Friday, September 30, 2011

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

A promise.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceaƱera.

Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience. (from GoodReads)

I was intrigued by the synopis of Illegal because I think illegal immigration is an issue that divides a lot of people and always ends up being the subject of every presidential debate. Regardless of your views on this important topic, it's always good to read about the people who are affected by this the most - the actual immigrants.

I was glad that Bettina Restrepo decided to address this issue in a YA novel, but I think the execution could have been better. The writing was really easy and the story was fast; I think I read this in about a day. I loved the addition of Spanish words into the story, especially since I'm minoring in Spanish. There is a handy glossary in the back but the few times I needed it the word I wanted wasn't there, which was strange.

The book is really short and I wish the author had took more time (and pages) to really delve into the emotions and feelings of these characters. Everything was distant and I didn't really feel much during high emotion points, like when Nora and her mom are crossing the border. I thought there could have been more action because it seems pretty dangerous but the book made it sound like it was nothing to get into the United States.

Like I said before, the plot moved very quickly and things almost seem too easy for the characters. Nora and her mom find an apartment and a job within a day of arriving in a foreign country and they seem relatively well-off; there's some mention of only having one pair of shoes but other than that Nora is fed and housed and pretty well taken care of.

I was hoping for the novel to be more gritty but I think Illegal might be geared towards younger readers. Regardless, there was still an element of hope and perseverance that should resonate with any age group. So if you are interested in this topic go ahead and read Illegal, but it's not the most compelling of reads.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10
FTC: sent to me from the author.

2011/Katherine Tegen Books/256 pages.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Anya Balachine has had a tough life growing up in crime-ridden New York City. The year is 2083, and the prohibition on chocolate and caffeine, along with rations on water, food, and paper, has made her Russian Mafiya family very influential in the city. But since both of Anya's parents are dead due to their Mob ties, Anya want nothing to do with the family business of selling black market chocolate. This is especially important when she becomes friends (and maybe something more) with Win, the son of the Assistant District Attorney and later when she is accused of poisoning her family's chocolate supply. Can Anya ever separate herself from her background, or is she destined to lead the Balachine regime like her father?

I really liked All These Thing I've Done. The novel was set in the future, but it wasn't quite a dystopian because it was very similar to today. In that sense, it definitely made the story more relatable.

Even though All These Things I've Done is set seventy years in the future, there weren't really any new technologies. It was kinda like time just stood still in that regard. The only difference between our world and this world is that there are a lot of rations and caffeine and chocolate are contraband. I was disappointed that All These Things I've Done did not explain why and how these things became illegal. And even though it was supposedly really hard to get certain items, like clothing and fruit, Anya and her friends had no trouble getting anything, which made the whole issue seem a little pointless.

I loved the fact that New York City is overrun by organized crime and corruptness (for the story, that is, not in real life). It reminded me a lot of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight because you have the DA who's trying to fix everything but it's not really working. It was very Al Capone-esque, which is pretty awesome. My favorite parts of the book was when Anya interacts with her crime family, in which her late father was the head of. Instead of alcohol, however, the family deals in black market chocolate. The front of the hardcover even looks like a chocolate bar with all the ridges, it's pretty cool.

Anya was a strong and capable heroine with a strict moral code. She would do anything to help her immediate family, which consists of her younger sister Natty, her older (and brain damaged) brother Leo and dying grandmother. Anya puts her family before herself so many times; it was nice to see such a caring and unselfish character. I know there's a sequel and I really hope that Anya takes over the family business. She's the heir apparent and would do such good job leading. Maybe she could add some ethics to the crime element?

The only thing Anya does for herself throughout All These Things I've Done is start a relationship with Win, who also happens to be the Assistant DA's son. They aren't supposed to be together, but the star-crossed lovers thing plays out for about two seconds and then they are a couple. I liked Win a lot, but the relationship felt pretty distant and even a bit rushed: they are "in love" fairly quickly and without the emotions I would like to see beforehand.

