I've always wanted to read the giver, especially because its touted as the first dystopian type book published. I'm too old for it to have been requir...moreI've always wanted to read the giver, especially because its touted as the first dystopian type book published. I'm too old for it to have been required literature in high school. To me, its kind of a classic, so I wanted to read it. I'm not disappointed I read it. Its a very quick read, which is totally entertaining without being action packed. The world building is simple but complete. I think its a very engaging and thought provoking read. As I made my way through it I noted many similarities to the Matched trilogy, primarily the first book. In The Giver, a community where freedom of choice and emotions has been eradicated. The community developed in such a manor so people could be relaxed, never have to experience pain or have anxiety over making the right choices. In the end, the only people who experienced true feelings or emotions were The Giver and The Receiver. The Giver was the keeper of all the old memories and The Receiver would be the one to eventually take The Giver's place. The story was written quite simply, however, the meaning behind it all was very deep. Its told in a third person narrative from the perspective of a young twelve year old boy called Jonas. Jonas is intelligent, wise and brave beyond his years. Before his ceremony of 12's, his life was carefree and bliss. Then, he is assigned to become the new Receiver and things just go downhill from that point as he is forced to discover things like pain, starvation and hopelessness. Its all probably way more than any twelve year old can endure. Jonas's best friend Asher is a comical boy. He's whimsical and has an uncanny knack for using the words out of context. I loved his innocence. Gabriel, is an infant who is at risk for being "released" from the community because he's not able to sleep for the night. Jonas' family ends up nurturing him for a second year, where if he catches up he will be assigned to a family in the following year. Most of the characters were hard to get to know intimately. I found the only one I had a real connection to was Jonas. This was probably because I always got to see in his head and know what he was thinking. I also appreciated the Giver. He was a grandfatherly type of person who really did hold Jonas' best interest in mind. When I turned the final page, I can't say I didn't truly appreciate the value of this novel. It really did make me think. Lots of ideas, idealisms and politics play a part in this book. The only problem I had with the story is the ending was left wide open. I can't say I really understood it. If I'm supposed to conjure my own ending, then in my mind I design a happy one. The author really just left me so unsure of the fate of our main characters I was a little let down with the conclusion. I do understand this is a series. I just have no clear picture on where this story may be headed next, which was all just slightly frustrating to me. (less)
There is a significant amount of controversy surrounding this book. Many readers claim its a "Harry Potter" rip off, since its about a boy with magic...moreThere is a significant amount of controversy surrounding this book. Many readers claim its a "Harry Potter" rip off, since its about a boy with magic and his two friends; one a girl and the other a boy. I read the blurb, knew the author's were both well established and determined I wanted to be able to decide for myself. So, I requested this one on Netgalley, was approved and started reading. Magisterium: The Iron Trial is a book about a boy, Callum Hunt, who has uncontrolled magic. His father, a mage himself, has refused to teach Callum anything about his budding powers. The only information he's fed the boy growing up is magic, mages and the Magisterium are all evil. He's told Callum he MUST fail his magic tests so his magic can be bound and he will never have to go the the Magisterium. A vile place where children are held captive, treated like prisons and used to fight magic wars. Well, despite Callum's valiant efforts to fail the magical exams, (he scored a negative number), he somehow still catches the eye of the top magical mage instructor and is selected to attend The Magisterium. Here's where the story begins.
This story mainly takes place in a magical boarding school located underground, deep in some unknown cavern. Pacing is fast. I didn't think this book ever had a dull moment. Its perfect for readers with active minds and those who desire non-stop action. Writing style engaged, captivated and held my interest. It was sophisticated but not so much that I couldn't grasp all the magical concepts and ideas. World building was pretty strong, with plenty of hints and unanswered questions to ponder. This one is told in a third person narrative from the perspective of our hero, twelve year old Callum Hunt.
Now Callum Hunt isn't your run of the mill mage in training. For starters, he's handicapped. His leg was shattered at birth, despite multiple surgeries and physical therapy sessions, Callum walked with a sliding limp. He's also sarcastic and is always causing some kind of trouble at his regular school. He really doesn't have any friends to speak of and usually the kids bully him because of his leg. Once admitted to The Magisterium, luckily for Callum things begin to change for the better. He really shows significant character growth in this installment.
