Brace yourself. I’m about to royally GUSH about how much IN LOVE I am with this book. I’ll try to keep the all-caps and exclamation points to a minimuBrace yourself. I’m about to royally GUSH about how much IN LOVE I am with this book. I’ll try to keep the all-caps and exclamation points to a minimum, but it’s going to be difficult. I read it all in one sitting last night and am practically vibrating with excitement while blogging right now.
First, I’m completely in love with the characters. Bex has such a solid head on her shoulders! Thank goodness for the lack of emotional drama. She’s refreshingly level-headed and very honest about what she’s feeling, and that moves the plot forward with nice momentum. Her dedication to her art is admirable, as is her compassion for the personal struggles of the people in her life.
If Jack could come to life and be my boyfriend IRL, I’d be okay with that. A rockabilly stud who is a vegetarian Buddhist AND he hand letters? Be still my heart! But in all seriousness, his dedication to his own art, to his sister, and to discovering what’s important to him philosophically is just as refreshing as Bex’s level-headedness. Also, a male character not afraid to share his feelings, ask questions, and support both physically and emotionally the girl he’s into? Swoon.
Also, the heat between these two – wowza! One of the things I find frustrating about reading YA is that they often tame down that heat. That certainly wasn’t my experience, and I love reading books that take you right to that sexual edge. We’re not reading an adult romance novel, obviously, but teenagers have heat. They have amazing first kisses and they have sexual feelings and conversations and dry humping and even, yes, intercourse. Jenn Bennett writes about all of that with supreme grace and delicious little details (I will never look at a belt buckle the same way again) that bring their teenage sexuality to life.
The book is told primarily from Bex’s POV, though that doesn’t mean we’re at a loss for what the other characters are going through either. The secondary characters primarily include Heath, the older, more rebellious, gay brother; “Saint Noah,” the brother’s boyfriend (quick shout-out to LGBT secondary characters done correctly!); “Nurse Katherine,” the mother; and “Pandhandler Will,” the homeless man who’s somewhat instrumental in getting “Sad Girl” and “Monk” together. Secondary characters include Jack’s parents, Bex’s father who abandoned them when he ran off with his stripper girlfriend (or did he??), Jack’s sister, and a few of Jack’s friends. Bex’s friends are vague tertiary characters, which I’m usually not a fan of, as I like to see a girl with an active and strong supportive circle, but her family is so clearly written and obviously involved that I didn’t miss the friends at all.
Another thing that makes me so in love with this book is the lack of game-playing. Can I get an AMEN?
Mini-rant: I’m so tired of teenage characters who are all “me, me, me,” “drama, drama, drama,” “my life is sooooo fucked up you guys, like, you don’t even know, and that means I can be all selfish and an asshole and you have to forgive me.” No. I’m glad those books exist for those who need to read them, but give me characters who can be both upset about life’s unfair twists and turns, yet still show compassion to themselves and others any day. Thank you, Jenn Bennett, for writing a book like that.
Because that’s the thing about this book – it’s not fluffy. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that bad things, unfair things, happen to good people. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but Jack’s very public family has been through a lot. Bex’s parents divorced a few years ago and we all have heard the continuing fallout that can happen from that type of situation (especially when the father has – allegedly – disappeared and refused to pay child support). Two teenagers who are willing to do almost anything to express their artwork are also bound to make a few bad decisions in the pursuit of love and craft. But that doesn’t mean the story can’t be a lovely, well-written, contemporary, quirky, young adult novel full of hope and mistakes and forgiveness all with a promising ending.
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart/Night Owls is following in some pretty large footsteps (in my opinion) and totally lives up to it. I could barely sleep last night because I felt positively giddy, like I had actually just fallen in love, whether with the entire book, Jack, or Jack & Bex, I really wasn’t sure. I was already in love with Jenn Bennett, as I devoured the first three books of her 1920s paranormal romance series, Roaring Twenties (book 4 soon, please!!). My desperation at having finished that series but being in the library queue for book 1 of her other paranormal romance series, Arcadia Bell, led me to her YA novel, and boy am I so glad it did.
