Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

ISBN: 9780547995663
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Released: 1993
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger,and Son.
     REVIEW

I first read The Giver in my 7th grade English class. I can't remember the teacher's name - only that I didn't like her much and I don't think she liked me. I didn't like the class as a whole either. Actually, I never much liked any of my English classes or teachers. This is difficult even for me to believe (it must be blasphemy) since I am, and almost always have been (there was this period during high school...), the book nerd I am today. I liked my English Tech class in 11th grade, where we used computers to do more cool book-related things rather than sitting at a desk and handing in traditional essays (I still have the portfolio/binder thingy they made us put together. Oh my God, I'm totally uploading those!) Anyway, I digress. The only thing I remember liking about my 7th grade English class was this book. It stayed with me for quite a while after I read it that first time.

In the years to come, I would re-read this book several times, forcing it on anyone who made the mistake of asking me for a book recommendation or asking what my favorite book was. If I can think of one reason why I loved it so much at the young age of twelve years old (Jonas's age. Coincidence?), it probably wouldn't be for the reasons I love it so much today. I probably loved it for exactly the same reasons that dystopian novels are all the rage these days (slowly fading, but still flooding the market). Seeing such a drastically different world was intriguing, it was fascinating.

Of course, I'm sure the class discussed all the hidden meanings and deeper reasons while we were reading it because obviously that's the point of English class, but I was twelve and definitely didn't care. Nowadays, these things are much more important to me. Okay, I lie. They're only a little bit more important to me. I usually just like a good story, but it's books like The Giver that make me think that end up staying with me for much longer than a smutty romance or fun mystery do (not that there aren't romance or mysteries that defy this logic - I'm just sayin').

I read Fahrenheit 451 earlier this year and in the copy I read was an Introduction by Neil Gaiman that goes into lengthy, but nevertheless enlightening, detail about dystopian novels. "...although [speculative fiction] doesn’t try to predict an actual future with all its messy confusion. Instead, [speculative fiction] takes an element of life today, something clear and obvious and normally something troubling, and asks what would happen if that thing, that one thing, became bigger, became all-pervasive, changed the way we thought and behaved." Gaiman explained.

He went on to say, “People think—wrongly—that speculative fiction is about predicting the future, but it isn't; or if it is, it tends to do a rotten job of it. Futures are huge things that come with many elements and a billion variables, and the human race has a habit of listening to predictions for what the future will bring and then doing something quite different.What speculative fiction is really good at is not the future but the present—taking an aspect of it that troubles or is dangerous, and extending and extrapolating that aspect into something that allows the people of that time to see what they are doing from a different angle and from a different place. It’s cautionary."

In other words, maybe we don't need to worry about our society somehow losing it's color and weather and losing all capacity for human emotion, but it's a way to look at, "if we continue on this road," with many aspects of the world today, such as individuality, especially, as it's being challenged across the globe. We may be an advanced society but you know as well as I do that this is a problem in homes between people as well as with the government and its citizens.

Maybe I'll stop rambling now. I could go on forever about the political, moral and social aspects this book touches on, but somehow I don't think you'd care all that much.I suppose you'd like to know about the actual book, not just the ramblings in my head.

Coming from the standpoint of someone who loved the book, I obviously think it is amazing. The world-building, while after a certain point doesn't go as in-depth as one may wish, is perfect for the story. We learn about all the little rules Community has and at first glance, it doesn't seem so bad. How many of us haven't thought, "if no one was hungry, no one hurt, no one was different, we'd all be happy"? Then we're reminded of what real life is like, which still makes the Community look pretty good (considering humans have an affinity for trying to blow each other up) but the Giver says in the story, “We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.” They achieved Sameness for the entire community, there was no pain or hunger or sadness, but there also wasn't true happiness, joy, colors, seasons, love, or freaking hills. Of course, now we know those are things we'd never give up in exchange for never going hungry, feeling sad, being hungry... or would we?

Whatever your standpoint is on the themes and messages of the book are, the book at it's core is amazing. The writing, while simple, is powerful. It is considered middle grade, so when I say simple, I mean it, but this never bothered me - not once. Jonas is a character that is easy to like, to identify with and empathize with, along with the Giver and some of the other minor characters. Even after all this time and this many re-reads, The Giver still manages to speak to me and turn me into an emotional mess like it's the first time.

RATING: ★ - Absolutely loved it!

The Giver is one of my favorite books of all time so it's a little hard for me not to gush, and hopefully I was able to give you more than just an "ohmigod I love this book" reason to pick it up and read it yourself. I'm reading the next book in the series, Gathering Blue, which if I remember correctly, I didn't love nearly as much as The Giver but I'm incredibly anxious to finally read Son which was released at the end of 2012. Fans of this book will understand how the ending of The Giver will give me the motivation to wade through two mediocre books to find out what happened next in Son.

