My July Reading Re-Cap!

Hi guys! July has been a crazy but amazing month for me. I finished my Goodreads challenge of 52 books (yay me!) with Tash Hearts Tolstoy, so now I don’t have to worry about being behind on my challenge! I know I didn’t get much reading done this month since I was gone for a week to engineering camp (which was such an amazing experience) and a small vacation in the mountains afterwards, but I’m back! School has just started for me, so I’ll be less active here due to me prioritizing school work and school-related activities, but I’ll still do my best to post for you! Here’s what I read in July, and I hope you enjoy!

July Reading Re-Cap


4 Stars

The Fever Code by James Dashner

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This is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

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Jaded by K. M. Robinson

Jaded

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Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

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3 Stars

The Government by Peter Gulgowski

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy
by Kathryn Ormsbee

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So I’ve only read 6 books this month, and no 5 star books sadly. Hopefully August gives me a few new favorites like June did!

What have you read in July? Have you read any of these books? Comment below, and let’s chat!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

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Review: A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Never Wanted the Book to End!

Hi guys! The end of school is nigh, and these last few weeks have been very hectic. I’m also very behind on reviews, so I’m trying my best to catch up! I need to adopt a better policy… How do you guys juggle reading and reviewing? I probably should review right after I read since I have a few books that it’s been over a month or two since I’ve finished it. Anyways, here’s another review of a new favorite book that I hope you will consider reading!


About A Time to Speak (Out of Time #2)24466484

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag, and I am a part of the author’s street team. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Just to start things off, I did not like the first book in the Out of Time series, A Time to Die. I was trying to rush the book since it was so long and it made me dislike the author’s writing style. I became very confused on what was going on, so this made me a bit hesitant about reading this. But let me say this, I am amazed by this book. Now I know why the Street Team geeks out about the series: this book right here. Let me tell you, it exceeded its predecessor in so many ways that I didn’t mind it was over 8000 on MOBI! You know that C. S. Lewis quote “There’s never a cup of tea or a book too big for me” or something like that? This is the first time I have read a book that I didn’t want to end. 

Story Development: This may seem like a long book, but it’s the right length for it because there’s so much that goes on. The author develops that plot so well that you can see ever clearly the progression of many of the characters, from Parvin becoming more brave an dependent on God to some unlikely people supporting her. I could not get enough of this book. Seriously, I loved how it panned out! I did not mind Parvin traveled all around the Western Hemisphere on her mission; in fact, I loved it. Nothing felt out of place. A Time to Speak was like a huge, soft blanket that has no holes and you just want to snuggle in it for a long time. There’s literally nothing wrong with this book plotwise!

Characters: Oh my goodness, I love this cast of characters so much! Now I want some of those character magnetic bookmarks because they are amazing! I love Parvin’s POV, and her relationship with Solomon. I really want Angelique (or Frenchie) to go home to France, and I still like Madame, too! Even characters that you would want to hate- like the Milkman (whose real name is Caprine), Dusten, and Kaphtor- you might end up rooting for at the end. The characters are so different yet they soon unite over a common cause and it’s so great!

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book at all. It’s really now one of my favorite books now because it was that amazing! I can finally fanboy over the series because I loved this novel a lot. I am so looking forward to finishing the series with A Time to Rise! Oh, I need to know what happens next! As a proud Ninja, I definitely recommend this book to you! You will not regret it! It definitely helped me shape my thinking, that I should live each day to the fullest, for I do not know when my last one will come.

On of My Favorite Quotes: “The promise of uncertainty changes how I live. It urges me to live . . . more, as if the very seconds prior to every sunset will be my last. That‘s the way it’s supposed to be.”


So I hoped you enjoyed that review! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

ARC Review: Configured by Jenetta Penner – Danger and Death in Every Corner

Hi guys! It’s the first day of May! I am really behind on reviews, so that’s why I’m popping quite a few out in such a short time! I know… I’m going to have some nice discussions, tags, and memes in the future! But for now, I hope you enjoy this latest review on Configured by Jenetta Penner!


Goodreads Synopsis: In the future love will make you a traitor.32065903

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

Configured is the first novel in a trilogy YA dystopian/light romance that poses the question: does humanity need love for survival? Fans of Divergent, Matched, and the Maze Runner will love this world of dark secrets, intrigue and desire for a better tomorrow.


A 4 StarDisclaimer: I received a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I’ve definitely heard a lot of great things about Configured, so I decided to take a shot at this YA Dystopian novel. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The more I got into it, the more I wanted to continue it! When I first saw this book, I was intrigued by the premise- a world where the government controls everything about you, where love is forbidden. I think I’d prefer this indie book to Divergent anyday!

