Saturday, August 31, 2013

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

  Now that we're on the subject of dystopian societies (see my previous book reviews for The Giver by Lois Lowry and Matched by Ally Condie), I'd like to talk about Unwind by Neal Shusterman.
  I have not read many of Stephen King's books so I can't say that it's one of the scariest plots out there, but I can say that Unwind has some of the most horrifying concepts I've seen. It scarred me for life. It's completely unthinkable and horrifying to say the least.
  Unwind is one of those books where when I'm not reading it (or the sequel, Unwholly) I tend to forget about it, but when I get back in the Unwinding mindset, I think, "Holy crap, this is good!"
  It's post Second Civil War, where the argument over reproductive rights has been settled with an agreement: Children must be born no matter what the circumstances and between the ages of 13 and 18, if the parents choose, the child can be "Unwound."
  Unwinding is an alternate solution to death...but in my opinion, it may be worse.
  I can't say it's one of my favorite books/series out there because I do love other books more than I love Neal Shusterman's work, but I definitely put his books with Darren Shan (Cirque du Freak), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Rick Riordan (The Lightning Thief). I LOVE male main characters, more so than female main characters. There's less drama, less romance and less whining (in my opinion). I have a problem with unnecessary romance in YA books. For example; a book has an awesome plot, lots of adventure and intrigue, a strong male character and other beneficial and lovable characters...and then they introduce a girl that just ends up causing problems for the main character. Unwind does have romance and a minuscule amount of romance, but it doesn't ruin the plot for me.
  Like Percy and Annabeth (from The Lightning Thief), but unlike Thomas and Teresa (from The Maze Runner).
  This is a crazy, frightening and traumatizing book...and I loved every bit of it.

Book                                 ebook

Friday, August 30, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

  I started Matched by Ally Condie, thinking that it was going to be like every other dystopian society book out there: Order, rebellion, life, love, death, etc. It started off like the beginning of every novel; the introduction of the main character and description of scenery...
  And that's where the similarities ended.
  Everything Ally Condie described- the pages of books fluttering out of the spine like brittle bones from a corpse, and the passion a boy has for words and poetry- was pure magic. The way she wrote, even describing a simple leaf, was absolute poetry. At points I even stopped reading, put the book down and closed my eyes to picture perfectly what she was saying.
  Cassia Reyes, the main character in Matched, lives in a society where the government (A.K.A. Officials) decides who you are supposed to fall in love with. Every 17 year old has their own Matching Banquet where they will finally see who they are meant to be with...and for Cassia, things couldn't be more confusing.
  All is well. Cassia's match has been chosen for her and it just so happens to be her best friend, Xander. But when another's face flashes across the screen, Cassia can't help but feel there's a reason behind it...
  This book was not what I expected whatsoever. I was expecting another Divergent or Hunger Games and I was pleasantly surprised with a book that was much more than that.
  Honestly, there's not much more to say. Only that if you've read Markus Zusak's writing, you'll understand when I say that Ally Condie has the same talent...the same magic in her words as Markus Zusak.
  This book (for me) was very fulfilling, I finished it feeling like I've read a beautiful piece of poetry.

