This series is shaping up to be one of my fave YA dystopians.
I loved being back in June and Day's world. Despite the very real danger and the stakes...moreThis series is shaping up to be one of my fave YA dystopians.
I loved being back in June and Day's world. Despite the very real danger and the stakes rising, there is also a lot of fun to be had. I had forgotten how much I love both June and Day. In particular, Day is such a sympathetic character, layered, tough but sensitive, and he is pitched against his friends and I really felt for him. I really like him, yeah? (haha).
Things get complicated and loyalties are tested and there's plot twists and a very enigmatic and compelling new Elector Primo, Anden. Who can you trust? There's a bit of a cliffie, but I loved it. It was a punch in the guts kind of ending and I am so hanging out for the final book.
*I read this with my good friend, Nic. We both loved it and had a lot of fun.(less)
My gosh. What an outstanding sequel. This broke my heart :'(& kept me captivated, also, swoon. Full review to come.
When HarperCollins rele...moreMy gosh. What an outstanding sequel. This broke my heart :'(& kept me captivated, also, swoon. Full review to come.
When HarperCollins released Hallowed on netgalley, it seemed all my reading buddies stopped whatever they were reading and charged straight into book two. After Unearthly was so universally loved (by hard core critics, fans of YA paranormal and non-fans of YA paranormal, aka: me) Hallowed was an insanely anticipated released.
Guys, it delivers.
It is a compelling and unputdownable read that evokes a whole gamut of emotions.
For me, it was the complete package as far as reading experiences go: I read it in a single day, absorbed and hopeful. I swooned (plenty more gorgeous kissing scenes). I felt for the characters (as a whole, Hallowed is a sad, sombre kind of book that induces an achey feeling...). I LOVED the love triangle, which feels true and complicated, achey and not sensationalised at all. I particularly love Christian in this installment. Tucker is still awesome as well. I still love Clara’s voice. She sounds so teenagery without ever falling into overly-done YA snark. She’s moody and funny and sad and ever-so-likeable (if clueless at times ;)).
There may be some things I am still unsure about (the angel mythology and the whole rules around purpose). I missed seeing more of Wendy. I am wondering why Jeffrey feels like such a loose canon ball and no seems to notice (?). It drove me CRAZY how Clara’s mum was never straight up with her about some of the mysteries of all the angel stuff. Some of the twists seemed inevitable to me, but that was cool. But all of these ponderings didn't detract from my enjoyment AT ALL. I seriously LOVED reading it.
For a second book, there is no slump. It rolls straight on from Unearthly and sets up book number two for Clara’s next adventures: heading off to college (yay for heading into new adult territory!). I really cannot wait to follow the characters on and see what is in store for them, hey.
If you haven’t read Unearthly yet (!) now is the time to get on board. Hallowed will be out in Australia on January 1 (although last year, HarperCollins released Unearthly early, making it available for Christmas ~ so keep an eye out!) and in the US January 17.
Hallowed has my golden, shining seal of approval. The Unearthly series is fast becoming a fave of mine and I SO recommend them to all fans of YA ~ and any teens you know (it’s a breezy, engaging read).
Thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley!
Aussie cover for HALLOWED revealed:
Isn't it gorgeous? very eerie and atmospheric. alongside our cover for UNEARTHLY:
I have immensely enjoyed the first two books in Jenny Han's Summer Series. They are a bit fluffy and full of ANGST and DRAMA and produce the occasiona...moreI have immensely enjoyed the first two books in Jenny Han's Summer Series. They are a bit fluffy and full of ANGST and DRAMA and produce the occasional 'eye-rolling moment from me ~ but they are also charming and nostalgic and summer-y and somehow authentic to the teen voice. I found them utterly compelling and deliciously addictive curl-up-in-the-sun summer goodness. Good times.
I was absolutely hanging out for the third and final instalment. Especially thrilled with the characters having aged and it being more in the upper YA spectrum that I so loved (with college-aged protags)
Rave reviews of this book did not prepare me for the train wreck experience of reading it.