Do yourself a favor and go read this book right now....more
What I love most about Holly Black as a writer is that she makes it seem so easy to completely explode apart a genre with her own unique take.
Holly BlWhat I love most about Holly Black as a writer is that she makes it seem so easy to completely explode apart a genre with her own unique take.
Holly Black: “So, you think you know all about mythical creatures? Bam! The Spiderwick Chronicles.” “Have you had faerie tales read to you since you were a child? Boom! Modern Faerie Tales.” And finally: “Is the market over-saturated with vampire novels? Ta-da! The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.”
Meet Hyde, Silver Heart, and Lady Sparkle. By day, they are assistants to three powerful men in Edwardian London. By night, they are the masked heroinMeet Hyde, Silver Heart, and Lady Sparkle. By day, they are assistants to three powerful men in Edwardian London. By night, they are the masked heroines that make up the Friday Society.
When flower girls start being murdered, men of science turn up dead, and bits of London start blowing up, it is up to these three to use their unique talents to put it all together and save London from permanent destruction. Cora (Hyde) uses her brilliant scientific mind and her knowledge of the streets from her time spent living on them as a child. Nora (Lady Sparkle) uses her beautiful face and flexible body to escape any trap and scale any wall. Michiko (Silver Heart) uses her formidable fighting skills as a trained samurai to defeat any foe. Together they have the brains, beauty, and brawn to save London.
Irreverent, funny, full of steampunk costumes and inventions, these three ladies are set to take London by storm - as long as they can ditch their bumbling male handlers and be back in time by morning, of course.
"How shocking. Truly. One simply doesn't do such things in polite society."...more
**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more w**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more ways than one. The heat between Evangeline (Evie) Greene and Jackson (Jack) Deveaux sizzles on the page, while the real burning fire of the Flash - the end of the world event that has killed almost everyone on Earth, turning the survivors into evil creatures called Bagmen who eat anything with liquid, or plain ole cannibals, or power-hungry militants - is gruesome enough to give you nightmares. Among the few non-evil survivors are 16-year-old Evie and the motorcycle-riding, whiskey-drinking, bad-ass bad boy Jack.
**SPOILER ALERT. PLOT DISCUSSED**
Former schoolmates from opposite sides of the bayou in Louisiana, the book opens with Evie talking about what happened in the week leading up to the Flash, the end of the world as everyone knew it. It's the first week of school and as one of the most popular and richest girls in the county (cheerleader dating the hot quarterback, etc.), Evie is trying her hardest to pretend it's business as usual. What she's concealing is the summer she spent in a mental institution, drugged and brainwashed into denying her psychotic episodes. She sees things - burning skies, plants that come alive - and often sleepwalks while having nightmares. Her mother sends her away, denying everything, and Evie is forced to play along. Everything is okay at first, but despite taking her meds, the hallucinations begin to happen all the time, and the voices in her head - voices of other teenagers - just won't stop. She also can't stop the fleeting flashbacks to a memory of her grandmother who used to tell her about Tarot; the characters were real in her grandmother's stories, not just symbols on cards. Add to all that the pressure her boyfriend is putting on her to have sex, the intense attraction and dislike she feels for new kid Jack Deveaux, and Evie is a hot mess.
Then the Flash happens, the scorching sun burning everyone and everything exposed. Evie and her mother were able to hide in their basement, but almost everyone else they know wasn't so lucky. With supplies running low, Evie makes a desperate discovery - her blood brings plants to life. Secretly tending a garden in her barn, Evie tries to not feel desperate at her mother's weakening condition, the rumors of the military and cannibals heading her way (not sure which is worse - to be repeatedly raped or murdered and eaten?), and she has no way out. Until Jack Deveaux rides up on his motorcycle one day, just ahead of the approaching army. When her mother dies in the night, Evie agrees to go with Jack on one condition - he take her to find her grandmother who Evie secretly thinks may have some of the answers to her hallucinations.