Callum's soon to be best friend Aaron is very well liked. He's also a fantastic mage. He has a kind heart, he's very serious about his schooling and proves to be a valuable friend and ally. Tamara, the final character, forming the trio, selected by the prestigious instructor is extremely intelligent. She's also earns high marks in the initial testing. As the story progresses, it ends up she harbors some pretty interesting secrets. Of course not everyone at the school is kind to Callum, one particular boy, Jared ends up being sort of an archival. He's convinced that Callum stole his training spot in the top group and will do whatever it takes to earn it back from him.
This was a really entertaining, action packed, magical read. It captivated me with all its unanswered questions, like "kill the boy" or "you don't know what you really are". The magic was different. The chaos creatures and magic were original. I totally adored the addition of Havoc, the wolf cub, since I'm a big animal lover. I also am curious to see what happens with Warren, the lizard. All along I had my theories and ideas on where this story was headed. Surprisingly, Holly Black still managed to still toss me a curve ball at the very end of the book. The conclusion involves a breathtaking battle and startling revelations. I felt like the story wrapped up in an ideal fashion. It felt complete and could be read as a stand alone, but I don't see why any reader would not want to continue on with the series. The plan is that this series will have five books total, one for each year of Call's life between twelve and seventeen. I must say, after reading this one, I felt like there were only some very minor similarities between this book and The Harry Potter Series. Magisterium: The Iron Trial, is unique and its own story. Give it a chance, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I recommend this book to fans of magical middle grade fantasies. Those who enjoy boarding schools, magical creatures and exciting battles will find lots to love about this story. I bet readers of both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson will both also quickly be cheering for our new hero Callum Hunt as he makes his was through his school years at the Magisterium.
This story takes place in 1972 in Cape Cod. Writing is advanced, engaging and beautiful. The mood is melancholy. Its told in a f...more SETTING PACE AND STYLE
This story takes place in 1972 in Cape Cod. Writing is advanced, engaging and beautiful. The mood is melancholy. Its told in a first person narrative through the innocent, whimsical voice of our heroine, young Naomi - nickname - Chirp.
CHARACTERS AND PLOT
Naomi, ("Chirp") is a vibrant, inquisitive, energetic eleven year old girl who loves her family. Blessed with a vast knowledge of birds and a sweet young voice it was easy to quickly fall in love with this little one. My heart broke alongside hers as she wrestles through one difficult situation after another. It was great when Chirp reflected on old times, letting me glimpse memories of good times with her mother. This helped me grip the severeness of her mother's illness.
Joey, a next store neighbor, is a little boy in Chirp's classroom. He has his own family problems to deal with. Somehow, though he's astute enough to pick up on Chirp's cry for help and desperate need for a shoulder to lean on, a good friend. Joey is a boy who's not afraid to stand up for himself, even go against his older brother's if it means defending a friend. Joey has a few quirks and almost some OCD like tendencies, however all in al,l you can't help but root for he and Chirp to end up being survivors. They are very knowledgeable and observant for ones so young.
Rachel, Chirp's older sister plays her part well. She's doting and sensitive to Chirp's needs, but at the same time she tends to lash out with a snotty attitude and be totally disrespectful to her father. These characteristics fit, helping to make the story more believable.
Chirp's mother, a dancer and now an individual diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis falls into a deep depression after receiving the bad news. My feelings towards her situation were awful, but at the same time I struggled not to judge or fell frustrated and angry towards her complete lack of gumption. I wished, just like her family did, she would put everything behind her. She needed to get back to her life as a mother/wife caring for her family/sweet little girls. Again, I think this is why the story is so good. Its challenging to comprehend depression. Its an illness, not something people just pop in and out of. It is hard to imagine someone is so sick that they don't even want to interact will the people they love.
Chirp's father is a psychologist, which I think makes the situation even more desperate. Despite his ability to work out other people's problems its amazing he struggles so much with his own. His family is reeling out of control and I watched him slowly unravel. I could tell he loved his wife and his daughter's unconditionally. I pitied him and his inability to know how or what was the right thing to do to help.