As a reader I do not appreciate being manipulated by an author into feeling one way or another about certain characters. I prefer characters to be written with authenticity and subtlety and being drawn into a story and being allowed to make up my own mind about how I feel.
I can handle characters behaving badly (I LOVE you Tom Mackee!), however, this story was completely biased. One character was continually showed as flawed, the other either had his flaws romanticised into strengths or, in most cases, shown to be continually superior with no flaws.
It was a recurring theme even in minor circumstances, eg: character A is messy, can't cook and liked drinking. Oh! but character B is so tidy, a healthy cook and displays mature drinking habits. It actually felt patronising to me as a reader.
I did not feel annoyed at the characters. I felt annoyed at the author who wrote with such an obvious bias. Who took a charismatic character and turned him into a bland douche with no stage presence at all so that her readers would all sway to her POV and guarantee a satisfying ending. I felt Han compromised her characters for the sake of a contrived plot.
The plot itself didn't have a lot of heart.
Belly herself did not even seem excited about her choices so I am wondering why she made them and why she stuck to them when they were creating such havoc on her relationship with her mum and adding stresses to her life. It did not make sense.
For a novel that deals with a character becoming engaged and approaching their own wedding, it was decidedly unromantic with no tingles of wedding-bell anticipation. Han has proved in earlier work that she can create nostalgia and magic and you think a wedding themed book would be a sparkling setting for her to show-case her talents. Instead it felt weary and dogmatic and contrived: it seemed the main event of the novel was there as a way to add (forced) conflict rather than as a character-driven choice.
There was a lack of swoon for a book that is billed as a romance. Belly wasn't swooning and neither was I. Which is a shame as Han has previously showed she is a master at creating just the amount of lovely-sighing-tingly-swoon.
As for the final ending of the trilogy: it ended how I wanted it to end (I had been hoping for that outcome since book #1). However, by the time it did end I found I had somehow become so disengaged that it was all rather anti-climatic for me.
I do not know how such a promising series stretched out to become such a mess. I am wondering if the author cares for her characters or just used them as pawns to create a (lacklustre and predictable) drama.
I am also feeling out on a limb here amongst so many rave reviews. It's been exhausting. I need someone to commiserate with. I need a massage and nice strong drink.
(I can't say I really like this one ~ but 2 stars for old-times sake) EDIT: the more I think about this book the more it annoys me. I'm going with my rarely given 1 star rating 'I didn't like it' (less)
This is the story of Sun, in the last few months of high school. She meets two older guys and everything cha...moreGosh, what a beautiful book for teenagers.
This is the story of Sun, in the last few months of high school. She meets two older guys and everything changes.
It's a story of love and betrayal and heartbreak and loyalty and getting it all mixed up. It seamlessly portrays that adolescent feeling of muddling through a confusion of feelings ~ of wanting independence from your family, and get tangled up in a relationship which can be beautiful and painful. Of being unsure of yourself but determined to keep doing things your way. Of longing.
It also perfectly captures the complication of girl friendships ~ the fights and fierceness of emotion. The nostalgia of growing up together and all changing as you're balancing on the cusp of adulthood.
And the sex. Wow. It's intense ~ losing your virginity and maybe not to the right guy and nothing is like you imagine it would be. I love the exploration of that. This is added to my list of books that explore teen sex brilliantly: with honesty and all the myriad of emotions that come with it.
So far, I've only really mentioned the vibe and the themes in this book. It sounds like a love triangle in the blurb, and in a way it is: but in an honest way ~ in a way where you genuinely are not sure about love and you hold all your hopes and dreams out and there's longing for one guy while being in your first intense relationship with another. The romance is there but it's not all swoon-y all the time ~ it's much more real and layered, at times, it's a smidgen melancholy.
I could describe this book as authentic. It feels like it's written straight from the heart of a teenager. The emotions are subtly handled, a constant yearning and hopefulness mixed up with sadness.
