Sunday, December 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (#12) Christmas Edition

MERRY CHRISTMAS! It's also my birthday:) I may not have received all my books yet (we switch to b-day mode at 2 p.m.) but I wanted to share the ones I did get because they are the top four on my most coveted new releases of 2011!

Before I take a break for the holidays (until January 4th), I needed to do one last In My Mailbox.

If you've never participated in IMM before, Kristi @ The Story Siren hosts. We get to share all our book-related acquisitions for the week.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Checked out from school:
I assigned this one to my pre-AP kids over break. Needless to say, after seeing the 580 page total, they were less than thrilled. It's been a year since I read it, so unfortunately, this has to take precedence over all other books. But...if you haven't read it, it's AMAZING.

What did you get this week?

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS...I'll be back in January.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Must Read Monday (#10)

Fans of Fiction
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Fans of Fiction"><img src="" alt="Fans of Fiction" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
The meme has hit double digits:) I think the most people we've had participate one week is seven, but I don't mind. I'm going to keep going and hope that more people join. Hopefully you enjoy Must Read Monday as much as I do!

The goal of the Must Read Monday is to find share your love of great books with others in the hopes that they'll add a new title to their To Be Read list.

Your job is to create intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?

On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).

For specific ways to build your puzzle, click here, but pretty much any style of acrostic is welcome.

When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.

It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

Winner of Must Read Monday week #9:

Valette @ Book Snatch (Mistborn)
Although it was Valette's first time participating, she wowed us with her acrostic, as evident by all the comments that agreed on the same favorite line: "Bones swallowed for a masquerade." Also, the ending, "Never Give In," gives me the sense that the characters would rather go down fighting than stop standing up for what they feel is right. Great job, Valette!

REMEMBER: You must follow the winner to participate this week!

This week's category: Best rainy day read (you could think snowy day read, if you prefer!)

The Enclosure protects the islands of 
Honor's world.
Earth Mother and the Corporation have protected citizens from

Outside weather, in fear of 
The flood that destroyed the Old World.
Honor's family doesn't follow the rules,
Especially the one about having a second child, and
Rarely do they make curfew. They do

Sing songs, which
Is almost as bad as not worshipping Earth Mother.
Determined to fit in at her new school, Honor tries
Enlightening her mind,

Opening her heart to the rude little girls, who already
Follow the rules

There is one boy--
Helix, who is different, he's 
Eager to find his missing parents

Secrets are discovered by the teens
Like how those who rebel
And refuse to be ruled by seemingly 
Nice Earth Mother
Disappear without a trace.

Here's my review.

*Next week's topic: Favorite book you were forced to read for school, classic or not! There has to be one good one in the bunch!
  • Must become a follower to participate.
  • Follow the winner from last week to participate.
  • Grab my button to place in your post.
  • Make sure you have a backlink in your post to each weekly post I put up, not just to my website.
  • Where it says your name please include name @ blog name Ex: Jenna @ Fans of Fiction
  • Your exact post URL is the one that goes in the linky box, not your website.
  • Don't just hop around; leave comments! We all love reading what others have to say.
  • Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (#11)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. It's a chance for book bloggers to show off the books they acquired over the week.

From NetGalley for review:

Giveaway wins (from Colleen @ Les Livre's Spreading the Gospel of Austen Giveaway):

I've actually not heard of Persuasion before (oops!). I'm interested to read Pride and Prejudice first though, since the Kiera Knightly movie version was so well made.

I'm on a book buying hiatus until Wednesday, when I'm going to a Scholastic warehouse book sale! That will be dangerous...for my wallet, at least.

So, what did you get? It's getting so close to Christmas, and I don't know about you, but it's getting so hard for me not to pick up any books on my Christmas list!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: Incarnate

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?"


  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release date: Jan. 31, 2012
  • Page count: 384
  • Unique elements: World building incorporates mythology, includes dragons
  • Would appeal to: Readers interested in reincarnation, a good fantasy, fabulous writing
Favorite Quotes: (will be checked against final publication)

"Gradually, the cloud-diffused sunlight sank toward the horizon, silhouetting the snowy peaks on my right."

