Belle Epoque is excellent historical fiction about an era of history we don't get much (any other?) YA historical fiction about, Paris at the turn of...moreBelle Epoque is excellent historical fiction about an era of history we don't get much (any other?) YA historical fiction about, Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Ross does a brilliant job of bringing the time and city to life. She uses just enough French to make it feel authentic without overwhelming the reader who knows nothing about French. (me) The emerging middle class and the beginnings of feminism are both highlighted and played out well. I did feel like the characters were little more than words on the page. I was rather hoping for a better story of friendship between two girls, but I found it difficult to care too much for either Maude or Isabelle. That could be because I knew that Maude was going to see everything come apart before too long. I do like the way Ross set up so well the reasons why someone would be tempted into Maude's line of work. The ending was just a bit too perfect for my personal tastes as well with everyone getting what they want but the "bad" people. It is a fun story though and one that does justice to the time it is set in. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan is a modern immigration story. It is a story about bul...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan is a modern immigration story. It is a story about bullying. It is a story of first love, swimming, and discovering your parents aren't as indestructible or noble as you always believed. I was happy to receive an e-galley of this and even more grateful upon reading it.
Kasienka has such a strong voice. This is a novel told in verse which is something I'm not overly fond of as a rule. Here it works beautifully. Kasienka feels lost, confined, and smothered through a great deal of the story. The brokenness of the blank verse gives the reader a true sense of this. She always feels like she's struggling for air and the way its written makes the reader feel that too. I felt as though I knew Kasienka as I was reading. That could partly be because I taught many immigrant children as a teacher and I saw in her so many of my former students. And the students of other teachers who, as Kasienka states in the book, ignored the horrid spitefulness of the girls in their class because it did nothing to disrupt the order the teacher was trying to maintain. Through Kasienka's eyes the reader gets a view of how bullying amongst girls works. How subtle it is. Mostly though the reader just gets a great story of a girl learning to stand on her feet, knowing her own worth, and relying on herself. Kasienka's strength in the face of her circumstances is amazing. That's not all she is though. She is subtly funny. Her descriptions of her first kiss and all that follows with the boy she shares it with are wonderful.
The action in the story highlights two issues, modern immigration and bullying. Yet neither of these is the entire point of the book. The point is to tell Kasienka's story and these are intrinsically a part of her story. They are her life. I like how both were handled. The immigration story is a real one and I've seen it play out enough times to know Crossan got it right. Likewise, she did an excellent job with the bullying. It is there in schools everywhere exactly as she described, and I LOVED that no one made a big deal about it. No one was turned into a hero. No one learned a valuable lesson. It resolved itself in a way these situations often do. The intentional obliviousness on the behalf of the school employees is also a sad reality and I liked how this was handled as well.
This is a perfect book to give a middle schooler. Kasienka is 12. She has started her period and kisses a boy for the first time. She discusses both of these things as well as other issues of puberty. I think that girls her age will relate to her and her voice. I am certainly going to be book talking it to my daughter in a couple of years.
I read an e-galley received from the publisher, Bloomsbury USA Children's, via Netgalley. The Weight of Water is available for purchase in the US on July 23. (less)
The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all time favorite books. On one hand it is so much fun with romance, melodrama, and mustache twirling villains. On the other hand it deals with some pretty serious issues such as what lack of respect and trust do to a relationship, what we owe our fellow man, and what individuals do to try to make the world better when their governments can't (or won't). So I was excited when I learned Diana Peterfreund's latest novel, Across a Star-Swept Sea would be a futuristic retelling of this wonderful story, and that she was flipping the genders of the two main characters. The book did not disappoint, it has the same balance of fun and seriousness as the original.
I adored both Persis and Justen. Persis is so young, only 16, and this shows in her confusion and often tumultuous emotions. She is brilliant, a gifted diplomat, loyal, and brave. She is still so young though and I like how that was evident in her interactions with Justen and her desire and need to trust him. Justen is also brilliant. He is a medic and scientist, truly great at what he does even though he is also young. He isn't completely clueless when it comes to Persis either. He knows she isn't as vapid as she sometimes acts, but he's confused about the different sides of her he's noticed and decides she is apathetic to the important events going on around them. I enjoyed the way their relationship played out, the tentative friendship that developed, the way they fought their attraction to each other, how they discovered each others' secrets, and how it was resolved. The gender flip worked really well, particularly because it brings up such good points about expectations. Justen has some great introspective moments on his own innate snobbery and whether or not Persis was able to fool him simply because she acted the way he expected females of her ilk to act.
The villain, Vania, is daring, rash, and slightly unhinged by the end. She fits the role of villain for a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel perfectly. She isn't very nuanced or layered, but that's okay because what her character is works for this story.
The narration is third person omniscient and the reader knows what everyone is doing and thinking. There are no real surprises. However, this did not take a way from the action at all. Even knowing the story of the original I was on the edge of my seat. The world in this book is very different than it's companion novel, For Darkness Shows the Stars. The people of New Pacifica have no problems with technology and the world is full of wonderful tech gadgets, futuristic versions of things we use today. I enjoyed this aspect as well as the political themes brought out in both countries. Peterfreund did a great job of mirroring England/France, while also creating a unique and interesting world.
Across a Star Swept Sea is an excellent novel in its own right and wonderful retelling of a beloved classic. It is a companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars, but can be read as a stand alone (though the world will be better understood if one reads both in order I think). I enjoyed Across a Star Swept Sea more because I loved both Persis and Justen so much and was so caught up in their story.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Balzer+Bray, via Edelweiss. Across a Star Swept Sea is available for purchase on October 15. (less)
I couldn't help but be drawn to the concept of You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle. In our era of "reality" TV, to take a look at the story of some one who is put in the position of having their life filmed is brilliant. My only fear was that Castle would not do her idea the justice it deserves. No worries. This is an excellent novel.
First person present tense narration is not my favorite. I don't despise it, but I find it distracting. Justine's voice is so strong that after the first couple of pages I didn't even notice it anymore. Justine has a wonderful voice, vulnerable, angry, pitiful, sympathetic. She has faults and weaknesses but she is also endearing. I liked her at the same time I wanted to tell her exactly what she was missing through her self-focused lens. Yet the lens through which she sees the world and people around her changes through the novel and the way this comes about is brilliant. Her relationship with her family, her fellow stars, and the producers is wonderfully portrayed. It was interesting to see the other kids through Justine's eyes, the snippets shared from the first two movies, and the interactions they have with her. This is a diverse group of characters which is completely realistic. This group is exactly the group documentary film producers would love. Felix is the son of immigrants. Nate is a member of a local farming family and son of a young single mom. Keira is the bi-racial daughter of an English professor. Rory is an autistic girl. I came to care for all of them individually and as a group. They were genuine teens and Castle does an excellent job as portraying them and their world.
