I must be avoiding a deadline because I read this in a day. I guess I have a distant curiosity about The Duggars, I dunno. I can't bring myself to get...moreI must be avoiding a deadline because I read this in a day. I guess I have a distant curiosity about The Duggars, I dunno. I can't bring myself to get worked up about them. The book held my attention and I found it distantly interesting and it satisfied my distant curiosity so I would call it a success as a book. Omg, though. Someone transcribe their recipes for Trashy Eats, stat. (ngl, I totally want to see what BBQ tunafish sandwiches taste like.)
There is something mildly disturbing about the fact that I read this book with a huge grin on my face, LOLing throughout, BUT I...more"Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"
There is something mildly disturbing about the fact that I read this book with a huge grin on my face, LOLing throughout, BUT I totally cried at the end, all sucker-punched, so I'm not going to worry about myself too much.
Also I seem to have this blanket acceptance of whatever realities Joey Comeau presents because his delivery is so matter-of-fact and unpretentious and trusting of its reader, which is nice because then I get to read without this huge layer of cynicism over my eyes that I seem to read everything with lately. I just dig his style and how he puts words together! Each of his books are accessible and bold and risky and very honest. And there's no navel-gazing which is like, "yeah!" His stuff is wry, funny, thoughtful, sincere and heartfelt. Just GOOD! Everybody should be reading his stuff. Bible Camp Bloodbath is no exception.
I gotta say the bloodbath was pretty amazing. There's a lot of joy in those passages, or at least I got that vibe. Like when you watch a movie and you can tell everyone is enjoying themselves--director, actors, the dude with the boom mike etc. Every time a camper died my face was doing that incredulous grin that is also part horrified oh-my-God-am-I-grinning at this?! thing the whole time. You know, the one that is like:
D: :D D: :D D: :D
And then you get to the end and you're reminded of how human the people involved are and how objectively, it's all pretty tragic.
It's been more than a few months since I read Entangled, but it's a book I've not forgotten. Cat Clarke's debut is a really intense novel--so very, ve...moreIt's been more than a few months since I read Entangled, but it's a book I've not forgotten. Cat Clarke's debut is a really intense novel--so very, very emotional--and I loved it when I first read it and I love it now. It's the story of Grace, a very lost, very broken girl, who, through a series of unfortunate choices and betrayals finds herself waking up in a white room with a pencil and paper. She's being held there by a boy named Ethan, who seems convinced she can write her way out of this one and I WISH I could say more than that, but the story in these pages is one you have to read and discover for yourself (do it!). So I'll not say anymore on plot, lest I spoil you, but I WILL talk about the stellar voice and characterization you're going to discover when you pick Entangled up.
Grace is such a raw and real narrator. Clarke knows how to balance her most unlikeable moments (because Grace will challenge you to like her and I love that kind of daring from a debut author) with this vulnerability that I really adored. Grace IS an angry and confused seventeen-year-old. She's real, she's flawed. The way she's a catalyst to the events in her life in some ways but in other ways a passive witness to them is beautiful and honest. It's very human. The things Grace goes through are hard; the way she relates the things she goes through gives them that much more of an impact--that's truly how much voice you'll find here.
Grace aside, what I most loved about Entangled was the way it portrayed a downward spiral. You can just SEE things getting away from Grace--and there's nothing you can do about it. You can understand why she was/is powerless to stop them. Sometimes the things that get away from her are small and sometimes they're huge, and as she reflects on how it all went wrong the novel hurtles towards what I felt was an unexpected but PERFECT conclusion. It's a page-turner, basically! It was just so damn intriguing watching a character map out the pieces of their shattered life. I also think it's a talented writer who can make the reflective segments of this book as suspenseful as the moments that take place in the present, with Grace locked in the room trying to figure Ethan out.
