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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Promised

Promised (Birthmarked Trilogy, #3)
by Caragh M O’Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia’s absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what–or whom–she loves most? (goodreads.com)

Woohoo! I actually finished a book! Say hello to my first book read in 2013! Let’s not talk about how I had actually started this book over a month ago and then sort of stopped reading it because I just didn’t feel like reading.

What the heck was that all about, huh? I guess I was ill.

If you’re on the search for a great Dystopian series, then I’d highly recommend you pick the Birthmarked trilogy up. Promised is the conclusion to one terrific story and I’m a little sad to see it end. (That being said, I’m more than happy to see that series are stopping after three, these days and not going on forever and ever. Stand-alone novels are also awesome. Just sayin’.)

Also, if you haven’t read the first two books, then I’d suggest skipping this post because I am going to inadvertently spoil things for you as I get some stuff off my chest. I don’t want to ruin the ride for potential readers of this series, so as much as I appreciate your readership, shoo! Away with you!

If the three books, I felt that this last one did not have the same urgency to it as the first two. There was still much about it that made the hairs on my body stand up with creep-factor, but I didn’t have the anxious breathing or heart palpitations that I got while reading Birthmarked or Prized.

I was also extremely happy that the Gaia I loved in the first book was back on track in this final read. I didn’t like her at all in Prized, so seeing her back in charge and making smarter decisions in Promised was such a relief. I like Gaia as a strong, female protagonist and in the second book she’s not really strong at all. More like stupid a million times over.

Promised also had some strong opinions on surrogate pregnancy that sort of bugged me. Gaia couldn’t fathom why other women would volunteer to have babies for others. On one hand, I can see where she’s coming from, having been a midwife and because of the baby advancement program that the Enclave had. Forcing people to put their babies up for adoption is horrible, but I felt like Gaia was overreacting big time when she found out that some women were OK with having babies for other people. Just like I thought the theme of abortion was a little heavy-handed in Prized, I felt like the whole surrogate angle was also a little preachy. If I think about it now though, it’s really only Gaia that freaks out about this of all the others, so I suppose I can just chalk this up to a character having really strong beliefs that just don’t jive with mine.

What I found creepy about that was how they wanted to harvest Gaia’s ovaries with – or without – her consent. Ick. And no. Just NO.

The series ends on a bittersweet note. It’s not quite a happy ending and not quite a sad one. It’s sort of… hopeful but sad but happy. I actually really liked the way this book ended, it felt just right for the entire mood of the series. I mean you can’t have a dystopian world and then wrap it up all pretty, pretty Disney Princess-like, right? I shall forever read stuff by Caragh M O’Brien because of this trilogy. She is an amazing world-builder, writer and imaginationist! (I say that’s a word, so just deal with it.)
Birthmarked trilogy

  1. Birthmarked
  2. Prized
  3. Promised

In My Mailbox #60 – the Baby it’s Cold Outside Edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

It might only be the first week of November, but I’ve got the Christmassy Craving and have broken out my Christmas mug. It’s cold, I want it to snow and I am supposed to be writing a research paper – so what better way to start my day than with an IMM vlog!

People mentioned:

April @ Good Books and Good Wine

Books:

Won

Gifted

Bought

And as much as I’d love to procrastinate even more and look at other blogs this morning – I have to get my bottom in gear and get to that paper! School Work Sunday I call it. (Ugh.)

Prized

Prized (Birthmarked, #2)
by Caragh M. O’Brien

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime.  In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole? (goodreads.com)

I am sort of embarrassed to admit I started this book and thought “Who the hell is Gaia?” For some reason I thought the main character was named something completely different. Oops. I realize this is awfully shameful when I was SO EXCITED for this book to come out. I think I was having a senior moment as I wondered if the second book in the Birthmarked series was about a different character. *blush*

Once I convinced my brain that the person I was reading about was indeed the same one we both fell in love with last December when we read Birthmarked, I eagerly carried on with my book devouring.

First, let me say that I loved this book and I adore this series. For a creepy, weird dystopian world that I wouldn’t normally be able to read about? I can’t put these books down. They freak me out and entertain me at the same time. In Prized we are taken out of the Enclave, past the Wastelands into a community known as Sylum. Gaia thinks she’s come to a better place than the one she escaped from with her baby sister, Maya, but alas, it’s just as creepy and weird as where she started.

So I thought anyhow. Gaia seemed to think it was the bee’s knees and pretty much gave in to every stupid thing there.

Here’s what I didn’t like – Gaia. Turns out my original thought that I was reading about a completely different character wasn’t all that far off. The Gaia that I loved and I felt was strong and true in the first book, was a wimpy, wussy disappointing character in this book. I wanted to smack her so many times and tell her to OPEN HER BLOODY EYES! When she started having doubts about the way her world was being run in Birthmarked I was so proud of her. I loved that about her character, she questioned beliefs she’d had since birth. Only in Sylum she doesn’t seem to want to question anything. Sure, she seems to want to rebel when she first learns the rules, but I thought her decision to cave in and follow things as is was just so… weak. Her half-assed excuses to Leon about why they should just accept and live like everyone else in Sylum were just painful to read. She was such a strong character in the first book and I would have thought she’d have done anything to stay with Maya. I don’t even see her giving in as a way to make sure her sister was safe. I think she should have just taken Maya and run.

