I was warned before I started reading As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott that it is a little sThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I was warned before I started reading As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott that it is a little strange. And it is. I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Scott's in general, and I think I will always read her books. I think part of the reason that I love her stories so much is that she doesn't follow a set path. I'm sure she's very successful with her contemporary love stories, like Perfect You and Bloom. But she also isn't afraid to write hard and difficult things like she did in Living Dead Girl or just generally change things up. So it always feels like a bit of a surprise picking up an Elizabeth Scott book, and I like that.
What I also love is her style of writing and her effortless way of connecting emotionally to her characters and to the story. She did that with As I Wake without me even realising it. As I Wake is a difficult story to describe... It's about a girl, Ava, who wakes up and has no memory of her surroundings, her personal history, even herself. She recalls no details of her mother, of her house, her friends, her school, or the boy she's had a crush on before.
What she does have, is this lingering feeling of not belonging. And as her memories start to resurface, they paint a picture and a life very different to the one Ava is leading. In her memories, Ava seems to live in a type of dystopian society in which jobs and food and luxuries are controlled by somebody else. How and why these two worlds connect are at the heart of As I Wake.
And while I just didn't get this whole alternate universe concept (it was far too strange and it felt too distant to be believeable), I did really love lots of the rest of the book. The first half of the book as Ava wakes up and has no sense of familiarity or awareness of where or who she is was written in such a believeable way. It reminded me a bit of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson and it kept me reading As I Wake to find out more, to answer these questions that I had.
And at the same time, I loved the observations and thoughts that Ava has regarding her mother and her friends. The relationship between Ava and her mother is rather sweet and really pulled at my heartstrings. I liked seeing how different and the same Ava's friends turn out to be in different but similar situations. But the relationship that seems to dominate this story is that of between Ava and Morgan. How and why does she remember him? Perhaps I'm just a big romantic, but I love the idea of Ava and Morgan, I really do.
It wasn't until the final third of the book that I realised how emotional I felt about these characters. I wanted the best for all of them, even though it seemed impossible. And despite the strangeness of the structure and premise of the novel, I still found myself shedding tears at the end. Because despite the world these characters live in, they still felt real and believeable to me. ...more
I've enjoyed the previous two book by Simone Elkeles about the Fuentes brothers, but I'mThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I've enjoyed the previous two book by Simone Elkeles about the Fuentes brothers, but I'm not their biggest fan. I like them, but they wouldn't make my top ten list of swoonworthy love interests, or my list of favourite contemporary romances. So with that in mind, I thought Chain Reaction to be very similar in tone to the two previous books. It was highly readable and I flew through the pages quite quickly. I preferred Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother, to Alex, by far, but I think Carlos still wins out overall.
I was kind of expecting this book to be vastly different from two Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. Nikki is meant to be the 'bad' one as opposed to Luis. But it didn't feel that way at all, as Luis still ends up involved in the politics and difficulties that go along with the gang culture. I didn't feel as though as anything new was brought to this series. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy reading this book or the series, but for me, nothing about this book or the other two stood out. (Plus it goes without saying that I hated the epilogue with a passion.)...more
I'm such a huge fan of Sara Zarr's. I've loved the quiet intensity and the emotion thatThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I'm such a huge fan of Sara Zarr's. I've loved the quiet intensity and the emotion that has gone into every one of her books that I've read so far. And How To Save A Life was just as moving and incredible. I really loved the story and its characters.
How to Save a Life is the story of two very different girls. First there's Jill, an angry and sad teenage girl who is struggling due to the loss of her father. Since his death, Jill has pushed away all of her friends and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Dylan. She's lost that ability to be nice and that makes her sad. But still, Jill can't help but feeling like her mother is making a HUGE mistake when her mom decides that the thing to do is to adopt a baby over the Internet on her own.
With that, we have the entrance of Mandy. She figures the best thing she can do for her unborn child is to give her up to a loving family and bonus, going to stay with Jill and her mom until the baby is born solves her problem of living in her own toxic home environment.
