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Friday, June 20, 2008

Vacation Hiatus

I'm taking a hiatus on account of a vacation. Pictures when I return.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How I Live Now

Author: Meg Rosoff
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
Rating: 4.5/5

How I Live Now is a book that sneaks up on you subtly and takes over all of the other things you thought you were reading at the moment. Daisy, our teenage narrator, travels to England in order to escape her evil stepmother and soon-to-be half sibling. She knows that she will be living with her aunt and cousins, whom she has never met.

The description of the book on the jacket cover is very vague. Actually, my description in the preceding paragraph is even more than you would know from the cover. I had no clue starting out where the book was going to head, and very subtly, the themes emerged. So I won't ruin your experience by telling you any more about the plotline. Rather, I'll share a few passages and you can decide if this is the book for you.

Introducing us to her story:

It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History but let's face it that would be load of crap.

Meeting her cousin Edmond for the first time:

Now let me tell you what he looks like before I forget because it's not exactly what you'd expect from your average fourteen-year-old what with the CIGARETTE and hair that looked like he cut it himself with a hatchet in the dead of night, but aside from that he's exactly like some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight in your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you're going to take him home? Well that's him.

What it is like to have lost her mother:

It was times like this when I let my guard down for something like half a nanosecond, that Mom had a habit of strolling into my brain. Even though she was dead, which made people put on this sickening pious kind of face and say Oh I'm SO sorry, like it was their fault and in fact if everyone wasn't so busy apologizing all the time about asking a perfectly normal question like Where's your mother? I might have managed to get more information out of someone than just She Died To Give You Life, which is the party line on Good Old Mom.

I know, I know it's hard to accept a recommendation on a book when you haven't even been given a clue to the plot. But take my word for it, this is a book worth reading, and you're better off not knowing until you read it for yourself.

Other reviews:
Tanataba
Dewey
Stephanie

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Tidbits

*Just in case you haven't heard yet, the June Bookworms Carnival is up and you should definitely check it out.

*I have exactly four more days of work to get through before I get a vacation. All I can say is, thank god Monday is out of the way.

*I just got started watching Battlestar Galactica. How did I never watch this before?? I can't wait for the next disk from Netflix.

*It's Monday, so those are all of the tidbits for the day. You can look forward to more reviews this week, as I just finished Marie-Therese: Child of Terror and How I Live Now. I need time to collect my thoughts on those two marvelous books.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekend Fiction Break: The Fight

This is the part of the show where I post my own fiction.

Mom took my Metallica CD the other day and broke it in half in front of me to prove a point. Luckily she didn’t know I have it loaded on my iPod anyhow. So it’s not like I was heartbroken. I pretended to get upset, just in case she got wise and realized that it didn’t bother me and start asking too many questions. She still needs my help getting onto this marvelous thing called the internet (“I’ll learn how to use it one day,” she always says when I get annoyed at showing her how to double click on the icon and type in an address.)

So chances are good she has no freaking clue that CDs are irrelevant anymore except for the cover art that comes along in the package. She probably thinks the thing attached to my headphones is a Walkman complete with cassette tapes. That would totally be Mommy Dearest.

Back to the reason she broke my CD. Which I did buy with my own money, thank you very much. “And where does that money come from?” she screamed in my face.

“Dad,” I said, even though it isn’t like I keep each bill separate between what he gives me, what Mom gives me, and what I earn working at Suck-Mart. I just said it because she hates it when I bring up Dad.

“You think you can listen to this kind of music in my house?”

I shrugged at this one. We’ve gone over it before. Dad doesn’t care what I do as long as I don’t bug him when he’s spending time with Blondie du Jour.

“Well, you can’t.”

Like I said, I already knew that I had the music on my iPod, so whatever she was about to do or say next really didn’t matter.

“And you won’t be listening to this again.”

My mom, who most people aside from me know as a loving, caring, gentle person, took the CD and slammed it down on the side of my dresser so it bent. Then, viciously, she cracked it in half the rest of the way and I swear to God she looked happy. I mean, she wasn’t smiling or anything, but some part of her looked pleased with herself.