Evie has begun to realize that Tarot is real, that the voices in her head are really the voices of other teenagers who represent other Tarot characters, and that Evie herself is one of them. Along the way, Evie & Jack pick up other teenage survivors - Matthew, Selena, and Finneas - who Evie recognizes as other Tarot characters. It seems each Tarot character has a choice, whether to fight on the side of good or evil, though Evie has a hard time recognizing this battle within herself. As Evie, Jack, and the crew continue on their dangerous cross-country journey, they are fighting an uphill battle against almost everything - limited food and water, the Bagmen, the cannibals, the army they have to avoid, and most of all, their attraction to each other. Jack and Evie have an undeniable connection, Matthew loves Evie but like a brother, Selena wants Jack, while Finn wants Selena. It's all raging battles and raging hormones as the crew tries to adjust to each other, their powers, and what to do next. Both Jack and Evie have secrets to hide, and despite all they've been through, both don't quite trust each other. As Evie gets closer to realizing just who and what she really is, she realizes one of the things that scares her the most is that Jack will reject who she may turn out to be - she's not just the Poison Princess, she is the Empress, the one who will win over the other Arcana, the other members of the Tarot, by seeing them all dead with their glyphs written on her body....more
**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not sc**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not scheduled to release this year – by great surprise. What’s not so surprising is that if this book had any amount of graphic sex in it, it would be shelved in the paranormal adult romance section. It doesn’t, making it both appropriate and perhaps a tad disappointing for readers 16+. What it doesn’t have in sex, it makes up for in spades with magic and witchcraft, casual and purposeful violence, harsh emotional realities, and that romantic and sexual tension that can only be created by two people destined to be on opposing teams while being together. When you’re introduced to a centuries-old battle between witches and daimons, what else can you expect?
**Spoiler alert! Plot discussed!**
Mallory is, unknown to her, the missing daughter of Marchosias, ruler of the daimon world. Hidden for 17 years by her birth mother, Selah, a daimon Watcher, and her adopted father, Adam, a very powerful witch, in the Earth realm, Mallory was raised to hate and fight against daimons. Adam has used his magic to keep her from knowing her true daimon self, and that she is why they keep moving so often. He also uses magic to erase her memory of fighting the daimons Marchosias has sent looking for her, and that the new boy, the first boy, she has ever liked, is in fact Kaleb, a cur from the daimon realm, a part-time assassin hired to discover Mallory’s whereabouts, and one of the final contestants in the fight-to-the-death competition held at the Carnival of Souls. Once he does meet Mallory, the game changes, as they are both unprepared for the connection they have.
Kaleb recognizes Mallory as his mate, and when Adam goes missing in the daimon realm, Kaleb will stop at nothing – even aligning himself with Aya, the half-witch, half-daimon child of Evelyn, head of the Council of Witches, and Aya’s familiar, the daimon Belias – to help Mallory travel to the daimon realm, explore her daimon nature, stand up to her birth father Marchosias, and save her adopted father Adam.
I can’t help but be reminded of the machinations of the ruling families during the bloodiest years of European history, and half expect to see these twisted plot lines in a Showtime series like The Tudors someday. Earth vs. daimon realm, witches vs. daimons, parents vs. children, love vs. hate – all face off in Melissa Marr’s newest book, first in what is sure to be a trilogy or series....more
Jacob's grandfather used to tell him tales of a magical place. An island with a beautiful home where children with strange abilities lived, safe fromJacob's grandfather used to tell him tales of a magical place. An island with a beautiful home where children with strange abilities lived, safe from harm, forever. As Jacob gets older he begins to question his grandfather's stories - a girl who could float? A boy who had bees inside of him? What were the children "safe" from?
