When I first started reading this book, I only meant to read a couple of chapters. I ended up finishing it until 3am, leaving m...moreOriginally posted here.
When I first started reading this book, I only meant to read a couple of chapters. I ended up finishing it until 3am, leaving me with only two and a half hours of sleep. There's something about Sarah Addison Allen's writing that makes you just want to gobble up her words. Twenty-seven-year-old Josey is stuck living with her domineering mother who constantly reminds her that she will never be beautiful. Josey longs to leave her North Carolina town but stays out of a sense of obligation to her mother. Instead, she comforts herself with a secret stash of paperback romances, travel magazines and lots and lots of candy hidden in her closet. Can totally relate to Josey on this one because I LOVE sweets although my fondness extends to more than just candy. Obviously, I also love books but not exactly romances. Josey's life takes a turn for the better when she finds rough and wild Della Lee in her closet. Della Lee encourages her to come out of her shell and befriend a heartbroken woman named Chloe. This book is a story of friendship between these women and it also deals with their unfortunate love lives. Della Lee accurately describes them when she says, "Girls like us, when we love, it takes everything we have."
The Sugar Queen is just as enchanting as Sarah Addison Allen's debut novel, Garden Spells although I found myself liking the latter more. Both Josey and Chloe slowly come to their own and become more independent as the story develops. I think I liked Garden Spells more mostly because I couldn't get past what Jake did to Chloe. I know he's really a good guy and he loves her but I really can't understand why he was able to do that and I sympathized with Chloe and what she was going through. I think it's a good thing that throughout her life, Chloe was comforted by books. Books would magically appear whenever she needed them. What an amazing kind of magic, isn't it? I would love to have something like that. Here's a lovely bit that I'd like to quote:
"Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around. Many of these books haven't even had their spines cracked. 'Why do you buy books you don't even read?' our daughter asks us. That's like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course."
Sarah Addison Allen has been added to my auto-buy list after I finished reading Garden Spells and I really enjoyed reading this one even though I had some problems with it. I loved that this is set in autumn/winter and that Josey loves snow because I've never seen or experienced snow. The setting made the book a good read for December. Can't wait to get my copy of The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I ordered it from the Book Depository two weeks ago and it still hasn't arrived.(less)
What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I've had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pick...moreOriginally posted here.
What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I've had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pick it up this weekend, when I felt like I could use a bit of magic in my reading. It looks like I'm going to become a fan of magic realism because I like that it's mostly contemporary fiction with just enough magic sprinkled in to make things more intriguing. The Waverley women have always had a hint of magic in their blood. In Claire Waverley, this comes out in her cooking. She has the power to influence how other people feel by using flowers and plants from the Waverley garden. The apple tree in the garden is famous because when a person takes a bite from one of its apples, they see the biggest point of their life (good or bad). Claire embraced her Waverley roots early on but her younger sister Sydney feels the opposite. Sydney left town as a teenager, just like their mother did, but she's realized that Bascom, North Carolina is still home. Out of the blue, she comes back home with her young daughter in tow. Claire welcomes them even though she's afraid of change and that they'll eventually leave her again.
This book was a delight to read. It's the sort of book that will probably become a comfort read in the future. It's also a perfect gift for female relatives in friends because it's light and there's a bit of everything in it - some romance, a little magic, small-town gossip and family issues. It will also make you hungry because there are a lot of references to food due to the nature of Claire's work (she's a caterer) and her Waverley magic. I like how both Claire and Sydney developed as characters throughout the book. Claire's a shy, reserved person who's afraid to let people in because she has abandonment issues. Slowly but surely, she learns to open herself up to the people who matter the most. While her sister Sydney starts putting down roots and learns that being a Waverley isn't as bad as she remembered. The minor characters in the book are also well-developed and I like how they flesh out the story. Even the Waverley garden (the apple tree in particular) has a mind of its own. I highly recommend this book and if Sarah Addison Allen's other books are just as good as this one, then I'd be more than happy to read them.(less)
I'm usually not a fan of novels set during wartime - I find them difficult to read because of all the hardships the characters...moreOriginally posted here.
