Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Summary:

 March 24, 2009
The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She WentJust One Day, and Just One Year.

Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Chloe Moretz!

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

 

My Thoughts:

I’m that person who refuses to see a movie before I’ve read the book. With that in mind, the trailer for If I stay, seen here, left me absolutely speechless. (Click on “seen here” to go to the trailer). I got the book from my local library and was amazed to see that it is right at 200 pages, so it does not take long to read at all! Mia’s realizations of her family’s deaths are hard hitting and are major impacts on her choice to stay or go. However, it is the love story that makes this even more heart pulling. I can’t wait to see it played out on the big screen. I will say though, I had some issues with the ending. It ends very abruptly and I need more. Does she stay with Adam? Is she okay after the accident? Does she end up going to Julliard after all? I’m assuming maybe these are answered in Book 2, but I was left wondering about it and needing to know. 

In all, this is a quick, easy read that is heartbreaking, but beautifully written. I highly suggest reading it before the movie if only so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into. 

 

Side note!

Since I’m a teacher, I obviously have the next two summer’s off. I’m looking forward to being able to read more and post more frequently. I’m hoping to even be able to post more than just review posts. Be on the lookout! I’m about to start Dorothy Must Die, so that’ll probably be my next post. Also, next week I’m probably doing a comparison of TFIOS after I see the movie. I’m SO ready for that movie it isn’t funny!

RT Convention Giant Book Fair

I live around 3 hours from New Orleans, so when I learned about the RT Convention I was curious. Mostly about the Giant Book Fair where there are HUNDREDS of authors lined up for signings. There are other events during the day, but those were sold out when I decided to go, so I only did the book fair. It was FREE because I showed my library card. Had I forgotten it, it would’ve only been $5. That’s a steal for all of the amazing authors I got to meet!

Anyways, here’s some pictures and stories from my amazing day:

Image My friend Kristin went with me. She’s also a huge book nerd. We had a BLAST. She was more into the adult authors and I was mainly there for YA, but we still had tons of fun.

 

 

PC AND KRISTIN CAST!! I love the House of Night books, so I was so excited to meet them. My mom decided she needed a pic with them too since they’re mother/daughter. They were super sweet. I got my copy of Marked signed and randomly had one of my cousins’ books and brought it to get signed too since she couldn’t go. Image

 

CHARLAINE HARRIS!!!!! I love the Sookie Stackhouse books—side note: I don’t watch or like True Blood, but I love this book series. Her line was obviously NUTS, so they passed out numbered wristbands. I was about to give up waiting for my number when I heard my group and went running. I got my first book in the series signed 🙂

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That dang black wristband….so long to wait for my number!

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KIARA CASS!!!!!!!!! I’m a HUGE Selection fan, so she’s probably who I was most looking forward to. She signed two of my books, The Selection and The One, because I actually had my copy of The Elite loaned out to someone. They offered to return it for the weekend, but I wanted her to get done and enjoy the book more than I wanted to get it signed. I also got sent with a book from one of my students. She’s going to be SO excited when I give it to her tomorrow 🙂

 

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All in all, this was a BLAST! I wish I’d done the entire day with the parties and things that were after the signing, but it didn’t work out in my favor. Next year’s convention is in Dallas and I’m already planning to visit for the FanDay! 

 

Book Review: City of Ashes

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Summary:

 March 14, 2009
Is love worth betraying everything? Plunge into the second adventure in the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly).Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil—and also her father.To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings—and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

My Thoughts:

It should be noted, first, that I’m actually reviewing the audiobook in addition to the actual book.

I have an hour long commute to work and awhile back decided that audiobooks are the best thing on God’s green Earth. When I make it home from work, I’m usually exhausted from leaving home at 6am to chase students around all day, so audiobooks ensure that I still have time to read.

Really, what took me so long?

Anywho, City of Ashes essentially picks up right where the first book, City of Bones, left off. It had been over a year since I read CoB, so I could’ve done with a refresher, but it was still easy to follow. The narrator was interesting and kept the story flowing at a nice pace. I liked the different voices, except Valentine’s was really strange.

