Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour reminded me of a feel-good teen road trip movie: the way Amy and Roger would meet random people along the way and have emoAmy and Roger’s Epic Detour reminded me of a feel-good teen road trip movie: the way Amy and Roger would meet random people along the way and have emotional connections/discover meaningful things about themselves/overcome issues and struggles.
It employed a lot of cliches and was predictable the whole way along (in both plot threads and character ARCs). Having said that, a lot of the cliches are cliches because people enjoy them: the make-over, the sleeping together (chastely) in the same bed, the misplaced (and crippling) guilt over a loved ones death.
I did enjoy it but I guess I wish it had been more original.
I could anticipate each character ARC (from why Amy felt guilty, to what would happen with Roger’s girlfriend and the relationship between Amy and her mum and brother). It would not have bothered me (I sometimes enjoy that anticipation/foreshadowing) as much if there had been some awesome, random things happen on the trip to create greater conflict or just add something unique/unexpected ~ but they pretty much had smooth sailing the whole way.
I wish there had been more chemistry between Amy and Roger (even though I realise the story wasn’t entirely about that, it was still an important plot thread that fell flat for me).
In retrospect: I feel like, after spending a whole book with Amy and Roger, I don’t really even know them: their personalities or their dreams or just the vibe of who they are. They only existed for me as characters who were overcoming certain issues over the duration of the road trip.
Sorry that my review is *mostly* me saying things that let me down. I guess I am using goodreads here to debrief myself after feeling a little let down (due to my high expectations).
Matson did a good job of gradually taking Amy from one grief-ridden point in her life to leaving her in a place of hope. It is a quieter, ultimately feel-good read with solid (but not page-turning) pacing. I liked all the extra little visuals in the book (receipts and photos and journal entries) that gave it a little bit of a quirky edge :D ...more
Instructions For a Broken heart was not the book I imagined it would be. Based on the blurb and the cover (and even the endorsement quote from JennifeInstructions For a Broken heart was not the book I imagined it would be. Based on the blurb and the cover (and even the endorsement quote from Jennifer Echols) I was expecting a romantic coming-of-age book set against a gorgeous back-drop of Italy. It just sounded lovely, perhaps quirky (with the notes and the characters all being drama students) and also quite swoon-y.
Jessa was altogether too sulky and self-absorbed. I realise this was a character arc, but, gosh, it niggled at me and really didn't endear her to me. Also, Sean, the cheating boyfriend, was painted to be such a complete douche it made me wonder why she even was with him to start with, let alone be so shattered that their relationship had ended.
The setting felt decidedly un-atmospheric. They had excursions to some places but I didn't feel transported at all (not even when they went to Pompeii). The whole thing could have unfolded back in the states just as easily and I felt frustrated that one of the selling points of the book (the European setting) fell flat.
I had assumed, from the blurb, a new (hot) guy would come bounding onto the scene to help Jessa after her shattered heart. But he didn't turn up (!) and right at the last chapter when Jessa realises another guy was into her, it concludes with setting up their relationship. It seemed tacked on and could have ended without leaving her with another guy. Especially as there weren't really any sparks or romantic build-up between them throughout the book. It was so subtle it hardly counted.
The reality is ~ I do not think this book has appeal beyond teen readers. Too much high school relationship (melo)drama for me. It will appeal to people who like slowly unfolding coming-of-age stories and Sarah Dessen books (the ones that have no swoon).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Elizabeth Scott has a great voice for teenagers. She seems to be able to effortlessly get right under their skin and articulate those swirly/2.5 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.
I automatically wanted to read this book regardless of the premise because I really love the way C K Kelly Martin writes. (Not that the premise was soI automatically wanted to read this book regardless of the premise because I really love the way C K Kelly Martin writes. (Not that the premise was so bad, just that I plan on reading her books regardless of the blurb)
C K Kelly Martin captures the teen voice so authentically and without any sentimentality ~ it really is refreshing to read. Her books just feel honest.
Likewise ~ I adore her prose. It is neither overly literary or simply commercial. I love the way she tells her stories ~ her sentences often have a perfect rhythm and her dialogue flows so effortlessly.
I loved Mason's voice in this story. He's charming and aching and 100% teen man-child. I find it easy to crush on a male POV done well and this ranks up at the top for me among YA fiction.