Book                                ebook

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

  As an avid reader with a passion and love for books, all things reading whether it's good or bad, I had to pick up the dreaded...Fifty Shades of Grey.
  Before it was popular, before it was printed in Mass Market Paperback, it was picked in my online book club for the "book of the month." It was an ebook, there was no paper copy to buy easily and the only way to have it in your hands and feel the paper was to buy it directly from the The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House, E.L. James' publisher at the time.
  I voted for it. I read the synopsis (which in no way, indicated how romantic and steamy it was going to be) and I was determined to read it. Christian Grey sounded like an interesting character to read and learn about, and with Ana, what's better than a young, doe-eyed college girl ending up with a sexy billionaire? Nothing, I tell you.
  When it was chosen for book club, I celebrated. I wanted to read it, dang it!
  Well...I got about a third of the way through and muttered to myself, in the middle of Books-A-Million, "I cannot believe I'm reading this, I cannot believe I'm READING THIS!" It was! So much more intense than my everyday vampire romance novels. (Not that Fifty Shades is vampire romance.)
  I'm sure we all know the story, but I'll run through it again anyway.
  Ana, a young college student and also our main character, decides to take over her roommate, Kate's job of interviewing dashing and filthy rich billionaire, Christian Grey and bites off a little more than she can chew.
  Christian becomes interested in Ana, her wit and her sweet smile, and offers her another position to fill. (Pun intended.) There's heartbreak, scenes that will (without a doubt) make you blush and a back story that will tear your emotions apart. That is what I fell in love with. The back story, not the sins of the flesh.
  When I finished Fifty Shades of Grey, I HAD to read the sequel. (If you've read the trilogy, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.) Then after I finished the second book, I was chomping at the bit for Fifty Shades Freed's release. I was hooked. Absolutely and positively hooked.
  Especially now, with people out there fighting against it, saying that it's too raunchy to keep on bookshelves, I have to protect it. There are worse books out there and believe me, I've read them.
  Now that I've said that, if you happen to be the type of reader that pays close attention to writing styles, uses of phrases and vocabulary, don't read it. It'll only make you twitch. (Keep in mind, Fifty Shades of Grey was written originally as Twilight fanfiction by E.L. James. It was not meant to become a New York Times Bestseller.)
  E.L. James is a British author who is narrating as a college age girl from Seattle and...well, it's not very believable at times. She uses a lot of phraseology and words that a woman Ana's age typically wouldn't use.
  Some hate Fifty Shades...some (like me) love it, warts and all.
  It's up to a reader, like yourself, to decide which of the two you are.

Book                                ebook

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An interview with Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles

  I had the honor of "sitting down" with Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles and chatted with them about their success, their novels, and their new book, Nocturne. Here's what we're looking forward to... 

  From the bestselling authors of In The Stillness and The Last Hour, a new story of forbidden love and second chances.
  Savannah Marshall is a gifted flutist and daughter of musical royalty when she enrolls in the elite New England Conservatory of Music. Brilliant, eclectic and passionate, she lives music, but struggles with her plans for the future.
  Gregory Fitzgerald is one of the most renowned cellists of his generation. A member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and professor at the Conservatory, he is laser focused on his career to the exclusion of friends, family and especially romance.
  When Gregory and Savannah's paths cross in the classroom, it threatens to challenge more than their wildly differing beliefs on music. Friendships, ethics, and careers are put on the line as Gregory and Savannah play a symphony of passion and heartbreak.
  In the final movement, Gregory and Savannah are handed their greatest challenge, as the loss of absolutely everything they've held as truths hangs in the balance.

An interview with Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles: 

The Literary Connoisseur: How do you like co-authoring a project/book? Do you prefer to write with someone, or do you prefer writing on your own?

CSM: Until a few months ago, I didn’t think I’d ever collaborate with another author.  We started to approach the idea when both of us were working on projects early in 2013 and we realized our writing process was so compatible. I’m going to say it’s such a different experience that I can’t state a preference. I loved working with Andrea, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to do it again.

AR: I’d discussed the idea of collaborating on shorter projects, like a novella, with an author friend of mine. We’re still working on it. I hadn’t ever considered a full-length novel with someone. Then, Charles and I were in a critique group together and I read an interview he’d done on a blog while we were in that group and he said that the only author he’d consider collaborating with was me. I was flabbergasted and was sure he was drunk. He wasn’t. At least I don’t think he was :)  I don’t have a preference either. While I’m looking forward to resuming my solo project, I’m also looking forward to a collaboration again.

CSM: I was not drunk.

TLC: What would you say are the highs and lows of writing/being an author? 

CSM: For me, the high is when someone contacts me and tells me that something I’ve written has, in some way, had a profound impact on someone’s life or thoughts. I tend to write about things I’m very passionate about, so it means a lot to me when that reaches people.

AR: My highs come from people talking about my book, especially people I don’t know. While I have been very moved by some of the touching emails I receive regarding In the Stillness, just as gratifying are the messages about the November Blue series, where people most often thank me for the fanciful escape. The lows … hm … it’s a finicky industry and it can be frustrating to figure out what readers want. It’s hard to sometimes remind myself to write what I want to write because that’s what I’ve always done and that’s what’s produced, for me, the best work. 