It was interesting to see how being filmed formed, changed, and influenced each of the kids and how hard they are trying to break free of that. I like that Castle didn't resort to cliche's in the portrayal of any of them or their parents. I appreciate what the story was saying about the phenomenon of filming "real" life and how it affects individuals as well as society, but that wasn't the main theme of the novel. The story is ultimately about friendship and discovering who you are and what that means in the context of those around you. The way the relationships between the five morphs over the course of the story is organic and even the romantic element works and comes off well.
I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA stories with great characters.
I read a galley provided by HarperTeen. You Look Different in Real Life is on sale June 4. (less)
Originally posted here on Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
Trish Doller writes books that tackle tough subjects. This makes them not easy to read, but...moreOriginally posted here on Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
Trish Doller writes books that tackle tough subjects. This makes them not easy to read, but she writes the stories with such heart and passion it is worth it. Where the Stars Still Shine is one of the hardest books I've read in a long while.
Callie does not know what it is like to have a normal life. Her life has been her mother, moving every few months, and learning to dodge the men in her mother's life (one molested her at the age of 8). She hasn't been to school since Kindergarten. She spends time in libraries reading. She has found boys willing to hook up with her, but has never had a relationship. Or a friend. From this life she is yanked and dropped into a world where she has a dad who loves her, a Greek family and community she is a part of, and a friend. She has no idea how to cope. Nothing in her life is ever permanent and she's determined this won't be either. It's heart breaking to read about. I did skip some sections of the book (the ones where she referenced her abuse-because I just can't read about that). Not that any of it was gratuitously nasty or intentionally provocative. I liked the way Doller handled this storyline. (I have simply heard too many real life accounts of this that I can't read about it any book.) The way Callie lives her life and the choices she makes largely come from her inability to trust people or cope with her past.
There is a boy in the book. A hot Greek boy that works on a boat. However, as wonderful of Alex is he can't rescue Callie completely from the horrors of her past and Doller didn't let him. He has issues of his own and isn't always a nice guy. Which makes him so real. One strength with both of Doller's novels so far has been how REAL she makes her characters. I appreciated how there were a lot of forces at work on Callie's life and it this is not a story about romance. This is a story about Callie and it all plays a part. Alex, her new-found family, her complicated feelings toward her mother, they all shape her. I also enjoyed the friendship that grew between Callie and Kat. Kat is also very real and with her share of faults. She can be insensitive and unthinking toward Callie, but she is also something Callie needed, an actual girlfriend. Doller has a knack, like Melina Marchetta, for taking characters who start in a very dark place and bringing them to a better place where they can find healing.Not a perfect place, because there is no such thing, but one withe hope for the future.
This book is not for the faint of heart, but those brave enough to read it will find a beautiful, real story.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, via NetGalley. Where the Stars Still Shine is on sale September 24.
Originally posted here at Random Musings of Bibliophile.
I was utterly enchanted by Lauren Morrill's debut novel, Meant to Be. When the synop...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of Bibliophile.
I was utterly enchanted by Lauren Morrill's debut novel, Meant to Be. When the synopsis for her second novel, Being Sloane Jacobs, was released I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. It has such an intriguing concept and I knew that if Morrill brought the same magic she brought to Meant to Be, it would be very good indeed. I was excited when I was approved for the book on NetGalley. It is different from Meant to Be in many ways, but completely enjoyable and excellent in its own right.
The narration switches back and forth between Sloane E. and Sloane D. Due to this and the nature of the story, the set up takes a little longer in this book. I was worried that I would have a difficult time connecting to the characters because of the dual narration (this often doesn't work for me), but in this case I had no trouble. Sloane E. is quietly rebellious, sarcastic, and hiding from some harsh realities she has recently discovered about her father and her family. Discovered in the worst sort of way too. Sloane D. is aggressive, more openly rebellious, and hiding from some harsh realities of her own. Both of their voices ring true and I never, not even in the beginning, had the slightest problem with telling their narrations apart. I enjoyed the supporting characters in each girl's story as well. I like how they both made friends that helped them and had to face challenging personalities they had not encountered before. Both of the girls grew and changed over the course of their story and I really liked how they were not only changed by their different situations but by each other. The most important relationship in this story for me was the one between the girls and I like that they ended with a friendship that never would have occurred under normal circumstances. Both girls have a romantic interest in their stories, but they take a back seat to the story and life the Sloanes. Both boys are pretty great, but I liked that they were sort of on the periphery of what was actually happening.
The plot of Being Sloane Jacobs is brilliant. Who doesn't want to try out someone else's life just once? The Sloanes have the ability to that, but both girls are doing it as an escape from some serious issues they can't handle. There is some rather large wish fulfillment happening in the story. The girls are able to use their new lives to figure out what they want, who they want to be, and how to relate to the other people in their lives. There are consequences and there is some drama as a result of their deception, but Morrill really kept a tight reign on this part of the story. Never did I feel like it was overblown or too much. My only complaint is that both romantic elements seemed a bit tacked on and rushed. I would have been perfectly content if this had just been about the girls.
In a word this book made me happy. It is one of those that you just read and can trust it is going to end well and go along for the wonderful ride. This is the second time I've found this enjoyable experience in a book written by Lauren Morrill and confirms that I will want to read any other book she writes. (The one coming out in 2015 is about a high school band trip! *cue excited squealing*)
I read an e-galley made available via the publisher, Delacorte, on NetGalley. Being Sloane Jacobs is on sale January 7. (less)
When I first heard of The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell I was intrigued. I love political intrigue fantasy and this seemed to have all that. When my library got a copy I put it on hold straight away.
