New to You (6): Alexa Reviews Free to Fall by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Alexa from Alexa Loves Books. I was really excited when Alexa stated she would really love to read Free to Fall. As a massive Lauren Miller fangirl, I find this book is totally underrated and I want more people to read it so to its relevance with technology (think Siri and Alexa, the Amazon one, not the real person). Come check out what Alexa had to say about one of my favorites! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (6): Alexa Reviews Free to Fall by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
Published: May 12th 2015
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
four-stars

From the author of Parallel comes a high-stakes romantic puzzler set in a near-future where everyone's life is seamlessly orchestrated by personal electronic devices. Imaginative and thrilling, this fast-paced story with two starred reviews is not to be missed.

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision-making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is to follow what Lux recommends. When she's accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn't use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux's recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore—a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

I’ll be completely honest and tell you all that I totally forgot what Free to Fall was about when I first started reading it. But I think that worked out in this story’s favor since I had no set expectations going into it (except the knowledge that it was one of Andi’s favorite reads)! It turns out that this one is a science fiction mystery set at a boarding school that is also a thoughtful commentary on technology and power… and it totally ended up being a story that worked for me overall. Aurora ‘Ror’ Vaughn is a girl who lives her life by Lux, an app that is set to make all the most beneficial and right decisions for its user. She winds up being accepted to Theden, an exclusive boarding school that promises only the best opportunities for its students after graduation from its prestigious program. But all is not as it seems, and Aurora soon discovers challenges – in the form of the education and staff, her peers, a townie boy who doesn’t use Lux, secrets that she uncovers and the inner voice in her mind that she’s always been encouraged to ignore.

I know, I know, this sounds like an awful lot to fit into a plot, but Miller does it well enough. She sets the mystery up beautifully, has a knack for pacing (except the first few chapters) and does well with grounding her story in the setting. I couldn’t stop reading this novel once I’d hit a certain point, and I’m fairly certain a lot of that has to do with how Miller wrote this story. Now, I really only had one reservation, and it’s more personal taste than anything else — I couldn’t find a way to personally connect with the characters, even though I liked them overall. That’s really the only reason I couldn’t rate it higher! However, Free to Fall was still entertaining and quick to read. If you’re looking for a plot-driven story that’s really fun to read, well, I’d definitely encourage you to check this one out.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 25, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Alexa for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you enjoyed Free to Fall. It’s been a long time since I read it. May be time for a reread!

My Free to Fall review

Have you read Free to Fall yet?

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An App for That

What if there was an app that…

This is the concept for Lauren Miller‘s book, Free to Fall. Long after Google and Apple are gone a new tech company comes in and creates Lux, and app that makes decisions for you. Lux makes sure you are making the right decisions that will lead to the utmost happiness. The idea completely fascinated me in a way I didn’t expect. It is a very now idea as technology grows and grows but is it a good idea to have an app that made all you decisions?

I started thinking about what I would want an app to decide for me and came up with a number of ideas. Instead of sharing all of mine I asked a few friends that read and loved Lauren’s book to tell me what they would want decided:

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Amber – YA Book Indulgence

Let me say first off that my love for Free To Fall knows no bounds. I think it was the first real book that I was completely obsessed with. I loved it so much that for a while it was even my profile picture on Twitter. It may still be my profile picture for the YA Indulgences Facebook page.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way. I was so happy when Andi asked me if I could quickly participate in this post! Free To Fall did an amazing job with showing how easy it is to let an app decide things for you. This is especially great if you are an indecisive person, as I sometimes can be.

I could think of several things I would like technology to decide for me, what job to take, what clothes to buy, what kind of blog post to make or what book to choose to read.

I think if I could only pick one thing though, I would have technology decide if I should pursue relationships or friendships or not. It’s easy for relationships and friendships to become complicated with life circumstances and people changing. I don’t think I’m the only one that has struggled with whether or not a relationship is still worth fighting for. In Free To Fall, the main character, Rory follows the apps order on when danger is coming and where to go to prevent it. I think I would like that kind of decision for an app with relationships. I know it could be hard to relinquish control or at least take into an account, a technological decision, but if the app truly did know best, as is expressed in Free To Fall, I think I would take the risk.

Amy – A. C. Shaw

I must admit that I don’t really like the idea of technology making decisions for me; it’s nice to feel a sense of control in the choices I make. However, one thing I would appreciate technology helping me with is determining whether I need to go to the doctor or not. You know you’ve been there, sitting on WebMD, wondering if you’re experiencing a random pain or if you have a tumor. It would be great to have some sort of smart tech that could truly detect just how serious your symptoms are, whether you should go to the doctor, and what kind of doctor you should see. No more hypochondria and no more wasted co-pays!

