Kim’s Review of Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

sldsAs I’ve said before, the third book in a trilogy is usually my least favorite.  This is mainly due to the fact that expectations become so high that it becomes extremely difficult to meet them, if not exceed them.  After reading the spectacular first two books in the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, Wither and Fever, I knew that the stakes would be just as high for her third and final book, Sever.

From Goodreads: With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

After reviewing many a suspense/thriller novel over the years, one of my favorite attributes of the genre is the plot twist.  I love a good plot twist.  There was no question that Sever fit in this category, as the plot twists came hard and fast.  When I thought I had a plot line figured out, DeStefano went in a whole new direction.  When I thought I knew what one character would do, a completely different character did it.  More than that, DeStefano was able to make these changes on the fly, making the plot seem like a jumbled puzzle that came together at the last second.  Even though the pace seemed frantic, the plot development was well-paced and the overarching storyline was moving along well, that is until I got to the end.  I felt as though there was enough time to bring the book to a great conclusion, but instead it felt rushed and abrupt.  Although it was the only fault I found with this book, it did put a damper on my feelings upon finishing.  Despite this, however, DeStefano should be lauded for her ability to create such a great ending piece for an amazing trilogy.  You can definitely count me in as a huge DeStefano groupie that will be eagerly awaiting her next series, The Internment Chronicles.  Book one is entitled Perfect Ruin.  Exciting!

4 out of 5 Stars

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (2013)
Hardcover 371 pages
ISBN: 9781442409095

The February Roundup!

February proved to be a month for catching up.  When January ended I was two books behind the pace I needed to meet my goal of 120 books for the year.  As of the end of February, I’m completely back on pace! Woo-hoo!! (I read 12 books in February, bringing my total to 19 for the year.)  Two things directly contributed to my ability to get back on pace:  1.) An INTENSE blizzard that wound up dumping 40″ of snow onto my town, making it the hardest hit in the tri-state area. 2.) The weeks I spent sick with a sinus infection and possible case of bronchitis.  Together, these two things equated out to a ton of time spent in the house and reading.

20130210_133339The blizzard was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed.  Todd’s car (a VW Passat) was completely covered in snow, so much so that we couldn’t even see it! It was super difficult to dig out.  Regular plow trucks were no match for the record-breaking amount of snow we had and kept blowing transmissions due to the weight and amount of snow they had to push.  Commercial construction trucks and the National Guard had to come in and help plow streets enough for emergency vehicles to pass through.  Plows couldn’t get to the apartment building that Todd and I live in for almost three days.  Thankfully we didn’t lose power and had enough heat, books, and snacks to keep us occupied.  It’s been almost three weeks since the storm hit and we still have MOUNDS of snow everywhere. We’ll be lucky if it’s melted by April.

On the book front, February was a month filled with releases I was eagerly awaiting.  I was able to read the final book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Sever, as well as Sarah MacLean’s newest addition to her Scoundrel’s series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.  Add to these Marie Force’s newest Gansett Island book, Waiting For Love, Rachel Van Dyken’s The Wolf’s Pursuit,  Nancy Kelley’s Loving Miss Darcyand Maya Banks’ Rush, and you can tell I did a lot of “new” reading.

Speaking of “new” reading… if you remember, last month I did a joint review of Beth Revis’ final book in the Across the Universe trilogy, Shades of Earth, with Sam.  Well, I found out that Beth was coming to Connecticut (WAHOO) with something called the “Breathless Reads” tour.  Penguin (her publisher) organized the tour for her and several other YA authors to come out to indie bookstores all across the US and speak about their books.  Luckily the bookstore that they came to in CT was R.J. Julia (my favorite)!  Todd and I jumped at the chance to attend and man are we happy we did.  Not only were we able to see Beth (and get our books signed), but we were able to listen to four other YA authors (Fiona Paul, Morgan Rhodes, Elizabeth Richards, and Jessica Spotswood) and get introduced to some new books we’re excited to tell you about.  Todd wrote more about the event here, as it was the first one he’d attended where he knew one of the authors.

Looking forward to March, I have lots of books to read (I’m asking myself why I’m even writing that sentence as it’s the story of my life each month.)  I’m hoping to get caught up on reviews over the next two weeks.  I have some GREAT reads to tell you about that you’ll hopefully find as interesting as I did!  Todd’s reading Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens, Adam’s reading Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel, Sam’s reading Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason, and Christine’s reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan.  So, lots of new and unique stuff coming at you from across the genre spectrum.

Until next time….happy reading!

What Are You Reading This February?

