Protected by Cindy Hogan book review

Protected book

Protected

Cindy M. Hogan

Suspense/Thriller

341 pages

 

 

Here is the second installment of Hogan’s first series. Christy is back home in Montana, and back to her normal life, basically as a loser at her school. Although it’s depressing to be back on the bottom, she assumes that all the excitement from D.C. is over, and wants to move on from that. Then, unexpectedly, Alex shows up again in her life by surprising her at her school. She had promised herself she was done with him and would choose Rick, but can’t keep herself from him. She takes him out on a tour of her town, and that is when things take a turn for the worse.

 

Apparently the terrorists have tracked Christy down and come to settle the score. They come for Christy and Alex and take them hostage. Without giving away any exciting details, the manage to escape, but now it’s clear that Christy can’t return to her old life. She will have to enter the witness protection program and start a new life under a false identity. Although her life was difficult for her, she finds it hard to say good-bye and leave everything behind. With no other choice, she finds herself training for a life she never thought she would have, as a popular cheerleader at a new school across the country.

 

It is hard on her, and takes some time to get used to, but Christy falls into her new life and is happy. During her months of training before beginning her new life, Christy learns how to look for attackers and hide from them, even how to fight them off. In her new life, she is able to adapt to her newfound popularity, although everything is completely new to her. One thing that is especially hard for Christy is remaining true to her values and ideals while she seems to be the only one in her new life that has them. She is forbidden to go to her old church, as that is part of her old life, which she must leave behind. She faces an internal struggle often, just as she is facing very real external ones. However, she must always remain alert and on her toes, never knowing when or how danger will come.

 

The ending of the book is great, packed with action and excitement, with a clear opening into the third novel in the series. I really enjoyed reading it and one thing that I’m really impressed with is the lack of offensive language or content. This really is a book that someone of any age could read. I’m excited to finish the series and see what will happen to Christy and who she will become in the next step of her life. The title of the next book, Created, leads me to believe that Christy will face even more changes and that the danger and excitement she never expected will continue to follow her wherever she goes.

Watched by Cindy Hogan book review

Watched book

Watched

Cindy M. Hogan

Suspense/Thriller/Romance

332 pages

 

I’ve been meaning to pick up Watched and read it for over a year now, so when I actually met Cindy Hogan, I finally decided to check it out. Just based on the book jacket, I was expecting a suspense about a young girl who witnesses a murder, and that’s exactly what I got. I thought that the adventure in the book started out pretty early, which is something that is important to me. Something exciting has to happen pretty early on to grab my attention, and within the first few pages of the novel, Christy has witnessed a murder that will change her life. She has gone to D.C. to try to reinvent herself and become a new person, but she had no idea how much the trip would change her.

 

Christy and her friends are in immediate danger after witnessing the murder, and decide they need to get a message to the FBI about what they saw. They come up with a plan and the FBI contacts Christy directly, telling her they will watch her and protect her, but she has to help them as well. Chisty does the best she can, but is a small town girl from Montana, and this is all very scary to her, if not a little bit exciting. On the trip, she also cathes the attention of the two most attractive guys there with her. On top of everything else, she has a love triangle to try to sort out, which is as new an experience to her as witnessing a murder.

 

Trying to divide her time between Alex and Rick, it’s confusing enough for her to try to figure out her feelings for them herself, as well as dealing with trying to just stay safe. She knows that she is being watched, by the FBI as well as the bad guys that are now after her. She doesn’t know who is a real friend and who she can trust. She never feels safe, and doesn’t know where she can turn. I thought Hogan did a great job with Christy’s interior dialogue as well as the dialogue present in the rest of the book. You could really feel the different struggles she was going through and it was easy to see how she was feeling.

 

There is quite a few spots of action in the novel, although, at times, I would have liked a little more detail in the fighting scenarios. The love triangle was an interesting ingredient in the book, and one that I think helped move the plot line along as well. You always seem to pick a side, and I couldn’t help rooting for one of the guys vying for Christy’s attention. Overall, I thought it was a really good read. The plot wasn’t the most intricate of anything I’ve ever read, but it was certainly enjoyable, and I think would be easily followed and liked, especially by the intended audience, which is young adult. I am excited to continue on with the series and read more of what happens next to Christy and see what trouble she gets herself into next. The next book in the series is Protected, followed by the third in the trillogy, Created. They are all published and available now.

 

Reached by Ally Condie book review

Reached book

Reached

Ally Condie

Dystopian Fiction/Romance

512 Pages

Finally, the conclusion of the Matched series! I was excited to get this book and finish the series to see how Ally Condie decided to end everything. I have to say, I was pleased overall. I believe I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the whole series has kind of a Farhenheit 451 mixed with a Hunger Games feel to me, and I like it. I like that there is a message behind the novels as well as just the entertainment. This was a really fun series to read, especially if you are into the ever-growing popularity of dystopian scenarios.