The plot is even more complex than the synopsis gives it credit for. There are a lot of layers and depth to all of the conspiracies, who is cheating who, and what is at stake. This is a story that is full of shades of gray, making it clear that few important decisions are black and white. I appreciate the realism of this. I was able to understand why the characters were doing what they were even if I didn't always agree. So many different loyalties are at play here. Loyalty to law, loyalty to justice, loyalty to government, loyalty to family, and loyalty to friends-which is the most important? And when these loyalties are in conflict with each other, which takes precedence? That is never an easy decision to make, and when the lives of people you love and care about are at stake it is even harder. Weighed against the fate of a nation, what do individual lives matter? These are all interesting concepts explored through the plot, a plot also full of adventure, danger, and magic.
Renee finds herself unwittingly at the center of this conflict and forced to decide which of her loyalties take precedence. It was interesting watching her perception and understanding of the nuances of her world grow. She starts out idealistically wanting to fight for law and country, but soon realizes that they are not always right. The contrast between how she, Savoy (her commander), and Alec respond to these different questions and the choices they make are interesting. In a way every character in the book is forced to make a choice regarding this. It is the driving force of the novel and real food for thought. In addition I really enjoyed both Renee and Savoy as characters. They were simply fun to read about, and I would love to read more about them.
I like that there was no romance in this story. It absolutely does not need it. It had enough going on, and adding that too would have made it too much.
The world building is pretty standard fantasy. There are no new twists or anything particularly special about it. It is comforting in its familiarity for fans of this type of fantasy.
This is a YA novel but can be read by middle school readers looking for meatier fare. I will be recommending it to my students who like these sort of books.(less)
So. Much. Fun. This is a wonderful, light, summer read. I had a hard time connecting with Maddie at first because I never really cared much about the...moreSo. Much. Fun. This is a wonderful, light, summer read. I had a hard time connecting with Maddie at first because I never really cared much about the whole popularity thing, and I thought she was a little over the top with her need to suppress what she really loved. Yet I felt sympathetic towards her and I love the whole world of this novel: the comic shop and the role playing. And I adored Logan in all of his nerdy awesomeness. It didn't hurt that he's a DJ. As my husband was an awesomely nerdy DJ when I met him this made me inclined to fall for him right along with Maddie. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I so wanted to like Golden by Jessi Kirby. I read many glowing reviews and was enchanted by...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I so wanted to like Golden by Jessi Kirby. I read many glowing reviews and was enchanted by the concept. It is an engrossing book and I couldn't put it down, but it also made me extremely angry.
I could relate to Parker from the start. I was quite a bit like her in high school. Okay. I was almost exactly like her in high school. (Although I had the benefit of an awesome mother. Parker's mother is far from awesome.) I understood her need to break out of that good girl shell a bit. I had the same desire as graduation loomed before me. Kirby conveyed those feelings realistically and it was easy to get wrapped up in Parker's story, her words, and her thoughts. Her best friend, Kat, and her crush, Trevor, contribute standard but fun elements to the story.
I probably could have loved this book if not for the story within a story. This is about Julianna, the golden girl who died too young. There are so many elements of this story that made me so angry and I can't really explain this because of spoilers. I could have overlooked this more, but Kirby tied Julianna's story up too tightly with Parker's story. I really felt like Parker could have should have taken a different lesson away from all that. This just left a bad taste in my mouth over the whole experience.
I seem to be alone in my feelings about this, but if any one else wants to discuss I'm declaring the comments a spoiler-friendly zone! (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
This was my first experience with a Miranda Kenneally book and I have to say I'm very impres...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
This was my first experience with a Miranda Kenneally book and I have to say I'm very impressed. The books have been on my radar for a while now but it was one of those times where I wanted to give them a try instead of committing to buy. When my library purchased a copy of Things I Can't Forget, I couldn't wait to dive in.
Kate is a bit obnoxious. She is exceedingly flawed as a main character, but I liked it. She is judgmental, self-righteous, and incredibly narrow minded, as is any one who has lived a sheltered life and only heard one point of view through all of it. She has grown up in a loving home and going to church. As a people pleaser, she is determined to do what makes her parents happy, what her pastor says is right, and what she thinks will please God. This is why her character works for me. She isn't trying to be a holier-than-thou mean girl. She simply has never been forced to see past her own nose so much before. What I enjoyed, was how realistic a portrayal this is. As someone who grew up in a Christian home, is still a Christian, and raising my children with Christian teachings, I can tell you that I see this scenario played out so many times, particularly with girls who have parents (or attend churches) who are more concerned with outward appearances than inward realities. I really enjoyed Kate's journey through this book as she confronts her guilt, the reality of how awful and legalistic she can be toward others, and how she can reconcile her faith with the world around around her. I love how she chooses to stay the course of her faith on some things, but to relax her rigid stance on others.
The plot of the book is all wrapped up in Kate's journey of discovery and romance with Matt. It is also about the relationship with her best friend and her relationship with God. I love Kenneally connected all of them so well and resolved all of them.
Basically I love how real this book is. I wish that there were more books out there like this that dealt with the struggles of Christian teens in such a real and honest way. Many of the kids who were Christian counselors at the camp are making up their own theology as they go, but that's a problem in the American evangelical church across the board. I think this book does an excellent job of reflecting the reality that is there. I want every teen I know to read this and find someone to discuss it with. I definitely want a copy to have around for Bit when she's old enough to confront some of these issues.
I will definitely be reading all the other books Kenneally has written now. I'm very interested in Parker's story based on what I got of it from this one. I'm only sorry I waited so long. (less)
Why did I want to read Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg? The title was a huge motivating factor. Then I found out beauty pageants were involved too and couldn't resit. It's a good book, though not entirely what I expected it to be and I was a little disappointed as a result.
Lexi is enslaved to her mother's obsession with making Mackenzie the next great pageant queen. Lexi sews for the pageants and works at a store in the mall so that she can have money to pay for her own food and the summer program she desperately wants to attend. All of the family's money goes to the pageants and there is never enough of it. Lexi's is tired of it all, but feels there is nothing she can do. Her startling transformation from average to gorgeous begins as a dare from her best friend Benny. If she puts on make-up, he will talk to the boy he likes. It escalates from there until Lexi is causing mouths to drop and both she and Benny have boyfriends. Only the boyfriend Lexi has isn't the one she truly wanted. I really liked how Eulberg used Lexi's transformation to connect high school and the pageant world. Lexi is a character you will sympathize with and want to protect even as you want to occasionally smack her upside the head. Mostly you will want to cheer her on though. She has a couple of truly cheer worthy moments in the book for sure. For a girl who has it pretty rough she is remarkably level headed and proactive. I admire this about her. She has two best friends, Benny and Cam, who are wonderful and supportive. I liked how there was no big friend drama in this book. The friendship between the three of them is strong and I enjoyed seeing how they worked through their issues. The boy drama I could have done without as much of. I feel like a smart girl like Lexi could have kept that situation from becoming what it did. The target audience will probably not mind though and relate.
