blemish,n. The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from
blemish,n. The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in the third grade. The scratch on your neck- did I do that? This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.
Wow, this book was gorgeous.
It took me about an hour to read (well, technically about 40 minutes... the other 20 minutes was taken up with me scrawling large chunks of this book into my notebook, then running out of ink and trying to find a biro that worked) and I loved every second of it.
It was funny, sweet, heart-wrenching and beautiful.
I don't normally choose theme tunes for non-YA books but I just have to for this one.
For some weird reason, I'm always reluctant to use my favourite bands/songs for the theme tunes but the line "love, love is a verb, love is a doing word" has been running around my mind ever since I picked this book up so I'm making the exception just once.
yarn,n. Maybe language is kind, giving us these double meanings. Maybe it's trying to teach us a lesson, that we can always be two things at once. Knit me a sweater out of your best stories. Not the day's petty injustices. Not the glimmer of a seven-eights-forgotten moment from your past. Not something that somebody said to somebody, who then told it to you. No, I want a yarn. It doesn't have to be true.
It's really interesting to read through my friend's reviews and see which entries they picked out as their favourites.
“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of the devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of the devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the centre of herself where something was most certainly missing.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. Oh hey jaw, have you met the floor? You have? Oh good.
High Points. Epic love (and not a single eye-roll in sight). Prague/Marrakesh. Breath-taking prose- Ms Taylor has such an intricate way of twisting humour, history, magic and mythology together to produce some of the spectacular prose I’ve ever read. Myths and legends. Karou. Madrigal. Akiva. Brimstone. Smoke. Teeth. Masquerades balls. Sister moons. Betrayal. Secret trysts. Sun blood. Moon tears. Heartbreak. Zuzana. Marionettes. Breakfast at the cathedral. Ghost tours (I know we’re not supposed to like Kaz, but I would definitely go on one of his tours). Inessential penises. Life drawing. Scuppies. Hamsas. Elsewhere. Battles. Wishes. Infinite Patience. Papilos Stomachus. Rainwater and daydreams. Pre-order. Pre-order. Pre-order.
Low Points. I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for so long now but I have been being good and resisting because I have no money… yeah, this book didn’t help at all. To be continued?! You have got to be kidding me. GAH. This final low point is all for me: The one thing that I was dreading the most in the beginning of this book happened and it became my favourite part. The moral of this story: Trust Laini Taylor. She knows what she’s doing.
Heroine. Dear Karou, You will not believe the astronomical cost I had to pay the Royal Mail to get this letter to you. Get it? Astronomical? Because you... at the end… you are…Never mind. Please consider this letter as an official invitation to join the elite group of ladies known as The League of Soul Sisters. You have been chosen for one of these coveted positions because you are strong, brave, hilarious, resilient, do very well at describing sexy angel abs loyal, would be useful where ex-boyfriends are concerned, determined, would bring me presents from Paris and, above all, you have amazing hair that I wouldn’t suit… DAMN YOU SKIN TONE you are something else entirely. Please await further instructions.
Yours Faithfully, - J
ps. You should probably go ahead and bring some of those beaded necklaces with you… we could have fun with those.
“….and some butterflies react to other people’s on a chemical level, like pheromones, so that they’re nearby, your butterflies start to dance. They can’t help it- it’s chemical.”
I… I just can’t even think never mind write a sentence, because my heart is breaking so much.
ps. You’re totally smokin’.
Best Friend. I want a bohemian puppeteer as my best friend. And I’m going to whinge until I have one. Zuzanna was possibly my favourite character in this book and she wasn’t even in it that much! I loved the flawlessly realistic dialogue between her and Karou. Their conversations are so similar to the ones I have with my friends (“Nice fiddling, handsome man!”/ Guinea pig s’mores/ “I met an angel in Morocco and all I got were these lousy scars”) and I couldn’t help but laugh. Their friendship provided a lot of comic relief that saved this book from being too heavy going.
“Oh, hell. Must. Mate. Immediately.” HAHA. My thoughts exactly, Zuzana.
Theme Tune. In my mind there are two stories told in this book… so I’m allowed two songs. The first song is for the first story, the one that features in the second half of the book. I realise that makes no sense… but I promise you, it’s not nearly as confusing as I make it out to be.
“When we were strangers I watched you from afar When we were lovers I loved you with all my heart.”
Sob. And the second song, pairing with the tale that starts and finishes our book, the one that tore my heart into little pieces so much so I wanted to use a whole handful of scuppies so I could wish myself a basket full of kittens to cuddle in vain hope that my grief would be alleviated. Or… you know… something like that. Whatever.
