Friday, February 24, 2012

Masterpiece Failure: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating: 2 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment.

Believe-ability: The setting was believable.

Dystopia Factor: The world is starting to disintegrate.


As a child I would spend a lot of my time with my neighbors doing really cool family-like-type things. One of those activities was creating Pysanky eggs. It is a cooler way to color Easter eggs than the traditional dying. It is a tedious process of applying color and wax to create designs and artwork. The final step is poking a small hole to release the egg innards and sealing it up with an ornament hanger. Once you are done you have a beautiful, delicate masterpiece.

The Pledge reminds me of Pysanky eggs. It is obvious that Derting took great care to construct her novel and the world it exists in. Her world consists of female tyrants, and she plays around with the strong/weak female stereotype. It leaves you wondering who is in control: the female or her circumstances.

I am not sure if a love triangle romance is a requirement for dystopian novels with female protagonists, but The Pledge did not leave it out. There are times when I suspended disbelief. Many more times than I am willing to admit. Heck, I spent three days reading it. Will they get together? Can they make it work? Will true love triumph over evil? Of course you’ll have to read to figure out which characters I am talking about.

There is something else I must remind you about Pysanky eggs. They are very fragile and should be handled with care. If someone had carelessly dropped my egg, no matter how flawed, when I was a kid, I would have been crushed. For me it would have been worse than dropping the last piece of Grandma’s precious china. It would have been the end of the world!

Derting did this with The Pledge. In an effort to tie up all the loose ends to have a happy ending, she did just that. The first book in a series should have a resolution but not a conclusion. She left one loose thread, but it is not enough to convince me to read book two. She took my egg and did the Mexican hat dance on it twice.

However, we do have options. 1) We can try to glue our Pysanky egg back together. 2) Fan fiction people can reconstruct the ending. 3) Walk away…far, far away.

Two Young Boys Missing: Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating: 2 stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: The setting was believable.


Dance Hall of the Dead was my first encounter with Tony Hillerman. I know this is scandalous, because I live in the Southwest. Blasphemous perhaps! Before you start judging me please realize that I have read other Southwestern literature classics like Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, which I enjoyed.

I did not hate Dance Hall of the Dead, but it is not my cup of tea. After talking with family and friends, I realize that I have made a tragic mistake. I inadvertently skipped book one and read book two. This could lead to my not connecting with the characters. (I read Dance Hall of the Dead, because my book club students chose to read it.)

It is a murder mystery set in Arizona on the Navajo and Zuni lands. Two boys go missing and Lt. Joe Leaphorn must solve the mystery. It is a pretty straightforward murder mystery. Because I did not read book one, I have no connection with Leaphorn. I also did not feel upset about the two young boys who go missing. Scandalous I know! Perhaps I have spent too much time engrossed in first person point of view books?

Who done it? The villain of course. Like Esso I am pretty much the last person to know who did it. The clues are there. Leaphorn knew who did it before I did. However, the answer, the who done it, still leaves me baffled.

Overall I feel accomplished, because I finished the book to discuss it with my students. I feel let down, because I did not enjoy it. Lastly I wonder what I am missing, because so many others have enjoyed Tony Hillerman. Sigh…oh well…back to the world of young adult literature!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mole Meets Savage: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating: 4 Stars = I really liked it.

Addiction Level: I ignored the hubby and puppy until I finished the book.

Addiction Level: I daydream about the created world and wonder how I fit in.

Dystopia Factor: The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost, but maybe our hero and heroine can save it.


As our world becomes more technologically advanced, more dystopian novels are published. I like dystopian novels, because they focus on what is important: survival and relationships. Under the Never Sky is no different.

The story takes place in a world where being outside is dangerous and deadly. The sky is filled with aether, which strikes and wreaks havoc at will. As a result society split into two groups: those living in indestructible pods above and below ground and those living out in the dangerous landscape.

Perry and Aria’s worlds are very different. Perry is a “Savage,” and his world is all about survival. Every action is meant to help one another survive. Aria is a “Mole,” and her world is full of virtual video games, fun, and relaxation. The story begins when their worlds collide.

For those action lovers Under the Never Sky is for you. Immediately the story starts with nonstop action and soon survival is questioned. The action never stops. Rossi fills in the gaps about her created world as the story progress; there is never an information dump.

My favorite part of the book is the main characters: Perry and Aria; they kept me reading. Their stories are told in alternating points of view. As they get to know each other, we get to know them. I kept reading to know what happened. Will they survive? Will they complete their mission? Can they save the current world?

