#939 Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Kezi lives with her mother and father. She’s an only child, they worship the one true God. There’s an altar in their home dedicated to this god.

She does not know that other Gods exist, including one around her age named Olus. He happens to raise goats on land leased from Kezi’s father. He is the god of wind and loneliness. He has a special interest in Kezi.

One day, Kezi’s mother falls terribly ill and the local medicine man just wants to let her blood and doesn’t give a lot of hope. Kezi’s father makes an oath to their god. He swears that if his wife recovers, he will sacrifice whoever, if anybody, congratulates him on his wife’s recovery.

She does get better and no one wishes congratulations until an elderly aunt comes by. Kezi knows what will happen, so she wishes her father congratulations instead. She must die.

There are thirty days left in Kezi’s life, but she runs into Olus and he whisks her away. He tells her that perhaps she could become a goddess. She would have to become a heroine and pass a test. Could Kezi complete this task? Could she stay with Olus forever?

What I liked

This story was fun. I like the idea of being with someone forever. I believe we do go on after this life. I would like to think we can keep the relationships we have.

I really have no knowledge of other God’s existing, but it’s kind of fun to think about, at least in the mythology sense.

What I didn’t like

This is kind of Twilight.

Overall

If only we could all be rescued from life by some immortal being…*sigh* *teenage love ideals*

Weigh in

If some immortal dude asked you to go with him and leave everything behind, would you?

Would you offer yourself so someone else wouldn’t have to die?

#939 Ever by Gail Carson Levine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#731 The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me by Nicholas SparksThe Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Amanda and Dawson were high school sweethearts, but because of their family backgrounds, they grew apart. Amanda’s parents didn’t like her hanging out with someone who was essentially white trash in their view. Dawson’s family was poor enough and he didn’t have a lot of advantages. Something unfortunate happened and he ended up going to prison for a while.

Amanda moved on. She went to college. She got married. She ended up with several children, one of which died very young. Her husband is an alcoholic. She doesn’t quite know how to deal with the situation anymore.

A common thread between Dawson and Amanda, even these days, is a man named Tuck. He has been something of a mentor to both Dawson and Amanda. When they had no one else to talk to, they talked to Tuck. He knew their troubles in life and he saw through both of them, down to the root of a problem. Tuck himself lost his wife many years ago, and sometimes he still talks to her. He kept a garden up for her, all these years later.

When Tuck dies, both Amanda and Dawson find themselves in each other’s presence again. They share a short time together that will leave Amanda with a piece of Dawson in a way she never expected.

What I liked

I feel like Nicholas Sparks is having a competition with Pixar to see who could write the thing that will make people cry the most. This book certainly has some “feels” as some people might say. I wonder if Nicholas Sparks secretly writes all those sad Pixar movie moments.

I liked that, again, this book is kind of local. By local, in this sense, it’s about five hours away. Oriental is a real place, not too far away from New Bern, on the coast of North Carolina. Back in March, I spent some time in New Bern when my boyfriend’s father died. The family is from New Bern and the Outer Banks area. They have a lot of history there. I liked that I could experience some of this book, almost in real life, because I’ve been to New Bern. It’s home to the Tryon Palace if you’re looking for touristy things to do there.

What I didn’t like

This was sad.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been through a divorce and I’ve seen what a relationship with someone compatible and someone non-compatible looks like, but I just plain don’t like the idea of staying with someone just because you’re married to them and refraining from being with someone else who is much more compatible. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should run off from a marriage every time you think someone better has come along, but if your spouse is not better, or not even good, or not even adequate, and you know from experience that the other person is better, you used to date them in high school, for example, then I don’t see why you would stay with the person who is not very good.

If I were in Amanda’s place, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay with an alcoholic husband who seems like a waste of space. A person only changes when they want to change and that may be never. There’s no point in suffering on their account.

Overall

I bet Nicholas Sparks and Pixar secretly get together to watch/read each other’s stuff and then cry about it.

Weigh In

What do you think about books and/or movies that are written to be purposely sad?

What do you think? Could you stay with the alcoholic husband?

