Rummanah Aasi
  When I heard there was going to be a companion novel to the Wolves of Mercy series, I was ecstatic. I absolutely love this series with its fabulous writing and characters. After being disappointed by so many series finales this year, I really hoped Sinner would be just as good as the other books in the Wolves of Mercy series. And it is. Many thanks to Scholastic and Netgalley for an advanced readers copy of this book.

Description: Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

Review: Sinner is light on the paranormal, but fully concentrated on the nuisance of human relationships. Readers familiar with the Wolves of Mercy series know that Cole St. Clair is the bad-boy frontman of the band NARKOTIKA. He had it all: good looks, stardom, money, women until it went all wrong when he began spiraling down a self destructive path and for many people disappeared on the face of the Earth. Now the prodigal musician returns to LA and the spotlight. He is determined to live a clean life, a chance at redemption, and perhaps a chance at love and happiness with Isabel Culpeper.
  As Cole tries to reinvent himself he is pursued by reality queen Baby North of who wants to chronicle Cole's possible comeback or failure on her reality show as he produces his first album since the band's demise. In order to accept his past and move forward, Cole must deal with the skeletons lurking in his closet. I know many readers have complained about the inclusion of a reality show, but I thought this metaphor for Cole fit beautifully. Cole has always been an enigma to me. He has two separate personalities, one on the stage with fake pretense, oozing confidence and charm and the second real version of a frightened, lost, vulnerable boy. Stiefvater plays with both aspects of his personality really well. I really wished we had a soundtrack that went along with this book since music plays a huge part of
  Similarly Isabel Culpeper one who can be easily classified as an ice queen with her cold personality, becomes a three dimensional character once we see past her rough exterior. She, too, is trying to come to terms with her demons, grief and a nasty parent divorce. She rages to be heard and seen, terrified of opening herself up to Cole who can so easily win and break her heart. In order to heal, they both must reflect on what truly matters in life and whether or not they are worthy of happiness and love. Stiefvater's worthy companion novel to the "Wolves of Mercy Falls" series is brilliantly written. Her characters and their plight come to life. The alternating chapters from Cole's and Isabel's points of view not only drive the plot, but also capture the intensity and vulnerability of these deep, but flawed, characters. This powerful and compelling story is certain to be a hit with fans of the series and bring new readers who have yet to discover this fabulous series.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, underage drinking and drug use as well as allusion to sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Rummanah Aasi
  Revolution by Deborah Wiles is this year's National Book Award Finalist and soon to be on many best of the year selection lists for children's books. I really enjoyed reading Countdown, the first book in the Sixties trilogy which focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and look forward to reading Revolution which concentrates on one aspect of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Revolution is a great example of a really well written historical fiction novel. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded.  Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote.  They're calling it Freedom Summer.
  Meanwhile, Sunny can't help but feel like her house is being invaded, too.  She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe.  And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool -- where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

Review: In Wiles's second installment of the Sixties trilogy, Greenwood, Mississippi is resisting to change during the Freedom Summer of 1964 just like Sunny who is having a very hard time adjusting to her new stepmother and step-siblings. Readers are offered given two alternate viewpoints from very different worlds within the same Greenwood, one of the white and privileged who are worried about "invaders" who are descending upon the sleepy Southern city and causing trouble and the disadvantaged African Americans who are fighting for their basic civil rights.
  As expected Sunny's point of view is very provincial, concerning about her family drama and her reluctance of opening up to her stepmother, but soon her world view expands as she tries to make sense of the upheaval of her city. Meanwhile, Raymond, a black boy from Baptist Town (known among the white citizens as "Colored Town"), is becoming increasingly aware of all the places, especially the public pool and Leflore's movie theater, he is barred from attending due to Jim Crow laws. Sunny's story intersects with Raymond's as the movement and call to the right of vote amongst African Americans becomes stronger. We even see Jo Ellen, the older sister from Countdown, take a stand for equality and her beliefs despite the dangerous consequences of doing so.
  Revolution is a bit slow moving, mainly because there is so much additional resources included in this book such as song lyrics of the time, biblical verses, photographs, speeches, essays, and other ephemera immerse readers in one of the most important-and dangerous-moments during the Civil Rights Movement. Though Sunny seems to be our primary narrator, the additional information helps the reader get a more well rounded perspective of the community. Wiles does not shy away from teh ugliness of the time period as she includes primary source materials, including the text of a real and vile pamphlet created by KKK members. Revolution is a great pick for teachers looking to use historical fiction in their classroom. There is plenty to discuss and many connections to both English and Social Studies curriculums. 

