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 city...moreMy 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 excitemen...more4.5 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.
At first glance, Virtuosity is just another story about a girl who isn’t in control of her own life. And you know what? That’s exactly what it is on s...moreAt first glance, Virtuosity is just another story about a girl who isn’t in control of her own life. And you know what? That’s exactly what it is on second glance as well. But unlike so many of these stories, it is well written, completely engrossing and definitely worth a read.
To say that Carmen grew up shielded from everyday life would be a serious understatement. She was homeschooled, she never had a real friend other than her tutor Heidi and she never spent any time with boys her age. You see, Carmen is not a seventeen-year-old girl, she is not a daughter, she is not a student and she is not a friend. Carmen is a Grammy Award winning violinist and she has just been admitted to Julliard with a full scholarship. When people look at her, that’s all they see – and it’s only natural considering how good she is. She is so good, in fact, that there’s only one violin soloist who might prove to be better than her: Jeremy King.
Carmen and Jeremy are the most likely finalists in the Guarneri contest. They are both just one step away from that huge, life-altering victory. Falling in love under the circumstances really shouldn’t be an option... but it is.
"It's kind of funny, actually," she said. "Most girls have to worry about guys just being after sex, but you should really be more worried if he isn't after sex. You just can't do anything normally, can you?"
When you’re so valuable to everyone around you, you really are all alone. How do you trust a mother who’s living vicariously through you because her own career was ruined before it even started? How should you feel about your rich grandparents who only started noticing you when you became famous? And how do you fall in love with a boy whose success can’t come without your failure?
Virtuosity surprised me with two huge, jaw dropping moments – something that doesn’t happen very often. Just when I thought it's about to become predictable, Martinez did something I never saw coming. That alone makes it worth reading. My big thanks to Nomes for pushing me in the right direction! :) (less)
I can’t even begin to describe how deeply Harper’s grief affected me. It’s not often that I find myse...moreSo many dead sisters in YA literature these days…
I can’t even begin to describe how deeply Harper’s grief affected me. It’s not often that I find myself completely taken aback by an author’s insight and sensitivity. I’m still convinced that she must have gone through something similar at some point in her life, otherwise she couldn’t have been able to describe so accurately the thoughts that sometimes follow such a disastrous event. I have to admit that the story hit too close to home and it wasn’t always easy for me to keep reading, but Harper’s reactions and feelings were as familiar as my own and she really got under my skin, where she'll stay for a while at least.
That’s not to say that the book didn’t have any problems, but I got so emotionally invested that I ended up not caring about any of them. I’ll still point out the things I can remember, just for the sake of full disclosure. I’m afraid that many layers of this story may be completely lost on its intended audience. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe teens today know all about various stages of Janis Joplin’s work or the true value of a Jimi Hendrix autograph. Maybe they do care about problems of the Third World and maybe they’ve even seen the Woodstock documentary once or twice. But somehow I doubt it. I, on the other hand, loved every second of it. Every song that was mentioned, every album that was played, it was as if I chose them myself. Some of them I haven’t heard in a while and Hannah Harrington gave me the perfect excuse to bury myself in my old music for a while.
A part of the book didn’t fit well with the rest. At one point Jake and the girls were attending a violent protest that felt completely out of place. It was the second time in as many weeks that an author tried to shove his/her own beliefs and convictions down my throat in such an obvious way. I’m not saying that YA novels should provide blind entertainment and nothing more, far from it, I’m just saying that it was forced and unnatural in this particular story. Without it, this would have been a five-star book for me.