Nest is Esther Ehrlich's middle grade debut novel. Its a story about a family dealing with a devastating diagnosis and the depression following. The story felt real along with the problems it presents: dealing with death, depression and child abuse. The entire story is somewhat depressing. As I read, I could tell this probably wouldn't have a happily ever after ending. Chirp's vibrance, energy and positive outlook help brighten the dark story lines. She experienced a decent amount of growth throughout the novel. Some of my favorite parts to the book were when she reminisced about the old times and how her mother used to be before her illness. Having the story told from Chirp's point of view gave the story flare, charm and most importantly - hope. One aspect of the book which stood out for me was all the references to birdwatching. I learned plenty about birds, habitats and behaviors, a great sideline to the melancholy plot. There were also beautiful pencil illustrations at the beginning of some chapters, which I really appreciated. The conclusion is pretty open ended. When it wrapped up, it lead me to believe the family still had plenty of healing left to do, but somehow, I am confident they will all come out all right.
I recommend this book to readers who want to know more about depression and how it affects young people. Those fans of dance or birdwatching will also want to give this one a chance. Adult readers will find this a suitable book which has rich content, even though its middle grade. Young patient readers may need guidance while reading this story since the subjects of death, depression and child abuse are all involved.(less)
After reading Perfection, I didn't really feel a huge urgency to continue with the series. The first book end up a little over the to...moreRATING: 3.5 Stars
After reading Perfection, I didn't really feel a huge urgency to continue with the series. The first book end up a little over the top with its syrupy rommance and swooning for my reading tastes. In the beginning of the second book I was convinced that I was in for more of the same and I can't hide that I was feeling discouraged. Not wanting to throw in the towel, just yet, I hung in there and ended up being rewarded. I'd say book two in this series is significantly better that book one. After the first 50 pages or so, the romance faded into the backround, the world building dramatically improved and the author added in new characters, lending the reader multiple new perspectives. I really enjoyed seeing things from Alexysis and Xavier's point of view. I do have to mention the feelings shared between these two sort of creeped me out. I'm not sure the "romance" between these two characters added much dimension to this story. They ended up being much better villians than their father. Ellyssa matured in this story. Her powers begin to morph and become more intruiging. The comadant and Mathew's perspectives added value to the story, too. Pacing in this installment was much faster than the first. The main characters are on a quest to Texas to resuce their fellow renegades from a compound. Along the way they face many challenges. The climax was exciting, but slightly predictable. The story concluded well, setting the scene perfectly for the next book. (less)
Enamored by the Hitler/Nazi plot lines, hopeful and expectant for a sort of historical fiction/dystopian mix, I snuggled up and started to read this b...moreEnamored by the Hitler/Nazi plot lines, hopeful and expectant for a sort of historical fiction/dystopian mix, I snuggled up and started to read this book. Boy, I couldn't have been farther off with this one. Disappointingly, this was more of a romance with some threads of dystopian and Hitler Nazi subplot lines. Ellyssa , the main character, is a genetically engineered prodigy of her Master, the man she calls "Der Vater" and is also referred to as Dr. Hirsh. He is a diabolical mad scientist who has a grand plan of eradicating impurities in the world and building a new one with superior beings starting with Ellyssa and her siblings. Each sibling has a special gift. Ellyssa's is the ability to read minds - telepathy. She has been raised in a facility, basically treated as a lab rat, spending her entire life being experimented on by her father. She's not supposed to be able to feel emotions. Her father thinks she's incapable of feeling of having emotions, but Ellyssa has spend her childhood learning to mask her feelings. As she ages, she becomes smarter. After a renegade captured at the facility telepathically sends her a message about fleeing to Kansas, she decides to go snooping into her father's computer files. What she uncovers scares her enough to run away from her facility and this is where Elyssa's story really begins.
Pacing in the beginning is pretty slow. It actually reads like more of a survival story as Ellyssa flees the facility in search of safety in Kansas. This story is told in a third person narrative, switching between multiple perspectives, but with a primary focus on Elyssa. The writing was just so-so. The author tends to repeat certain words or phrases throughout the story. For example he uses "midsection" frequently though out the story, when I wished he'd sometimes just changed it up and used the word "stomach" every once in a while. Perfection takes place in the future, in Missouri. At times the novel can be graphic as there are a decent amount of deaths within its pages.