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: English and Social Studies

Words of Caution: There is riot violence and racial slurs in the book. Recommended for strong Grade 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Crow by Barbara Wright, Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams
Rummanah Aasi
  I have read and enjoyed books by Lisa Schroeder. The Bridge from Me to You is her latest YA contemporary romance, which I really liked. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book.

Description: Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. 
  Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible--something to truly believe in.

Review: The Bridge from Me to You is a thoroughly enjoyable, fun contemporary romance full of hope. When Lauren moves to small-town Willow, Oregon from Seattle to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, she feels grateful but out of place and a burden. Lauren and her mother have had an unspecified falling out that led her to be kicked out of her home. Only Lauren knows what happened to cause the rift between her mother, but she would not rather talk about the incident despite her reoccurring nightmares about her younger brother. Colby is a local celebrity as a star football player on his high school team, but while he loves his team, he secretly dreams of escaping the pressure of his father's plans for him-after graduating in order to pursue his passion for bridges and become a civil engineer.
  I really loved both Lauren and Colby. When you first meet these characters you already have a preconceived notion about them, but I like how Schroeder surprises you with their character development. Lauren could have easily become an angry, angsty teen from a broken home, yet she is caring, compassionate, and struggling to do what is best for her as well as trying to repair her broken home. Like Lauren, Colby could have become the stereotypical jock who only cares about sports, but his passion for bridges is contagious and his loyalty to his friend who is terribly injured is admirable.
 I also really enjoyed watching the romance develop between Lauren and Colby. Although they hit it off immediately, their relationship takes time to grow and I thought their pacing was done quite well. Both characters had to develop a trust between one and another, and become friends once a potential relationship proves difficult.
  The book is written in alternating viewpoints, with Lauren's chapters unfolding in free verse and Colby's in prose. It seemed fitting for Lauren, who internalizes her emotions to express herself in verse whereas Colby needs more space to express himself. The Bridge from Me to You may not have a unique plot, but the characters are what makes this book shine. It is a thoughtful, straightforward, and fairly chaste romance between two kind, generous teens-one burdened by her past, one burdened by his future.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some mild language, scene of party with underage drinking, and suggestions to sex. Recommended for strong 7 grade readers and up.

If you like this book try: Dare to You by Katie McGarry, What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
Rummanah Aasi
 Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel that I recommend to many people who are either hesitant in reading a graphic novel or who are looking for a graphic novel for their child or younger sibling. I find Telgemeier's work is both visually appealing with it's large, colorful panels with clear dialogue as well as contains subjects that are very easy to relate to. Her latest graphic novel, Sisters, continues Telgemeier's trademark and is equally enjoyable as Smile. Many thanks to Scholastic and Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Review: Telgemeier has delivered another hit with a must-read follow-up to her graphic memoir Smile that is funny, poignant, and utterly relatable for anyone with siblings. This realistic graphic memoir tells the story of Raina; her sister, Amara; and her brother, Will, as they take a road trip with their mother from California to Colorado to join a family reunion. The focus as you may already know just from the graphic novel's title is on the mercurial relationship between Raina and Amara. Raina is embarking her teen years, longing to find a her own crew of friends and people who understand her. Amara is the precocious younger sister who is just as artistically talented as Raina. Amara is tuned in to the present, observant of her surroundings and is irritated by Raina's self-centered point of view.
    The author's narrative style is fresh and sharp, and the combination of well-paced and well-placed flashbacks pull the plot together, moving the story forward and helping readers understand the characters' point of view. I really like the use of colors on the pages that makes it easy to tell if a flashback or the present. Telgemeier captures the uneasiness of preadolescence in an effortless and uncanny way and turns tough subjects, such as parental marriage problems, into experiences with which readers can identify. These are all thing that make Telgemeier's graphic novels so easy to read and enjoyed by a wide variety of readers. Not only does the story relay the road trip's hijinks, but it also touches on what happens with the advent of a new sibling and what it means to be truly sisters. I'm already a big fan of Telgemeier and I always look forward to her next release.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Chiggers by Hope Larson
Rummanah Aasi
Sixth Grave was a game changer in the Charley Davidson series. A new revelation shook up all the characters, leaving the future uncertain and many questions left unanswered. Though we do get a few answers in Seventh Grave and No Body, we seem to be headed in a different direction.

