Thursday, October 31, 2013

31: Before-it-hits-the-theater Thursday - The Matched Trilogy

Like so many other people, while mourning the loss of finishing the Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy I basically devoured every dystopian novel out there.  I enjoyed most of them, and found a few very worthy favorites along the way.  Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy has its own tone, slightly outside of the dystopian norm.   I personally enjoyed its poetic nature.  It's a quieter, slower story.  Like The Giver did for me, Matched  renewed my enthusiasm for music, poetry and the freedom to create.  It's so easy to take our general freedoms for granted.

The first book reads more like romance upon first reading, but when you read it in context of the set -- there is more going on under the surface.  Cassia lives in a very controlled society, a safe society.  Literature, art and music have been narrowed down to a few appropriate selections.  The ability to write and draw is unnecessary.  At a Matching ceremony on your seventeenth birthday, Society reveals your perfect match.  When Cassia's information shows the face of her best friend Xander, she is surprised but pleased.  You are never matched with someone you know.  When another face briefly flickers across her screen, she is even more surprised.  It's Ky --  another boy she knows, someone not eligible to be matched.  Though she knows it was just a glitch, the seeds of doubt and curiosity are planted and take root.   Unadulterated trust for Society's choice and Society's rule waivers.  Rumors of The Rising, and The Pilot who will lead it, become difficult to ignore.  The rest you'll have to read for yourself...

The film rights for Matched were purchased by Disney and Offspring before the first book was released back in 2010.  A director was selected in 2012, and casting is rumored to begin soon.  {Here} is a recent interview with Ally, discussing the future film adaptation.  I'm routing for this one makes it to film.
Click below to read 
the series from the beginning:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30: Wild Card Wednesday - Speak Love

I was so excited when Annie Downs sent me her book Speak Love earlier this month.  I first "met" Annie two years old when she did a 31 Days series called 31 Days of Courage.  I've cyber-liked her ever since.

I couldn't wait to dig into Speak Love, but I admit I did wonder if I would get something out of this book.  Because I'm (usually) not the mean girl.  But I so did.  This book is very every girl.   We all speak -- to God, to others, to ourselves.  Annie addresses the issue of words from every angle, very holistically, and her words were exactly what I needed to read this weekend.

I love the scripture she sprinkles throughout.  It reminded me of the confetti that unexpectedly poured out of the package with her book.  What I've been hearing most while soaking up these pages is that I need to be quiet.  I probably need less words.  In fact I know I do.  Sometimes they just keep falling out of my mouth, even when I'm silently telling myself to shut up already.  This specific verse really spoke to me:

"When words are many, 
sin is not absent, but 
he who holds his tongue is wise."
Proverbs 10:19

and also

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, 
but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Proverbs 12:18

There is so much I could say about this book, but I am restraining.  I was challenged and encouraged and strengthened within these pages.  Maybe I'll write Annie a letter and tell her more privately all the specific parts that meant so much.  It's a very easy read, both conversational and honest.  Though the target audience is teenage girls, and some of it was tailored exactly for them, I still found the subject matter very applicable to women of all ages.  We all need to be more deliberate, to make our words matter.

"Be the girl who speaks life.  Not the one who wounds."

Speak Love is a book that makes you want to mull things over.  Wrestle with your inner stuff.  Jot down great verses and motivational sentences.  Annie also wrote devotional journal titled Speak Love Revolution: 30 Devotions that Will Change Your World designed to companion it, and I'm going to really enjoy using it to dive deeper into the issue of my words.  If you're looking for a great Christmas gift idea for a teen in your life -- the book/journal combo might be the perfect thing. 

And--bonus-- right in the middle of Chapter 3 Annie gives a book recommendation.  And you know how giddy that makes me.  To top it off, it's a book that I have in my very own house but haven't been tempted to pick up previously, even though I love C.S. Lewis.  (The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis., in case you were wondering.  You'll have to read her book to read why.).

Today's a perfect day to hear about Annie's book because today -- October 30th -- she's doing a live book talk on Facebook with Girls of Grace.   Click {here} to head on over.  Or click {here} to visit Annie's blog.  A little shout out to a fellow 31-Dayer:  {31 Days to Speak Love}!

Also!  Please don't forget tomorrow
is the last day to enter the book giveaway 
to win a book of your choosing!
I'd love to give you a free book!
(If you had trouble commenting, let me know
on my Facebook page and I'll enter you
into the contest manually.)  

Click below to read Day 31:
Before-it-hits-the-theater Thursday -
The Matched Trilogy

Click below to read 
the series from the beginning:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

29: True Love Tuesday - Where She Went

I just finished Where She Went, Gayle Forman's sequel to If I Stay.  While the two books have a surprisingly different tone, the story structure is similar.  I admire Forman's effortless way of slipping between past and present tense to tell her story.  I want to be very careful not to give away any plot to either of these two books.  I'll just say that the sequel is necessarily a bit darker, but is filled with enough bright spots that you will be very glad you took the time to read it.  Since Mia is a cellist, I couldn't help but imagine it as a symphony, dark and brooding, but building to a crescendo more celebrated in contrast.

