Brilliant and heartbreaking and so much more alive than any other book I've read.
A web of intrigue so far removed from the normalities of historicalBrilliant and heartbreaking and so much more alive than any other book I've read.
A web of intrigue so far removed from the normalities of historical fiction that I hesitate to label it so. Out of the Easy may be set in what we see as history, but to the people in the book, it is their all-consuming present, and that vibrancy shines through. How do I explain it? It's like everything in the novel makes perfect sense, so much sense that you not only believe it's true -- you believe that you are there. Like book-induced hallucinations. It's awesome.
A stunning cast of characters. For one, there's Josie Moraine, daughter of a lying no-good prostitute, crack shot, bibliophile, and (hopefully) a college-bound young adult. All her details add up into a really tangible, densely alive character. It's awesome.
A tale of dreams that fall into disaster and how they come to be resurrected again. I can't tell you how much I love this story. I'm always mentally rating books on a scale of relateability, and this one flew off the charts. The feeling of wanting something and the struggle to achieve it. The need to be accepted, respected. The desire to rise up in society, to prosper, to escape through success. The resolve to do terrible things to get there. Also awesome.
The major incongruity I would like to point out here is that an idealist begins to write with a decidedly realist tone.
Alright. Last book. Last reviewThe major incongruity I would like to point out here is that an idealist begins to write with a decidedly realist tone.
Alright. Last book. Last review for these characters. I won't tear up. I didn't invest read the book just to cry about it, after all.
Fitzosbornes at War reminds me of my favorite rock-songs-that-are-also-love-songs. Serenades at midnight involving a balcony is a tad overdone, what with that inevitable Shakespearean scene, but it's refreshing to hear the same sort of affection remixed, a serenade that requires an all-consuming rhythm and a decidedly loud (and unromantic) voice. It's the incongruity that makes these my favorite kind of songs. The sound says "I wanna rock 'n roll" but the words say something more along the lines of "Let me be your everlasting light / Sun when there is none" (thanks, Black Keys, for the very nice song).
So yeah, Cooper pulled out some incongruities this time. Sophie (decided idealist) took on a sort of grim, what-can-you-attitude -- surprisingly realist for a previously optimistic person.
Why only four stars? You ask in bewilderment, as I sing praise to Michelle Cooper's cleverness. There was a bit too much of a play-dough-weird-overused-realism in this novel. Which is just another way of saying too many characters were unnecessarily killed off. I have some opinions, and I have some biases -- this is one of them. Four stars, living incongruities, and love songs. That is Fitzosbornes at War. ...more
Jaclyn Moriarty is a criminal mastermind (Writing books in a seemingly offhand and overdramatic fashion, eh? AND THEN USING THE NONSENSE TO CONFUSE USJaclyn Moriarty is a criminal mastermind (Writing books in a seemingly offhand and overdramatic fashion, eh? AND THEN USING THE NONSENSE TO CONFUSE US INTO NOT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?). I'm glad (no, relieved) that she became an author, and not something else. ...more
This book sure is hefty. 700 flipping pages is enough to fend off a sizable assailant, in my opinion.
The main thing to get about Ellen Emerson White,This book sure is hefty. 700 flipping pages is enough to fend off a sizable assailant, in my opinion.
The main thing to get about Ellen Emerson White, though, is that even she's completely obscure (for reasons I have yet to figure out), her books are unquestionably witty. Clever witty. Funny witty. Actually, I think I'm up for more than 700 pages witty.
But we must march on, wit or no wit! To the characters! Generally, the people are what make or break a story, given that the stuff the characters do create everything in the plot. We live in humancentric book world, my friends, and it just gets strange when books are published from the point of view of an animal (It's even stranger when it's a plant). Fake-people-that-are-completely-real-in-my-mind are my favorite kind of character, boy oh boy oh boy oh boy Meg and everyone else makes me happy. I know it's really whiny sometimes (Dude, are people not allowed to whine anymore? Then I'm in a heap of trouble.), but hey, Meg acknowledges her flawed humanity. Whining is also offset (very nicely) by wit. And wit. And more wit. Garden variety wit. I'm giggling under the covers and it's waaaaay past midnight wit. Exhibit A:
"Why are you in college, Miss Powers?" ... "Because I can't sing or dance." she said.