So to conclude, I loved this book, but I doubt I’ll be reading it again. I don’t think I’d be able to handle it all one more time. The feeling that I’ve been turned inside out and that I’m reading my own thoughts and emotions isn’t something I care to repeat anytime soon. I am happy to have read it the first time and I’m very grateful for the things it helped me realize. And I still think Touch Me is the perfect song for that occasion. :) (less)
Actual rating: 4.5 stars! Lately I’ve been lucky enough to add a few books to my all-time-favorites list, all of them Australian. Raw Blue, for example...moreActual rating: 4.5 stars! Lately I’ve been lucky enough to add a few books to my all-time-favorites list, all of them Australian. Raw Blue, for example, left me with this feeling of beauty and despair that just won’t go away. I realize that I’ve been going on and on about Aussie authors and that I’d even threatened to move there at one point, but I see no reason to stop. Good Oil is just another proof of how special and engrossing their writing style usually is.
This story is about 15-year-old Amelia, 21-year-old Chris and a group of young people working at Woolworths grocery store in Sydney. The narration is equally divided between Chris and Amelia, and although I definitely preferred Chris’ point of view, I felt that both their voices were captured really well.
Amelia is the girl that doesn’t really fit anywhere. Her family life is a mess and, as a rule, she isn’t getting enough attention from her parents or other people. Chris, on the other hand, gets too much attention. He is one of those people who fill the room with their presence. Loud, very intelligent, completely messed up, extroverted and fun, he’s everyone’s favorite guy. He draws Amelia to him like a magnet and they spend a lot of time talking about books and feminism.
She's amusing - all frizzy-haired and fiery. I suspect she can, like, construct sentences and read books.
This is a book you will need to think about. My rating was all over the place while I was reading. At first I thought it will end up being a 4-star book. Then, after reading the last page, I felt very confused and tempted to go with 3 stars, but now, not a day after, I’ve decided to make it 4.5. Processing a book that doesn’t distance itself from reality is always harder than dealing with something you know in your heart is fiction. It’s strange for someone who claims to be such huge fan of realism to have problems with very realistic novels, but that’s me - a walking contradiction.
Usually when I read a book I know exactly how I’d like it to end. I was at a loss this time because no matter how much they have in common intellectually, at the end of the day, Amelia is a kid, and Chris is… not. I was very curious to see how Laura Buzo would handle that particular mess, and I have to admit that I was very impressed, regardless of my initial (conflicted) feelings.
I could go on and on about this book because, unlike most of my friends, I find it much easier to write about books I loved, but I see no point. I loved it. That's all you need to know. I’m asking you all to read this. I promise you won’t be sorry. (less)
“Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if you loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?”
Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a story about a 18-year-old girl faced with the loss of her best friend. On one side, this novel is burdened with a scary amount of raw realism. It tells a story that hits too close to home, one that none of us want to hear. There are pedophiles, abusive husbands, drinking problems, runaway mothers and friends who break our hearts. There's too much to handle at once, for Vera and for me. Then there’s the other side that is as far from reality as can possibly be. The funny yet touching flow charts, talking pagodas, best friends turned into pickles and thousands of haunting ghosts serve as a soothing balm that helps heal the wounds made by the all-too-possible first side of the story. For the most part, when those two sides collide, the result is great and stunningly original. However, the combination didn’t work so well for the ending. When it came time to resolve Vera's situation, I wanted King to choose one or the other, to either write an utterly realistic ending, or a completely absurd one. What she gave us felt like a cop out. But who am I to judge? My rating is a cop out as well.
It was easy enough to blame my three readalong partners for my reluctance to write this review. All three of them did such an amazing job. Ms. Marr’s deliciously funny and incredibly smart words, Ms. Reynje’s colorful world that never fails to pull my heartstrings and Ms. Lisa’s strong logic and astonishing insightfulness would intimidate even the most creative minds. But the bigger truth is that I needed time to figure out exactly why I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as they did, especially when I claim to be such a huge fan of literary realism. And it’s true. Balzac, Stendhal, Tolstoy and many others helped me become the person I am today. But the reality they described for me is in no way my reality. I can easily dive into it knowing that I’m untouchable. Vera’s story, however, happens in everyone’s back yard. It’s the almost tangible reality of it that I can’t handle.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t recommend this book to anyone who will listen. I’ll probably reread it myself at some point.
