Book Reviews

Something Wicked This Way Comes 
by Ray Bradbury

Everyone knows who Ray Bradbury is, if you've read Fahrenheit 451 in high school. Unfortunately, my class decided to skip that necessary reading and I've had to sift through these myself. Reading in leisure is the best way to do it anyway, so take that Coach Dobra! I picked up the title Something Wicked This Way Comes because the it just sounded awesome. I knew it had to be something twisted. I wasn't expecting the beauty of this story to come through so well. The language that Ray Bradbury used was gorgeous. Every sentence was like a complex painting with layers that blended in with one another so well that you could get lost in the colors. Bradbury is the envy of many fiction writers.

This novel is filled with an enchanting magic that can only be understood once you've read the first chapter of this novel. You jump right into this quaint little town, where neighbors have known each other for years, kids can play in the yard without worrying who will come by, and boys will be boys. Immediately a man selling weathervanes approaches two boys sitting together in the grass in front of their quaint small town homes. The salesman says there is a storm coming and lightning will strike one of the boys homes. Of course this would be a metaphor for the story. The boys are best friends--one born on midnight (Jim Nightshade), and the other in the light of the afternoon the previous day. They are light and dark, features to match their birth. Soon a dark presence comes to town.... a dark carnival.

Mr. Dark, characters Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade
Dystopian society. The macabre. Some magical elements that have a vague familiarity. All ingredients for the most sinister tale. You will love this book! Pick it up immediately and see what I mean. You can also get it on audiobook, and if you sign up for an audible account you get one free one to start. There is no excuse not to read. You have time. Whether it's in your car, as you're working out or by reading a page a day, you can do it!

Give it a read and then check out the movie (which I have yet to see for myself). Here's the trailer.

Let me know what you think of it. Happy reading kids!

Send your recommendations to me or tweet me @ElloHoneyBee

If you have just started the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver then you are in for a treat and this little dynamo novel, Pandemonium, is the second novel in the series. Don't worry, I won't spoil this one for you. But let me just say, that this one builds on the previous novel (Delirium) in a way that I wasn't sure it could. The series is built on such a wonderful concept that, even if you thought about it before, seems a little difficult to make real. Of course, Lauren Oliver makes it all come to life in the best sense.

I may give a few things away here, so if you haven't finished this novel.... stop reading here.

I mean it...

Not even if you're a little curious. (Really, don't).

Okay, for those of you who are reading this far down then you have finished the second novel and your mind is reeling with all of your worst fears about the characters. We thought, and Lena thought, that Alex was dead. Just when things are starting to pull themselves out of the clouds and into the sunshine for Lena, and she finds love again, Alex shows up. The resistance is growing strong and her mother makes a brief appearance. This novel honestly had me freaking out and everything I thought was going to happen, though I sort of wished it would but was way too scared to have happen, did happen. Holy hell, what a cliffhanger at the end of this novel. It was such a great read, full of action and dynamic characters.

The only thing that kind of threw me off here and there was the jumping around of the Now and Then sections. It wasn't that it was hard to follow, it just seemed like some things were missing at points. I know Oliver did this to keep up moving throughout the novel, sneaky, even though you would read it all the way through anyway.

The new Lena and the Lena of the before life are melting and mixing into one another. No matter what she has been through, she will always remain Lena. But will she be able to hold herself together and find it in herself to choose between her two loves and find her mother? Find out when you continue on to Requiem. I'll have that little baby done by this week for you guys. Happy reading!

Get a copy of Pandemonium here.

For those of you who are obsessed with the twenties and the amazing literature that came out of it, this novel will tip you headfirst into the time. The twenties were the golden age of the American expatriate in Paris, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, finding their literary voice and the core of their being.

The Great Gatsby was released only a couple of months ago and the reaction to the film was phenomenal. Book sales for The Great Gatsby rose like wild fire, awakening many to the literary genius that was F. Scott Fitzgerald. You may be new to the writer, or you vaguely remember glancing over one of his novels sometime or another without any clue as to who he was outside of his pages and without the stain of ink of his fingers. This novel will give you a nice fictional interpretation of the great F. Scott Fitzgerald and his family life leading up to his fame and glory of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, and the many other great works he published with some difficulty.