#731 The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#895 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Paul has told his  daughter some strange stories involving Dracula and a book. One day, Paul goes out, again, in search of something. As the story unfolds, we learn that Paul found a strange book. It was old and had no business being in the library. Paul goes to see his professor, a man named Rossi, to seek an explanation for the book. It’s about vampires alright, the Dracula, or Vlad Tepes, is the central figure in this story. Is he really dead? Are vampires real?

This is the last intellectual session Paul has with his professor because he just up and disappears one night, the professor not Paul. Paul plans to go off to Europe in search of his professor, but meets a woman named Helen. She says she is Rossi’s daughter. Yet more of the story comes out. Rossi had been in Europe and had met a beautiful young woman with a green dragon imprinted on her skin. It’s said the family is descended from Vlad. Rossi has to go on to other adventures in his historian life, leaving his lover alone in Europe.

As Helen and Paul find out more, stranger and stranger things keep happening. A scary librarian starts to tail the couple. They dig through documents. They visit other countries. They get chased down. Something develops between Helen and Paul. The mystery of Dracula is not solved with their trip though and the idea of him still lingers over the family, years later.

What I liked

This was my second attempt to read this book. I started, years ago, before I was ever married, when I was still in college, when I still worked at the nursing home. I tried. I tried valiantly to get into this book, but I never finished it. I carried around my copy, from move to move, until I donated several hundred books to a couple selling books to raise money for an adoption back in 2015. The book just didn’t grab my attention then, which is strange seeing as I’ve been all over some Dan Brown, which is quite similar to this book. I was able to finish the book this time, though; listening to it helped.

I do really like the history in this book. Elizabeth did her research, a lot of it. She got all that weird crap about Dracula correct. He was a warlord. He was considered a hero to an extent. He did impale people. His grave really was empty. He really did build churches. Apparently, he thought God would be cool with him impaling people as long as he made churches in return. While he was a savvy man in the political and war arenas, he was not a nice man.

This book did have that Dan Brown feel to it, which makes it intellectually stimulating.

What I didn’t like

I don’t believe in vampires. I don’t believe Dracula is alive somewhere or that he’s amassing a personal library and stealing scholars to tend to it. While the history surrounding Dracula is absorbing, I feel that a book suggesting Dracula is real, presented in a real-world manner, is a bit much. It’s not my cup of tea.  Really, Dracula is out there, as a vampire, sucking blood, and stuff?

Overall

If you find a strange book at the library, you kind of have to read it.

Weigh In

Could someone ever convince you that Dracula is alive and well?

What do you think about historical thrillers? Yeah or nay?

#895 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#890 The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie BuchananThe Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The three Van Goethem sisters all danced in the ballet, at one point or the other. Antoinette, the oldest, gave up for a variety of reasons, choosing work as a stage extra and washer woman instead of the ballet. Marie wanted nothing more than to succeed. So she tried and tried. Charlotte was cute and wanted to learn.

With their father dead and their mother an alcoholic, sipping absinthe anytime there was a spare breath to take, the girls must all work to pay the rent on their shabby room.

Things go south for Antoinette when she meets a boy who entices her with dinner and drinks. She calls it “being adored.”

Things go north, and south, for Marie when she starts modeling for an artist named Degas. The artist spends hours watching girls practice ballet. He paints the girls. He draws the girls. Marie models for him privately, both clothed and not; her family needs the money. Degas brings her notoriety and admiration, but it does come at a price.

Antoinette’s man gets involved in a murder and she will do anything, anything, to be with him again. Marie has never liked the boyfriend and the murder charge drives a wedge between the two sisters who were once best friends.

What I liked

I like learning about the background events that enabled a certain piece of artwork to be produced. The events that had to come about for that painting, you’re standing in front of at the museum, to be there are fascinating. How was the artwork received by the public? What happened to the artist? What happened to the model? Did the artwork become a detriment to one, or both?

Art is a thing that affects our society. How it came to affect our society is wonderful reading material.

The Van Goethem sisters were real. They aren’t just made up by the author. This account of their lives is fictional, of course. Antoinette really wasn’t connected to a murderer, who was also real and in all the papers.

What I didn’t like

Antoinette is so stupid. Charlotte and the mother are pretty flat character wise.