The world in which those in Sylum lived was almost as freaky as the one manufactured by the Enclave. Both places had a different kind of ick-factor. A different way of freaking me out. I do not want the planet to turn out anything like this in the future. Nope. No way. TOO FREAKING CREEPY. Gah.

I found the story to be a little too…preachy, I guess… about abortion. It was done in a round about way, and I KNOW that it actually fit the story but I think there was a little too much emphasis on how the person wanting one would be killing a life. I get that this is likely how Gaia would think and feel, but a tiny part of me wondered if this was some sort of subtle (if subtle was being hit by a brick to the head) way of tossing in the whole Pro Life/Pro Choice debate with an emphasis on LIFE. I do think the subject fit with the plot and the advancement of the character, but it was a little TOO brightly painted for me to think this was an impartial theme. Thankfully it wasn’t harped on too much throughout the story. At the same time, I felt awkward while reading it because I did feel like I was being preached at. Maybe it’s just me, but something about it was a little too much to handle in my eyes.

This series continues to wow me, even though I might not like characters or themes as much as I did in the previous book. That alone is exciting to me because I have no idea what to expect in the third book (which doesn’t seem to have a release date or YEAR yet! GAH!). I love that even though there were aspects that bugged me, I was still freaked out and amazed by the world that the author has created. This is one hella amazing dystopian and it always leaves me breathless. MORE MORE MORE I NEED MORE!!

A million more thanks go out to my Book Elf for sending me this book. *huggles*

Birthmarked trilogy

  1. Birthmarked
  2. Prized
  3. Promised

Buy your own copy! AmazonUS | AmazonCA

In My Mailbox #50 – The Thwarting my Arch Nemesis Edition!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

Welcome to my 50th In My Mailbox! I feel like this is some sort of fancy milestone and it amuses me that though I am only at 50 posts for IMM, Kristi herself is at her 100th IMM *VIDEO* and last week was her 150th IMM post. She’s a rock star, yo!

So this week was crazy fun for me and the mail! I got a book for review, books I bought and a surprise box of books from a friend. I think this week was a lovely way to end my 2 month sick leave. I’ve got a book high going on!

For Review:

Bought:

Surprise:

Various other paper products:

I’ve already devoured Touch of FrostThe Faerie Ring and Prized. Those links will bring you to my reviews if you haven’t seen them already. (er, except for Prized, because I haven’t written it yet.) All other book-related links go to Goodreads.

I only got one bill this week, too! So I think that makes for a super excellent mailbox week – all stuff that makes me happy and nothing much that I have to dish out stupid money for. (I am so tired of the mortgage and utilities companies expecting me to pay them every month! Nags, the lot of ’em.)

Birthmarked

Birthmarked
by Caragh M. O’Brien

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code. (goodreads.com)

This book blew me away. I finished it last night and yet I am still thinking about it and still going to pick it up to read only to remember that I FINISHED it. I just want to keep reading it, it was that addictive.

It was also exceptionally creepy and fascinating and terrifying and bewildering all at the same time.

A few random factoids related to the book (not the story necessarily): The local stores here never stocked it. My crappy library actually had it on the shelf but I didn’t know if I felt like reading it during the summer and the next times I went to the library it was out. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish/read any of the remaining books on my 2010 Debut Author Challenge list because I couldn’t GET them. A little Book Elf sent me some surprise books for Christmas this week and this was one of them and I started it right away. As I tend to have major anxiety issues with most dystopian type plots I started the book with caution but soon realized I was not going to be able to put it down for long.

With those things out of the way you can see how, somehow, I was meant to read this book. Or at least the book has been haunting me from the start of the Debut Challenge. 😉

If I were to be honest, I can’t actually come up with any coherent thoughts to write down about the story. All I know is that it left me with this really strong feeling that I can’t shake OR explain. This is what always happened in school, too, when I was to give reports on books that truly captivated me. I just can’t get it out onto the page. The feeling is positive and warm and sort of linen-y, with blue and grey plaid colouring. I know that must sound odd but I do have mild synesthesia and that’s sort of how it’s expressing itself. And my description here isn’t even that accurate.

ANYHOW – I thought Gaia was a very true character. She was naive, yes, but she was loyal to the Enclave and was young enough to never truly question anything. There was one line in the book that I found described her very aptly “”You’re turning out to be quite the interesting mix of ignorance and information.” This was spoken to Gaia by her interrogator and I thought it was spot on. As you read you watch Gaia take what she always thought was true and work it out to see the flaws and start to ask the questions that others had been asking in secret. Her growth from innocent, follow-the rules girl to a strong woman who tries to do what’s best to save the lives of children and her parents is just wonderful to watch.

Gaia is not the same person at the end of the story that she was days before at the start of the story. Her world has been torn inside out and all she believed has unraveled but rather than let that destroy her it makes her stronger and more confident in her choices.

The same thing happened to me with this book that happened to me with Prophecy of the Sisters – I thought this was a stand-alone novel, however there will be another book. I was quickly coming to that conclusion about 2/3 of the way through the book when I noticed how few pages were left and how much was building up. Suffice it to say – I will be getting that second book as soon as it hits the shelves (and if my stores still do not stock it I will max out my credit card to order it!)

Thank you a million times over to the sneaky little Book Elf for this fantastic gift!

Birthmarked trilogy

  1. Birthmarked
  2. Prized
  3. Promised