BOOK REVIEW: THE GIVER BY LOIS LOWRY

3636Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Published: 1993 by Ember
179 pages
Click here to find it on Goodreads

Maria’s thoughts:
Jonas is an eleven year old boy who was brought up in a very interesting society where there was no such thing as war, where everything and everyone was equal. Sameness is the word that Jonas had used throughout the novel. On his twelfth birthday, Jonas would be assigned a job in the community. Jonas gets assigned a very special job, unlike any other. He would become the new Receiver of Memories. Without knowing exactly what this meant, Jonas meets with the Giver as instructed and learns the truth about how the world has become so perfect. No one else, except for the Giver, has any memory of the way things were before the Sameness. No memory of love, no memory of war, no memory of color… Jonas begins to receive these memories, some good and some painful, as he discovers the truth behind the Sameness.

Jonas was a great character to read about, always putting other people first. He was smart and very caring. I felt for Jonas as he learned the harsh truth behind the jobs done by his family and friends.

This is definitely a story that will make you think. As an education student, I can see why this is a very popular book to read in school. It had me questioning the world that we live in today, and I’m sure younger people would be able relate to Jonas more than I could. It would be interesting to hear different opinions from young readers. I think that Lois Lowry is a genius for coming up with this dystopian world and inspiring so many authors of today.

I rated The Giver 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Mallory’s thoughts:
Jonas lives in a perfectly controlled society. There is no fear, no war, no pain. Everyone has a job and everything runs smoothly. Each family consists of a dad, a mom and two children. At every age the children have ceremonies and the Ceremony of 12 is when the children finally receive the roles they will have in the community. Every child gets called up and presented with their role, except for Jonas. He is passed over. Jonas has been selected for a very special position. The Receiver. He is to meet with a man who he calls the Giver and receive all of his memories, and with those memories comes the truth.

This is known as one of the original dystopian stories that has influenced a lot of authors today. It is a very short novel but I am finding it very difficult to review this book as I still don’t seem to have my thoughts in order for this one.

I’m going to start out with the world building. Lowry does a great job of painting a picture of a futuristic world and it feels like you are thrown into it. It is a world where nothing goes wrong. Every aspect of the community and it’s inhabitants is controlled. Babies are given to families, you start taking pills once you start having ‘suggestive’ dreams, you may only ride bikes at a certain age and you are placed into a job that they see you fit for. This is how they live and do not question it until Jonas becomes the Receiver. He gets the memories of the time before everything was controlled and he also gets a look at the ugly and horrifying society they are living in.

I loved Jonas as the main character. He was very interesting to read about. For a twelve year old he was so brave and considerate. There are multiple times throughout the book where he puts others before himself. I’m sad that he won’t be in the sequel.

Lowry’s writing was fabulous. The ending leaves off on a cliffhanger that we know if not getting picked up in the second book since it’s about different characters. But it really lets you use your imagination to figure out what happened to the characters.

I will definitely be checking out the rest of this series.

And I cannot wait to check out the movie adaptation. You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxFJvlWqphM

4/5 star rating.

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BOOK DISCUSSION: THE SPECTACULAR NOW BY TIM THARP

During the month of September myself, Maria, Marissa and Mackenzie decided to make an online book club. We chose the book The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp and we had our discussion through the kik app. We mostly just chirped out random things here and there but I decided to put our discussion together into a post.

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Click here to find it on Goodreads
17620971Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Published: 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
304 pages

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters now but the Spectacular Now.”

First question. What did you think before going into the book? Before you even read page one what were your thoughts?
Mackenzie: I had kinda high expectations because I had seen the trailer for the movie and I thought it would be something I was really going to like.
Mallory: I completely thought I was going into a cheesy love story.
Maria: Before reading the book I didn’t have any idea what the story was about. And when I read the first few pages about the day time drinking and such, I was really surprised! But after reading it, it wasn’t really what I had expected.
Marissa: I cheated a little bit because I had watched the movie prior to reading it, but I was very excited with high expectations for it.

So what did you think of the ending?
Mackenzie: It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I wanted more to happen. It stopped at the weirdest place and it never answered any questions.
Mallory: I was so upset with that ending I literally wanted to throw my book at the wall.
Maria: I thought it would end differently. I was really waiting for that happy ending.
Marissa: The ending was so abrupt, I had to read it like twice.

