Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Homelanders book 1: The Last Thing I Remember - by Andrew Klavan

Charlie West just woke up in someone else’s nightmare.

He’s strapped to a chair. He’s covered in blood and bruises. He hurts all over. And a strange voice outside the door just ordered his death.

The last thing he can remember, he was a normal high-school kid doing normal things—working on his homework, practicing karate, dreaming of becoming an air force pilot, writing a pretty girl’s number on his hand. How long ago was that? Where is he now? Who is he really?

And more to the point... how is he going to get out of this room alive?

Initial Reaction:

I really loved this book! 

The books I normally read are either fantasy or historical fiction, so this book was really refreshing! This is the first real thriller I’ve read, the other two being on the more mystery/spiritual side. I loved the action, the Christian values, patriotism and the theme of never giving up on what you believe in no matter what the cost.

The book begins with Charlie West waking up in a torture room with no memory of how he got there or why... and he just heard his captor give the order of his death. He then proceeds to escape, and during the first half of the book, while he hides, he tries to recall things from the last day he remembers. 

He is finally able to get away from his captors, only to find out that a whole year has passed since the last day he remembers. And not only are the terrorists after him, but the authorities as well, determined to lock him behind bars for a murder that he doesn’t remember committing... the murder of his former best friend, Alex Houser...

The Characters:

Charlie West is the main character. He’s your normal seventeen-year-old American teenager who goes to church, tries to do what he believes is right, and is a black belt in karate. I actually really liked Charlie, and that really pleased me because the last thriller I read was The Hunger Games, and Katniss drove me crazy! (I’ll be doing a review on The Hunger Game books sometime soon). Charlie was a nice guy, got good grades, and dreamed of being an Air Force Pilot. He had his problems and doubts but when something bad happened, he always went back to his beliefs to sort out his confusion.

Beth Summers is Charlie’s crush. She’s sweet, pretty, and is a nice side character. None of the characters’ personalities have really developed yet, but I see great potential for almost all of them.

Charlie has four main friends and they’re all awesome! Seriously, these kids just made me want to jump into the book so I could hang out with them. They were hilarious!

Alex Houser is Charlie’s old best friend. They drifted apart after Alex’s dad left and they moved away. Since then Alex had gotten into trouble with bad choices of friends, drugs, and smoking. He turned into a really messed up kid and was starving for answers. He was also looking for consolation in the bad things that he was doing.

And finally we get to the Homelanders. The Homelanders are a group of Americans recruited by Islamic terrorists to help destroy America. Because the Homelanders are Americans, they can blend into society where the terrorists can not. They are America haters and are intent on destroying it from the inside. They are the one’s who held Charlie captive in the beginning.

The Plot:

I was really hesitant to read this book because of the synopsis. I mean, what normal teenager wakes up in the hands of Islamic terrorists who are torturing him for information that will aid in the destruction of America? It’s just not realistic. What kind of kid knows that kind of information? 

The Writing Style:

I really enjoyed the writing style. The author did a great job communicating Charlie’s thoughts and internal conflicts. And also, he really knows how to write what a teenager would think, and some of Charlie’s thoughts or references were hilarious!

Concluding Thoughts:

Even though I haven’t found out the reason for Charlie waking up in the hands of terrorists with no memory, I still really enjoyed this book because of the characters and the writing style. I definitely recommend it. I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.  

For ages 13+

You can buy it here. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's day everybody!!! Today is the day of love when we celebrate the love between husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, friends and cousins, and all of the above! :-)

Do you know where Valentine's day comes from? Or how the exchanging of cards came to be? No? Well I'll be happy to tell you!

Valentine's Day--believe it or not--is actually the feast day of St. Valentine (or Valentinus, which means worthy, strong or powerful). He was a Catholic priest and martyr during the Christian persecutions under Claudius II in the two hundreds. He was convicted of treason because of his faith in 2070 and for marrying Christian couples. When refusing to deny Christ, he was beaten with clubs and when that didn't kill him he was beheaded on February 14. 

The exchanging of cards began with a legend involving St. Valentine. While in prison, awaiting his execution, he healed the blind daughter of his jailer. And during that time he developed an fatherly relationship with the little girl. When he left to endure his martyrdom, he left a little farewell note for her signed, "From your Valentine." And that's when the giving of cards began!

Pretty cool hu?

If you want to learn more about St. Valentine, click here.

So Valentine's Day isn't really about being all lovey dovey and giving kisses and chocolate to your crush, but celebrating the love  itself. For love isn't just physical and emotional... the true meaning of love is wanting the best for the other person.


PS - Stay tuned in for next week because I'm planning on doing a book review on my favorite teen thriller series!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jazmine Artwork

So, believe it or not, writing is not my only hobby. I also LOVE to draw! And so, as my third post, I thought I'd stick with things on my book and show you some drawings of the main character Jazmine! These sketches were done during different times during the writing process and they show my concept of Jazmine as her personality and looks changed... and changed again. And it also shows my progress as an artist throught the years.

This was one of the first pictures I did of Jazmine in 2009 (I was 12).

This was also in 2009.

This was done in 2010 I belive. The Unicorn is Lunar and the man is one of my earliest version of Adrian... He looks like a musketeer... scary :-P (I was 13).

This was done as concept art for what pose I wanted Jazmine in for the cover. I drew it in 2010 at like 10:00pm. I was 13.

This was in 2011 (14).

And finally, the drawing I put in the book! The one in the middle is Jazmine (obviously) the panther is Ramza, the unicorn is Lunar and the man is Adrian. I was 15 when I finished the final draft for this drawing. :-)

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I hope you liked them! I'm obviously not a professionl, but I'm going to keep practicing and hopefully someday I will be!!! If you liked these please comment and tell me because that will encourage me to post more of my sketches. (I also love drawing mermaids, fairies, etc.) I'm also hoping to start doing some colored pictures. I have a few but I want to do more... color just adds so much! 

Well, see ya'll next time!