Remake by Ilima Todd (Review and Giveaway)

>>  Friday, October 24, 2014

Remake by Ilima Todd
Shadow Mountain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1609079246
Published October 14,2014
Trade paperback, 304 pages

Book synopsis:

Male or Female?

Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn’t like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day—her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they’ll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

Our thoughts:

I've been waiting to read this book since I heard about it at BookExpo America. I let my daughter read it first and she finished it quite quickly. A good sign since she lingers with books that don't grab her from the very beginning. Lately I've been reading more YA and especially dystopian novels, and my daughter who is now 13 discovered this genre and she loves it. So this was the perfect escapism book for both me and my daughter. Like her I devoured it quite quickly too. And we both felt the same way about it, which is interesting because she is a teenager and I'm, well... a lot older!

Nine's world is quite different from any other dystopian world we've read because there are no families and children are raised in batches with hormone suppressants so that they do not develop physically until they reach age 17 and are sent to the Remake facility where they can decide what gender and occupation they would like. The hormone suppression reminded me of The Giver. It took some getting used to reading about teenagers who were more like younger children because they were underdeveloped. But Todd does a good job of convincing the reader as we get immersed in the story. Their innocence was refreshing.

I had some questions about how Freedom Province actually came to be and the daily life in that place. We get a glimpse of it when Nine and her best friend Theron go for a night out, but I would have like to know more. My daughter felt the same way. When a terrible accident on their way to the Remake facility separate Nine and Theron, with Nine washing up on the shores of an island, things change drastically for Nine. 

She has to deal with loss and with the sudden changes in her body as she starts to mature physically. (Teens can definitely relate to that! I even remember those puberty changes.) She meets an actual family and learns about the roles of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, things she knows nothing about. The message that family is important and essential came across beautifully in this novel. The descriptions of island life and teamwork contrasted well with the controlled and narcissistic atmosphere of Freedom. 

Nine also experiences love for a boy in a way she never knew before. I don't mind a little romance in a dystopian novel, but both my daughter and I felt that the romance was a little too heavy and that at times it overpowered the dystopian plot line. We weren't aware that there is a sequel to this novel so that the ending left us feeling like her decision was not made in the right way. We were both a little stunned. Not by her choices, but how she made those choices. About why she did not share her new-found knowledge. However, if we felt that way, clearly it's because we got so immersed in Nine's world and wondered if there was more to come. The answer is yes. So now we have to patiently wait for the second book to see how the rebellion will come about, what role Nine has in it, and how this will affect her relationships.

If you like dystopian novels with romance, pick this one up. It's different enough and will immerse you in its story. My daughter and I loved how it kept us wondering what would happen next. Todd skilfully introduced twists to the story when least expected. We look forward to the next installment!

Note: This book is rated V = minor violence. There is a scene where a character gets beat up and another where Nine witnesses cruel acts from the Freedom police. No bad language or sex scenes, just kissing.

To follow the tour, please visit the iRead Tour Page for REMAKE.


Ilima Todd
About the author:

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She never wanted to be a writer even though she loves books and reading. She earned a degree in physics instead. But the characters in her head refused to be ignored, and now she spends her time writing science fiction for teens. When she is not writing, Ilima loves to spend time with her husband and four children.
Connect with Ilima:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Reviewed by Laura and Daughter

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


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Have a Happy Family by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman

>>  Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Have a Happy Family by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
Revel (Baker Publishing Group)
ISBN: 978-0800724153
Published August 2014
Trade paperback, 304 pages

I like reading parenting books. Although I studied child psychology and I practice Biblical teachings, I like to strive to learn more, especially when we parents have the challenge to bring up our kids in a technological-based world.

As children grow from babies to toddlers, preschoolers, middle-graders and finally teenagers, what you think you know about your kids suddenly flies out the window when your emotions get involved and you go through your own life changes too.

