Elizabeth Wein is one of my favorite authors and I was thrilled when I discovered that she's releasing a new book this year, ev...moreOriginally posted here.
Elizabeth Wein is one of my favorite authors and I was thrilled when I discovered that she's releasing a new book this year, even if it's not one of her Aksumite books. Code Name Verity is one of my most anticipated 2012 titles. It's already available from the Book Depository and will be released in the US in May. Before I started reading this, I was warned by the author herself to have a box of tissues within reach. I'm usually not a fan of war novels but since I will read anything that EWein writes, I decided to steel myself and just plunge right into it.
You know that warning about having tissues on hand? Remember that when you read this. Code Name Verity is a wonderful, heartbreaking and riveting story about the friendship between two girls - "Verity" and Maddie. Take a look at that premise and you'd have an idea of why tissues will be needed. There's a pivotal scene in the latter half of the book that had me in tears and I couldn't stop crying until I reached the end. By the time you're through with this book, your heart will ache for both characters and you'd want to squeeze yourself into the story just so you can hug them. I love Verity, she's such a vibrant and sophisticated character, you can't help but like her even when she's clearly out of her element. She makes the best out of the situation and manages to amuse the reader with her anecdotes, enough to lighten the bleak situation. Maddie is also an interesting character - passionate about tinkering with engines and flying planes, she's very different from her friend. They probably wouldn't have met if not for the war, but they work well together and they make a sensational team. I love that the focus of the story is the strong sisterly bond between Verity and Maddie, which is unusual nowadays when most YA novels feature romances. YAY for girlfriends! I know next to nothing about World War II, the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) or flying airplanes, but that didn't matter. I was wholly invested in Verity and Maddie's story even if I didn't understand all of the details.
I knew the writing would be clever, it is an EWein novel, after all. But Code Name Verity still managed to surprise me. I want to go on and on about how much I loved this novel but I'm afraid to reveal too much because the less you know about the book before you pick it up, the better the reading experience. If you trust my recommendations and feel like we have similar tastes in books, I urge you to read Code Name Verity. Let me know when you're done so we can discuss all the spoilery details in private. If you're a fan of historical fiction or spy stories, then this book is right up your alley. It's the best book that I've read so far in 2012 and will be included in my list of favorites for this year. I would love to reread Code Name Verity but even knowing the events that will unfold, I think my heart needs to recover first. It's not an easy read but definitely worth the effort. It's the kind of novel that can make you feel. I have high hopes for this book because I want more readers to discover how amazing EWein is - her books really deserve to get more attention. (less)
I was so excited to grab a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because I knew that he signed all of the first print ed...moreOriginally posted here.
I was so excited to grab a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because I knew that he signed all of the first print editions. Also, I felt that so many readers all over the world were getting copies once it was released and I wanted to be part of that community of YA readers. When I saw a copy in a local bookstore, I grabbed it and read it as soon as I could. I have to admit that I haven't read all of his books, even though I already have copies of them, but I promise I'll get to them sooner or later.
Based on that premise, I had a feeling that this book will make me cry. I was right. I think I will always have a soft spot for well-written novels that have characters with cancer. I don't talk about it that much because it's a very personal thing for me but I've mentioned it on the blog before - my father passed away in 2007 because of lung cancer. I know other readers have pointed this out already but The Fault in Our Stars reminded me a bit of A Monster Calls in the sense that it's a cancer book but it's not just about the cancer. Both are books that can make you empathize with the characters, they made me feel that I was right there with them. I think John Green did an excellent job of realistically portraying what life must be like for a teenage cancer survivor. Hazel Grace knows she's lucky she got a reprieve but she's reclusive because she wants to minimize the hurt that she'll cause the world when she passes away. She's very matter-of-fact about her cancer. Here's a snippet that I liked, fairly early on so it's not spoilery:
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
I think Hazel Grace is a quiet sort of person, which is why Augustus' bright and vibrant personality stood out more for me. In any case, that didn't keep me from really enjoying the book. I love how the friendship developed between Hazel and Augustus and eventually blossomed into something more. It's a slow burn relationship between two intelligent characters who bonded over their favorite books, how can I not root for that kind of relationship? And it's the real deal between these two, even their parents could see that. Which brings me to another aspect of the novel that I liked - the supportive parents. We don't get enough of those in YA nowadays. It has taken me a while to come up with this review and I've seen mixed responses from other readers - some truly loved it while others had problems with it. I'm okay with that, I'm just glad The Fault in Our Stars worked for me. It was the first contemporary YA novel that I finished in 2012 so all the other contemporary YA books that I'll read within the year have big shoes to feel. John Green's latest is a beautiful book. Read it if it's something that you think you'll enjoy and tell me what you think when you're done. Okay? Okay.(less)
I first found out about Easy by Tammara Webber through Angie's review. When Angie stars bibliovangelizing, I listen. And it loo...moreOriginally posted here.
