Sometimes its good to read something purely for FUN, to remind yourself what reading is all about - enjoying yourself. That is exactly what you get wi...moreSometimes its good to read something purely for FUN, to remind yourself what reading is all about - enjoying yourself. That is exactly what you get with this one. The ending is, of course, predictable...but the journey to get there is so fun (and at times maddening)!
Muriel, the "other woman" is ridiculous and cold-hearted, a little girl that lives in a neighboring home, 'Honorable Olive' will have your heart twisted in to knots, and...ALL the characters are just so fresh and enjoyable, no matter what their intentions.
Pick up this sometime when you're in the mood for a fun and fluffy read...you won't be disappointed.(less)
All the different facets of this novel add up to make one of the best stories I have ever read. From the very first pag...moreLyrical. Captivating. Haunting.
All the different facets of this novel add up to make one of the best stories I have ever read. From the very first page, Mattie Gokey's zeal for words makes the pages of the book turn themselves. Weaved throughout Maggie's fictional struggles is the real life story of the death of Grace Brown, as seen through Mattie's brief (and fictional, of course) interaction with her, and letters that she left behind (the letters are real, by the way).
This is not an idyllic coming of age story full of flowers and happy, skipping children. It is a story of racism, hatred, marital infedelity and a family left imbittered by the death of their mother from breast cancer.
Jennifer Donnelly doesn't sacrifice real life to make the story more pleasant. Childbirth is described with horrifying detail, sickness and starving children are common threads to the story, and marriage isn't viewed as the grand ideal. In fact...there IS no grand ideal. Just a community of people surviving as best as they can.
Mattie's love for books and writing is one of the best parts of the story. My favorite part of the novel is a scene where Mattie sees her teacher's library for the first time-more books then she has ever seen or heard of that inspires her into a passionate speech about writing.
Well, it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths...The first kind, they show you life like you want it to be. With villains getting what they deserve and the hero seeing what a fool he's been and marrying the heroine and happy endings and all that. Like Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. But the second kind, they show you life more like it is. Like in Huckleberry Finn where Huck's pa is a no-good drunk and Jim suffers so. The first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up...
Why don't they tell the truth? Why don't they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow's eaten her children? Or how it is for a girl when her baby won't come out? Or that cancer has a smell to it? All those books...I bet not one of them will tell you what cancer smells like...
I don't mean to be coarse. I just...I don't know why I should care what happens to people in a drawing room in London or Paris or anywhere else when no one in those places cares what happens to people in Eagle Bay."
Her teacher then tells her Make them care, Mattie, and don't you ever be sorry.
I like to think that is what Mattie will end up doing, after the end of the story. Through the reading of the losses Grace Brown suffers before her death, Mattie realizes where her destiny really lies. (less)
This was an amazing book in so many ways, I'm so glad I picked it up. I understand that it is classified as YA...but believe me, it would more than ho...moreThis was an amazing book in so many ways, I'm so glad I picked it up. I understand that it is classified as YA...but believe me, it would more than hold it's own in the adult section as well. There are 4 sections, most of the first, second and fourth are the "manuscripts of the boy Octavian", and the language is rich and very much of the eighteenth century. Have a dictionary handy--I sure needed one quite often.
I was touched and outraged throughout all of Octavian's actual memoirs, but I thought the third section lagged a little, I even found myself just scanning parts of it. That is probably why I didn't give the book 5 stars.
Anyway, I don't have much to say about the actual story. You need to read and experience it for yourself (and just WAIT until the curveball at the very end!).
Here is one of my favorite sections:
"...they told me of color, that it was an illusion of the eye, an event in the perceiver's mind, not in the object; they told me that color had no reality; indeed, they told me that color did not inhere in a physical body any more than pain was in a needle.
And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me."(less)
The fact that its "historical" is kind of a joke, but really...you can't really set a book in the current-day...moreahh, a nice addicting teenage soap opera.
The fact that its "historical" is kind of a joke, but really...you can't really set a book in the current-day and have any real scandal involved in the story, because nothing is scandalous anymore. Plus its more fun when you can describe elaborate dresses, and say cool words like "rake" and "dandy".
Anyway, it is pretty addicting. It doesn't really probe any deep feelings of any kind, and just skims the surface of all the characters without giving real meaning to their words or actions.
