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Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Waiting on Wednesday is weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Lucid by Ron Bass and Adrienne Stoltz
July 19th, 2012

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different – except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever. 

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, so when I saw the title of this book, I was instantly interested. And then I read the synopsis. And it sounds so intriguing! I’m curious to see how the plot will play out. It totally sounds like the kind of book I would love.

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REVIEW: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind
(Unwind Trilogy #1)
by Neal Shusterman
Nov 6th, 2007
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Source: Library


In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

I felt many things throughout reading Unwind: anger, disgust, fear, hope. Any book that illicits these kinds of strong emotions is a good one. And I believe that it is particularly important in a dystopian novel that it make you feel: for the characters, and for the world they live in. And I definitely did feel for the three protagonists, as well as for a lot of the minor characters.

Unwind is told through the perspective of many characters. A lot of times in books told through multiple perspectives, there just isn’t enough time to fully develop each character so, as a result, you don’t connect with anyone. Or sometimes all the protagonists are so similar that they meld into one bland character. Thankfully, this is not the case in Unwind. Each of the three protagonists–Risa, Connor, and Lev–has their own distinct personalities. I liked them all and was able to relate to them. Their fates were so unfair and I felt myself getting angry on their behalf.

The book also makes you think about many difficult questions: What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be human? Do we have souls? Should anyone have the right to decide who lives or dies? Obviously, there aren’t any concrete answers to these questions, and Shusterman doesn’t attempt to answer them. Unwind takes a fairly neutral stance on these issues, just laying them out for the reader to decide for themselves.

Ultimately, Unwind is a powerful dystopian novel along to the lines of The Giver and The Hunger Games that really makes you think. There are a couple of quite disturbing scenes in the book, one in particular that kept me awake thinking about it and, I suspect it will stay with me for some time. I’d recommend Unwind to fans of young adult dystopian fiction.
Rating: 4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday – Childhood Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This was a really fun list to put together! So much nostalgia! Anyway, here they are, my top ten childhood favorites, in no particular order:

1. Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Bunnicula is about a family who adopts a rabbit who may or may not be a vampire (hence the title) and the adventures of the family dog and cat as they try to figure out what’s up with the new pet. This book was super popular in my fourth grade class, so my teacher would sometimes read aloud from it. I haven’t read it since then, but for some reason the book stuck with me and I remember it fondly, no matter how silly it probably was.

2. Arthur Adventure Series by Marc Brown
Whenever my class in elementary school got to go to the school library, I would always head straight to the section that housed the Arthur books. Most of the time, they were all checked out by the time I got there, but every once in a while I would get my hands on a coveted Arthur book and I’d check it out, whether I had read it before or not. There is something very charming about an aardvark going through common childhood situations, like getting glasses, loosing a tooth, or welcoming a new member to the family. I also loved the tv show and maybe even still watch reruns of it today.

3. Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell
As a child, I was one of those little girls obsessed with horses, so it’s no wonder that I eventually discovered this series when I was nine and then devoured the fifty or so books in the series in one summer.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl
I could put any number of Roald Dahl books on this list, but I chose The BFG because it was the first of his books that I ever read. It’s also a really adorable story and I definitely want to reread it again!

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
I remember thinking this was the coolest book ever when I first read it ten or so years ago; even today I still think it’s a fantastic read. It has some very likable and complex characters as well as a really interesting plot. If you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should!

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver was an assigned reading book in seventh grade, so while most of the kids in my class ended up hating it just because they were forced to read it, I was enraptured with it from the very first page. It really struck a chord with me and made me think about things I’d never thought about before. Today it remains one of my favorite books ever.

7. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game was my first real science fiction book and, like The Giver, really made me think.

8. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Misty of Chincoteague was one of the very first horse books I read and probably was one of the reasons why I became so obsessed with them. I wanted so badly to go to Chincoteague and get my own wild pony after I read the book. Heck, I still want to go to Chincoteague, honestly.

9. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Black Beauty is the quintessential, classic horse book, and for good reason. It’s beautifully written and teaches how it’s necessary to show empathy towards animals. This is another book that’s due for a reread.

10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
No childhood favorites list would be complete without Harry Potter. Obviously, this wasn’t the first book I read or even the first book I loved, but it still holds a very special place in my heart, simply because I grew up with Harry and the rest of the Hogwarts gang. I was eleven when I first read Sorcerer’s Stone, and I had recently turned seventeen when I read the very last page of Deathly Hallows. So these books were a huge part of my childhood, and I honestly don’t think I’d be the person I am today without them.

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In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created and hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that allows book bloggers to share the books we bought, borrowed, or received this week.

Borrowed from my Library:

More library books! I already finished reading Unwind; a review should be up later today or tomorrow. Next up will probably be Jellicoe Road. I haven’t read a ya contemporary in ages, so I’m really looking forward to it!

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Fangirl Friday

I may not be the most talented person in the world, but if there is one thing I know I’m awesome at, it’s this: fangirling the heck out of something! So, in honor of this talent, I’ve decided to dedicate each Friday to whatever (or whomever) has caused me to squee, flail, and generally act like a deranged monkey during the previous week.