Have you read The Giver? Is it something you picked up recently for the first time in anticipation of the movie (which I think is going to suck balls, but that topic is for another time, another blog post), or has it been a favorite since childhood like it was for me? I love discussing favorites! Let's talk books!


A.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - My deserted island gang!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Top Ten Characters I'd Want on a Deserted Island With Me.

I am about to have way too much fun with this!

1. Hermione (HP) - She's a genius. Also, she's a witch. Where can I go wrong? Can I add in that I only want Hermione if she comes with her magic wand?

2. Harry (HP) - Of course Harry is not always ideal - he makes a lot of rash decisions and whatnot, but bravery is valuable. So is self-sacrifice. And magic.

3. Tris Prior (Divergent) - Sometimes annoying, but usually brave and has physical training. We need strong people on this island. Warriors, I say!

4. & 5. Perry and Roar (Under the Never Sky) - Perry being a Scire and a Seer and Roar being an Aud, they are the trifecta of senses. We'd be safe from danger and it would be easier to find food.

6. Katniss (Hunger Games) - She could totally hunt with Perry and Roar. We'd never go hungry!!

7. Josh Bennett (Sea of Tranquility) - We need someone to build us shelter, right?

8. & 9. Celaena Sardothien and Chaol Westfall (Throne of Glass) - I don't think I really need to explain this one at all, do I?

10. Cinder (Cinder) - She's a cyborg. And she can tell when people are lying. Case closed.

Also, if some others eventually washed up on shore.... (aka Honorable Mentions):

Logan (More Than Her), because he's hot and girls have needs, you know. Dimitri (Vampire Academy) because he's also hot, incredibly strong, physically trained, and even though he's part vampire, he doesn't want to eat us. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones) because that dude is smart and he and Hermione would have all of our logistics planned out by day one. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) - yes, I said Atticus. Who doesn't need and incredibly wise father figure to keep everyone morally in check?

My little tribe would survive for a long time on our island. Hell, I'm totally down with reproducing and starting our own civilization. I call dibs on Josh Bennett! And Logan. And Dimitri. and CHAOL.

Who would be on your deserted island? You can have anyone but CHAOL. I WILL NOT GIVE HIM UP. HE IS MINE.

Can't wait to hear who you picked!

A.

Blog Tour Stop - Review: More Than Forever by Jay McLean + Teasers, Excerpt, and Giveaway!

ISBN:
Source: ARC provided by author
Format: Kindle eBook
Series: More #4
Released: July 12, 2014
Goodreads |  B&N
*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This is no way swayed my opinion. Scout's honor!*
*Please note this review may contain spoilers for the previous books in this series.*

     SUMMARY
-LUCY-
There is a love so fierce it cannot be measured.
A heart so strong it will never slow.
There is a promise so sure it can never lie.
He promised me that love forever.
Even when it wasn't enough.
-CAMERON-
Forever. Everlasting. Eternal.
There is no measure of time.
No sounds of the ticking of a clock.
Just the rising and falling of the sun.
And our own sense of forever.

But our forever isn't always.
     REVIEW

They say lightning never strikes twice, right? Or something like that. I can't remember if that's a complete and total freaking myth or not, but whatever - I digress. I'm here to talk about books not lightning and freak accidents. The point I'm trying to make is this: after reading one ridiculously amazing book by an author, you think that the next one can't possibly be as good. Nothing can make you feel the way you just felt after reading that book - it's just impossible, right?

Wrong. Said author comes along with another book which effectively blows your mother-lovin' mind. You're like HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!? But you take it for what it is (see above-referenced freak accident) and prepare yourself for the next book which cannot possibly be better than the one you just finished. It just cannot. Math class says the probability is like 1:1,000,000,000,000,000.

Only said author comes out with one more and you're now on the floor sobbing and laughing at the same time and wondering what magical power this author has been graced with, because WHAT?!

Now that's it. This fourth one - it's not going to live up. You're well and truly afraid now because literary genius is not an endless spring from which said author can eternally draw, right? After the delightful surprises that are the first three books, you're not complacent with the idea of just a good novel. You need - you yearn for - another mind-blowing sequel and don't know what you're going to do if you don't get it.

You open up book number four, brace yourself for impact, and BAM. It's happened again. This is when you become 100% positive that said author is a supernatural being and you should probably be afraid and what she is capable of.

I bet you'd like to know who this said supernatural author is, wouldn't you? I'll tell you:
Jay motherf****in McLean (that's actually her middle name. Okay, I'm lying, but how badass would that be?). Author of my favorite NA romance series ever.

