Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Book Review: “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I was immediately drawn into the story and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I’m very excited about the fact that there are three more books in this series.

The book opens up on Thomas finding himself in an elevator going up. He has no idea how he got there and when the elevator reaches the top he is pulled out by a group of boys. His introduction is rough, “Ain’t got time to be nice, Greenbean. Old life’s over, new life’s begun. Learn the rules quick, listen, don’t talk. You get me?” (The Maze Runner, pg 10). Thomas is thrust into this new world that he knows nothing about and the majority of the guys do not have the time or the patience to explain how things are. He is lucky if he has more than one question answered at a time. For the most part, all of his questions go unanswered.

One thing that is quickly determined is that Thomas’s memory is incomplete – and so are all the others in the Glade. “His memory loss was strange. He mostly remembered the workings of the world – but emptied of specifics, faces, names. Like a book completely intact but missing one word in every dozen, making it a miserable and confusing read. He didn’t even know his age.” (The Maze Runner, pg 15). I found this to be a very interesting and curious part of the book. Thomas questions why he would have some memories and not all of them and I was right there with him wondering the same thing. Although questions about the world definitely pop up, there are a lot more questions about the life that Thomas finds himself in after the elevator. The place he is in is called The Glade and it is in the center of a maze. There are walls that close at night so that the maze is inaccessible to the boys in The Glade. This goes two ways as we learn that there are some horrible things in the maze and with the walls closing at night they are protected from them.

There is a lot going on in this book and I don’t want to give anything away. I will reiterate that this is quite the page-turner. I think that James Dashner’s ability to develop characters was impressive, especially given the fact that the boys all had significant memory loss. He definitely kept things interesting.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think it was a really fun read. It starts off kind of light and then immediately develops into an exciting rollercoaster of a read. Part of the fun was being very much in the dark about what was happening just as the characters were. I enjoyed learning about the world right along side Thomas. I am really looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Side note: the book explains a lot of what is happening whereas the movie just fast-forwards through everything. I didn’t like the movie very much because there is a lot that was just skipped over, leaving the audience that hadn’t read the book very confused. It was a poor adaptation. Save yourself the struggle and read the book!

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Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Sixth Book Review: “Say You Will” by Kate Perry

“Say You Will” by Kate Perry is a book that I expected to be a trashy romance novel and little else. I am fairly certain that the book was one I got for free and therefore I didn’t expect much of anything from it. Perhaps a bit of entertainment. So it’s easy to say that I went into the book with little to no expectations. I ended up being rather surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The book “Say You Will” follows Rosalind Summerhill as she returns to England for her father’s funeral. It quickly becomes clear that none of the family believe that the man of the house was a good guy in any sense. Rosalind and her sisters, along with her mother and the housekeeper, all showed this to be their opinion at one point or another. Early on we find out that a large part of Reginald Summerhill’s disappointments in life was that he only had daughters and as such his title was passed onto a distant relative.

Nearly as soon as we discover Rosalind’s distaste for her father we learn that she also was not exactly a doting daughter for her mother either. “At one time, she’d have done anything to connect to her mother, but she’d given up on that dream years ago. You could only beat your head against a stone wall for so long.” (Say You Will, pg 9). I liked this quote because it portrayed well how Rosalind feels about her mother. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy her or want to be around her; it was simply that she felt neglected and unwanted by her. In some ways, I think that would be worse. Her mother was certainly a character, that’s for sure. “We haven’t had money in a long time, thanks to Reginald’s poor decisions, but if I have control over everything else, the last laugh is mine, and that’s something, isn’t it?” (Say You Will, pg 25).

Amidst all the family drama that Rosalind finds herself once again immersed in, there is also a new distraction. Rosalind meets Nick and it quickly becomes clear why I thought this would be a trashy romance novel. “Instinct told him to run away, only his feet were going nowhere.” (Say You Will, pg 41). The way that Nick seems to feel about Rosalind right away I rolled my eyes at. As the reader, we know that Nick is being deceptive towards her since his sister Summer, is another of Reginald Summerhill’s daughters. Luckily Nick is adopted; otherwise there would have been a real ick factor there. But nevertheless, we know that Nick is not being truthful with Rosalind from the beginning and the deeper his feelings grow, the more tangled up in his lies he becomes.