I started yelling, like I said to throw her off the track, but I also got a little hot at seeing her look happy. I said a number of things that I won’t repeat (although I don’t regret them). She said a number of things I won’t repeat either, although I can tell you that she probably regretted them. She always apologizes to me after we fight, because part of being extremely and excessively Catholic is feeling guilty for everything. Even yelling at your kids. Even when they have major attitudes, like me, and blame everything on their parents getting divorced. The fact that Mom got divorced makes her even guiltier.

So after she left my room, I played the Metallica CD she'd just broken on my iPod not because I wanted to listen to it at the moment, but because I could. Around dinner, came Apology Time, and I like usual I grunted in response, and when her apology started wandering around to the topic of Dad, I cut her off like usual and said “Yeah, whatever, I’m sorry too,” even though I really wasn’t. She wanted me to forgive her for divorcing Dad, and I am fifteen years old, not a freaking saint. Maybe when I’m older we’ll have this emotional reunion where I’ll say “I forgive you Mom for divorcing my father who cheated on you ONE TIME with a random stranger because he was drunk. Thank you for not forgiving him. Thank you for making me question the foundation of everything I believe about EVERYTHING. Thank you for teaching me how to be a STRONG independent woman by raising me yourself Monday-Friday and every other weekend. Thank you that I have two Christmases, two Thanksgivings and two birthdays. Thank you that I will be in freaking therapy all of my life. How could I ever repay you?"

But I doubt it.

Upstairs, mom is calling for me. Because she wants to check her email and the internet is broken. She thinks. Could I just help her this once?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday and Weekly Geeks

It's been a long, long week, so in thankfulness for the fact it is friday, I'm doing two memes in one post.

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question: A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?

I have recently joined a book club at work, and we meet for about an hour and eat food, then discuss the book. Usually whoever picked the book will sort of guide the discussion, but it is kind of a free-flowing group, so it usually evolves into chatting time by the middle of our meeting.

So far, I've been to two meetings, and for one the pick was The Handmaid's Tale, which I had already read (and did not have time to reread). This month's pick was Entombed (read my review here). It was a book that I did not care for. I would not have finished it if not for book club, and I forced myself to sit and read large chunks of it when my other books were calling my name. I don't know if I appreciated it more, but I actually finished it.

Weekly Geeks #7
Let’s have Photos Week.

1. Decide what to illustrate and start taking photos: Most of you are book bloggers, so you may want to post photos of your favorite reading spot, your TBR pile(s), your local book store, your favorite librarian, your child reading, etc. You may want to post several photos of a certain topic (like all nine of your kids reading!) or a mixed bag of photos that are unrelated except that they’re bookish. Or you may want to post just one photo, it’s up to you. If you have a different type of blog, post photos of whatever you think is suitable.

2. Create a post of your photos.

3. Don’t forget! Also link in your post to another participant’s WG photo post. Weekly Geeks is a community thing, remember! If you’re one of the first finished, of course, you may have to add your link later. See if you can find someone you don’t normally read to link to.

4. Once your post is up, come back and leave a link to that specific post (not just your regular blog url) in the Mr Linky at the bottom of this post.

If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I have a puppy named Rusty, who is pretty much the cutest, smartest puppy in the world. In fact, just because I can, I'm going to post a picture of him right now. Awww... isn't he cute??


This right here would be my stack of review books. I was very curious how to obtain the free books I saw other book bloggers talking about. I followed some of their advice (especially Eva's great post here on getting free books) and now I've got a stack of my own.



This picture (even though it is a bit blurry) shows you the three loves of my life. My husband (trying to get Rusty to pose for me), my books (this is where I keep the books I'm currently reading) and my puppy (who is chasing a laser light under the coffee table).



Rusty's been getting swimming lessons. Yes, I know that it is supposed to be instinctive for dogs, but it doesn't mean they always like being in water.