Roads- Portishead. That’s right. Portishead. I’m bringing the big guns out for this book. This is for you, Karou. *wails*
Angst Level. 10/10. Even if I ignore the ANGST that Ms Taylor just inflicted on me in those final chapters, this book still gets a solid 10. Whether it is the beautiful prose, the heart-wrenching story or the characters that I fell in love with (Literally in some cases… HI AKIVA), this book hit me hard. To explain more will breach the barricade topped with spoilery barbed wire and I’m not going to do that. Just trust me on this one, yeah?
Recommended For. Everyone. People who believe in hope. People who like prose that will take your breath away. People who wish they would have gone to Prague when they had a friend who was doing a TEFL course there *grumble*. People who wish they had gone to Marrakesh when their uncle lived there *double grumble*. People who believe that it isn’t breakfast without chocolate (Honestly, it’s like Zuzana can see into my soul.) People who have always wondered what the tooth fairy does with those teeth. People who think fingerless gloves are not just for homeless people. People who are willing to rummage around in a chicken carcass for a wishbone… just in case. People who are going to take their Shreddies to their nearest cathedral tomorrow morning and trespass and sit on the roof and wait patiently…. just in case.
You can read this review and other exciting things on my blog here....more
Think of every single cliché in young adult fiction you can. Go on. Just do it. Write them down if you want. It’s OK, I’ll wait.
Done? ThiThink of every single cliché in young adult fiction you can. Go on. Just do it. Write them down if you want. It’s OK, I’ll wait.
Done? This book defies all of them.
I understand in saying that this book defies all clichés is in itself also a cliché because it’s what reviewers tend to say when they can’t really be bothered writing a real review but they want to make it sound like they loved it and keep everyone happy but in reality they wanted to fling it out of the window and then go outside and spit on it… while scowling at random, inanimate objects.
Actually, as I’m skimming through my notes I’ve realised that every single one of my points and examples on how this book isn’t like all the other books and how it is as far away from cliché as something really far away from something else, all I’ve used is cliché things that reviewers tend to say when they can’t actually be bothered writing a real review but what to make it sound like they loved it….you get the gist. So I’m just going to go with it. In the immortal words of Tim Gunn, I’m going to make it work. I’m going to reclaim those clichés.
Jo Explains How THIS IS SHYNESS Defies All Cliches By Using Lots Of Them.
This book is like nothing that has ever been written before. Whimsical. Magical. Mental. Mysterious. Fantastical. Intriguing. Surreal. ALL THE ADJECTIVES. I’ve read strange books and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. For me, this one definitely worked. I devoured it like I imagine a Kidd would devour a bag of Tangfastic Haribo. And when I say ‘a Kidd’ I mean me. *jitters*
This book isn’t the typical ‘When girl meets boy’. It’s when Wildgirl meets Wolfboy. The difference is subtle but it’s there…and it’s sexy.
This book will take you to places you’ve never been before. I would like to build a duvet fort in Ms Hall’s imagination and stay there forever and ever and only allow people I like to join me. I loved Shyness because it was incredible. And the best thing about it was that it felt real. You may be thinking “Um, how did it feel real? Where have you ever been where there is no sun and plagues of delinquent kids roam the street?” And to that, I answer: Manchester.
I know a few people are suggesting that this book is Urban Fantasy, but I’ve never really read any UF so I can’t add anything to that. All I know is that this book smudges the boundaries of genre. The best way I can describe the setting of the world that Ms Hall created with Shyness is that it’s contemporary…with a bolt of electricity running through its heart.
"There’s a rhythm to Shyness, but it takes a while to feel it."
There were times when I felt like I could’ve done with a map of Shyness but, to be honest, I was more than happy to get lost.
The heroine is different, kooky and feisty. Wildgirl, I think I love you. You snort when you laugh. You go bright red when you’re embarrassed. You like to go on adventures. You’re fearless. You’re hilarious. You steal hearts. You have messy handwriting. You fancy boys who look like wolves. Woman, if you get out of my mind long enough we should be best friends.
The hero is strong, tortured and has a past. Now normally, this is the cliché is the one that makes me the most angry. I hate it when heroes are lumbered with a past because usually it means that they are boring and have no personality and the author needed something to hide that fact. Wolfboy is the exception to this rule.
“In my panic I forget myself and do what I do best: I howl.”
But then again, Wolfboy is the exception to any rule. He was the perfect mix of the messed-up kid (who gets nervous around girls, awwww) on a mission to find answers to questions he’s been avoiding for a long time that you just want to protect and cuddle and the sexy guy with a quiff and tight trousers who you would be willing to follow wherever he led. Is there a better combination? Nah.
”I’ve got no idea whether the air of danger around Wolfboy is just part of a fashion statement or the real thing.”
It’s the real thing, baby.
The love story is fresh and compelling. Roll up, roll up… but don’t come too close for what you’re about to hear may shock you, so people with heart defects please approach with caution. Because within the pages of This is Shyness we have the most strangest and freakiest things you will ever have experienced in literature:
Love interests who actually talk to each other and have a genuine connection with each other based on their personalities, fears, thoughts and desires.