You can feel Sun's parents ache as she barrels along a path that adult hindsight knows will bring pain and possibly stuff things up a crucial time in Sun's life ~ but for Sun, she is a teenager in the moment and Julie Gittus captures that adolescent ache and intensity so marvellously. It's a classic coming of age. And it's written beautifully. There are poems scattered throughout (which Sun exchanges with a guy) which are just divine to read.
This is another Aussie book set in Melbourne :) It's an easy read and, I think, a lingering one.(less)
Blurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, Matche...moreBlurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, Matched is the shiny new temptation of the season.
Okay - so I was completely PUMPED about it. I am an unashamed fan of a good love triangle - tension! drama! heart-ache-y choices! swooning! Also - a dystopian, well, it's a fascinating setting to explore all kinds of themes and deliver some twisted showdowns.
Matched begins with the Matching Banquet, on Cassia's 17th birthday, where Cassia is Matched by the Society to her long time best friend, Xander. She's thrilled, but then a glitch causes things to unravel and Cassia starts questioning more than just her match... Oooh - something's going to go down...
Because the pacing is a slow. It's a deliberate build, more introspective than action. However, I found it compulsively readable. I casually sailed through the first 2/3's and then the final third really comes into it's own. By then it felt like the story was into it's own completely addictive groove and by the time it ended, I was ready to pick up the next installment (Ah, Dec 2011, it's a while away...).
Rather than it being gritty with undertones of foreboding - it is more laying the ground work for a future rebellion and show-down - taking Cassia from a place of acceptance of the Society, to questioning and ultimately finding a strength inside of her that will alter the course of her life. It's very much a coming of age novel set in a manufactured world.
Condie has laid all the groundwork for some thrilling discoveries, impossible choices and deadly stakes. (re: thrilling discoveries, impossible choice and deadly stakes - it was kind of lacking in this title - but I'm thinking they're coming in the next, yeah?)
Xander and Ky are both stand-out characters (although neither had me swooning - what was with that? Two guys and neither one did anything for me?) However, I so appreciated the restraint Condie showed in fashioning the love triangle aspect - it does not tread the well worn path of YA melodrama (although I'm hoping she'll amp it up a bit in the sequels in terms of choices and stakes).
The prose. Some have called it beautiful. It does read effortlessly - and there's a few instances of lovely thoughtful introspection and nice phrases. There's also a lot of prose. As in, occasionally, it feels overwritten - I sometimes felt that urge to skim over redundant paragraphs.
Recommended: This is right in the pocket of the YA market and all my teen readers out there (love you guys!) are sure to enjoy and devour it and maybe even find it earning a starred place on your favourites shelf. It's an entry level novel into dystopian worlds, perfectly suitable for mature middle grade readers. It's a squeaky clean read.
As for adult readers who are still digging the YA scene, it's enjoyable, sure, and perfect for a rainy-day comfort read. As Alexa said: A word of warning though, if you are looking for a book to fill the void left by the end of The Hunger Games, this may not be for you, despite the dystopian tag. Matched is more reminiscent of the coming of age/romance you might expect from Sarah Dessen. It is quiet, and it is beautiful, and it is well worth reading. (and I get what she means) - which worked okay for me as I love that Sarah Dessen vibe. (less)
Elizabeth Scott has a great voice for teenagers. She seems to be able to effortlessly get right under their skin and articulate those swirly/...more2.5 stars
Elizabeth Scott has a great voice for teenagers. She seems to be able to effortlessly get right under their skin and articulate those swirly/confused/intense emotions that plague teens (in The Unwritten Rule she centres around friendship, loyalty (mostly misplaced) and having a crush.)
Her prose is easy to slip into. The style of The unwritten Rule most reminded me of Something, Maybe ~ it has the same kind of quirky, occasionally self-depreciating tone. There's a gentle humour that lifts the tone of the book (and helps dilute the ANGST ~ oh my gosh ~ this is so very angst-ridden).