Here is a video of Rusty's 1st swimming lesson. Okay, apparently you have to crane your neck to see it because I don't know how to rotate the video. But in this video, you can just see the conflict going on in his head. "I want the stick. But I'm getting wet. I don't know if I like this water stuff. Okay, I'm leaving. No, I'm going back. But I don't know about this..."
video

Other Weekly Geeks I've been browsing:

Melody (and her cute daughter)

Chris' bookshelves
Katrina
Melanie's pics from Ukraine

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Graphic Novels Challenge and Sandman:World's End

I have been meaning to join this challenge for a while, actually. I got all excited when I saw that the challenge is being opened again for late arrivals. Instead of reading 6 books, you can read 3 between now and the end of the year.

And Dewey's offering an awesome contest to get everyone fired up about the Graphic Novels Challenge. If you comment on two posts at the Graphic Novel Challenge Blog, let people know about the challenge on your blog, and let Dewey know here, you can be entered to win a copy of We Are On Our Own by Miriam Katin.



With that, I'm going to lead off with my first book review for the challenge. I spotted Sandman: World's End at the library, and picked it up at random. This is a bit unusual for me, as it is the eighth book in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, and normally I'm a bit obsessive about reading series books in order.

Nothing to fear, however, as this book is a series of short stories, so no background knowledge of the other comics was needed. The context is that a group of travelers caught in a reality storm find themselves at an inn. It's called the Inn at the End of the World, and to pass the time, the travelers exchange stories.

This is Neil Gaiman, so the stories are anything but normal. An 18 year old boy runs for president... and wins. A businessman finds himself trapped the dream of a city. A fairy tells how he outwitted the dictator of a neighboring nation with the help of a mysterious man in black.

The stories sometimes branch into stories within stories... within stories... and I pretty much lost track of what level of "story within a story" the book got to. The entire book had beautiful artwork, but the first story was especially cool. Instead of the usual speech bubbles, the narration above each horizontal panel explained the story.

I'm starting to wonder if the day will ever come when I will dislike something Neil Gaiman wrote. I really hope that day doesn't come. Because, you know, the world might end or something.

Anyhow, I'd highly recommend this book, even if you haven't read the other Sandman novels.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Entombed

Author: Linda Fairstein
Reason for Reading: Bookclub at work
Rating: 2/5

Sometimes when I just want to watch some mindless TV, I enjoy watching one of the many CSI spinoffs. The police characters are generally stereotypes there to move the plot along, and I pay no attention whatsoever to what happens with their personal lives. The suspects and people they interview exist to give us clues to the mystery, and one can predict plot twists by how many more minutes are left in the episode. (Okay they've caught who they think is the killer, but its only 8:40. They've clearly got the wrong guy.)

I don't generally read many mysteries except for the Agatha Christie variety, but somehow I expected more from this book than to be a full-blown CSI episode. I really couldn't tell you a single detail about any of the characters and in fact, as the book progressed, I frequently lost track of who was talking. The clunky style kept me constantly a step behind.

The plot revolves around a skeleton found behind the wall of a college building where Edgar Allen Poe once lived. As it looks like the victim was likely entombed alive, Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper is immediately reminded of Poe's fiction. At the same time, her old nemesis, the Silk Stocking Rapist is back. She's determined to hunt him down this time and make him pay for his crimes.

I diligently read this book for my book club, but if not for the "I have to read it or I can't make it to book club", I would have put this book down about chapter 6 and not picked it up again. Like I mentioned, I didn't care about the characters. A scene where the main character is trapped in a similar fashion to the victim found in the wall made me annoyed, not sympathetic, because it seemed so improbable. Why bother? If a real villian wanted to hurt her, they'd have an easier time stabbing her or shooting her. Why the elaborate set-up?

What irked me the most was after I got all the way through the whole darn book, it just ended. No resolution for the personal situation going on. And one of the bad guy situations is only mentioned in passing as having been resolved. No details. Sadly, my reaction to the revelation of the villain was "oh good, the book's finally over no"

I will say, despite my hang-ups with the plot and characters, I did learn quite a bit about Poe. I'm always one for learning about history, so I did enjoy those sections of the book.