A big thanks to Lisa, Reynje and Shirley for this amazing adventure that became known as the Double Date readalong. Everything is fun when you’re around. (less)
This is another fine example of why you should never judge a book by its covers. The cover is beautiful and that’s what got me into trouble...more1.5 stars!
This is another fine example of why you should never judge a book by its covers. The cover is beautiful and that’s what got me into trouble… again!
Of all the terrible and frustrating characters on this planet, Shay McGuire is by far the worst. Sick Girl, as she likes to call herself, is incredibly selfish, self-centered, out of control and plain stupid. I’m not sure if the authors intended for her to be that way, but somehow I doubt it.
Ok, here’s the story: Shay was born with a rare, or rather unique blood disorder. Her stepfather, Martin, is an expert in leukemia who abandoned his work so he could focus all his attention on finding the cure for Shay (or so he says). One day, Martin gave Shay a transfusion that actually made her feel better. After a lifetime of feeling weak and exhausted, Shay suddenly had the strength to do whatever she wanted. So what did she choose? Drinking, acting out and risking her life every chance she gets.
Just so we’re clear here: was I supposed to sympathize with the girl who used her illness to behave like a complete brat? Was I supposed to feel sorry for this girl who kissed her best friend’s boyfriend the first chance she got, a girl who takes everyone for granted and treats people who care about her like trash? Because if I was, it SO did not work out that way. I’m one of those people who can’t like a book unless they can connect to the main character and that didn’t happen here.
And Gabriel is just so old! I’d never before been bothered by the age difference in paranormal YA, maybe because they all at least tried to behave like teenagers and it wasn’t so obvious. But Gabriel keeps pointing out that he’s more than 400 years old and he even acts like it. I kept thinking: b-b-but she is 16 and immature!!! What can you possibly see in her?!
Unfortunately, I have no choice but to read the sequel so you can expect another one of these rants reviews in the near future. (less)
You know that feeling when you’re floating on water? All your senses are dampened, you are weightless, careless and completely relaxed. There...more5.5 stars
You know that feeling when you’re floating on water? All your senses are dampened, you are weightless, careless and completely relaxed. There aren’t any loud sounds, you are safe, perfectly happy and everything else seems a mile away... That’s EXACTLY how Maggie Stiefvater’s writing makes me feel. I want to hug this book and never ever let it out of my sight.
Grace and Sam are finally together, but they live in fear. They are constantly afraid that things will go back to the way they were before, and unfortunately, it’s not something either of them can control. There are several new wolves in the woods and it’s up to Sam to take care of them all now – the old and the new. In addition, Grace’s parents finally started noticing things and decided to start honing their parenting skills.
Linger brings us two additional POVs. We get to see some of the events through the eyes of Isabel, to whom we were introduced in Shiver, and Cole, one of the new wolves. The two of them are so very different from Sam and Grace and having four POVs instead of two brought amazing balance to the story. While this would certainly bother me in Shiver, I was thrilled by it now. That doesn’t mean that I like Grace and Sam any less. In fact, if I had feelings for those characters before, it was nothing compared to how I feel about them now. They are both beautiful and strong in their own way. I’ve noticed that my favorite quotes usually come from Sam’s chapters, although Grace has her moments, too. There’s a reason for that, of course. Sam is just the type of gentle soul I can start loving in a heartbeat, and after all, he’s supposed to be good with words. There isn’t a character in YA literature I could ever love more than I love Sam. A look in his eyes is all it takes to make me cry!
I did my best to find a flaw in Linger – this may sound odd, but I wanted to have at least one small thing to complain about because I thought it would add credibility to the rest of my review. I tried my best and failed miserably. Oh, I’ve read my friends’ reviews but I simply don’t agree with any of them. The first half was not slow for me, it was soft and beautiful. Isabel and Cole weren’t irritating, they were troubled and interesting. The prose wasn’t purple, it was… I already said that, didn’t I? I could go on and on for days, but it wouldn’t do much good. This is the second book in a series that needs to be read in order. If you liked Shiver, you are going to like Linger too, I have no doubt about it. (less)
I hate having to review this book. I've spent the last 24 hours thinking about it, trying to figure out a way to point out the good and the bad, inste...moreI hate having to review this book. I've spent the last 24 hours thinking about it, trying to figure out a way to point out the good and the bad, instead of just listing all the things that annoyed me. Here’s my conclusion: the only remotely fair thing to do is to write two separate reviews: one of the first and one of the second half of the book.
