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Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Book: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 4, 2011

Genre: Fiction

Format/pages: Hardcover 211 pages

Format read/Source: Hardcover from library

Date read: February 27 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

My Thoughts:

In David Levithan’s first book for the older than young-adult crowd, we follow the ups and downs of a relationship as told through short dictionary entries. The nitty-gritty of coupledom is explored from first meeting to moving in. This is a short and sweet chronicle of a relationship, and falling in love.

I have enjoyed David Levithan’s writing in the books he has co-authored with Rachel Cohn and John Green. This is the first I have read that he has authored alone. His familiar writing style shines through in this book, and solidifies my admiration of his work. I also think the cover art suits this book perfectly with the words contained in a heart shape.

The narrator is an unnamed male and the story is told in dictionary style from A-Z. One word per page is chosen and includes the parts of speech as in a dictionary. This becomes the starting off point to describe an event in the relationship. It is fun to read the creative words he chooses for each letter and see how the story relates. I even learned some new vocabulary words in this book.

Starting out, I was not sure that it was going to be easy to follow the story in this format of short entries. However, the emotions and feelings of the characters come through well and the story works in this format. It is interesting that sometimes a new word entry will  revisit or continue a scene discussed within a previous entry. At first I thought I was re-reading a page before I realized that the scene was expanded.

The good, the bad and the ugly moments are included in this intimate look at relationships. The writing is observant and sharp in documenting the day-to-day life of adjusting to being a couple. I enjoyed this insightful, quick read and recommend it for fans of David Levithan’s books and fans of contemporary fiction. Although this book is written for adults, I found it shelved in the Young Adult section at the library. I urge you to seek out this moving and honest portrayal of love and relationships.

The author has created a twitter feed with new definitions written in character: http://twitter.com/#!/loversdiction

You can also find out more about the author on his website or facebook page, and read more about the book on Amazon or Goodreads.

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Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Book: Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Published by: Dutton Books, September 16 2010

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Format/pages: Hardcover 200 pages

Format read/Source: Hardcover from library

Date read: February 26 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

My Thoughts:

Set in a bleak world in the near future, Grace has been trained to give her life for the People’s cause to oust ruler Keran Berj. Grace has always known this was her path, and she was prepared to die when it was asked of her. However, she always had her doubts, and when the time came she was unable to fulfill her mission. Now Grace is on the run and with a traveling companion who is also running from the past.

This is the second book I have read from this author, the first being Living Dead Girl. Both books are compelling, haunting stories wrapped in a small package. At only 200 pages, this book can be read in one setting. However, the subject matter is weighty, timely and thought provoking. The short chapters and spare writing powerfully convey the character’s frame of mind.

The story begins as Grace has hopped a train and is on the run; the details of how she got there are filled in through flashbacks. The whole story had me on edge as I felt Grace’s anxiousness and fright as she waited to get caught. She has spent her whole life being told what to do and now is trying to understand and learn what it will be like to be free. She has always felt out of place as she has watched the other Angels go so willingly to complete their suicide missions. With the help of her traveling companion Kerr, Grace is questioning all that she ever knew. Kerr has his own heart breaking story to tell, and I was pulled into his story as much as Grace’s.

Most of the action takes place on the train, and the claustrophobic environment contributes to the moody atmosphere of the story. Some of the difficult scenes take place “off camera” and are even more mysterious and disturbing as the reader is left to fill in the blanks. The character of Grace makes hard choices and is brave to go off into the unknown to live life for herself. This haunting character struck a chord with me.

Grace is a powerful dystopian book set in a recognizable near future world. The themes are those that many will relate to with several discussion points that could be explored in a classroom setting.

I’m glad I took a chance on this book, and maybe next time I’ll even read one of this author’s lighter novels. Elizabeth Scott’s next book is called Between Here and Forever and is due out in May 2011.

I read this book as part of Presenting Lenore’s Dystopian February event. Check out her blog to find out more about the dystopian genre.