"Snow sparkled in the moonlight, deceptively peaceful with its smothering silence."

"He played my notes again, but instead of stopping after, he played the most amazing thing my ears had ever heard. Like waves on a lakeshore, and wind through the trees. There were lightning strikes, thunder, and pattering rain. Heat and anger, and honey sweetness."

"The market tents were bright bruises against the Councilhouse and temple, cloth mazes that made every turn a wrong one."

"Rarely does romantic love transcend incarnations. Rarely. Some souls, however, were created as matching pairs. Every generation, these souls are drawn together, regardless of their physical forms. Their love is pure and true."

"Murmurs hissed again, rippling like a sheet flaring over a bed."

I will never stop gushing about this novel. I'm still thinking about it. I will buy it when it comes out and read it again. This is a MUST READ for 2012!

Jodi Meadows is a gifted wordsmith. Did you read the quotes above?

This story incorporated so many ideas. The first time I read a reference to a he/she, it stumped me, but soon the reader finds out that souls can be reincarnated in a body of any gender. Also, love can transcend reincarnation for certain souls, which is seen by the rededication ceremony for Tera and Ash, both females, in the town center. I loved that their party was a masquerade, the idea being that true souls in love could find their mate no matter what mask he or she was wearing.

Ana is the first-ever new soul to be born. She is looked upon as an outcast because she prevented another soul that everyone loved from coming back. Her emotionally abusive mother, Li, moved into the country so she wouldn't be embarrassed by Ana. Li's lover, Menehem, left shortly after, which is part of the reason she is so bitter. Ana decides to get away from her mother's torture and journey to the city of Heart to research whether or not there are others of her kind.

Along the way, there is the threat of Sylph, dark shadowy creatures that leave nasty burns on a human body. They have the power to kill. She is chased by several of them straight over a cliff.

Lucky for her, Sam is in the woods, and saves her from drowning.

As a character, Sam is sweet, gentle, intelligent, musically inclined. Qualities Ana is at first hesitant to believe could be shown toward her as a No Soul. He attempts to convince her that her soul is a New Soul instead, and she should think more highly of herself.

The two new traveling companions reach Heart, where Ana is openly discriminated against by its citizens. She is allowed to be watched over by Sam, according to the Council members, as long as he gives them progress reports on her abilities as a student. She must learn a trade to be useful in her next life, if she is even reincarnated.

Everything changes when Li comes to Heart and tries to reclaim custody of Ana. Taken away from the comfortable home she has molded with Sam, Ana must escape a massive dragon attack and the eerily beating white walls of the town temple, where Janan, the possible creator of the world, may or may not live. The dragons always fly straight to its tower, but they can never destroy it.

Some of the descriptions of the temple (primarily inside), confused me and became hard to imagine. But that didn't take anything away from the entire book. There are two great twists at the end. I'm so glad this is only the first in a series.

The slowly blossoming romance between Sam and Ana caused me to continue reading as much as the gorgeous writing and unpredictable plot. I so wanted them to move faster, but Ana's low-self esteem and Sam's confusing signals prevent this from happening. I love that music is such a huge focus in the book and that Ana is quick to pick up the piano. When you discover where the title comes from, you'll sigh with contentment.

Bravo, Jodi Meadows. This story is creative, action-packed, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Without authors like you, I'd never pick up a book.

 *This book was provided to me by the publish in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Future of Us

"It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present."


  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Release date: Nov. 21
  • Number of pages: 356
  • Would appeal to: Facebook lovers:)
This book ended before I was ready for it to be over!

I accidentally returned the library book before I could write down my favorite quotes, but they were mostly smartalec remarks by Tyson, one of Josh and Emma's friends. Most of his lines made me laugh.

Everytime I write a Facebook status now, I think, "What would my 16 year old self have thought that I was doing in the future because of what I typed?"

I'm serious.

The idea of this was genius. It brings those of us who were around during the AOL 100 free hours craze fond memories. Technology was still relatively new, as far as the internet was concerned, in the mid-1990s.