What would happen to us as a society and individuals if our technology suddenly failed or were yanked away? Perhaps mass chaos would erupt. It almost makes me want to become a doomsday prepper…almost. My husband thinks we should become doomsday prepper stocking up on frozen carrots. I think carrots would serve us well in a Zombie Apocalypse. Make sure to read Under the Never Sky to find out if they survive and the status of their mission.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breathless Reads & Skinny Moose

   In book news, I just found out what books are on the Breathless Reads list for 2012. Some of last year’s Breathless Reads included Matched and Across the Universe. This year the following books are on the list:

Legend by Marie Lu
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
The Nightshade Series by Andrea Cremer

Become a fan at to sign up for giveaways and exclusive content! Then read along with us and come back for more breathless reviews!


   Here at home, April 15th marks the start of…Spring turkey season! I’m so excited! This is going to be my first turkey hunt and my first hunt with a bow! In order to prepare myself for this exciting adventure I’ve been doing a little research on what exercises I can do to strengthen my arms, and thus increase my draw weight (the amount of force it takes to draw the string back). After searching and modifying, I’ve finally come up with what I’ve dubbed my “Skinny Moose” workout. (Thanks to dv over at Mostly Archery for the great advice!) And it’s kind of a two for one- not only will this improve my bow skills, but hopefully it will improve my overall awesomeness when it comes to our book club’s LARP party! Book clubbers beware! Here it is if you’re interested or want to keep up with me ;).

Monday: 20-30 minutes on the elliptical (I have a strict ‘no running’ policy.)

Tuesday: Crunches on the stability ball
                 Front Arm Raises
                 Lateral Arm Raises
                 Push Ups

Wednesday: 20-30 minutes on the elliptical or walk

Thursday: Crunches on the stability ball
                  Military Press
                  Bent over Arm Raises
                  Arm Curls
                  Push Ups

Friday: 20-30 minutes on the elliptical or walk

Lacey helping me/ doing her own "Skinny Moose". Yes, that is a dumbbell, not a toy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two Hours I'll Never Have Back- Nightlight: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon

Just the facts:

Overall: 2 Stars

Addiction Level: Uh…

Believe-ability: Um…


   Well, I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to give a synopsis of Nightlight, just stating that it is a parody of Twilight should be enough.

   So…I kind of had high hopes for this book. I saw it at the local library (yay for libraries!) and thought, “Hey, this looks like it could be hilarious”. It was a short book, about 150 pages, and took me a few hours to read. I had never read a parody before, but Nightlight fell short of what I expected. Yes, it was funny and a few parts made me laugh out loud. However, I couldn’t wait to be finished because it felt like the author(s) saturated the text with sarcasm. No sentence was complete without poking some amount of fun at Twilight. The funny thing about humor is when you start using too much, the humor disappears. It’s like the guy at a party who loves to tell jokes. You laugh at the first couple, but at the end of the night you’re looking for escape routes so you don’t have to hear any more. I guess if you’re in to that you can go ahead and read Nightlight, but if not I’d just pass it up all together. I think I’ll definitely be sticking to my usual literary suspects: some young adult, dystopias, and historical fiction.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The choices we make define us: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating: 5 stars

Addiction Level: I ignored the hubby and puppy until I finished the book. (The second time I read it I ignored sleep, because I wanted to relive the story. Divergent is one of those books that draws you in and transports you away.)

Believe-ability: I daydream about the created world and wonder how I fit in. (I wonder which faction I would choose.)

Dystopia Factors: The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost, but maybe our hero and heroine can save it.


Initially I picked Divergent up because a friend recommended it, and I had just finished another breathless read, Awaken. I did not expect to be left breathless, sleepless, or suffering from a book hangover...again! Needless to say, reading Divergent has left me breathless. It is not just a dystopia. It is a work that questions values, choices, and ideals. What is right? What is true? Whom can one believe?

Beatrice, like other 16 year olds, must choose which faction of society to belong to forever. Her choices are Candor (honesty), Erudite (intelligence), Amity (peace), Abnegation (selflessness), and Dauntless (brave). Her choice is both surprising and not. What would you choose? Regardless of what you choose, I dare you to pick up this book!

On my second read, I found Divergent just as intriguing, breathless, and amazing. It left me wondering and satisfied.

Children become adults at the age of 16. I know this works for England and other European countries. Could this work for America? As I think about some of my students, I wonder if real responsibility would be a wake-up call. I wonder if they would enter the real world, make mistakes, and revisit education when they were ready. On the other hand I know my students are on the verge of adulthood and still need guidance. Do many students grow up parentless or virtually parentless? Is that why so many novels have limited or no parent involvement?

Is it fair to make people choose one path at the age of 16? I am not even sure that today at 33 I would be satisfied being made to choose one path. Divergent’s society disguises slavery as choice. They want everyone to fit into a mold, desiring robotic citizens.

One of my favorite aspects of Divergent was the romance. I am not a big fan of romance unrealistic romance. The author has to make it believable. Otherwise it is “insta!love” and gag worthy. Roth convinced me of the honesty of the characters' love. For me the best part is their love is ongoing and codependent (Thanks Kara!).

In conclusion, you should pick of Divergent, because it is a wonderful story of the importance of choice.