This year, only two books have made me cry so hard I had to stop reading. This was one of them.
But it's not because it's sad--it's actually a sweet, hThis year, only two books have made me cry so hard I had to stop reading. This was one of them.
But it's not because it's sad--it's actually a sweet, hopeful book filled with the ordinary joys of childhood. It's more the understanding of how isolated the Georges of the world must feel, and the hope that every single one of us takes the time to listen, to understand, to be supportive, and to be kind.
All I have to say is, this book is somehow even more awesome than the original series.
Don't be nervous about the multiple POVs--every character has hAll I have to say is, this book is somehow even more awesome than the original series.
Don't be nervous about the multiple POVs--every character has history and agency, and you'll care deeply about every single one of them. Plus diversity! Kickass heroines! Gifted thieves! Amaaaaazing action sequences! All perfectly paced and perfectly thrilling.
I would like to lock Lauren DeStefano in an attic so she does nothing other than turn out charming middle grade novels for the rest of her life. But II would like to lock Lauren DeStefano in an attic so she does nothing other than turn out charming middle grade novels for the rest of her life. But I suppose that would be unreasonable.
You'll love this book if the sad, tender pull between Liesl and Po tugged at your emotions, if you delighted in the dark humor and dire dangers of the Lemony Snicket series, or if you shivered ever so slightly at the delicious creepiness of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. This book is so comfortably appropriate for children (though perhaps best read reassuringly curled up against a loved one, for both comfort and discussion of serious topics--parents might also consider reading it first before giving it to younger children), even as it doesn't shy away from intelligent use of language or touching on scary topics. The real world can be a sad, scary place, after all. The author's preface was also very moving--the idea of this young cousin of hers clutching a beloved book for security after a death in the family brought a tear to my eye.
Review to come. I loved this, and am so looking forward to book two. I hope the author writes many more middle grade books in the future--particularly ones that so deftly show her rather infamous sense of humor, as well as a glimpse of her heart....more
Astonishing. After reading Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, I was curious why the third victim featured in it so little, although all of the gAstonishing. After reading Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, I was curious why the third victim featured in it so little, although all of the girls seem to be on good terms and wish each other well. In reading this, it's clear that the perpetrator's first victim had already suffered so much before she ever even got into the car with Ariel Castro (bitter poverty, abuse, homelessness, having her son taken by CPS), and that she was isolated from the other girls and treated very differently. It makes total sense to me that she chose to write her own story, and I hope that she and her son have the chance to connect sometime when he's older.
I have such admiration for how resilient all three of these girls are, and how incredibly open and generous and forgiving they all seem to be towards each other and towards what happened to them. The fact that these horrific things happen are just--unimaginable to me, but hearing these stories of survival are both touching and awe-inspiring.
A note the writing: it's remarkably concise and clear-headed, as well as riveting. Both this book and HOPE are well-structured and written, in a way that many of these memoirs are not, so hat tip to both sets of collaborators on helping these girls tell their stories. ...more
As much as I enjoy fantasy and adventure, I love everyday stories about childhood. This ended up being much more serious and moving than I expected, hAs much as I enjoy fantasy and adventure, I love everyday stories about childhood. This ended up being much more serious and moving than I expected, however.
I listened to much of this audiobook as I was huddled under the covers in the dark in my own nest, much like the ones Chirp finds comfort in when she feels alone. Jenna Lamia does a beautifully subtle reading (at one point I skipped back so I could listen to hear her charming rendition of a horned owl again), though she also made me tear up at the emotional scenes.
A really lovely book that takes the time to let its story breathe, and a really lovely audio experience.
Remember how I was just saying I wanted a YA thriller that would actually, you know, thrill me? Here it is.
Those who liked certain elements of CharmRemember how I was just saying I wanted a YA thriller that would actually, you know, thrill me? Here it is.
