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
on May 12th 2015
Amazon, Goodreads

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Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes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
on May 12th 2015
Amazon, Goodreads

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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New to You (1): Kelsey Reviews Parallel by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}

As you may have heard (or read) I love a good reread. I read some of my favorite books pretty often. But what I don’t do it write a new review for them. I review them after I read it for the first time and then that is it for my review. Sometimes I think I want to write a new one, but there is nothing more powerful then the words you use after your first time finishing a book.

I was thinking about this when I finished my 3rd read of Lauren Miller’s Parallel. I wanted a new review but I didn’t want to write a new one since I loved my old one. Then it hit me, have a friend that hasn’t read it read and review it. Brilliant!

Welcome to New to You.

New to You is a new feature where I will have people, that are interested, read my favorite books they haven’t yet read. So you haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss or Twenty Boy Summer or What Happens Next? Well now is your chance to do so and review it on my blog. If you are interested in taking part of this feature feel free to contact me on Twitter, email, Instagram DM, Facebook…you get the gist. If you know how to find me, find me. And if you don’t I may just come after you and ask if you would be interested. 🙂

First up on New to You we have Kelsey. She’ll be reviewing Parallel by Lauren Miller and I’m really excited for you guys to see what she thought. (Scroll to the end for a giveaway).

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New to You (1): Kelsey Reviews Parallel by Lauren Miller {+ a giveaway}Parallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
on April 8th 2014
Amazon, Goodreads

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

Andi has always been one of my friends I turn to when I need a good book recommendation. I don’t think I’ve come across one that she told me to read that I didn’t love. It has got to the point where I made an entire Goodreads shelf dedicated to books Andi wants (i.e. needs/forces/yells) at me to read. One of these chosen books was Parallel by Lauren Miller. Now, I don’t usually read these kinds of time travel, multi-universe type books, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. But alas, I read this beauty in one day and, as always, Andi didn’t disappoint.

The book starts with the main character Abby filming a movie in LA and celebrating her 18th birthday, but you can tell she feels out of place, and that this life isn’t the dream that she had for herself. She wanted to go to Northwestern to be a journalist. That was it. She was set on it. Journalist or bust. But on her first day of senior year she had to make a last minute change to her schedule (that she spent forever getting just right so she would have THE PERFECT schedule and GPA to get into Northwestern – being a perfectionist myself I understand that frustration). She was to choose between an Astronomy Class and a Drama Class and went with the latter option. Flash forward and that decision has plunked her right in LA filming a movie.

The morning after her 18th birthday Abby wakes up and she doesn’t know where she is. Now, if that we’re me I would probably pass out after having a panic attack, but she figures out that she is at Yale, in her dorm room, that she shares with her college roommate. Wait, what? This is where I had to try to keep everything straight between Abby’s parallel worlds. She has to figure out what memories and choices led her here, at Yale – not LA, not Northwestern.

Luckily for Abby, her best friend, Caitlin, is also going to school at Yale. She explains what she thinks is happening between parallel worlds (let me tell you what thought would never cross my mind). The one thing I found a little crazy, was how calm, rational and completely understanding Caitlin was of this theory. I would probably want to have my friends head examined, but that’s just me. However, Caitlin becomes her lifeline in helping Abby piece together her past, her choices, and navigate through what is happening in this current life.

And the boys – Josh & Michael. Oh the boys.  There was definitely one I was rooting for throughout, but I enjoyed how they both played into her parallel worlds and how connected they really were. I usually always prefer books that have a romantic story line involved. While there was this love triangle of sorts, the relationships didn’t get super involved, and with all the thought I had to put into this book to keep it straight, I was more than okay with that. Just the right amount of romance.

This book was one I really couldn’t set down, because I just wanted to know how it all played out in the end. I definitely had to pay attention or else I would confuse myself, but I think that’s what made it so fun. It also really makes you think about the choices you make and how everything can be affected by them. (It also sent me into an internet black hole on parallel universe theories).

Thank you, Andi, as always for a great book rec!

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Thanks Kelsey for having Parallel be New to You!

US ONLY. Ends 7/23/17 12:00am.

