As I'm interested in LGBTQ YA, I was recently asked by Charlie of Charlie In a Book if I would be reading Far From You by Tess Sharpe. I looked it up to remind myself, and said no. From the description (above), it didn't sound like my cup of tea at all; not a fan of crime, not into reading anything to do with drugs as I am so against them. However, both Charlotte and Jim of YA Yeah Yeah involved me in their Twitter conversation about just how awesome it was, with Jim saying it's probably the best LGBTQ YA novel he's ever read, and I knew I just had to give it a go, despite massive misgivings. And, oh my god, it's amazing!
After being admitted to rehab despite being clean when her best friend Mina is murdered, Sophie has just been released after three months. Her only focus now is to find out who killed Mina and why. All Sophie has to go on is that the person Mina was meeting that night wasn't a drug dealer for her, but a source for a story Mina was working on for her internship at the newspaper. What was she investigating? Why would someone murder her for it? And how on earth will Sophie cope without her? The search for justice spurs her on.
Far From You is so, so good! Told in alternating chapters of present day and various points in Sophie's life, it's like two stories running concurrently; the story of Sophie and Mina's relationship and Sophie's battle with her addiction, and the story of finding out who murdered Mina and why. Because of this, it doesn't feel so overly heavy crime-wise, and it's more mystery thriller than crime anyway; no running against time to get yourself out of danger with lots of talking to cops, like I expected, but more trying to piece a puzzle together with the help of friends - though it's not Scooby-Doo either. The mystery was intriguing, and absolutely had me sitting on the edge of my seat as he story moved on and things were becoming more clear, but Mina and Sophie's lives before the murder were equally captivating.
I loved the way Sharpe wrote Mina and Sophie's relationship. Despite the fact they had their issues regarding sexuality, it didn't "feel" like an LGBTQ novel, by which I mean it just felt like two people who were into each other, rather than two girls who were into each other. Although I love most of the sexuality based LGBTQ YA novels I've read, there were some that felt like the relationships were different from any realtionship I could have as a straight woman. I don't feel that with Far From You. They're just two people. Sure, there are problems and fear, but when it was just the two of them, the romance felt like any other romance, which is exactly how it should be. Just wonderful. And the way they felt about each other... well, it's just inspiring.
As I said earlier in my review, I am really anti drugs. So this part of the story really put me off, even though Sophie was clean. I am so against drugs and the problems they cause, I do not want to know. But with Sophie, it wasn't a case of her trying something, and getting hooked, but a result of becoming addicted to the pain killers she was prescribed after being in an accident, which I found easier to swallow. It was so heartbreaking, seeing the decline Sophie goes into, and her reliance on the pills as a way to cope with how things are between her and Mina. It's such a difficult situation to be in, when everything hurts, physically and emotionally, and there's these pills a doctor gave you to make you better, that make everything go away. It's hard to fight an addiction when it's already there, but the hurt and the lies that come along with it... I find it so difficult to deal with - though when I was thinking, "What on earth are you doing?!" at Sophie, it was with sympathy rather than anger.
Back to the mystery! Oh my word! Just incredible! Especially towards the end. Sixty pages from the end, I had had my suspicions for the suspect for quite a while now, and none of the characters suspect this person at all. I was getting all antsy like you do when watching a movie and you want to shout, "Look out!", but for Far From You, it was "It's so-and-so, it's so-and-so! You're looking in the wrong direction!" I was so desperate for them to work it out before it was too late, before the pages kept going and danger would be on their door step. I was half right in my suspicions, but that's not to say that Far From You is predictable or obvious. There are a number of people it could have been, as discussed in the book, and as I discovered when talking to Charlie about her suspicions. And the part I was wrong about, woah! I did not see that coming whatsoever, until it was happening! I don't think I've ever been sat at the edge of my seat for a book more than I was for Far From You during those pages. My heart was in my mouth for Sophie as I had no clue what would happen next, while everything was slowly being revealed. Mouth open, heart racing, desperately thinking comeoncomeoncomeon! Just brilliant!
Such a fantastic debut! I loved the contemporary/romance entwined with the mystery thriller, it worked so well! I will definitely be reading whatever Sharpe writes next, no matter what the description say! So, so good!
I received this as an unsolicited review copy. It didn't sound like my thing, but with it came a letter from...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I received this as an unsolicited review copy. It didn't sound like my thing, but with it came a letter from the publisher, raving about how wonderful it was, and imploring that I, the reader, read just the first few pages, just to see. I was due to start a new book, so I thought I'd give the first few pages a go as it was in my hands... and I couldn't put it down. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is absolutely mesmerising. And I cannot stop thinking about it.
On 1st March 1944, a girl is born. Born with wings. This girl was Ava Lavender. Some people were appalled by her. Others fell to their knees in prayer. Her mother, fearing for her safety, keeps her within the boundaries of their home, away from prying eyes and harsh words. But at 16, Ava steps beyond the boundaries, wanting to experience true teenage life among those her own age. But once seen, her life is forever changed. This is the story of Ava's life, and of the women in her family before her, three generations back, a quest to understand why an ordinary girl was born with wings. A quest to understand her fate.
Ava Lavender is an absolutely magical tale. Told in it's literary style and requiring you to suspend disbelief - like how, for example, Ava's grandmother Emilienne's youngest sister Pierette turned herself into a canary - it reads like a fairy tale. Strange happenings occur in the lives of the Roux family. Emilienne can read the signs that tell you what is to come - Emilienne knew if a spoon was dropped, it meant someone was coming to visit - Viviane, Ava's mother, had a keen sense of smell, and could even smell emotion, Ava has her wings, and her twin brother Henry, mostly mute, is sensitive to words, to touch, and understands warnings no-one else can hear.
As the story unfolds - Emilienne's early life to adulthood, Viviane's too, then the birth, childhood and teenage years - layers are peeled away, like a present in a game of pass-the-parcel. Everyone has a story; Emilienne's parents and three siblings, Ava's father, Gabe the lodger, Fatima Inês de Dores who lived in the Lavender house in the 1800s, everyone. Histories and individual lives; you have whole stories within a story. Each story overlaps or affects someone else's story, all feeling like fate, all leading to a child being born with wings, with certain people around her in certain circumstances. To lead to what can only be called inevitable. And the one thread that touches them all is love. Love that brings only pain. "Love makes us such fools."
Ava Lavender, in this way, with the impression of fate and with the strange "gifts" of the various characters, reminded me of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, not in plot but in the sense of the magical, the whimsy that completely captivates you and whisks you away with it's gorgeous, rich story and sumptuous, beautiful language. There is beauty in the strange; there is no "how", but there is beauty in everything, on every page. This book is a wonder, and completely took my breath away.
A book I will read over and over, and love forever. A book to be revered and handled as the treasure it is. I am completely bowled over, and no review I could ever write could convey just how much this book, these characters and their stories, have captured my heart and my imagination. I didn't want it to ever end. Absolutely incredible debut. Beautiful. I absolutely cannot wait for what Walton shares with us next.
