Wow. Just wow. This may very well be my favorite book by Renae Kaye, and we’re talking about the person who wrote Loving Jay, Shearing Gun,
Wow. Just wow. This may very well be my favorite book by Renae Kaye, and we’re talking about the person who wrote Loving Jay, Shearing Gun, and Blinding Light, the first book in this series. All of these books are my favorites so to have her actually exceed my very high expectations is an unusual thing indeed.
We first met Davo in Blinding Light as Jake’s best friend, but although he was there with a decent advice when one was needed the most, he didn’t get much chance to shine. But even if he were given more time, Davo simply isn’t a character that shines at first (or even third) sight. He seems pretty ordinary on the surface, but deep underneath is a complex and truly stupendous character.
When Davo meets Lee in his favorite bar, he is surprised by how much he likes the gorgeous and entertaining woman. Yes, you read that right – woman. He is also insanely attracted to her, which is a first for him, and more than ready to succumb to his desires. The first time can be written off as a fluke caused by alcohol, but the second and the third are really mind-boggling. However, Lee isn’t actually a woman at all, he is just a petite gay man who occasionally dresses like a woman. Not transgender at all, but a cross-dresser on rare occasions. A wonderful, confident, intelligent man with a strong sense of self and a desire to help others.
For Davo, who’s been bullied into believing that everything typically “girlie” is inherently wrong, this development is even worse than falling for a woman. He likes men, but he likes his men safe and manly, not small, delicate and feminine. The idea of a man dressed as a woman, a man so obviously gay even when he’s in his regular clothes, terrifies him to no end. Luckily, he’s not left to figure it out alone. Patrick and Jake from Blinding Light and their lovely little daughter are very much present in this book and always there with a decent advice. And when all else fails, he has his trusted Magic 8 Ball to help him decide his fate.
Once again, Kaye explores things like gender fluidity, prejudice and bullying in her very recognizable subtle way. She always finds ways to shine light on a truly important issue without letting it overtake her story. This wasn’t the first time that she gently introduced gender nonconformity with her characters, but it was certainly more pronounced and the points were made strongly, but tastefully.
Renae Kaye is an author I admire greatly, not only because she writes all my favorite romances, but because she always shows such tact and consideration while doing it. You’re the Reason may be my personal favorite, but objectively, it’s another in a long string of successes by the author who has nothing left to prove.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review....more
Simon and Declan are finally (finally!) back, stronger and more entertaining than ever. After a three year break, we’re finally holding a new adventu
Simon and Declan are finally (finally!) back, stronger and more entertaining than ever. After a three year break, we’re finally holding a new adventure in our hands, a delightful, Aussie-flavored, heartfelt and family-oriented romance unlike anything I’ve ever read.
I’ve been asked on several occasions to choose my favorite gay romance couple, and it’s always been Simon and Dec (and also – just to be fair – Tony and Mac from Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons series). But the charm of these books lies with more than just its two protagonists. As a rule, Kennedy portrays realistic, believable, and above all warm characters.
Eight years after their relationship was forged under extreme pressure, Simon and Declan are still going strong. They’ve built an amazing life together, a life of tolerance, understanding, patience and genuine affection. They have an incredible circle of family and friends and they’ve even found ways to bring their very different careers much closer. Tigers on the Run offers a new peek into their very ordinary life, under somewhat unusual circumstances. Simon faces new drama with his old nemesis, and this time it comes just a bit too close to home. Declan is trying desperately to help a 17-year-old gay football player, but the kid isn’t making it easy at all. Their friends and family have changed and grown, but the love and support remains unchanged. Jumping back into this world truly feels like coming home.
With Simon and Declan in such a strong, committed relationship, one would think that this series has nothing left to give, but one would be very, very wrong. This is exactly the type of thing I want to read – a strong, loving couple facing difficulties together, living their life and overcoming obstacles just like the rest of us. When you add to that Simon’s propensity for drama and his highbrow sense of humor (he is, after all, my very favorite arty wanker), you get a series that will give you more than just characters to love – it will give you friends for life.