February has kicked off to a great start!  I’ve already completed five books for the month, with another 4 in progress.  I’m in process of finishing Sever (the third book in The Chemical Garden trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano, Dragonfly in Amber (the second in the Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon, Heading out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (this is my left over book from January) and Sons and Daughters (a Pride and Prejudice sequel) by Karen Wasylowski.  Upon finishing these four books I plan on beginning the audio version of Invisible Murder by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis.  I was lucky enough to get to meet them at a book signing they did in the US back in the fall and I’ve been dying to listen to this book.  Now it’s your turn! Tell me what’s currently got you hooked in the comments section below!

febbooks

New Year; New Challenges, the Third

This is my third New Year; New Challenges post and I have to tell you, I still get excited writing them.  Just knowing that I’m beginning another 365 day period of challenging myself to read an ass-ton of books excites me.  Since I completed the 110 books I set as my goal for 2012, I’ve decided to stick with tradition and add another 10 books to my goal for 2013.  Therefore, my starting goal for this year will be 120 books!  In case you missed all of the reading challenges I’ve signed up for (on top of my overall goal), you can click here to view my progress.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to reading (in no particular order) in 2013:

  1. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  2. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  3. Sever by Lauren DeStefano
  4. Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt
  5. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
  6. Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
  7. The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz

I know that this is a bit of a short list, but I’m hoping that as the year progresses, more new and exciting books will be announced from my favorite authors.  2012 was a great year for both new books and additions to series that I already loved, so I’m hoping that 2013 will be just as fun, if not more so!

As always, I encourage you to try your own reading challenges!  My biggest piece of advice is to start small.  There is nothing wrong with saying that you want to read 10 books this year.  Make a small goal, meet that goal, then increase it!  Tell me about your own goals, as well as the books you’re excited about reading, below.

2012 – A Year in Review

fireworksAnd with it being  January 1st, 2013 we can officially end 2012 and all its reading goals.  I’m very happy to say that I have succeeded in reading my 110 books for the year and exceeded that goal by a whopping 74 books!  With the success of this year I’ll up my reading goal again for 2013.  Keep an eye out for my annual New Year, New Challenges post for a breakdown of what I’m looking to accomplish.

2012 has definitely been a year of eclectic reading for me.  It’s difficult to pick my favorite books of the year since I read so many, but here is my best go:

  1. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
  2. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
  3. Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander
  4. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  5. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
  7. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  8. Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  9. In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener/The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
  10. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Damn. That was difficult.

My reading challenges wrap up is as follows: I once again blew through the Historical Fiction challenge (woot woot!).  I also succeeded in my first year participating in the Around the Stack challenge!  Now for the bad parts. The TBR challenge and the Audio challenge both got only one completed review each out of me.  I know I failed the audio challenge because of 1Q84 (AH SO LONG), plus my addiction of reading newer books killed any hope I had of finishing the TBR challenge.  A 50% completion rate for the challenges isn’t terrible, but I’d still liked to have completed 100%.

Even though it’s 2013 I still have some books to review that I finished in 2012, so keep an eye out for them.  You can also see a listing of EVERYTHING I read this year, including review links, here.

Well, there you go folks.  My 2012 year in review.  Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s and join me again tomorrow as we kick off a new year and new challenges!

#29 A Review of Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

With all the buzz recently regarding The Hunger Games movie adaptation, I felt that it was definitely appropriate to review what is fast becoming my favorite new dystopian series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy. (as a side note, if you haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet, do it!)  I’m always interested in new dystopian novels, and the premise plus the awesome cover art drew me into the first book in the series, Wither (see review here).  Naturally I had to continue on, so when book two, Fever, was published at the end of February I jumped at the chance to continue reading.

We are again thrust into the surreal world created by Lauren DeStefano where a genetic mishap ensures that women live to 20 and men live to 25.  We are reunited with Gabriel and Rhine as they make their escape from the mansion and the housemaster Vaughn.  Although one would hope that they would finally reach a safe haven after the terror of the first novel, it is not to be.  Gabriel and Rhine find themselves trapped in a carnival of sorts that employs a legion of young girls against their will.  Just when Rhine thinks that she is beginning to understand her situation and has Gabriel to help her, she is thrown into another period of chaos and terror that shakes her faith in the world in which they live.  Their only beacon of hope is Manhattan, where Rhine’s twin brother Rowan lives and can offer them shelter from the terrors they endure.  The only problem is in getting there.  What will happen to Rhine and Gabriel?  Will they ever be able to reach safety again?

WOW. Just……WOW.  Wither was stellar, leading me to have extremely high expectations for Fever.  I can 100% say that I was not disappointed at all.  Readers are given new locations and new horrors to deal with in this futuristic society that are just as bad as the ones Rhine and Gabriel left behind at the mansions.  I thought that DeStefano did a great job at continuing to bring us a world with multilayered, action packed conflicts.  Just when Rhine and Gabriel think that they’re on the path to freedom and safety, they’re thrust into a world that I think is worse than the one that they escaped from.  The carnival that they’re trapped in is hands down the creepiest location that we’ve seen yet in this series.  The fact that drugs are used to a. keep Gabriel in check, b. the girls of the carnival subdued to “perform”, and c. force Rhine and Gabriel to perform in cages together for the benefit of the crowd is quite sickening.  What makes the carnival so scary is the loss of free will.  Sure, there are times when others in the camp help aid in their attempts to escape, but the time spent there is frighteningly dark and DeStefano does a fantastic job at really getting this darkness right.