The opportunity presented itself to review an ARC of Jay's latest novel, More Than Forever (picture me lounging on my couch with my fiance and an e-mail pops up on my phone from Jay herself. "Have this ARC" she says [more or less] and all freaking hell breaks loose. Just sayin' - I was excited). However, after three wonderful, fantastic, heartwrenching, hysterical, beautiful, A. MA. ZING. novels, I wasn't sure it could happen again. I wasn't sure it could be all of those things and more - but it was.

In her first three books, Jay weaves a continual story of love, friendship, hope, with a heavy dose of reality thrown in. Things are never easy for our friends in the More world but at the risk of sounding cheesy as all hell - Jay shows us that love really can conquer all - but it ain't always gonna be fun, that's for sure. This story continues on in a monumental way in More Than Forever. If you're already a fan of this series but haven't read this book yet, just know that whatever you're expecting out of More Than Forever is moot at this point. Let go of all expectations. Simply expect the emotional roller coaster of a lifetime and to fall in love with Cam and Lucy and friends all over again.

(As always) I laughed as hard as I cried while reading this book (which was hard as f*ck). At times I laughed and cried at the same time. The love I have for this series has yet to be matched by any other NA series I've read to-date. Seriously. I've exaggerated substantially in this post but this is actually not an exaggeration. It's true! (Does this make me the girl who cried "book"? Cause I'm totally okay with that.)

I would also like to let the world know that my heart is broken by the fact that I now have to wait until next year to read the next book in the series. This is obviously a pretty standard practice when releasing books in a series, but Jay, you're magic (see above proof of magical abilities), so um... hook a sista up? No? What if I cry? Still no? Okay, well I guess I'll have to stick with re-reading the first four until book five finds its way into my greedy little hands!

BOOK TRAILER


READ AN EXCERPT 
"I hate that guy," Logan jerks his head toward Jake and a new kid.
"The new kid? Dylan?"
He nods. "He thinks he owns the school."
"Really?" I glare over at them. "Apparently he kills  it on the basketball court, but I dunno." I shrug. "He hasn't said two words to me. He seems quiet."
"Those are the ones you have to worry about, Cam. The quiet broody assholes get all the girls. Better watch him around that new girl of yours."
I play dumb. "What new girl?"
"Shut up, asshole. You don't think I notice you watching her all the fucking time?"
I lift my chin. "I think if there's an asshole in this entire school to watch out for, it's you."
He laughs and adjusts his cap. "You don't need to worry about me. I'm not into stealing my friend's girls." He shoves his hand in his catcher's glove and smacks my arm with it. "Say the word. Claim her. I promise to stay away and I'll make sure she's untouchable to everyone else."
"I'm not an asshole and she isn't property. I can't own her."
"If that's what you want." He raises an eyebrow. "She's cute. In a couple years she'll be hot. Guys will be all
over her. I'm just trying to help out."
I think about what he's saying, and he makes a good point. Only he's wrong—she's hot now. "Fine. I claim her. She's mine."
His smirk is instant. "You can't own someone, you pig. She isn't property."
I laugh. "Fuck you."
Jake struts over to us. "Ya reckon that new kid Dylan can hang out with us this arvo? He seems like a top bloke."
Logan's gaze moves to me, confusion clear on his face. 
I shrug. He lets out a chuckle before gripping both of Jake's shoulders and shaking him gently. He looks him right in the eye, speaking slowly and clearly. "I have no idea what the fuck you just said."


RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Loved it!


More Than Forever is one of my favorite NA romances ever. (I do still hold a special place in my heart for Logan from MTHer but that's beside the point). It was everything I'd hoped for and more while simultaneously shocking the crap out of me and taking me on one hell of a ride.

Have any of you read the first few in the series? How freaking excited are you to read MTForever next?

And for my More-munity pals who've read this one along with me, I know you all agree with me when I say that Jay is freaking magic, amiright? Now we get to bug the hell out of eachother for the next year until the next one. Yay!

The More Series 

More Than This, #1

*Mikayla*
In one night my fairytale ended. Or it may have begun. This is my story of friendship and love, heartbreak and desire, and the strength to show weakness.
*Jake*
One night I met a girl. A sad and broken girl, but one more beautiful than any other. She laughed through her sadness, while I loved through her heartbreak.
*This is our story of a maybe ever after.*

He was right. It made no difference whether it was 6 months or 6 years.
I couldn’t undo what had been done. I couldn’t change the future.
I couldn’t even predict it.
It was one night.
One night when everything changed.
It was so much more than just the betrayal.

It was the Tragedy.
The Deaths.
The Murders.
But it was also that feeling.
The feeling of falling.

