An absolutely fabulous second installment in this breathtaking trilogy. Renews my faith in the YA genre with its swift plot, cheer worthy characters,An absolutely fabulous second installment in this breathtaking trilogy. Renews my faith in the YA genre with its swift plot, cheer worthy characters, and swoony romance. Loved every page. Could hardly put it down.
I love books that really go for the uncomfortable parts, things that make you cringe -- not because they are gory or shocking, but because they are thI love books that really go for the uncomfortable parts, things that make you cringe -- not because they are gory or shocking, but because they are things we have all felt and wish we hadn't. I especially love it when this is done in fantasy. With dragons. In China. In the 1800s....more
I enjoyed how it explored the idea that maybe the thing you've dedicated your life to isn't the thing you want to do anymore, but it didn't get grossI enjoyed how it explored the idea that maybe the thing you've dedicated your life to isn't the thing you want to do anymore, but it didn't get gross about it. Sophie Flack presented a shy but powerful novel about what it means to be alive.
It wasn't what I was expecting, but I can see the brilliant threads of genius that so many of today's dystopian wriOriginally posted on The Authoress.
It wasn't what I was expecting, but I can see the brilliant threads of genius that so many of today's dystopian writers have fastened onto and expanded on. Short, brilliant, remarkable. A reminder that even small things like color are exceptionally important.
It was almost as if I were reading the "original" of something, as if Lois Lowry single handedly crafted the template for young adult dystopian literature. The Giver featured an overly controlling, seemingly perfect world without proper emotions or color, and fields of work are chosen for you, as well as the person you would marry. These are aspects that many of today's writers have taken and toyed with, trying to pick apart and decipher. It was amazing to see what I now consider to be the "original" young adult dystopian.
I was a bit dissatisfied with its length, though. I have become so conditioned to three hundred plus page novels, that it was a touch startling to see a story begin and end all within a hundred and eighty pages. For this reason, I thought things could have been greatly expanded on. (Really, though, that's what today's dystopian has done: expanded on the bare-bones idea laid down by Lois Lowry.)
I didn't connect with it on a visceral level. It had the kind of chaotic, ethereal style that I associate with older books and while I liked the main character, Jonas, I didn't totally connect with his story. I saw it, and appreciated it, from the point of view that this was the book that most likely inspired today's dystopian writers. So while I didn't enjoy it enough to be giddy and excited over it, I appreciate...more
By long practice, I am not an avid memoir reader. (I can't say I don't read memoirs at all because there were all those assigned readings at school -- something, I think, that put me off reading them in my leisure time because really, all those books they assigned at school were depressing.) I don't read nonfiction in general. But whatever invisible hand or inner compass that prodded me to check out this book out at the library, I thank it. (Or Him, or them.)
Eat, Pray, Love surprised me in a pleasant way. Here, I found myself relating to someone who has had markedly different life experiences than myself: she's old enough to be my mother, lives in New York, has a sister, was married and divorced, and traveled outside of the US even before the events of this book. Despite all these differences (I'm not even out of college and I've never lived or been to a city with more than a quarter of a million people in it), I found myself understanding her.
Perhaps it was the beautiful writing style. So full of wit and charming insight -- the way it nonchalantly imbued enthusiasm and despair and terror, sometimes all at once. It is not outside the realm of possibility that I felt a sort of kinship because the writing transported me so fully into Elizabeth Gilbert's head.
Though I cannot say for certain what connected me to her, it does not erase the astounding fact that I was happy -- truly, giddily happy -- for a someone I had never met and yet was actually real. (Or, as real as anyone who's ever given a TED talk can be. It's plain to see that Ken Robinson is a freak occurrence of Nature, like Stonehenge or something.) My best guess to say what facilitated this connection is that Elizabeth Gilbert was open and honest in a way that didn't hide the worst parts of her, or downplay the best. This kind of attitude forged my respect for her from the get-go, and so allowed me to fully immerse myself into her transformational story....more
Maggie Stiefvater brought me to this story. When I found out that she would be writing a middle grade novel for a multi-author, multi-platform series, I had to get in on it. (I mean, hello. Maggie Whose-Mind-Is-Made-Of-Awesome Stiefvater.) I didn't have a lot of experience with Brandon Mull outside of the thirty pages I read of Beyonders. (I will finish that book, I promise.)