As for the actual story. Gosh ~ I was so into it (really, I read it in one day) but at the same time, it didn't entirely sit well with me. I found myself wondering a couple of times just what the book was really about, what Martin's intentions with the story were, what that first original nugget of idea was that sparked the whole thing. I am concluding it really is just about one guys first experiences with sex/lust and how messed up it can make everything. It is tastefully done, gorgeous and genuinely heart-breaking (as I expected it would be having read her previous two books) but... sigh, I don't know. I think I would have handled it better if Mason had been bumped up to 18 years. Which, I guess, would undermine the premise...
I was left wondering at Collette's motives (her being 23 and getting it on with a 16 year old boy). I wish it had been made clearer (apart from her finding him "beguiling" and being unable to resist). Baffled :/
I loved all the high school theatre stuff. Adored the conflict in Mason's family ~ it was such a great backdrop for the sexual/relationship dramas ~ and it never felt melodramatic or cliche.
I have enjoyed all C K Kelly Martin's books and this one is no different. I am finding it hard to balance my immense enjoyment of Mason and appreciation of the gorgeously-flowing story against my distaste for some of the events in the book :/
In the end, I'm going all four stars. I was hooked and I just admire her so much as an author... (and I have a crush on Mason ~ not a perverted one, LOL ~ just on him as a person, in all his confidence and insecurities and hopes and dreams and failures...)
Shame about that cover. Ugh. Who are they marketing this to?> It's intelligent lit and absolutely would appeal to teen guys to read. I don't think they would get past the cover though (I even felt embarrassed reading it near my 9 year old son, haha)...more
I wanted to read it for AGES. Set in college. With an older protag. It sounded fun and maybe a little bit mad crazy. Which is how I love my books to bI wanted to read it for AGES. Set in college. With an older protag. It sounded fun and maybe a little bit mad crazy. Which is how I love my books to be...
When I finally got it, I started reading and couldn't put it down. Sneakily, (despite my, erm, new years resolution Reformed Sleeping Habits Commitment) I stayed up until 3:30am to finish it.
It's probably an odd book to find un-put-downable. It's not because I was sucked in to the plot, or waiting for some major twist/secret to be revealed. It's because I was JUST HAVING SO MUCH FUN reading it. It was compulsively addictive.
And KINDA SWEET with this FUNKY VIBE. It's FUNNY (oh, I so love books that make me grin) and often cringe-worthy and honest and, dear God, I was also in a state of swooning and sweating over Nathan. Boy, talk about a new fictional crush. Phew...
Leigh felt like every-girl. I so loved her with all her flaws.
It's not a deep book. It's not going to blow your mind. It won't have you on the edge of your seat. You can kind of see the ending coming. You get things before our spunky, OCD protagonist does. Okay, sometimes way before she does. You sometimes want to scream some sense into her. But you just love being taken along for the ride. (I've slipped into second person POV here :)
I haven't really said what it's about. Mainly it's just about Leigh and her first year of college, classic coming of age stuff. Growing up and freaking out and wanting to lose your virginity and figuring out what you want to be and how to get there, yada yada yada.
It's an older YA read ~ a few older themes but still done in a squeaky clean kinda way.
My fave part? The road trip with Nathan and thanksgiving back at home.
Psych Major Syndrome @ goodreads
Recommended: This one is for fans of Rebecca Sparrow and Kirsten Murphy's Raincheck on Timbuktu. It's like a witty, fun-filled blend of these three books (below) ~which are favourites of mine.
Others have recommended it for fans of Meg Cabot and Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts series. I can see why ~ it's reminiscent of both their work. I personally loved it more than Sloppy Firsts and Meg Cabot's work. It's got a bit more of a funky edge. Think, throw in a little bit of Beatle Meets Destiny...
and now I'm getting carried away... haha.
So I recommend it for fans of contemporary.
For when you're in the mood for a rainy day comfort read.
In the mood for grinning and swooning and just relaxing into a slightly crazy, fun story.
I'm not ashamed to say I've already re-read parts of it, curled up in the hammock the next day (after pulling my all-nighter).
It's a new favourite of mine because books like this just make me happy ...more
I was so looking forward to Adrian Stirling's sophomore novel after pretty much being blown away by his debut . My expectations were high and he absoI was so looking forward to Adrian Stirling's sophomore novel after pretty much being blown away by his debut . My expectations were high and he absolutely delivered.