BUY LINKS

**LIMITED TIME ON NOOK AND IBOOKS**
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1aIy8Im
Nook: http://bit.ly/1ryi2pZ

More Than Her, #2

For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction." For every choice you make there are rewards, or there are consequences. It was my choice to walk away the first time. And my choice to chase her the second. But sometimes you don't get a choice, and all you get are the consequences.” "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Unless that someone is Logan Matthews. Because loving him didn't give me the strength to walk away. It didn't give me the courage to fight for him. And when it was over, all it gave me was a broken heart. 


BUY LINKS

More Than Him, #3

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson

We live in a world of darkness and shadows,
where monsters hide and aim to ruin.
And they did.
They ruined us and turned our dreams into nightmares.
But now we're back.
And we're fighting.
Not just for us, or for each other, but for our light.

BUY LINKS




AUTHOR BIO

Jay McLean is the author of the More Series, including More Than This, More Than Her, More Than Him and soon to be released, More Than Forever. She also has two standalones coming soon titled The Road, and Combative.

Jay is an avid reader, writer, and most of all, procrastinator. When she's not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, or devouring some tacky reality TV show. She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her smile, make her hurt, and make her feel.

AUTHOR LINKS

You can follow Jay on Instagram and twitter @jaymcleanauthor.
You can also find her on her blog at www.jaymcleanauthor.com where you can subscribe to her newsletter and get teasers and updates first and, her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jaymcleanauthor or her fan group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/moreserieslovers. You can contact Jay directly at jay@jaymcleanauthor.com

All her other social media links can be found below. Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaymcleanauthor/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4724550.Jay_McLean





Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you pay Jay a visit and enter below for an awesome giveaway!



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A.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

ISBN: 9780062247100
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Series: Under the Never Sky #2
Released: January, 2013
Goodreads  |  B&N
*Please note, this review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series. Click here for a spoiler-free review of Under the Never Sky*

     SUMMARY:
It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.
Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first.
Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist? Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?
     REVIEW

If I'm being totally honest, Under the Never Sky, the first book in this trilogy, blew my mind a little. I was so excited to continue with the series after reading it. While I did really like Through the Ever Night, it didn't quite live up to how I felt for UNS.

The odd thing is, TEN was so much more emotional, raw and gritty and it really was a good story. It more or less ripped my heart out and tore it into a million pieces. My problem lies in the fact that I wanted to see more of the Realms. Obviously, I know that the whole point is that the Realms could never compare to real like, but I just wishhhhh we got to see me. It really is a fascinating concept.

My other issue was the world building. It didn't go as far as I felt like I needed it to go. I wanted to know more about how the world got into the state it was in, more about the tribes, more about other tribes. Rossi gave us just enough to get  by on but I was craving more.

The story otherwise was fast-paced, emotionally taxing and get me on the edge of my seat. Things definitely weren't going the way I wanted them to go, but of course I would've settled for a happily ever after right after the first book finished, so I'm probably not the best judge of that. Though it didn't live up to UNS standards, I did enjoy it and was eager to begin book 3 which was just released early this year. (Thank God I waited to read it. I don't know if I could've waited).

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I enjoyed Through the Ever Night a lot, except for the world-building being a little weak, and not as much expansion on the Realms aspect as I would've liked. It did, however, send me on an emotional roller coaster and I had a hard time picking up the pieces of my broken heart when it was over.

Have you read Through the Ever Night yet? What did you think? Did you love it as much as the first one or did you think it suffered a bit from second-book-syndrome?

Let's talk books!

A. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

ISBN: 9780062072047
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Released: December, 2011
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.
REVIEW

I went into Under the Never Sky with one hell of a bookish chip on my shoulder. I was in the worst reading slump I'd been in in a long time and had recently DNF'd several different things that I just couldn't get into. I'd also had UNS on my shelf for a crazy long time so I figured it was about time to pick it up. I had no desire to read anything in particular so why the hell not, right?

I was so pleasantly surprised by UNS. It is so unique compared to other dystopians I'd been reading. UNS is fresh, it's different and I wanted to know so much more about the worlds of the book (especially the realms, which I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see more of). The sci-fi element of the book was the most interesting aspect and was what kept me glued to it.

The writing was great and though the world(s)-building as a whole lacked some of what I was hoping for, it left me intrigued and wanting more. The romance was also pretty well done, no real insta-love which is the bane of the existence of the YA world. Aria and Perry literally gave me chills. I absolutely adored them and I was rooting for them from the first page!

I enjoyed UNS a lot and I was pretty lucky to have Through the Ever Night on hand so I could start it immediately after. Great book and it definitely helped me begin the slow ascent out of my reading slump.

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Loved it!

I enjoyed UNS so much! It was a fresh, unique take on the dystopian novels that are flooding the YA scene. The romance was beautiful and touching and I couldn't wait to get to the next book in the series once I was finished with this one.

Have any of you read Under the Never Sky? What did you think? Did you like it more or less than some of the other popular dystopian novels out there?

Let's talk books!

A.