Before I go into all the things that made Wild Born great, I just want to note my one complaint: the length. Come on! This book exemplifies why I dislike reading tiny books: I'm skeptical that any sort of real plot or world building can be shoved in any satisfactory way into a book less than 300 pages. While there was plenty of world building and a delicately woven plot, I could sense its potential roaring right under the surface, desperate to break out and shine.
Despite the unsatisfactory length, I loved so many things about Wild Born:
The characters were diverse without being obviously polar opposites of each other. It's so easy with a four-hero template like this to be overly obvious. Brandon Mull did an excellent job creating interesting dynamics between each of the characters, so that while they didn't trust each other or necessarily get along, they were a group knitted together by their individual ties. (Think the character set of The Avengers.)
I love the world of Erdas and how distinct each culture is from each other. Again, though, I wish that it had been longer so that there could have been more time spent on the settings of each place. Despite this, Brandon Mull did a fabulous job establishing the feelings of each place.
The plot was interesting, if a bit cliche and easily predictable. It still kept me engaged and entertained. The ending was that of a fantastic adventure story, leaving plenty of room for another journey.
I also had the chance to try the online game. (Though I haven't actually done anything besides create my profile and animal.) I love how this is multi dimensional. If I had read this as an eight-year-old, I would have been all over it.
Saying that, I do understand why the book is so short: because it is targeting a much younger age than I happen to be. I feel like I've been set up by MG authors like JK Rowling, Eoin Colfer, and especially Rick Riordan. But Brandon Mull told a great story in a very short span of time. I'm excited to see what Maggie Stiefvater has to add to the adventure, and how this series is going to grow the older the characters become....more
Though there are many middle grade series and authors that I hold dear, I don't overly explore the middle grade genre outside of the authors I have already subscribed to. I had a lot of mixed feelings over Lauren Oliver's young adult books (Delirium, Before I Fall) but what I could never deny was how wonderfully breathtaking her writing style is. Jim Dale was the one who piqued my interest in Liesl & Po with the simple fact that he narrates the audiobook. He also did Harry Potter. When I heard an excerpt from the audiobook, I had to pick it up. When I saw it at a bargain book store, I grabbed it. And I am so glad I did.
What I expected was the stereotypical middle grade novel: something with some overly simplistic writing and characters that were flatly grandiose puttering along to a plot that could be predicted from another planet. What I got was the tale of three adorably fleshed out characters racing through the pages, chased by eyebrow-raisingly creepy villains, in a world that is instantly recognizable for its genius but enchantingly exotic shadows.
What I admired about Lauren Oliver's take to this straightforward plot was how she pulled the simple bones of the plot like soft taffy until they were an entirely different shape. The original idea was the still there -- a tale of an accidental switch by an abused apprentice, and a girl closeted away by an evil stepmother -- but it came alive. Lauren Oliver made it feel not so much created as discovered.
The illustrations added another layer of atmosphere to the already jam-packed story. They piqued my interest when I browsed ahead, and then painted a deeper picture when I came upon that part of the story. The illustrations helped me imagine how the author must've imagined the characters, and that brought a certain flavor to the reading of the story, seeing how the author meant it to look.
Liesl & Po was a fantastic story with a bittersweet ending. It is certainly a book that I will proudly carry on my shelves, and also one I may take the time to reread in the future. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone....more
My friend TOTALLY set me up to fall for this one! I snagged it off her shelf, started reading it for the heck of it, and when I got into it she told mMy friend TOTALLY set me up to fall for this one! I snagged it off her shelf, started reading it for the heck of it, and when I got into it she told me it was her favorite book ever. Well, I was into it alright, and when I finished? WHAT AN ENDING. SERIOUSLY. When I rounded on her, she was like, "I TOLD you it was melancholy!" It was. In spades.