Most everyone in the book club had similar feelings as I did, (albeit they weren't all as strong, though) however, I was the only one who would not want to read more books by this author. Perhaps if you are a fan of the genre, you will enjoy this one more than I did.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekend Fiction Break is Back!

For those who are new to Bold. Blue. Adventure., I had a feature a few months back, called Weekend Fiction Break, where I posted short fiction. I'm bringing it back from hiatus this week. Calliope's Coffee House has provided me with a writing prompt in the form of an abstract picture (Click here for the link), and I'm sharing my story for your enjoyment. Cheers.

Smiley the Bandit

In a place a bit like our own but much more real, there was a boy named Smiley. Smiley was a very brave boy. Every day, Smiley’s mom sent him to school with a sandwich packed in his lunchbox. Each day, the bully in the hall would demand that Smiley give him the sandwich or get beaten up. Smiley, being wise, as well as brave, would give the sandwich up, because he knew that the bully had little enough to eat at home, and the lack of a sandwich was not a thing to fight over. He would eat his fruit pack instead and come home with a rumbling stomach. Each day, he kissed his mother on the cheek and told her what a tasty sandwich she’d made him.

This routine continued for many years, until one day, Smiley was kidnapped by a band of roving gypsies on his way to school. This sort of thing was rather common where Smiley lived, and Smiley kept his shoulders straight, held his head up and high, and pretended he hadn’t a care in the world. He knew that sometimes the gypsies sold the kidnapped children back to their families for a premium, so for the time being, he was content to wait in the back of the gypsy caravan.

One day the caravan was attacked by fire-breathing dragons, and in the confusion of the battle, Smiley got a hold of a knife that someone had dropped, and managed to free himself from the caravan. He was ready to run for home when he saw a tiny girl about to be swallowed by the dragon. With only his knife to protect him, he ran after the girl and rescued her from the dragon by stabbing it in the eye.

Many of the gypsies witnessed his act of courage, and afterwards he was treated differently. He was allowed to roam freely throughout the caravan, and everyone, it seemed, wanted to talk to him. Although he missed his mother, he enjoyed learning the art of knife fighting and archery with the other gypsies. As time went by, he began to notice that despite their penchant for kidnapping, when the gypsies stole, it was to keep themselves from starving, and goods were shared equally between the gypsies. Because of the Anti-Gypsy Law of ’83, they were unable to work for a living, nor buy and sell through conventional means with the outside world.

Before Smiley had realized it, a number of years had passed and the old gypsy king had died. Smiley had by now become another member of the gypsies, and he was unanimously elected the gypsy king. Smiley, who was as brave as ten men, was considered the best gypsy king since Guriek the third.

Under his rule, the gypsies stopped kidnapping children and instead focused on exacting a portion of the goods of those who passed through their territory. Before long, wise travelers took an extra portion of goods to give to the gypsies, but more than one ruler unwisely tried to tangle with King Smiley (or Smiley the Bandit as he was called outside of the gypsies).

Smiley grew weary one day of his kingly duties and desired to see his mother one last time, if indeed she still lived. He set out in disguise to see her, but before he could reach her, was spotted by someone familiar with him in his childhood.

Smiley was not well-liked in the outside world. That is to say, he was utterly despised. The fact that he had grown up in the outside world was part of it perhaps. He was quickly tried and found guilty of a great many crimes. His mother, who was still alive, was not allowed to visit him in prison, but on the day they hung Smiley the Bandit, she watched from the crowd, wailing and waving her handkerchief .

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I'm Longing For the Beach

If only the weather would cooperate.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question:

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?


Well since graduating from college, my book reading has changed from 10 pound textbooks with $150 pricetags back to leisure reading. More than anything, I'd say book blogging has changed the amount and type of reading I do. Before blogging, I was looking for ways to get more book recommendations. I would have trouble finding books I liked at the library. Now my wishlist is so long its a wonder I make any progress at all.