Lauren – Love is Not a Triangle

I loved Free to Fall, and though is definitely a cautionary tale, I also think there’s a lot of appeal for smart technology that makes decisions for you. I recently started wearing a Fitbit, and I dearly wish that it could track the calories I eat, just by me wearing it, instead of me having to write everything down manually in a tracker. I just put food in my mouth and it can read the calorie content through my skin. Then, it could tell me how much I should be eating, and offer suggestions of what I should eat – and how much I should exercise that become more tailored to my diet, and how fast my metabolism processes, the longer I wear it. That would save me a lot of time and effort. I don’t think it’s a device I’d want forever, but it would certainly be helpful!

Andi: Andi’s ABCs

One of the many thoughts that came to my head when deciding what I would want an app to choose for me was lunch. Everyday I sit at my desk at work and know that lunch time is coming. I know that the dreaded part of my day is upon me and I will have to do something I hate…decide what I want to eat. I work right in downtown Boston so I have a ton of option. But I have also been working in the same area for almost 19 years. Everything is just the same and I never know what I want to have. I wish I could have an app that would decide what I want to eat based on my past likes and dislikes of food. That right there would make my life so much simpler.

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I don’t know about you guys but I can easily see how this decision making and parallel life ideas could really work together. Maybe we should get Lauren Miller to write a book combining them both. One half is the decisions the app makes and the other half is the decisions it doesn’t. Hmmm…

Huge thanks to Lauren, Amy and Amber for helping me out. I’m so happy you loved Free to Fall like I did.

What decision would you want an app to make for you? Have you read Free to Fall yet?

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Review Rewind: Free to Fall – Lauren Miller

Last week I re-shared my review of Parallel by Lauren Miller. This week we are revisited my review of her second book, Free to Fall.

This book is one that I haven’t had the chance to reread yet but I hope to soon. I remember reading it and being blown away and excited with how current and now it felt. I remember talking to Lauren about it (she was the one that sent me a copy when I was just starting out on my own with blogging) and I was so excited to tell her how much I loved it and how it was the perfect sophomore release.

In a week Lauren Miller’s 3rd book, All Things New will be out (go and preorder it!) and I will be reviewing that. But until then, here are my thoughts on Free to Fall:

Review Rewind: Free to Fall – Lauren MillerFree to Fall by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
Published: May 12th 2015
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

From the author of Parallel comes a high-stakes romantic puzzler set in a near-future where everyone's life is seamlessly orchestrated by personal electronic devices. Imaginative and thrilling, this fast-paced story with two starred reviews is not to be missed.

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision-making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is to follow what Lux recommends. When she's accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn't use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux's recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore—a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

Straight up, I am fangirl crushing on Lauren Miller. I can’t help it. I honestly have no free will over this. Her books have made me do it.

I first fell in love with Ms. Miller when I read her debut book Parallel (review). I’m a sucker for parallel life stories that emulate the amazing Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors. I was basically hooked from the first page. Then I heard about her second book, Free to Fall, and I was intrigued. It was completely different from Parallel but also really relevant to our current times and how technology takes over our lives. So when I was offered a copy I basically did an obnoxious chair dance and I did an even more obnoxious one when I finished reading it. Free to Fall did something I never expected it to do…it took over my live for Parallel and is now my favorite Lauren Miller book. Seriously amazing doesn’t even begin to cover my thoughts on this story.

Free to Fall is essentially and epic story about free will and our right to make decisions and mistakes. Basically the story is about Rory, a 15 year old girl that is offered the opportunity she has dreamed of, to attend Theden Academy in Massachusetts. Rory lives in a world where Google and Apple are obsolete and have been replaced by a company that is called Gnosis and there decision making app Lux. Like 99% of the public Rory relies on Lux to make all her decisions and her life generally easier. But when Rory gets to Theden she meets North, an off the grid hacker that does things old school, and everything starts to change for her. Soon she is falling head over heels for him and how she once saw things doesn’t seem so black and white anymore. She starts to question everything in her life and at Theden. As Rory digs deeper she starts to uncover some things she never thought she’d find out that change everything. Now instead of possibly just finding her first love, Rory may uncover something that could put her and the people she loves in danger.

My love for this book really defies words. From the first pages I was essentially hooked. So much in fact that I read it slow as I didn’t really want it to end because then it would be over and then what. I think what really got me was the way the story unfolded. It’s been a long time since a book has surprised me with where it was going and Free to Fall did just that. As the mystery started to unravel and reveal itself I was completely unsure where it would go. Miller wrote a lot of twists and turns in this story and they kept me on my toes. What could have been a confusing mess of clues and direction changes made the plot unexpected and really unbelievably fantastic. From Rory’s back story to the secrets of the past to the seemingly random world puzzles it all worked in a really great, uniquely clever tale.

Also I loved the plot. As a society we are addicted to technology. I personally am on my computer, tablet or iPhone more than I should be. I feel like it is an extension of me I away that I shouldn’t so I was totally fascinated by the idea of what technology could do in the not so distant future if we let it take over our lives. And as farfetched as it sounds the more I read of Free to Fall the more I believed in the possibility. As a society we are always trying to find ways to make daily activities easier and more streamlined. We want to constantly one better the product before which is both great and scary. So the idea that an app, not much different than Apple’s Siri, is used to make all life decisions isn’t as farfetched as one would think. Technology is a slippery slope that can easily go bad and Miller did a fantastic job of showing that without being preachy about it.

