Book Review–Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3) by Lois Lowry

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This is the 70th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3) by Lois Lowry
  Published January 1st, 2004 by Ember

 

Messenger is the masterful third novel in the Giver Quartet, which began with the dystopian bestseller The Giver, now a major motion picture.

Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Village once welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must risk everything to make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

 

——

This book wasn’t quite as good as The Giver and Gathering Blue, but it was still pretty good. The POV is mostly from Matty, the little boy who was Kira’s friend in the second book. Matty has changed a lot from the last time we saw him and has a sweet innocence about him–as well as a remarkable gift.

This book explores more about gifts in this world, as well as about the changing village that Matty and his companion, The Seer, lives in. Jonas is finally introduced as well. His gift puzzled me at first but now I think I understand what it is.

The ending was just cruel, though. Thanks for tearing out my heart, Lois Lowry. Can’t wait to see what the final book is about–hopefully from Gabe’s POV? That would be cool.

 

3halfstars

 

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–A Midsummer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine

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This is the 69th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

A Midsummer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine
  Published July 2nd 2013 by Feiwel & Friends

 

Oh, what fools these actors be!

it was a horror movie that turned into real horror: Three young actors lost their lives while the cameras rolled. Production stopped, and people proclaimed the movie was cursed.

Now, sixty years later, new actors are venturing onto the haunted set. In a desperate attempt to revive their failing studio, Claire’s dad has green-lit a remake of Mayhem Manor, and Claire and her friends are dying to be involved.

At first, Claire laughs at Jake’s talk of ghosts and curses. He’s been too busy crushing on her best friend, Delia, or making out with that slut, Annalee, to notice that she’s practically been throwing herself at him. What does he know anyway? This is her big chance to be a star!

But then, Claire runs into a creepy little man named Benny Puckerman, and gets her hands on a real love potion! Unfortunately, the course of true love never did run smooth…

Get ready for laughter to turn into screams as the Grandmaster of Horror, R.L. Stine, takes on the Master of Theater in this modern reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

——

When I first saw this book, I was hours away from meeting R.L. Stine, whose books and writing I fell in love with when I was in fourth grade. I almost considered buying it because it looked interesting, and I pretty much love most of Stine’s work. Now I’m very glad that I didn’t. It makes me sad, though, because the author is a really sweet guy and I’ve never read anything that disappointed me as much. Even Dangerous Girls and Red Rain, which I didn’t care a whole lot for, didn’t disappoint me like this.

I appreciated that the characters were more modern. However, I didn’t like or could connect with a single one of them. Some even annoyed me, including the main character. I just didn’t care enough about this characters and whether they lived or died.

The premise itself was interesting in the beginning but ended up being way too predictable. Especially the Puck thing. It was a little amusing that Claire couldn’t remember his role in the story despite having read the play a year before. I haven’t read it in years yet I still remember his role.

I was also shocked by the slut shaming in this book. If you’re reading this, R.L. Stine, please, please, please don’t do this again. It was the most disappointing at all. A single comment would have been fine, but it seemed that several were made and I honestly couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a character trait, the author’s opinion, or just an attempt to make things more modern–and that’s the problem.

This was a quick read, as most of his books are, but I just couldn’t get into it at all. I finished it, but would definitely never buy or re-read.

 

 

1star

 

 

 

jncname

What I’m Working On: November 2014 Update #4: NaNoWriMo 2014

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Hey guys, NaNoWriMo ends in about eight days and I am currently at around 35K. I am a little bit behind due to missing a few days/not getting enough written due to real life, but I really got a lot done yesterday and today. I’m hoping to get a lot done tomorrow as well. I’m really loving the story, characters, and relationships. I never had a complete outline for this book so I’m now at the point at where I’m making it up as I go along. A little scary, but very exciting.

 

So are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you writing? Also, if you want daily updates, make sure to follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter. There are buttons at the top of the main banner and off to the right for you to find and join me.

