Book Review- Between Shades of Gray

betweenshades

This book blew my expectations out of the water! From the very first page I was captured, and read it in the space of about two days. It’s the kind of book that gives you a hunger for more, even after you finish reading it. When I first started it, I was in a nasty reading slump, but it pulled me out fast! It reminded me how much I really love reading stories of other times, other people, other events, and for that, I am grateful.

Lina Vilkas is a normal teenage girl in Lithuania; she loves to paint and draw, she crushes on boys and has high hopes for the future. But when Stalin invades Lithuania and deports thousands to working camps in Siberia, everything changes.

One thing I’ve learned from reading a lot of historical books is that it takes skill to write about a different time period than our own and make it simulatiously informative and entertaining. The line between informative and a history lesson is a difficult one, but this book successfully made a truly interesting period of history entertaining and enjoyable. Also, it was nice to read about a historical period I hadn’t heard about yet. I obviously knew about WWII and that it affected everything, everywhere, but I did not know about Lithuanians being deported to Siberia. I can’t even comprehend being forced out of my home to go work in Siberia. History unremembered is a terrible thing, and I’m glad this book is telling Lina’s story.

I thought it was insanely cool that Lina Vilkas actually existed. At the end, you find out that it was inspired by an actual diary and letters written by a Lina Vilkas. Also, even though the book ends in an unusual place and you don’t really know what happens to Lina, the letter tells you. Not to mention that the romance in the book (which was amazing, some of my favorite that I’ve read, actually, and that’s saying something) is based on Lina’s real life love, mentioned in the letter. I find this unbelievably cute.

Y’all know writing style is a huge thing for me. I have a strong affininty for books with brutal beauty in the words, such as with this one. It is concise enough not to bother people who dislike more floral writing styles, but still has the beauty of something that would normally be a bit more wordy. Also, the resonance of the title could not have been more perfect. It was worth reading just for the one sentence where it was explained. I want to quote it here so bad, but I feel like it would spoil a big secret, even though it isn’t one.

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially for anyone interested in the time period, looking to get out of a reading slump, or searching for a brutally honest YA romance.

Olivia

*This ARC was kindly given to me (from her personal stash, no less) by Jennifer of ARCycling. Thank you so much, Jennifer. I’ll treasure it.*

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Thanks for a beautiful year.

I love you all, and while this sounds drastic, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had never started blogging. I might never have started writing at all, and writing gives me joy. To imagine my life without such a large piece of it is near impossible.

The support you’ve given me over this year warms my heart. You’ve been with me for varying lengths of time, from the second post I made to last week, but each of you has contributed here. I might have given up without the support and love of all of you.

And while we’re talking about giving up, I want to give specific hugs to the lovely people that have never stopped encouraging me on my writing journey.  I throw y’all a lot of crappy words and the strangest questions, but you never hesitate. A million times thank you to Alice, Amy, Ari, Mark, and John. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

Here’s to another fabulous year with more reviews, more writing, more giveaways, and more FUN! ❤ Stay safe as you ring in 2013 tonight!

Cheers!

Olivia

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I’m Making Today ‘National Use Creativity to Heal Day’

As most of you probably know, yesterday a gunman opened fire on an elementary school in Connecticut, killing 7 adults and at least 20 children.

When I heard this news, I was more than broken. I was shattered. I was utterly useless to the world, stuck in my own little bubble. The fact that someone could shoot children…. I don’t think there’s a word in the English language that can capture the feeling sweeping over the nation today.
There’s a lot of talk about gun control and all that. And I applaud people who can take this pain and turn it into a movement to stop the world from experiencing this pain again. But I can’t help but feel that now is not the effing time for that.
The world is grieving, and so am I. I’ve always had a huge sense of empathy, one that becomes almost crippling when I experience it. I’m better today than I was yesterday, but better is simply a relative term. I will never, ever forget this tragedy.
But sometimes remembering is too painful. I’m absolutely not suggesting we forget that this happened, but a large part of healing from is putting it out of your mind for bits of time. When something like this happens, it plagues my brain so I can think of nothing else. And that isn’t healthy.
This brings me to the title of this post. I almost always deal with pain like this creatively. I can already hear the voices chorusing in my head, but I can’t be creative other than with words! Be creative however you have to. (i’ll also be making a more lighthearted post later on ‘How to be Creative’) I believe that the people of this nation and the world can slowly come to terms with this by taking a day, a weekend, a week, to do what gives them joy and to be calm. Through this we can honor the memory of all those lost, and in time, make changes to gun policy.
Life is fragile, so take the time to realize how much you appreciate it. I love you all.
Olivia