I loved Jay Asher's writing in Thirteen Reasons Why, which is why I was so excited for this one! I haven't read any of Carolyn Mackler's writing. Asher's writing didn't leave me with a stunned feeling like in his first book. The prose throughout the book was simple and lacked his unique make-you-shiver descriptions. However, after the first 50 pages, every last sentence of a chapter was some sort of clever cliff hanger or funny statement that made me hungry for more. The book is told in alternating voices; Emma has a chapter then Josh. I enjoyed getting inside both their head's. Especially Josh's.

The minor characters had quirky traits-- Kellan only eats french fries for lunch and Tyson tends to lace statements with sexual innuendo. I enjoyed witnessing Tyson and Kellan's on-and-off again relationship, as I know so many people who really dated like that in high school. Another touch of realism is added through the best friend relationship of Josh and Emma. Six months before the start of the novel, Josh misinterpreted her feelings and ever since, they've avoided each other like crazy. One little AOL CD changes all that.

Everytime Josh or Emma makes a new decision, something they wouldn't have done before if they hadn't read their future on Facebook, the future changes. I can only imagine the fun the authors had in thinking up statuses and what teens might interpret from those statuses. After all, we tend to be both really descriptive and really vague when we want to be on status updates. This website changes their entire line of thinking; who they will marry, at what age they will have kids, and what kind of house or job they would have constantly fuels every decision.

Most of all, I like the underlying theme that appearances can be deceiving. Such a cute read worth checking out!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: The Moon And The Tide

“Just when things seem to be all figured out, Marina discovers that there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than she ever imagined. When a terrible accident exposes her secret, she discovers that her whole life has been one big lie, and has to cope with more than one kind of betrayal. A dangerous enemy arrives on the scene, putting her bravery to the test and forcing her to use all of her new-found talents to protect her family. Will good win out over evil? Can love triumph over jealousy?”
- Goodreads

• Format: ebook
• Publisher: Self-Published
• Release Date: March 28, 2011
• File Size: 588 KB

Favorite Quotes:

“I craved the feeling I got flying through the surf, free from reason and all sense of time. It could only be compared to an addiction; I needed more and more danger to get the same thrill. I could see the trajectory my behavior would take. This was bound to end badly.”

“The gently waving kelp beckoned me; I could feel the ocean swells in my bones.”

“It was soothing, comforting to stop worrying, to give in to the sensation of freedom and power that the vast amount of water ahead of me provided.”

“Evie used to say that depression was simply anger without enthusiasm.”

Review: The Moon And The Tide is the second book in the Marina’s Tales series by Derrolyn Anderson. In the first book Marina discovered that her mother was a mermaid and that that is why she is so drawn to the ocean. This part of her story focuses on her acceptance of who she is and embracing the mermaid part of herself.

Right away in the first chapter the story kind of lost me- the recap of the first book was in too much detail and seemed out of place. A lot that was shared didn’t seem important to the continued plot. I did not enjoy this book as much as the first and I think a lot of that had to do with Ethan, Marina's boyfriend. He continues to worry about Marina and try to prevent her from going to the sea but his behavior borders on being controlling. While I understood that his behaviors were out of fear for Marina’s safety, sometimes it was hard to like him. He has some redeeming moments and I started to like him again towards the end of the book.

Where the story did grab and hold my attention was the addition of Kimo, a Hawaiian professional surfer that becomes interested in Marina. He isn’t in the book that much, but enough for me to really like him. He is laid back, likes to have fun, and is a total flirt. I loved the direction the story took when Kimo began vying for Marina’s attention.

Marina continues to have difficulties with other relationships in her life but struggles the most with Evie. Her Aunt Evie has also taken a controlling edge and Marina is not sure what to make of her motives. Evie has been keeping her own secrets and Marina strives to discover them.

My favorite aspect of the book was the descriptions of the sea calling to Marina. Marina begins to view her desire to be in the sea as an addiction; she begins lying to others, sacrificing sleep, and taking dangerous risks. The author’s way of writing these descriptions was amazing and had me completely captivated. Overall, I liked this book but not as much as the previous. There were too many things going on in the story and it came across as a bit choppy or thrown together; I would've preferred a narrower plot with more details. I am still very into the storyline and am excited to read the third book and find out what’s next for Marina!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Must Read Monday (#9)

Fans of Fiction
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Fans of Fiction"><img src="" alt="Fans of Fiction" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

The goal of the Must Read Monday is to find share your love of great books with others in the hopes that they'll add a new title to their To Be Read list.