And to go along with the plot there were the characters. I was enthralled by this cast of characters. Whether it was the sometimes selfish, always over the top Hersey, the technology truster Rory, or the old school hacker North. They each played integral parts in the book and I think grew as characters which is really important to me. I loved North the second I met him and that love didn’t change as I read on. Rory it took time to get to know but as I found out more about her and as she started to change I really loved her. And Hersey was Hersey. She was one of those characters that can get on your nerves but you also need in a good story. Between these three and the other supporting cast Free to Fall is a great character story.

Look, I could go on and on about this book. I could tell you everything I loved in great detail. I could tell you about how Miller won me over even more with the fact that she obviously did her research on Boston which endeared me to her more. But really all you need to know is that this book is fantastic, will keep you thinking and on your toes, and will leaving you wanting more even though it is over 450 pages long. It’s basically the complete package and has made me a fan of Lauren Miller and her writing greatness for life. This is one book that you certainly do not want to miss. A must read for 2014 and on my top ten list for the year.

*Although this book was sent by the author, this is 100% my opinion.

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On My Radar – Lauren Miller (8)

It is no secret that I’m a fan of Lauren Miller. I fell in love with her writing the second I started her debut novel Parallel back in March of 2013. She took a subject that I knew little about and made it readable and enjoyable. It quickly became a favorite of mine and it has been my goal to get anyone I can to read it. Parallel (currently $5.99 for Kindle) is smart and thought provoking. It makes you wonder what your life could have been like if you made one choice differently. If you went to a different college; applied for a job somewhere else; turned left instead of right. The characters where awesome and you really felt what the felt. Not to mention that one little twist that still gets me every time. I think it is a book everyone should read and I may not rest until that happens.

And then there was her second book, Free to Fall. Free to Fall (currently $3.99 for the Kindle) is so current. In a world where technology rules our lives it fit the scope of where the world is perfectly. It got you thinking about how we do let technology help us make decisions. We look on line now before we buy something to see what others think. We rely on it to talk to friends and make plans. Technology is everything in the world and Free to Fall takes it a tiny step further with technology being the only way to make decisions. Another fantastic character driven story with just a hint of dystopian/sci-fi to it.

What brought this post on? Miller’s third book, All Things New. I just finished it yesterday and it was so unbelievably amazing. It is probably Miller’s most real book to date. It has a hint of something to it that doesn’t make it a straight contemporary, but even with that the book is just so truthful and honest. It’s a story about a girl that is scarred from an accident and can suddenly seeing wounds on people that aren’t there. It’s a struggle about seeing what is below the surface and what people hide and how it is okay to not be okay. It was straight up fantastic and I think it is something that people need to read and I want it on your radar. You won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

On My Radar – Lauren Miller (8)All Things New by Lauren Miller
Published by Three Saints Press
Published: August 1st 2017
Add to Goodreads

From the author of PARALLEL and FREE TO FALL comes a novel about how it feels to be broken and what means to be real.

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s seeing bruises and scars on the people around her that no one else can see. She blames it on the accident, but as her body heals and the hallucinations continue, Jessa wonders if what she’s seeing could somehow have a deeper meaning. In her quest for answers, she falls for Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.

So now I ask, have you read a Lauren Miller book?

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The Art of the Reread – The Books

Back in January I mentioned my love of rereading and some of the books I planned to reread this year. It has been 2 months since that post I have already reread 4 of the 7 books on that post.

Honestly I just can’t help myself. I get a book in my head, a book that I loved, and I can’t get it out of my system until I’ve read it again. And sometimes that doesn’t even work. I’ll Meet You There is an example. There are many times someone will say the name Josh and I immediately want to reread that gorgeous book. Truthfully, I just reread it and I want to do it again already (so if you haven’t read it, do it for me please!)

Since it is only March and I have read 4 of the 7 on my original list, I figured I should add a few more to go with the original 3 that are left:

Original 3

New Editions

The Sea of Tranquility: This is one of my favorite NAish books. The characters and the story break my heart but I love it all the same.

Something Like Normal: When ever I reread I’ll Meet You There I feel the need to read about Travis and Harper all over again. This Trish Doller book is one of my favorites.

What Happens Next: I still think this book is one of the most underrated books I have ever read. It is so great and it makes me sad that fewer and fewer people talk about it. Corey Livingston is the best!

Froi of the Exiles: Ah, the book that almost wasn’t. Probably my favorite books in the Lumatere Chronicles. When I reread this beast it will be on audio because the audio is fantastic.

The Program: I recently just did a post on why you should read this series. I finished The Adjustment not that long ago and I feel like I want to read all the books now. Stay tuned in the fall for when I plan to do a readalong.

What books do you think you will reread? Have you read any of these?

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