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Book Review- Promised

I’m finally back, and it feels great! Christmas break is so close I can taste it, and I’m hoping to catch up on reading. As you can imagine, between school and extracurriculars, including a newly minted online newspaper for my school that I’m in charge of, I’m swamped. The few minutes I have each day to read are heaven, if I can get them. There’ll be another dry spell in January because of finals, but hopefully next semester will be easier and I can get back to my usual reading. I’ll try to space some of my movie and book reviews from over the break out through January. Anyway, let’s get to the review! I got this lovely gem from Arcycling! 🙂

promised

This book is the last in the Birthmarked trilogy, one of my favorite series’ ever. My hopes were very high for this one, to say the least, and I was very happy with the end. Gaia finally has to confront the things she’s been running from. I can’t really tell y’all more than that without spoiling the series (sorry, that’s been a trend from me lately, hasn’t it?), but here is my review of the first one (I’m was a bit inexperienced at reviewing back then, but either way, it’s glowy and gets the point across). I don’t think anyone would regret reading this series!

That being said, these books did rip my heart into tiny pieces. Sometimes I love that, but other times it just stresses me out to read the book, and for the most part, I read to relax. The angst between Gaia and Leon is so strong that it’s like a physical thing, but they make it work. I’ve always admired that part about their relationship, that despite all they’ve been through they are still happy together. I was happy to see this stay in Promised. It was also nice to finally see some romance between the two! Because of the way that books 1 and 2 were set up and the circumstances, we didn’t get much of an opportunity to see them together. Now that we do, I am convinced that they are the cutest couple ever. Not in the sicky-icky, always kissing-and-whatnot way, but their witty banter and still tenderness stole my heart. If I was ever unsure about the depth of Leon’s feelings before, that is completely gone now.

In the book, something really, really tough happens to Gaia. Something that stands out above the other terrible things and really resonates with me as a woman. (don’t worry- for those of you who hate reading sexual assault in books like I do, that’s not what I’m talking about) I loved the way Gaia handled it, in fact, I love the way Gaia handles most things. She doesn’t block herself off from her emotions, she embraces them and stands back up, and succeeds.

The end was great. It felt a little rushed at times, but overall I was satisfied with the way it ended up!

Hope y’all are having a good week!

Olivia

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Gifts for the Medically Conscious!

My friend Alice-Jane and I were talking the other day and realized we both planned on making gift-guides for blog posts, so we teamed up! We’re alternating days from now on, excepting Sunday. I’m really happy with what we’ve come up with, and you should totally hop on over to her blog to see what she’s up to. We’ve both chosen topics for each other that fit out personalities well. Hope you enjoy!

gift guide for the medically conscious

I’ve chosen these gifts for people like Alice and myself, for people who like watching medical shows and science class! You don’t have to be an aspiring doctor to find these things awesome.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

TFiOS recently won an award from TIME for ‘Best Fiction book of the year’, and it is certainly well deserved. It was an amazing book, and I have never read anything that portrays cancer as lovingly and realisticly as this. Everyone must read this at least once, and it’s perfect for any teen in your life.

2. Candy Striper Dress

I love being a candy striper, and the only thing I regret about it is that we don’t get to wear cute uniforms like these anymore! This one is salmon pink instead of the usual candy cane stripes, but it’s still very adorable and a steal for something vintage like this!

3. Lung iPhone Case

This anatomically correct lung iPhone case rocks my socks.  It’s a great and chic way to display your love for being medically savvy! The clear cut black and white lines are very aesthetically pleasing, too.

4. Plush Common Cold

This is one of the best gag (or real) gifts to give to anyone medically savvy! Imagine being able to say “I gave you a cold for Christmas!” or, depending on what bacteria you give them, “I gave you mono/anthrax/chicken pox for Christmas!”

5. Anatomy Poster

This poster is great. It’s subtle, which is nice. The colors are muted and the canvas background is better than anything paper ever could be. Vintage rocks.

6. Anatomical Heart Necklace

This has to be my favorite thing on the list. I have always wanted something like this, something that actually looks like a heart.

Well, there you have it, folks! 🙂 Hope you enjoyed it! Alice’s first post is here. Keep your eyes peeled for more to come!

Olivia

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Liebster Award!