This picture book is brilliant! It's a great reminder for children just how great their parents ac...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
This picture book is brilliant! It's a great reminder for children just how great their parents actually are, when they're feeling like they just tell them what to do all the time.
The rhythm of this rhyming story is wonderful, and that alone, read aloud to children, would be enough to make them laugh, but the story of Meet the Parents is bound to make children really giggle. With some of the cheeky-naughty things that children do to their parents, as well as sharing all the fun they can have together, it's really amusing. I'm sure it will give children ideas too; who wouldn't want their Dad to help them make a den?
Most of the illustrations in this book are awesome, but there are some that look really scribbled, especially when it comes to the toning of the illustrations, and the characters' hair. I understand that's Ogilvie's style, but it just seemed a little messy to me. I'm sure others will like it, but I just think it's such a great story and some of the illustrations let it down a little. It's not a big thing though, just personal preference, and children are sure to love it!
I will be looking out for more of Peter Bently's stories in future, he's got just the right sense of humour. I love it!
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy. (less)
I Love Mum is a cute story that celebrates the special bond between mother and child. It gets right into how...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I Love Mum is a cute story that celebrates the special bond between mother and child. It gets right into how special children think their mothers are, and how they put them up on a pedestal.
It highlights just what multitasking mothers have to do, with entertaining the children, cooking, and doing everything else too, but also how mothers can simply make everything better, with a soothing hug or kiss.
There was no mention or illustration of a father at all in this book. I hope there will be a second book about how great dads are too, because without one, it almost makes it seem like fathers are unnecessary, which I don't think is fair. I do hope there is a second book coming. Dads are awesome too.
Really cute book. Definitely a book for mothers with young children on Mother's Day
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy.(less)
Just One Day by Gayle Forman is a book I have wanted to read for quite a while, but only recently discovered...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman is a book I have wanted to read for quite a while, but only recently discovered was published in the UK. I believe I must have forgotten just how awesome a writer Forman is, because although I was excited to read it, I didn't expect it to be just so beautiful!
When good girl Allyson decides to ditch watching the RSC's production of Hamlet for an underground theatre group's cool interpretation of Twelfth Night after being given a flyer while in the queue, that's accident number one, and a decision that changes everything. It's after the production she meets Willem, Dutch traveler who goes wherever the wind takes him, letting accidents rule his decisions. When he offers to take Allyson - who he decides to call Lulu - to Paris for the day, she decides to be bold and say yes. What follows is an incredible day of discovering how freeing it is to just go with the flow and do things simply because you want to, and the wonders of love.
I cannot tell you how amazing this book is! I was expecting the whole book to be the one single day spent in Paris, but it's much more than that, and so much better for it. It's almost like three separate parts (though the book is told in two parts); the first being the day in Paris, and the other two being after. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil it, but it's just so good! It tells two stories, the story of the romance between Allyson and Willem, but also Allyson's self-discovery.
The romance is so, so sweet. In a way, it feels like a fairy-tale; real life is suspended, and an adventure with a beautiful guy takes place instead. There is no real plan, whatever happens, happens, but their time takes them to various parts of Paris, Willem showing Allyson what living really is, all the while the initial spark between them grows. Willem has a unique way of looking at life, with his ideas on accidents and fate, and falling in love versus being in love. He shows Allyson a different way to be, to think.
It's so refreshing for Allyson, because her whole life has been regimented. Every aspect of her day planned and regimented, in the hands of her mother. As the book goes on, it feels very much like who Allyson is isn't actually her. Rather who she feels others want/need/expect her to be, who she must be if she's not to let anyone down.
'What if Shakespeare had it wrong? To be, or not to be: that is the question. That's from Hamlet's--maybe Shakespeare's--most famous soliloquy... But what if Shakespeare--and Hamlet--were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?' (p3)
That's how the Just One Day starts, and that's what Allyson discovers throughout this book. How to be. Who exactly she is, and then how to be that person, when not only is fear getting in the way, as it means stepping out into the unknown and being bold, but also because no-one who loves you knows this person, and expects you to be - stay - completely the same. The person they want. Discovering she's a girl who likes adventure and taking chances, and then watching Allyson take control of her life and become that person... it's just so beautiful. The awakening to who she is, and the daring to live the life she wants, it's inspiring, empowering.
Both aspects come together to create such a beautiful and unbelievably moving story. The whole section towards the end felt so romantic and brave, so exciting because of how scary it was. The uncertainty that runs throughout, of not knowing where Allyson will be taken next, either by Willem or by life, is just so awesome, and left me feeling like that's the way to live. No plans, just following the hints given to you by fate and going with what feels right.
I feel so inspired to go out and try to live this book. Go see some Shakespeare! Go travel and allow myself to just get lost! Be bold and daring! To meet new people and experience new things! Have one single incredible, life-changing day I will always remember! To simply do stuff!
Just One Day is so, so gorgeous! A book I will always treasure. I absolutely cannot wait to read Just One Year, the companion story told from Willem's point of view. I have no doubt it's going to be just as incredible!
Thank you to Random House Children's Books for the review copy.(less)
When I first heard what Deeper was about, I knew I just had to read it. A book about "revenge porn"/"non-con...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I first heard what Deeper was about, I knew I just had to read it. A book about "revenge porn"/"non-consensual pornography"? Something you don't read about often, but such an important subject. But Deeper is about so much more than that. It's an absolutely beautiful love story.
Caroline's life is turned upside down when her ex-boyfriend posts photos of her having sex with him online. The whole college has seen those photos, and she can help but imagine what these people think of her whenever she leaves her room. But when resident bad boy, West, defends her when her ex is mouthing off about her, everything changes. Through their non-friendship, West shows her that she doesn't have to hide, that she should stand up and fight, and go for the life she wants. West's own life isn't a breeze, and knows what it's like to fight for to make life better. As their feelings for each other grow, and their non-friendship heads towards something more, they show each other there is a possibility of a life they would never have imagined.
Deeper is a beautiful and powerful story narrated by both Caroline and West in alternating chapters, generally each person narrating a month within the story. At first, I thought it was going to be a similar, more grown up version of Good Girls by Laura Ruby. But Deeper isn't about non-consensual pornography. What Nate, Caroline's ex, does is absolutely disgusting, and is a huge part of the story, of Caroline's story, but Deeper is about Caroline's life. And West's. So the fact that those photos have been seen by hundreds of people, although a huge deal, it doesn't overshadow the whole story. It's not the soul focus of every single page. I was expecting it to take up a hell of a lot more page time than it did, but I'm glad it didn't. It's not about how awful it is, it's about beating it and moving forward. It's done in such a fantastic way, with West showing Caroline there's so much more that should be taking up her head space, that she could be spending her time on.
