Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie

With everything going on in the middle east and the loss of our ambassador and ex-navy seals, I found this book to be fitting.  Please keep your thoughts and prayers on the families who have lost loved ones or are seeing them being deployed to help protect the Americans still living in those countries.  This book totally caught me by surprise.  I knew what it was about and I knew it would probably deal with a few tough situations, but this book had so many moments where you didn’t know how things could ever be set right.

Title: Personal Effects

Author: E.M. Kokie

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary (by Goodreads):

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life.

First Sentences:

Of all the lame shit on Pinscher’s backpack, his “War is Not the Answer” sticker pisses me off the most — even more than his “Practice Nonviolence” button, which makes me want to practice some violence on his face.

It’s not enough that I have to listen to him run his mouth all the time.  But to have to see all his slogans and crap on his backpack, watch him strut around and show off, laughing like it’s all a big joke — it’s almost too much to take.  Espectially on Monday mornings.  Especially on a Monday morning after an even more shitastic than usual weekend.

My take:

Disclaimers and such: I received this book from DAC ARC Tours!  Thank you for letting me read and review this ARC and thank you to Candlewick Press as well!  So although, I received this book for free in exchange for a review, all thoughts are my own.  This book was published September 11th!

I want to preface that this book does contain profanity, a fair amount. As you probably saw from the first few sentences.  Our main character is also a boy and is dealing with the rush of hormones, so he does deal with the temptation that all boys deal with at that age.

The other thing our boy, Matt, is dealing with…is a whirlwind of anger.  Anger at his physically abusive father, who swears his punches are to help him “man up”.  Anger at his mother for leaving them when he was only 4 or 5 years old.  Anger at his brother for dying while serving in the Army overseas.  Anger at bullies at school who wear shirts/pins that try to undermine the war and make it seem like Matt’s brother, T.J., died for nothing.  Everything soon comes to a head and Matt finds himself “seeing red” with consequences.

The only saving grace to Matt is his best friend, Shauna, who has the courage to stick with him through everything he deals with and is there to listen, to provide a shoulder, or just a distraction from the life he’s learned to deal with.

Matt feels the only way to deal with the loss of his brother and abusive father is to find the personal effects of T.J. and go through them.  Everything that they got back before the funeral has been hidden by his father and Matt cannot seem to find them, no matter how hard he looks.  He strikes a break one day when 3 lockers of personal effects come in from the Army filled with everything Matt owned and had with him.

After his dad leaves for work one day, Matt goes through each locker looking through each item.  Uniforms, t-shirts, iPods, pictures, and letters.  Lots of letters.  People Matt has never heard of…along with one person in particular who has written Matt over and over.  Who were these people?  Who is this “C”?  Could T.J. have had a relationship and not told Matt?  Why would Matt show up for a week at home, tell him he was deploying to go back to the middle east, but actually spend months with these people before really going back?

I liked this book.  I read through the bulk of it one night and finished it the next morning.  It was such a “real” feeling book.  I could see this unfortunately happening to someone like Matt and it made me want to sit up with him to find out what was really going on and who his brother really was.

Myst~

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

I was SO excited to see my request accepted on NetGalley for this ARC/book!!  I downloaded it on my kindle app and as soon as I closed the back cover to Article 5…I started this one and couldn’t put it down!  I LOVE seeing those emails come in saying “Your request has been accepted.”  It’s like getting a free cupcake just for being you!

Title: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

Author: Julie Kagawa

Summary (by Goodreads):

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

First 4 Sentences:

They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone could see.

I stood in the back, a nameless face in the crowd, too close to the gallows for comfort but unable to look away.  There were three of them this time, two boys and a girl.  The oldest was about my age, seventeen and skinny, with huge frightened eyes and greasy dark hair that hung to his shoulders.

My Take:

Disclaimers and such: This was a book from NetGalley.  It was given to me to read and review for free; I am not getting paid for this review.  This is my honest and true opinion.  That being said, thank you to Harlequin Teen for letting me read and review this book!!  Everyone else, look for it to be released in just a few weeks!!

First I just want to say….Poor vampires.  They have been used and abused so badly recently.  First they’re sparkly, then they have powerful rings by witches…these guys have been through the ringer.  If I were one, I would have started off laughing at the feeble attempts, but then would have ended up depressed by how humans have made them all nice and cuddly…”I’ve lost my scary edge.”

Just wait though…we’re really just pissing them off and they’re going to get their revenge at just the right moment…which brings me back to vampires ruling the world, JUST like The Immortal Rules!!

The book starts with Allie, a human, fending for herself and the gang she’s in by trying to find food within the city that’s run by a Master Vampire.  Each sector in the city is fenced off from one another and completely guarded from the outside world by a massive wall erected to keep the “rabids” out.  After being attacked and nearing death, a vampire finds Allie and offers the chance to live by turning her.  When faced with her own death, she chooses life even though it means spending an eternity as a monster.  Allie seemed “human” to me in her thinking, not a frivolous character with no real thought processes..I feel I can connect with her; she’s not airheaded or careless.

After yet another unfortunate turn of events, Allie is forced outside the walls of the city to wander on her own.  Learning to survive in the harsh environments, she soon runs into a straggling band of humans that are headed to a rumored city called “Eden”.  Allie tries to keep her hunger at bay and wants to be human so bad that she keeps her “vampirism” a secret.  The only problem is that Allie finds herself falling for the second in command, Zeke.  And of course, Zeke already has a fan-girl in the group that is NOT a fan of Allie…*cue cat fight.

I loved how the vampires are kept “normal”.  They can’t go out during the day, they all pretty much see humans as food, and they’re cocky.  I felt the story writing was GREAT!  The characters were believable, the adventure was awesome, it was gruesome…but not gory, and there’s a little romance that felt so good.  Makes you want them to beat the odds and figure it out.

I’ve heard great things about the author’s other series “Iron Fey” and after reading this book, it makes me want to read her other novels!  This book started so dark with a helpless feeling; it was like there was no hope for humans at all.  By the end of the book, our heroine is determined to see through the impossibilities thrown her way to help humans and save what little she can.  Of course, what’s a good book without a little cliff hanger?  Not a crazy one though…it’s safe to read!

Myst~