Your job is to create intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?

On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).

For specific ways to build your puzzle, click here, but pretty much any style of acrostic is welcome.

When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.

It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

Winner of Must Read Monday week #7:

Donna @ The Happy Booker (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)

I must say, this lady has a poet hiding inside her! Favorite lines: "Stealing the spotlight, Tiny obsessively seeks love in neon lights." Just the fact that there are two Will Graysons is enough to make for some pretty hilarious possibilities, and it sounds like the story lived up to those expectations.
REMEMBER: You must follow the winner to participate this week!

This week's category: A book that you're thankful someone recommended to you.

Here's mine, recommended by numerous other bloggers:

Ann recalls it Backwards
                                   a year of Ups and downs with Connor
                        and now, a shaking heap on The floor

                            bruIsed by his hand

                                         Lying in the remnants
                                Of glass shards:
                                             the heart she gaVe him,
                          the heart she prayEd would bring back his smile

                      he's only flasHes of the boy she fell
                                                          in love wIth
                                          his sMile's not enough anymore

Here's my review of this story. It's powerfully told starting from the present, when the worst abuse has taken place, and going backwards, to when Ann and Connor first meet.

Now it's your turn! What is a book you are thrilled someone told you to read?

*Next week's topic: Best rainy day read

  • Must become a follower to participate.
  • Follow the winner from last week to participate.
  • Grab my button to place in your post.
  • Make sure you have a backlink in your post to each weekly post I put up, not just to my website.
  • Where it says your name please include name @ blog name Ex: Jenna @ Fans of Fiction
  • Your exact post URL is the one that goes in the linky box, not your website.
  • Don't just hop around; leave comments! We all love reading what others have to say.
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (#10)

Kristi @ The Story Siren hosts this fun meme where bloggers can share the books they've collected over the week (by any means!).

Giveaway Wins
From Ruby @ Ruby's Reads

From MaryAnn @ Chapter by Chapter

For review from publisher:

From the library:

Let me know what you got!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday (#11)

Yay for Friday! I can't tell you how bad I needed this weekend.

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read where book bloggers can hop around, leave comments, and answer a question each week. It's a fun way to get to know one another.

Q: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?


I'm actually going to go with a classic here: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Time and time again, I hear boys say this is one of their favorite books. That. Is. A. Serious. Accomplishment. Especially when it comes to teenagers.

Pretty much anyone and everyone can relate to some aspect of this book. Darry, the older brother, looks after the younger brothers, Ponyboy and Sodapop (talk about memorable names). Here, both sibling rivalry and loyalty to family are explored. The boys belong to the poor group of guys known as the Greasers (themes of class divisions, friendship, rivalries). The guys crush on the girls of their rival game, the Socs. Fights go down, people get stabbed. More themes explored, such as the redeeming of an indivdual. Later we have a robbery, a shooting, a couple of deaths. A trial. A family growing closer.

Awesome action. Boys getting in trouble but coming to each other's rescue. Plus, S.E. Hinton's narration as Ponyboy comes through as both natural and compelling. If you're not a reader by nature, it sucks you in!

Can't believe she wrote this book in 10th grade and got the call the day she graduated high school in Tulsa, OK, that it would be published. Talk about the best present ever.

Oh, and the movie adaption of the book is pretty good too.

What is a title you think everyone should read?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Must Read Monday (#8)

Fans of Fiction
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Hey everyone! So I'm sick, but I still have to run off to work in a few minutes. I was going to postpone MRM until next week since I haven't yet had time to pick a winner and make an acrostic, but I thought instead we could link up one of our neglected book reviews and continue with the category "A book you were glad someone recommended to you" next week.

I'll include the linky. Just choose any review that you think needs more attention!
Anyone can participate!
Have a great Monday.

Here's mine:
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Everneath

"Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's..."


  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Release date: Jan. 24, 2012
  • Page count: 370
  • Will appeal to: Mythology lovers, fans of fantasy

Favorite Quotes: (will be checked against final edition)
"He gave me a smile that I could have sold on the internet for money."