Those who liked certain elements of Charm & Strange and Wild Awake might like this, and certainly you'll like it if you enjoy books like Dangerous Girls. Not a perfect book, but a really, really good one, so I'm bumping it up in star ratings in support. I had never heard of Nick Lake until now, but I'm definitely reading his other books! Review to come. ...more
4.5 stars So fun. I love the surprises in this one, and as always, the humor and unexpectedly serious stuff with Maggie's parents and brother are well4.5 stars So fun. I love the surprises in this one, and as always, the humor and unexpectedly serious stuff with Maggie's parents and brother are well done. Kristan Higgins does cheerful, charming small town life so well--if she could get over her habit of always writing in ridiculously cartoony bad dates that don't work out for the heroine, her books would pretty much be my idea of the perfect romance books.
Also, I normally am not a huge fan of pets taking up a lot of time in books, but they're always written so lovably in KH books! (view spoiler)[Tears flowed for awhile when Colonel died. (hide spoiler)] And the story turning and the taciturn love interest were such a nice change of pace, too. Really enjoyed this one. ["br"]>["br"]>...more
There is a giveaway for 2 QOS tote bags + books as well.
Kim and I will also be doing a joint review discussion on the blog soon. I'm refraining from responding to further comments on this review space for the time being while I collect my thoughts, but I thank you guys so much for the discussion and passion for these books, and look forward to continuing later. See you back here in a bit, I'll post the link when it's up!
I stayed up all night reading this, and these are the only coherent things I can say at this point:
1. The women in this series are PHENOMENAL. Holy hell, I swear fealty to them until the end of my days.
2. The new characters are fantastic! There is such complexity and poignancy in each of their stories, and I loved every single one of them, as well as what Aelin's interactions with them showed about her character.
3. More descriptions of sleeping under a wyvern's wing, please. <3
4. I have issues with the way a couple of things are handled--most strongly and specifically, how poor Chaol is almost unrecognizable for most of this book. Even though I can accept misunderstandings, mistakes, differences of opinion, cross-purposes, and so on, it makes me so sad that his story arc seemed to be so diminished and dishonored.
5. But the thing I didn't think I could be talked into, I'm actually totally on board with. I get why people might be upset by (view spoiler)[Rowan and Aelin getting together, and maybe if there hadn't been so much previous back and forth with Dorian and Chaol, and if Chaol hadn't pretty much disavowed Aelin through most of this book, the new relationship would've been more palatable (hide spoiler)], but I'm pretty happy with the way the way the big change develops and is described in and of itself.
6. This book also made me cry. Like gasping sobs in the middle of the night that I had to stifle so I wouldn't wake my husband. I teared up at several points, but the graveyard scene was the one where I just lost it. (view spoiler)[Sam still hurts my heart, so I was unbearably moved that his presence is so deeply felt in this book. I didn't expect it. (hide spoiler)] *bawls all over again*
Also, the badass action scenes! Aelin! Her suit and weapons! The magic! MANON. And bathtub scenes, heeeey. More at some point when I'm not half-dead with lack of sleep.
I went into this with a certain amount of dread, but much to my surprise, this is the book that has the happiest ending out of all of them. This just means more torture is in store in future books, obviously, but for now...bliss.
** PLEASE. Use spoiler tags in the comments below if you want to talk about anything that could even remotely spoil the reading experience for someone else. Thank you!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't even care, I can't stop thinking about this book so I'm bumping my original 4.5 star rating to a 5. Plus it made me cry! I don't think anotherI don't even care, I can't stop thinking about this book so I'm bumping my original 4.5 star rating to a 5. Plus it made me cry! I don't think another 2014 book has done that this year.
I cannot believe these were written as prequels, they give readers such an enormous breadth of understanding for Celaena's character and history, as well as enormous sympathy for what she's been through, faults and all.
4.5 stars Well, clearly I'm going to be kicked out of the cool kids' club, because I fucking loved this book. A good reminder to always try things ou 4.5 stars Well, clearly I'm going to be kicked out of the cool kids' club, because I fucking loved this book. A good reminder to always try things out for yourself to see what you think.
