3) Last but not least, the author's blog post entitled: God Bless Librarians. In case you didn't know, flattery will get you everywhere, and it just might make me read your book (joking! I'm really not that shallow or vain, I promise; I just thought it was a nice post).
This is a beautiful book that hits a lot of my kinks: small towns, seeecrets, family drama, and coming-of-age. Krueger's storytelling style was reminiscent for me of some of Stephen King's best work (when he's not trying to scare the bejesus out of us that is). Krueger's two main protagonists are young brothers -- Frank (13) and Jake (10).
Frank is hitting adolescence hard with a penchant for doing things he's not supposed to and an even worse habit for eavesdropping. Jake is his quiet sidekick who likes to listen and observe more than run his mouth because he is plagued by an awful stutter. As they run around small town 1961 Minnesota all the best elements of King's novella "The Body" are present. It will be a summer of tragedy and innocence lost.
Where it missed that fifth star I will put under a spoiler tag:
(view spoiler)[I saw the ending/twist coming a mile away, and it's not like me to "figure these things out" which probably means the author was not trying to hide it, but rather have the readers be in the know and sweat it out. I appreciate that, but I felt to have the jealous, mentally challenged sister kill in a moment of blind rage was too predictable in a very Gothic "woman in the attic" way.
It was interesting to introduce the element of racism as it applied to Native Americans in Minnesota in 1961, but I felt at times the reading came too close to mimicking To Kill a Mockingbird in that one respect and that Frank's dad was very Atticus Finch in a preacher's garb rather than a lawyer's suit. (hide spoiler)]
But these are VERY small quibbles in what is a gripping story, wonderfully told. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Magical realism and I have a very standoffish, disinterested relationship. We have never gotten along, and we tend to avoid each other like the plague Magical realism and I have a very standoffish, disinterested relationship. We have never gotten along, and we tend to avoid each other like the plague at parties. So despite some very beautiful five star reviews I knew this book probably wasn't going to resonate with me the way it has for others. And it didn't.
It is quite the provocative, unusual, sensory read. Yes. This book engages the senses. All of them. And it is terribly sad. Incredibly violent. Unforgettably dark. There's the soul crushing awareness of grief and love and love lost. For all of that, I should have been hugely emotionally invested but I remained rather detached through the whole experience. Maybe that says more about me than the book, that my heart responds more to realism than it does to magic. Maybe at a different time, this would have been the exact right book.
This wasn't that time.
It should also be said, this isn't a book for sensitive readers. There are two distinctly disturbing scenes, the second of which I was not prepared to encounter at all. In fact, it sideswiped me utterly and I felt that nothing that had come before it hinted at this destination. A part of me admires the author for such a bold choice; another part of me feels a bit exploited.
I do feel I was given an uplifting ending however, and after the ordeal of the journey, this was much appreciated by this reader bumping The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender from two stars to a very respectable three.
What the hell do you read next after you finish a book like this!?
While not a full on frontal assault horror novel in the tradition of The Shining or What the hell do you read next after you finish a book like this!?
While not a full on frontal assault horror novel in the tradition of The Shining or Pet Sematary, Revival definitely ranks as one of the darkest, most unsettling books King has written in a long time. It's a slow burn that touches on a lot of themes we've come to expect from King in his golden years -- family, nostalgia, grief and loss. King turned 67 this year and he seems to have reached a point in his life where the "big questions" about what it all means Alfie, and where we all end up are weighing heavy on his mind and heart. It's inevitable, right? I turned 40 this year, and I know those questions have already started to weigh on me.
This is one of those books I want to peel back layer by layer and dig down deep into its beating heart. King has moved past penning coming-of-age novels to now tackling what happens when we get old. What do our relationships look like to friends, lovers, siblings, parents when we start to lose hair where we want it, and gain it where we don't? What does a life of regret look like? What does redemption look like?