First half: ***** (five stars) The first half of Ashes was one of the best things I’ve read recently, and that’s saying a lot! It was amazingly well written, fast paced, with interesting, layered characters and a compelling plot. Alex is a 17-year-old girl with a brain tumor. She’s lost her parents a few years back and is now living with her aunt, but she spends most of her time in the hospital. At the beginning of Ashes, she is out of the hospital and has just decided not to do any more treatments, seeing as they are not helping her in any way. Instead, she chooses to go hiking in the wilderness. There she meets an old man and his granddaughter Ellie and shares a meal with them. Shortly after that, an EMP wipes out every electronic device and kills the old man in the process. That leaves Alex with the 8-year-old girl to take care of and some new abilities she doesn’t fully understand. After only a short walk, the girls stumble upon two teenagers who are eating another human. It becomes pretty obvious that the EMP affected human brains as well as the electronic devices. But why then did Alex and Ellie remain unchanged?! Ok, so we have a great plot, interesting characters, a subtle love story AND zombies eating intestants and gouging out people’s eyes. It’s no wonder we were all so thrilled. But then the second half came…
Second half: ** (two stars) I can pinpoint the exact moment where it all went wrong. From the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next, everything changed. Ashes went from being amazing to being utterly unimaginative and even boring at times. I had to force myself to finish it. It picked up the pace again on the last 50 pages or so, but only to make the most horrible, cliffhanger ending possible.
Here are some of my problems with the book: - Alex is 17, but she is far too skilled and mature for that to be believable, even more so because she's been very sick for a very long time. People who spend years in the hospital usually don’t know that much about surviving in the wilderness. She could have been book smart, sure, but building fires?!? I don't think so. She kept saying that her father taught her, but he was dead by the time she entered her teen years. - I had the same problem with her knowledge of medicine. Apparently her mother was a doctor and they used to spend their time together stitching up chickens. Honestly, I don’t know a single teen or pre-teen that interested in his/her parent’s work. - I hate cliffhanger endings, and this was the mother of them all! I don’t understand why authors feel the need to do that! A cliffhanger ending will make me less likely to read the next book, not more! And this particular author likes cliffhangers so much, she even ended a few chapters with them. When you end a chapter with a cliffhanger and start the next one with the words Three days later, you can count on losing a few readers.
Maybe Ilsa J. Bick is a pseudonym for two people, much like Ilona Andrews, only these two people don’t get along as well?!? I will still read the next book when it comes out, but I can’t say I’m too happy about it.
Michelle R., Wendy Darling and Bonnie have made this experience much better than it would have been without them. Thanks, girls! (less)
If we only look at the surface, it’s pretty clear that Brooklyn, Burning is about gender identity and sexual orienta...more4.5 stars **Minor spoilers ahead.**
If we only look at the surface, it’s pretty clear that Brooklyn, Burning is about gender identity and sexual orientation issues. But looking at the surface is not nearly enough. By concentrating too much on things like gender identity, we fail to see what’s underneath, and we miss everything that’s beautiful. Now, I know that sounds like a terrible cliché, but it’s a lesson that can’t be repeated enough.
This book, much like its main character, refuses to be categorized. It’s really about many things: loneliness, feeling of not belonging, honesty, big dreams, love and acceptance. It contains some of the most beautiful passages I’ve read recently, comparable only to Ultraviolet.
No more – no more love, no more songwriters, no more long and gorgeous fingers in my hair. Purity of voice and purity of heart doesn’t mean purity of soul, and certainly not purity of body. You’d be gone in weeks, I knew, and I wasn’t going to let you into my heart before then.