The pacing and more introspective heroine will likely be issues for some readers (and I fully admit that I think this would have worked better as pure historical fantasy, rather than middle-ages-in-this-weird-future-time period), but I can tell you that these were not problems for me at all, being that I devoured all 400+ pages in 24 hours and am dyyyying for the next book.
4.5 stars Marie Rutkoski is cruel to our little falcon, my friends. This book is filled with anger, betrayal, sacrifice, and yearning--not to mention secret messages, delicious cat-and-mouse dialogue, and despairing subtext. If you love impossible romances set against the backdrop of war, give this series a try--though be forewarned that the ending is TORTURE. Pure torture.
This is such an odd, lovely little book. The usual magic and mystery at a boarding school, a most unfortunately named heroine,I like cat-smiles. <3
This is such an odd, lovely little book. The usual magic and mystery at a boarding school, a most unfortunately named heroine, a romance that creeps steadily up on you, and incredibly strange, touching bird/cat POVs! None of it should work, and yet it does. The pacing was a bit uneven, and at times I wished for a bit more from certain scenes, but overall, a really wonderful debut. You might like this if you enjoyed Blythewood.
Kim's review is the one that persuaded me to read this: http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2014... with her promises of wish-granting feral space cats, and being that she's the one who got me to the only two books that have made me cry this year, I was right to trust her with this one.
4.5 stars Months ago, I had to put Love Letters to the Dead down because it was making me so desperately sad. Almost a full year later, I read the las4.5 stars Months ago, I had to put Love Letters to the Dead down because it was making me so desperately sad. Almost a full year later, I read the last half of it with a lump in my throat and tears dripping down my face. This is a profoundly moving meditation on grief, written with rare sensitivity and the kind of prose that nearly stops your heart with moments of quiet, anguished beauty.
Creepy, complex, genuinely frightening, thrilling, sad, and unbelievably tender and hushed and beautiful all at once. This is a dark, violent fairy taCreepy, complex, genuinely frightening, thrilling, sad, and unbelievably tender and hushed and beautiful all at once. This is a dark, violent fairy tale, it's a mystery, it's a fantasy, it's horror, it's historical, it's gothic, and it's also the story of a girl trying to find a place for herself among a grieving family torn apart by war. The family dynamics and sister relationship are so well done, as are the way the book handles loss and longing. And on top of that? Feminism and jazz and tea shops and plates and plates of cake! (view spoiler)[Not to mention shrieking dolls, shudder-inducing but poignant consumption of various things, and a fantastic play on the fears of parents re: changelings. (hide spoiler)]
I haven't read a middle grade book with this much nuance and wild imagination and feeling since The Golden Compass--and I'm betting those who liked Coraline or the original Grimm's fairy tales will like this. I was thrilled by the intense creepiness and dread of the mystery behind Triss' illness, I was outraged by what she has to endure, and I teared up over what was to become of her. Best read knowing as little about the plot as possible--just enjoy the wonderfully descriptive writing, the perfectly paced plot, and the experience of not knowing where the story will go next.
Love love love love love. And now I have to read everything else Frances Hardinge has ever written.
Gorgeous, riveting, and heartbreaking all at once. Parts of this book made me desperately sad, even though I knew they were coming--and that is nothinGorgeous, riveting, and heartbreaking all at once. Parts of this book made me desperately sad, even though I knew they were coming--and that is nothing short of spectacular writing.
This is the story of a girl, locked in a room, who is strapped into a chair every morning while a man holds a gun to her head. She’s wheeled into a clThis is the story of a girl, locked in a room, who is strapped into a chair every morning while a man holds a gun to her head. She’s wheeled into a classroom in which there are other kids strapped into chairs just like hers, where a woman teaches them lessons that they will probably never need to learn.