West is trying so hard to be someone he's not. He's flirty, he's sexy, and he does some things a lot of people wouldn't agree with, but he's not your typical bad boy. He's a great, great guy. West's family is dirt poor, and he's doing all he can to get them a better life. His mother is hopeless and keeps going back to his abusive dad, who only sticks around long enough to get what he wants until he's bored. West's younger sister is only nine, and he has to take care of her, because their mother is just so flighty and irresponsible. He has had to work his backside off and do terrible (for himself) things to earn money, to keep them all afloat. He's only at Putman because of a generous, rich donor is paying for his tuition, and he works three jobs and sells drugs to send money back home, and does all he can to keep his grades up. He will graduate and get a better life for his younger sister. He will get her out of that crappy trailer park and make damn sure she doesn't end up like their mum. He has a plan, he has people depending on him, he can't afford a distraction in the form of Caroline. So those two being not-friends is the only way to go - even if she does spend most nights hanging out with him as he works over night at the bakery.
If I was to talk about anything negative about the story, it would be the language. There is so much of it. Words are used to shock, words I don't want to hear, but in the right way, as these are words that aimed at Caroline because of her photos. She is treated so disgustingly by these anonymous commenters. But West is a swearer. A big swearer, he has a mouth like a sewer. And a word I find highly offensive is used several times throughout the book. Normally, this would stop me reading a book altogether, but I was so gripped by the story, in the end, my need to read this book won over my disgust at the language coming out West's mouth.
What blew me away about Deeper is how honest it is. Being NA, the characters are more honest about what they think than in other novels - even other NA novels. Like when small, completely normal things the other does turns them on, for example. It's less hot for the sake of it, but more honest, real. This is what people actually think. Not just sex related, but other things too. Things people don't say out loud, but things they think.
What I loved most is that the sex in Deeper didn't overshadow the characters. It was hot, but not as important as the two people having sex. Some of the hotter NA I've read just has sex for sex's sake. It gets a bit boring and, well, annoying. Deeper is just honest. People have sex, but there's more to people than sex. They have stories too. Sex is just a part of their lives. And Deeper really shows those stories are important, more important. Sex doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of NA.
Saying that, there is a lot of sexual activity going on in Deeper. It's quite graphic, and I could say it's "dirtier" than other books I've read, but not in the sense that York was thinking, "I'll write this, and it will turn the readers on." More like, "This is what people do when they have sex." Again, honest. Real. Not hiding anything. And I think that links back to the photos. Caroline feels ashamed about the photos, and a lot of comments people leave on them are insults to her. But she didn't do anything wrong. She had sex with her boyfriend - normal - and some photos were taken - it happens. Nothing wrong. Nothing dirty. Nothing to be ashamed of. People have sex, it's one of the most natural things in the world, and what people do in private is no-one's business but their own. That's what comes across through the story regarding the photos, and through the extent to which sex is described.
Deeper is such a beautiful, beautiful story! The end is absolutely heartbreaking, and I've no idea what I'm going to do until Harder, the second book in the series, comes out. I didn't want the story to end, I love these two together! If there's one NA novel you read this year, it absolutely has to be Deeper.
I have been really intrigued by Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern since I first heard about it. A love st...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I have been really intrigued by Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern since I first heard about it. A love story between two people where one is disabled and the other has a mental illness. So very different! When MHAM was first announced, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to read Amy & Matthew. And it is so beautiful!
Amy has cerebral palsy, and in her senior year decides to have her peers become her aides as she navigates school, rather than the adults she has always had. It's finally hit her that she doesn't actually have any friends, and she will be going off to college next year. Peer aides seems the perfect way to learn how to make friends and ineract socially with people her own age before she goes off into the unknown. Matthew is one of her aides, specifically asked for. It was because of him that Amy realised she didn't have friends, and thinks his honesty will help her work out where she's going wrong. What she doesn't know is that Matthew OCD and suffers from severe anxiety. Becoming one of Amy's peer aides is a huge deal, one that scares him more than he could say. But how can he say no? And so begins a beautiful friendship, one that slowly blossoms into something amazing.
Amy & Matthew is told in dual narrative third person, subtley moving from one character to another's narration, we get to see each characters thoughts/feelings/reactions at any given moment, or otherwise, whole chapters for themselves. Oh, Amy! Oh, Matthew! I love them both! Amy has such an awesome sense of humour! To be honest, I didn't know to much about cerebral palsy until reading this book, and was surprised at what I learned. Amy has problems controlling her body; she's unable to control the muscles on the left side of her body very much, has little control of her face, and can't talk well. She has a machine - her Pathway - that she types what she wants to say on to, and it speaks for her. Her body is affected, but her mind is not. Inside, she's just like you or me. Amy is super smart, and incredibly funny. Because of her disability, she has a unique view of the world, and some of the essays she writes are such real eye-openers. Because of her disability, and how she deals with it and is living her life, she won't take any excuses from Matthew - the only one, even out of her peers, who treats her like anyone else.
As I said, Matthew has OCD and severe anxiety. If he doesn't do certain things - wash his hands several times, tap very other locker in the hallway, etc - he's convinced something bad will happen. He knows logically, that's not the case, but the fear is all-consuming, and he can't ignore it. He tries so hard to keep it underwraps, but it's something people notice. His mother has tried talking to him about it, but he refuses to have the conversation. But Amy doesn't tiptoe around the issue, and won't let him wriggle out of it. She makes him face his problems, and is determined to help him.
Matthew's story is heartbreaking. Although Amy has her problems, it's something she's come to live with and accept, and is generally quite upbeat about her situation. Matthew, on the other hand, struggles all the time. It leads to him being quite introverted and quiet. It's so bad he has trouble reading, simply because he's worried he's missed a word. If he's missed a word, he might have misinterpreted the whole thing. So he has to go back and re-read to be sure. Over and over. That's just one example of how difficult his mental illness makes life for him. But with Amy's help, he is determined to overcome it. The following quote is taken from when Amy confronts him about his OCD.
'How long had he not wanted to admit this? He'd tried so hard to keep his private agony a secret that he hadn't realized how much it showed. Now that he thought about the looks people gave him walking down the hall, in class, even on the bus where he hardly knew anyone, it was like he'd become the contagion of which he was forever trying to rid himself. It wasn't a secret at all. Everyone knew.' (p90)
This quote really struck me, not only for how poignant it is, but for how it made me think about myself. Do I do this? I notice, sure, but how do I react when I notice? How am I supposed to react? Do I look away? I don't judge people for their problems, but I worry about how my reactions might be perceived. I think I look away mostly, my intention being to not seem like I'm staring, but do I look like I'm treating them as invisible, ignorning them? I don't know what's the best way to react. When actually interacting with people with any kind of disability or mental health problem, I don't treat them any differently, but it's the moments where you're in their presence and not interacting - say on a bus, for example - that I worry about what the right way to behave is.
Amy and Matthew together, they are just something to behold. Their frendship is one of the strongest I've ever read, completely accepting, not making excuses for the other when they behave badly, but also trying to help each other. The romance itself is slow to bloom, because both are worried about what the other would think, but so incredibly sweet!