There is this exploration in Revival in a luxurious, patient way that could only be written by an author of King's maturity and discipline. It's been a humbling, emotional experience for me as a Constant Reader to watch how this man's work and art have aged with him, have reached places only possible because he's lived this long to keep telling the tales.
I get frustrated sometimes with certain fans (with hearts in the right place) who still want King to be churning out the kind of books he was writing in the 80's. Some of the best stuff the man has written happened in that decade. No doubt. He was a writing machine. With young kids and a coke habit to boot. But he's not that man anymore. Decades have come and gone and the writing should be changing to reflect that. Not just the style, but the contents. What King cares about, what he's come to realize and believe to be true, these are some of the passions that he injects into his writing now. There is a self-awareness and self-reflection that just wasn't apparent in his earlier novels. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just different, with different rewards to be found and had.
The first three-quarters of this book represent some of the most literary writing King has done over the span of his incredibly long (and hopefully even longer) prolific career. Yes it feels familiar -- there is the small Maine town and the coming-of-age elements of young children navigating a threatening and perilous world. But the writing is so rich this time, lyrical even. The doom is laying on the horizon, you can almost glimpse it, but you don't really know where it's going to come from. Or when.
One of the things I've loved about King over the years is his profound ability to assemble a world and characters that are so very, very normal. They are us. They are him. They are who we know and love. And the world they populate is normal too. Small town USA. Baseball games, apple pie. Rock and roll on the radio. But into this normal world creeps something slimy and sinister. While ordinary life of first loves, car accidents, weddings, births and tinnitus march ever onward, the sinister stays hidden in the shadows, watching and waiting to make its move. It's all so very fucking normal, until it isn't.
It's the rat trap waiting in the dark hole that you just had to stick your hand into. *SNAP*
The last quarter of this book is the snap! and it's either going to work for you or not. King has written a beautiful dedication (he often does) paying his respects to all those legendary writers of the dark who helped "build his house". In the pages of Revival the long shadow of their influence live and breathe in Charles Jacobs' obsession with electricity and his unnatural lifelong quest for answers and revelation. The Bible says: seek and ye shall find. But we must be prepared for the unraveling of the mystery and realize that we are just as likely to fall to our knees in horror as wonder.
Patrick Ness is a magnificent storyteller and master wordsmith in possession of a vibrant imagination. His Chaos Walking trilogy is tremendously uniqu Patrick Ness is a magnificent storyteller and master wordsmith in possession of a vibrant imagination. His Chaos Walking trilogy is tremendously unique and exciting, and his A Monster Calls brought me to my knees with its merciless emotional elegance and purity of Truth.
More Than This shows glimpses of greatness, but never quite reaches that level of soul-satisfying, heart-stopping, mind-melting resolution for me. It's an existential tale of seeking -- the search for meaning, for Truth, for understanding and forgiveness and discovery of self -- where redemption and final destination are displaced for the all important journey. This is a story without a climax, a story which poses many questions and offers no definitive answers.
The characters are great. I loved them. Especially Tomasz. I want an entire book just of that kid. Seth's back story and his relationship with Gudmund (while taking up very few pages of the novel) burns bright, so vivid, so emotional. I quickly became astonishingly invested in their story after only a few scenes, in what they meant to each other and how they expressed their thoughts and feelings. So tenderly realized. There were times I did not want to return to the "other story" going on, I so wanted to stay with these two and find out everything about them -- everything that came before and everything to come after.
Patrick Ness, you need to write a love story. I believe you have it in you to break all of our hearts.
But this is not that book. This is something else. It defies categorization, and sometimes that's a wonderful, brilliant thing. Here, I'm left feeling a little let down and yearning for more. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Congratulations, Ms. Tartt on such a stunning return.
The Goldfinch is a doorstopper, weighing in at oveWinner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Congratulations, Ms. Tartt on such a stunning return.
