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Oct 25 2014

The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The I’ll Give You the Sun Showcase

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The “Spotlight Book Club” is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book club that features books we haven’t read yet and that is full of avid readers like ourselves, so we decided to start an ONLINE book club with readers like us all over the world! Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will post a selection of mini-reviews (ranging from one of us to all of us) along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!

October’s selection was I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson!

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Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

And now, a mini review from Willa!

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I’m a massive Jandy Nelson fan – I read The Sky is Everywhere when it was a little known novel that I fell in love with immediately, so when I got my hands on an ARC of I’ll Give You The Sun you can bet there were happy dances and scream fests.

I read this book in one sitting.

Nelson has this utterly gorgeous, lyrical writing style that I could read for days. Jude and Noah, the main characters in this new novel, have to be some of my favorite characters in YA. They’re complex, interesting, and incredibly relatable. In I’ll Give You The Sun, Nelson explores the sibling and family dynamic, and what a tragic event can do to a family – two of my favorite topics to read about, and she does it beautifully. This book is worth every penny – it’s heartbreaking, addicting, poignant, and utterly breathtaking. Go buy it. Now.

Oct 23 2014

Ten Illuminations {14}: Books with Diverse Characters

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Ten Illuminations is a bi-weekly feature hosted by Lit Up Review where we recommend our ten favorite books that fit under one topic. Inspired by The Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, Ten Illuminations gives you five people’s recommendations in one!

What with the growing popularity of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, we figured now would be the perfect time to offer some recommendations for stories with diverse characters.

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Like No Other by Una LaMarche | Goodreads

This brilliant book tells a story of creating yourself and living life on your own terms, and I loved watching the characters grow up until the last paragraph (which, by the way, is one of my all-time favorite endings). The fact that one of the main characters was raised in a Hasidic household perfectly complements the plot.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley | Goodreads15828079

This novel deals with diversity in a racial sense as well as a sexual orientation sense. Set in the 1950s during a controversial school integration, it allows its characters to experience the harsh prejudices surrounding both. It is the kind of book that will make readers enraged and horrified, which, in my opinion, is the best kind of book.

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1618The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon | Goodreads

I went in a bit of a different direction with this pick – A Curious Case is about a young boy with autism and his experience with the world. It’s poignant, hilarious, and such an important book, in my opinion, mainly because it shows what it’s like to live with autism (which I, admittedly, didn’t know all that much about prior to reading this book). Christopher, the main character, goes through family, school, friend, and personal issues over the course of the novel, giving A Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time a very relatable feeling as well. I adored this book and couldn’t recommend it enough!

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If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan | Goodreads

If You Could Be Mine is the story of two Iranian teenage girls who are in love, a very dangerous thing to be in Iranian society. This book is a look at a culture I knew little about, and also confronted homosexuality in a touching and loving way, with beautiful writing and an fantastic storyline. I loved this book and highly recommend it! You can read Meredith’s review here.

Emily
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Oct 22 2014

Waiting on Wednesday {51}

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waitingonwednesday-300x92Waiting On Wednesday is originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, but we just love this meme so much we had to tag along! Each Wednesday, one of the Lit Up Review writers will post a book she is looking forward to, along with the summary and cover. You can find all of these posts by clicking on the category button and selecting “Waiting on Wednesday, and fill up your Goodreads shelves with great books to get excited about!

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Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards | Goodreads
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.

Piper Woods can’t wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She’s sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone’s sure it’s suicide, but Piper remembers Stella’s name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.