I could SWEAR I’ve done this award before, but I couldn’t help myself! I haven’t finished a book in a while and this is such a fun award to do!! 🙂

1. What’s the last book that made you so mad you had to throw it across the room?

That’s a hard one, because I haven’t ever actually thrown a book across the room. I’ve been mad enough to do so, certainly, but I have to much respect for books for that. And the walls. I’d feel bad for the walls.

Anyway, the last time I got REALLY angry at a book was at The Lost Girl, and I was more mad at myself for skipping to the end than at the book. Nevertheless, I got all teary and couldn’t finish it and I really regret that because it was a great book.

2. Which do you prefer, awesome notebooks or cool pens?

I hate that you’re making me choose. But I suppose awesome notebooks, because if I’m writing in a nice notebook where the paper is smooth and it smells like warm leather, I can’t help but be happy.

3. Name a song that is reflective of your WIP’s theme.

Let me go check my soundtrack.

I think ‘Safe and Sound’ by Taylor Swift.

4. Would you keep writing your story if someone had already written something similar?

That is a really, really hard question for me to answer, as a writer. But I like to think that yes, I would.

5. Name the last animal you wrote about.

I last wrote about a beautiful white and tan dappled horse.

6. List five writing cliches.

Love at first sight.

A girl falling in love with her guy best friend, or vice versa.

And those are all I can think of, because i try to forget them as much as I can.

7. If you had the chance to experience death and then come back, would you take it?

No. Who would come back from heaven?

8. The cops are pounding at your door at midnight. What do you do?

1. put on some real clothes so I don’t embarass myself coming to the door in fluffy pajamas with, like, unicorns on them or something

2. open the door and be nice to the cops. I kind of get the feeling people were expecting a more exciting ‘sprint out the back door with a shiv made of my toothbrush’ type thing, but I’m kind of a pacifist. They’re probably just pounding on the door to tell me that I’ve left my headlights on.

9. Aforementions cops are checking your browser history. What do they find?

Well, why are they snooping around my computer if all I did was leave my headlights on?

Um… they would find me going to google and searching for the proper way to spell shiv. And also that I am on Twitter far, far too much.

10. Do you think birds are weird?

I think birds are absolutely terrifying and I want them nowhere near me unless they are a chicken, roasted with thyme and lemon juice.

11. A djinn can make you the world’s best writer with a snap of his fingers, no hard work required. Would you say yes?

*upon reading this question I edit my answer to #9. said cops would find a google search of: ‘what is a djinn?’. read: genie thingy.*

Absolutely not. I am a big believer in the process being as important as the product, so absolutely not. I’d rather work hard and be great than have greatness due to no talent of my own.

And as always, I tag no one and everyone!! Actually, just a few people I think would enjoy it. (Ari, Alice, Mark, and Amy.)

My questions for y’all are:

1. If you could throw anything in your house out of the window right now, what would it be?

2. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? (i mean not that it’s a competition DARK CHOCOLATE but i’d still like to hear y’alls thoughts. it’s a pressing issue.)

3.What’s the best short story you’ve ever read?

4. Coke or Pepsi? (once again, there’s not really a competition between the two because DIET COKE but yes. thoughts.)

5. Real or fake christmas trees?

6.Plaid or stripes?

7.What is your favorite movie?

8. Coffee or tea?

9. Weirdest writing habit?

10. Favorite hat?

11. Warm weather or cold weather?

I realize that those questions had little to nothing to do with writing, but i hope y’all answer anyway.

Best wishes!

Olivia

 

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Being Thankful

Always first, I am thankful that my mom’s cancer is gone.I am thankful for my health and the health of my family, and how it allows us to live our lives to the fullest and the best they can be.

I am thankful for the love that surrounds me everywhere I look.

I am thankful to live in a country full of freedoms that I hope to never take for granted.

I am thankful for all of those who have ever fought for me to have these blessings, and more so to those who have died in the process.

I am thankful to be the daughter of a God who loves me very much, and who forgives.

I am thankful for the many possibilities that exist for my future, and for the freedom and drive to pursue them.

I am thankful for every book that has ever let me slip out of this world and into another one.

I am thankful for the power I have to defeat my anxiety.

I am thankful that I am strong enough to get through hardship.

I am thankful for everything in my life, the good, bad, and ugly, because I know that if I wasn’t made up equally of hardships and happiness, I wouldn’t be who I am. I am thankful to be here every day.

Stay safe and have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Blessings, friends.

Olivia

“you’re alive.

that means you have infinite potential.

you can do anything. make anything.

dream anything.

if you change the world, the world will change.”

Neil Gaiman

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