This book is like a fantastic combination of
the scrupulously researched medical thriller aspects of Mira Grant's Deadline + the queer, feral curiosity of a child who's not what she seems, like Octavia Butler's Fledgling + the wandering survival aspects of The Reapers are the Angels and its badass heroine Temple + the dichtomy of high-functioning/degenerate beings in Warm Bodies the poignant, impossible need in Let the Right One In.
But with a fascinating pathogen, distinctly drawn characters, and unexpected (and AWESOME) ending of its own. First 5 star read of 2014!
If this book were a movie, we'd all be at Julie Murphy's slumber party piled in front of the TV in our jammies, both screaming with laughter and clutcIf this book were a movie, we'd all be at Julie Murphy's slumber party piled in front of the TV in our jammies, both screaming with laughter and clutching each other the minute someone leaned in for a kiss.
This book is: Hilarious. Quietly poignant. Provocative.
This book contains: Nuanced friendships and complex families. Romantic moments as sweet as puppy dog kisses. Lots of Dolly Parton songs. References to awesome books.
And it's so great to find a book that is fiercely positive, most especially about body image, identity, and self-love. The best stories let you live for awhile in someone else's skin and allow you to experience the world in way you haven't before. Being inside Willowdean Dickson's head is a joy, not only because it's so easy to sympathize with and relate to her, but also because that sassy Texas attitude makes her so damned funny.
I loved the everyday experiences of the first part of the book, when Will is going to work and school and dealing with drifting apart with her BFF, and struggling with her sadness over her aunt's recent death and her mom's imperviousness to her feelings. Not to mention the KISSES. I wasn't as into the pageant part that dominated the second half, but it was handled in a way that felt both realistic and satisfying. (Thank heaven it didn't feel false or manipulative--or even worse, zany.) True story: looking up "pageant mums" will both horrify and delight you.
I'm also super jealous of all the kids who get to frequent Julie Murphy's branch, because she's got to be the coolest library lady that ever was. I've seen photos of that Where the Wild Things Are tattoo.
Um...a more polished review at some point when it's not 3:30 in the morning. But seriously, put this one on your list....more
Everything, everything, everything a violent crime thriller should be, and the best Slaughter book to date. (view spoiler)[ I am even more irritated wEverything, everything, everything a violent crime thriller should be, and the best Slaughter book to date. (view spoiler)[ I am even more irritated with The Shining Girls now. Grrrrr. (hide spoiler)]
One of the most beautiful parts of the Unearthly trilogy was seeing how Cynthia Hand wrote about grief. Reading this novel is an incredibly painful exOne of the most beautiful parts of the Unearthly trilogy was seeing how Cynthia Hand wrote about grief. Reading this novel is an incredibly painful experience, particularly if suicide has touched your life in a significant way, but I wouldn't trade this book, with all its blurry, unfinished truths and messy, gut-wrenching feeling, for a thousand more showy, "clever" stories on the same topic.
A simple, emotional tribute to those who leave us all too soon. And a small reassurance to the rest of us that we're not alone in our sorrow. 4.5 stars...more
I don't know about you, but I feel as though a vast majority of YA seems to portray teenagers as hypersmart, sophisticated creatures who are borderlinI don't know about you, but I feel as though a vast majority of YA seems to portray teenagers as hypersmart, sophisticated creatures who are borderline perfect, or "carefully flawed" in exactly the right and tolerable way. As fun as that fiction can be, I always feel a certain amusement for characters like that, because how many of us actually were that spectacular at that age?
I think part of the appeal of contemporary Aussie YA for me is that it consistently offers teenagers who act like teenagers; whether they're snarly and vindictive or fumbly and sweet, a lot of them just seem very real. That's certainly the case with the students in Wildlife. Sybilla and Lou are spending one school term doing an outdoor education program, where they find that surviving the wilderness is easy in comparison to surviving deceptive friends, tricky, needy boys, and their own uncharted feelings.