I started watching The Secret Circle last week and though I’ve only seen the first two episodes, I’m already hooked! It’s definitely a guilty pleasure type show, what with the, uh, interesting acting going on (lol). But it’s got hot guys! And magic! And secrets! And some of the creators of Vampire Diaries tv show (which I LOVE but am seriously behind on) are working on this as well, so it’s a total winner already! Also, I just always tend to love tv shows based on young adult books, especially ones I haven’t read, because it’s like watching the book unfold onscreen without, you know, actually having to read it. Plus there’s way more time available to develop the plot and characters than in a movie. Anyway, like I said, I’m only two episodes in, so here’s hoping it will continue being just as fun!

What has made you fangirl (or fanboy) this week?

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REVIEW: Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Tiger’s Curse
(Tiger Series #1)
by Colleen Houck
Jan 1st, 2011
Sterling
Source: Library


The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.

But that’s exactly what happened.

Face-to-face with dark forces, spell- binding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

Tiger’s Curse starts with Kelsey Hayes taking on a two-week temp job at a circus. Part of her job is to help out with feeding the circus’ white tiger, named Dhiren, whom she starts calling Ren. Kelsey finds herself attached to the tiger and starts spending all her free time alone with Ren while he’s in his cage. Shortly after, a mysterious Indian man called Mr. Kadam comes to the circus in order to buy Ren and take him to an animal reserve in India. Kelsey and Mr. Kadam talk about Ren, and once Kelsey’s temp job is over, he offers her a job in the form of accompanying the tiger to India. Once in India, Kelsey finds out that Mr. Kadam and Ren, the tiger, aren’t exactly as they seem.

When I started reading Tiger’s Curse, I was a little skeptical about whether I would actually like it or not. First of all, Kelsey, the heroine of the story, seemed much younger than 17/18 (she was 17 at the beginning of the book, but turned 18 about 50 pages in). The book is told in first person perspective and the writing almost seemed more middle grade than young adult; the prose was very simple and straightforward. Additionally, some of the dialogue was very stilted and awkward. Here is one example, which is Kelsey’s response to hearing the tragic tale of the Indian prince, Dhiren, from Mr. Kadam: “That’s a very sad sequence of events. I feel sorry for everyone, except for the bad guy, of course. A great story, though a bit bloody. An Indian tragedy. It reminds me of Shakespeare. He would have written a great play based on that tale. So, Ren is named after that Indian prince?” Yeah. Besides that, the actual premise of the book is jarringly unrealistic. I don’t think many people would let a 17 year old girl anywhere near a full grown tiger, let alone spend time with it by herself (yeah, he was in a cage, but still). And apparently no one thinks its strange for some random guy to offer tons of money to a teenage girl to take her to India to supervise a tiger she’s only spent time with for two weeks.

Despite this, well, preposterous beginning, I actually found Tiger’s Curse inexplicably charming. Once I got past the first 100 pages, the story really picked up and I think the writing actually improved (either that or I just got used to it). The book was highly addictive and utterly readable; I devoured it fairly quickly. I think the setting in India, plus the somewhat unique use of tigers as the paranormal element really saved it from being too cliche, at least for me. If it had been set in the US with a more common supernatural being (vampire, angel, werewolf, etc) I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much.

I loved the characters as well, even Kelsey! Which is a surprise, considering my less than favorable reaction to her at the beginning of the book. I was unsure about Mr. Kadam at first, too, but his grandfatherly charm won me over very quickly. And then there’s Ren. Ah, Ren. He started out as a two-dimensional gorgeous and charming love interest with no real personality beyond being devoted to Kelsey. But as the story progressed his character became more fleshed out and believable. But the real star of the book, for me at least, was Kishan, Ren’s brother. I found him way more interesting than Ren, even though he wasn’t in the book all that much.

Even though I loved Kishan, I was still rooting for Kelsey and Ren. I wanted those crazy kids to make it work, somehow! I liked that their romance didn’t start up right away. Sure, it was pretty quick, but the heroine was surprisingly self aware about it. I mean, yeah, whenever she’s near him her heart sped up, she forgot to breath, *insert another cliche here*, but Kelsey notes that they haven’t know each other long and she’s never really been in a relationship. She actually thought about whether she wanted to progress their relationship. We really got a good look inside Kelsey’s head and her thoughts about Ren. I loved that.

All in all, I really enjoyed Tiger’s Curse. I’d recommend the book  to those fans of paranormal romance who are looking for something a little different.
Rating: 4/5

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Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
May 1, 2012

Bitterblue is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms eight years after Graceling. This third book will tie all three books together in some way. Bitterblue is the sixteen-year-old protagonist, and Katsa, Po, Giddon, Helda, and other characters from Graceling will be part of the fabric of the book.

I ADORED both Graceling and Fire, so it’d be an understatement to say I’m excited to get my hands on Bitterblue, the third book in The Seven Kingdoms series. I couldn’t find a more detailed synopsis, but I don’t even need to know what it’s about to know that I’ll probably love it. 2012 can’t come soon enough!