 

Best of luck, everyone!

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 68th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10) by Sara Shepard
December 6th 2011 by HarperTeen

 

Sometimes bad things happen to bad girls. . . .

Aria’s love life is on the Fitz—ahem, fritz. Emily’s exploring her wild side. Hanna’s kissing the enemy. And someone from Spencer’s past—someone she never thought she’d see again—is back to haunt her. But none of that compares to what these pretty little liars did on their last spring break. It’s their darkest secret yet. And guess who else knows?

I haven’t forgotten, and I certainly haven’t forgiven. These pretty little liars better watch their backs because they’re about to get exactly what they deserve. . . .


 

——

 ***WARNING: This review may contain slight spoilers from the previous books. You’ve been warned. ***

Although I now believe the series would have ended better after Wanted, I enjoyed the last book quite well. This one, not so much. This is probably my least liked book out of the series.

It felt dragged out, the way the plots were woven were a bit confusing at times, and I really couldn’t stand Spencer and what she’d done. Sorry, I felt bad for Kelsey.

This book just seemed pointless. It also took another character that I previously liked, Ezra Fitch, and made him into a complete douche–he didn’t even really act like himself. There better be some explanation for THAT.

I didn’t hate it, but I kind of had to force myself to keep reading. My hopes for the next few books aren’t too high, but I want to finish the series since I’ve come this far. I sincerely hope that the next book is better.

 

 

2stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter

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This is the 67th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter
Published February 26th 2013 by Bloomsbury

 

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

 

——

 

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at all. Evie, the main character, was hard to relate to, though I found the overall story intriguing. However, as I read on, I grew to actually like and be able to relate to Evie. I loved her relationship with Mary, the woman at Planned Parenthood, as well as that with her aunts and little cousins. I felt bad for her situation with her parents and her pregnancy. I was ready to support any decision she wanted to make.

I felt this book explored teen pregnancy and the hard decisions that must be made very realistically. It was nice to see a realistic and non-biased look at all of the options. I also like how religion even played a small role.

This book really played with my emotions. My heart about broke for Evie toward the end. While I don’t believe she researched her option as well as she should have, I also know that young women like Evie make rash decisions and end up feeling much like she did toward the end.

If you want a realistic teen pregnancy book that doesn’t demonize any options (abortion, adoption, or keeping it) that also might play with your heartstrings, this book is definitely for you.

 

 

 

4halfstars

 

jncname

Book Review–Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

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This is the 66th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin
Published August 15th 2014 by HarperCollins

 

In this compelling and compulsively readable memoir, nineteen-year-old Paige Rawl tells the story of how she was mercilessly bullied in middle school…and how she overcame the ordeal to change her world for the better.

In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply with the thousands of children and adults whose lives have been touched by bullying.

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth…but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. It never prevented her from entering beauty pageants or playing soccer or making the honor role.

On an unremarkable day in middle school, while attempting to console a friend, Paige disclosed her HIV-positive status—and within hours the bullying began. She was called “PAIDS,” first in whispers, then out in the open. Her soccer coach joked that she was an asset because opposing team members would be too afraid to touch her. Her guidance counselor told her to stop all the “drama,” and her principal said she couldn’t protect her. One night, desperate for escape, Paige swallowed fifteen sleeping pills—one for each year of her life to date. That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.

The gripping first-person account of Paige’s life will pull in even the most reluctant readers of nonfiction, and her call to action to choose compassion over cruelty will stay with them long after they turn the last page.

 

 

——

I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. Many thanks to the publisher/author for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

Memoirs aren’t usually my favorite kind of books, but this book has definitely made that list. I guess I just didn’t expect this book to make such an impact on me. I can’t remember the last time that I cried so much while reading a book, either.