For more information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s blog

Waiting on Wednesday: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine highlighting upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s selection is the YA Paranormal/Horror novel POSSESS by debut author Gretchen McNeil. I saw the cover today and thought it was striking and frightening. POSSESS has an intriguing premise about a girl who hears demons and has the ability to banish them. It has mystery, action, romance, and demons of course. Looks like this is a book to read with the lights on. Can’t wait to check it out.

Summary from Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Turns out the voices are demons–the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind–and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco’s senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget’s help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget’s oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father’s murder, Bridget realizes she can’t trust anyone. An interview with her father’s murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim’s plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse–the human vessel for a Demon King.

POSSESS is due to be published August 23 2011 by Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins.

For more information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Blog | Author’s Twitter

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Book: THE UNIDENTIFIED by Rae Mariz

Published by: Balzer + Bray / Harper Teen, October 5, 2010

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Format/pages: Hardcover 296 pages

Format read/Source: Hardcover from library

Date read: February 21 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Challenges: 100 Books/Year, Dystopia

Summary from Goodreads:

Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.

When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn’t have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign.

My Thoughts:

This dystopian book tackles privacy, social networking and consumerism. It has a fast pace and is set in a recognizable world in the future where corporate sponsors run school in abandoned shopping malls. The students rack up points and friends with the goal of becoming “branded” by a sponsor. This is a smart dystopian book with punchy dialogue written with original slang that is a relevant commentary on privacy and consumer issues faced today. With so many vacancies in shopping malls and budget cuts plaguing schools today it makes me wonder if this type of society could occur.

The Game is attractive to parents because it is a safe place for students to go to avoid the dangers of the outside world. The students are monitored with tracking devices that the parents can follow. The video game like school makes learning fun as the students develop their own educational plan based on their interests. The sponsors compete for the students’ interest with their own modules such as math tests on a flight simulator.

The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) is not playing the Game to her full potential. She has few friends on her intouch device and is not a conformist. She does not have the resources to follow the latest fashion trends that would get her noticed by a sponsor. Her best friend Ari has bought into the Game whole-heartedly and would do anything to get sponsored. Kid starts to question her role in the Game when she witnesses a rebellious act by a group called The Unidentified, and gains some sponsor attention. Kid learns that the popularity and gifts afforded by the sponsors comes with strings attached.

In this world there is no privacy and all the students “perform” in school as if they are being watched on camera at all times, which they are. School popularity and cliques are taken to a whole new level with the students trying to stay on top of the trends in order to get free clothes from the sponsors. They follow the rules unquestioningly to avoid the dreaded “Game Over”.  It is hard to find someone to trust and a true friend in this society where gossip and backstabbing are the norm. Even rebellion can be trendy.

I enjoyed this book and following Kid on her journey in the Game. It is a unique observation of identity, privacy and consumerism. This is Rae Mariz’s debut novel and it is a stand-alone book. Recommended if you enjoyed other YA Sci-fi dystopians such as Across The Universe.

I read this book as part of Presenting Lenore’s Dystopian February event. Check out her blog to find out more about the dystopian genre.

For more information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Authors website | Authors twitter

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Book to Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish featuring a new top ten list each week. Everyone can participate- head on over to their blog and sign up.

This week’s topic is Top 10 Book to Movie Adaptations. I generally like to read the books before I see the movie version. It’s usually hard for a movie to measure up to the book, but these adaptations are some of my favorites. In no particular order:

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Based on a graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim is a very unique and visually exciting adaptation.

2. Twilight – The first film is my favorite of the series, but I have enjoyed the film adaptations as a whole. Does a good job adapting the material and with the cast and soundtrack.

3. About A Boy – A well cast and charming film starring Hugh Grant. A bit different than the book, but a heart warming film. Also enjoyed the film version of High Fidelity also by Nick Hornby, with John Cusack and Jack Black.

4. The Outsiders – Loved seeing this when I was reading the book for school. A great companion to the book. Rumble Fish is an enjoyable adaptation as well.