Drowning in secrets she doesn’t want to keep, Piper’s fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished…

I tore through Natalie D. Richards’s debut, Six Months Later, and her second book sounds even more thrilling. An inventive plot combined with the author’s suspenseful, psychological writing is sure to produce a winning novel.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Oct 21 2014

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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46167Novel: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway | Goodreads
Release Date: 1929
Publisher: (my edition) Scribner
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto—of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized—is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

I’ve recently started reading classics, and so my reviews for a little bit might be more of classics than YA – stick with me please! :)

I’ve been wanting to read some Hemingway for a long time, and A Farewell to Arms exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

Hemingway’s prose is like nothing else I’ve ever encountered – it’s simple, easy to grasp, and interesting to read. For “classic” literature, I was expecting prose a bit more complex and difficult to understand. Instead the length of his sentences, which are short giving it a unique sound and pacing.

As far as the plot goes, it was definitely a bit dry in the beginning, but as the book continued it picked right up. Catherine and Henry’s relationship is unlike relationships in much of literature now, in my opinion, but I don’t that’s necessarily bad. Catherine takes everything in stride, not even blinking an eyelash at some of the more surprising points of the plot, which fascinated me. The war element of this novel I think could’ve had a serious influence on the romance – what are your thoughts on that?

As far as being a classic, I think that A Farewell to Arms is a fascinating look at love, war, and sacrifice, and is timeless in so many ways. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Willa
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Oct 20 2014

Being a Blogger

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Hey y’all!

Today I’m here to talk about something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, particularly in how it relates to my reading. Has being a book reviewer and blogger changed my tastes, criticism, and general experience relating to books?

I’m an intense personality when it comes to this – young adult literature and publishing – and seeing myself as I am now compared to four (!) years ago is positively astonishing.

I never would have guessed that I would have gotten the opportunities that I have today, and I consider myself blessed. But it was only when I started scheduling when I had to read certain books, planned around my upcoming SAT and AP Bio tests, that I truly began to wonder how much it’s changed me as a reader.

For one, I’m more aware of books before they come out. I never go into a bookstore without running into titles that I already know about. Being a book blogger, a lot of my job is knowing what’s coming out and where the industry’s headed, and really predicting what might be good. Now if I go into a store and see a book I don’t know, it makes me doubt it; I’m not sure whether I should take a risk or not. A part of me misses flipping through random pages, not knowing author names and statistics. (But I love this so much that I can never go back.)

I attribute part of the blind-reading loss to Borders shutting down because the YA section in my Borders was HUGE and so I was always stumbling upon new titles. Barnes & Noble, and my local indies, have significantly smaller selections. I’m still in mourning over Borders closing.

I’m more critical in reading. I’ve read almost a thousand books since starting this blog. That’s a lot of reading material, a lot of characters and informations. I can notice patterns and similarities, trends and writers that go off the beaten path. I like to think of myself as being a decent blogger and making those connections is what allows me to feel successful in my recommendations; at the same time, my reading style’s changed pretty drastically because I don’t just sink into the book with no semblance of why I enjoy it. I analyze characters, plot devices, tropes and ideas and beautiful prose for what it was that made it stand out to me, what might appeal to other readers. As I venture further into my academic life, that analytical eye has helped me with rhetoric and arguments, granting me access to valuable skills. At the same time, I feel like there are some books I’m unnecessarily critical of, but would otherwise have enjoyed if I hadn’t been exposed to all the background knowledge of the bookish world.

While it’s something to think about in regards to my reading/writing/thinking, I still enjoy books just as much as I did when I was the awkward eleven-year-old reading on the bleachers at recess. I just enjoy them a little differently.

I’m less shy. Honestly, I am so proud of myself for this. Blogging has given me so much more confidence in my abilities, my voice, and myself as a person. I struggled a lot in middle school – as everyone does – and because I have something to ground me, it’s really helped. I’m an introvert for sure, although because I write, it doesn’t always show. Because I’ve gotten used to having an audience, it’s improved my public speaking, ability to share my work, and even being brave enough to talk to people that I never would have normally. Obviously, it’s a personal process and I’m still very very shy but that’s juxtaposed with my ability to talk about it.

I’m very grateful for blogging. I love meeting people like my Lit-Up girls and I love being able to talk about what I love and access so many other people with it. Thank y’all for reading with us!

grace
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