My teen daughter recommended this book to me, knowing that I do not read every single popular YA book, especially ones that are being portrayed as "ju...moreMy teen daughter recommended this book to me, knowing that I do not read every single popular YA book, especially ones that are being portrayed as "just like The Hunger Games" or "If you like Twilight, you would like this..." I find most YA fantasies lack originality and am sick of love triangles among vampires, wolves, witches and humans... The plain looking book cover did not help convincing me, either. I can't help wondering, after reading the book, how the blue on the cover should have been Karou's hair, not her mask. However, daughter said this book is comparable to Delirium, with equally poignant and lyrical writing. She knows I'm a sucker for those beautiful narratives and couldn't resist. I couldn't.
This book is a breath of fresh air among all the other fantasy and paranormal YAs. Yes, there's an angel and a demon, but the story idea is fresh, original and creative. The conversations and writings are thought-provoking and worth pondering long after reading.
The story begins when we encounter Karou, an art student in the midst of breaking up with her worthless boyfriend. We soon realize that she leads a double life, collecting all kinds of teeth for her adoptive Father, Brimstone, in his magical shop in the middle of nowhere. We also realize that Karou speaks many different languages, is trained in martial arts and weapons. The door of Brimstone shop could lead her to anywhere in the world, and that's how she travels for her trade. A bit later, we also learn that teeth are for granting wishes. However, Brimstone made it a point not to tell Karou anything about his trade and what he uses the teeth for.
"Well, what do you use them for?" "Nothing, I do not wish." "Never? But you could have anything you wanted--" "Not anything. There are things bigger than any wish." "Like what?" "Most things that matter."
Karou has no idea who she is and always has a feeling that she's not whole. She looks 100% human, while Brimstone and his other helpers have animal parts and they are the only family she has...then, entered Akiva. Akiva is an angel,physically perfect and attractive, who came to destroy all the portals to Brimstone's shop, since Angels and Demons have always been at war...Akiva notices familiarity in Karou and Karou is immediately attracted to him. But why?? This book is about love and hope...and did I mention the story takes place in Prague?
"I hope, child, but I don't wish. There's a difference. Because hope comes from in you, and wishes are just magic. Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes it's own magic."
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This...moreThis book is about love.
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This book drew me in from the first page until the end. The book was written in a narrative, story-telling style that is very intriguing and mythical. Having the majority of the story taking place in Burma also added to the allure.
The story begins when Julia Win arrived Burma, looking for her Father who left suddenly without a trace 4 years ago, leaving her Mom and two children. She met an older man in a tea house who asked her a question:
"Do you believe in love?" "Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do and say things that well will later regret, that delude us into think we cannot live without a certain person....a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot." "No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death."
Thus this unforgettable story begins, a love that transcends 50 years, from Kalaw to New York and back; a love that defies time and distance. The descriptions of Asia and mythical practices and beliefs were very accurate, though unbelievable for most westerners. The ending was quite satisfactory in my point of view. Although I would love to hear more about Julia and his Dad's life in New York, as well as more descriptions of everyday life in Burma, since this story captivated me so. I guess I just didn't want it to end...
I do have a question remain after finishing the book: Is the bond of romantic love is ultimately stronger than the familial one, or are the two incomparable? Can they be exclusive? If they are, which one would you give up?(less)
Someone gave me this book when I it was as popular among women as 50 Shades of Grey is today. I shoved it aside, and somehow stumbled upon it just the...moreSomeone gave me this book when I it was as popular among women as 50 Shades of Grey is today. I shoved it aside, and somehow stumbled upon it just the other night. Since I'm older and wiser, I figure it might be a good time to read it and get it over with. I also want to see what all the hype was about. I finished the book in a bit more than an hour.
I think the book is highly overrated. Books written recently has much better language and prose, as well as more defined characters.(less)
I haven't been writing reviews due to the lack of time, but this book deserves one. I just hope that my words do this wonderful story and author justi...moreI haven't been writing reviews due to the lack of time, but this book deserves one. I just hope that my words do this wonderful story and author justice.
I constantly emphasize my idea of a good book - the ending is not that important, the characters do not have to be likable, the plot does not have to entwined, the writing does not have to be complicated... As long as the book moves my heart, stirs up my feelings, makes me re-examine my life or/and my views, then it's a good book.
I've read so many books this year with a young narrative voice: The Age of Miracles, Under the Banyan Tree, Room, The Fault in Our Stars. Out of all these lovable voices, I love Budo's the best. Budo is not really a "human" child, although he looks, acts, thinks and talks like one. Budo is the imaginary friend of a human boy, Max, who's nine. Budo looks just like a human because Max has a wonderful imagination.
"I’m also lucky because I’m mobile. Lots of imaginary friends are stuck to their human friends. Some have leashes around their necks. Some are three inches tall and get stuffed into coat pockets. And some are nothing more than a spot on the wall, like Chomp. But thanks to Max, I can get around on my own. I can even leave Max behind if I want."
Imaginary friends can only be as good as their human friend imagine them to be. Some looks like robots, some are stick figures, yet others are combination of a dinosaur and a monster. They capabilities vary as well, some can fly, others go through doors, yet some unfortunate ones are stuck on a chair, since that's all their human owner imagine them to be...sitting along. So, Budo is lucky to be so human, so knowledgeable, so capable. Max teaches him and tells him everything, and Budo follows him to school. I love pondering about what Budo says in the book...
"It's strange how teachers can go off to college for all those years to learn to become teachers, but some of them never learn the easy stuff, like making kids laugh. And Making sure they know you love them. "
"There are two different kind of teachers in the world: there are teachers who play school and teachers who teach school."
From Budo's narration, we know early on, that Max is different. Max is unlike all other kids.
Max lives on the inside and the other kids live on the outside. That's what makes him so different. Max doesn't have an outside. Max is all inside."
"Max is brave.... But you have to be the bravest person in the world to go out every day being yourself when no one likes who you are...."
Budo has been around for a long time. Imaginary friends disappear once their creator no longer needs them. Many of Budo's friends disappear after a year, a few months or even a few days. Most disappear during Kindergarten year of their creator. Budo wonders where imaginary friends go once they disappear from this world, and he worries that one day Max would no long need him and he would disappear, too. He constantly worries that one day no one, not even Max, will ever remember him again.
"The whole world will go on without you. Like you were never here. And then someday everyone who knows you will be dead, too, and then it will be like you never, ever existed. Doesn't it make you sad?"
One day, something terrible happens, and Budo is the only one who can save the person he loves most. What if his decision threatens his own existence? Who is more important, himself, or Max? I never reveal the plot or ending in my reviews, and I won't do it on this review, either. All I can say is, the ending makes me cry...over and over. I will recommend this book to anyone who knows love, friendship and imagination. It's one of my top 2012 books.
This book is a tribute to all "teachers who teach" and "people who are all inside" out there.(less)
Can one fall in love in just one day? When we were young, we believed we could...so did Allyson in this book.
"We are born in one day. We die in one da...moreCan one fall in love in just one day? When we were young, we believed we could...so did Allyson in this book.
"We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day."
Allyson was young, 18, a goody-two-shoes who followed her parents' every advice and was on her road to become a pre-med student. A trip to Europe, or more specifically, a day in Paris, changed everything...Did she see the truth on that day, or a big fat lie?
Allyson was a normal and average American girl who was not particular pretty nor witty. She was awkward in social situations, even, but she was a good thinker, and she did a lot of self-introspection throughout the course of the story. She made stupid mistakes and quick decisions that caused the Mom in me to wince with horror. She made friends, but also lost them. It was heartbreaking to observe Allyson to come of age in the hard way through every error and consequences of her decisions. This story begins when she made a decision to visit Paris for a day with a guy she barely knows, while she was in Europe for her high school graduation trip. The day changed everything in her life.
My bookish friend, Kathleen...once mentioned that she could not resist any YA novels that quote Shakespeare or mention his works. This book will definitely attract her attention. The Dutch boy in the book, Willem, and Allyson met when he was performing as Sebastian in Twelfth Night. Shakespeare's plays and works are subsequently mentioned in the second half of the book, and more intensively. They also sparked my interest in a few plays and I plan to read the original works a bit later. Part of the story also took place in Europe, yet the author described the places quite accurately, (view spoiler)[especially in the second trip. (hide spoiler)] For those of you who has never read Shakespeare, or has never been to Europe, you'll definitely add a few more things to your bucket list after reading this book.
This is another wonderful book from Gayle Forman, the author of two other books: If I Stay and Where She Went. Just like her the format of her previous two books, Just One Day is written in the girl's perspective, and the upcoming sequel will be in the boy's voice.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book could have been so much more...with such an interesting plot, conflicted yet attractive characters and wonderful world building/setting (Sou...moreThis book could have been so much more...with such an interesting plot, conflicted yet attractive characters and wonderful world building/setting (South, Civil War vs. present day). I could see why a movie was made based on the above factors: forbidden love, characters torn between two worlds, mysterious families and past, unbelievable power that could used to do good, as well as bad...and a haunted mansion with an attractive owner... I loved how the main character was a love-sick boy, not a girl as in most other YA books.
Unfortunately, there are several factors that did not contribute to a good rating for the series:
1. The story drags on too much without smooth transitions from one part to another. The story could be told in less than two books, 4 are just too many.
2. The characters are not consistent in their actions and beliefs. It's hard to really know and cheer for them, except that they love each other, just like Edward and Bella from Twilight. (Did I mention how much the beginning and plot of this series reminded me of Twilight? By the way, I DID like Twilight, so I'm not one of those anti-paranormal fans) The first person thinking of a new twist is a genius, all others are just copycats.
3. There are so many opportunities to make the 2 main characters likable, yet the author(s) failed; probably neither of them is good in writing from her heart to begin with. Not to mention the collaboration, which may also hinder the smooth flow of the story. It also happened to most of the supporting characters, so I feel sad for the extremely great ones, as Macon and Amma, since they would go down, with the series.