The series began with Matched, where we just heard from Cassia’s point-of-view throughout the entire novel. Then came Crossed, where it switched back and forth between Cassia and Ky. In the conclusion, we get inside the minds of not only Cassia and Ky, but Xander as well, so the reader can know what they are all thinking and feeling. I was impressed with Condie’s ability to distinguish clearly between the characters in her series, keeping their feelings, tones, and ideas seperated completely and soundine like three different voices.

The Rising is finally set to take over in this novel, and makes the move to do so. The takeover goes smoothly; almost too smoothly. The Pilot assumes position as the leader and overseer of the people, helping them to get out of the mess that they are in. The characters in the book all seem to be struggling with where their allegiance lies; not necessarily to the Society over the Rising, but to their friends and what is truly right. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are apart from each other for much of the book, and facing struggles on their own.

Although there is a very obvious and, at times a problematic love triangle scenario, it is clear to see the connection between the three main characters. They are bound together and must act together in order to accomplish the greater good and do their part. It becomes more or less up to the trio to save the world, which is to be somewhat expected in a series like this. They all have an important role to play in which they need to come together to find a solution before all is lost. When they finally do all come together, there is both joy and sadness in their reunion. Cassia must finaly make her choice between Ky and Xander. The people need to choose between The Rising and The Society; between a sense of freedom or a feeling of oppression. This novel is a battle of the intellect and emotions.

There wasn’t as much action or adventure in this one as in the last installment, but it kept me thoroughly entertained and engaged until the end. I think that Condie did a great job of wrapping everything up in a pleasing way. It wasn’t the best ending to a series I’ve ever read, but it was put together nicely in a way that leaves hope for humanity and the future of mankind foloowing the conclusion. If you read the first two in the series, which I assume you did if you are reading this, I think you need to pick this one up and finish it off. Overall, I loved the series and if you are into this genre, I think that you will as well. It was a great job by Condie and I look forward to seeing what else she comes out with in the future.

Matched book review

Matched book

Matched

Ally Condie

Dystopian Fiction/Romance

366 Pages

 

Cassia lives in a dystopian society where everything is decided for her. What/when to eat, what she studies, what she can be. And, who she will one day marry. When kids turn 17, if they ever want to be married, they have to choose the option of being Matched. Then they will one day enter into the arranged marriage that the Society has deemed perfect for them. I like reading books like this about an undisclosed dystopian future, because anything can happen. Also, the books always seem to serve as a warning of sorts. This book reminded me a lot of Fahrenheit 451, because there is a definite message of censorship to it as well. The Society has gotten rid of all books, music, and poetry except for the “hundred best” of each one. Conveniently, none of the chosen works talk about thinking for yourself, rebellion, or anything else that might serve to ignite any sort of uprising again the Society.

 

Cassia has a unique situation as she is Matched. A face other than her Match flashes in front of her and now she is left with a choice; to follow the society’s plan or to follow her own heart. This is definitely a love story, one that I think girls would enjoy, but it is one that I think guys will like reading as well. The story is just a fun one to read about, because it is also about rebellion and choice. Cassia doesn’t have a lot of options, because she has so little freedom, and the punishments for anything considered rebellious can be severe.

 

This is a trilogy, with the second book already out for a while and the third book released earlier this year. I can’t wait to finish the trilogy and find out what happens. If you have read Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, or even Twilight, I think you will enjoy this book. It is similar to the love triangle scenario that is prevalent in other books, but the underlying themes and messages in this novel make it an especially fun read. There’s no bad language or anything disturbing in this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone. My wife read it after me at my suggestion and loved it as well; it is currently her favorite book over Hunger Games, which I thought nothing would ever top for her. Check it out, I think you’ll enjoy it!

Pretties book review

Pretties

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Romance

370 pages

 

The story continues with Tally now as a pretty. She turned herself in to get the operation so that the Smokies could test out the cure on her. She has been Pretty for about a month when the novel starts, and is living in New Pretty Town with all the other new pretties, including Peris and Shay. All she wants in her new life is to become a member of their clique, the Crims. She is at a party the night she hopes to be voted in, when suddenly, something from her Ugly life turns up. Or, I guess I should say, someone. An Ugly that she remembers is at the party following her around, and she can’t understand why he is there and won’t leave her alone. Tally briefly talks to him and he tells her he will leave something for her to find.

 

She starts to think a little clearer, and with the help of one of her fellow Crims, Zane, she gets through a series of tasks to discover that what is left for her is the cure for being “Pretty-minded.” From there on, Tally and Zane are inseparable, doing everything together and fighting to stay “bubbly” and not to fall back into the easy, Pretty haze. They plot an escape from New Pretty Town, but it becomes increasingly difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be any further help from her Ugly friends on the outside. Finally she and Zane enlist more of their fellow Crims to devise a plan that they think will work.