When I first saw the title of this book I thought it was unrealistic, but as I started reading I found the counsel to be very realistic, practical and loving. It fit right in with my own family values and ways of parenting.

Dr. Leman dispenses his counsel with knowledge and experience. I felt like I was reading a letter from a very experienced parent and grandparent who has seen it all. Best of all, Dr. Leman has a wonderful sense of humour and his love of family shines through in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and meditating on the counsel it contains. Dr. Leman gets kids and he gets teenagers. He gets how to make families thrive. I read a portion of this book every night and it made me love my kids more, it made me see them with new eyes, especially after some difficult days with them.

Dr. Leman incorporates all parts of a family, including grandparents. He delves into essential topics like communication, time and priorities, discipline and attitude. There is even a section called Ask Dr. Lemon with question and answer, much like Dear Abby. I also enjoyed the anecdotal stories he includes.

Overall, this is an easy book to read and Dr. Leman motivates one to take action and to follow through. However, that doesn't mean the advice is simplistic. It's actually quite deep and filled with wisdom. Highly recommended, especially if you want to make some positive changes to parent in the best way you can.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura



Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Revel (Baker Publishing Group) and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Publishing Group. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Oct 20 Edition

>>  Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

This week I participated in a Google+ Hangout called Mamma Mia - Italy. The panel consisted of three foreigners living in Italy as well as two Italian Canadians (I was one of them) and we talked about what Italy means to us. It was a fun discussion. I invite you to take a look:

Mamma Mia - Italy hosted by Connections


Two books in my mailbox this week!


Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes

Everyone knows the dinosaur gene skips a generation.

So it isn't a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus.

Despite the Principal's Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka "Gigantor" and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved-until he discovers a secret about the principal that's more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate...and it's up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue them.



This one will be on tour with iRead Book Tours:

Corporate Cowboy by Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson had led a fascinating life for the past 90 years. He built Black Angus, America's #1 restaurant chain of the 1980s and ranched on a 26,000 acre spread where he raised cattle. His circle of friends has included Hollywood stars and corporate bigwigs. You'll discover his persona history is a lot like the man - larger than life! In addition, reader benefits: 

* Discover the ins and outs of profitable restaurant management as imparted by a master entrepreneur * Delight in "bone head" mistakes Anderson made early in his career like the case of the "melted chocolate" or "bitter pills for bulls."
* Get a backstage look at celebrity friendships and news-making events. 
* Try some Black Angus favorite recipes and get some diabetic tips 

Won't you too join in the adventures of this "Corporate Cowboy's" successes and failures which are by turns sobering, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny and full of folksy wisdom.

Free Kindle:
With Autumn's Return by Amanda Cabot

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction--and disdain from the community--is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice--and true love.






This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and Reviewed:

The Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford (so well-written and atmospheric!)

Review of REMAKE coming up on Friday. My daughter and I thought this was a great read! On tour now with giveaway. Win one of 5 copies. Enter by clicking here.



Currently Reading: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (very good!)



The link for October audiobook reviews is up:  LISTEN UP! Let other know what you're listening to in books.

Laura

Have a great reading week!

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The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford (Review and Giveaway of Book and Kindle Fire!)

>>  Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1250043344
Published April 15, 2014
Hardcover, 320 pages

I was immediately drawn to this story when I first read about this book. It's literary fiction, but also includes the mysterious legend of selkies—mermaids or seal people claimed to have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries.

I didn't quite know what to expect, after all, this wasn't a fantasy novel. Well, it superseded my expectations and was better than I thought. Actually, I will consider this one of the best books I've read this year.

The story has a dual timeline. It begins in the present (year 1992) with Ruth and Michael who have bought the dilapidated Sea House, and after months of renovations, have finally moved in. However,once in their new home, they make a shocking discovery. Buried beneath the house are the tiny bones of a baby with its legs fused together—a mermaid child? This brings up all kinds of questions. Their story alternates with that of Reverend Alexander Ferguson, who is an amateur revolutionary scientist from the 1860s, obsessed with finding out the truth behind the legend of the selkies.

