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review 2017-04-20 20:16
Book 19/100: Feed by M.T. Anderson
Feed - M.T. Anderson

This seminal teen dystopia has been on my TBR forever (maybe since it was published?) and thanks to my book club I finally got it checked off!

I always find it a little refreshing to read "old school" teen dystopias, before the formula of singular teen who realizes the evil of "the system" and vows to overthrow it in three books came along. The best dystopias are always about social commentary, not movie franchising rights, and this one has a lot relevant to say in the realm of social commentary.

This was published in the early 2000s, after the Internet had become ubiquitous and right on the edge of web 2.0 when everyone became content creators. The way that technology has totally infiltrated everyone's life and the way that advertisers "feed" into everything people do is, of course, quite prescient, although perhaps what is missing is the ability for humans to interact back and create content in a way that goes beyond their purchasing power. Still, I can't help but think of this book when I noticed that every third post on my Facebook feed these days is an ad ... usually one that is disturbingly on-target.

Titus is not a very likeable character, and he is so enmeshed in the system that he doesn't see its pitfalls. His love interest, Violet, is somewhat outside the system and so calls it into question a bit more, but she fortunately stops just short of being a manic pixie dream girl. Although Titus's behavior, especially his inability to connect with her on a real, meaningful level when she needs him to, is incredibly frustrating, I also found it to be totally spot-on believable for someone who had grown up in this culture with these values.

I really wanted to know more about the larger society in which Titus lived, but because he was so wrapped up in his own pursuit of entertainment, distraction, and consumerism, we only got glimpses of these things as they stayed on the periphery of his consciousness. Still, a chilling and powerful cautionary tale that is made stronger by not having a single character beat us over the head with how "wrong" the society is. Thanks, M.T. Anderson, for delivering a dystopia that invites the reader to think for herself.

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review 2017-03-30 16:56
Down by the Feed Mill by David Hanks
Down by the Feed Mill: The Past and Present of America's Feed Mills and Grain Elevators - David Hanks

I have a thing for old barns and feed mills.. They are just beautiful to me. I love when my husband and I take trips and we see them in passing, I always try to snap pictures of them. This book is just filled with over 240 pictures of feed mills. The pictures are of the outsides and some David Hanks was able to go inside of and take pictures. There are also some historical pictures of some of the feed mills during their early years and a comparison against the pictures he took for the book. I also loved that not only were their pictures but there was also explanations of the feed mill industry and machinery. I also love how most of the pictures are in black and white. It really just adds to the beauty and the historical significance.  I was given a e-copy of this book but will be buying the hard copy as well. 

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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url 2016-04-28 02:46
Spring Book Haul 2016

Even though I'm moving in a couple of months, I seem to have a penchant for buying books. I mean, my bookshelf is teeming with books that I still haven't read and WHAT DO I DO? I BUY EVEN MORE BOOKS. Ugh, I dread when I'll have to lug these sluggers with me to the Post Office for shipping. BUT ANYWAY LET'S BE CHEERFUL. LET'S LOOK AT THE AWESOMENESS I BOUGHT AND HAVE READ!



The Books That I've Read:

1. The Winner's Kiss - Marie Rutkoski

I LOVE the Winner's trilogy. The Winner's Crime was on my Best Books of 2015 list, The Winner's Curse was onmy Best Books of 2014 list. I nominated The Winner's Crime in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards and probably have mentioned these books at multiple points, in multiple posts in this blog (5 Fantasy Authors I Fangirl Over,Preview of 2015 Books, Review: The Winner's Curse, TBR: Releases to Watch Out For, Review: The Winner's Crime, My Reading Profile, & more). It should thus come as no surprise to you that I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss and spent the 29th reading that book. Also spent the weekend and week before trying to sneak peeks at the book through Amazon excerpt, which is an obsessive habit I have when I reaaaaaally want to read a book (until I shake and distract myself by doing something else).

 

Ahem, anyways. This book surprised me in a lot of ways, all of them good. I also understand why they changed the covers -- the girl in the ball gown no longer fits the horrific scenes of war. If the first book set the grounds for the differences between the two countries and the romance, establishing our link with Arin and Kestrel; and if the second book delved deeper into strategy, games, political intrigue, alliances and quiet rebellion amid heartbreaking loss; then the third book was about all of that coming to head. War. Violence. The consequences of the politics between these three major countries. The differences in beliefs and how they've shaped our characters' attitudes and hopes but how there's still common ground to be had. The power of love and stories, forgiveness and new life amid an onslaught of death. As always, lots of character development, beautiful writing, romance, political intrigue, strategy, intriguing world-building, and more. Yes to these books.