Amy & Matthew is such a beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking novel! I fell in love with both Amy and Matthew, separately as well as together, and I didn't want it to end! An amazing story of friendship, acceptance, and, of course, love.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the review copy. (less)
I was really looking forward to reading Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, and I'm happy to say it was a...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was really looking forward to reading Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, and I'm happy to say it was an enjoyable end to the series.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; to me, the Under the Never Sky trilogy is like the beach reads of the dystopian genre. They're light, easy reads that you can fly through without much thought. While reading Into the Still Blue, I was halfway through before I knew it. Things get moving quite soon after starting the book, but it's odd, it kind of feels like, in a way, that not much happens. Yet, when looking back, quite a bit does. It's the light easy, flow of the story, like floating in the shallows of the sea and softly being drifted to shore by the waves, it's kind of misleading. I really love the feel of the book, flying through it without much effort, but I considering the various things that happen in the book, I feel it shouldn't have been so easy.
There is action and some quite upsetting moments, and although I was interested in all that was happening, wanting to know the outcome - will they rescue Cinder? Will Cinder survive what he must do, if they do? Will they get to the Still Blue? Will they all survive? Will the Aether get them first? - I wasn't really all that anxious or upset or shocked by anything. Considering the things that happened, the battles and the violence, the race against time, and so forth, I should have been sitting at the edge of my seat urging them to move, desperate for them to survive, and I simply wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but for the end of a trilogy, for the final book, you expect to feel more. It shouldn't have been a relaxing read, it should have been an exciting, heart pounding thrill of a book. I should have been wowed. And for not being that kind of a book, as it's a final book, it left me a little disappointed. This was ok for the first two books, but I just expected more from a book that wraps everything up.
As I said, it is an enjoyable read, and there was a good, satisfying ending - but again, one that didn't leave me wowed. Fans should definitely read it if they loved the first two, but maybe don't expect fireworks when it comes to emotional involvement.
After writing a blog post for my employer's website about YA LGBTQ fiction, a colleague gave me one of the p...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
After writing a blog post for my employer's website about YA LGBTQ fiction, a colleague gave me one of the proofs for Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin that we had in store. I was intrigued by the novel as there are so few books about intersex characters, but I had no idea what a phenomenal read I was in for.
I reveal something in my summary below, but it's not a spoiler. It happens very early on in the novel, and starts off the story.
To everyone outside his family and close family friends, Max is an ordinary boy. Popular, loving, smart and affable, he's everyone's friend. What most people don't know is that Max is intersex. After he is raped by a family friend, his whole world is turned upside down. Not only is the ordeal horrific enough, but it has repercussions that ripple out into the rest of his life. He is left, lost in a whirlwind of emotion, question everything he knows about himself. Who is he, really? Is he the golden boy, or is that just who everyone else wants him to be?
Golden Boy is absolutely incredible! It is such a powerful, thought-provoking, and completely heartbreaking novel, one that is going to stay with me for a very long time after. Max knows so very little about his intersexuality. For reasons of their own, his parents decided not to tell him too much about it. Regarding his genitalia and reproductive organs, he knows what he has and what he doesn't. But he doesn't know about the discussions with doctors his parents had when he was a child. So once he's raped by his mother's best friend's son - someone he thinks of as a cousin - a vile, horrendous, absolutely sickening act, his whole perception of himself changes. Max starts to question who he is, what he is, what he should be.
Golden Boy was a big surprise to me. I am not the kind of person who copes well with heavy, depressing books. I don't mind a sad novel, but hard-hitting, melancholic, shoving-serious-issues-down-your-throat type novels I just don't get on with. I get very emotionally involved in books, so they completely affect my mood. Even once putting the book down, I can be on a real downer I struggle to get out with. And yet I will slog through a book like that, because I feel I'm doing a disservice to the characters by not reading their story, to the real people who are in similar situations. But it's hard. It's emotionally draining.
However, despite the seriousness of Golden Boy, I had no trouble reading it at all. This might be because I had no idea going in how rough things were going to get for Max - and rough they do get, unbelievably so - as you're taken by surprise at the turn of events as the story goes on. But I think it has more to do with Tarttelin's writing, and how she wrote Max. His character felt so real to me, his voice so genuine. I don't think I've ever been so emotionally attached to a character before. His fears, his doubts, his questions; they run in all kinds of directions, but they're all so real, so valid, so believable. Max's narration felt to me like reading emails or letters from a real boy, someone I cared about, and someone I wanted to help so badly. Because I cared about the boy, the person, the individual, who he is at his core, so much, there was no slogging my way through this book. I was absolutely gripped, and absolutely desperate for things to turn out ok for Max, for him to be ok.
One of the things that is amazing about this book is how brilliantly, seamlessly Tarttelin can switch from voice to voice. Golden Boy is narrated by six people; Max, his mother Karen, his father Steve, his younger brother Daniel, his GP Archie and his girlfriend Sylvie. Each person has a very distinct, individual voice - each having an age. The difference between Max's voice and Daniel's, or Max's and Karen's is amazing. Karen is very much an adult, Max a teenager, and Daniel a nine-year-old, and they all sound it. Tarttelin manages to get inside the head of each character so completely that if each chapter didn't start with who was narrating, you would be able to tell from the narration. The differences in voice are that obvious, and it's just completely amazing!
I liked most characters, and besides Max, especially Archie and Daniel. Archie is a very pro-active GP. She's not had Max before she first sees him after his rape, and doesn't know too much about intersex people, and so for her own knowledge to do her job better, and for the sake of Max if he ever has questions about himself specifically, she really does her research (meaning Tarttelin really did her research). I learnt more about intersex people from this book than I have from the other two I've read (Panomime by Laura Lam and Annabel by Kathleen Winter), and it's so interesting. It goes right into the medical science of it, but it also talk about gender and the importance society places on putting people into one box or another. It was absolutely fascinating. I loved Daniel because he, in his way, brings the lighter side to the story. He is so incredibly smart for his age, but has anger issues and doesn't quite get things right socially. But the way he thinks and talks, and put things across, you can't help but smile, even when he is creating a huge scene. Sometimes, he seems to understand things so much better than adults do, not just because he's smart, but because he still has that innocence and acceptance that comes with being a child. Daniel is such a brilliant character.
However, I couldn't stand Karen. I wanted to slap her so hard on so many occasions! I wanted to scream and shout at her, because it was just unbelievable to me how she could treat her child the way she did. I think Karen is going to be one of those women some people are going to completely understand, some people are going to feel sorry for, and some people, like me, are going to loathe with a passion. I could understand where she was coming from, but understanding does not equal agreeing with her actions and reactions. But, as she says, there's no rule book for raising a child, and there's no saying how anyone would react in her situation. It makes you question what you would do if you were in her shoes. There are so many options covered in this book, choices and decisions that were or could have been made at each point in Max's life, and it made me realise there are only good intentions. You won't ever know what decision made for an intersex child while he or she is young is going to be right for that specific child until they're older... and yet you can't not choose one way or the other. Each choice has an affect, but you must choose when a child is unable to choose for themselves. So Karen's part in Max's story works for provoking thought, but a decision she makes later in the book... I cannot tell you how angry I was. Raging barely begins to cover it. Absolutely unforgivable. That woman... oh my god, I can't even begin to explain.
