I combined the two things I wanted most in the world at that age: to be sucked into the world of Potter, and, you kno...moreElisa's HP fanfiction, age 11-13:
I combined the two things I wanted most in the world at that age: to be sucked into the world of Potter, and, you know, to hang out with the cool kids at school. So here's the set-up, I live up the street from this really popular girl from my school (this is actually true), and one day-- she is having one of her really popular people parties, when I decide to go for a walk. On my walk, I pick up a random stick (because people do that, right?) and OMGOSH IT'S A WAND AND I'VE ACCIDENTALLY SUMMONED THE KNIGHT BUS. So the cool kids down the road see what I've done and come running towards me and the Bus. We all board together, ride the Knight Bus to Hogwarts, learn magic, and become super best friends forever. Oh yeah, and all the boys like me and want to kiss me and I'm the coolest ever.
Elisa's HP fanfiction, age 13-15:
I have learned that the popular kids will probably never like me, and also that stories can't be like 1/2 wish fulfillment and 1/2 nonsensical silliness. So THIS time, I am Dumbledore's long lost granddaughter (give me a break, he wasn't gay yet) and he has kept me hidden in the anti-magic land of Kentucky to protect me from...something or other. Anyway, when something or other finds me, he has to come and get me and bring me back to Hogwarts where I'm allowed to learn magic and even though I'm getting a late start, I catch onto everything super fast like the prodigy I am and everyone loves me and wants to be my best friend.
Elisa's HP fanfiction, age 15-17:
I have finally accepted that no one is coming to get me to bring me to Hogwarts and even if they did, I am just too old. SOOOO, instead, Draco Malfoy, having flown off like a coward from his bad-guy duties, crashes his broom outside my Grandma's house while I am sitting in her living room. I run out, tend to him, and even though he's such a sour puss, we end up falling in love. Collective awwwws. He knows he has to put to rest his evil ways and protect me from his muggle hating family, and the only way he knows how to do that is to call on HP & pals. So we all hang out and fight evil together (though I suppose I'm a bit useless) and the good guys win and blah, blah, blah.
Now I write my own stuff, thank GOD. I don't think there would have been the same market for my fanfiction as there was for Cath's in Fangirl.
Oh, are we talking about the book now?
I really enjoyed reading this. It made me laugh, it made me swoon, it made me reminisce.
The characters were wonderful and real, and the story itself was very relevant and unique.
There were moments that dragged (this book did NOT need to be over 400 pages, come on), and one particular issue that never got resolved to my liking, but I still devoured it.
I've officially read all of RR's released books, and I have to say-- this one is my favorite so far! (less)
To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before had a lot of elements that excited me at first meeting: I mean, first off, check out that hot Asian chick on the...more2.5
To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before had a lot of elements that excited me at first meeting: I mean, first off, check out that hot Asian chick on the cover. Yes! Diversity! Secondly, um, awesome title. Why yes, I would LOVE to have Julio Iglesias stuck in my head all day– and I don’t mean that facetiously. Third, okay, maybe the premise wasn’t anything mind blowing or whatever (lightning fast summary: Lara Jean keeps a collection of love letters she wrote over the years to former crushes, and then one day–oh no!–the letters are somehow mysteriously sent out to the boys they were addressed to), but it sounded like a fun, if somewhat stressful and angsty read.
When I started reading, I was pretty immediately disappointed. As I continued reading, the story got better(ish), but I still have a laundry list of complaints (in addition to some praise).
Both Lara Jean and her younger sister Kitty (ok, seriously, Kitty? Is there any name that screams ‘I’m a precocious little girl’ any more vehemently?!) ) suffer from the dreaded ‘we sound far younger than we are’ syndrome. With Lara Jean, I could brush it off pretty easily as simply a youthful naivete (if I’m honest with myself, I probably at times sounded about 12 when I was 16), but Kitty (who is somewhere in the 8-10 range) sounds 4-5. At the risk of sounding callous, I HATE precocious children. Like, intensely. I swear Full House would have been a far better show if they had killed off Michelle– or you know–sent her to boarding school or something. Anyway, Kitty the whiny, puppy-crazy, attention loving little girl wasn’t featured enough to ruin the book, thank goodness, but boy howdy did she try.
We learn pretty early on that poor Lara Jean’s got it bad for the boy next door aka Josh aka her big sister’s ex bf. Talk about keepin’ it in the family (ba-dum-tish). The little flutters of romance were a bit creepy if you considered the full extent of the relationship between Josh and Lara Jean’s sister, Margot, BUT those flutters acted essentially as the driving force of the story (Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter) and were, in the end, (view spoiler)[played down pretty pathetically. It went kind of like this– Josh: Hey, I think I like you now. Lara Jean: Hey, I don’t think I like you anymore. Josh: K-BYE. (hide spoiler)]
While we’re on the subject of romance, let me just go ahead and say that the story really did throw a nice curve-ball in that aspect with the introduction of Peter. The relationship, though it was a token YA ‘fake it till you make it’ trope was fun and sweet and totally authentic. Peter was the perfect high school combination of charming and obnoxious. I loved him! I’m tempted to read the sequel in order to find out how things between them end up– YES, btdubs, this is a duology. I’m telling you because I really wish I’d known that going in. Not knowing made the last page very unfulfilling. I actually like the idea of the split here, though– this book covered the first semester of school up through Christmas Break, and I’m assuming part two will be the spring semester. I think that’s kind of clever– at least it’s not something I’ve seen before. There is SUCH a divide between those two semesters in real life, so two books worth of material feels fitting.