TLC: This is somewhat related to the previous question. Charles, have you gotten any political backlash from your fans because of your books and their subject matter? 

CSM: Occasionally I do get negative responses due to the heavy political content in my books. But what’s interesting is that while my more political stories like Republic are steeped in American political issues, people tend to read their own opinions into mine. I have reviews, both positive and negative, praising or attacking me for being a Republican, and others that praise or attack me for being the opposite. Go figure. I write about things that are important. 

TLC: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

CSM: Right here. Writing. In love. I’m already living out my life long dreams.

AR: Right here, in love, writing, with several series and stand alone books under my belt. I’m planning a non-fiction release for next year, I think (eep) and I’d love to play with other genres. 

TLC: And lastly, when did it finally hit you that, "Oh my gosh, I'm an author!" 

CSM: I’m going to answer that this happened the first time I paid all of my monthly bills solely from writing income. I’m doing this full time now and it’s amazing. 

AR: While this is the only thing I do … I don’t know if I’m actually *there* in my thought process yet. It’s still surreal, considering I published my first book 11 months ago. 

  Meet Andrea and Charles: 

Andrea Randall:

I started writing poetry long before writing fiction. I firmly believe Poetry is a solid foundation for all other forms of writing. It taught me that a single word can make or break the world.
I write fiction because my characters have a story and they want me to tell it.
I hope you enjoy the pieces of my soul that I share with you.

Charles Sheehan-Miles:

Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive, and is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future.

To find out more about Andrea and Charles:

Click here for Andrea:

Click here for Charles: 

If you'd like a chance to win an ebook copy of Andrea Randall's Ten Days of Perfect, an ebook copy of Charles Sheehan-Miles' The Last Hour, or a $100 Amazon gift card, 
click here for:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

  From the very first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers house, she knew that she was going to own it one day. Even though she was only five, she knew she was destined to live in and own that house. And now, after 25 years, Greywethers is now hers. Julia may think that fate brought her to this house, that she was meant to live there, but she soon believes that she's not only connected to the house, but to its history and its previous inhabitants as well...
  I am a HUGE fan of Susanna Kearsley. Everything I've read by her has been amazing, brilliant, exceptional and a five star novel, in my opinion. When I read Mariana, the only previous experiences I had with her work were The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden. Both had me sobbing uncontrollably for happy and sad reasons. But when I started was different.
  About halfway through Mariana, my mom asked me how I liked it, and I responded with an honest, "It's...good" but without enthusiasm. For some reason, it just wasn't hitting me emotionally like the others before it! I wasn't attached to the characters, the story wasn't grabbing me like The Rose Garden had and I was just...blah.
  But then I got to the last chapter. I got about halfway through, stopped and said, "Well, wait a second! What is going on here?" and that is what got me steamrolling to the ending.
  The last few pages...I swear, were the BIGGEST shocker of my life. I had a complete double take, a shake of the head to clear my thoughts, a slap to my face to say, "Is this reality?!" and...I was done. I finished the book, stared ahead and cried. And cried, and cried, and cried.
  I can't say whether it was out of happiness or sadness because I WILL NOT give away spoilers. Just wow. I was absolutely blown away and impressed by Susanna Kearsley's way of turning my "Eh" review of Mariana into a "Holy crap!" reaction. Also for turning Mariana from a less liked book of hers into one of my favorites.
  Now, although I've read everything by her and I do have other books of hers that I like better than Mariana, it was still the story that left the biggest impact on me.