 

Not surprisingly, the plan doesn’t go exactly as expected, and Tally finds herself alone facing challenges she never would have dreamed of. She learns even more about the operations that the Specials are involved in, and more about the true nature of humanity. Tally must use her new non-Pretty brain to figure out how to join the rest of her group before they have to leave her and she is stuck alone forever. To me, this second book reminded me a lot of the second book of the Matched series, Crossed. I am excited to see what ends up happening in the third book because the end of Pretties was as much of a cliffhanger as the end of Uglies was. Really fun read, and I can’t wait to continue on with Specials!

Uglies book review

Uglies

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Romance

425 pages

 

I love dystopian novels! They are becoming my favorite genre because it is so fun to see how different authors foresee possible futures. Uglies reminded me a lot of Matched. I started it one day and finished it the next. It follows Tally, who is about to turn 16, and subsequently, turn Pretty. When you turn 12, you are sent to Uglyville to live with all the other Uglies until you turn 16, when you become a new Pretty and move to New Pretty Town. Tally’s best friend Peris has just turned Pretty and left her all alone. That is, until she meets Shay, who shares her same birthday.

 

Tally and Shay begin doing everything together, which mostly involves pulling tricks and sneaking out at night to go to the old Rusty Ruins. The Ruins are what is left of the previous civilization that almost destroyed the world. Tally and Shay trust more in each other until Shay lets Tally know that she doesn’t plan to become Pretty, but wants to run away to a group of people who have escaped from various cities. Of course, this means that they will have to stay Uglies the rest of their lives. Shay wants Tally to go with her and run away, but Tally wants to become Pretty and join Peris. However, things don’t end up going as planned.

 

When Shay disappears, Tally suddenly becomes important enough to call on the attention of a group that no one really thought existed, the Specials. They tell her that in order to become Pretty, Tally has to betray her friend and help them discover the location of the secret city that Shay ran off to. Tally has to decide what to do, and who to honor her promises with. She promised Peris she would meet him soon as a Pretty, but she promised Shay she would keep her secret. And if she does go, what will she find when she gets there? Will it be enough to change her mind and make her want to stay?

 

I really enjoyed this book; dystopian novels are almost always a fun read, in my opinion. This is a great book for young adults, or anyone else who likes these kind of stories. If you like these kinds of books, pick it up! Especially if you liked Matched, as I said, this reminded me a lot of it. This is the first book in what was originally meant to be a trilogy, but is now a 4 piece set. I’m excited to keep reading on and see what happens in the rest of the series.

The Jester book review

The Jester

James Patterson

Historical Fiction/Adventure

470 Pages

 

I’ve read a lot of James Patterson books, but none quite like this one. This one had almost a The DaVinci Code or The Last Templar feel to it. It takes place during the Crusades, and begins in 1096 A.D. It follows the life of a simple bondsman, Hugh, who finds the desire to leave his wife and go fight in the Crusades. He promises he that he will return no matter what. He leaves and fights hard, learning to be a soldier and doing things he never imagined himself doing. Finally, one day, he decides that he can’t be away from his wife any longer fighting for a cause he’s not even sure he believes in, and he deserts his army.

 

He makes his way home, excited to see his wife again and show her the souvenirs he has brought back with him. However, upon arriving home, he discovers the terrible truth that his wife has been taken captive and everything he loves destroyed. Everyone in his town fears that she is certainly dead, but Hugh cannot accept this and sets off to find her and return her safely home. With the help of new friends he meets, he devises a plan to implant himself close to where he believe he will find her, and bring justice to those who have destroyed his life.

 

This book was exciting to read about, because although it is fiction, it was fun to learn about how things could have been during this time. These is a lot – and I mean a lot – of violence, and very descriptive acts of torture and murder. There was also a surprising amount of sex and sexually related content included, which I had not expected, so I would certainly not recommend this for younger readers. There was a lot of humor strung throughout the novel as well, which is not surprising considering the title. Overall, I found it to be a very entertaining book, although it isn’t my favorite of the work that Patterson has put out. Especially if you are interested in this time period, I think you will enjoy it!

The Kite Runner book review

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Historical Fiction/Coming-of-Age

371 Pages

 

I picked this book up because I had seen a lot of people reading it which made me curious. It was not what I expected. The book is largely about a boy growing up in Afghanistan shortly before the invasion by Russian forces. His name is Amir and he lives in a house with his father, as his mother has passed away. The novel gets its name from an activity very popular at this time, a kite tournament. Amir’s closest companion is a boy named Hassan, who is actually the son of his father’s servant, and thereby the younger servant of the family as well. Although Hassan considers Amir his best friend and would do anything for him, Amir doesn’t even consider them friends. He is very aware of him importance and “rank” above Hassan.