I knew very little about HIV, or even AIDS, before reading this memoir. My heart broke when Paige’s parents discovered that they were HIV positive–along with little Paige. If that wasn’t bad enough, Paige’s best friend decides to tell the entire school about her, which results in years of bullying. Then it gets worse–the school blames Paige for her own bullying. It was incredibly mortifying.

I’m no stranger to schools with this type of behavior–my family has experienced similar instances–but this school’s reaction just took the cake. I sincerely hope that things have improved at that school and that the administration who ignored the bullying were fired.

Despite the bullying, health problems, and inner turmoil, Paige found a way to turn all that negativity into something good. She is truly an inspiration not only for fellow HIV positive people, but all children who have been bullied for who they are.

Thank you, Paige, for sharing your story. I wish you all the success in your future endeavors and activism. I highly recommend this one. I hope one day that all schools will have a no bullying policy and that kids like Paige will never feel alone.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

 

 

5stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry

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This is the 65th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry
Published January 1st 2000 by Laurel-Leaf Books

 

In her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

As she did in The Giver, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, and what will be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

 

——

Gathering Blue is a companion novel to The Giver.

While the world and characters in this book are greatly different from the ones in The Giver, the themes concerning control and choices were similar. I loved the main character, Kira. I have always been fascinated by the art of fabric dyeing. I also enjoyed her funny friend, Matt.

I was a little disappointed that Jonas and Gabe from The Giver aren’t in this one, but I hear they’re in the next. I liked the “twist” at the end. The characters were well defined, the world fascinating, and the plot interesting.

 

 

5stars

 

 

jncname

Book Review–The Giver by Lois Lowry (The Giver Quartet #1)

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This is the 64th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Giver by Lois Lowry (The Giver Quartet #1)
Published 1993 by Laurel-Leaf Books

 

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

 

——

When I first read this (sixth grade), I hated it. When I read it on my own, I fell in love with it.

I re-read this recently due to the movie being released. Even though the book’s target audience is more geared for middle grade, I believe readers of all ages can enjoy this story. I still love this story. It’s one of those books that have great characters and make you think.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is that it goes by so fast and that there isn’t much detail on how the world Jonas knows got to be that way–something that really interested me. However, I know there are three other books in the series so perhaps some answers will be in them.

This is a book that I can probably read in a few years again and still love–a classic. The world is interesting and scary, the characters are well-defined and make you care about them (particularly Jonas, the Giver, and Gabe for me), and has situations that make you think.

The scene with Jonas’ father and the twins always gets me every time. A truly horrifying scene.

Definitely recommended for all.

 

5stars

 

 

jncname

What I’m Working On: November 2014 Update #3: NaNoWriMo 2014

wiwo14

 

Hey guys, NaNoWriMo has been going for two weeks now. I’ve just gone past the 20K mark so that’s always good. I also plan to write a lot this weekend since I will be surrounded by nature and no internet! I am loving my two main characters and their relationship right now. I kind of just want to gush about it, but I won’t. ;-)

 

So are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you writing? Also, if you want daily updates, make sure to follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter. There are buttons at the top of the main banner and off to the right for you to find and join me.

 

Best of luck, everyone!

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard

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This is the 63rd book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard
Published July 5th 2011 by HarperTeen

 

It’s been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The pretty little liars have more secrets than ever – twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild.

Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.

Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore… eventually.


——

I haven’t read any PLL books since probably last year so I worried that I would be really confused when I picked this up at the local library. And although I was somewhat confused at first (so much has happened in the last books that to be honest it all kind of runs together, along with parts from the TV show), it didn’t take me long after reading to get back on track with the general storyline.

The situations in this one made me feel really anxious for all of the girls. New characters were introduced, some surprising me more than others. I really just wanted to give all the girls a hug. The whole A storyline is a little unbelievable at this point, but it’s such a fun plot that it’s still enjoyable.

I am still reeling from what Emily went through after Jamaica, though, and wished more would have been said about that.

Can’t wait to see what happens with the girls next!

 

 

4halfstars

 

jncname

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