Things I loved about this book: the funny, good-natured byplay between the characters; smart dialogue that zings; the way Lou's deep and private pain is slowly unpeeled until she's laid bare and vulnerable; the complex interplay between all the girls; and the way one first love is portrayed in a deeply earnest, embarrassing way. The author's writing feels fresh and unstudied, and I was startled into both laughter and tears on more than one occasion.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this book, however, is how sexually frank Wildlife manages to be without being laden down with angst and melodrama, nor breathless with rapture over its magical life-changing properties. Consider these quotes, which I love because of how painfully and truthfully this girl's first sexual experience is portrayed.
...neither of us mentioned the four-letter word that comes before this three-letter activity in all my schemes and dreams.
Afterwards I feel wobbly and slightly shocked, climbing up from under the rubble to check out the new world...Did we really just do that? I want to hide my face. I want to look into a mirror in private, to check if I'm still me.
Because there's been so much discussion (read: hand-wringing) recently about how much sex is too much sex, we've invited author Fiona Wood on the blog to share her thoughts on this issue: do realistic sex scenes in YA fiction have value?
I think you'll be interested in hearing what she has to say.
This is the fantastical story of a boy tormented by nightmares that literally--literally!--become real. Set shortly after the events of The Raven BoysThis is the fantastical story of a boy tormented by nightmares that literally--literally!--become real. Set shortly after the events of The Raven Boys, the students of Aglionby Academy are still on the hunt for a legendary sleeping Welsh king. This time, while we continue to get perspectives from multiple POVs, the story primarily focuses on Ronan Lynch, a troubled and angry 17-year-old who pulls dark objects out of his dreams. But when ley lines running through their sleepy town are awakened, incredible power is unleashed, and none of the boys are prepared for the ordeal that awaits them.
I liked The Raven Boys so much that I was nervous going into this one--but I think this book actually surpasses its predecessor, in no small part because of its sharp-eyed character sketches. Adam still worries me. I feel tremendous love and pity for poor Noah. I'm eager to learn more about the entire Lynch clan. And I'm finally starting to feel something for Gansey, as well as to feel the lovely pulse of connection between him and Blue. Add to that a pair of compelling, nuanced antagonists in The Gray Man and one willfully destructive Joseph Kavinsky, and this world is filled with a host of unforgettable players. The author has the ability to create such fierce depth of feeling towards her characters with a single phrase such as "a teddy bear of a boy," in reference to Ronan's younger brother Matthew, whom you immediately want to cuddle and protect all at once.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it. I have so many crazy theories about where this quest will lead, and I desperately want to know what happens to everyone. Aside from thrilling, nightmarish scenes, gorgeous prose, wild revelations, shocking deaths, and clever humor, there are also delicious layers to this novel that you may not fully appreciate until after you're through, including distinct symbolism (both subtle and powerful), sly hidden jokes, and a deep complexity of thought and plot and emotion. It's such an interesting meditation on the power of dreams and how hidden desire can influence our actions, from Ronan's waking nightmares to his mother and father's unusual relationship to...more yearnings that I won't spoil for you.
I could also write an entire essay about how The Dream Thieves contains one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking kisses in the history of kisses. (Yes. The ENTIRE HISTORY of kisses.) It's a delicate moment that's suffused with the breathless wonder of discovery, and it's all the more poignant because it's entirely unexpected, and because you are well aware of its context for both parties. Tears are literally welling up in my eyes again as I write this, because that type of longing and sadness pulls so deeply at my heart.
There isn't any way for a single review to do justice to this book, but this line from The Dream Thieves sums up its own story rather nicely:
Magic was real, magic was real, magic was real.
And it runs deep and true through Maggie Stiefvater's veins.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S There's a huge spoiler-tagged discussion going on down below with theories on what everything MEANS, if you'd care to speculate. But please use spoiler tags!
I also participated in a rather epic chat with several authors about this book, including Sarah Ockler and R.J. Anderson--and let me tell you, there are no better companions to discuss a story like this with than a bunch of smart, passionate authors who are just as excited about the book as you are. One of the mind-blowing takeaways from that discussion: consider the characters as tarot cards.