And, that’s not all! It’s not forced, cringey, annoying, simpering, dangerous orrrrr illegal either! I KNOW.
This book won’t be for everyone. I know this book won’t be for everyone because it’s weird and hardly anything is explained. So if you like every single thing explained and get angry if it’s not, then I couldn’t recommend this book to you. This is a book where you should definitely leave your disbelief at the door because if you start thinking about it too much, your head will implode. Literally. It’s best to approach this book with an open mind and… well, just go with it and experience Shyness.
The fantastic Noelle made her own playlist for This is Shyness and Queen of the Night (the sequel) and I felt left out, so I got involved too.
“Darling, the spirit is kicking. Don’t be fooled by the moonshine, it’s tricking.”
For me, this song perfectly captures the “smash and grab” feel of Wolfboy and Wildgirl’s story. All about being reckless but having no regrets, just unforgettable memories.
However, there was one part of this book that I wasn’t sure about. It’s right at the end when Wildgirl says that Wolfboys are the best kissers. Now, I’m not entirely convinced but as I am a girl who likes to have all the facts, I will conduct a highly scientific experiment and kiss him until I am able to confirm that this is a true fact. Taking one for the team.
Speaking of Wolfboy, I read this book with wonderful Maree and she suggested that we should each share pictures of how we pictured Wolfboy. I wish there was a song that perfectly matched with my feelings for Wolfboy so you could listen to it while you look at my suggestions. Oh wait, there is.
Potential Wolfboy Fitties [PWFs]
Alex Turner. My Ultimate Wolfboy (UW) is Alex Turner.
Look at his Urban Cowboy Quiff (UCQ)! But if he’s busy, I have Wolfboy Back-Ups (WBUs).
So, if anyone needs me I will be conducting my highly scientific science experiment…. For science.
Seriously though, this book makes me want to have the adventure of a life time and howl at the dark sky above me.
Woosh. This book was fantastic. I think my heart is still pounding from those last couple of chapters. I don’t mind admitting that the majority of myWoosh. This book was fantastic. I think my heart is still pounding from those last couple of chapters. I don’t mind admitting that the majority of my knowledge of children in care is from reading Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. And I know that might sound odd because Ms Wilson doesn’t really write young adult books, but if you’ve ever read a Jacqueline Wilson you will know that she is not one to shy away from the truth or darker aspects of life because they’re uncomfortable to read. Tracey Beaker is my second favourite of Ms Wilson’s books (First one, if you’re interested, is The Lottie Project) because it’s so realistic and isn’t afraid to delve into the nitty-gritty of what it’s like for a child in care. And Being Billy? It was like Tracey Beaker… amplified.
There were two scenes in particular (the bowling alley and the house at the end, if you’ve read this) that I’m sure will stick with me for a long time. They were so powerful and it was often difficult to read it because they felt so raw. But it never felt gratuitous. As the events unfolded I could always tell that Mr Earle knew what he was talking about. I knew that he wasn’t just thinking “Right, OK, I’m writing a book about a SERIOUS SUBJECT and it has to be horrendously sad and my readers have to be in floods of tears”. He was telling Billy’s story as it was, with no extra trimmings. So did I cry? I hear you ask. Maybe. And when I say maybe I really mean yes. Multiple times.
Anyway enough about me, let’s talk about Billy. He was such a colourful character even if he wasn’t always likeable. But sometimes they’re the best ones, aren’t they? There were so many times I wanted to reach into the pages and throttle him. Was he frustrated, angry, unreasonable? Our Billy was all of the above. But I still loved him. He had an extremely British self-deprecating and dry humour that was hilarious but also ridiculously sad. No fourteen year old should have the material to master a self-deprecating sense of humour. But unfortunately Billy does. I don’t want to go into the specifics because of spoilers, but when the events of his past are finally revealed it isn’t surprising that he is the way he is. He’s disillusioned with life. He doesn’t trust people when they say they want to help. He feels that he has been given up on by every single ‘responsible’ adult that was supposed to be taking care of him. And he has anger that he can’t control without being restrained by The Colonel. I’m 99% sure that Mr Earle didn’t have an agenda in mind when he wrote this book but regardless, he has written an extremely affective book that wasn’t only compelling but also incredibly harrowing.
My favourite relationships in young adult books are between siblings. Wait… I’m not talking about in a creepy and illegal Forbidden way, but I mean the connections between siblings. I always think that, when done right, a relationship between siblings can be more powerful than a love interest and it makes me sad that siblings hardly get a look in in fiction. Luckily, Mr Earle knows how to do it right. Billy’s relationship with Lizzie and Louie was one of the most touching aspects of this book and every time the three of them were together I just wanted to gather them into my arms and cuddle them and pray that everything was going to be OK for them. Also, make muffins made in orange skins. Because they sound DELICIOUS if you ignore the slight possibility of getting salmonella. I would like that recipe. For… um… research. Blogging research…
And also snaffling them.