The last thing I’ll bring up in my review, and perhaps the biggest issue I had with the book was just the fact that the plot I was promised was not really the one I received. Yes, the letters were a sort of jumping off point– but they were just sort of…glossed over. I wanted to feel the deep fear and humiliation that would likely come from them being sent out, but I never did. It was just sort of like an unimportant thing that happened that made a few other, more important things happen. No one was really ever that mad or hurt or sleepless over their contents, it was just all very inconsequential.
Will I read the next one? Maybe. Obviously this wasn’t my favorite book ever, but it was a fast and easy read, and I imagine its sequel will be as well. And daggonit, I DO want to know what happens with Peter…just wish I didn’t have to suffer through Kitty to find out.
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I’m really stingy about giving out five stars these days, in fact, it’s why I started my re-read project back in 2013. The idea was to go back and see...moreI’m really stingy about giving out five stars these days, in fact, it’s why I started my re-read project back in 2013. The idea was to go back and see if I’d given books five stars because they actually deserved it, or because I’d been swayed by an emotional response or another reviewer’s opinion. Needless to say, I’ve been cleaning house– not because these books weren’t good, but because they no longer meet the standards I have ascribed to a five star rating. There are really only two: 1) Do I really see myself wanting to read this again? and 2) Would I be inclined to mention this book to anyone curious about which books I consider favorites?
In the case of Strange, Sweet Song by Adi Rule– it is a resounding yes for both, in fact, I’d already like to read it again. You can click the hyperlink there for the Goodreads blurb, or you can just take my word that it’s a book that sort of defies summation or explanation. I tried to pitch the story to a friend a couple of days ago, and all I could come up with was “Well…the main girl is a vocalist at a prestigious music school, there’s a mystery in the woods, a touch of romance, and…that’s really the best i can do.” The thing is, there is so much more to each of these aspects, and I fear saying too much will spoil the magic, but too little will not compel anyone to read.
And so I will try very, very hard to explain not necessarily what this book is about, but why I loved it so entirely.
This is Rule’s debut novel, and when I looked her up I was not at all surprised to discover that she was a student of music herself. Her love for music flows out onto the page from early on, most often when describing her lead character, Sing (yes, Sing, we will get to that name later).
Sure, various starched, soap-smelling women bustled around, but it was music that raised her, folding around her like a blanket– fuzzy or spiky or cold or sweet and warm. It sparked her, calmed her, made her want to get off the velvety floor and look out the window. Sing da Navelli is more music than words, inside.
Even for a person like me, who is impressed enough by the musical stylings of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, these words hold weight; they paint a picture of the essence of Sing in my mind, which is far more important than having a picture of her physical self. Love her or hate her (and at times it’s easy to do both), Sing come alive in this novel. Through her attachment to singing(because, really, it is more than love that emanates from her, she is practically made of music), through the heaviness of carrying her parent’s famous names on her back (and in her voice), and through the struggle which becomes the heart of the book– discovering who she truly is, Sing is no longer a character, she is a person who lives and breathes as I do– and you can ask no more from a writer than that.
And now, as for the name:
Her parents could have named her Aria, or Harmonia, or Tessitura, or a hundred other clever names that would have alluded to her ancestry. But they weren’t for her, these names that roll or sparkle or play or simply proclaim, I am normal! No, it was Sing. A name and a command.
It’s up to you whether or not that is reason enough for the character to wear this name…I was unsure at first, but I came to accept it. I mean, famous, eccentric people aren’t exactly known for naming their kids Bob or Sue (actually does anyone name their kids Bob or Sue anymore? Maybe it’s time for the old standards to make a hipster comeback).
Okay, so far it probably seems like this is just a novel about a musician at a music school, to which you are probably thinking BORING (unless that’s your thing…it’s not mine), but the story is actually a rather fantastical one (remember?? I did say there was a mystery in the woods). The overarching musical themes are complemented by a Gothic tone, established by a mythological wish-granting cat (I know, awesome, right?) called the Felix and a seemingly ageless apprentice named Nathan Daysmoor (or Apprentice Playspoor, to his students).
And just in case you haven’t guessed (because remember?? I did say there was a touch of romance), said mysterious, ageless man is the hunky (but actually sort of scrawny) romantic lead. A few notes on the romance: it may be a bit Twilighty for some people’s taste. Daysmoor is like a hundred years old and soooo, soooo tortured. But holy heck, he wears tortured well and he got me all shaky and floaty feeling at times. Am I too old to respectfully admit that?
–she knows he is still there, watching. And somehow, a tiny bit of her insides, always shivering, always shivering, is quieted, and she knows it will never tremble again.
I learned some very telling lessons about musical theater from this book. Most often, it is either the person who loses themselves in the drama of a production, or the person who loses themselves in the technical mastery of it who succeeds. But for a person to be considered truly, truly great– they must find themselves in it. And that is Sing’s journey– trying to find and project who she is among the singer, the diva, the coward, and the daughter of her parents’.
I would not recommend this book to just anyone. As the title implies, it is both strange and sweet, and I know many people who are put off by strange. The writing style is often very formal (which to me, serves the Gothic aspects), and the use of third person, present tense could be jarring. But I truly loved it, and I hope other people will as well (if only so I have someone to discuss it with).
Thanks for reading and check out more blogs on YA fiction from me and my pals at justahunchbookblog.com(less)