Review–Across the Universe by Beth Revis

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Across the Universe

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595143971

 

I have never liked Science Fiction. I start off by saying this because I think that the fact that I was able to lose myself in this book so completely that I finished it in a day and a half shows how wonderfully written Across the Universe is. A brilliant story that is unfolded layer after layer, allowing the reader to understand more and more about the world and the people with each chapter. 

With the first chapter, I was a little freaked out as the MC, Amy watches her mother getting cryogenically frozen. Needles and tubes and what not, ewww, definitely not my cup of tea and I skipped most of that. Once the book really gets started, as Godspeed is on its 300 year trek to a new planet, I was enthralled with the society that has been created on board. There were so many questions about how and why Eldest, the one chosen to lead the people on the ship, makes the decisions that he does, what it must take to lead a group of a couple thousand people who are confined in that place for their entire lives, and the ways the society has changed from generation to generation. Some of those questions were answered, many were not.

Elder’s relationship with Amy is very unique from many of the more recent YA books I’ve read. And in a good way. While there was an immediate attraction, there wasn’t that obsessive love that is so common in many novels. This was more of a budding friendship that you can see slowly changing to the possibility of love. The background characters were intriguing as well. I loved the artistic and moody Harley and the quirky odd Doc, and wanted to learn more about them.

The plot pacing was steady, keeping me involved and interested in what was going to happen next. Some of what I did not enjoy about the book was that the confrontation at the end felt rushed and tied up too neatly as far as the characters involved and the story ended rather abruptly. I’m curious as to whether there is going to be a sequel to Across the Universe to answer all of those unknown elements that I was left wondering about.

One of the things that initially grabbed my attention about the book was the Authors note at the beginning where she explains her inspiration for Across the Universe. Her upbringing in rural North Carolina and the small town nature of some such places. As I live in NC myself in a town with a population of 400, I can completely understand what she means. Then she goes on to say that what she did was “wrapped the county in steel and threw it into the stars” Brilliant. I look forward to reading more from Beth Revis.

Rating – 4

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Review–Before I fall by Lauren Oliver

January 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver (Author), Sarah Drew (Narrator)

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 12 hour(s) and 25 min.
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English


This was a great audio to listen to. The narrator, Sarah Drew was wonderfully expressive and really evoked the emotional turmoil that the MC, Sam was feeling throughout. It didn’t seem like 12 hours, I was so engaged in the story that I didn’t want it to end. Sarah Drew did an amazing job with the narration of this, really making me feel as if I were hearing Sam tell the story.
Before I Fall is a story about love, loss, hope, friendship, and forgiveness. Sam, killed in a car crash after a party one night, finds that she is living that same day over and over again. What I interpreted that she was doing was going through the 5 stages of grief with each day. At first, she couldn’t believe it and pretended it wasn’t true, that she must have been dreaming. But as she comes to realize that it wasn’t a dream, she is then forced to really take a look at her life and who she is.
I didn’t like Sam at the beginning but I don’t think I was meant to. I was fascinated by her and her friends though, the same way I’m fascinated with the characters on Gossip Girl. She and her group of friends are shallow, immature little twits at first glance but as the story progresses, I was able to see them a little differently. It was a really interesting and realistic look inside a clique of “mean girls” and some of the reasons why they act the way they do, without in any was excusing it or justifying it.
I loved watching the way Sam grew throughout the story, really coming to realize the truths about herself, her friends, and her life. She also took a long hard look at the boy she thought she loved, and ended up finding the boy who had been there all along but she hadn’t bothered to notice.  It was a beautifully written touching story about what things are really important and what we want to be remembered for.
The only negative things I have to say about Before I Fall is that I would have liked to have seen a little more focus on Sam’s relationship with her family, it was odd how little they seemed to factor into the story, other than a few minutes with her sister. Also, some of the almost poetic phrasing didn’t really fit my idea of how a teenager like Sam would think. Other than that, this was a wonderful story that I would highly recommend to anyone who, like me, prefers a flawed main character and has a box of tissue close by.
Rated 4 – Excellent read!.
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2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

January 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

The Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge hosted by ReadingwithTequilla is one of the challenges that I had originally meant to sign up for, but then for one reason or another, forgot to do so. There are plenty of books on this list that I would like to read this year. Actually, most of the books that I choose to read comes from the amazing reviews I read by other bloggers and I am rarely disappointed so a Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge is a great way to read those books that those whose opinions I value recommend.  There are several of these books that are already sitting on my shelf and thankfully audio books count for this challenge so I’ll be able to borrow some audios from the library or from Audible.com to complete this challenge.