Golden Boy is an undeniably one of the most incredible books I have ever read. This review doesn't really scratch the surface. Such an important novel, one I wish everyone would read, one I feel should be read in schools. It's perfect, and I am so, so glad I've had the opportunity to read it.(less)
When I first heard about Bird, I was so intrigued. You only have to read the above to think, "Woah!" And wond...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase
When I first heard about Bird, I was so intrigued. You only have to read the above to think, "Woah!" And wonder what happens next, what this does to a family. I was so eager to read it, and so glad I did. Bird is such a moving story!
Twelve years have passed since Bird's death, yet Jewel's home is still so full of grief. Bird may be dead, but he's not gone. He's there in Grandpa's silence, in Jewel's mum's endless sadness, in her dad's obsession with duppies - evil spirits. Despite no-one speaking about Bird, or allowing Jewel to do so, the Porter's hearts are so heavy with grief, Bird can be felt in the tension that permeates the whole house. There is so much of Bird in that house, to Jewel, it feels as though she is often forgotten, even though she's the one that's alive. She tries so hard to be good and make her family happy, but it's as if they just don't see her. But once she meets John, things change; John sees her, John hears her, John understands her, and his friendship changes her.
Bird is such a heartbreaking story. Jewel is full of her own sadness because of the lack of love she feels. John offers her a glimmer of hope, of what it's like to have someone who wants to talk to her and take an interest in what she has to say, something she doesn't really experience at home. There is so much sadness in this book, you could reach out a hand and touch it. You can understand it, because how awful would it be for a parent to lose a child, but you can't help feeling so sorry for Jewel. She can't do much right.
Bird is full of beautiful imagery and language. Jewel is very philosophical and quite deep for her age, and the way she views things and describes things... it's just remarkable. She's so smart, but with a child's innocence and beliefs, her narration is just gorgeous. It's like listening to the flow of a stream. It's a book that would be wonderful to listen to as a audiobook; it needs to be read out loud
Jewel feels something at the cliff where her brother died, when she sneaks off to go there. Not his presence or anything like that, but the life in everything around her. She is quite ritualistic when she's there.Since she was eight, each year on her Birthday, she would go and add a stone to a circle she created that first year, step inside the circle, and feel the weight of everything just fall away. She also buries pebbles, whispering to them her hopes, her fears, her worries, giving them to the earth to take care of for her. There is something so calming and peaceful about reading of her time at the cliff; like you can feel the tension at her home, you can feel the peace at the cliff. It's so beautiful.
In the same sense, it was really interesting to read about Jamaican superstitions. Jewel's dad and Grandpa took things too far, I feel, but it gave credibility to Jewel's mixed heritage. The various beliefs, like those about duppies, are just fascinating, and help you understand the way of life in her house. Her dad and Grandpa believe these things so completely, and this belief is partly why things are so tense at home. Duppies and Bird's death. Blame and trickery and fear. It's really something.
Bird is such a heartbreakingly beautiful novel about loss, friendship, family and love, and it will gently steal your heart. Let it.
This is such a beautiful book! It's one of those sweet gift books you would find in the humour section of a...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
This is such a beautiful book! It's one of those sweet gift books you would find in the humour section of a bookshop, and it caught my eye. It's basically the story of two dinosaurs who meet and fall in love. There are aspects they find attractive in each other, and other aspects not so much, but the good outweighs the bad, and love blossoms.
I picked it up because I recognised the style on the cover. Edward Monkton, illustrator and writer, also wrote Love Monkey, which my cousin had as a reading at her wedding, when she and her husband swapped their own carved hearts. That was such a cute story, and so picking up A Lovely Love Story was a must.
It's just as beautiful! It's one of those books that would be perfect to your other half on Valentine's Day; a little quirk, a little funny, but a lot touching and full of cute!
Edward Monkton has a series of these cute little books, and I just want to find one for every person in my life now. Or just buy them all for myself! (less)
Being such a huge fan of Rowell's Eleanor and Park and Attachments, and hearing everyone rave about Fangirl, I was absolutely, positively, of-course-h...moreBeing such a huge fan of Rowell's Eleanor and Park and Attachments, and hearing everyone rave about Fangirl, I was absolutely, positively, of-course-how-could-there-be-any-doubt going to read it. And it was amazing! Yet, strangely, at the same time, there were parts of the book I really weren't that interested in. With the description above, no summary is needed, so I'll just jump right in.
Fangirl is a fantastic NA novel, one that's more than just a romance. Cath has to cope with her identity as a writer, her failing relationship with her twin sister, Wren, worrying about her bipolar dad, and dealing with the fact her mother suddenly wants to be in their lives again after ten years being out of it. And there's uni work. This makes it sound like Fangirl is pretty heavy, but it's not. There is a lot of light in this book, so many funny, sweet, and absolutely beautiful moments. Getting to know Cath and the other cast of characters was like a gift, and I really grew to love them.
Cath is very shy and socially inept. She doesn't know how to make friends, she doesn't like putting herself out there or drawing any kind of attention to herself. She's quite happy staying in her room with her laptop writing her fan fiction. But her roommate Reagan - surly, lovingly critical, hilarious Reagan (oh my god, I love Reagan!) - takes her under her wing, and a more spunky, witty Cath starts to emerge when she feels a little more comfortable. But she's still quiet, and worries, and just doesn't know most of the time. She sounds frustrating, but I love her. I kind of want to adopt her as a younger sister and give her a hug.
And then we have Levi. The Levi. You know what I like most about Levi? He's just a normal guy. He's not breath-takingly gorgeous. He's not a bad boy. He's not even particularly great with words. He's just Levi; a nice, smiley, great guy, who is kind of adorable. He's not a fictional-guy that will give readers unrealistic expectations of romance and boys. Levi is the kind of guy girls should be hoping to meet. And he's also the kind of guy you could actually meet. Levi's exist - as in, nice guys who actually care, but are perfectly normal, exist. He is just so genuinely real. I love that about him. I love him. That is all. There really is no need to say anything else. Levi, Levi, Levi. *sighs* And Cath and Levi together? Heartbreaking sweet and beautiful and ohmygod!
But as I said, there's more to Fangirl than just the romance. Her dad. God, her dad. Your heart breaks for completely different reasons when it comes to reading about him. He is so vulnerable. With him, it almost feels like you're waiting, with the clock audibly ticking, waiting for him to breakdown. Most of the time, he's fine, but his fine is him being a lot. He doesn't relax, unless he's running. He's always working, ideas are simmering. He doesn't stop, he doesn't sleep. It's work, work, work. He's exhausting! And with her mother wanting to be in their lives again, everything is turned topsy-turvy. This family is broken because she walked out, every one of them has been effected, and now she wants to know them? She made me so bloody angry! Seriously, I just... there are no words! It's sad. But as I said, so many beautiful moments!