 

When Amir enters the kite tournament, he desires to win to hopefully make his dad proud so that the awkwardness between them can end. His loyal companion Hassan is running kites for him and promises to bring the last kite back. As he is running to find it, his path is intercepted by some old rivals who have vowed revenge. The boys are abusing Hassan, and Amir finds him just in time to be able to intercede and stop them, but he is frozen with fear and does nothing. When Hassan finally returns with the kite, Amir is so ashamed with himself that he cannot even look at Hassan, and things between them are never the same.

 

This novel then follows the course of Amir’s life as he grows up and his life changes in ways he never could have imagined. He comes to America and his father, who was once a successful businessman struggles to make ends meet. He finds some happiness, but Hassan in always there in the back of his mind. He can’t help but wonder how things could have been different if he had found the courage to stand up for the boy that would have done anything for him that day. This is a sad story filled with drama and despair, but it is a good book. In the end, Amir is presented with a dangerous opportunity to possibly redeem himself, and it will take all the courage he can muster to face it.

 

There are definitely some situations and content that might not be acceptable for younger readers. This novel is a sad tale of things that you hope aren’t true as you’re reading it. It addresses topics such as bullies, courage, and standing up for others, with an overall good message in a powerful book that you will remember.

Michael Vey The Prisoner of Cell 25 book review

Michael Vey The Prisoner of Cell 25

Richard Paul Evans

Science Fiction/Adventure

336 Pages

 

This book was awesome!  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it because I had never even heard of it, but I really enjoyed it.  Michael Vey is a high school kid with a secret.  He’s electric.  He has the power of electricity running through him, but he must keep it a secret to ensure nothing bad happens.  When he starts to get stronger though, it becomes harder to contain his power and those who have been searching for him since his birth finally discover him.  Michael is catapulted into a new world of danger and adventure as he must fight to protect the ones he loves.

 

This book had some similarities to other books where kids discover they have powers, such as Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, but it was certainly its own story.  Also, some of you reading might think, “electric kids, really?” and in some cases, I would be right there with you.  However, Evans has come up with a way to explain these powers that seems plausible enough, so that it makes sense that something like this could happen in a normal world, without the explanation of something supernatural, like magic.  There are very few kids similar to Michael, but they are out there, and Michael must discover who his allies are and who his enemies are.

 

Michael must confront those behind the organization looking for him and causing his family pain.  With the help of his friends, both new and old, Michael must get to the bottom of the organization and fight to get his life and freedom back.  Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in this thriller that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  I got so excited when I finished this book to continue on with the adventure that I went out to search for the next one in the series.  I was sad to find out that it isn’t out yet.  However, it is coming out in August of this year, so it will shortly be here, and I will be anxiously awaiting its arrival.  This book is great.  It’s not too out there, like some books in this genre, and it is full of adventure and excitement.  It is a book that is suitable for any age, but in my opinion, even a very entertaining read for adults.  So pick it up and check out this new name in teenage adventurers!

Percy Jackson The Last Olympian Review

Percy Jackson The Last Olympian

Rick Riordan

Fantasy Fiction/Adventure

381 Pages

This is the final suspenseful installment in the Percy Jackson series.  In my opinion, it is definitely the best one out of them all.  The writing is still simple enough for younger readers, but there is so much action and things going on, it is hard not to enjoy it as an adult.  I found it to be more advanced in writing than the earlier ones as well, especially the first couple in the series.  There were more twists and advanced plots in this novel than in previous ones in the series, like we are actually growing up with the characters.

This is the novel where the great prophecy is finally to be fulfilled.  The titans’ army is in full force and marches through New York to advance on Olympus.  The gods are away and busy fighting the battle on another front, so it is up to Percy Jackson and his small army of heroes to defend the eternal city and defeat the titans.  Luke is back at the head of the army, and Percy finds himself doing things he never imagined or thought possible in order to fight for a victory against seemingly impossible odds.  He bands together with former rivalries with a common goal to destroy the titan army.

There was a lot of action in this novel.  There were new monsters, old monsters, as well as old and new friends fighting alongside Percy and his heroes.  The titan spy is still undercover within the campers, and so Percy has mistrust within even his own ranks.  Percy also must solve the riddle-like words of the great prophecy if he is to ensure that Kronos will be stopped.  He follows the path of other heroes who have tried to do great things, and finds surprises and difficulty every step of the way.  This book wraps up and concludes everything in a very satisfactory manner.  There is some loss in the book, although perhaps not as much as I have seen in other novels where there has basically been a similar battle between good and pure evil.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing: it seems less realistic, but it is also hard to say good-bye to characters that we have come to care about.  If you’ve made it this far, I think you have to pick up this last book and finish the series to find out what happens.  After all, the final result of the prophecy surprises even Percy himself.