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My Progress:

10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

18 / 51 states. 35% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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38 / 50 books. 76% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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33 / 52 books. 63% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

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23 / 40 books. 57% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

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5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

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24 / 26.2 miles. 92% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

49 / 104 books. 47% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

44 / 165 books. 27% done!
Thursday, March 05, 2015

If I Had To Choose a Favorite Morton Novel, It Would Probably Be This One ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On a lazy summer afternoon in the English countryside, 16-year-old Laurel Nicolson hides in her backyard treehouse.  High above her seeking sisters she lounges, dreaming of her secret boyfriend and the rendezvous they've planned for the evening.  In that moment, anything—and everything—seems possible.

Laurel has no idea just how much this ordinary afternoon will change her life until she spies a stranger in her yard.  Unseen by him or her mother, Laurel witnesses a shocking crime that throws everything she knows about her family and their seemingly perfect home life into question.  Unable to process what it all means, Laurel flees to London, with no intention of ever going back.

Fifty years later, Laurel's sisters are organizing a birthday party for their mother, who is turning 90.  Reluctantly returning to her childhood home, Laurel vows to finally get the truth about what happened that long ago summer afternoon.  Her mother's frail, with a memory that's fading fast—it's now or never.  As Laurel probes for answers, she learns the incredible story of three people, whose lives intertwine in ways that will change all of them forever.

Considering the fact that I've raved about every book she's ever written, it's not going to surprise you that I loved The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  The Australian author just knows how to write the kind of stories that capture not only my attention, but also my heart.  Her family sagas are full of everything I look for in a novel—rich, atmospheric settings; complex, empathetic characters; intriguing, mystery-filled plot lines; and vivid, flowing prose.  I adore all her books, but The Secret Keeper might be my favorite of them all.  Really, the only complaint I have with this author is that she writes too slowly (although she does have a new book coming out in October).   


If this were a movie, it would be rated: 

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Secret Keeper at Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  

The Giver Finale Heartbreaking, But Triumphant

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers from Son, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from The Giver, Gathering Blue, or Messenger.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

No one in the community knows who she is or from whence she came.  They only know that she washed up on their shore one day, with no knowledge of her life before.  Except for her name—Claire—the girl knows nothing of herself.  Then, vague memories start floating through her mind.  It's only then that Claire recalls the place of her birth—a bland, colorless world devoid of affection and personal choice.  A place where children are Assigned a duty which they must fulfill.  Even if it means becoming pregnant at 14 years old with a baby who will be given to an appropriate family, never to be known by his Birthmother.  As a Vessel, Claire should have borne the infant and forgotten him, moved on with her life.  But, even now, she can't forget her son.  She'd give anything—anything—to see him again.

The road to Gabriel is an impossible one.  It will require everything Claire has—and more.  Can she make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love or will she, finally, allow herself to let go of the son she's never forgotten?  

Son, the final installment in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry, ties up a lot of unanswered questions from the first three books in the series.  It is, however, Claire's story.  She's a courageous young heroine, one whose desperate plight the reader can't help but care about.  As Claire fights to see her son again, we can't help but ponder the questions Lowry's been forcing us to ask all throughout this series, questions about freedom, personal choice, imagination, consequences, pain, and passion.  It's a satisfying finale about the fierceness of a mother's love, the war between good and evil, and the beauty that exists in the world even in the midst of pain.    

(Readalikes:  The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger by Lois Lowry)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and vague references to sex/sexual abuse

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Son from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Third Giver Book Full of Important Messages

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Messenger by Lois Lowry, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from The Giver and Gathering Blue.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Village used to be a peaceful place, a place that welcomed outcasts into its fold.  No more.  A strange wind is blowing through the once utopian town, bringing with it the stink of greed, envy, and suspicion.  When the decision is made to close Village to outsiders, Matty panics.  If no one is allowed in, the blind, old Seer will never get to visit with the beloved daughter with whom he's only recently been reunited.  Matty cannot allow the kind old man to have is heart broken again.  He must traverse the deadly Forest to bring Kira home to her father—before it's too late.

As if to prove just how different things have become, Forest has grown hostile even to Matty, who's always been able to move through it safely.  Without that special ability, he may not be able to make it through to Kira.  He cares too much for the Seer not to at least try.  Armed only with a peculiar gift that he's only beginning to understand, Matty must make a perilous journey in order to help his friend, and his community, heal.  Will he reach Kira in time?  Will he even make it out of Forest alive?  

Readers who felt frustrated with the open endings of the first two books in Lois Lowry's unsettling dystopian series will be happy to know that Messenger, the third volume, connects at least a few dots.  We finally learn what happened to Jonas and Gabe, as well as Seer and other characters from the previous books.  Really, though, this is Matty's story.  Brave and loyal, he's an easy hero for which to root.  Allegorical in nature (as are all of The Giver books), Messenger is a cautionary tale about what happens to people (and communities) when the evils of the world are allowed overcome their better natures.  As always, I can't help but find Biblical parallels in Lowry's stories—Matty could be seen as Adam leaving the Garden of Eden or even a type of Christ.  The best part about this series is probably the fact that Lowry leaves it all open to the reader's interpretation.  Regardless of which lessons you find for yourself in Messenger, it's a compelling read.  If you loved The Giver, you definitely don't want to miss it. 

(Readalikes:  The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Son by Lois Lowry)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), intense situations, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Messenger from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

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