I expected this book to be more humorous and lighter in tone than it was. It can't be though because Lexi's family has some serious issues. Her mother is a monster. And I'm not exaggerating. She has the potential to not be one but she has some serious issues and therapy is clearly very much needed. Her father's absence from the scene doesn't make him much better. The end of the novel is more than a little unresolved, but there is no way you could tie this story in to a neat package without undermining everything that happened and so I like this about it. I like that Lexi's future is open to the imagination. Things are resolved enough, just not all the way.
The book is more serious than its title and cover may lead a person to believe. It is a good read and one that will be thoroughly enjoyed by many-so long as they know what sort of story they're getting.
I read an e-galley of this received from the publisher via NetGalley. It will be available for purchase on March 1, 2013. (less)
I tend to like contemporary YA novels written by Australian authors so whenever an opportunity comes up to read a new one I will take it. Out of This Place by Emma Cameron is a beautifully written verse novel that originated in Australia under the title Cinnamon Rain. It is a good story and a powerful one that I enjoyed with some reservations.
I have said before that verse novels don't always work for me. I need to believe that it was the best way to tell the story. And in this case Cameron made believe that. Her words are well chosen and the imagery she uses vivid. The way she uses them sparingly and yet tells so much is artistic. Like this take on Casey from Luke's perspective: I think,
If Casey lived
in another time or place,
she'd be like a fountain-
bubbles reaching everyone around her.
she's as still
as a leaf-littered pond,
dark water evaporating,
waiting desperately for rain.
I enjoyed the shifting perspectives and how some of the events overlapped but were told so very differently highlighting how each individual sees the circumstances differently. I also liked the realistic portrayal of the harder aspects of Casey and Bongo's lives while not allowing the story to wallow in darkness. I did think the turn around in Bongo's life was a little unrealistic. I wanted to see him succeed but in a way that was more likely to actually happen. It is possible my incredulity about this may be due to lack of knowledge in the way things operate in Australia though.
Overall the novel is a good one, another excellent addition to the many wonderful Australian imports we have received in recent years.
My one reservation is in the way sex is used and portrayed in the novel. I am not naive enough to believe that everyone shares my opinions on the subject of sex nor that teens aren't having it in exactly the ways Luke, Casey, and Bongo are. My concern is when sex is portrayed as something inconsequential or simple. Yes Casey is left with a lasting reminder, but she far too easily disregards most of the experience including her partner as inconsequential. All three do. Sex is complex and layered and when it is treated so cavalierly and easy it bothers me. I like when novels tackle this realistically, but I prefer for there to be more balance.
Despite this misgiving of mine, it is a good book and I really enjoyed the way Cameron ended it. At first I thought, "What? That's it????" It took a disgruntled ten minutes for me to decide I would not have wanted it to end any other way. She leaves so much room for the imagination. I was just annoyed because I enjoyed spending time with these characters so much.
Content Warning for Concerned Parents: As stated in the review there is some sex. Drinking and drug use are also referred to.
I read a copy made available from the publisher via NetGalley. Out of This Place is on sale Tuesday, May 13. (less)
I enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield series quite a bit and I was eager to see what she would do with a fantasy book. What she did is amazing. A Corner of White is absolutely wonderful. It is a combination of contemporary and fantasy that does both well and brings to life a cast of characters that you want to know and love.
Madeleine is a girl of The World. She has lived in many exotic locales,but now lives with her mother in Cambridge and they don't have much money. Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello where there are attacks by antagonistic Colors, magic, and strange happenings in the political landscape of the Kingdom. When a crack between the two worlds opens up the two begin writing letters to each other. Elliot knows of The World. They study it in Cello. Madeleine thinks Elliot is a fantasy nerd with too much time on his hands but she plays along. Sort of. One of the brilliant things about Moriarty's construction of this novel is that she has Madeleine challenge the fantasy world she created. Through her she mocks it, points out the nonsensical in it, and therefore makes it all the more believable. Ingenious. There are times in the book when the town of Bonfire and its inhabitants seem more real than Cambridge.
The first part of the book is a bit confusing and not much is clear. I couldn't help being drawn into these characters lives and their story even if I didn't fully understand what that story was at first. Moriarty has strong control over the narrative and the style of her writing had me eager to keep reading until all was clear. In the meantime I was falling in love with both Madeleine and Elliot in all of their confused uncertainty about their lives. They are very different but have the same essential struggle. Both feel the void left by their missing fathers and both are shying away from facing the harsh realities before them. Their letters to each other are a mixture of complaint, advise, and friendly banter that are delightful. The supporting characters are all fascinating and complex too. Both Madeleine and Elliot have hard things filling up their lives. Things that any reader can identify with, yet the tone of this book remains lighthearted and fun. The hard things are there, but life is still happening and Madeleine and Elliot both embrace life with wholehearted enthusiasm.
There were a few elements of the story I questioned while I was reading. Why is this here? This seems unnecessary. But then the end comes and I knew. It is all necessary. All of it lays the foundation for the end which took me by surprise and in a most delightful way. It made me love the book even more. I absolutely can not wait for the sequel. I am satisfied with this ending, but as soon as I finished I wanted more. I didn't want to leave this world or Madeleine and Elliot behind.
I read a galley received from the publisher via NetGalley. A Corner of White will be available April 1, 2013.
Finally! I feel like I've been waiting to read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell forever. It's really only been months but still. My library was taking ages to get a copy and I had to wait until it fit in the book budget. Yay for birthdays! I really enjoyed this book. Rowell is great at really making you feel the emotions of her characters. I was not surprised at the announcement on Saturday that it won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. It is certainly deserving of it.
Eleanor is surviving life and that is the best she can currently hope for. Starting a new high school, her first day gets off to the worst start when no one makes room for her to sit. Finally a begrudging boy orders her to just sit next to him and he's not exactly friendly. Park doesn't want to share his bus seat, especially with some one as odd as Eleanor, but as the weeks pass little things begin to intrigue him, like the song titles she writes on her book covers and the fact that she is covertly reading his comics along with him. Soon he slowly begins to share his passions with her. She borrows his comics and he makes her mix tapes with the songs she wants to hear. They begin talking, they get to know each other, they fall in love. But Eleanor's life is a disaster waiting to explode into devastation, and even the power of first love isn't going to be able to fix it.