So, now, what I wasn't interested in. Fan fiction. Really not my bag. I don't get it. I've read some, and I just don't get it. It frustrates me beyond imagining. I am all, "You're ruining a perfectly good story by changing things that do not need changing!" 'Ruining' might be a strong word, but I get being attached to a story and it's characters, and I feel strongly about them as they are, and just... no. I don't want it. I'm not anti-fan fiction, I don't think people shouldn't write it. Kudos to those who do and do well with it. I just that I have no interest in it, and won't read it. I simply do not get it. Nor why someone would want to write it.
Cath is a fan fiction writer. Her stories take up a lot of her head space. The book is called Fangirl, for crying out loud, it's a huge part of the story. What did I expect?! But I didn't enjoy the parts where she was obsessing over it, writing it, I have got to finish! I could understand her being attached to books that she thought were awesome - of course, I'm a book blogger, I am forever talking about the books I love. But writing her own stories? Meh. Give me more Levi, Reagan, Wren and her Dad. But writing fan fiction is who Cath is. It's a huge part of her. So there was no escaping it. Not to mention that I really love her. Thankfully, she has a lot of other things going on in her life, so it wasn't too often that several pages of the book were focusing solely on Carry On, Simon, her fan fiction story.
And yet... I finished the book thinking it might be nice to maybe try and write my own short story. Maybe. I felt inspired to write with all the talking about writing. Mostly the talk about Cath writing for her Fiction Writing class. I could probably do that. Maybe.
Over all, an amazing book, despite the fan fiction. I really, really loved it! Definitely the kind of book I would read again. I seriously want a US edition though. Of all Rowell's books. They're just gorgeous. Just like the Fangirl is. Gorgeous.(less)
I loved Eleanor and Park so, so much, I knew, even before I finished it, that I would read...more**spoiler alert** Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I loved Eleanor and Park so, so much, I knew, even before I finished it, that I would read every book written by Rainbow Rowell from that point on. Attachments, Rowell's first book, was next, and although it's adult romance and not something I normally read, I just had to. And... wow. Simply amazing! I would normally give a summary of what a book is about, but the blurb does a pretty good job, so I'll just jump right into it. Attachments is such a fantastic book! It's funny and heart-warming, and just a beautiful, beautiful read.
Attachments is set in a newspaper office in 1999, Beth is a movie critic and Lincoln works in IT.. As well as reading emails for rule-breaking, Lincoln is also helping out preparing everything in case the Millennium Bug causes all computers to die. I studied Journalism at uni, my Dad works in IT and had to deal deal with the Y2K stuff himself. So I got this book. Despite everything being explained, I knew what a headache Y2K IT work was, and I know what a copy-editor, for example, is. Simply because I knew what I was reading about made this book so much more credible to me. However, no-one should be put off by the idea of journalistic terms or talk of computer work - none of it is all that heavy, and through the story, you find out what everything means. And none of it is the real focus of the story. The focus is Lincoln, Beth and Jennifer.
Attachments follows the life of Lincoln, a shy, socially awkward 28-year-old who hasn't had a girlfriend since he was dumped by his high school girlfriend at 19. He's never really got over the heartbreak, and dealt with it by continually going back to college, for another degree, another masters. Working in IT at The Courier is his first job out of school, and has moved back home to his mother's - as he was always living in dorms before. His older sister Eve is constantly on at him to move out and get himself a proper life; living at home with your mum, sleeping all day and working all night is not a life. In some ways, he agrees. Lincoln doesn't really know too many people any more, and is a little bored with his life. Reading the emails between Jennifer and Beth are a distraction from spending hours behind a desk with no real work to do, and only his thoughts.
We do not follow Jennifer and Beth. We read their emails along with Lincoln. Almost each alternate chapter is an email exchange between the two women. They'll be talking about their colleagues, or their work, generally making each other giggle, or they'll talk about more personal things; Jennifer's fears about pregnancy, Beth's relationship troubles, and feeling like she's behind everyone else her age. The two women are so fantastic; their personalities really shine through their emails; they're both incredible funny, especially Beth, and both have insecurities. They confide in each other, and as much as you want their chapters to come up to find out what's happening regarding something or other, you can't help but feel uncomfortable. Some of these things are real personal, and I felt like I was invading their privacy right along with Lincoln. And yet... it was almost like favourite characters on a soap, I couldn't wait for the next installment, and would have to remind myself that these women, within the context of the story, are real people, it's not something someone made it, it's their lives. And we - Lincoln and I - are snooping.
The changes that come over Lincoln, though, when he discovers that the new guy at work Beth has nicknamed "My Cute Guy" is actually him is so damn adorable. In some ways, Lincoln is still like a teenager; it's been so long since he's been with one, and to find someone finds him attractive - that all those emails about My Cute Guy were actually talking about him - he can't believe it. He has already started falling for Beth through her words - her heart, her humour, her honesty and sincerety - and to discover that she has somehow seen him without him realising, and actually fancies him. Well. It's enough to send his heads to the clouds. I am undecided as to whether I'm a little bit in love with Lincoln, or want to adopt him.
Attachments is such a sweet, beautiful love story! It really is amazing! I personally would have preferred a few more pages at the end, to see more of what happened once they had finally met properly, but it's still such an adorable story! I will most definitely be continuing to read whatever Rowell writes - YA or adult, those books will be mine!(less)
It's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of David Levithan. No surprise that would want to read How They Met. I'...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
It's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of David Levithan. No surprise that would want to read How They Met. I've not read many short story collections or anthologies, short stories aren't something that generally appeals to me, but expecting Levithan's usual style of beautiful turns of phrase, I was sure I would love How They Met. And I wasn't wrong!
How They Met consists of 18 short stories about love. As Levithan says in the Author's Note, these aren't love stories. The usual connotation of "love story" is a story with a happy ending, and with these stories, that's not always the case. There's heartache, break-ups, realisations and epiphanies about relationships, beginnings, ends, middles, and everything in between.
What I love most about these stories are most are told in first person, and for a while, you're unsure of the gender of the narrator. You find out eventually, but until you do, you're not aware of whether the story is an LGBTQ story or a heterosexual story. Yes, there are both. I love this because it means you relate to the feelings straight away, each story is universal for the get go, and continues - no matter the readers sexuality - when you find out the sexuality of the characters. It's awesome! I'm going to talk a little about my favourite short stories.
The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes - This is the story of a relationship between a straight couple who meet on an aeroplane... but not all is what it seems. It's beautiful and romantic, and has this almost purposeful butterfly effect element. It also shows how wonderful strangers can be.
Flirting With Waiters - A sweet, sweet story of a young girl with a crush on a waiter. I love the point to this story. It's not earth-shaking, it simply shows how wonderful the small things can be.