Book                                ebook

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pasta, Poppy Fields and Pearls by Sophia Bar-Lev

  What do you get when you take four ladies from different corners of the world and put them together in Tuscany for bi-weekly lunches? The new and improved Golden Girls!
  Carmela, Janet, Paula Jean and Cecilia are the neatest women you could ever hope to hang out with and hear stories from. They've walked all walks of life, seen things you could only dream of, and had (scratch that, ARE having) the best adventures one can have.
  Coming from all different places, nationalities and histories, each and every one of these ladies has secrets to share and protect...
  I found Pasta, Poppy Fields and Pearls to be very Eat, Pray, Love-esque, in a way where I shouted "I want to be like them when I grow up!" These ladies do things that I could only dream of doing, and I've now made it my goal in life to be like them. I want to grab a handful of my friends and head to Tuscany this very minute to have adventures of my own!
  I enjoyed Sophia Bar-Lev's story very much! It was fun and funny, but without being light. (Light meaning no depth.) Pasta, Poppy Fields and Pearls was very deep. It had mystery, sentimental scenes that left me staring off into the distance contemplating reality, and enough intrigue in it to keep me flipping to the next page.
  After I finished the book, I was craving more from the author, I was craving more of the Tuscany Golden Girls' story and more books written by Sophia Bar-Lev.
  I rated this book five stars because I can see it already leaving a huge impact on me, and I'm sure that impact will only get bigger with age.

                             Book                                ebook                          

Friday, August 23, 2013

Becoming Sister Wives by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn Brown

  Becoming Sister Wives is the Brown Family's story of how each of the Polygamist wives met their husband, Kody Brown, their life together and their struggles in every day life.
  See, what people fail to realize is that the Browns have problems just like every other normal family out there. They have jobs, kids, bills and fights like every family. Although not every family has four moms, a dad, 17 kids and a camera crew.
  The Browns' goal for their show Sister Wives was to explain to everyone that watched, that they are just like you, but with a different religion and a different lifestyle. Shortly after their show, they came out with Becoming Sister Wives, their book.
   The book starts out with an introduction by Kody, followed by each sister wife's telling of their meeting and their relationship with him. Each sister wife has a different role in the Brown house. For instance, in the book you learn that Meri married Kody for love, whereas Janelle married him for more practical (financial) reasons.
  This book is VERY educational and insightful to the open-minded reader. This book opens opportunities to learn about a completely different lifestyle that I- personally- never gave much thought to. It's inspiring.
  When I first learned about the Brown family, I was skeptical and not very impressed. But after I read Becoming Sister Wives and actually got to know the Brown family, I fell in love with them. They're so normal! They read Harry Potter, they're open-minded, they're funny, the kids are precious and smart, Kody is a wonderful dad and husband and each wife has their charms. (Although I have my favorites... *cough* Janelle and Christine *cough*)
  I now watch their show with a whole new outlook on their life and way of living. It was an absolutely brilliant move for them to come out with this book; it shows that they're human and should be treated as such. Even now I see "fans" of theirs on Facebook claiming that their lifestyle is "disgusting" and that Kody is "a horrible and misogynistic man." To that I say, "Leave them be and get off their fan page!"
  I adore this book. It's packed full of love, friendship, motherhood, fatherhood and family bonds.

  Book                                ebook

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dragon Blade by J.D. Hallowell

  Dragon Blade by J.D. Hallowell is the epic conclusion of the War of the Blades series, based around Delno and Geneva, a hero and his bonded dragon. As the pages turn, the continued battle for power rages on.
  I'm sad to say that I've finished Delno's story, and I am now without a J.D. Hallowell book.
  As soon as I started Dragon Blade, I was doubled over with laughter. (A little tiff between Delno and Jhren over Delno's lack of concentration had me guffawing very unattractively!)
  For some reason, when I first started Dragon Blade, I knew that the story was ending... That Delno and Geneva would finally discover the evil mastermind that was behind so many deaths in this War of the Blades. Once I got closer to the ending I became anxious about the conclusion... The fighting, the different sides of light and dark magic, the war and especially the deaths.
  But though I knew some things were going to happen, some of the author's plot twists had me gasping aloud in shock.
  I'm sad to say goodbye to Delno, Geneva and Nat- my favorite character- for now. I say for now because I'm going to miss them so desperately, I absolutely see myself going back to visit them.
  As I said in my book review for Dragon Fate, this is typically not my genre. But because of this author's writing and story line, no matter what genre you prefer, you will not be able to put these books down.
  The ending to the War of the Blades series has me completely satisfied and sated. Not only with the story, but with life itself