5. The Princess Diaries – A fun, cute, feel good film that captures the sweet and light tone of the book. Anne Hathaway is great as Mia.

6. Speak - The film adapts the difficult subject matter well. Kristen Stewart does a great job with the starring role.

7. Bridget Jones Diary – Captures the tone of the book very well. Love the cast too. Now, the sequel on the other hand…

8. Little Women – The film version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon is a touching, emotional and sometimes funny adaptation. A faithful update on the classic book.

9. Ella Enchanted – Charming and funny, I watched this many times with my daughter. An entertaining adaptation starring Anne Hathaway.

10. Harry Potter – Exciting event films that bring the book classics to life. Great cast and visual effects.

edited to add:

11. The Notebook – This romantic, emotional film succeeds very well due to the great chemistry of the leading actors. The book translates successfully to film and has great re-watch appeal.

There are many upcoming movie adaptations I’m looking forward to, such as Beastly, Water for Elephants, The Hunger Games, City of Bones, Breaking Dawn, and If I Stay.

What are your favorite book to movie adaptations? Feel free to share your links below.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Book: Birthmarked by Caragh. M. O’Brien

Published by: Roaring Brook Press, March 30 2010

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Format/pages: Hardcover 362 pages

Format read/Source: Hardcover from library

Date read: February 16 2011

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

My Thoughts:

Birthmarked is a thrilling, action-packed dystopian by 2010 YA debut author Caragh O’Brien. I was in the mood to read a good, satisfying dystopian and Birthmarked really fit the bill. This book should satisfy those looking for something similar to the Hunger Games with its intrigue, mystery and suspense.

The dystopian world is set up very well, with a plausible concept, and the characters are compelling. The protagonist, midwife Gaia Stone, is brave and faces danger at every turn. Her parents kept some secrets from her to keep her safe. However, now that they have been captured Gaia must use her wits and code-solving skills to help save them. I have not read a book with codes before and thought that was an interesting element.

The plot is thought provoking regarding the midwives and ethical dilemmas. The midwives have a monthly baby quota to fulfill for the Enclave. I was not sure of the Enclave’s intentions regarding the birth records. It seemed sometimes that their intentions were good in that they wanted to look for a suppressor gene to combat the health concerns plaguing the Enclave. However, their methods were suspect and their jump to imprison the midwives and doctors made them even more suspicious.

In addition to the code solving mystery and action, there is a little romance thrown into the mix. Gaia has great chemistry with Captain Leon Grey. Their relationship begins slowly and believably as they learn to trust each other. It is nice to see someone who can look past Gaia’s scars and believe in her.

The book is paced very well, and held my interest from beginning to end. The suspense ramps up toward the end and I couldn’t put the book down. There are some surprising twists along the way. The ending is sudden and intense, and sets up a whole new story for Gaia. I can’t wait to read what happens next. Those looking for a satisfying dystopian after finishing the Hunger Games should enjoy this series. Recommended also for fans of YA, dystopian, and sci-fi.

Birthmarked is the first book in a trilogy. The sequel, Prized, comes out in November 2011, which is entirely too far away.

I read this book as part of Presenting Lenore’s Dystopian February event. Check out her blog to find out more about the dystopian genre.

For more information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Authors blog | Authors twitter

 

Giveaway: Across The Universe by Beth Revis

For my first giveaway on this blog, I am excited to offer Across The Universe by 2011 debut author Beth Revis.

I really enjoyed this book – it’s an exciting sci-fi read for fans of YA, sci-fi or dystopian books. You can read my review here. I ended up with an extra copy and I wanted to offer it to one of my blog readers.

Prize includes: 1 Hardcover copy of Across the Universe (shown with reversible cover) and some author signed book swag:

Here is a summary of the book from Goodreads:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Contest Rules:

  • To enter, please fill out this form
  • Entrants must be at least 13 years of age
  • Contest deadline is at midnight PST March 1 2011
  • Contest open to U.S. and Canada residents only

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate all my readers and subscribers and enjoy each and every comment.

Good luck!

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