Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Giver - Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Laurel-Leaf Books (April 1993)

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his Utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. (From Goodreads.com)

The Giver is one of my favorite novels of all time. I first read this when I was in primary school and can remember sitting on the couch, utterly and completely immobile aside from the turning of each page.

I was lucky enough to purchase the entire Quartet from Readers Warehouse for R129. So now I have the opportunity to read the other books in the series. I suggest you take advantage of this special, as it is also available on their website.

The Giver is, for me, one of the most original novels I have ever experienced. Jonas' journey as he discovers the true nature of the "peaceful" community he grew up in makes for a gripping read.

The story is simply but succinctly told and it is a very quick read, less than 200 pages. Lowry has a way of teeling the story that every detail is easily imagined. I just wish I understood why the community existed in the first place! Is it an experiment with outside "creators" watching over the inhabitants?

Jonas makes mention of a plane that flies overhead. So there must be other life outside of this place. I really hope these questions get dealt with at a later stage in the series.

This is the one book your 12-14 year olds should read. So many questions regarding what is right and wrong are raised and it even makes for great reading for older teens and adults.

I see this is going to be a movie! And is in the pre-production phase with Jeff Bridges already listed as part of the cast. Yay!

Monday, July 29, 2013

BZRK - Michael Grant

Title: BZRK
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Egmont (February 2012)

Set in the near future, BZRK is the story of a war for control of the human mind. Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a goal: to turn the world into their vision of utopia. No wars, no conflict, no hunger. And no free will. Opposing them is a guerrilla group of teens, code name BZRK, who are fighting to protect the right to be messed up, to be human. This is no ordinary war, though. Weapons are deployed on the nano-level. The battleground is the human brain. And there are no stalemates here: It’s victory . . . or madness. (from Goodreads.com)

My previous experience with Michael Grant was a brief flirtation with his Gone series. The first book was brilliant and I was swept up in this whirlwind romance, anxiously awaiting the next one in the series. Which bored me to tears. I know, right? That series has a brilliant reputation for being filled with action and adventure and I just... couldn't.

I was skeptical about BZRK and went in with low expectations. I ended up loving it and was unable to put it down. I was reminded of Matthew Reilly's adult novels where there is just non-stop action and just enough character development for me to be satisfied. It is like a Tom Cruise movie. You know shit's gonna get real quickly.

I loved the concept of battles happening on the nano-level. In our own bodies. The battle scenes are quite thrilling and my only real criticism is that the new recruits, Plath and Keats, didn't really get training. I would have liked that aspect to have been elaborated on before rushing headlong into the main story. It bothered me a little that these two kids suddenly were able to stand on their own and go on complex missions.

I can still highly reccomend this for those of you who need a break from angsty teenage romances and the usual paranormal fare. Just don't go into this expecting a Newberry-worthy read. It's fun, pure escapism that both genders will enjoy.

Also, I caution that this is a mature read. There are the odd sexual references and bad language. I would say this is suitable for ages 15 and up.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Article 5 - Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen (January 2012)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.
I was excited to read Article 5 as I am fully on board the Dystopian bandwagon that is widing its way through YA recently. I was absolutely sold on the cover, which is beautifully detailed.

Sadly, Article 5 didn't quite meet my expectations. It was an exciting enough read with plenty of action and thrills. But I just didn't buy into the whole premise.

The world-building was scappy at best and Ember was more focused on Chase Jennings than pretty much anything that was going around her. It made for a very frustrating experience as this book had the potential to be great. There were elements that could have been developed to expand on the story beyond teenage lust, but we all know that romance is the main selling point of YA, right?

Ember was exposed to some truly horrible things. One would think that she would have been more affected by all of this, but no. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Chase Jennings Show! In which we will ponder why he left and if he is still the same boy Ember loved all those long, teenage menths ago.

Good things? Some of the descriptions were brilliant. I loved the idea of America becoming this regimented society where laws are so easily broken and punished. but I just wanted MORE.

There are books I would rather suggest to you. Like the brilliant Ashes by Ilse J Bick. Which juggles the action and romance appropriately and delivers a hardcore heroine in the process.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bloggers' Get-Together at Skoobs Theatre of Books - Montecasino

The Venue: Skoobs Theatre of Books - Montecasino - Fourways
The Event - Blogger's Get-Together / Networking Session - 20th July 2013

Skoobs Theatre of Books

Skoobs is an eclectic, independantly-owned bookstore in Montecasino. They take pride in their diverse selection of titles and are the go-to store for special orders.

At the ground level, you will find a wonderful coffee shop that make some of the best cofee you will find in the Northern suburbs. They offer a range of small eats as well.

If you go upstairs (providing you are able to drag yourself away from the books and other goodies down below) you will find a comfortable, modern champagne bar / lounge complete with baby grand piano and a wonderful cocktail menu.

Skoobs is the ideal venue to host bookish meetings where passionate people can bond over shared interests. I really recommend the Strawberry Daquiri!

Meeting and Greeting Fellow Bloggers

When I arrived, I was unsure of who were bloggers and who where regular customers. Then all the troops were rounded up to the outside balcony, where platters of wonderful nibbles were waiting for us.

Introductions were made and goodie bags distributed and we set about the very serious task of mingling.

Luckily I had a wing lady in the form of Martha from Syllable in the City. This made the whole process a lot easier!

I can't for the life of me remember her name, but I found another devoted Vampire Academy fan who has reread the books even more than I have!

Twitter handles were exchanged and a good time was had by all!

Some of The Awesome Bloggers I Met

I did not mingle with everyone, but here are some of the bloggers I managed to chat to!

The Goodie Bags!

The wonderful staff at Skoobs got in touch with some very generous sponsors such as JC le Roux and put together a wonderful goodie bag for all us bloggers!