The Comet Box is quite different in tone and atmosphere to Broken Glass. In Broken Glass, Stirling nails that gritty, claustrophobic and tight knit feel of a dusty small country town community. It was a sensory and gripping read, tense, vivid, absorbing and featured an astonishing climax.
While the Comet Box is different in setting, era and themes, it still shines with the same brilliance that blew me away in Broken Glass: it's a vivid and absorbing portrayal of life in the Aussie suburbs. I was continually impressed with how completely Stirling immerses the reader in the era ~ mid 1980's Aussie suburban life ~ utterly authentic and absolutely undeniably Australian.
There was just so much to love about this novel. Of course, there's the mystery surrounding why Andrew's sister has run away ~ and the suspense bubbles quietly under the surface throughout the novel:
'If I told you the truth, you'd run away as well,' she said so quietly that I could barely hear it. 'Go to bed, Andrew, and forget about everything.' p109
But it wasn't just the hook that captivated me while reading The Comet Box. It was the way Stirling holds a mirror up to suburban life, to human nature, to each character in the novel. He should win some sort of award for delving effortlessly into the minds of all the neighbourhood characters and beautifully, astonishingly, scarily depicting them. I could have been reading about a number of people I know and have grown up with O.O
I don't like to compare books, but reading The Comet Box reminded me very much so of the way Christos Tsiolkas explores Aussie themes/lifestyle/etc in which won so many awards for it's honest & startling depiction) although The Comet Box is still entirely different. I didn't particularly enjoy The Slap but I so very immensely liked The Comet Box. And I think it was because our protagonist is so relate-able ~ and also due to the gritty, grinning sense of humour ~ OH MY GOSH there are some completely brilliant lines in there. It's pretty much an entirely quotable book.
I ate an apple and forgot to take the sticker off first - my mother was probably wishing that I'd saved it for the scrapbook.' p123 (loved Andrew's scrap-booking mum. So easy to imagine her)
Andrew is curious and right at that point in life where he is searching for answers and thinking about life and what it should be against how it is. And finding out things are not at all how they seem. Perfect YA themes. Kind of disturbing and addictive ~ as if reading you are spying on Andrew's neighbourhood. Andrew puts himself right in the thick of things and the climax of the novel really is heart-pounding. There's this feeling that anything could happen and things get perfectly wild and edgy and it's taut and everything a climax should be.
Apart from the main themes in the novel ~ I pretty much LOVED all the smaller events that took place. I have lots of favourite grin-worthy parts. A lot of them made me feel quite nostalgic. Here's some of my favourite scenes/moments:
Going camping at the caravan park ~ just brilliant
MAGIC MOUNTAIN (!) so perfect (I went there too!) and the day there made me LOL
buying lollies from the corner shop <3
all the media and anticipation of Haley's comet (gosh ~ awesome idea to weave into the premise!)
Christmas day ~ so easy to visualise and feel the atmosphere
the BBQ's ~ and the cornflake salad, haha. PRICELESS
Romeo and Andrew in the abandoned house. that scene is so made of teenage win!
I wondered why people were so happy when they were camping, when they left the things they owned. p 83 (adore Andrew's observations)
For a second, I wondered if the road in front of us and the hills in the distance were real or just a backdrop that could tear apart at any moment and leave us hanging in space. p159
Author Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous storiAuthor Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous stories but I think Once Was Lost is my favourite so far.
While the religious premise may make some mainstream readers hesitant, it is so honestly portrayed that it's not about religion at all, rather one girl coming to terms with faith, hopelessness, searching for the truth and trying to find her place in the world: not issues unique to Christians, rather relevant to everyone regardless of religious belief. There was nothing preachy about it (phew!)
It's a subtle book, unfolding in layers which continually drew me in until it got to a point where I felt deeply invested in the characters lives. It is the kind of book where I held my breath and somehow felt touched and empowered after completion.
Zarr has an amazing talent and teen voice. Her stories may not feature "original" twist-y premises or jaw-dropping OMG climaxes. Rather they feature layered, flawed and achingly real characters in circumstances that are relate-able ~ her stories feel like the truth and challenge me as a reader. They cause me to think beyond myself and to hope. Once Was Lost felt simultaneously effortless to read yet there was constance depth bubbling away under the surface.