I'm usually not a fan of novels set during wartime - I find them difficult to read because of all the hardships the characters have to endure. This is true in Patty's case but not because of the war. Her mother and father are horrible parents and I don't understand why they're like that. It would've made more sense if they're just bad people in general but they're mean only to Patty - both of them treat Patty's younger sister with affection. Her mother is mostly concerned with outside appearances and always criticizes Patty because she's not pretty enough; while her father doesn't like her inquisitive ways and believes that Patty should just blindly obey whatever he tells her to do. Her parents made me so mad that I wanted to hit them over the head with something hard. Aside from the family housekeeper Ruth, no one else values Patty and it's a real shame. No wonder Patty turns to Anton, a German prisoner-of-war, for friendship. He recognizes her as the intelligent twelve-year-old that she is. Anton is several years older than Patty but he treats her like an equal. Patty doesn't have any real friends either so it was a breath of fresh air for her to have someone like Anton in her life. I felt sad for Patty for most of the book but I'm happy that she found a good friend in Anton.
This book is a lightweight at just 199 pages but it took me a while to finish it because there were times when I had to pause and brace myself for some of the things that I knew will happen. So in a way, you can say that it wasn't easy to read this book but it's worth the effort because it's a beautiful story about how friendships form in spite of nationalities, religious beliefs and pre-conceived notions. Who would've thought that a Jewish girl and a former Nazi soldier will hit it off. It's amazing how so much was packed in such a slim novel - there's so much depth in this one and I don't think I'll be able to justify all of it in a brief review. So many topics were tackled like racism, the complications of war and both physical and emotional abuse. It might sound a little bleak but I'm really glad I read this. Highly recommended for fans of middle grade or young adult historical fiction or wartime stories. If this sounds like something that you'd enjoy reading, please pick it up because I think Bette Greene is an amazing writer and I don't see her getting featured that often. I can't wait to read the sequel and I am hoping that things will be a lot better for Patty in that book. She truly deserves to be happy.(less)
I love retellings. I like seeing how authors make the story their own while using another story as the foundation. Jane is a fa...moreOriginally posted here.
I love retellings. I like seeing how authors make the story their own while using another story as the foundation. Jane is a faithful retelling - all of the major events in Jane Eyre were there but April Lindner found ways to insert some new scenes to make the story more believable (loved the pool scene). What I really liked about this book is it found a way to seamlessly modernize a classic story while keeping the essence of the original. Jane is still very much a plain Jane - practical, studious and hard-working. She's a no non-sense kind of girl who has no interest in celebrities of any kind. This makes her the perfect nanny for the reclusive rock star Nico Rathburn's young daughter. Mr. Rochester as a rock star is such an original and very fitting concept. It goes well with his past as a wild, young man, determined to cruise through the highs of life. Now that he's a little older, he's learned from his mistakes and is trying to live a much simpler life. I think it's great that Nico's age doesn't reduce his overall appeal because he's still totally hot - hello rich, brooding, reformed, rock star! What's not to like?
My favorite line in the novel is probably this: "Jane, you get me. And I think I get you." This one line perfectly describes the romance between Jane and Nico. In spite of the age gap and all of their differences, the only thing that matters is that they understand each other and they're both comfortable in each other's presence right from the start. Their story captivated me. Oh and it's funny that in this novel, their first meeting can be considered a meet cute. Even knowing what will happen in general, I was excited to move along, trying to think of how the story will develop in this new setting. I can see old fans of Jane Eyre falling in love with this charming retelling. What's good about it is I think it will also attract new fans because you don't have to read the original to recognize how well-written this debut novel is. Can't wait to see what April Lindner writes next.(less)
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history wh...moreOriginally posted here.
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can't help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? :) The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White's website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier's experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She's a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn't really mind. Rebecca's helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn't even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca's story of coming back from Vietnam. It's about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she's going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real - from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It's an understatement that it's difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you're reading this one but I think it's worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It's perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up. I never thought I'd find comfort in a novel about war. I'm baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people. (less)
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own story...moreOriginall posted here.