Eleanor & Park is a sweet and wonderful love story, but that is not all it is. The way the romance between Eleanor and Park unfurls is everything a great first love should be. I loved the slowness of it all, and how epic a moment simply holding hands is for these two. The descriptions of their interactions are great, and it was wonderful to see an actual relationship develop where there was communication. This is nowhere near love at first sight, it is a gradual thing. Underneath the sweetness of this story there is a seething ugliness to contrast it. Eleanor's life is a desperate struggle. She shares a room with four siblings. She has few clothes and only one box full of possessions she can call her own. Her step-father is a monster. Her entire family lives in daily terror. This is heart breaking to read.
Eleanor is a wonderful character, one who is likable and sympathetic but has definite flaws. It is easy to see why Park finds her so weird at first. It is easy to see how he gets frustrated with her, but seeing the bigger picture of her life makes her a truly dynamic character. Park is not as well developed, and if it weren't for one particular scene I would have come away saying he is too good to be true. Even with that he seems a little to ideal, but I can't mind because Eleanor needed that kind of hero in her life.
I love the way Rowell writes, so simply and yet with layers of meaning. She is a writer who says much with few words and I always respect that. She also wrote one of the best metaphors of all time: She's what would happen if the devil married the wicked witch, and they rolled their baby in a bowl of chopped evil. It's funny, it's heartbreaking, it's real. Sometimes a little too real for me to enjoy without qualification. Generally, I don't mind strong language in books particularly if it lends realism to the story. The language in this book certainly does that. However, there were so many instances of using God and Christ along with other words that it made me personally uncomfortable.
So is this YA or adult? I think it is both. This is why age designations for books bother me so much. Yes, it's about teens and teens will enjoy it and find themselves in it even with the 1986 setting. Adults will appreciate this book, even ones who don't regularly read YA because they should also find themselves in it.
Note for Concerned Parents: There is a lot of strong language and some intense romantic situations. There is also quite a bit of violent and ugly family dynamics going on. (less)
Variant by Robison Wells is a book I probably would have completely ignored if not for the review Charlotte for it over at Charlotte's Library. I'm a sucker for boarding school stories and when there is suspense and strange goings on thrown in I will definitely be all over it.
I liked Benson. A lot. He is not a bad kid. He does not rejoice in being a rebel. But when the rules are stupid, things are clearly not right, and he feels he's being used he isn't just going to go with the flow. He challenges and pushes. He can't fall into line and assimilate as easily to his new home as the other students have when it is very clearly not right. The other students don't like his challenging and pushing. He makes things hard and uncomfortable. And this is really not an easy thing for him to do because there are craaazy shenanigans going on at Maxfield.
First and foremost Variant is a mystery. What is the school's goal? Who runs it? WHY???? It keeps you on your toes for sure. Wells did an excellent job of building tension and suspense through the novel. He makes you as the reader a little comfortable in this world, just like Benson, freaked but willing to accept it to a certain degree. Then suddenly the entire game changes. The tension increases from there to its inevitable breaking point where the action goes into overdrive. The descriptions used kept me immersed in the story and eager to get to the next page faster than fast. We were on a road trip to a wedding while I was reading and I may have shushed my husband. Errr...more than once.
The ending is a cliffhanger. For those of you are not too fond of those, rest easy because the sequel, Feedback, just came out this months. Now to get my hands on it....(less)
If Endangered by Eliot Schrefer had not been named as a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, I probably would not have been inclined to pick it up. So thank you NBA committee. Endangered is a complex book, and as a result my feelings about it are complex. It is well deserving of its finalist status and is a powerful story.
Sophie spends her school year living with her American father in Miami. She spends her summer living with her mother in the Congo, her mother's native country, where she runs a sanctuary for the endangered bonobos. Bonobos are endangered and Congo is the only place they still live in the wild. Sophie finds herself the surrogate mother of a young bonobo she names Otto and spends her summer caring for him. Right before she is scheduled to leave again there is a coup and violence erupts in the nearby capital, quickly making its way to the sanctuary. Sophie is forced to flee into the jungle with some of the bonobos and begins a perilous journey to the remote village where her mother had recently gone.
What visions come to your mind when you hear the word Congo? If you pay any sort of attention to the world they shouldn't be pleasant ones. Schrefer did an amazing job portraying it in a book with all of its complexities. It is violent. It is beautiful. The imagery used to describe the places Sophie goes paints a vivid picture in the reader's mind of what she is seeing. It is honest without being gruesomely graphic. It is filled with horror without being horrific. He also did a good job of laying out the complexity of the social, economic, and political forces at work. Sophie, born in the Congo and living in the USA, has an unfolding understanding of her own country. At the beginning of her story she thinks: I knew there was great stuff about Congo. The second-largest rain forest in the world, wildlife everyone else gets to see only in the alphabet animals that hang over children's cribs. Brilliant greens, blues, and reds only your imagination could match. A lively, loving people. It was just that those same people occasionally took up their machetes and chopped one another up by the millions, and those vibrant red shades weren't only from blossoms pouring off sun-soaked tree branches. During my childhood, Congo was the best place in the world because it was the only place in the world. Now I really got why someone would want to live somewhere else if she had the option. Her opinion of her homeland is substantiated by much of what happens to her, but also challenged. This is drawn out and done in subtle ways throughout the story.
Sophie is a wonderful narrator. It is easy to slip into her story and come to care for the people she cares for. Even when I couldn't understand nor agree with the decisions she made, I was sympathetic to her plight. There are times when her narration or the dialogue becomes a little text book, sounding like something you would find in a text book, but then Schrefer ends the passage with a humorous comment or piece of imagery that makes it all worth it and completely forgivable.
Note on Content for Concerned Parents: Schrefer doesn't pull any punches with the truth, but he is not graphic in his descriptions. I would say that mature readers in the MG range would get much from reading this. Rape is alluded to, as is the possibility of that fate for Sophie.
I read a copy of this most happily received via NetGalley from Scholastic. Endangered is available in stores now.(less)
Wow. Wow. Wow. I am in awe of what Sheinkin did with this. This book is everything a good non-fiction should be. It is well researched, well documente...moreWow. Wow. Wow. I am in awe of what Sheinkin did with this. This book is everything a good non-fiction should be. It is well researched, well documented, and the information is presented in a way that forces the reader to draw their own conclusions, all things excellent non-fiction does.