The Goldfinch is a doorstopper, weighing in at over 700 densely written pages. Yet, I found myself tearing through it as if I couldn't read it fast enough. I don't know what the secret is to Ms. Tartt's prose, but I dig it. I dig it a lot. Maybe it's due to sheer deprivation (absence making the heart grow fonder and all that jazz), because this lady, while her talent goes undisputed, has only managed to pen three novels in three decades -- the very antithesis of James Patterson (whom I wish would just go away -- how many trees have to die for you, Jim? HOW MANY?)
I can be a real sucker for a sense of place. Tartt writes New York in such a way that I was able to feel the thrum of traffic and smell the bakeries (and the sewers). Taxis, doormen, park benches, museums, lunch counters -- all swirling together in a portrait that's as carefully rendered as any artist's painting. When she transplants readers to the parched and desolate Las Vegas suburbs, I became just as enthralled by the startling contrast between bustling city and dry desert.
There's really not much to say here other than I became totally immersed in this book while I was reading it. It's a character-driven piece in the sense that it's without an intricate plot, or Big Reveals. But oh, what characters! All the feels! It was just such a heartening experience to get to know them all and watch them hurl through life together, for better and for worse. It's the characters from which we draw the tension and the pace of the story and it's all so deftly handled by Ms. Tartt that I'm actually left floundering for ways to adequately describe it.
So I won't. Let her take you on this journey and I'll get the hell out of the way. ...more
This book ripped my heart right out of my goddamn chest and crushed it while I watched curled helpless and whimpering in the fetal position on the floThis book ripped my heart right out of my goddamn chest and crushed it while I watched curled helpless and whimpering in the fetal position on the floor. Oh how I wanted to SCREAM, and kick and throw a right tantrum like I haven't done since I was three. If the author had been standing in front of me I may have done her some bodily harm. I would have gone Medieval Annie Wilkes on her ass, okay? You dirty bird...how could you? I would have said with murder in my eye.
But before that very unpleasant, mucous-filled momentary loss of reason, came heaping spoonfuls of joy and wonder. I was kept so giddy I felt drunk, swooning and sighing, cheering and laughing, thinking and feeling. Oh yes!!!!
Let's get something straight - this is not your average, flirtatious chick-lit romance. Don't let that siren red cover fool you. Me Before You is an exquisitely paced, remarkably insightful, bonafide LOVE STORY. For all you YA readers out there tired and bored with the insta-love trope, gather round -- THIS is how two very real people really fall in love.
There is so much sweet, smouldering tension in these pages I am truly at a loss how to capture it. (view spoiler)[The concert scene where Louisa must rip the tag from the neck of Will's shirt with her teeth is perfection - the delicious intimacy of the act left me breathless. As did the beautiful, heart-stopping moment when they danced at Alicia's wedding. Am I disappointed there wasn't an actual sex scene? A little. I was so worked up and so keen for these two bodies to crash together it was a near physical ache. Jesus, that's good writing. Despite the lack of actual consummation, what passes between Will and Louisa is SO HOT it makes anything found in the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey read like somebody's grocery list.
I did not want Will to choose death. I wanted him to choose life, to choose Louisa. When he looks at her and tells her that her love is not enough to make him want to go on living, a small part of me died. I was positively gutted and ANGRY. But now I get it. I get why he had to, and why it was only his choice to make. (hide spoiler)]
This is a keeper ladies and gentlemen. That is all.
Finally finished listening to this as an audio. Meh. I have my problems with it. I may or may not review it, we'll see.
Alright, I've given it someFinally finished listening to this as an audio. Meh. I have my problems with it. I may or may not review it, we'll see.
Alright, I've given it some thought and feel that I should try to capture some of what this book made me feel (and didn't feel as it were). This memoir is essentially two stories that sometimes intersect with each other but more often than not run parallel. One story is Cheryl's 90+ day 1100 mile solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26 years old. The other story is of the tragic death of Cheryl's mother from lung cancer four years previously. That story is one of all-consuming grief, anger, and a downward spiral into dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.