I want to say it was a happy ending, but it wasn’t. Normally I hate happy endings because, to me, there is nothing worse than an overly saccharine ending that would never happen in real life. But I wanted there to be a happy ending with this book because I wanted to know that Billy was definitely going to OK. I wanted to know that all his flaws and insecurities would be eliminated by a glorious ending where all the characters get together and sing or do an interpretative dance or something. But no. I got a realistic ending and it’s one that’s almost hopeful. I have faith in Billy. Not sure how much that means for I am just a lowly book reviewer but I believe he’ll be OK when he gets to the end of his story. This book is just the first chapter in his story, though. That’s what I reckon, anyway. He’s a tough nut, our Billy is, and he’s a fighter.
Before I wrap this review up, I just want to say how much I want to go on and on about how much I loved Daisy and how much of a fantastic character she is… but I’ve just discovered that Mr Earle has given her her own book. So I’ll just wait, because there is 100% chance that I will be reading Saving Daisy within the next few weeks.
Read this book. Go on. Have I ever steered you wrong? *flutters eyelashes*
“Somewhere along the way I started to go overboard. I may, in fact, have started to go a little insane.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I’m already recomm“Somewhere along the way I started to go overboard. I may, in fact, have started to go a little insane.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I’m already recommending this to everyone I know. EVERYONE.
High Points. *Deep Breath* Alternate Reality. Virtual Insanity.Scoreboards. Quests (More books should have quests).Good old fashioned competition. W-O-W. Aech. At3mis. Best friends forever. Corruption. Damn the Man. Eccentric Billionaires. Retro. Duran Duran. Matthew Broderick. Monty Python. Rush. John Hughes films. The most necessary game of Pac-Man in existence. Robots. Def Leppard. Spaced. I finally had a reason to spend half my night on YouTube. Originality. Easter Eggs. Rags to Riches. Commentary on human interaction. Cynicism. Avatars. I have honestly never read anything like this before and I loved every second of it. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this whole book is going to happen in the next 30 years….and I can’t WAIT. I’m coming up with my avatar name already.
Low Point. The wonderful Maja (The one who is solely responsible for turning me into a rabid fangirl with this book!) raised a good point in regards to the genre of this book and it has got me thinking a lot about whether I would class this book as YA. Not because of the subject matter (it is deliciously dark!) but because of all the 80s references that make up a huge part of this story. I’ve only just left (kicking and screaming) the realm of the true YA audience and a lot of the references were completely lost on me. And, like Maja suggested, I’m not sure whether someone, say, born in 1994 would understand all and I think their enjoyment could be limited to what they know about the in-jokes. BUT, I feel we should give Mr Cline a chance to defend himself… so here is what he says in his acknowledgements:
“These people [The filmmakers/musicians/writers referenced] have all entertained and enlightened me, and I hope that- like Halliday’s hunt- this book will inspire others to seek out their creations.”
I don’t mind saying that I read this book with Google open, not just because it would help me understand the story…. But because I wanted to find out about it. And also, hipsters are going to love this book. Sigh. Just because we have to tolerate them doesn’t mean we have to encourage them, guys!
Hero. Wade Watts (called thus because his dad thought it “sounded like the secret identity of a superhero”) is an overweight eighteen year old from a trailer park who has an OASIS console permanently attached to his face. Kind of like this.
He’s a loser and he’s cynical and he’s completely obsessed with completing Halliday’s quests, so much so that he has basically downloaded everything to do with the 80s to his brain. For someone who has only ever played one absolutely fantastically spectacular computer game in my life, I often found it hard to relate to Wade’s obsession with OASIS. But, he is noble, insecure, loyal, highly intelligent, hysterical and, most importantly, he’s so determined to crawl out of the crap that he’s had to endure and truly make something of himself. And he also says things like this: “People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.” I think even if you don’t know a thing about computers, games, films or music… I think it’s impossible not to relate to and fall head over heels in love with Wade.
Love Interest. Art3mis is the avatar that Wade has admired from afar across the artificially rendered plains of OASIS. Art3mis is cute, funny and a complete badass and gives a Wade a run for his money when it came to solving the quests. Which, of course, made me love them instantly. You all know I’m not a massive fan of irrelevant love interests and this almost fell into that category because this book had SO much else going on, there wasn’t really a need. But I liked the dynamic between the two of them and their exchanges often induced chuckling.
Best Friends. I WANT AECH TO BE MY FICTIONAL REAL LIFE BESTFRIEND.
Baddie. CAPITALISM. Also, who do I write to to request for more baddies to say “Art thou ready?” before challenging protagonists to a due in books. Answers on a postcard, please.
