Review: Starters

Starters Lissa PriceAuthor: Lissa Price

Genre: Science Fiction

Age: Young Adult, mature Middle Grade

Click here to view synopsis from Goodreads.

That phrase, “live vicariously through someone else” really comes to life in this story.  Y’all,this one is really neat.   It is set in the future, after a great catastrophe eliminated everyone between the ages of 18 and 80.  Science has developed to extend the life span to nearly 200 years.  Alongside such advancements came the technology to allow the wealthy Enders, with glossy grey hair, to mentally inhabit the bodies of the teenagers, giving them a chance to be young and wild and free for a few nights.

Driven by desperation, young Callie becomes a Starter and shortly finds herself deep in a dangerous plot, with no recollection of how she got there.  In the process of getting to the bottom of the twisted scheme, she faces trials of mental strength, courage, identity, and trust, both in herself and those around her.  As it is written in in present tense, first person, there is a fantastic sense of mystery and suspense; her emotions raw and honest.    Above being just another YA novel, it gives a little window on humanity and morality in a world of “what if…?”  Issues surface that go beyond “Oh, does he like me?” and “Shoot the bad guy!!”

On a ratings note, there was romance but nothing past kissing, and that very sweet and not gross.  There is very little violence, but tension and conflict are very evident.  Language was also not even a thing.  Yay for good clean books!  I’m can’t wait to get my hands on Enders, the sequel!

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Popular Books’ First Lines

We hear a lot about first impressions, hooking your listeners during a speech, and engaging readers. The first line of a book is important. It hooks the readers and makes them want to read more! So I grabbed a few favorite books and read their first lines. I was truly surprised about what I found!

1) Stelluna by Janell Cannon

In a warm and sultry forest far, far away, there once lived a mother fruit bat and her new baby.

2) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

Morris Lessmore loved words.

3) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

Once when I was six I saw a magnificent picture in a book about the jungle, called True Stories.

4) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

All children, except one, grow up.

5) Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below.

6) Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course throughout those woods, with dark secrets of  pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had fretted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

7) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

8) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride & Prejudice--Chapter One Image--Jane Austen

Number 6 & 7 surprised me! I honestly didn’t know the first sentence of Anne of Green Gables was the whole first paragraph. Also, with Tale of Two Cities. In Tale of Two Cities, I always considered what I have in blue as ‘the first line’. Technically, you don’t reach a period until the end of the paragraph.

So now it is your turn! Grab your favorite book or two (or three), and share the first sentence with us!!

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday TPG

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today I’m sharing some things on my bookish bucket list! Some of these are absolutely attainable, while on others I’m dreaming big! Here we go:

1. Reread the Mandie Series: This was my favorite MG series growing up, and I have all 40 of the books sitting pretty on my shelves in my home office. I recently reread the first book, and look forward to reading the entire series again!

2. Interview Ally Carter: I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, we’re The Girls in Plaid Skirts because of Ally Carter—we’d love the opportunity to interview our favorite author!

3. Read The Lord of the Rings: Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t even like the LOTR movies. They are too long for me. (My attention span isn’t very long when it comes to movies.) However, I’d really like to read these books (at least the first one) because they are classic, and also because it would make me feel really smart.

4. Become a full-time book blogger: Dreaming big, huh? I think it would be awesome to be able to work full-time as a blogger, even if I split my time between book blogging and my personal blog (from which I am currently on hiatus). Getting to write and be creative and wear my PJs at work? Serious dream job.

5. Get a bookish Master’s Degree: I love to learn. I’d be a full-time student if I could. (Or maybe a part-time student and part-time blogger…) I’d love to learn more about the book world. If I don’t choose library science, I’d enjoy learning more about the publishing side of things, specifically editing.

6. Fill my lovely shelves completely: My incredible husband surprised me on Valentine’s Day with these gorgeous shelves in my office. Because I mostly borrow books from the library, I don’t actually buy a lot of books, but I’d love for these to be filled one day!

7. Read 100 books one year: Whew! Again, quite a lofty goal for me. Last year I read a total of 56 books—the most books I’ve read in a year since I joined Goodreads in 2010. (I’m unsure of how many I read in the years before I joined.) I want to have at least one year where I read 100 books! (You can see my 2014 reading goals here.) (And speaking of Goodreads, feel free to friend me!)

8. Be mentioned in a book: You know how some books will have a page dedicated to bloggers who helped get the word out about it? I want The Girls in Plaid Skirts to be on that page. Bonus points if our blurb is in the book!

9. Go to a book premiere party: We joined in on the Cress release party via the web, but how fun would it be to go to a book premiere party in real life?

10. Get invited to a book’s movie premiere: I guess this is the list for big goals and dreams, because this one is pretty huge! Any movie premiere would be lucky to have The Girls in Plaid Skirts!

 

What are your bookish goals?

 

Criss Cross: Fantasy Love

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Once upon a time, in a far away land…  

This phrase has begun tales of mystery, love, adventure, wars and worlds, and daring-do, of things beyond our wildest dreams.