Princes - A great story! Although there is a romantic love element, this story, for me, is more about familial love. Acceptance. Hope. It's just amazing!
Skipping the Prom - This story is simply beautiful. There is nothing else to say.
Without Saying - Two stories in one, and yet, really, just one universal story. Great use of second tense for one. One of those thought-provoking ones. I rather think he's wrong in this one, at one point, but he still gets me thinking.
Memory Dance - Oh my god! This story brought tears to my eyes. Absolutely the most gorgeous story in the whole collection. This is a story that fills me with hope. You need to read it for yourself. Then you will understand.
Such a fantastic collection of stories, so completely beautiful. I absolutely loved it! I think you will, too.
Thank you to Electric Monkey for the review copy.(less)
This prequel novella to The Farseer Trilogy is just perfect! It reveals the truth behind why there is such d...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
This prequel novella to The Farseer Trilogy is just perfect! It reveals the truth behind why there is such distrust of and disgust for the Wit, and why so many people believe such awful, completely untrue things about what the Wit can do. And it all comes down to rivalry, which spawns jealousy, and leads to lies.
Two men, vying for both the crown and the heart of the same woman. One oddly marked and in possession of the Wit, and rightful heir to the throne, the other the King's nephew, older, charming, and knowing how to work a crowd. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Until there's only one final outcome.
It's great getting to see the whole story, not just because of what happened to the Piebald Prince, but because of what happened with his mother, Princess Caution. If things were different there, then maybe things would have been different with the Prince. There's so much to come out, and if only people in the present day Six Duchies knew the truth, how easier life would be for the Witted!
I can't really say much more, I don't want to spoil this awesome story! But it's fantastic to get to see the truth! And hopefully, the truth will come out one day...(less)
I've heard so many good things about the various series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I decided it was about...moreOriginally published on Once Upon a Bookcase
I've heard so many good things about the various series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I decided it was about time I gave her a go myself. I picked Obsidian because it had been raved about, it had a hot alien, and it the main character is a book blogger. Sold! And wow, this book is awesome!
Katy has moved to West Virginia with her Mum. It's the last place she wanted to go; she's not too keen on being the new girl in such a small town. She tries to make friends with her next door neighbours before school starts, and that's when she meets him. Daemon. The most arrogant, insulting - not to mention smoking hot - guy she has ever met. His sister, Dee, is adorable, and they become close friends. But Katy can't stand Daemon - yet can't help being drawn to him. When he stops time to save her life, she discovers a secret: he and Dee are aliens. Aliens with enemies. And he's just put a trace on her, alien mojo making her shine brighter than Times Square. Now the Arum are after her. So Katy now has to spend a whole lot more time around Daemon. What a bummer...
SO GOOD! Oh my god, it's ridiculous how good this book is! It's the first YA book I've read with actual aliens, and so it was quite a new idea for me. The fact that Katy - Kat - is a book blogger was just awesome! When she first starts questioning what's going on with Daemon and Dee, being a fan of paranormal novels, she goes to what she knows. It's hilarious when she asks Daemon if he's a vampire, and he replies with such derision that he is definitely not a vampire. But it's awesome, because she's thinking about what she's read, and what could possibly be happening, and it just makes the book feel so much more real. As a book blogger, you can't help thinking as you read, "She's like me! She reads! She blogs! SHE'S GOT AN ALIEN LIVING NEXT DOOR!" Of course, it's fiction, but it makes it all the more believable that maybe... just maybe us normal people could have something exciting waiting for us round the corner. I must be honest and say that sometimes, she does make book blogging sound a little ridiculous. Her obsession with her blog just seems over done to me. I love my blog, and I work hard at it. But I don't compare huge, terrible events to that time when I couldn't go to that book event. Nor do I act like an addict needing a hit when I'm unable to blog for a while. It was just a bit much sometimes. There isn't too much focus on the blogging though, overall, so I could forgive those moments for the general awesomeness of the book.
Daemon is just so awesome. I swear, when it comes to bad boys, I've not read a character that is as rude or insulting as Daemon. And yet... although he's a flirty guy and quite arrogant, you can tell his rudeness is all an act. He's fighting what he feels, and you can tell. Some of the things he does are really quite out of order, and there were times when I was thinking, "Oh my god, you did not just do that!" But really, underneath it all, he's a guy who loves his sister, and wants more than anything to keep her safe. Because those Arum will stop at nothing to steal their abilities and kill them, and Kat is putting them all in danger. And this has also got to be the steamiest YA novel I've read, and I'm not just talking sexual tension, although there is a lot of that! It doesn't go too far, but further than I was expecting.Seriously though, how a girl is supposed to resist Daemon Black, I just do not know.
The action in this book is phenomenal. Normally, when there are abilities involved, there's not much proper fighting that you're aware of, and some of the time, it's like that in this book. But there are other times when it does get really physical, and god, you wonder how on earth there could possibly be a sequel! Those Arum are quite a violent bunch. They're kind of scary.
There were times, at first, when Obsidian reminded me of Twilight. The hot guy who is aloof and rude, who tells you you shouldn't be near him, and yet is always there. The sister who is bubbly and friendly. The girl who hates your guts as soon as she lays eyes on you. And all of them sitting together in the cafeteria, in a school where they are held in awe, and yet avoided. Sound similar? At first I wondered if it was going to be a kind of Twilight spoof. Yet, as the story really gets going, they just seem like minor coincidences, because it ends up being really quite different. There is even a references to Twilight at one point, when Kat asks Daemon if he's all sparkly, and the disdain in his voice is just awesome!
Such an incredible book! I'm already reading Onyx, the second book in the Lux series, and it's awesome! I will definitely be reading more of Armentrout in the future. Unbelievably good!(less)
As I said in my review of Obsidian, I bought this book when I was not far from the end of the previous book,...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
As I said in my review of Obsidian, I bought this book when I was not far from the end of the previous book, so I could dive right in when I was done. And dive I did. I have to say, Onyx is probably better than the last.
Starting a few days after Obsidian ends, Daemon has had a change of heart when it comes to Kat. He has decided he doesn't hate her, but wants to be with her. Kat isn't convinced what he feels is real, putting it down to the strange connection that was formed between them when he healed her. She fights his every attempt, and fights her own feelings, but Daemon won't be put off. Kat can't stay away from him though; with the strange connection came uncontrollable abilities, and she's moving things without thought.
Then Blake arrives at school and causes friction, sparking jealousy in Daemon when he shows an interest in Kat. But Blake is aware of her new abilities and can explain what's been happening. His help becomes paramount when people from the Department of Defense arrive and start poking their nose into things. She needs to be able to control her powers, so as not to draw the DOD's attention. To keep everyone safe.
But not everyone is safe. Because Kat has seen someone who is supposed to be dead. Being alive is scary news for them all. People have been lying, and danger is creeping nearer.