The second book reminded me a little of Bitterblue (by Kristin Cashore). This book reminded me a little of the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. Right now, I can't think of a good comp title for the first book, but I think that if you like any of the aforementioned books, you should definitely try The Winner's trilogy.

2. Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn is mentioned by a lot of fantasy authors, it seems. So I wanted to try one of her books, and Summers at Castle Auburn is the one that was recommended. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I'm not a huge fan of books that begin with the main character as a child. Summers at Castle Auburn does that. But it also does something which I am a HUGE fan of -- twining the romance in with the main plot very heavily, and also making the main character's coming-of-age twined in with her realization that her initial crush sucks and that the real romantic interest is the one she loves. If you watched my booktube video, you saw how many dogeared pages there was. That's because when the romance is that way, I bookmark basically every page there's even the slightest encounter between the main character and the romantic interest. It makes no sense, but I love it, and I read Summers at Castle Auburn the day before I was presenting a poster at a research conference, and clearly I should've gotten sleep. Instead I read. And had a book hangover. *Sigh*

3. Serpentine - Cindy Pon

I read Serpentine a while ago. I reviewed Serpentine, nominated Serpentine in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards, and included Serpentine in my Best Books of 2015 list as well as my Cinderella Book tag. I ordered Serpentine when I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss, so the book didn't arrive until just now, but I'm happy to finally have my own shiny copy... and y'all should read the book too! Highly recommended from me (just check out any of those links!).

4. The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Like with Serpentine, The Wrath and the Dawn I had already read. I just wanted to own a copy. Persian culture is slightly different from Middle Eastern culture, I think, but as someone with Middle Eastern heritage, I can say that Renee Ahdieh capture the essence of Arab culture pretty well.

The Books That I Have Yet to Read:

5. A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

A Fierce and Subtle Poison was on my 2016 YA Debuts I Want to Read list. As I mentioned in my Best Books of 2015 list, I want to read more Young Adult Magical Realism novels-- so much so that I made a list of my current YA Magical Realism recommendations. When I was in the Strand, I read the first couple of chapters of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and really loved both the writing and the setting of Puerto Rico (though I think that I still needed to attach the main character). The book has been blurbed by both Nova Ren Suma and Laura Ruby, and I love their books too, so I'm looking forward to finishing this one later!

6. Feed - M.T. Anderson

Ameriie at Books Beauty Ameriie recommended Feed to me a while ago, particularly the audiobook. But my library doesn't have the audiobook, and when I saw that Feed was at the Strand for only a few dollars and that Feed was "out of print," I bought it anyways. When I'm in a more science fiction mood, I'll read this one. I'm pretty sure it's considered a classic of YA literature too.

7. The Riddle-Master trilogy - Patricia A. McKillip

The Riddle-Master trilogy has one of my favorite opening chapters ever. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I was pretty entranced with this book. The first chapter introduces us to the main character, who is a land-owner. Traders are coming, so he tells his brother and sister to go about their duties. There are also childhood friends and others who are in the crowd when they find out about the traders. So, you get a clear sense of the immediate duties and setting for the MC's family and life (as well as a sense of the personalities of each of these side characters as they interact with each other). Then, you learn that the MC's parents disappeared a while ago, and that the siblings have all grieved in their own way, and his way was to go off on an adventure, solve a riddle, and a win a crown from a ghost. This backstory is revealed in a convincing way -- whereby we see his family recognizing that he's acting weird, and they confront him, and so we see what normal family dynamics are like, as well as when one of them is acting strangely. We get a sense of the main character's personality through his interactions with his family, his daily duties, and his backstory, and we get a sense of what the central conflict will be, since winning this crown clearly has consequences and implications that the main characters doesn't know yet. It's awesome. I felt like my brain got bigger reading that beginning, and so I immediately bought the entire trilogy. Can't wait to read the books!

SO, those were the books I bought this past spring. What are you planning on reading soon? What have you bought recently? Have you read any of these books? Let's discuss!
 
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review 2016-04-18 20:41
See, this is why...
Feed - Mira Grant

I really don't like alternating or multiple first person voices. That twist towards the end, will probably mean other things for other people, but for me it means the story should have ended there. Full stop.

 

Won't stop me from listening to Shaun's book, though.

 

P.S. Paula Christensen was a really good audio narrator.

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