In fact, I already have the next book checked out from my library in audiobook, so that must mean that I enjoyed it. 🙂

My biggest complaint is that the book ended on a huge cliffhanger, but that is obviously to be expected in a series.

The book took roughly 10 or so trips to work. It would easily be much quicker for me to just read the book, however this fit into my time frame and held my attention.

-Melanie

TODAY: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

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Today.

THIS BOOK IS FINALLY HERE!

The hype you may have heard about We Were Liars is COMPLETELY within reason.

Please please check this out—I need someone to discuss it with!

Here’s a link to my post about it from a couple months ago if you need a reminder of my fangirling over this book: http://wp.me/p3r7yv-8N

 

Now leave and go buy it!

 

-M

Book Review: The One by Kiera Cass

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Summary:

 May 6, 2014

The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

My Thoughts:

There isn’t much to really say about the third book in a series without ruining previous books or going on and on and on about the ending, so I’ll keep this simple.

I waited a year for The One and had several ideas for what was going to happen. In fact, a student and I were constantly sharing our theories and counting down the days.

That said, I easily was not disappointed. I zoomed through The One and I liked how it ended, but I just….wanted more. You know how some books are way too long and have huge, unneeded sections? The One was too short and could’ve been way longer. Parts of it felt rushed to me…maybe to keep the book short?

I wasn’t upset with the book—I just…want more. Maybe one day Cass will decide to follow up with an e-novella that shares what happened after the ending in regards to the country. She announced a prequel novella about Maxon’s mother, The Queen, but I want more Maxon and America…even Aspen!

So…yeah. In short, don’t be afraid of the ending if you’re a fan and haven’t read The One yet. You’ll like it, you’ll just want more is all.

-M

Book Review: The Program

 April 30, 2013
In this “gripping tale for lovers of dystopian romance” (Kirkus Reviews), true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in.

And The Program is coming for them.

 
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My Thoughts:

Can every book be as easy to get into as The Program? If so, that’d be great.

I will admit that the idea of a suicide epidemic was a bit strange, but I was excited to read The Program anyways. I was immediately hooked.

The narration is spot on. I felt like I was actually in the story watching everything unfold. That’s actually quite scary considering how creepy the program is, but is still a good thing. 

I found myself fearing for Sloane and James. Would they get taken away? Would they lose their memories? Would they even stay together? 

Young has created a really interesting idea in The Program and I’m anxious for book 2 (out now, just got to get to it!)

Question that I hope is answered in book 2: is there REALLY an epidemic or is everyone just fearful because of the program? I’m thinking it is really just the latter. In which case—book 2 should be an interesting, exciting journey. 

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

My Review:

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I already posted a summary, so I won’t repeat that. However, here is my review of this amazing book.

I began reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s books around ten years ago when I first read Speak in the 9th grade. I was blown away by the realism of the novel and the fact that a book could hit that close to reality in terms of personalities and how American schools really are. So many books just pain a caricature of American teens, but Anderson tends to get it right.

With that in mind, I was excited for The Impossible Knife of Memory. The premise of a teen whose dad was struggling with PTSD was different and something that is probably too real of an issue considering the war efforts the last several years. Anderson did not let me down in my excitement. Haley was a brave character who is scared to really let anyone in due to previous abandonments and never settling down in one place for too long. Her father is a mess and Haley does all she can to help, but she can only do so much. Their relationship was heartbreaking to read about and was a major part of why I loved this story.

Then there was Finn. He was perfect and exactly what someone like Haley needed. Regardless, his issues exist as well and lend to why he also needs Haley.

The ending wasn’t quite there for me on the “realistic” scale, but it could also just be that it was not what I expected. Either way, I loved the book as a whole and can’t wait for Anderson to release her next book. She goes too long sometimes for my addiction!

 

Also: May the fourth be with you!

Laurie Lyons’ Feather trilogy interview

After my post on Faith, Laurie Lyons was sweet enough to tweet me and offer to answer the questions in my review, plus a few. I sent her a couple questions and was glad to get back such lengthy answers that explained some of my concerns about the series. 

So, without further waiting…

My first two questions are the ones from the blog post:

1. Was Gavin intended to be such an integral part of the story from the beginning? I was glad to see him in such a bigger role this time around.