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

As far as classics go, Jane Eyre is not what I expected. I was expecting to be bored like so many teenagers who are forced to read this timeless tale. Bored, uninterested and completely lost when it came to how it was written (more specifically, WHEN it was written) and its phraseology.
  Instead what I got from Charlotte Bronte's story of Miss Eyre, was entirely the opposite.
  Jane Eyre was incredible and suspenseful from the very beginning, in my opinion. The way it was written and the mysterious and ghoulish happenings that occurred were almost horror movie-like.
  Born into a poor family, Jane Eyre was an ugly duckling from the very beginning. After her parents died, she was forced into the custody of her Aunt and Uncle Reed, who were less than loving to her. Following her husband's death, Mrs. Reed becomes tired of Jane's attitude and decides to send her off to Lowood School, where Jane is treated equally as horrible.
  But even after her rough childhood, Jane becomes a well adjusted young woman who finds a job as governess for a girl named Adele at Thornfield Hall. Where she also finds Mr. Rochester, the unpredictable, cocky and frustrating master of Thornfield Hall. (In my opinion, when women now read books about frustrating men who challenge the heroine's intellect and opinionated views, they're attracted to the original cocky yet charming man, Mr. Edward Rochester.)
  I was given Jane Eyre by my uncle, who's absolutely in love with Jane's story.
  After reading and appreciating this book, I have to agree with him. Jane Eyre is possibly one of the best books I've ever read.
  It's shockingly scary, surprisingly addictive and absolutely wonderful.

Book                               ebook

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My 2013 Birthday Trip!

  For my birthday this year, my family and I decided that this is the year to go on a trip. Normally I would get together with my friends and have a dinner, go in the pool, party all night long with the works. (My version of a party, which would mean playing literary "Who Am I?" until we get tired of eating cake and pass out.) But this year... This year I was going to go on a trip and make the most of this birthday.
  I wanted to go to the top three largest libraries in America. The Library of Congress, The New York Public Library and The Boston Public Library. Crazy right? Don't party TOO hard.
  I was going to do it! Go along the coast, celebrate my birthday with our "out of state" friends and go on a literature tour. It was going to be AWESOME.
  On the 25th of July, we left for Washington DC and stayed with a friend who (thankfully!) only lives a few blocks away from the DC Mall. On my birthday I woke up, brushed my teeth and said "I'm ready, let's go check out The Library of Congress!" And we sure did!

  It was GORGEOUS. The architecture and artwork were beyond breathtaking. Everywhere you looked there were murals and paintings that you just had to snap a picture of! If you're a fan of literature, or even not, this is something you have to see before you die. 
  After we left DC, we made our way to Long Island, New York- where my mom was born and grew up. We visited with some old friends and The Patchogue-Medford Public Library, an added request of mine. I wanted to go there not only because it's a cute and unique library located on Main Street, but also because it was where my mom spent her childhood.  She visited every week. (Almost every day!)

  Not to mention there was a cafe across the street with its own little library! 

  And while touring Port Jefferson on Long Island, I found this... 

  A small branch of the Port Jefferson Free Library, which is a hang out/library for teens, plus book shop. It was AMAZING.
  When leaving Long Island, we met up with a friend who told us about a book store going out of business... And this is what happened: 

  I kind of went crazy... ;-) 
  Next stop: New York City!!! 
  We stayed in Queens, took daily walks down Queens Boulevard and ventured (one day) into the crazy city to see the New York Public Library. When I say "It's my favorite library in the world." I mean IT'S MY FAVORITE LIBRARY IN THE WORLD. This library could not get any more gorgeous. 

  I guess you could say that I fell in love with it. 
  Besides almost plummeting to my death (I wore flip flops and almost slipped on the wet, marble stairs, falling down to the busy street below...) it was my favorite experience of New York City. I even got lost in the endless hallways and made friends. This is one place I did not mind getting lost in. 
  After our venture into the city, we decided to lay low until we had to leave (the accessibility for the city was not very... accessible.). 
  The day we left, my dad said that he wanted to take a look at the Freedom Tower and (after hearing about it from a friend...) I said I wanted to check out The Strand, if they were open. The Strand is a bookstore in the city, that's (no joke) 18 MILES FULL OF BOOKS. Oh yeah, I was so going there. 
  So after we saw the Freedom Tower...