Click below to read Day 30:
Wild Card Wednesday - Speak Love

Or click below to read
the series from the beginning:

Monday, October 28, 2013

28: Middle Grade Monday - Liar & Spy

Rebecca Stead won the Newberry Medal in 2010 for her middle grade novel, When You Reach Me.  In 2012 she published Liar & Spy, a novel that I {possibly} love even more.  I've written about how much I love Stead's writing before {here} and {here}.  Nevertheless, I couldn't resist saying it again.  

I first read Liar & Spy for my own reading enjoyment.  Then, months later, I read it to my seven-year-old and loved it even more.  I love the quirky, lovable characters.  I love that the families and adults represented are also quirky and unique, but positive influences.  What I love most about Rebecca Stead is the metaphor.  It isn't subtle, but it's so integrally woven into the fabric of the story that I love every little thread.  Georges Seurat and his painting Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte is knitted beautifully into every part of Liar & Spy.  It's a story that I wish I wrote myself.  How's that for a recommendation?

Click below to read Day 29:
True Love Tuesday - Where She Went

Or click here to read the series 
from the beginning

Saturday, October 26, 2013

26: Sci-Fi Saturday - What I'm Reading

Though I'm not usually a Sci-Fi kinda girl, I've been reading a lot of books that fall into that category lately. Here's what's in my library to-read stack this month.  So far I've only just started Ender's Game.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Wells
I'm trying to get this read so that I can go the movie release this week with some friends. But truthfully it's a struggle so far.  The premise is that gifted children are being trained as military leaders to defeat Earth's next alien enemy attack.  I thought I would really like it, but at this point I can't shake the feeling that I'm watching this happen to my boys -- and it's too disturbing to enjoy.  I'm only 1/3 into it so I'm hoping I can let that go and identify with Ender Wiggins as a character, rather than feel the pain his mother would if she were reading.  I'll keep you posted.

Every Day by David Levithan
I'm a sucker for a great hook, and this one completely reeled me in:

Every day a different body.
Every day a different life.
Every day in love with the same girl.

I have no idea what I'm in for with this one, but that's the intrigue.  That and I'm a sucker for love.

SYLO by D.J. MacHale
My sister mentioned this one so I decided to check it out.  All I know is that it's about military helicopters suddenly dropping out of the sky in a small Maine town to quarantine a virus.

Feed by M.T. Anderson
The National Book Award and the blurb piqued my curiosity:

"For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now."

Don't forget to enter the book giveaway 
to win a book of your choosing!

Click below to read Day 28:
Middle Grade Monday - Liar & Spy

Or click here to read the series
from the beginning:

Friday, October 25, 2013

25: Friday Freebie - GREAT BOOK GIVEWAY!

***Update:  This contest is now closed.  Thank you to all who entered!  {Click here} to see who won! ***

Today I am so excited.  You know book recommendation are my favorite gifts.  Well, today, I get to do one better:  I am giving one lucky person a book of their choice!

The Prize:  One novel of your choosing; choose any novel I've mentioned during this 31 Days series.  Or if you can't decide, I'll gladly choose one for you.  =) 
How to enter:  To enter the drawing, follow this blog.  Either Subscribe to the Feed, Like on Facebook, or Follow on Google or Blogger.  Then leave a comment to let me know.   If you are already a follower (yay!), you're the best -- just leave me a comment about that too. 
Additional entries:  You will earn an additional entry for every mention of this giveaway on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)  Make sure you let me know in the comments where you've shouted out.
For fun:  Give me a great book recommendation.
Closing time:  The contest will close October 31st, at 12:00 a.m. EST.  Winner will be announced the first week of November.
Having trouble commenting?  Several people have mentioned that they are having trouble leaving a comment.  Since I'm not tech savvy enough to fix that problem today, if that's you, just leave me a note on my Facebook page, or {here} and I will enter you manually.  Thanks so much - I have appreciated your company on this 31 Day journey!

Click here to read Day 26:
Sci-Fi Saturday - What I'm Reading

Or click here to read the series
from the beginning:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

24: Before-it-hits-the-theater Thursday - The Giver

I've written about The Giver several times before.  {Here}, and {here} and {here}.  Basically, if you haven't read it, you should.  It's a true masterpiece.  Lowry is one of my writing heroes.  You will leave the pages of The Giver will a new appreciation for the simple things in life.  Like music and color and a baby's sleepless night.

The movie rights have been out there for 15 years and it looks like the movie adaption will be coming to theaters mid-to-late 2014.