I have loved Simon Murray and Declan Tyler from my very first peek into their lives. What’s more, I’ve loved Roger and Fran, Abe and Lisa, and pretty much everyone else just as much. Luckily for me, Tigers on the Run left some possibilities wide open – I hope I’ll be seeing more of them, and soon. ...more
Renae Kaye sure knows how to write them. Realistic, funny and Aussie-flavored, her romances are truly unlike any other. My favorite thing about her isRenae Kaye sure knows how to write them. Realistic, funny and Aussie-flavored, her romances are truly unlike any other. My favorite thing about her is that the word angst doesn’t seem to be in her dictionary at all. Instead of creating unbearable drama, she relies on excellent characterization and humor in all her books.
Blinding Light is a shining example and a clear demonstration of everything I love about her. We meet Jake at his low. He is looking for a second job and barely scraping by. We soon learn, however, that Jake isn’t the type to wallow and lament. He is the type who works hard, sacrifices everything for his family, and has a whole lot of fun in the process.
Jake’s desperately needed second job ends up being a housekeeping position for a blind man. Mr. Patrick Stanford is so unbearably difficult that the agency has to send him a new housekeeper every couple of weeks, but Jake is made of different stuff. He is determined to keep the job and that’s exactly what he does. But when Mr. Stanford stays home from work one day and Jake finally sees him, all his assumptions vanish with one look at the gorgeous 30-year-old in front of him. Mr. Stanford is not some old, obnoxious guy – he is heart-stoppingly gorgeous.
It’s impossible not to love Jake from the very first sentence he shares with us. He grew up poor with an alcoholic mother and an endless stream of men in her bedroom, he practically raised his three sisters all on his own and he still does absolutely everything to make their lives easier, even if it means sacrificing his happiness. He has so much pride and he is so joyful despite everything, he will make you smile on every single page.
I’ve read five of Renae’s novels so far and I loved them all. This may be my favorite, but the others aren’t far behind. I’d recommend starting either with Blinding Light or with Loving Jay. Both are available in audio format as well.
3.5 stars I hate to admit it, but I actually enjoyed this. Armentrout is kind of funny when she's not busy copying other people's work. There'll be no r3.5 stars I hate to admit it, but I actually enjoyed this. Armentrout is kind of funny when she's not busy copying other people's work. There'll be no review, but it seems there's hope for us after all. *cue sappy love song* ...more
4.5 stars When I first felt myself being pulled into this story, I glanced down and saw the number 156 written at the bottom of the page. 156 pages of4.5 stars When I first felt myself being pulled into this story, I glanced down and saw the number 156 written at the bottom of the page. 156 pages of barely understandable, agonizingly slow and almost painfully dense prose - that’s what it took for me to start enjoying Stormdancer. But here’s the thing: now that I fully understand this book, I understand the necessity of such a beginning. This is how the rain becomes a flood. One drop at a time.
There’s something mesmerizing and magical about a world well-built, and Kristoff’s is more detailed than most. As hard as it is to understand it at first, once you become a part of it, it is unlikely to ever let you go. It is a grim, filthy world, poisoned by blood lotus, a plant that kills the land it grows from and is used for everything from fuel to drugs. It is a world of stark contrasts – excessive wealth and excessive poverty, mythical creatures and technology. Not much in it can be described as beautiful, and yet, the beauty of it in its entirety is undeniable. It is reminiscent of the most intricate filigree work. Even if it doesn’t appeal to your personal taste, you must appreciate the skill that was necessary to create it.
And yet, in many ways, this stunning, complex world quickly becomes overshadowed by the characters. Each of them was created just like the world was – slowly, with much attention to details, in a million layers, some more important than others. Yukiko herself cannot be reduced to a one-sentence description, but what truly surprises me is that none of the characters can either. They are all so many things at once, their histories interconnected, their stories all somehow related. Hatred doesn’t sprout from nothing in Kristoff’s world. Everything has an explanation, everyone carries some trauma and hurt, and every single character has hidden motives.