Even though I'm not dying to read the sequel, I would like to see what happens next. The crime family situation really appealed to me for some reason so I think I would pick up the book for that. Hopefully, Anya becomes the crime boss (which would be awesome) because that would really add a lot to the story and make it super interesting (a 17-year old girl a crime boss? Nothing could go wrong there).

By the way, does anyone else think of the song, "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers when they see the title of this book? I couldn't stop singing it while reading.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from Flamingnet Review program

2011/Farrar, Straus and Giroux/354 pages.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 53

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police — instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior — instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back.

17-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved. (from GoodReads)

Love dystopians, obviously, and I like the romantic element to the story! Hopefully there will be some good tension between Chase and Ember ... and some excellent world-building too. Can't wait to see how this turns out! Article 5 will be released February 14, 2012.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - 2

Top Ten Tuesday was a meme started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers to make fun lists!

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

1. Heist Society by Ally Carter
This book amazed me after I randomly picked it up at the library. Great plot, smart heroine and lots of adventure make this a definite must-read.

2. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This was probably the funniest book I've ever read and now with the stress of school I really need something to laugh about.

3. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Yes, another Leila Sales book, because she is awesome. I haven't officially reviewed this yet, but it was so good! It was one of those books I wanted to immediately reread after I finished it but alas, I didn't get a chance to. It's super funny and has a great plot so check it out!

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
After reading Jane by April Lindner, it reaffirmed my love of this classic. Jane Eyre is definitely one of my favorite books. It's pretty long so I don't know when I'll actually get to reread this, but hopefully it's soon.

5. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
I was very intrigued by the love triangle and werewolf lore so I would love to read this again. I still can't believe I haven't read the sequel yet ... what is wrong with me?

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This one doesn't need an explanation - just an overall great book. And there's a movie coming out starring my man, Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie will give me an excuse to reread this classic.

7. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This is now one of my favorite dystopian novels! Very well-written with a stark setting. I can't wait for the sequel, either.

8. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
What a great book! But since it took me months to read and is 1000 pages long I don't think this one is going to be reread for a very long time. I'll content myself with watching the movie :)

9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I need more St. Clair in my life, pronto. Must reread as soon as possible.

10. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
I've only read Mockingjay once and that's a problem. I also need to reread The Hunger Games before the movie comes out (!!!!). I am already excited and we have to wait until March.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Violet in Private by Melissa Walker

Violet Greenfield knows she’s supposed to be a super-confident nineteen-year-old because she'’s done runway shows in New York and internationally. But now that she’s finally headed to college, she’s afraid she’'ll turn back into that girl who blended into the walls in high school. Vassar is just two hours away from New York City–– but her friends in fashion think she’s crazy to stop modeling now. And her old friend Roger is there...but things have been weird ever since they kissed. The real question is if she’s not going to be “Violet on the Runway” anymore...who is she? (from GoodReads)

By the end I really started enjoying these Violet books and I'm sad to say good-bye. Violet in Private is a continuation of Violet's life as a runway model, but this time she's in college, so she's trying to juggle school, modeling, an internship, friends, and body image issues. There's a lot on her plate, but Violet manages magnificiently.

I love that Violet is not afraid to stand up for herself, and doesn't need the fame and fortune that modeling brings like some of the other girls. Violet is ready to quit the fashion world and no one can understand that. But Violet is very down-to-earth, and she wants a normal life. I love that about her. She also says how she likes when people see her intelligence and brain and not just her pretty face - what a great message!

A lot of Violet in Private was the relationship mess with her best friend Roger. Violet's in love with him but he's dating another girl, which is the classic relationship drama. I thought their interactions were very well-written, and I like that the ending wasn't traditionally happy. It was open-ended which made me want to read more! I don't know if Melissa Walker is planning anymore Violet books, but I would definitely read them!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: bought.

2008/Berkley Trade/224 pages.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Violet by Design by Melissa Walker

I was going to get out of the modeling business for good.

But now I'm having trouble sticking with my decision. After all, if it wasn't for modeling, I might still be the invisible wallflower. Hot guys like Paulo wouldn't be interested in me. And I'd never have seen Brazil or Spain-and now France! On the other hand...

I also wouldn't have to choose between my best friend from home and my agent's shrill demands. Or anguish over my body the way only runway models do. Not to mention all this trouble I'm getting into for speaking out in the press about eating disorders.

Maybe the life of an international model isn't for me. But if I quit for good, I might always wonder...What if? (from GoodReads)

I'm really starting to like these Violet books. They are just too cute, and I love Violet's voice. This is probably gonna be really short because Violet by Design is pretty much the same as Violet on the Runway in terms of writing, it's just a continuation of the plot. Except instead of modeling in New York Violet is now an international supermodel, walking shows in Brazil, Spain and France. I am so jealous of Violet's travel adventures because I would love to be able to visit those places. Violet also starts speaking out about the incredible standards models are held to, which I think is great. Also, I'm loving the relationship potential with her best friend Roger - so cute! Sorry this is probably the shortest review ever but if you enjoyed Violet on the Runway you will definitely like Violet by Design! On to the next book....

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: bought.

2008/Berkley Trade/224 pages.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker


A wallflower in the spotlight can do one of two things: wilt, or blossom...

Violet Greenfield's life changes forever when a lady in giant Chanel shades tells her she could be IT, the next Kate Moss-but taller, and without the PR problems. That's how Violet winds up with a business card in the front pocket of her jeans on her first day as a senior in high school. Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City wants to put Violet on a plane and whisk her into the world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Tall, skinny Violet, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.

And guess what? She's going. (from GoodReads)

I've had the Violet books on my shelves for a very long time and I finally decided to read them. This is going to be a quick review because I'm supposed to be working on a paper and I don't have that much to say about Violet on the Runway.

I thought the novel was very cute and was definitely a girl book. It's all about a teenager who feels unattractive (since she's so tall and thin) but ends up being perfect for the modeling world. Modeling always interested me, not that I wanted to be a model, but I love watching America's Next Top Model and reading books about it. So I liked learning more about the industry, though I'm not sure how much in this book is true. It just seemed like Violet became a superstar really quickly, and without doing that much. She sort of went into modeling blind and ignorant, and everyone just happened to love her innocence and inexperience. It's definitely unrealistic but this is a book so I'm just going to ignore that.

Since the book is told from Violet's point-of-view, you get to see her first reactions to everything and see her personal thoughts. I liked that and Violet had a great voice - she seemed like she could be a real teenager. I also liked that she didn't fall prey to the pitfalls of modeling: drug use, eating disorders, etc. Violet is definitely a role model for young girls.

Now I'm starting the second book and then I have third one, too, so I'll be curious to see Violet's adventures.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: bought.

2007/Berkley Trade/220 pages.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 52

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Fracture by Megan Miranda
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature—or something much more frightening? (from GoodReads)

This reminds me a lot of The Body Finder, which I loved, so I hope it's as good! Fracture will be released January 3, 2012.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - 1

So I've been wanting to do a new meme because my blog is super boring so I decided on this one because I really like the topics. Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books I Feel Everyone Has Read But Me

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
This is supposed to be one of those books that every teen reads and relates to (like Catcher in the Rye) but I never read it. But not for lack of trying: my sister has a copy and I keep asking if I can borrow it but she doesn't know where it is.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I want to read this so badly! And a lot of people have such rave reviews that it's starting to make me feel left out!

3. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This book seems a little weird, but it's like a rite of passage book. It also won an award so it should be a good read.

4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I never had to read this for high school and I'm disappointed because I really wish I did. Also, I want to see the references from Easy A.

5. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
This one is a bit of a stretch, but I think it sounds so good and I want to read it!

6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Why have I not read this yet???

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Another book I feel like I should have read for school but didn't.

8. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
There was a girl at my pool reading this and everyone was astounded that I never read it. I need to see what I'm missing out on.

9. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
For my film as lit class senior year, we watched the movie because the book was my teacher's favorite. I also could have read this as a summer reading book but I picked something else. I should see what the hype was about. By the way, the movie was weird.

10. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard
I watch the show (which is amazing!) so now I know I'm not going to read the books but they do seem interesting and suspenseful.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 51

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end? (from GoodReads)

I love Shannon Hale dearly, she is an amazing author and both her children's/YA and adult books are so good. I read Austenland four or five years ago and thought it was adorable. A resort that takes you back to the lifestyle of Jane Austen? Sign me up! Luckily, this companion novel features new characters in the same setting, so I don't have to remember anything from the last book. Midnight in Austenland will be released on January 3, 2012.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Silla Kennicott had a pretty good life - doting parents, a loving brother, a shot at becoming an actress - until the horrific murder-suicide committed by her father. Silla refuses to believe her father would commit such an atrocious act, and when she receives a book in the mail containing magic spells, she's certain something else is going on. All the spells require blood, but Silla's willing to do anything to find out more about her father's past. That's when she meets Nick Pardee, a transplant from Chicago, and the two might have more in common than they think. This isn't Nick's first experience with Blood Magic, and their shared powers might be needed to defeat evil that's lurking in the shadows of their small town.

I thought that Blood Magic was okay - not great, not horrible. I will say that I enjoyed reading it and there was never a time when I wanted to stop. But there are so many better books out there that I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

I was most intrigued by the mystery, since I love suspense and finding out whodunnit. There are several points-of-view throughout Blood Magic and I liked reading the diary of Josephine Darly the best. Most of the entries are from the past so they were the most interesting because it explains blood magic but the main characters are still left in the dark. The other point-of-view switches are between Silla and Nick, her love interest. I did not like these because their narration overlapped and it become very redundant. It was also hard to tell the difference between their voices, which was aided by the fact that in six pages the POV would change 3+ times.

The romance was a big part of the novel and I enjoyed it for the most part. Though they have an "instant attraction" and can't get enough of each other after one day of meeting, the words "I love you" are not uttered until the end (I I can't remember) which made it slightly more bearable. I hated, though, that Nick called Silla "babe." I guess it's not that big of a deal but it sounded sooo unnatural in the dialogue.

The writing was ... interesting. Sometimes it would be really good and pull me in, and other times there would be these awful similes that made me cringe (see: "I slept like ass." Yes that was an actual line in this novel). So that was weird.

Overall, I didn't mind reading Blood Magic, but there was nothing special about that. It was missing something that I can't put my finger on. So if you think you'll like this based on the summary go for it. If not, there are tons of better books out there.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: received from Flamingnet Book Reviews

2011/Random House/405 pages.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

To the outside world, they seem to have it all. Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist, and Alex Rivers, one of Hollywood's hottest actors, met on the set of a motion picture in Africa. They shared childhood tales, toasted the future, and declared their love in a fairy-tale wedding. But when they return to California, something alters the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern is taking shape-a cycle of hurt, denial, and promises, thinly veiled by glamour. Torn between fear and something that resembles love, Cassie wrestles with questions she never dreamed she would face: How can she leave? Then again, how can she stay? (from GoodReads)

Picture Perfect is the first book I've read by Jodi Picoult that doesn't revolve around a court case or a legal drama. That being said, this novel is a breath of fresh. It was neat to see Jodi Picoult focus on an actual relationship, without all the legal stuff in the background.

Even though this is one of Jodi Picoult's older novels (first published in 1995 - it was funny to see all the talk of VCRs), it's good to know she can still write as well when there isn't a trial going on. What the GoodReads summary doesn't tell you is that the book starts out with Cassie having amnesia. She starts remembering bit by bit and when she finds out that she's married to a famous movie star, she's flabbergasted. But about halfway through the book she remembers everything - how she met Alex, and how their perfect marriage isn't so perfect. This is all told in a flashback which is really interesting because it gets to the core of Alex and Cassie's relationship, and the abuse it involves.

This isn't a normal domestic violence book - where the man is the clear villain and it's all black-and-white. Instead, you get to see the complexities of Alex: his traumatic childhood, his regret and guilt, his love for Cassie, his uncontrollable anger. It makes it easier to see why Cassie would stay with him time and time again (even if you don't agree with her actions).