Yes and no. I knew how I wanted everything to end but wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen. I even tossed around the idea of Lucy and Roman ending up together. Then I gave my head a shake and thought of another option. Gavin. I love this character. I added him into GATES towards the end of the first draft and he added so much to the story and the aspect of ‘soul mates’. He’s funny and charming without being so perfect like Nathaniel. I knew that Lucy would be without Nathaniel for most of FAITH but I didn’t want to put her alone. Lucy always needs a voice of reason and if Nathaniel couldn’t be there, I had to create someone who would.

2. Was the ending planned out the entire time? The climax, to avoid spoilers, was so well thought out, that I’m thinking you had to have been building on it.

There is no way to talk about this to avoid spoilers so here we go. SPOILER ALERT. I knew from about half way through GATES (about the same time that Nathaniel figured it out) that this story was not going to end typically. I knew that it would not wrap up with our heroine riding away on the back of a stallion. It was too perfect, too neat, too tidy and I like my work to be a little messy. Messy is where the unexpected comes from. Messy is what makes the readers heart race. I began building on it from there.

I still wanted them to end up together because I think it’s important to acknowledge my own claims about soul mates and I still wanted everyone to walk away with warm fuzzies. I needed to answer the question that I keep asking the reader, ‘how far would you go to save your true love’s soul?’ And so I did answer it. Lucy would have gone with Malachi if she had known it would save Nathaniel’s life, and Nathaniel, well, he would die to save hers.

It’s painful and yet joyful. I love it.

3. Where did you come up with the basis of the story? Did it start with the idea of a fallen Angel or was there more to it?

My work is very character driven so I usually start with a character. Lucy was the first. I saw a lady on TV that had a photographic memory and she talked about how it was both a blessing and a curse. I thought that was fascinating and so the character of Lucy was born. She sat in my brain waiting for a story for a few weeks, which is uncommon for me. Usually, if something doesn’t come of a character, I let it go. But not Lucy, she dug in her heels in my brain and would not vacate. That’s how she became so stubborn.

I toyed with the idea of a murder mystery where a guy has been charged with a crime but has amnesia and can’t remember anything. I liked the contrast but didn’t like the premise, it was cheesy. Finally, one Sunday, I was leaving church and got the flyer of that week’s updates. One of the titles of one of the articles started with the word “Angel”. I stopped right there, in front of the church with the kids staring at me like I’m insane with my mouth hanging open. Almost the entire novel FEATHER fell into my head. It was very strange and not the usual way I get ideas. I saw Nathaniel jumping off the cliff, the cabin, Lucy on the stage, Anastasia dancing, almost everything. It was pretty cool. I ran home and started writing.

4. The ideas of Faith, religion, and redemption strongly stood out to me as a Christian. What are your thoughts on that? It literally was the conclusion when you think about it. Was it just something you put in just for the story or were you hoping to make the reader think more about those things?

As a Catholic gal, those things just sift through my system and naturally permeated my work when talking about angels. The conversation that Lucy has with Malachi on the roof is every argument I have heard against the existence of God. Her response is my response, “I have faith” it is that simple. I believe that God (or the universe or whatever you believe in as a higher power) gives us chance after chance to do the right thing and doesn’t judge us when we don’t. I do believe that the only way to be free of your own past is to forgive yourself. If we don’t forgive, we create a Hell for ourselves.

I don’t know if I want my reader to think about these things as much as I would like them to start a conversation about it. If my work starts a conversation, I’m happy.

 


5. What advice do you have for someone wanting to write? You shared how difficult of a process Faith was, so surely you have some tips.

 

Don’t stop, ever.

Even if you think it is crap, even if you think it is never going to be published, don’t stop. I threw out entire chunks of FAITH. Once they all got into the castle, I, for the life of me, could not think of a way to get them back out. I kept writing though, I developed Lucy’s relationship with Malachi and eventually, the escape became clear.

Even GATES was missing about 5 middle chapters for weeks while I moved on to the end because I thought every idea I had was garbage. I rewrote the prologue of FEATHER about fifty times.

Just keep writing. Write what you like, what you want to, don’t write what the newest fad is or what someone tells you to. Just keep writing, no matter what and your work will evolve. I promise.