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Monday, June 30, 2014

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source: BEA 14
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Rating: A

Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
My motivation to read/blog/do almost anything besides watch Netflix has been somewhat non-existent for a few months. I feel like I belong in the music video of Summertime Sadness or something... pathetic, I know. Anyway, after picking up 5-10 different books and putting them down after the first chapter, I finally came across Life by Committee. I wasn't too optimistic, to be honest. After all, some of the other books I put down before LBC received RAVING reviews. If they weren't going to pull me out of my rut, why would LBC? And then... I read the first page... and then the second... and soon I was on a reading roller coaster that only went up, my friend. My emotions, however... well, that's a different story.

After reading LBC, I literally feel like I should tell every female I know to read it and learn something because way too many women have been the "side chick". I know, I know, every situation is different. Sometimes people fall in love while they're in a relationship with a different person... but in most cases, being the "side chick" is a very, very bad thing. I've never been the "side chick" and hell, I hope I never put myself in that situation, but Haydu writes in a way that made me feel like I was. If I ever had any temptation of going after a guy with a girlfriend (I didn't, FYI), well, you can say that is LONG GONE by now. While reading about Tabitha's journey, I had this pit in my stomach that I usually only feel during real-life situations that include heartbreak and loss. THAT is when you know you've struck gold. If an author can make me feel THAT close to a character, to the point of feeling like you're going through the same situation as them, well, that is gold.

Not only did LBC make me want to rage against people that made Tabitha (and myself) feel the way we did... but it also inspired me to be my bravest self and go for what I want in life... without being reckless and inconsiderate. Haydu showed me that life is too short to be anything but amazing. Haydu also showed me that it's okay to take chances in life because the end result might be life-changing.

This book is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I feel empowered, brave, and my fear of showing any form of vulnerability has lessened. If you want a book to pull you out of your rut, make you fee like you're alive and inspire you, then I completely recommend  and peer-pressure you to read Life by Committee.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: August 18, 2013
Source: Publisher
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Rating: A

Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s fa├žade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

I really wish that I got to read Escape from Eden sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, my classes got in the way this past semester. Eventually... winter break came and rescued me from my exams and semester long projects, which means I finally got to devour this little beauty. After finally reading Escape from Eden, I can honestly say it was nothing short of sensational.

I've always had a slight interest in cults and how the brainwashing typically comes into play. Why are these people so gullible? How can they really believe everything this cult leader is saying, no matter how bizarre it may be? Living in the world that Nadar created was mind-boggling in the best possible way. Sure, this novel is a work of fiction but after doing some research about cults this past semester, I've come to learn some of the events that occurred in  Escape from Eden aren't that far off from some real life events that have happened in the past. After learning that, well, I'm officially creeped out.

The first half-ish of Escape from Eden wasn't totally eventful but it was still completely compelling. You get to learn about the community, Edenton, that Mia and her family resides in. I found Mia to be relatable and authentic in her actions and was happy to root for her throughout the story. The romance in the story isn't the main focus and I enjoyed that, because much bigger and more important things were happening. For how much romance there is, it's done well and adds a little something to keep readers interested.

The second half-ish of Escape from Eden is shocking and sickening and I loved every minute of it. I kept catching myself trying to read ahead to see what happens, and then covering the rest of the page up to contain myself. I really respect the author and publisher for keeping Escape from Eden a standalone novel because I'm sure it could have easily been turned into another trilogy in the YA world. BUT, they kept it a standalone and it worked out perfectly.

If you couldn't already tell, I completely recommend this book to anyone interested in cults or even wanting an exciting read. If you decide to check it out, I'd love to know what you think! Leave a comment down below and let me know your thoughts.