There is so much going on in this story. It deals with a woman who, at a young age, witnessed the discovery of her mother's drowned body. Ruth carries this memory and deep loss with her and her unresolved pain comes to a screeching climax when she moves into the Sea House situated in the village where her mother grew up. Ruth is dealing with depression and post traumatic stress, even as she and Michael are expecting their first child.

I was so drawn to Ruth, perhaps because I went through post-partum depresssion and feel things deeply. I understood her pain and her actions. I understood her need to find out more about that buried baby. When she does get her hands on Reverand Ferguson's journal and pieces together his story, it helps her deal with her own unresolved issues about her mother and the father she never knew.

Reverand Ferguson's story was very good too. I love historical fiction. Gifford skillfully moves from one story to the next capturing the times and lives of those in the 19th century and then smoothly transitioning to the present, while always maintaining the link between both stories. And the way she dealt with the legend of the selkies was brilliant.

Gifford's writing is exquisite. This novel was so atmospheric. Her descriptions of the sea made it so alive, almost like a character in the novel. Every description of it was beautiful, and never the same. She truly captured the many changes and images of the sea.

Best of all, unlike most literary fiction, this story has a happy and satisfying ending. If you like atmospheric stories set in Scotland with a fine set of varied and interesting characters and a mix of legendary tales so prevalent in Scots culture, then I highly recommend this one. Gifford is a master storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Note: This book is rated P = profanity for 3 f-words spoken in a moment of anger. The rest of the book is clean.
To read more reviews and to follow the tour, please visit The Sea House Tour Schedule.

And now for the giveaway!

Don't miss The Sea House, a stunning fiction debut from the UK. Set in a house on the windswept coast of the Outer Hebrides, Elisabeth Gifford's haunting tale effortlessly bridges a gap of more than a century. Adeptly interweaving two tales involving residents of the titular house, Gifford sets up an absorbing mystery revolving around local lore and myths about mermaids, selkies, and sealmen. Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut (Booklist).


Celebrate with Elisabeth by entering her Kindle giveaway!

E.Gifford, The Sea House Giveaway

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. Winner will be announced October 20th at Elisabeth's Blog.

seahouse-enterbanner


Watch the trailer:



About the author:
Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She is the author of The House of Hope: A Story of God's Love and Provision for the Abandoned Orphans of China and has written articles for The Times and the Independent and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

Find Elisabeth online: Website, Facebook

Reviewed by Laura


Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and Litfuse for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 13 Edition

>>  Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

Two books in my mailbox this week!


A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd

Her secret cloaks her in isolation and loneliness. His secret traps him in a life that is not his own.

Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could expose her disgrace. But soon after becoming a lady's companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she's desperately hidden for years.

Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own—one that has haunted him for years and tied him to his father's position as steward of Willowgrove Hall. To protect his family,Nathaniel dares not breath a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he'll never be free to find his own way in the world. He'll never befree to fall in love.

When the secrets swirling within WillowgroveHall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Willthey continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and fightfor a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?


How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating

After becoming the zoo's most popular student ambassador, Ana Wright is starting to love her life-even if her family does live in a zoo. But when the meanest mean girl at school volunteers at the new aquarium, Ana's life goes from sunny to sunk.

Now Ana's stuck working with her archenemy, chasing after escaped hermit crabs, and cleaning up even more animal poop in her life. Ana's newest adventure has her questioning why, after finally getting her life sorted out, do things have to change...again?




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and Reviewed:

Montreal: Street Photography by Debra Schoenberger (Giveaway too.)
Burps, Belches, and Farts Oh My! by Artie Bennett (Funny!)

Up Next:


The link for October audiobook reviews is up:  LISTEN UP! Let other know what you're listening to in books.

Laura

Have a great reading week!

Read more...
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
— Mark Twain

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