I believe some people classify Elsewhere as dystopian but I don't think it falls under that sub-genre. The premise of this noveOriginally posted here.
I believe some people classify Elsewhere as dystopian but I don't think it falls under that sub-genre. The premise of this novel is fresh and unique as it deals with what happens after a certain person's death. There have been a lot of YA novels dealing with death this year (like Before I Fall and The Sky is Everywhere) but Elsewhere is different because it focuses on the afterlife. Liz is almost sixteen when she dies and she feels cheated because she's still so young and her abrupt death was caused by a hit and run accident. It's ironic actually because even as the book follows Liz's life after death, I think the main message of the story is to live life to the fullest and to make the most of what we have.
"A life isn't measured in hours and minutes. It's the quality, not the length." Ain't that the truth. Liz isn't less of a person just because she died young. She also comes to her own as she stays longer in Elsewhere and I believe she did the best that she could with the opportunities that she was given with, which is the most that we can expect out of anyone. I really liked the concept and the idea of Elsewhere. Death is such a natural part of life and most of us have probably experienced the death of a loved one. I think that we comfort ourselves with the idea that after this life, people go to a better place where there's no need to worry about money, health and the usual mundane things that we have to think about in this world. That idea makes it easier for us to accept death and go on with the rest of our lives. While Elsewhere isn't exactly heavenly, it's a comforting kind of place. If you're up for an interesting story, then I suggest you read this one. I'm glad that I picked this up and thanks to Holly for recommending it. :) I should stop being surprised at how profound a simple YA novel can be....more
ook at that old school cover! I find the outfits hilarious. But then again, that was the fashion in the 90s, when this book wasOriginally posted here.
ook at that old school cover! I find the outfits hilarious. But then again, that was the fashion in the 90s, when this book was published. Sometimes, it's refreshing to read an oldie but goodie like this one, where teens don't have to deal with the cyber age. Based on the title, it's obvious that the book occurs during summertime. Athletic Carly is working as a counselor for a bunch of first, second and third graders. This summer, she's determined to set up her best friend Heather with the perfect guy because she's fed up with Heather stealing the guys that she dates. Carly doesn't really blame the guys for falling for pretty and delicate Heather, who's also a ballerina. She finds the perfect guy to match with her best friend in her artistic co-counselor, Jack. He's good-looking, funny and available. Unfortunately, things backfire when Carly realizes that Jack is indeed perfect but maybe not for Heather.
As always, Elizabeth Chandler has a spunky, sporty female for a main character. They're not girly in the sense that they don't bother with pretty outfits or make-up and instead focus on being active and doing sports all day long. I like laid-back girls like that because I feel like we'd get along well (even if I'm not the least bit sporty - I'd probably be athletic if I wasn't so lazy). One thing I noticed about all of Elizabeth Chandler's novels in the Love Stories series is that the family of the main character plays a significant role in the story. In this case, what was highlighted was Carly's relationship with her pregnant older sister, Joelle. I liked the development of Carly and Joelle's relationship. What bothered me though was how Carly can be best friends with Heather when it seems like Heather is a superficial kind of girl and she's only interested in guys already attached to Carly. Anyway, I liked the book as a whole because it's another light and fun read from a favorite author. I hope she writes more of these kinds of stories because I enjoy reading them. I recommend this for fans of Elizabeth Chandler or those who like the Love Stories series....more
Grace is a dystopian novel with a unique premise. At only 200 pages, it packs quite a punch. It's amazing how so much can be coOriginally posted here.
Grace is a dystopian novel with a unique premise. At only 200 pages, it packs quite a punch. It's amazing how so much can be conveyed by a slim novel. Grace lives in a world filled with violence. She belongs to the People, the group determined to fight against the dictator Keran Berj. She has been trained to become a suicide bomber and she should consider it a great honor to die serving the People. But Grace doesn't want to die. In a world where everyone is told what their purpose in life is, she is considered a failure. Grace portrays a situation eerily similar to what is happening in some parts of the world today. It is a grim and a very emotional novel but ultimately, the message that it carries is one of hope as it is about a young girl's story of how she fights for her life and her freedom. The premise is unique and so different from the usual YA pickings.
