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HickamTheReleased

The blurb…

Lily Atwood lives in what used to be called Washington, D.C. Her father is one of the most powerful men in the world, having been a vital part of rebuilding and reuniting humanity after the war that killed over five billion people. Now he’s running to be one of its leaders.

But in the rediscovered peace on Earth, a new enemy has risen. They call themselves the Revealed – a powerful underground organization that has been kidnapping 18 year olds across the globe without reservation. No one knows why they are kidnapping these teens, but it’s clear something is different about these people. They can set fires with a snap of their fingers and create a wind strong enough to barrel over a tree with a flick of their wrist. No one has been able to stop them, and they have targeted Lily as their next victim.

But Lily has waited too long to break free from her father’s shadow to let some rebel organization just ruin everything. Not without a fight.

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SilverDeadGirlWalking

The blurb…

Forget everything you know about grim reapers.

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

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LynnOneWishAwayThe blurb…

Be careful what you wish for…

Lyra has always been ahead of the curve. Top of her class in school, a budding astronomer, and with a best friend like Darren she barely has time to miss the mother who abandoned her family years ago. She’s too busy planning to follow in her father’s footsteps, and to become the youngest astronomer at Space Exploration and Discovery.

When a star goes missing Lyra is determined to get to the bottom of it only to discover her braniac dad is the mastermind of a top-secret government experiment. They promise to build a perfect world, one galaxy at a time, but with every tweak of the present, a bit more of the future starts to crumble.

Lyra has to go undercover to reveal the truth and let humanity decide if the consequences are worth more than wishing on a star.

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BSWaitingOnWednesday

My pick for this week’s “can’t wait” read is Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You!  I am obsessed with  the cover and the story sounds wonderful!

GrayAThousandPiecesofYouThe blurb…

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

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Dead Girl Walking

Dead Girl WalkingTitle: Dead Girl Walking
Author: Ruth Silver
Series: Royal Reapers #1
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 195
Published by Patchwork Press on 2014-04-24
ISBN: 978-0692202531
ASIN: B00JXVMOOM
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Forget everything you know about grim reapers. Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she's brutally murdered. Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

My Review

Dead Girl Walking is the first novel in the new Royal Reapers series by Ruth Silver, author of the fantastic Aberranti series.  Aberrant is a dystopian/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic series that is absolutely chilling at times, but Royal Reapers is an entirely different kind of series.

The world of this book is wonderful, set in midst of kingdoms and royal politics with a side of grim reapers and dark angels and romance, too.  The reapers that the author created were very different than others I have read, living and walking and easily seen by those still living around them.  What is interesting is that, in many ways, Ophelia’s life really doesn’t begin until she becomes a reaper… a whole new twist on life after death!!

The mythology that has been created for these reapers is truly interesting.  There are rules and regulations for their work, punishments for not carrying out their reaps accordingly.  Yet, even as mediators of death, there is much they don’t know about where the souls they reap go.  This is a point that is made often, but never really explained so I am hoping that this is something that will be part of further books in the series.

The story line and its premise were refreshingly original to me.  I loved the reapers she created and the plot was thoroughly engrossing.  There was romance, intrigue, fantasy, and mystery galore.  My only real issue, and it isn’t a big one, was the slight insta-love between Wynter and Leila/Ophelia.  It seemed to develop rather quickly on the heels of some traumatic events.

Things to love…

  • The original mythology of the reapers.
  • The interesting characters among the reapers.

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • Less insta-love.

My Recommendation

This is a very different read than most of the “ghost reaper” kind of mythology.  I love the interaction that the fantasy world had with the “real” world.  If you like a good paranormal fantasy this is a good choice.  A prequel novella, Ashes to Ashes, is due out in May of 2015.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Ruth Silver

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of Aberrant. The Young Adult/New Adult Romantic Dystopian Adventure, Aberrant is the first in a trilogy, released April 17th, 2013. Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time. She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication. While in college she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing, led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading YA/NA novels and sharing her favorite books with other readers. She also enjoys photography, traveling and of most of all writing.