The power of a book to completely remove us form our current mental state and transport us to a time and place is not to be discounted.  Nay, it can be said to be the most important and most defining quality of a fantasy story.

Fantasy stories began with the beginning of human imagination and have morphed through the ages as our surroundings changed and limits stretch. They inspire, they challenge, they transform, they can define a generation….
Sigh…

Yay fantasy!

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Educational Review: The Book Thief

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Author’s  name: Markus Zusak

Publisher and original publication date: Random House Children’s Books, 2005

Description of format:  Chapter book, with Illustrations and Journal writings

Pages: 550

Recommending Source: Michael L. Printz Honor, Kirkus starred review

Ages:  14-17           

Suggested Grade Level: 9th-12th grade

Summary: Read Goodread’s summary here.

 Personal reaction: When I picked up the book I was expecting a Middle Grade book akin to The Diary of Anne Frank. Instead I found a complex story filled with both English and German profanity. I found the story slow to read through, but the narrator humorous. When I finished the book, my friend came over and I immediately recommended it to her. It was a good, heart felt book that left me teary-eyed.

Sociological implication: This story takes on a view of World War II from a German’s perspective. It reveals how not all Germans were evil supporters of the Nazi party. They said and did all the right things hoping to not get caught while secretly helping the Jews. It also reveals how the Nazi party used censorship and brings it into question.

Evaluation of potential popularity: It is written by the handsome New York Times best-seller, Markus Zusak, and has recently be turned into a highly anticipated film. The non-traditional narrator and witty framework will make it a gem on young person’s bookshelf.

CCSS Correlations:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

*I would use Anne Frank.

Theme/s: Censorship/propaganda, words, Death vs Life, Loyalty, Family, Thievery, symbolism

 Content Vocabulary: pfenning, Hitler Youth, Fuhrer, Heil, LSR, Luftschutzwart, Mein Kampf, Gestapo, “Colors”

 Academic Vocabulary: Censorship, Communist, Dictatorship, propaganda, aptitude, conglomerate, repertoire

 Text Links:

1. Code Name Verity– Elizabeth Wein

A story of World War II told from the Allies perspective with heavy focus on sisterhood and the female’s role in the war.

2.     The Diary of Anne Frank –Anne Frank

This is a young Jewish girl’s diary that was written while she was in hiding.

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I was given this review back, edited by my professor. Supposedly I can not refer to Markus Zusak as “handsome”. It is too subjective for a review. However, I left it in here for you guys!

Waiting on Wednesday

As March is halfway over I am geeking out over books coming out in April. (Yay for not having to wait very long!)
Hold on to the edge of your chair and fiddle with the nearest pen… these books are hitting the shelves next month!!

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Dirtbikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly
Conrad Wesselhoeft

April 8

Seventeen year-old dirt-bike daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family. ADIOS, NIRVANA author Conrad Wesselhoeft takes readers from the dusty arroyos of New Mexico to the skies over war-torn Pakistan in this young adult novel about daring to live in the wake of unbearable loss.

I’m looking forward to get a little action in guy’s POV land.  Hopefully it will be a positive addition to the too-small selection of YA lit for guys.
The Inventor’s Secret
Andrea Cremer

April 22

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial 81Yz2li5V+Lempire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

Although I’ve never been “into” steampunk, I’ve always thought it interesting, so I am very curious to see how (or if) it works in a YA setting. Besides, inventors AND sectres?? Count me in!!

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Kate Hattemer

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Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

Another hopeful for the guys.  Sounds a bit like a nod to The Dead Poets Society, without the tragic ending.

And lastly, for those who just cant wait to get their hands on something new, this gem will be gracing the shelves in just a few days!

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender18166936

Leslye Walton

*Note: This book has since been given a Content Advisory.

March 25

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga builds to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Here we get back to some familiar fields in recent YA: referencing old world lit, fitting in while being different, catastrophes, twisted love, and family history… but I’m looking forward to it.  A bit of a tall order for a first novel, but I’m hoping for a fresh spin on an old hat.

Well that’s all for this Wednesday!!

Now get back to reading!

(or working, or homeworking… or whatever it is you were supposed to be doing 😉

all quotes from GoodReads.com

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

Hi! Today I’m sharing some books that I hope to read soon. Please note, these are NOT all Spring 2014 releases or even recent releases (which I hope you realize when you see Jane Austen), nor are they in any particular order.

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1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Rachel told me that I MUST read this book. Apparently it’s wonderfully nerdy. (Read her review of it here.)

2. Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi: I started this one and then started reading something else. I’m not sure if I’ll love it or anything, but I want to give it a chance since so many people seem to enjoy it.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I’m not much into historical fiction, but several books in this genre have piqued my interest lately! (Plus Rachel says I have to read this one, too.)

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4. Persuasion by Jane Austen: Confession: I took a Jane Austen class in college and totally used Spark Notes for everything but Pride and Prejudice. Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t have enough time to do all the reading for all of my classes! This is a classic, and therefore a must-read!

5. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier: I binge-read Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue this weekend. It’s one of those trilogies where you MUST have all three in your posession because the first two end in the middle of a scene where you’re like, WHAT? I need to know! So I’ll be reading this within the next week or so.

