TLC Book Tour: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker

Random House

288 pages

Julia awakes on a summer day to what seems like a normal Saturday.  It only takes a few minutes for everything to change dramatically.  The news stations suddenly have breaking news to report: the days are getting longer.  It’s only by a few minutes, but scientists are reporting that it’s indicative of the earth’s rotation slowing down.

As The Age of Miracles goes on, the situation quickly becomes more dire.  As the days go on, the idea of a 24 hour day becomes a distant memory.  The daylight hours stretch on for days, to be followed by long bouts of darkness.  The government decides to go ahead and stick with “clock time”, meaning that people are expected to live by the 24 hour clock regardless of whether 3am falls in the middle of the day or noon is smack dab in the middle of the night.  Conflict arises when some citizens decide to go by “real time”, meaning they sleep when the it is dark and stay awake during daytime hours.

There is a LOT of YA dystopian fiction out there.  I think we can all agree on that.  So it can be difficult for a debut author to step onto the scene and be successful. For that reason, I was kind of skeptical when I picked this one up.  I was interested in the premise, so it was a matter of whether or not Walker could deliver.  And guys, I am happy to say she did! The Age of Miracles was wonderful. I could not put it down!

There seemed to be a little something special about this book.  It kept me rapt, which is typical for YA dystopian but there also seemed to be an additional weightiness to the text that I don’t always find with the genre.  It almost seemed a little more realistic than what the genre typically offers.

I urge others to read this one ASAP.  It’s a great beach read because it will keep your attention from page one! I will definitely keep an eye out in the future for more from this author.

About Karen Thompson Walker

KAREN THOMPSON WALKER holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University and is an editor of fiction and non-fiction at Simon & Schuster. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

For more information about Karen and The Age of Miracles, please visit the book’s website, www.TheAgeofMiracles.com, and Facebook page.

Karen Thompson Walker’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 4th:  Layers of Thought

Wednesday, June 6th:  Rhapsody in Books

Thursday, June 7th:  A Chick Who Reads

Monday, June 11th:  Reviews by Lola

Tuesday, June 12th:  Book Chatter

Wednesday, June 13th:  Alison’s Bookmarks

Thursday, June 14th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves

Monday, June 18th:  Inklings Read

Tuesday, June 19th:  Life in the Thumb

Wednesday, June 20th:  Under My Apple Tree

Thursday, June 21st:  Twisting the Lens

Monday, June 25th:  Taming the Bookshelf

Tuesday, June 26th:  Stephanie’s Written Word

Wednesday, June 27th:  Jen’s Book Den & Literary Review

Thursday, June 28th:  Conceptual Reception

Monday, July 2nd:  Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Tuesday, July 3rd:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Thursday, July 5th:  The Brain Lair

Monday, July 9th:  Great Imaginations

Tuesday, July 10th:  Sweet Southern Home

Wednesday, July 11th:  The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, July 12th:  In the Next Room

Monday, July 16th:  Regular Rumination

Tuesday, July 17th:  She Treads Softly

Wednesday, July 18th:  Book Addict Katie

Thursday, July 19th:  Fiction State of Mind

Monday, July 23rd:  Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, July 24th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 25th:  Ashley Loves Books

Thursday, July 26th:  Becky’s Book Reviews

Date TBD: Tuesday, June 5th:  Book Drunkard

TBD: Chick Lit Reviews and News

Book Review: Delirium

Delirium

Lauren Oliver

Harper Collins

480 pages

I love you.  Remember.  They cannot take it.

I don’t want to review this book.  I seriously want to just spend this entire post just gushing about how much I loved it. It was one of those books where I just finished it and didn’t know what to do with myself.  So I went ahead and pre ordered the next book, Pandemonium, on Amazon.  What other choice did I have?  Now I must wait until March to get my next fix!

Delirium is the first in a trilogy that portrays the US as a dystopian society that has banned love.  Every person must have a neurological surgery once they turn eighteen in order to ensure that they are no longer capable of feeling love towards anyone or anything.  Unfortunately, there is always a risk of contracting the disease for your eighteenth birthday, and due to medical complications, it’s not safe to perform the surgery before you’re an adult.

Lena has 95 days until surgery.  She cannot wait.  Her mother had the surgery three times, none of which were successful, and she instead committed suicide.  Her mother’s legacy has always been a stigma for Lena and she can’t bear the thought of turning out like her mother, so she counts down the days until she will be safe from the disease.  She has one last summer to spend with her best friend Hana.

Guess what happens next? Lena meets a boy, Alex, and falls in love.  Did you see that one coming? All people who have been cured have an inverted triangle tattooed by their ear, which Alex has, so Lena feels safe around him, knowing that he is safe and cannot fall in love with her.  Except it turns out that Alex is masquerading as cured.  He actually hasn’t had the surgery.  He is a resistor.

I have read quite a few reviews of Delirium that lament that it moves too slowly (most of these reviews were admittedly on Amazon).  I will agree that it doesn’t move quite as fast as some other dystopian YA I have read, but in the end that doesn’t matter, because it impacted me more than any of those books.  Once I got into the story, I couldn’t put it down.  The love affair between Alex and Lena was so tangible and I was deeply touched by it, despite the fact that they are only teenagers.