Ellyssa, the main character, was difficult to form any emotional ties to. In the beginning she's very robotic, even her language suffers. As the story progresses she relaxes as she sifts though emotional responses and begins to use them more naturally. Reign, Ellyssa's main love interest is introduced into to story near the beginning. It didn't take very long before he and Ellyssa formed emotional attachments and at about 75% through the story they proclaimed their love for each other. Even though I appreciated how fiercely Reign felt about protecting Ellyssa, I felt disappointed in how quickly they fell in love. Most of their bond was placed on physical attraction, where I'd prefer more emotional connections. I didn't really think they had enough time to get to know each other. Dr Hirsh, Ellyssa dad. was a pretty messed up dude. He was a decent villain and of course I totally disagreed with his vision for the new world. I disliked him, enough, just wish he conjured up more negative emotions within me. Ellyssa's siblings, especially her younger sister, seemed much easier to hate, harboring deeper evils. I'm curious to how the author further developed these characters in the next installment.
Overall, the story was pretty middle ground for me. In order for it to improve, I'd have to see far less romance and a much more world building and plot development. Sometimes the romance became so unbearable I actually felt my eyes roll, inadvertently. I'm really hopeful the next book will have a different focus. I do have to put out a general warning as this book does contain a rape scene. Its not extremely graphic, but its detailed enough to scare off younger readers. As for the ending. I felt like the author did a very good job of bringing the story to a solid resting point. She also set up a good idea of where the story will be headed. I look forward to reading book number two and am very wishful I will enjoy the story more than I did this one.(less)
I haven't read a classic since high school and that was a very long time ago. When I put in a request for a powerful short book, the Goodreads communi...moreI haven't read a classic since high school and that was a very long time ago. When I put in a request for a powerful short book, the Goodreads community suggested this book. I found it at my digital library, available so I decided to give it a try. It was pretty impressive. Writing in this one is told in a third person narrative. Its a story with a slow start, so be patient. About 1/3 of the way into the book things started making quite a bit more sense. Pacing after that remained slow to moderate. This is definitely not considered an action packed read. Instead its a cerebral read, one that is powerful, thought provoking and should be read slowly, with a highlighter to get the most out of it. The writing is amazing, the thoughts conveyed are controversial. There were so many amazingly profound views and ideals it was difficult to digest them all. The main story here revolves around an innocent young man, Dorian Gray, who inadvertently yearns for eternal youth. For some unknown reason his wish becomes a reality. Instead of his physical body aging, a painted portrait of him ages in his place. This concept is quite creepy and slowly it turns a sane man, to insanity.
Dorian Gray, in the beginning is an innocent youth. I liked him very much at the start. As the novel progresses and he is influenced by a man named Lord Henry with very corrupt morals and values, I began to slowly detest the man he was becoming. I did feel a small amount of pity for Dorian, he made one bad decision after another and bad luck and fate seemed to follow him everywhere.
Basil Hallward, the painter, was a very decent man. I thought he was a good person who liked to keep mainly to himself. I believe he was a talented artist and really had the best interest in mind for the young Dorian Gray. I just wish he'd never allowed his friend Lord Henry to get ahold of the young man.
Lord Henry was a rich man who spent his life theorizing and postulating about life. He has poor morals and values. He was the demise of Dorian Gray. I think without the bad influence of this character Dorian would never have traveled down the road he did in the novel. Without Lord Henry's port influence, though, there would not have been a story to tell.
For the most part this story fascinated me. However, at times the author did seem to veer off on a very detailed and complex tangent. He'd dedicate an entire chapter to infinite details about a book or about the history of precious gems. I have to admit during these times I had a REALLY hard time focusing on the story. Other than this small flaw, I enjoyed the story a lot, considering this was a classic written a very long time ago, I still found it a quick read. This book holds a lot of great themes but the one I understood most was the determents of vanity and beauty.
The ending to the story was very abrupt. I was curious to see how the author would wrap it all up and I was shocked at how I was just reading along and then, "boom" a bomb dropped and the story concluded. Its the type of ending that makes you want to pause and think about everything that was just read.
I'd recommend this book to patient readers, those who like thought provoking, powerful stories and readers who want to spend some time enjoying a good book. Those readers who are interested in finding great quotes will enjoy this book too because its full of them!(less)