While this whole situation is developing, the story goes back and forth with one of Summer’s friends, Em Shepherd. She works as a receptionist at a law firm. One of the guys that works there she has the hots for. Instead of giving into her desires, Em focuses on a guy that she considers to be safe, one she can see herself building a life with. “Just thinking about him gave her a warm feeling, like being wrapped in flannel pajamas and drinking hot chocolate from a mug with a cat on it.” (Say You Will, pg 57). I liked this quote a lot. Because really, it just is the perfect picture of what a crazy cat lady would do. Not someone in love. But that is how Em is. She wants a safe guy. I thought that although Em was an interesting character, she was a bit underdeveloped. We learn her backstory and it makes it clearer why she behaves the way she does…but overall the book wouldn’t have been that much different if she was completely eliminated from the story. I kind of feel like if there is going to be a secondary character to share narration of the story that they should be important. I did not feel like Em fulfilled that.

Overall, I ended up being surprised by how much I enjoyed “Say You Will”. It was predictable, sure. It was right along the boarder of being trashy romance…but I found myself caring about what happened between Rosalind and Nick and what happened with the Summerhill girls in general. I think there were a lot of good thoughts that went into this novel. There was one quote that I enjoyed very much. “She liked having the door opened for her. It was probably very un-feminist of her, but she didn’t care. It had nothing to do with needing someone to help her and everything to do with someone showing he cared for her, the way a mother should care for her child.” (Say You Will, pg 203). This could cause me to go off on a rant… but I’ll just say that there really is nothing wrong with wanting a chivalrous guy around sometimes.

Would I recommend this book? Not to most people, no. I think it was a fun read, but it was my backup book for months. I probably could have read it in a much shorter time period were it my main book, but it never seemed important enough to be considered my main book. So I would read it a few pages at a time and I enjoyed it well enough. I did like the idea of the Summerhill sisters and I believe there are more books revolving around them. But I don’t feel overwhelmingly compelled to get my hands on those books. Kate Perry is an adequate writer, but not one that I will actively seek out in the future.

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Book Review: “Falling” by Christopher Pike

I first fell in love with murder mysteries when I was a kid and I picked up one of Christopher Pike’s young adult novels. I love his writing and the suspense he is able to create. “Falling” by Christopher Pike is no exception – it is a crazy rollercoaster of a read with non-stop action.

In “Falling” there are two main characters, Matt Connor and Kelly Feinman. Matt finds himself heartbroken and in his desperation puts together a plan to fake his own death and ruin Amy’s life, Amy being the girl who broke his heart. “The plan was intricate but simple. Pain in exchange for pain. And no Matt Connor left alive to take the blame.” (Falling, pg 29). Kelly Feinman is an FBI profiler turned agent that is finding it hard to follow the rules. “She had the same rationalization for her secrecy – she was chasing a wild lead, nothing more. Yet she was finally able to admit to herself that she was emotionally ill-equipped to be an FBI agent. She resented the chain of command. She wanted to be the boss. Worse, she wanted to be the hero.” (Falling, pg 187). After Matt carries out his plan, Kelly is brought in to solve the mystery and soon finds herself sympathizing with the bad guy.

I don’t want to give away too much, there are so many twists and turns in “Falling” and it really keeps you guessing the whole way though. This is the second time I had read it and (happily) had forgotten most of the book so it was just as suspenseful a read as the first time around. Christopher Pike does an amazing job developing his characters and creating people that you can’t help but relate to, even though you know that they’re in the wrong. It is so rare for him to create a character that is all good or all bad. The lines are blurry in his novels – the good guy sometimes turns down a dark path and the bad guy will sometimes show an unusual amount of kindness or selflessness. That is part of why his books are so addictive and so enjoyable. You never know who is going to come out on top and who is going to surprise you.