I have zero tolerance for bad parenting. If you aren’t ready to deal with every possible outcome, you shouldn’t be a parent at all. Sure, unpredictable things can happen, but even if they do, you’re still a parent. Quitting that particular job is simply not an option. But a father did give up in Brooklyn, Burning, and I’ll spend the rest of my life hating him for it. I would have loved to hurt him, but all I could do was grit my teeth.
Kid has gender identity and sexual orientation issues – or more precisely, other people have issues with Kid’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Kid is also very lost, lonely and unhappy. Kid’s father threw Kid out of the house because he refused to accept that Kid is different. So instead of living in a house like a normal teenager, Kid was forced to live in an abandoned warehouse, with a junkie musician Kid couldn’t help but fall in love with. You may have noticed how I’ve been avoiding the use of personal pronouns here - that’s because I don’t know which pronoun to use. I don’t know, and I certainly don’t care.
There’s not much I can say about Brooklyn, Burning without spoiling it. I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about the quality of prose. The story is touching and Kid is one of those characters you don’t easily forget. My maternal instincts are still screaming from the need to hug and protect that child!
Favorite quote I don’t remember what he sang about; I’m not sure I ever knew. It was his voice, gritty but gentle, like my father’s hands when I was too small to see past them, and the slow way his melody moved along its path, not in any hurry but enjoying every note for itself, rather than looking forward to the next note, and the next, until the song’s end. This song would have no end; it couldn’t possibly. This song was forever.
I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Oh, and thanks, Wendy! You are one great fairy godmother.
Beach books seem to be coming at me from all sides. Blood of the Maple is one of them. It’s a perfect book to read while sunbathing.
I had many, many...moreBeach books seem to be coming at me from all sides. Blood of the Maple is one of them. It’s a perfect book to read while sunbathing.
I had many, many problems with it but I’ll be kind enough not to list all of them.
First of all, I didn’t believe it's possible for a book to have too much paranormal, but apparently it is. I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t been thrown into the mix. Dryads, vampires, were-this and were-that, witches, Renfields, ghosts, human sensitives and god only knows what else, all living in this small town and getting along just fine – which brings me to my second problem: a single witch succeeded in terrorizing them all for months!
I hated the instalove, insta-marriage, insta-mating for life part. They mated on their second date and never even considered that they made a mistake. Same goes for the other couple, Brian and Greg. That’s one of the things I hate about PNR in general, but it was even worse than usual here.
Parker’s macho crap attitude was hilarious when it really wasn’t supposed to be. I never saw him as a dangerous, strong guy. I think that’s where the author truly failed: he didn’t seem real at all. She wanted him to be too many things at once and I just didn’t buy it. So when he delivered this speech: He pitched his voice so that it could be heard clear across the town, using his vampiric powers to whisper into every home, every dark alley, every corner of Maggie’s Grove. “Know this. Amara is mine. Mine to protect. My sotiei. Anyone who even looks at her wrong will deal with me, and I will not be compassionate. I will make you pay in ways you never dreamed. (…) You won’t be able to hide from me. I will find you in your deepest nightmares. I am your worst fear. And when I finally collect the debt owed, before you die, you’ll know exactly how Amara has felt all these years. You will know what it is to be a true freak. Do we understand each other? …the book was pretty much over for me.
And last, but not least, call me old-fashioned (view spoiler)[because I am (hide spoiler)] but I don’t think it’s cute, attractive or even funny when a woman behaves like a caveman. I’m all for strong, independent women, but there’s a line you just don’t cross. The last scene (oh, come on, it’s not even a spoiler, we all know there’s a HEA) when Amara throws Parker over her shoulder and carries him home almost made me cry in frustration. There’s a natural order of things, and guess what? That’s not it!!!
Read this book when you're tired and just want to relax, when you're at the beach, or both. Otherwise, don't bother. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)