  ...We went to The Strand. 

  Yeah, I kind of fell in love with that too. 
  There I found a British, First Edition, out of print copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and an autographed copy of Eragon. I happily spent $80 there. And I got lost, AGAIN. 
  If you've read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, you'll understand my analogy of comparing The Strand to the Lotus Casino. One and a half hours without even realizing it! 
  So two hours later and $100 less rich (HA-HA), we were on our way to Massachusetts!
  There we stayed with a friend who (once we got settled in our rooms and chilled for a bit) took us to Harvard Square and Boston! In Harvard Square, we stopped at The Harvard "Coop" and shopped. Again.

The Harvard "Coop" made me envious of Harvard students. I told my mom that I would enroll at Harvard just for the library and bookstores!

Oh, and speaking of which... 

  When I said "the top three largest libraries in America" I meant the ones that were open to the public. Technically the Harvard Library is one of the top three largest libraries in America, BUT it's not open to the public. But surprise, surprise, I got to at least SEE the Harvard Library! (I was pretty giddy.) 
  Next stop: The Boston Public Library! 

  There, we had the nicest security guards help us out and show us around the library! It was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. Very welcoming and friendly, like a place you'd want to hang out for hours and hours. (I almost did!) 
  When we were staying in Massachusetts, our friend took us to Plymouth to see the Plimoth Plantation, a living recreation of history. I was skeptical at first, but I have to say that it was actually pretty cool! 

  After Plimoth Plantation, our other friend showed us around town and took us to see Plymouth Rock (just a drive by to say, "There it is!") and another amazing book store that stole more money out of my wallet.   
  I LOVED Massachusetts! It was so beautiful and cool, even for the Summer! But it was time to say goodbye for now... Even though I didn't want to leave, my cats and books were still at home and it was time to start making our way back. 
  On our way back home, we made a quick detour through Philadelphia, PA...
  Saw the Philadelphia Free Public Library... 

  ...And I just HAD to see the Walt Whitman Bridge. 

Making a quick shout out to my fellow Cupcakes and Babes! <3

  But before we come home... There was one more thing to do. 
  Go to Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in Red Bank, New Jersey!!! We're huge fans of Kevin Smith and Comic Book Men, so we figured we couldn't get this close to NJ without stopping in. 
  Not only were they filming for Comic Book Men when we got there, but the actual Comic Book Men were STILL THERE, just hanging out! 

  Oh, and we couldn't go to the Secret Stash without going to the Quick Stop and RST Video. (From Kevin Smith's Clerks.) 

  That's the conclusion of my trip! I was lucky enough to come home to a mailbox full of birthday cards and presents (mostly books), only adding more amazingness to my birthday trip. 
  This was, by far, THE best birthday I've ever had and I want to thank everyone who was a part of it, for making it that amazing. Thank you also, to my readers who have taken the time to read this! I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is the story of Claire Randall and her adventure through the stones...
  In 1945 Claire and her husband, Frank, are vacationing in Inverness, Scotland, but Claire's vacation is about to get a little more adventurous...And Scottish.
  While searching for herbs located around a stone circle, Claire hears a faint buzzing emanating from the stones which rapidly turns into a loud humming, accompanied by sounds of battling men and galloping horses.
  Leaning in a bit too close, Claire falls through the stones, blacks out and is transported to 1743 Scotland. Almost 200 years prior to her vacation with Frank.
  It took me several tries to get into Outlander. I would read the first chapter or two and then abruptly give up. Then one day, I started Outlander again (before I even finished the book I was currently reading) and I couldn't stop.
  The entire series took me about 10 months to read and finish. Outlander reminds me of a long term relationship that I kept going back to, even though I had short flings with other books now and then. Diana Gabaldon's books are so detailed, the last few books in the Outlander series were no less than 1,000 pages each.
  I absolutely adore the Outlander series and its commitment like relationship. I've cried over it and I've reread some of my favorite scenes (i.e. the ghost Scotsman watching Claire brush her hair in front of the window in the first Outlander novel) over and over again. I even had the privilege of meeting Diana Herself.
  Diana Gabaldon, when I met her the second time, told me that I was mature enough to read and handle Outlander. At 12 years old.
  Outlander isn't just a book series, it's a lifestyle.
  Go to Scotland, attend the Highland Games, meet other Outlander fans, name your child Jamie or Ian (not that I've contemplated it...), and most of all, embrace the brilliance that IS Outlander.
  I'm lucky enough to say that (at a very young age) I'm an official Outlander fan.
  Diana Gabaldon's books are beyond incredible. Inhumanly amazing. Almost like you need to look at her and say, "How is it possible that this woman has created this masterpiece and well... How is it possible that she knows this many historical facts?!"
  Diana Gabaldon is a queen. A queen of literature.