Description: Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out Charley Davidson’s jugular and serve her body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and as she retraces his last steps she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancĂ© who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life. But all of that barely scratches the surface of her problems. Recent developments have forced her to become a responsible adult.  To conquer such a monumental task, she’s decided to start small. Really small. She gets a pet. But how can she save the world against the forces of evil when she can’t even keep a goldfish alive?
A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.
We’re doomed. 

Review: For six books in the Charley Davidson series we are told how powerful our favorite PI/Grim Reaper is but we never see these powers manifest until this book. Seventh Grave and No Body has a different tone than the other books in this series. While it still retains its trademark humor and the fantastic comradeship amongst its characters, tone is more serious forcing our heroine to become an adult.
  With a prophecy that reads like a riddle, it is hard to make sense of all the key players and their destiny. It seems every step we get closer to deciphering it, we are pushed back three steps. The Twelve Hellhounds whose presence sends chills down our spines just from their description make several appearances in this book making their threat very real to our cast of characters. I really liked how the suspense around them build and how they suddenly appeared on the pages when we least expect it. I have lots of questions about the hellhounds and I'm curious to learn more about them.
  The romance between Charley and Reyes grows stronger, however, they are both reluctant to openly communicate with one another, more out of vulnerability and fear than anything else. I have to say that when Charley and Reyes got into an argument, I would have to take Reyes side in admonishing Charley from diving head first in dangerous situations. I do enjoy, however, seeing this couple grow and try to work out their problems.
  There were really two highlights for me in this book besides Charley actually using and learning more about her grim reaper powers. One is the further character development of The Dealer, a slave demon from hell who Charley trusts implicitly and is slowly taken into her arsenal of friends. While I'm sure that The Dealer has good intentions, I do think he has other ulterior motives and I can't wait to find out more about him and his role in the big prophecy. The other big highlight was resolving what happened to Charley's father who was missing in the last book. I didn't see that plot line coming and I can't wait to see how Charley deals with that situation. Overall, I thought Seventh Grave and No Body is a solid addition of the Charley Davidson series and now we have to wait 6 months to reunite with Charley and her crew when the next book comes out. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, violence, and a couple of explicit sexual situations. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones (May 2015),
Accidental Friends series by Dakota Cassidy, Peper Martin series by Casey Daniels, Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson, and the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill
Rummanah Aasi
 The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan was one of the highly anticipated book release for this year. While it was a satisfying ending to a great series filled with mythology and demigods, I was expecting a bit more from it. Below is a spoiler free review of the book.

Description: Though the Greek and Roman crew members of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.
  The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.
   The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Review: With over 500 pages in length and an ominous title, I was a bit hesitant in reading The Blood of Olympus in fears that my favorite characters would meet their end. With so much plot that involves many characters, I highly suggest reading the Heroes of Olympus series from the beginning as Riordan doesn't fill the reader in with much background information. The story picks up right where it left us in The House of Hades. Time is not on the side for our demigods. With just 12 days to go until Gaea awakens fully on Aug. 1 and brings an end to the world as we know it, the Greek and Roman demigods must put their differences aside and work together to stop her.Aboard the Argo II, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo race to Athens for the final showdown. Meanwhile, Nico, Reyna, and Coach Hedge. 
  Each chapter is told from a different demigod's point of view, which keeps the pace, plot, and suspense moving. The book is filled with what Riordan is known for: comedic, action-packed encounters with deities most readers--and sometimes characters--have never heard of such as Nike, the Goddess of victory Nike. With each previous book in this series, we are given herculean obstacles that the characters face and in this book the real highlight are the characters growths of both Nico's and Reyna's arduous and emotional journeys from outcast loners to self-acceptance.
  What disappointed me the most in The Blood of Olympus is how anticlimactic it seemed. The blood chilling prophecy was resolved too easily in my opinion with convenient plot points. I also would have liked to have chapters from Percy and Annabeth, the stars of the series and well known to readers. The story's occasional ventures into romance are also a bit stilted and awkward, but fortunately they are brief. While the book ended on a good note, which might bring some peace and quiet to its characters, I was hoping it deliver a greater punch than it did. Overall, I enjoyed this installment but I didn't love it like the other books in the series.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are a lot more battle scenes in this book. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, Blackwell Pages series by K.L. Armstrong, The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh, Gods of Manhattan by Scot Mebus,
Rummanah Aasi
  It seems fitting to review Laurie Halse Anderson's latest novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory, in observance of Veterans Day. The book written about the difficulties some veterans face in assimilating back to civilian life after going off to war.