Theme Tune. Dead Man’s Party-Oingo Boingo. I’m totally being lazy with this one seeing as it’s one of the first songs that are mentioned in this book. But I don’t care because it not only proves the aforementioned point about how fun it was to discover new songs that I was too young to hear the first time round… but it is also a spectacular song from a ridiculously cool era that I missed being part of by the skin of my teeth. Although saying that, this entire book provided me with the best sound track to my impromptu dance parties that I always never hold in my room. I’m determined to compile a ‘Ready Player One’ playlist as soon as I have a spare week or so.
Angst Level. 6/10. Unless you are the type of person who gets emotionally involved in computer games, you’ll probably find this book quite tame in the angst levels. Sure there are some nail-biting moments but once you remember that it’s not even real within the book you’re reading… you’ll be fine. But, one of the parts that I really loved was the whole idea of human relationships vs relationships formed through avatars. In a world where most of the human race spend their time in an alternative reality, forming bonds with people who they don’t even know their real name/age/gender/race/occupation, the lines of who a person really is were continually blurred. I loved how Cline explored this idea of identity, human interactions and forming relationships based on how you want to be seen rather than who you actually are and all the insecurities you feel when you make that initial connection, whether online or offline. Anyway, I really loved this quote: “We’d known each other years, in the most intimate way possible. We’d connected on a purely mental level.”
Recommended For. Anyone who has ever watched an 80s movie….and enjoyed it. People who think Matthew Broderick is a grossly underrated actor. People who could quite happily go without seeing another real person for days on end. People who like microwave food and things that come in a can. People who think Duran Duran/ Rush/Def Leppard/Oingo Boingo/Mellancamp’s songs were written solely for you (I still maintain that Riois all about me). People who love discovering new bands/films/books/comics. People who will always be jealous of people who have cool initials. People who find scoreboards oddly unnerving (Thanks for that Hunger Games.) People who wonder what happened to Robot Wars. People who find eccentric billionaires endearing. People who often wonder what they would like if they were pixelated. People who think that Dungeons and Dragons is a legitimate sport. People who have ever picked up a coconut and, after checking they’re alone in the house, galloped around the kitchen with them while wearing a helmet out of an empty Cocoa Pops box.
I also found this. It is not only the coolest book site I have ever seen… but also maybe, definitely the coolest site I have seen in a long time. There are rankings of sideburns. Sideburns.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.
You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here....more
Initial Final Page Thoughts. So that’s what Mean Girls would have been like were it not for Ms Fey.
High Points. A heroine who wasn’t afraid to speak heInitial Final Page Thoughts. So that’s what Mean Girls would have been like were it not for Ms Fey.
High Points. A heroine who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Homeschooling (a concept that, I guess, does exist in the UK but I’ve never met anyone who has been!) The environment. Diversity. Teenage rebellion, a particular weakness of mine. Really intriguing issues brought up that I haven’t read about in a YA book. The quotes at the beginning of the chapters- they were lovely and I wrote a few down in my quote book that I own. Because this girl is different.
Low Points. OK… right well. I don’t want to say ‘Where to start?’ because that would be cruel. And even though I do have a lot of things to say about this book… I did enjoy this book, kinda. It provided me with a lot of laughter and, as long as you didn’t take it seriously, it was perfectly harmless. But anyway… where to start? Evie, I’ll elaborate in the heroine section, but she managed to simultaneously annoy me and also feel like I was single-handedly destroying the world. Quite a feat, eh? This book had something to say… and boy did it say it. It’s safe to say that about 75% I had no idea what was going on in regards to the high school politics/blogs/Burn Book.... I mean… um, lightning strikes. The really intriguing issues brought up that I haven’t read about in a YA book….? Wow….well 100 Brownie points for the idea but I’m going to take them off you for execution. And…. Deep breaths Jo…. The love interest. THE LOOOOOVE INTEREST. But more on this later.
Heroine. Oh Evie. Evening Mornindew or whatever it is your terrifying mum called you. I once knew a girl like you (well OK, not really… she was like a 5th of the crazy that you were but she still annoyed me, so imagine how I felt about you.) She would walk around finding drama and injustice in every corner of the world and strive, strive, striiiiive to get it fixed. I’m not knocking her action- because I believe that people should stand up and speak out- but come onnn. You’re in high school. There is plenty of time to do that kind of stuff when you leave. Maybe it’s just me… (although Rajas, lover boy, agrees with me “It just…is what it is, you know?”) I imagine Evie to be the friend of a friend who sometimes sits with you at dinner and talks the entire time about how awful the world is and everyone just sits there in stunned silence before nibbling their Dairylea sandwiches awkwardly. I respected Evie for standing up for herself and her fellow students but it annoyed me how naïve and inconsistent she was. She wanted to go to high school for her final year so she could experience it before going to college and she’s all giddy because she’s seen every John Hughes film and she has based her expectations on American schools on that (So far, so me). But then when she gets to school and sees that it’s not actually like that, she gets all mental and starts petitioning about everything and talking back to teachers AND THEN wonders why she keeps getting all these detentions. Um… haven’t you seen The Breakfast Club?! Also… seriously Evie, I know you haven’t been around boys a lot because you’ve been living in a bubble (literally… they live in a bubble) but do not lose your mind when a boy talks to you… even if he does look like a “crunchier, leaner version of Kumar from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”. I don’t even know what that means…. Or that I want to.
Which brings me, reluctantly dragging my feet and foaming at the mouth, to....
Love Interest. Rajas. I really liked you. You were cute, sweet, you love a ramshackle old car which you know is one of my greatest weaknesses and, I won’t lie to you, I’d probably have fancied you if you went to my high school (and we got around the fact that you were in an all girl’s school) and you were, well.. um, real. But most importantly… you were patient. Which was important in this book. Because all the girls were INSANE. I think I’m going to crown Evie as the Queen of Insta-Love. Yes, it was cute that he rescued you from a ravine or whatever hole you’d fell down… but that does not mean you are in love with him because you can see drops of sweat forming on the back of his neck. And you should probably not tell a boy you’re in love with that you don’t shave your legs. It’s just plain weird, no wonder he looked stricken. BUT- even though this love story had dramatic ups and downs that Kathy and Heathcliff would have been proud of- the majority of my laughs did come from this section and it’s not because it was bad writing, just because I am cynical and twisted. I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from this book: “But the way I feel about Rajas. It makes me soft and exposed, like a raw oyster. My protective shell has been shucked. And then tossed out to sea. And then sucked away with a riptide.” Oh to be young and in love….
Best Friend. Again, Jacinda… I liked you, even though you also caught the crazy bug that apparently was being fed into the water system at this high school. You were intelligent, you were ambitious and you are a cheerleader. I also liked your story line, even if it did get looked over a little. I thought the bits that we did see (except maybe the ending) were portrayed realistically and I would’ve loved to have found out more about your situation. You did say the word ‘like’ approximately a gabillion times. But I’ll let you off…. Because you’re a cheerleader and you have a mean streak. Eep.
Sprawl II- Arcade Fire. OK, I wanted to choose a song about the environment, because Evie liked preserving the environment and I do too. Except in comparison to Evie, I practically run around cutting rainforests, coaxing cows to fart more and I put my tin cans in the green bin instead of the blue bin… for giggles. But, I liked this about Evie and I can imagine her and her mother dancing around their bubble to this.
Angst Level. 9/10. Normally when a book is so full of boy-induced angst, I ignore it. But it was impossible to ignore it in this book, thankfully, because it made my day. There is a lot of ‘WHY ME?!’ rants that went on for most of the book that also bumped up the angst scale. However, there were quite a few issues that were bubbling under the surface that, unfortunately, were only hinted at but still shocked me. I think this book would have reached me on a deeper level if Ms Johnson had chosen to explore some of these issues that were either forgotten about or unresolved towards the end.
Recommended For. People who have always wondered what people who are home schooled are really like. People who fall in love with every boy they see, especially the crunchy lean ones. People who like wood tech classes. People who have ever wondered what it would be like to, literally, take a roll in the hay. People who roll their eyes at the people who actually answer the rhetorical questions that the teachers write on the boards, suck ups. People who secretly hope think that American High Schools are really that cliquey and OTT. People who like their love stories with lots of unnecessary, but highly amusing angst (I’m honestly considering getting ‘Cheese grater of love’ tattooed on my fod) People who don’t understand that permanent records are… um, well… permanent. People who can read the words ‘This girl is different’ at least 9 times in a book without punching things. People who base their expectations of America on John Hughes’ films (I’ve been to America twice and this has never happened to me… I’M WAITING, AMERICA!) People who like to use Harry Potter insignia to point out social injustice.
I received this book from Peachtree Publishers via Netgalley.
You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here....more
“It wasn’t love right away, because nothing ever is, no matter what the songs say, but it was the start of it. A beginning in one way, and3.5 Stars.
“It wasn’t love right away, because nothing ever is, no matter what the songs say, but it was the start of it. A beginning in one way, and the end in another. I think that might always be true of love.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. I love being proved wrong.
High Points. An um.. alternative way of dealing with loss. Zombies. It’s a kind of magic. Cute flashbacks. Gorgeous prose. Minimal eye-roll inducing descriptions. An unconventional heroine that doesn’t have blonde hair and a willowy figure (she has piercings and coloured hair and…wait for it… she’s short! Woah now). Sisters.