The whole novel is presented without apology and that's fantastic--here is Grace's story and Cat Clarke trusts you to make what you want of it. I might not make the same choices that Grace did in her life, but I could see why she made them and I believed in her emotional growth. My heart broke for her, a lot. And like any good book (in my opinion) Clarke offers no easy answers, no cut and paste happy ending, but she does give you a lot to think about. This is a great read. I can't wait to see what Cat will come out with next.(less)
AT LAST, I can finally sit down and write my thoughts on this beautiful book properly. I got to read early drafts of it (lucky me brag brag) and each...moreAT LAST, I can finally sit down and write my thoughts on this beautiful book properly. I got to read early drafts of it (lucky me brag brag) and each draft was like perfecting perfection until the final version completely blew me away. I do not know how Nova Ren Suma sits down at her laptop and makes this book magic happen only that she sits down at her laptop and makes magic like this book happen. The girl is Talent with a capital T.
I won't give a rundown on the plot because I can't really do it justice. I feel like I'll say too much or not enough in all directions and part of the experience of Imaginary Girls is letting Ruby take Chloe, and by extension you, on a very eerie and unsettling and gorgeously written journey. This is a book about obsession, ghosts, magic and love. Chloe is blindly loyal to her sister Ruby and Ruby to Chloe. These are girls who would die for each other, bend time and distort reality for each other. (Dear my sister: DO YOU LOVE ME THAT MUCH?) These are two girls who huddle together and push everyone out to the point I felt like I was reading the most grim and beautiful secret. That's what Imaginary Girls is: a grim and beautiful secret.
I am just going to give you notes on why this book is incredible and you should read it or we aren't friends anymore:
The setting. If your novel is setting dependent, this is how you do it. Nova Ren Suma's world-building played on all of my senses. She takes such care with her words and makes everything so there the reality she creates is absolutely undeniable, which, for a story like this I think is so important. I believed everything.
There is this moment in Bridge to Terabithia where Leslie is reading an essay on (I think) deep-sea diving, and it was so vividly written that Jess felt like he was drowning. I never forgot that--as a kid I felt so cheated that I didn't get to hear Leslie read that essay--and I thought of it over and over when I read Imaginary Girls. This book made me feel like I was drowning. Except in the good way. This is a story that literally closes in on you and makes you open your eyes to it, whether you're ready or not. Which is what I assume drowning in water is like. Also this is as close as I want to get to that feeling! Also I know I said it was "drowning in the good way" (I KNOW, I KNOW, "drowning in the good way"--DROWNING IN BEAUTIFUL LITERATURE IS WHAT I MEAN HERE) but also the terrifying way too, which leads me to the fact that...
THIS BOOK MADE MY EYES WATER. This might not have significance to you but allow me to explain: my eyes water when I am scared. It is how I measure the success of a horror movie. DID IT MAKE INVOLUNTARY TEARS STREAM DOWN MY FACE? Yes, yes it did. Did I just make myself sound like a weird person? Yes, yes I did. (view spoiler)[But oh my God, when the reservoir water started coming into the house aaaah. (hide spoiler)] This story is so damn creepy and it is the kind of creepy that sneaks right up on you like the movie Repulsion and you think you are okay but then seven hours later you are like D: D: D: Except when I read Imaginary Girls I never thought I was okay and then seven hours later I was D: D: D: THAT is how creepy it was.
The characters. These are characters who look at the world in a very specific way and it read so real to me. Chloe and Ruby live for each other at the exclusion of all others. I think that was a bold and brave decision and I think it paid off. It made me really understand every single action both characters made and a lot of times their dynamic broke my heart. The possessiveness, the ownership of each other. The consequences of Ruby's love. The consequences of Chloe's temptations to figure out who she is without Ruby. Nova Ren Suma nailed what it is to have a sister. She nailed that bond. And then the genius is in how she skewed it just enough to make you question everything. I think the best creepy stories are the ones that take familiar elements and then distort them until you know you are looking at something you've known but also you know you have never, ever known if that makes sense. That's a really fine line to navigate but wow, did Suma pull it off. It was masterful the way it was done here, is all I can say.