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own story. At 447 pages, this one is a lot meatier that its predecessor. The first one focused more on the romance while this one is a little darker and a bit grittier. The worldbuilding is just as creative and I like how we're presented with a different area of the Edge - the Mire. Clans fight in feuds to determine supremacy in a grim and swampy land where they have to eke out their living. Here's an excerpt early on:
"That had to be the craziest thing he'd heard. At some point they must've looked around and said, "Hey, what do we have a shitload of?" "Mud! It's cold and wet. I know, let's burn it!" "Well, it ain't good for nothing else." What the hell? He supposed if fish could have legs, then mud could burn. Spider or no Spider, if their cats started flying, he would be out of here like a rocket."
As you can see, there's plenty of wit and humor in the book. I love how William and Cerise banter and how they enjoy teasing each other. William spent most of his life as a soldier. Because of his nature as a changeling, he was trained from his early years to become a lethal fighting machine. As a result, he has to constantly keep himself in check. Also, he's been lonely most of his life because he doesn't have a family. Lo and behold, he meets Cerise and becomes tied up in her family's business. The Mars are a pretty crazy bunch of people. As evidenced by the cover, Cerise is an excellent swordswoman. She fuses her magic with her sword so she has a unique fighting ability. She's also smart and funny, definitely my kind of female protagonist! I had a lot of fun reading this book and even though it was pretty thick, the pages just flew by. As expected, there's nonstop action and adventure for the two main characters. The story is layered with intrigue as William pursues his quest against the creepy spymaster of a rival nation. Spider is a pretty scary villain not just because he's evil but because he believes he's doing the best that he could to serve his country.
Another awesome urban fantasy novel from Ilona Andrews - espionage set in an interesting swampy landscape with broken but lovable main characters and distinct secondary characters in the form of the Mars - highly recommended to all fans of the genre. According to the authors' blog, the next Edge book will be about Kaldar. I'm really looking forward to that because I loved Kaldar's character in Bayou Moon. Most of you know I'm a fan of reprobates and thieves. :) (less)
I'm glad I found out about this series (through Angie and Michelle) when all four books are already out. I can't imagine having...moreOriginally posted here.
I'm glad I found out about this series (through Angie and Michelle) when all four books are already out. I can't imagine having to wait for Long May She Reign for several years. At first, I had a hard time getting into Ellen Emerson White's writing since I have no clue about American politics and that's a huge aspect of her President's Daughter novels. Meg eventually won me over as I read the rest of the books in the series. Meg is such an intelligent character with a unique sense of humor and I have a feeling that I would be intimidated by her if I happen to meet her in person. One thing I can say about Ellen Emerson White is that she isn't afraid for her characters to get hurt. Her writing reminds of Megan Whalen Turner and Elizabeth E. Wein in that sense (if you haven't read their books, you should go pick them up!) I admit that their books aren't easy to read because of all the suffering their characters go through but you know that they're tough and they can eventually overcome any challenges thrown their way. I'm talking about the kind of writing that stays with you days after you finish the book and makes you want to read the rest of the author's work.
Long May She Reign starts from where the last book left off - Meg is trying to cope with the effects of the physical and emotional trauma that she experienced. She's not doing a good job because she mostly just sulks in her room. Although after what happened, she deserves to be as grouchy as she wants. However, she can't take how her attitude is affecting her family so she heads off to Williams, hoping that things will get better while she's at college. As if being the US President's daughter doesn't make it hard enough for Meg to fit in, she's constantly in pain because of her injuries. Things look up as Meg reluctantly starts to make friends with her Junior Advisor, Susan, and some of the other people in her dorm. She also starts dating Jack, a California playboy who's surprisingly vulnerable when it comes to Meg. I didn't like Jack at first because I had my heart set on Preston, the First Gentleman's press secretary and the family's close friend, but I ended up liking Jack and Meg's relationship. Both of them are far from perfect and they make mistakes when it comes to dealing with the other person but I like that Jack is Meg's equal. Plus, Preston had some wonderful scenes in this book so it's all good. There's something about Ellen Emerson White's writing that makes me want to read more of her stuff. Seriously, I'd like to see a President's Daughter book that will jump forward in time, maybe if/when Meg and Beth decide to go to law school together. For now, I have to patiently wait for my copies of Romance is a Wonderful Thing and Life Without Friends to get here. Oh and I need to find a copy of Friends for Lifesomewhere because I'm really curious about Susan.