None the less, it was entertaining and I'll probably end up reading the next one at some point.(less)
Jennifer Donnelly has been my favorite author ever since I read The Tea Rose and A Northern Light. When I pick u...moreI read this book via Star Book Tours.
Jennifer Donnelly has been my favorite author ever since I read The Tea Rose and A Northern Light. When I pick up one of her books, I know I will become lost in the story. She is a phenomenal writer. It takes her a few words to do what it takes most authors several chapters to do (if they accomplish it at all): she can fully transport you into the world she has written. Every word she pens is so lyrical, emotional and descriptive: the mind boggles (well, mine does).
Here is an excerpt from the book that I think shows how she captures emotion so well, it is describing someone listening to Beethoven for the first time:
He closes his eyes and his face, already beautiful, grows even more so. He smiles. Frowns. Nods. Gasps. He moves his graceful musician's hands as if he's conducting. After a few minutes, I see tears on his cheeks and I'm jealous of him. To hear that music for the first time - not in a movie or a car ad, broken up in bits and pieces, but complete like Ludwig wanted you to - it must be amazing.
All that being said, this is my least favorite of the books she has written so far. I had a really hard time making myself care about Alex, the girl from the past. I skimmed some of her diary entries and tried not to feel too guilty about it. By the end, when the two worlds began to merge, I understood why we had to spend so much time with her. But, I'm still a little iffy about that part of the story.
Andi was a very captivating character. I did become invested in her story. She was a very tortured and dark teenage girl, lots of baggage and issues. Her family was torn apart by tragedy, and she ended up with no one to lean on. Her parents were both pretty worthless. When she was forced to go to Paris with her father, she never imagined how much her life would change! I love Love LOVE the way her story progressed. She definitely makes the book.
So, even though I won't be remembering this book quite as fondly as some of Donnelly's previous books, it is still pretty excellent. I definitely recommend reading it, even if you just pick it up from the library once it is released!(less)
I'm not sure how to review a book like this. It is an absolutely brilliant book, but certainly not one I can claim to have enjoyed. Who could enjoy su...moreI'm not sure how to review a book like this. It is an absolutely brilliant book, but certainly not one I can claim to have enjoyed. Who could enjoy such a story? That being said, I consider it one of the best books I have ever read. It is a moving testimony to bravery, pain, suffering and hope. The Holocaust is not a time in history that we want to remember, but it is a time that we cannot let be forgotten. Books like this serve as a reminder of the lowest of humanity...but also the highest. One cannot call Nazis vermin without also naming the Jews heroes.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to be the one you choose to read so you can remember.
The writing is so clear: so simply written and so full of emotion. I feel like I have lost people I know. In many ways, a lot of us know this group: the Frank and Van Pels families. We first learned about their years of hiding in the Annex through Anne Frank's diary. And here, Sharon Dogar takes us on a fictionalized account of Peter's journey.
The best way I can think of to describe the way I felt while reading this book is to say that I feel like I was shoved headfirst into Peter's pensieve. I was an invisible onlooker during every part of his story, from the Annex to Auschwitz. It has been a long time since I have been able to so clearly see a movie version of the story I am reading play in my head. I sure chose a wrenching story to be so immersed in.
Sharon Dogar mastered the ability to shed light on the way Peter must have felt while hiding in the Annex. She described not only the feelings of frustration and and fear and longing for the outside...but all the normal things a teenage boy goes through. She balances them all perfectly and makes Peter really seem like a person. That is what makes reading this book so hard - you are getting to know and love a person that you already know has a horrible fate.
There are so many gripping passages in this book, I could quote all day long. Sometimes it was the expressions of hope and love that were more jarring than the ones of war or fear. Regardless, the voice that Dogar gives her characters will get a grip on you that doesn't let go, even when the story is over.
“I don’t exist anymore. They’ve turned me into a nobody so that they can wipe me off the face of the Earth.” ......................
“Maybe I’m ashamed because it’s hard not to feel ashamed, when just being born is something you can be killed for.” ......................
“I know that sometimes love is as hard to bear as hate, that it can hurt as much.” ......................
“Even if you replace my name with a number, give me no spoon to eat with, or clothes, or shoes to walk in – so that I am forced to live and eat like one. I am not an animal.” ......................
“No, I was not hungry. Hungry is a word that you can understand. This hunger is not in my stomach, it is in my skin – my bones. If you cut my legs off they would walk toward a bowl of soup without me.” ......................