Let’s get back to Antoinette being stupid. She gave up the ballet for whatever reason, which is stupid decision number one. She got messed up with a loser, which is stupid decision number two. Look, a loser is a loser, is a loser. The point of saying this is to state that losers don’t suddenly become not losers. If a man is good for nothing in the beginning, he’s going to keep being good for nothing. If that’s the case, there is absolutely no point in getting involved with said man. Sure, he may be pretty. Sure, maybe he’s well-endowed. Those are not reasons to put your life in default for a man who isn’t worth a darn.

If a man, or woman, seems like a loser upon your judgement after knowing them for a little while, that’s probably not going to change, so you shouldn’t get involved any more than you already are.

Overall

Paint me like one of your French ballet girls, Monsieur Degas.

Weigh in

What are your opinions about the women in your life who are messed up with losers?

Would you pose naked for a painting?

#890 The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#889 Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Perfectly Oblivious by Robin DanielsPerfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Bianca and Bethany aren’t twins, but a lot of people think they are. The two are less than a year apart. It’s just them and their father. Bianca remembers the day when a cute boy moved in across the street. His name was Cameron, or Cam, as she calls him. With pretenses of practicing basketball, Bianca soon got to know Cam, who called her Bebe.

Bianca is crazy about Cam but has a couple of problems. She doesn’t think he likes her and she also thinks that if she admits someone likes her that it will end badly. She won’t even tell her own sister, Bethany, who is her best friend.

Things are different now, because Cam does like Bianca and wants to tell her, but he doesn’t think she likes him. He thinks he’s been friend-zoned. Bethany soon wriggles the secret out of Cam and they make plans to tell Bianca, big plans, which involve a little dishonesty and some dramatic gestures.

Will it ever be made known that the two actually like each other? Does the universe actually have it out for Bianca and her love life?

What I liked

As teenage romance goes, this was actually one of the better ones I’ve read. Nobody is trying to kill anybody else and nobody is a vampire. It’s about two kids you could have at your school. It’s plausible is what I’m saying.

I identify with Bianca to a degree. I never thought that people liked me. I thought nobody liked me. I thought I was doomed to be alone. There was a large part of this problem which was me. Bianca is in the same boat. There’s nothing wrong with her; she just thinks there is. If you think that nobody likes you and nobody pays attention to you, then you’re not going to pick up on when someone actually likes you. There was more than one boy I kind of dissed or ignored because I thought nobody liked me.

Sometimes, you just have to let people love you despite the many perceived faults that you think you have. I have a boyfriend who loves me even if I’m not super skinny and I do really weird things sometimes, like going around the house saying, “You’ve cat to be kitten me right meow,” or singing, “cat loves food, yeah, yeah, yeah,” when I feed the cats. It’s from a YouTube show called Dragon Ball Z Abridged, look it up.

What I didn’t like

Bianca is identifiable to many young women, but she’s not identifiable to everyone. What about that girl who doesn’t play sports and is on the electric car team? Obviously, you can’t make a character identifiable to everyone. For girls who are in less popular circles in high school, Bianca isn’t going to resonate with them as much.

This book is very sweet and wholesome, for the most part. Despite that fact, I tend to have issues with teenage romance stories, not because of the story itself or the characters in the story, but because of the very idea of teenagers being serious enough to be in a major relationship. Most teenagers are not that serious. They are not that mature. They have no real idea of what loving someone is. Loving someone is respecting that person for who they are, but also being responsible for them to a degree; these two things are very difficult for most teenagers. I do give teenagers who have had to be responsible a little more credit in this area. For example, a teenager who has had to help raise younger siblings or a teenager who has helped take care of a parent or grandparent, will be more responsible and better able to understand the concept of love.

With all that said, I do think Cam respects Bianca, which is certainly a plus because that’s something very difficult for a lot of teenage boys.

Overall

Sweet story to read when you want something a little uplifting.

Weigh In

Looking back on you as a teenager, do you think you would have had the same capacity to love someone that you possess today?

Were you one of those people who thought nobody liked you?

#889 Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels was originally published on One-elevenbooks