Guest Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

 

Special shout out to Midsummer Contributor, Brittany, for reading and reviewing The Circle!

 

 

 

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

This novel was a friend’s choice in our book club.  I was only supposed to read half the novel for our first meeting but I couldn’t stop.  I ended up reading the entire book and I LOVED IT.  Yes, I have read books that have a similar storyline (very 1984ish) but I was really able to relate to this specific portrayal. This is my first time reading the author, Dave Eggers, but I will now be looking into more of his work.    

The Circle is a powerful tech company that is slowly taking over….basically everything…the way you shop, the way you interact with others, and even the way the government works.  In my mind I pictured something along the lines of Google or Facebook.  The Cirlce made me question my own presence on social media.  It made me question the power of the internet in general.  It’s quite chilling because I could potentially see this as our future.  There were multiple times when I put my book down and just thought, “Holy crap.  This could really happen.”  This novel made me ask questions.  What are our limits as a society when it comes to sharing knowledge? Where is the line between innocent curiosity and breaching privacy?  Are we becoming dependent upon instant gratification?  

Some of the ideas and beliefs of the Circlers are just mind blowing.  For instance, if you don’t post a picture of yourself surfing in Costa Rica then you are selfish and are denying others the opportunity to be involved in the experience.  Their belief is that everyone is entitled to ALL knowledge and “sharing is caring”.  Out of context it seems obviously insane, but Eggers brings you so deep into the Circle that these radical ideas begin to make sense.  It brings forth your true notions on how society and privacy should be constructed.  

Mae is such a wonderfully well written character.  I loved watching her journey in finding her place within the Circle and the unraveling of her humanity.  I’m super pumped because this is going to be a major motion picture with Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John Boyega.  It looks SO good!

Eggers does an outstanding job with this novel.  And let me just say, the ending is awesome.  

5 bards 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: November 15, 2016

Orion does not intend to spend the rest of her life down Tunnel 9. It is her duty as a subpar to mine—as it has been for all subpars, ever since the radioactive flash curtain fell, nearly destroying all life. Orion, the most gifted of the miners, knows she can earn her ticket out and into the protected city of Alara with 400 grams of cirium, the only element that prevents radiation sickness.

But everything is not as it seems. When Orion learns a truth that challenges all she’s ever known, she embarks on a quest for something far more precious than cirium: freedom. Along with Dram, her caving partner and the boy she might love, Orion sets out on a mission of rebellion and survival.

Giveaway: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

Okay, so the title may be a BIT misleading as there aren’t any advanced copies of The Last Star as it is an embargoed book.  However, Midsummer Reads has teamed up with Penguin Teen in order to giveaway a prize pack celebrating the series ender, The Last Star!

The winner will receive a special edition Tote Bag for The Last Star, a sampler of the final installment, a poster for the novel, AND copies of the first two novels, The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea! So while we can’t give you the new novel, we are giving you just about everything we can.

You can enter a number of ways, so get to it!

Giveaway will end on March 29, 2016 at Midnight.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: May 24, 2016

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

Book Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

*kicks self*

Why yes, I am kicking my own ass for not reading this sooner.  Sure, I chastised myself fairly well in my review of These Broken Stars (which you can check out by clicking on the title), but I just have to keep reminding myself that I made a huge mistake by putting these off (Gob Bluth agrees).

This Shattered World picks up roughly a year after These Broken Stars, to be more accurate I think it is around 8-9 months after based on a comment in the novel, and we are introduced to two new characters immediately.  Now, I knew going into this that Lilac and Tarver were not going to be involved in this narrative, which was a bit disappointing, but it didn’t really deter me much considering I legitimately put down These Broken Stars and immediately walked to my bookshelf to pull This Shattered World.

Spooner and Kaufman waste no time putting the reader into the hostile environment on Avon and both of the narrators are introduced in the first chapter.  I found it to be interesting that the first novel started with the male perspective, Tarver, and this installment started will Jubilee’s point of view.  Jubilee and Flynn share a large amount of the point of view switches, where in the first novel it seemed that Tarver’s narrative voice really dominated the story.  I found that I was really wishing for more from Lilac after finishing This Shattered World, because I realized how strong the female perspective was and how much I wanted from her in retrospect.

Jubilee isn’t necessarily the most likable character at first considering she prides herself on being emotionless, dreamless, and unable to be corrupted by Avon.  However, she is headstrong and determined and is supremely skilled, which makes her respectable before she is likable.  Flynn, on the other hand, was immediately relatable.  I saw Spooner at a book event once and she revealed that she and Kaufman would do the female and male point of views, respectively.  I love how different their narration was but how they came together as characters.

I like that the POV shifts still included the one page inserts from an outside source.  The first novel had interview questions between an unknown and Tarver, and this novel had the details of dreams.  I think that the stories tied together extremely well and I was very glad to see a few familiar faces toward the end of This Shattered World. 

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: February 3, 2015

After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this action-packed thriller with a dual narrative.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.

When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.

Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past.

Book Review: Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

Heartbreaking decisions
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her, until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a frozen and perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on The Lovers and the vast army they command. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them once and for all may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first?

My goodness, Kresley Cole is going to kill me with feels one of these days.  Before you go forward with my review, be sure to check out my reviews of the first two installments, Poison Princess and Endless Knight.