Here's an article about EEW's writing over at The Savvy Gal. Check out this interview, where EEW says "It’s too early to say, but I suspect there will be more than one sequel and they will not be all from Meg’s point of view" about more books about the Powers family. Yay! I hope there's more of Preston in those sequels!
It took me a while to pick this up because based on the premise, it seemed like something that isn't easy to read. I was even w...moreOriginally posted here.
It took me a while to pick this up because based on the premise, it seemed like something that isn't easy to read. I was even warned that it has some trauma and that I should be prepared for it. Ellen Emerson White is an amazing writer but I feel like I have to be in a certain mood before I could read her books. Just when Meg feels like she's starting to get used to being the president's daughter, she's forcibly taken by terrorists and she doesn't even understand why. My heart was pounding the entire time I was reading Meg's ordeal. Even though I already knew terrible things would occur, I was still scared because there's no way that I could predict what would happen next. As a reader, I felt like I was with Meg every step of the way. It all felt very real. The storytelling is vivid and no detail is spared - all of Meg's feelings and thoughts were documented. I actually wanted to jump forward in the novel to take a peek at how things will develop but it's a good thing I waited. I admire Meg for being as strong as she was and she even keeps her unique brand of humor wherever she was.
One of the highlights of the novel (the entire series, in fact) is the distinct and realistic dynamics of the Powers family. You know they all love each other but they don't really know how to act when they're all together and as a result, most of their dealings are awkward. I don't think I've read any other YA series that focuses on the character's family as much as this one. Even the love story took a backseat. Also prominent in this installment is Beth Shulman, Meg's best friend from back home. It's a struggle for both Beth and the entire Powers family to reach out and help Meg as she continually pushes people away. I read this series because it's been repeatedly recommended by both Angie and Michelle. I second (third?) the recommendation because this series is a different kind of YA but be prepared because the books are compelling but they're not easy to read. I think the mark of a well-written novel is that it can make you care for the characters to the point that you don't want anything bad to happen to them (or when bad things happen, you want them to overcome those situations). I have a feeling Meg's recovery in Long May She Reign, the last installment in the President's Daughter series, is going to be difficult but I'm hoping that good things will happen to her. She really deserves to be happy. I kind of wish she'd end up with a certain young and fashionable press secretary. (less)
I forgot to mention in my review of the first book that I was actually fascinated with the revisions that they had to make to m...moreOriginally posted here.
I forgot to mention in my review of the first book that I was actually fascinated with the revisions that they had to make to modernize this series. It was first written in the 80s when the internet wasn't such a big thing and there weren't any cellphones either. The new editions now have all that in them. It must have been such hard work to update all the details and I appreciate that the publishers and the author went through all of that. Also, I'm glad they decided to have the series reprinted because it's pretty hard to look for out of print books. I'm happy to announce that I had a better reaction to White House Autumn than The President's Daughter. There's a lot less politics in this one than the first book. I feel bad that I didn't really understand US politics in the first one. Maybe I should follow the US elections more closely when it rolls around again. My dad worked in politics for most of his life (although he preferred to be in the background) so I know how crazy life can get when you're involved in that field.
I think what makes this series stand out from other contemporary YA books out there is that it focuses on the dynamics of the first family. In most YA novels, the love story takes precedence over everything else. Not so with the President's Daughter series! In my review of the first book, I mentioned that I was hoping for more action in the book. I got what I wanted in White House Autumn. Only a couple of chapters in, something big happens that shapes the rest of the novel. In this one, Meg is scared for her family and she tries to mask her fear by being angry. She lashes out at her boyfriend and her friends. I love how her best friend, Beth Shulman, doesn't let Meg get away with it. Beth is a true friend in the sense that she's there when Meg needs her the most but she's totally honest when it comes to pointing out Meg's flaws.