Action-Packed Plot: There were many times when I just wanted to continue reading it. The action-packed, suspenseful plot will keep you on the edge of your seat! With the possibility of danger and death lurking around the corner, you’ll never know what will happen next! I know I didn’t! It surprised me in so many ways yet it fueled my fire to continue!

World-Building: I definitely was intrigued by the society of Elore, where Avlyn lives. Definitely, the author crafted the dystopian city very well. A government that doesn’t care for its lower citizens? Ooh… Citizens are classed by their intelligence levels, but there’s many secrets to the system? My interest is even more piqued. There’s rebels, and more than you think. Yes!

Details: Just like most books, I did get a tiny bit confused regarding technology, setting, etc. With the new VR technology that Avlyn and the rebels use, it wasn’t clear to me at times whether the characters were in a simulation or in reality. Sometimes I get mistaken and think they’re in a virtual meeting place when they’re actually in a real life room. But it’s nothing really major- so it won’t greatly affect your perception of the story. I think that regardless it is a great book to read!

Concluding Thoughts: Will I be on the lookout for book 2? Definitely! Usually with dystopian trilogies, I don’t plan on completing them (I am not going to continue to Catching Fire or finish the first book in Divergent… I got bored after Gathering Blue in The Giver Quartet), but I’m considering doing it with this one! I don’t normally continue series (I’m a big standalone fan… we can talk about this later) but this might be an exception!

Favorite Quote: “Avlyn, this world is both beautiful and broken. Make more beautiful moments than broken ones.”


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Guest Post with Kristin Smith: Is Dystopian Dead?

Hi guys! The school year is wrapping up, and last week, I got done with an entire EOC, an ACT practice test, and an orchestra concert. Whew! This year has gone by so fast, and I am feeling a bit sad that it’s almost over since I’ve made so many great memories and a ton of new friends (All Northwest and All State Honor Choirs, heck yeah!), but this summer is going to be filled with a lot of reading, blogging, and music, so woo hoo! Today, I have an amazing author on our blog today, and her post is fabulous! You’ll definitely enjoy it! Here’s Kristin Smith!

A Kristin
Guest Post by Kristin Smith:
Is Dystopia Dead?
 
In the wake of some bestselling series such as HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and THE MAZE RUNNER, some may claim that dystopia is dead—dried up and overused. Any author who writes dystopia nowadays knows that in publishing, dystopian is kind of considered a “dirty word”. Most literary agents and some publishers (especially the Big Five) are very hesitant to acquire new dystopian series because they feel the market is oversaturated. They believe the dystopian ship has sailed, and they’ve now moved on to the next trend.
But does this mean that readers want to read these books any less? Has the dystopian genre dried up? Or is there still a market for these books?
Let’s first take a look at the history of some well-known dystopian novels.
1945- Animal Farm by George Orwell

1949- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1993- The Giver by Lois Lowry
2005- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
2008- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2009- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
2010- Matched by Allie Condie
2011- Divergent by Veronica Roth
2011- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
2011- Across the Universe by Beth Revis
2011- Legend by Marie Lu
2012- The Selection by Kiera Cass
As you can see from the timeline above, dystopian novels have been around (and been popular) for decades. Sure, their popularity may come and go in waves, but if you’re a lover of speculative fiction, that love doesn’t waver, does it?

I personally have a great love for speculative fiction novels. I like that they depict a futuristic or post-apocalyptic world that is different from what we know now. Some of the novels written in this genre have been ground-breaking in their plot development and world building. Take HUNGER GAMES for example. Suzanne Collins broke the mold and set the bar pretty high when she wrote this novel, creating a world in which children have to battle to the death in the annual Games. It has become a bestselling series AND an incredible movie.

 

As a reader, I would be disenchanted if I found out that dystopian novels were no longer being picked up by publishers because of this idea that the market is “too saturated” with them. Granted, I want to read well-written novels with incredible world building, but I certainly wouldn’t want authors discouraged from writing a dystopian novel simply because “that trend is over”. Mostly because I STILL WANT TO READ THEM!
So if you’re a spec fic lover, would you want a limit placed on the number of dystopian books you have access to? Or should a reader’s voice be more important than current market trends?
Given the timeline I showed you before, I strongly believe that dystopia is NOT dead. It may be taking a hiatus, but it will be back full force in the coming years. In the meantime, there are many authors who are still writing and publishing thrilling and innovative dystopian novels. You just have to find them!

Here are some great dystopian novels published in 2016.