Even though it was the death of her mother which precipitated Cheryl's decision to solo hike the PCT, I felt like the two stories are so very different from each other that it just doesn't work to have both accounts in the same book. I found it jarring each time Cheryl flashbacks to a moment in her pre-PCT life.
Don't get me wrong, both stories interested me. I was eager to read about a crazy girl taking on this extreme physical challenge. I adore man vs. nature tales. And although I found it difficult and somewhat emotionally draining, I also wanted to read about the particulars of Cheryl's grief and the details surrounding her mother's death. I lost my own mother to cancer in July 2010 and I find myself inexplicably hungering for the accounts of other people's experience of such profound tragedy.
The problem I have with the book overall I guess, is that the two stories do not complement each other very well. Some sections in which Cheryl describes the horror of helping her mother die and the depth of the grief which followed are beautifully and honestly written. The scene involving her mother's horse is seared upon my memory.
These sections are at odds however, with Cheryl's account of her selfish, self-destructive behavior after her mother's death. We all grieve differently, and there is no right way. Cheryl's chronic infidelities, drug abuse, and finally her decision to hike the PCT totally inexperienced and extremely ill-equipped I did not find interesting. In fact, it pushed me away rather than drew me in. I felt turned off. It's one thing to do something wholeheartedly rash and stupid and dangerous when you are 26 years old, but to try and wax poetic about it in hindsight in your 40s is not cool. I felt like Cheryl romanticized her hike waaaaaay too much, a reminiscence with rose-colored glasses. Sure she talks about the blisters and the patches of dry skin, the weight loss, the hunger, the thirst, the heat. But she downplays the imminent very real dangers for a happy story that all worked out in the end.
Her PCT hike could have -- should have -- ended quite disastrously. She went about it very naively, with little or no real knowledge or hiking experience. Her mistakes were massive and at times ridiculous. You can choose to laugh about them in retrospect, but the message really should be: kids, don't try this at home. I felt like grown-up Cheryl should have been apologizing for her reckless stunt rather than almost ... bragging about it. Yes, there is a definite tone of bragging and conceit (that can't all be attributed to the audiobook's reader). Maybe that's what turned me off the most, and that is certainly a very subjective, personal response I know.
If you like reading about dysfunctional people as their lives spiral out of control this book may appeal to you. If you like to read about people doing crazy ass stunts then by all means, take on the story of this young woman as she haphazardly and with zealous abandon hikes into the woods with a mammoth pack on her back and boots that are one size too small.
Cheryl's story may inspire you. It did not have that effect on me. ...more
The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible.
The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible. ~Tell the Wolves I'm Home
I don't know how to write a review for this book. I've made a few false starts already. It's always SO HARD to review the exceptional, the beautiful, the sincere and heartfelt. When what you've just read humbles you, when it so keenly reminds you of the raw power of storytelling -- of why we read in the first place -- it can leave you floundering without any words to describe the experience (a cruel irony if there ever was one).
I have no words, or I feel like I don't have enough, or know the right ones to use to capture the intensity and sweetness of Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Like Mozart's Requiem, it's meant to be experienced. It's the really funny joke that "you had to be there" to find funny at all.
I can tell you it's a coming of age story that hits all the right notes regarding that excruciating, confusing transition between childhood and adulthood, from innocence to innocence lost. June is fourteen and bright and funny and loveable, but also fierce and stubborn and selfish. She's prideful and lacks confidence, while at the same time marches to the beat of her own romantic drum. She's learning to love, not just perfection, but flaws and failures -- discovering that real beauty, real love, has scars and history, mistakes and disappointments.
There is so much character in this story -- not just June, but her sister Greta, their beloved uncle Finn, and his beloved Toby. Each character is whole with lives and souls to call their own. Their voices are distinct, their points of view crystalline and unique. It makes you care, it makes you feel and cry, and sigh and laugh out loud.