This was completely absorbing and absolutely touching and the kind of YA contemp that keeps me coming back to the genre for more.
Also: I should mention her prose is just lovely: simple and flowing and occasionally quietly metaphorical. Gorgeous.
Set in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more coolSet in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more cool, you know?
It's funny and brilliant and everything you'd expect from Steven Herrick.
See the watermelon on the cover? It's grinning. I couldn't stop smiling when I read this one.
It was also, sneakily, powerful and life-affirming.
And that's what I LOVE about Steven Herrick. He has characters that feel like you've known them forever. Characters that sneak up on you and then BAM you care about them completely and feel like you're the one sitting down at the dinner table with them. He takes those ordinary, mundane parts of day-to-day life and makes you appreciate them ~ and find the awesomeness in just being alive and being in the moment.
Okay, so this review just got a little Oprah-esque ~ so putting it back on track... This book is FUNNY. Grin-achingly, laugh-out-loud witty and clever and, mate, how I loved it. It's a male POV that makes you simultaneously love all male characters and also feel sorry for them in a lovingly-cringe-y way. Life is not always easy for the adolescent male. Particularly for Darcy who just can't keep his mouth shut (much to my amusement and to his detriment)
I loved it all but in particular, LOVED: the school kayaking trip on the river the shaving scenes the awkward father/son sex talk moments, haha. the romance with Darcy and Audrey. Cute and hilarious and when the kissing scene arrives ~ ahh, it's just grin-worthy and sigh-worthy and makes me all nostalgic :) the whole side-plot with Noah's dad. That's the kind of stuff that just blows me away in books. LOVED it.
Steven Herrick is one of my all-time (I'm talking ALL-TIME) fave authors. His books are brilliant for teens and still just perfect for adults or anyone really. And he has another book coming out this year WAHOO WAHEY! :D...more
once I started I couldn't put it down. Like, the plot just built masterfully, raising the stakes and keeping me investeThis one gets 5 stars from b/c:
once I started I couldn't put it down. Like, the plot just built masterfully, raising the stakes and keeping me invested and it didn't really give me a moment to breathe (in a good way)
I cried. Actually cried. Rare for me in a book. Okay, maybe I got on the verge of going all-out and bawling...
The prose was LOVELY. Really kind of sparingly written, but in such a way that the emotions and the ache was more intense. It's just GORGEOUSLY written and it really didn't surprise me to learn afterwards that the author has also written a book in verse. She's talented, hey.
So... I did let it sit all lonely-like on my shelf for a while because I thought I would have to psych myself up for it and be in this intense mood to read it. But, really, for the premise ~ it does have some beautiful, light-hearted moments. Mixed up with the sorrow and fear and claustrophobia is some sweet moments of love and tenderness and joy and it's life-affirming.
There's even a sweet sweet oh-so-teenager-y romance in there which had me grinning and cheering on the side-lines, swooning a little too :) (okay, it also had me aching. But that's the power of this book)
Also: I wasn't only affected by Kyra's story ~ but I became achingly involved with so many other characters. I particularly felt for the mum's (wives) and the pregnant women. (one of the side-plots with a pregnant mum was the trigger for my little crying fit...) I felt the mother/daughter bonds and so wanted to read inside the pages and hug everyone ~ and then find a way to smuggle everyone out to safety!)
The ending was perfect: real and sad and haunting and hopeful and lingering.
Between Shades of Gray is a stunning, unforgettable story that I really think should be on every readers must-read list
It is the sort of book I sometBetween Shades of Gray is a stunning, unforgettable story that I really think should be on every readers must-read list
It is the sort of book I sometimes think I have to psych myself up to read: because it looks intense and powerful and you know it's going to tug your heart strings.
HOWEVER, it's not as daunting as you might think: despite the horror you know is about to be unleashed, it's quite effortless to read due to some gorgeous prose. It's a lovely blend of lyrical writing, teen voice and perspective and the scary stuff is lightened in parts due to some interesting characters. It will pull you in and hold you right until the end.
It's brutal and heartbreaking and eye-opening and a testament to human endurance and the power of hope.
It's not just a book with a powerful message ~ it's also a compelling story, sure to captivate any reader's heart. Once you start reading it's utterly addictive.