Among them, the thunder tiger stands out as the most fascinating by far. I must confess I’d never given much thought to mythological creatures such as griffins, but seeing Buruu through Kristoff’s eyes made me realize how blind I’d been. He is truly a magnificent creature, powerful and fiercely intelligent, yet tender and caring toward Yukiko, his Stormdancer. The telepathic connection they share is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever read about. Spending time in each other’s minds changes them both ever so subtly. The arashitora’s understanding of the human world increases, and she becomes slightly more explosive in nature. They call each other brother and sister because that’s what they truly are, and that’s how protective they are of each other.
The hindquarters of a white tiger, rippling muscle bound tight beneath the snow-white fur, slashed with thick bands of ebony. The broad wings, forelegs and head of a white eagle, proud and fierce; lightning reflected in amber irises and pupils of darkest black. It roared again, shaking the ship, cutting through the air like a katana in a swordsaint’s hands.
All good things come at a price and with Stormdancer, that price is your patience. Understanding the initial chapters or even caring about the characters won’t be easy at first, but if you persist, you will be heavily rewarded.
My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the cityMy full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city – not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.
After accidentally preventing a bank robber from escaping, Ed Kennedy receives his first playing card with three addresses written on it. He understands that he needs to deliver a message to each of these places, but the card offers no further instructions. Relying on his intuition alone, Ed starts touching people’s lives and trying to understand what he has to do. The messages vary from simple to horribly complex and painful, but they all have one thing in common: they need Ed to shake them up and save them from themselves.
I think the most wonderful thing about Zusak is the surprising humanity of his characters. Not only do they come alive for the reader, but they also take so many different roles in the process. Their simple acts of kindness often end up being impressive and life-changing. I’d noticed this about so many characters in The Book Thief and I feared it was a one-time deal, but Ed might be the best of them all. In complete contrast to the ending, Ed is one of the most real and tangible characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The fact that he’s completely unaware of how extraordinary he is just adds to his charm. My only regret is that the same cannot be said about Audrey. I really needed her to be just as well developed, but she was the only one who didn’t feel real to me, and that’s the sole reason for my 4-star rating.
I Am the Messenger will make you happy in at least three ways: it will give you a truly authentic, approachable story that will go straight through your heart, it will make you examine the way you treat complete strangers and it will catch you completely off guard. I wish I could hold up that knife and tear open the world. I’d slice it open and climb through to the next one. In bed, I cling to that thought.
I suppose many people will not be comfortable with the ending. I thought it was unexpected, brilliant (like the man himself), mind-blowing (still picking up the pieces) and audacious. It didn’t take anything from the story, it didn’t diminish the importance of any of the characters, and it added an extra dose of memorability the book wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.
Choosing a favorite quote this time was just like choosing a favorite child, but there was one I needed to share: What would you do if you were me? Tell me. Please tell me! But you’re far from this. Your fingers turn the strangeness of these pages that somehow connect my life to yours. Your eyes are safe. The story is just another few hundred pages of your mind. For me, it’s here. It’s now. I have to go through with this, considering the cost at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same.
4.5 stars There aren’t that many real Maja books out there, books that hit the very center of my soul, that make me dizzy with admiration and excitemen4.5 stars There aren’t that many real Maja books out there, books that hit the very center of my soul, that make me dizzy with admiration and excitement. And as it turns out, I love heavily atmospheric books. If you’d asked me yesterday, I would have vehemently denied it. Sure, some of my favorite books fit the description (The Scorpio Races, The Space Between), but I always thought of them as exceptions rather than a rule. What I realized with Night Beach is that the way these books make me feel is what I’m chasing the entire time, what I’m hoping for every time I open a new book. Night Beach made me want to cry and throw up and hug the book and laugh and rock back and forth and hide somewhere warm and safe, but most of all, it made me Feel! And nevermind that the strongest feeling it evoked was dread, it made everything sharper and more beautiful.