 

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Review Rewind: Parallel – Lauren Miller

In a little under 4 weeks one of my favorite authors, Lauren Miller, has a new book coming out. It’s been over 3 years since she released a new book and I have been excited for it ever since (spoiler alert: It was AMAZING). Since it has been a long time since we had a fantastic Miller book to gush about I’m taking the opportunity to share some fun Lauren Miller posts about her first two books, which I LOVED, Parallel and Free to Fall.

These next three days I am devouting to Parallel and July 26, 27 and 28 will be devouted to Free to Fall. There will also be giveaways at the end of each week for each of the books. Make sure you stop by and see why I love these books so much and hear from some other readers as well.

Sometimes you just love a book so much you feel the need to repost the review and that is what is happening here. I first read Parallel in March of 2013 and it was originally reviewed on my blog on May 2013. Since then I have read the book 2 more times and I’m still in love with it. These are my original thoughts on the book and truth…the all hold strong.

In my recent read I did discover a quote that I think describes the book perfectly:

Your path will change. Your destiny doesn’t.

Now, here’s my review.

Review Rewind: Parallel – Lauren MillerParallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen
on May 14th 2013
Amazon, Goodreads

Your plan changes. Your destiny doesn't.

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.


I kept hearing how amazing this book was so when a friend got an advanced copy and sent it to me I was siked! Jumping in I didn’t really know what to expect. Was it paranormal? Was it a contemporary? Would it be too much science and universe talk? The more I read the more I realized that it didn’t matter what category it fell into. It didn’t matter if there was science talk and if the concept seemed out there on the surface. All that mattered was how fantastic this book was and how it got me thinking. You see I have always been a fan of what I call ‘The Sliding Doors Effect'(after the movie which this book reminded me of) where one small choice/decision/incident can completely alter the life you live. That by taking a taxi two feet instead of walking in the rain can change how things play out. One small thing that you don’t even realize has happened can make a huge effect on everything, and Miller played that effect to perfection, hitting on everything I have ever thought about it. My thoughts are going to be hard to get down on paper as I don’t want to give anything away in regards to the story, but I will try.

Parallel is the story of Abby, a girl with a plan. She has known exactly what she was supposed to do her whole life. She was going to be a journalist after graduating from Northwestern and get a job at a huge newspaper. It was her plan, her calling, her goal. And then drama class happened and suddenly Abby was living in LA filming a movie and missing out on everything she dreamed. Resigned to her new life, but not necessarily happy about it, Abby celebrates the eve of her 18th birthday with her cast mates, but the next morning she wakes up in a Yale dorm with a completely different life like her past had been rewritten and she doesn’t remember anything. Stuck in this new life with memories of her old life, Abby has to navigate the constant changes and surprises and learn that sometimes life gets in the way of plans.

Did I mention that this book was fantastic? I mean really really really fantastic. Miller wrote this book in a pretty genius way that kept the story fresh and interesting. Knowing the background of Abby’s life and seeing the small changes that lead to her parallel life and everything different about it was done amazingly well. As you got further into the book and Abby started to remember more of her “life” it was easier as a reader to see the moment that changed things and created the situations Abby found herself it. With every turn of the page I felt like I was reading a new kind of book and I liked that.

I found Abby to be such a likable character as was her friend Caitlin. Watching them both navigate through the confusion that was Abby’s life was truly a joy given the fact that Abby had no idea what was going to happen to her on any given day. And watching as Josh, who I totally swooned over, was folded into the story was awesome. For a character that played such a minor role in the book, he was huge to the story, but in a way that you don’t really understand until you are a good chunk into the book. His presence and lack of, is one of the most important parts of the story and I loved how Miller dealt with that. It wasn’t in your face but on the surface and it worked for this story.

Honestly I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this debut novel by Lauren Miller. It touched on everything I love about a good story and kept you thinking the whole time. So much can change the outcome of your life but lead you right where you belong even if it is the last place you expect. Just because that butterfly flaps its wings in New York doesn’t mean the rain will never stop in China. You just might have to take the long way to get there. I can say without a doubt Lauren Miller has just become one of those authors that “if she writes it, I’m buying it”. Thanks Ms. Miller for awesomeness

Side note:
I’m not a usual book trailer kind of girl. But I watched the official trailer for Parallel and it is awesome! Just thought I would share it with all of you too.

 

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