I've been struggling with writing a review, so instead I am just going to share some personal thoughts about the book ~ hopefully you can get a taste of what I LOVED about it and get a feel for what you can expect:
I ADORED all the drawing scenes. I love art-y stuff in books and Lena is talented and often looks at the world through an artists eye.
I REALLY liked exploring right and wrong and morals and integrity against a back ground of survival, where often people have to make hard choice to ensure the survival of loved ones or themselves. Some characters made some tough choices in order to protect loved ones.
I LOVED seeing how when everything is stripped away (possessions, loved ones, dignity) how the human spirit can soar against that and also how it crumbles.
The flashbacks to Lena's life before were awesome, adding some levity and painting a picture of all that had been stripped away. It added sunshine and a bitter-sweet nostalgia. The contrast was masterfully done.
I think not only did I find this book mesmerising, but it also made me appreciate life and all we have. And, I SO wanted to slip through the pages and share some of my food around. Especially when you see how grateful they are for 'food' that most of us wouldn't even consider eating.
I was very much compelled to see who would survive and how. It's a book that continually raises the stakes and beloved charcters do not survive no matter how hard you wish it to be so. I read this wide-eyed, equal parts dread and hope for the fate of characters I'd come to love
I've already loaned my copy out to my mother-law and an older friend and they loved it as well. It's a book you will treasure. It's a book I want my kids to read (when we've moved on past 'The Faraway Tree' etc ;)
The author's note in the back of this book will break your heart.
Why, yes, there is a love interest... Andrius, a few years older than Lena, who is arrested at the same time as Lena. I loved the ARC of their relationship and I really liked the guy, hey:
'He had a strong profile, an angular jaw. A piece of his dishevelled hair fell perfectly against the side of his face. I'd need a soft pencil to draw it. He saw me staring. I turned away quickly.' p 94.
And it's a timely YA release. Although this is a historical novel (which makes it all the more haunting and powerful and memorable), it is a period in history where Stalin (and other world leaders) created their own DYSTOPIAN pockets of society, where people were stolen and hidden away and abused and killed and forgotten. Not only is this a MUST READ for all fans of historical ~ it has FANTASTIC appeal to fans of DYSTOPIA novels.
First Line: 'They took me in my nightgown.'
Teaser line: 'Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch' p27
It's a beautiful beautiful book. Compelling and haunting and it's up there among my favourites.
2.5 (wavering between "it was okay" and "I liked it")
Forgotten is right in the pocket for the current YA climate. It offers a contemporary storyline w2.5 (wavering between "it was okay" and "I liked it")
Forgotten is right in the pocket for the current YA climate. It offers a contemporary storyline with a twist that gives the book a vague supernatural vibe (London can “remember” the future). The sale of Forgotten went down in a heated bidding war and the rights were bought internationally. Already it has been optioned and early reviews report the hype is true ~ to expect originality, a swoony romance and a wild twist towards the end of the book.
I was incredibly optimistic about Forgotten. It sounds utterly fabulous and different and the Aussie cover is gorgeous.
London Lane can see her future but her past is blank. Each day she wakes up she cannot remember what she did the day before (or any days prior). It’s a fabulously intriguing premise ~ also absolutely HUGE and baffling with mind-boggling practicalities. Cat Patrick dives straight into the story without much explanation as to why or how.
A quick snapshot of what the plot consists of:
future memories (flash-forwards) of a mysterious funeral and London trying to take notes and investigate.
London falling in love with the super gorgeous new boy at school (falling again and again)
London and her best friend, Jamie. Jamie is making some relationship choices and London can foresee just how it will all end in tragedy. There’s tension in London and Jamie’s relationship ~ plus London trying to tinker and see if she can change the future in her memories.
There’s lots of school scenes, date scenes and home scenes with London and her mum (her parents are divorced ~ another half mystery London is unsure about).
Patrick writes well ~ her prose is smooth and tangle-free ~ no convoluted sentimental passages that bog the plot down. The prose makes it such an effortless and appealing reading experience. It’s succinct and rather pleasant. In fact, the entire book feels FRESH.
While there is a slight “mean girls” plot-line it doesn’t feel cliche. Likewise ~ the friend and family relationship dramas are handled with more subtlety than melodrama. The characters are immensely like-able (the secondary characters stay firmly in the background, as their 2D selves ~ just as well as there was enough going on with the main characters to care too much about the minor players).