Did you love Jellicoe Road? I think you will love this book. It is that kind of read. You can feel the weight of the story on you, it twists itself around you so tightly you are not sure which direction is up and then as you read on, the picture slowly starts to unravel and it makes a new picture and everything comes together in the most incredible way. The hints that Suma drops along the way that bring the book to its ultimate conclusion is just wow. You might wonder where the book is going and then when it gets there, you know there is nowhere else it could have gone. And then you have to read it all over again and just appreciate how expertly it was all put together from a craft standpoint. When I finished this, Suma had my trust as a reader for life.
I could keep going but I will leave it at this: Imaginary Girls is Extraordinary. CAPITAL E. And the cover is amazinggggg as I said in my original "review." Nova Ren Suma, like CK Kelly Martin, is a talent to be reckoned with--the kind of writer who comes along and makes you want to be a better writer. For that, I thank her and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.(less)
This was THE book at a certain point in my life and I hadn't even read it, but the cool girls I wanted to be like were reading it, and whether they li...moreThis was THE book at a certain point in my life and I hadn't even read it, but the cool girls I wanted to be like were reading it, and whether they liked it or not, I had to have it because they had it. And I could quote the parts they liked best because they were quoting them and I still remember a lot of those quotes. Anyway, I asked for it for Christmas. Six or seven years ago. And I'd read the first page and flip ahead but I'd never actually READ IT. I was really reluctant and I'm still not sure why. Maybe because the girls I wanted to be seemed so distant from anything I could be and it was weird (to me) to try to dive into something that was so in their sphere, which I assumed was so outside of mine. So I watched the movie instead. And every time I'd pass Girl on my bookshelf or hear someone talking about it I'd get nostalgic about this book I hadn't even READ. And now it's six or seven years later and I read it and it was good*. The end.
So heartfelt and genuine! I wish this book had been around when I was in fifth/sixth grade, reading novels like Bridge to Terabithia and craving stori...moreSo heartfelt and genuine! I wish this book had been around when I was in fifth/sixth grade, reading novels like Bridge to Terabithia and craving stories that emphasized human frailty and death but surrounded them with hope and the overlying idea that time is a special gift that we do with what we can. This is a lovely book, truly. I cried my way through the last 100 pages. I can't wait to see what Lucy Christopher comes out with next.(less)
This was a great book. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED it! More than the Twitter, even. And I THOROUGHLY ENJOY the Twitter too, so. LOLs galore. Also pretty hear...moreThis was a great book. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED it! More than the Twitter, even. And I THOROUGHLY ENJOY the Twitter too, so. LOLs galore. Also pretty heartwarming!(less)
Oh man, what a sad, good book. Just my kind of read! Lucy, the daughter of a compulsive hoarder, finds her mother dead under a pile of National Geogra...moreOh man, what a sad, good book. Just my kind of read! Lucy, the daughter of a compulsive hoarder, finds her mother dead under a pile of National Geographics and spends the next 24 hours hoping she can clean up enough of the mess so her family's 'dirty little secrets' will stay secrets by the time she has to call 911.
This is a very consuming, intense read with what I think is a very fitting, perfect ending. And the pacing was just spot on. Omololu frames the story over the course of twenty-four hours and it doesn't drag at all. It moves quickly as Lucy struggles to clean up after her mother and reflects on how and why things began to deterioriate in her family. As quickly as it moves, every second of the day really feels accounted for. It's just fantastically done, and I really felt I got to know the characters through the course of those 24 hours.