I must divulge on a brief opinion on Jack - oh my goodness it's a real boy! With crude comments and feelings and mess ups and everything! And it's all really really awkward and I can't even. Also, their inappropriateness is kind of funny. They manage to be awkward about that, too, and it's all very very cute.
Well, that's all for today, folks, but rest assured, this book is at least the greatest gift to novel-writing and at best plain wicked excellent....more
Just a family trying to figure it out. I find the relationships in White's books to be very thoughtful and for that I am grateful, because without herJust a family trying to figure it out. I find the relationships in White's books to be very thoughtful and for that I am grateful, because without her I don't know if I could have understood the tiffs between parents and children can be fixed and the quarrels between siblings can be remedied and the silent treatment of friends can be forgiven. A lot of times English teachers will tell you to look for the theme of books and "what the author is trying to teach the reader," but I don't think that's exactly what's happening here. And I hope you'll let me get a bit opinionated because I think what's happening here that there is a writer who can see real people who are stubborn and broken and cowardly and naive. White doesn't lecture on how people can be fixed or who is good and who is bad. Here is a writer who sees people who mutually exist and disregards all the connotations. She ignores who's famous and who's a criminal and who's smart and who's violent. Here is a writer who sees real people with interlocking lives and here is a writer who understands how people live together without falling apart. This is a writer who understands acceptance, and I read her books because I want to figure that out. ...more
Reviewing this book reflects on one very important flaw of mine: indecisiveness.
It's really a bugger when I rate books. Four stars? Three? Yes? No? MaReviewing this book reflects on one very important flaw of mine: indecisiveness.
It's really a bugger when I rate books. Four stars? Three? Yes? No? Maybe? Maybe 2. I don't know.
The problem is that Pink fluctuates so much. I like the pink cashmere sweater. I like that Ava wants to test out the other extreme. But it's doubtful that these problems of hers are so mind-consuming that she switches from deciding she likes girls to she likes guys to she likes girls and guys to she likes neither and so on. That, my friends, will make my indecisiveness flare. And not knowing how to review this book makes me irritable.
My love for a particular book can be counted by the number of paper slips I have used to mark my favorite parts. There are so manyTore out my heart.
My love for a particular book can be counted by the number of paper slips I have used to mark my favorite parts. There are so many paper slips in my copy of The Piper's Son that the book seems to have doubled in thickness.
"The world goes on, stupid and brutal." (Jennifer Donnelly, if you're wondering). But it only takes one good book to see this world as a slightly less sucky place. Somebody back me up on this. Please.
The Piper's Son is a good book. It makes me want give a hug to a stranger, just because they might be feeling lonely. It makes me want to get hugged by strangers, because sometimes I feel lonely too. So hugs to you, stranger. Can I have a hug too?
I would blurb the book right around now but I like to imagine diving into this book headfirst. But if you're looking for a blurb, then here's a good one. I avoided this book for the longest time and held it at arm's length and the whole nine yards, and I am an idiot for not reading it sooner but I still got to it eventually. So I can't really force-feed this book down your throats when it took me so long to read it myself. So take your time. But when you get around to reading The Piper's Son, comment. I want to hear that I'm not alone and that there's somebody out there who will talk to me about this book. ...more
Love is tied to truth. I think of them as unhappily conjoined twins.
This book is kind of watered-down. It's like drinking sugary-sweet lemonade whenLove is tied to truth. I think of them as unhappily conjoined twins.
This book is kind of watered-down. It's like drinking sugary-sweet lemonade when the ice cubes have melted a bit and the diluted part is just right. Actually, it's kind of pleasant, in a weird way.
i have to help him realize that it's the belief, not the words, that mean everything. i have to make him realize the point isn't the falling. it's the floating.
The characteristic half-explanations of John Green and David Levithan are really potent in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Them authors try so hard to not be cliché that everything turns to a sort of incomprehensible rabble-babble (If you've read any one of their books, then you know what I mean). There are a million and one ways that readers have adapted to this sort of pretentious style of writing. I'm going to make it easy for you. In simple Q&A format!