His parents told Jacob these were stories his grandfather made up to help explain away his childhood experiences during WWII. But how, then, to explain the photographs his grandfather showed him? They were old, yellowed and faded with age, way before digital photography was invented. Creepy scenes of children - an invisible boy, just a body with clothes and no head; a girl with two reflections instead of one; pictures that looked like circus acts but weren't. Jacob gets angry, thinking his grandfather is lying to him, and they never speak of the stories again.
Until Jacob is 16. And his grandfather calls him, scared, looking for his guns, swearing "it" is after him. Then his grandfather gets killed, and Jacob finds him, and Jacob sees the terror in the shadows in the woods. That's when Jacob begins to believe.
Suffering from a nervous breakdown following his grandfather's death, Jacob has screaming nightmares, is often afraid to leave the house, and begins seeing a psychiatrist. Thinking that confronting his fears might help him, Jacob and his father travel to the island where Jacob's grandfather was sent as a child during the war. Remote and isolated doesn't even begin to describe the place, but Jacob is fixated on finding the house from his grandfather's memories, and possibly a woman called Miss Peregrine, one letter from whom was found among Jacob's grandfather's things.
Piecing together stories from local townspeople, Jacob is told the house was bombed, and everyone in it perished, except for one young man (Jacob's grandfather) who left the day after the bombing. But if they all died, how had Jacob's grandfather received a letter from a woman who lived there 15 years later?
When Jacob finally finds the house, it has clearly been abandoned for a very long time. With more questions than answers, Jacob gathers his courage to explore inside. He finds a trunk containing photographs like the ones his grandfather used to show him. Going through them carefully, Jacob suddenly hears a noise. "Abe?" asks a girl's voice. Abe was his grandfather. "Abe?"
And so, Jacob finds the children. And finds the answers. And comes face-to-face with the scary and awful and magical truth. By the end of this first book in what is clearly a series, Jacob must come to a life-changing decision: does he belong in the world of the children, forever?...more
I am overwhelmed by how perfectly completed this trilogy is. One of the most brilliant things about this whole trilogy, but this third and final bookI am overwhelmed by how perfectly completed this trilogy is. One of the most brilliant things about this whole trilogy, but this third and final book in particular, is how seamlessly history and current events are woven together so that you're both reminded of events that took place in the previous two novels, as well as given carefully revealed tidbits of information from the history of these countries, to give context to the action happening in the present. A phenomenal ending, not only with all the loose ends tied up, but some lovely additions or plot asides (such as recognizing the bravery and sacrifice made by a 17-year-old Charynite boy in Lumatere 13 years earlier leading to child care advice for Quintana, or Quintana softening enough to play matchmaker) that balanced out all the sadness that came before. Toward the final third of the book, I found myself crying at the small moments of happiness, the expressions of love, instead of over the horrors that came before.
One of my favorite paragraphs: "And Phaedra saw her smile, with a hint of mischief in it, and she couldn't help smiling herself and then she was laughing. They both were, and the savage teeth were the most joyous sight Phaedra had seen for a long time. It was as if they were dancing. There it was. Suddenly the strangeness of Quintana of Charyn's face made sense. Because it was a face meant for laughing, but it had never been given a chance. It robbed Phaedra of her breath." (pg. 201)
That, to me, is where Melina Marchetta is truly gifted, in that she can make those sweet moments so profound because of the bitterness that is being let go because of them. She makes forgiveness and love such a powerful force throughout this entire series, but most particularly in this third and final installment of The Lumatere Chronicles, Quintana of Charyn.
I will try to describe the plot without giving too much away. At the end of book 2, Froi of the Exiles, Froi was left for dead with 8 arrows in his body, while Quintana was spirited away through underground caves to no one knows where. Froi is saved by his birth uncle, Arjuro, the gods-blessed priestling, and is reunited in Charyn with his birth father, the genius Gargarin, and his birth mother, Lirah of Serker. Meanwhile, Quintana has gotten herself to Lumatere, where she is being reluctantly taken care of by Phaedra of Alonso and the other escaped Charynite women living in the valley between Charyn and Lumatere. The women fakes their deaths to keep news of Quintana from reaching the evil Charynite soldiers-for-hire who killed the seven scholars-turned-soldiers (Rafuel's) men, in book 2. All the women are hiding out in a cave a few miles upstream from the rest of the refugees, with only Rafuel knowing their truth. It is when Quintana begins leaving the cave to hunt for food and meets Lady Beatriss's daughter Vestie, and is found by Tesadora, that the plot begins to unfold.