Even though I recognize Elizabeth Scott's excellent writing in this one, it's not a book that I fell in love with. I think this has more to do with me rather than anything with the book - I don't think I'm cut out for dystopian novels. I feel like the premise is too bleak. If you're into that kind of thing or if you're a fan of dystopia, then I highly recommend this novel. It really is a compelling read and even I don't understand why I didn't love it. This is the first Elizabeth Scott that I've read and I look forward to reading more of her books even if they're from different genres....more
I liked the worldbuilding in this one - how curse workers can wield their magic with just the touch of a hand. Holly Black creaOriginally posted here.
I liked the worldbuilding in this one - how curse workers can wield their magic with just the touch of a hand. Holly Black created a dark urban fantasy setting and filled up the story with a lot of intrigue. Workers are usually members of the mob and everyone has to wear gloves to avoid getting cursed. Cassel is the only non-worker in his entire family but since he grew up surrounded by con artists, he finds it easy to dupe people. His mom even trained him to con people when he was younger. In his private school, he tries to blend in by staying below the radar and not doing anything to draw attention to himself. Even though he tries to be a regular guy, he can't help but take advantage of his rich classmates by running a betting ring. His cloak of anonymity comes off when Cassel starts having strange dreams accompanied by sleepwalking.
I enjoyed reading this one more than Holly Black's fairy books so I recommend this to those who gave up on that other series (I know I did, I didn't even read the third book). It's set in a different world but the writing is just as dark and gritty as her other books. I think one of the reasons why I liked this better is because it doesn't focus on a love story so it has less teenage angst. It focuses more on Cassel and his unusual relationship with his family. Cassel has always felt like an outsider in his family and as he gets more and more clues, he starts to suspect that they're keeping more from him than normal worker secrets. In a family where each member can manipulate you with the touch of a bare hand, trust is a pretty big issue. The story has a lot of twists and turns and as it progresses, the reader is kept guessing on what's the truth. While I didn't find White Cat amazing, I still recommend it to fans of urban fantasy. I have a feeling that other people will like this more than I did.
I love the gloves in this mock advertisement set in White Cat's world, which I got from here:
I've noticed that I've posted at least one Retro Friday review per month this year but I still don't have one for December. I don't want to break the streak so here I am, squeezing one last review before the year is out. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn, the first book in the Lady Julia series, seems like the perfect choice for this. I used to read mysteries back in high school because I just borrowed anything that I could from friends. I think I was never really into it because I thought some of the aspects of mystery novels, such as murder, are creepy and I'm a scaredy-cat. I was looking for a cozy read this December and I've heard such good things about the Lady Julia Grey series that I decided to pick it up. Also, the second book in the series is set during Christmastime so it's the perfect read for this time of the year.
This book has a winner of a start. Here are the first few lines:
To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching on the floor.
Those lines immediately make you curious as a reader and you can't help but be drawn into the story. I was determined to find out who this Nicholas Brisbane was and why Lady Julia's husband was twitching on the floor. December is such a busy time of the year so I read this book in bits and pieces. I remember there was one time when I read this in a coffee shop while waiting and some of the scenes had me smiling (another moment of crazy person smiling to herself while reading on her Kindle). I was frustrated that I didn't have enough time to read the past few weeks because I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know both Julia and Nicholas Brisbane in this first novel. Smart and sassy Julia, who slowly starts to come out of her shell after her husband passes away. And the enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane - tall, dark, brooding and with an unusual past. These two are forced to work together to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Julia's husband.
There are so many delightful aspects of this novel that just worked for me: the wild and unconventional March family, the banter and hint of romance between Julia and Brisbane, the plot that unexpectedly twists and turns. This is a novel (or series) that makes you invest in the characters. I loved Julia's relationship with her father and I also loved that the Earl is such a liberal and open-minded person for someone living in the Victorian era. I also liked seeing how Julia relates to her sister Portia and her youngest brother Valerius. I have a feeling each book in the series will feature a different March sibling because Julia HAS nine siblings and I'm looking forward to that. I did guess who the murderer was but was completely blindsided by the reasons behind it. I gobbled this up as soon as I had free time on my hands and it made me happy that I finished it and started the second book just in time for Christmas. Silent in the Grave is a good start to a promising series. I'm glad that Deanna Raybourn has a backlist that I can look forward to. Yes to more Julia and Brisbane being partners in solving crime.