I always sail through Scott's books (this is a light read) ~ I find her male leads appealing in a breezily hot way (she always has her guys blushing, etc. very cute. And there's no denying Ryan is a fantastic character to crush on ~ in that very high-school-first-crush kind of way).
Despite all the things I could admire about this book, it ultimately didn't really work for me. Beyond the actual premise, there did not seem to be any plot. There was no raising of stakes or tension. I grew a little tired of reading so much internal conflict as Sarah relentlessly tried to sort through her feelings.
The story felt dragged out by characters continually being averted from announcing their intentions/following through on their convictions. I am not really a fan of dragging out tension via staged scene interruptions.
Sarah's best friend was too villainous (LOL) which made the choices and outcomes too black and white ~ it lessened the tension and conflict by having me only rooting for Sarah ~ and also made me roll my eyes at how long it was taking for Sarah to get with the program.
It's firmly a high school kind of read, very PG (some of Scott's other books have an older YA vibe but this one's for the teens).
As much as I admire the prose, the sentiments and adolescent reminiscent aches (all portrayed with authenticity through Sarah's conflicting feelings) ~ and as much as I admire those sweet Ryan and Sarah love moments (there's some nicely done smiley kiss scenes and blush-worthy memories) this book did not really work for me as an older reader of YA.
Honestly, I found this novel just too tacky for my tastes.
A few quick thoughts ~ things that didn't work for me:
Frannie says she never swoons over guys and within the next two chapters all she's doing is swooning. Within the first few chapters four hot guys are falling all over Frannie. It made me feel sceptical and weary from the outset.
The alternating POV was quite unconvincing in Luc's chapters. It didn;t read like a male POV, much less one of a character who is meant to have lived for a LONG time. He was also unconvincing as a DEMON, instead he was like a HOT teenage bad boy. His chapters read the same as Frannie's narration, except Frannie's was different because she narrates by using the word 'cause' a lot and Luc's was different because he thinks lustful thoughts all the time fairly frequently.
I cringed in a lot of the descriptions. Many mentions of "obsidian eyes" and "sapphire eyes" ~ it seemed a bit fanfic and it really didn't make me feel attracted to the characters.
I also found all the jokes/references to heaven and hell like reading the bad pun section of the newspaper, haha. Luc was always wearing black, driving black, black house/furniture, etc. Inversely, Gabe was always in white, etc, etc, and it just seemed too obvious and very one dimensional.
The love triangle, I think, was poorly handled and became quite painful for me to read. I don't get why either supernatural (and ancient) beings suddenly both "loved" Frannie? Also, Luc and gabe didn't read like immortal beings ~ they seemed quite high school to me (apart from Luc's sexual fantasy's which were beyond high school, IMO). As for Frannie ~ she was very wishy-washy wavering between the two as chapters alternated without rhyme or reason (okay, well apart from wanting to make out with whoever she happened to be with because they were so HOT and she was so horny).
The premise wasn't too bad and I honestly went into this expecting it to be a guilty pleasure/escapism at best ~ ready to just have fun with it. Ahh, didn't happen. I am a little incredulous as to the popularity of these books ~ but really it just goes to show we all have different tastes in books :) (less)
My review: ...in which I RAVE about a paranormal YA (!)
Mate, how much did I LOVE this book?
So... when I read Un...more4.5 and a definite favourite of mine :)
My review: ...in which I RAVE about a paranormal YA (!)
Mate, how much did I LOVE this book?
So... when I read Unearthly ~ it was just the perfect book for the mood I was in:
seamless, well-written prose that's easy to sink into (the pages fly by ~ OKAY, so I got addicted and couldn't put it down...). A main character to love, a couple of fictional boys whom I was oh-so-delighted to be introduced to, and a story that kept me charmed the whole way through.
You know when you read a book and then later emerge from the pages and feel like you have literally been transported to another place and time? That was me and Unearthly ~ the setting was LOVELY ~ I just soaked it up. It was so easy to become immersed in it: the small town vibe, the high school halls and the forest ~ all beautiful.