"Last year, I'd left my dad in the heat of an argument. I threw despicable words at him and then walked out and never came back."

"Lacey had spent the week leading up to football camp telling everyone who would listen 'What happens at camp stays at camp,' which made it sound like camp consisted of a craps table, tequila-lime shots, and tangled sheets."

"I tucked this moment away. In the dark, dank world of the Tunnels, I would call upon this memory. And there would be a flicker of candlelight. If only for a moment."

If you love mythology, this is a great pick for 2012. I requested the book specifically for the cover, but the plot also intrigued me. Anything about souls catches my attention.

Basically sweet Nikki is known to her friends and boyfriend as Becks, as her last name is Beckett. After being heartbroken by her boyfriend, she runs to a person she knows can take the pain away: Cole. He's a musician, and also an immortal. Nikki becomes the person who gives him energy in the Everneath during the Feed. They are wrapped together in the dark for an entire century (only months in the real world), her life dwindling as he becomes stronger. I love the opening because it describes how it feels for her body to come away from his after fitting together so perfectly for so long. It is rare that one survives the Feed, let alone doesn't age, so Cole realizes his Nik is special (love that the author chose to have only Cole refer to her as Nik). He asks her to go with him and become a queen. Instead, she chooses to go back to the surface. She's informed she has six months until the creatures of the Tunnels come to get her and take her back to use as a battery; fuel for those of the Feed. Cole shows her a glimpse of this horrific life, but still, she must say goodbye to the father and brother she left so suddenly, and maybe even the boyfriend she can't stop thinking of.

Jack-- such a perfect, short name. I really liked him. The way he gently lets Nikki take her own time to talk to him. The way he never gives up after school, taking every new development as a sign of her healing. The entire school thinks Nikki was on drugs and ran away, as well as her father who is mid-election and defending his mayoral seat. The reader learns how broken Jack was after she left. How he secluded himself and lost friends over his behavior. Jack's adorable, sad, but seriously in love.

For me, Nikki and Jack were destined to be together. Their relationship is both fragile and solid. Jack is okay with a friendship after so much time, as long as he can have her back in his life.

Cole is the wedge that comes between them. Even though he is majorly annoying, popping up at every opportunity in Nikki's room, he wants to be loved and has a vulnerable side. I can see why Nikki is so attracted to him in the first place; he's older, interesting, and can make her feel better.

Within chapters, the time stamp jumps around from the past to the present. Then, the time counts down so the reader can see how many days remain for Nikki. An impeding sense of doom lingers as she gets closer to leaving a second time without explanation.

The story develops into a fact-finding mystery that Nikki needs to solve to stay on earth. The Daughters of Persephone is mentioned by a crazy woman from the soup kitchen Nikki volunteers at. The myth of  Orpheus going to the underworld to retrieve Persephone is explored, and Nikki can see lots of parallels between his tale and hers with Jack.

I thought the world was thoroughly developed by the author, Brodi Ashton. The plot does a good job of answering questions a little at a time, so as to entice the reader to continue. It's interesting that the immortals can suck off layers of people's emotions to make them feel better, and the worst emotions, stress, fear, anger, pain, are the first to go. It becomes addictive for the human, which is how Nikki falls into his trap.

The end was surprising because it had two major twists, one of which I should have seen coming.

I was freaking out when I read the acknowledgements because I spotted the name Jenni Elyse, a fellow book blogger, who read an early draft of this novel. Yay, Jenni!

Although the writing style didn't knock me off my feet, the plot kept me engaged, and the romance grew very strong. I look forward to seeing what the next book in the series brings, especially when it comes to sweet, lovable Jack!

*This ARC was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Far From the War

"Economic ruin and partisan rancor have pushed America to the brink of a new civil war. Esther is caught in the middle, serving as a page in the United States House of Representatives when rogue politicians and military leaders stage a modern day coup d'etat. When the coup turns violent, she abandons Washington, D.C. for home. She must learn to survive on her own as transportation and financial networks fail, as the war disrupts food and water supplies. The result is a cautionary tale about political extremism and the true cost of war."