So that's my last Retro Friday post for the year, which was mostly inspired by Angie's lovely review of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (one of my favorite novels). I told her that I should up my game next year and should aim for at least two Retro Friday books per month. Old titles are awesome, you know? And I'm always interested in recommending under-the-radar books. Anyway, hope the rest of you are enjoying the year-end festivities! :)...more
Oh wow, I don't think I can write a review that would do this book justice. I can't even classify what genre it falls under. EmOriginally posted here.
Oh wow, I don't think I can write a review that would do this book justice. I can't even classify what genre it falls under. Emotional Geology is about so many unfamiliar things - it's about forty-seven-year-old Rose and her everyday problems as she tries to cope with bipolar disorder and a past that's been troubling her for years. Rose settles in a remote area in Scotland, hoping to immerse herself in her work as a textile artist. She finds a kindred spirit in Calum, a handsome younger man who teaches in the local school, climbs during his free time and writes poetry whenever he can. The story focuses on these two broken individuals - how they're both burdened by their problems, how they try to rise above them and how they form a friendship based on how they see the world as artists. You know how someone gets you even when you barely know each other? I think that's the case with Calum and Rose. The point of view bounces from first to third person with bits of poetry thrown in between, changing from the present to several years in the past to fully explain Rose's experiences. It was a bit confusing at the start but I became used to the writing as I moved forward.
This was a refreshing and enlightening read for me because like I said, I know nothing about textile artists, climbing, geology or even Scotland. North Uist seems like a bleak and quiet place. Megan, Rose's daughter, even worries that her mother has chosen a lonely life when Rose decides to settle there. I think it's an appropriate choice for Rose and it's the perfect setting for her story. I would love to visit the area if I ever get the chance. Some of the characters in the book, like Calum, are serious climbers and I never realized how dangerous the sport (or hobby or obsession) is. I've tried some wimpy local climbs (very easy trails) and I also have friends who are mountain and rock climbers and I don't think they face the same risks that the climbers in Emotional Geology do. For one thing, we never have to worry about snow or frostbite here in the Philippines. Even if I wasn't familiar with a lot of things in this book, I was drawn to the characters because they felt very real. Linda Gillard did an amazing job of making me feel like I was inside Rose's head. The author was able to illustrate how erratic Rose's moods are - what Rose was thinking and feeling during high and low points in her life and what causes her to react in a certain way. This might seem like a grim book but it has a message of hope as the characters struggle to move on so they could find the happiness that they deserve. Haunting, lyrical, Linda Gillard's writing will stay with you days after you finish reading Emotional Geology. Highly recommended for fans of literary and women's fiction. ...more
First off, let's talk about that cover. I've liked that cover ever since I first saw it around the blogosphere. A girl and a guOriginally posted here.
First off, let's talk about that cover. I've liked that cover ever since I first saw it around the blogosphere. A girl and a guy kissing in the rain, while leaning out the windows of vintage cars. The best thing about it is that it actually happens in the book! In Rules of Attraction, the male protagonist is Carlos, Alex's brother. Alex is the male protagonist in Perfect Chemistry. A few years have passed since the first book and we see glimpses of both Alex and Brittany in this one. Essentially, the premise of this one is similar to the first book's - bad boy meets good girl and they fall in love. I find it funny that in Perfect Chemistry, there was a reference to Grease and in this one, there's a reference in West Side Story. I don't mind that the plot isn't anything new because even though we know how it will end, it's how we get there that matters.