I really like the character development in this novel, but most especially with regard to Gabriel.  We only get to see him for small periods of time in Wither, so it was refreshing to learn more of his back story as well as see him grow as a person and a man in Fever.  Rhine, too, grows and learns that sometimes in order to protect the people around her, she must give in to those who make her life hell.  She becomes less selfish and more selfless in Fever, which greatly added to the respect that I have for her as a character and a heroine.  For those of you who are new to the series, I definitely recommend adding it to your to-read pile.  Frightening, fascinating, and completely unpredictable, The Chemical Garden Trilogy is definitely a series you need to jump on board with.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2012)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781442409071

Winner Announced in the Wither Giveaway!

One person has been chosen the winner in the Wither Giveaway!

Congratulations to: Mona who left a comment on March 10th for being the lucky winner!!

Please contact me with your mailing address by Friday March 23, 2012 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

#19 A Review of Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano + GIVEAWAY

Twitter is an amazing resource.  Not only does it allow me to connect with authors and other bloggers, but it gives me an opportunity to find out about books that are creating buzz in the literary world.  One such series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, was brought to my attention this way.  Everyone was talking about Fever, the second book in the trilogy, so much so that I ran out to my local Barnes and Noble (which coincidentally is Lauren DeStefano’s local B&N also!) and picked up signed copies of book one (Wither) and book two (Fever).  Fabulous decisions!

Imagine a world where the lifespan for a man is 25 years, while a woman’s is 20 years.  This is the world of Wither.  A world where a generation was genetically mutated in order to cure cancer.  The offspring of this “perfect” generation are the ones affected by this shortened lifespan.  Obviously, the social impact of this on society is enormous.  Crime is prevalent, women are sold into “marriages” that are little more than outright polygamy.  The population is flooded with orphans, and women are under constant pressure to produce more children to replace the shortened life-cycle of the rest of the population.

Rhine Ellery is one of these women, 16 years old, kidnapped, and newly married to a man named Linden.  Although she would like to hate him, Linden loves her with all his heart, and Rhine soon becomes intrigued by the world of magic and mystery that surrounds him.  To add to this, she must wade through the eccentric actions of her father-in-law, a doctor who hordes bodies in his basement to attempt to find a cure to the genetic problem.  As well as living with the fickle actions of her sister wives, she also must deal with her growing feelings for a servant named Gabriel and her quest to find her twin brother Rowan.  Now imagine dealing with all of this knowing that you have four years to live?  Will she be able to escape her “marriage’ and get back to her home in NYC?

I LOVE dystopian novels.  The worlds that are created within them are so incredibly exciting and captivating.  They fascinate me because of the way issues are raised that parallel current discussions in our society.  In Wither, the discussions bought to the forefront are over what kinds of cells should be used to eradicate disease as well as a discussion about genetically engineering children to be made to order.  Obviously this extreme doesn’t occur in our current society, but the underlying issues of gene manipulation and gene therapy apply in both cases.  These are issues that could spiral out of control very rapidly if left unchecked.  DeStefano does a great job at showcasing the extremes of these discussions, presenting both pros and cons, allowing the reader to decide for themselves which side they wanted to be on.

Besides the fantastic ethical questions that DeStefano raises about the science in the novel, she creates this world that is a cross between a high-tech holograph-heavy future and a dilapidated depression-era past.  It’s a unique combination and was written exquisitely and vividly.  Not only are the settings incredible, but the characters are as well.  Rhine is an absolute force to be reckoned with.  She doesn’t let anything stop her; she’s intuitive, smart, strong, quick-witted, and highly adaptive.  She finds a way to deal with any situation that she’s thrown into.  As counterparts to Rhine, Linden and Gabriel are each a different side of the same coin.  Where one is slightly shy and looking for comfort and love from Rhine (Linden), the other is aggressive and willing to do what he must for Rhine (Gabriel).  They both care/love for Rhine in their own ways, which made it really hard for me to pick a “team” to be on.  (If I HAD to choose though I think I’d pick Linden)

I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ENOUGH.  Make sure you have time when you sit down to read it…you won’t be putting it down until it’s finished.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my sixth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2011)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN:  9781442409057

Giveaway

One lucky person will have the opportunity to win their own copy of Wither by Lauren DeStefano.  Simply leave a comment below by midnight on Friday, March 16, 2012.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Saturday, March 17, 2012.  Giveaway open to residents of US and Canada only. Good luck!