Low Points. FORCED LOVE INTEREST. Anyone who has ever read any of my reviews, and/or met me on the street and asked me for the time, will know I reaaaally dislike love interests that don’t add anything to the story. This book would have completely ripped out my heart (and god knows I love a heart ripping book) if the whole Gabriel thing had just disappeared. In my view, this book was about Wren and Danny and how their love was cut short. There was no room in my sympathy for a broody boy who can’t even draw and takes things so very seriously. So, unfortunately, some Brownie points were lost on this front. I know some people can’t get enough of them but I truly feel that my Room 101 would be full of love triangles that would incessantly poke me with their sharp and ridiculously insipid edges. I’m sorry in advance Julia, but I’d betray you as well if it came to that. Also… Wren and Robin?! I find it offensive that magical/paranormal/mystical beings have to have strange and unusual names. I’m still waiting for a book where the magical power-wielding heroine is called Janet, Linda or Jo something like that. *cough*
Heroine. It took me a bit to like Wren and I was convinced she was going to become an Annoying Female Protagonist (Or as the cool kids call it an AFP) because the first thing we found out about her was that she made the most ridiculous decisions (seriously, this girl needs to watch Practical Magic before doing anything ever again). BUT, obviously if Wren didn’t make silly decisions involving dark magic and graveyards at midnight then I wouldn’t have had a book to read and review. So… y’know. I’ll let that slide. Just this once. I loved how Wren handled herself when she realised that bringing Danny back to life were going to have repercussions and consequences. She didn’t moan or panic or think ‘Oh well, he may not be the same or be in possession of a pulse and all but he’s still super-duper cute even if he is a bit pale and I’ll just put layers on when he touches me because he’s kinda cold” . Wren realised that it probably wasn’t the best idea and she took responsibility for her actions without fuss or anyone’s help.
Love Interest. Danny, or the zomboyfriend a word that I am hoping will catch on seeing as its all the rage in recent books at the moment, was the perfect boyfriend when he had a pulse and it broke my heart that he wasn’t still around to draw pictures and just be generally lovely towards Wren. It brought back some sad memories of other books that toyed with my emotions like this and turned me into a quivering wreck. I think Garvey struck gold with the addition of the flashbacks between Wren and Danny because it showed how things were and made the present even more tragic and Wren’s feelings of guilt and loss even rawer. If these flashbacks hadn’t been included and Danny had been just painted as the zombie-in-the-way-of-true-love then I probably wouldn’t have finished it. But with these glimpses at how things used to be, Garvey perfectly created an almost unbearable bittersweet feeling as Wren realised that things could never be as they were and this new Danny could never be her Danny. Gabriel- Meh. You know my feelings on him and his slate grey eyes.
Theme Tune. I Want You To Stay- Maximo Park. This song is perfect for this book because it allows me to practice my Geordie accent is all about losing someone that you still love, dealing with all the accompanying emotions and, finally, letting go.
Angst Scale. 9/10. I don’t know whether it was just me being a complete girl over-emotional but this book really affected me. Garvey proficiently conveyed Wren’s grief and the sense of helplessness and combined this with a lyrical and realistic narrative style that never became too flowery and unnecessarily emotional. A lot of writers believe that in order to write emotions they must be long and overwhelming so they can bombard the reader and pressure them into feeling sympathy towards the MC, but Garvey didn’t need this. I always find books that adopt subtlety with emotions so much more effective than writers who slather it on. I get so confused with the fragmented sentences, the elaborate metaphors that don’t make complete sense and the sensory overload that I forget what I’m even supposed to be sad about in the first place. And, I have to say that this is the first full-on, honest-to-goodness paranormal romance book that I’ve actually cared about/finished/didn’t pull out chunks of my hair over. I did not think that this was possible because I honestly believe that if I saw a paranormal romance book walking towards me on the street I would cross over to the other side and avoid its gaze until it had walked passed. So well played, Ms Garvey, well played indeed.
Recommended For. People who have never seen Practical Magic or Pet Semetary and thus do not know the perils of bringing back loved ones from the dead. IT NEVER ENDS WELL.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.
You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here....more
It would have been practically impossible to write one of my usual reviews on this wonderful graphic novel from Trina Robbins because it is3.5 Stars.
It would have been practically impossible to write one of my usual reviews on this wonderful graphic novel from Trina Robbins because it is so short. I had drawn and coloured in (within the lines, too!) a sprawling and epic graphic review of this novel and it was spectacular but just as I was about to scan in my masterpiece onto my computer…. It, um, broke. *cough* So yeah, you’ll have to make do with this bog-standard review. This graphic novel follows the story of Lily Renee Wilhelm, an Austrian girl who was sixteen when the Nazis forced her family to uproot and move to Vienna. After witnessing the horrifying and brutal acts that took place in this period (Especially the mention of Kristallnacht, an event that I learnt about in my history GCSE but never read any books that depicted it!), Lily is sent to England in a short-lived scheme set up by Germany to protect the children from the inevitable war. Before I started this book I knew nothing about Lily’s life and I found her story of surviving against the odds to become a hugely successful comic book illustrator fascinating. But I couldn’t help but feel like this book was a ridiculously fast-paced and rushed in some parts. I would have loved to have read more about Lily’s time in England and for Ms Robbins to have explored the complex feelings that the British undoubtedly felt towards Lily (along with the other Austrian/German children who were evacuated) while their cities were being ravaged by German bombers. Also, I think the story would have benefitted from a bit more detail on what happened to Lily when she landed on America and how she became to be a noted illustrator. There were a lot of gaps that could have been filled in by just adding a few more pages, just to clear things up and make the transitions feel less hurried as they did. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and the aesthetics of this book did not disappoint me. It is blatant that Ms Robbins is a master illustrator and knows exactly what she is doing when it comes to creating affective and beautiful drawings. The vivid and lavish colours of the illustrations really complimented Lily’s fascinating story and the tragic history of the period. After a few hours snooping on the Internet, I feel it is well worth researching the life of Lily Renee Philips. Her life is a fascinating and remarkable story and one that I feel should be much more widely known about.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.