I can understand why Meg chooses to stay angry instead of breaking down and crying. All of us rely on our parents and it feels devastating when you find out that they're vulnerable as well. You go through life, secure in the knowledge that your parents will always be there for you and then *Wham, Bam!* something happens that makes you rethink that situation. It is beyond difficult when you realize that and I believe we all have different ways of dealing with it. It is doubly hard for Meg and her family because they're not a touchy-feely, solemn kind of family. They mostly show their affection through relentless teasing and that's where most of the humor in the series comes from. So even if the book is pretty serious as a whole, it still has its light moments. White House Autumn is an emotional, family oriented novel about a teenage girl, trying her best to cope with the dangers of having the US president as a mother. Now I understand why Angie and Michelle have been encouraging me to read this series. (less)
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for this...moreOriginally posted here.
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for this year. I always thought I was more into epic fantasy than anything else but Ilona Andrews changed my mind and this series has become my favorite when it comes to urban fantasy. This review will contain spoilers> for the previous books so don't proceed unless you've read the others. Even the book's summary is spoiler so pick up the other books in the series first before you read this one, I promise, you won't regret it. Reading order of the books: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds.
I devoured the first four books in this series last year and proceeded to read everything that Ilona Andrews has written. I read Magic Slays as soon as I can because it feels good to be back in Kate Daniels' world. Everything that I loved in the other books is present in this one: the detailed worldbuilding with a different set of villains and mythology in each book (in this one, it's Russian mythology), the characters who change and develop throughout the course of the series and the witty banter that had me laughing out loud. There's also the magic vs. technology situation that's always interesting.
What I really liked about Magic Slays is how the authors keep building on the world that they created, slowly revealing information to move the story along. We get to know more about Kate's past but there's still enough mystery to make readers speculate. I'm sure there will be more (and probably bigger) revelations in the next book. I also really enjoyed seeing the development in Kate and Curran's relationship. Yes, it's been established that they're mated and we all know that they're meant to be together but I loved seeing them work through the problems that rise up because they're both complicated people with a lot of issues. Just when you think you couldn't love Curran more, he goes off to do and say things that are unexpectedly sweet. Kate's tendency to be a lone wolf makes it difficult for her to connect with anyone - her mate, her best friend, her ward and friends from the pack - and even though she's mellowed out in this installment, it's still not easy for her. Add to all that the usual amount of butt-kicking action than can be expected from someone like Kate Daniels and her circle of friends and you're in for a book that you wouldn't be able to put down.
The other day, I was telling friends who are also fans of the series that maybe it would have been a good idea to wait for all of the books to be out before I started reading them. But then I realized that I wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun and I enjoy discussing these books too much not to read them as they're released. I just need to learn to be patient and wait for the next installment after reading this. At this point, if you're an Ilona Andrews fan then there's nothing more that I can say because you probably have this book in your TBR pile already. If you've never heard of the series or you're thinking of reading it (boo, you've seen the spoilers!), I hope you get to do so soon because the Kate Daniels books are awesome. I gobbled up Magic Slays and it still left me hungry for more. I think the stage is nicely set for the next two books in the series and as always, I can't wait to read them. (less)
I know the premise isn't that new - there have been several stories about daughters of US presidents before, although probably...moreOriginally posted here.
I know the premise isn't that new - there have been several stories about daughters of US presidents before, although probably more in movies than in novels. This one is different because the presidential parent is a woman. I found Meg very believable as a character. She's smart, snarky, has a great sense of humor and tries to act like her mom running for president is no biggie. As if things aren't hard enough for her, she looks exactly like her mom. Although it's obvious based on the title that her mom will win the position, the first half of the book deals with the campaign trail and how a well-respected senator fought to become the first female president of the United States. I admit that a lot of the political talk went way over my head. You all know that I live in the Philippines and we have a different political system from the US. Even though the political events and processes were explained in detail, I was still a bit lost. Also, we've had two women presidents over here so it's that not big of a deal compared to the US.