BUT THEN it is also everything a good novel should be. Intense, enthralling, suspenseful, and complete with a tragic hero.
The book tells the story of the building of the atomic bomb: the research, the process, the scientists, the espionage, the outcome. All of it in 236 extremely interesting pages. Extremely. Sheinkin does this by doling out his knowledge slowly, only giving the reader exactly as much information as is needed at any given moment. He chooses his quotes and sets up his scenarios to build exactly the right amount of tension for the scene he is unfolding. One example being the countdown to the Trinity test: Groves lay on the ground ina separate bunker, his eyes facing away from the blast site. "As we approached the final minute, the quiet grew more intense," he remembered. "I thought only of what I would do if, when the countdown got to zero,nothing happened." "Zero minus one minute." "As the time interval grew smaller and changed from minutes to seconds the tension increased by leaps and bounds," recalled General Farrell. Unable to stay still a moment longer, George Kistiakowsky jumped up and ran to the top of the bomb shelter. "I put on dark glasses and turned away from the tower," he said. "I didn't think anything would happen to me." "Zero minus ten seconds, nine, eight, seven..." Oppenheimer lay on the ground in the bunker. His brother Frank lay on one side of him, General Farrell on the other. "We were lying there, very tense, in the early dawn," said Isidor Rabi. "You could see your neighbor very dimly. Those ten seconds were the longest ten seconds that I ever experienced." "Four, three, two..." "Oppenheimer, on whom had rested a very heavy burden, grew tenser as the last seconds ticked off," remembered Farrell. "He scarcely breathed. He held on to a post to steady himself. For the last few seconds he stared directly ahead." Allison shouted, "Zero!"
The story is framed, ending with the same line with which it began: He had a few more minutes to destroy seventeen years of evidence.
The narrative is particularly gripping because Sheinkin chose to tell not only the story of the creation of the bomb, but all of the cloak and dagger maneuvers happening around the world to keep others from doing the same. Through this large picture story the reader is able to see at how many moments the slightest difference in one person's actions or people placed where they were could have changed the course of events. Sheinkin has tight control over his narrative from start to finish and the result is a truly powerful story.(less)
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow was the only one of Jessica Day George's fairy tale retellings I had not read and recently decided that I needed to remedy that. I had put it off for so long because the more I love a retelling's source material, the more critical I tend to be of the book. When it comes to fairy tales that means "Beauty and the Beast" and "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" retellings are going to be judged harder by me. And I wanted to throw the last retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" I read at a wall. I had no such problems with this one though, it is now my favorite of George's retellings.
I have stated in the past that I am a fan of retellings that offer a twist on the original tale. This is really true only if the tale truly requires it. Some fairy tales can't work as a full length novel because they are not a layered enough story otherwise (Cinderella). "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" is layered and rich enough with so much plot that you don't have to add lots of bells and whistles to turn it into a really good novel. Thankfully George didn't try. What the original tale needed to make it richer was more characterization and that is what George gave it.
The youngest daughter of a poor woodcutter, the heroine is only ever called pika or Lass. Her mother refused to name her at birth as she was yet another worthless daughter. Her siblings have taken good care of Lass though. Her sisters taught her necessary skills and her brother, Hans Peter, showed her love. Her father also showed great care and regard for his youngest when he was around. Given the gift of speech with animals, Lass is sweet and content in her small life. Her mother's rejection and constant negativity have caused her to develop a wide stubborn streak and an iron will. And a need to prove that she is worth something after all. This makes all of her actions throughout the story believable and the choices she makes fit her character and history. The bear is less developed, but that is because he is cursed with the inability to speak about his past. The two do share long conversations about literature, life, and family. George also gave the servants in the palace delightfully endearing personalities and I loved the addition of Rollo, Lass's faithful wolf companion.
Other strong points of this retelling are the beautiful imagery in the descriptions of all the settings and the added texture of the Norse names and mythos. George gave this story a very real sense of place and it was easy to picture all the locales the story takes the characters to.
I highly recommend this to any one who loves a good fairy tale retelling to lose themsleves in.
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
This trilogy. My love for it is endless. I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (my th...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
This trilogy. My love for it is endless. I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (my thoughts) and absolutely fell in love while reading The Crown of Embers (my thoughts). I have been dying to get my hands on The Bitter Kingdom from the moment I finished reading The Crown of Embers and am grateful to Greenwillow for allowing me to read an advance copy. This ladies and gentleman, is how you end a trilogy. I had all the feels while reading it, and a good book hangover after.
Spoilers for the first two books are impossible to avoid. Go read those before you read this review.
There is so much I want to say, but will restrain myself so as not to include spoilers. There is still a lot I can say anyway.
Elisa's growth and development over the course of her story is so well done. In this volume she truly comes into her confidence as queen and woman. I love what Carson did with the Godstone storyline too. This is not about Elisa being a chosen one, it's about her being human. I continued to appreciate the depiction of Elisa's faith, her doubts, and questioning. It's like reading my own thoughts on such matters at times. I think a lot of the reason Elisa's character speaks to me so much is that I can see a lot of myself in her so I sympathize with her and understand her.
The addition of chapters from Hector's point of view are a definite bonus. I enjoyed being inside his head. I appreciate how it isn't easy for him to reconcile his feelings for the woman he loves and the queen he serves. In so many ways they are equal partners, but it can't be escaped that she is his Queen. The tension and conflict he feels over this is something any man would struggle with I think. I also love the juxtaposition of Hector the man and Hector the commander. Just as Elisa is not easily separated from her role as Queen, Hector is not easily separated from his role as commander. And yet the two sides of both of them come out in different ways and it was interesting watching both of them juggle and balance their roles and their relationships to each other.
Elisa and Hector are now one of my favorite literary couples, but this story is so much bigger than their romance. I often get annoyed at how a romantic element in a plot is dragged through too much drama and tension, not allowing the resolution of feelings until the end. Carson does not subject her plot to this. This isn't about them falling in love. They have a country to rescue, people to save, magic to confront, and they happen to be in love while they are doing all of this.