Lucy was incredibly sympathetic. The longing for normalcy and the way it informed her decisions was very understandable. I am sometimes disappointed with novels that have incredibly heavy subject matters--the ones that only want to skim the surface and not really delve right into it but can still claim the edge and importance of the subject they're writing about; books that don't look directly at the very thing they're about! This was not the case here. Dirty Little Secrets looks directly at the topic of compulsive hoarding and forces you to do it too. It's horrifying, but it's thoughtfully and sensitively handled. There is A LOT of discussion material here too. I wish I was in a book club and we were book clubbing this, dangit. Where Lucy's at on the last page really makes you realize the far reaching consequences of her mother's illness.(less)
Wow. Finnikin of the Rock was just beautiful. Melina Marchetta's writing shines like so little else out there right now and every time I finish one of...moreWow. Finnikin of the Rock was just beautiful. Melina Marchetta's writing shines like so little else out there right now and every time I finish one of her books, it's a humbling experience. What a gifted author. And can we talk about Evanjalin for a second here? One of the strongest, most kick-ass female characters EVER. That's how it's done.(less)
Pretty solid read. I like Dolly's ultimate conclusion--that Possum Living has given her the freedom to make different and riskier choices in her life,...morePretty solid read. I like Dolly's ultimate conclusion--that Possum Living has given her the freedom to make different and riskier choices in her life, in pursuit of her own happiness because she knows, if she has to, she can survive on relatively little (that is definitely relative). This was a very good, solid read. Fascinating, really--a How-To, a snapshot at 1970s America (a lot of her advice is timeless though, I think) and somewhat of a young girl's diary all in one. America's version of Susanna Moodie's Roughing it in the Bush? Vaaaaguely. Possum Living is definitely not for me, though. And I'm okay with that. The afterword was my favourite. I love seeing how far Dolly came as a result of how far ahead she was.
Discovered on Etsy! After watching the awesome documentary from the 70's on Youtube (3 parts, like 30 minutes - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I knew I had to read this. Can't wait. My favorite snippets in the documentary are how Dolly thrived and became passionate about learning after dropping out of school in the 7th grade.(less)
So I've only owned this book a day and I can't stop holding it up to the light and watching the title flash at me. SHINY!
Joey Comeau is one of my favo...moreSo I've only owned this book a day and I can't stop holding it up to the light and watching the title flash at me. SHINY!
Joey Comeau is one of my favourite living writers today and One Bloody Thing After Another is my favourite of all of his books. I didn't think anything was going to displace Lockpick Pornography but I was wrong. This is amaaaazing. Wait it doesn't feel right to type that not in capitals. This is AMAAAZING. It's got zombies! Ghosts! Death! Sexuality! And coming of age elements that made me cry! The way it all came together was so satisfying and perfect. I can't even tell you what it's about because I tried to describe it to like three different people today and there is so much going on and I just can't do the story justice but I will tell you that it is worth your time. It's dark and funny and sad and and crazy and awesome.
Anyway, one of my favourite things about Joey's writing is that it so understands, well--people! He just gets secrets and longing. He writes about the stuff you're afraid to say out loud but maybe it's not so bad to say out loud but you just can't bring yourself to say it out loud--even if it would set you free--and then he wraps it up in total want and longing and it is impossible not to connect to it in big ways and small ones. And then he sets all those secrets and longing in these fantastical, strange and unsettling, practically impossible situations and presents them in a way that makes them NOT SEEM IMPOSSIBLE! I fucking love that. I mean it is a story about zombies and ghosts and it never seems out of reach. It's like, "Aah! It's my next door neighbor! No wait, oh my God, it's ME!" That type of feeling! And that is a crazy writing magic all its own. And it is just very genuine and sincere. I believe in it! And it's clever and sharp.
What else. OH! I love the way Jackie was violent. I thought it was fantastic. Actually that is one of my favourite things about Joey's writing--the way his characters are violent and the way they internalize/process that violence, how it comes out, how they react, how they justify it. It's got all the exhileration behind it, but it's so thoughtful too and that makes it so so good. The writing style itself is just yeah. I said it before and I'll say it again--Joey Comeau does not waste a word. I can't wait for his next book. And now that I am finished with this one I just want to pick it up and read it all over again.(less)
Every word in this book had a weight that attached itself directly to my heart. Every single one. I have a great respect for verse novels and stories...moreEvery word in this book had a weight that attached itself directly to my heart. Every single one. I have a great respect for verse novels and stories like these (and Lisa Schroeder's Chasing Brooklyn) remind me why. Glimpse is layered, very nuanced. Hard to put down. Hope is an incredibly vulnerable and heartbreaking character. Page by page, she gets closer to the truth of why her sister attempted suicide and it's just DEVASTATING. There's really no other word for it. She starts out so... I don't know if "naive" is the word I want, but maybe blissfully unaware? Her own perspective of life with her mother and sister is a very safe one. But as you go throught each chapter, you see this perspective, this safety, being gradually taken away from her. Thrust into the kind of position no child should ever have to be put in, Hope is forced to make decisions to reclaim that safety, for herself and for Liz--no matter what the cost.