If you studied the pants off of his novels in college, the life of Scott Fitzgerald is not so foreign to you and you may have heard about his crazy wife that Hemingway hated and Scott couldn't live without. She was thought of as a distraction to his genius and the reason for his later drunken extravagance and eventual death.

The story of Zelda however, is never given to us in the perspective that we find in Z by Therese Anne Fowler. The novel is a work of fiction of course, but is obviously very well researched. The voice of Zelda is so perfectly aligned with the misunderstood mystery we are constantly presented with, that you feel a pang of sympathy for the slander that is often paired with her name.

We follow the Fitzgeralds throughout the beginning of their epic romance (the meeting much like Gatsby and Daisy), through the height of Scotts career, and down to the eventual misfortunes of their marriage. Through all of this, we are given an intimate portrait of what life may have been like for Zelda, before she met Scott, during her life with him and an allusion to her own talents in writing, her passion for ballet and the love of her child as fierce as her love for her husband.

We can see through this work that Zelda is given another alternative perspective in the way the world could view her instead of the negative light in which history has revealed her to be. This novel is an atonement in a way for society's misunderstanding of Zelda Fitzgerald and the great disastrous love of the couple.

I guarantee you will love this novel. I couldn't put it down and it rang true of absolutely every emotion, relationship and historical point in the characters lives. We meet all of the great literary characters of the 20's that were up and coming and it's an explosion of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast meets the film adaptation of Midnight in Paris. This is finally a tale from the female perspective that needed to be told. Get it. Now. It's a fantastic read for the summer. If you don't feel teary eyed at the end or feel the void of its absence when you close the cover, then you haven't invested yourself in the story.

Listen to an excerpt here.  Or purchase the book: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

This is another discovery that just popped off the shelves of the young adult section for me, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. The covers were very pretty but I hadn't heard anything about them so nothing ever jumped at me to pick them up. Never judge a book by its cover, right? Well, I saw the title pop up on a young adult readers list of 2013 so I decided to pick it up and give it a go. 

At first, the writing didn't blow me away to be honest, but as I got into the story after the first couple of chapters I fell into the writing style and understood the author a bit more. The first chapters in a novel are like shaking the authors hand and getting a little how do you do out of them. I fell in love with the characters and loved the strange take on love. It's a bit like a modern day Beauty and the Beast and Jacob and Bella from Twilight if Edward had never existed. A love story of girl and her wolf with his yellow eyes always watching from the woods in the winter months.

Sam and Grace are the main characters who develop a strange love at first sight thing for each other over a span of six years when he saved her from being attacked by the other not so sweet wolves. Grace is fascinated with the wolves and Sam just happens to be one of them until the summer comes and he can become human again because of the high temperatures. This is the first time he can meet Grace as himself, human and she can finally see her wolf in human form. 

Young love is so sweet in this novel and the strangeness of it just keeps you wanting to devour the pages. It's a weird by enjoyable read which is the best way to get hooked to a young adult novel. Check it out here and get a sneak peak before you buy and read the whole series if you can, I'm planning on it. 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

If you love The Hunger Games with it's strong female lead, then you will love this series. I picked up Divergent a few weeks ago when I attended a conversation at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC. The conversation was stock full of female young adult authors that intrigued me because it contained Lauren Oliver (interview and book review you will find on this blog) and was all about dystopian societies. I didn't know who Veronica Roth was, but she had this fun way about her that when she spoke about the plot of her Divergent series, I had to wonder what it was all about. I saw younger readers all around me leaning forward in their seats, teetering on the edge with wonder when she spoke. I went home, bought the novel and set it aside on my shelf.