Click below for Day 25 -
Friday Freebie and
Enter to win the Great Book Giveaway!

Or click below to read 
the series from the beginning:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

23: Wild Card Wednesday - Speak

I read Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak this week at the recommendation of a friend.  It's a friend with whom I often discuss our sexual abuse histories.  I am usually guarded about what I read on this subject, but she assured me that it wasn't too much.

Published almost 15 years ago, winner of numerous awards, including the Printz Honor and National Book Award finalist, Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a girl who finds herself so unable to voice the truth about her rape that she can barely speak at all.  Melinda is a girl unraveling, slipping away into a dark place, while those around her are at a loss about the reason behind her transformation.

Melinda's narration is often barbed and poetic.  Sometimes her general derision about the world confused me, left me wondering if she was always the cynic or if she morphed into one following her attack.  Her pain, her fear and her suffocating silence are palpable on the pages.

A book like this is important for so many reasons.  While it may function as a catalyst to encourage survivors of sexual assault to find their voice, it also bring awareness to the destructive affects of this type of crime.  Laurie Anderson said the thing that has shocked her most is the amount of email she's received from boys wondering what the big deal is.  That is frightening.  And a lot of the problem.  As a society we don't take these crimes seriously enough.  Which is another reason to raise your voice, to be heard.

One of the best side effects of reading is gaining empathy for a variety of people.  Though I could see a lot of myself in Melinda, parts of her I did not recognize in myself at all, but instead other faces floated into my mind.  Books can be windows into other people's pain.  To better understand the possible reasons that certain people shut everyone out, hide in negativity, and drown in self-hatred.  I welcome any crack that lets me shed my own self-focused viewpoint and peek into someone else's world for a moment.  To grow in mercy and grace.  It reminds me of this often quoted advice by Laura Moncur,

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


Every time I hear this Sara Bareilles song I think of survivors of abuse.  Her words sometimes give me chills, sometimes make me cry.   Take a listen:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

22: True Love Tuesday - Anna & the French Kiss and Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

I couldn't decide between these two books, so today you get a double recommendation.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is co written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the team famous for Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist among other things.  While Nick & Nora's story wasn't completely up my alley, I was intrigued by the alternating viewpoints by the author duo.  Also, Cohn's writing was unforgettable.  Nora's voice reads like beat box poetry, slightly distracting but also amazingly distinct.  All that to say, I decided to give these two another shot with Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.  I'm a nerd, so I slipped into Dash & Lily's bookstore world much easier than I transported into Nick & Nora's nightclub craziness.

The plot:  Just before the holidays, hoping to find connection, Lily leaves a red moleskin notebook hidden on one of her favorite shelves in The Strand, a gigantic NYC bookstore, on a whim.  Written inside:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

Providentially her notebook is discovered by a young, jaded hipster named Dash.  Dash's cynicism is the polar opposite of Lily's cheery optimism.  They have an inspired exchange of notebook dares and confessions, so easy on a page to a faceless friend, before deciding to meet in person.  They struggle to discover if they can connect in real life like they can in the pages of the notebook.  I have a fondness for moleskin notebooks, old bookstores, stilted vocabulary and the possibility of it was almost a given that I was going to enjoy this one.   A fun November/December read.

I kept running into gushing reviews of other books saying things like, "I loved this book almost as much as I loved Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins."  I could only read that so many times before reading the gold standard of YA romance.  While I don't know if it completely lived up to its glowing fangirl raves, I did love this story.  Mostly because it was set in Paris with a boy named Etienne.  After The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I already had a fondness for Paris, old film and another boy named Etienne, so it was easy to fall under the charm again.  Anna Oliphant is an Atlanta girl who gets shipped off to a French boarding school for her senior year.  She struggles with missing her real life, fitting in to a new culture, making friends and falling love with a boy who's already taken.

Click below to Read Day 23
Wild Card Wednesday - Speak

Or click below to read the series
from the beginning:

Monday, October 21, 2013

21: Middle Grade Monday - Wonderstruck

Brian Selznick has enamored me with his unique brand of graphic-novel hybrid.  I loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but then I discovered Wonderstruck and found it even more magnificent, perfect for the medium.  In Wonderstruck, Selznick tells two paralleling stories set fifty years apart, one told in pictures and one told in words.  The quests of Rose and Ben eventually converge in a way that will leave you smiling.

In Hugo, Selznick experimented with a new, fascinating way of storytelling, but in Wonderstruck he perfected the technique as the pictorial storytelling takes on true purpose.  Integral to the character herself, Selznick's 460 pages of amazing pencil drawings drew me into Rose's world in a way that words never could.  I won't give away the why -- that's part of the joy of discovery.

Click below to read Day 22
Anna & the French Kiss and 
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Or click below to read the series
from the beginning: