Daily Bookish Challenges | Day Five

If you liked this… You should try this…

People ask me all the time for book recommendations, and since my tastes are so varied, I usually can give them something. I tend to read whatever I can get my hands on, and that is EVERYTHING.

Here are a few recommendations based on popular books:

If you like…

Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, you should try The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

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The DaVinci Code, you should try The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

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Gone with the Wind, you should try The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

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The Giver, you should try Breeder by KB Hoyle

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Breeder

K.B. Hoyle will be releasing her new book tomorrow:  Breeder. I had a chance to read an advanced copy, and I’ve been dying to share this review with you for over a week now! It’s so hard not to post things right away!!

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Breeder is very similar to The Giver in many ways. You have a very structured, limited “utopian” society, rebuilt after several “Great Destructions.” In fact, the whole first part of the book, I kept thinking that I was essentially reading The Giver, from the birth mother’s perspective. It has that same, very eerie, “something is just not quite right” feel to the story.

Pria, or B-Seventeen, starts having those same feelings too, and then suddenly gets ripped from her very sheltered life. What she finds to be reality is terrifying, and the story shifts almost to a Mockingjay type of beginning.

Hoyle has a really good start to the series, and I’ll be really interested to see how far she takes it. While it is similar to many other utopian/dystopian series, there are some marked differences.

While there is some romantic interest building, it’s being done in a very slow, very interesting way. It’s not being thrust onto the reader, and it’s not the major focal point of the book, at least not yet.

Also, POC characters are the main focal point here. In fact, they are the majority. White people are considered genetically flawed, and recessive traits like freckles and blue eyes are being cauled out.

Hoyle did a great job with this, and I’ll be pulling for the second book in 2015. Definitely something to check out, guys!

The Son (and Kindle Unlimited)

I may have had a pretty epic freakout yesterday. I’ve been saying for YEARS that someone needed to invent Netflix for books. And libraries have come really really close. I absolutely love the Overdrive app, especially since I can use it on my Kindle. BUT…the selection isn’t always great, and I often have to wait weeks for books while they sit on hold.

And then yesterday…Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited.

If you haven’t seen the articles and announcement pages on this, you need to go check it out. And no, I am not getting paid or anything by Amazon, I just am really excited about this idea. They are running a 30 day free trial, and I am allllll about that.

The basic premise is that you have access to borrow 600,000 ebook titles from Amazon, on any Kindle (or Kindle app!), plus Audible audiobooks. Not every publisher is on board with this, but 600,000 titles is a LOT, people. From what I’ve flipped through, I’m pretty stoked.

There’s no return limitation, and from what I can tell, no holding. I’m excited about it, and I’ve signed up for the free trial. It’s just in time too, since I have to pack up the rest of my books today, and I have vacation coming up. My Paperwhite is going to buuuuusy.

Also–before anyone asks–I will still use my library. There are books that I’m not going to be able to get online from Amazon. It’s not a perfect system. And, ebooks will never, ever replace a real book for me. For me, ebooks are auditions, usually. I often read them in ebook format first, before I commit to a purchase.

And now on to our regularly scheduled review:

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I have been wanting to read the last book in Lois Lowry’s quartet for awhile now, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it. The two libraries I’m a member of here didn’t have it online, and I haven’t had time to run in and grab it. So, of course, The Son was the very first book I pulled from KU.

Lois Lowry wraps up her series with Gabe’s mother Claire. She was an almost invisible character in the first book, and here we get her entire story. We also see Gabe as a young man, and a hero.

My favorite thing about Lowry’s quartet is that almost every character has a specific part to play, and even someone minor may come back later. The details matter. She didn’t just sit down and write the first book, and then the rest of the series as an after thought. She had to of had a complete mapped out plot and plan ahead of time. I would love to see her outline. “This is where this person connects and how I’m going to wrap up this community.” Some places are modern and some are almost medieval and peasant-like.  I would love to see a map of this place. Where is Tolkien when we need him?

Jokes aside, I see her as a YA version of Tolkien. Her stories are more simplistic maybe, in the way they are written, the language is not so intricate. But that doesn’t make them any less beautiful or deep. I’ve talked to a lot of people lately, who liked The Giver, but stopped after struggling with Gathering Blue. Keep reading. Finish the series. Everything connects in the end, but that second book is a little frustrating to get through. It’s sad and it doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with Jonas and Gabe. It has everything to do with them. Trust me.

Favorite Young Adult

It’s funny, when I was a Young Adult, I completely skipped over that whole section of the library. I thought I was “too good” for that little corner of our small town county library–and it really was just a corner back then. The children’s section was huge–almost as big as the rest of the library. The room was painted by a famous local muralist, all done up with trees and kids reading and going on adventures. It was beautiful, probably still is. There were shelves and shelves of kid’s books, reading areas, even chapter books–where I found my Boxcar Children, Babysitters Club, and of course, American Girl. But, there were just two corner shelves, tucked away, of Young Adult/Teen. Because back then, no one really wrote those kinds of books. There were two little chairs by the window, and that’s really it. It seems to me, in the last few years, that there has been an explosion in Young Adult writing. Between Dystopian, Fantasy, Vampires, and whatever classification John Green gets, that section is blowing up. Maybe it’s just getting more notoriety because the writing is better, or maybe teens really are reading more. I sure hope it’s the latter, and not that I’m just noticing the genre in my old age of 27. 3636 All that to say…right now my favorite Young Adult book/series, is actually an oldie. Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I read it back in high school as a mandatory classroom read, and as most of those, because we crept through it chapter by chapter, I hated it. Now that I am rereading the series, I am loving it. You can see my review of it and Gathering Blue here, and The Messenger. I have a lot of books in the queue right now, but hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on the fourth and final book The Son soon!

Messenger

Wow guys, if I had any doubts about Lois Lowry’s dystopian series, I have none now. Messenger blows the first two books out of the water.

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I was a bit frustrated after reading Gathering Blue, because aside from sharing the same themes, it really had no connection to The Giver. The characters didn’t over lap, and I wasn’t even sure it was in the same time period. But everything starts making sense when you read Messenger. At first the overlap is extremely subtle. So subtle I missed it. And then I almost jumped out of my chair when I realized who the main character is.

I’m not going to tell you what the connections are. You’ll have to figure it out on your own. But, if you have any interest in the first two, you’re going to love the third book. I can’t wait to read the fourth. Gimme Gimme!

 

 

Gathering Blue

There was nothing worse in school than being forced to read. Ironic, huh? You’d think that would be my favorite part! And I did prefer English, way more than Math. But to be honest, I hated most of the books that were required reading. I’ve figured out, now that I’m out of school, that the reason I hated those books so much was because I had to read a little at a time. One chapter every couple of days? I read a book a day! Breaking the books down in those little pieces made me lose so much of the story.

The book I hated the most in high school was The Giver by Lois Lowry. Man, how I hated that one. I told you the other day how I’m only now getting into Fantasy and Dystopian fiction, so that was part of it, probably. I think some of it, too, was that the world of Sameness was presented to me as Utopian. A perfect world that everyone should strive for.

That didn’t jive with me. Sameness did not equal Utopian in my mind. Not to this black sheep of a 17-year-old.

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But, when I found out that they were going to make The Giver into a movie franchise, I decided I should give it another shot. And I loved it. I still don’t necessarily agree that it’s Utopian–Dystopian fits more in my mind. But the writing is fantastic, and so are the characters. The pain is so so real between The Giver and Jonas, and Jonas and Gabe. Lowry was writing for today’s teens way before some of them were even born.

I thought that I had read the second book, Gathering Blue, but after reading it, I’m not sure that I ever did. This book, while technically a “sequel,” does not contain the same characters as The Giver. It also does not take place in the same community. It follows similar themes, however, where the past is mostly shrouded in mystery–other than what is passed down by the Singer every year. The village is surrounded by woods filled with “beasts” that are a threat to the people. Kira has a gift of color, and when her mother dies, she is taken to the central building to learn how to refurbish the Singer’s robe.

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Again, as with The Giver, the writing is beautiful and much more emotional than today’s YA Dystopian fiction. Proof that you don’t have to have action to make young adult books worth it. Well, at least in my mind anyway. I guess I’m not really a “young” adult anymore…*sigh*

The next book in the Quartet is called The Messenger, and then The Son. I’m looking forward to reading those two, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of those.

Have you gone back and read any required reading? Did you get more out of it the second time?