It took me a bit to pick it up, but when I did it became a reward for everything I completed--I got to read a chapter or two. I tore through this novel like it was chocolate. At first the opening of Divergent with it's factions threw me for a moment when each was categorized by type of individual and values they harbored deep within. There were five factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Amity, and Candor. When each person turns sixteen, they are tested through simulation via a serum that will tell them which factions they should choose based on the performance in the simulation.

If you're Dauntless, you are a protector of the cities (factions). This group of people are tattooed, pierced, wear black clothing and are trained to fight; they are lethal and the bravest of all the factions. If you are Abnegation, you are selfless, wear plain gray clothing, do not consume in excess, want for nothing and care for nothing but caring for others and equality; the members in this faction are suited for political positions of responsibility. Erudite are the intellectuals that read books, wear blue and thick rimmed glasses (they may be too smart for their own good). Members of Candor are the truthful, open, sincere and do not spare feelings when asked for their opinions. Amity want peace and are the peace keepers--not so much fun, but not so bad either. 

These five factions are what make up the community of people in this place. You may grow up in one of them, be trained all of your life to conform to it's values, only to realize that you may not fit in and come your sixteenth birthday you will have a choice to leave. If you leave your faction is your family and your family will not converse with you again--you left them. Maybe you don't fit into any faction like most people do, maybe you're something else. Maybe you're (dare you speak the word) Divergent. 

The heroine is a sixteen year old girl of Abnegation, Beatrice Prior, that has a secret she must keep hidden that will bring her into dangerous situations. Beatrice decides that she has always felt different than the others in her faction, her parents, her brother and her friends. She cannot be selfless enough or stop looking at herself in the mirror. She feels the need to break free from her faction when her test results reveal something she had ever heard of, something unthinkable and undesirable to members of the five factions. When Beatrice chooses Dauntless she faces tests of bravery and skill she never knew she could overcome. She meets new people who challenge her character, she dares to think of herself in a way that goes against everything she was raised to be and meets someone who stirs a fire inside of her heart she never knew could exist. 

This book has a very matter of fact way about the writing that goes perfectly with the plot of the story and the character that Tris (Beatrice's new Dauntless name) becomes. It's mechanical (not in a bad way) and methodical in the way a soldier is methodical, but it's also innocent and sweet. With every new experience and character we are taken along with Tris into the sweet oblivion that is adolescence creeping awkwardly into adulthood. Veronica Roth does a wonderful job of making an average girl rise up, show her true self and go against every grain imaginable. What a wonderful novel for a young girl to read that will tell her she can go all the way with the best of them and make it. This is a must read. As a matter of fact, I picked up the second book tonight so we'll see what happens with Tris and the other Divergent characters. 

You had better get to reading this one, because it too (like so many young adult novels these days) is being made into a full-length feature film at this very moment. You don't want to be the only one who hasn't read it when it hits the silver screen. 

Insurgent.... #2 in the Divergent series.....

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I went to the Los Angeles Book Festival on April 24th, as many of you know, and I went to hear some young adult authors speak about their writing and such: Veronica Roth, Victoria Schwab, Lauren Oliver and Lissa Price. They all answered the questions they were asked but referred to a book I hadn't heard of that made them weep like little girls but couldn't put down. That book was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I thought I would just see what all the fuss was about and check out the audio book for something to listen to on the way to school and such. The audiobook consists of six or seven hours of dialogue, read by a particularly annunciating female voice that was pleasant enough so I listened--but I couldn't stop listening. 

Whenever reading young adult literature I am always pleasantly surprised by the effect that these things have on me when they're as complex as this one was. It's a common misconception that young adult fiction would only be strewn with vampiric romance from across eons of olympic spacial ferocities. As John Green put it in his afterward of the audiobook, "young adult readers are so much more interesting than adults. I don't really care about adults as readers--not as much as I care about the young adult mind". Well said. Adults don't read things in that same hungry way (even though I ate that novel up like a Thanksgiving side dish). Anyway, I digress. The novel dives into the hectic, sad, beautifully magnificent and lucid lives of sick kids caught in the thick of love even though they have no idea how much time they have. Cancer is a sad thing to witness and a difficult disease to battle as most of you know. 