The book focuses on Meg and her family and how they adjust their lives according to her mother's profession. I liked Meg's family - her mom, dad and her brothers Steven and Neal. It's understandable that the dynamics of the family changes according to Mrs. Powers' political career. I found the characters endearing, each of them vulnerable in their own way. Since I'm a fan of humor, I kept noticing how it's natural for the entire family (except for Neal because he's only six) to constantly joke around. Even though I liked the characters, I had a pretty lukewarm reaction to the book as a whole. Aside from having problems understanding the US political situation being depicted, I also kept waiting for something big to happen and nothing turned up. I don't know why but I was expecting a climactic event. I'm still planning to read the other books in the series because I already have them. I have a feeling that they'll be more exciting than this one based on the book summaries. (less)
2012 NOTE: I first read this March last year and just reread it because of Marchetta Madness. Funny that I finished rereading this one the same day I...more2012 NOTE: I first read this March last year and just reread it because of Marchetta Madness. Funny that I finished rereading this one the same day I posted a review last year. :P Maybe I should make it a yearly tradition? Glad I now have the Aussie edition because it's even more beautiful in person. And yep, the book itself is just as amazing as I remembered (it still made me cry).
Today's my birthday and I'm glad that I get to post a review of what has become one of my favorite reads this year. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta is a companion novel to Saving Francesca, which I enjoyed reading last year. I think both books stand well on their own so there's no need to read one before the other. I can't even remember the details in Saving Francesca while I was reading The Piper's Son (which I regret. I will reread both books consecutively in the future). I love Melina Marchetta and Jellicoe Road is actually one of the books that encouraged me to read more contemporary YA.
How about that Aussie cover? I think it's lovely and I wanted to get a copy of it. I feel like the US edition is marketed for a younger audience when The Piper's Son doesn't read like a YA novel. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to get it so I went ahead and ordered the US edition because I've been waiting to read this for a while now. Let me just say that it was totally worth the wait! There's something about Melina Marchetta's books and her writing that makes the characters come alive and it makes you want to squeeze yourself into each close-knit group and beg to be included. That's how I felt when I read Jellicoe Road and again when I finished The Piper's Son. I wanted to become a part of their world, I wanted to feel all that love and yes, even the heartbreak and the pain that go with it. I can't get over how amazing Melina Marchetta is as a writer because she can really make you feel. Her books can make you laugh and cry and care about her characters to the point that you become fully invested in them. You feel like you're experiencing everything that her characters are going through and even when they're mostly difficult situations, you'll still love every minute of it. The Piper's Son is an achingly beautiful book that manages to do just that.
Tom is such a broken person at the start of the book and you just hurt for him and his family. The point of view changes from Tom to his aunt Georgie and the reader gets a clearer picture of each family member and most of their friends because of this. The Piper's Son is about grief and the slow healing process that goes with it. The characters were fully fleshed out, even the secondary ones, and Melina Marchetta shows how a person's actions and feelings affect the people around him or her. It reminds me of ripples in water and how they spread out to bigger areas. In my opinion, this book perfectly describes how complicated different kinds of relationships are. Family, friendships and romantic relationships - all of these are highlighted and illustrated in this book. Even if there's a lot of love involved, people are bound to make mistakes that they'll regret and it's a matter of knowing when something is worth fighting for and when someone deserves to be forgiven. Music is also a huge aspect of this book because a lot of the characters are into it. I've never been a big music geek but this book made me want to make a playlist and look up all of the songs mentioned in it. If it isn't obvious yet, I loved this book to bits. It's all kinds of wonderful. If you haven't had a chance to pick this up, I urge you to READ IT. After finishing this book, I couldn't stop thinking about it and I had one of those "THIS is why I read!" moments.
Side note: Does anyone know if Ben the Violinist in this one is the same Ben from Jellicoe Road? If yes, then that's awesome.(less)
Based on the summary above, you'd think that this is just a contemporary YA novel with a love story. While the romance is a hug...moreOriginally posted here.
Based on the summary above, you'd think that this is just a contemporary YA novel with a love story. While the romance is a huge aspect of the novel, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart contains much more. This is a story about a teenage girl finding herself. She believes she's in love with a bad boy when in fact, she's more in love with the idea of falling in love. I could totally relate to Ruby even though she's known as The Quiet Girl and I've never been the shy type. In fact, I'm the opposite because I'm outgoing and really talkative. But Ruby's experiences in this book are universal. I also enjoyed reading about the secondary characters. Ruby's relationship with her librarian mother is pretty interesting and I like her closeness to her offbeat brother. The Casserole Queens, the book club for old people that Ruby's mother handles, also has a fascinating set of members. Each geriatric person has a unique personality and they're all so quirky. From time to time, they also spout out some sort of wisdom, probably the kind that comes with old age. The road trip orchestrated by the Casserole Queens is one of the highlights of the book. Old people rock!
