|April 30, 2012||Posted by Katy under Book Reviews|
This month I was a reading machine! I read not one but FIVE books! I think this must be a record for me. I am also up to 15 books for the year- completely smashing my record of 12 for the year! I think it is safe to say that I can check this off my Goals for 2012!
Once again, I was drawn in (although I use that loosely) into another book trilogy, but I also enjoyed two books that were a bit of of the ordinary for me. Each book had different themes and topics, which I enjoyed.
*Spoiler alert! Some of the reviews may give away the plot lines. Read with caution.*
Once Upon a Secret (Mimi Alford)
My Rating: 3.5/5
From Goodreads.com: “In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country—and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy’s inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself. Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months.”
Confession- I did not technically read this book. When I went to pick it up from the library, I was presented with the audio CD’s instead of the book. Normally this would bother me (because I comprehend material better when I physically have it in front of me verses it being told to me), but I was going on a trip to Washington DC and needed something to listen to on the Metro.
I normally stay away from books like this, but I watched Mimi Alford’s interview on TV a month or two ago and was intrigued. The book is told from her point of view and follows her journey from first arriving to Washington in 1962 to her current life, and everything in between. To me, it seemed like an honest account of what happened between her and the President. Of course there is no way of truly verifying the facts, but I did not feel like she was making up facts or anything.
The book was not as salacious as I expected, but I preferred this. I would not say that I sympathized with Alford, but I also did not resent her. It seems like she was a naive, young woman who got caught up in the moment. JFK is known throughout history as a womanizer and charmer and Alford was one of his “targets.” I could understand how she became enamored with him.
Overall, a quick read (or listen: it was about 6.5 hours on tape). If you are interested in the JFK presidency or books like this, read it. If not, pass on it.
The Running Man (Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman)
My Rating: 3.5/5
From Goodreads.com: “The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day and tread closer and closer to death. Desperate for money to pay Cathy’s medical bills, Ben enlists himself in a true reality style game show where the objective is to merely stay alive.”
First- Do NOT read the author forward. It completely gives away the ending! Luckily I read it when I was half-asleep when I read it and actually forgot the ending.
I normally do not like Stephen King. His books do not interest me and sometimes, a bit horrifying. However, I could not put this book down! I brought this book with me to Washington DC and when I was not listening to Once Upon A Secret, I was reading this. The book moves very quickly and I was completely drawn in from the start. There are definitely some gruesome and vivid scenes that are still in my mind (a month later).
Ben Richards is a man out of work and trying to support his wife and daughter. When his daughter gets sick, Richards becomes a contestant on the most intense shows the Network Games produced. The concept is simple, run away and stay alive. For every hour you survive, you add $100 to your pot. If you survive 30 days, you win $1 billion New Dollars. However, there is a bounty on Ben’s head and anyone who finds him, receives a cash reward, and Ben is immediately killed. Ben is given a 12-hour head start, $4,800, and a pocket video camera he must use to send messages twice a day to the Network for broadcasting that evening.
Ben travels all across the United States, changing disguises and enlisting other individuals to help him survive. He car-jacks Amelia Williams, holds her hostage to get his demands met. The ending is shocking and disturbing (I won’t spoil it), but it definitely is memorable. However, let’s just say it was not the best book to read while flying in an airplane (as I was doing when I finished).
Overall, I understood the underlying message, and really enjoyed the book. Maybe I will give Stephen King another chance?
The Uglies Trilogy (Scott Westerfeld)
My Rating: 3/5 (Ranging from 2.5-3 depending on the book)
From Goodreads.com: “This arc of Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES trilogy follows the high-tech adventures of Tally Youngblood. As an ugly, then a pretty, and finally a special, Tally works to take down a society created to function with perfect-looking people who never have a chance to think for themselves.”
I’m reviewing this as a trilogy (for the sake of the length of this post), but I will be posting my individual reviews on my Goodreads account tomorrow (if you want to check it out).
I read this trilogy because it was recommended to me multiple times. I was told that if I loved The Hunger Games, then I would love this series. Honestly, I was underwhelmed. The books are written for teens, and it definitely had that tone. I felt that I probably would have enjoyed the books more if I read these in high school verses as a 22 year old. I understood the overall message and appreciated it, but I could not get around the silly vocabulary and terms in the book: “Prettyville”, “Bubbly”, “Icy”, etc.
The books revolve around Tally Youngblood, a 16 year old (although 15 at the beginning of Uglies) who lives in the future. In this future world, teens are given an entirely new look when they turn 16. Tally is excited for this until she meets Shay, another girl close to turning 16 who is unsure if she wants to become a “Pretty.”
A long story short, Shay runs away and Tally soon follows as a spy for the government to bring back Shay and other runaways. Tally realizes overtime that she does want to remain an “Ugly” (due to finding out that the pretty procedure holds hidden medical consequences) but ends up leading the government to her location. The runaways are captured and are brought back to their home. Tally decides to become a “Pretty” in order to test the experimental drug to cure the disease that the procedure holds.
In the second book. Tally has undergone the procedure and she is now a “Pretty.” At first she forgets about her commitment until someone from the past arrives. Throughout the book she is torn between her present life and her past. Once again, she ends up being forced to make a decision which alters her life and those around her.
In the final book of the trilogy, Tally has become a “Special”, a superhuman with incredible speed, strength, and beauty. She now works for a branch of the Special Circumstances, a sort of army for her country. She is given an assignment to once and for all, eliminate the rebels/ runaways who threaten the country. However, she must make a decision which can change the entire world and reshape the way people think.
If I am going to be honest, I thought the final book was the best. Towards the end, the book finally picks up and for the first time in the trilogy, I actually enjoyed the book. It made me slightly think of Mockingjay with some of the war scenes, but otherwise, the books are very different. Frankly, I do not know why I continued to read after the first book. I suppose there was a little bit of intrigue in the back of my mind in that I wanted to know what happened in the end.
There is a fourth book (Extras) which takes place a few years after Specials leaves off. At first I was not going to read it, but the ending of Specials had me wondering what happened later. The book stars a different Protagonist and characters, but it has the same concept. I am currently reading it and will write my review next month.
Do I recommend this series? Yes and no. There are interesting aspects and redeeming qualities of the books, but they were not my cup of tea.
What books did you read this month?
*All pictures are from Goodreads.com*