As for the romance (which is being pushed as a huge selling point) ~ it’s fun and flirty and PG. Because London meets Luke for the first time day after day ~ there’s plenty of new revelations about how gorgeous and hot and incredibly awesome he is. While I didn’t personally swoon over him ~ he was like-able character (though at times a bit of an enigma) and the constant references to his hotness didn’t bother me (as other authors who attempt the same thing can often grate on my nerves) ~ I think because I liked London I mostly thought it was sweet watching her gush every day.
So the thing is:
I am always prepared to go along with an unlikely premise for the sake of a compelling story. I adore guilty pleasure reads and am such a sucker for YA romance. However, I was constantly unnerved while reading Forgotten by plot holes, inconsistencies and a lack of explanation of London’s condition. Things constantly niggled at my mind and pulled me out of the story again and again which really hindered me settling in. I did not feel like I was a part of the story alongside the characters (which is how my favourite books make me feel). I felt like i was watching it all unfold from a very detached distance while scratching my head.
In all fairness, it is a doozy of a premise, hugely ambitious and I’m guessing practicalities had to be ignored just for the sake of continuing on with the story. No one wants to get bogged down in the nitty gritty and science of it all but, for me, it still needs to be plausible and consistent.
It wasn’t just that premise did not make sense, but entire plot points would unravel if you give yourself a chance to think about them. Likewise, other plot points are unnecessary (such as all the elaborate note-taking and reading of said notes everyday) if London truly can see in the future (her future self could have read all the notes...) Character relationships seemed implausable and the logic of the whole thing was a little bit “what the?” No one (teachers, friends, doctors, people in general) even knew of her condition (apart from her mum and Jamie her friend) and no one seemed to notice London inconsistently fudging her way through school (and life).
As for the ending. OH MY GOSH. It wasn’t the flipped-out spinney twist I had heard about ~ it was a sudden tacked on drama. The ending was convoluted and rushed and felt more like a weird extended epilogue-style run-down of (unlikely) unexpected events. Until then, it was a contemp read with a twist and then it nearly changed genre altogether ~ but with no suspense or foreshadowing to prepare the reader (or build anticipation) for the shift. I do not think it was handled with finesse at all ~ it was as if I was suddenly reading a different book. There was barely any integration of the climax with the rest of the book. It almost felt as if Patrick was nearing the end ~ thought up a whole fantastic scenario and wrote a synopsis for it as the resolution.
Despite all the things I loved about this book, ultimately I felt like I fudged my way through and contrary to all the hype I am pretty much disappointed. This book was not for me and yet I think teens will love it regardless.
I am very curious to see how other readers feel about this one when it hits the shelves....more
I often find it hard to review books that startle me with their brilliance. It's as if my own use of the English language can not conjour up anythingI often find it hard to review books that startle me with their brilliance. It's as if my own use of the English language can not conjour up anything eloquent enough to match the beauty of the book.
I have been a long time fan of Sonya Hartnett. I have vivid memories of the first time I read her work (Sleeping Dogs ~ I was 14 and reading that book stirred something deep deep inside me & the reading of it is a favourite reading memory of mine).
I am not entirely sure why she has been labelled YA. Her work really does transcend all ages and genres. I am pleased that her books are easily in reach of teens (who will find magic in her books) but I also think her work will resound with all humans in general ;)
I have mentioned on here before how much I ADORE Sonya Hartnett. In fact, she is my most top-read author (according to goodreads ~ alongside John Marsden) having read 14 of her books. I love her so much I find it hard to choose a favourite book of hers but can happily say that The Midnight Zoo carved a new little spot for itself up among my top faves of hers.
The Midnight Zoo is set during WW11, but it doesn't feel like it is particular to that time. The use of magical realism, a fable-like style and the story being told from the POV of two young boys lends the whole tale to an enchanting other-worldy era.
I always prefer to steal into Hartnett's books completely blind ~ with no sense of where she might be taking me (for that reason I don't want to hint much at plot).
What I mainly have to say about this book is it is simply astonishing, utterly gorgeous and deeply moving. It was a truly sensory experience, being transported to another time and place.