There's also a sense of place -- a time really -- that's so vivid it acts as a powerful subtext to the entire novel. June is growing up in the 1980's while her uncle is dying from AIDS. We remember the music, the clothes, the movies and that makes us smile. But then we remember the ignorance and fear, the prejudice and cruelty -- as much a part of the disease as its auto-immune deficiency -- and we weep. Toby and Finn, with genuine humanity, symbolize the tragic loss of so many young men in the early days of AIDS, before anyone really understood what was happening, before anyone had the courage to do anything about it when they finally knew exactly what was happening.
Ultimately, this book is about profound loss and the giant grief that accompanies it. It's about finding yourself in that loss, and then finding your way through it. If you've been there, you know. There are no shortcuts. It is what it is and it's you and it. But if we're lucky, if we're really lucky, there will be someone beside us to hold our hand, to pull us in, to catch our tears, to guide us back to the land of the living.
This is an emotional story, but it is in no way maudlin or melodramatic. It could be that book, that smacks of manipulation and exploits tragedy for the big win. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is not that book. It is the very opposite of that book. I'm going to end this review with a Hemingway quote that I would like to dedicate to June and Greta and Finn and Toby. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”...more
Alright, alright! I admit it, it got to me -- it freaking absolutely got to me. If I were Superman this little book would be my Kryptonite. Why did IAlright, alright! I admit it, it got to me -- it freaking absolutely got to me. If I were Superman this little book would be my Kryptonite. Why did I think I would be immune? I was so smug going into this, feeling secure in my awesome, arrogant certainty that the sure to be oodles of maudlin and reams of cliches would keep me safe and sound from any wrenchings of the heart. My overall dubiousness and cynicism would serve as my protective shield, offering immunity against such ruthless emotional manipulation -- nay exploitation -- about to be perpetrated against my person. Sick kids? Cancer? Dying sick kids with cancer? Dying sick kids with cancer falling in love? Really? You're going to go there so completely and unapologetically and still expect me to respect you in the morning?
Despite all the obvious pitfalls lying in wait for John Green, he manages to avoid just about all of them (seemingly with ease). I experienced a level of integrity and commitment to the subject matter that gave sufficient weight and depth to what could have just as easily turned out to be breezy and shallow.
That's not to say that this story wallows in gloom and gravitas -- far from it. It's funny. I laughed out loud -- out loud -- and when I wasn't doing that I snickered, grinned, and tittered (yes, there were a few titters). I also bawled like a baby, but the laughter came first, and the tears were earned.
Hazel Grace -- our terminal narrator -- is lovely. You will notice she doesn't always act or speak like your average teenager, and that's because she isn't one. Hazel has been in a staring contest with Death since she was 13 years old. He hasn't beaten her yet, but it's changed her, in more ways than any of us non-terminal people could ever comprehend. Our casual intellectual acceptance that we are all terminal and will one day die is not nearly the same as carrying Death on your skin and in your bones, to feel life seeping out of your pores and stalk you in the night. To sit on your chest and steal the breath from your malfunctioning, fluid-filled lungs.
Augustus Waters is sheer delight and I don't give a donkey's ass that the way he and Hazel speak to one another is unrealistic because it is filled with such a sincere sweetness and adorable, lovable humor I couldn't get enough. It broke through my armor, tore a hole through my cynical self, and had me falling head over heels in love with these two. Each is defiant in the way that only a young person battling Death can be defiant, they are warm and insecure and brave and foolish and selfish and sad and real. I'm not going to say realistic -- we could argue that point til the cows come home -- but not once did they ever stop being authentic.
What can I say? I loved them. I loved this book. Okay?
