On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

    • ISBN-13: 9780142196724
    • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
    • Publication date: 7/10/2012
    • Pages: 336
    • Source: From Publisher for Review

Synopsis:

Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Timesbestseller, now available with a reading group guide and a letter from the author

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

My Thoughts:

I was a bit skeptical about On the Island when I first read the blurb.  I was really just not sure that I was going to be able to connect with the characters, I mean a 30 year old woman and a 16 year old boy, it just felt very unlikely.  So I was very surprised when it captured my attention and I didn’t want to put the book down.  It starts with Anna, a tutor, leaving with her pupil, T.J., headed to a foreign island for the summer.  T.J. is recovering from cancer was was behind in school so his parents hire Anna to help get him caught up over the summer. The trip to meet the family keeps being delayed and they catch a seaplane that is not originally on the plan just to get there after more than 24 hours of travel.  Their pilot suffers a heart attack and they crash into the ocean.  After a very dramatic scene of survival, they find themselves alone on a island with nothing.  Some of their belongs wash up on short but after one plane flies over there is nothing.  The story of their life on the island is outstanding.  The writing is believable and powerful.  It takes a while before the romance starts between them and it starts in a very believable way and grows from there.  There is some problems with the timeline as to how long they are actually on the island but by my count it is about three and a half year.  You can only imagine how hard it would be to survive that long and the hope that you would lose along the way.  I was left wondering how or when they would be discovered and it was in a way that I never expected.  I was so surprised but that is for you to find out when you pick this book up.  Once they are rescued and go back home they both say they will stay together but life is not that easy.  There is a lot of press and Anna takes a lot of press for her relationship with T.J.  For a while this separates them but there has to be a chance that love will prevail.  

As a debut book, this was much better than what I have come to expect from first time authors.  I know that Tracey Garvis Graves went through a lot to get her book in print to learn more check out her story.

My Rating:

4 Penguins

Wards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Wards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of ShannaraWards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks

  • ISBN-13: 9780345523471
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Source: From Publisher for Review

Synopsis:

Seven years after the conclusion of the High Druid of Shannara trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks at last revisits one of the most popular eras in the legendary epic fantasy series that has spellbound readers for more than three decades.
 
When the world was young, and its name was Faerie, the power of magic ruled—and the Elfstones warded the race of Elves and their lands, keeping evil at bay. But when an Elven girl fell hopelessly in love with a Darkling boy of the Void, he carried away more than her heart.
 
Thousands of years later, tumultuous times are upon the world now known as the Four Lands. Users of magic are in conflict with proponents of science. Elves have distanced their society from the other races. The dwindling Druid order and its teachings are threatened with extinction. A sinister politician has used treachery and murder to rise as prime minister of the mighty Federation. Meanwhile, poring through a long-forgotten diary, the young Druid Aphenglow Elessedil has stumbled upon the secret account of an Elven girl’s heartbreak and the shocking truth about the vanished Elfstones. But never has a little knowledge been so very dangerous—as Aphenglow quickly learns when she’s set upon by assassins.
 
Yet there can be no turning back from the road to which fate has steered her. For whoever captures the Elfstones and their untold powers will surely hold the advantage in the devastating clash to come. But Aphenglow and her allies—Druids, Elves, and humans alike—remember the monstrous history of the Demon War, and they know that the Four Lands will never survive another reign of darkness. But whether they themselves can survive the attempt to stem that tide is another question entirely.

My Thoughts:

 

Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks is the first book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara series.  In this book, Brooks returns to the current timeline of the Four Lands, seven years after the events of the conclusion of the High Druid of Shannara trilogy.  The elven druid Aphenglow, has returned to her homeland in the elven capital of Arborlon to search through the histories stored there in search for information regarding the lost Elfstones.  As granddaughter to the king, she has been given permission to search the histories, but is still looked un with distrust and contempt by the majority of the elves, even her own mother, who no longer trust the druids or those who join the order.  Nearly a year after her search began, Aphenglow finds an ancient diary written by a young girl from the days of faerie.  Almost immediately after her discovery, someone tries to kill her.  Believing her assailants to be after the diary, she returns to Paranor, home of the druids.  News of this discovery causes the High Druid to visit the Hadeshorn to consult with the long dead druid, Allanon.  His shade tells her that the druids must undergo a quest to find what they seek and they must find others to help them, including an Ohmsford.

The current generation of Ohmsfords, Redden and Railing, are twin brothers whose own mother wasn’t always able to tell them apart.  Only Mirai Leah could tell which was which, but she wasn’t saying how she knew.  The boys had both inherited the magic of the Wishsong, and frequently put it to use to keep the family fed and in pursuit of their hobby, building airships.  When Kyber Elessedil, the High Druid, approached the boys, they agreed to join the quest to find the lost Elfstones, with Mirai refusing to be left behind.

Meanwhile, in the human controlled Southlands, a new Prime Minister has been elected.  Drust Chazhul has decided the best way to consolidate his power base is to begin with the destruction of the druid order.

