Author: Ally Condie, @allycondie
Genre: YA Fantasty
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Imagine a world that is calculated perfectly, including your career, spouse and longevity. Science has eliminated all sickness. Everyone has a place and contributes in the way that offers them the best success. It sounds like a perfet world. The Society is in charge of all aspects of life. It leaves nothing to chance. Cassia is about to find out who her Match is. And that the Society does make mistakes.
Banter Points: The covers for this series are eye catching. I wanted to read them just based on the cover art alone. They caught my eye numerous times since they were released.
The idea of a world where decisions are made based on mathematical calculations is appealing. Probability and experience are the guiding factors for every major decision. On the surface, it sounds like this would be a fabulous way to structure work and life. But when the lack of choice becomes apparent, I have to wonder how well I would really like that sort of society.
Cassia has to confront it based on her match — or spouse. She was matched to her childhood best friend. She is thrilled with the match; she and Xander know everything about each other and still like each other. The equivalent of high school sweethearts. But she finds a crack in The Society’s perfection, she questions whether or not Xander is her perfect match. As much as I like figuring out systems, rules and the best way to organize something, I have a hard time working in that structure unless there are more problems to fix. I’m bet that I would be like Cassia and start to pick at the frayed edge I found, until I could unravel it.
Bummer Points: Nothing so far. I’ve read a few of the dystopian future YA novels in the last twelve months or so. They are decent, but not my favorite type of reading. After this series, I’ll be looking for something else to read.
Stacie’s Recommendation: I’m going to keep with the series. So far, so good.
I hadn’t read much in the past week, a busy schedule making it take a week to read one, very short novel.
I’d just finished my daily 750 words writing, adding on to the work-in-progress and then I thought I’m out of ideas for the blog.
Which became it’s own idea. I’m spending my creative energy on the book right now which is good. I need to make a little more time to read because it is how I recharge my writing batteries.
I’m sure I’ll have blog thoughts again in a day or two, but just not today.
Author: Cynthia Montgomery
Length: 208 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Personal Library
Banter Points: I really enjoyed this book. It was a short read at 208 pages, but it was insightful. I found that after specific paragraphs or sections, I had to put the book down because the number of thoughts swirling in my head needed time to sort themselves out. Other sections, I devoured because I could see how the hard work the author had done in laying out and connecting the dots was being played out in the specific examples pulled it.
Bummer Points: I get it. Apple is everyone’s favorite example company. When you talk about pretty much any lesson that can be had, Apple has lived it. Can some other company be used? I’m sort of tired of them.
Stacie’s Recommendation: If you are wondering about companies, strategy, and a framework for strategy, this is a great starting point.
I’ve been having a blast writing at 750words.com. That kind of blank interface is working for me and the imposed guilt of missing a day is helping keep me on track.
Every day, the site provides analysis about what you wrote. For this day (Saturday, May 11, precisely), I think the main character’s feelings and concerns are pretty accurate given that she’s trying to solve a murder that happened in a bank. At first, I thought it was strange that “affectionate” was the second strongest emotion, but my protagonist likes her two co-investigators in this scene, so I think that might be coming through.
I absolutely love the awareness that this project is raising:
And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it.
It’s true. I’ve judged many books based on cover. If it’s drastically pink, I’m highly unlikely to grab it. I’m more of a purple girl. And I’m okay with guy books, unless they have some crazy figure of a girl in an anatomically incorrect way.
At the bottom of the article, there is a slide show that show originals, then the revamped covers. It’s very cool.
Which book would you read (or not read) based on the original or revamped covers? I have to admit, that Neil Gaiman as Nellie Gaiman gave me a really different impression of what that book might be about.
Thanks, Maureen Johnson, for the great idea.
Author: Sara Donati
Length: 629 pages
Genre: historical fiction
Where Word Nerd’s Copy Came From: personal collection and IndyPL eBook catalog
Plot Basics: The Bonner clan is back in Lake in the Clouds, with new life and new love blossoming in unexpected places, even as tragedy and trying times strike in upstate New York after the end of the War of 1812. The third generation of this family is emerging and the legacies of the past still have power of their futures.