If you haven’t read this one yet, I urge you to pick it up ASAP. Unless you want to wait until March.  Because once you finish Delirium, you will want to move on to Pandemonium immediately.

Other Reviews:

Book Journey

Good Books & Good Wine

Rhapsody in Books

S Krishna’s Books

Presenting Lenore

Erin Reads

I purchased this book from Target.

Book Review: Hooked

Hooked

Catherine Greenman

Delacorte

288 pages

Girl meets boy.  Girl starts dating boy.  Girl falls in love with boy.  Girl has sex with boy . . . Girl gets pregnant? If you’re Thea Galehouse, that’s about how it goes.

Thea is in high school in New York where she meets boy next door Will.  Will is not your typical heartthrob.  He’s kind of goofy and he has a lazy eye, and although he is pretty popular, he opens up to Thea right away.  Even after Will graduates high school and goes to college, the two stay together.  Their relationship is on track, until Thea forgets to take her pill and winds up pregnant.

Thea is faced with a tough decision, and she vacillates between two options.  She and will decide to give it their best shot and raise the baby together. It’s only once their son is born that they discover that the foundation of their love is not unshakable.

Hooked was exceptionally realistic.  It seemed like Greenman really knew how Will and Thea would feel in such a situation.  Their indecision throughout the book was genuine, and I came to love Thea for the strength she displayed as she faced tougher and tougher decisions.  Thea was more mature than most girls her age, whereas Will was probably more in line with the typical immaturity you would find in a boy that age.  He obviously cared about Thea and their son, but at the same time it wasn’t enough for him to give up his youth.  I empathized with him while at the same time being angry with him.

I’ve said it a million times before, but I always read YA fiction that deals with teen pregnancy.  It’s just an issue that resonates with me, so I have a cache of books on this topic.  So while I thought Hooked was meaningful, I wasn’t sure it stacked up to some of the other books I’ve read.  Nothing really stood out and made it seem especially worthy.  So while I wouldn’t turn this one down, I also wouldn’t rush out to buy it.

Other Reviews:

Good Books & Good Wine

I purchased an e-copy of this book for my kindle.

Book Review: I’m Not Her

I’m Not Her

Janet Gurtler

Sourcebook Fire

304 pages

Kristina is your typical blond, curvy bombshell.  Every guy wants to be with her and every girl wants to be her friend, so she is one of the most popular girls in school.  Tess is the baby sister.  She’s a high school freshman and the only thing occupying her is the prospect of being in the National Honor Society.  Kristina is doing her best though to break Tess out of her shell, and the book opens with Kristina dragging Tess to a high school party.  Tess is fed up of being in Kristina’s shadow, so instead she is content to fade into the background.  Because let’s face it, Kristina has it all . . . until she discovers she has bone cancer.

Kristina has an aggressive form of bone cancer, and doctors must act quickly in order to save her leg.  She is immediately admitted to the hospital to undergo chemotherapy, and instead of being the gorgeous girl around school, she becomes sick and starts losing her hair.  Suddenly, Tess is the one taking care of her sister, instead of the other way around, especially because their parent’s are having a hard time coping with Kristina’s cancer.  Tess is forced to reevaluate what is important to her, and she starts to question her friendships and priorities.

As is typical with YA, both girls had love interests, but Gurtler kept the reader questioning who liked whom and where relationships were going till the end, so that was an added element that kept my interest.  I’m still unsure of how I feel about the outcome of Tess’s boy drama, and all I can say in regards to Kristina is . . . wow.

Gurtler has definitely done it again.  Which I guess makes no sense because this is her first book! But I read her new book, If I Tell, a few weeks ago, and I was blown away, so I am glad this one was just as good, if not better!

Other Reviews:

Story Siren

Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received a copy of this book from the published in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: If I Tell

If I Tell

Janet Gurtler

Sourcebooks

256 pages

Jasmine is a a teen brimming with angst.  She hasn’t lived a charmed life.  Her mother was just a teenager when she was born and couldn’t handle the responsibility of raising a child so Jasmine was raised by her maternal grandparents.  Jasmine’s father has been out of the picture so she looked up to her grandfather, who died just a few years ago.  Jasmine’s real father is black, so Jasmine is biracial.  Her racial identity is something she has struggled with, so her mom’s black boyfriend Simon has been a major influence in her life, since he is one of the only black people she knows. That’s what makes his behavior that much more hurtful.

Jasmine’s mom recently found out she was pregnant.  The news has come as a shock to everyone, including Simon.  He reacts by going to a party with his teenage brother, where Jasmine spies him making out with her best friend Lacey.  Jasmine’s anger and humiliation is compounded by her mom’s pregnancy, and she has no idea whether to tell her mom the truth about Simon.  The longer she keeps the secret inside, the more she lashes out at those around her, and the rage she feels is painfully apparent.

Jasmine is also forging a relationship with the new guy in town, Jackson, but she has always closed herself off to those around her, and she is pushing him away with all her might.  It was too bad because Jackson was my favorite character in the book.  He is introspective and genuine in a way most high school boys aren’t, and his feelings toward Jasmine were heartfelt.