What did you think of Sutter?
Mackenzie: I didn’t like him as a character, I wasn’t a big fan of his attitude and the drinking thing. I feel like none of his problems got solved either, he had no growth as a character which was disappointing. I did enjoying reading from his point of view and how it was so different from anything I’ve read but I just thought he didn’t learn anything through out the story,
Mallory: It was refreshing to have a character that is full of flaws. And the whole time I was pissed that it wasn’t a love story ending when I think the concept was more so that no one is perfect and we are probably all going to make mistakes and end up doing the wrong thing most of the time. And I loved his care free drinking attitude. He would definitely be an interesting person to hang out with.
Maria: I found his personality, as much as it was out there and dick-ish (I can’t think of any other way to put it) really made the story entertaining. His careless, bad attitude kind of drew me in. I thought he was really funny too. But I know where Mackenzie is coming from because it is hard to read and connect with a character when you are against the way he acts. He really disappointed me in the end because I felt like he had so much potential. As much as he made the story entertaining, he also made it very very frustrating because he could have learned but just didn’t. I wouldn’t mind having a drink with him.
Marissa: I liked him because he was a real character with flaws and attitude. I really liked that he always had a witty comeback. But there are some parts that made me cringe about him, like with any character. But overall, I agree with Maria and the bad boy attitude drawing me in. And I agree with Mallory, I loved his 7up and whiskey, the only thing you could count on him for.

What did you think of Sutter and Aimee’s relationship?
Mackenzie: I hated how he changed Aimee and lead her on, it was so frustrating! She was such a nice person and I didn’t want her to get hurt.
Mallory: I really just wanted things between them to work out. I think they made a great couple because they were so opposite. 
Maria: The entire time I felt like he was using Aimee and that I didn’t like.
Marissa: I was hoping he would end up going with her in the end.

What did you think of Aimee?
Mackenzie: I didn’t connect with Aimee but I felt bad for her. I did like that she reads. She just agreed with what everyone told her. She wasn’t very independent or spoke for herself. And she was peer pressured a lot.
Mallory: I felt sad for Aimee. She is definitely the type you could see getting cheated on and that made me really sad.
Maria: I had a harder time connecting with Aimee for some reason, I ended up liking his ex girlfriend better. It isn’t that I didn’t like her and I wanted to connect with her more, but she kind of annoyed me and I can’t pinpoint why. I felt bad with her but he just had more chemistry with his ex.
Marissa: I felt bad for Aimee since Sutter was all over the place with “oh I’m not gonna date her” and then turns around and takes her to prom and everything. And she was none the wiser so she just went along with it and really, truly loved him.

What did you think of Sutter hanging out with his ex while he was “with” Aimee?
Mackenzie: I didn’t like it but I did like his relationship with the ex he kept seeing at parties where they talked like Italian mobsters.
Mallory: Well I would not be letting my boyfriend hang out with his ex. I didn’t like that he was seeing her behind Aimee’s back. But I did love the parts with Cassidy and I loved that she was fat. You never really get a fat character in books.
Maria: I have two different opinions for that one. In a way I thought that it was good for them to develop trust. But in a way I was so mad because I couldn’t imagine being in Aimee’s shoes. I wouldn’t like it. Plus the girls are so different. I liked Cassidy a lot and she was fun to read about for sure. And I liked how she was so sure of herself, compared to reading about Aimee. I liked that she wasn’t a stick and she had confidence. I was happy that Sutter had a friend like her and that she supported his relationship with Aimee, but it would have been better if they hadn’t dated in the past and they wouldn’t have to hide their relationship from Aimee.
Marissa: I felt so bad for Aimee but I really admired Cassidy’s wisdom that she brought to the book. She was insightful and a break from Sutter’s attitude. I liked that she was fat as well.

What did you think of Sutter finding his dad?
Mackenzie: I expected more but they had no contact for so long that it wasn’t really a big shock that it didn’t work out.
Mallory: I kind of expected hi, to be just the way he was and I knew it wasn’t going to turn out well at all. It was a big deal for a few pages and then it was done.
Maria: I had a bad feeling about it. I wasn’t expecting it to work out either but I was hoping Sutter would learn something from it. It could have easily been left out of the story.
Marissa: I did not like the dad part. It didn’t add much to the story for me and I would have rather a relationship between his mom or his sister. It just annoyed me more than anything.