The Levels:
Level I – Read 5 books from the 2010 Book Blogger Recommendation List
Level II – Read 10 books
Level III – Read 15 books
Level IV – Read 20 books
Level V – Read 20+ books

I’m hoping to complete Level 5. This is my tentative list that I would like to finish this year:

1. Across the Universe

Across the Universe Revis, Beth *

2. Archangel (Samaria, #1)

Archangel (Samaria, #1) Shinn, Sharon

3. Before I Fall

Before I Fall Oliver, Lauren *

4.Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1)

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1) Armstrong, Kelley *

5. Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted Levine, Gail Carson

6. The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, #2)

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, #2) Chima, Cinda Williams *

7. Fire (The Seven Kingdoms, #2)

Fire (The Seven Kingdoms, #2) Cashore, Kristin

8. Forgive My Fins (Fins, #1)

Forgive My Fins (Fins, #1) Childs, Tera Lynn *

9. The Giver (The Giver, #1)

The Giver (The Giver, #1) Lowry, Lois

10. Grave Witch

Grave Witch Price, Kalayna *

11. Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1) Hawkins, Rachel *

12. The Iron Queen (Iron Fey, #3)

The Iron Queen (Iron Fey, #3) Kagawa, Julie *

13. The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

The Name of the Wind(Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) Rothfuss, Patrick *

14. Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

Paranormalcy(Paranormalcy, #1) White, Kiersten *

15. Personal Demons (Personal Demons, #1)

Personal Demons (Personal Demons, #1) Desrochers, Lisa *

16. The Poison Throne (Moorehawke Trilogy, #1)

The Poison Throne(Moorehawke Trilogy, #1) Kiernan, Celine *

17. Shadowland (The Mediator, #1)

Shadowland (The Mediator, #1) Cabot, Meg

18. Speak

Speak Anderson, Laurie Halse *

19. Spells (Wings, #2)

Spells (Wings, #2) Pike, Aprilynne

20. The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1)

The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1) Aaron, Rachel

21. The Trouble With Spells (Of Witches and Warlocks, #1)

The Trouble With Spells (Of Witches and Warlocks, #1)

Weatherford, Lacey *

22. The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1) Sanderson, Brandon *

23. Witches

Witches Griffith, Kathryn Meyer *

Review–Everlost by Neal Shusterman

January 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy)

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; Reprint edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416997490

I loved this book. It was such a unique story, I haven’t read anything quite like this before.

Nick and Allie are killed instantly in a car crash and while heading down that tunnel toward the light, something happens and they find themselves waking up 9 months later in a beautiful lush forest near where the crash happened. It takes them a while to realize what must have happened, and discover they are not alone in this forest. There is a strange boy who has forgotten his name who they rechristen Leaf. Leaf has apparently been in this forest for many many years alone but has odd tales of other children who pass through from time to time and a monster named the McGill. As they set out to get some of their questions answered and to  explore the world they now find themselves a part of, they discover that while only children populate this strange afterlife, there are still some very real dangers, even to those who can’t die.

I thoroughly enjoyed following the adventures of Nick and Allie as they explored Everlost, meeting many unusual and memorable characters along the way. This book was so entertaining and engaging that I read the entire thing in one night. I was up pretty late but couldn’t put it down until I got to the end, and while it didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger, I am certainly glad I have the next book in the series so that I can continue enjoying their adventures. I found it so easy to lose myself in this world. No flowery prose or overly wordy descriptions, just a straightforward, quickly moving plot with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing. There are so many things and places to discover in Everlost and Neal Shusterman does an amazing job of showing this world in a way that kept me engaged in the story at the same time.

Rating 5 – I loved it and cannot wait to jump right into the next! 

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Review – Need by Carrie Jones

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

NeedCarrie Jones
Narrated by – Julia Whelan

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hour(s) and 28 min.
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio (August 20, 2009)
  • Language: English

I hate when a book immediately grabs my interest with an intriguing plot and likable characters and then fails to deliver. This is exactly the problem I had with Need.

First, I listened to this on audio, and while the narrator successfully mimicked the Maine accents, when it came to the MC, Zara, the voice used for her was sometimes a southern accent and sometimes no accent at all. This is a small thing, true, but very noticeable when listening. Other than that, I think that the narration was fine.

I enjoyed many of the characters on the surface, Zara, her grandmother, friends, and boyfriend. They were all extremely likable, but they never got much deeper than that surface likability, other than Zara. Zara enjoys reciting phobias to calm herself, this was a mildly interesting aspect to her personality and the various phobias she named were sometimes pretty amusing. The pixie king was a very weak villain, I didn’t believe it. And while I can understand that he was meant to be more of a “not all bad” type of villain, it didn’t come across in any real believable way. The romance between Zara and Nick was just kind of “meh” for me. I didn’t care. The best part of the novel for me was Zara’s grandmother, a feisty woman with plenty of wit. I would have liked to have read a lot more about her.