If I Tell dealt with so many issues that are relevant today, and not even issues that are exclusive to teens.  The racial identity themes were portrayed realistically and I could really understand where she was coming from.  I think this book will speak volumes to anyone that has similar feeling and confusion.  What really interested me about this book though was Jasmine’s struggle about whether to keep Simon’s secret or not.

I am usually pretty black and white when it comes to situations like this.  I would have been unequivocal about the fact that Jasmine should have told her mom the truth.  And for at least the first part of the book, I was silently urging her to spill the beans.  I just feel like honesty is the best policy.  But the further the story went, the more I realized it wasn’t as clear cut as all that.  For one, Jasmine’s mom had a difficult pregnancy, and once the baby was born she suffered from severe post partum depression.  So I started to wonder if maybe it was a secret Jasmine should keep.

If I Tell makes such an impact and is one of the most powerful YA books I have read in a long time.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket (author interview)

Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Jumping off Swings

Jumping off Swings

Jo Knowles

Candlewick

240 pages

You always know at least one girl like Ellie in high school.  The one that is called “easy”, who will seemingly hook up with anyone.  Josh is just one boy amongst quite a few that Ellie has had sex with.  They hook up in the back of a van and then, it’s over.  Josh leaves as if nothing has just happened, and once again, Ellie is devastated.  She knows what her peers are saying about her behind her back, but she is compelled to have sex with boys in an attempt to form a meaningful connection with someone.

Jumping off Swings is told from four different viewpoints.  Ellie, who is struggling to form a connection with a guy.  Josh, who was only interested in losing his virginity and used Ellie to accomplish that.  Caleb is in love with Ellie but hasn’t let on, so instead they are just friends.  Corinne is Ellie’s best friend and she’s frustrated over Ellie’s behavior.  Then comes the even bigger problem: Ellie is pregnant.

Ellie refuses to acknowledge her pregnancy at first.  She turns a blind eye in the hopes that the problem will go away if she ignores it.  Once the truth finally comes out, she is torn by the choices available.  Many books that deal with teen pregnancy focus on one outcome, but Jumping off Swings looks in depth at abortion, adoption and child rearing as Ellie tries to make a life changing decision.

All four narrators were genuine and compelling.  Even Josh was a particularly sympathetic character.  On paper he sounds like a real jerk, but he was just as confused as Ellie.  The peer pressure he felt as a result of his friends was overwhelming, so he went ahead and lost his virginity in order to appease them.  He only realized the ramifications later, once Ellie became more sullen and remote.  Then he comes to realize he is going to be a father, and consequences of his actions are even more obvious.

I read Jumping off Swings in one sitting.  I was in a weird mood one night and nothing seemed to grab my attention, so I decided to browse the Amazon Kindle deals and this one popped up.  I started reading it and was instantly drawn into the story.  I think this would be a great choice for the readathon!

Other Reviews:

The Story Siren

A Bookish Way of Life

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon for my Kindle.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Quirk Books

352 pages

I know, I know.  ANOTHER review for Peculiar Children.  It’s getting ridiculous, but it’s for good reason.  Because seriously, you have to read this book.  If you have previously been on the fence about it, I am about to convince you to bite the bullet and pick it up.

Jacob grew up hearing a myriad of creepy, paranormal stories from his grandfather.  Levitating girls, invisible boys and the like.  As a kid, he believed the stories unflinchingly, but as he grew older, he believed his grandfather was feeding him fairy tales and he became a a skeptic.  That is, until his grandfather died.

The death left a void for Jacob, and in an attempt to come to terms with it, as well as his grandfather’s life, he travels to the Welsh island where his grandfather spent his adolescence, at a group home that Jacob thought was for refugee children from the war.

So Jacob’s exploring the island.  He is hoping to find Miss Peregrine, who is the matron of the home, but when he finally finds the home, it is obviously abandoned.  In fact, it was bombed during WWII, just after Jacob’s grandfather left.

So that’s when the weird shit starts to happen.  Jacob is able to travel back to September 3,

One of the many creepy photos.

1940 and all of a sudden, he is in this parallel universe with his grandfather’s peers.  And boy are they peculiar!

It’s pretty obvious by my preface that I loved this book.  It was so atmospheric, as well as deliciously creepy.  The paranormal aspect is not generally something I go for, but I am glad I gave it a chance.  Maybe someday I will be head over heels for the genre.  I thought it was done at just the right pace, with enough realism in it to keep me interested.

My biggest question once I finished the books was perhaps an unfair one.  Would Peculiar Children be as good without the pictures?  Do the pictures make the book? My answer is that the pictures add such a cool element to the story that they take an average plot line and turn it into something special.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much without the pictures, but that’s not to say it’s a bad story.  I am just a sucker for pictures.

We’re heading into cooler days (although you wouldn’t know that today.  It feels like the middle of summer again!), and what could be better than to curl up with a good book? With Halloween coming up, this one is the perfect choice.

Other Reviews:

Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Good Books and Good Wine

Jenn’s Bookshelves

Fizzy Thoughts

Capricious Reader

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

This book counts towards RIP VI.

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