Hazel & Augustus Waters
John Green did a wonderful job of capturing the intrinsic young adult mind in the ripeness of crisis, discovery and unadulterated opinion. It was honest, heart breakingly real and unforgettable. I wanted to devour it within myself, absorb what nutrients I could from it and be able to regurgitate the story from all character perspectives when I was through. This book will make you cry, laugh and think (most importantly). This book makes you think about your days on this earth and the innocence of first loves all over again. You can look at the simple pleasures in life and appreciate them through the eyes of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. 

“Maybe 'okay' will be our 'always” 

I don't want to summarize or give anything away, but the ending note was not exactly a conclusion or a rounded up tight ending, it was beautifully drawn own on a resonating note of beauty and heart felt words. 

Read it, read it and.... oh yes, read it!

Tweet me if you have @ellohoneybee or email me at 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

       I picked up Delirium a month and a half ago, thinking that the cover looked just like any other young adult series. Dreamlike, appealing, and worthy of my ten or so dollars.   I didn't buy it the first time I saw it because I wasn't sure I would have time to read it considering all of my other reading obligations. But, one of my friends mentioned this book and they just couldn't get enough of it so I thought I would give the first chapter a read. The first chapter was amazing giving us the background on this world where Amor Deliria Nervosa (the love disease) has been cured. What a twist, which caused me to read on.

       The novel opens smack dab in the middle of this dystopian landscape where the world is in the process of being cured of this emotionally driven train wreck of a disease. No one wants to feel the emotions or 'symptoms' that come with love since they are told that it will be the death of them. In truth, it often is the death of some of the most famous characters and figures in history. The cool thing about this story is that it gets you thinking, what would the world really be like if we didn't have the love problem?  Not that we wouldn't want to care for our immediate family or our spouses, but it may make life a little easier. Oftentimes, people do strange things when their in the thick of love; sometimes people turn on those their closest to when that love is threatened. Obviously, there are tangents afoot. Being placed into this area of confined space where minimal touching and the segregation of boys and girls from birth occurs, you're given pieces of this strange place until you can put it all together and accept it as an alternate reality where you can live. 

      As you take in the rules, how the cure fixes problems and how pairing of men and women is done, you too begin to accept how things are because the main character so ardently believes these things are right. Lena, the heroine, cannot wait for her cure date which happens when you're very close to eighteen. Evaluations are the big test that every young adult must pass with flying colors if they are to be placed higher socioeconomically. If you do well in school and pass all of your classes, you will most likely be allowed to attend college. Those who do not pass their boards will be married straight out of high school to someone of equal or lesser value. If you think about it, people should be paired off like this so that the divorce rates we're lowered. No one would feel inadequate or lesser than their pair because you have been matched. Take out the whole emotional bleeding hearts and you're good to go. 

      Although, this diseased free world does have some problems. Some people cannot be cured it seems and if you're not careful, you could be infected before your procedure is scheduled to take place. Things that cause the sickness to instill itself beneath your skin are: inappropriate music, certain items of literature, films, clothing, and select colors. When you put all of that in the same box, then the world seems pretty bleak.

      Lena's mother was one of those cured that couldn't be cured and her whole life (how people see her and what she is allowed to do) is scrutinized because her mother was damaged. Lena grew up thinking her mother killed herself for the love of her dead father. She has been told how disgusting love is and what it will do to her so she should never become like her mother before her. But, as they saying goes, you cannot know light without darkness, and Lena begins to understand with the help of a young guy named Alex, that maybe love isn't all that bad. 

    The writing is superbly done by Oliver, giving these detailed descriptions that touch upon nearly etherial. She describes a world we already know, with new eyes that have seen colors and heard sounds for the first time. There is never a dull moment in this novel and I dare you to read the next one. Thank God that all of the books are out and I don't have to wait because these cliff hangers of Lauren's could kill you. 

Have you read it? Tell us what you think here or tweet me @ellohoneybee on Twitter. 

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