Description: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy's PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory is a compelling and well timed story about a family who struggles to hold itself together in the wake of war. Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, a decorated veteran, have returned to their small upstate New York hometown after years of so-called homeschooling and long-haul trucking. They have returned so that Hayley can have a typical senior year of high school and think about her post-high school future, but it's clear that Andy's untreated post traumatic stress disorder has made it impossible for him to make a living as a trucker.
  I really liked Haley as a character. She is forced to grow up and mature quickly into the role of a caretaker as her father's mental and physical health deteriorate. She has been a loner for so long, putting up defensive walls to prevent others from getting close to her in fears of her family's secret coming out that she is having a hard time to opening up to people who care about her including her sweet, bantering boyfriend Finn who wiggles his way into her heart. I also liked how the romance between Haley and Finn allowed Haley a chance to live a "normal teen" life and allowed some levity with the book's tough topic. Though there are many secondary characters in this book that are important, I wish they were fleshed out a bit more. For instance, we get hints that Finn has his own family problems as well as Gracie but I would have liked to know more.
 The book really shines in depicting the emotional torment of Andy as he tries to repress his agonizing memories during his four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and his failed attempts to self medicate himself with drugs and alcohol. We get to see first hand how debilitating PSTD can be and Anderson addresses the many problems such as physical recovery, grief and survivor's guilt, chemical dependency, panic attacks and suicidal tendencies--that veterans can face when trying to reintegrate. Despite my minor issues, The Impossible Knife of Memory is an important novel that honestly and deeply explores the lingering internal scars of war.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, scenes of drinking, and drug use as a way to self medicate. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller, Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
Rummanah Aasi

 I am very excited to be part of the Embers blog tour hosted by the lovely ladies, Jenny and Danny, of the Kismet Blog Touring. If you are a fan of angels and demons, then this book is right up your alley! There are several great giveaways accompanying this tour. One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card, another will receive a signed Temptation Series book set, including Temptation, Belonging & Forever, and ten lucky winners will receive an eCopy of EMBERS! Don't forget to enter the giveaways below the review, and please make sure to visit the other tour stops as well. Many thanks to Jenny and Danny from Kismet for organizing this great tour.

Description: There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them. And she may be the only hope mankind has as the rapture approaches and evils rises.
  Embers is an epic paranormal adventure about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she's immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt's boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember's exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she finds out that she's a Watcher, a descendant of angels. While Ember learns about her heritage, and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicably drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it is cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war, one that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She also might be one of the few champions who will make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.

Review: When I began reading Embers, I anticipated finding all the tropes of your typical YA romance. While those tropes of a girl discovering she is not wholly human, a bad boy who may have a golden heart, and a pending war on the horizon that said girl and bad boy will participate in hopes of saving their loves ones exist, Embers has a refreshing take on the whole angels and demons concept that I found really refreshing and that's what propelled me to read it.
   The world of Embers is large and strange, filled with creatures like shape shifters that are similar to what we encountered before and Watchers who we have not heard of until this book. Embers belongs to the latter, a young girl who is literally fueled by fire. Much to the awe of everyone she escaped unscathed from a horrible fiery crash that killed her parents. Ember is a likeable character from the start, who admirably is ready to fight for her beliefs and protect her loved ones at any cost. She is a leader with an immeasurable amount of power who is trying to understand her new role as a Watcher and a warrior in the End of Days. I really liked learning what powers that Embers possessed and I enjoyed watching her become more confident in her skills. 
   Besides Ember another intriguing albeit ambiguous character is Sawyer. I had a hard time trying to finalize my opinion of Sawyer. There were times when I sympathized with him when we learn of his long life and how he was forced to live his life as a Demon, but I was also irritated at his alpha male traits such as being possessive and obsessive about Ember. His struggle to keep a shred of his humanity was a constant source of tension, and his occasional slips into his dark nature, while rationalized and perhaps even necessary, was a bit hard to read and support.
  There were also many interesting secondary characters such as Ivan, Aunt Ila, and Horas that I wish were flushed out a bit more. I'm sure we will get to see and hear from them in the future volumes. They all had great back stories and I'm sure lots of stories to uncover.
   I was not a fan of the insta-romance between Ember and Sawyer. Though Ember did listen to the warning bells ringing in her head about Sawyer, I thought the progress of their relationship moved way too fast for my taste. I also wasn't really sure if Embers even wanted to be with Sawyer since her reasons to be with him were a bit unclear to me. I was really surprised that just after a few meetings with Sawyer, she was ready to take drastic steps for him. It was really hard for me to root for Ember and Sawyer, but luckily the romance didn't take away much from the story.
   Overall Embers was an enjoyable read if you would like to escape to a supernatural world where things are not always clear and definite. The ending left me with lots of questions and wondering what would happen next. I would definitely recommend this book to paranormal/supernatural romance fans.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, allusions to sex but no graphic details, some strong violence, and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Angelfell by Susan Ee, Shadows by Paula Weston