Both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction are books that I would've loved to read as a teenager. Carlos acts tough but it's really just an act because he's always afraid that his loved ones will leave him. Like his brother Alex, Carlos was a member of a gang but it seems like he only joined just because that's the life that he was used to. I'm glad that Kiara's parents are kind enough to take Carlos in and give him a chance to finish high school. I like how Kiara is different from Brittany. Kiara's not popular and in fact, has only one good friend: her best bud Tuck. She also enjoys sports and fixing up her old car. So it's pretty obvious that Carlos and Kiara are opposites and we all know that opposites attract. Simone Elkeles throws in plenty of humor in this one and I found myself chuckling in some scenes. Rules of Attraction is very easy to read, it's the kind of book that you finish in one sitting. I recommend it for fans of YA contemporary romance. Can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy and find out what happens to the last Fuentes brother. Also, I'm on the lookout for another Simone Elkeles book - Leaving Paradise....more
At first I thought this one is an epic fantasy novel, probably because you don't see a lot of dragons in urban fantasy. A few pOriginally posted here.
At first I thought this one is an epic fantasy novel, probably because you don't see a lot of dragons in urban fantasy. A few pages in and I knew that it was going to be a YA paranormal romance. Same old Romeo and Juliet love story but with a draki and a hunter as its main characters. At one point, Will even said, "the hunter has fallen in love with his prey." For me, this sounds mighty similar to, "and the lion fell in love with the lamb." So if you go for those kinds of books, then this one is right up your alley. I'm not a huge fan of books like this because all of them tend to be similar.
Still, I liked the draconic lore intertwined in the story - how draki are descendants of ancient dragons and how they're able to shift from human form to draki form. There are a lot of different draki types with various special abilities - there are those who can stay under water, those who specialize in herbs and healing and so on and so forth. Jacinda is special because they haven't had a fire-breather draki for hundreds of years. Firelight is the first in a series and there's so much more than can be explored in this world in the next books. It was interesting to read Firelight and I didn't have a hard time finishing the book but I'm not sure if I'll pick up the next one in the series. The book focused more on the romance when I would've liked to know more about the history and lifestyle of the draki. I know it will find a lot of fans though because YA paranormal romance is a big thing right now....more
Eva Ibbotson is one of my favorite YA authors. She writes historical fiction novels with romance in them. I've read all of herOriginally posted here.
Eva Ibbotson is one of my favorite YA authors. She writes historical fiction novels with romance in them. I've read all of her YA novels except for A Song for Summer and I've been saving it up for when I feel like getting cozy with a good book. That time came up last week and I finally got to read this.
I mentioned this in my review of A Company of Swans last year but I want to say it again: there's something about Eva Ibbotson's writing that makes her novels comfort reads even when you're reading them for the first time. Maybe because she usually writes about bright, happy, young women - all of them intriguing in their own way. They're the kind of girls that everyone loves and Ellen is no exception. She's young but has very motherly traits because her passion lies in taking care of the household and everything involved in that - cooking, baking, cleaning, doing the laundry and making everyone else more comfortable. At first, her liberated mother and aunts were disappointed because they wanted bigger things for her but they eventually accepted that Ellen is bound to excel in whatever she does. I love that Ellen was brave enough to go after what she really wanted even when it meant that she can't be a doctor, lawyer or professor like her relatives wanted. She's such a sweet person but with a backbone of steel that becomes evident when the need arises. It's not surprising that all of the characters in book are drawn to her.
A Song for Summer is a charming novel but the latter part of the book was a bit frustrating. I wanted Ellen to get her happy ending, she deserved that and more for being the kind of person she is. I felt like she had to go through so much for it to happen. There were several bumps in the road when it comes to the romance in this novel and I think I would have loved the book more if there was less conflict. There were times when I wanted to knock some sense into the guy and tell him that he shouldn't be hurting her feelings. But I guess that's what happens when romance gets complicated because of war, everyone suffers although you can't help but hope that things would eventually work out. Overall, an enjoyable read that I would probably pick up again but A Countess Below Stairs and The Reluctant Heiress are still my favorite Ibbotsons. I feel kind of bad that I've finished reading all of her YA novels because I want more of them! Oh well, I still have to go through her children's novels and I have a feeling they're good too. If you're a YA fan and you've never heard of Eva Ibbotson, you should definitely remedy that situation. Her novels are lovely and something that can be enjoyed by any reader. Oh and if you have recommendations similar to her work, feel free to let me know. I would love to discover more authors like her. ...more