There are so many good lines in this book, I wanted to pause every time I found one so I could mark it. Good thing Goodreads has a feature where you can add your favorite quotes in a book. Here's one of my favorites:
"A man's identity is complete through action, a woman's, when she has a man. Through him. We fall off our high heels into the narrow crevasse of what it means to be female. Let me tell you. You fall in love and you think you're finding yourself. But too often you're looking inside him for you, and that's a fact. There's only one place you can find yourself." She patted her chest.
This quote goes out to all my single girl friends out there! I know I keep saying this about well-written YA books that I discover nowadays but I really wish I could have read this when I was a teenager. It's a beautiful book that tackles a topic that probably every teenager has experienced - how you try to change yourself because of other people. I know I went through that phase. This doesn't mean that the book doesn't have its share of humor because it does. Ruby is pretty funny and I found myself chuckling in certain scenes of the book. Plus like I mentioned earlier, the book has a great set of characters. I even liked the guy who owns the whale van even though he had such a small role in the book! I highly recommend this one and I hope more people get to read it. This is the first Deb Caletti book that I've read but if her other books are as good as this, then I'm excited to read the rest of them.(less)
This book is more middle grade or younger YA for me, just to give you guys fair warning. The story is told in alternating persp...moreOriginally posted here.
This book is more middle grade or younger YA for me, just to give you guys fair warning. The story is told in alternating perspectives of Bernardo and Andi (real name: Amandolina, such an old school Filipino name). Andi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in London with her parents. She has a half-brother named Bernardo and he lives in the Philippines. Their mum came to the UK to work as a nurse and that's when she met Andi's father, who also works as a nurse. They've been trying to get Bernardo to the UK ever since they settled down but the immigration process is taking a long time. Andi can't wait to meet her brother because she's crazy about basketball and her mum says Bernardo is tall. Also, basketball is a popular sport in the Philippines so Bernardo must love basketball! Bernardo is sixteen when he receives the news that he can finally go to his family in the UK. The story focuses on Bernardo's experiences as he adjusts to a new life in a foreign country with a family that he loves but doesn't really know. Bernardo is tall, awkward and shy but he strives to do all that he can for his friends and family. Andi is a spirited tomboy of a girl and she's determined to play basketball even if she doesn't have the height for it. I think it was a good idea to tell the story from both of their points of view because it gives the readers a better idea of the whole situation. It's easier for us to understand what both of them were going through.
Tall Story is a heartwarming, hilarious tale about friendship and family and how certain bonds can transcend the physical distance. As cheesy as this sounds, I really think this book shows how people can be involved in each other's lives even if they are continents apart. And this happens all of the time! I have friends and family all over the world and even if I don't see them that often, I still feel the connection. A lot of you readers and book blogger friends live abroad and even if I haven't met you in person, I feel like I know you. Isn't that amazing? Most people have relatives and friends abroad so I have a feeling a lot of us can relate to Bernardo's story and how hard it is to live away from those you love. I think it's great that a Filipino author with a young adult book has been published internationally because I'd love for you guys to read this book. It has a wonderful blend of contemporary fiction and Filipino mythology, resulting in a cohesive story that has a lot of heart. Superstition plays a big part in this story because Filipinos are big on superstition, probably more so in the provinces.
I also think Candy Gourlay's portrayal of Filipinos in foreign countries is pretty accurate. Andi's mum gets carded whenever she buys wine because she's such a small person. I'm five foot flat and I had the same problem when I went to the States for a vacation. Whenever I ordered alcohol, the servers would ask for my ID and they couldn't believe that I was twenty-four years old at that time. They all used to think I was seventeen or younger. Also, Andi doesn't understand why her mum calls her aunt in the Philippines when they spend most of their time on the phone saying "Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Hello?" That is EXACTLY how my aunt in the States talks to my grandmother! They use up the call card just saying "Hello."
All in all, a lovely debut from Candy Gourlay and I'm going to watch out for more of her books.(less)