I've read my first graphic novel recently (and enjoyed it immensely). Pretty much every book I've read because of "My Year of Reading Dangerously" have been books I would not have normally read. I love that! Even if every book hasn't thrilled me, at least it gets me out of my reading rut.

One thing that hasn't changed is my enjoyment of YA fiction. I loved it as a teenager, and I thought I'd grow out of it eventually, but that hasn't been the case so far. I just realized the other day that I've already read the 12 books required for the YA reading challenge. I don't think that will stop me from reading more, but gosh, already?

One big change for me is that I used to read a lot more science fiction than I have been reading these days. Personally, I think the Sci-Fi Experience should have lasted longer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Author: Mohsin Hamid
Rating: 5/5
Reason for Reading: Recommendation from Wendy

Let me set the scene for you. I think the book cover does it better than I could hope to, so I will share:

At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter.

Doesn't that sound intriguing? Along with the title, I had to pick up this book.

The reluctant fundamentalist is a man named Changez. In this book, he relates the story of how he fell out of love with his one-time adoptive homeland of America. To the mysterious American, and the reader, he relates the perfect life he had built for himself in New York. A graduate of Princeton, he'd begun working a high-paying job at the prestigious valuation firm,
Underwood Samson, and spending his spare time courting a beautiful classmate. The turning point, he explains, happened after September 11th.

The change isn't immediate. After 9/11, the ghosts of his girlfriend's past begin to envelop her as she withdraws from him. And as he watches New Yorkers absorb the impact of the terrorist attacks, he begins to question where his loyalty truly lies.

This book gives fresh perspective to an event that has been so picked over, so analyzed, it seems a wonder that there can be anything new to say about it. Through Changez's eyes, we get a glimpse of what the American policies and sudden upsurge of patriotism post 9/11 must have looked like to those who were most deeply affected by the "war on terror". What it must have felt like to be stopped at every security point in the airport, to be looked at with suspicion because of the simple act of growing a beard.

When we arrived [at the airport], I was separated from my team at immigration. They joined the queue for American citizens; I joined the one for foreigners. The officer who inspected my passport was a solidly built woman with a pistol at her hip and mastery of English inferior to mine; I attempted to disarm her with a smile. "What is the purpose of your trip to the United States?" she asked me. "I live here," I replied. "That is not what I asked you, sir," she said. "What is the purpose of your trip to the United States?" Our exchange continued in much this fashion for several minutes. In the end I was dispatched for a secondary inspection in a room where I sat on a metal bench next a tattooed man in handcuffs.... As a consequence, I rode to Manhattan that evening very much alone.

This is a simple story, even more effective because it doesn't hit us over the head with facts or rhetoric or black and white ultimatums. It simply asks us to be quiet for a minute and look at a familiar event through different eyes.

Other reviews:
Marg

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

First Impressions

Ponderings...

When meeting people for the first time (in real life) I have the tendency to come across as a bit reserved. I'm an introvert by nature. I can be silly and outgoing, but usually only around people I know. I've been thinking lately how first impressions in real life can contrast with first impressions online. Because of the virtual nature of contact between people online, I may have made a completely different impression on you as a reader of my blog than I would have had we met in real life. I sometimes share personal thoughts and opinions with the world on my blog that I probably wouldn't were we meeting for the first time in person (although if you met me in person, I'd introduce myself by my full name, not an internet moniker). I've been thinking about why that is. The social norms are simply different between introductions online and in person, I suppose.

That said, the person writing the blog is still me, Kim L. I love reading, my puppy, and my husband (although not necessarily in that exact order, lol). The person I present to you on this blog is what I want you to know about me. When I post, I always keep at the back of my mind that future employers, not to mention my parents (oh horror) might stumble across my webpage sometime.