The council between the three queens, Elisa, Alodia, and Cosme, had just the right amount of tension. These are three intelligent rulers with complicated relationships with each other. Seeing the three of them interact and come to terms with what they must do for their countries is a highlight of the book for me.
The world building in this trilogy has always fascinated me because just when you think you understand it, that it can be explained, you discover something new. I like that Carson doesn't ever fully explain it. I like that there are questions unanswered and unknown mysteries. That is what makes a world real after all.She did reveal a detail this time around that totally changed the way I thought of about it. It is a game-changer, and again not ever fully explained. I LOVE THAT. It would be less real if it was, because how much of our own world can be conveniently and concisely explained?
I like Storm so much more than I ever thought I would.
Red was a wonderful addition to the cast of characters.
I could have done without the Deathstalkers. Yeah, I had nightmares. (Why do my favorite authors persist in putting many legged creatures who swarm into their books?)
This trilogy is one I will be returning to in the future for sure. In fact, as soon as my purchased copy arrives I'm doing a reread.
I read an e-gally provided by Greenwillow via Edelweiss. The Bitter Kingdom is a available for purchase on August 27th. (less)
I'm so full of rage right now I can't even. Who am I my kidding? Yes I can... I've read The Island of Doctor Moreau, and I was pretty excited to read...moreI'm so full of rage right now I can't even. Who am I my kidding? Yes I can... I've read The Island of Doctor Moreau, and I was pretty excited to read a reworking of it. I wanted a tale that was chilling and horror filled, like the original. One that subtly asked questions about life and science. There is plenty of the former and a little of the latter. But. My problems with the book started with not liking any of the characters. Not because they are wholly unlikable but because I felt their motivations were being twisted for the plot in ways that were contradictory. Also they were just pretty unlikable. I was okay though because I did like the descriptions of the island, and the suspense and horror elements were good. Though most of my urgency while reading was due to my desire to have the characters realize what was up faster than they were. And then there was all the long monologuing. But it was entertaining enough.
Until the last page. Not only was it just a crap way to end a novel, but (view spoiler)[I have NO TOLERANCE for men in books who pull the whole I'm-doing-this-for-your-own-good-whether-you-want-it-or-not-because-clearly-I-know-what's-best-for-you-better-than-you-possibly-could routine. No. No. No. No. And just to be clear: NO. What the heck? Her life was in danger if she stayed, her life was equally endangered being marooned by herself in a boat on the open sea with no clue where to go. Did Montgomery even consider letting her make that choice? Or was he too afraid she would be able to talk him out of his? Is he too dumb to even realize she is in as much danger? If he wanted to stay why not give her the option too? (hide spoiler)]. Apparently this is going to be a trilogy. I hope book 2 involves Juliet meeting some nice people in Australia and getting on with her life. Maybe going to school and finding a man who sees her as more of an equal. And if she ever sees a certain someone again she should shove him off...as high a place as she can find in Australia. ["br"]>["br"]>(less)
If you are looking for a good historical fantasy involving early 19th century England and magic I would recommend Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchante...moreIf you are looking for a good historical fantasy involving early 19th century England and magic I would recommend Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot or Kat, Incorrigible. This is not anywhere near as good. The heroine is about as full of life as a wet dead leaf. She is so utterly uninspiring I found myself actively hoping things would not go her way. I also found neither the magical storyline or the romance-in-high-society storyline to be done particularly well. It was a disappointing afternoon.(less)
I really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and was looking forward to this. This is another attempt at the same sort of story...moreI really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and was looking forward to this. This is another attempt at the same sort of story: unlikely meeting, relationship that develops through communication rather than physicality, stressful family issues. It didn't work as well with this set up though. There was a little too much going on and at times it goes over the top. It is still a light fun read but not nearly as engrossing or engaging as I was expecting. (less)
I had so much fun reading The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark when it came out last year. The story continues in the sequel, The Pirate's Wish, and to add to the fun of pirates and assassins there is also a Manticore. I mean come on, how can you not want to read a book with an assassin, a pirate, and a Manticore? I know I sure wanted to and was excited when I was able to read it early after being approved on NetGalley.
Warning: Spoilers for The Assassin's Curse ahead. Read it before read this.
The Pirate's Wish is so much fun to read. It is a roller coaster ride full of adventure and action. It opens shortly after the previous book left off with Ananna and Naji stranded and looking for a way to break the curse. They have to complete three seemingly impossible tasks in order to do this, which seem even more impossible as they are stuck on an island. The unresolved and undiscussed attraction between them is not helping matters, particularly as Ananna is convinced this is one-sided and that Naji cares nothing for her. The story has a little bit of everything. There is pirate ships, sea battles, islands of magical creatures, and royal courts. The reader's interest is grabbed and kept from start to finish. I was concerned, and had been since it was mentioned in the first book, about how the portion of the curse where Naji had to create life from violence was going to happen. I LOVED what Clark did there.
I was reminded of how much I appreciate Ananna's character. So many books of this ilk try to make the main character more educated and better spoken through some unlikely twist than they otherwise would be. I love that Ananna is unashamedly who she is, a girl who grew up on a pirate ship and acts and talks like it. Naji continued to be difficult to connect with, again because the story is all from Ananna's perspective. I knew she was reading him wrong and at times I was frustrated and wanted them to just discuss it already and stop running from it. Still. I like the way their story and relationship resolved in the end.
It was nice to get more of Marjani's story in this volume and I loved the addition of Jeric's character. I would like to know more about him now.
For any who enjoyed the first novel, this book is a must read. There were times when I felt it didn't all fit together perfectly, like when my son is doing a puzzle and he puts the right pieces together correctly but they aren't pushed in properly. It's a little uneven, yet so much fun and a great time.
Warning for Concerned Parents: This might not be the best pick for readers on the younger side of the YA spectrum who may not have the emotional maturity for this. There are instances of sex and swearing. (They are on a pirate ship.)
I read a galley of this title made available via the publisher, Angry Robot. The Pirate's Wish is available to purchase June 4 and to pre-order now. (less)
Pirates, Assasins, and Magic. Oh my. I think my interest in The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark is evident. It didn't disappoint. It was just as fun as a book about a Pirate Princess reluctantly attached to a Magical Assassin could possibly be.