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Son

SonTitle: Son
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #4
Also in this series: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Utopian Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 405
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on 2012-10-02
ISBN: 978-0544336254
ASIN: B008454X2Y
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messengerwhere a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

My Review

Son is the final book in the series and, as much as I enjoyed this series, this book left me with mixed feelings.  There were new characters and old, which led to both new story lines and resolutions to existing ones.  But some of the messages in this one struck me as a little off.

This book is split into three sections, following several years in the life of Claire.  The first part takes us back to places we have been before, going back in time a bit to about the time when Jonas’ story began.  As a mother, her story in this section touched me, heart and soul.  The second part of the story takes place in a new society, a society in which Claire is almost as a child.  It is the story of Jonas, had we been with him in his time of transition from the world that he left in The Giver until we met him again in Messenger.  The third part of the story is the one that ties all of the various story lines of the series together. In this part, we remeet a lot of the characters from other books and many of the subplots are brought to the foreground.

The first three books showed us three very different utopian/dystopian worlds, worlds with different values, priorities, and issues.  As someone obsessed with cultural anthopology, I loved this premise.  I loved that it made me question my own thoughts and beliefs.  But I felt like that was greatly lacking in this book.  The society from the second section wasn’t really created like the others; it was just sort of there, like a place filler.  By the time she made it to the society that we first met in Messenger, that group was largely healed.  There was little conflict to be seen.  That came from an outside force that needed to be battled in the traditional good versus evil battle.  But none of this happened until very late in the book, making the entire thing feel a bit rushed.  And the conclusion itself really left me feeling a bit unfulfilled.  The previous books were deep, full of questions about human nature, choices, sacrifice, priorities, and values.  The conclusion just seemed rather anticlimatic and a little banal in comparison.

The other thing I had hoped for was answers.  I wanted to know what happened to the other societies.  Did they change?  Did they get worse or better?  The only one that we ever really saw any transformation in was the one of Messenger and the last portion of Son, the society of outcasts.

Things to love…

  • Revisiting places and characters.
  • Getting answers to some of the questions from other books.

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • More depth to the resolution.
  • More resolution about the other societies.

My Recommendation

While it may have been my least  favorite of the series, it is still a good read and a relatively satisfying conclusion to the series.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine.

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Messenger

MessengerTitle: Messenger
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #3
Also in this series: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Son
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Utopian Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 178
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on 2004-04-26
ISBN: 978-0385732536
ASIN: B003JTHWKK
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Six years earlier, Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy. Back then, he liked to call himself "the Fiercest of the Fierce." But since that time, Matty has grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name. Now Matty hopes that he will soon be given his true name, and he hopes it will be Messenger. But strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to newcomers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the only people able to safely travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village's closing and try to convince Seer's daughter, Kira, to return with him before it's too late. But Forest has grown hostile to Matty too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

My Review

This is the third book in The Giver series, this time centering around Matty from Gathering Blue.  We revisit Jonas and Gabe in this book, too, although their part of the story is not the focus.  This, too, is a new utopian/dystopian society, formed from the outcasts from other supposedly utopian societies.

There is an interesting theme of materialism in this story that says a lot about the value placed on material things.  The central root of this society’s problems is found in just that, the need for material goods.  Many of the village’s people are willing to trade away most anything for something material or superficial.  This entire subplot centered around the TradeMart and the mysterious man who facilitated these trades, something that I wished was more developed.

The way that the concept of utopia versus dystopia is used is fascinating.  In the first book, we had a fairly technologically advanced society, one that focused on control and order and uniformity in order to create a “utopian” society.  In the second, the society was far more primitive and focused on one’s viable contributions to society as valuable.  Anyone less capable was cast out as deficient.  In this book, society is still rather primitive, created out of nothing by those cast out from other societies.  Their focus was on acceptance and open-mindedness.  All three of these societies have totally different values and yet all three become less than utopian.  It is that point that really makes the reader think… is human nature truly capable of creating and maintaining a utopia?