Book                                ebook

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Giver by Lois Lowry

  The Giver by Lois Lowry was my first ever Young Adult, "dystopian society" book. When I was introduced to it, my mom had just started to homeschool me and we were assigned The Giver in our L.I.F.E. (Learning is for Everyone) Class. We were expected to read a chapter per week and then come back to discuss it. It engaged me and captivated me as well as my fellow L.I.F.E. Class "classmates." It left such a memorable impact on me, I can still remember my initial reaction to it to this day. It was hauntingly beautiful.
  I had read it before I even became an avid reader. I can thank Lois Lowry for capturing my interest and getting me addicted to reading, when most kids at my age would rather be occupied skipping school and getting into bad habits. (Gosh, I sound like a grumpy old lady.) The Giver got me kick-started into being happily lost in a good book.
  Lois Lowry introduces Jonas to her readers as a young boy, who's living in a society with strict rules when it comes to "coming of age" celebrations, careers, who you marry and who your kids are chosen to be.
  But in every dystopian society, there's a rebellious main character who questions the way things are being run in their warped community.
  Lois Lowry's The Giver series (now with Son, the "sequel" to The Giver) was here before the Divergent, Hunger Games and Delirium fandoms. For me, Lois Lowry was THE reason why I got into these "rebel against the government" books.
  To this day, when I hear Jonas' name I still feel as if a piece of my heart has been chipped off. With a butter knife.
  Although I cannot say that this series was a favorite of mine (because some books are just unsurpassable on my "favorites" list), I can say that this book was a wonderful coming of age story for me, and when I go back and think about Jonas' world, the world Lois Lowry created, my love for it is renewed over and over again.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

  As you all may know, I happen to be a HUGE Harry Potter fan (or "Potterhead"... That's what we call ourselves). So when I heard that J.K. Rowling was coming out with a new book (after all this time), nothing was going to keep me from reading it.
  I was not expecting another "boy wizard" chronicle, or another children's book, but I was expecting nothing less than amazing. Because she is J.K. Rowling after all. When I heard that fans were expecting this new book to at least be related to Harry Potter, I found it unfair for J.K. Rowling. I don't think it's fair for fans to automatically assume that since she's come out with a "new book" it's associated with the multi-million dollar, bestselling saga.
  The Casual Vacancy was entirely its own entity, and I was fully prepared to dive into it.
  What I got- even with being prepared- was not what I expected whatsoever.
  When Pagford Parish Councillor, Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly of a brain aneurysm (take "suddenly" VERY literally when starting this book), he leaves an empty spot open on the Parish Council. This then wreaks havoc for those who are left to decide who will take over in his place.
  This book follows the important members of the town (council members, potential council members, etc.) and their children, who are going through their own horribly stressful problems as well.
  This book was emotionally exhausting in a less obvious way (i.e., Rowling's track record for horribly tragic deaths) and its depth was immeasurable.
  J.K. Rowling took the politics of a small town and gave us an insight into the ferocity of the political environment.
  This book is absolutely huge! Not only in its page count, but in its detail and shocking revelations as well. J.K. Rowling proves to us in this book that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has their own personal demons and skeletons rattling noisily in their closets.
  I applaud J.K. Rowling for breaking out of the wizarding mold, and having incredibly versatile writing abilities. 

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