You can read the review for this book, others and plenty more exciting stuff at my blog here....more
I didn’t think I’d get on with Ms Stiefvater. Partly because it just took me about five minutes to spell her name right, but also because I’ve heard tI didn’t think I’d get on with Ms Stiefvater. Partly because it just took me about five minutes to spell her name right, but also because I’ve heard things about her other series that kind of made me think that her writing wouldn’t be for me.
Not negative reviews, not at all. You know Maja, right? Of course you do, she’s brilliant and she’s the biggest Ms S fan that I know of and her reviews (here, here and here) for these books are absolutely wonderful. You’d think if anyone could persuade me to give YA paranormal a bash, it would be her. But alas, I just don’t think they’re for me. Sometimes books just aren’t.
So I was reluctant to start this one. But then so many wonderful reviews from people I would trust with picking my future book list started appearing and I thought “Huh. Why not?”
So I started reading it. And wow.
Like Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, The Scorpio Races is definitely a book that will go down as a bonnet eater*. I have heard a lot about Ms S’ writing but the snippets I’ve read got me all worried. I thought it was going to be flowery and eye-roll inducing. I guess, with a story like this (again, evil horses… gnashing at each other? Come on..), to make it work, you really have to set the scene and you have to make your readers really believe in the story you’re telling. And.. again… evil horses… on a beach… gnashing at each other… and eating people.
OK, let’s just talk about that. I feel like it’s the huge evil horse in the room and we need to address it... before it eats us. Seriously, this book is probably going to be the most difficult book to recommend to people.
Jo: Oh hey, you should really read this book! It’s amazing, really it is. I mean… it’s just brilliant. The writing is fantastic, the characters are so good and…what? Oh the story…. Well… there’s these horses and….well, they eat people... and possibly each other. But mostly human face.
Friend: *backs away slowly*
Anyway, evil horses aside, let’s talk about the writing again. Wow. Like I was saying before, if you’re going to go out with the story, you might need to go out there with the descriptions and I was really, really nervous that Ms S would be piling it on. Cramming metaphors here, there and everywhere. But in fact, the writing here was really stripped back, subtle, beautiful and almost raw in places. This book is epic, and I don’t mean that in the way that people say it nowadays (people like… um… me) I mean, epic in the original sense of the word.
The writing perfectly set up the world and didn’t overwhelm the story which, actually, didn’t seem as farfetched as I originally thought. I’m not saying that I believed there are gnashy horses lurking underneath the surf of Britain’s beaches… but let’s say I was on a remote wind-swept island where the locals are a bit… odd. Well, I’d definitely think twice about going for a paddle. The only quibble I had with this was that I wish the perspectives had been more equal. I didn’t think of this story as Puck’s, yet she got more airtime. I wish Sean, who was possibly my favourite out of the two, had pushed through a bit more. There seem to be a lot of “boys with…” in YA fiction. Boys with scars, boys with bread, boys with… *cough* tridents. But I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that “the boy with blood-red horse” is just as brilliant as they are.
It’s just that his whole backstory and his personality were just so vivid and wonderful I found myself wishing the whole story was told from his perspective. But I guess that’s always going to be the trouble when I always fall for the strong and silent type, right?
I did love the interaction between Sean and Puck though. I loved their conversation and I loved how understated their relationship was. Also, it’s so incredibly refreshing to actually get why two YA characters want to kiss each other in the first place.
So yeah, consider me completely surprised and truly smitten. Although I can safely say I will never read Linger, Wither etc, I can see why so many people love Ms Steivf… Ms Stie..… Ms S. Her writing is so restrained yet beautiful and this is probably the most original story I’ve ever read. If all of my lovely Ms S cheerleaders read another one of hers that reads like this one (The Raven Boys, maybe?) please just chuck it in my direction.
Unless it’s in hardback because… ouch.
*Bonnet Eater: A book that I think I’m going to hate and I say that I will eat my Reader’s Bonnet if I end up liking it…. And gosh, did I like this book. Consider my bonnet eaten.