Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ruthless


**Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3 * Book 4 * Book 5 * Book 6 * Book 7 * Book 8 * Book 9**

So, continuing the new story arc of what happened in Jamaica (the really big screw up that none of them want to talk about), we have Ruthless.

Now, in this book we have a lot of problems.

Aria is now single. Noel has dumped her for the foreign exchange student Klaudia. This bothers her to the point that she reaches out to Ezra, the teacher/lover from earlier in the series. But, well, Ezra isn't all hearts and flowers anymore. And he does something kind of abhorrent by the end of the book that made me take back every positive feeling I had for him early on.

Part of Spencer's summer is revealed. Seems perfectionist Spencer had a little problem with a study drug. Like addicted. And, after getting caught buying from a dealer, she blames someone who was supposed to be a friend for the deal and the drugs. Not only that, but this friend pops back up and her role as Lady Macbeth is starting to pull out the guilt for everything she's done.

Emily goes a little wild in this book. It's definitely not the Emily of previous books. She's partying and kissing strangers. She finally makes another romantic connection though, in the form of Kay, who turns out to not be the most trustworthy person. But after Maya and Alison/Courtney and Isaac (I think), I was happy to see that Emily found someone to let into her heart again.

Now, Hanna. Oh poor Hanna. She finds a new beau too. Only he turns out to be the son of her father's competition for Senate. He has some other secrets that end up revealed which end up really hurting Hanna. But, somehow, it brings Hanna and Kate together as true sisters for the first time, so that's kind of sweet. I'm hoping that it stays that way, but we know Kate and she's not exactly a nice girl.

This book was still enjoyable. I keep expecting the rug to be pulled out from under me with this series. I'm waiting for that moment when it's just too much and I'm tired of it. That hasn't happened yet, so for now I'm just hanging in there with the series and enjoying it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Twisted


**Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3 * Book 4 * Book 5 * Book 6 * Book 7 * Book 8**

Right. So, after being lead to believe that Wanted was going to be the final book in the Pretty Little Liars series, here we are with more books.

Now, this book mostly takes place a year after the conclusion of Wanted. Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna go to Jamaica for spring break and something terrible happens. Like most events that occur in these books, it takes way too long to figure out what this terrible thing is. And naturally, after the event, the four girls suddenly drift really far apart.

Aria is dating Noel Kahn. But their relationship gets strained after a new exchange student moves into Noel's house. A female exchange student. Aria acts jealous, Noel acts oblivious. It's a lot of chaos and just sort of a mess.

Spencer's parents divorce sometime in the year between Wanted and Twisted. Her mom is now dating/engaged to someone. Spencer starts getting really close to her soon-to-be-stepbrother. As in bordering on a relationship close. Except he has some secret of his own (and she ends up blabbing it to his father).

Emily is trying to get a swim scholarship, but she's lying about what happened to her over the summer that made her take time off from swimming. It's the reason she spends all spring break sick. Quite an interesting story there.

Hanna is just going to cause some amount of trouble. Her dad is running for Senate. She's accepted as his daughter more now because the public responds better to her than to her stepsister Kate. However, she does a photo shoot that doesn't end quite the way she expects and it could jeopardize everything.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this continuation. I expected it to be one of those books that an author writes simply because their story has become a TV series. But this wasn't like that at all. These characters are still the same ones that Sara Shepard has been writing about for the previous 8 books. It also leaves open some questions about what happened, not only in Jamaica, but in the Poconos a year earlier. I quite enjoyed it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nervous Conditions


Yet another school read that I enjoyed. Well, mostly. It took me almost two days to feel that I was ready to blog about my feelings on this book. I was still processing all of the information, so I couldn't give an honest review right after I finished it. Now, I'm prepared.

This book is really interesting. It takes place in Zimbabwe in the 60s and 70s. Tambudzai, the narrator and main character, is from a poor African family. Her uncle is trying to increase the reputation of the family by making sure that someone from each branch of the family is educated and can bring in money to raise the family from poverty. Tambu's father is the only one of the siblings who is viewed as the disappointment.

Tambu begins the book rather bluntly by stating that she's not sad that her brother dies. It makes sense as you go through. While her brother was alive, he was going to the mission with his uncle to be educated. As a girl, Tambu's life was doomed to be as a wife and mother. She doesn't need to be educated for that. But when her brother dies from illness, she, as the next oldest, is raised up. She goes to the mission to be educated.

While she's there, she begins to really see the divide between African people and English people. She also sees how the educated ones like her uncle and his family are stuck in a weird in-between point. They are viewed as neither African nor English (white). Nyasha, Tambu's cousin, struggles with this. I feel that Nyasha's character is more representative of what females struggle with to this day - the need to be perfect, to be accepted, and to make their families proud of them.

I truly thought this book was a bit of a challenge. It wasn't the almost fluffy fiction that I normally read. Instead it was more raw and human. It was a struggle because I sometimes didn't want to read such raw emotion. But I did, and I'm glad of it.