I really like the book cover, although I don't know how well it fits the story. It looks like three girls that don't like each other are really pissed...moreI really like the book cover, although I don't know how well it fits the story. It looks like three girls that don't like each other are really pissed off...which is definitely not a feature of the book. But, I guess since this is a YA novel you can't have a swooning female in the arms of a half-naked Fabio.
I read quite a bit of adult historical romance, and this book, to me, was basically one of those books without the steamy scenes. I don't say that as a criticism at all, I just feel like those scenes were left out in order to put a YA stamp on the book. I wish more books were written that way! Leaves more room for character development versus clothes removal.
The tension and chemistry between Alex and Gavin was brilliantly realized, they were both very dynamic characters! I loved Alex's best friends Ella and Vivi too.
Like with many romance novels, the mystery part of the book seemed more like a token plot so that the whole book won't be made up of the love story. It wasn't boring, but it wasn't fully realized either.
If you're a historical fiction or romance fan, this is definitely a book you'll enjoy! I hope Sarah MacLean writes more YA romance along these same lines (her adult romance series is fantastic too!). (less)
Thank you to Bloomsbury for giving me a chance to review this early! I have several of Lisa Klein's other books on my wishlist, and I was thrilled I'd...moreThank you to Bloomsbury for giving me a chance to review this early! I have several of Lisa Klein's other books on my wishlist, and I was thrilled I'd finally have a chance to read her.
This book did not disappoint. She expertly weaves historical fact into a narrative of her own creation. She takes on one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time: the lost colonists of the 1587 voyage to Roanoke Island.
She does it well. It was very real and honest: she showed us tastes of the combination of curiosity and cruelty that the Indians probably showed the English, without making it too barbaric for a young adult novel.
Even though Cate is fictional, I'd like to think someone like her existed. A strong, intelligent female willing to communicate with the Indians and able to stand up to her own countrymen to advocate for peace (and common sense).
I highly recommend reading this. It brings a real time in history to life, and highlights the bravery of the original voyagers. I really hope that something like what unfolds in this book really happened!(less)
Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall takes us back to Communist Poland. Our main character, Eva, and her father travel there from Chicago because Ev...moreEva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall takes us back to Communist Poland. Our main character, Eva, and her father travel there from Chicago because Eva's father wants to help the radical underground movement. Eva is angry and afraid - she has no desire to be a part of the group or be anywhere but home with her friends in Chicago. Slowly but surely, she becomes immersed in her surroundings and begins to understand the importance of what her father and his friends are trying to accomplish. She also quickly becomes interested in Tomek, the 19 year old translator.
I really felt like I got an inside view into a piece of history I had little to no prior knowledge of. I was impressed with the way Dandi was able to both keep things basic enough to be easily understood and intense enough to feel harsh and realistic. It doesn't take long for Eva to begin to face the harsh realities of life head on. As she becomes more interested in the people around her, she is introduced to her own shortcomings (namely, being a spoiled American) and ends up trying to grow into a person she can look in the mirror and be proud of.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when she travels with Tomek to his family's plum orchard. She initially goes only to try and get in with Tomek, but once she is there - she falls in love, not only with him, but with his family and community. She discovers the beauty of people - even when under intense pressure from the government and from the simple fact of being poor - she sees people refuse to compromise integrity, honesty and basic human decency.
This is not one of the books that is written in such a way that the reader becomes a part of the story. I always felt very much like an onlooker versus a participant. So, while I don't feel that the writing itself is extraordinary on its own, I do believe that the story it told is. There is a lot of intensity and tension packed into a fairly short book; I definitely recommend taking the time to read it!(less)
Foreshadowing is a big deal to me. Nothing makes me throw a book across the room in disgust faster than bumbling, obvious, clunky foreshadowing. In th...moreForeshadowing is a big deal to me. Nothing makes me throw a book across the room in disgust faster than bumbling, obvious, clunky foreshadowing. In the beginning of this book, before things really get rolling, Lindner shows Jane thinking she'll be able to keep cool no matter what the "debauched rock stars" throw at her. I like this type of implied foreshadowing - a general sense of foreboding, if you will. Lindner knows her readers aren't dumb. She didn't insult our intelligence with any "little did I know what I was in for" type nonsense.
