This book is exactly what I wanted it to be: a beautiful YA fantasy romance. I wanted something not too heavy or dense that would transport me to anotThis book is exactly what I wanted it to be: a beautiful YA fantasy romance. I wanted something not too heavy or dense that would transport me to another world, and that's what I got. There are some politics, some magic, a lot of secrets, but at its heart, the story is a love story about a boy and a girl, and sometimes that's all you need to have a good story. It helps that Shahrzad is pretty much my ideal female protagonist: strong, sarcastic, can handle difficult situations with elegance, but not flawless.
A really enjoyable read that flies by. The ending was a bit disappointing in that it is so open-ended, but also finished this story perfectly....more
A beautiful, bittersweet novel about life, death, love, loss, family, and a dark smear in the history of the United States and humanity that so few knA beautiful, bittersweet novel about life, death, love, loss, family, and a dark smear in the history of the United States and humanity that so few know about. I don't think I have ever cried so much over a book. I shed all sorts of tears: heartbreak, happiness, anger, relief.
Brennert manages to fit so many themes into his novel without it becoming pedantic or too long. He touches upon not only the experiences of those afflicted with Hansen's disease and exiled to Kalaupapa, but also the unafflicted people who spent their lives trying to care and cure them, as well as the tensions and struggles in the colonization of Hawaii and erasure of Hawaiian culture. He fits so much history into a story that feels individual and personal. The novel is so well-crafted, so compelling, and so heartbreaking. ...more
2016 has been treating me right (or I've been treating myself right?); I'm 4 for 4 on some great reads.
Under a Painted Sky is a beautiful novel by St2016 has been treating me right (or I've been treating myself right?); I'm 4 for 4 on some great reads.
Under a Painted Sky is a beautiful novel by Stacey Lee about Samanatha and Annamae, a Chinese girl and runaway slave, who unexpectedly find each other and become best friends as they make the trek west toward California while escaping their fates as wanted criminals. They join up with a band of three cowboys--Peety, Cay, and West--after disguising themselves as boys, but keeping up the pretense is anything but easy. They have to deceive their new friends while constantly keeping an eye out for bounty hunters and the law.
The writing is great. The pages turn so easily, the dialogue is sharp and witty, and the descriptions are so visual. I can see the painted skies, vast plains, and beauty of the western wilderness when I read.
I also love seeing diversity in literature. This book is set in mid-19th century America, where slavery is still legal and racism and discrimination are rampant. It doesn't shy away from race issues, but at the same time, also looks beyond race to show how true friendship transcends societal barriers. The author treats these issues of discrimination with elegance. Sometimes Sammy uses her and Annamae's diversity as a humorous cover so they can preserve their male disguises (without being self-demeaning). But more often than not we are simply given glimpses of everyday instances of racism: being stared at like an animal in the zoo, being turned away from a music school because "one drop of yolk can ruin a meringue," the use of a random picture of Chinese woman for Sammy's face on a wanted ad, just because they didn't have a picture of her, or even with each other, the implicit and unintentional racism behind fearing black individuals on the road just because they happen to be the same race as members of a band of outlaws.
But even though race and diversity are important, the real story is about friendship and acceptance of each other, and of one's self. It's sweet to see the bond that develops between the five pioneers, and also between the girls and their horses (and mule) as they learn to care for and accept each other. There is a sweet little romance tucked into the pages, but the starring relationship of the show is the best friendship between Annamae and Sammy. It makes me want to go on a road trip with my best friend to California....more
A literary masterpiece. A novel within a novel within a novel. A series of interconnected series and common characters and themes, because human naturA literary masterpiece. A novel within a novel within a novel. A series of interconnected series and common characters and themes, because human nature is persistent and the same across all eras, but at the same time a mix of such different genres, voices, characters, and writing styles that all come together in one novel....more
A great follow-up to The Diviners. Although the main plot is fantasy-based and focused on the Diviners and the role they play in this alternate versioA great follow-up to The Diviners. Although the main plot is fantasy-based and focused on the Diviners and the role they play in this alternate version of America, Libba Bray does a fabulous job of capturing the beauty and ugliness of New York City and America. Underneath the fantasy elements and the glitz and glamor of the 20s, she draws attention also to the ugly parts of America's history, issues of race, immigration, gender, and sexuality that are still prevalent today. Her writing is both beautiful and haunting, a hail to the "golden years" of the 20s, but also a criticism of the irony between America's declared ideals and values and the reality of American society.
With regards to the actual plot, we see the return of our Diviners from the previous novel, as well as the introduction of Ling Chan, a new dreamwalker who partners with Henry and plays a large role in combatting a supernatural sleeping sickness that plagues New York.
I appreciate that Libba Bray uses Ling Chan and her Chinatown origins as an opportunity to address the discrimination of Chinese and other immigrants that happened in the early 20th century. The Chinese Exclusion Act and associated institutional racism that came with it often go unaddressed in common history classes, but it's nice to see it being acknowledged as a real issue, even in a fictional context, because these issues with regards to race and immigration are still very real and relevant today....more
Beautiful, tragic, and epic. This is not your usual YA novel--I would hesitate to even call it that. It's more literary and mature than a lot of booksBeautiful, tragic, and epic. This is not your usual YA novel--I would hesitate to even call it that. It's more literary and mature than a lot of books I've read lately, with beautiful writing and magical realism. The twist at the end is a lot darker and more horrifying than I expected, but the story as a whole is beautiful.
Definitely not what I expected. From the title and cover, it seems like The Language of Flowers would be some Victorian-style romance, but this storyDefinitely not what I expected. From the title and cover, it seems like The Language of Flowers would be some Victorian-style romance, but this story isn't a love story - it's a story about relationships, trust, and what it means to be family. Victoria is a bit of an anti-heroine. She is raw, broken, makes questionable choices, and is far from likable. Her relationships with other people are painful, frustrating, and heartbreaking, but she slow opening up and growth across the novel is beautiful to watch. I also love the idea of the meanings behind the flowers. This book isn't flowery or romantic, but is a very raw, and at times bleak, story of personal growth and acceptance....more
I really liked How to Save a Life. It was beautiful. The characters are clearly flawed, but they feel so real. There are points about each girl to disI really liked How to Save a Life. It was beautiful. The characters are clearly flawed, but they feel so real. There are points about each girl to dislike, but as they warm up to each other, I warmed up to them. There is some romance thrown in, but the focal point is the girls and how they deal with their own situations and their relationship with each other and that's what makes it so beautiful....more
I don't think I've ever cried as much over a book as I have over this one. The story is beautifully written in all senses: the way the parallel storieI don't think I've ever cried as much over a book as I have over this one. The story is beautifully written in all senses: the way the parallel stories unravel, the nuances of the writing itself. Taylor has such a bold and witty voice that take clichés and makes them something beyond cliché. Everyone is so broken and troubled and dark, but at the same time the book feels infused with the spirit of summer and full of hope for a brighter future. I fell in love with the beauty of the characters and relationships and the twisted story that ties them all together....more