The problems I had with Need was that the plot was never really developed, it was very thin and the way plot was resolved was absolutely absurd. Even within a fantasy, I need to feel a measure of believability, and this was also missing for me. I finished the book and was left feeling quite underwhelmed and a bit disappointed.

Rating 2 – not for me but someone else might enjoy it.

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Check out a review from someone who loved Need for a different point of view

http://ahauntofancientpeace.blogspot.com/2010/01/need-by-carrie-jones.html

Southern Literature Challenge 2011

January 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

I just stumbled upon another challenge that I can’t help but sign up for. The Southern Literature Challenge. I LOVE reading books set in the South, and actually, that can sometimes be the entire reason I buy the book in the first place. One of my all-time favorite historical fiction authors is Eugenia Price and her several series of books that brings historical Savannah Georgia to life in such a way that I want to live there myself. And of course Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles show the haunting beauty of New Orleans through the eyes of her tormented heroes. I guess its because of the way I feel about the south that makes me love to read books about it.

This is a fairly easy challenge.

Level 1–C’mon in the house! Read 1 book.
Level 2–Pull up a seat and stay a while! Read 2 books
Level 3–Have a glass of sweet iced tea, honey. Read 3 books
Level 4–Y’all come back now, y’hear! Read 4 books

I’ll definitely be signing up for Level 4. I would be disappointed if I couldn’t find at least four novels set in the south to read this year. As a matter of fact, I haven’t started Black Dust Mambo yet, and I did get it for Christmas…..

Check out The Introverted Reader’s blog to sign up for this fun challenge with me! I can’t wait to read some of the reviews and find even more of these Southern books to love!

Review: If I stay–Gayle Forman

January 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

If I Stay-Gayle Forman
Narrated by – Kirsten Potter
 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 5 hour(s) and 2 min.
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks (April 23, 2009)
  • Language: English

Goodreads synopsis: What if you had everything:
A gorgeous boyfriend who was madly in love with you?
Quirky hip parents who totally got you?
A musical talent that could take you anywhere?
What if your biggest problem in life was choosing which path to take?
Follow your first love–music– to New York City?
Or stay with your boyfriend, friends, and family?
What if one day, you went out for a drive…
And in an instant everything changed?
What if suddenly all the other choices were gone?
Except for one–the only one that truly mattered?
What would you do?
A sophisticated, layered, and heart achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands. Summit Entertainment has rights to ‘If I Stay’ for the movie

I read a review on Bibliophile Brouhaha’s blog that made me want to immediately read If I Stay and I wasn’t disappointed. This audio was just over 5 hours long and I listened to it from start to finish in one sitting. There was no way I could stop without knowing what was going to happen, so I’m glad, for this reason, that it wasn’t a longer book. The narrator, Kirsten Potter, was wonderful, really expressing the emotional aspects in the book in a way that made you feel what she was saying.

I would describe this as a quietly powerful read, painful, haunting, bittersweet, and inspiring  We get to know Mia and her family through Mia’s memories as she hovers on the brink of life and death, trying to decide whether or not she she should stay. There are many reasons for her to decide either way, and I fully understood her confusion. Just the fact that she had to choose, that she found herself in this position, watching events from outside of her body, I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be. I felt fully involved in every step of Mia’s journey, although I didn’t shed many tears, only at the end and even then just a little.

I was surprised by how much depth each of the characters had even through such small glimpses into Mia’s life. I particularly loved her Grandpa and best friend Kim. There were several points where I laughed out loud, once when her little brother Teddy says something along the lines of “Next year, I’ll be 8, then I’ll be a man and you’ll have to call me Ted”  I loved the way the hospital was portrayed as well, it made me think of my nurse friends who always tell me that the nurses are the only ones who really know what’s going on in a hospital.

Mia’s family was engaging, funny, and lovingly attentive to each other. I wished that I had grown up with a family like that. Her father was a former rocker turned teacher with such charismatic self-deprecating humor. Her mother was a ballsy, strong and protective dynamo of a woman. And little brother Teddy was funny and adorable. Glimpsing their interactions through Mia’s memories really made me understand what made this decision so hard for Mia.

Gayle Forman packed a lot of heart into this short novel. I cannot wait to read the next one “Where She Went” which isn’t due to come out until April of 2011. My sincere thanks to Bibliophile Brouhaha for bringing this book to my attention with her wonderful open letter to the author  which is what made me decide to immediately grab this from Audible.

Of course I’ll be rating this a 5. This is another book that will stay with me long after I read it and that I highly recommend to all.

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