I first found out about Easy by Tammara Webber through Angie's review. When Angie stars bibliovangelizing, I listen. And it looks like I'm not the only one because several blogger friends started reading this after her review went up. I was further encouraged to read it when my friend Janice mentioned that she couldn't stop reading the book once she started.
I like that we're getting more and more New Adult reads nowadays. As much as I love contemporary YA, it's nice to read a book set in college to mix things up a bit. I wasn't initially impressed by Jacqueline's decision of giving up her dream of going to a music conservatory to go with her high school boyfriend to his college of choice instead. Felt like she should have put a little more thought into making a decision as big as that. But she redeemed herself in my eyes with this little bit:
"My roommate had never understood my compulsion to read when I had free time, especially if there were campus social events to attend."
I get you Jacqueline, I really do. If I was your college roommate, we could have reading parties in our dorm room every weekend. *nerdy girl high-five* Easy reminded me a bit of Flat-Out Love because both novels are set in college and the characters engage in email flirtation. I think it's great how realistic the college setting was. Well, I don't exactly know how college in the US feels like but Easy reminded me of my own experience - attending big classes, cramming for exams, how fun it was to form friendships. I feel like I need to read more books like this - immensely readable with a swoon-worthy romance. The kind that puts a smile in my face while I'm reading it. Lucas seems like a bad boy on the surface because of all his tattoos, motorcycle and tendency to not pay attention in class. But that's just how he seems, he really is a good guy deep inside. He actually reminded me of another Lucas in a different book because of his bad boy image. It was interesting to get to know him through Jacqueline's eyes because he had so many layers - he had his own issues to work through. I also liked that there was time for the attraction to blossom between the two characters because I'm always up for slow burn romance. Honestly, I feel like I don't have the words to describe how much I enjoyed reading this one. A draft has been sitting in my dashboard ever since I finished reading it weeks (or has it been months) ago. If you enjoy your contemporary romance with a generous serving of issues, then you'll probably like Easy just as much as I did.
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart is one of the titles that Angie suggested when I asked her for recommendations similar to...moreOriginally posted here.
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart is one of the titles that Angie suggested when I asked her for recommendations similar to Eva Ibbotson's novels. I've never read a Mary Stewart novel before so I decided I should give her books a try, they seem intriguing. I called the local bookstore and was thrilled to discover that the branch near my house had a copy. This book probably spent the shortest time on my wishlist - bought a copy on the same day I found out about it. Holly mentioned that she's also interested in reading Nine Coaches Waiting so we decided to do a read-along. As always, it was a lot of fun reading a good book with a friend, even if we can only discuss our thoughts through online means. I think one of the perks of having read-alongs is you get to talk about spoilery details and things that you can't mention in a review.
Linda is a very lonely young woman. Brought up as an orphan in England, she dreams of going back to her beloved France and jumps at the chance to work as a governess in a chateau located in the French alps. I thought the writing in Nine Coaches Waiting was beautiful and I was charmed by the atmospheric setting. Here's a passage that I really liked:
“I'd live with loneliness a long time. That was something which was always there... one learns to keep it at bay, there are times when one even enjoys it - but there are also times when a desperate self-sufficiency doesn't quite suffice, and then the search for the anodyne begins... the radio, the dog, the shampoo, the stockings-to-wash, the tin soldier...”