I don't want my three-star rating to give you the wrong impression of this book which is pure, magical loveliness. Emily does an amazing job3.5 stars
I don't want my three-star rating to give you the wrong impression of this book which is pure, magical loveliness. Emily does an amazing job in her review capturing the nature of that loveliness, more than I could ever do here. What I can say is that this is a character-driven story where not a lot happens, yet the story always feels pregnant with melancholy and a distracted expectation that something is going to happen, any minute now, right around the corner.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet-natured people that populate the book's remote 1920s Alaskan setting. I was never bored reading about their humble, honest, hardworking lives. Or their heartache. Because in any life, there is always going to be some of that. Despite the prevailing melancholy that runs through the narrative, there is humor too, and I found myself chuckling a few times which is always nice.
And I guess that's why I'm not going to rate this book any higher than 3.5. It's a nice story in every way, but not once did I ever feel shaken or swept along -- and the ending completely underwhelmed me and left me with a "huh?" feeling, as in "really? that's it?"
Still, I'm glad to have read it and I am recommending it. For its loveliness and beautiful prose. For its calming simplicity and charming whimsy. ...more
I don't read a lot of contemporary literature just because stories dealing with "real life" ups and downs often bum me out and leave me less than inspI don't read a lot of contemporary literature just because stories dealing with "real life" ups and downs often bum me out and leave me less than inspired or excited. I read to escape from life for the most part and want to be shocked, thrilled, titillated, consumed -- and at the best of times -- overcome with wonder and emotion.
Some contemporary novels are very rich in language and character development, and while not a lot happens, they still succeed at moving the reader. Those are the novels that make us think and along the way reveal some universal truth about the human condition. Those are the novels that stand the test of time. The Year We Left Home is not that novel.
I expected a lot more from veteran author Jean Thompson. This is a woman who should now be at the pinnacle of her craft, and while all the literary tricks are present to appease the critics, the novel lacks heart and left me sorely wanting. This despite the fact she delivers in excruciating detail, an up-close look at the minutiae of one family's failures and triumphs over the course of thirty years.
But the drama is very typical, very representative of the average American life, and so help me God it bored me. The petty grievances and singular moments of disappointment and depression we all feel if we live long enough are not something I want to read about frankly. I didn't fall in love with any of these people -- their choices and "middle America" lives put me in a cold, coma of apathy.
(view spoiler)[ Torrie's story arc is the only one that intrigued me and we don't get enough of it nor do we ever get the rest of her story from her point of view. Reader's get the rest of her story third-hand, not from Torrie whose voice I really wanted to hear again. (hide spoiler)]
I didn't hate this one, but there just wasn't enough in it for me to recommend it either. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I thought I would be ga-ga over the moon for this book. It has all the ingredients I’m usually such a sucker for – coming-of-age; first-person narratoI thought I would be ga-ga over the moon for this book. It has all the ingredients I’m usually such a sucker for – coming-of-age; first-person narrator; dysfunctional family; humor; the mother and daughter relationship; it’s even set in Canada during a time period that should make me feel nostalgic. I really liked it, parts of it work amazingly well, but overall I’m left feeling empty and a little cheated. It’s like I was promised a real, live, bloody beating heart and then after being led down the garden path a few times I was handed a cut-out of a black and white diagram from a 1960s biology textbook. Or remember this ad from a few years ago? The expression on that kid’s face perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now (a little cheated, a little mistreated).
The structure of this novel is impressive; Kirshner’s control of language is enviable and she is obviously a talented writer (hence the 3 stars). But here’s the thing: even though all the technical aspects of the novel are firmly in place – plotting, pacing, characterization, metaphors, analogies, foreshadowing, the works – most readers are searching for more than technical proficiency when they sit down and open a book. I don’t like to feel manipulated by literary devices and tricks of the trade. I want to be swept away goddamn it, and be pulled out of my own life for awhile. I want to live and breathe a story and totally believe in the characters I’m reading about. I want to feel their pain and cheer for their success. There is just something a little too contrived and … I don’t know … kitschy about the struggles in this one.