Beset by dangers, will the druid’s quest be ended before it has truly begun?

I must say that I was thrilled to find out that this book returned to what I think of as the main time in the Four Lands.  The last several books released all dealt with the older history of the world and while good stories in themselves, I prefer the time of this book.  When I first started reading Wards of Faerie, it took me a little while remember the events chronologically previous.  And while I would certainly suggest to any reader new to the world of Shannara that they start reading from the beginning with The Sword of Shannara, Brooks provides enough background information in this book that those who prefer to start here won’t be lost.

In reading some of the other reviews for this book, I’ve noticed some fans who have complained that the basic formula of the individual series’ in the Shannara world doesn’t change.  Druid needs an Ohmsford for a quest to save everyone, a Leah tags along, etc.  But to me, that seems to be the whole point to the overall story arc.  Each new generation of Ohmsfords and Leahs knows that, in the past, one of their relations has been a pivotal part on some Druid quest.  Eventually, they seem to reach a point where they are internally measuring themselves against that ancestor.  It’s the choices they must make, to accept the risk to themselves and take the hard road, that eventually wins the day for the druids.  In Wards or Faerie, we are introduced to this new generation of Ohmsfords, Leahs, and Druids as they begin the first part of their quest, so grab a copy and be prepared for a fantastical adventure.

 

My Rating:

 

 

 

5 Penguins

Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols

Such a RushSuch a Rush By Jennifer Echols

  • ISBN-13: 9781451658019
  • Publisher: MTV Books
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Source: From Publisher for Review
  • Synopsis:

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, the kids may call Leah trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.

But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.

By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. But then Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.

My Thoughts:

 I was drawn to Such A Rush initially because of this striking cover and my love of Jennifer Echols’ writing style and depth.  I really had no idea what the story was about and was immediately sucked in and could not put it down, it turned into a one afternoon read for me.  It was high flying fun!

Leah Jones is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.  Life has not come easily to her; she has been the person ensuring that there is a roof over her own head as her mother is missing most of the time.  They have moved from trailer park to trailer park as her mother’s boyfriends say they can get her mother a job.  Each of these trailer parks ended up being next to an airport.  Leah has always been drawn to flying and when she arrives in the newest town she gets a job at the airport office and starts saving her pennies to be able to convince Mr. Hall, owner of Hall Aviation, to teach her how to fly.  Mr. Hall’s requirement is that Leah has her mother sign a permission slip, which Leah forges.  The end result is Leah learning to fly and her mother never knowing and a new father figure in her life.   Despite her relationship with Mr. Hall, Leah feels like an outsider whenever his sons come to visit and they help fly the banner planes that make up the majority of Hall Aviation’s business. Mr. Hall has three sons, including one set of twins.  All are attractive young men but their personalities could not be more different.   Leah stays back as a silent observer, secretly crushing on Grayson, even going to the point of telling her mother that she is spending time with him (as her boyfriend) to cover her flying time. It’s a shock and a blow when Mr. Hall dies unexpectedly, just a short time after his oldest son dies in the war.  Leah figures that the business will be sold and that she has lost her spring break and summer job of flying the banners and she looks for other employment, which she thinks she finds with a local crop duster’s nephew.  When Grayson and Alec show up to run the business, Leah doesn’t think it’ll last for long, and Leah has no intention risking not having a job. Somehow Grayson uncovers the forged note and blackmails her to stay on to help fly the banners. Not only that, he wants Leah to persuade Alec to date her. Grayson threatens Leah’s hopes of flying so she has no choice but to cooperate with his scheme. What makes it even worse he refused to tell her why. Leah isn’t sure that she will make it through the summer but she won’t let her dreams die.

I loved all of these characters.  I was immediately drawn to Leah and her drive for life.  It would have been so simple for her to give into her situation and just get by, but she doesn’t she takes on the rigors of keeping a roof over her head and mothering herself while setting strong goals for herself.  What I was surprised by is how Leah was so unaware of how her appearance and personality affected those around her.  She is so focused on surviving that she misses who she really is.  That and she is so passionate about flying, she puts the boys to shame in this arena, I think because she had to earn it and the boys just expected to learn to fly. 

There were some limited interactions with Alec but I did not feel like I really got to know him as a character other than how Grayson tries to use Leah to date him and why.  I feel like there is a lot more to him, and would love to get to know him and his situation more.  Grayson, on the other hand, I was really frustrated with in the beginning.  This bad boy seemed like all kinds of trouble and I really wanted to not like him at first, but he grew on me.  Page after page, I wanted to be able to understand him and when all the pieces fell together, I found that I really liked him and understood why he was the way he was.

The only thing that I disliked about this book was how sex was portrayed.  Leah had only had sex once and she was made to be this “hooker” just because she was an attractive girl who lived in the trailer park.  I just had a hard time with this portion of the story.

I think that Jennifer Echols had a hit with Such A Rush; she just knows how to put the tension, live lessons, and pain of growing up all together in an amazing book. 

My Rating:

4 Penguins