Title: A Million Suns
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher/Year: Razorbill, 2012
Length: 386 pages
Series?: Across the Universe #2
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Romance
Source: Purchased from the Nook store
Look to the left.
Then to the right.
Then left. Then right. Up. Down. Spin your head in circles.
That’s how many plot twists are in this book.
A Million Suns is the sequel to Across the Universe, and it’s even better than the first book. Lately it feels like second books in trilogies have been grossly disappointing, so this was a pleasant surprise. Amy and Elder are still trying to figure out the mysteries of The Godspeed in order to fulfill the ship’s mission of reaching Centuri Earth. Amy is trying to follow a series of clues left by Orion regarding a decision only she can make. Elder struggles with his new leadership position on the ship, managing rebellions, food shortages, and the emotional issues resulting from the elimination of Phydus. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, there was another twist or turn. It was one of those books that I started reading at bedtime, and kept on reading until I finished at 3am. Yeah. That kind of book.
The most interesting aspect of this book, and the trilogy as a whole, is that we actually see the struggles of rebuilding a power structure in a society. The moral and ethical dilemmas faced by Elder are complex. His age and lack of experience don’t help his situation, and he realizes that he may not have all the answers. So many of the issues faced on the ship parallel issues in our own society (do the people in the hospital deserve a share of the limited food supply when they aren’t working?). There are a lot of YA dystopias out there that deal with fighting oppressive power structures, but this is the only one I know of that shows the reality of forming new ones in times of crisis. It’s fascinating.
And for those of you not interested in the government-y stuff, don’t worry. Between the mystery, the twists, and the romance, there’s something for everyone. Revis takes into consideration possible doubts about this relationship and makes it work. It’s a trilogy, so the romance is still developing. The best part? NO LOVE TRIANGLES. So thank you for that, Beth Revis. I’m sick of these love triangles all hyped up on teenage hormones and swoony, troubled boys filled with electric chemistry. Seriously. One swoony, troubled boy filled with electric chemistry and hormones is plenty for me. Especially because all the girls in the other books picked the wrong boys and I actually like Elder. He’s good people.
FINAL GRADE: A Revis, you won me over. I liked Across the Universe, but I LOVED A Million Suns and I can’t wait for Shades of Earth (though by the time this review posts, I’m sure I will have already read and reviewed it!). Dystopian lit is my favorite genre, so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan, but this series is even starting to stand out at the top of the list. I know, I know, I’m a little over the top with my praise for the one…but I just liked it that much.
Assigned reading: Assigned to anyone who read Across the Universe, as well as fans of dystopia, romance, sci-fi, outer space, kissing, mysteries, and explosions.
Library recommendations: Appropriate for middle school or high school. Be prepared to point readers to Plato’s Republic when they finish!
What’s your favorite dystopian trilogy?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week we are talking about the books we constantly recommend. This is almost similar to my favorite books, but represents the books I think others might call a favorite, too. I probably sound a little like a broken record, but here they are:
Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most
1.) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I love this book because it looks like the kind of sci-fi that might typically turn my friends off, but there is so much surprising amazing in there. I think pretty much everyone can enjoy the story.
2.) Looking for Alaska by John Green – John Green is my homeboy. I should probably walk around recommending The Fault in Our Stars, but I’ll stick with my personal fav of his, Looking For Alaska, as my go-to Green novel of choice.
3.) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – I like non-fiction, so if I have a friend who seems non-fiction-y, or who I think needs to start dabbling in the genre, I recommend this.
4.) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – It’s such a powerful book.
5.) The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – More recent, but the number of times I’ve recommended it in the past three months has been insane. I usually recommend it as a YA book for people who think YA is not as complex at adult fiction.
6.) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Because it’s fun. It’s adventure. It’s a great “can’t put down” kind of book.
7.) Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger – Another recent book. I think books that are fresh in my brain get more “rec” cred than some of the older ones. I recommend this book because I need other people to read it so we can talk about it.
8.) Every Day by David Levithan – An incredibly thought-provoking book. I recommend it to anyone who works with teens, as it can be a great book for teaching about empathy.
9.) Unwind by Neal Schusterman– If The Hunger Games was the book I was reading three years ago, claiming it was edgy and awesome, Unwind totally has that spot in my life now (even though it’s old than The Hunger Games). Imma need the Hunger Games folks to put down that book, and walk over to the real dark side.
10.) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – Though Ruby Oliver is my favorite, Frankie Landau-Banks is a better introduction to my favorite author. This is a fun, funny standalone novel with a feminist twist and a good message. Plus I always hope it inspired people to try Ruby Oliver.
Which books are you always recommending?
Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianAuthor: Sherman Alexie
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown, 2007
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Library book (Follett bound)
Source: Library, gift
Date Read: Fall 2009
Original review (Fall 2009):
Funny! And left me feeling good, despite the rough and tough situations Junior has faced (and will face…life is not going to get better on the rez).