So Dead of Winter picks up a few days after the end of Endless Knight, with Evie wandering around and following the other Arcana calls so she can find everyone in order to rally the troops to rescue Jack.  Now, after Jack’s behavior and incessant lying over the last two novels, I was particularly irritated with her desire to still be with him romantically.  Especially after Evie was finally being treated with love and respect by Death (Aric), although he made a very questionable decision at the end of Endless Knight as well.

While the last novel really cultivated Aric’s character and his past and present relationship with Evie, this one does focus a little bit more on the “games” going on between the Arcana and we are introduced to the High Priestess and the Lovers, officially.

Card Design from The Gilded Tarot

Card Design from The Gilded Tarot

Not going to lie, no matter how youthful Cole described Circe as, I just kept imagining Ursula from the Little Mermaid as speaking to Evie. (Whoops) The lovers were delightfully creepy, and their absolute adoration of torture and pain was just a really good way to make them distinctly evil, especially after Death (who started off as an enemy) as been so wholly redeemed throughout the other two novels.

Evie has really grown into herself and finally begins to gain more control over her powers, in the sense that they are no longer reliant specifically on the sun or on fertile Earth. But while there is definitely a good amount of action in this installment of the Arcana Chronicles, there is still a large part of the narrative that is focused on the love triangle that is going on between Jack-Evie-Aric (Death).

Typically, I really do not enjoy love triangles because they are just such an overused trope in young adult literature.  However, since Evie seemed to really be divided between both Jack and Aric, it makes that aspect of the story much more fulfilling.  Although, I’m firmly on Aric’s side of the love triangle, waving my hands and stamping my feet wanting Evie to pick him.

Now, this part may be a BIT spoilery: But I’ve read some reviews that are picking up on the possibility of Jack being part of the Arcana as well.  Someone speculated that he could possibly be one of the four cards that haven’t appeared in the series yet: The Chariot, The Hanged Man, The Wheel of Fortune, or The Sun.  Specifically I’ve noted that The Hanged Man is a popular speculation for his character.  While it would be cool for Jack to be part of the Arcana, I don’t understand how he couldn’t have been “activated” at this point in the story, but if that comes to pass, I’m sure that Cole would provide a worthy explanation.

Either way, Dead of Winter gets 4.5 Bards.

Evie + Death forever.

four.fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: February 10, 2015

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

Book Review: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.
But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.
Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

This was a different take on a dystopian novel.  They essentially went back to having a Monarchy after the democratic system didn’t work.  So it was set in the future but felt like you were reading a book set in the way back past.  Does that make sense??  If you have read this book help me out with the description!  I thought it was an interesting way to write a dystopian novel because the terminology was familiar, thus not needing an in depth explanation of the  culture and setting of the book.  I could have used some more information as to why they went back to this system but I think we will learn more in the upcoming books.

I really liked that this was not your typically fairytale/ romance/ princess book.  The princess did not need a handsome guy to save her, she saved herself.  Also there was like no romance in this book, there didn’t need to be any.  This was about a young girl finding her way and being an all around bad ass.  It kind of reminds me of a Game of Thrones type storyline.  Minus the incest and dragons.  The Mace reminds me of the Hound, and there are brothels and such.

Kelsea is a great character, she is normal looking and you really get to explore her strengths and weaknesses.  She is not perfect and has flaws and insecurities but that is what makes a great lead in a book.  I also really like the Fetch.  I can’t wait to read more about him!!!  I thought the book was great, it was a little long but worth it!  I would warn younger readers about the content in this book, its more like a PG 16 book.  There is definitely some strong language and adult sexual content and violence.  Other than that I would totally recommend this book to everyone!!

So good!

5 Bards

fivebards

 

 

Book Review: Talented by Sophie Davis

13466202Block it out. Impossible for Talia Lyons. When you’re a Mind Manipulator, it’s hard enough to block the thoughts of others, let alone your own.

Block it out. The pounding, siren-ready world Talia inhabits as she trains with her fellow Hunters, the country’s top-secret covert operatives. The physical demands. The emotional toll.

Block it out. The secrets that Talia’s boyfriend is hiding. Talia’s unbidden feelings of frustration and annoyance toward her teammate, the Casanova of the compound. The wondering why she cares what he thinks.

Block him out. Ian Crane. The man behind the bloodshed marring Talia’s memories of her murdered parents. The man she’s determined to kill.

Block it all out. Focus.

So I received this book at BEA directly from the author Sophie Davis, and we bonded about being from NC.  I was hesitant to read this because if I didn’t like it, and had to give it a bad review I would feel super bad.  Fortunately I really liked the book.  There were a few problems, but overall not enough to turn me off of the book.

I thought the story was really good.  The concept of this dystopian world was realistic and really well explained.  I thought at times her explanations and descriptions were a bit wordy but almost necessary to gain a good picture of this new world.  Also while I’m talking about things I didn’t care for, the cover, Talia is supposed to have unruly curly hair.  The chick on the cover has straight hair… It bugs me more than it should.

Anyway back to the story, I kind of want her talent, it sounds cool.  And Erik, yum, new man crush there.  I am looking forward to the next book, I hope we get some answers and some stuff resolved!  Good job Sophie Davis!

4 Bards

fourbards

 

 

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