business (still in the running), and then I brought up journalism.

      This past year, I needed an extra class and I chose journalism on a whim. It was daunting to start writing for our school newspaper with no knowledge of how to write an article or gather the necessary information from interviews, but thanks to the most dedicated and energetic teacher ever, I co-wrote two front page articles as a newbie and am hoping to be appointed the deputy editor for the news section during this upcoming year.

     Journalism just clicked for me: I really enjoy writing and editing, and, to be honest, finding out what’s going on around the school. After writing formal essay after formal essay, the alternate style used in journalistic writing is a welcome break.

     I can’t help but imagine myself working for some magazine somewhere, or a newspaper, interviewing people about their experiences…it’s so weird because I’ve realized my dream. I look back on my life and realize I do things like blog because I love it. In middle school I was a part of three magazines that were started by a group of my friends, and all of them failed. Yet after each dramatic downfall, I picked up the pieces and started a new one. Then I started a blog. The blog I’ve grown and evolved into something I continue to be proud of and love to write for. I have to give credit where it’s due: the love I have for blogging is a major part of what pushed me towards journalism. That, and the coolest journalism class ever.

 

     My hopes for the next few years are to gain experience in the field: I want to intern somewhere and write stories and be immersed in experiences rather than just learning from a textbook. I will absolutely continue with my blogging, despite how busy I’ll inevitably get, but when you love something, you make time for it. For a lot of people, figuring out what they want to do doesn’t come to them until they’re into their second year of college, and I thought that’s what it would be like for me. If you don’t have your future figured out yet, don’t worry! You’ve got time.

 

xoxo

Hannah
Blog: Freckles and Olives

~ ~ ~

Thanks so much for sharing Hannah! I love hearing about other people who are going through their education like I am. I struggled a little with choosing a major, and now I’m hoping to actually get some real experience too!

If anyone would like to participate in Career Talk Tuesday, please email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail.com.

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