Mini-reviews: Stay by Allie Larkin; Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

stayTitle: Stay
Author: Allie Larkin
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: Six years ago, Peter and I were having one of our weekly dinners at this little Italian restaurant just off campus.

Goodreads blurb: Savannah “Van” Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke since their first day of college. Six years later, Peter is marrying Van’s best friend, Janie. Loyal to a fault, Van dons her pumpkin-orange, maid-of- honor gown and stands up for the couple, struggling to hide her true feelings even when she couldn’t be more conspicuous. After the wedding, nursing her broken heart with a Rin Tin Tin marathon plus a vodka chaser, Van accidentally orders a German Shepherd puppy over the Internet. When “Joe” turns out to be a hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, Van is at the end of her rope-until she realizes that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.

Stay was entertaining, light, and funny – a perfect read over the holidays. I had a couple of issues with the predictability and some of character’s decisions didn’t seem to fit, but overall I was entertained.

beautifulredemptionTitle: Beautiful Redemption
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA paranormal fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Other people had flying dreams.

Goodreads blurb: Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?

Ethan Wate always dreamed of leaving the stifling Southern town of Gatlin.

But he never dreamt that finding love with Lena Duchannes would drive him away. Lena is a Caster girl whose supernatural powers unveiled a secretive and cursed side of Gatlin, so powerful it forced him to make a terrible sacrifice.

Now Ethan must find a way to return to Lena – and Gatlin – as she vows to do whatever it takes to get him back. Even if it means trusting old enemies or risking their loved ones’ lives.

This is one series I was sad to see the end of. Beautiful Redemption, book four, was a very strong ending, giving me everything I wanted. I was a bit disappointed that the two main characters spent a big portion of the book separated from each other, but it was necessary to the plot. If you’re looking for an addicting YA fantasy series in which all of the books have been released so that you can gobble them up one right after another, look no further. Plus, the movie version of the first book is coming out this year!

bookthiefTitle: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: YA historical fiction
Publisher: Listening Library
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Allan Corduner
Audiobook length: 13 hours and 56 minutes
First line: First the colors. Then the humans.

Goodreads blurb: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery….

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever they are to be found.

With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

I don’t know how I missed reviewing this book the first time I read it, but if any book deserves a full review, it is The Book Thief. Unfortunately, I finished it in the midst of the holiday rush, and so a mini-review will have to do. I assigned this to Noah for 8th grade literature, and so decided to listen to it on audio to refresh my memory on the discussion points. I don’t know how I had forgotten what a powerful, punch-in-the-gut book this is. Liesel is one of my favorite young female heroines, right up there with Anne-with-an-e and Claudia from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and the story of how this German girl weathers World War II is a must-read for everyone.

endersgameTitle: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: YA science fiction
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”

Goodreads blurb: In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

This is one of the books that always appears on lists of classic sci-fi or must-read sci-fi. I picked it up at Barnes & Noble for five bucks when I took Natalie on her 16th birthday outing, and sat in the coffee shop, completely engrossed, while she and her best friend gallivanted throughout the mall. Ender is an interesting character, one that at times I felt desperately sorry for, while at other times, I was a bit terrified of him. I’m very interested to see where the rest of the series goes.

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16 Responses to Mini-reviews: Stay by Allie Larkin; Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

  1. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I bought The Book Thief eons ago and haven’t read it yet. My son was shocked when he found out. I obviously need to try to get to it soon.

  2. Jeane says:

    Ender’s Game is one of my favorites, although I didn’t care as much for the rest of the series they’re all good stories. I like the cover version you show; it’s one I haven’t seen before.

  3. irene says:

    I read Book Thief awhile back and think it’s quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read. I gave me hope, that perhaps during war there are those that do not fit the stereo type we’ve assigned them. I have read Ender yet, but suppose I should, just not a genre I’m into. Great mini review, we after all just want to know weather you liked it or not.

  4. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    The Book Thief just swallowed me whole. And on audio! OMG it was so good and so devastating. And I really DO want to read that Garcia series. Like, BEFORE the movie comes out. But I am afraid it won’t happen. I have to sense of direction right now…I’m just floating from book to book.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – it was BRILLIANT on audio! The only thing I missed was seeing the drawings from the basement.

  5. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I loved The Book Thief. The first two in the Beautiful Series were just ok for me…not sure when I’ll continue it…and I should add Enders Game to my wishlist! Thanks for the mini reviews!

  6. I told myself I wasn’t going to read the Beautiful Creatures series but your review of the final book makes it all so tempting. Ugh. The Book Thief. Loved the book. I should try the audio of it. I bet it’s just as powerful and amazing.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy – the reader of The Book Thief was amazing – I really should have mentioned that in my review!

  7. Susan says:

    Yeah I coincidentally read The Book Thief and Ender’s Game at the end of last year too. I agree both were engaging. The pup on the cover of Stay looks very cute; being a dog person I wonder if I can resist this one … cheers

  8. Kailana says:

    I really must read The Book Thief!!