  • Publisher: Roche Harbor Books
  • Release Date: Sept. 17, 2011
  • Number of pages: 366
  • Would recommend to: People who enjoy politics, young readers looking for a unique topic, military brats
Favorite Quotes:
“It was as if the city were on pause, stopping to commemorate some important moment in ritualistic silence, taking a breath. This moment of silence, this moment devoid of man made things, ended as it had to, and restored to the city its usual soundtrack of shouts and machines.”
“It’s an odd thing when the vision for one’s life collapses, when a dream dies. Those who’ve never had dreams might imagine it to consist of despair, depression and prolonged bouts of purgative weeping. The death of a dream is, in fact, far less dramatic. It consists of a sudden feeling of foolishness and embarrassment, a sense of being childish, usually recognized by the dreamer as maturation rather than capitulation.”
“With the glare out of her eyes, she could finally read the officer’s name. It was something heavily laden with consonants and unpronounceable, a telemarketer’s nightmare, Polish or Russian maybe.”
“’You never went to parties or anything?’ ‘Not those kinds of parties. I’m not sure why, but hanging out in the woods with a bunch of d-bags drinking cough syrup was just never my idea of a good time.’”
“’You show me a boy my own age that doesn’t waste half his life playing video games, and I’ll marry the bastard on the spot.’”
I went into Far From the War after a string of dystopians. I didn’t read much of the summary before I accepted the request. I knew it was set in the future and involved a second civil war in the U.S.
At first I was daunted; in the first hundred pages you have a lot about politics. It’s stuff the average person can understand. Couple that with Jeffrey David Payne’s very distinct writing style that is characterized by an expansive vocabulary, and I was more than intimidated.
With that being said, I adored this book and am really glad there are two more to come. The very serious subject of war made much of the text somber or tense, but I also was surprised with fun bits of humor laced in character dialogue.
I’ve not read anything like it before. As I said, Payne’s writing style is unique, not the typical YA that I’ve read. It’s descriptive in a refreshing way, the kind that illicited an “I never thought about it like that.” His nature descriptions were beautiful.  At times I was aware it was written by a male because it was different and more objective than anything I would ever think. It’s told in third person limited, focusing on Esther’s point of view. A compelling main character, she is very by-the-book when it comes to making a difference through politics, willing to work hard to advance. She had few friends back home but possesses a great wit, pulling sarcasm out of her pocket when needed. Esther lacks serious emotions until the war begins, and then, she keeps them in check to survive.
There is a great animosity that exists between the Democrat and Republican pages when Esther arrives in D.C., which is almost encouraged by the behavior of the adults in charge. The tensions foreshadow what is to become of the nation. Military rogue forces. Attacks on federal treasury buildings. Constant air assaults. A president in hiding. No one is safe as the war moves from the capital to the south and west; even civilians become desperate and barbaric.
Esther figures out what matters quickly; her friendships, and most of all, making it back to Orcas Island off the coast of Washington. Train delays, lack of cars to rent, grounded planes, and military barricades cause her journey home to turn into months instead of days. Along the way, she makes and loses friends, wanders through the wilderness near death, and must use a gun to protect herself from sex-deprived men and ruthless robbers.
The plot had several turns I didn’t anticipate. I enjoyed it when Esther accidentally reconnects with one of her former page friends in another state. At times it seemed impossible that she would ever see her parents again. Phone and e-mail communication with her parents is impossible, so she is on her own.
About two-thirds of the way through, I became completely absorbed with the story as Esther encounters romance with a boy (from McAlester, OK, which is near me!) who I wish I could meet in real life. It was nice that they had different backgrounds, money-wise, but none of that mattered to either of them, especially during wartime. I had wondered if any romance would be included at all, but it makes sense that Esther was focused on making it through one day to the next. The way the author described some of the scenes with them together may not have been as detailed as I usually like, but the scenes were still sweet and Esther-like.
I would recommend this book for the gorgeous writing style alone, but it is a book both boys and girls would enjoy because of its lasting impressions upon the mind. Instead of "Don't let history repeat itself," it's more like, "This is what could happen if we're not careful." 

*This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.