I love how both Jill and Mandy changed for me so much over the course of this novel. At first, I didn't quite like Mandy. She's a bit brash and she makes other people uncomfortable. Her mother's silly rules had turned Mandy into somebody obsessed with image and needing the attention of men. But once we find out more about Mandy, it kind of broke my heart into teeny tiny little pieces reading the things that she has gone through in her young life. Sooner than I'd realised, my opinion of Mandy completely altered and I just wanted to give her a hug. I love that she's the type of person who loves pancake houses and cheesy Mexican themed restaurants. I love that she's the type of person who steals a man's address off his luggage after a brief conversation on a train and that she's still able to believe in love.
And as for Jill, I've always kind of liked moody and angry girls, but even Jill tested the very limits of my patience. She's so bitter and angry and it takes her a long time to see that she isn't the only person grieving for the loss of Jill's father and that Jill has always had things that Mandy has never known like unconditional love and support. It seemed as though it took Jill's relationships with old flame Dylan and her new friendship with Ravi for her to finally see that the person she is becoming isn't so great. And that while she might not be able to turn back into the self she was before her dad died, she can go forward into being someone different, someone nicer and more generous with herself.
I really loved this book. I loved that it deals with some heart-wrenching stuff in a believeable way. I love that it's a book about friendship and family and love but written in a beautiful way that never goes over the top. The characters are all real and flawed and wonderful. I couldn't bear to be parted with this book and I highly recommend that you read it! ...more
I was a fan after reading Graffiti Moon earlier in the year and on the strength of thatThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I was a fan after reading Graffiti Moon earlier in the year and on the strength of that book and after seeing a smattering of positive reviews for this book, I decided to buy A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley. And straight away, I fell in love with the feel of this book and the beautiful way in which Cath Crowley unravels this story of friendship and wanting and romance for us.
A Little Wanting Song is told in two narratives. The first is Charlie Duskin, a musician who sings only for herself in darkened rooms. She's dealing with the loss of both her mother and her gran and the consequences of these losses has made Charlie's father pull away from her entirely. What Charlie really wants is for her father to talk to her, take some notice of her. What makes things worse for Charlie, is that she doesn't really have anyone else is her life. She wants love and a boyfriend, but she also wants friendship - an emotional connection with somebody, anybody.
And then there's Rose. She lives next door to Charlie's grandparents, but Charlie and Rose have never been friends. Rose has her boyfriend Luke and another friend, Dave Robbie and a fairly good life in the country. But Rose wants more. She wants to live in the city and go to a private school and have more in her life than her mother has had. She doesn't want to end up pregnant and be forced into a job that doesn't challenge her. And Rose believes that the only way to do this is by befriending Charlie Duskin in the hopes that when Charlie's family leaves for the summer back to Melbourne, Rose will be with them.
I really loved this story. Both girls have such strong feelings of longing that it's hard not to become emotionally involved in both of their stories. I found myself more connected to Charlie's story. I could really relate to the way in which Charlie holds herself away from people and instead watches from afar. She seems to hide within her music and she holds onto her Gran and to her mother by continuing to speak to them long after they've been truly gone. I found it heartbreaking the way in which Charlie's father barely speaks to her or acknowledges her presence. I really liked Charlie's relationship with her grandfather and also how she seemed to grow in confidence over the course of the novel. Some of Charlie's insights into herself, her family and life around her are so beautiful.
And Rose. I really just wanted her to be a little more open with the truth when it came to befriending Charlie. She's got a bit of an attitude and she's said some mean things about Charlie over the years, but it was still nice to see how much Rose changes too. She has to be held a bit accountable for the 'Charlie Dorkin' song and there's plenty of ups and downs in her relationships Luke and Robbie. I liked that she's a girl interested in science and can also see how lucky she is and how much she has by the end.