There is an ending to this book that was one that I had hoped wouldn’t come to pass, but it is one that had more closure than that of The Giver.

Things to love…

  • Seeing Jonas and Gabe again, as well as Matty.
  • Being made to really think.  I love that!

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • More about the gifts.  Many of the people of this society have gifts, something we learned about in the second book, but we don’t really know  much about how these things came to be.

My Recommendation

I think I loved this book almost as much as the first.  It should definitely be read after both The Giver and Gathering Blue.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.9

About Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine.

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Gathering Blue

Gathering BlueTitle: Gathering Blue
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #2
Also in this series: The Giver, Messenger, Son
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Utopian Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 225
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on 2000-09-25
ISBN: 978-0385732567
ASIN: B003JFJHRK
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Lois Lowry's magnificent novel of the distant future, The Giver, is set in a highly technical and emotionally repressed society. This eagerly awaited companion volume, by contrast, takes place in a village with only the most rudimentary technology, where anger, greed, envy, and casual cruelty make ordinary people's lives short and brutish. This society, like the one portrayed in The Giver, is controlled by merciless authorities with their own complex agendas and secrets. And at the center of both stories there is a young person who is given the responsibility of preserving the memory of the culture--and who finds the vision to transform it.

Kira, newly orphaned and lame from birth, is taken from the turmoil of the village to live in the grand Council Edifice because of her skill at embroidery. There she is given the task of restoring the historical pictures sewn on the robe worn at the annual Ruin Song Gathering, a solemn day-long performance of the story of their world's past. Down the hall lives Thomas the Carver, a young boy who works on the intricate symbols carved on the Singer's staff, and a tiny girl who is being trained as the next Singer. Over the three artists hovers the menace of authority, seemingly kind but suffocating to their creativity, and the dark secret at the heart of the Ruin Song.

With the help of a cheerful waif called Matt and his little dog, Kira at last finds the way to the plant that will allow her to create the missing color--blue--and, symbolically, to find the courage to shape the future by following her art wherever it may lead. With astonishing originality, Lowry has again created a vivid and unforgettable setting for this thrilling story that raises profound questions about the mystery of art, the importance of memory, and the centrality of love.

My Review

Gathering Blue is set in the same time frame as the first book in the series, The Giver, but in a different part of the world.  Although it is a companion to the first, it is its own story.  Although the world itself is very different and far more primitive, it is intriguing in its own right and full of questions.

Kira is damaged and alone in a world that hates anyone who is not in prime condition and able to contribute wholeheartedly to the community.  The fact that she is even alive is a miracle, a miracle that, at first, seems to have run its course.  But at the last moment, she is saved and given a new life.  Much like the world of The Giver, her new life seems to be almost utopian.  But is it really?  This is another book that makes you look beneath the surface to see what reality truly is.  What sacrifices have to be made in order to maintain that “utopian” world?

I enjoyed this book, although perhaps not as much as The Giver.  I have to wonder if that is because of the differences between the two main characters.  In The Giver, we (as readers) were connected to the community because Jonas was.  At first, the community seemed utopian and wonderful so when we began to go beneath the surface, we felt the feelings of betrayal right along with Jonas.  But in Gathering Blue, there was that true connection to the village because Kira herself wasn’t truly connected to it.  She was an outcast so she already existed on the fringes of the society.

Things to love…

  • The different world/perspective.  Two completely different societies during the same time create the foundation for interesting stories to come.

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • More answers about the Council and their motivations, etc.

My Recommendation

I went into this book, assuming it was a traditional sequel.  It was definitely not, but rather another look at the world of the time from an entirely different persepective.  The throught-provoking questions are still there, touching on some of the same issues as the first book, as well as some new issues.  But if you liked The Giver, I would highly suggest  continuing on with the series.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.5

About Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine.

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