My Strangest First Impression


There is a story about first impressions that simply cracks me up. This is a story about a person who I managed to make a significant first impression on. This person would happen to be my husband's boss. The story starts with the trouble I was having with a bill from our internet provider. Our internet had been turned off because of the ISP's incompetence. I was sick and tired of sitting on hold, then talking forever to a customer service rep on the phone only to have them fail to help me. Finally I decided to write a letter of complaint. I had kept dates and times of conversations I'd had with the customer service reps, and I was going to let 'er rip. I wrote the most scathing letter you can imagine. No, I wasn't rude, but I let them know that they were not living up to their tagline "Our Spirit of Service". I told them who I'd talked to and what exactly they had or hadn't done. I told them exactly what had happened and in no uncertain terms exactly what I wanted them to do about it to fix the problem.

I wanted to fax the letter, so I emailed it to my husband, who was in the midst of printing it at work when his boss happened to pick up the letter and read it. He had not met me in person at the time, so this was his very first impression of me. My scathing letter left a deep imprint, because the first time he met me, he said, "We use (unnamed internet provider). Don't kill me!" In fact, when my husband is annoyed about something at work, he threatens to have his wife write a letter. This tends to get the desired response.

So how about you? Any good stories about first impressions either online or in person?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Stardust

Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating: 5/5
Reason for Reading: Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, Mythopoeic Award Challenge

I was very happy to finally get my hands on this book. I requested it quite a while ago from the library, but when it finally came in, I didn't quite get the library on time to pick it up. I called the library, and pleaded with a librarian to put it back on the hold shelf for me so that I could pick it up. Which she so nicely did for me.

Anyhow. This book is about "a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire" (as the first line informs us). The village of Wall is a perfectly ordinary place, except in the fact it lies next to Faerie.

I'll let Gaiman describe Faerie for you:

A question like "How big is Faerie?" does not admit a simple answer. Faerie, after all, is not one land, one principality or dominion.... Faerie is bigger than England, as it is bigger than the world (for, since the dawn of time, each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn't there has taken refuge in Faerie; so it is now, by the time that we come to write of it, a most huge place indeed, containing every manner of landscape and terrain). Here, truly, be Dragons.

When a young man from Wall named Tristan journeys off in search of a falling star to bring back to the woman he loves, he has no idea of the adventures that await him in Faerie.

He doesn't know about the powerful witch who is in search of the star for her own nefarious purposes or the significance of the broken necklace she carries. He plans to be in and out in no time, which means of course that nothing will go according to plan.

This fairy tale by Neil Gaiman is silly, irreverent and fun. The star that Tristan finds, is, to his surprise, a girl, with a good deal of annoyance for having to fall onto earth. She is further irritated at Tristan for taking her back towards Wall. The story is structured so that we have knowledge about Tristan that he himself doesn't have. It gives the story urgency because we know what dangers Tristan is going to face, even if he doesn't.

Stardust follows fairy tale conventions, but this is Gaiman. His books tend to have a twisted sense of humor, and this book is no exception. Some of the encounters Tristan has with different inhabitants of Faerie were laugh-out-loud funny.

"My name is Tristan Thorn," said Tristan... His breakfast companion had packed up the morning's breakfast - fire, pans and all - and made it vanish into his pack.

He removed his hat, pressed it to his chest, and looked up at Tristan. "Charmed," he said. He tapped the side of his pack: on it was written: CHARMED, ENCHANTED, ENSORCELATED AND CONFUSTICATED. "I used to be confusticated," he confided, "but you know how these things go."

(Okay there's undoubtedly better examples, but that last line cracked me up).

For those of you who haven't read Neil Gaiman yet, this book would make a great introduction. If you already know you like him, then you should definitely read this one. Between American Gods and Anansi Boys, he has become my newest favorite author. I thought I was all done with the Once Upon a Time Challenge, but I was happy to slip this book in.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Margaret A Edwards Challenge Wrap Up

The Challenge: Read 3-5 books by winners of the Margaret A. Edwards award Feb 1-June 1 2008

Books Read:
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Highlights:
I loved my introduction to Orson Scott Card in Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. Both were amazing reads I probably wouldn't have picked up except for this challenge. I enjoyed revisiting a childhood favorite, The Giver, and finally finishing Gathering Blue.

Lowlights:
Compared to The Giver and Gathering Blue, Messenger was a bit of a disappointment.