1) On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis 

2) Genesis Girl (Blank Slate #1) by Jennifer Bardsley

3) The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

4) Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch

5) Vicarious (Vicarious #1) by Paula Stokes

6) Catalyst (The Deception Game #1) by Kristin Smith

That’s right, you read that correctly. My own debut novel is a YA dystopian. So perhaps I’m a little biased…

Anyway, if you’re looking for a thrilling YA dystopian that has danger, deception, and swoony romance, CATALYST and FORGOTTEN are now available. (And here’s a little plug—To celebrate the release of FORGOTTEN, CATALYST is on sale this week only for $.99!) You can find them at the links below. 🙂

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Apple iBooks

NOOK

Kobo

Smashwords

Thanks for stopping by! What do you think? Is dystopia dead?

 

Author Bio:



Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

 


Thank you so much, Kristin, for coming onto our blog! This was a great post!

Here’s today’s quote of the day!

“Life isn’t one big holiday right now. I know it’s going to be rough, and I wonder if I’ll make it, but that’s when I get support from God.” – Perry Wallace in Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss.


Happy Reading! Have a great week! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Hey guys! It’s the last day of March, and to end off this month, here is my review of Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney! Man, Summer is almost here! And what does that mean? More reading!

Goodreads Summary: The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen.

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from Rockstar Book Tours along with the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review.

Rating: 4 Stars

Overall Thoughts: Let me tell you about me and fantasy in general: I’m honestly not the biggest epic fantasy fan. It’s not a genre that I’m the biggest fan. I find there’s so many characters, places, and subplots to remember that I forget half of them! It’s just not my type of book. I’m usually all for contemporary and historical fiction, but I decided to pick up this book because it looked good. Black Dawn was definitely a pleasant surprise! I think for a person who does not like fantasy, I enjoyed reading it! (P.S. I did love the Chronicles of Narnia; now I don’t know who’ll not enjoy them!)

Continue reading “Review: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney”

Home Blog Tour: Interview with Eleni McKnight

Hi guys! In two days, I am going to the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! I am so excited! You know what else I’m excited for? This author interview with Eleni McKnight because of two reasons: 1) She is local author from TN! Yay! Go Volunteers! 2) She’s from Murfreesboro, the town I’m going to this Saturday! I hope you enjoy this interview!

home

 

Home by Eleni McKnight home-front-cover-hirez

Genre: YA Dystopian

Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Knowledge is a Dangerous Commodity HOME – the last bastion of civilization in a corrupt and fallen world. Outside dwell the reanimated dead, cannibals, and scavengers; remnants of a once great race. Inside, the commune is ruled with an iron fist by Deacon, and administered without mercy by the Elders. Everyone knows their place in HOME. Everyone is safe in HOME…as long as you follow the rules. Handmaiden Suzannah Commons is content with training to be a wife and mother, the only occupation open to women in HOME. But her world is turned upside-down when she tastes the forbidden knowledge contained in outlawed books. Suzannah discovers a new way of life is possible, but that knowledge comes at a high price. It could cost her life. Or the life of the boy she loves. 

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

About the Authoreleni-mcknight

Eleni McKnight is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Literature and a wild passion for creating clothes and doing make-up. She’s also an avid reader and loves music and theatre. She started writing at age eight when she had read all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books that were out and wanted something new to read. It’s never quite left her over the years These days, you can usually find Eleni working backstage or costuming in local community theatres, reading a book, walking (that FitBit is addictive!), at a concert, drinking a craft beer with friends, knitting, embroidering, or taking a dance class.

Author Links:

Email | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

 

Now onto the interview!

eleni

1. What is your book Home about?

“When did your ignorance become as good as my education?” sums it up in short. It’s a book about how reading can be dangerous because it opens your minds to new ideas and situations, and gives you empathy (which I think society is sorely lacking these days). Suzannah Commons is an innocent young Handmaiden who has always followed the rules. An accident happens, and her “purity” is compromised when she accidentally walks in on a naked boy while doing her chores. In her purity-centered religious culture, the message is that the loss of virginity was her loss of a huge part of her as a person, and as she tries to redeem her soul, she begins to open her mind to new ideas when she begins reading books, making her dangerous.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Wow, that’s so me. I grew up with a teacher for a mother, and she got me into reading big time. I loved the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and when I wanted to read more of them, but couldn’t go to the store for more books because I was eight-year-old and didn’t have money to get them, I decided to write my own books! Writing has gotten me through some severe depression in the past (along with therapy, and I think everybody needs a therapist to unload on and talk to!) and it’s helped me document my life a little bit, if not in writing, by how I was feeling and thinking at the time.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I’d definitely say Ann M. Martin started me down the path. She will forever hold a special place in my heart due to that. Judy Blume made a huge impact on me too, teaching me that reading could be fun and enjoyable, not a chore (like the Superfudge books).  I loved Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Anne Shirley series by L.M. Montgomery, too. I was also crazy about scary stuff, too, so I loved horror like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street (but never Goosebumps) and Christopher Pike as a teen, too, but it more started with my love of the book Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe. I love paranormal books, too, so I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and general classical horror novels, now I like Stephen King too. But I always wanted to write YA because my teen years were a difficult and confusing time in my life (hey, whose weren’t?). I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood until after I finished Home, and I’m happy I did, because it’s become one of my favorite novels, and it shares a lot unintentionally with my book. I am so excited about the series that’s coming soon! I like her work a lot, too, especially The Edible Woman.