Junior’s life sucks. As a bright high school student growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation (the rez), he faces a lot of depressing situations: actual depression, alcoholism, runaways, drug addiction, poverty, and violence, to name a few. To escape, Junior starts attending a white school in the nearest town off the rez. He plays basketball and tries to make some friends, but ultimately has a hard time forming identities in two different spheres of life. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Junior’s journal and cartoons telling his journey to a better life for himself.
What makes this book so awesome are three things: truth, realism, and humor. It’s no secret that ATDoaPTI is a frequently challenged book for its portrayals of the gritty life of a teenage boy. Alexie based it on his own real experiences, and he doesn’t pretty those up for us. Life isn’t pretty. Life is sometime hypocritical, racist, homophobic, and hyper-sexual. Teenage boys (and girls!) can be all of those things as they figure out the world and their own personal identities. However, as readers we give Junior some wiggle room. He’s likable. He’s funny. He has something to say, a journey to tell, and we want to hear it. His art, his hopefulness, his humor, and his honesty are what make this book one that stands out in YA lit. Alexie can tell a story, and that’s why ATDoaPTI has won multiple awards and is taught in high school classrooms across the country.
FINAL GRADE: A I know. My praise is a little intense. But what can I say? I love a book that can actually reach teenagers. This is that book. It’s engaging, but it has substance. It’s relateable, but can spark thoughtful conversations and questions. I gladly purchased this book for my middle school library and would definitely recommend it for both high school libraries AND for classroom teaching. Be prepared by knowing it has been frequently challenged and by familiarizing yourself with the ALA’s information on school censorship and NCTE’s position statements on censorship (including the Student’s Right to Read). Beyond the classroom, I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of age or genre preferences. Yes. It’s THAT kind of book. Read away!
What are your thoughts on ATDoaPTI? Have you read it? Plan to read it?
In my end of year wrap-ups last year, I participated in an AWESOME series called the Faves of 2011, hosted by Nomes at Ink Crush. It appears that she is not hosting this series again, so I went ahead and decided to do it myself! This was originally a five day series, but since I’ve already covered favorite reads and covers I’m going to shave this down to two days of posts.
Note: Three books that I read in December come up on this list, but they haven’t come out yet (they are 2013 releases) and my reviews can’t be linked. I’ve linked the book cover pictures to the Goodreads page for each book if you want more information about it.
Part I: Books
1. Always recommending this book award
Every Day by David Levithan
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (review coming in February)
3. Brilliantly funny
Five Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth by The Oatmeal
4. Best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
5. Most beautiful story
Also A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
6. Delicious rainy day comfort read
Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (okay, it’s more of snowy day comfort read!)
7. Adrenalin-fuelled, unputdownable award
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (review coming next Thursday)
8. The beautiful prose award
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9. Most atmospheric and vivid setting
Bunheads by Sophie Flack (the ballet world!)
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (hands down!)
11. Most original and imaginative
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes (a graphic novel short story collection on the theme of mystery boxes!)
12. Best under-appreciated, hidden gem book
Between You & Me by Marisa Calin
13. I-had-no-idea-I-would-love this-so award
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
14. Most haunting story
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
15. Outside my comfort zone but gosh how I loved it
Envy by Gregg Olsen (I didn’t think I liked paranormal books)
16. Series that I’m loving
The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty
17. Completely awesome premise award
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart
Part II: Characters
1. Favorite female main character
Ruby Oliver. Always.
2. Favorite male main character
Al in Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Becca and Alex in The Holders by Julianna Scott (review coming in February)
4. Who I so want to be best friends with
Frankenstein’s Monster. He needed a friend and I would have been his friend.
5. Who I fell completely in love with (new literary crush)
You guys, there are just NO GOOD CRUSH-WORTHY ladies in this year’s books. They’re too busy being straight and whatnot. #lesbianproblems
6. Worst (best & baddest) villian
The Sixers in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
7. Best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa)
If I say what I really want to say — or even name the book! — it spoils the book! So I’ll say Marcus Flutie in the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty.
8. Best kick-ass female
Three stood out: Kyra in The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (for escaping a cult), Lina in Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (for surviving and thriving in Siberian WWII work camps), and Nora in The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (for literally kicking ass).
9. Best kick-ass male
Conner in Unwind by Neal Schusterman
10. Broke your heart the most
Every Day by David Levithan
11. Favorite pet/animal character award
The rats in The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf (I love that they get a voice in this verse novel)
12. Best YA parents award
I guess Alice’s dad in the Alice series. Scanning down my list of books, I just see a long list of really awful parents!
13. Favorite sibling relationship
Becca and Ryland in The Holders by Julianna Scott
14. Favorite best friends/friendship award
15. Best/worst character names
Bonus: best love triangles!!!