This is such a beautiful book and I don't feel as though I can do it justice in this review! I highly recommend that you pick up this book and discover its beauty for yourself. ...more
I don't know what it is, but something about India really intrigues me. Which is partialThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I don't know what it is, but something about India really intrigues me. Which is partially why I was excited to read India Dark by Kirsty Murray, despite it being an historical novel. But of course, the other part of it (pretty cover aside!) is the fascinating premise of it.
Based on a true story, India Dark tells a fictionalised story of a children's travelling theatre group in 1910, which went on strike while touring India and refused to go any further until the manager is removed. What I was most curious about is that this happened at all. It's a large group of children, varying in age, whose parents had signed over custodial rights in order for their children to work in this theatre group for two years. I find that incredible! From a parent's perspective, I find it unimaginable - with worries about safety and education and living and travelling conditions. But of course, as a child, I'd probably only be thinking of the adventure of it all. The excitement of seeing the world and performing in front of mixed audiences and the freedom that would go along with it.
And at first, that's what this story seemed to be about. Told in a dual-perspective by two of the girls in the travelling theatre, they tell a story of leaving their homes in Australia, encountering different social customs in Southeast Asia. These two girls, Poesy and Tilly, tell of the lack of education the children receive, the attention that the girls get after performances. It tells of costumes and set changes and the different songs and dances that are performed. There's a lot of bickering and arguments between groups of people, of course. But things mostly run smoothly.
But then things start becoming a little more dire. As news of poor showings and ticket sales occur, it soon becomes evident that this group, once on their way to America, will now detour throughout Asia and spend a great deal of time in India instead. And while a lot of the story is a straightforward account of events, it also brings up the stifling feelings of the older girls who want more control and freedom to choose which songs to sing and to roam about more freely.
When more and more conflict arises from friendships with some of the male fans of the showand when secrets and betrayals start coming between the friendships of those within the group and when more of the girls start rebelling against their minders, everything seems to come apart and snowball in terms of problems and conflict.
I really enjoyed this story, seeing the events unfold from two very different narrators with different ideas and priorities and viewpoints. While I did find the story to be a little bit long, I really enjoyed the making and unravelling of friendships in India Dark. I loved the detail of the performances, especially Charlie's interest in magic, and also how well Kirsty Murray showed that the truth can be very complicated and have many different sides and perspectives. ...more
I read Saving Daisy by Phil Earle at the start of the year and I've found it very difficultThis review was originally posted at Fluttering Butterflies
I read Saving Daisy by Phil Earle at the start of the year and I've found it very difficult between then and now to put how I felt about the book into words. Reading this book felt like such an emotional experience. My heart absolutely ached for poor Daisy, who goes through such terrible things throughout this novel, but I'm really happy to have ended the book smiling through my tears, as this book is also filled with such hope.
We first meet Daisy in Phil Earle's previous novel, Being Billy. But Daisy's story begins before she meets Billy so it isn't necessary to read one before the other, though I definitely do recommend both.
I really loved Daisy right from the start, there was something about her that I could easily relate to. She's never really known her mother, and she lives with her father, who while doing the best he can, can't really speak about Daisy's mother. That pain and grief seems to be too close to the surface still, and it's as if Daisy takes those feelings and makes them her own. She blames herself for her mother's death and that guilt is eating up at her from the inside leading her towards anxiety and depression and self-harm. Added to her guilt, Daisy's vulnerability attracts unwanted attention and sets off a terrible set of circumstances that find Daisy alone and in the care of a therapeutic community. With the help of Daisy's key worker, Adebayo, she is able to take those first steps towards letting go of her guilt and fears as Adebayo assures Daisy that it isn't her fault the things that have happened.
I do so love Daisy. I thought her relationship with her father to be quite sweet, especially their love of movies that they shared. I wanted the best for Daisy, for her to be happy and to believe that she deserves love and happiness, even after the horrible things she's been through. I felt so many things while reading this book, sadness and grief mostly. But while Saving Daisy isn't the easiest book to read in many ways, the emotion that has stuck with me after so many months, is the shining ray of hope and love in the form of Adebayo. This book is both devastating and beautiful to read and I can highly recommend it!...more