The first 1/3 of the book sort of reminded me of Running with Scissors – the dysfunction is such that it reaches almost the level of parody. Surely the narrator is taking liberties with memory and exaggeration. In the case of Where We Have to Go, I found myself struggling with the way Lucy’s parents related to her and spoke with her. Things are said that left me scratching my head thinking: “would parents really talk to their 11 year old kid like that? Even an only child?” As for Lucy, her precociousness is so over-the-top, her insights so keen, I could never really buy her as “just a kid”. Her “beyond her years” wisdom is jarring and unconvincing when we also consider she’s prancing around in ALF merchandise (not even realizing it’s long off the air and she’s watching it in syndication).
Other things that left me unsatisfied: (view spoiler)[Lucy’s mom and her friend trying to set Lucy up with a boy when she’s TWELVE YEARS OLD. Huh??? Really? I know young girls are growing up faster than ever these days, but do you really need your mother pimping you out? I also felt the “anorexia” bit kind of a throwaway part of the novel; it lagged and didn’t ring true for me. It felt like forced drama attempting to add “depth” to Lucy’s coming-of-age trials. I also did not appreciate the quick death of Lucy’s mother at the end. I felt emotionally manipulated. There’s nothing more tragic or devastating than dying mothers battling cancer. It felt like a cheap ploy and made me angry. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, while the novel is technically proficient and reads very strong in places, I find myself not able to recommend it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
If I could get the whole world to read just one book it would be A Monster Calls. I could listThe monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
If I could get the whole world to read just one book it would be A Monster Calls. I could list here a whole ream of adjectives to try and describe it -- beautiful, haunting, heartbreaking, lyrical -- but none do it justice. I would need to invent adjectives, and even then I would come up short.
I can tell you A Monster Calls is the warmest hug, the hug that makes you feel the most safe, when you are at your most frightened. The world can be a terrible place, Fate a cruel and capricious bitch. But we humans persevere, it's what we do even when we're certain we cannot.
This story is such an intimate experience; it holds you in its jagged grip, unrelenting in its task, merciless in its final destination. It is the human heart personified, all the love we are capable of feeling contained in its pages.
I implore you -- Read. This. Book. Don't wait a moment longer. ...more
This is an awesome book for a summer read -- lots of tension and suspense laced throughout a perfectly paced story that just hums with energy and emotThis is an awesome book for a summer read -- lots of tension and suspense laced throughout a perfectly paced story that just hums with energy and emotion. I liked this one a lot. I was especially surprised and pleased by how much the story moved me. I picked it up because I was looking for something fast-paced and intense. I assumed the meat of the story was going to rely on all the squicky details of Annie's abduction and escape (and there is a lot of that to be sure) but the story also relies on Annie's life once she returns home. I found those details well-written, believable and fascinating.
The story grabbed me and held me for the time I spent reading it and totally delivered on the reading experience I was craving. In fact, Chevy Stevens' writing reminds me a lot of Joy Fielding who I've described in a review this way:
for sheer suspense and page-turning storytelling, its hard to beat Joy Fielding. Whenever I’m distracted and just need a solid, pulpy, “woman in peril” read, I always turn to her and I’m never disappointed. I can’t figure out her secret ... most of the salient plot points I forget soon after I put the book down ... BUT while I’m reading I’m totally engaged. The world falls away and the only thing I’m thinking about is the story. That’s quite a feat in my books.
To be sure Still Missing isn't a book that's going to stay with me for life, or one I will look to re-read down the road. It certainly has its weaknesses. For a running list of those see this slicing and dicing review here. For me, the novel succeeds brilliantly for what it is -- a pulpy page-turner that will help the world fall away for a day. ...more
Warning:this book contains graphic (honest) descriptions of teen drinking, drug use and sexuality.
I'm blown away by how much I loved this book. On thWarning:this book contains graphic (honest) descriptions of teen drinking, drug use and sexuality.