Xander –> Cassia <—> Kyle in Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy (still rooting for Xander — haven’t read Reached yet!)
Aspen <–> America <–> Maxon in The Selection by Kiera Cass (rooting for Maxon)
Alex <–> Lena –> Julian in Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (Julian?)
Since grad school is done for the year, Novel Ideas is on break until January. I’ll be using Wednesdays for End of Year stuff. First up is a biggie, the End of Year survey from Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner!
Best In Books 2012
1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I think my hopes and my bar were just too high for this one. I know everyone else LOVED it. Don’t get me wrong — I liked it. I like everything that man writes. However, it’s my least favorite of his novels.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Envy by Gregg Olsen. I got this as a review copy, and was just ready for an average read. For some reason, I really loved it.
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Every Day by David Levithan. I think it’s a book that can be appreciated universally. It’s so well written, though-provoking, and important.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Jessica Darling series. Megan McCafferty writes a clever, imperfect character who is fun to read. I only read the first three (the library packaged all 5 together, and I ran out of time), but I will be back for more.
6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Maureen Johnson. I read The Name of the Star in 2011 and didn’t love it, but I’ve read more of her work now and have come to appreciate her voice and her characters, even if I don’t always love her plots (though, seriously, The Madness Underneath just blew my mind).
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I don’t read a lot of basic YA contemporary, so Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols was out of my comfort zone. I thought I would be bored by it, but I was actually impressed with the story. I still don’t get everyone’s thing for tortured boys (or boys in general, for that matter…#lesbianproblems) but I liked it alright.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman. My review is coming in just a few days, but it was definitely the most action-packed read on my list.
9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Honestly, none of them. Too many books, too little time. I’m not much of a re-reader.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
It’s a tie. Normally I don’t like covers with girls in pretty dresses (I think they’re cliche), but I couldn’t help myself:
11. Most memorable character in 2012?
A from Every Day by David Levithan. I still think about A constantly.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Quoteables on every page. There’s a reason classics are classic, right?
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It’s about dealing with death and the uncertainty of life — heavy stuff.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
The Grooming of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. How did I miss that one book when I thought I had read all of the first 20 books in the series?
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Longest — Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. If felt shorter on the re-read, and I enjoyed it more. But 23 discs on audio was INTENSE.
Shortest — Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart. Short, sweet, cute.
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
I loved the gender-ambigious relationship between Phyre and You in Between You and Me by Marissa Calin. Such an interesting concept, both in how she wrote the ambiguously gendered second-person BFF and how I personally read that character.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
I enjoyed The Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. I really never know where that woman is going to go sometimes.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I had zero interest in that book, but after seeing it all over the blogosphere (in particular, in Gingers recommendation over at GReads!) I was glad I picked it up.
Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 (optional)
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?
Ummm….all of them? There are too many to mention! I have enjoyed reading Fiction Folio, which is discovered via Top Ten Tuesday links, because we have the same name (Tara).
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?
I had two: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which I loved years ago, but didn’t love so much this time around) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix, which I loved so much more on round two! I snarked a little in both of those reviews.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
In my Required Reading for July post, I asked my readers for recommendations of great classics. I got many, and I am considering them (or read them already, in the case of Frankenstein and The Great Gatsby). What’s funny, though, is my required book was Sense and Sensibility, which I didn’t end up reading at all!
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Not sure, since I don’t have access to my saved comments from Blogger like I do on WordPress.
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I enjoyed my participation in Top Ten Tuesday, as always, and I loved my Secret Santa gift from Amanda at Letters Inside Out!
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
I finally started getting ARCs of books that I really wanted to read and really enjoyed reading. I didn’t start book blogging for this perk, but it’s definitely nice to get to read the books early.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
By views, my most popular post was my Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books, where I compiled ten Quotetastic Friday quotes into a picture slide show. The post got over 5000 views, though I suspect many of these came from search engines looking for “quotes from books.”
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
All of them!
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Audio SYNC, where my Audible audio books sync with my Kindle e-books, so I can pick up where I left off in either format. This is only cost-effective with classics (since they are free or cheap), but so cool!
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I finished my 75 book challenge, read 10 non-fiction books, and 20 audio books. I didn’t finish my other challenges, but I came close!
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
Everything by Melina Marchetta. YOU GUYS. Seriously. Saving Francesca? Jellicoe Road? Why are neither of these in my brain already?
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
If I had to pick just one, it would be The Elite by Kiera Cass. I may hate it, but I don’t think I wiiiiiiiill!
3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
The biggest accomplishment will just be to keep this up while working on my Ph.D. I would like to have about 50% of my posts scheduled far enough ahead of time that I can take a week off here and there if things get too hectic. I would also love to read more YA in 2013 and less adult novels (contrary to my past reading habits!) so I have more novels in my mental database when I do my research.