It was a great book, though. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the main character. But steel yourself for this ride. ...more
If I had read Ender's Game when I was eleven, or even as old as fifteen, I would not have come out of the story the same way I have now. The movie brought me to this story, but the book captured me in the way only an excellent novel can. While rife with disturbing elements, it is the effectiveness of the setup and the humanity of the story that makes it such a good book. And while books that try to force uncomfortable things in the faces of the audience are a turnoff, Orson Scott Card expertly wraps the disconcerting themes around Ender, a character, while so high above everyone else, including the audience, is so desperately human like the rest of us. What Orson Scott Card does in Ender's Game is something that is missing in today's novels.
What struck me first about Ender's Game was how well Orson Scott Card understood human behavior. The way he implemented that into the story made it come alive, and I found it fascinating. As a writer myself, I struggle with trying to bring my characters to life by realizing that they have their own opinions. It was easy for me to understand the energy of a character right away, given how well Card presented them.
I've heard people say that it's hard to connect to Ender because he's so young. Also, he's so young and smart. I see where that comes from, because I had a difficult time believing I was reading about a six-year-old, too. I pictured a twelve-year-old in my head, so when I was reminded how young he was, it jarred me out of the story. Yet I feel that it's fitting to have him so young. Some say this makes him had to connect to. To me, it isn't about connecting with the main character, but understanding them. I connected to Ender on a single aspect and that was struggling to successfully integrate into a group of your peers. I still greatly enjoyed Ender's character, despite our differences, because I don't have to be his soulmate in order to get something out of his character and his story.
The plot was straightforward, up to a certain point, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. To me, the story was about Ender and his internal struggles. Also, Card brings up moral issues, like colonization, the purpose and right to wage war, and the exploitation of basic human rights. Some big stuff. So when I said that Card is doing things that are missed in today's novels, that's what I meant. The Big Stuff. Card goes for the jugular and doesn't let go for anything. That killer instinct for storytelling is what has today's YA novels falling harmlessly into the mainstream.
Ender's Game packed a punch when it came out of the gate back in the late 70's, but it hasn't lost any of its potency. It was a well-crafted and excellent story that is definitely worth a gander, even if you aren't into sci-fi. (And if you aren't, this may be just the thing to pique your interest.) Now that I have read it, I definitely want to continue the story and I most definitely want a copy on my shelves....more
Captured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. FinisheCaptured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. Finished it within two days. If I had a hat, I'd tip it to Ruta Sepetys....more
I was hesitant to pick this one up since dystopians aren't usually my thing, but I was interested in the dynamic between a bounty hunter and his prey, and how the summary seemed to promise something different, something that would have me falling head over heels for the dystopian genre. Having read it, I'm so glad my spidey senses tingled. With its engaging writing style, depth-defying world and lovable characters, Midnight City is a distinctive addition to the young adult dystopian genre, and a new favorite of mine.
Midnight City was immediately engaging. Mitchell has a masterful command of plot structure, evidenced by the way he starts with external threats that bind the characters together, and then building to a threat that affects them all. And they were threats that mattered to the characters, that affected them directly. Every chapter had a conflict that made sense; nothing felt haphazardly thrown together. This kind of cohesion, in addition to breathtaking action scenes, kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.
The book came alive like a movie in my head. I could envision, with near perfect clarity, how these characters moved, thought, and interacted. What's more, every bond they formed made sense. The progression of their relationships weren't botched by a rush to get them to where the author wanted them. I could fully understand their goals, how they were shaped by their personalities, and how they would come to align. I cheered for them 100%.
My enjoyment of the story was only heightened by Mitchell's edgy writing style. Though a little rusty in some areas, it complimented the story perfectly. I liked how it sporadically alternated between points of view from chapter to chapter, giving the story a depth that otherwise would've been missed.
That was one of the best parts: the depth of the world. I liked how Mitchell built in the history naturally, without having to resort to dedicating a chapter to explaining how the world got to the way it was. I loved the detail that went into the Assembly, and into how the world had changed, without bogging down the story or making it too incomprehensible. It was easy to understand, and to admire.
Midnight City was an incredible dystopian, one that I would love to return to again. I'm so excited for the sequel!...more