The characters are REAL, man. Like contemp characters: fleshed out and interesting and Clara is an MC you will fall in love with. She's spunky and fun, and also a little unsure of herself. I LOVED her brother and her mum and the family dynamic. I liked the semi-complicated girl friendships, and I ADORED the two boys in Clara's life
I LOVE a convincing and anti-melodramatic love triangle. Hand has NAILED it in Unearthly. She has all the right components that make it a compelling, non-cliche, tangled-up swoon-y triangle. AND, the LOVE STORY that emerges in the second half of the book would rival some of your favourite YA couples ~ it has so many funny, fun, genuine, butterflies in your tummy moments. Sigh... I LOVE that feeling of swooning along with the MC and I would DARE you not to swoon in this book :) Young TUCKER has leapt on to my literary crush list ~ what a guy ;)
The whole VIBE of the book was just refreshing. It's a book you could happily pass on to younger YA readers (the angle lore was done really well, it felt good and clean and intriguing) ~ yet will also appeal to anyone who enjoys a GOOD coming-of age. There was nothing tacky or cringe-worthy about it.
Unearthly also features a pretty STUNNING kind-of twist in the climax ~ which has me SO hanging out for the sequel ~ yet it didn't leave me with a painful cliff-hanger. Perfectly done.
Recommended: why, yes, yes, yes. You know when Anna and the French Kiss came out ~ and non-contemp readers were falling all over it and in love? Unearthly is (for me) it's paranormal equivalent. I have fallen in love with it ~ I couldn't put it down. I swooned, I found it utterly compelling with gorgeous prose and charming characters. It's a definite favourite of mine. <3 <3 <3(less)
It's written with such spare, honest prose which cuts right to the core.
I really responded to Holly...moreNothing Like You is a startlingly beautiful book.
It's written with such spare, honest prose which cuts right to the core.
I really responded to Holly's story ~ while the storyline is simple, the execution is superior and the emotional impact resonates. It's all the little details that pulled me into Holly's life that made me care immensely about her.
The story opens with Holly having sex in a car with popular guy Paul. And from there you're pulled into Holly's life. She lives with her dad and is still grieving the loss of her mum. She's suddenly in a sexual relationship (her first) without it being a relationship, and she's stuffing up while searching for something to fill an ache inside.
The cast of characters are all distinct and fleshed out:
Her best friend Nils who hangs out in their childhood cubby house together, listening to records. They have a great chemistry together from years of familiarity but also mixed up with a kind of suddenly unsure relationship that is changing as they are getting older.
Paul ~ who is not a stereo-typical popular guy, but enigmatic and complicated
Saskia ~ Paul's girlfriend who becomes Holly's friend ~ in a new friendship that makes you ache and feel hopeful and also anxious
Her dad, her teachers and even her mum (as shown in memories) are all characters in their own right ~ behaving with their own motivations and not just there to move the plot forward.
I also appreciated the subtle tenderness in which Lauren Strasnick handles many aspects of this story ~ never once making a drama out of themes that so often become melodramatic in YA (such as sex and relationship entanglements between best friends/boyfriends and the death of a parent).
It's honest, ache-y, hopeful and mesmerising. It's an older YA read with mature themes and an ending that feels like the truth and leaves you a little bit breathless and maybe even tear-y :)
So I saw a fair few raves about this and, had just come out of a bit of a binge read of grief-type books, so I thought I wasn't in the mood for anothe...moreSo I saw a fair few raves about this and, had just come out of a bit of a binge read of grief-type books, so I thought I wasn't in the mood for another one... somehow, (I think partly the cute trailer), I caved.
But this book, IMO, is in a whole league of it's own.
The writing is intensely beautiful. Oh - I did some serious sentence-crushing. Reading this was like being submerged in emotion and love and all things wild and mad and crazy and the grief was just so poignant and the feelings so real that I became completely absorbed.
The love story.