FAQs ABOUT CONTEMPORARY WRITERS
Welcome. I see that you've found the FAQs about contemporary writers. If you seem to have some trouble reading books by contemporaries, read on. If you aren't, then you're probably in denial. You should read on, too.
*reads passage* Wait. That didn't make sense. *rereads passage* Still doesn't make sense. *rereads passage* Still doesn't make sense. *rereads passage* . . .
Seems like you've been caught in a vicious cycle. Personally, I like to call it the Vicious Time Loop. The VTL is a common phenomenon when reading contemporary books. It happens because contemporary writers write funny. And then they fail to explain the funny writing. Happens all the time. Basically, you have three options:
1) Ignore it. Go on your merry way. Finish the book. Live the rest of your life in blissful ignorance of the 'other side' of contemporary writing.
2) Stay in the time loop until you have some sort of profound revelation that forever changes the way you see life. (although you probably wasted most of your life in the Vicious Time Loop)
3) Swear off contemporary books forever.
*reads passage* That felt like it was supposed to be really deep, but I still don't really get it. *rereads passage* I still don't get it. *rereads passage* I still don't get it . . .
Hey! They just cited an obscure band that I've never heard of.
I only have one word for you, my friend: Google. But be warned. Most contemporary writers like weird bands. Those bands are obscure for a reason, you know. You might be better off by just playing your own music. (I had It's Time and Anna Sun playing a lot while reading this book. But I like weird bands too, so I wouldn't trust my recommendations too much.)
Okay, I think that's it. Wow. I can actually rant for a really long time. Who knew? But anyway. Back to the book. BEST. ENDING. EVER. Creative dramatic awesomeness PURE FABULOUSNESS. That will be all.
(Now John Green and David Levithan just have to publish a complete version of Tiny Dancer and my life will be complete :D)...more
What happens behind the fated gates of Harvard? More mishaps than you might think. That Book About Harvard is about one guy's misadventures through hiWhat happens behind the fated gates of Harvard? More mishaps than you might think. That Book About Harvard is about one guy's misadventures through his freshman year at Harvard, including:
1) walking across the Harvard Yard in his underwear 2) failing calculus 3) getting arrested 4) trying to get into a Finals Club (the Harvard equivalent of a fraternity) 5) surviving the world's most (in)famous university, one embarassment at a time.
Okay, so that last one was the book's tagline. It's kind of kooky, but it works well with the book. Really.
The thing I liked best was actual development in the character. He starts off all pessimistic because he's failing calculus and not fitting in and whatnot (kinda like an anti-hero!). But he doesn't just dissolve into a puddle of self-loathing. And you can call me biased, but I just love these kinds of feel-good books. Especially if they're as funny as this one. ...more
This review is mainly here for one purpose and one purpose only: to convince you how nice it is to have The Crown of Embers as a friend in the tumultuThis review is mainly here for one purpose and one purpose only: to convince you how nice it is to have The Crown of Embers as a friend in the tumultuous confusion of YA fantasy.
Let's start with the obvious.
The Bestest Heroine Ever
Face it. Elisa is irresistible. She's like ice cream on a hot day. She struggles with making the right decision but she is selfless and loyal and you know, she feels like a real person. There's also that dry humor thing going on. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not bad for strong main character.
It's the strangest thing. This book is funny. Or maybe I value dry humor and awkwardness a but to much. But the light mocking of forced formality in the court, the true-to-life uncomfortable romance ("I know. But I don't. Hate you, that is."), and the funny found in unexpected places ("I felt sorry for them, getting beaten and pressed, rotting into something that smelled bad. It seemed to me that grapes would rather be grapes than wine."), it all goes to show that fantasy isn't uptight or confusing - yes, it's a world of politics and leadership out there but there's still a place for a sense of humor.