Linda forgot to include books, which are the best anodyne (had to look up the meaning of that word) for loneliness. It's not surprising that she bonds with her charge, Philippe, who is also an orphan. Young Philippe may be a count but it sure doesn't make his life easier. His Uncle Leon and Aunt Heloise may be interesting individuals but they aren't exactly warm people - I was glad that he slowly became friends with Linda so that there was at least one adult who cared about him. When Raoul de Valmy enters the picture, the novel takes on a Jane Eyre and Cinderella feel. What's even more delightful is that Linda was aware of it and kept making references to both stories. There's a slow build-up at the start of the novel, plenty of time to enjoy the writing and get to know the characters. While the mystery wasn't that surprising, the last few chapters had my heart pounding. I was scared for both Linda and Philippe and I wasn't sure about a certain character's innocence. There are enough twists and turns in novel to keep readers guessing. I breezed through the latter section of the book and was more than satisfied with how things ended although I wanted more of the romance. Don't get me wrong, I think the romance was developed well but I just wanted more scenes between the heroine and her hero.
Nine Coaches Waiting is the first book that I finished this year and if all of the books that I read in 2012 are just as good, I would be one happy reader. Recommended for fans of Gothic mysteries and romantic suspense. I enjoyed reading Nine Coaches Waiting so much that I knew it wouldn't be the last Mary Stewart book that I'll read. I'm looking at My Brother Michael or The Moon-Spinners for my next Mary Stewart read because both books are set in Greece and I've always wanted to go there. Feel free to recommend your favorite Mary Stewart, would love to check them out!(less)
It has never been my dream to become a pilot. I was briefly interested for a time but then I found out that there's a height req...moreOriginally posted here
It has never been my dream to become a pilot. I was briefly interested for a time but then I found out that there's a height requirement and I wouldn't make it. I have the utmost respect for pilots though - I think what they do is amazing. And I'm a big fan of strong women so I think lady pilots are awesome. It's funny because I wasn't actively seeking to read novels that feature women as pilots but I've ended up loving two such titles this year: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and now Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols.
Jennifer Echols' Going Too Far was one of the first contemporary YA novels that I fell in love with. I've read the rest of her books after that, hoping that they'd be just as good but they didn't live up to Going Too Far. Until Such A Rush came along. Now I have another Jennifer Echols novel that I can enthusiastically recommend. I felt so bad for Leah - her story made me realize that not everyone who lives in a first world country has a good life. It made me sad that she didn't have access to so many things that we all take for granted - internet, cellphones, buying groceries and take out whenever we need to. I'm amazed at how she took control of her own life because she doesn't want to be stuck in a trailer park her whole life. I also loved the tension between Leah and Grayson, with all the ambiguity of their relationship. Jennifer Echols sure knows how to build up a slow burn romance. I was rooting for the two of them to get together even if they had to work through so many issues. Highly recommended for fans of swoon-worthy contemporary YA.(less)
Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I've...moreOriginally posted here.
Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I've heard such good things about it and I couldn't wait to read it. I was disappointed in the books that I read before Seraphina so it was a pleasant surprise that I found a YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Seraphina is exactly the kind of character that I love, one who possesses admirable inner strength. I'm also a fan of the world that Rachel Hartman created, where there's a tenuous peace between humans and dragons. I liked how distinctly different humans and dragons are - the latter sees the former as a weaker race, prone to emotional decisions that aren't always logical whereas dragons are more detached and analytical. And I found it intriguing that dragons can take human form. I really liked how subtle the romance was, it wasn't the focus of the story and they started out as friends. There were so many details to love in this novel and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel - I wonder how long do I have to wait to read it? Here's a quote from the book that I loved:
“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”
I had a lot of fun reading this along with my good friend Michelle. We decided to post a conversation-type of review, which you can check out over at...moreI had a lot of fun reading this along with my good friend Michelle. We decided to post a conversation-type of review, which you can check out over at See Michelle Read.(less)