  • A proof copy of a random book - there were several different books floating around. If anything this made for a great icebreaker as I quite enjoyed being nosy and seeing what others has gotten!
  • A mini bottle of Rose JC le Roux champs - This thing is so cute I really don't want to drink it! Will save it for a special occasion
  • Tickets to the Preview Screening of City of Bones at Montecasino - This was one of the best things in the goodie bag! And only a few of us are lucky enough to be going!
  • Ferrero Rocher chocies - I donated these to my boyfriend due to an aversion to nuts! But we all know books and chocolate go hand-in-hand!
  • Mini-Mark bookmarks - These cute little magentic bookmarks are the perfect tool for any blogger. The act as handy page markers should you be wanting to reference back to something later and will not be in the way.
  • The Really Tiny Book-light - I had one of these ages ago and was so happy to find a replacement in my goodie bag. This little accessory fits into your handbag and clips on to the cover of the book. The single LED provides more than enough light to read by.
  • Little Book-Holder - I have not yet put this cute little goodie to use. It keeps your book open while you read!
  • A handy pink notebook
  • A keyring

A BIG thank you to Marcia and the Skoobs team for organising such a wonderful event. I will definately be at the next one!

Follow Skoobs on Facebook and contact them for any of the products listed above!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A-Z Reading Challenge

I have decided the best way to get through my TBR pile is to ussie a personal challenge to myself.
If you would like to join me, I have put down some basic rules below. Please comment on this post and let me know!

  • Read 26 books before 31st December 2013
  • These books must be read in order of the alphabet according to title (Across the Universe, Before I Fall etc)
  • Each book must be reviewed
  • Titles beginning with "The" - The second word of the title counts. (The Outsiders could then be your "O" book!)
All of my books will fall under YA. Natually.

So... who is in this with me? I am only missing an "X" book, so any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Penguin (2011)

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.

This is now my third time reading this awesome, original YA novel. I thought it would be best to revisit it in preparation for the sequels A Million Suns and Shades of Earth, which I am currently busy and will be reviewing soon.

Across the Universe is brilliantly written. The writing flows and I can picture what life on Godspeed must be like. I love the world Beth Revis has created and she did a good job, leaving no questions unanswered (aside from intentional ones!).

The romance is actually understated in the novel. The focus is more on the mysteries behind Godspeed's existence and the lies and deception. It is told from both the points view of Amy and Elder. I find this lends well to building the intrigue. As they put together pieces of the puzzle.

One of the nice touches is the diagram of the shop at the back of the book. I am a stickler for maps. Love, love, love them!

If you are looking for a clever yet easy read, this is well-worth picking up. I just hope the sequels live up to this one!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancy
Publisher: Penguin (2013)

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up (Goodreads).
If you have any sort of presence on the YA bookish interwebs, you will have heard of this book. Comparisons have been made to Ender's Game and The Passage. The big question is... does The 5th Wave live up this hype?

Yes and no. I have never felt more conflicted about a book.

The Positives
  • The writing. Oh my word, the writing! There were moments of such perfection that I actually reread the same live several times over.
  • The focus on interpersonal relationships and character development. There are several storylines in this novel that converge (see the negatives regarding this). I loved reading about Zombie and Nugget, for example. And how they helped each other in different ways. I loved the backstories. I loved Ringer.
  • The worldbuilding. I really bought into this apocalyptic vision that Yancy has created. The idea of the different waves and their seperate effects was brilliant to say the least.
  • The anticipation. I really did, after a point, want to know what happened next. I wanted to know the TRUTH. This need meant the last half of the book basically disappeared in one sitting.
The Negatives
  • The romance. More instalove, people. It was cheesy and unwarranted. If this had been handled delicately and perhaps developed over time, I would have lapped it up. But, no. There must be lurve before the end of book one!
  • Multiple viewpoints. Maybe I am just dumb, but this intitally confused the living daylights out of me. I had no idea which character I was dealing with initially. It makes more sense later on, but I would have really appreciated a chapter heading that let me know if it was a Cassie/Evan/Zombie/Nugget chapter. Would have saved me confusion and slight irritation as well.
  • Action... what action? I loved Zombie's chapters. if the book was told mainly from his viewpoint, I would have been one happy camper. I figure the Cassie chapters were there for the fangirls to swoon over the romance and to create some sort of relatability. Zombie totally sold this story for me. I alternated between being ansty (Cassie) and totally engrossed (Zombie)
All that said, this is a step above most YA and I do reccomend it highly. Just don't expect it to be on par with The Hunger Games.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Week in Books (1)

Happy monday fellow bookish folk!

I have decided to have a weekly feature on the blog which is, in essence, a summary of my bookish activities over the past week.

So, on with it!

Books Read

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (Penguin, 2013)

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this fantastic novel from Tammy at The Book Fairy's Haven.

What an engrossing, original read! Look out for a detailed review on the blog soon

Books Bought

I paid Skoobs Theatre of Books a visit on Friday evening with the full intention of buying The Evolution of Mara Dyer. Instead, I found the following three books and set Mara Dyer aside for the end of the month.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (Penguin, 2013)
Yay! The new Sarah Dessen! I am currently devouring this one. She is one of my favorite authors.

 Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (Penguin, 2013)

I have been curious about this title for a while. It is an interesting partnership between Cremer (Author of Nightshade) and David Levithan (known for Every Day and Will Greyson, Will Greyson).

And the cover? Gorgeous!

Shades of Earth - Beth Revis (Penguin, 2013)

The final book in the Across the Universe trilogy. I still need to read A Million Suns, but I am so excited! This is YA Sci-Fi at its best.

What I Plan to Read:

The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen
Icons - Margaret Stohl

Have a great week everyone!