And, the Grand Finale
It's a hard thing to live, and it's a harder thing to face living problems. That's what fantasy is for - making politics and leadership and all that jazz into an adventure, something distant from the government but close to real life ("He had a way of believing in people long before they believed in themselves."). Something that touches on making the right choice and sacrificing our own and doing something drastic to try and fix things - this is fantasy, and no one can take that from the genre. The Crown of Embers is true to that legacy, which is probably why I love it so much....more
Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is really about this Green Teen named Jenna who is an environmentalist extraordinaire. Jenna goes to live with her godmother for the summer and is all ready to paint the town with solar panels and recycling campaign when she meets real nature people. It sounded like a pretty hilarious plotline to me.
Then we meet the characters. This is the part that really bugged me. They just weren't very likable. Jenna was, ahem, very persistent, which got a bit annoying. Then she hangs out with some outdoorsy guys and all's well until she just starts crushing on one of them completely out of the blue. I'd really just have liked her to lay off on the insta-love.
So I picked up Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots for some good chick lit. BOY, WAS I SORELY MISTAKEN. You know how people gush about how awesome it is when writers really figure out good writing? Yeah, that doesn't generally happen in the first novel. I liked learning how much Abby McDonald developed as a writer, but I really felt like I was backtracking on this one :/...more
Margo always loved mysteries . . . maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.
Arguably, all of John Green's books follow the same basic pMargo always loved mysteries . . . maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.
Arguably, all of John Green's books follow the same basic plot structure. There is always some poor sap (usually a guy) who is hopelessly in the love with someone. This usually results in the said sap going on some enlightening journey that results in some sort of profound observation about life.
One would think that the same exact plot would result in some very repetitive stories. It probably should be. But all of John Green's books carry their own original themes, and that separates them in my mind.
You listen to people so that you can imagine them, and you hear all the terrible and wonderful things people do to themselves and to one another, but in the end the listening exposes you even more than it exposes the people you're trying to listen to.
The message that I picked out from Paper Towns is that trying to understand other people usually ends up in someone understanding themself. Basically, this guy named Quentin is looking for this girl named Margo, and in trying to figure out who Margo is, he learns a bit more about himself. Paper Towns is a simple and understated book. It is also an adventure. It's nice. But I heard that some people don't really feel that this is John Green's best work. Even so, I liked it well enough. I'd read it again. ...more
I've been reading tiny little bits and pieces of A Northern Light every day. I was savoring Jennifer Donnelly's voice (it's gorgeous and meticulouslyI've been reading tiny little bits and pieces of A Northern Light every day. I was savoring Jennifer Donnelly's voice (it's gorgeous and meticulously crafted and other adjectives that aren't in my vocabulary yet). This dragged on for awhile. Predictably, my willpower broke. So I tore through the rest of the book until I ended up bawling.
Why was I bawling, you ask? Good question. A Northern Light isn't perfect. It's not perfect, but it's beautiful. To borrow words from Elvis Costello, Jennifer Donnelly's aim is true. Her purpose got through to me, and the simple fact that she could bring meaning to a book like that made me cry.
“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die . . . In this war, we know, books are weapons.” - FDR, and not actually present in A Northern Light
As it happens with beautiful books, I can't come up with anything that will truly capture how gorgeous it is. I believe the word I'm looking for is nonpareil. And what it really comes down to is the words. Mattie's love for words is so contagious. You start to notice little things, like how Jennifer Donnelly's greatest weapon isn't long words, but simple ones. And from these simple words she draws out the bittersweet truth.
And that what the whole book is, really. Bittersweet. And I believe that this bare honesty is what truly brought me to understand this book. Because all of it is laid out right in the pages. All of the feelings. All of the choices. All of the decisions. All of the hope. And all of the bittersweet truth.
"I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams." - W. B. Yeats, and also not present in A Northern Light
And it comes down to dreams. The bittersweet truth is that in order to follow one dream, we will tread on another. I'm so used to happy endings that this sort of thinking knocks me to the ground. And I want to shout it to the world and I want it to resound through the halls because this is the kind of writing that endures. A Northern Light will endure because it holds the gravity of universal truths. And the quality that comes with universal truths is that people will always understand it. And this book will endure, and people will read it. The only question that remains is if you will be one of them. ...more