Slipping into Abbie’s skin was almost effortless, she is conscious of her every feeling, every color she sees, every breath she takes. Even when she dislikes herself, she understands what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. I kept wondering whether anyone can truly be that self-aware and aware of their surroundings. Most people just stumble through life with one eye closed, squinting through the other, but good authors, really good authors like Kirsty Eagar, stop to notice things and then make you notice them too. They provide insight you wouldn’t normally have. Peeking through my fingers, what I see is light. I take my hands away from my face, and stand up, and I can’t understand how it is that I’m aware of the rest of the world, but I’m not really in it. It’s like I’ve been tucked into a crease. Because although the southerly is still howling, and the ocean is snarled and messy, and further up the beach are my friends and the break and the wall, where I am is completely still, except for a circling cloud of luminous sand.
Night Beach is filled with symbolism. In one of the most powerful scenes, Abbie eats little pieces of paper she’s been collecting since she was a kid. They contain every hope she ever wrote down, and she opens the little box and swallows them one by one. There is so much emotion in that little scene. I choked up thinking about this girl burying all her hopes and dreams deep into herself, literally eating everything she’s ever wanted. Things like that make this book really unforgettable. Most of the time though, trying to understand it is like trying to interpret a dream you can barely remember. There are dozens of possible answers, but the right one is just beyond your reach.
Raw Blue was one of the first books that showed me how YA can have true literary value. Unbelievably enough, Night Beach took this a step further and made me forget I was reading YA, made me forget I was reading at all at times. Abbie’s shadows engulfed me, surrounded me completely, and made me want to run to the brightest, sunniest place I could find.
If you’re very attached to clean endings and logical solutions, this is most definitely not a book for you. I’m still not quite sure what it’s about, I have no idea what to make of it, but I know it shook me to the core, and that’s all that matters to me right now. This book was a birthday gift from Lisa and I was so happy when it came in the mail, but now that I’ve actually read it, I can honestly say it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received.
Does this book really need another glowing review? A book with 225 reviews on GoodReads alone and 4.62 average rating? What can it possibly change? MaDoes this book really need another glowing review? A book with 225 reviews on GoodReads alone and 4.62 average rating? What can it possibly change? Maybe not much, but yes, I believe that it does.
Melina Marchetta is extraordinary. Duh. I won’t sing her praise in this review. Almost everyone who ever gave one of her books a chance knows how brilliant she is. Writing about it here seems unnecessary and a little bit silly since it’s the one thing we all agree on, regardless of our favorite among her books or her characters. And that’s just it, there is no doubt about it: we all have plenty to choose from and we love them all, but we all have a favorite – that Melina Marchetta book we simply cannot live without. My favorite is Froi of the Exiles.
You can try, if you so wish, to convince me that Froi of the Exiles is not a real person. You can tell me that Finnikin, Perri, Phaedra or Lady Beatriss are all products of someone’s imagination – a brilliant someone perhaps, but just characters nevertheless. You can talk at me until you turn blue, you can offer any number of convincing arguments, you can even bring Melina Marchetta herself to tell me to my face that she made them all up (I doubt she would, though), and I still won’t believe you. Here’s a fact: I’ve never seen my best friend in the flesh, and nobody’s trying to convince me that she’s not real. So why wouldn’t Froi be? I just know that he’s somewhere right now, counting to ten before opening his mouth.
The protectiveness I feel towards him after reading “his” book is something I hadn’t anticipated. I went from despising him in Finnikin of the Rock, just tolerating him later on, to loving every little thing about him, the strengths and the many flaws. But I cannot count Froi among my fictional crushes. His story and his raw vulnerability appeal to my maternal instincts and nothing else. (Finnikin is another matter entirely, though, but if I could choose, I’d choose Trevanion.) And in this book, he finally met his match.