Carol Lynch Williams has written characters who go through so much, but realistically so (which is why both books of hers that I've read have been so painful, but so rewarding). I think one of the things I love best about her novels is that the characters make brave decisions even when they don't feel brave, even when what is happening in their lives could easily be crippling and overwhelming enough to give in. She taps into that part of people that make these extraordinary choices that enable them to GO ON, usually in the name of love and family, and that's a beautiful thing. It's inspiring. And I really, really, really love that her books also emphasize the importance of reaching out. Her writing just spits in the eye of hopelessness while acknowledging that brave choices aren't always the easiest choices, even when they're the best--that yes, sometimes they will come with great loss. But at the core of it, people are survivors and can endure just about anything and hanging on is worth it in the end. Aaah, maybe I am not being coherent. I just love her books so much! I hope this one gets a lot of recognition. It deserves it.(less)
Danette Haworth's novels just have an undeniable sweetness about them that makes them impossible not to love. They are also the perfect read-alouds, i...moreDanette Haworth's novels just have an undeniable sweetness about them that makes them impossible not to love. They are also the perfect read-alouds, if you're in the business of reading books out loud to people! Like, the business of parenthood or baby-sitting!
Anyway, Danette's debut, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, blew me away with its zest and certain coming-of-age elements that reminded me of a less tragic (but as heartrending) My Girl. Summer of Moonlight Secrets carries with it the same trademark zest in terms of voice, and though the coming-of-age elements differ, they are equally compelling and I am so happy to report this sophomore work stands up to her debut.
The book stars Allie Jo, a fun and fiery tween who works (ie helps out) at the Meriweather hotel in Florida, which is managed by her parents. She's often teased for living at the hotel and is about to face the entire summer without her best friend and she is NOT happy about it. She's not alone for long, though! Enter three guests: Sophie, a very nice girl with a penchant for knitting, Chase, a thirteen-year-old boy who arrives on the scene with a BANG and, consequently, a broken arm and Tara... who is not really a guest at all. The ethereal sixteen-year-old has a strange command of the water and may be A LOT more than she seems...
The four strike up a great friendship, which is very fitting because they're about to embark on a great adventure.
The narrative shifts between Allie Jo (such a great name), Chase and sometimes Tara. They are three, very distinct and charming voices and they move the story along quickly. Allie's determination and want to be good drives her decision making process, for better and for worse, and it was fun to follow her. Chase, who has struggled with his mother walking out on the family and lies to cover it up, finds he's able to be honest with Allie and Sophie. I loved his humour. And speaking of Sophie--he's got his eyes on her and she's got her eyes on him. But there are more pressing matters going on, like Tara, who really really really needs their help.
I'll stop there because I don't want to spoil this! There is so much about it that should be left to the reader to discover, so I will just say that I adored this book from start to finish. There is so much blueberry goodness in it. Another thing I have loved about both of Danette's novels is their curl-up-with-quality. I half hoped it would storm while I was reading Moonlight Secrets because it would have been SO cozy. As with Violet Raines, setting plays a huge role in the story and Haworth gives Florida and the Meriweather a depth and richness that made me feel every scene, just like I was there.
But the thing I treasured about this book most was that it really sparkles with possibility. Allie Jo and Chase get a taste of the impossible, the magic beneath the surface, and that carries through to the reader. A book that makes you feel that as you read it is a real treat, in my opinion. I can't wait for Danette's next book (Me and Jack in 2011!).(less)