I found Amy as a character to be really interesting. She betrays Matt in the beginning, discarding him like he never meant anything to her. Then she turns around and marries another guy. Matt soon discovers that she is pregnant and by the looks of things, was pregnant before she dumped him. Instead of letting it go, Matt is driven to revenge for the pain that she caused him. But at the first moment when he has the possibility of letting her back into his life, he jumps at it. Her ability to manipulate everyone around her is impressive and sick. She breathes lies. She uses everyone to her advantage, not caring about repercussions. Even though Matt knows she is bad for him he is pulled back under her spell. “It was almost as if he heard her for the first time, and he knew she was telling him the truth. More truth than she had ever told him before. Yet her sincerity did not entirely sooth him. The devil knew when it was wise to tell the truth. Amy was honest when she was forced to be, or when it suited her.” (Falling, pg 203). His self-awareness is interesting when it comes to Amy. He knew and understood that she was using him and still could not find the strength to pull away from her. “One day she would cut off his dick and he would apologize. She used guilt as easily as she breathed. But it was not as if he was whipped. At least that’s what he told himself.” (Falling, pg 216). I liked this quote because it really highlights how conflicted Matt is when it comes to Amy. He can see that she is bad for him, sees that she is poison and that no matter what she does he will apologize like he is in the wrong. Matt and Amy’s relationship is completely fucked up; there is no getting around that.

The other main character, Kelly the FBI agent is a very interesting study too. Kelly stumbled into her career at the FBI after doing some consulting work for the bureau. She quickly found herself addicted to the life and everything that came with it, much to the disappointment of her family. Her headstrong attitude and her impatience for the political side of her work led Kelly to a major fuckup that almost took her life. Still getting back on her feet, Kelly’s husband leaves her for another woman. The betrayal that she felt when her husband left her is parallel to how Matt felt when Amy betrayed him. That is part of the reason that she is not only able to relate to his plight but sympathize with it. She gives her husband a powerful speech at one point that I feel represents so well how both Matt and Kelly feel as the wronged parties. “When it comes to betrayal there’s no such thing as maturity. It’s too basic a violation. You hurt me as bad as a human being can be hurt. At least the Acid Man was honest with me when he poured that stuff on my belly. He just wanted to torture me to death. There was a beginning and an end to his crime. But what you did to me has no end. It eats me night and day. You talk about how much happier you were when I was in your life. I have been left to live the dark side of that equation. I can only think back to when I wasn’t in pain all the time. I can’t think about happiness, not at all. That’s a luxury you stole from me.” (Falling, pg 246). I loved this speech; I thought it really shed light on the pain of betrayal.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – it is such a good read. It’s one of those books that makes your heart race and your fingers clench around the book moving it closer and closer to your face because you cannot wait to read what happens next. “Falling” is such a good read and a great way to be introduced to Christopher Pike for any that haven’t read his work before. It’s probably not something you should pick up if you have any responsibilities though. Putting down “Falling” is next to impossible; it really is a great read.

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Fourth Book Review: “The Girl in the Converse Shoes” by Yaritza Garcia

“The Girl in the Converse Shoes” by Yaritza Garcia is a short story that I got for free. Although I used to avoid short stories at all costs, I’ve come to realize that they can be a great way to get a taste of an author without investing a ton of time and/or money in them. To be honest, the reason I picked this story is because the cover has pink converse shoes on it with a background of pink. It’s my favorite color and sometimes I really do judge a book by its cover. (I know it’s wrong but I do it anyway).

Earlier I finished the other book that I was reading on iBooks, so I opened this up knowing it was a short story. I didn’t realize just how short this would be. This short story was ten pages; ten pages on my iPhone. I finished this short story in about five minutes. To be fair, it does state on the title page ‘A Flash Fiction Story’ after the title. I have never heard of such a thing, but short stories are already short enough, we don’t need an abridged short story.

I’m not quite sure how to talk about ten pages without giving away the plot, but I will do my best. The main character Miles finds himself at a party that he didn’t want to go to because his friends dragged him there. At the party, his friends soon go off and leave him alone. Miles is made fun of for not being in costume as he is attending a Halloween party. Eventually he works his way outside, takes off his glasses to clean them, and a girl comes up and kisses him. Miles is apparently very blind and he doesn’t see whom it was that kissed him except for the fact that she had long blonde hair and pink converse shoes. The rest of the story is dedicated to him searching all the girls at school to find out which one is wearing pink converse.