So, there's this kinda love triangle. By that I mean, two guys, both getting some action from Lennie. But it's not an ordinary love triangle or cliché - to the point that even saying triangle somehow feels wrong.... it's like the characters are so fused with emotion that it bubbles over and explodes in love and moments of passion. The complications in this didn't feel like a contrived plot point, but like a real character driven mess of pain and desire and world-crushing love. I also didn't think it was a manipulative device to tear up readers, and there's no choosing of teams, just an ache for Lennie and Joe and Toby.
And the love between Lennie and one of her men. It's intense, and an all the way full-blown connection, more so than most YA I read. However, due to the stunning writing, I was into it the whole way. I believed in it, for sure :) Sigh...
I was so into the love scenes but in the midst of it, a little knot of tension was gnawing away in the pit of my stomach the whole time. Takes a talented author to get to me like that.
Basically, this book hit me hard emotionally.
The book itself? It. Is. Stunning.
The paperback isn't really a paperback, it's like the material on those funky little Bibles - if you know what I mean :) - and the pages are bound, and inter-spliced throughout are little hand-written poems on full colour pages (some carved into tree bark, on music scores, on a takeaway cup).
I haven't said much about the actual plot - it's best if you just get in and read it. I don't know if my review has really done this book justice..?
I was so inspired/wowed/stunned/in love after reading this that I ordered three more copies and sent them out to three of my Aussie buddies - couldn't help but share the love. (less)
It's definitely the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager. The main thing I loved, was Morgan. She's the coolest of...moreI really liked this book.
It's definitely the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager. The main thing I loved, was Morgan. She's the coolest of narrators. I connected with her voice on the very first page. I love that feeling of only having read a page and realising, 'I am going to love this book.'
It's about Morgan and her life in a small town where she works at a grocery store (and perves on 19 year old Rob), is the girlfriend of popular jock-hottie Derek and next door-neighbour to Tessa who kisses her outside in the middle of the night. These three friends complicate all her teen-ish-hormonal feelings and general angst. She also has an alcoholic father and an enviously awesome Grandma, two little brothers who I personally feel proud of and a love of all things literary.
There's no huge inciting incident and, despite the blurb, no majorly huge event occurs (I kept guessing what was going to happen - little weird twists and scenarios that...never happened) although the secret she uncovers would really shatter your world. It's more of a read about Morgan and the cool crazy mad mess that is her life.
I think you just have to settle into a groove and go with the flow. I don't think everyone will be into this book - it's kind of quirky (in the coolest of ways. definitely not dorky) and it definitely has it's moments of tension and conflict - but what mostly kept me turning the pages was the voice and the fact that I have a little bit of a crush on Morgan. She's snarky and fun and ironic and oh-so-confused but just lovely lovely lovely. The humour in this book is definitely my style. I was smiling a lot of the time while reading it :)
Oh, and Morgan? She thinks about sex. A fair bit. Just, you know, a heads up there :) There's also a bit of language and some themes that make it an upper YA kinda read.
Stuff to Love: 1. Morgan is really into words and writing and she's always writing/thinking up little fortune cookie snippets that are a cute commentary of her life (here's the first few ones I flipped too): Be careful of hotties searching for toothpicks. Never hitch your star to someone who will live in a small town for the rest of his life. When in doubt, go to sleep. Do not enjoy uninvited kisses. For value, buy the creamed corn.
2. I loved the ending - although I'm sure it will annoy some people :)
3. Morgan drives out to the hills and yells random things out (see blurb up the top) - and, I think, that's what being a teen is all about - feeling everything so intensely that you just have to get out in the open and scream your lungs out about it.
4. There's a lot of options in Morgan's life and the path isn't clear cut and the read isn't at all predictable.
5. I didn't find one character to be cliché - but all beautifully and compellingly flawed. Along the way, most characters surprised me - with sides of their personality. Definitely richly drawn characters - impressive to find that in some of the more minor characters.
I hope I managed to convey somewhere in here just how much this book rocks! (less)