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I like embroidery, sewing and costuming, cross-stitching, theatre, knitting, make-up, and candle-making. I know that’s a lot of hobbies, but I try to make it work, you know? I work during the day, so writing is my part-time gig!

5. Since the society in your book has outlawed books, what is one banned book that you loved reading, and would you want schools to read it? home-front-cover-hirez

I LOVE BANNED BOOKS! I’d much rather be on the Banned Book List because that means I’ve “made it” as an author! Not yet, but I’m working on it… I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry. I think this one is so important for kids to read and understand: it’s good to challenge authority by asking WHY we have certain rules, not just going along with them. I also think it’s good for kids to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school, because it gives them an idea of how futile and horrifying war truly is that you can’t really get from a history textbook. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie spoke volumes to me, because I did not grow up on an Indian Reservation, and I never understood what people who were in different economic conditions than I was survived. Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a great book by Judy Blume because it covered a lot of the bullying and the realization and empathy that comes in school, but it didn’t have an after-school special kind of ending to it.

6. What would you do if the zombie apocalypse struck unexpectedly?

I’d probably get a blow torch and take out as many of those suckers as possible! Are they zombies induced to come at you when there’s noise? Because I can be very quiet. But, I’d also be a bad ass driving away on a motorcycle like Daryl Dixon on Walking Dead with a cross bow strapped to my back.

7. On your website, you say you want to write for a TV show or movie. What about the TV or movie industry attracts you to want a career in it?

That’s a great question, and I love answering this. I actually majored in theatre at UT. I’ve always dreamt of acting, because it’s telling a story. A lot of the times, I can empathize with someone who is a good actor and can portray the conflict of the situation. It opens up my mind a lot and gets me thinking. I want to be a part of that, maybe one day.

8. I see you love music and theater! I love them both, too! What is your favorite play or musical? What is also your favorite song or musician?

SQUEE! Another theatre person!! I love the play My Fair Lady because it had an ending where Eliza came back as Henry Higgins’s equal. I love Shakespeare, I used to do a lot of that, too, my favorite play being Twelfth Night. And my favorite song is “As Long as I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s not a musical song. If you want that, I love the song “Anything Goes,” because it’s so catchy and you can do some great choreography to it.

9. If your readers had to get one message from this book, what would it be?

That reading is so important. And so is equality, even if you think you already have it, a lot of people in this world don’t, so always work towards it.

10. What is your go-to cure for writer’s block?

Finding an inspiring read. The best one though, is sometimes taking a break from writing and re-entering the real world and reconnecting with friends.

11. I’m from Tennessee, too! What is one thing you love about Tennessee and one thing you wish was better about the state?

eleni-mcknightOMG, really?!?! SQUEE! The best parts of being from Tennessee is the amount of people who always volunteer to help after a disaster. You never have to worry about getting help, we are the Volunteer State for a reason. I think the worst part: we are landlocked 😦 I love the beach!

12. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I have written several books that I had to shelve. I really want to write a paranormal series that I’ve renamed and rewritten about fifteen times that right now, I’m calling the Magi Chronicles. I know it will take a lot of passion and work to do all that I wish to with it. I really want to write more Young Adult (that’s maybe not so dark) in the future. I plan on writing contemporary romance under a pen name, too, but that’s a ways off. And like I said, I’d LOVE to become a film and television writer, but that’s a long shot. It would be nice to be able to put food on the table and roof over my head with a savings account in the bak from writing alone, but I’m not sure if that’s even feasible. For now, I just want to get my work out there and get it read by people!

13. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be passionate about what you write. Try to write every day, even if you don’t feel like it. If you need inspiration, look inside yourself at the things that you are passionate about and try to write about that, even if you think it’ll never get read. And don’t read your reviews (at least the non-professional ones)!

Thank you so much for coming on our blog, Eleni! It was nice having a local author on LILbooKlovers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

 

GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

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