6. The One by Kiera Cass: The last book in The Selection trilogy. You can bet I’ll be at Barnes and Noble on May 6 getting this book. (Read my review of The Selection.)

Split Second, Alienated, Dorothy Must Die

7. Split Second by Kasie West: Pivot Point was one of my favorite reads of 2013. (Read my review here.) I’m hoping my library gets Split Second soon! (It’s currently on order!)

8. Alienated by Melissa Landers: I actually just started this book yesterday. I’ve only read about ten chapters, so we’ll see how it goes. The premise sounds interesting, and I enjoy reading about non-humans sometimes!

9. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: I need to go ahead and read the prequel to this. I read like, 4 pages of it and loved it. This book comes out April 1st.

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10. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: A Beauty and the Beast retelling? No, I can’t pass this up. Plus, that cover! Gorgeous.

What books do you think should be on my immediate must-read list?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Criss Cross: Favorite Fictional Nerds

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Happy Pi Day! We decided to use this nerdy day to talk about our favorite fictional nerds.

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JB:

Liz from The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter: How can one not love the nerdy Liz? She’s brilliantly smart, and quite the klutz, and just so lovable. I just want to hug her. But she’s also really dangerous. Want to start World War III? Liz is your girl.

Simon from Heist Society by Ally Carter: I suppose Ally Carter just creates excellent nerds. Simon is a computer hacker sort of guy. He’s always behind the scenes, but the team couldn’t get the job done without him.

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: Another computer hacker! She uses her skills to help out the team trying to overturn the evil moon queen. Being Marissa Meyer’s version of Rapunzel, she wants so badly to visit Earth and see in real life the things she’s found on the internet.

Beedee from The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins: Beedee is one of my favorite characters in The Hunger Games series, because he is living proof that it pays to be smart. The way he outsmarted his fellow tributes his first time in the games, and the way he outsmarts the government the second time, I’d rather be his friend than his enemy.

Sloane from The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Sloane reminds me of a mix between Liz from the Gallagher Girls and Parker from the TV show Leverage. She’s smart, she’s dangerous, and she should never be given coffee.

Digit from A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan: Digit is a genius at cracking codes, and accidentally uses her abilities to crack a code used by terrorists. The country has no idea that its fate lies in the hands of a high school girl.

Rachel:

Can I just copy and paste what JB just said, because I’m just in complete agreement with what’s going on with the Liz, Simon, Cress, and Sloane choices.

These characters continue to be my favorite characters. I just have a soft spot for nerds. JB and Jules make fun of me because I always go for those guys in the TV show/movie. (It’s that or the “bad” guy-Flynn Rider/Thorne).

I also like the guy in Geek Magnet, I can’t remember his name…but I liked him. He was a drummer.

Other nerds I like:
Peter Parker (as portrayed by Andrew Garfield)
David Henrie’s character in Wizard’s of Waverly Place
Chuck from Chuck
Shawn Spencer from Psych
Riley for National Treasure
Freddy from iCarly
Lesile Meminger for The Book Thief
and of course The Doctor

I know some of those are from films, but I like them and they’re nerds and it’s nerdy pi day!

What do you think? Any nerds that we missed?

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Review: Splintered

SplinteredAuthor: A.G. Howard

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Adventure

Age: Young Adult

Click here to view synopsis from Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started Splintered, but it far surpassed any expectations I may have had. The world-building is fantastic, the characters are unique, and the ending is… wow.

The Wonderland that Howard creates is nothing like the one you’ve read about in Alice in Wonderland. You see, Alice was very young when these things happened to her and she did her best to describe them once she got back to the human world. But Wonderland is actually a dark place, and the characters Alice ran into weren’t exactly as she described them, and now Alyssa is figuring just how wrong Carroll’s story is.

Splintered is filled with gorgeous and unexpected twists that kept me wanting more. Crazy things are continuously happening, and new characters continue to make appearances until the end. The unbelievable situations that Alyssa finds herself in are sometimes scary and life-threatening, but ultimately entertaining as she must figure out how to surpass each obstacle in order to remove the curse off her family and get back to the real world.

The ending wrapped up nicely (i.e. not cliffhanger-y), but I was still left wanting the sequel NOW. I want to experience Wonderland with Alyssa again, and see how things go with the boys in her life.

Speaking of boys… there are two in her life, and my favorite is the non-human one. Morpheus is a dark creature of Wonderland, with an affinity for bugs (specifically moths) and hats. He has his own flair and quirks that made me love him, despite the fact that he’s also quite deceiving. The other boy in her life is Jeb, her best friend that she’s known forever, who’s always watching out for her. Jeb is an awesome guy—he’s sweet and loyal and would do anything for Alyssa—but, well, Morpheus has wings.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who loves unique story retellings and for fans of Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series.

Five out of five stars.

Content Advisory:
Cursing: 2
Sexual: 3 (some innuendos throughout; talks about virginity)
Other: Alyssa eats some Wonderland food that affects her in a similar way as alcohol, and she acts in non-Alyssa ways.