Ananna is not happy about the future her parents have prepared for her. She is to be married off to another pirate house in a business deal. When she flees from her wedding her spurned would be in laws send an assassin after her. Ananna then, in an instinctive move, saves the life of the hired assassin and activates a curse. Now he must protect her or die himself. Extremely reluctant companions, Ananna and Naji must travel the desert and high seas, finally arriving at a dangerous and otherworldly island to try and find a cure for their predicament. With, of course, all the requisite adventures and romantic tension along the way.
The story is plot heavy with a lot of action scenes, peril, and blood. Lots of blood. It is a fast paced read and engaging from start to finish. The story has a true sense of place even though Clark did not bog her story down with details regarding the world building. It is there and it is vast. She doesn't explain it. She uses small details to form the world in the reader's minds and it is obvious that there is more behind what is actually being seen. Everything known about the Empire, the Confederation, the Assassins, the Mist people just left me wanting more. She is good at creating atmosphere too. I felt the sweltering heat of the desert and the glacial cold of the island.
Ananna is awesome. I loved this girl. She is the first person narrator of the story and she sounds like a girl raised on a ship by pirates. In every way. She uses slang and curses like...a sailor. Her grammar is deplorable. She is not unintelligent but her speech and thoughts reflect her education level. She learned the math required to navigate a ship quickly and used it well. She is a tough girl who knows how to fight. She can wield Naji's sword as well as he can. She is completely ordinary looking and has a great distrust of beautiful people. I enjoyed her immensely. Naji is harder to figure out, because the story is told from Ananna's viewpoint and the reader has exactly as much information about him as she does at any given time. He is not forthcoming with more. The result is that I found myself responding to him exactly as Ananna was. Which means I have a serious crush on him now. Their relationship is fraught with tension. He is used to working alone. She is annoyed he doesn't tell her things. He clearly has major issues with things in his past. So does she. They're equally protective of each other by necessity. They need each other to stay alive. Both are equally eager to rid themselves of the curse. Yet a real friendship does develop between them and I loved this. The are wary allies at first. They become friends. Ananna does develop feelings for him, but are the unrequited?
There are other interesting secondary characters too that fill out the story in places.
The book is YA, but is one that I think would find an audience with adults who don't typically read YA as well.
I should warn you that the end resolves absolutely nothing. It's not a cliffhanger, just unresolved. There is going to be a sequel, which I will most definitely be reading, expected out next year. It will be called The Pirate's Wish. The author has another unrelated book out in the spring called The Mad Scientist's Daughter, which sound intriguing. A little creepy, but intriguing.
I read a copy of the book given me by the publisher via NetGalley. It's US release date is October 2. The UK release date is October 4. (less)
The Boneshaker has been on my TBR for a while now. I have been eager to read her writing, having heard so many good things about it. When her newest book, The Broken Lands, which is a prequel to Boneshaker, became available on NetGalley I requested it immediately. It's no secret I love historical fantasy and this is historical fantasy set in Industrial New York, just as the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is coming to an end.
There are a lot of characters introduced in the first few chapters, but Sam and Jin are by far the most important, and the ones I became the most attached to over the course of the story. Sam is a card sharp and trickster who makes his living fleecing others. He is not terribly proud of this, and has a definite desire to do more with his life. Jin is a Chinese girl and a master pyrotechnic. She can create marvels with fireworks. Her past is a nightmare that she is still trying to overcome. She was brought to San Fransisco as a toddler, her feet were bound, and she was raised for one purpose only. Milford did an excellent job of conveying the exact nature of Jin's terrible past without describing it at all. Those who know of what she is talking about will understand what happened to her. For those who are maybe younger and without as much knowledge, it will go right over their heads. I appreciate this ability to convey what needs to be conveyed without the lurid details. My heart ached for both Sam and Jin as their relationship unfolded amidst the awful situation they were facing. There were some truly beautiful scenes with these two depicting their evolving relationship that stood in stark contrast to the horror of their circumstances. Through both Sam and Jin and their newfound compatriots we are given a glimpse of what people can do when they band together to stand for something greater than themselves.
Milford brings 19th century Coney Island to life perfectly. The story has a definite sense of place. Her prose is vivid and descriptive and she glosses over nothing. Through the characters and plot of the story she shows both the humanity at its finest and inhumanity at its foulest. The plot is fast paced and gets off to a quick start. The bodies start piling up soon and characters find themselves in peril within the first few pages. It is exciting reading for sure, and near impossible to put down. In fact, I didn't put it down until I had finished it. The fantastical elements of the story have a Gothic creepiness to them that works perfectly with the setting. Eastern mysticism is mixed with Faustian legend and the old Jack Tales (one in particular) to make for a unique story. I love that Milford took such rich source material and truly made it her own.
This is a book that straddles the MG/YA genres. I can see older more savvy Middle Grade readers liking and understanding it. It is complex, creepy, and Jin's back story is one that requires some understanding of the world to access fully. I would recommend this to anyone in their early teens or older who enjoys thrilling creepy stories with a lot of adventure. After reading this I'm definitely interested in reading more by Kate Milford.
Note on Content (For my fellow Christian parents.): There is quite a bit of eastern mysticism used in the story. This is definitely a story of good vs evil where the good triumphs, yet while there are definite supernatural forces of evil the supernatural forces for good are not as easily distinguishable. It should make an excellent opportunity for a discussion comparing belief systems and worldviews if your kids want to read it.
I read a galley of this made available via NetGalley. The Broken Lands is on sale September 4.(less)
Oh this was the perfect read for a rainy day of recovery from wisdom teeth removal. Light without being fluffy, having substance without dragging down, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is a fun romantic read.
I will admit that this books started slow for me. It took my a while to get into it and I actually considered stopping about 50 pages in, but something about Amy's voice kept me holding on a little longer, and in the end I was glad I did. I really enjoyed how Matson set the book up with receipts, pages from Amy's scrapbook, and playlists they listened to scattered throughout the book. This is the story of Amy and the much needed therapy her epic detour gave her. It is a story about Roger and how his epic detour gave him the closure he needed. It is also the story about the diversity of our country and you can experience that in no other way than randomly driving through it. I may have enjoyed this book so much because I have taken so many road trips across it myself, to many of the same places. If you've never done such a thing before reading this book, you will want to after reading it. I enjoyed both Amy and Roger and their interactions very much. I also really liked the way Matson ended the book, not trying to make everything okay, but giving just enough hint of good things to come to make you sigh with happiness while putting the book down.
Note on Content: There is some rather casual treatment of sex in the book so people who are bothered by that should take note. There are no detailed descriptions though. (less)