Banter Points: Back in 2010, I won a copy of Endless Forest from Lynn Viehl/Paperback Writer. While she says in her post that you can start with this book, and I sort of agree, my Type-A personality sent me back to the beginning of the series first and finally, nearly 3.5 years later, I finally read it. It was a great end to a series, wrapping up some parts of the plot and leaving the reader with glimpses into what would come in the future potentially for these characters.
There is something satisfying and sad about ending a series. Through these six books, I’ve watched characters grow up, fall in love, fall out of love, face triumph and tragedy, and life during a time of our country that I vaguely remember from AP US History in high school. I’m sure Donati took some liberties, but the big historical contexts like the War of 1812 were great backdrops that weren’t as familiar (like say, books set in during the Revolutionary or Civil Wars.)
Bummer Points: I think I spent a whole year plus between books 5 and 6, so I had sort of forgotten who was who and what was what.
Also, while it was the end of the series, Donati included fictional newspaper excerpts to let the readers know what happened to most of the characters after the close of this story. I didn’t personally love that technique; I think it’s OK to leave a series with some threads unresolved.
A second bummer was trying to flip back and forth between the print and eBook copy. I didn’t feel like dragging the 600-page hardback with me everywhere and my iPad was already in the bag. I’d read electronically on the go and in print at home, but it wasn’t as seamless as I was hoping it would be. I didn’t miss anything, but I should have stuck to one format.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Historical fiction is out of my usual reading bailiwick but overall, I enjoyed this series. I don’t think “Endless Forest” was necessarily the strongest one of the bunch but it still was a good read.
Thanks to everyone who entered the Lynn Viehl contest!
Our winner is Ilona Fenton who talked about not having a backyard in Hong Kong as a child, but catching snakes in the forest.
Ilona — email us your shipping address at wordnerdreviews at gmail dot com and we’ll work with Lynn to get your the prize pack!
When I was a junior in high school, taking Honors American English, sometime in the spring semester, we read The Great Gatsby.
I have a crystal clear memory of sitting with a small group in that class, working through a sheet of discussion questions. We were probably 2/3 through the book. The question was, “Note Nick’s moral development.” We were a bunch of smart aleks and it was last period in the day, and so we wrote down “Duly noted” just as the teacher walked by. She laughed and I’m pretty sure we then proceeded to answer the real question. I did fine in the class, and enjoyed the material, but Gatsby was the only book of what we read that year that I loved.
In graduate school, I reread it. I don’t remember why I decided to pick it up then, but I remember sitting on the battered green couch in my studio apartment loving every word of it a second time. About two years later, I adopted a shelter kitty and the only appropriate literary name for him was Gatsby, given his dubious past and his penchant for lavishing purrs on everyone he meets so they think the best of him.
Tonight, a group of friends and I are meeting for our first official book club discussion. Gatsby was our inaugural selection; everyone having that reaction of “I read it high school and liked it” and enthusiastically wanting to go back to the title as an adult. (Also, the new Baz Luhrmann movie may have shaded our choice some as well.)
I checked out the audiobook version, as read by Tim Robbins, and found myself once again captivated and somewhat emotionally sucker-punched by this book (even though I knew the end.)
It all hit me in one line, when Nick goes to apologize to Jordan at the end. She tells him she thought he was an honest guy. Nick, says, “I’m 30. That’s five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”
I agree with his sentiments about self-deception being a youthful folly. (Herein lies Gatsby’s problem, at its core.) And it struck me that this was my first reading of the book when I was now older than the characters and that at 32-and-11/12th’s years old, I had now outlived Gatsby.
It’s hard to explain, exactly, what felt so sobering to me about this. It just was. Maybe that’s the beauty of well-written literature. It strikes you when and where you don’t expect it.