This book does an excellent job of channeling Jane Eyre. It definitely captures the Gothic creepiness vibes (in a rock star's mansion, no less). It also manages to ride the same line between the real world and "this is outlandish and ridiculous." (I mean that in a good way.) Obviously there are no real secrets or major surprises to be found within reading - unless of course you haven't read Jane Eyre - but Lindner still manages to keep the book 100% captivating.
The book doesn't just stand up as an homage to Jane Eyre either - the gorgeous prose and characterization make it an excellent book on its own merit. However, I do think knowledge and appreciation of the original is necessary to fully understand what the book manages to accomplish.
The blend of originality and adaptation found in Jane and Nico is very seamlessly done, and they are fabulous characters. Nico is in his 30s, but definitely not old enough for cause to wave the creep flag. He is very giving and kind, and I loved his interactions with Jane. Very hot. He definitely channels the spirit of Mr. Rochester and makes him modern.
Basically, this book is awesome. If you haven't read Jane Eyre - do so. Gotta respect the classics. Then pick up a copy of this book and introduce yourself to Jane all over again. Different girl, same spirit. (less)
Doesn't the summary of this book sound awesome? I sure thought it did. I was beyond excited to pick this book up - I was so sure I'd love it.
Well, I'm...moreDoesn't the summary of this book sound awesome? I sure thought it did. I was beyond excited to pick this book up - I was so sure I'd love it.
Well, I'm not sure what the best way to say this is without being mean...but I really wish those characters and that plot had awoken in the head of a more seasoned writer. I feel like the way the story was handled absolutely ruined it. As engaging as it should have been...I never felt connected to anything. I really wanted to be! It just seems like the characters never had established personalities and the plot never felt fluid. I was so disappointed.
The way Indians were treated in the past is a serious issue, and one that I love seeing written about when it is done right. The struggle between the Indians and the other townspeople in this story never took shape in a real way. There were a few instances of tension...but no real fight or resolution. I was very let down by that especially.
Ellen and Tony seemed very interesting to me in the beginning, but throughout the book their personalities never seemed to cement. They would both constantly do things that I didn't think fit the character that the author was trying to establish (especially one scene where Tony acted in a way I didn't think appropriate to his previous personality at all). Those constant contradictions kept me from being as invested in the characters as I would have liked to be.
Overall, I'm not sorry I picked up the book. I'm just sorry it wasn't written more clearly and didn't meet the expectations I had for it!(less)
Y’all, I picked up Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley despite hearing little to no buzz about its release. I love historical YA, and seeing the magic wo...moreY’all, I picked up Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley despite hearing little to no buzz about its release. I love historical YA, and seeing the magic word spy got my reader senses all a-tingle. The WWII backdrop definitely came to life and I found myself very much enjoying most aspects of this story.
Our intrepid heroine, Betty (code name: Adele), isn’t satisfied sitting on the sidelines. She lies about her age so she can train to become a spy. Along the way she makes an unlikely best friend, falls in love with an American pilot and manages to pull off more than her share of bravery. This all makes for a very engrossing read, y’all!
The one weak spot of Violins of Autumn is definitely the romance. It isn’t the focus of the story, and while I’m glad…I was disappointed with Robbie, the American love interest. Bless his heart, he just didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t feeling the swoons. I did feel a little more with Pierre, the French bad-boy resistance fighter. Cue the groans – I can hear you guys already. “Nooooo! Not another love triangle!” Well, fear not. I definitely don’t think there was enough development to call it a triangle. Just enjoy the boys for what they are and focus on the real strengths of the story!
From parachuting into Nazi-occupied France until its liberation by Allied forces – we follow Adele and see the part she plays in the war. From undercover tours of enemy munitions factories to dodging check-in points on bicycle – there certainly aren’t a lot of dull moments! Then, when things start to go wrong, Adele has to ferret out the existence and identity of an unlikely double agent.
Seriously, I loved seeing Adele’s growth throughout Violins of Autumn. She has to deal with a lot of confusion and growing pains along with the constant pulse of danger. Seeing how the war was changing her while at the same time seeing her struggle not to let it? Definitely made the pages keep turning. I found so many passages very elegantly written:
“Regular life. It still goes on around me.
While a kind man was working up the nerve to ask me on a date, I was working up the nerve to kill him with my bare hands.”
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley is definitely a book you’ll want to pick up!(less)