In my actual blogging, I would like to avoid using “I” as much as possible (not completely!) in my reviews, as I feel this makes them stronger. I also would like to come up with a standard “report card” type ending beyond just my grade summary at the end of each post — sort of a standard listing of grade, age level, recommended to, library recommendation, teaching applications, etc. I’d also like to beef up my basic info for each book — maybe series status, page count, etc, so more info is available.
Feel free to copy this survey and complete it yourself! It really made me think about my year and my reading!
(For this photo I edited the photo itself (a photo I took in downtown Denver a few weeks ago) in Pixlr Express. I LOVE the variety of options this site offers! Then I saved the photo and re-uploaded it to PicMonkey for the transparent box and text. I think I’ll be able to survive sans-Picnik, and I’m surprised by the way other sites have stepped up their features lately!)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by JK Rowling
Audiobook from Public Library
[#28 in my 75 Book Challenge]
First off, let me make it clear that this review IS FULL OF SPOILERS! I’m assuming at this point that everyone has already read the books, seen the movies, or has no interest in doing either (and if that’s the case, why are you reading this?). If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read beyond this point.
Seriously. I’m warning you.
Rereading Harry Potter after all the books and movies are done, over, and available on DVD/in paperback is an interesting experience. I’m not tearing through the novels like I did the first time, so it’s going a little slowly. Let it be known that I LOVE HARRY POTTER and I love how Rowling sets up the series. I love the depth and details in every book. I love the characters and the themes.
That being said, some things annoy the crap out of me. And other things I just don’t understand.
Ten Things I Didn’t Like/Don’t Understand About Harry Potter IV
1.) The length. I feel like we could have chopped out about 50-100 pages and still gotten along just fine. I love the fact that Rowling weaves an epic tale, but this novel in particular feels unnecessarily long.
2.) Dobby. And Winky. And all the house elves. I feel like this whole story line was an afterthought.
3.) The length of the tournament. I don’t quite understand why the tournament has to last all year and why there are months between each task. It seems a little over-the-top to have those Dumstrang and Beauxbatons kids hanging around Hogwarts ALL YEAR for three days of actual tournament. Hold it over a week and be done with it. Geeze.
4.) The logistics of the tournament. Did those Durmstrang and Beauxbatons kids spent an entire year having class on their boat and in their carriage? That seems like a waste. How did they go to class? And is that really necessary? Did the whole school come? It doesn’t make much sense.
5.) Voldemort always shows his mean little face in late spring. Just in time for him and Harry to have a showdown at the end of the school year as a climax to the story. If I were Voldy, I’d show up in October and really scare the shit out of everyone. If I were Harry, I’d catch on to Voldy’s little pattern REAL QUICK.
6.) The portkey. If we are using an object as a portkey to take Harry to Voldemort, why do so much work to make that happen (ahem, Barty Crouch Jr, I’m talkin’ to you)? It seems to me that luring Harry into a portkey trap could be accomplished with far less hooplah.
7.) Voldemort’s LOOOONG graveyard speech. Oh, Voldemort. Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort. Is the super-long speech in the Graveyard really necessary? I know you think you are awesome and clever for resurrecting yourself and all, but you go in to a very intense amount of detail for a kid you’re about to kill. I understand the need for narrating the full story here, but no villain (no matter how self-centered) would go into all those random details.
8.) Speaking of Voldemort and random details — why did he expect his followers to come find him in the woods in Albania? Come on! That’s like the world’s hardest game of hide ‘n seek. Needle in a haystack, anyone?
9.) Barty Crouch Jr. I felt like I needed a degree in rocket science to understand the Barty Crouch Jr. situation. I mean, I’ve read the book before and all, but I’d forgotten the details. I almost needed to draw a diagram.
10.) The end. The ending wouldn’t end! I read this as an audio book, and there was a whole disc after the Mad Eye Moody = Barty Crouch Jr. plot is revealed. Rita Skeeter, Fred and George’s joke shop, Hermione and Krum all needed to be wrapped up. But after 700+ pages I was tired and didn’t really need all of that falling action. It’s a series, for goodness sake. I’ve still got three to go!
So there you have it. Ten things that annoyed me about this book. Most of all, though, I did love it. I pick up on different things every time I read the series, and I love the complexities Rowling includes…just not the unnecessary stuff. This time around I definitely noticed how dark the writing is in the scenes of Voldemort’s return, and how scary it all really is. Voldemort is a truly creepy bad guy.
FINAL GRADE: B+ It’s Harry Potter, for goodness sake. The series gets an A+, but I can’t say that this book gets an A on its own. But it’s Harry Potter. You should read (or re-read) it. Everyone. Everywhere. Always.
Have you read Harry Potter? Re-read Harry Potter? How did it hold up on the re-read?