It was a cute story, almost Cinderella-esc with the shoes, but it was FAR too short. There was zero character development. There are two characters with names, one of which is the main character. We never learn the two friends names or any of the people that tease Miles. It just fell short in so many ways.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely not; even for a short story it was far too short. There was zero character development and the only reason I was able to stay interested long enough to finish the book was because it was ten pages on my iPhone. The tiny taste I got of the author’s writing made me feel bad that they even put this book out there. There was potential there, but the ten page story did not display anything worthwhile and I will not be picking up another work by this author.

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighty-Third Book Review: “Killing Floor” by Lee Child

“Killing Floor” by Lee Child is the first book in the Jack Reacher novels. Once I realized that one of my favorite authors loves these books, I was determined to get ahold of them. I was not disappointed. I read “Killing Floor” by Lee Child in a day and a half and that was only because I had work to do and couldn’t read nonstop. I have now learned not to read these books if I don’t have the time to devote to them. I was hooked on the first page.

Jack Reacher we come to learn has been wandering the country for six months after being discharged from the military. He doesn’t have a home, doesn’t carry ID, and has no credit cards, no bills, and no possessions except for the clothes on his back. When he needs a new shirt, he goes to the thrift store and picks one up. He’s smart; he’s inquisitive – but only after being dragged into things. He wants to just be left alone and in “Killing Floor” he realizes very quickly that his wish will not be granted. The book starts off with him sitting in a diner eating breakfast when practically all the cops in the town show up to arrest him. He keeps his cools as best as he can when being arrested. “Again I didn’t respond. Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed.” (Killing Floor, pg 3). There has been a murder in the quiet town and as the man with no home, Reacher finds himself the main suspect in the investigation.

Things moved very quickly in “Killing Floor”. It was quite a page-turner. It was one of those books that made your heart race as you read it, you find yourself so eager to learn what happens next that you do whatever you can to avoid having to stop reading. After being arrested and the whole mess that stems from that, Reacher realizes that something seriously huge is going on in the town he happened upon. This is reiterated when someone else turns up brutally murdered. “…there’s no point in spectacular work unless it serves a purpose. The threat of it beforehand works on the guy himself. It had certainly worked on Hubble. He had taken a lot of notice of it. That’s the point of a threat. But to carry out something like that has a different point. A different purpose. Carrying it out is not about the guy himself. It’s about backing up the threat against the next guy in line. It says, see what we did to that other guy? That’s what we could do to you.” (Killing Floor, pg 134). The investigator inside him cannot help but try to solve the puzzle of what is going on in the town, especially once he learns whom the first victim was.

Jack Reacher is a very intense character. His reactions to the whole situation in the town are cold, distant, detached. But it is this mindset and the physical abilities that he possesses that help him stay alive. “In an ambush situation, waiting is what wins the battle. If the other guy is wary, he’ll come early or late. When he figures you won’t be expecting him. So however early he might make it, you’ve got to be ready earlier. However late he might leave it, you’ve got to wait it out. You wait in a kind of trance. You need infinite patience. No use fretting or worrying. You just wait. Doing nothing, thinking nothing, burning no energy. Then you burst into action. After an hour, five hours, a day, a week. Waiting is a skill like anything else.” (Killing Floor, pg 314). I really liked this quote. To be honest, waiting is not a skill that I possess. But it has never crossed my mind how valuable it can be.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – it was such a good read and quite a page-turner. I think that Lee Child is highly skilled at hooking his readers early on and keeping them interested. I couldn’t tear myself away from the book. It is probably not a book that you should pick up if you have anything pressing in your life that will prevent you from reading the entire book in one sitting, but other than that I think that a wide range of people would really enjoy this book. I am already drooling in anticipation wondering what will happen in the next book. Luckily, I have the first eighteen books of the series in my possession. So I will be covered for at least a few weeks.