In Froi's adventures, he's traveling back and forth through Charyn with Gargarin and Lirah in an attempt to both find Quintana and raise an army to rescue her from whoever has her. In Quintana's adventures, as more people find out the women aren't dead and that Quintana is there, the more all the women, but most especially Quintana and the unborn little king, are in danger, for Bestiano, the horrible man who raped Quintana and was trying to take over the palace and the kingdom of Charyn, is still alive and has offered gold as a reward to any man who will bring him the little king, not Quintana, alive.
Subplots include a jealous argument between Finnikin and Isaboe that leads to Finnikin accompanying his father, Trevanion, and Perri, on a hunt for Gargarin, who they believe to be behind the attack and slaughter of Isaboe's family, during which they run into Froi, whom they haven't seen in 9 months; Lucian finding out that Phaedra is alive, struggling with his new feelings of love for her, and the two of them learning to trust each other; Isaboe and Quintana's unborn children talking to each other, to their mothers, and helping to explain what happened during the day of weeping 13 years earlier when all the women of Charyn lost the babies they were carrying and Lumatere became cursed, thus causing the last borns to be marked; and how to best avoid war and broker peace between all the kingdoms.
I am pleased to announce that despite all the political intrigue, battles fought, and messages gone astray, there is a happy ending in there for everyone who deserves it, with compassion, forgiveness, and love occurring in the most unexpected, but well-deserved, circumstances.
Definitely one of my favorite books of the year, the only downside is what on earth do I read next?t...more
The completely-lives-up-to-it-thank-god conclusion to the Leviathan trilogy!
Mr. Westerfeld & Mr. Thompson continued to do a magnificent job of givThe completely-lives-up-to-it-thank-god conclusion to the Leviathan trilogy!
Mr. Westerfeld & Mr. Thompson continued to do a magnificent job of giving us both text and pictures to illustrate this alternate world history. It's a little difficult to write about this book without spoilers but I'm going to try.
At the opening of the novel, Alek & Dylan/Deryn are still aboard the Leviathan, making their way toward Japan to wave the British flag. Redirected to Siberia for a rescue mission, they meet the fanatical scientist, Mr. Tesla, the inventor of the Tesla cannon that did so much damage and created such a problem for Alek & Dylan/Deryn at the end of book 2, Behemoth.
Mr. Tesla claims to have created an enormous Tesla cannon, named Goliath; he predicts the mere threat of using this super-weapon will cause the Germans to surrender and will herald the end of the war. Alek believes it is his destiny to work toward peace, so feels he must side with Mr. Tesla, despite whatever misgivings Alek and Dr. Barlow, the lady boffin, have about him and whether his weapon even works. Dylan/Deryn has her own misgivings, but mostly she's concerned about continuing to keep her identity a secret from Alek who is not only her best friend, but who she definitely has romantic feelings for.
With Mr. Tesla taking over the direction of the Leviathan, they all find themselves on their way to America by way of Mexico. The land of opportunity awaits - opportunity for fame, opportunity for fortune, and opportunity for secrets to be revealed. No matter where they go, even to neutral America, the crew and guests of Leviathan can't seem to outrun the war. When Alek and Dylan/Deryn are separated and danger befalls them both, they both must make hard decisions about who and what is most important - duty, honor, promises to themselves, or promises to each other?
Readers who are looking for a true conclusion to the series should be 100% satisfied. Exciting up to the very last page, Goliath truly delivers. While I'm clamoring for more, it is simply because the author and illustrator have created such a complete alternate world that I believe there could be many more books written in this setting....more