Where can I even begin with Quintana of Charyn? First of all, who the hell is she? I still don’t know. Isaboe was so easy to love, but Quintana is nothing like her. Where Isaboe is fierce, Quintana is avoidant. Where Isaboe is kind, Quintana is far more likely to bite your head off. But I’m grateful for the difference between them. With this, Marchetta showed that she is perfectly capable of creating not just easily acceptable heroines, worthy of admiration by anyone’s standards, but also unpolished and infinitely crazy girls you’d die for in a second.
I won’t lie to you, there were events in this book I was able to predict. But the way they were done, the way secrets were brought to light and my emotional reactions to them exceeded all my expectations. There were parts I had to reread three times in order to fully process them and move on. There were parts where I had to stop for a while and do something else because they were too painful. There were moments that made me laugh out loud and there were parts that left me with my mouth open in sheer and utter amazement. There was a bit of everything, except for a part that left me indifferent. That I have yet to find in one of Marchetta’s books.
Now this is where I should write something short and witty to conclude this outburst of admiration review, but I’m drawing a blank. If you live on planet Earth, you’ve probably heard it all anyway. So here’s a useful info instead: the lovely Chachic at Chachic’s Book Nook is celebrating Melina Marchetta throughout the week. There are and will be some pretty awesome guest posts, including a not-quite-awesome one by your two favorite nocturnal librarians.
“When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.” Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry. Yes. I like that a lot“When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.” Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry. Yes. I like that a lot.
A few days ago, when I was starting The Book Thief, my mother stopped by and saw the book on my coffee table. Having just read it herself (and knowing me better than anyone else in the world, I might add), she was determined to save me from myself. She did her very best to convince me not to read it. She described in detail the three day long headache all the crying had caused her and the heartache she now has to live with, but I’m nothing if not stubborn. I guess I never learned to listen to my mother. I’m pretty sure her parting sentence was: “Don’t come crying to me.” And I didn’t. I huddled in a corner and cried inconsolably instead.
Death himself narrates the story about a little girl named Liesel growing up with her foster parents in Nazi Germany. At the beginning, I felt somewhat intimidated by the idea of Death as a narrator. I assumed that his voice would be dark and thunderous, but for the most part, he was a ray of light illuminating earth’s saddest time. Incredibly insightful observations and occasional dry humor are only some of the things no one but Death could have brought into this story. Besides, we hear people calling God’s name every day for many reasons, but when Death calls to Him in despair and even those calls fall on deaf ears, no one can fail to understand the gravity of the situation.
I do not carry a sickle or a scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold. And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like? I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.
The Book Thief is not one of those books you read compulsively, desperate to find out what’s on the next page. No. It is, in fact, better to read it slowly, in small doses, in a way that allows you to savor every word and absorb the power and the magic it contains. All the while, you know what’s going to happen. Death has no patience for mysteries. However, anticipation of the inevitable makes it even worse. My whole body was tingling with fear because I knew what was coming and I knew that it was only a matter of time. Zusak found a way to give a fresh approach to a much-told story. He offered a glimpse at the other side of the coin. Really, should we feel sorry for the people hiding in a basement in Munich suburbs? Sure, bombs are falling on their heads, but most of them are members of the Nazi Party, willingly or reluctantly. Some of them truly think that Jews are no better than rats. Some, on the other hand, are hiding a Jew in their own basement. Some are just innocent children. But the more important question is, are we any better at all if we don’t feel compassion and sorrow? Death does a great job of asking all these questions in a calm, unobtrusive way.
I’m not pretentious enough to believe that my clumsy words can ever do this book justice. I won’t even try. Time will speak for it, as I’m pretty sure it will survive for decades and generations to come. The Book Thief and Markus Zusak should find their place in every school textbook all over the world.
Seven thousand stars could never be enough for this book.