About Karen: A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
Find her at: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20th Unabridged Bookshelf & Book Briefs
Tuesday, October 21st A Thousand Words A Million Books & Books and Things
Wednesday, October 22nd Sweet Southern Home & Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews
Thursday, October 23rd the unofficial addiction book fan club & Becoming Books
Friday, October 24th A Dream Within A Dream & Becoming Books

Monday, October 27th The Avid Reader & Lost in Ever After
Tuesday, October 28th Lose Time Reading & So Bookalicious
Wednesday, October 29th Such a Novel Idea & Reading Addict
Thursday, October 30th Curling Up With A Good Book & Coming at YA
Friday, October 31st Actin' Up with Books & To Each Their Own Reviews
Monday, November 3rd GenGen's Book Blog & A Bookish Escape
Tuesday, November 4th Sassy Book Lovers & Bittersweet Enchantment
Wednesday, November 5th Nay's Pink Bookshelf & The Nocturnal Library
Thursday, November 6th The Book Faery Reviews & Bumbles and Fairy-Tales
Friday, November 7th Books in the Spotlight & Her Book Thoughts

Rummanah Aasi
 Like many people, I feel like I have been run over with the onslaught of political ads this election year. It is hard to remember that the right to vote, which we take for granted, was desperately fought for by many different people throughout history as demonstrated by Olivia Mead, the protagonist for Cat Winter's enthralling sophomore novel The Cure for Dreaming. Many thanks to Abrams and Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl--a suffragist--in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It's 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia's father, concerned that she's headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she's able to see people's true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she's drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

Review: Olivia Mead is a strong willed young women who thinks on her own and fully supports women's suffrage despite the growing opposition the topic in both her state of Oregon and in her own home. Her overbearing single father who rules the household with an iron first adamantly does not agree with Olivia and fears her 'rebellious' nature will further break down her family unit just like her selfish mother. After Olivia attends a pro-suffrage demonstration, her father hires handsome visiting hypnotist Henri Reverie to "teach her to accept the world the way it truly is…make her clearly understand the roles of men and women" -- and to squelch Livie's ability to argue. It was very hard to read this part of the book without your anger rising and wanting to jump inside the story and throat punch Olivia's father. Unfortunately, his view on women's rights are not in the minority.
  Luckily sympathetic and enigmatic Henri (who has his own reasons for taking the assignment) finds a loophole in Olivia's father's request, hypnotizing Olivia to see the way things are -- not accept them. Olivia now has the ability to discern peoples' true natures; for instance, unscrupulous men appear as vampires just like her favorite horror novel, Dracula. Her visions are as unsettling and surreal as nightmares, but I really liked how Olivia used these visions as her strengths rather than being scared of them. Winters does a great job in fluidly going back and forth with what is real and imaginary, which is appropriate of the story that features hypnotism and emotional manipulation.
  I also loved the inclusion of Dracula into the story, which at first glance doesn't really seem much of a connection until you begin to think about how the ideal women is described. The two main female characters of Dracula are discussed: the wanton Lucy who openly expresses her sexuality when she becomes a vampire and dies a gruesome death and the saintly, virginal, passive Mina who escapes the grasp of Dracula and evil. Olivia doesn't belong to either of these small boxes, but is constantly fighting against those like her father who want her to easily fit into labels. Along with Dracula, there are also other texts and famous quotes that provide the social and cultural context of the 1900s.
  I would definitely recommend Winter's book to anyone who believes historical fiction is boring. Winters combines the touch of paranormal along with historical facts to not only create an eerie environment, but an intriguing way to look at history.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is minor language, a scene of underage drinking, and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
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