Oh my god, I love this series! Daemon can be a bit of an idiot, but for the most part, he's really trying in Onyx. He's finally succumbed to his feelings for Kat, and wants to be with her, but she simply doesn't believe it's real. He tries so hard to convince her, but she's so stubborn and just won't listen. Despite the few times control slips and they end up in each other's arms. Oh yes, the heat gets hotter! With the arrival of Blake, tension rises. Daemon doesn't trust him, and it's more than just jealousy. Seeing him so protective of Kat is just the most awesome thing; it's so sweet, and it's so obvious how he feels for her is genuine. He's like an avenging angel, exuding anger, on the edge of immense violence. It's perfect!
The action in this book is cranked right up. There are several times in this book when lives are at risk, and I can't count the number of times I was sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking, "ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" This is not a series where everyone is automatically safe, just because they're one of the predominant characters. Things go seriously bad in more than one occasion, and it hits you like a fist in the gut. It's fast paced and exhilarating. And yet, very emotional.
This is a very emotional book, and all emotions are heightened, because the danger is so real. It's not that people could potentially die, but if certain people find out about secrets that should stay hidden, then people will die. It won't be just the romance and the sexual tension that will keep you gripped, but the thriller aspect. You really don't know what's going to happen. The DOD are not predictable. Right along with the other characters, your fear, your hope, your sadness are all desperate. There are moments that are absolutely heartbreaking, and I was so full of overwhelming shock and anguish. And then there was the end, where adrenaline was running through me as I was reading the last few pages, unable to read fast enough, but so freaking scared and excited about what was to come. It was huge. There was so many huge moments in this book. And no-one, literally no-one is safe - you can't take it for granted that those you love will be there at the end of the series.
An absolutely incredible book! I am absolutely itching to get my hands on the third book and carry on with this story. Armentrout has definitely found herself a huge fan in me, and I am desperate to read everything she writes!(less)
So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell in...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell in love with the story and the characters as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.
Eleanor and Park is completely beautiful. Set in 1986 and full of retro pop culture references, it's a book I want to share with everyone. It's a story full of the sweet tenderness of first love, full of innocence, when simply holding hands was such a big deal. Is a big reminder to appreciate the small things, but also helps you remember the tiny moments of your own romances, the ones full of sweetness. I am completely aware of what a sap I sound, but I don't think a single person could read this book and not have their heart melted.
Eleanor and Park also tackles several serious issues. Both characters have problems with their body image; Eleanor is a bigger girl, and doesn't think she's attractive, and Park is half Korean, and is aware that his Asian looks cause him to stand out. The story also covers issues of bullying, poverty and domestic abuse. Sometimes it can be a little hard hitting, especially when it comes to the domestic abuse, but none of it overshadows the beauty of the romance.
Because it's the 80s, for our young couple, entertainment comes in the form of comics and music, specifically mix tapes. The two strike up a friendship by sharing the two with the other. They bond between the pages and the riffs. I love their geekiness, and how their love grows is just so cute and adorable.
Eleanor and Park is such a beautiful, beautiful story, and I now want to read everything else Rowell writes. With just this one book, I am such a fan! Cannot recommend this novel enough, it's right up their with my favourites! I will leave you with what might be the most beautiful quote I've ever read:
'The me that's me right now is yours. Always.' (p312)
Having loved everything I've read previously that has Levithan's name attached to it, I dived in to Invisibi...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Having loved everything I've read previously that has Levithan's name attached to it, I dived in to Invisibility expecting to feel my usual awe and amazement. However, I have to say Invisibility disappointed me.
At first, before Stephen and Elizabeth start trying to find out the cause of Stephen's invisibility, the story wasn't too bad. There was some romance, there were the looks and some of the beautiful sentences from Levithan on love. It wasn't brilliant, but I could feel the potential. I wasn't as emotionally invested in the characters as much as I normally am. I guess I was expecting things more along the lines of Every Day, but once Millie showed up, the whole feel of the story changed and I enjoyed it a whole lot less.
I can't say exactly why, but once the story started digging into curses, discovering cursecasters and spellseekers, and Stephen's magical family history, the story lost me. Fantasy is usually my thing, but it all seemed a little over the top, and unbelievable to me. For example, some of the "terrible" things that curses can do, despite causing death, didn't seem that terrible. And it simply didn't interest me. And considering this is a stand alone novel, the way it ended was baffling.
I was expecting Levithan's awesome style, that tends to get me thinking and having minor epiphanies, to shine through. There are glimpses of it around the beginning of the book, but I think this particular plot hides it. There's so much going on, there isn't as much introspection as I'm used to in Levithan's novels.
Sadly, Invisibility wasn't really my cup of tea, which is a shame. However, please read other reviews before deciding not to read it. It may not have been for me, but you still might really enjoy it.
After reading Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I was super excited to read the stand alone companion novel, Anatomy o...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
After reading Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I was super excited to read the stand alone companion novel, Anatomy of a Single Girl, sure it would be another upfront and honest read. And I wasn't disappointed! Another great book from Snadowsky!
Like Anatomy of a Boyfriend, this feels like an educational book told through story. Dom explores her sexuality further, and what is it is she actually wants from a relationship emotionally - and what kind of relationship she doesn't want. It's a book that shows you can be mistaken when it comes to want, when you're not getting enough. Through reading Dom's experiences, readers are discouraged from settling for something that doesn't truly light them up. I learned things myself - not just educationally about sex and all that goes with it, but also about love and relationships through Dom's experiences. It's not just an emotional story you get wrapped up in, but an informative one that makes you think, and question what you yourself would want.
Sex is a little less graphically described, as it's dealt with in the first book, yet it's still one of the focuses of the book. Dom may have had sex previously, but in Single Girl, she learns just how great it can be. Brilliantly, it also talks about the responsibilities of looking after yourself that come with being sexually active; the importance of getting yourself tested for STDs. Single Girl is the first book I've read that actually goes through the whole experience a female gynaecological examination. It's no holds barred, but like Snadowsky covered things in Boyfriend, it's real. It's almost like Snadowsky feels she has a responsibility to her readers to be as honest as possible, to give them knowledge rather than sugar coating things, and she takes it seriously. There are no horror stories, but she doesn't make it out to be super simple either. Embarrassing, uncomfortable, true.
Another really important book that should be required reading in schools! Definitely books I will encourage my future daughter to read. Both books are a great way to make sure young teenage girls and boys get the information they need to know, who may have trouble speaking to an adult about such things to get the right information (because we all know friends can be wrong). I sincerely hope Snadowsky writes a similar book from a guy's point of view - for girls as well as boys. Boys need the right information about their bodies too, but it would be great for girls to understand as well. You could say that boys have boys books that cover these areas, but the ones I've read tend to be comical and light hearted, and I think Snadowsky's more serious approach would be fantastic!
I really couldn't recommend these books more. Snadowsky should get awards for being so uncompromisingly honest. Such important books, and I do hope Snadowsky writes more!
Thank you to Daria Snadowsky for sending me a review copy.(less)