I thought Jodi Picoult wrote a very interesting novel about abuse, a different take from movies like Sleeping with the Enemy. The characters are complex and well-written, and have rich histories, which is perfect for such a character driven novel. If you want a great story, look no further than Picture Perfect.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library

1995/Berkley Trade/369 pages.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 50

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness. (from GoodReads)

I think Breaking Beautiful sounds like it's going to be a great story. There's mystery and a budding romance! My favorite! We have a long wait, though, because Breaking Beautiful won't be released until April 24, 2012.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world-even the most predatory of men-that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past-one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer. (from GoodReads)

When XVI was first released, I thought it sounded really interesting and had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the execution did not live up to my expectations. That and some plotting issues constituted my main problems with XVI.

Honestly, there were way too many things going on in XVI. To give you a taste of the overwhelming amount of subplots of this dystopia, I shall make a list: there's the normal government control found in most dystopias, XVI tattoo designating age of consent, an underground resistence, extreme capitalistic/consumeristic values, caste system, and a whole array of new words for simple things like TV and cars. When I first started XVI I was very confused because there were all these new words and then the dystopia was really trying to overreach itself.

Specific things I had issues with include the XVI tattoo because I wasn't really sure what the point of it was. What society would promote rape? I thought that should be explored further and more background was needed to explain how that began. Another thing that confused me was the tier system. There's ten tiers and supposedly limited class mobility, yet Nina has friends from all tiers. The author made it seem like such a big deal but apparently it's not? That's why I didn't think XVI was executed very well; it seems the author had all these ideas and tried to mash them into one book when they could have been their own stories on their own.

As I got used to the crazy words and the new society a bit, I started to enjoy XVI more. It's not an awful book, just one that lacks planning. I might consider reading the sequel, because I want to know what happens to Nina, but I'll have to wait to read some reviews first.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2011/Puffin-Speak/325 pages.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

June Nealon's life has been a ragged bundle of troubles. First, a drunken driver annihilates her happy marriage in an instant. Then, not long after she weds the police officer who saved her, tragedy reappears on an even larger scale: Seemingly without cause, a day laborer murders her new husband and her daughter. Seven months pregnant at the time of the slaughter, June somehow goes on, and homicidal carpenter Shay Bourne is led off, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. For 11 years, he waits in his cell until, appeals exhausted, his appointed day of doom approaches. Then, strangely, even miraculously, a convergence begins to occur. Strange events unfold, leading many to believe that Shay is a shackled Messiah. Meanwhile, June must confront a crossroads decision: Can she believe or at least forgive this killer even if her only daughter's life is at stake? Jodi Picoult plunges us into another gripping story at women at extremes. (from GoodReads)

So it's good to know before you start reading this review that I'm obsessed with Jodi Picoult and all her books. Good thing she has like a million and writes a new one every year, so I always have plenty of reading material. I haven't disliked a single one of her novels and they usually get a rating of 8 to 10 consistently. That is the mark of good writing, my friends.

Change of Heart follows the same basic structure as all her other novels: multiple points-of-view, a contentious legal case at the heart of novel, controversial subject. The main case in Change of Heart is that Shay Bourne, an inmate on death row, wants to donate his heart to a little girl named Claire Nealon. However, there are two catches: one, New Hamsphire uses lethal injection, which will make a heart unsuitable for transplant, and two, he has been convicted of murdering Claire's father and half-sister. So there are many things going in the novel, but main question is whether the death penalty is morally wrong or right. As usual, Jodi Picoult deftly provides insightful commentary on the subject without sounding biased or judgmental. She is able to weave the stories of four characters, and include their feelings, hopes and dreams, into this engrossing legal drama.

Change of Heart is extremely readable, and hard to put down. Jodi Picoult always does such a fine job researching for her books, and I felt like I learned a lot from the novel. For example, an important part of Change of Heart are the Gnostic Gospels, which are supposedly stories that could have, but were not, included in the Bible. I found this so interesting because if these stories were included Christianity would be very different than it is today.

If you've read my other reviews for Jodi Picoult's books, you know I love them all, so it should come as no surprise that I highly recommend Change of Heart to everyone!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2008/Atria Books/447 pages.