I felt such a tenderness and protectiveness towards Andrej and Tomas (gosh, they were brave and daring and scared and perfectly endearing). I was so rooting for them and invested in them, they scampered right into my heart and set up camp there :)
The animals in the zoo are absolutely charming and mystifying. They can talk to the boys and they all have their own shining personalities and stories to tell. This aspect of the book was handled with such eloquent ease and finesse I was just astounded.
The other thing I loved about this book is it is completely unpredictable. Knowing Hartnett's other work, I wanted to hope for a happy ending but knew it wasn't guaranteed. Also ~ her spectacular use of magical realism adds a new dimension in taking the story to somewhere truly gasp-worthy. I felt an ache and tremendous satisfaction at the end.
It's life-affirming and a tear-jerker and achingly hopeful and a simply brilliant story to spend your time with.
It could easily be studied in high school because it is full of gorgeousness and themes and I am sure each re-read (I will re-read this for sure) will show new layers of meaning and depth.
THE MIDNIGHT ZOO has been short-listed alongside some of my other favourite favourite books for the CBCA Book of the year for older readers (2010) [alongside [bookcover:Graffiti Moon|7863274] . It is available internationally. It is on my favourites shelf at home and I absolutely completely love it....more
The humour in this is of the clever-quirky style, while I appreciate it (and it's many genius, smirky tendencies), I am more oRandom (quick) thoughts:
The humour in this is of the clever-quirky style, while I appreciate it (and it's many genius, smirky tendencies), I am more of a smiley-whimsical humour girl, myself. (ie: this wasn't entirely my thing.)
The story is presented epistolary style yet it doesn't necessarily read like letters ~ it's more chatty and first person (lots of dialogue recorded, etc).
All three sisters had a unique (and equally engaging) POV.
I love stories where random(ish) threads all come together with a twist, so that was kind of cool.
And, that's it from me (signing out).
;) (oi! I am rather overboard with the parenthesis here...)
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL4.5 stars.
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL and Sara Zarr's ONCE WAS LOST all resound with me so strongly because their stories are subtle yet complicated, quiet yet resounding and GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES is of the same calibre.
God is in the Pancakes is a stand out read for me due to Grace, such a spunky protagonist who I couldn't help but ache for. Reading about her felt like reading about my own teen self (and many choices and mistakes she makes completely make sense to me ~ haha, tongue twister of a sentence, moving along...)
I ADORE books that have a strong dynamic with family relationships ~ and this one just felt achingly real.
Grace's relationship with her sister was brilliant ~ the complications and love and fights, the petty full-blown arguments and the small gestures that show their bond were just perfection (made me nostalgic for those good old days when my sister and I were still at home together).
Likewise, the mother-daughter relationship is captured so well (the mother is not just there perfunctorily, but is a string nuanced character of her own).
There's complications with Eric, Grace's best friend, where things are changing. And GOSH ~ it's not like it was a swooning* book so much as the kind of book that makes you feel like you have been punched in the gut because you can just feel the ache and awkwardness and attraction and complication of it all. It resonated strongly with me ~ the yearning and the fear and the confusion and the whole mess of it all. *Although Eric is definitely worthy of a swoon :D
One of the biggest parts of the book was Grace's relationship with the quirky and lovable Mr Sands, who asks Grace to help him die (!). And whoah ~ the whole euthanasia thing was head-spinny ~ done brilliantly, not preachy or easy or judgementally. It really got me thinking.
It is not Christian fiction (despite what the title may imply) but Grace wonders about faith and God and if there is anything in it or anyone out there who cares about her and the things she struggles with so much that she cannot bear to say aloud to anyone ~ and I found the exploration of this refreshing and honest
It was easy to forget that I was reading about characters in a story as I felt immersed in the lives of these people and really rooted for them. It is also worth mentioning that I found some of the plot-lines unpredictable and yet their resolutions rang true.
As for the prose ~ it's unsentimental and strong. It's succinct and will cause you to smile effortlessly (Robin Epstein is a former stand-up comedian and a sitcom writer). The humour in this book helps lift some of the intense subject matter.
Recommended: While on the surface, God is in the Pancakes may look like a quiet novel, the impact is anything but. I finished this novel with a rock the size of a fist in my gut and with tears glistening in my eyes. Ultimately, it's a triumphant and brave book ~ unique in plot ~ hopeful and funny and true....more