Did you like the way it was written?
Mackenzie: I really loved the way it was written. I just with I connected more to the characters.
Mallory: I loved the way it was written and found myself loling quite a bit. Everything feeling realistic was a major plus for me.
Maria: I liked that humour was thrown in there and found myself laughing out loud at times. I also liked that it was very realistic. The author clearly tried speaking to teenagers. Drinking is bad and it pretty much painted a picture of what its like to lose control and the consequences that it would bring.
Marissa: I like that the author made them seem like I was listening in on two real people having a conversation and not just characters written on paper. And there were a few really nice quotes that I found myself highlighting so thats always nice.

What did you rate in on Goodreads?
Mackenzie: ★★★★
Mallory: ★★★★
Maria: ★★★
Marissa: ★★★★

FRIDAY READS (#6)

Finally a weekend that I don’t have to work on a Saturday! But unfortunately I have a wedding to go to, so I’m going to be a little busy. But I do plan on making some very much needed reading time.

This weekend I will be reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Right now I’m about 22% of the way through and I’m not loving it so far but I am really hoping it picks up!

Click here to find it on Goodreads
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I’ve got a couple of posts coming up this weekend so be on the look out for those!

Let me know what you are reading this weekend in the comments!
🙂

Mallory

BOOK REVIEW: BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP BY S.J. WATSON

9736930Title: Before I Go to Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Published: 2011 by Harper
359 pages
Click here to find it on Goodreads

Maria’s thoughts:
Christine wakes up every morning confused, not knowing where or who she is until seeing pictures of herself taped onto the bathroom mirror. Not even recognizing her own husband, Christine must be told, day after day, that she has a severe case of amnesia and will forget everything the moment she falls into a deep sleep. She has no choice but to rely on the husband that seems like a stranger to her, because she has no one else – that is until she starts seeing Dr. Nash.

Dr. Nash wants nothing more than to help Christine remember her past so she can begin living a happier life. He truly believes that writing in a journal on a daily basis may help trigger her memories. Christine decides to give this method a try – desperately wanting remember what had happened to her. The more Christine writes in her journal, which she keeps hidden away for only her to see, the more she questions if the story her husband is telling her is the truth.

Christine was a wonderful character to read about. She was very determined and strong. I kept putting myself in her shoes while reading and I don’t know how she did it. Throughout this journey, with many bumps along the road, Christine does not give up. She is also extremely smart. I enjoy reading about characters who put pieces together all on their own. Despite what people are telling Christine – there is really no way for her to know if they are telling the truth. She is brave, facing her fears and visiting the places of her past, no matter how frightening, and doing everything she can to remember who she is and what had happened to her.

S.J Watson has a very addicting and thrilling writing style. I had to keep reading. I could not let myself put this book down until finally finding out what really happened to our main character Christine. This book kept me on edge and guessing the entire time. I also really enjoyed that this story allowed us to read what was written in Christine’s journal. The journal entries added much more to the story and made it seem much more realistic.

I honestly had my doubts before picking this one up. I thought it might be boring because I typically read YA books, and I thought it would be repetitive because Christine has to be told who she is every single day. I WAS WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Far from being dull, this book was MYSTERIOUS, HAUNTING, SUSPENSEFUL and ADDICTING. I read this in one single night, staying up quite a bit later than usual (I also had a hard time falling asleep after finishing because I was mind blown after reading the ending.)

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars. It has earned its rightful place on my favorite’s shelf, so I would DEFINITELY recommend this to mature teenagers and adults. Oh my goodness. Just read this book.

And one more thing… Be careful who you trust.

Mallory’s thoughts:
Morning after morning, Christine wakes up into the life of a woman she doesn’t know. Each morning she wakes up next to a strange man that she doesn’t recognize, only to find out that it is her husband, Ben. Over and over again he explains to Christine that she has amnesia and cannot remember anything after she falls asleep. He tells her to go into the bathroom where he has pictures taped to the mirror for her. She finally settles down for the day and Ben leaves for work..and then Dr. Nash calls. He tells her that they have been seeing each other and working on Christine’s memory. He also tells her that she has been keeping a secret journal that is hidden away in her closet. Day after day Christine reads through her previous days until little by little she starts to remember what happened to her.