4. Terrible and unpolished writing and grammar, weak descriptives and word choices.
“Just as I lay down, she sat up. I sat up, she flopped back down. Awkward. That was my every move, when it came to her.”
"There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave. I never even saw it coming."
"I knew what I was doing. You don't. You think you do, but you don't. She was in my head again, as it she'd always been there."
"Everything around me changed, and it was like I was somewhere else. I was in the garden, but not in the garden..."
I'm a serious note-taking and highlighter (with Kindle) when reading, and the only phrase I highlighted in this book was in the beginning: "There were only two kinds of people in our town. The stupid and the stuck." After reading the first two books of the series (and skimping through the third and the fourth), I seriously think a third person wrote that quote...
5. People can die and be revived as the authors pleased; as well as the characters gaining and losing their power(s). Anything goes. This is the main killer for me. This predicted the forever dragging on of the plot.
I wish some wonderful YA authors, like Roth, Taylor, or Oliver could take this series and rewrite the books so not to waste the characters and the setting. (less)
There were only a handful (or even less) books that influenced me deeply after reading; The Year of Magical Thinking by Didion was one of them. This p...moreThere were only a handful (or even less) books that influenced me deeply after reading; The Year of Magical Thinking by Didion was one of them. This particular book she wrote right after her husband's death from heart attack. The grief and pain in the book were so raw and deep that I could feel my own heart being torn into pieces. I purchased her newest book, Blue Nights, on publication date, but decided to put it aside until I'm actually emotionally stable enough to devour another sad book from her. Most of the times, I feel too vulnerable to let her strong words play with my feelings.
I read this book to prepare for my reading of Blue Nights. It's wonderfully written. The author knows Didion quite intimately, and has been friends with her for over 40 years. The Joan Didion one perceived from this book is as real as one could get. The author captured her physical, emotional, and spiritual changes through out the years in a wonderful way.(less)
There's no such thing as a used book. Or there's no such thing as a book if it's not being used.
As most others who requested this book, I have a soft...moreThere's no such thing as a used book. Or there's no such thing as a book if it's not being used.
As most others who requested this book, I have a soft spot in my heart for books about reading and bookstores, and this is a great book for bibliophiles. It helps if you already have some knowledge about the second-hand book trade, books, writers and artists, because there will be lots of references that will make most readers scratch their heads… So, if you like simple plot-driven books without any concerns of prose, literary, art, or even music references, leave this book alone.
Esme Garland was from England. She’s now living in New York working on a PhD in Art History with a scholarship from Columbia. Unfortunately, her taste in men is not as sophisticated as her taste in arts and literatures, and she accidentally has gotten pregnant by the most unlikeable man (rich, attractive, blue blood, tanned…just, very self-absorbed), who did not want to have anything to do with the baby, or Esme. So, she was left alone, pregnant, stressed (from school) and lost (in life), although she has decided to keep the baby.
Fortunately for her, she found herself a part time job at a second hand bookstore called The Owl at Upper West Side during this difficult time of her life. Ah, a bookstore staffed with workers who are well read is simply more than just a bookstore. The staff at The Owl are quirky yet human. From the homeless men that occasionally help taking carts and shelves out in the morning and bring them in before the shop closes, a health and organic buff who knows books like no others (George), a guitarist who knows music and it’s healing quality as well as books (Luke), to a customer that always visits with a towel on his head, they accepted Esme as one of their own. One of them we realized has special feelings for Esme before she herself did. Simply said, The Owl did not only satisfy Esme’s financial need, but also her emotional ones. It’s the best thing that has happened to her, other than her child, that is. The bookstore also taught Esme a thing or two about family, about love, about life...and about choices, especially when her finance suddenly reappeared in her life.
As a debut novel, I find the writing quite impressive and sometimes more ornate than I expected. However, everyone who knows me understand what a sucker I am for beautiful writing and quotes that make me think. This book succeeded in both regards. The plot is a bit weak and Esme's love for her boyfriend is a bit over the top, but believable, and acceptable for a new author who did brilliantly with characters and prose. The many takes of Esme on American life and behavior from her British standpoint was fun to read as well. Unfortunately, I cannot quote from the book too much since the copy I read was a pre-release one, but one scene that still lingers in my mind long after I finished the book was when Esme was going on a book call with Luke to buy all books from an old lady:
“These books…,” she begins, and stops. I am frightened; for her, for myself decades from now, struggling to retain dignity with two strangers as they take away my books. I can see the straight line to her grave, to mine…. “They are all my life. These books are all my life.”
It’s hard to not feel emotional reading these lines. Looking at all the books on my shelf and my Kindle…I can’t help but visualizing a straight line to my grave as well. I will be looking forward to each and every one of Meyler’s new books.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.(less)
Some reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction v...moreSome reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction version of the same theme. I totally agree. However, somehow I still enjoy reading her nonfictions a bit more. Her nonfiction writings are much less restrained, the jokes funnier, while her fictions can only go as far as the characters be able to reach, and her characters are not as likable as she is.(less)