I'm blown away by how much I loved this book. On the surface, it could seem like quite a shallow, gratuitous read about a group of bitchy girls terrorizing their high school. Let me tell you these girls are mean, and after a party one night, one of them is sucked into a "Groundhog Day" time loop in which she is forced to live February 12 over and over again until she gets it "right".
From page one I was completely riveted by Sam's dilemma and could not put this book down. Oliver has an astonishing capacity for the nitty gritty details of the average American high school, an eat or get eaten savage island, where your only salvation is your "status" - popular or geek? accepted or rejected? worshiped, ignored or worst of all targeted? Oliver paints a brutish portrait of the realities of bullying that left me squirming and feeling a little sick to my stomach. Some of the actions taken by Sam and her friends are fiendishly terrible, and in any context pretty much unforgivable.
Yet, as the story progresses - Sam, Lyndsey, Elody and Ally become more than just the prima donna high school bitches that they are; Oliver delves into each young woman's character - Sam's especially - and deftly examines motivations, putting the girls' flaws (and friendship) under a microscope. While these girls don't ever become sympathetic, they certainly surpass the realm of mere caricatures of the villainous. I began to care for them, even while I was wanting to kill them. That's great writing.
There are some beautiful insights contained in this story about living each day as if it were your last, and treating others as you would want to be treated. It's about getting to know people, based on who they really are, not how you perceive them to be. It's a story about the value of family and the gift of friends. While Sam and her posse are terrorizing the weak and vulnerable around them, they still manage to share an amazing bond that makes them fiercely protective and loyal of one another.
And Kent ... I can't say too much about this character without giving away one of the most surprising delights of this novel. Suffice to say, I fell in love with him, and I bet you will too. ...more
The treachery of a demon is nothing compared to the betrayal of an angel.
In the dark is where she met my father.
What tops being the daughter of He
The treachery of a demon is nothing compared to the betrayal of an angel.
In the dark is where she met my father.
What tops being the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn? Why being the daughter of Lucifer and Lilith of course! If I had never heard of Brenna Yovanoff and if I had not read and loved her debut novel -- The Replacement -- I still would have picked up this book based on the heroine's parentage alone. And if that didn't do it, look at that lush, gorgeous cover, like a Baroque tapestry or Hieronymus Bosch painting. That shade of red means business and is making promises to the reader before the first page is turned**.
**It was the unusual (and unforgettable) cover for The Replacement that brought Yovanoff to my attention in the first place. Whoever is doing her cover art she should at least take out to dinner, if not get them a Prius or something.
But I digress.
My deep appreciation for this fantastical, opulent fairy tale of fallen angels, demons (and their offspring) is prevented from pouring over as outright gushing by one thing and one thing only -- Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Had I not recently read that magnificent piece of writing and storytelling I would be crying this book's praises to the high heavens. Because The Space Between is exceptionally wonderful -- yet the brightness of its candle's flame cannot help but flicker and waver in the shadow of that "other" book. I usually don't like to pit books against each other; it doesn't seem fair or particularly useful. But I can't stop myself from doing it here.
Having said that, The Space Between is lovely in its darkness and secrets. Lush book covers aside, this is a well thought out and constructed narrative, rich in symbolism and mythology. Yovanoff takes the familiar (especially to those of us who suffered through Catholic school catechism classes) and paints over it so that it begins to feel new and exciting. She starts with what we all know about the Fall, the War in Heaven, Lucifer and Lilith, and then runs with it creating a vision of Hell that is as unique as it is awesome, an inspired blend of originality, the Bible, and John Milton.
Daphne is unlike any heroine I’ve met. Not easily recognizable as young or female, she thinks and behaves in a way we must discover gradually. She is not human, yet seeks out the humanity buried inside her that’s separate from the monster she knows lurks there too. Daphne’s redemption lies in her quest for her lost brother, and her protection of a broken boy. I loved the mystery here of Daphne’s earthly trials. Everything feels urgent and pregnant with danger. This is a dark story that’s dressed in despair, but that is lined with the grimness of hope too.