One of the most interesting concepts I’ve read about all year. It was so interesting being inside Christine’s head and really feeling what she is going through. She was an amazingly strong character to read about and had me rooting for her the entire time. I now consider myself very lucky that I can wake up and remember my days.

I loved that a lot of this book is told from Christine’s journal, it gives such a great effect. I was a little scared because Christine reads the same thing over and over each day and I thought that would become repetitively annoying and boring, but it was so well done that it didn’t seem that way at all.

As a debut novel I am extremely impressed with Watson’s writing. He has a new book coming out next year and I will not hesitate checking it out.

There is also a movie coming out starring Colin Firth (swoon) and Nicole Kidman. The trailer looks great and I can’t wait to watch it! You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtSzAEvBIK0

I recommend this book to everyone! Please don’t hesitate checking it out because you mainly read young adult or other certain genres. This is a book that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

A 4/5 star rating from me.

NEW RELEASE: THE FIRES OF CALDERON BY LINDSAY CUMMINGS

97ebac40-7537-4db5-be91-d26de497909dTitle: The Fires of Calderon
Author: Lindsay Cummings
Published: 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
352 pages
First in the Balance Keepers series
Click here to find it on Goodreads

Blurb:
The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile….

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This book is out in stores everywhere today! Go out and pick up a copy!

#booknerdigans

FIRST DAY OF FALL – MARIA’S FALL FAVORITES 2014

1. Warm drinks – This fall I am falling in love with pumpkin spiced lattes. As much as I appreciate my normal cup of coffee, this special beverage warms me right up!
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2. Candles – I want to buy every single fall scented candle from bath and body works. They all smell wonderful and really put me into the fall mood every time I light them.

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3. Pumpkin cupcakes – I have a thing for all things pumpkin this year. and this recipe is just so easy and delicious that I can’t help myself. With only two ingrediants (mixing pumpkin puree with a cake mix) you can create yummy pumpkin treats.
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4. Spooky, suspenseful reads – I read paranormal all year long and it is one of my favorite genres, but reading those kind of books around Halloween is just PERFECTION. It is also probably the only time of year that I give horror books a try. I am so excited to jump into my October TBR this year 🙂 Here are a few great books/series for the fall:

The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
The Shadow Falls series by C,C Hunter
The Immortal Beloved series by Cate Tiernan
The Secret Circle series by L.J Smith
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
The Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia
The Shining by Stephen King
Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson

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5. Knitted sweaters – I plan on doing lots of reading and studying this fall, which means comfy warm clothes. If I could wear my fall sweaters every single day, I would.
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6. Halloween movies – Halloween town, Twitches… Pretty much every single family channel halloween movie is on my favorites list because I grew up obsessing over them.
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7. Pumpkin carving – Again with the pumpkins! But this is a tradition! I actually take my pumpkin carving pretty seriously and it’s a great fun way to get the creative juices flowing.
halloween-pumpkin-carving-ideas-1
8. Walks – The fall has the perfect weather for nice long walks. I really enjoy doing this while listening to a good audiobook! Killing two birds with one stone : reading and excersice 🙂
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9. Turkey – I love to eat and I love thanksgiving! What else is there to say?
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10. Reading week – I litteraly have a university reading week at the end of this month. Lets be honest though, I have other reading plans for that week.

What are your fall favorites? Am I missing out on anything? I’m also really curious about what your favorite October/fall books are. Let me know in the comments below:)

Maria

FRIDAY READS (#5)

It’s that time of the week again! One more day of work for me and then hopefully I’ll get a nice relaxing reading weekend.

So I am currently reading Whispers at Moonrise by C.C. Hunter. This is the fourth book in the Shadow Falls series and is one of my monthly reads with Maria. We will have a full review of this one up probably in the month of October. It’s okay so far, I’m only 22% of the way through and I’m hoping the excitement picks up.

Click here to find it on Goodreads
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What are you reading this weekend? Let me know!

Mallory